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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Americans must be coming "otherwise they'd lose face..."

The Americans must be coming "otherwise they'd lose face..."

MANY Cambodian people seem to believe that their future Prime Minister has a big

problem.

That problem is Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, or, as most people now call him, simply

"Dana".

"Dana's Resolution" to arrest Hun Sen is no empty threat, the people are

saying. It can't be, can it? The United States is the biggest power in the world

and will not stand being embarrassed by backing down in Cambodia, according to one

grocery seller.

"I'm 50% optimistic and 50% pessimistic about Rohrabacher's resolution,"

she said. "I'm optimistic because America is the most powerful country. It has

been successful at many places in the world like Iraq in 1992, and Haiti in 1995.

"If the US has a plan to arrest Hun Sen, it would do it because if it failed,

America would lose face. I strongly believe that America will not lose face in such

a small country like Cambodia.

"[But] I'm pessimistic [too]," she said. "I heard about the plan since

just after the election, but until now no action has been taken. I'm afraid that

if nothing continues to be done, the Americans will forget about it."

"I also think that America will arrest Hun Sen sooner or later," agreed

a goldsmith nearby, "because a sub-committee of the US House has already passed

a resolution to indict Hun Sen and finally the US government will enforce the resolution.

"I saw US Ambassador [Kenneth] Quinn on TVK meeting with Sok An and Quinn told

Sok An that the US government does not support Dana's resolution.

"[But] this is only a trick by the US so that its people here will not be attacked

and its Embassy will not be destroyed while the resolution has not yet been finalized.

"It's not difficult. When they are ready to take action against Hun Senthey

will just send in helicopters, then Hun Sen will be arrested in a second.

"Before the resolution was passed in the sub-committee, Dana was assigned to

take care of Khmer issues, so Americans know very well that Hun Sen is a dictator

and that's why, according to Voice of America [radio], when the resolution was passed

there was no-one who objected to it.

"The US parliament is completely different from Cambodia's. The power in the

US is really seperated between judicial, legislative and government. Its parliament

is representative of its people, its people give power to the parliament to make

decisions, so after the decision is made, the government must enforce it," he

said.

But one worker in a private company thought a bit differently.

"I don't believe that the US will be able to send its troops to arrest Hun Sen,

because while the resolution has been passed in the US it still needs approval from

the United Nations. And I think that China will veto the resolution.

"American is a strong country but its actions are not always successful, as

in early 1998 when it failed in seeking approval from the UN to fight Iraq. Now the

US is reluctant to send NATO forces to intervene in Yugoslavia where rights violations

are notorious.

"But even if the resolution can't be implemented I'm satisfied because it will

help to stop Hun Sen from violating more human rights and stop more killing in Cambodia.

"This is not a resolution to kill the tiger, [only] to break the tiger's teeth,"

he said.

No, a moto-taxi driver responded in disagreement it's actually all a trick. "America

will not send its troops to arrest Hun Sen at Tang Krasaing because Hun Sen has many

armed forces.

"If America sends in its troops, there will be a big fight and many people [both]

Khmer and American will be killed.

"America is clever," he said. "They will wait until Hun Sen goes somewhere

outside Cambodia, then they will enforce the resolution toarrest him. By so doing,

nobody will be killed. The bird may forget the trap but the trap will never forget

the bird," he said.

Government spokespersons have tried to right these kinds of popular misconceptions.

Ministry of Information spokesman Sieng Lapresse told a press conference on Oct 5:

"It's just [Rohrabacher's] own opinion... It is a document to research whether

there is enough evidence to charge Second Prime Minister Hun Sen. We shouldn't be

worried about this opinion, but we shouldn't keep quiet...

"We shall take action, especially internationally, to find a lawyer to represent

our Prime Minister and defend what we believe does not serve the interests of Cambodia."

Lapresse said 26 MPs wrote a letter of complaint to US congressmen on Sept 17. "Even

[though] our country is small, we are following the rule of law," he said.

"As we do not have experience in answering a foreign country, we have to find

international law experts to solve the accusations by a foreigner... We are collecting

the documents that [Rohrabacher] used to affect our prime minister. Now Rohrabacher

is trying to distance himself from Sam Rainsy, so that he is not seen to support

Sam Rainsy.

"Our procedure is that we are collecting documents which relate to the demonstrations,

to accuse the leaders of the demostrations for [inciting] violence and killing, and

to find who is behind them.

"[It's] not only Dana who knows the law... We have to write or to do something

to show that Dana is not poisonous for our Prime Minister," Lapresse said.

Lapresse has been backed up by government official Cheap Yeap on TVK recently.

"Resolutions in most parliaments are raised by an invidual or a small group

of people [only] to reflect what they want," he explained. "Dana wants

the US to know that Samdech Hun Sen is the war criminal, [so] he uses documents provided

to him by the leaders of some opposition parties...

"This resolution is not law. It is only an objective or a principle of an individual.

It is not the opinion of the American people or the USgovernment..." he said.

"A resolution was made to [indict] the President of Yugoslavia as a war criminal

but its people disagree because there was no concrete evidence.

"Its people refused for their president to be arrested so the president remained

in place," Yeap said. "I found that Dana follows this example, that's why

he made his resolution on Cambodia. But I would like to inform Dana that he [does

not] know the people of Cambodia and Samdech Hun Sen well enough."

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