Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is about to make his first trip to ព្រះវិហារ (Preah Vihear) temple in the midst of the run-up to the dry-season offensive (military potential, but it’s going to be loud, at minimum), has also been preaching parables to people in his client-base. This parable is all about a good Buddhist elder and a bad Buddhist elder, and how at some point, the good guy eventually gets tired of being good to the bad guy and the bad guy stops getting what he asks for, gets leprosy, and dies. Just sayin’!
Meanwhile, just across the Thai border, the cold-hearted bastards at Reuters who analyze trends for investors have started warning about a possible coup.
Economic indicators in Cambodia: a brand-new, purportedly high-quality modern Rice Mill has opened in Battambang Province. The president has a Khmer name; is the company owned by a Cambodian and do profits stay in country? Meanwhile, pawn shops are becoming legal. That’ll help. Cause god knows, there aren’t enough opportunities to buy second-hand, stolen commodity goods in Cambodia right now.
Human Rights Watch has released a 93 page report which is very hard to read. It details the horrendous abuse taking place in Cambodia’s Drug “Rehab” centers, largely of young children from the streets. Beatings are not the worst of it. HRW recommends that the centers be monitored by the UN. I think they should be destroyed and ripped down to the foundations.
Oh, and that cool image from the MMAP folks of what appears to be a burial urn? It was. And that’s the second one evah. Awesomes.
Paul Vrieze publishes a review of Hun Sen‘s 25 years in power. Hun Sen’s greatest asset has far too often been seen by his critics as a weakness: he was on many different and conflicting sides in the conflicts of the 70s and 80s – just like the majority of Cambodians. Unlike most Cambodians, in addition to having had a kaleidoscopic history of shifting political loyalties, he has only every really been on one side: his own. [link, via]
Despite his political skills, Hun Sen did not shy away from using violence against political opposition. In 1997, he took over thegovernment by force and the ensuing fighting killed about 100 people, mostly from the rival Funcinpec Party, according to a 2008 US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, which referred to the takeover as an “unlawful seizure of power”.
Before the military takeover, a grenade attack hit a peaceful opposition rally in Phnom Penh, which killed 16 children, men and women and wounded more than 100 others. Recent disclosures of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) probe into the attack, which was conducted because an American citizen was injured in the blast, were made under a Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Cambodia Daily, a local English-language newspaper.
The investigation, which was cut short due to intensifying threats to the FBI agent, found evidence that directly implicated Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit and the CPP, while highly placed witnesses declined to cooperate with the FBI, according to the records disclosed to the newspaper. The US government reacted to the violent events of 1997 by banning direct aid to Cambodia for a decade. As the US Congressional Research Service noted, “The autocratic tendencies of Prime Minister Hun Sen have discouraged foreign investment and strained US-Cambodian relations.”
And oh yes, the Dry Season is here – so it’s about time for violent misunderstandings at the Cambodian-Thai border, over the Khmer temple of ប្រសាទព្រះវិហារ Prasat Preah Vihear (Thai: Phra Viharn). [link, link]