Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Justice is Finally Served in Cambodia

Video still courtesy of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Image credit: http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/nuon-chea-khieu-samphan-found-guilty-jailed-for-life-65968/
Former Khmer Rouge senior leaders Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea (left wearing shades) were sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity on Thursday – and this marks a day that has been long awaited in Cambodia! It is commonly estimated that between one and 3-5 million Cambodians died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge up to 37% of the population, half from executions and the remainder from starvation and disease. 

Life imprisonment is the maximum penalty that can be applied by the court and this was handed down decisively to the two surviving members of the monstrous Khmer Rouge regime. 

In fact, the verdict was delivered despite the political and financial difficulties faced by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. The constant doubts and carping criticisms of the ECCC made things extremely difficult. 

Helen Jarvis writing in The Cambodia Herald on August 07, 2014 mentioned the excruciatingly slow pace of international justice “and that it has been eight years since the court was established. The real difficulty was the time that elapsed before the court was set up. So many of the survivors died in the intervening period. So did many perpetrators including Pol Pot himself and other senior leaders”. In the end, only two remained alive to pay for the atrocities the Khmer Rouge had wantonly committed. It has been thirty-nine years!

I agree with her when she said that the verdict has highlighted the importance of the court as a national court with international participation and assistance. Other international courts tend to be distant from the crimes and far removed from the victims so they don’t have the same resonance and impact. 

Here in Cambodia, a quarter of a million people came to the court during the trials. Nothing like this has ever happened anywhere in the world and this is really extraordinary! 

On Monday, I was at Jalan SS 12/1A in Subang Jaya to attend the Sime Darby Healthcare Toastmasters meeting. Lim Thian Seng was kind enough to come and he evaluated my speech CC#6 – this is Round 3 of Project 15. It was not a bad speech and I surprised myself in how the speech speedily came together in my mind. 

Attendance has improved and this augurs well for the club. Still, we are well aware there is much to do before we can give a thumbs-up. I am giving the meeting a 6 over 10 score. 

Good news! I am given another speaking slot at their next meeting and it is Meyyappa’s turn to evaluate me in two weeks' time.


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