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Cambodian protesters hold a national flag during a protest at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Wednesday.

Cambodian and Khmer-Krom people are calling for an apology by the first counselor of the Vietnamese Embassy for remarks he made, saying that the former Cambodian provinces of Khmer Kampuchea Krom, now a part of Vietnam, was a part of Vietnam before France officialy ceded them in 1949. The protesters alleged that millions of ethnic Khmer Krom are facing human rights abuses in Vietnam.

Khieu Samphan: ex-Khmer Rouge head of state

Posted by pakin On August - 7 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan was one of the brutal Cambodian regime’s few diplomats to have contact with the outside world.

The French-educated radical denied playing a prominent role in a regime which oversaw the deaths of up to two million people in the late 1970s, saying he was kept out of leader Pol Pot’s inner circle.

During his historic trial at Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes court, he accused the prosecution of telling “fairytales” and insisted he was not part of the regime’s killing machine.

“The reality was that I did not have any power and I did not care about it either,” he said. He and his fellow defendant, Nuon Chea were accused by prosecutors of “spilling blood for power”.

Like most Khmer Rouge leaders at the height of the regime’s power, Khieu Samphan was a shadowy figure, his identity cloaked by the secrecy of the movement’s inner circles.

But, as the Khmer Rouge struggled for power in the civil war that followed their 1979 ouster, he became the public face of the movement as it sought, and was to some extent granted, international credibility.

In the 1980s he held positions as prime minister of the communist government-in-exile and president of the party.

He was promoted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc and other countries as a moderate voice of the regime.

A key player in peace talks in the early 1990s, Khieu Samphan remained the Khmer Rouge’s most visible public figure until defecting from the then-dying movement in 1998 with “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea.

– Highly-educated –

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Born in 1931 in Cambodia’s southeastern Svay Rieng province, Khieu Samphan was highly-educated, graduating from high school and university in France.

The title of his doctoral dissertation, “Cambodia’s economy and industrial development”, offered a hint of the radical agrarian revolution that was to come.

He returned to join Cambodia’s economic and social renaissance of the 1960s as an academic and journalist.

In the confused politics of the time, he was both condemned and elevated by the country’s mercurial leader, then-prince Norodom Sihanouk.

As editor of a leftist newspaper at odds with the government, Khieu Samphan was beaten in the streets of the capital Phnom Penh and imprisoned in 1960 after Sihanouk branded him an “oppositionist”.

But he was later elected to parliament and served as Sihanouk’s commerce minister in 1962-63.

He fled to the jungle in 1967 after again becoming a target for his left-leaning politics, joining up with Pol Pot.

The Khmer Rouge eventually seized the country in 1975 and during the regime years Khieu Samphan was appointed head of state as well as to more powerful positions within the party and government.

It was in these roles that genocide researchers say he would have surely been aware of what was happening as one of the worst atrocities of the 20th century unfolded.

Evidence indicates he “personally contributed to those crimes by making public statements supporting the underlying policies”, researchers Stephen Heder and Brian Tittemore write in their book “Seven Candidates for Prosecution”.

“He publicly endorsed taking measures against the enemies of the revolution in a way that suggests knowledge and support of the policy of executing purported enemy agents.”

He was arrested in November 2007 on charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

During his trial, Khieu Samphan expressed a “sincere apology” but said that he was not aware at the time of the “great suffering” of the Cambodian people.

“I was not aware of the heinous acts committed by other leaders that caused tragedy for the nation and people,” he said.

Myanmar commander hails Thailand’s coup

Posted by pakin On July - 7 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief General Min Aung Hlaing today made Thailand and Myanmar become the same type, praising the ruling junta of doing the right job to protect national security and people safety.

During a meeting with Thai Supreme Commander General Thanasak Patimaprakorn who is a deputy leader of the National Council for Pace and Order (NCPO) today, Ming Aung Hlaing said that the Tatmadaw (Myanmar armed forces) had similar experience, but worse in 1988.

In 1988, Myanmar students staged an uprising against military dictator regime of General Ne Win, which ended up with bloody military crackdown and a coup to take control over the country.

Myanmar junta known as State Law and Order Restoration Council and later changed to State Peace and Development Council – ruled Myanmar since then until 2010 when an election brought quasimilitary administration into power.

“The Army’s key mission is to safeguard national security and public safety,” Min Aung Hlaing reportedly told Tanasak. After considering the NCPO’s roadmap, aimed at achieving reconciliation and national reform, he was confident it would definitely succeed.

To his counterpart, Thanasak said that the military ties between Thailand and Myanmar would be strengthened.

“The bilateral military cooperation would be maintained, concerning measures to deal with border conflicts as well as joint training,” Thanasak said. He also expressed supports joint economic development between the two countries, which are both Asean members.

Thanasak also told the Myanmar counterpart that Thailand would ensure protection to Myanmar nationals now working in the kingdom in accordance with this country’s laws. Last month, a large number of Myanmar workers here were fleeing Thailand or hiding for fear of arrest, following the NCPO’s move to punish illegal labour.

Today’s visit followed the one in 2013, when the general met then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Then, he said the relations between Thailand and Myanmar are at their most cordial in the history of ties between the two countries.

The Thai military junta staged the coup on May 22 and planned to maintain the tight grip until the next election, which could be held in October 2015. The junta recently announced that the provisional Constitution would be enforced soon. While the Thai Army’s power strengthens, Myanmar’s armed forces have witnessed intensifying public resentment.

The National League for Democracy’s campaign has won over 3 million signatures from people who supported the charter amendment, which would weaken the Tatmadaw’s influence in politics.

Min Aung Hlaing also met NCPO leader Prayuth Chan-ocha and made a courtesy call to and lunched with Chief of Privy Council General Prem Tinsulanonda who reportedly regarded the Myanmar commander as his son. Prem had close relation with Min Aung Hlaing’s father when he was the Thai army commander in late 1970s. Min Aung Hlaing, who asked Prem to adopt him as a son when firstly met in 2012, called the chief of privy council time to time over the past years whenever he was in Thailand.

Saha Group plans Bt2-bn Asean expansion

Posted by pakin On June - 27 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Saha Group, one of Thailand’s largest manufacturing and trading conglomerates, will invest Bt2 billion in expanding its manufacturing and distribution facilities both in Thailand and regional markets between this year and 2015 when the Asean Economic Community (AEC) kicks off, group chairman Boonsithi Chokwatana said.

The group yesterday signed a joint venture agreement with MK Group of Myanmar, to set up a logistics company “Tiger Distribution & Logistics (Myanmar) Co Ltd”.

Boonsithi said it was a good time now to expand its business into the Asean market and cash in on the AEC.

He said the Saha Group expected to increase its business contribution from different markets in AEC from currently less than 10 per cent to between 40-50 per cent in the next 5-10 years.

The Saha Group has a strong base in Thailand where it has operated its business for about 50 years, Boonsithi said.

“We will speed up our investments in fast-moving consumer goods, such as instant noodles and detergents, in potential AEC countries especially Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam,” he said.

Boonsithi said the group plans to open instant-noodle factories in Cambodia and Myanmar. It also plans to set up new instant-noodle factories in Bangladesh and Hungary in the near future.

“From the business sector’s point of view, we are quite ready to penetrate the AEC market. We may not able to compete with stronger countries like Singapore, but in some countries such as Malaysia we are better. We are also able to compete neck and neck with Indonesia,” said Boonsithi.

He said the group was negotiating with a potential partner to set up the detergent factory in Yangon. The joint venture, with an investment of about Bt500 million and Bt600 million, would also Lion Corp of Japan and a Myanmar local investor as partners.

Saha Group itself would own a 30-per-cent stake in the joint venture, which would start operations by next year and serve only the Myanmar market.

Boonsithi said the group, however, had suspended its plan to develop an industrial park in Myanmar. According to its internal study, the investment in such an industrial estate in Myanmar was not appropriate at this time due to the high land cost and the limited lease period for lands.

“We are also looking at some developing countries such as Bangladesh to expand our manufacturing base, especially for fast-moving consumer products such as detergents. Bangladesh has a free-trade agreement with India so that we can target the India market as well. The investment in Bangladesh will have joint venture partners from Japan and a local partner,” said Boonsithi.

He said the group was also studying the Vietnam market for its trading business.

He said that in Cambodia, the group had already set up a trading company to distribute products to its Japanese partner Aeon Corp, which opened its first shopping mall in Phnom Penh this month.

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