Where I go for AGGREGATED news on Cambodia, plus...   . . .           On Dec 26-29, 1979 [by now, Cambodia under one full year of Vietnamese occupation], the musician Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim, the Secre [ ... ]


Has Science Discovered God?     Click to watch this FASCINATING, MIND-BLOGGING video with breathtaking images and you learn science in the process!   Read transcript             God in the Cosmos
Veritas Forum at Yale University  [ ... ]

យើង ទទួលបាន ជ័យជំនះ

នៅក្នុង ការបោះឆ្នោតនេះ,

ហើយ ពេលនេះ,

យើង ត្រូវតែ ការពារឆន្ទ: របស់ ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ។

We won this election

and now we must defend

the will of the Cambodian people.

- Sam Rainsy, 31 July 2013 approx. 11 a.m. on Facebook


. . .


Both Sides Claim Victory in Cambodia Murky Elections


The Independent | 30 July 2013

. . .


Cambodian Opposition

Rejects Election Results

The New York Times / International Herald Tribune | 29 July 2013

Mr. Sam Rainsy, who said the party had calculated that 1.2 million to 1.3 million would-be voters had been omitted from voter rolls, called for the creation of a special committee to deal with irregularities and to decide whether new balloting or recounting was necessary. He proposed that the committee include members of both parties, as well as independent election observers, both Cambodian and foreign, and that the committee finish its work before Aug. 31.

“We acknowledge that there were irregularities,” said Thun Saray, the president of the board of directors of Comfrel, a Cambodian election monitoring organization. He said there were many reports of duplicates in the voter rolls that appeared to have allowed more than one vote per person.

A survey by the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, an American organization that promotes elections, found that at 60 percent of polling stations, citizens with adequate, valid documentation were turned away. And in a quarter of the polling stations, people were allowed to vote without a valid ID.

“The overall picture is both disenfranchisement, illegal voting and sporadic chaos at the polls,” said Laura Thornton, the head of the institute’s Cambodia office. “There needs to be an independent investigation into these irregularities.” She described the opposition’s proposal for a committee to investigate the election results as "reasonable.”

. . .


Cambodia - a Kind of Triumph


James Pringle | Asia Sentinel | 29 July 2013

[A BRILLIANT PIECE.  Veteran correspondent Jim Pringle quoted me but failed to mention my name as he forgot to ask first if he could]

And his three sons, who are each being groomed for authority, one a military graduate at West Point, are also unlikely to attain the positions Hun Sen seeks for them, including succeeding him. Still, some analysts here say that it is thanks to these sons, and their overseas education, that there has been so little violence in this election. "It seems the sons didn't want to be associated with anything that would lead to people being killed, and that Hun Sen listened to them," noted a human rights lawyer here.


. . .


CNRP Press Conference on its position of Election Results, 29 July 2013.  More photos...

The CNRP is Right

to Contest the Election Results

Theary C. Seng, 30 July 2013

According to the provisional election results announced by the biased National Election Committee and the ruling CPP, the democratic opposition CNRP lost the popular votes by the razor-thin margin of 200,000 -- a difference of as little 0.6 percent.

On Monday (July 29) at a press conference, CNRP president Sam Rainsy rejected the election results due to the gross irregularities prior to and during election day: “Fifteen per cent of voters – about 1.2 to 1.3 million – were unable to vote because of list irregularities. There were also about 1 million ghost names on the voter list and about 200,000 duplicate names.”


(Here, we have not factored in the grossly manifested uneven playing field, a powerful election machinery that systematically favors the ruling CPP: CPP-biased National Election Comittee, all the 10+ state-affiliated TV stations, most radio stations, state resources marshaled for CPP campaigns, the hundreds of millions of dollars, the military PLUS FEAR, the chiefs of the commune and village level controlling the registration/information/financing apparatus, how certain mobile companies shut off the ability for voters to use their phones all day till night time, etc.)


NDI's Voter Registry Audit raises many concerns, one of the more glaring ones is the over registration across the country, in certain places reaching 200 percent (see the detailed, well-researched, well-analyzed Phnom Penh Post article "Giving More than 100%")


The CNRP is right to contest the election results in light of the gross, numerous irregularities. Not only is it politically correct to do so, but it is the CNRP's moral imperative if it is to respect the will of the people.


The people spoke loud and clear prior to election day amidst fear and intimidation that they want change.  They not only spoke loudly, they acted loudly by going to the polls and exercised their legal right, and every indicator said they voted CNRP, despite the powerful CPP election machinery and threat of civil war.


The CNRP is also right to call for a joint commission to inquiry into the many irregularities.  It is not only right, but reasonable... AND NECESSARY IF THE CPP is serious about stability and wise about its survival and legacy.


The highly contention preliminary election results may have a razor-thin margin of 200,000 votes, but this translate to a loss for the CNRP with the CPP at 68 seats to the CNRP's 55 seats in the National Assembly.


And in real terms for Cambodians, it means CAMBODIA FLOURISHING or the continuation of CAMBODIA DYING.


A Cambodia ruled by CNRP with Sam Rainsy at its helm means CAMBODIA FLOURISHING.  In real terms, we will see a drastic decrease in corruption, a rise in quality education, a diminishing trade in human trafficking, a rise in human social development at every level, in every sector.


This is why the CNRP needs to contest the highly-questionable election results.

Theary C. Seng after the CNRP Press Conference, borrowing CNRP's wifi and room to catch up on work, while waiting for the heavy traffic into the city center to pass (Phnom Penh, 29 July 2013)

. . .


Opposition Rejects Election Results

The Phnom Penh Post | 30 July 2013

“Fifteen per cent of voters – about 1.2 to 1.3 million – were unable to vote because of list irregularities. There were also about 1 million ghost names on the voter list and about 200,000 duplicate names.”

All matters must be resolved in order to respect “the will” of the people, he added.

. . .


The Cambodian People Have Spoken,

Time to Level the Playing Field

TIME Magazine | 29 July 2013

Sam Rainsy challenged the official election result on Monday afternoon and called for an independent investigation involving the U.N. into “ghost” voters, incomplete registration lists and other alleged irregularities. Now is undoubtedly the time to ramp up the pressure on Hun Sen.

. . .

Voters Turnout Keeps Falling

The Phnom Penh Post | 30 July 2013

That trend continued unabated on Sunday as only an estimated 68 per cent inked their fingers.

But some analysts attributed this year’s low turnout – which dipped about seven per cent from 2008 – to an increase in the number of obstacles thrown at would-be voters rather than a decrease in political interest.

Election watchdog Comfrel and Transparency International both reported widespread complaints from registered voters turned away from polling stations for not having proper ID or not appearing on the polling station’s voter list.


. . .

U.S. State Department's Daily Press Briefing

Washington, D.C., 29 July 2013

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm. Sure. Well, let me first say that the United States commends the Cambodian people for their active and peaceful participation during the Cambodian national election. We urge all parties and their supporters to continue to act in an orderly and peaceful manner in the post-election period.

We are concerned by numerous reported irregularities in the electoral process. We have consistently called on the Royal Government of Cambodia to addresses systematic flaws – systemic flaws, such as problems in the voter registry and unequal access to the media. We call for a transparent and full investigation of all credible reports of irregularities.

QUESTION: Okay. Does that mean that you do – that you support the opposition’s call for some kind of a special inquiry?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we will be closely monitoring, of course, the information released – let me just say this, because I wanted to add it – by the National Election Committee. We have seen – and in light of the reported irregularities, we call for a full and transparent investigation that will be reviewed as credible by the Cambodian people. It’s not about supporting one call, it’s about the fact that we did have concerns about reported irregularities, and we believe that, of course, the Cambodian people should have confidence in the outcome of the election.

QUESTION: Okay. And sorry, I think you slightly just misspoke. You meant that will be viewed by the Cambodian people and not reviewed, right?

MS. PSAKI: Viewed. Sorry. I added an r-e there. My apologies.

QUESTION: Viewed by the Cambodian people as transparent.



. . .


The Dark Magic of the NEC/CPP


Theary C. Seng, 28 July 2013

By every indication (save those of the ruling Cambodian People's Party's), the democratic opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party won the parliamentary elections with 123 seats at stake.  Unofficial results of monitors (of the opposition CNRP and of national/international observers) streamed in shortly after 3 p.m. when the polling stations closed across the country with 9.6 million registered voters (but 1-3 million highly contested due to problems with voter registration) indicating that the CNRP won in all the major towns and cities, including the capital Phnom Penh.


I have trained political party agents and monitored the national elections here officially and unofficially.  (I've also been invited as international observers for the Bangladesh elections.) So, I do know the inner workings of monitoring and its detailed and serious preparation, with the data to be trusted.

The democracy CNRP president Sam Rainsy at around 8 p.m. even came out with an official statement in Khmer claiming election victory and requesting all the voters to stay calm and peaceful.  I was stunned upon hearing the official statement by Sam Rainsy, a friend, along with everyone else who read it I am certain, but not surprised as we knew the country voted CNRP.

But hearing it, after fighting for democracy on the ground since 1995, it was nonetheless stunning and emotional.  Streams of tears flowed.

A few minutes later, I received unofficial information from the CPP that at 8:30 p.m., it will broadcast its victory on the national TVK of the preliminary results of 70-50 (which I posted incorrectly at 70-30 on Facebook).


And a few minutes later after that, Khieu Kanharith, the Minister of Information and spokesperson for the ruling CPP posted on his Facebook a victory for the CPP at 68 seats for the CPP and 55 seats for the CNRP in the National Assembly.

I was again stunned AND OUTRAGED.  PRIOR to today's voting day, the CPP had already stolen 25% of the votes via highly problematic voter registration process and list.  And now, AFTER the voting day, when every trustworthy indication shown victory for the democracy CNRP, the CPP has the audacity to claim victory at the incredible margin of 68-55 seats.  (Sure, the gains for the opposition democracy forces are also great, but that's a separate issue.)

I call this "NEC/CPP dark magic".  And here's a real-life illustration of how it works.


In the 2008 national elections, Gen. Nhek Bunchhay ran as a royalist Funcinpec candidate and lost in the province of Banteay Meanchey at the first instance of counting with all the monitors there immediately after voting on election day.  But the ruling CPP needed him to win as he individually and his royalist party Funcinpec -- for their pliancy -- were needed by the CPP to form a coalition government.


So, the day after voting, the National Election Committee announced that in fact Nhek Bunchhay won a parliamentary seat after it (NEC) recounted the votes (on its own in the dark).  Magic!  NEC/CPP magic.

Earlier this afternoon, security blockades cordoned off the Prime Minister's residence in a very, very WIDE encirclement.  And there are reports and images of tanks and military build-up with great assistance from Vietnam, this ruling CPP's patron (Hun Sen and his ruling cohorts were propped by Vietnam after it invaded Cambodia in 1979).

- Theary C. Seng, 10 p.m. 28 July 2013

. . .


Our crowds of supporters keep getting bigger. Something momentous is going to happen on Sunday. Back in Phnom Penh for the final day of campaigning, Jully 26. - សម រង្ស៊ី / Sam Rainsy |


. . .


An Exit Strategy for Hun Sen

and His Cronies

Pro Bono Wisdom for the CPP Elites


by Ms. Theary C. Seng, 22 July 2013

(a work in progress)


Before I offer my advice of an exit strategy to Hun Sen and his cronies, I'd like to address the grossly underestimated figure of 100,000 for the crowds that came out to welcome Sam Rainsy on Friday, 19 July 2013.

In 2007, I gave a speech at a rock concert in Germany before an estimated crowd of 80-100,000 large-set Germans, comfortably spaced out on a grassy field.  (Click for video and photos).

Now, compare this crowd of 80,000 with the DENSE, shoulder-to-shoulder PETITE-sized Cambodians lining the streets of Airport and the crowd in Democracy Square -- it's SIMPLY INCORRECT to estimate the Cambodian crowd welcoming Sam Rainsy on Friday at only 100,000. It was AT LEAST HALF A MILLION, if not a million or more!

In all seriousness, the best thing Hun Sen could do for himself, his children and grandchildren and the generations to come--

As well as, the best thing Hun Sen could for those within his inner sanctuary, along with their children and grandchildren and the generations to come--

That is to say, the best thing Hun Sen could do for the personal LONG-TERM welfare of his family and those close to him is to undo the systematic damages of gross election rigging (what can be undone anyway within this month) and let the people freely vote their conscience for the CNRP.  This undoubtedly would lead to a landslide victory for the CNRP (in spite of the unequal level playing field of resources and media which couldn't be undone within the week).

Yes, let me repeat this:  It is to Hun Sen's LONG-TERM personal interests of survival for himself and his future generations, as well as of those around him, to lose the election by letting the people freely vote their conscience without any more rigging of the votes or vote counting, after undoing some of the harm which already have been systematically put in place.


(I am speaking now in HIS INTERESTS based on what I know of our society and the fast-changing world, and in light of what I've witnessed of past elections and of recent days, and of what I know intuitively of all the factors enumerated below.)


Let me tell you why this would be the wisest and most rationale (even if at first blush it seems irrational and naive) strategy for him, which is to exit legitimately via a lost election this July 2013:


1.  The Syria and Qaddafi Examples


2.  The Sam Rainsy Character (and the Union with Kem Sokha that will not break, unlike past unions)


Let me tell you in sum what I know of Sam Rainsy since I've  heard of him in 1994 and known him in 1995, and since have befriended him (me, as a nationalist) and have studied him (me, as a political scientist, as it was a student at Georgetown University when I first met him):


Sam Rainsy is not going to back down. Period.  Especially after the rapturous hero's welcome reflecting his popularity, with this popularity cutting across the provinces.  He has the people behind him -- no longer the SILENT majority, but loud, vivacious youth who are coming of political age in the social media era.  This is his moment, his only moment.  The accumulation of his decades of sacrificing and struggling for Cambodia politically.


It is also Cambodia's moment.  And he knows it.  He is a student of history.  He is a student of Cambodia history.  He is a student of world history.


As much as many other leaders exist, most due to open space and conditions he helped to create since UNTAC, they still possess great limitations and cannot compare to him (or his wife Saumura) in terms of soft and hard skills.


3.  The World in 2013 (particularly in ASEAN)


For all Burma's paranoia and delusion of the North Korea brand, a sliver of rationality pierced through to the heart and mind of the president and after weighing his options, he wisely chose the conciliatory and reform process for Burma.


Hun Sen can learn from his next-door dictator. 


4.  The Cambodian Population as Glimpsed into this Friday, July 19.


This Season of Discontent is here to stay and will only accumulate into the monsoonal downpour of more and deafening discontents. 


5.  The Judicial Equation:


Yes, on the one hand it opens up Hun Sen and his cronies to litigation.  But, on the other hand, escalating the matter into greater and greater violence will only provide more impetus and evidence for future litigation.  It is better to appease and to blunt any litigation with a legitimate election loss.  Loss of face is not an issue, as they have already lost face and will only continue to lose face with the growing animosity and vehemently growing anti-Hun Sen sentiments that is finding greater and more powerful expressions in more-difficult-to-restrict venues of social media.


They, the CPP, must also keep in mind that whatever violence they commit could fall under the power of the International Criminal Court, which has the temporal jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed on or after 1 July 2002.


Within recent days, there's growing talk about the use of force or a military coup should the CNRP win the elections.  It's understandable even if it's deplorable that the CPP should use this scare tactics of civil war.  But seasoned correspondents are also reporting of the possibility of a coup similar to 1997, a good remind for caution, but unrealistic.


The main reason the CPP will not exact mass violence similar to 1997 is the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT.  If we can try the Khmer Rouge leaders of crimes committed 35 years ago when international law was still nascent (as it only proliferated in the 1990s), with no social media and limited evidence, then be sure of this, we can try crimes committed in the glare of thousands capturing images for evidence -- maybe not immediately or the year after, or even the decade after... It may be 3 decades after like the Khmer Rouge, but it will happen.


Hun Manet and Hun Manit and their generation know this.  The generals of the 1997 may be in their 60s, 70s and some 80s years of age, but these younger generals and political leaders know they will be held legally responsible -- maybe not immediately, but later -- for these crimes.


6. Escalation leads to Cornering of Themselves into An-All-Or-Nothing Scenario Sooner or Later.


Better to exit than to push themselves into a corner where they risk losing everything -- not only their positions and wealth, but their very legacy and possibly lives.  Think Syria.


A couple of days after Sam Rainsy's rapturous welcome and before we could see the similar electrified provincial reception, Kavi Chongkittavorn of The Nation wroteIn the final analysis, Hun Sen's Cambodia dares not jeopardise its current political stability and continued economic growth and investment.


Let me briefly illustrate what the next few weeks and months will look like when it is assessed that the CPP has won by grossly cheating the people of their votes.  Sam Rainsy will either outright refuse to recognize the elections as free and fair from barring him as a candidate as well as from the massive cheating or will contest the results in part.


Either way, there will be mass demonstrations.  And if the demonstrations -- which this time will have the energy of fearless youth coming of political age who will be easily convinced by the evidence that they been cheated of their voice and future -- lead to a political stalemate or impair the CPP's "victory" in anyway, the CPP will be forced to use violence.


But the problem with violence is that they cannot control the crowd or limit its effect.


And here is the clincher.  Any mass violence, unlike 1997, could potentially fall under the ICC jurisdiction.  They cannot limit the violence; it is a high risk they will make with any step toward violence, because they cannot limit it.  Think of Tunisia, how one person set off a whole country's dignity revolution.


The Cambodian youth of today, as we have witnessed in recent days, are not of the same emotional fabric as their parents -- deeply traumatized, uninformed, hopeless.


And in all of this, Sam Rainsy, civil society and the international community will not sit quiet.


CONCLUSION: Election Loss Exit Means Survival and Potentially Honored Legacy

In sum, Hun Sen and his cronies are given the rare and best (among not very good, not many) options to exit via this election.  It is the most face-saving option, and potentially most  honorable in salvaging their goods and legacy -- in letting the people freely vote their conscience.


- Theary C. Seng, Phnom Penh, updated 26 July 2013


. . .


Sam Rainsy Returns

to a Rapturous


Hero's Welcome


Photos: Theary C. Seng, 19 July 2013

(Airport VIP Lounge, and from the back of the Pick-up Truck carrying Sam Rainsy from airport to Democracy Square in city center)

More images taken by me from the truck carrying Sam Rainsy at my Facebook accounts and in KI-Media 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


It was nice to have Princess Soma Norodom joined us, outside the VIP Airport Lounge

VIP Airport Lounge with Prince Thomico, 19 July 2013

Sam Rainsy flanks by his CNRP officials upon landing, VIP Airport Lounge, 19 July 2013

Elect-MP Saumura Tioulong waving flag in front of her husband Sam Rainsy, VIP Airport gate, 19 July 2013

Sam Rainsy flashing CNRP no. 7 in the back of the pick up truck carrying him from airport to Democracy Square (19 July 2013)

The trip from the airport to Democracy Square took 5 hours, as the truck could only inch along the some 10 km, with throngs of supporters wildly hailing their hero returning home.

Me sitting on the edge of the truck carrying Sam Rainsy, here with one of his CNRP security officials walking behind the truck, 19 July 2013

Security forming a human chain around the truck carrying Sam Rainsy where I am sitting in the back taking this photo; they're had the toughest job keeping the frenzied crowds at bay from overwhelming Sam Rainsy standing in the back of the truck on a raised platform, walking for 5 hours from airport to city center where Sam Rainsy met with more supporters at Democracy Square.

I'm at the back of the truck where Sam Rainsy is standing on a raised platform, supported by bodyguards and his CNRP officials.  The security surrounding his truck were amazing in protecting the truck from being flanked by frenzied supporters all the way from airport to Democracy Square, over 10 kilometers.

Elect-MP Ke Sovannroth and a dedicated young CNRP supporter holding flag in the back of Sam Rainsy's truck with me

Me in the back of the truck carrying Sam Rainsy on a raised platform, view immediately behind us

Tens of thousands waited and greeted Sam Rainsy at Democracy Square in the city center, here we are on stage after having arrived 5 hours later from the airport due to the throngs of supporters all along the way.


. . .

Back from Exile,

Cambodia’s Opposition Leader

Brings Thousands onto the Streets

TIME Magazine | 19 July 2013

Sam Rainsy’s combative rhetoric will undoubtedly enthrall in the 10 days until polling, and is very likely get him into fresh trouble on the way. CNRP officials tell TIME that half-a-million people lined the street from the airport to Freedom Park where he addressed the crowd, and that the 10-mile journey took five hours. Local media heralded the homecoming as possibly the largest opposition rally the country has ever seen. “I think we are entering a new phrase in Cambodia history; it is the beginning of something like the Arab Spring,” Sam Rainsy told TIME by phone from Phnom Penh on Friday evening. Despite this optimism, huge barriers must first be overcome before democracy in Cambodia is anything more than a cynical façade.


. . .

Shot fired at Cambodian opposition office

after exuberant return of exiled party leader

AP | Washington Post | 20 July 2013

A charismatic and fiery speaker, Rainsy is expected to draw large crowds on a whirlwind schedule taking him to over a dozen provinces in a week.

He started his tour Saturday in Kampong Speu province, 45 kilometers (30 miles) west of the capital.

“I condemn all types of violence,” Rainsy said in response to the shooting. “All of us have to respect the law.”

The crowd that welcomed Rainsy on Friday was one of the largest ever for a political event in the country, and included well-wishers at the airport, throngs along the route into the city and tens of thousands at the capital’s Democracy Square, where he spoke at a campaign rally.


. . .


Sam Rainsy:

"I will arrive into Phnom Penh

(Pochentong) International Airport

on Friday, 19 July 2013

at 9:05 a.m. on Thai Airways."


សម រង្ស៊ី / Sam Rainsy

The CNRP is taking 3 days off from campaigning to prepare 40,000 supporters to welcome Sam Rainsy on Friday morning, July 19.


. . .



With the EXCITEMENT and accelerated speed and MOMENTUM of the popular support for Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), exponentially buoyed by the expected return of Sam Rainsy this coming Friday, comes the FEAR of political MURDERS or assassination of middle ranking opposition figures -- be they in politics or civil society, a well-known enough voice to create the CHILLING EFFECT to dampen the euphoria that is speeding to a tipping point.


PLEASE MONITOR and voice your support for CNRP and your CONDEMNATION IN THE HARSHEST LANGUAGE of ANY MURDER that could arise within the next several weeks, particularly the days leading to Election Day, July 28.

Now in light of Sam Rainsy's return and the upcoming elections, this new Facebook profile is in support of CNRP! And to monitor and raise awareness of any violence or intimidation of opposition voices. And to CAMBODIA FLOURISHING!


- Theary, Phnom Penh, 15 July 2013

. . .

Cambodia's Hun Sen Might Face Electoral Trouble

James Pringle | Asia Sentinel | 16 July 2013

Could new young voters deny Heaven's Mandate to Phnom Penh's strongman?

But observers here say there are intimations of vulnerability that were not perceived before, not least the phalanxes of hundreds of free-spirited young people, many of them women, on motorcycles, waving flags with a rising sun logo, around Phnom Penh, and who are loyal to the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), a coalition of two parties which came together in July last year.

Five years ago such girls would have been spending their evenings over quiet dinners with extended families. Now they're on the streets at all times with a burning political message of change.

They pass other groups of regimented and undemonstrative young people in white T-shirts, who belong to the Hun Sen's ruling Cambodia People's Party (CPP), and who are nonetheless not allowed to talk to reporters - they have little to say anyway - and look like rent-a-crowds on a US$5 a day retainer, or at least something from the former East Germany.

As they pass each other in the snarled traffic, they - so far good-naturedly - hold up seven fingers, signaling the CNRP's official number in the eight political parties taking part in the election, meaning they have to take both hands off their motorbike handlebars. The CPP supporters wave four fingers for their random number in the election line-up.

I don't remember seeing such scenes in the four previous elections that followed the defeat of the Khmer Rouge. Politics have come to the street, and people are participating like seldom in recent memory.

As Cambodians prepare to go to the polls on July 28, there is a certain sense of nervousness within the upper levels of the ruling CPP, the former communist party, foreign diplomats say. Some have even called this mood "the jitters."

"It's stunning and exciting and difficult to believe," said one foreign member of a human rights group here. "But there seems to be a surge of support for the opposition."


. . .

Why This July 2013 Election Could Be the Tipping Point


A Living, Personal Reflection by Theary C. Seng

This election is different. This election could be the "tipping point".


1.  The Voters who have no direct experience of the Khmer Rouge.

- 3.5 million of the country's 9.5 million registered voters are between the ages of 18 and 30

- 1.5 million, or 15% of the electorate will be first-time voters

What do these numbers tell us?

One, these 3.5 million registered voters below age 30 are not directly traumatized by the Khmer Rouge.  Moreover, many of them were children during the turbulent years of the 1990s, with some only coming of age in the last election 5 years ago.  They, unlike their elders, have not accumulated the fear and trauma of having lived through the Khmer Rouge and having witnessed election violence and murders confronting the voters in living colors of prior elections.

I returned to Cambodia in September 1995, less than 2 years after the United Nations-organized elections.  I joined the campaign trails of the Khmer Nation Party in 1998, when traveling to each province took an average of a day through yawning gulfs of crater-sized potholes every few yards on the national roads and each village is its own remote, isolated universe.

In 2002 I traveled the provinces as an international consultant of the US-International Republican Institute to train political party agents on the first commune elections, and once again joined the campaign trails of the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP, formerly the Khmer Nation Party, changed to keep the CPP from appropriating the name by splitting the party) for this commune elections as well as the national elections the following year in 2003.  The roads were semi-improved but each village was still its own remote, isolated universe.

Once again in 2007 and 2008, for the commune and national elections respectively, I joined SRP on the campaign trails.

In between these elections, I traveled the provinces for my work, first in 1997 to each provincial prison to assess the state of juveniles detained in these prisons.  And since, I traveled each province on numerous occasions in my capacity as the head of a NGO known for its justice and reconciliation forums, and most recently as the founding president of CIVICUS Cambodia to conduct the Speak Truth To Power (or, in Khmer, Courage Without Borders) curriculum for teachers, monks and other educational and provincial leaders.

All to say, I have witnessed first-hand the conditions across Cambodia through these 18 years and have paid acute attention (for personal and professional reasons) to the voices and yearnings of the people in trying to understand for myself and for my work these seemingly intractable problems in search of solutions.

And one of my strong beliefs in light of what is happening now in July 2013 is this:  we are witnessing a new phenomenon -- the manifestation and timing of it could not have been perceived till it is actually happening, as it is now.


BUT this phenomenon did not happen out of the blue, magically; it grew organically and was nurtured along the way.


It is part and parcel of all the educational efforts and advocacy and challenging of the status quo and the demanding of each dollar raised to the wage of workers and hotel staff, of each improper land concession.


Then we are given the tools of social media and Smartphones and Unicode and English, etc. to set it off, fueled by the energy of the youth coming of age.

2.  Social Media + Smart-phones + Khmer Unicode + Rising English Usage

The previous elections did not have a public venue where Cambodians, particularly young people, could exchange information and be part of something larger than themselves.

This is closely connected to the growing comfort level and increasing number of Cambodians proficient in English, not only to be on Facebook, but also have access to a broader array of information (which are in English).

Even if English is the still dominant language of social media, the comfort level and increase quality of the Khmer Unicode also facilitated the growing use of Social Media.

This is greatly inter-linked with Smart-phones which allow for instant, captivating, engaging sharing of images along with a narrative.

We are right to worry about the vulgar, violent, crude or empty content and posts -- from soft to hard pornography, from foodstuff to graphic traffic deaths of mangled bodies and bloodied, cracked skulls -- that were initially sent en masse and continue to exist to a horrifying extent, despite Facebook's and other attempts to curb such vulgarity, violence and lewdness.

Horrified by the improper and wasted use of such powerful media, I made a conscious effort to make Facebook a major part of my CIVICUS Cambodia work and to inject educational content in an unassuming manner that was chatty and in small dosage, thus more palatable (than the institutional issuing of statements).

3.  Tourism and Urbanization of Garment Workers from the Provinces

4.  Accumulation of Human Rights Abuses - Land, Trafficking, etc. - before heard, now directly felt by every Cambodian

5.  The Knowledge (human rights education, tourism, province-city exchanges) stored in the Heart and Mind now Finds Expression

6.  The Admixture of the Above

- Theary, Phnom Penh, 17 July 2013



. . .


លើកទង់ជ័យ, រត់ទៅមុខ, ស្រែក ថា៖

ដូរ! ដូរ! ដូរ!

Change!  Change!  Change!


. . .



A real deep fear of MASSIVE FRAUD, that the aspirations and enthusiasm of the eligible Cambodian voters will not translate into electoral votes for the CNRP because of the COMPLETELY RIGGED, BIASED National Election Committee and the SERIOUSLY FLAWED registration of citizens. There are already problems with 3 million voters out of the 9.5 M registered voters.

IF NO reform of National Election Committee, it will be very DIFFICULT TO ACCEPT results of 2013 elections.

Here's a glimpse into the problems:


Click to read

NDI's Cambodia Voter Registry Audit 2013

The VRA provided a number of salient findings about the quality of the current voter registry, including:

• 82.9% of eligible citizens are registered voters. This represents a decline from the 2008 VRA, which showedan 87.9% registration rate. It represents a discrepancy with the National Election Committee’s(NEC) statistic that placed the number of registered voters is at 101.7% of the eligible population. (People-to-list test.)

• 10.8% of eligible citizens who thought they were registered were not found on the voter registry. Further more, 7.8% of eligible citizens were not on the voter registry even though they said they voted in the 2008 and/or 2012 elections. (People-to-list test.)

•  80.7% of names on the registry are valid and up-to-date, with 63.6% of names belonging to eligible voters living in that community and 17.1% of names belonging to eligible voters who lived temporarily in another location. The remaining 18.3% of names on the list were in valid, with 0.5% confirmed deceased, 7.4% permanently relocated, and 10.4% unknown to people in that community. (List-to-people test.)

• 9.4% of the people in the deletion list were incorrectly removed. This represents no progress since 2008, despite extra measures taken by the NEC and commune councils to prevent false deletions. (Deletion list-to-people test.)

• The accuracy of voters’ personal data (name, date of birth and address) in the registry declined compared with 2008, with only 63% of dates of birth and 86.4% of names matching information in the voters’ ID documents. In 2008, 78.97% of dates of birth and 87.88% of names matched. (Both tests.)

• 96.5% of respondents on the voter registry indicated they plan to vote in the July elections. However, 74% of respondents who were not found on the voter registry said they intend to vote.

These discrepancies revealed by the VRA may have implications on public confidence in the upcoming elections. It is possible that a large number of eligible citizens will arrive at the polls on election day only to discover that their names are not on the voter list because they were incorrectly deleted or believe they are registered when in fact they are not.

The percentage of eligible voters who have registered has decreased since 2008, even though the overall size of the registry has increased. The existence of unknown, deceased or relocated names on the registry could present an opportunity for electoral abuse or fraud on election day if proper oversight and safeguards are not in place. The list is less accurate than it was five years ago, potentially indicating a lack of progress on creating or distributing identity documents in Cambodia and inviting possible confusion at the polls for people to prove their identity.

To respond to these challenges, the VRA partners recommend the following measures to be implemented before the July 2013 elections in Cambodia:

• Due to the significant number of eligible citizens who believe they are registered but are not, the NEC should organize another period for voters to check their names on the voters list and register if needed.

• Given the rate of inaccuracy of voters’ personal data and the high percentage of unknown voters on the list, the NEC should provide access for independent monitors to observe the identification of voters by standing directly behind the polling station clerk and should provide monitors with access to the voter list used in the polling station.

• To avoid the possible misuse of invalid names on the list by ineligible people (under 18 years of age, non-citizens), the Ministry of Interior and NEC should prohibit further issuance of the Statement of Identity for Electoral Purposes.3

• Considering the high internal migration rate, NEC should open a mechanism to allow voters who are away from their electoral district at the time of the election to vote.

• To build public confidence in the voter registry, the NEC should allow independent observers and political parties to access the voter registry in its entirety in an analyzable format. This is common practice in established democracies and would allow the VRA to expand upon its findings and provide more comprehensive information. In the longer term, there is a dire need for fundamental electoral reform. Changes in the voter registration and list compilation process are necessary to ensure all eligible citizens have the right to vote, to prevent and remove invalid names on the registry, and to mitigate the potential for manipulation and fraud. The VRA partners recommend the following measures:

• The Government of Cambodia and the NEC should consider the adoption of a more efficient voter registration system that would better address the increasing rate of internal migration and would enfranchise unregistered citizens who may learn too late they are not on the list. This could include a change to a continuous or automatic registration system, which would allow for changes or corrections to the voter registry closer to election day.

• An impartial, unelected professional local body should be assigned or created to register voters, removing this responsibility from the elected and partisan commune councils.

• To increase the accuracy of the list and ease the registration process and voting for citizens, the Ministry of Interior should complete the civil registry and expedite the distribution of national ID cards to all citizens.

• The NEC should take steps to improve its data management systems at all levels of election administration.

This includes a more coordinated oversight of data collection and entry, the systematic use of Khmer spelling and fonts, and current and synchronized IT systems.



. . .



Cambodia's King Pardons

Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy

Kyodo News | 12 July 2013

But Im Soursdey, chairman of National Election Committee, told Kyodo News on Friday that Sam Rainsy "can join election campaign as can all ordinary Cambodians, but not as a parliamentary candidate because his name is not on the election candidate list of the Cambodia National Rescue Party."

The election law states anyone running for office who has been convicted of a crime must be pardoned or amnestied more than seven months before voting day.


. . .

Exiled Cambodian opposition leader

granted royal pardon

12 July 2013 | Robert Carmichael for ABC Radio Australia

Cambodia's opposition leader, Sam Rainsy, has been granted a royal pardon and is free to return to the country ahead of elections.

. . .

Cambodian PM asks for pardon

for opposition chief,

clearing way for return from exile

Associated Press | 12 July 2013

. . .

Cambodian opposition leader in exile


AFP | 12 July 2013

Cambodian opposition leader in exile Sam Rainsy was on Friday pardoned by the king, according to a royal decree seen by AFP, clearing the way for his return ahead of national elections.

The pardon was requested by Prime Minister Hun Sen "in the spirit of reconciliation", a government official told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that Rainsy had "no right" to run as a candidate in the July 28 polls.

Rainsy lives in exile in France and had faced 11 years in jail if he returned to Cambodia after being convicted in absentia for charges that included publishing a "false map" of the border with Vietnam.


. . .

Political Analysis and Petition


A Living Reflection

By Theary C. Seng



Here's one simple way you can help the democracy movement in Cambodia--what many are doing already-- change your profile to that of Sam Rainsy till July 29.


Just think of how freaked out this repressive CPP regime will be to see names from different ethnicities around the world with the profile of Sam Rainsy.


Think of the REAL INFLUENCE you have to protect Sam Rainsy and to strengthen his hands in the political negotiation that is happening and will continue after the elections.


We have already seen the CPP juvenile, humorous attempt at deception with the Chea Chamroeun page. You have great CLOUT as the CPP and their children crave legitimacy and being "Liked".


It is indeed good news to hear that the King and the Prime Minister have signed off on the royal pardon which opens the door for Sam Rainsy to return to Cambodia without fear of arrest.


This, however, is only the opening of the door for Sam Rainsy to return; it does not mean that we should let up on our collective pressure and public monitoring of the Cambodia situation, particular via social media, including our non-Khmer friends from around the world.


Our influence is real, even if the media reports only the official pressure of foreign governments and international institutions.  Our pressure is REAL but INTANGIBLE and not official, thus difficult for the press to report it.


One, our collective pressure and public monitoring can help to strengthen Sam Rainsy's hands in negotiating whether the election result is "acceptably" "free and fair", and if deemed acceptably so, in negotiating the political posts, no matter which party wins.


A win for the CNRP is not impossible but a steep uphill battle as it has to overcome, among other systematic challenges--rigged National Election Committee, CPP control of all TV and most radio stations, the use of state ministries and resources for CPP campaigning in addition to the hundreds of millions at its disposal, etc.--the 3 million voters (out of the 9.5 million registered voters) already stolen months before, during the registration process and since.


It addition to the stark, well-known tricks of election rigging on a massive scale, let me give you a true example of how a seemingly benign stealing of 2 votes per voting booth in one province cost the SRP a seat in Parliament in 2008:


My brother Mardi ran as the SRP number one in Svay Rieng and campaigned hard -- first, it's his ancestral province; and two, to prove that it is possible for the opposition to win a seat in this hard-core CPP stronghold under the direct grip of much-feared (now deceased) Hok Lundy.


Mardi was confident of a win after his hard campaigning.  Election Day comes, the SRP lost the Parliamentary seat for Svay Rieng by the razor-thin margin of some 1,400 votes; that is to say, SRP lost 2 votes per voting booth among the 700+ voting booths in Svay Rieng in 2008.  It received 40,606 votes and needed that 1,400 stolen votes for the Svay Rieng seat in the National Assembly.


You can imagine how an election monitor for a voting booth in Svay Rieng in 2008 could have thought: "Well, I only witnessed 2 votes irregularly counted.  Why make a fuss for two votes?"  But that's one monitor independently thinking this TIMES 700+ other monitors having similar, independent thought -- leading to the collective loss of a Parliamentary seat.

The political negotiation will be a process of steps:


First, the terms of Sam Rainsy's return based on the royal pardon;


Second, whether the elections are "acceptably" "free and fair" if there is no reform of the National Election Committee;


Third, if the election is deemed acceptable, resulting most likely in a coalition government, how is the power to be shared.


For example:


Who will control the four most powerful ministries: Finance, Interior, Justice, Foreign Affairs -- to be idiotically divided within each ministry similar to the CPP-Funcinpec government with dual heads and a bloated head, or a ministry to be completely within the sole control either of the CPP or CNRP?


How are the other ministries to be divided?  The CNRP MUST negotiate for the Ministry of Education.  (To me, in many respects, this ministry is the most important!)


Will Sam Rainsy be running for a National Assembly seat?  Constitutionally, the Prime Minister is culled from the National Assembly (Art. 119 new, formerly Art. 100)  No time before the elections to amend the Constitution (so that the Prime Minister need not be an elected MP) should his CNRP wins.  At the very least, Sam Rainsy will be deputy Prime Minister, which does not require an amendment to the Constitution.

Two, we need to monitor for assassinations of middle ranking opposition members or civil society voices -- as means to intimidate and threaten voters.

The Royal Pardon

As we know, politics anywhere is very fluid, a constant weighing of one's options.  The royal pardon had been sought, but it was never seriously considered by the CPP because it believed it had the upper hand over Sam Rainsy and no reason to grant it (politically speaking, as it's legally the King who grants a pardon).

The royal pardon was only seriously considered within the week and granted only within this most recent political negotiation, AFTER Sam Rainsy had publicly announced his return prior to election day.

Sam Rainsy's announcement, which the public this time deemed believable, created the snowball effect, garnering greater public support on the campaign trails as well as on the new, powerful social media outlets, and capped by the very, very STRONG condemnation by the influential US government, US Congress and other international institutions (e.g. Human Rights Watch, National Democratic Institute).

In short, it was the recent deafening crescendo of strong public pressure -- popular support for Sam Rainsy, condemnation of Hun Sen -- informally on social media and formally by the US Congress -- that tipped the scale for Hun Sen to succumb to granting the royal pardon.

Since Sam Rainsy's vow to return, Hun Sen's only rational option was a political settlement, e.g. the royal pardon, as the other two options of assassination or imprisonment would pose serious risks to his and his inner circle's political and economic demise.

Hun Sen was check-mated to grant the royal pardon.

Sam Rainsy's Immediate and Long-Term Position

"But Im Soursdey, chairman of National Election Committee, told Kyodo News on Friday that Sam Rainsy 'can join election campaign as can all ordinary Cambodians, but not as a parliamentary candidate because his name is not on the election candidate list of the Cambodia National Rescue Party.'

"The election law states anyone running for office who has been convicted of a crime must be pardoned or amnestied more than seven months before voting day." -- Kyodo News

If the CNRP wins, it will immediately need to amend the Constitution in order for Sam Rainsy to become Prime Minister, as the PM is culled from the National Assembly (Art. 119 new, formerly Art. 100).

Now, as it stands, Sam Rainsy will campaign to strengthen his hands in the political negotiation that is to follow, in addition to the short-term negotiation that is under-going for his return, in order he can become at least deputy Prime Minister and for other posts for his CNRP -- political appointee positions in the various Ministries that are to be negotiated in the coalition government that is expected to be the result of the elections.


Theary, 10 July 2013 (updated July 12, July 16)


. . .


[My email to elected MP Saumura Tioulong, July 6]

Elect-Member of Parliament for Phnom Penh, Saumura Tioulong, the equally formidable, brilliant wife of democracy leader Sam Rainsy


Dear Nekbong Saumura,

If there's any public meeting or rally, particularly at the return of your husband, Lauk Prothean Sam Rainsy, to Cambodia, where I can lend my public support in standing alongside you with him, it'd be my privilege to do so as a concerned Khmer citizen (who also happens to hold a U.S passport).

Thank you for all that you and Lauk Rainsy have done and continue to do for Cambodia.

With my warmest regards and deep respect,


. . .


U.S. Lawmakers Urge Cambodia Aid Cut

If Election Unfair

AFP | 10 July 2013

Chabot praised the decision of US President Barack Obama and other Western governments not to send observers to "legitimise" the election.

"But declaring the election 'not free or fair' is not enough," Chabot, a member of the rival Republican Party, said at a congressional hearing.

"US policy toward Cambodia needs to change and the Obama administration needs to take a much tougher approach to Asia's longest-ruling dictator," Chabot said...

John Sifton, the Asia advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, told the hearing that the United States nonetheless had clout. He said that the ruling Cambodian People's Party has released campaign material that shows Hun Sen next to Obama during last year's summit.

Sifton said that the United States should cut ties to the Cambodian military and speak out "loudly" after the election to make clear "that one-man and one-party rule are not acceptable in the 21st century."


. . .

Cambodian opposition leader


vows to end exile


Associated Press | 8 July 2013

Hun Sen is one of Asia's longest-serving and most ruthless leaders. He has run Cambodia since 1985 with little tolerance for opposition, propelled by his well-financed political machine. Rainsy is seen as the sole Cambodian politician with the charisma and resources to present any real challenge.


. . .

Why I believe in only CNRP Sam Rainsy

(or, his equally formidable, brilliant wife CNRP Saumura Tioulong)

as Prime Minister of Cambodia


A Living Essay by Theary C. Seng

(in installments)


Background info on this topic already addressed by Ms. Seng:


To Lead is To Serve

(Phnom Penh Post, July 20o8)

(or, here or go to Ms. Seng's Facebook accounts, if your ISP censors KI-Media)


Sam Rainsy's Curriculum Vitae

Saumura Tioulong's Curriculum Vitae

It has been said that Cambodia's problems of the past and present can be summed up in the weaknesses of its leaders. It has been and is currently said that we Khmers deserve the leaders we have.


Rather than react defensively, meditate on whatever degree of truth is in these statements and do something about it.

This leads me to why I believe only in CNRP president Sam Rainsy (or, his equally formidable, brilliant wife CNRP Saumura Tioulong) as the Prime Minister of Cambodia.



First, the reason is one of education. Education provides "the basic mental ingredients" to lead. Individuals who lack quality education tend to have an intellectual deficit, lacking the "mental equipment to govern".


What David Brooks writes of the radical political Islam is also true of many Cambodian politicians and leaders, in that "once in office, they are always going to centralize power and undermine democracy that elevated them." Oftentimes, the intellectual DNA is missing in Cambodian leaders, certainly true of the current ruling regime, the CPP.


Here's the basic outline in terms of names and degrees for Sam Rainsy:

Primary school in Phnom Penh, Paris and London.

High school in Phnom Penh (Lycée Descartes and Lycée Sisowath) and Paris (Lycée Janson de Sailly).

University degrees in:

Business Administration (Master of Business Administration from INSEAD Fontainebleau - France) - 1980.

Accounting (Diplôme d'Etudes Comptables Supérieures issued by the French Ministry of Education) - 1979.

Economics (Maîtrise + Diplôme d'Etudes Supérieures de Sciences Economiques de la Faculté de Droit et des Sciences Economiques de Paris) - 1973.

Political Science (Diplôme de l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris, or simply, "Sciences Po") - 1971

Qualifiers (Education)


Before I unpack what Sam Rainsy's educational degrees mean, let's try to understand what a Cambodian degree means to the current population.


Simply, education is the obtainment of a certificate or degree; it is the accumulating of meaningless degrees and it matters not that they come through bribery, or given by institutions that go by names such as "Build Bright University" (no, not at all a weird translation from the Khmer, as the name stands alone in English as there is no Khmer name), or that they are bogus honorary awards from non-accredited foreign institutions.


Education-less awards of North Korean generals; mentality not very different from current culture of Cambodia.


Here, we have not even touched on the process and quality of the time spent in the classroom where most materials have been translated from the English and oftentimes with out-dated information. The best university has English as its language of instruction, but the English proficiency of the students are questionable.


Let me say, that on the one hand, we all know personally or about the idiot savant who is intellectually brilliant but a complete imbecile in normal life.


Or, we know personally or about the professional student who collects degrees but cannot apply his book knowledge to real-life, practical living. (Think the professor who was conned by the non-existing internet swimsuit model that landed him in jail in a foreign country.)


On the other hand, we also know personally or about the person who never completed high school but is truly, educationally brilliant (because he took the time to FOCUS and READ and LEARN, making every life's experience his classroom, intentionally, systematically) from his position as an executive of international companies or a prolific writer of international fame.


Sam Rainsy's Formal Education


With these exceptions in mind, having HIGHER EDUCATION OF TRUSTWORTHY QUALITY is unquestionably, extremely important for a nation's leader, particularly in this globalized world of July 2013 of deep complexity and interconnectedness.


As already alluded to, education is more holistic than just classroom learning, but classroom learning is fundamental. Sam Rainsy (as his wife Saumura) was born into a family where life learning and formal education were knitted into the very fabric of family life with a father who was deputy Prime Minister and a mother who became the first woman to graduate from high school and passed her baccalaureat.


He grew up speaking 3 languages fluently, as necessitated by his elementary days in Phnom Penh, London and Paris.


He attended the best and only high schools in Phnom Penh of that era -- Lycee Sisowath and Lycee Descartes -- and one of the most prestigious lycees in Paris (Wikipedia) at Lycee Janson de Sailly.


Reading -- in 3 languages -- from the mandatory, rigorous school work to earlier on developing a habit for leisure reading -- accompanied his life at an early age and formed the foundation of his holistic, nuanced understanding and knowledge of Cambodia and the world. He was comfortable with ideas, interacting with others trained at the same level of rigor and excellence -- as well as exposed with real-life challenges and dramas as he moved about the world with his family within the orbit of Cambodian politics and European upbringing during the turbulent post-colonial period of the 20th century.

Sam Rainsy went to the extremely elite Sciences Po, with the status of grand établissement, which allows its admissions process to be highly selective, and has traditionally educated France's political and diplomatic elite; it is generally thought of to be one of the world's most reputable and prestigious schools of the social sciences (Wikipedia).


From there, he obtained his Masters in Economics from the prestigious Faculté de Droit et des Sciences Economiques de Paris, his Accounting degree from the Ministry of Education and another Masters in Business Administration from the uber elite business school INSEAD, which consistently ranks in the top 5 among the business schools in the world.


Knowledge Must Be Accompanied with Wisdom and  Integrity


Educational knowledge -- "the basic mental ingredients" or "intellectual DNA" -- without wisdom, integrity, and sound judgment is to be feared.  I know of a few individuals who hold high positions withing the CPP who are genuinely educated with trusted degrees reflecting capability, but they lack integrity, wisdom, and/or sound judgment for the public good.


Thus, quality education (of knowledge extending beyond just Cambodia issues) is fundamental, but it must be accompanied with integrity, wisdom, and sound judgment.


However, integrity alone without quality education (knowledge) is not enough; wisdom alone without quality education (knowledge) is not enough.  And sound judgment would be difficult to come by without quality education (of the basic facts, the intellectual DNA) upon which to base the judgment.


I believe in Sam Rainsy (or Saumura Tioulong) for Prime Minister because each possesses knowledge (which comes from high education), integrity, wisdom and sound judgment in a very high degree.


I should note that this is not an issue of feelings but of hard objective criteria.  For example, I deeply love my maternal Grandmother and hold her in utmost respect.  She never had the opportunity to be formally educated but she possessed great wisdom and made immense sacrifices.  However, if she was still alive, would I vote for her to be Prime Minister?  Of course NOT!


So, too with many individuals who I respect and like as a person or a leader of a certain rank.  We must learn to see past the veneer for the larger good over clannish and family sentimentality. 


. . .


My Analysis

of the Political Situation


Theary Seng speaking at a Fundraising Dinner for CNRP in Sydney, lending her support as civil society leader, with Sam Rainsy, Saumura Tioulong, Kem Sokha, Khmer Post Meach Sovanara, among the generous, active Sydney Khmer democrat supporters and hosts (Oct. 2012)

Sam Rainsy:

I will return to Cambodia,

and I will arrive


into our homeland

before Election Day


of 28 July 2013.


Click to watch Video of Sam Rainsy making the public announcement on 6 July 2013


The heat is ratcheted up to its limit now on Hun Sen and the CPP with the impending return of Sam Rainsy back into Cambodia after 4 years of self-imposed exile. The announcement of his return has left the population momentarily breathless and the welcome can only be a frenzy of populous support for the CNRP.


The risk on his life is high, as well as on outspoken voices--be they in politics (most vulnerable are those of a certain rank, without the additional layer of protection, a western passport) or in civil society, like mine (not immune, but they will have to think twice) as the CPP now can be liken to a wounded dog who will attack. They need to send a strong message of fear, like they did in the cold-blooded, overtly political assassinations of Chea Vichea, Om Radsady, to name but two.


They, the CPP, have been restraint up till now, but they will act fatally, not necessarily at the very top leadership (save possibly Sam Rainsy, but only if they want to commit political suicide), but well-known enough to have the message resonate immediately, with limited political costs and social and economic repercussions (not that they're concerned about the larger population, but to them and their families).

BUT the only answer to FEAR and cowardice acts of violence is GREATER COURAGE and PUBLIC SOLIDARITY.

There is one difference from the violent times of the past: this CPP and their children who are coming of age with degrees from and connection to the West and are enamored with West, are more aware of the long arm of justice, timelessness of international law, social media's multiplying power assisted with instant Smartphone images -- the ubiquity, immediacy as well as the eternity of unlimited recycled, unrestricted news.


If they choose the path of murder and assassination, they will have chosen an-all-or-nothing scenario (think Syria or Quaddafi), cornering themselves into suicide -- in all sense of the word, political, economic, social, and political. Their more worldly, more savvy and more reasonable children will act as a restraint, we can only hope, as they have much to lose.


The scenario is not that of the 1997 coup and the ensuing events of the years immediately after.


One, there is now social media and its ubiquitous, complementary power of Smartphones to transmit images.


Two, the now young Cambodian adults (18-25 year old) were only toddlers then, not constraint by the trauma of the Khmer Rouge nor the politics of the 1990s. Their world is one of inter-connectedness and information.


Three, there exists a much stronger international presence and international wherewithal of Cambodia, greatly assisted by the recent visit of Obama to Cambodia, as well as the raucous, unwanted attention of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.


Four, if any violence takes place, there will be countless thousands with the ability to capture immediately the images with commentaries on their Smartphones, in addition to traditional news outlets and film making. Even if the CPP restricts ICT usage, the images can be perpetually saved for future usage.


Five, regional and international politics have changed dramatically within recent years. ASEAN witnessed the reformation of Burma; the world witnessed the ongoing changes caused by the young and social media.  The CPP and Hun Sen are still smarting from their embarrassment and failure as the Chair of ASEAN, capped off by the very, very public cold shoulder of US President Barack Obama before all the ASEAN heads of state and major international press.


Six, it's true the CPP depends heavily on Chinese financial assistance, but they and their children are still applying for passports to the West. It is less about money but everything about reputation and legitimacy from the West that they crave, even if they publicly deny it.  Prestige is still associated with the West and not China.  Despite the fact that in reality, US President Obama public, unmistakably dissed Hun Sen on his own turf during the ASEAN Summit in November 2012, the CPP is using the image of Hun Sen with Obama in its campaigning.


In sum, Sam Rainsy will return; his statement this time is no longer one of testing the waters.


The CPP has 3 options: assassination to rid immediately of its most powerful political nemesis, imprisonment, or political negotiation.


An assassination comes with an extremely high risk and cost to the CPP -- it's own suicide -- even if it is the most politically expedient -- and making Sam Rainsy a martyr, forever securing his hero status.


Moreover, no one can predict the degree of mass crowd reaction, exponentially assisted by social media and a restless, fearless young population coming of political age. The CPP and Hun Sen overestimated their ability to control the crowd reaction in the Thai riots, this being pre-social media.  In recent time, as no one could have predicted the crowd mentality in other parts of the world -- from across the Middle East to Turkey to Europe, etc. -- so, no one can predict it here, even if we are not technologically as sophisticated as the other countries in the world.


Imprisonment also comes with a very high political risk and cost to the CPP, as the physical presence of Sam Rainsy in the country, will only ignite greater populous support immediately before and after the elections, eating into the CPP diminishing support.


The issue of Sam Rainsy did not go away when he was thousands of miles away; it certainly will not go away with him in the cell next door, with his supporters already riding on the pre-election's frenzied momentum, with civil society abounding in presence, and with the international community's pressure and presence. Imprisonment would only prolong the CPP's Sam Rainsy "headache" (migraine is still putting it mildly, cancer is probably more accurate) with little political return for them.


The only reasonable option is political negotiation leading to a political compromise and settlement. Politics is after all the art of the possible, and Sam Rainsy is shrewd in strengthening his hands in the process leading to this political settlement.


- Theary, Phnom Penh, 7 July 2013 (updated July 9, July 12)

Theary Seng proudly donning her CNRP cap, 7 July 2013




. . .

Cambodian Rulers Dogged

by Pre-Election Jitters


Luke Hunt | The Diplomat | 3 July 2013

And the rumor mill around Phnom Penh is thriving. The impressions are daunting. Increasingly, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) looks paranoid, even delusional...

Times have changed and so have the demographics. A generation of young people, disaffected by war and demanding Japanese motorbikes, iphones, flat screen televisions and enough money to indulge in the capital’s vibrant nightclub scene are emerging as a political force.

Cambodia’s youth have also discarded government-controlled media for the Internet and social media websites. This shift has angered the CPP strategists who are struggling to control and drive home their message, which is fear mongering at its best, warning of a return to war unless the CPP is re-elected...

The CPP always plays hardball at elections and their antics are turning Cambodia’s rumor mill into a bonfire of speculation and gossip. This time, however, the CPP is lacking its usual pre-election confidence and the exact reasons why are difficult to gauge given the government’s intense dislike for sharing its thoughts with the wider public.

With this level of secrecy, there is a real possibility that CPP officials know something the rest of us don’t. But in a country where scuttlebutt is part and parcel of the political process, secrets have a habit of going public.


Read full article


. . .


Urgent News:

CPP Chea Chamroeun Pretending to be CNRP Sam Rainsy on Facebook -- CPP scared, no?!

That within a matter of 2 months, Sam Rainsy has garnered 95,000-plus "Likes"...

I am such a STRONG believer in the leadership of Sam Rainsy and his equally BRILLIANT wife Saumura Tioulong. This CPP is so scared of Sam Rainsy, most recently his ability to gain 95,000+ "Likes" on Facebook within only 2 months of having created this account. - Theary C. Seng Phnom Penh, 29 June 2013

Commies are really, really clumsy in their theft, lumbering in their forgery, and cowardly in their violence... This brings a smile, as it is sure to backfire, as well as reflects the CPP's fear of Sam Rainsy. - Theary C. Seng, 30 June 2013


. . .



27 JULY 2013

TIME Magazine | 27 June 2013

Cambodia may officially be a democracy, but call it one and you’ll get a swift reality check from anyone familiar with the Southeast Asian nation, where one month’s campaigning for general elections begins this week. Controversy over land rights, deforestation, extractive industries and rampant corruption has bolstered support for the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP). Nevertheless, only a miracle will unseat incumbent Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose obdurate hold on power has spanned almost 28 years — helped by voter irregularities, partisan media and blatant intimidation of his opponents.

Sam Rainsy, the leader of the CNRP, has been banished. He fled into exile, accused of racial incitement and destruction of property — trumped-up charges that are politically motivated, he insists. Convicted in absentia and given an 11-year sentence, the 64-year-old now continues opposition from abroad. Asked if he considered returning for the July 28 ballot, Sam Rainsy told TIME that his presence would only help legitimize a fundamentally flawed election. “It’s better for me to let Prime Minister Hun Sen, if [I can compare him] to a boxer, to cowardly avoid his only serious challenger before a match, and to let him box alone in the ring.” There are currently no opposition MPs in parliament — all 28 were expelled earlier this month for allegedly violating internal rules.

Unwelcome in his homeland, Sam Rainsy toured North America last month to promote the CNRP. There are more than 250,000 Khmer living in the U.S. — mostly in California and Massachusetts — who have already contributed $420,000 toward this year’s campaign. Beyond the diaspora, the wider international community is also anxious about Hun Sen’s “increasingly dictatorial rule,” as Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, puts it. U.S. President Barack Obama visited Cambodia in November and used a meeting aides described as “tense” to press Hun Sen to release political prisoners, stop land seizures and hold free and fair elections. The Cambodia U.N. human-rights expert has also urged all sides to “play by the rules.”


. . .


NO! to another 5 years of CPP violence!

YES! to Sam Rainsy as Prime Minister and Cambodia flourishing!


CNRP Youth in Siem Reap:

អ្នកគាំទ្រ គណបក្សសង្គ្រោះជាតិ ភាគច្រើន ជាយុវជន និងនិស្សិត ចូលរួមហែក្បួន យុទ្ធនាការឃោសនា នៅក្នុងទីរួមខេត្ត សៀមរាប នៅថ្ងៃទី៣០ មិថុនា ឆ្នាំ២០១៣។

With young supporters of Kanapak Sangkruos Jeat (CNRP) in Siemreap province on 30 June 2013.

CNRP supporters in Svay Chrum, Svay Rieng -- my parent's hometown!!


Cambodia Election Campaign Kick-Off, 27 June 2013

Sam Rainsy for Prime Minister!

CNRP Supporters 40,000-strong in Phnom Penh this 27 June 2013 (image: Mona Kem)




. . .


Global Convening to End Mass Atrocities

Istanbul (16-21 June 2013)

Istanbul, Turkey's largest city at 15 to 17 million people, is magical, as exquisitely stunning as one can imagine it to be and more (!!). Also known as Constantinople, named after the Roman Emperor Constantine who converted to Christianity in 4th century, it has now only one percent Christian out of 55 Million population.

Theary's presentation, during exchange with participants


I'm presenting on 19 June 2013 "Reconciling Peace with Justice in Cambodia: the Limitations of Tribunals to Address Mass Crimes"



Theary Seng near Taksim Square on Istiklal Blvd. in front of the graffitied French Consulate (around noon-ish after service at Union Church in the vicinity, 16 June 2013)


Click here to read narratives and see more photos, or go to Ms. Seng's Facebook accounts


. . .



Theary C. Seng and the Road Ahead in Cambodia

By Michelle Phipps-Evans

Asian Fortune News, 3 Feb. 2013

Theary C. Seng (Photo: Roland Neveu, Dec. 2009)

The name Theary Chan Seng generates a fervor approaching reverence in the Cambodian community here and abroad. She is the Cambodian-born, American-educated lawyer and civil rights activist who founded the Cambodian Center for Justice & Reconciliation. It is a major component of another organization she serves as founding president, CIVICUS: Center for Cambodian Civic Education. This nonprofit group is dedicated to promoting an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles. It is actively engaged in the practice of democracy and reconciliation in Cambodia and the larger, globalized world.

So who really is Seng, the person? She is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge (KR) regime, and has spent almost two decades advocating for its victims, many of whom were orphaned, widowed, abused or molested—victims who were like Seng herself.

Read full article

In KI-Media


. . .

Obama, in Cambodia for a Meeting,

Sidesteps the Ghosts of History


International Herald Tribune (Peter Baker, November 20, 2012)

Theary Seng, president of the Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia, said, “President Obama should have met with the human rights community and activists challenging the Hun Sen regime, and while then and there, offer a public apology to the Cambodian people for the illegal U.S. bombings, which took the lives of half a million Cambodians and created the conditions for the Khmer Rouge genocide.”


Click here to read this complete news analysis


. . .


Kissinger in Cambodia:

Protests Greet Obama's Visit

International Herald Tribune / New York Times

PHNOM PENH — Theary Seng was taking aim with precision and anger. The 41-year-old U.S.-trained lawyer and a regular on Cambodia’s crowded protest circuit was about to throw a dart at a poster of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Kissinger is one of 13 politicians and senior Khmer Rouge leaders in a dart game created by Poetic Justice, a nongovernmental organization run by Theary Seng that highlights deficiencies of the special U.N.-backed tribunal judging the Khmer Rouge’s crimes. Each player gets five throws. A bull’s-eye is worth seven points. The highest score wins.

Last Sunday afternoon, Theary Seng and three members of her staff were playing on Phnom Penh’s riverfront opposite the storied Foreign Correspondents’ Club. On this occasion — the fourth time the game has been staged in public — the point was to draw attention to the narrow scope of the Khmer Rouge tribunal ahead of President Barack Obama’s visit for a summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Click here to read full article.


. . .


Interview by Mike McRoberts of TV3, New Zealand standing on what was formerly the capital's largest natural lake, place of violent forced evictions (Phnom Penh, 20 Nov. 2012). Theary: "The international community gives muscles to this dictatorial regime to repress its own people. Before the government represses with Cambodian riels; now it's empowered and given muscles with NZ dollars, US dollars, Euros..."

Watch the TV3 New Zealand broadcast

with Mike McRoberts (aired 21 Nov. 2012)

At ASEAN summit, trade overshadows human rights

In solidarity with courageous protestors of Boeung Kak Lake, here sitting on what was formerly the capital's largest natural lake, with Council of Ministers facing it, with Bopha's mom and son (Phnom Penh, 20 Nov. 2012)


. . .


Open Letter

to U.S. President Barack Obama

Published in The Phnom Penh Post, 20 November 2012

Read letter in KI-Media


. . .


CJOReillyGlobal: #Theary Seng being questioned by Police of her possessions ahead arrival of #Obama. If only they knew her rights. Nov 19, 2012, 10:23 UTCMs.

Theary Seng and some 30 security (plus more embedded in Wat Phnom Penh and Sunway Hotel)

Narrative of harassment and images of

Ms. Theary C. Seng's stand-off

with at least 30 big bulky, heavily armed security

in front of US Embassy Phnom Penh

(Tuesday, 19 Nov. 2012)


Theary Seng (reddish-orange blouse to right) and 30+ security next to US Embassy Phnom Penh, 19 Nov. 2012

. . .


Emotional Violence of Past Poetic Justice Dart Games

flared into Physical Assault on Ms. Theary C. Seng

and those around her

along the Riverfront, Sunday, 18 Nov. 2012

A plain-clothes Cambodian police officer, left, pushes away Theary Seng, center, an organizer who was about to stage a protest in Phnom Penh, Cambodia Sunday, Nov. 18, 2012. Cambodia broke up a protest organized by her Sunday that was meant to highlight the alleged oppression of Cambodia's people by political figures, including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the late despot Pol Pot (AP Photo).

See more photos

See film of violence

See Opinion by Heng Soy on the vulgarity attempting to undermine Ms. Seng and the global attention on the Poetic Justice dart games

Theary Seng and Poetic Justice dart game (Photo: John Vink / Magnum Photos, 18 Nov. 2012)


. . .


. . .Spirit of Humanity Forum


Reykjavik, Iceland


4.15 - 5.45 pm Led by Miriam Subirana, Foundation for a Culture of Peace

The session includes:

Theary C. Seng, Founder, Centre for Justice and Reconciliation, Cambodia

Theary Seng with Princess Martha Louise (only daughter of Norwegian King and Queen), a genuine "people's princess" full of warmth and personality (Reykjavik, 15 Sept. 2012)


. . .



"Take that, Kissinger!" Poetic Justice dart games filming for ABC News.

More at Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia...

"Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Court 'Dying'

ABC News film, aired 16 Oct. 2012


. . .


Khmer Rouge defendant Ieng Thirith ruled unfit for Cambodian genocide trial due to dementia

The Washington Post, 13 Sept. 2012

Of course if she is seriously ill with Alzheimer’s, she should be released. There is no point in trying an incapacitated person,” said Theary Seng, a human rights advocate representing some victims who are allowed a role in the proceedings. “The point is the (tribunal) is so late in coming. The political foot-dragging and inertia has caused this travesty of justice.”



. . .


Poetic Justice

and Civil Party Withdrawal

in the News

Nov. 2011

Ex-leader: Khmer Rouge atrocities are 'fairy tale'

AP Newswire, 23 Nov. 2011

"I'm not surprised that Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan and Ieng Sary continue to deny their crimes as the charges against them of genocide, war crimes are very serious," said Theary Seng, a Cambodian lawyer and human rights activist who lost family members under their regime.

"Even if I am not surprised, I am however disgusted by their lack of remorse for the suffering they caused. They are delusional in their denial in light of the weight of evidence against them - the mounds of skulls and bones, the horrific testimonies from every survivor of cruelty, the magnitude and scope of evil unleashed by them across the whole of Cambodia."


. . .


"Khmer Rouge trial is failing Cambodian

victims of Pol Pot's regime"

Human Rights Watch Brad Adams' editorial

The Guardian, 26 Nov. 2011

. . .

"Justice Denied"

Douglas Gillison, Foreign Policy Magazine, 23 Nov. 2011

. . .

Deputy President of Victims Association, a Civil Party of the Orphans Class, Mr. CHEY Theara, Withdraws Civil Party Status, Denounces ECCC as Political Farce





Full statement in both Khmer and English in KI-Media.

Here, if ISP censors in Cambodia.


. . . . .


Khmer Rouge Trial Missing a Marquee Defendant

Wall Street Journal, 21 Nov. 2011

“The release of Ieng Thirith is only one reflection of how incredibly late these trials are coming into place,” said Theary Seng, founder of the Cambodian Center for Justice and Reconciliation and herself, too, a victim of the Khmer Rouge regime, having lost her parents and spent five months in prison. She has withdrawn from the tribunal process, and instead put her energy into organizing public games of darts featuring the faces of the Khmer Rouge leaders along Phnom Penh’s riverfront – a “way of release” following victims’ frustrations with the trial process, mixed with “dark humor,” she said.


Theary Seng BBC News filming, Nov. 2011

Watch the BBC News coverage

But the trial - a joint enterprise between the UN and Cambodia - has been heavily criticised. Theary Seng, whose parents were killed by the Khmer Rouge, said putting three people on trial for the deaths of 1.7 million simply wasn't enough. (BBC News, 21 Nov. 2011)

Poetic Justice German Filming, 18 Nov. 2011
Filming for German DW-Global with Bastian and Sarin, 18 Nov. 2011. More photos...

Filming by BBC with Guy DeLauney, 17 Nov. 2011. More photos...

Khmer Rouge Trial: Cambodia Awaits Answers

BBC News, 21 Nov. 2011


. . .

Crying for Justice

AFP, 21 Nov. 2011

Khmer Rouge survivor Theary Seng told AFP she was "frustrated beyond words" that only Khieu Samphan looked likely to shed light on what happened. "The people want to know who is behind the Khmer Rouge, we want to see and understand the larger picture and we're not going to get that," she said.

From Tragedy to Sham in Cambodia

Asia Times Online, 19 Nov. 2011

In KI-Media

Others have gone further, arguing that the time might be ripe for the UN to pull the plug on the controversy-plagued court altogether. Last week, Theary Seng, a Cambodian-American survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime and a prominent advocate for victims' rights, withdrew her status as a civil party to the court, describing the proceedings as a "complete sham".

She said the UN should threaten to withdraw after setting some clear conditions for its continued participation. By pressing ahead, Seng said, the world body runs the risk of rubber-stamping a flawed process and further embedding cynicism in the Cambodian population.

"I understand the unwieldiness of any large bureaucracy, but at the end of the day it comes down to personalities, and there have been extremely weak personalities," she said. "In this regard, the UN is complicit."



In the End, Loss of Faith in Tribunal: Former Complainant

Hello VOA Special with Theary Seng, 16 Nov. 2011

Khmer Rouge Victim Quits Tribunal Saying UN-backed Court is a Sham

DPA, 15 Nov. 2011


Prominent Victims' Advocate Quits Khmer Rouge Tribunal

VOA International/English, 15 Nov. 2011

KRT Critic Offers 'Poetic Justice'

The Phnom Penh Post, 16 Nov. 2011

Theary Seng Denounces Tribunal; Introduces Dartboard Scheme

The Cambodia Daily, 16 Nov. 2011


Theary Seng's Press Conference, 15 Nov. 2011
More photos from Poetic Justice/ECCC Withdrawal Press Conference, 15 Nov. 2011

Poetic Justice
Front pages of The Cambodia Daily and The Phnom Penh Post, 16 Nov. 2011


. . .

Click here to read the full press release...


More information at "ECCC Civil Party"

More information at Association of Khmer Rouge Victims in Cambodia

In KI-Media

Theary Seng Criticizes KRT

as "Political Farce"

The Phnom Penh Post, 10 Nov. 2011


Radio Free Asia (both AM and PM broadcasts on 10 Nov. 2011)


Cambodian-American Lawyer Withdraws her Civil Party Status

Voice of America Khmer Service, 10 Nov. 2011








* * * * * *


Previous Blog ** All Past BLOGs ** All RANDOM Entries









Theary's BLOG

Caroline Kennedy Delegation to Palace; Love; I support CNRM; New Year Video Message; Challenges are Opportunities; Free James!; Proportionality; Wolves in Sheep's Clothing; Entrapment; Prince Sirivudh

Kennedy-Niinami Delegation to Khemarin Palace 11 February 2018   Click to watch TVK clip of royal audience with the King and Queen Mother     Prime Minister Son Sann, Jacqueline Kennedy, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Princess Norodom Mo [ ... ]

January 7; Kramanation; 47; Kampot Vegetable Sellers; No more selfies; Facebook Profile Name Change

Theary C. Seng, 11 January 2012
Chaktomuk Theatre, Phnom Penh, January 2010

January 7 is indeed a significant day for survivors of the Khmer Rouge. It arrested the macabre convulsions that would have swallowed all of us into a hellish hole if the [ ... ]


English Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Armenian Azerbaijani Basque Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Croatian Czech Danish Dutch Estonian Filipino Finnish French Galician Georgian German Greek Haitian Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Spanish Swahili Swedish Thai Turkish Ukrainian Urdu Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish