The Post publishes here the full unedited text of Mr Jennar's January 16 article,
which was first re-published in Reasmey Kampuchea.
The Election, Europe and The American Journalists. Phnom Penh, Friday 16 January
1998. Today, the European Union announced that it will contribute ECU 9.5 million
(approximately US$10.5 million) for the preparation and carrying out of free and
fair election in Cambodia.
The EU will found three activities:
1) training of Cambodian election officials and potential electors to ensure the
timely registration of all eligible voters, provision of registration cards to each
eligible elector and dissemination of information on registration (ECU 8.3 million).
2) presence of independent observers to the electoral process, who can also provide
legal advice as required, right from the registration of electors until the installation
of successful candidates into office (ECU 1.1 million).
3) training of a core group of local journalists to ensure significant and valid
coverage of all opinions (ECU 0.1 million).
THE EU RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SUSPEND ITS ACTIVITIES ON THE ELECTORAL REGISTER IF
OTHER FACTORS WHICH WOULD PERMIT THE HOLDING OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS ARE NOT ALSO
PUT IN PLACE.
During the press conference, American journalists, acting like spokespersons of their
government and not like free and fair observers, tried to explain that the European
Union was making a big shift in the policy of the international community by not
making the return of prince Norodom Ranariddh a condition for the support of the
It was clearly answered by Mr G. Morgan, the Director of the EU Department for South-East
Asia that there are different approaches about the case of prince Ranariddh and not
He underlined that the one expressed by those journalists was the American policy
and not the policy of "the international community".
He said also that the EU wants to see the prince participating in the election, but
the issue of his return and his participation is first of all his own decision.
By focusing on the case of one politician, the American journalists tried to explain
that the European Union was not concerned by the July crisis, the summary executions
which followed and by the worries expressed by political opponents and human rights
activists about the freedom and the fairness of the coming election.
It has been precisely said that the UE condemns all human rights abuses and wants
free and fair election. It has been repeated that the EU gives itself the right to
withdraw from the electoral process if its own evaluation of the situation - and,
I underline, not the orders coming from Washington DC or unfair and unaccurate reports
from journalists - imposes such decision.
Once again American journalists show that they are one-sided. That the kind of journalism
they are implementing is based on sensationalism and manicheism. They need a good
guy and a bad guy (that's the reason the coverage of the Hun Sen-Sam Rainsy meeting
- one of the most important political events in 1997 - was so poor; journalists do
not like to peaceful resolution; they live from conflicts). They need to have someone
to support and someone to blame.
It is amaising to see people endorsing the policy of a country which imposed so many
dictatorships in Central and South America and everywhere in the world and giving
now lessons of democracy.
The USA failed to drive Hun Sen out of power through UNTAC. After the July events
and the failure to kill Hun Sen (a death too quickly announced by prince Ranariddh's
Director of Cabinet), they want to punish him for surviving. Hun Sen: a child compared
with the best friends of the USA: Videla, Pinochet, Kabila.
The issue of prince Ranariddh is complex. He ruled the country between 1993 and mid
1997. He bears responsibility for the decision he made or for the decision he failed
to take. He was far from acting like the democratic ruler he is presented today by
the American press. He made strong statements explaining that "democracy is
not applicable in Cambodia" (5 August 1995).
He must face the consequences of the decisions he took. In front of a Court or in
front of the voters. Or both.
At least one of the charges against him is undisputable: the 1997 negociations with
the Khmer Rouge without the agreement of the Government. In 1996 both Prime Ministers
agreed to negotiate with the Khmer Rouge of the West (Pailin). In 1997, prince Ranariddh
was alone negociating with Anglong Veng Khmer Rouge. His partner made clear many
times his complete disapprobation of such negociations. Doing that - an initiative
clearly condemned by a King not blinded like his son by stupid and dangerous military
advisers - prince Ranariddh violated the 1993 agreement creating the coalition (all
the decisions request consensus) and the 5 July law outlawing the Khmer Rouge.
With regard to the other charges, it is the work of a Court acting in full independence
to decide. It remains to be proved by the Government if such a fair trial is possible.
But, it is impossible to block the future of a country because one man or a group
of people want to prevent the citizen making a democratic choice. The future of the
country is more important than the future of an individual.
Which other option is given by those who refuse to make the coming electoral process
as fair and free as possible?
Do they want Cambodia moving to a second Burma or do they accept that the evolution
to a genuine democracy is a step by step process?