29 April 2008

Q&A on Blogging in Cambodia

Questions & Answers (Q&A):

Nearly two weeks ago I was asked from one news publication here in Phnom Penh. The reporter of that news services wanted to write on "Blogging in Cambodia" so he sent a serie of questions. I responded right away. Here's my cut-n-paste from the email of my response to him :

Flag: courtesy of http://www.mir.com.my/leofoo/Cambodia2005/index.htm

Why do you think most Cambodian bloggers avoid talking about politics and political leaders?

It's true. The majority of Khmer bloggers write about poetries, stories and their normal everyday activities. There's nothing wrong with that. As long as we write something that would take a lot of effort already. Yes, most of our bloggers avoid the issues that matter the most for our country direction; that is politics and the country's leadership. For the very reason I feel we're still feared of being persecuted on anything we say about our leaders. I don't like to think like this. Our leaders' mentalities are that they are inviolable. No one can criticise them. Anything we said to offend them we could be the next target for a roadside accident or shot at. The assailants will always never been found.

On the other hand, what gives you the confidence to write about these issues? (I can see from your blog that you have written extensively about political issues that many others avoid.)

Yes, I do have some confidence to write. My confidence based from part of our Kingdom's constitution Chapter III, Article 41 guarantees that "Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly. No one shall exercise this right to infringe upon the rights of others, to affect the good traditions of the society, to violate public law and order and national security. The regime of the media shall be determined by law."

My writings are of my own opinion, feeling and curiosity based from what I read from our local news sources. I feel I've done nothing wrong. I have links to the sources where I got the news and I just write what I feel. Some issues I am skeptical. For example where PM Hun Sen get the money to build the parks and bridges and named them after himself. What rights has he got to do this? Who elected Madame Bun Rany Hun Sen for president of Cambodia Red Cross? Then there come my feeling: Must I write about it or should I remain suppressed forever?

I feel freedom of expression as stated in our constitution Chapter III-41 is very fundamental in our democracy. Our leaders, public officials must be opened to criticism or else our kingdom is no different from communist Cuba , North Korea or the Junta of Myanmar. Unless they're not dictators, sensible leaders do take heed from voices of our people and they would change accordingly for the better.

Has anyone ever cautioned you to be more careful in what you write about? Have you ever been threatened or reprimanded in any way?

My closest friends always cautioned me to be careful on my writings. They told me to stay 'low profile'. One major news agency wanted to meet me in person to interview me on the article of blogging in Cambodia . After consulted with my friends, I humbly declined to meet with the chief correspondent of that news agency. Oftentimes, I would like to attend the Cambodia Blogger (Clogger) summit or some Cambodia bloggers' meet ups. I would wanted to sit at these events anonymously. The event organizers wouldn't know who I am. I wanted to socialise with my fellow bloggers. On all of the occasions my friends strongly advised me not to go, but to stay low. It seems my friends feared more for me than myself of my own writing! Beside my friends' precautionary advises, so far no one has ever threatened or reprimanded me. And if I ever hear it from any of our officials I would like to see it in writing; I surely will post it on my blog.

Do you feel you have complete freedom of speech when you blog?

I want to think I have complete freedom in my writing. I don't want to feel bullied by the officials that they are untouchables, inviolable and above the rule of laws. Again, I feel it's nothing wrong to express our feelings as long as all of our writings are based from facts and references. As you see in my blog I always have screen captures and links to other sources where I got the news.

I've mentioned above from our constitution that it guarantees my rights to free speech as Khmer citizens. Do I really have complete freedom of speech ? Here's what I think that Chapter III, article 41 doesn't really clearly guarantee our full freedom of speech. It's sort of contradicting of what is stated in the premises: "Khmer citizens shall have freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly [...]" Then the last clause stated: "The regime of the media shall be determined by law." I feel our constitution is flawed. It is not really much of a guarantee if the premises stated we can do so then at the end it would say whatever I write "shall be determined by the law". Now we need to put capable heads together to rewrite and eliminate these 'double talks' in our constitution.

I occasionally read some of our bloggers express politics in their writings. I've noticed other blogs criticise pubic officials too. I am hoping the trend continues and would see more our bloggers write what are affecting them the most, socially. The freedom to express in our forms of speeches without fear of being persecuted is very fundamental on all of us Khmer citizens. Let say allow us to write on topics such as the bribery in judges, freedom of religions, the idiocy of the prime minister, corruption and illegal land grabbing, the kowtowing of our government to Hanoi government, illegal Vietnamese settlers…etc. If there are issues that are affecting our Cambodia interests, we should and must be able to address them freely.

PP Cambodia
21 April 2008

Constition: http://www.embassy.org/cambodia/cambodia/constitu.htm
Cambodia flag: http://www.mir.com.my/leofoo/Cambodia2005/index.htm

10 April 2008

The 'Strongman' PM Hun Sen Comparision Logic

Our Prime Minister Hun Sen was bloviating nonsense in his logic of comparing himself to the main opposition party Sam Rainsy. From Banteay Meanchey provice, PM Hun Sen critised that “If [Sam Rainsy] is still the opposition leader then I am continuing to be the prime minister….I congratulate you and you congratulate me. […] there’s nothing wrong. Don’t you ever say ‘Prime Minister has the same old face’ then what about opposition leader? [He too has the same old face] What do you have to say on that?[…] Don’t ever say ‘Prime Minister is the same old face and should be changed and changes we must’. What about yourself as the opposition leader. You’re the same face too. Why do you never mention it? “
I feel PM Hun Sen‘s childish comments was so low and sounded very desperate for him to have come up with this comparison. He needs to work on his logic a little bit or the schools who gave him the degrees might strip away even those honorary PhD’s that they have awarded him.

Mr. Sam Rainsy was never a prime minister. On the other hand among the world leaders, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Than Shwe of Myanmar, Fidel Castro of Cuba, our Cambodia PM Hun Sen, is already known the world’s longest record holder in clinging on to power.

ខ្ញុំ វណ្ណះ
ពី ក្រុង​ ភ្នំពេញ សួរស្តី ឆ្នាំថ្មី​ !!

08 April 2008

Gen Tea Banh -- Just a simple question to a Yes or No answer.

If I meet General Tea Banh I would like to ask just a simple question in which I would expect a simple answer in return: Sir, on 25 March 2008 did you ask the Vietnamese for their soldiers to come in to Cambodia to maintain security and public order in our coming July general election ? [Yes or No]. Could you please clarify on this a little bit ?

Vietnam newspaper published that you did ask for help. But then our Khmer government has denied the allegation. That's why I would like to hear from you, General.

Source: Cambodia declares it did not seek security assistance

04 April 2008

Job Opening at Radio Free Asia Khmer Service វិទ្យុអាស៊ីសេរី ជ្រើសរើសបុគ្គលិក

Here in Phnom Penh I listen to Radio Free Asia (RFA) almost every day. It is broadcast from Washington USA. I found out that RFA Khmer service is hiring reporter for a temporary job position. Since the deadline of applying is 13 April 2008 I have about 10 more days to think about in submitting my Curriculum Vitae to Khmer RFA director in Washington America. Although I don't know how much the pay will be for this position, but I thought it would be great to work for RFA. Since RFA is an American organisation, for me that would be my dream job of getting some experience. I would learn the American way of reporting. I once read that news reporting in western worlds is 'non-bias fair and balance on all angles'. To be eligible there are six qualifications RFA is looking for in the potential candidate:

1) HAVE EXPERIENCE IN JOURNALISM, PREFERABLE IN RADIO JOURNALISM: I have no experience in this field whatsoever. I never know what journalism is all about. Here in Srok Khmer I only know one thing about the news. News over hear are all bias. Most news media from newspapers, radios and all TV's stations are controlled by the PM Hun Sen party CPP. So obviously the media are incessantly praising how good PM Hun Sen and the rest of his CCP members are. Furthermore, what I know about journalism here is that if you report anything to make the ruling government not liking you, you could be a target on the government hit list. That's all I know about journalism.

2) HAVE A DEGREE FROM A CREDIBLE UNIVERSITY: I have none. I've never gone to any higher learning schools in all my life. I know university degrees look like. I've seen some from my friends who graduated from NUM, IFL and Panasastra here in Phnom Penh. They look very nice. My self-taught style of the English reading/writing couldn't amount to anything, let alone from a university! I wish I have a university degree. I want a real one though.
Not like the ones PM Hun Sen have got. He got a lot of PhD's . Often time I wonder how many more PhD's Dr. Hun Sen will get for rest of his life time ? With so many degrees he earned already without going to school, his wife Mrs. Bun Rany Hun Sen probably very, very proud of him. Sorry, I'm a little veered off the subject to talk about PM Hun Sen degrees. You see? Now you can tell the writings of a non-university degree is like. Onto the next qualification.

3) SPEAK KHMER AS A MOTHER TONGUE. Yes! This one I qualified. My native tongue is Khmer. I am Khmer 100% in heart and brain! I am very proud to be a Khmer born to Khmer parents from Svay Rieng Province. I can read and write Khmer fluently. In my brain, I think in Khmer then translate to English whatever I want to say. Although my birth Svay Rieng province in bordered right next to Vietnam, I know no 'Tieng Viet'. I don't know Thai either. The only two languages I know are Khmer and English.

4) KNOW KHMER UNICODE. Yes. ខ្ញុំចេះយូនីខូដខ្មែរ ខ្ញុំអាចវាយ word​​ processing ជាភាសា របស់យើង តែមិនអាច វាយ អោយបាន លឿនរហ័ស ណាស់ណា​ទេ. I know and could type our language Unicode. I maybe not a fast typist, but I could improve this skill very quickly.

5) BE COMPUTER LITERATE. Yes, Windows, word processing and internet including blog publishing. I love MS Word ! I write with MS Word - it automatically check my spelling. That's why you probably notice I don't have much of misspelled words. I don't claimed myself as expert at computer, but I do comfortably know my way around the PC.

6) BE PROFICIENT ESPECIALLY IN READING AND WRITING ENGLISH: Humm….huhhh... I wouldn't say am "proficient", but think myself as "literate" in the English reading and writing. Again, my English is self-styled learned from many English novels. I've learned new vocabulary, grammar and style of writing from these readings. What keeps me going everyday is my passion in readings. I remembered one time during my elementary schooling I didn't read or write for about 2 months during the holiday vacation. When school resumed, I started picking up a pen to write, I couldn't believe my hand was so stiff and slow in writing just simple words. From this experience on, I practice reading and writing regularly. Both of these skills have expanded my way of thinking dramatically.

Now you know where I stand on the qualifications. If you're the RFA director would you hire me? If not, it's OK, I won't feel bad. I would be continuing to write freely as I am right now. But if I am hired, I have one condition to ask. I'd request to send me straight away to my first assignment coverage on PM Hun Sen getting many of his bogus PhD degrees.