I refer to Tony Kevin's article, "United Nations- Cambodia dispute approaches
an honorable resolution" (March 17-30). It is not surprising that Tony Kevin
attributes the UN with arrogance for its position on the legal system of Cambodia
relating to the KR tribunal. However, his own arrogance contained in the following
statement is appalling: "Unfortunately some Cambodians were misled into supporting
the UN position, against their own country's sovereignty." This amounts to saying
that those Cambodians are traitors.
The falsity that runs through Kevin's article lies in his conception of sovereignty.
Cambodia, according to its constitution, is a liberal democracy. Its constitutional
framework is based on separation of powers. Thus its sovereignty is defined in liberal
democratic terms. This is no Western imposition; it is the supreme law of the land.
Sovereignty is a matter of judicial institutions reaching objective standards of
justice in accordance with this law.
It is no violation of sovereignty for Cambodian citizens (or for any one else) to
point out that the requirements of the constitution have not yet been achieved. Nor
is it the fault of the Cambodian Government that this has not happened. In fact,
the government itself has repeatedly stated its dissatisfaction at the state of its
judiciary. It is taking steps to correct the situation. Given the enormity of the
damage to the legal system and profession, this will take quite some more time.
The KR trial must either wait until then or some compromise must be achieved to ensure
quality of justice. That is all that is involved.
There is no issue of sovereignty here. Unfortunately, Tony Kevin makes trifles of
the real issues and has reduced the discussion to mere political propaganda. In the
process he has insulted some Cambodians who have been trying to come terms with their
own history in a serious manner.
Asian Human Rights Commission
Kowloon, Hong Kong