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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PR firm finds it tough to sell the CPP's softer side

PR firm finds it tough to sell the CPP's softer side

TOMEONE within the CPP has sent a `hate fax' to the

American public relations firm that the party had hired

for $520,000 to help spin it a more diplomatic image in

the United States.

The Washington D.C.-based PR/law firm, Porter, Wright,

Mor-ris & Arthur, lobbied extensively there to defeat

a Senate resolution similar to that brought successfully

in the House by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher that

criticized Hun Sen as being, in effect, the sole abuser

of human rights in Cambodia.

However, Porter, Wright also caught itself up in internal

CPP intrigue and jealousies, as evidenced from a series

of faxed messages sent late last month from the firm to

Svay Sitha, one of Hun Sen's closest advisers.

The messages leaked from within the CPP itself to

opposition sources and obtained by the Post were sent to

Sitha from a Porter, Wright fax by a writer who did not

sign his name.

The writer was helping Porter, Wright to lobby senators,

congressmen and others to grant an audience with Hun

Sen's most senior adviser, Hor Nam Hong, who was there to

"sell" a different image of the party to that

recently battered by Rorabacher.

But on Oct 27, Porter, Wright received a fax from Phnom

Penh indeed, so the firm deduced, from someone within its

own client, the CPP that said:

"Hello! Mr. Jame Stearn!

You thought that the amount of $500,000 you and your team

got paid nobody in Cambodia was aware of that was why you

have not done anything for Cambodia. you and your team

standed still and kept quiet while Rohrabacher and his

gang tried to eat Hun Sen and Cambodia a life. you are

done nothing for Cambodia but just eat the Cambodian

money. you people is found as CIA trying to destroy the

Cambodia government. you are very cruel, you got paid

from Cambodian but tried to ruin Cambodia. watch out, the

government leaders will discontinue your cruel maneuver

very soon."

It was signed: "from Watcher".

James Stearns, the recipient, is a lawyer at Porter,

Wright.

"You should be able to figure out whose fax that...

mysterious letter came from," the CPP's American

point-man wrote immediately back to Sitha, quoting the

Cambodian fax number. "Just consider this: how many

people in Cambodia have Jim [Stearn's] fax number? In

other words, where did `Watcher' get the fax number from?

I think it has to be someone inside the party."

But the `hate fax' was neither the last nor the least of

Porter, Wright's problems in trying to spin a new image

for the CPP in Washington a city that Funcinpec has had

virtually sole Cambodian lobbying access to since 1979.

The following day it became "clear," Sitha was

told, "that, to the greatest extent possible, the

[Cambodian] embassy [in Washington] and Ouch Borith want

to control [Nam Hong's] agenda."

Borith is Cambodia's acting ambassador to the United

Nations.

Over the following three days, Porter, Wright's daily

written updates to Sitha on Nam Hong's visit became a

running battle between "us" Porter, Wright and

"them" the Cambodian representatives to the US

and the UN.

"I will have a detailed discussion prepared for HNH

[Nam Hong] about our project and will be prepared for

attacks on the program," the Porter, Wright man

said. "I know more about the opposition here that is

supporting VH." "VH" is Var Huot,

Cambodia's ambassador to the United States, a CPP member

and a Hun Sen loyalist but, according to Porter, Wright,

was also firmly with the "opposition".

"But do not be too concerned about this trip,"

the Porter, Wright man continued, after just having told

Sitha he'd run out of money and was having to borrow

more. "The final decision will be made in P[hnom]

P[enh], where we have the advantage."

The next day, however, "another unpleasant matter

arose". Porter, Wright found out that unknown

"amateurs" were making "strange"

faxed requests to congressional offices seeking to make

appointments for Nam Hong. "It makes the whole

effort look bad," Porter, Wright complained to

Sitha. "I intend to raise this issue on

Monday," the writer complained, adding: "I

think we should schedule a meeting with BB [a code for

the "Big Boss", or Hun Sen]" when he

returned.

The next day, Oct 30, was even worse: "The intent of

the other side is now very clear," Porter, Wright

complained to Sitha, "to keep our team off [Nam

Hong's] agenda".

Stearns, Sitha was told, had organized for Nam Hong to

meet some key Porter, Wright employees in the morning for

a briefing on the State Department and Stanley Roth,

because Roth was the most important of Nam Hong's

meetings.

But the embassy rescheduled one of the least important

meetings, with the US-Asean Business Council for exactly

the same time Nam Hong was to meet the Porter, Wright

team.

"The US-Asean Business Council... is not in a

position to help Cambodia, the [CPP] party or BB [the

"Big Boss" or Hun Sen] with either Congress or

the Clinton Adminstration," the writer said.

"When you take this action together with the

Ambassador [Var Huot's] refusal to meet me for three

weeks now, I am very angry," the Porter, Wright man

said. "At the very least it shows a lack of courtesy

and respect. After all, I came here representing the

party. And this is how I am treated. I will have plenty

to say when I return."

All throughout the faxed messages to Sitha, Porter,

Wright were at pains to point out that it was them, and

not the "opposition" embassy, who were

arranging all the most significant meetings.

The last message to Sitha read: "We have achieved

another success! setting an appointment for Ambassador

Scheffer of the Dept. of State.

"He is the lead person at State concerning the KR

trials. We can continue to say that the most important

meetings for HNM have been set up by our team.

" However, I am sure that the other side will try to

take credit for them."

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