Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - 2004 year in quotes

2004 year in quotes

2004 year in quotes


"I was just a dumb, deaf and blind man under the KR regime. Additionally, I

was just a victim and a survivor like everyone else."

Khieu Samphan (above),

former president of Democratic Kampuchea, tries to explain away his role in the Khmer

Rouge regime.

"Police hurt me two times on the head and forced me to thumbprint."

Bourn Samnang, one of two men convicted of the murder of unionist Chea Vichea, pleads

his innocence at a press conference in Phnom Penh.

"If you still continue speaking in language excluding Hun Sen, I will not talk

to you."

In an impassioned broadcast on national TV, Prime Minister Hun Sen threatens to break

off negations with opposition parties over the formation of a coalition government.


"Sorry, the number you are dialing is outside the coverage area."

The message heard by mobile phone customers attempting to call between Mobitel's

012 network and other networks. The company denied accusations it was intentionally

blocking calls to attract competitors' customers.

"In the various headquarters in Phnom Penh there are apparently 10,000 souls,

but I challenge anyone to find them on any given day (without plenty of notice)."

David Mead, the former Australian defense attache in Phnom Penh, says absenteeism,

ghost soldiers and triple the necessary number of generals will make reform of Cambodia's

army a difficult task.

"You know what? If this useless appendage of celebrity can be utilized, I don't

really give a toss what people think."

Minnie Driver, answering skeptics asking whether her humanitarian visit to Cambodia

was merely a public relations stunt to boost her career.

"The new generation is like a blank sheet of paper, very white. So if we bring

the message to the young generation, it's a good opportunity to be aware of peace."

Art student Chhay Bunna, a participant in the Peace of Art Project at the Royal University

of Fine Arts Cambodia, which turns decommissioned weapons into unusual sculptural


"I am not asking to be given fish forever, but I do need someone to build the


The Venerable Muny Van Saveth, executive director at Wat Norea Peaceful Children's

Home, uses a fishing metaphor to explain why his nationwide AIDS-awareness campaign

needs financial support.


"People love to throw rocks at the Americans, but in our experience, only one

percent of landmines we find are American, and 99 percent, or even more, are either

Soviet or Chinese."

Richard Boulter, from the US-funded demining organisation Halo Trust, responding

to criticisms of America's decision to continue using landmines.

"I still believe in the Khmer Rouge philosophy, and believe the Khmer Rouge

will one day be successful."

Pol Pot's former bodyguard, Sok Leun, who is assisting the Cambodian Border

Community Development Organisation's efforts to help the rural poor of Pailin.

"How do we release this clenched fist?"

Ung Bunthan, author of a report for the human rights group Lichado, speaking about

the simmering tensions below the surface of Cambodian society.

"Acid is the last resort for women. They are so powerless, they have no other

way to protect themselves. If a woman's husband goes around with other girls, of

course she can throw acid. How else can she get her life back?"

Lek Short, who spent seven years married to a former soldier with a "mean spirit"

and a penchant for rice wine.

"If they insure us for 20 to 30 years, we will be happy."

An unnamed spokesperson for the Women's Network of Unity on the demands of sex workers

who were asked to trial a possible HIV preventative drug, Tenofovir. The research

was funded by Microsoft mogul Bill Gates.


"There could be a revolution by the people ..."

PM Hun Sen, on the end-game effect of Cambodia's social ills.

"Out of about 300 Cambodian newspapers, only ten in the Phnom Penh area are

consistently publishing accurate, balanced, fair articles."

Um Sarin, President of the Cambodian Association for Protection of Journalists.

"During the experiment I got the chance to taste young meat again, but afterwards,

what remained?"

Unrepentant Italian pedophile Alain Filippe Berutti has another seven years in a

Cambodian prison to consider his question. He was found naked with four young boys

in the reeds lining the Tonle Sap river and convicted of debauchery.


"Be careful if you go down this rabbit hole; it is very, very deep my friend."

John Woodrow, warning a reporter about investigating the enigmatic NGO Global-PAC,

which briefly set up shop in Sihanoukville. Global-PAC staff- members admitted an

interest in helping North Korean refugees and were linked to various tales of international


"We confirm that you cannot carry around the sky and the earth, please take

caution, do not use big words against the leader. Be careful of dying."

A text-message death threat sent to Heang Rithy, president of the Cambodian National

Research Organization and an outspoken critic of the government on radio.

"I think we are setting a world record."

Kassie Neou, speaking about the delay in forming a government after the 2004 elections.

"My weight has increased six to seven kilograms since the elections. I am eating

better because the country's economic situation is good compared to the unhealthy

situation we had immediately after the elections last July."

PM Hun Sen, appearing less concerned about the effect of the political stalemate

on the economy than about his waistline.

"There is nothing good about this life - not enough sleep, never enough to eat,

just getting enough to survive the next day. Maybe the junk collector is a forever


Thong Sokhon, on her family's difficult decision to abandon their subsistence-farming

life in Svay Rieng and come to Phnom Penh, where they now collect trash to recycle.

"If we can't arrest [and send to trial] a simple Japanese guy, how can we arrest

the Chinese mafia that traffics a thousand girls to Malaysia?"

An exasperated Pierre Legros, of Afesip, speaks out against the Cambodian legal system


alleged-sex-tourist Kanae Masata is released from custody despite significant evidence

against him.


"So let's say the court sentences me and puts me in jail. They can only keep

my body in jail, but my conscience will have served my nation and my people. Frankly

speaking, no one can sentence my conscience."

Former Khmer Rouge senior cadre Nuon Chea, contemplating his fate before the proposed

KR tribunal.

"Hello stupid AGM ... we will try to destroy your f-ing hotel occupancy ...

we will be the winner at the end of this long issue - you will lost everything when

you allow us to get back to work. Take care and don't come out from the hotel at


Email sent from an address linked to sacked Raffles Hotel worker Seum Visoth to Raffles

General Manager Steffan Gnaegi during a trade union dispute. Visoth vehemently denied

he sent the email.

"This is like a film that they continue to produce."

Sok Samoen insists that murder charges leveled against him and his alleged accomplice

Bourn Samnang were a work of fiction. The Appeals Court did not agree, reversing

a Phnom Penh municipal court decision to drop the charges.


"The main problem with politics in Cambodia is having a Lexus Constitution when

what is really needed is a secondhand Toyota."

Margaret Slocombe, author of The People's Republic of Kampuchea 1979-89; the revolution

after Pol Pot.

"Luok Chuoy (Mr. Help) has connotations with another Khmer word that means love-making

and a woman would find it easier to say to her husband: 'Let's get Mr. Help' as opposed

to 'Hey honey, can you fetch the hygienic bag'."

Giselle Portenier of the BBC World Service Trust on the animated condom character

Luok Chouy, being shown on Cambodian television for safe-sex promotion.

"No one can force Preah Koo to lick people; it's up to her."

Put Mich, owner of Preah Koo, the 'holy cow' that is said to have magical healing

powers. Up to 100 people were visiting her daily with hopes of benefiting from her

curative dribble.


"While King Sihanouk has in the past announced his abdication and then subsequently

changed his mind, on this occasion, observers agree that the King is serious and

will finally abdicate as he did back in 1955."

Julio Jeldres, Sihanouk's official biographer, quelling uncertainties surrounding

the King's status on August 12.

"Thirty-six percent of the total population still lives on less than 63 cents

per day, and 50 percent of all children under the age of five are underweight."

Extracts from World Bank 10-year review on Cambodia.

"The situation on the night of July 12 was tense ... Samdech Hun Sen and I had

to solve a problem, and if we made a wrong decision, the Khmer nation would have

become bloody with [violence] more serious than the factional fighting on July 5

[and] 6, 1997."

Funcinpec leader Norodom Ranariddh on the deal brokered with PM Hun Sen to amend

the constitution and placate CPP infighting.

"It is not a complaint. It is a protest because I am so bored with the noise."

Supreme Court Judge Kong Phirun in a letter to the Ministry of Cults and Religions

on the traditional practice of using a gong to rouse monks for early morning prayers.

"The train is not waiting for you ... choo choo."

Funcinpec leader Norodom Ranariddh warning members of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party

that if they do not defect to the other side, they will lose any opportunity of being

in government. Sixty Sam Rainsy Party members defected to the royalist party on August


"The government is committed to dealing with corruption under the adopted Rectangular

Strategy, and we are taking this case very seriously. We must set an example of accountability."

Council of Ministers spokesman Sean Visoth on the investigation into how $2 million

worth of rice disappeared from the U.N. World Food Program.


"Can you trust that all [people with] white skin and all the foreigners in the

world have justice, and the Khmers have no justice?"

PM Hun Sen lashing out at foreign critics of Cambodian justice, regarding Khmer rouge

tribunal talks.

"I do not understand why the youth are angry. They must be obligated to military

duty to defend their country."

Minister of Defence Tea Banh on the reaction of young people to the possible introduction

of compulsory military service.

"No one questions the outcomes of AIPO because nothing comes of it."

Opposition member Son Chhay criticizes the value of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary

Organization meeting held in Phnom Penh. The meeting cost the coffers $1.2 million.

"Sometimes charity hurts."

Phnom Penh-based writer Antonio Graceffo, on participating in a fund-raising boxing

match in Thailand. The 1.5 million baht raised goes to the Lampang Elephant Conservation

Centre in northern Thailand.

"They applied to be a lawyer, but they do not practice the law while they have

current positions as government officials. In foreign countries, many leaders used

to be lawyers."

Former Cambodian Bar Association President Ky Tech explains the admission of PM Hun

Sen and three of his senior ministers to the Bar, September 15. None of the appointees

have any formal legal training.


"So, it is not necessary for Samdech [Chea Sim] to ask me to approve or sign

any royal decree or law because Norodom Sihanouk has retired and cannot say approved

or not approved."

Former King Norodom Sihanouk declares his abdication in a letter written from Beijing,

where he was receiving medical treatment.

"The Royal House will remain a transparent house ... and for me there will never

be an ivory tower."

King Norodom Sihamoni pledges his honesty and commitment to the Cambodian people

at his coronation.

"Wife? He only feels Buddhist. He loves women as his sisters. He dares not to

make a deep relationship. ... He is a simple man."

Former Queen Monineath on the marital status of her son, the new King Sihamoni.

"By divulging in time this news Your Majesties, I was hoping to contribute to

defusing a bomb that could increase the chaos in Cambodia."

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy in a letter sent to former King Sihanouk in Beijing,

after a tip-off warned him of possible riots on the King's return to Cambodia. Rainsy

subsequently fled the country after government backlash for his letter.

"We are concerned that riots against Thai businesses might occur again if movies

about the ancient times return to television."

Pannasastra University business student Mon Samith on the debate about Thai films

returning to Cambodian television screens. Thai films were pulled from the air following

the anti-Thai riots of January 29, 2003.

"It wasn't a walkout. We could not finalize all issues in the short time available."

U.N. World Food Program representative Thomas Keusters on the discussions with the

government regarding compensation for the Food For Work rice fraud case.

"Buyers in America don't want to know about these problems. The attitude is

'*&?£ the customs chief if you have to, but get the stuff to my store on


A Cambodian factory owner, who wished to remain anonymous, on tackling the red tape

and corruption of the Customs Department.


"It's old wine in a new bottle."

Cambodian Centre for Social Development legal advisor Dr. Lao Mong Hay on the Rectangular

Strategy - the government's solution to the country's economic and social woes.

"If anybody believes that [the CPP] have an internal democracy, I think they're

smoking something they sell down at the central market."

Former International Republican Institute Country Director Ron Abney.

"We believe part of the problem is the ineffective way we donors are providing


Nisha Agrawal, country manager of the World Bank, admits Cambodia's international

aid benefactors need to put their millions of dollars to better use.

"He was not vacationing there, clearly."

Heraldo Munoz, chairman of a U.N. Security Council commitee on terrorism, suggests

suspected terrorist ringleader Hambali may have mixed business with pleasure during

a stay at a guesthouse by Phnom Penh's Boeng Kak lake.

"The only way to kiss a girl around here is to marry her."

Deportee Loy Prim, finding Cambodia's dating scene somewhat restrictive after being

deported from the United States.

"On impunity, the Prime Minister seems to say it doesn't exist, but of course

it does exist, and I don't think you solve any problems by saying it doesn't exist."

U.N. Secretary General Special Representative Peter Leuprecht in response to Prime

Minister Hun Sen's insistence that Cambodia is free of impunity.


"Yes, the illicit drug trafficking and abuse situation is out of control in


United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime Program Officer Graham Shaw on the worrying

results from their 2004 annual report. The number of people using drugs has jumped

from 50,000 to an estimated 500,000 in only one year.

"Many at the top see the arts as something not entirely serious. They can't

see how culture can rebuild our society. If the new casino had been the one to burn

down, I wonder how long it would take to rebuild that?"

Film director Rithy Panh on the lack of funding to rebuild the Tonle Bassac Theatre

after a fire destroyed its performance facilities in 1994.

"I feel very hurt and plan to sue Afesip because they libel us as a butterfly

that finds the food at night."

Chai Hour II hotel employee Tai Chakriya, using a euphemism for a sex worker, denies

Afesip's claim the hotel was operating as a brothel.

"The pigeon, if it is on the temple roof for a long time, it shits on the lord.

You are a lord, I take you to stay at the other place to let you look and check on

the pigeon from the top."

Some philosophical words from PM Hun Sen to former head of the Tax Department Hong

Tha. Hun Sen publicly fired Tha at a seminar on good governance December 14.

"The investigating judge told me that the suspects were innocent, but it is

their bad luck."

Defense lawyer Khov Chantha on the two suspects arrested and tried for the murder

of Chea Vichea.

"The Cambodian Government must find the whole donors' group process hilarious.

Each year they fail to meet their benchmarks and yet donors give them money."

Global Witness campaigner John Buckrell on the $504 million in donor aid offered

for 2005, announced at the Consultative Group meeting on December 6-7, 2004. The

donors warned the government to spend the money wisely or risk losing it in the future.

"Cambodia, like the poet [Robert Frost] cannot travel both roads."

World Bank Country Director Ian Porter equating Cambodia's future management of financial

aid to the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken, which describes the difficult choice

between two forest paths. Porter implores the Cambodian government to take the unfamiliar

road forward.


  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro