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On Chut Wutty and Journalist Protection in Cambodia

Photo: KhmerNz I’m sure most of us are familiar with this famous quote from Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” Personally, I prefer the much more humorous George Costanza line in a Seinfeld episode when Jerry is trying to defeat a polygraph test being given to him by his girlfriend. “Remember Jerry, it’s not a lie, if you believe it.” The Cambodian military police must be adherents to both of these strains of belief. It’s the only way one can explain their incredible and, one might say delusional explanation of the events of last Wednesday night in Koh Kong Province where environmental activist Chut Wutty was gunned down by one or more people in the employ of the Cambodian military, a story which has now gone global. See if you can follow without having your head explode: The military policeman who allegedly shot the activist, In Ratana, was also killed that fateful night. The preliminary report indicated that a bullet ricocheted off of Chut Wutty’s car and hit the policeman. Let’s pause for a moment and digest that one. Have you ever heard of a bullet bouncing off a car and striking the person who initially pulled the trigger? Maybe in Hollywood. Is it possible? I suppose anything is possible. Is it likely? Probably not. The military apparently didn’t think it was possible either. Within a day, the report changed to say that In Ratana had instead committed suicide, shooting himself twice with his own AK-47, once in the stomach and once in the chest. Now I’m no expert on the matter, but I would think that if one wanted to kill oneself with a gun, the preferred method would be a single bullet to the head with a convenient handgun, ending everything quickly. I would not think it prudent to use an assault rifle to shoot myself not once but twice in my body, prolonging my pain and suffering. Muddying the picture still further is the fact that the two female journalists accompanying Chut Wutty – Ukrainian/Canadian national Olesia Plokhii and native Khmer Phorn Bopha – were taken into police custody, after which they offered unclear reports of the night’s events to The Cambodia Daily. According to the journalists, they only heard two shots fired. This seems impossible if Chut Wutty was fatally shot at least once, and In Ratana shot himself twice. Right there that is already three shots. Moreover, despite being only meters away, they said they didn’t know for certain who fired the bullets. The Cambodian government has announced that it will form a committee to investigate the events of the evening. However, the longer this drags on, the more questions will be asked. Is someone being protected by the military police and/or government? Why would In Ratana decide to end his own life? How many bullets were actually fired? And will there be statements from the two journalists? The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing press censorship abroad has gotten involved, presumably to assist Ms. Plokhii, an associate of mine who has not responded to email requests for comments so far. I believe there is more to this story, but the only way I think we will find out is if Ms. Plokhii exits stage right and tells her story outside Cambodia. Of course, she has to consider the fate of her colleague at The Cambodia Daily, Ms. Bopha, who has no option to leave the country as she is a Cambodian citizen. Sadly, it seems quite possible that several hours of Cambodian police interrogation may mean that the truth of what happened will never be known.

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Photo: KhmerNz I’m sure most of us are familiar with this famous quote from Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels: “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” Personally, I prefer the much more humorous George Costanza line in a Seinfeld episode when Jerry is trying to defeat a polygraph test being given to him by his girlfriend. “Remember Jerry, it’s not a lie, if you believe it.” The Cambodian military police must be adherents to both of these strains of belief. It’s the only way one can explain their incredible and, one might say delusional explanation of the events of last Wednesday night in Koh Kong Province where environmental activist Chut Wutty was gunned down by one or more people in the employ of the Cambodian military, a story which has now gone global. See if you can follow without having your head explode: The military policeman who allegedly shot the activist, In Ratana, was also killed that fateful night. The preliminary report indicated that a bullet ricocheted off of Chut Wutty’s car and hit the policeman. Let’s pause for a moment and digest that one. Have you ever heard of a bullet bouncing off a car and striking the person who initially pulled the trigger? Maybe in Hollywood. Is it possible? I suppose anything is possible. Is it likely? Probably not. The military apparently didn’t think it was possible either. Within a day, the report changed to say that In Ratana had instead committed suicide, shooting himself twice with his own AK-47, once in the stomach and once in the chest. Now I’m no expert on the matter, but I would think that if one wanted to kill oneself with a gun, the preferred method would be a single bullet to the head with a convenient handgun, ending everything quickly. I would not think it prudent to use an assault rifle to shoot myself not once but twice in my body, prolonging my pain and suffering. Muddying the picture still further is the fact that the two female journalists accompanying Chut Wutty – Ukrainian/Canadian national Olesia Plokhii and native Khmer Phorn Bopha – were taken into police custody, after which they offered unclear reports of the night’s events to The Cambodia Daily. According to the journalists, they only heard two shots fired. This seems impossible if Chut Wutty was fatally shot at least once, and In Ratana shot himself twice. Right there that is already three shots. Moreover, despite being only meters away, they said they didn’t know for certain who fired the bullets. The Cambodian government has announced that it will form a committee to investigate the events of the evening. However, the longer this drags on, the more questions will be asked. Is someone being protected by the military police and/or government? Why would In Ratana decide to end his own life? How many bullets were actually fired? And will there be statements from the two journalists? The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing press censorship abroad has gotten involved, presumably to assist Ms. Plokhii, an associate of mine who has not responded to email requests for comments so far. I believe there is more to this story, but the only way I think we will find out is if Ms. Plokhii exits stage right and tells her story outside Cambodia. Of course, she has to consider the fate of her colleague at The Cambodia Daily, Ms. Bopha, who has no option to leave the country as she is a Cambodian citizen. Sadly, it seems quite possible that several hours of Cambodian police interrogation may mean that the truth of what happened will never be known.

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On Chut Wutty and Journalist Protection in Cambodia

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Economics

BoI allows private sector in border logistics center

National News Bureau of Thailand

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NAKHON PHANOM (NNT) – The Thailand Board of Investment (BoI) has agreed to allow the private sector getting involved in the construction of a border logistics and transport center in Nakhon Phanom province.

Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob said the BoI approved in principle providing incentives to the private sector concerning this center.

The incentives will be offered in relation to an inland container depot project, a distribution center project and a project to construct buildings for industrial plants and warehouses.

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Economics

Thailand Post joins Prompt Song app to buy supplies at market for restaurants

National News Bureau of Thailand

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BANGKOK (NNT) – Thailand Post Distribution Co., Ltd. has joined with the Prompt Song application to buy supplies at a market for restaurants via the online system, which is another option for vendors during the COVID-19 situation.

Mr. Pheera Udomkitsakul, Managing Director of Thailand Post Distribution Co., Ltd, said that the delivery service through online ordering is another service operated by Thailand Post via the e-Marketplace Platform in the form of the Prompt Song application.

Thailand Post will pick up products from the manufacturer or distributor and store them at a temperature controlled warehouse. The area is divided by a modern system. The vehicle tracking system is managed using a bar code to ensure that the products are delivered to the service’s users on time. The delivery times ate 3-8 a.m. The service is being piloted in Bangkok and its vicinity.

This will solve a problem for restaurant operators who can’t buy ingredients for cooking or market closures due to the COVID-19 situation as the application allows the vendors to wait in front of the restaurant.

Mr. Pheera said that a good and comprehensive logistics system will play a very important role in helping operators reduce problems and costs, systematization and distribution and reduce the risk of product defects. It saves time in product distribution, resulting in smooth and efficient trading.

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China

Mainland China is in no position to take Taiwan by force

Unlike his predecessors, Chinese President Xi Jinping has demonstrated greater intensity in the desire for reunification.

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The situation across the Taiwan Strait has seemed to be on the brink of crisis since 2018. Beijing has sent numerous sorties of military aircraft to conduct exercises near Taiwan and frequently crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

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