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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Thailand's verbal presentation for ICJ on Preah Vihear case

Full text of Thailand's verbal presentation before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague, Netherlands on May 30, the fist day of the hearing.

Thailand points out Cambodia accepted its compliance with ICJ Judgment of 1962; boundary line of whole stretch remains to be demarcated through negotiations

On 30 May 2011 from 16.00-18.00 hrs., the Thai legal team pleaded before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on the first day of the oral hearings on Cambodia's request submitted on 28 April 2011 for indication of provisional measures, pending the Court's consideration of the request for the interpretation of its 1962 judgment in the case concerning the Temple of Phra Viharn.

Thailand points out Cambodia accepted its compliance with ICJ Judgment of 1962; boundary line of whole stretch remains to be demarcated through negotiations.

On May 30, 2011 from 4pm to 6pm, the Thai legal team pleaded before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on the first day of the oral hearings on Cambodia's request submitted on April 28 for indication of provisional measures, pending the Court's consideration of the request for the interpretation of its 1962 judgment in the case concerning the Temple of Phra Viharn.

The presentation began with H.E. Mr. Virachai Plasai, Thailand's Ambassador to the Netherlands in his capacity as Agent of the Kingdom of Thailand, providing an overview of Thailand's policy and position as well as the political context pertaining to the Thai-Cambodian relations.

His presentation was followed by Thailand's three legal counsels, namely:

(1) Professor Alain Pellet, who pointed out that the Temple case of 1962 was not related to the issue of the boundary line, and that since Thailand had duly complied with the ICJ judgment, there would be no issue requiring interpretation;

(2) Professor James Crawford, who discussed the issue of jurisdiction of the Court and observed that Cambodia's requests for interpretation and for indication of provisional measures falls outside the scope of the Court's jurisdiction;

and (3) Professor Donald M. McRae, who examined why Cambodia's request for indication of provisional measures does not satisfy the Court's criteria, having no urgency or imminence to justify, pointing out also that Cambodia's request was unbalanced and highlighted progress made on the ground, including on the issue of dispatch of Indonesian Observers Team to the Thai side of the border.

In his opening address, the Thai Ambassador to the Netherlands made the following key points:

1. Thailand, as a good member of the United Nations, has accepted and duly complied with the ICJ judgment in the case concerning the Temple of Phra Viharn since 1962, despite its disagreement and the traumatic and controversial nature of the said judgment in Thai society.

2. The ICJ judgment of 1962 was about territorial sovereignty over the Temple, not the boundary line. Over the years, Cambodia has accepted the line showing the limit of the vicinity of the Temple in accordance with the Thai Cabinet decision of 10 July 1962 to implement the Court's judgment. No protest from Cambodia had been registered for over 40 years.

It was only very recently that Cambodia has begun to challenge this limit when it started moving to have the Temple inscribed on the World Heritage List. Furthermore, Cambodia has previously accepted that the boundary between the two countries must be jointly determined through bilateral negotiations, as the two countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Survey and Demarcation for Land Boundary on 14 June 2000 with a view to demarcating the entire stretch of the common land boundary, including the area of the Temple of Phra Viharn.

3. Thailand has always wished to live in peace with Cambodia and has made every effort to maintain good relations on the basis of cooperation and trust. It has no reason to wage war with Cambodia. Over the years, especially since the 1962 judgment, Thailand has played an active role in promoting peace in Cambodia, culminating in the Paris Peace Agreement of 1991. It also supported Cambodia's admission into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1999 and has been promoting integration of Cambodia, as a new member, into the Association. It has developed cooperation with Cambodia in various bilateral and sub-regional frameworks, including the Greater mekong Sub-region (GMS) ad the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS). Even after anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh in January 2003, which resulted in the burning of the Royal Thai Embassy and looting of Thai companies in Phnom Penh, Thailand's cooperation with and investment in Cambodia have continued to expand.

At the same time, Thailand has all along maintained a foreign policy seeking to resolve disputes peacefully through diplomatic means. It was one of the first countries to join the League of Nations in 1920 and the United Nations in 1946, and has also participated in peacekeeping operations in 21 countries, including in Cambodia between 1991 and 1993. Thailand, therefore, has no reason to break with its long held principle.

4. Thailand did not initiate any of the clashes - neither those which took place on 4-6 February 2011 in the area around the Temple of Phra Viharn, or those on 22 April to 3 May 2011 in the area near the Ta Muen and Ta Kwai Temples. Rather, Thailand was unprovokedly attacked by Cambodia and had to respond by exercising its legitimate right of self defence to defend its sovereignty and protect its civilians who had become targets by Cambodian forces. Its response has been with restraint and proportionality in accordance with international law.

Regarding the incidents around the Temple of Phra Viharn, Cambodia conducted military operations and carried out attacks from the Temple. This was in violation of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of 1954, to which Cambodia is a State Party. An examination of the chronology of events shows that these armed incidents in February and April-May by Cambodia were premeditated and synchronized with a well prepared political, diplomatic and media campaign.

5. Cambodia desperately needs this part of the Thai territory to serve as a "buffer zone" required for the management of the Temple and hence completion of the inscription of the Temple as World Heritage Site. Earlier in 2003, both governments agreed to set up a joint ministerial committee to jointly develop the site of the Temple of Phra Viharn. The committee met once to discuss the possibility of a joint nomination of the Temple. However, in 2004, Cambodia unilaterally nominated the Temple to be listed on the World Heritage List, without consulting the Thai side. Cambodia also promulgated a Royal Decree in 2006 to define the scope of the Temple area with zoning encroaching into Thai territory. Meanwhile, on the ground, Cambodia has moved to encroach into Thai territory by constructing a road, a pagoda and a community. This has not only violated Thailand's sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also the MOU of 2000 between the two countries. Thailand had made several attempts at negotiation to resolve these problems with no success. Thailand has lodged formal protests against such acts by Cambodia.

The Temple of Phra Viharn was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008. The inscription is limited to the Temple proper and Cambodia is under the obligation to submit a management plan for the World Heritage Committee's consideration. Over the past two years, Cambodia has been unsuccessful in obtaining the Committee's approval of the plan because Thailand cannot accept a management plan encroaching into its territorial integrity. The part of Thai territory claimed by Cambodia is indispensable for the successful and complete inscription of the Temple - a fact well known to both countries. This is why Thailand has proposed, on a number of occasions, joint nomination of the Temple - the offer which has been rejected by Cambodia.

Summaries of the addresses made by other members of the Thai legal team will be released shortly.
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Cambodians Get a Taste of Western Television

PHNOM PENH — The Victorian writer Anthony Trollope once described his characters as “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” From his Khmer Mekong Films studios here, Matthew Robinson and his staff create made-for-television tales of everyday people living exceptional lives.

Dubbed “the Pope of Soap” by the British newspaper The Sun, Mr. Robinson was a longtime executive producer of the British series “EastEnders,” now in its 26th year. Arriving in Cambodia in 2003, he applied the same formula to create three groundbreaking series for Cambodian television, with a fourth now in the works.

Why Cambodia? He saw an advertisement for an executive producer to set up a drama there and responded.

“After 37 years hacking at Britain’s TV coal face,” Mr. Robinson said recently in Phnom Penh, “I relished the chance to combine my acquired creative skills with teaching a public service project in a faraway country of which I knew little.”

After decades of civil strife, Cambodia remains the focus of comprehensive development. Western governments and their agencies have stepped in, invested as they are in these countries and keen to get multiple messages across.

Mr. Robinson’s first series, “Taste of Life,” was financed in 2003 by the British development agency DFID and managed by the BBC World Service Trust. Its purpose was to educate the Cambodian public about H.I.V. and AIDS. Mr. Robinson conjured a realistic narrative set in a hospital, using a vérité style that Cambodians quickly found irresistible — at one point 5.6 million viewers, or 40 percent of the country’s 14 million people, were watching. It ran for 100 episodes, from 2004 to 2006 on CTN, Cambodia’s most popular commercial TV channel.

The Cambodians picked up acting quickly, and a British crew was hired to teach them everything else, from set design to sound recording and special effects. Within two years Mr. Robinson had a skilled staff of 17 Cambodians handling most aspects of production.

In 2006 a second series, “AirWaves,” was commissioned by the U.S. State Department with the aim of discouraging Islamic fundamentalism and improving relations between the country’s majority Khmer and small Cham Muslim communities. The United States was also seeking to create a template that might serve other Southeast Asian nations.

“Cambodia was included as a sort of pre-emptive measure,” said Roy Schmadeka, of Impact International Solutions, the communications firm hired to initiate the project. Although Al-Qaeda terrorist incidents were neither known nor expected, “there was some concern of Islamist sympathizers residing amongst the Muslim population,” Mr. Schmadeka said.

The challenge, said Mr. Robinson, was to help Cambodians better understand the Chams, a and marginalized minority, while avoiding the suggestion that radicalism was a potent force in Cambodia. Leaders of Muslim communities were brought in as advisers and Mr. Robinson employed Arabic speakers to train Cambodian actors in Koranic verses.

The 52-episode series follows Sokhum, a young journalist who falls in love with a woman named Farina while reporting the outbreak of a riot centered around the village mosque. A Cham who has kept his ethnic identity secret, Sokhum is persuaded to “come out” under Farina’s influence. A third principal Cham character is a moral arbiter, or hakim, introduced by Mr. Robinson to underscore the group’s ethical core.

The series was nearly canceled over a story line featuring a young man returning from the Middle East with jihadist tendencies. Neither the Cambodian nor the U.S. government wanted “to highlight local involvement — however benign or, in our case, fictional — with terror groups, so the original story had to change its focus from involvement with terror groups to criminal gang involvement,” Mr. Schmadeka said.

The issue was addressed, finally, with call-ins during the last 10 episodes, in which listeners aired various grievances. By mid-series, about 4 million people were tuning in.

Mr. Robinson had barely finished “Air Waves” when he was approached by the War Crimes Studies Center at the University of California at Berkeley to make a semi-dramatized series that would introduce Cambodians to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC) set up jointly by the Cambodian government and the United Nations to prosecute senior members of the Khmer Rouge for its reign of terror that killed an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.

This was a departure from the “edu-tainment” of the first two series. Called “Time for Justice,” the series was aired several times on CTN and involved a fictional family meeting real lawyers and judges. It was such a success that the British Embassy decided to finance a larger project, “Duch on Trial,” a series of weekly court reports on the first Khmer Rouge leader brought before the court, who was tried and convicted in July 2010.

“It wasn’t just about introducing the legal process to the millions of Cambodians who know nothing about it, but explaining why someone like Duch, a mass murderer who pleaded guilty, had to have a fair trial,” Mr. Robinson said. “In a country where corruption is endemic, disputes are usually sorted out on a local level through the village chief or payment to a member of the political elite.”

“Duch on Trial” is best seen in the context of the ignorance among the younger generation of Cambodians of those terrible years. Silence within families has been compounded until very recently by the governmental removal of any discussion about the worst Khmer Rouge excesses from the educational curriculum.

Mr. Robinson suggested 25-minute highlights of the trials. “We were the only ones to report on the event as opposed to just having a camera present throughout the hours of boring deposition,” he said. The suggestion paid off. Before the first episode aired in March 2009, Mr. Robinson asked patrons of his local bar if they would watch the trial and the answer was a resounding no; a week later he returned to find them hooked.

“If the ECCC is to satisfy the demand for justice and reconciliation in Cambodia, it is important for its legal proceedings to be accessible to the general public,” said Andrew Mace, the British ambassador to Cambodia. “We supported the ‘Duch on Trial’ series as a great way of demystifying the processes of the court.”

The U.S. State Department grant is supplementing British and private funding for the second trial, said Lesley Saunderson of the British Embassy.

Round 2 promises to be longer and more dramatic. The four on trial this year — including Ieng Tirith, a Shakespeare scholar married to Pol Pot’s No. 2, Ieng Sary — proclaim their innocence while challenging the court’s legitimacy. It will make great television, Mr. Robinson said.
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Dengue Fever plays Northampton's Iron Horse Music Hall on June 6

By Michael Hamad

A decade ago, Dengue Fever guitarist Zac Holtzman, fresh off a 10-year stint with the San Francisco band Dieselhed who recorded two LPs for Bong Load Records in 1999 and 2000, started a new band, a Cambodian-American rock hybrid inspired by cassettes he had of popular Khmer musicians.

During the Vietnam War, Holtzman says by phone from his home in Echo Park, Calif., American troops dropped rock music on an unsuspecting Cambodia, forever changing the musical landscape of the diminutive country at the same time bombs altered the Southeast Asian countryside. “In addition to bombs, we dropped Hendrix, Funkadelic and James Brown,” explains Holtzman. “It totally changed their music.”

The brutal modern history of Cambodia, which is bordered by Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and the Gulf of Thailand and whose population overwhelmingly comprises the Khmer ethnic group, is well known. The Khmer monarchy became a French protectorate in 1863, at the end of a two-decade-long flowering of the arts under King Ang Duong. Nearly a century later, in 1953, Prince Norodom Sihanouk proclaimed Cambodia's independence, abdicated his throne, and became Head of State. On March 18, 1970, a military coup overthrew Sihanouk's government, and the Khmer Republic was born. Around that time, the Vietnam War began spilling over into Cambodia.

An entire generation of Cambodians was largely wiped out after the Khmer Rouge assumed control on April 17, 1975, and, in the next four years, killed two million Cambodians, including thousands of respected intellectuals and artists. (The lost musicians and their music is the subject of Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll, a documentary in production but already showing in Singapore.) The reign of terror ended in 1979, but a national constitution, along with a coalition government and a reinstated monarchy, wouldn't arrive until 1993.

To Cambodians, DF is a reflection, late '60s Cambodian pop in a mirror, informed by three subsequent decades of development in Western pop, back to its own shores, a sort of nonviolent, considerably sophisticated musical invasion. With a well-placed musical gesture, a foreign or familiar melodic mode, chord progression or beat, DF jumps between Western and Eastern territory, between the retro garage/surf rock of “Cement Slippers,” the second track on their latest Fantasy recording Cannibal Courtship, and the Afrobeat-heavy “Only A Friend,” or from the French pop of Stereolab on the title track, with harmonies by the Living Sisters, to its own punishing, mid-tempo chorus. It's like flipping a switch.

“I don't think we write them that way,” says Holtzman. “We don't plan out which modes we are going to use. But sometimes we just end up on those modes. A lot of the droning stuff too: When we play that rehearsal [lead singer Chhom] Nimol just starts singing along. If I just play something she'll just start singing. There are these different genres of Cambodian music that have dances that go along with them.” Nimol, Holtzman says, hears something familiar, and dives in.

Dengue Fever filmed its first band trip to Cambodia in 2005, a homecoming for Nimol, who hadn't been home in five years. “We wanted to capture that, and we wanted to film and record Cambodians' reactions to our playing their style of music,” Holtzman says. “Before we got there there were rumors that Nimol had started playing music with a Hollywood band and that they didn't know what to expect. They thought she'd become Celine Dion.” When Cambodians hear Dengue Fever they often “circle dance,” a slow, tai chi-like move, reminiscent of traditional Khmer social courtship dances — roam vung, roam kbach, saravine and liam Leav. The way Holtzman tells it, it's sort of comical for those used to Western rock audiences.

“The dance floor will be completely empty,” Holtzman says. “Then the band will start playing the song. Everyone takes one more bite of their food or another drink and they all go out on the dance floor. Then they'll go back to their food. It's like they are pacing themselves for the whole night.”

Dengue Fever released Electric Cambodia: 14 Rare Gems From Cambodia's Past, a compilation of songs by the original artists, in 2010. They give the proceeds to Cambodian Living Arts, an organization that helps underprivileged kids to sing and to dance and to learn from traditional master musicians. Cannibal Courtship, DF's fifth full-length album of original songs, Holtzman says, is “a game of tag, artistic tag of inspiration. That's how we came up with the name. It's us [the U.S. and Cambodia] being inspired by each other.” A gold double-necked Fender Jazzmaster/electric chapey — The Mastodong, as it's known — graces the cover. Nimol assumes the posture of a Khmer dancer. “We are dating each other's cultures and we are feeding off of each other,” Holtzman says.

A week after their show in Northampton, DF heads to England to headline the Meltdown Festival, curated by the Kinks' Ray Davies, and then at the Glastonbury Festival. In November, they'll return to Cambodia to play a show at the U.S. Embassy to celebrate 30 years of the two countries getting along. “It's great to be a rock and roll ambassador,” Holtzman says, and he thinks of his band as part of the current transformation of world music.

“It was a bad word, at least for us,” Holtzman says. “It used to mean Guatemalan pants.”

Write to Follow me on Twitter at @MikeHamad.

Dengue Fever With the Eternals. June 6, 7 p.m., $12-$14, Iron Horse Music Hall, 20 Center St., Northampton, (413) 586-8686 begin
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Muslims in Cambodia hail Malaysians' contribution to rebuilding their lives

KAMPUNG CHAM (Cambodia): The Muslim community in Cambodia recognises the contribution of Malaysians in terms of development and education to help rebuild their lives after a period of suffering under the brutal Pol Pot regime.

Kampung Cham deputy governor Sobri Kassim said since the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen ruled the country, the Muslims in Cambodia, however, had been given the flexibility to develop their economy and education, and to observe their religious practices.

"From that early stage, Malaysians have been coming here to help us," Sobri told participants of the Jejak Warisan Jawi II (JWJ2), an expedition to explore Southeast Asia and China to trace the Malay heritage, while on a stop in Kampung Jumnik, here, Wednesday.

The group also presented Malay cultural performances like the marhaban, berkompang and silat for the Malay community here.
Sobri described the JWJ2 expedition as a significant contribution to the Malays in Cambodia because much of the Malay culture and heritage had been lost after the reign of Pol Pot.

"I heard about the silat from my grandmother but did not expect to see it today," he said in fluent Malay.

Sobri said what had been brought by JWJ2 to the people here would remind them of the Malay cultural heritage that never existed before.

Kampung Cham deputy mufti, Yusof Said, also thanked Malaysians who he said, had given a lot of encouragement to developing the lot of the Muslims in Cambodia.

"They (Malaysians) have been with us from the beginning until now," he said.

Apart from Malaysians' contributions in cash and kind, Yusof said the religious schools in Cambodia were also using the Yayasan Islam Kelantan's religious secondary school (SMU) syllabus.

He hoped for more offers of scholarships to the religious school students here to continue their education to obtain the Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) in Malaysia as the religious secondary school level here is only up to Form Four.

"More than 200 students completed the SMU each year in Cambodia, but only 15 to 20 students were offered to further their studies in Malaysia," Yusof said.

The JWJ2 expedition, organised by Majma' Budaya and Warisan Jawi as well as 1Malaysia Putera Club, is supported by the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry.

It takes the participants through seven countries - Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam - on the 12,000km journey.
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