Sihanouk Launches 'News From Cambodia' Blog, Postings Include Political Comment
CHINA FBIS REPORT
Thursday, March 10, 2005 T12:34:08Z
FBIS first observed the blog in late February at http://www.norodomsihanouk.info. Since then it has evolved into a daily report on a range of current issues, including some with political content. So far, most of the postings appear without comment while others contain subtle wording, or use question and exclamation marks, to convey Sihanouk's views--frequently as veiled tangents--on given issues.
The news feature is usually two- to five-screen pages long with most of the items handwritten in French by Sihanouk himself. Other items are reproduced from various newspapers, including reports from outside Cambodia.
Selected samples of recent news postings with imbedded political content include:
Phnom Penh newspapers are known to have carried reports on the following postings from Sihanouk's news blog. For example:
- On 8 March, Sihanouk reported that Cambodia plans to buy warships from China.
He wrote: "The National Defense Ministry of the RGC (Royal Government of Cambodia) is going to buy from the People's Republic of China a number of warships to patrol our territorial waters and, in particular to chase smugglers. H.E. (His Excellency) Son Chhay (of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party) said: 'They (the Defense Ministry) will spend $30 million to buy these ships. H.E. (co-defense minister) Tea Banh replied: 'We don't have that much money.'"
- On 7 March, Sihanouk commented on "the terrible" and then "lofty patriotic" Khmer Front Party (KFP), recalling its criticism of the government for abrogating a public holiday marking the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement on Cambodia and speculating that the KFP will win "a few seats" in the next general election. The KFP failed to win any seats in last year's election.
- On 5 March, a posting mentioned the recent campaign launched by Prime Minister Hun Sen against corrupt judges and prosecutors. It quoted Thun Saray, president of ADHOC (Cambodian Human Rights & Development Association), an NGO in Cambodia working to promote human rights, as saying he "is 'not yet satisfied' because the politicians at fault have never been punished."
- On 4 March, a posting commented on the US State Department's recent report that criticized Cambodia on human rights issues. He claimed the report was critical of some Cambodian political parties for "being racist and for inciting hatred of Vietnamese" and than, without any elaboration, said: "The USA, on the contrary, thinks that people are not strict enough against Muslims who are capable of being terrorists, or are suspected of being terrorists."
- On 3 March, a posting referred to Senate President Chea Sim's recent departure for medical treatment in Bangkok. It said: "Samdech Chea Sim left Cambodia once again for medical examination and treatment in Bangkok (Thailand). However, he was given as a 'bodyguard' His Excellency the great chief of our National Police (H.E. Hok Lundi). 'Bad tongues' in Phnom Penh said Chea Sim has powerful enemies within the all powerful CPP (Cambodian People's Party) and that H.E. Hok Lundy is charged with closely watching Samdech Chea Sim to prevent him from preparing a 'coup' . . (?) . . ."
- The pro-government daily carried in its 26-27 February hard-copy edition a report listing all nine items that appeared in Sihanouk's news blog of 22 February. Those items ranged from postings on: The KFP party accusing authorities in Phnom Penh of forcing it to sign a declaration renouncing further demonstrations; opposition party senators following their National Assembly colleagues in boycotting official meetings; and a posting noting that former Khmer Rouge officer Chhuk Rin "is well loved by the people in Phnum Voar area who are hiding him and feeding him."
- On 3 March the pro-government daily carried a report citing a 28 February posting by Sihanouk on the sexual mutilation of a Cambodian transvestite by two Japanese tourists. The report included Sihanouk's remark that the incident represented "a disgrace for us and the second Cambodian Kingdom."