Guide to pages

Cambodia's 1998 Election

SRP Documents

(Page 8 of 9)


Last gasps of an opposition coalition



(The following joint statement was released in Bangkok by the President of FUNCINPEC, Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Wednesday, November 4, 1998. SRP President Sam Rainsy is in Paris.)

KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA

NATION - RELIGION - KING

MAIN POINTS OF A POLITICAL PLATFORM

FOR A COALITION GOVERNMENT IN CAMBODIA FOR 1998-2003 _______________

A JOINT PROPOSAL BY FUNCINPEC AND THE SAM RAINSY PARTY

November 4, 1998

Taking into consideration His Majesty the King's remarks to the new members of National Assembly of Cambodia, on September 24, 1998, in Siem Reap, to the effect that: If we all as Cambodians accept to unite and to make necessary sacrifices for the construction and defense of our nation, our Cambodia will recover its good reputation and its national strength, and

Recalling that the people of Cambodia voted in great numbers on July 26, 1998, for peace, full respect for human values, the rule of law and economic prosperity and that the people of Cambodia understood clearly that in so doing they were not voting for any particular individual to consolidate power but for a new beginning, and

Recognizing that a number of unresolved issues must be addressed before a credible and legitimate coalition government can be formed,

FUNCINPEC and the SRP, in the spirit of national reconciliation and national interest, wish to move forward with a discussion of political programs of the next coalition government with the Cambodian People's Party. The FUNCINPEC and the SRP firmly believe that an honest and serious discussion of areas of agreement between the parties is needed in order to form a lasting coalition government.

In this regard, FUNCINPEC and the SRP note with interest the seven-point program outlined by the CPP on October 22, 1998. Although a number of points are common between the three parties, FUNCINPEC and the SRP emphasize that proposals must be matched by the political will to implement them.

I. IMMEDIATE TASKS

A. TRUST AND CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES

FUNCINPEC and the SRP believe that the underlying cause of the current deadlock is the lack of trust between the CPP and the opposition parties. Trust and confidence-building measures should be seriously considered if the negotiation is to be successful and the coalition government to last.

1. Reintegration of Armed Forces

General Nhek Bun Chhay and his troops near the Thai border are part of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. They are recognized as such by the Japanese Peace Plan. The negotiation for their reintegration failed due to technical problems. It is now more than ever necessary to resume this negotiation and speed up the reintegration process. Without reintegration, the formation of the coalition government cannot be successful.

2. Amnesty for People Convicted in Political Cases

The issue of amnesty must be addressed if the coalition partners are going to work together in the next government. No one can envision a situation in which a party allows its loyal generals and others politicians be labeled as criminals while it enters into a partnership with the party which condemns them. Giving amnesty is a necessary gesture for building trust and confidence among the government partners.

3. Safety and Security of Opposition Leaders and Activists

Recent acts of intimidation and repression against the opposition include the travel ban that was only lifted on the intervention of the international community and the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in which dozens were killed, up to 200 people detained or missing, and many more in hiding.

We are aware of the government's appeal for the return of all politicians currently taking refuge abroad. However, FUNCINPEC and the SRP require a credible guarantee from the government which details concrete security measures to ensure their safety upon their return, particularly during the period of negotiation, and their future freedom of movement.

FUNCINPEC and the SRP advocate that all charges against opposition leaders and leaders of the pro-democracy demonstrations be dropped and that arrest warrants not be used as a form of intimidation or threat. The immediate release of all the detainees and the return of their confiscated property is a necessary gesture for national reconciliation.

4. Status of Opposition Broadcast Media

To ensure fair access to the media among all political parties, the television and radio stations which were operated by the FUNCINPEC and its private partners before the July 5-6, 1997 coup must be returned to their owners and be allowed to function without interference. The process of licensing broadcast outlets must be opened up to ensure fair access and possible ownership by any political party.

B. PACIFICATION

FUNCINPEC and the SRP put as their highest priority the end of armed conflict in Cambodia. Towards that end, we will keep the promises we made to the people during the electoral campaign. Among them is the promise of physical, social and economic security and stability necessary for the people to prosper in peace. FUNCINPEC and the SRP need a guarantee that the following issues will be immediately addressed and achieved in the shortest time frame possible:

1. Dissolution of the Local Militia

Although necessary in wartime, with the end of the Khmer Rouge the existence of the local militias is no longer warranted. Often they are more the problem than the solution.

2. Elimination of Illegal Arms and Explosives

There are millions of illegal firearms in Cambodian society, taking a daily toll of victims. The government has failed to control them through a licensing system, and the black market in weapons is flourishing. The coalition government must eliminate illegal weapons and greatly decrease the number of weapons in the country.

FUNCINPEC and the SRP support efforts to address this serious issue, but we must have a guarantee from the CPP that an ongoing crackdown on illegal weapons uses proper procedures and respects civil and human rights. Furthermore the confiscated firearms must be destroyed so they cannot be resold in the black market.

II. PROGRAM FOR A NEW DIRECTION

A. THE RULE OF LAW

Failure to implement or enforce the existing laws has degraded respect for the law in both the powerful and the common people. Stronger mechanisms to implement existing laws must be established, for the sake of the country's economic and social development. The rule of law will be the basis for the survival of the next government and of a partnership between parties. FUNCINPEC and the SRP need a guarantee that the new government will address the following issues:

1. Human Rights

As soon as it takes office and until the end of its mandate, the government will restore, protect and guarantee for every citizen all the rights enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all relevant international treaties and covenants to which Cambodia is signatory. Democracy is impossible without respect of the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly.

2. Ending Impunity

For the past five years the government has failed to prosecute and convict any individual suspected of major human rights abuses, including the March 1997 grenade attack, the murders of several journalists, the summary executions of FUNCINPEC members after the July 1997 coup, political crimes during the 1998 elections, and the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in September of this year.

The perpetrators of extrajudicial killings and other crimes must be prosecuted. Those in positions of power must not be immune from punishment. Investigations must be carried out by an independent committee guaranteed free from partisan control.

Article 51 of the Civil Servants Code must be immediately abolished if the government is serious about ending the culture of impunity.

Human rights NGOs and the UN human rights center must be encouraged and assisted in their commendable work. The government must formally request that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) complete its investigation of the March 30, 1997 grenade attack and publish its report.

3. Reconstitute the NEC and the Constitutional Council

The controversy over the disposition of complaints on election irregularities and fraud by the National Electoral Committee shows that the NEC's impartiality, neutrality and independence is in question. For example, FUNCINPEC has no representative on the NEC as required by law. Further, the election of the NGO representative was tainted by credible charges of corruption and vote buying. In order for the NEC to be truly neutral, independent and impartial, it must be reorganized.

Similarly, the composition of the Constitutional Council, the highest body interpreting legislation and to decide election disputes, fails to guarantee the Council's independence, neutrality and impartiality.

Both bodies must be legally reorganized. Political parties must be barred from appointing their members to these institutions.

4. Confronting and Reducing Corruption

The problem of corruption is at the root of Cambodia's predicament. The extreme poverty of the vast majority of the Cambodian people is largely attributable to the corruption of a privileged few.

An independent anti-corruption committee with broad powers must be established to combat all forms of corruption, nepotism, cronyism and influence-peddling. The committee will have a special role to play in dealing with the issue of illegal logging which is associated with widespread corruption.

Another independent body equivalent to the US General Accounting Office (GAO) or the French Cour des Comptes must be formed in order to detect misspending or overspending by State institutions.

5. Combating Organized Crime

The fight against organized crime (mafia and triads) whose activities are thriving in Cambodia must be a top priority. Corruption, money laundering, trafficking of human women and children are part of the social ills that destroy the credibility of and the confidence in the government. The government can not gain the trust of the people if strong measures are not taken to address these serious problems. The army and the police forces must be profoundly reformed to break their links with organized crime. The government must cooperate more intensively with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Interpol and other competent international agencies in order to track down traffickers and their accomplices.

6. Immigration and Territorial Integrity

Illegal immigration must be dealt with through a proper implementation of the existing immigration law with strict adherence to human rights, and Article 2 of the Constitution, specifying the borders of Cambodia, must be respected. Only through such measures can Cambodia deal effectively with the issue of ethnic tension. A policy of good neighbors must be adopted to maintain friendly relations with neighboring countries and stability with the region.

7. Contribution of the Civil Society

The Constitution upholds the rights of the citizens in all their diversity. The government must ensure the full participation and contribution by the people through an active civil society that includes non-governmental organizations, people's organizations and civic groups.

Cambodia has a history of violent abuses of rights, of repression and of genocide. To a tragic degree these still affect the daily life of Cambodian people at all levels. But the people's participation in governance can transform the present culture of violence to a culture of tolerance and democracy.

Legislation to enable NGOs to work within the framework of the law may be necessary, however no legislation should limit the activities and freedom of the NGOs.

B. GOVERNMENT REFORMS

Reform is part of the National Program of Rehabilitation and Development of the government launched in early 1994. While recognizing the complexity of such an ambitious program, FUNCINPEC and the SRP require that the implementation of reform programs be given top priority by the next government. Among the components of the programs are:

1. Administrative Reforms

The neutrality, independence and transparency of the administration means an administration of the State and not of a party nor of a government. Only with such requirements can the administration reach a level of competence, efficiency and professionalism to meet the challenge of the market economy. Neutrality and transparency of the administration will allow the country to be governed within the law when faced with economic or political crisis.

The independence and neutrality of the administration puts all Cambodians at the same level. It all ensures that the people will be served and not controlled by those in power.

2. Judiciary Reforms

FUNCINPEC and the SRP propose that a team of competent and independent judges have the mandate to lead the program of judiciary reforms. The competence and neutrality of all current judges must be reevaluated. If necessary, they must be required to participate in a training program or removed.

The police and security forces must immediately stop taking justice in their own hands. Their role in the justice system must be limited to its proper scope.

3. Increase Civil Servants and Armed Forces' Salaries

Much of the petty corruption and inefficiency of civil servants, police and the military is due to their low salaries. The new government must pay its employees increasing salaries out of the increased national budget which results from improved revenue collection and reduced corruption.

4. Re-assess and Inventory State Properties

State properties are invaluable assets of the country. Most of them have been sold or privatized in recent time. There is real need to make their inventories and re-assess their values. These properties should be properties of the state. State inventories have not been conducted in recent times or not made transparent. To prevent further misuse of state properties and assets, proper measures must be taken and a proper inventory is one of these measures. State properties and assets found in the possession of a party or individual must be returned to control of the state.

C. ECONOMIC MEASURES

1. Resumption of IMF Assistance

All the requirements (benchmarks and performance criteria) set by the IMF for the resumption of its assistance must be met as soon as possible. These requirements must be viewed not as an inconvenience imposed by outsiders, but as necessary and positive measures to ensure good governance for the sake of Cambodia. They include consolidation of the rule of law, budgetary transparency and proper collection of forest revenues as elaborated in this document. A resumption of the IMF assistance is conducive to the resumption of other international assistance desperately needed by Cambodia.

2. Poverty Alleviation

For Cambodia to escape its current state of poverty, it must develop a program to build income beyond subsistence levels in order to enable self-sustaining development. The government must be fully committed to attacking poverty by developing human resources, by shifting resources to the health and education sectors and by building social safety nets for the vulnerable. The proportions of the national budget now allocated to defense and security (40%) and on health, education and rural development (15%) should be reversed.

3. Framework for an Efficient Market Economy

The Cambodian economy is now under the control of a handful of businessmen or family-owned companies which are allowed to operate on the fringe of legality because of their close links with people in power. To ensure a sound and sustainable development for the country, the economy must be opened up to competition from both within and outside the country, in line with a genuine market economy. Illegal and secret contracts signed by any individual or public authorities will be revised or canceled.

4. Defense of Workers Rights

The government will start to actively defend the rights of workers by enforcing the labor law, just as it defends the rights of private business by enforcing the commercial law. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor will insist that employers respect the labor law and regulations. By 1999 the monthly minimum salary should be raised from US$40 to $60. Working hours should be reduced from 48 to 44 hours per week. Independent unions must be allowed to operate without threat or harassment.

5. Privatization of Rubber Plantations

After timber, rubber is Cambodia's second source of export revenues (up to US$40 million per year). Because of corruption and poor management, rubber plantations bring no revenue to the State. Their privatization will be conducted according to transparent procedures, with assistance of friendly governments and the participation of reputable companies.

D. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

The government must take steps to protect all natural resources both to preserve them and to raise revenue and reduce dependence of foreign aid. The revenues raised from the sale of natural resources must support programs of social development, not the armed forces.

Illegal and anarchic logging associated with rampant corruption must be stopped. The government cannot continue to pay only lip service to the public concern for the depletion of natural resources, the destruction of the environment , the disruption of the ecosystem, the resulting floods and droughts, and the subsequent food shortage for the population. The government must respond to well-founded criticism with more than cosmetic measures and empty promises.

The fight against corruption will be a determining factor in putting an end to deforestation. Adequate power will be given to the anti-corruption committee to help save Cambodia's forest and increase revenues for the State.

The government must redefine and implement a forest policy based on recommendations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Global Witness. All logging contracts must be made public; those not in line with acceptable standards and practices must be revised or canceled. Severe sanctions must be taken against officials responsible for the past destructive policy. Forest revenues (which should approximate US$200 million per year) will be transferred in totality to the state coffers to be used chiefly for a vast reforestation program and a much needed rehabilitation of the irrigation and water-control system.

This program does not attempt to be an exhaustive list of the changes and new approaches that the next government must make. It also does not attempt to spell out proposals in detail; specifics must be agreed upon through an open and honest discussion process among the parties that represent the popular will.

Many of the proposals will require accommodation and even sacrifices from some sectors, especially in the short term. However the political parties and elements in Cambodia can work together if they agree on the basic goal of building a more democratic, more prosperous society for the collective benefit. Debate on the details of the programs will be necessary, but that is a healthy part of democratic society.

If the parties and the people must be united in a common agenda, and if the international community fulfills the promise of the Paris Peace Accords by continuing to offer financial and technical assistance, FUNCINPEC and the Sam Rainsy Party believe that significant progress in the rehabilitation and development of Cambodia can be achieved in the next five years.

[END]


[END]


STATEMENT

November 6, 1998

NO GUARANTEE OF SAFETY FOR OPPOSITION

The November 6 statement from the Office of the Spokesman of the present Phnom Penh regime claiming that political party members enjoy full rights to travel and to carry out political activities is empty.

The dozens of opposition supporters who were murdered before the elections and the peaceful protesters whose tortured bodies have been surfacing in the Mekong had the same rights that the regime is now assuring.

Reports from the United Nations released in the past few days further confirm that political opponents of the regime are subject to violations of their human rights at the will of the regime. None of the perpetrators of these crimes are ever brought to justice, because the regime has complete control of the justice system.

The regime has destroyed its own credibility by systematically and deliberately abusing Cambodian legal processes. It is a total breakdown of the normal guarantees of basic human rights.

Given the regime's atrocious record of rights violations and abuse of the legal process, the statement that "freedom of movement in and out of the country cannot apply to those who have a prima facie case to answer to the court" is nothing more than a threat.

The only reason that the regime insists on a summit inside Cambodia and rejects any international role in assuring safety and free movement is that it refuses to negotiate with anyone who is not its hostage.

The Sam Rainsy Party affirms its readiness to participate in any talks or summits if it can participate freely. This could be in any reasonable location outside Cambodia, or it could be facilitated by guarantees from the King or the international community. However, we will not participate in negotiations under threat.

[END]

For further comment in Phnom Penh, call Rich Garella on 855-12-802-062. In Bangkok call Yim Sovann on 66-2-679-4003.


[The following statement is Thomas Hammarberg's oral presentation to the General Assembly, made on Nov. 6 when he presented the Sept. 17 "Situation of human rights in Cambodia" report. This is not an authorized official release. It was scanned in from paper by SRP staff, a process that may have resulted in minor typographical errors, but it is otherwise complete and unaltered. For SRP information, call Rich Garella on 855-12-802-062.]

PRESENTATION OF THE REPORT BY THE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN CAMBODIA

Third Committee of the General Assembly 6 November 1998

The phenomenon of impunity continues to be a most serious problem in Cambodia, in particular with regard to unlawful acts by the military and the police. Limited personnel and economic resources have contributed to the deep problems within the court system. I have appealed for more assistance to justice reform in Cambodia. Bilateral cooperation, mainly with Australia and Japan, has been valuable. The UN judicial mentors programme has also been a constructive contribution and can, hopefully, be further developed. However, there is also a need for the Government to give higher priority to this problem. Statements on this point during my recent visit by Second Prime Minister Hun Sen were encouraging.

The Supreme Council of Magistracy was finally convened in December 1997. It is time that this body now will start effective work. its role, according to the Constitution, is to oversee the functioning of the judicial system and make appointments to the judiciary. It has to take strong action to protect the judiciary from political pressure, intimidation by military officers and corruption. Clearly, decisive measures are still needed to establish a genuine independence of the court system.

The General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights resolutions recommended the repeal of Article 51 of the 1994 Law on Civil Servants. This section of the law provides that, except in cases of flagrante delicto, no civil servant may be arrested or prosecuted for any crime unless the concerned Minister gives his consent in advance. The impact of this provision has been clearly negative and judges have told me about their frustration with Article 51. The Minister of Justice has indeed proposed an amendment but no action has been taken to that effect. A proposal ought to be submitted to the new National Assembly as a matter of priority.

Serious crimes with a political connotation, including assassinations, have still not been clarified. The two experts who in April 1998 on behalf of the High Commissioner and myself inquired about the investigations into the hand grenade attack in March 1997 and the killings in July-August 1997 concluded that inquiries, when undertaken, had lacked vigour and determination. They pointed at the necessity of legal and organizational reform, improved professional training within the police and the judiciary but also at the need for clear signals from the highest levels of Government in order to break the culture of impunity.

When the Government had received the expert recommendations as well as further cases of reported killings, it decided in June 1998 to establish a Governmental Human Rights Committee to initiate investigations into the individual cases but also to propose structural responses in order to improve the functioning of the administration of justice. The Committee was also requested to prepare for the establishment of a statutory independent National Commission on Human Rights. It is important that these tasks are tackled with seriousness.

During my recent mission in late October I presented another progress report on politically related violence which again indicated the need for serious investigations and that firm action be taken against those responsible. I responded positively to a request from the Government Human Rights Committee about providing legal and technical expertise in order to take steps against the phenomenon of impunity.

Another dimension of impunity in Cambodia relates to the massive violations committed by the Khmer Rouge in the seventies and which still are not addressed. In fact, no one has been punished for any of the serious crimes and human rights violations which took place during those years.

However, His Majesty King Sihanouk, Government Ministers and leading opposition politicians have all reacted positively to my proposal, supported by the General Assembly last year, about international assistance for the purpose of assisting Cambodia in responding to past serious violations of Cambodian and international laws. This is in response to a letter by the two Prime Ministers on 21 June 1997 which requested support for bringing to justice those persons responsible for the genocide and/or crimes against humanity during the rule of the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. A Group of Experts was appointed by the Secretary General in August 1998 and will arrive in Cambodia on 14 November in order to assess existing evidence and propose further measures. This is considerable progress and an important development also for the overall combat against impunity.

When in Cambodia recently I got new assurances from His Majesty the King and the Government, including from Second Prime Minister, that they look forward to cooperating with the Group of Experts.

Prison conditions in Cambodia continue to be very poor and there are still food problems in some of the prisons. The co-Ministers of interior have, however, opened a constructive discussion with me on these problems and I have suggested further international assistance for prison reform. An Australian aid project in this field has been appreciated. Again, this is an urgent issue for the new Government.

Torture and ill treatment of arrested persons is another problem which ought to be put high on the reform agenda. In spite of the efforts by the Ministers of Justice and interior, I have received new evidence about such serious malpractice. A comprehensive strategy is needed, one aspect of which should be to dismiss and punish policemen who are proven guilty of having used torture. Measures are also required to halt the excessive use among policemen of lethal weapons when trying to capture suspects.

The conditions for workers in the garment and other industry are still of concern. The Labour Code is not respected in a number of factories in Phnom Penh and the authorities delay registration or new trade unions.

I am also concerned about the lack of progress in the field of women's rights. The rate of girls dropping out from school is high, especially at secondary level. Women are victimised through domestic violence and their access to public health facilities is insufficient. There is no genuine encouragement of women participation in political and public life. After the :1998 election, still less than ten per cent of the members of parliament are female.

Major efforts are needed for the rights of the child in order to remedy problems in the field of education, to reform the system of juvenile justice, to put an end to the practice of recruiting minors to the armed forces and to combat other hazardous child labour, including child prostitution.

There have been police actions against persons organising prostitution, including child prostitution, but further measures are needed to protect young people from being exploited and to rehabilitate children who have gone through such an ordeal. I am particularly concerned about the frequency of HIV infection among prostitutes, including young ones, and the lack of preventive and social action to address this acute problem.

The rights of minorities is another field which needs to be addressed. Improved legal protection is needed as was illustrated during the election campaign and its aftermath. I have publicly reacted against xenophobic anti-Vietnamese statements and pointed out that these might incite violence.

The protection of the rights of the indigenous peoples also requires strong measures against unwanted logging. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination gave the Cambodian Government a number of recommendations which ought to be acted upon in a systematic fashion In this, the international community should be prepared to offer advisory services and other assistance, if requested.

Cambodia has ratified all six major international human rights conventions. It has now submitted reports on the implementation of three of these: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The reports on the other conventions are delayed and should be given priority by the new Government: the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Though regretting the delays, I have expressed my support to the approach taken that the reporting process itself is used for a thorough discussion on ways of improving the respect for the international standards.

Last week there was a major conference, with many international visitors, in Cambodia to highlight the continuous problem of landmines. This is a daily trauma for the Cambodians. Even with new techniques it will take 30 years before the de-mining task is completed. In the meanwhile innocent children, women and men are going to be maimed by these planted killers. Cambodia needs continued assistance for de-mining and I am happy to report that the Government now is submitting a draft law to the new National Assembly banning all production, trade, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel mines.

My mandate as once formulated by the Commission on Human Rights includes three tasks. The first is to maintain contact with the Government and people of Cambodia. During my five visits so far this year I have met Government representatives and officials on national, provincial and local level as well as representatives of political parties and non-governmental organisations. I have met His Majesty King Sihanouk, who continues to give most valuable support for the promotion and protection of human rights in the spirit of the Constitution. The discussions with Government representatives have for the most part been constructive.

In order to fulfil my second task, to guide and coordinate the United Nations human rights presence in Cambodia, I have stayed in constant touch with the Cambodia office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The office assists me during my visits in Cambodia as well as during their preparation and follow up. I have met with the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General in Cambodia, Lakhan Mehrotra, and other key representatives of the United Nations system During the election campaign period I related to other international representatives in order to clarify the importance of the human rights aspects in the elections themselves.

My third task to assist the promotion and protection of human rights in Cambodia is partly Fulfilled through my reports, like the one I present here. I have continuously raised concrete problems directly with the authorities at central and provincial level. Furthermore, I have argued for international assistance for the promotion of human rights in Cambodia for reforms of the court and prison system, education and training of law enforcement personnel, reform of the school system, support to non-governmental organisations, etc.

It is in the nature of reports such as the one I present here that there will be a focus on critical and negative aspects. The intention, however, is constructive. Clarification of the nature of the problems is a basis for improvements. I have encountered good will among many Cambodians inside or outside the Government structures and the justice system, which gives a promise of determined future action.

The non-governmental organisations in Cambodia are important which they again demonstrated during the election period through impressive voter education and polling observation.

We, in the international community, should remember that Cambodia still suffers from the misery caused by war and mass scale repression and killing. The more important that we support constructive efforts to build a society ruled by law and protecting human rights.


Norodom Ranariddh

President, FUNCINPEC

Sam Rainsy

President, Sam Rainsy Party

November 5, 1998

Glenys Kinnock

Member of the European Parliament

E.U. Special Envoy to the 1998 Elections in Cambodia LEO 13G210, Rue Wertz

1047 Brussels, Belgium

fax: 32-2-284-94-02

Dear Ms. Kinnock,

Now that the European Union has, through its Chief Observer Sven Linder, indicated that its observational role is completed, we request that the European Union strongly urge Cambodia's National Election Commission (NEC) to undertake a public and transparent reconciliation of the ballots.

It is impossible for our parties to move ahead and participate in a government on the basis of official results that are unverified. It would be a betrayal of our supporters, who comprise at least a strong plurality of the Cambodians who voted, and they have communicated this feeling to us. Most Cambodians simply do not believe that the official election results accurately reflect the will of the people. This skepticism is grounded in many years of experience under the current authorities and was fed by the failure of the NEC to follow legal and transparent procedures.

As you know, there were approximately five million ballots used, but nine million were printed. The failure of elections officials to allow observers to monitor the counting in nearly half of the communes in the country, the well-documented improper storage and handling of the ballots, the reports we have received of ballot bags being dumped out in rivers, and the refusal of the NEC to allow observers to monitor the ballot bags in storage all lead us to believe there was ample opportunity to replace opposition ballots with "unused" ballots before or after the official counting.

Under the seat allocation formula quietly introduced by the NEC--also without proper approval--a moderate amount of ballot-box stuffing or miscounting would have been sufficient to give the CPP the majority they now claim and fundamentally change the Cambodian political landscape.

We simply cannot imagine any legitimate reason for the NEC's refusal to carry out this routine post-electoral task, given that it would add great credibility to the election results and remove a major stumbling block to the formation of the next government.

Furthermore, we are at a loss to understand why the outside sponsors of the election do not press for a reconciliation. We do not know of a single public comment on this issue from any diplomat, even though the July 27 Polling and Counting Day report by the Joint International Observing Group (JIOG), chaired by the EU's Sven Linder, specified that "its final conclusions on the Electoral Process will be subject to full acceptance of the voters' verdict through appropriate conduct in the post-election period by all parties and subject to the vote tabulation and complaints and appeals processes being carried out satisfactorily." None of these goals were met, yet once again the international community lowered the bar and gave the elections a passing grade.

Early last month even the Cambodian People's Party itself joined FUNCINPEC and the Sam Rainsy Party in formally asking the NEC to conduct the reconciliation. The NEC agreed on October 3 to do so, but instead of a public reconciliation it merely presented a list of numbers on October 10. Not surprisingly, they added up perfectly.

The apparent satisfaction of the international community is deeply puzzling given that a proper reconciliation might restore to some degree the somewhat tarnished reputation of the sponsors among many Cambodians and alleviate some of the resentment against them.

The Cambodian people are left with the strong impression that the outside sponsors, led by the European Union, themselves do not actually believe the elections were fair, despite their positive reports. In this they appear to join Hun Sen, who has linked our request for a reconciliation of the ballots with "attempting to destroy the election results." If even Hun Sen believes a reconciliation would prove the official election results wrong, then surely these elections have no significant credibility in Cambodia.

If the international sponsors truly believe that the project was successful, then they should request that the NEC go ahead with an open and well-monitored ballot reconciliation conducted in consultation with observers from all three parties. We also recommend that the importance of the reconciliation be made clear to the ruling party, whose very close relationship with most members of the NEC is no secret. After the profound involvement of the European Union in the entire electoral process, such insistence could hardly be viewed as excessive "interference."

A transparent and accurate reconciliation would not represent a concession by the CPP, which has, at least in public, joined us in this request. However it is a gesture of good faith which is fundamentally important to a resolution of the current impasse. The reconciliation should have been done three months ago. The longer it takes the more suspect the election results become and the more difficult it is to proceed on the basis of those results.

Perhaps the greatest contribution to democracy and stability in Cambodia that the European Union could make at this juncture would be a successful effort to promote a ballot reconciliation. We await a positive response with great hope.

Please accept our assurances of the highest consideration,

[signed]

Norodom Ranariddh

President, FUNCINPEC

[signed]

Sam Rainsy

President, Sam Rainsy Party


Paris, 12 November 1998

To HRH Prince Norodom Ranariddh

President of FUNCINPEC

Your Royal Highness,

I wish you great success in your discussions with the leaders of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) due to take place this afternoon in Phnom Penh under the high chairmanship of His Majesty the King.

You have my full support in the defence of the national interest and in pushing for the adoption and implementation of fundamental reforms intended to put Cambodia back on her feet, help democracy take roots and achieve a real and sustainable development for our country, as elaborated in our joint proposal (main points of a political platform for a coalition government) made public on 4 November 1998.

The views you will expose this afternoon are supported by over half of the Cambodian electorate as reflected in the total of votes (51%) collected by the political parties forming or supporting the National United Front (NUF). If the last elections had been free and fair the opposition would have collected a much greater number of votes. In all cases, you represent a political force more important than any other group in Cambodia. In the National Assembly the opposition controls an absolute majority of the seats (62 out of 122) on the basis of a legal and fair formula for seat allocation. Therefore you are more entitled than any other political leader to speak on behalf of the Cambodian people and to defend their aspirations for peace, democracy, prosperity and social justice.

Please, receive the assurance of my respectful consideration.

(signed)

Sam Rainsy

President of the Sam Rainsy Party


ADVISORY

November 12, 1998

RAINSY LOOKS TO FUTURE OF FRENCH POLICY ON CAMBODIA

While in France, party president Sam Rainsy and other party officials have been meeting with numerous politician and government figures in an effort to bring a more balanced understanding of Cambodian issues to French policymakers, who have been central in the European Union's much-criticized role in the Cambodian elections.

A key meeting took place on Monday November 9, when SRP Secretary-General Yim Sokha and Steering Committee member Tioulong Saumura, both MPs, met with Louis Le Pensec, a member of the French Senate, in his home town of Mellac, in the western part of France. Meanwhile party president Sam Rainsy met with with two other French senators.

Elected last October as Member of the Senate, Le Pensec will soon join the Senate Commission for Foreign Affairs. He is one the leaders of the French Socialist Party, and was a minister in several socialist governments. Until last month he was Minister of Agriculture, but when he was elected as a senator he decided to quit the government. (It is not possible in France to be both a minister and an MP or Senator). For several years in the 1980s, he was in charge of foreign affairs for the French Socialist Party. At that time he met Prince Sihanouk in Paris.

Le Pensec had met Yim Sokha in 1996, when Le Pensec was an MP and Sokha was the editor of the "Voice of Khmer Youth", facing prosecution for an article published in his paper. When Yim Sokha was later put in jail under a sentence on one year, Le Pensec sent a letter to King Sihanouk requesting his royal pardon. King Sihanouk offered the pardon and Yim Sokha was soon freed.

During Monday's two-hour meeting, the two Cambodian MPs explained the situation in Cambodia following July's flawed elections. The issues of human rights abuses, corruption, illegal logging were also discussed in detail. The basic conditions for real negotiations and for a successful coalition government, detailed in the Funcinpec-SRP joint political platform, was also presented to the French Senator.

During a press conference afterward, Le Pensec told the press that he had taken note of the issues raised by the Cambodian MPs and would discuss these problems with French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hubert Vedrine and Minister of Cooperation Charles Josselin.

"A new French Ambassador arrived in Phnom Penh recently; it is a good opportunity to have French policy in Cambodia reassessed carefully", said Le Pensec. He explained that he would join the French Senate's France-Cambodia-Laos Friendship Group, and would follow carefully the Cambodian problems both in this group and in the Commission for Foreign Affairs.

The French Senator summarized the demands of his Cambodian guests, saying, "What they want is only that Cambodia lives under the rule of law".

[END]


STATEMENT

Paris, November 14, 1998

SRP WELCOMES PROGRESS AT SUMMIT TALKS

The Sam Rainsy Party welcomes the progress made by FUNCINPEC and the Cambodian People's Party, under the auspices of King Norodom Sihanouk, toward formation of a legal government in Cambodia. Party president Sam Rainsy is expected to return to Phnom Penh, via Bangkok, within a week, preparatory to participating in the National Assembly meeting set for November 25.

The agreements made at the summit talks on Thursday and Friday come after extensive consultation between Prince Norodom Ranariddh in Bangkok and Sam Rainsy in Paris. Because Prince Ranariddh was speaking for the opposition and representing the opposition's policies in the summit, the SRP is not surprised to see that the agreement includes key components of the joint political platform released by FUNCINPEC and the SRP on November 4, specifically amnesties for the five unjustly convicted political opponents of the regime, reintegration of the armed forces, and endorsement of the program for Cambodia's future.

We furthermore welcome the agreement to support Prince Ranariddh's candidacy for the Presidency of the National Assembly. This is critically important to ensuring a check on the ability of one party to act unilaterally.

However, there is still much to be done. Many more issues must be decided before Cambodia can move forward in a democratic direction. The role of the proposed upper chamber of the legislature must be further defined. The Assembly must elect its officers, and a new Government must win a vote of confidence. The Constitution must be amended to create the new Senate. All Members of the Assembly must be guaranteed the freedom to vote according to their consciences on these matters.

As to the formation of a coalition, the SRP has always maintained that it is not interested in ministerial portfolios and other posts for their own sake. We remain absolutely committed to democracy and justice in Cambodia. Our members have risked their lives and sacrificed their lives in this struggle.

Our goal is to promote political reform in Cambodia, in order to create a government that is accountable to the people of Cambodia and serves the people of Cambodia, instead of exploiting and repressing them; that respects the Constitution, the King and national and international law; and that honestly addresses the grave problems facing the nation, including deforestation, corruption, abuse of human rights, impunity, food shortages, epidemic disease, and drug trafficking.

The progress made in the past few days creates an opening for such reform. As long as this opening exists, the SRP will be pleased to participate either in opposition or in the Government. All options remain open, as the endorsement of the next Government is the exclusive province of the Assembly. We congratulate the ruling party for publicly endorsing a program of reform. Whether in Government or opposition, we will do our best to ensure that the promise of reform becomes a reality.

[END]

For further comment: In Phnom Penh, call Rich Garella on 855-12-802-062 or Ou Bunlong on 855-15-835-547. In Bangkok, call Yim Sovann on 66-2-679-4003 or e-mail knpsr@ksc.th.com.


STATEMENT

Paris, November 14, 1998

SRP WELCOMES PROGRESS AT SUMMIT TALKS

The Sam Rainsy Party welcomes the progress made by FUNCINPEC and the Cambodian People's Party, under the auspices of King Norodom Sihanouk, toward formation of a legal government in Cambodia. Party president Sam Rainsy is expected to return to Phnom Penh, via Bangkok, within a week, preparatory to participating in the National Assembly meeting set for November 25.

The agreements made at the summit talks on Thursday and Friday come after extensive consultation between Prince Norodom Ranariddh in Bangkok and Sam Rainsy in Paris. Because Prince Ranariddh was speaking for the opposition and representing the opposition's policies in the summit, the SRP is not surprised to see that the agreement includes key components of the joint political platform released by FUNCINPEC and the SRP on November 4, specifically amnesties for the five unjustly convicted political opponents of the regime, reintegration of the armed forces, and endorsement of the program for Cambodia's future.

We furthermore welcome the agreement to support Prince Ranariddh's candidacy for the Presidency of the National Assembly. This is critically important to ensuring a check on the ability of one party to act unilaterally.

However, there is still much to be done. Many more issues must be decided before Cambodia can move forward in a democratic direction. The role of the proposed upper chamber of the legislature must be further defined. The Assembly must elect its officers, and a new Government must win a vote of confidence. The Constitution must be amended to create the new Senate. All Members of the Assembly must be guaranteed the freedom to vote according to their consciences on these matters.

As to the formation of a coalition, the SRP has always maintained that it is not interested in ministerial portfolios and other posts for their own sake. We remain absolutely committed to democracy and justice in Cambodia. Our members have risked their lives and sacrificed their lives in this struggle.

Our goal is to promote political reform in Cambodia, in order to create a government that is accountable to the people of Cambodia and serves the people of Cambodia, instead of exploiting and repressing them; that respects the Constitution, the King and national and international law; and that honestly addresses the grave problems facing the nation, including deforestation, corruption, abuse of human rights, impunity, food shortages, epidemic disease, and drug trafficking.

The progress made in the past few days creates an opening for such reform. As long as this opening exists, the SRP will be pleased to participate either in opposition or in the Government. All options remain open, as the endorsement of the next Government is the exclusive province of the Assembly. We congratulate the ruling party for publicly endorsing a program of reform. Whether in Government or opposition, we will do our best to ensure that the promise of reform becomes a reality.

[END]

For further comment: In Phnom Penh, call Rich Garella on 855-12-802-062 or Ou Bunlong on 855-15-835-547. In Bangkok, call Yim Sovann on 66-2-679-4003 or e-mail knpsr@ksc.th.com.


An edited version of the following letter appeared in The Cambodia Daily. Here is the unedited letter, followed by additional comments:

November 19, 1998

The Daily reported on Wednesday that CPP Vice President Hun Sen has "guaranteed the safety of opposition figure Sam Rainsy and all other members of parliament." I wish I could agree. We have to get beyond the threats and manipulations and put the country onto the path to political reform, the rule of law, and economic progress.

Unfortunately, Hun Sen and his spokesmen seem unable to stop equivocating on this point. It should be easy for them to say, "Rainsy and the SRP Members of the Assembly have no charges against them and will not be arrested."

But instead they make roundabout statements, full of loopholes that can easily be exploited by a legal system that is completely under their control. Like the election commission's notable failure to account for the four million ballots left over from the election, this equivocation raises suspicions that ought to be needless.

The suspicions they raise have a purpose: to send us a clear message that the ruling party would prefer the SRP members not to return in any capacity, and that it retains the ability to limit our freedom.

It is the same strategy the ruling party used to keep the opposition out of the country for nearly two months-meanwhile blaming the opposition for the food shortages caused by its own failures and for the hold-up in aid and investment caused by its own refusal to follow Constitutional procedures and to allow an independent judiciary.

We expect to be able to participate in the National Assembly at its November 25 meeting, as free and conscientious representatives of the people. We hope that the leaders of the CPP will demonstrate the good faith necessary so that together we can begin to address the pressing issues that face Cambodia.

[signed]

Sam Rainsy

President, Sam Rainsy Party

* NOTES *

To be more specific, the current food shortages in Cambodia have been largely caused by deforestation, which the the regime has not stopped but rather encouraged and collaborated in. This pillaging of the environment has padded the pockets of government and military officials and their cronies at the expense of the Cambodian people. For the last five years Rainsy and the KNP/SRP have consistently fought against this deforestation using every available legal means.

We reprint below an SRP statement from May 5, 1998, on the possibility of famine in Cambodia. At the time, several news organizations downplayed our analysis. Experts from international organizations were quoted saying that the prospect of a famine was exaggerated. In light of this year's tragic rice crop failures, it is time to re-examine the effects of environmental destruction and take serious measures to stop it.

-----------

Phnom Penh, May 5, 1998

AS A DIRECT CONSEQUENCE OF RECENT AND MASSIVE DEFORESTATION FAMINE IS LOOMING IN CAMBODIA

Over the last four weeks, I have travelled all over Cambodia (Battambang, Pailin, Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Takeo, Kampot, Kampong Chhnang) and talked to thousands of farmers. All over the country, the situation in the rural areas is the same: there is an unprecedented and catastrophic drought as evidenced by the following facts:

- The weather is terribly and exceptionally hot in the current dry season; contrary to previous years, there has been no "fresh months" (normally November, December, January).

- The weather is terribly and exceptionally dry; normally some rains should have started to fall in the "mango season" (April) but this has not been the case this year. Coconut, banana and other trees die in large number, bringing desolation to countless villages throughout the country. There is a general and severe water shortage. Wells, ponds, streams, rivers, canals and reservoirs have dried up. People in the countryside have to carry water over unusually long distances from their homes to meet their daily needs. Many people, including the poorest, have to buy water. - In areas where "dry season rice" is normally cultivated from January to March, near lakes, rivers and reservoirs thus allowing two crops a year farmers have hardly produced anything this year because of the exceptional drought.

- The "rainy season rice" (from May to around the end of the year) which makes up the bulk of rice production is jeopardised by the lack of rainfalls. There is fear that if the weather is as dry towards the end of this year as it was last year, in the months preceding the harvest, there will be a very poor crop.

- Over the last four weeks, rice price at the retail level has soared by fifty percent (50 %), on average from 800 to 1200 Riels per kilogram.

Many villagers are now facing food shortage which is likely to become more and more severe over the next few months. Famine is looming and, without adequate relief programmes, could turn into a tragedy.

Large scale and anarchic deforestation over the last few years has definitely disrupted the ecosystem. Deforestation dramatically accelerates soil erosion which in turn provokes the phenomenon of sedimentation/siltation which fills canals, ponds and natural reservoirs with mud and makes rivers and lakes shallower and shallower. In the rainy season, this tends to provoke flooding, while in the dry season it tends to provoke drought since water recedes and dries up more and more quickly. In the meantime, there is less and less forest to retain moisture in the soil and in the air. Water vapour produced by the forest is an important factor to bring about rains. Deforestation, by eliminating leaves, branches and roots that slow down falling and running rain water, also accelerates the flowing of rain water once it touches the ground towards rivers, thus allowing a shrinking quantity of rain water to filter down through the earth and to form/renew underground water tables: this explains why wells tend to dry up.

An old farmer in Battambang province told me that for the fourth consecutive year, and for the first time in his life, he has suffered from successive flooding and drought in the same year, leading to a sharp reduction of his farm production.

Deforestation is criminal because it triggers a desertification process leading to crop reduction, food shortage and increasing sufferings for the rural people who form eighty percent (80%) of the Cambodian population. Because of the currently unchecked deforestation Cambodia is going down the drain. The international community and donor countries should use all their influence to put an end to the deforestation which is associated with rampant corruption and the collapse of the rule of law. [signed]

Sam Rainsy


STATEMENT

November 23, 1998

RAINSY AND SRP MEMBERS TO RETURN FOR ASSEMBLY

Welcome and ceremony set for Tuesday morning

Sam Rainsy and other SRP Members of the National Assembly will return to Cambodia in time to participate in the first working session. Rainsy will arrive on a flight Tuesday by 10:30am.

Meeting with the people is the first item on the returning members' agenda. An 11am public ceremony at Wat Botum has been arranged to commemorate those who have died at the hands of the regime. The event is open to all. Rainsy is expected to speak to supporters of reform at Wat Botum before walking to the site of Democracy Square, where more than a dozen protesters led by Rainsy were murdered in a grenade attack on March 30, 1997, and where security forces cracked down on peaceful protesters, touching off days of violence by ruling party thugs.

The municipal government already rejected a request to have the ceremony at the grenade site, demonstrating once again the government's refusal to recognize democratic rights.

After laying a wreath at the site across the street from the National Assembly, Rainsy and the other SRP Members will proceed by car to the parkway in front of the Cambodiana Hotel, where at least one protester was murdered by police during the demonstrations. There a second wreath will be laid.

At Wednesday's Assembly meeting, it is expected that the Members will be asked to vote for officials in the Assembly and for a new Government.

"We are not interested in these power-sharing games," Rainsy said. "We give the other parties the benefit of the doubt. They will set up a government with whatever people they choose. What we care about are the results. We will represent the people in their desire for reform in Cambodia."

Of the elections, Rainsy added, "Our participation in the Assembly is not an acceptance of the election results. The election was grossly flawed from the start. The results are not credible as long as four million ballots remain unaccounted for. The international community has failed to justify its endorsement of the process, but neither they nor anyone else can make us accept a result that the Cambodian people do not believe in."

While Rainsy did not specifically rule out SRP participation in a coalition, he wrote in a November 19 message to the USA chapter of the SRP: "We will not exchange the blood of the Cambodian people who have sacrificed their lives for democracy and justice for positions in an undemocratic and corrupt government."

Because most of the SRP Members have traveled to other countries including France, the US and Australia to meet with supporters there, some may not be able to arrange air passage in time for the Assembly meeting on Wednesday.

[END]

For further information, call Rich Garella on 855-12-802-062, Son Chhay on 12-858-857, or Ou Bunlong on 15-835-547. In Bangkok, call Yim Sovann on 66-2-679-4003.


SRP STATEMENT and DRAFT SPEECH

November 24, 1998

RAINSY RETURNS TO CAMBODIA, IS GREETED BY POLICE BRUTALITY Supporters of reform clubbed in the streets once again

SRP President Sam Rainsy returned to Cambodia just before 10am on Tuesday morning, joining six other SRP Members of the National Assembly who returned in the past few days in order to participate in the first working session of the Assembly on Wednesday morning. The SRP won 15 of 122 seats, according to the official results of the July election.

True to form, Hun Sen's security apparatus prevented a normal democratic process: a meeting between an opposition leader and the public. The regime demonstrated that in Cambodia it is the police that rule the streets, not the people. There was no reason for any police repression of the people or restriction on political leader's ability to move freely and speak freely. There was no threat whatsoever of disorder or violence.

Contrary to normal practice, journalists were shut out of the VIP area of Pochentong Airport and had to speak to Rainsy in the middle of the highway. SRP officials were told that no public gathering of more than 100-200 people would be permitted in the city. Hundreds of military police, soldiers and militiamen were stationed throughout central Phnom Penh.

As Rainsy's small motorcade drove toward the center, bystanders clapped and cheered. Some threw flowers into Rainsy's car. Soon 100 to 200 cheering people riding motorbikes accumulated behind Rainsy's vehicle. But when Rainsy's car turned onto Monivong, the main business street of Phnom Penh, the "Flying Tigers" motorcycle policed moved in. Riding in pairs, nearly 100 heavily armed Tigers efficiently cut off Rainsy's vehicle and beat his supporters with clubs and electric batons, preventing the group from following Rainsy. The extent of injuries and the number of injured was not clear, although it appeared that at least four or five people were struck. This event was witnessed by UN human rights officials and journalists.

Nonetheless, more supporters accumulated until Rainsy approached the Wat Botum pagoda, where he was scheduled to attend a ceremony, lay a wreath at the site of the March 30, 1997 grenade attack and speak to the public. But the regime once again showed its contempt for freedom of speech and assembly, arbitrarily preventing the public from entering the area of the pagoda and ordering the SRP group not to attempt to lay the wreath. Rather than risk the confrontation that the security forces were threatening, Rainsy and the SRP decided to move the public speech to the party headquarters, despite the fact that the speech was not directed solely to SRP members.

At the headquarters, the crowd received the speech enthusiastically, although the sudden forced relocation caused their numbers to be much lower than projected. Wat Botum is in a central area of the city, near the National Assembly and the Democracy Square site of the August-September election protests, while SRP headquarters is in a much less prominent location. The same technique was used by the regime during the election campaign to reduce attendance at opposition rallies. In this case it is clear that the regime did not want to allow a show of Rainsy's popular support, and was willing to violate the Constitution to prevent it.

After the speech, Rainsy and a small group of party officials drove to the front of the Cambodiana Hotel to lay a wreath for those killed by security forces and ruling party thugs in September. Once again, they were trailed by Flying Tigers who cut off their followers, and pushed them back. At the Cambodiana, the commander of the Tigers told Rainsy that no wreaths could be laid anywhere. Rainsy walked in silence to the spot where one supporter was shot dead by police in the September 7 crackdown, paused briefly under the eyes of several dozen Tigers, and returned to his car.

The behavior of the regime is deeply saddening. Cambodia is embarking on a new five-year government, which the SRP hopes will bring steady improvements in respect for human rights, political freedom and the rule of law. We held out hope that today would mark the beginning of a new era in which a legal opposition could begin to operate freely and effectively as is required for true parliamentary democracy. The regime had the opportunity to show that it was starting to understand and accept political freedoms.

But the regime today showed that it still sees political rights only as a threat to the absolute power it is trying to consolidate and legitimize. Its cold-blooded and remorseless violation of these rights has been effectively condoned by the international community, which has never effectively confronted the regime and called it to account. Instead it has carefully documented the violations and then accepted them. Worse, it has clothed a police state in the mantle of democracy. It is no wonder that impunity is still the order of the day in Cambodia.

The following is a translation of a draft of the speech that Sam Rainsy was to deliver upon his return to Cambodia on Tuesday, November 14, 1998 at Wat Botum. The actual speech was delivered at SRP headquarters, in Khmer. It contained substantively these points, although not in exactly these words.

-------

Brothers and sisters, people of Cambodia!

Today, four months after the elections that were supposed to bring democracy to our country, it seems that once again we are at the beginning of the fight, not the end. But we are here today, just before the National Assembly starts its work, to remember that we are not at the beginning. There has already been a lot of progress, and some of those who made that progress lost their lives very close to this place.

They died in the fight for real reform in Cambodia. We are alive to carry on that fight. We want to stop the corruption that has drained the life's blood from our country. We want to save the forests so that our environment will still be able to support our lives. We want to make a new government that is responsible to the people. A government that wants to help the people and is able to help the people. A government that people do not have to be afraid of. A government that is not the enemy of the people, but serves the people.

Just because we want that kind of government, we have been harassed, threatened, assaulted, imprisoned, exiled, and murdered. We have been called terrorists because we tried to use our rights given by the Constitution. We have been called stubborn because we followed the law and insisted that the regime should follow the law too. We have been accused of crimes that never happened and some crimes that don't even make any sense!

And every time the regime has done these things, and every time the international community said it was so concerned and did absolutely nothing, we have won victory after victory. We have not lost sight of our ideals. We have not stooped to violence. We have followed the law and the Constitution, and respected the Cambodian people and the King. We, the Cambodian people, have woken up and started to find where the real power of Cambodia comes from: it comes from us, the people. That is our victory.

Before I start to tell you about what we are going to stand for in the National Assembly, I'll say what everyone in Cambodia knows. The election was rigged.

You can't have a fair election when the ruling party can murder its opponents, and nobody is ever punished. You can't have a fair election when only the ruling party has free access to the radio and television, and the opponents get only five minutes. You can't have a fair election when the ruling party controls the election commission, and changes the rules during the election. You can't have a fair election when the ruling party controls the whole court system and the Constitutional Council and they make every decision to favor the ruling party. And you know the election was stolen when they refuse to do recounts, when they hide the ballots from observers, and when they refuse to show what happened to four million supposedly unused ballots. Who knows how many seats we would have won if the election had been fair? Nobody knows.

Your votes were stolen, and the international community knows it just as well as every Cambodian knows it. But they had to say the elections were fair, because they paid for them, and because just as in 1993, everybody knew that Hun Sen threatened war if he did not get his way.

We can learn a lesson from this. The lesson is that nobody is going to come and help us win democracy in Cambodia. We appreciate international aid, but democracy itself must be grown at home. Nobody can do it for us. Everywhere around the world, when dictatorships fall it is because the people themselves pulled the tyrants down one way or another.

Now our party has at least fifteen seats that represent the people. Fifteen seats that cannot be bought for any amount of money. Fifteen seats that will always vote with the people. Fifteen seats that clearly share a goal with the people of Cambodia: To get rid of the dictatorship and to build a real democracy. Not the fake democracy that satisfies the international community while it fills the pockets of Hun Sen and his allies.

The challenge is to meet this goal without war, without fighting, without violence. We will give the new government a chance to show that it is moving forward, toward democracy at all times. When it fails we will point out its failure. We have to work together within the framework of the law. Cambodia needs a new generation of leaders and a new type of dedicated and competent leadership for democracy to take roots and the country to achieve genuine and sustainable development. Leaders who will not exchange the blood of the Cambodian people who have sacrificed their lives for democracy and justice for positions in an undemocratic and corrupt government.

We will continue to push for the resolution of our electoral complaints and the redress of irregularities because we listen to people from all walks of life and from all provinces in Cambodia, and they demand to know what happened to their votes. And when the commune elections come up, we will not accept another insult like the last elections. The election commission must be reformed.

We will continue to demand political reform. An end to impunity so that opponents of the government can exercise their rights. Freedom of the press and fair access to radio and television so that the people can hear all kinds of information and make their choices. A neutral judiciary so that the guilty are punished and the innocent are free from fear.

We will challenge the next Government, whoever it is, to address the real issues: food shortages, corruption, destruction of the environment, AIDS and the other preventable diseases, shortage of jobs and low wages, dependence on smuggling, trafficking of people, especially women and children, army and police that are out of control, and so on and so on.

We will denounce and oppose any government based on violence, corruption and fraud because such a government can only oppress and exploit the people, work against the national interest and lead Cambodia to disaster.

On March 30, 1997 we came with 200 people to demand reform, and they threw grenades to stop us. Three months ago we came with 20,000 people to demand solutions to the election failure, and they sent police with electric clubs and hired gangs of men with sticks and guns to beat us and shoot us. But they did not stop us and they cannot stop us, is that true?

Over the next five years we are going to keep coming back, in the National Assembly if we can, and on the streets if we have to. We are going to organize ourselves village by village, commune by commune, province by province. Those people who gave their lives opened the door to democracy. We will remember them and honor them, and we will dedicate ourselves to reaching the goal they died for. We are not going to give up, because we love our country too much.

I am here today to ask you to join with me in the fight for Cambodia's future. Whether you are already in the Sam Rainsy Party--the Khmer Nation Party!--or Funcinpec, or even the CPP, or if you have never been active in politics, it is time for you to dedicate yourself to Cambodia's future. Work together with peace in your heart for democracy, human rights, the rule of law and freedom for all Cambodians.

[END]


STATEMENT

November 26, 1998

SRP SUPPORTS NGO STATEMENT ON PROPOSED SENATE

The Sam Rainsy Party strongly endorses the opinions regarding the creation of a Cambodian Senate expressed in the "Statement of Civil Society" signed on November 24 by eleven non-governmental organizations and prominent democracy advocates. It is disturbing that this permanent alteration of the Constitution is being considered for the sake of temporary political expediency, and that this new body will absorb state funds that should be spent to address the urgent needs of the people.

Even though the process that led to the convening of the new National Assembly was deeply undemocratic, the Assembly remains the sole institution designated by the Constitution to express and act on the will of the people. A new institution such as the proposed Senate could permanently dilute the powers of the Assembly. Extreme care must be taken to avoid damaging the cause of democracy with an ill-considered change in the Constitution.

We urge the National Assembly Special Commission to heed the advice of the democracy advocates who signed the Statement of Civil Society. We add several suggestions to theirs:

1. The duties, organization and functioning of the Senate must be fully defined in the Constitution, which would require approval by two thirds of the Assembly, not left to be defined by law, which requires only one half plus one Assembly votes.

2. The proposed Senate must not be able to overcome the ability of the Assembly to check the power of other institutions in government, most of which are at this time controlled by one party.

3. The Senate should be a democratic body with a membership that reflects the popular will. The most direct method to ensure this is to allow the parties to appoint Senators in proportion to the popular vote they received in the July elections, avoiding the seat allocation issue. The Senate seats corresponding to the remaining 13 percent of the vote won by numerous small parties could be allocated to civil society members, appointed by the King or other independent means, in accordance with the recommendations in the Statement of Civil Society.

* * *

COMMISSION ASSIGNMENTS SHOULD REFLECT DIVERSITY OF VOTE

Today SRP president Sam Rainsy wrote to the president of Funcinpec, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and the president of the CPP, Chea Sim, offering the services of its Assembly Members to the nine commissions of the Assembly. We believe that all parties elected to the Assembly should be represented on each commission so they can monitor and report on commission activities and contribute to the effectiveness of the commissions in accordance with the collective will of the voters.

* * *

RAINSY VISITS CONSTITUENTS IN KOMPONG CHAM

Because of today's cancellation of the National Assembly session, Sam Rainsy went to meet with his electoral constituents in Kompong Cham province. For further information, please call Son Chhay on 012-858-857, Rich Garella on 012-802-062, or the SRP office on 023-210-137.

For information on the Statement of Civil Society, contact Chea Vannath of the Center for Social Development on 023-215-685.


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