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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - You can say that again! 2003 Quotable quotes

You can say that again! 2003 Quotable quotes


January

"Global Witness must be sent to court. They create disorder in society and they

are inciters. They only cause problems." Department of Forestry and Wildlife

head Ty Sokhun on the government's touchy relationship with the independent forestry

monitor, Global Witness.

"When I see the decision by the Supreme Court, [I ask] 'why do the wicked prosper?

Why are they not swiftly struck down for punishment?" Michael Collins, country

director of the United Methodist Church, on the court decision over the land battle

with 'renegade methodist', Pitou Lao.

"It's a bit of closure, and I think Sam Bith has a bit of guilt there, but I

don't think he's the main one." Peter Wilson, father of murdered Australian

backpacker David Wilson after Bith was convicted.

Wilson demanded that Khieu Samphan, the former head of state during the Khmer regime,

stand trial.

"We have to overcome greediness through charity, anger through loving kindness

and ignorance through wisdom." The Venerable Maha Ghosananda - known for leading

several Dhammayietras, or walks for peace, through Cambodia in the 1990s - on how

Cambodia can overcome the Pol Pot era.

"The government should ask [itself] how long the rest of the world will continue

to be so patient with a government that... has effectively licensed people smugglers,

drugs runners and weapons traders."

David Cockroft, International Transport Workers Federation general secretary, on

the awarding of the shipping registry contract to South Korean group, Cosmos.

"She isn't even worth a blade of grass at Angkor Wat." Prime Minister Hun

Sen lets his feelings about Thai actress Suwanan Kongying be known. Non-verified

comments from the actress said she would not come to Cambodia unless Angkor Wat was

"returned" to Thailand.

"This afternoon [Wednesday] I called everyone I know in the Cambodian Foreign

Ministry, the police, the defense minister, but they did not turn up soon enough."

Thai Ambassador Chatchawed Chartsuwan on his futile distress calls during the embassy

razing.

"Most objectionable was the fact that these life threatening acts and wanton

destruction were allowed to occur and continued despite repeated and constant direct

requests for protection from the Thai ambassador to the highest levels of the Royal

Cambodian Governement, who either professed helplessness or merely indicated seeming

indifference at the acute plight of our diplomatic mission." Official Thai statement

about the treatment of the ambassador during the January riots.

"The story said I was already dead, so I came back to show that I'm still alive."

Bou Meng, one of only seven survivors from the Tuol Sleng prison (S-21), surfaces

after reading of his demise in a Documentation Center of Cambodia magazine article.

February

Om Radsady's murder shocked the nation.

"It is very difficult to find an elephant on a big island." Chheang Dany

of the Wildlife Protection Office after 'Floaty' the elephant and her daughter escaped

from ranger custody and swam to Koh

Manoa Island 7km off the coast of Koh Kong province.

"A lot of these guys don't see [landmines and UXOs] as dangerous. Then they

pick up something and it goes bang." Ray Worner, project advisor of Handicap

International Belgium speaking after this year's rise in landmine/UXO victims.

"A few years ago Chea Sophara was not known. Now he speaks English, is learning

French, plays golf and wears Armani suits. He has a future," an un-named diplomat

said after Prime Minister Hun Sen - some say conveniently - posted Sophara, the city

governor, to Burma after the riots, a position he declined to accept.

"Among the people arrested and detained are the small and poor, whom I don't

believe are capable of preparing an operation to burn Thai properties to the ground."

King Norodom Sihanouk pleads with the government to release rioters linked with the

embassy sacking.

"We cannot accept that this crime was committed simply to steal one mobile phone...

This killing has disgraced the honor of Cambodia." Prince Norodom Ranariddh

dismissing the argument that the killing of Om Radsady was a simple robbery.

"It's hard to imagine a more unlikely target for an assassins' bullet... The

irony that someone as gentle and open to discussion as Radsady was silenced in such

a violent way is beyond contemplation." Ira Dassa, Keith Schulz, Evan Gottesman

and Brad Adams on the death of their well-respected colleague Om Radsady.

"Robberies do not affect the general environment. People should be more afraid

of those countries where planes are hijacked. In Cambodia, robberies take place with

only knives and guns - in other countries they use planes." Prime Minister Hun

Sen dismissing the killing of Om Radsady as simply an act of seemingly 'moderate'

robbery.

"It means if the mosquito bites me, I don't need permission to kill the mosquito...

The violence depends on the protestors. The police have the right to use non-lethal

weapons, [but] if the mosquito bites... we can do anything." Ministry of Interior

spokesman Khieu Sopheak defending the additional 2000 national police and 300 military

police to be brought in before the elections.

March

"I'll say as soon as they start paying their workers five dollars a day and

providing healthcare, they will move onto the ethical list... If 20 percent of the

workforce are HIV positive, that is downright irresponsible." Ian Lubek on the

'they're not employees, they're promotional workers' stance of the major beer brands

towards beergirls.

"If we look at the poverty of Cambodia, I do not think we have the money to

pay for the damage, or any other means to solve the problem." Prince Norodom

Ranariddh on the seemingly questionable reparation plans for Thailand.

"People have learned to think, they have learned to be more critical, they have

learned to protest. I think this is the biggest contribution the SRP has helped to

bring to this country." Sam Rainsy, head of the opposition SRP party, when interviewed

by the Post.

"We met members across the country on March 21 and we found there were no problems

within Funcinpec. It is not broken, as the critics say; instead we are strong."

Prince Norodom Sirivudh on the Funcinpec breakaways.

"I don't like Saddam Hussein [because] he has a moustache and a big stomach".

A 22-year-old Phnom Penh waitress on the hard-to-find dictator.

"There are signs that economic growth... has not produced any significant poverty

reduction. Indeed, there are some signs that the situation is worsening. Even during

high-growth periods [over the last decade], poverty reduction either did not occur

or was minimal." A UNDP study on the lack of progress made on the poverty issue.

April

"During the war we were proud to fight for the nation - we were heroes - but

now they treat us as though we are not even equal to the dogs in their houses."

Chu Dim, a disabled former Khmer Rouge soldier, who feels he, and others, have been

forgotten.

"I support the [idea] of TV broadcasting information about the parties' activities.

Except for those which are doing nothing, because they will have no information to

report." Prime Minister Hun Sen on the supposedly equitable treatment for parties

in the lead-up to the elections.

"If I only thought about what benefited me, I would remain with Funcinpec and

keep quiet to please the prince, and be happy to make money by being corrupt."

Former Funcinpec MP Keo Remy on his defection to the Sam Rainsy party.

"I think there were some misunderstandings and those misunderstandings have

been cleared up. I'm glad to be back to finish my mission as ambassador and strengthen

ties between the two people." Thai Ambassador Chatchawed Chartsuwan tells of

his jovial return to office after 'misunderstandings' led to an escape over the back

fence in the January riots

"People have to worry about being like Chicken Little - that the sky has fallen

- but the sky hasn't fallen yet." Bill McGrath, the World Bank's resident forestry

expert on the ousting of Global Witness as the official forest monitor and the illegal

logging expected without a monitor in place.

"The football team, if it wins [the elections] will continue to play with Chea

Sim as trainer, Heng Samrin as goalkeeper and Hun Sen as the striker." Prime

Minister Hun Sen tells of the CPP's game plan before their meeting in Phnom Penh.

"So far the situation regarding political violence looks good so I am not yet

concerned. There have only been wars of words." Prince Norodom Ranariddh on

the pre-election violence.

"Wake up immediately and eat this or you will die!" A common request from

mung bean-laden friends and relatives after the humble vegetable was rumored to have

life-giving, SARS-beating properties.

May

"When we enter the WTO we are bound by transparency. We have to publish our

law. We are using this as a way to get the reforms going where we can bring the benefits

of globalization." Sok Siphana, Cambodia's lead WTO negotiator on the obvious

benefits available from playing with the other big kids in the trading sandbox.

"These days, I am writing a lot. It is not necessary to be astonished by it.

I feel that my death is coming soon. I must therefore, while the Buddha (or the good

God) leaves me life, write and write again...' King Norodom Sihanouk writes about

the proliferation of his published materials in the palace bulletin, BMD.

"To reject the Agreement because the court cannot do everything is equivalent

to saying that because all law-breakers cannot be captured and tried, none should

be." Dr Gregory H Stanton on the position of perfection taken by Amnesty International

and Human Rights Watch to the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

"I think you know the opposition never does good action... I think if someone

tries to oppose the Royal Government, they use Pol Pot's ideas." Supreme Patriarch

Tep Vong before the election.

"To have five-minutes on TV and radio each day is not enough for us - how can

we use only five minutes to explain our political platform so people can understand

it?" SRP Election spokesman Ou Bun Long, on the equitable media coverage set

in place for the election.

"...If they try to escape from this prison, we need to add more punishment to

them, like crawling on the ground and work in the prison like cutting the grass."

Battambang prison director Kong Saren. Saren also mentioned the recent 'rehabilitation'

of the 'Battambang Barbecuer'.

June

Sek Yi, who says he was 120 years old, wanted to see Angkor Wat before he died. Father time intervened. Yi passed away on October 19.

"I want to see Angkor Wat." Cambodia's oldest man, Sek Yi, at 120, and

his wife, 108-year-old Ouk, still hope to become belated tourists.

"A party cannot have a military, [and ] we certainly don't have one. The military

belongs to the people to protect the sovereignty of the country." Mu Sochua,

Funcinpec's Minister for Women's and Veteran's affairs on discussions about their

supposed military control.

"All of the problems that took place were of a personal nature or other reasons

that are not related to political issues." Chief of Police Hok Lundy on the

17 murders in the four months before elections.

"Secretary Powell should temper his comments praising the Cambodian Government

for cracking down on terrorism. The reason terrorists are on Cambodian soil is because

of the lawlessness perpetuated by the CPP." US Senator Mitch McConnell with

some friendly advice before Mr Powell's visit to Phnom Penh.

"I do not want to talk about conflict. It disappoints me when conflict is the

issue." Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a positive mindset at the

historic cabinet meeting of Cambodia and Thailand in Siem Reap.

"You put so much money into something that you can't back out. The World Bank

and the ADB have put so much money into EdC that they cannot let it fail." An

unnamed observer on the money pit that the continuing rural electricity scheme has

become.

July

"People don't understand democracy. Democracy is not about killing, not violence."

Hang Puthea, executive director of election monitoring organisation, NICFEC, on the

report that in the week since election campaigning started, nine murders and 26 cases

of intimidation have been recorded.

"If you talk about stylish and trendy, in Cambodia anything goes." Funcinpec

parliamentarian Chhim Narith is confident his election T-shirts will be popular with

Cambodian fashionistas.

"I will buy animals and good rice for the people to improve their livelihoods

if I win." Cambodia Development Party president Mao Bora seems to have a winning

campaign slogan.

"Adults tell me they want to learn to read and write so that they won't get

cheated at the market when they are buying their fish. Some of them say they want

to learn so that they can write a love letter.

That's a popular one too." UNICEF education adviser Michael Sheppard explains

the popularity of Anlong Taour's new floating library.

"The future will show even more clearly that Pol Pot's Cambodia is alive and

well. It is immortal... And the 'Khmer Satan' was solely and is solely Sihanouk.

Go to Hell, Sihanouk!" King Norodom Sihanouk issues a statement on July 25,

the last day of election campaigns, asserting that the Khmer Rouge is still in power

within the government.

"We do not really know who we will vote for, we will just tick the box because

we cannot read or write." Tumpuan villager Yan Tuel explains that the elections

are meaningless for his village. Eighty percent of them are illiterate and none of

the parties have visited to explain their policies.

"Don't accuse me of loving power - the people gave it to me." Prime Minister

Hun Sen gets defensive on July 29.

August

"They're in a state of denial right now. They always have a tendency to criticize

everyone but themselves. Then when that denial period is over, they tend to point

the finger at each other." A senior diplomat explains Funcinpec's post-election

de-brief tactics.

"The big fish still eats the small fish in Cambodia." Nhoung Seab, leader

of the Rice Party, on why his party received no seats in the election.

"I want the ballots produced in the United States next time. The CPP put a special

chemical into the ink so that when a voter checked the Hang Dara box, the mark went

into the CPP box." Hang Dara explains why his party received no seats in the

election.

September

"In the past ten years of openness we've gone from ox-carts to Mercedes."

Sok Siphana, Cambodia's chief negotiator on the WTO entry, on why Cambodia is ready

to join the world trade club.

"On the night of the 29th at around 8:43, we did a phone-in show and one person

called in to say there were unconfirmed problems at the border because Thais bound

Cambodians' arms behind their backs and forced them to drink fish sauce. The Thai

Embassy had already been on fire for two or two and a half hours but they put me

in prison because of what that person said." Beehive FM owner Mam Sonando, on

his arrest for inciting violence in January.

"My Nokia suffered instead of me. I'm so happy, it's like I was born again."

Security guard Bou Pheap on why he has a lot to thank his phone for. Pheap was shot

in the chest during the Won Rex factory burglary on September 9, but the bullet hit

his mobile phone, sparing his life.

"Evidence suggests that lower-echelon cadre and 'veteran people' had great discretion

in deciding who to denounce and who to kill, and they often denounced and killed

in violation of central policy." American academic Steve Heder criticises the

Khmer Rouge Tribunal for merely targeting senior leaders.

"Criminal culpability and moral culpability are not the same thing... Those

'morally culpable' would number in the thousands... a complete accounting might go

into the low five-figures. As a practical matter, it is simply not feasible to try

thousands and thousands of people in Cambodia's circumstances. Cambodia does not

have enough lawyers, money or time to do it." Genocide researcher Craig Etcheson

on why the Khmer Rouge Tribunal must limit its scope.

October

"Yes, of course I am scared. I have a duty like every Cambodian citizen to vote.

But because I voted, I am made to feel unhappy and I am under pressure. We are all

under pressure." An anonymous Phnom Penh monk, who was threatened after he voted

for the Sam Rainsy Party in the last election.

"Normally other people look down on disabled people. Being on a national team,

people respect me." Yim Vanna, a member of the National Volleyball League team

who flew to Greece for the Volleyball World Cup in October.

"The big fish still eats the small fish in Cambodia."

"I do not know when I will see my parents again and I am very worried for the

others left behind in the forest." Ma Utt, a Montagnard who escaped Vietnam

and made it to Phnom Penh explains that, despite surviving the treacherous journey,

her troubles are not over.

"Leaders of political parties should control their broadcast media in order

to avoid the attacks on each other. [Insulting] is not good morality for educated

people." Prime Minister Hun Sen tells reporters on October 14, four days before

out-spoken Pro-Funcinpec journalist Chuor Chetharith is gunned down outside Ta Prohm

radio.

"Teachers don't talk about Cambodian politics. We do not give students a chance

to discuss Cambodian politics. This is the way it is and has always been." Ting

Leyheng, program co-ordinator at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, confirms that

politics are not taught in Cambodia.

"At some point everybody will be given the opportunity to either accept or reject

Jesus Christ as their savior. If they reject it, even if the work's been done in

the temple, it's of no value to them. We aren't changing them at all, their free

agency is still intact." David Towers, president of the Mormon mission in Cambodia,

denies that it is wrong to proselytize to Buddhists.

November

"It is troubling for the country when sons of high-ranking government officials

and the rich, particularly the nephews of Prime Minister Hun Sen, are free from punishment.

We have seen the law practiced only against the poor and weak." ADHOC official

on the failure to arrest Nhim Sophea.

"During the Water Festival and Independence Day, we will not fine any passengers

who drive their motorbikes or cars incorrectly." Traffic Police officer Sok

Hen explains that law enforcement will get in the spirit of celebration.

December

"Sok Yoeun's case is clearly highly political and normal judicial procedures

have apparently not been followed. This verdict is a rebuke to the UN and demonstrates

Thailand's disregard for decisions taken by UNHCR" An Amnesty International

statement condemns the decision to extradite Sok Yoeun, accused of trying to murder

Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"They are really poor and do not have the time to commit terrorism. They are

just trying to survive." Abdul Hamid Abas, from the Embassy of Brunei, on why

Cambodia's Cham Muslim community are unlikely to commit acts of terrorism.

"I rarely have sex without condoms. Only if the man is handsome will I not use

condoms. I will let him do whatever. Most of the time, handsome or not, they do not

want to use condoms." A homosexual sex worker gives insight into why the AIDS

epidemic is so difficult to quell.

"Before this place was a shit-jungle and there were no people walking through

it. Now, it's good for the person who has no job to be a vendor and live better than

before." No Vien, a fisherman in Chruoy Changvar, describing the government's

beautification programme of the peninsular.

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