Monday, April 9, 2007

Dr Lao Mong Hay criticizes the government for [planning] OSJI expulsion

05 April 2007
By Huy Vannak
Radio Free Asia

Translated from Khmer by Socheata

A Cambodian political analyst issued a letter on Wednesday in which he said that the successive critical words used by the prime minister on local and international civil society organizations did not bring any benefit to Cambodia at all.

Dr Lao Mong Hay, a human rights researcher for the Asian Human Rights Organization based in Hong Kong, made his comments following the Cambodian government declared that it is thinking of revoking the visa and banning the Open Society for Justice International (OSJI) from Cambodia.

In his letter dated 04 April, Dr. Lao Mong Hay wrote that the government should perform an in-depth investigation on the accusations of human rights violation, and corruption raised by OSJI, rather than attacking OSJI’s criticisms. The government attacks on OSJI do not provide a good image to the government.

Khieu Kanharith, the government spokesman, reacted to the issue raised by Dr Lao Mong Hay by saying: “When they (OSJI) shoots at the government, the government must reply back, we have the same rights. If we don’t answer, it means that we agree with them. Their error stems from the fact that they got confused from a NGO and an opposition political party, they are different from one another. For them who claim that they are researchers, scientists, etc…, but they are not, they always call immediately for a press conference… to make a name for themselves. … For OSJI, we already talked about it, they went on to talk about the government spending international aid wastefully, and the government did not use the aid money to serve the interest of the nation. This is not part of their work to help the tribunal at all, they are involving themselves in politics.”

In his letter, Dr Lao Mong Hay recalls that the government not only criticized civil society organizations, it also criticized Professor Yash Ghai, the UN Special Envoy on Human Rights in Cambodia.

Dr Lao Mong Hay said that in March, Prime Minister Hun Sen called Prof Yash Ghai an ignorant man, and he also requested Kofi Anan to remove Prof Yash Ghai from his duty. The prime minister also threatened to close the UN office of Human Rights in Cambodia. In May 2006, the prime minister called those who criticized the professional ability of Cambodian judges nominated to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, animals.

In the beginning of August 2006, after Dr Sok Hach, President of the Economic Institute of Cambodia, issued a report stating that the government only collected 25% of the taxes, and that the government lost $400 million in revenue in 2005, Hun Sen called Dr Sok Hach an ignorant scholar.

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