Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In Absentia

This saga has taken another unsavory turn with Sam Rainsy being sentenced to two years in prison for racial incitement and destruction of public property. The neutral observer can only shake his/her head in bewilderment as to the extremes this case has escalated into.

Just last week the SRP published material showing that those border markers were indeed on Cambodian territory, or as the SRP calls it, it was Vietnamese encroachment on Cambodian territory. The maps shown seem to be genuine and the border delineation appears to be in accordance with the relevant bilateral treaties.

As I wrote here before, removing the border markers, wrongly placed or not, was a bad judgment on Sam Rainsy’s part. However, as this was Sam Rainsy, the authorities acted with speed and full force. What else could he expect? The charges were absolutely blown out of proportion by any international standard, as is now the court’s judgment. Those wooden border markers, even if they were state property, were worth a few dollars at best. The destruction of public property is a laughable charge. But that’s not what was at stake here. Sam Rainsy handed his opponents the weapons with which to defeat him; and they indulged him. Basically, he only got what he asked for.

Racial incitement is a serious charge, though. Judging by SR’s past remarks on Vietnam and the Vietnamese immigrants and settlers in Cambodia, one could at minimum read a deep resentment into them. Were they also discriminatory? In my mind, yes. But were the comments or his actions in Svay Rieng racial incitement? The way I understand it inciting other people to discriminate against a certain ethnic group or race would constitute such an act. In this day and age, it is widely condemned by everybody but die-hard racists. History has shown us the outcome of racial and ethnic discrimination - slavery, tribal wars, and the holocaust. We know it leads to misery, mental anguish, and even catastrophe.

Politicians playing the ‘ethnic’ card seldom gain wide popularity over the long run. Ultra-nationalists, and that is what they mostly are, remain a fringe group in the West, and I would believe, in Asia as well. That Sam Rainsy chose this anti-Vietnamese stance as part of his platform put him in the very nationalistic corner. This offended the Vietnamese government and since they are an important trading partner, by extension, the Cambodian government as well.

But does the charge also include abetting people to use violence against such groups or race? Probably, but I don’t think this can be leveled at Sam Rainsy. What Sam Rainsy could have been accused of in the past is making racially discriminating public comments. So is two years in prison justified for an offense like this? Hardly; additionally he is a professional politician and these people make much more inflammatory remarks in other parts of the world. In the end, what remains is, sadly, a miscarriage of justice. And it appears as though this is far from over now that this whole affair has turned into a dispute over border issues in general. Sam Rainsy announced he would publish new indisputable evidence of Vietnamese encroachment. (I guess he does this in his own name in order to protect his party.) This only serves to anger the government even more and makes them dig in their heels harder. Their response may rationally not be understandable but it will probably be just as harsh as the provincial court’s judgment.

But logically, this latest round begs a number of questions: ‘Why was this evidence not used in a legitimate manner before this foolish actionism in Svay Rieng? Why is this coming to light now? Did the SRP ever submit this material to the National Assembly? Did they ever submit it to the Foreign Ministry and/or the Border Committee? Wouldn’t it have been just as effective if they had published this on their website and used the media to propagate it, as is happening now?’

Since Sam Rainsy was mostly playing to an international audience and the Khmer Diaspora, as one observer put it, one must wonder whether this overplaying of his hand was worth all the sacrifice. After all, the international community pays only lip service to begin with, and the politically active Khmer Diaspora can’t sway things one way or the other in Cambodia anyway.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

KJE,
The question shall be: “ Why these poles are in Cambodian territory in the first place?”
What do you think?

KJE said...

There are a number of possible answers to this. They could have been placed inadvertently or intentionally. At this point it is anybody's guess as the remaining markers were removed. Of course, this corroborates that the markers were wrongly placed there. At least, that is the logical conclusion.

Anonymous said...

KJE,
At this point, all the markers that are known to be placed "inadvertently or intentionally" (posts – no. 184, 185, 186 and 187) are 100% in Cambodian territory.

KJE,
Based on your "20 years living the Cambodian experience", what confidence do you have that all the 353 border markers are placed NON "inadvertently or intentionally"?

KJE said...

How would I know how many were placed wrong? I am sure there are some, but how many, who knows. Only if the border delineation is with GPS coordinates and satellite photography will we know the exact line of the national border. What's in the border treaty is what counts.

Anonymous said...

Is it a coincidence that markers are known to be placed "inadvertently or intentionally" (posts – no. 184, 185, 186 and 187) are 100% in Cambodian territory?

Anonymous said...

Sam Rainsy just like Norodom Ranariddh are politicians governed by emotions and not rationale in thinking and in their acts. This also clearly shows that SRP and NRP are just political parties ruled by a one-man-show instead of an appropriate committee.

These 2 politicians are best in creating troubles by acting emotionally and then fleed the country each time they are in trouble with the ruling CPP and then implored "royal amnesty" from the King. It's high time they use their head to think and act more maturely.

Raising awareness via internet and media as well as with the National Assembly sessions with these evidenced maps from various reputable institutions would be a lot more effective tactic...

Anonymous said...

Cambodian shall thank Sam Rainsy for the discovery of the "irregularity" of Cambodian-Vietnam border demarcation efforts.

កុលបុត្រមហានគរខ្មែរ said...

So please shut up Mr KJE if you dont know that. I know and other Cambodians know that and thats why we oppose the puppet government in Cambodia. It is never late to submit the evidences if Cambodian national assembly asked for it from SRP leader, but what they did is to lift his immunity and try him wihtout asking for any explanation and evidences to prove the case. We clearly know the nature of hun xen and his government and we don´t need you to mess it up here.

About the racial accusation, it is completely wrong and Sam Rainsy has never discriminate anyone in Cambodia and I suggest you to listen to his words clearly before giving any senseless judgement like that.

Anonymous said...

KJE,
Did you suggest that the border markers inside Cambodia are legally posted based on border treaty?

KJE said...

Son of the Khmer Empire

1. Please don't tell me to shut up on my own blog. It proves a bad upbringing too.

2. It is obvious you didn't read my post carefully, otherwise you wouldn't have posted your comment the way you did. Maybe it's your lack of English, which I don't hold against you, but then you should refrain from drawing false conclusions.

3. Your monicker also goes to show that you are one of those people that extol the past glories of the Khmer Empire, but you obviously forget that this was in the 13th century. I believe we are now in the 21st, aren't we?

4. SR's various pronouncements on the matter are clear enough. Neutral observers, journalists, etc. have also repeatedly stated and written that SR is anti-Vietnamese. To what extent this is racial discrimination, I will let others judge.

5. You are obviously one of those followers who don't see the forest for the trees. Take off your blindfolds for a change.

KJE said...

7:34
You can't push me into a certain corner with your comments.

If something is not done according to a treaty it is a violation of the treaty but not necessarily illegal. So your question is sort of moot. I would have to check the treaty and whether it was ratified by the National Assembly and whether this ratification elevates the treaty to Cambodian law.

កុលបុត្រមហានគរខ្មែរ said...

Please prove me where Sam rainsy racial comment is and please get the clarification from him. Then I will submit myself if it is reasonably justified. Well, I am also the one that have worked many years on the border issues and I am sure with this affected by the illegal treaty 1985 and the illegal supplemental treaty 2005 and dont need your dreaming judgment on this issue to tell me.

However, please accept my appology if my words mean harsh to you coz with the same blogger I like simple and straight words, not deplomatics.

កុលបុត្រមហានគរខ្មែរ said...

I can tell you that the 1985 treaty and the 2005 supplmental treatry are constitutionally illegal.
You have claimed that you have lived in Cambodia for long time so I think you should have sound judgement of the nature of Cambodian national assembly and hun sen government.

If you understand this i would nót be hard to understandthe situation how the 2005 suplemental treay ratified during that time.

For your tip please read the clarification of Mr Touch Bora regarding to these treaties:

http://www.khmerinstitute.org/docs/Doc%20Notes%20on%20Cambodia%20Boundary%20Maps%20Nov%202005.pdf

Anonymous said...

KJE,
You keep going around in circle.

Just for your information, the treaty was ratified by the National Assembly and signed by the King.

Stop beating around the bush. Have the courage the debate the real point.

If the post were wrongly placed there (KJE: At least, that is the logical conclusion.), then:
- who is to blame ?

I am not sure what country you come from, but it is morally ashame to side with the people who violate property of others.

Anonymous said...

KJE,
Why foreigner like you who live in Cambodia have allegiance with the Cambodia neighbor in this case of territorial encroachment?

KJE said...

06:19
It would go too far here to go back and dig up the numerous interviews and statements SR made that were anti-Vietnamese. Here is one site that also refers to it http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Rainsy_Party.
Although this is about the party anybody who is familiar with the organization knows the party is SR.

KJE said...

6:33
I scanned this entry on the cited webpage. What I could find was that these treaties were found unnecessary.

However, this discussion now is exactly what I said in my post. This affair has turned into a debate about border issues and not only about the alleged acts themselves. I am not disputing or acknowledging the legality or the illegality of any treaty. I am referring to legal practice in other countries. I am not in a position to comment on the border issue itself, nor have I claimed or supported any particular position.

KJE said...

3:33
You are patently wrong in your assertion. You read something into my posts that simply is not there.

KJE said...

7:49
You should read what is written and not put words in other people's mouths. See above what I replied to 3:33.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think the abusers does not have to follow the law?

KJE said...

3:38
Who says this? I certainly didn't!

KJE said...

Here is a note on GPS coordinates. I am a boater and use GPS receivers all the time. The accuracy of a normal receiver is about within 30 m, with 'Wide Area Augmentation (WAAS)" about within 1 m to 3 m. WAAS is not available in Cambodia. So the GPS coordinates are not a 100% correct system of determining a geographic position. Satellite photography needs to be used in conjunction with GPS in order to lay down a precise grid. This just for info.

Anonymous said...

Based on GPS coordinate (courtesy SRP), the "temporary border post #185" is at a distance between 250 meters and 300 meters from the legal border with Vietnam as delineated on any of the two existing official maps.

If your excuse is GPS accuracy, 250 m with the maximum error of 30 m only make it clear and irrefutable that the "border post" is well inside Cambodia’s territory.

Is there any more excuse to blame the victims?

KJE said...

6:58
What is it with you? Why are thinking I am making excuses? I am not; you always read something into my posts and comments that simply is not there. So just lay off accusing me of condoning or defending something I am not even disputing, like the accurate border delineation. I was simply giving an explanation about GPS accuracy that has shown up nowhere so far.

Anonymous said...

Pov Pheap, the no. 2 Samrong commune councilor claimed that if border post 185 were turned into a permanent marker, then Samrong commune which shares 6 kilometers of border with Vietnam, Cambodian villagers would have lost no less than 1,000 hectares of land.

Anonymous said...

This is an example KJE's excuse for the injustice.
The only crime the farmers have is defending their properties against foreign encroachment.

"
If Sam Rainsy hadn't encouraged those farmers they wouldn't have done squat. They kept complaining, as is their right, but only his presence led them to take things in their own hands. If you were in Cambodia, I am sure you wouldn't dare do anything that might upset the authorities. So, yes, it is SR's fault. There were journalists there who recorded it. Ask them, how things went down. He led the farmers to jail. If not for him they wouldn't be there. Got it?
"

Anonymous said...

KJE,
Since you live in Cambodia, do you owe any gratitude to those farmers who is in jail for the defense of Cambodia territory?

KJE said...

11:35
My friend, your comments become more asinine each time.

Anonymous said...

Name calling is not the best way to debate.

KJE said...

What can you do, if somebody is a fool?

Anonymous said...

Prove that he or she is a fool.

KJE said...

6:59
Just read the comments. I guess yours are among them.

reasathea said...

First they tell you to shut up and the next thing you see the racial pogroms where Vietnamese exterminated as the race in Cambodia. All these gentlemen aren't too much educated for a discussion. Their discussion is a hoe in the back of the head and their hero is still Pol Pot. There's no coincident that Pol Pot regime was labeled fascist by Soviets, as it slided toward an union with Lonnolists and Rights. No surprise. Hate to "despicable Youns" is what unites them so tightly to each other.

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