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Kingdom at crossroads as CPP extends control over government

Written by Sebastian

Phnom Penh Post

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Some analysts say 2008 has seen the advent of one-party rule, but others argue the CPP’s consolidation may be the foundation Cambodia needs for genuine democratic development.

Heng Chivoan- Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks with reporters outside the National Assembly after the first day of debates on the 2009 budget draft law.
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks with reporters outside the National Assembly after the first day of debates on the 2009 budget draft law (Photo by: Heng Chivoan)

At the tail end of a year that has seen unprecedented consolidation of power by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, observers are divided on the current health of Cambodia’s democracy and the future prospects of its fragile multi party system.

While government officials have said that the peaceful atmosphere of July’s national election was an indication of the country’s political stability, others say the slackening support for Cambodia’s opposition could see the country backslide into the one-party rule of the 1980s.

“[Cambodia] has a de facto one-party rule,” said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights.

“On the surface we have more parties, but it has pretty much been a one-party state since the coup of 1997. I don’t see how we can define it any differently.”

Opposition figures agreed that the CPP’s large parliamentary majority – and near monopoly of positions on the Assembly’s nine special commissions – augured a return to single-party rule.

“Cambodia has returned to an

kind of system,” said Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay.

“[The ruling party] should spend more time to strengthen the country’s institutions, to solve its social and economic problems.”

He said that a strong opposition was the life blood of democratic states, and that debate in the National Assembly was likely to wither with the diminution of the opposition’s role.

“Most of the time, in any good parliament, there is a strong opposition. When you shut the opposition up, no one will speak out and criticise the government,” Son Chhay said.

Consolidating power
2008 has been a year of consolidation for the CPP, which won a resounding victory in July’s national poll and increased its share of National Assembly seats from 73 to 90, while also absorbing a steady trickle of opposition defectors.

Funcinpec stalwart Serey Kosal on Tuesday announced he was joining the ruling party after nearly two decades of trenchant opposition to the CPP and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

In October, the party’s ex-president, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, retired from active politics, thereby weakening – perhaps fatally – the country’s flagging royalist movement.

People with ideas don’t have power, and people who have power have no ideas.

But the CPP gains came in a national election that international observers saw as a distinct step forward, noting that the atmosphere during each poll since the UN-brokered elections of 1993 was marked by decreasing levels of political violence. “The July 27th National Assembly elections were the best example to date of Cambodian citizens freely assembling to express their will through the vote,” said US Embassy spokesman John Johnson by email. Continue reading


Obama: This is Your Victory

An inspiring speech by the 44th American President Barack Obama who claimed that ‘Change has come to America’.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

We have to acknowledge the progress we made, but understand that we still have a long way to go. That things are better, but still not good enough.

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Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The Garbage Patch is located within the North Pacific Gyre, one of the five major oceanic gyres.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex is an area of marine debris in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly in an area between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N.

The patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastic and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the  North Pacific Gyre. Continue Reading

Courtesy of Amanda

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What Does Development Mean in Cambodia?

អស្ចារ្យ​ណាស់​មិត្រ​ៗ​អើយ​សម័យ​អភិវឌ្ឍន៍​ហ្គ្លប៊លឡាយសេសិន​យើង ធ្វើ​ឲ្យ​ខេមរប្រទេស​យើង​អភិវឌ្ឍន៍​ឈាន​ឡើង​ម៉ែ​ឪ​អា​ដល់​ក​ព្រះ​ឥសូរ​ហើយ។

ថ្ងៃ​មួយ​នា​ក្រុង​ភ្នំពេញ​ ដូច​ដែល​យើង​បាន​ដឹង​ស្រាប់​ហើយ​ គួរ​ឲ្យ​អានិត​រដ្ឋ​យើង​ណាស់ ហេតុ​តែ​ក្រ គ្មាន​លុយ​គ្មាន​ប្រាក់​នឹង​គេ ច្នេះ​ហើយ​យើង​ត្រូវ​តែ…

ខ្ញុំ​ហួស​ចិត្ត គ្រាន់​តែ​ឃើញ​ភ្លាម​ទឹក​ភ្នែក​ខ្ញុំ​សឹង​តែ​ស្រក់​មក​ទៅ​ហើយ គ្រាន់​តែ​ខ្ញុំ​ខំ​ទប់​ស្មារតី និង​ស្រណោះ​ស្រុក​យើង​មែន​ទែន ខ្ញុំ​ចោទ​សួរ​ខ្លួន​ឯង​រក​ចម្លើយ​មិន​ត្រូវ​សោះ ហេតុ​អ្វី​បាន​ជា​ស្រុក​យើង​ដល់​ថ្នាក់​នេះ។

លោក​អ្នក​ជួយ​ពិចារណា​ផង​ចុះ ស្លាក​សញ្ញា​ជាតិ​មិន​ទាន់​វ៉ៃ​ចោល​ផង​ទេ ត្រូវ​គេ​សាង​សង់​សំណង់​ពាណិជ្ជកម្ម​មួយ​នៅ​ទី​នេះ​ពី​មុខ​រដ្ឋសភា​ថ្មី​ យើង។ តើ​ទី​តាំង​នេះ​ពិត​ជា​សមរម្យ​សម្រាប់​អាគារ​ពាណិជ្ជកម្ម​បែប​នេះ​ឬ? នៅ​ពេល​ដែល​ទី​នេះ​ជា​អតីត​សម្បត្តិ​រដ្ឋ កន្លែង​ជា​អាយុ​ជីវិត​នៃ​វប្បធម៌​ខ្មែរ ត្រូវ​ជំនួស​ដោយ​ទីតាំង​បែប​នេះ។




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Is This What McCain Thinks of Obama?

John McCain

Psychologists believe that fleeting expressions can sometimes reveal how we really feel about other people. The photo above of John McCain, taken by Reuters photographer Jim Bourg, shows the presidential candidate going the wrong way around the table after the third presidential debate and sticking out his tongue in the direction of Barack Obama. Does it unwittingly convey what McCain really thinks of his opponent?

It seems unfair to pick a single photo to describe how a candidate feels — all of us look like idiots during some part of each day. But we use expressions as guides all the time. Here is how John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama want us to see them. If unflattering pictures are deceptive, what about the flattering ones?

Or could it be that photos — at least the ones that are not posed — tell us something important? Psychologists such as Paul Ekman and John Gottman believe that microexpressions, rapid expressions often overlooked in everyday interactions, can give us important insights into a person’s innermost thoughts and feelings.

So is that McCain photo a hatchet job, or a window into his soul?

Source: Washintongpost

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Camboidan-Thai: Modern Conflict Near Ancient Ruins

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

BBC News

Thais are often surprisingly ignorant of the role they have played in wounding Cambodia’s national pride.”

A long-running border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia has just flared up, with soldiers exchanging shots for the first time. The BBC’s South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head looks at what caused this escalation of tension.

At the end of a day when two Cambodian soldiers were killed, several wounded on both sides, and 10 Thai soldiers reportedly taken prisoner, the language cooled down. Continue reading


United Nations University: 2008 Eisaku Sato Essay Contest

Occasion: 25th Eisaku Sato Essay Contest
Deadline: 31 January 2009
Organizer: Eisaku Sato Memorial Foundation for Cooperation with the United Nations University

About the contest
* Contributions are now being accepted for the 25th Eisaku Sato Essay Contest. The theme of the contest this year is “Poverty in Africa: How should the United Nations address the challenge of poverty in Africa?”
* This contest is open to international participation by anyone who has an interest in both the United Nations University and the designated topic. There are no restrictions as to age, nationality or profession.
* This contest, which was inaugurated in 1980, has been held annually since 1990. It is supported by the Eisaku Sato Memorial Foundation for Cooperation with the United Nations University, which was established by the late Eisaku Sato, former Prime Minister of Japan, with the monetary award he received with his 1974 Nobel Peace Prize.

Information for potential contestants
* Essays may be in either English (3,000-6,000 words) or Japanese (8,000-16,000 characters). English essays should be typed on A4-size paper and include an abstract of up to 450 words. Japanese essays should include an abstract of up to 1,200 characters.

* Each entry should be submitted in quadruplicate (four copies) and must include a cover sheet listing the contributor’s name, affiliation, age, gender, nationality, mailing address, and (if available) telephone/fax number and e-mail address.
* Within the context of the designated theme, essays should include due consideration of population, food, environment, development and resource issues.
* The deadline for entry is 31 January 2009. Submit entries by postal mail to:
The Eisaku Sato Memorial Foundation for Cooperation with the United Nations University c/o United Nations University Library
5-53-70 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8925, Japan
* A grand prize of \500,000, a second prize of \200,000, and several honorable mentions of \50,000 each will be awarded. The winners will be notified by June 2009; those who are able to attend will receive their prizes at a ceremony to be held later that month at the United Nations University.
* For further information, please contact the Foundation (e-mail: satofoundation@aol.com; tel. & fax 03-3409-0707).