Freedom of the press is one of the most important rights in a democratic society
such as Cambodia. However, the victims of newspapers also need corrections to any
mistakes made in the publication of articles.
Based on that, I would like you to correct some untrue parts your article [CPP diversifying
into unions, Mar 21-April 3] which damaged the reputation of the high-ranking official
of the government [because] you improperly quoted me. His Excellency Sar Kheng will
be disappointed with me when he learns of this problem. Moreover, it can be a bad
credit to your newspaper. The following are the corrections to the misinformation:
1) On page 1, column 2, you said: "Thol said Sar Kheng had given gifts
to CUF members, and was the main supporter of the union".
I already told you on March 17, 1997 that a gift which is given without consideration
(a term of the Contract Law) is a gift. But a gift given with consideration is not
a gift: it is a contract of exchange for something. When he handed the gifts to CUF
members, he did not say you must do this or that for him at all. So you cannot claim
that the gifts are for an exchange of something else.
In addition to that, I reject your quotation of my speech. I did not say H.E Sar
Kheng was a main supporter [of CUF]. What I did say was: "After I sent out my
appeals for a donation to different places inside and outside Cambodia, I received
positive answers from my friends, my aunt in the US, CUF founding members and H.E
Sar Kheng." I also told you that they donated to CUF $40 or $50, just for the
transitional period to start the union to serve the interest of the workers. The
money is from his own personal pocket, not from CPP's or government's pocket. I also
expressed to you that if Sam Rainsy wanted to donate to CUF without a consideration,
he would be welcomed.
2) In addition in page 2, column 1, you incorrectly quoted: "He said
that he was happy that because of outside help - which he said came from only Sar
Kheng - he did not need to charge his members unions dues." This paragraph was
also not correct. The union dues will be the role of the congress of the CUF in April
1997, which will say how much the members should pay to CUF. A union without union
dues will fail.
- Chuon Mom Thol, President, Cambodian Union Federation.