Friday, 26 August 2016

Hun Sen’s Forum Jungle

“In the past, it was my fault.”

CPP Premier Hun Sen, 23 August 2016, Khmer Times

“He [Hun Sen] blamed the lack of on-the-ground enforcement of environmental law on bickering agencies. He blamed the slow pace of land reform on the collectivization policies of Pol Pot, who was thrown out of power more than three decades ago. And he blamed the myriad land disputes triggered by government-approved agribusiness plantations on the failure of local officials to practice his vaunted “tiger skin” policy, whereby pre-existing communities inside the plantations are allowed to keep their land.”

Cambodia Daily reporter Khuon Narim, “At Environmental Forum, Hun Sen Spreads the Blame”, 23 August 2016, The Cambodia Daily

“Previously, they logged right in front of governors, but the governors said they had no right to do anything because it was for the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Agriculture to handle. That is why we cannot protect the forest.”

CPP Premier Hun Sen, 23 August 2016, Khmer Times

“The recommendation I gave to fully implement the tiger skin [with economic land concessions] was not followed, so the land disputes happened and forests were destroyed.”

CPP Premier Hun Sen, 23 August 2016, The Cambodia Daily

«ក្រសួង​ទាំង​៦ ដែល​ពាក់ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​ព្រៃ​ឈើ ឥឡូវ​ព្រៃ​ឈើ តាម​ដឹង​ វា​នៅ​តែ​បំផ្លាញ បើ​ទោះ​បី​ជា​ឯកឧត្តម សៅ សុខា ឧទ្ធម្ភាគចក្រ​ពីរ​គ្រឿង​ទៅ​ហើយ​ក្តី​ វា​នៅ​តែ​លួច​កាប់។»

នាយក​រដ្ឋមន្ត្រី ហ៊ុន សែន ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​២២ ខែ​សីហា ឆ្នាំ​២០១៦ ​វិទ្យុ​អាស៊ីសេរី

“What you [Thy Sovantha] have raised about officials [taking money and letting offenders go free] is true.”

CPP Premier Hun Sen, 23 August 2016, The Cambodia Daily

“Why do politicians do that [touring provinces]? Honestly, they do it for votes. When I went to visit the grassroots some people said that I just did it for votes. Of course, I would like to declare that I went to find votes.”

CPP Premier Hun Sen, 23 August 2016, Khmer Times

Some intellectuals who blame the opposition for the culture of dead dialogue between the two major parties hail the 22 August Forum on Protection and Conservation of Natural Resources. Their excitement is that the Forum includes all except opposition politicians whom they say are troublemakers. Their monomania is that Hun Sen is the only saviour or problem-solver, without realising that the man may be the problem.

However, the question is: will the Forum produce the desired protection and conservation? Unlikely.

First, the five-hour Forum fails to allow a sufficient interactive exchange of ideas. “Forum” is usually defined as an assembly for an open discussion of subjects, not a soliloquy. It is hardly a discussion when Hun Sen mostly monopolises the microphone, digressing into politics and berating his political opponents for issues outside the agenda.

Second, the premier demonstrates how little he understands why he fails. Though Hun Sen admits it is his fault that the natural resources have been destroyed, he goes on to deflect blames onto others, including Pol Pot who would turn over in his grave if he heard Hun Sen implicating him for the destructions. Back to the living, Hun Sen implies provincial governors and ministers do not know their roles and responsibilities. He describes the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries as having “one head and three tails”, which resembles the beast his regime has recently been compared to. The admission of fault is not sincere, and the excuses are irresponsible.

Third, his prime-ministerial authority has been undermined; his initiatives to combat the forest destructions flop. His orders and recommendations are largely ignored. General Sao Sokha, to whom Hun Sen has given two helicopters, machine guns, and a direct order to shoot illegal loggers, has taken numerous helicopter rides, but not fired a single round. Hun Sen’s “tiger skin” recommendation to avoid land disputes is overlooked. He says illegal loggings and land disputes are continuing unabated.

Hun Sen seems to have learnt very little from his experience. At the Forum he briefly acknowledges corruption issue, and swiftly moves away from it, though many believe it is a major root of his failure. The dilemma is that Hun Sen, his family, and personal interest groups have benefited from the corruption in the environmental destructions, and he relies on them to sustain his position to the extent that he must turn a blind eye. If he declared his family’s income and assets, he would go a long way to arrest many problems.

Hence, the Forum becomes just another audience with the premier in which he amenably grants various requests. This is awfully similar to the manner Hun Sen gives away grants by the seat of his pants during his recent provincial tours. Incidentally, he sounds upbeat when confirming at the Forum that the tours are his political opportunities to ask for votes.

Only naïve intellectuals would fail to see the politics of Hun Sen hunting for votes in the Forum jungle, long before the hunting season legally opens.

Ung Bun Ang

By The Way

Another non-environment initiative at the Forum Hun Sen says he is taking is to build communities along the border. He has rejected this idea for nearly 20 years when General Ke Kim Yan requested the border development in 1999.

Why does he change his mind, though only the dead don’t? Does he really mean it, or is it just a political campaign to gain votes in the commune elections next year and the national elections the year after?

Perhaps, any answer may be irrelevant, as many will now have another excuse to wait and see if Hun Sen this time keeps his words. The wait will take the pressure off Hun Sen whose track record of doing anything to interrupt the power and wealth accumulation for himself, his family, and personal interest groups is not so hot.

An excerpt from a report on border situations by the then RCAF Commander General Ke Kim Yan, 12 August 1999. It lists three out of ten requests in the report. (Full report is available on request.)

Should you wish to receive Pseng-Pseng on your screen as soon as it is released, subscribe to it at

Pseng-Pseng is published irregularly. Previous issues are archived at

No comments:

Post a Comment