Saturday, October 22, 2016

China to help Cambodia modernize military, says gov't
Prak Chan Thul, Reuters
Posted at Oct 17 2016 05:33 PM

PHNOM PENH - China has agreed to help modernize Cambodia's military, Cambodia's defense minister said on Monday, after the two countries signed new agreements to boost military aid.
Cambodia is China's loyal ally in Asia, routinely backing Beijing's position at international forums in a region where China and United States vie for influence.
Cambodia has shielded China from criticism by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over the South China Sea. ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei are in disputes with China over rival claims to the waters.
"We signed some protocols with each other in providing supplies in order to modernize our work and as a contribution to strengthen stronger capacity of our national defence," Defence Minister Tea Banh, who returned from an official visit to Beijing over the weekend, told reporters on Monday.
His comments follow a visit to Cambodia by Chinese President Xi Jinping last week in which Xi praised the close ties between the two countries. China and Cambodia signed 31 agreements during the visit, including soft loan deals worth around $237 million.
The Chinese leader also cancelled around $89 million in debt and pledged another $14 million in military aid to Cambodia.
Banh said that Cambodia plans to acquire fighter jets from China in the long term but that the military needs to focus now on strengthening its airspace.
Cambodia has had border disputes with neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand. A border dispute with Thailand has in recent years resulted in sporadic exchanges of fire.

China Navy Fleet Visits Cambodia
Chinese vessels are in the Southeast Asian state for a goodwill visit in a further boost for defense ties.
October 18, 2016

This week, a Chinese naval fleet is visiting Cambodia to boost ties between the two countries.
The 23rd Chinese naval escort task force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy arrived at the port of Sihanoukville on Sunday for a five-day visit. It had just returned from its four-month mission in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast and had visited two other Southeast Asian states, Malaysia and Myanmar, before ending up in Cambodia.
On Monday, Senior Colonel Wang Hongli, the commander of the task force, paid a courtesy visit to Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister General Tea Banh in Phnom Penh. Banh said that during the five-day visit, Chinese personnel would visit Cambodian communities, share experiences in the area of maritime defense with their Cambodian counterparts, and participate in sporting activities.
“This visit will contribute to strengthening friendly relations and cooperation between Chinese and Cambodian naval personnel,” he told reporters after his meeting with Wang according to Xinhua.
The Chinese naval task force will also visit the Ream Naval Base of the Royal Cambodia Navy (RCN), the Chinese defense ministry said in a statement.
The visit, which the defense ministry classified as the fourth port call by Chinese PLA Navy warships “in recent years,” comes just days after Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Cambodia. During the visit, China had reportedly pledged $14 million in military aid.
Banh himself had also visited China last week. After his meeting with General Fan Changlong, the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, last Thursday, China’s defense ministry said in a statement that the two countries had vowed to push their ties to a “new height.”
Few details were available, though, on the exact meaning of that phrase. Khmer Times quoted Banh as saying that China would help Cambodia improve its military capacity and provide military technical skills.
“If agreement is possible, China will install and place military equipment in Cambodian national defense units to improve protective capacity,” he reportedly said.
Reuters, meanwhile, quoted Banh as saying that Cambodia planned to acquire fighter jets from China in the long term, but that the military was currently focused on strengthening its control of its airspace.

University students head to Cambodia on mission trip
Last updated 09:02, October 21 2016

Two weeks of scorching heat in one of the world's poorest countries lies ahead for Matthew McQueen.
The 23-year-old Aucklander is one of a group of five university students heading to Cambodia to volunteer for Catalyst, a North Shore based micro-franchise organisation.
McQueen and the group, Unify, will spend two weeks in November building 20 poultry coops on Catalyst's development farm in Kampot, a village not even tourist buses pass through.
The coops will supply enough chickens for 65 families to help them work their way out of poverty.

"The reality is we are going to be a little bit in the middle of nowhere which has quite a lot of risks involved. It's an exciting and unique opportunity," McQueen says.
"A few from our group have done trips like this but this is my first time which is quite exciting."
Catalyst provides business-based solutions to poverty for entrepreneurs in Cambodia to enable self-sufficiency, empowerment and personal growth.
The Unify team attend St Paul's Church in Auckland. This year, their community work has included lifting fellow students' spirits with 40 acts of compassion during exam time.
McQueen is completing a conjoint degree in engineering and finance at the University of Auckland and says most of the group hope to harness their business skills through the trip.
The students had a desire to head overseas on a mission and, through St Paul's, they connected with Catalyst co-founder and chief executive Gerard Wakefield.
Wakefield says this is the first group to volunteer with the organisation in Cambodia. He hopes it will open the door for other groups to work with Catalyst in the future.
"I think it's going to be an amazing experience and something which will have a significant impact on the choices they make and their life experiences," Wakefield says.
"We've got a group of dedicated young adults who are going through a difficult financial time as students, yet they're sacrificing their time and money to come over and help people.
"It says a lot about the calibre of's a life-changing experience money can't buy."
The team is hosting fundraising raffles and events in the lead up to their trip, which will help them get to Cambodia and pay for the chicken coop materials.
Go to to donate to the Unify team.
  - Stuff

We’ll always have Paris
Despite the lofty goals of the Paris Peace Agreement, 25 years on, Prime Minister Hun Sen has achieved his own.
By Alex Willemyns and Mech DaraFriday, October 21, 2016
Amid the winding-down of the Cold War in early December 1987, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Sihanouk met in the quiet northern French village of Fère-en-Tardenois for their first talks on ending Cambodia’s intractable civil war.
It was an overture that opened the road to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement – signed 25 years ago on Sunday – and followed two months after Hun Sen’s People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) regime had publicly outlined the details of the pact it sought.
Sihanouk would return to Phnom Penh, the PRK suggested, and take “a high place in the leading state organ” of the regime, while the Vietnamese military battling to overcome Sihanouk’s resistance forces would withdraw and let the PRK run elections.
It was the first acknowledgement that Hun Sen’s pariah republic needed the legitimacy that only the return of the popular former king could bring.
“They have come to understand that if Cambodia wants to recover its full independence, the country needs Sihanouk,” wrote Jacques Bekaert, The Bangkok Post’s correspondent in Cambodia, after the meeting, while noting the terms would never be accepted.
“They know Sihanouk is too realistic and too proud a man to accept simply joining the PRK in exchange for some mostly honorific position,” he wrote.
When the Paris Peace Agreement was finally inked on October 23, 1991, it accordingly included much more than the PRK’s original offer, promising free elections organised by the UN and a resulting liberal democracy with equal participation from all.
Yet if Hun Sen’s regime in 1987 seriously intended to secure the continuation of its total rule with the added legitimacy of a centuries-old monarchy and an opposition no longer heavily armed by foreign powers – a quarter of a century later, they have it.
Far short of the modern democracy promised in 1991, the Cambodian People’s Party – as the old PRK regime renamed itself that year – continues with its fingers deep inside every part of the state, from the courts and bureaucracy to the police and armed forces.

Indeed, from military commander-in-chief Pol Saroeun to his deputies Kun Kim and Meas Sophea to National Police chief Neth Savoeun – and even the Supreme Court’s top judge, Dith Munthy – those who occupy key state institutions are members of the CPP standing committee – the old communist politburo.
“The CPP didn’t ‘capture’ any institutions. It entered a vacuum in 1979, and held onto the institutions it had ‘owned’ since then,” David Chandler, a prominent historian of Cambodia, said yesterday, referring to the year the Khmer Rouge were toppled.
Chandler said he believed it impossible to say if the PRK ever intended to give up power to its rivals when it inked the Paris Peace Agreement – but that by the time the UN-run elections rolled around, it was clear the party knew it could hold what it had built.
“It seems clear to me that its leaders in 1992-93 had no intention of relinquishing power. They were not attracted to the concept of an open election and fully intended, like all Cambodian leaders before them, to remain in power whatever happened,” he said.
“Moreover, the UN did a poor job of replacing or disempowering the government ‘in place’ in Cambodia, which the CPP viewed as a completely legitimate institution.”
A 1994 New York Times article on the 1993 election – which Sihanouk’s son Prince Norodom Ranariddh won as leader of Funcinpec – even featured a CPP official expressing shock the royalists did not put up a fight for a real foothold in the deeper state.
“A senior official in the Interior Ministry, which controls administration down to the village level and the pervasive, Communist-style security apparatus, said People’s Party officials were in disarray when their election defeat was announced,” it said.
The official said the CPP “expected the victors to move in and claim the spoils,” according to the article. “But ... because of lack of organization, the royalists never did, and as a result the repressive Communist apparatus remained in place ‘from top to bottom.’”
The opinion was one supported yesterday by Nhek Bun Chhay, a Funcinpec military general who later served as defense minister in a coalition with the CPP, who said the former resistance was never in a position to take over or even share the levers of state.
“The CPP had a strong structure since the past – both the administration of the army and the police – this was the key factor that allowed it to run and control the country so easily up to now,” Bun Chhay said.
“Funcinpec did not have any strong structures, because we came from the border,” he said. “Therefore, we had not yet built any foundations inside the country – and secondly, there was the leadership. We did not have any clear strategies to run the country.”
“We regret that the UN spent more than $2 billion to give an opportunity to Funcinpec, which won the election, to run the country, but it was unavoidable that we could not run the country and would be left without anything.”
The absence of much effort from the UN to separate the CPP from the state it built – despite promises in the Paris Peace Agreement – also helped place the CPP in a position where it could “entrench itself in power,” said Carl Thayer, an emeritus professor at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Canberra.
The resulting imbalance of power – even as Ranariddh headed a coalition with the CPP – would later lead Funcinpec to court the last Khmer Rouge soldiers along the Thai border, angering Hun Sen and leading him to decide he had to remove the prince, Thayer said.
“This contributed to the so-called 1997 coup, the demise of Funcinpec and the entrenchment of the CPP in power,” he explained. With that, the only serious threat to the ruling party was extinguished.
“The UN’s electoral process and the political culture nurtured by the CPP were contradictory,” Thayer continued. “I have often quipped that the UN needed to conduct two consecutive elections in countries like Cambodia for democracy to take root.”

In any case, with the UN long gone, the situation that remained was that the opposition had been disarmed, the government was administering elections and Sihanouk – as king – was relegated to a ceremonial position – all as suggested by the PRK in 1987.
Hun Sen would come to assert the CPP’s vise-grip during the July 1998 election, which, like each successive election, was marred by accusations of fraud, while the UN’s human rights office verified more than 100 political killings in the year before the ballot.
The CPP has since 1993 repeatedly denied it has any control over the institutions of state meant to be neutral, and the party’s spokesman, Sok Eysan, said yesterday that the present state of Cambodia was a testament to its commitment to the 1991 deal.
“From 1993 until now in 2016 ... if we did things wrong, the country would not have such development like it does today. Therefore, our achievements are the result of implementing the spirit of the Paris Peace Agreement,” Eysan said. “That’s inarguable.”
Yet others have disagreed. 
The dire results of the Cambodia democracy project led John Sanderson, the commander of the UN’s peacekeeping force for the 1993 elections, to write in 2001 that the multibillion dollar project purchased little more than the right to forget the country.
“So much was promised to the Cambodian people by the United Nations ... that it is all the more poignant they find themselves in a state which remains largely lawless some nine years after the Paris peace agreements,” Sanderson wrote.
For many, the evaluation would remain an accurate reading of the country’s present situation, even on the 25th anniversary of the landmark agreement.

Post-accords, the world’s gaze shifted

A minister attached to Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday blasted the opposition party for using the Paris Peace Accords to “demonise” the government, calling them “power-thirsty demagogues”.

Uch Kim An was among several speakers at a conference yesterday at the Foreign Ministry to commemorate the pact’s 25th anniversary on Sunday.

In an apparent attack on the Cambodia National Rescue Party, the minister accused “demagogues” of trying to divide the country and “overthrow” the government by accusing it of ceding land to Vietnam, a claim many opposition members have made.

“Twenty five years after the return of peace and national reconciliation and five general elections later, some... power thirsty demagogues have nothing better than the Paris Agreement to demonise the elected government, accusing it of having ceded territories to Vietnam,” Kim An said.

Kim An, a former ambassador to France, also accused some elements of civil society, the media and “foreign agents” of pursuing the same “criminal objectives”, adding that those parties were pushing Cambodia into “blood and fire” for their own interests.

Coming after months of deterioration in Cambodia’s politics, Sunday’s milestone once again thrusts the relevancy of agreements into the limelight and the role of the international community.

Speaking at the conference, Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon defended the government in the face of recent criticism, including a 39-country statement expressing “deep concern” at the political situation, called for “understanding”.

“We are constantly victims of inference in our internal affairs, we ask to be understood and not to be judged; we are keenly mindful of our own weaknesses,” he said.

Besieged by legal cases widely considered politically motivated, the opposition party last month petitioned the embassies of signatory countries to the Paris accords, calling for them to help uphold its provisions protecting human rights and democracy.

“The Agreements will remain relevant until their vision is a reality for all Cambodians,” said CNRP president Sam Rainsy via email.

However, calls for a more active role by the international community face a very different reality from the superpower geopolitics that drove the 1991 agreement, said Sebastian Strangio, author of Hun Sen’s Cambodia.

“The PPAs were essentially put together by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who then proceeded to push their Cambodian proxies to sign it,” said Strangio, via email.

“[The agreements] were crafted as a way of disentangling foreign powers from Cambodia, not deepening their involvement. It was a way of putting the country’s destiny back in Cambodian hands, for better or worse.”

In an interview on Wednesday, former Indonesian Ambassador Wiryono Sastrohandoyo said there was little international actors could do to implement the agreement fully.

Sastrohandoyo stressed he was not up-to-date with current Cambodian politics, but discussing questions in the wake of the 1991 pact as to whether the terms would be carried out, he recalled Hun Sen was “a man who plays politics with guns”.

“Political will is not a matter of political will; it is produced by circumstances,” said the retired diplomat, who assisted the late Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas during talks preceding the accords.

“My minister was one of the troika team when things developed in the wrong direction there, but what can international personalities do? Not much, except advising, giving views,” he added, referring to a three-man ASEAN team that visited Cambodia in 1997 after Hun Sen ousted Prince Norodom Ranariddh as the first prime minister in bloody factional fighting.

The former Indonesian envoy was among several diplomats involved in the negotiations who addressed yesterday’s conference, along with French Ambassador Jean David Levitte and former Japanese envoy Yukio Imagawa.

In his speech at the conference, Levitte recalled in detail the intensive multi-state negotiations surrounding the accords and suggested they could be used as “inspiration” to approach a settlement of the Syrian conflict.

Ear Sophal, the author of Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy, said in an email it appeared the world had “moved on” when it came to Cambodia, leaving no chance of further intervention.

“Is Cambodia better off today than it was 25 years ago? Yes. Could it have been even better off? Absolutely,” said Sophal, also an associate professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

“Are only the foreign signatories of the Paris Peace Accord to blame? Absolutely not. At some point, Cambodians have got to own the problem. And the problem is lack of rule of law and property rights, never mind democracy.”

Lead photo: Eric Feferberg/AFP
Production and design by Daniel Nass

Cambodia worst in region for rule of law: report
20 Oct, 2016 Cristina Maza

Cambodia ranked 112 out of 113 countries surveyed globally and dead last in the East Asia and Pacific region when it comes to the perceived rule of law, a new report released today states.
The annual Rule of Law Index, published by the legal non-profit World Justice Project, measures how rule of law is perceived in countries around the world by scoring eight factors: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice.
Of the 15 countries surveyed from the East Asia and Pacific region, Cambodia scored lowest and New Zealand highest, with countries like Mongolia and Malaysia falling somewhere in between. Among all 113 countries rated worldwide, Cambodia came in 112, scoring just below Afghanistan and above only Venezuela, a country experiencing food shortages and frequent violence.
“Cambodia is a country that is struggling in many areas, and I was hoping to see a little bit of progress since last year,” said the World Justice Program’s Alejandro Ponce, one of the study’s authors.
Cambodia dropped two points in the ranking since last year’s report. Order and security, which refers to the absence of violent crime and civil conflict, was the only factor for which Cambodia received a slightly less dismal score, ranking number 81 out of 113 countries. But the country still remained in the bottom third for all eight factors identified, scoring the lowest in civil justice, with absence of corruption and open governance trailing close behind.

Cambodia’s courts are among its most maligned institutions. Last September, a delegation from the International Bar Association slammed Cambodia’s judiciary as riddled with corruption and political influence and called on the body to consider booting the Kingdom’s bar association from its ranks.
More recently a slew of questionable court cases against rights workers and members of the opposition amid a period of elevated tensions have been decried as baldly political. Just last week, UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith said that she had raised concerns with the Justice Minister over the seemingly flimsy cases, saying she feared “the depth of evidence does not meet the international standards of proof”.
According to Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, pervasive corruption in nearly all sectors of society is contributing to Cambodia’s low ranking. Government leaders will need to crack down on corruption, especially in the country’s judicial system if rule of law is to be strengthened in the Kingdom, Preap said.
“Fighting corruption must genuinely be on top of the government agenda in practice, not just in political propaganda or rhetoric,” Preap said yesterday, adding that the government should sign up for the Open Government Partnership, an international initiative that aims to secure commitments from governments to promote transparency and good governance.
“We believe [it] will change the Cambodian outlook and significantly improve its image,” he added.
The report’s authors used a general population poll that surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 respondents from the three largest cities of each country, Ponce explained. Questionnaires were also given to in-country experts on topics like civil law, criminal justice and public health.
Those surveyed were asked to rate everything from freedom of association to the right to information and non-discrimination in the criminal justice system.
“There are questions about experiences people have encountered, so whether they have paid a bribe to the police, or if they paid a bribe to access public health systems, or what their experience was if they requested information,” Ponce explained.
“So this is a reflection of whether people feel they find justice or not.”
Sinathay Neb, director of Cambodia’s Advocacy and Policy Institute, noted that access to information, a field in which Cambodia scores low, is key to ensuring that the government responds to citizens’ needs.
“Without a clear mechanism and legal framework for open information and citizens’ right to know, [a lack of rule of law] will continue to affect the development of the country and citizens’ lives,” Neb said.
Government spokesman Phay Sipha, however, was dismissive of the report’s findings, which he characterised as “biased”.
"Cambodia’s government doesn’t care about ranking, because [the report] serves its own purpose,” he said. “It’s biased and selective; they do their own research for their own interest."

UN envoy says Paris Peace Accords ‘not yet fully fulfilled
in Cambodia’
20 Oct, 2016 Ananth Baliga and Niem Chheng
Rhona Smith speaks to the media yesterday at the OHCRH in Phnom Penh during the last day of her official visit. Hong Menea

Wrapping her 10-day visit to Cambodia, UN envoy Rhona Smith yesterday said that many elements of the historic Paris Peace Accords – which turn 25 on Sunday – have yet to be “fully delivered”, singling out promises of human rights protections and free and fair elections.
The special rapporteur, on her third fact-finding mission to the country, said the 1991 agreement had laid the groundwork for the judiciary to implement the constitutional requirements to protect human rights, but that they had been implemented “in an apparently discriminatory or politicised manner”.
“I suspect that there is no doubt that many elements in the Paris Peace Agreements are not yet fully fulfilled in Cambodia – many of the those elements relating to the fundamental protection of human rights,” she said at a press conference yesterday.
Reacting to those comments, government spokesman Phay Siphan said Smith was wilfully ignoring that the language in the accords had long since been superseded by the “supreme law of the land”: the Kingdom’s constitution.
“Who is to say whether it is fully implemented or not? She is a special rapporteur,” Siphan said. “She insults our constitution.”
Siphan said the human rights protections in question were embedded in the constitution and the government was properly focused on implementing Cambodian laws.
During her visit, Smith met with multiple ministers, civil society organisations, indigenous groups and citizens affected by land disputes. Among the raft of issues raised were the jailings of five people over their connection to an alleged prostitution case against Cambodia National Rescue Party acting president Kem Sokha.
While Smith wasn’t able to meet the four jailed Adhoc staffers and one election official – who have been jailed for nearly six months with no trial date set – she called on the government to release them if the cases against them did not meet international evidentiary standards.
“With respect to the five detained individuals from Adhoc, I reiterate my call at the UN Human Rights Council that their charges should be proven or they should be released immediately with their case closed,” she said.
As for the ongoing tensions between the two major political parties, Smith yesterday urged engagement, though spokesmen for both parties had differing ideas of what that might mean.
Cambodian People’s Party spokesman Sok Eysan said the ruling party wasn’t opposed to negotiation, though any discussions would not broach the topic of jailed CNRP politicians or rights activists. “We won’t have two-party negotiations in order to free prisoners. If we negotiate to free prisoners, it means we are playing the role of the court.”
Opposition spokesman Eng Chhay Eang yesterday maintained that while they considered the cases politically motivated, they had no “pre-conditions” for negotiations. “What’s important is that they open the door for talks. When we talk, we believe we will find the solution,” he said.
After meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen during her first visit last year, Smith said it had been difficult to schedule a meeting with the premier since, adding that it was unfortunate she could not discuss pressing issues directly with him.

Singapore’s data mirrors UN’s in Cambodia’s sand export numbers

19 Oct, 2016 Alex Willemyns and Mech Dara
Sand dredgers moored off the Chroy Changvar peninsula last year near Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

The UN data showed $752 million in imports of sand from Cambodia since 2007, despite Cambodia reporting only about $5 million in exports to Singapore.
Mines and Energy Ministry spokesman Dith Tina said on September 27 that the UN data, which recorded 72.7 million tonnes of Cambodian sand entering Singapore from 2007 to 2015 but only 2.8 million tonnes leaving Cambodia, were not based on “concrete proof”.
However, customs data obtained from Singapore’s Trade Ministry yesterday for half that period – 2011 to 2015 – are for each year the same as the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database figure, and show Cambodia exported $405 million of sand to Singapore.
Where the UN data showed $91.29 million of sand from Cambodia to Singapore in 2011, the customs data – converted from Singaporean to US dollars at that year’s average exchange rate – show a near identical $91.32 million of arrivals of Cambodian sand.
The government recorded only $707,843 of total sand exports to Singapore that year, according to figures from the Commerce Ministry.
For 2012, the UN’s data show $69.27 million leaving Cambodia for Singapore, whereas Singapore’s customs data show $69.33 million. Cambodia recorded only $457,647 of sand exports to Singapore that year.
The figures match for every subsequent year, with the most sand sold in 2014. In that year, UN data record $127.76 million of sand leaving Cambodia for Singapore, and the Singaporean data show $127.81 million. Cambodia recorded only $70,883 of sand exports that year.
Unlike the UN’s data, which note both the volume of exported sand and also the value, the Singaporean customs data note only the value.
Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2009 banned the export of dredged river and marine sand from Cambodia – except for where the sand was obstructing waterways – but the status of that ban has since been unclear, with many large-scale dredging operations continuing unabated.
Tina, the Mines and Energy Ministry spokesman, who last month also called use of the UN data “unprofessional” and told a local media outlet the disparity could be due to different valuation methods on each end, declined to comment on the customs data yesterday.
“Why do you keep on asking the ministry to accept the figure declared by . . . we don’t know which institution? Why don’t you ask the owner to comment on their figure?” Tina wrote in an email, denying that the differences may suggest something illegal occurred.
“How did you get to this logic? It’s more constructive if you can provide concrete proof showing illegal activity and the perpetrators,” he said.
Tina said six firms had licences to export sand. He did not respond to questions about the status of the 2009 ban.
Singapore’s embassy in Phnom Penh also did not respond to a request for comment. However, an embassy official said earlier this year that the export of sand from Cambodia was a commercial matter and did not involve the Singaporean government.
Alejandro Gonzalez-Davidson, the founder of the NGO Mother Nature who was deported in February 2015, said in an email he believed the hundreds of millions of dollars of sand exports were being hidden to protect companies like CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat’s LYP Group from rebuke.
Neither Yong Phat nor representatives of the LYP Group could be reached for comment yesterday.
“Those high up in the government who are organizing and abetting this crime, together with partnering cartels such as the LYP Group, want to ensure that their criminal activities are not widely uncovered, primarily so that they can continue smuggling sand,” Gonzalez-Davidson said.
“The government should immediately place a moratorium on all further sand extraction activities along coastal estuaries of Cambodia. Then relevant government authorities should take a trip to fishing communities affected by the mining and go from house to house apologizing for these last nine years of thievery.
“After, they should publicly apologize to the entire nation for this total scam, and then start returning the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been pillaged from the nation,” the activist added.