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2005 year in quotes

2005 year in quotes


King Father Norodom Sihanouk at the Royal Palace on January 23 tours a new museum of gifts collected during his reign. The next day Sihanouk flew to Beijing for medical treatment, and had not returned by year's end.

"As a new exploration area for ChevronTexaco, Cambodia could offer the potential to build on our already very strong position in the Gulf of Thailand."
-John Watson, president, ChevronTexaco Overseas Petroleum.

"This is a flagrant violation of not only the Refugee Convention but the Convention Against Torture."
-Brad Adams, Asia Director, Human Rights Watch, on the arrest and feared deportation of Vietnamese Montagnards.

"If he [Hun Sen] still has enough energy to maintain the position of prime minister, he remains to continue his position, which it is up to the party to give to him."
-Heng Samrin, speaking before the CPP party congress on who would be the party's candidate for PM in 2008 elections.

"[We have to] stop saying to the communities we are going to demine their land - this is not true and not even honest."
-Christian Provoost, coordinator of mine action and injury prevention, Handicap International Belgium.

"This is not strange to me. Always there is no justice - if there was justice maybe this would be strange to me. If the trial is fair, I will praise the judge and write him a letter, but it is not."
-Sok Sam Oeun, director, the Cambodian Defenders Project, commenting on irregularities in the trial for three Muslim men convicted of plotting to bomb the US and British embassies.

"Among the 80 women, there are many who it seems [were] taken away and illegally confined by this NGO."
-Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong, speaking in Paris on Jan 10 about the NGO Afesip.

"We call on the interministerial committee once again to conduct a neutral, fair, unbiased investigation into all aspects of the case, especially the initial police investigation and the process that led to the order of the release of the eight suspects."
-Afesip lawyer Aarti Kapoor, responding to Hor Nam Hong's comments on Jan 12.

"Men might have a wife and children, but they want to have sex for fun. Men hear information from gay, transgender that if sex with wife is not so fun, sex with man more fun. Then they try it and like it."
-Meas Chanthan, program assistant, Urban Sector Group.

"If we come here and no one helps, we will not be able to afford to come again. We'll just wait and die."
-Koy Horn, 52, one of 80 farmers from Takeo who came to the National Assembly on January 24 to protest lack of food.

"It's still ongoing. There hasn't been any substantial progress yet."
-Ramarat Sarabanamuttu of the World Food Programme, speaking on January 25 about negotiations with the government on the theft of up to $2 million worth of rice.

"When my fortuneteller says that I have good luck, the other members of the government have to be happy with their positions."
-PM Hun Sen speaking on January 25, days before the CPP party congress.

"I think that he [Hun Sen] is a politician and he can make an announcement as a prime-ministerial candidate. I am the partner in the coalition government [with the Cambodian People's party], I have no choice but to support him."
-Prince Norodom Ranariddh speaking on January 27 before the CPP party congress.


"Freshie boy is just a bridge to catch another career. If we want to catch the cub, we have to get into the tiger cave."
-Cheat Vibol, commenting Feb 4 on the Hello Freshie Boy and Girl 2005 contest.

"When they're weak or tired, or just have a headache, they think they need an IV. And most doctors make good money charging them to have it."
-Dr Sim Piseth, Surya Medical Services, commenting on the overuse of IV treatment.

"I strongly advise all international financial institutions - particularly the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank - to add their voice to the chorus of concern and to consider a suspension of operations in Cambodia until the corrupt leaders get the message that tyranny will not be tolerated."
-US Senator Mitch McConnell, responding on Feb 3 to the withdrawal of Parliamentary immunity of three SRP members.

"I think [Prime Minister] Hun Sen has learned he can do pretty much anything he wants, and after a few days everyone stops talking about it."
-A Western diplomat in Phnom Penh, commenting on the same issue.

"People see the Chinese are good in business, so they want to do like them."
-Li Seng Heng coffin shop owner Im Sreng, commenting on the increase in demand for Chinese-style burials by Cambodians.

"Even if the commission examines a report and finds a lack of transparency or irregularities [the National Assembly] will not punish the individual responsible."
-Cheam Yeap, Chairman of the Assembly's Finance Commission.

"The justice system is a joke. There is no sense of justice or democracy. We have to start over."
-Stacie Loucks, International Republican Institute, on the American-funded NGO's decision to halt programs.

"I would like to thank you for telling me about this. If you tell me, you are my good partner."
-General Un Sokunthea, head of the Department of Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection, when told on Feb 17 that police were involved in bribery.

"I'm positive the AIDS rate is going to rapidly increase if there isn't immediate intervention. But it may be too late."
-Graham Shaw, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, on the increasing use of amphetamines in Cambodia.

"I think it will be impossible for the government to think seriously about demobilizing because the army is the backbone of totalitarianism. It's the tool used to control the population, not to serve the people."
-SRP MP Son Chhay, commenting on the RCAF appointment of 214 new stars for generals.

"I will play hide and seek with the authorities and if they can find me they can arrest me."
-Chhouk Rin, Feb 22, on the Supreme Court's ruling to uphold his life sentence.


"The attack was Vorn's duty, he was a region commander and Paet ordered [it]. There are many attackers still alive and living in Phnom Vour. Ninety percent of attackers are still here, you can ask them."
-Chhouk Rin, convicted of involvement in the deaths of three Western backpackers, denies he did it.

"They seem to get government contracts very easily. But it's better than having all the employees stealing the money."
-An industry source commenting on Sokimex's efforts to secure ticket rights for more temples.

"At the beginning I was afraid, but now I'm used to it. I can catch more than a hundred a day."
-Em Sem, who makes a living catching scorpions, netting him more than 30,000 riel daily.

"Donor countries which give recommendations are kind, but they don't know what the Khmers need."
-PM Hun Sen, on Mar 14, explaining his decision to no longer honor his promise to halt land concessions.

"The eviction was carried out with excessive use of force in violation of the law and provisions of the International Covenants on Human Rights by which Cambodia is bound."
-Margo Picken, director, UN Cambodian Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights on Mar 22, referring to use of force by police to evict villagers from land near Poipet.

"Every day Ruom Ritt is writing criticism about the government, if he does not criticize this one, then he criticizes the other one. Cambodia has only this kind of people, that's why it's like that. He is old, why doesn't he go to the pagoda?"
-Hun Sen speaking on Mar 28, responding to King Norodom Sihanouk's pen pal Ruom Ritt.


"In the States, for joyriding, we'd be out the same day. I got the feeling that the guy [prosecutor] had some real anguish towards Americans. They see us like we had our big chance to go to America and we fucked it up. We got in trouble and got sent back, so now they see us as garbage."
-Yuthea 'Chu' Chhoeuth, a Cambodian-American deported back to Cambodia for crimes committed in the US, sentenced by a Phnom Penh court on Apr 1 to five years in prison

for robbery.

"They are trying to make a cake with no flour. We have made no such agreement."
-Te Duong Dara, director general, the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, on claims by an American company that they had been given offshore exploration rights.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy fled the country after the National Assembly stripped him of his parliamentary immunity in a closed -door vote on February 3.

"I believe that the destruction that occurred between 1975 and 1979 cannot be forgotten. I think that the Khmer Rouge trial has to be fair and independent to provide justice to the victims who suffered from this cruel regime. It is a step toward peace and national reconciliation and will help Cambodia to adhere to the rule of law."
-National Police Chief Hok Lundy, reflecting on the 30-year anniversary of the April 17, 1975 fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge.

"I think that within the next 15 years there will be no water to use, and the temples will also be affected when there is no forest to protect them."
-Vann Sophanna, author of a report of rampant land grabbing in Siem Reap.

"Impunity is a gangrene that undermines the fabric of Cambodian society. Although this phenomenon is well-documented, the Prime Minister and his government persist, in an ostrich-like way, to deny it and to say it does not exist."
-Peter Leuprecht, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, in an Apr 19 statement in Geneva.

"The report of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General does not reflect the real situation in Cambodia. This report does not consider Cambodia within the context of its historic tragedy which explains the complexity of the situation and the difficulties with which Cambodia has had to face in order to resolve following the years of troubles and total destruction."
-Chheang Vun, Cambodian ambassador to the UN, responds to Leuprecht's comments

on Apr 19.

"Come and continue the proceedings. If [Rainsy] loses, he will just pay for the compensation, but if he has made no mistake, then his parliamentary immunity will be restored."
-PM Hun Sen speaking at a Apr 29 Council of Ministers meeting.


"The bank has clung to the notion that the mafia-style logging syndicates which have ravaged Cambodia's forests can be reformed."
-A Global Witness statement released on May 4.


"The US is leading the fight against terrorism, and they worked with us to arrest Yasith. I think that this [arrest] is not only from the demands of the Cambodian government, but from also the world."
-Prum Sokha, Secretary of State, Ministry of Interior.

"My body feels very hot when I get drunk [and] I always hurt myself. Sometimes I walk and hit myself with a wall or tree and sometimes I fall down on the ground unconscious."
-RCAF soldier Chhoun Saveoun describes his moderate drinking habits at the launch of a campaign to get soldiers to drink less on June 13.

"It's not true that the villagers were forced into an agreement. But later NGOs were [in the village] and they encouraged the people to be angry."
-Kham Khoeun, Ratanakkiri provincial governor, explaining why villagers in O'Yadav district were upset with being forced to sell their land.

"Progress on the land issue has been very disappointing. We continue to see land grabbing and weak implementation of the land concession framework. The indicators, which we all agreed upon during the last CG-meeting in December, so far have been largely missed."
-German Ambassador Pius Fischer commenting after a June 14 government-donor meeting to review 32 performance indicators.

"Samdech Hun Sen... does not allow me any power, and I am happy that he takes all the responsibility for this issue."
-King Father Norodom Sihanouk on June 22, referring to the Supreme National Council for Border Affairs.


"Their bosses put yama in the water and offer them [the fishermen] to drink. It affects the peoples' health and security in the village. It causes a lot of robberies, and people are killing each other."
-Hou Thy, village chief of Phum Pe in Pack Khlang district, Kok Kong province on the rise in drug use.

"Eleven years ago when I first came to Phnom Penh there were no lawyers, no bar association - there were just legal defenders. Today there is a Bar Association, 350 lawyers. There are problems, there are challenges, but there has been progress."
-Francis James, co-founder of Legal Aid of Cambodia, speaking at their 10th anniversary on July 14.

"We acknowledge that we were wrong because we did not implement our immigration law and those Montagnards should have been put in jail for between three and six months before we sent them away. Sending them away without [jail time] was the government's policy of humanity."
-Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak defending the deportation of asylum seekers.

"A lot of these middle-class kids, bong tom gangsters, are using it and pushing it on the streets. They have a lifestyle with impunity, so they spend a lot off time on the street earning money from street crime and the money they get from parents, they are loaded."
-David Harding, director of the NGO Friends, describing the use of "ice," the purest form of methamphetamine hydrochloride.


"With this verdict, the level of political repression has reached new heights."
-An Asian Human Rights Commission statement released on Aug 10 regarding the conviction of Cheam Channy.

"[I] confirm to the nation and our Cambodian people that our country has no political crisis. The trial of this or that guy is just a matter between personal and the legal procedures."
-PM Hun Sen commenting on Aug 11 on the Cheam Channy trial.

"In a messy country like Cambodia, they call an 'illegal army' anything that looks a little bit organized and works with some efficiency. They would crack down on the Salvation Army if there were such an organization."
-Sam Rainsy, commenting by email Aug 11 on the Cheam Channy trial, from self-imposed exile in France.

"Our brief is not to go out and find illegal logging, but to monitor the situation and then make the appropriate recommendations to the local authorities."
-Robert Tennent, SGS.

"...We are well aware that corruption in different levels - small, medium or large-scale - always has a negative impact on society. Corruption affects efficiency in production as well as implementing law... With the above mentioned reasons, it is not difficult for us to see the importance to combat against corruption which leads to the success of economic development of our country..."
-PM Hun Sen, Aug 17.


"So I think there are lots of irregularities which I think have now added up to so many cases that I would say it's a national crisis. The land crisis in Cambodia is probably, I would say, the national crisis, because it affects people every day of their lives."
-Miloon Kothari, Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing for the UN, speaking at the end of his 13-day tour of Cambodia.

"Mixing red dye with water looks like the blood of a virgin girl. Any household that does not hang bottles or plastic bags of red dye in front of their houses risks having evil spirits come into their homes and sucking blood of their daughters or family member."
-Chheang Lay, resident of Thbong Khmum village in Kampong Cham province on how people are preventing vampire attacks.


Prime Minister Hun Sen shakes hands with Vietnamese military attachés at Pochentong airport on October 12 as he returns from signing a border treaty with Vietnam.

"If there were any number of people who believed [that the government sold land to Vietnam], there would be chaos or armed force against the government. I will follow up to sue them in a French court and put them in jail and get compensation."
-PM Hun Sen on Oct 6.

"We cannot accept this kind of business. We regret that he [the owner] does not understand the pain of the Cambodian people. He wants to get benefit from the victims' souls. This should end now."
-Tourism Minister Lay Prohas explaining on Oct 6 why he closed the Khmer Rouge Experience Café.

"Some days, when my 23-year-old [daughter] gets sick [and can't work as a beer promoter], the entire family has nothing to eat and we don't have even the money to take [her granddaughter] Marady to hospital."
-Sochenda, whose husband died from AIDS and whose two daughters are also HIV positive.

"If this time around it is difficult to sign it, we should consider whether we should keep the monarchy or change to a republic with a president instead."
-PM Hun Sen speaking on Oct 17 in reference to the Supplemental Border Treaty.

"I am not Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk. Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk let others stage a coup. Hun Sen will not. Do not gamble on trying this. You do it, you die."
-PM Hun Sen, Oct 17, warning critics of the new border treaty.

"The arrests and detention of Mam Sonando and Rong Chhun in Prey Sar prison are highly irregular, and illustrate a deeply worrying trend... procedurally the arrests were illegal."
-Peter Leuprecht, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Oct 20.

"...the most severe assault on dissent in Cambodia since the aftermath of Hun Sen's coup in 1997. Hun Sen needs to accept that in a democracy leaders will be criticized when they make controversial decisions."
-Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch.


"When Cheam Channy, Mam Sonando and Rong Chhun are released from prison and parliamentary immunity is restored for Chea Poch, Cheam Channy and me."
-Sam Rainsy, on when he would return to Cambodia.

"Just now Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh, President of Funcinpec, on its behalf, declares me - Hun Sen - for the post of Prime Minister in case the Cambodian People's Party wins. I declare the CPP's support for Samdech Krom Preah for the post of Prime Minister in case Funcinpec wins the election."
-PM Hun Sen speaking at the Funcinpec party congress on Nov 14.

"Having achieved stable growth for a number of years successively and successfully, Cambodia has gained confidence and is now poised on an important threshold in its journey into the future. Cambodians have reached a crucial platform and look to their future with optimism and hope."
-PM Hen Sen, speaking to an investors conference on Nov 30.


"I warn that if [you] continue to grab land there will be a farmers' revolution, and I hope you will understand my difficulty. It is time for you to stop before the people lose their patience."
- PM Hun Sen, speaking on Dec 6 about the problem of land grabbing.

"This week has gone very well; I'm satisfied. I understand that people are disappointed by the many years of delay, but believe it or not-we're here now and we're here to stay."
- UN Khmer Rouge Trial Deputy Director Michelle Lee speaking on Dec 14.


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  • Sor Chandeth defends his criticism of Hun Sen

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  • South Korea’s Moon arrives in Kingdom for state visit

    South Korean president Moon Jae-in and his wife arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday at the start of a three-day state visit to Cambodia to strengthen ties and further the friendship between the two countries. After arriving at the Phnom Penh International Airport in the

  • Youths band together to clean ‘filthy’ Boeung Trabek canal

    Inspired by their affection for the environment, a desire to have a clean and beautiful city, and wanting to send a message to people to stop littering, a group of some two dozen volunteer youths have taken to picking up trash day and night from