Paris Peace Accords 23 Oct. 1991

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cambodia Raises Diplomatic Alarm with Seabee Decision

Navy Seabees construct a five-stall bathroom for Sromo Primary School in Svay Rieng province, Cambodia, Jan. 9, 2017. (Photos by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis)
Navy Seabees construct a five-stall bathroom for Sromo Primary School in Svay Rieng province, Cambodia, Jan. 9, 2017. (Photos by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin A. Lewis)

Cambodia Raises Diplomatic Alarm with Seabee Decision

VOA | 10 April 2017

Cambodia's decision to walk out on a contract with a U.S. military unit has set-off alarm bells within the diplomatic community and raised concerns that Prime Minister Hun Sen is prepared to sacrifice millions of dollars worth of humanitarian work to appease regional powers like Russia and China.
Diplomats and political analysts said they were stunned by a government notification ending work on schools and hospitals by the U.S. Navy Mobile Construction Battalion, or the Seabees.
“Well, I will find it extraordinary that Cambodians would happily cancel these types of projects without something coming in to replace it,” said Billy Chia-Lung Tai, an independent human rights consultant at CL Consulting.
“But who's going to be building these projects and where's that money going to come from? Or are these schools and hospitals simply just not going to be built and if that is the case are these projects now going to be picked up as Chinese funded projects,” he said.
Poke in the eye
The Cambodian government has not said why it declined to renew it's Seabee contract, a move described by one diplomat as another “poke in the eye” for the Americans.
It's a point of frustration for Washington given the nature of the Seabee work.
“Since 2008 the Seabees have carried out $5 million worth of construction projects that benefited tens of thousands of Cambodians across the country,” said Jay Raman, spokesman for the US embassy in Phnom Penh.
“They've completed projects such as maternity wards, hospital improvements, water wells, bathroom facilities in public schools and similar projects, working hand in hand with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and local communities,” he said.
Whether China or Russia will step in to fill the breach remains to be seen, but the apparent use of genuine humanitarian works for political point scoring has left Cambodia's most vulnerable even further exposed.
“They were scheduled to build six additional bathroom facilities at schools and two new maternity wards this year and next and they had many other projects coming out for 2018 and 2019, but unfortunately those have now been cancelled,” Raman added.
FILE - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a visit in Baguio city, Philippines, March 11, 2017.FILE - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a visit in Baguio city, Philippines, March 11, 2017.
Encroaching power plays

The cancellation of the agreement means at least 20 planned projects will be scrapped in a move reminiscent of Cold War plays.
Carl Thayer, Emeritus Professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy, added Hun Sen might be attempting to re-position Cambodia politically on his belief that the U.S. is on the decline in East Asia while Russia is seeking to raise it's regional profile.
This was helped by a shift towards China by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and a lack of clear foreign policy direction from the White House following the recent election of President Donald Trump.

“With Duterte in Manila and Trump in Washington, perhaps Hun Sen sees the decline of the U.S. as a trend and is attempting to reposition Cambodia,” he said. “The cancelling of the Seabee’s work continues a pattern of anti-U.S. actions by Hun Sen that Russian diplomats would have picked up.”

Those anti-U.S. actions included a Hun Sen request for forgiveness of a $505 million debt owed to the U.S. for food and agricultural goods. The money was borrowed by the Lon Nol government in the 1970s, during its civil war with the Khmer Rouge.
The Russians have also refused to renegotiate a $1.5 billion debt incurred by the Cambodians during the Moscow-backed Vietnamese occupation of the country in the 1980s. However, China did write-off debts incurred in the 1970s by the Khmer Rouge regime about 15 years ago.

In January, Phnom Penh suspended joint military exercises with the U.S., citing the June elections as the cause while rejecting suggestions that its decision was related to military and financial ties with China.
Beijing held its first joint naval drill with Cambodia last year after it funded lucrative contracts for Chinese-made weapons, jeeps, helicopters, and training.
FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin.

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Cambodia looks north by north-east

Thayer said it became clear about three to four years ago that Russian President Vladimir Putin was angling towards a re-engagement in the Asia-Pacific.
“Not much was done because Vietnam was the only country with solid links,” he said. “Last year Russia hosted a summit with ASEAN leaders in Sochi and this seems to have breathed new life into an older initiative.”
Thayer added the Russian navy had also conducted several exercises with its Chinese counterpart and last year had visited the Philippines after Duterte’s pivot to China.
“Putin rankles at the sanctions and isolation imposed on Russia by the U.S. and EU,” he said. “He seeks to break out and demonstrate that Russia has foreign friends, hence the opportunistic approach to Cambodia.”
China and Cambodia are also steadily tightening their diplomatic relationship.
In the past month, Beijing said it was expected to bestow sister city status on Phnom Penh while a separate agreement was struck with Shaanxi Province to increase trade and tourism.
With commune elections due in June and general elections in July next year, the ruling party is increasingly relying on Chinese largesse as its backbone for a booming post-war economy. Two-way trade between Cambodia and China is expected to top $5 billion this year.


  1. Anonymous3:36 AM

    Those 59 Tomahawks fired at Syria's air field should be fired at Hun Sen's residences instead. Problem solved, one less dictator to worry about.

    1. Anonymous4:04 AM

      ហាសហា! ល្បងនិយាយអញ្ចឹងដូចជាមឹនសូវស្រួលទេ ល្បង?

  2. Anonymous7:29 AM

    It's wrong to ask a country to bomb/missile-attack another country.


    1. Anonymous9:43 AM

      What's the fuck are you, GOD?

    2. Anonymous9:33 AM

      I am the good guy.


    3. Anonymous10:06 AM

      ពន្យល់តិចមើល - តើ "ចន្ទ អើយស្រីចន្ទ ចន្ទចង់ ចាប់ក្ដាន់ មកធ្វើសម្ល" មានន័យថាម៉េចដែរ អាកន្ទឹន -Drgunzet- @9:33 AM បើអាកន្ទឹនឯង គ្រាន់បើនោះ???

  3. Anonymous2:18 PM

    To Drgunzet0, the rocket should be forwarded to your place. Hanoi leaders should be blamed for manipulating his Vietnamese puppet Hun Sen. Your friend Hun Sen is almost like Assad.

  4. Anonymous2:19 PM

    The United Nations should ignore this because Hun Sen is just serving his Vietnamese bosses in Hanoi by killing more Cambodian/Khmer people to exchange the power for himself. Hun Sen is a real criminal similar to Assad. However Hun Sen is far worse that Assad because he was a Khmer Rouges soldier partnering with the Communist Vietnamese military along with Hen Samrin and secret Yuon/Vietnamese agents who had hidden in Khmer Rogues uniforms (who could speak, write and read Khmer/Cambodian language) that ended up killing 3 millions of innocent Khmer/Cambodian people and children (from 1975 to 1979). Don't just blame Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouges soldiers. The secret source has shown that Hun Sen and his Vietnamese secret agents have been behind the Killing Fields (1975-1979) and now Hun Sen is still trying to kill the Cambodian/Khmer people who are tired of and oppose him because he is just a Vietnamese puppet controlling Cambodia for over 30 years plus by using his Communist Vietnamese military protections to make him stay in power. Vietnamese master-minded killers (leaders in Hanoi) are trying to complete their dirty plans to create another Killing Fields using Hun Sen and his CPP supporters. Among CPP supporters, there are brainwashed and uneducated Cambodians (criminals) and secret Yuon/Vietnamese agents ( hiding in CPP) who will destroy the lives of Cambodian/Khmer people again in different ways to fool the International Community or UN.
    Today, the Vietnamese communist master-minded leaders in Hanoi are trying to find or seek the new way as the dirty and deadly plans to fool the International Community or UN, by using the dirty games and manipulating that Cambodian/Khmer people kill their own kinds. Clearly, the Vietnamese communist leaders and military commanders in Hanoi have been pushing the gullible CPP Officials and Hun Sen to allow their illegal Yuon/Vietnamese immigrants to stay and float on Cambodian water (like Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong Lake) and Cambodian soils. Those illegal Vietnamese residents or immigrants in Cambodia have been used as a Human Shields when it comes to the civil wars or violence between CPP supporters and CNRP supporters. CPP supporters are military folks (including hidden Vietnamese secret agents in CPP) in civilian cloths. When the bloody violence occurs, there will be the illegal Vietnamese immigrants going behind and then kill Cambodian people to rob their lands, properties and everything from Cambodian people or victims. This is a very clear that Vietnamese communist leaders and military commanders in Hanoi and illegal Vietnamese/Yuon immigrants are dreaming of taking over Cambodian land or country when there will be a fewer and fewer Cambodian/Khmer people in Cambodia in many years to come. This is very dangerous situation to Cambodia and Cambodian people while the Vietnamese puppet Hun Sen continues to control Cambodia using his Vietnamese community military protections and staying in power for himself.

    1. Anonymous12:11 AM

      2:19 PM
      Thank you