Tag Archives: Corruption

Kabul Job Opening, U.S. Hiring News Photog, Blames Afghan Corruption on “Negative Media Pics”

12 Feb

U.S. Job Opening for News Photogs, Picture Propagandist: U.S. Blames Afghan Corruption on Photographers for “Negative” and “Misleading” Pics

U.S. Agency for International Development Says it “Can’t Compete”, Posts Job Opening to Address Charges of Corruption in Afghanistan 

(Updated at 1800 hours EST with responses from the United States Agency for International Development)

Nate Thayer

February 12, 2014

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Afghanistan has appealed for news photographers to work as U.S. government propagandists, saying the “overwhelming majority of pictures” by news journalists “are negative and at least to some extent misleading.”

A new job posting by USAID in Kabul seeks professional photographers “with at least one years experience with a news agency” to “to counter negative visual images” and “aggressively distribute these positive images”.

USAID, which is in the midst of an ongoing scandal involving billions of dollars they provided lost to corruption and mismanagement in Afghanistan, does not blame bungled administration of overseeing Afghan corruption and misuse of U.S. money, but rather the news media.

The bad publicity “is because professional photographers working for news agencies are the prime sources of high-quality images of USAID work in Afghanistan. News photographs by their very nature focus on the negative.” Continue reading

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Korean Sex And Cambodian Govt Corruption: Why You People Read My Blog And What You Are Fiddling Around With On The Internet

8 Feb

Korean Sex And Cambodian Govt Corruption: Why You People Read My Blog And What You Are Fiddling Around With On The Internet

By Nate Thayer

It is, together, alarming, confusing, depressing, and downright fascinating sometimes when reviewing the analytics of who you people are that come and read my blog–and exactly how you get here.

The top search terms that drove people to my blog today are as follows:

1.”choeung sopheap”
2.koreansex
3.korean sex
4.air koryo business class
5.sex korean
6.westboro baptist church number
7.khmer police big cock
8.bd korian sex.com
9.korea sex

You will note there is a theme that emerges here: Sex Continue reading

Golf, Cambodia, and the ‘very cornerstone of morality’

19 Nov

Golf, Cambodia, and the ‘very cornerstone of morality’

An example of the often quite interesting, random range of incoming messages I get daily and my sincere reply. From this morning:

Dear Nate,

I have read your missives on Face Book with great interest. You are truly prolific and I walk in your shadow. I hardly ever reply to Face Book. I hardly get the time.

Due to our mutual deep friendship with XXX I am writing after all this time to let you know that I have an article appearing in the Los Angeles Times travel section this Sunday about golf in Cambodia, the substance of which I feel you might disapprove of.

All I can say is that it has changed dramatically since I was there twenty years ago. I understand that there are still large problems, least of which is not corruption. But they are trying. I think now that Cambodia is bursting at the seams with all kinds of opportunity. It is fragile but very promising.

So I went in May and played golf at some great courses. I met the people, visited the temples and enjoyed the experience, in spite of some of the memories that still haunt me.

I had lunch with Keng Vannsak in Paris in 1993 at his home in Montmorency. My French was very rusty but he managed to convey to me in no uncertain terms how things had spiraled out of control under the Pol Pot regime.

So Nate, I hope you may not judge me too harshly.

I love golf and I strongly believe that wherever golf thrives, so does character, humility, and the very cornerstone of morality – concern for other people.

We are strangers to one another but I sincerely wish you health, happiness and success in all that you do.

Kindest regards,

XXXX XXXXXXX

My reply:

Thanks XXXXX,

For the kind words and thoughtful message.

In no way do I harbor any disapproval for your trip playing golf in Cambodia, or your take on golf’s role in the health of people or society.

I can think of uncountable things that are a far more negative use of one’s time than playing golf. Killing innocent people, pillaging and looting valuables that belong to the nation, State, and the greater, common good for personal gain, an unhealthy fondness for domesticated cats, and related nefarious behavior amongst them.

Actually, my step brother has made a career professionally, and a damn good living and a good chunk of change on the PGA tour, out of hitting a little white ball across manicured lawns, for 30 years. As far as i know, he has done no one significant harm while he was distracted enjoying himself doing so, providing for his family, paying his fair share of taxes, providing harmless diversionary entertainment for middle age white people globally, and generally contributing to the greater common good of society.

I mean no snark in the above at all. The more golf in Cambodia can only divert those who can afford it and allow them to mingle with one another during their downtime from their primary focus of deriving their ill gotten loot acquired via the most crude ripping off of state assets and oppression of the commoners.

If those who have a piece of the pie of power can spend more time partaking in that recreation, and therefore avoid focusing their energy on their day job–ruining the lives of the people under their jackboot, I say God Bless golf in Cambodia.

To golf and morality, together, for a better Cambodia, I say two thumbs up.

Really.  I mean it.

I don’t have a better answer, myself.

I hope you remain well,

Nate

A letter to a young Cambodian-2013: Reflections on a toxic political culture

26 Jun

Cambodia-2013: Reflections on a toxic political culture

A letter to a young Cambodian

If Cambodia is not careful, they will be relegated to selling roadside trinkets along the highway as the rest of properly organized Asia zooms through without stopping  between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City

By Nate Thayer

June 26, 2013

Alright I just expelled my first FB friend.

Cambodia is having a so called election in coming weeks. Hun Sen, the ex Pol Pot military officer who has been running the show in the collapsed, sad nation since he lost the $3 billion UN funded free elections in 1993 and went on a murderous rampage, is still in sole and complete power, 30 years later.

Hun Sen achieved that distinction by systematically murdering, torturing, or otherwise dispatching anyone who didn’t demonstrate absolute obsequiousness, gouging their eyes out while alive, cutting off their penis’s  and stuffing them in their mouths while laughing before killing them, pulling out there tongues with pliers when they failed to utter the right words, yanking their fingernails out before putting a bullet between their eyes, and otherwise humiliating, torturing and murdering the duly elected government that would not submit in supine, abject, mute, loyalty.

He did this, this violent, bloody coup d’etat, in order to solely seize power in 1997. He fled the Khmer Rouge in 1977, well after hundreds of thousands of people were killed by his government, not out of any objection to their policies of mass murder of politically suspect citizens, but rather because he was next on their target list. He was installed in power a few years later by the invading Vietnamese army and served as their puppet leader until the UN arrived in 1991. He lost the 1993 UN election, used violence and threats to compel a power sharing arrangement, and then dispatched of the veneer formalities 4 years later in his bloody putsch.

And now he is running another transparently farcical insult to the concept of free elections , a campaign to get the absurd stamp of legitimacy on his dictatorship once again.

He has once again expelled all elected parliamentary opposition members in recent weeks, which strips them of legal immunity, so he can threaten and jail anyone who says anything he doesn’t like using the entirely controlled judiciary.

Frankly, Cambodia is such a pathetic, myopic political culture, with virtually no sense of common good or nation, that, with the exception of a very few very brave people, almost no one stands up to these thugs.

The dictator Hun Sen’s latest embarrassing rhetoric has him targeting his main opposition figure, Khem Sokkha, accussing him of sleeping with underage virgin prostitutes, and he has threatened to throw him in jail.

For Cambodian’s, they don’t find it sufficient to just murder or destroy the reputation through slander of their opponents. They enjoy publicly humiliating them first. The dirty little secret is that these tactics are prevalent in virtually all Cambodian leaders of all ideologies.

What does it say about the Cambodian political culture that after Pol Pot killed nearly a quarter of the population in 3 years eight months and 20 days in power, his political opposition was so unimpressive that the freshly minted mass murderers was able to rebuild his political organization through genuine popular support and remained the dominating political power broker for two decades after he did what he did?

It doesn’t say anything very complimentary or reassuring.

So when the following message just appeared on my FB page, it pushed my buttons.

“Both Putin & Berlusconi were divorced, no wife, they are enjoying life as bachelors, but now ex-PM of Italian is facing charge for buying sex with many under age girls = Kem Sokha.”

Khem Sokha, the opposition candidate who Hun Sen is gleefully publicly humiliating, after stripping him of his position as an elected parliamentarian, is a decent man. I remember him as a courageous human rights campaigner in a country where such activity would likely make you a statistic, and quickly.

So I wrote the following reply to his pathetic status message:
I am not sure who you are. But I do know this: Life is too important to be sputtering foolish and dangerous untruths. And life is never worth blindly repeating the absurd and false propaganda of any political leader without using your mind to think for yourself and figure out whether it is true.

The allegations against Khem Sokha are so obviously bald political slander created by Hun Sen that not a person on earth outside of Cambodia believes them to be true.

Until people like you stop getting pleasure from viciously attacking without merit political leaders and start demanding your leaders stop stealing the country blind, filling their bank accounts with the proceeds that belong to the nation, selling off Cambodia’s heritage to the foreigner with the most money, and murdering and oppressing through violence and a constant state of fear anyone who doesn’t get on their knees when they enter the room, Cambodia will remain the sad, failed country that is unable to survive without the charity of the properly organized world.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

And you should certainly be ashamed of your country.

Only then, perhaps, will you fight to create a national dignity that is such an historical relic in Cambodian political culture that it is beyond the ability of historians to empirically reconstruct.

Why should the rest of the world care about a country that cares so little about itself that it allows the same incompetent, corrupt, rapacious thugs to run the asylum years and years on end?

It is one thing to not say anything at all because you rightly know if you speak the truth they will do whatever it takes, up to and including murdering you, to make you stop. It is entirely another to take perverted pleasure in destroying the reputation of good people who are trying to change the country.

It is embarrassing and despicable.

OK. I have said what I feel because I am a free man and can. Good luck achieving the same political conditions in your neck of the woods with your pathetic attitude.

And, congratulations. You have the distinction of being the first person I have ever formally blocked and kicked off my FB page. Because you simply are not worth the bother.

Good luck in your upcoming “election.”

And good luck with the future you and your country are rapidly hurtling towards: A sad, pathetic failed nation state that will find itself selling trinkets on the highway between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, as the rest of the region and planet, zooms through without stopping,  as they get on with the program of making life better for their people.

Nate

My Friend, Arthur: Formerly the Planet’s Biggest Dope Trafficker

9 Mar

My Friend, Arthur: Formerly the Planet’s Biggest Dope Trafficker

By Nate Thayer

Arthur Tonzone was, in his arguably misguided youth, the biggest  international drug trafficker  on earth. He also, I feel I have confidently confirmed, a great fucking guy. Arthur contacted me a couple weeks ago and said we had, sorta, crossed paths a few years back. “I know who you are,” he wrote me out of the blue. “We know many of the same people.”At the time he was smuggling 5 tons of marijuana from Cambodia to the U.S., a career path which had allowed him to intimately get to know a good portion of the planet from Jamaica to Thailand to Cambodia.

It didn’t, as these things tend to do, follow a happy script from there forward. Like many of our youthful choices, his story included a less than happy interval, but not ending.

Arthur was arrested and thrown in one of the worst hell holes on earth—T-3 political prison in Phnom Penh. He was only released into the custody of U.S. federal agents who took him back to the U.S. and to federal penitentiary, where he had the unfortunate, or perhaps enlightening, experience, where he then spent a far from pleasant further chunk of time.

He obviously recovered from his legal unpleasantness, because he wrote a book about all this.

Arthur is pissed off, for perfectly good reason. So he did what free people do when they are free—he objected.

His book, “Herb Trader”, which Arthur sent me by mail last week, is a riveting tale of his life. It is brutally honest, it is tragic, it is inspiring, and, as far as I can tell, spot on correct.

Arthur was a dope trafficker. Arthur is a very good man. I am glad to count him amongst my newer friends, despite the fact he claims we crossed paths while he was smuggling dope and I was tracking Pol Pot in the jungles of Cambodia:

Here is a portion of our correspondence this morning: Continue reading

Happy Chinese New Year in Cambodia: Corrupt Govt Officials Hand Cash to Hundreds of Soldiers

11 Feb

Happy Chinese New Year in Cambodia

What a pathetic embarrassment the Cambodian government is, a B grade rip-off of the Lord of the Flies.

Happy Chinese New Year in Cambodia means hundreds of police, military police and Cambodian army soldiers gathering to receive cash envelopes outside the house of one of Cambodia’s biggest crime syndicate bosses tied to the murder, jailing, and beatings of poor Cambodians in the service of innumerable corrupt patronage contracts between Hun Sen’s ruling political party and selling off state assets and land concessions to China.

The house where the security services gathered in hordes to beg for corruption payoffs is owned by Cheung Sopeap, the wife of ruling Cambodian people’s party senior official Lao Meng Khun, who together own the Phiopemex company–a major financier of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany.

Hundreds of Soldiers and Police gather Outside Home of Corrupt Cambodian Crime Syndicate Seeking Chinese New Years Cash

Hundreds of Soldiers and Police gather Outside Home of Corrupt Cambodian Crime Syndicate Seeking Chinese New Years Cash

A corrupt elite who finance the Cambodian dictator, Hun Sen, and a small cabal of his corrupt cronies in power and their wives, have stripped the country of state assets, forests, oil and mineral rights, and forced thousands of villagers from their homes, in a rapacious orgy of selling the country to foreign investors—most notably China—in exchange for cash payoffs.

Phiopemex and similar front companies are given the protection and use of the army and security services to carry out what is essentially an organized criminal syndicate using the protections and benefits of a nation state–in exchange for cash to Hun Sen and a small group of former Khmer Rouge officials who have lined their pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years

More than 80% of the population lives in rural areas and 36% lives in extreme poverty, earning less than 50 US cents per day.

Pheapimex is one of Cambodia’s most powerful companies, led by a couple with extremely close ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany. The company director, Lao Meng Khin, is a senator with the ruling Cambodia People’s Party. His wife, Choeung Sopheap (known as Yeay Phu) regularly appears publicly alongside the prime minister’s wife. Both Choeung Sopheap and Lao Meng Khin have  previously accompanied Prime Minister Hun Sen on his  diplomatic trips to China.

Pheapimex Owners Yeay Phu & Lao Meng Khin: The “Power Couple" Financing Hun Sen Who Control 7% of Cambodian Land Mass

Pheapimex Owners Yeay Phu & Lao Meng Khin: The “Power Couple” Financing Hun Sen Who Control 7% of Cambodian Land Mass

Pheopimex controls 7.4 per cent of Cambodia’s total land area through its logging and economic land concessions, having diversified since Hun Sen seized control in a bloody 1997 coup from a business portfolio to encompass concessions for pharmaceutical imports, hotel construction and special economic zones.

Since, Pheopimex has included hydropower dams and a notorious land grab in the middle of the capital Phnom Penh. The business empire has expanded to include mining across the country.

Pheopimex first came to prominence as a logging concessionaire in the 1990s in a forest industry dominated by illegal logging, murders, and land evictions, and enjoyed a long relationship with the Cambodian armed forces, using the military to provide security and exert control over its forest concessions.

Over the last few years, thousands of poor residents were thrown out of their homes in central Phnom Penh in a corrupt land deal which gave a valuable chunk of the city to Phiopemex.

In February 2007, the Municipality of Phnom Penh granted a 99-year lease to the private developer Shukaku Inc. over a 133-hectare area of prime real estate covering the lake and the nine surrounding villages, illegally stripping residents of their land rights, including Boeung Kak lake development and the surrounding land affecting 4,225 families.

On 26 October 2008, Shukaku Inc began filling the lake with sand causing flooding and the collapse of some houses. Water and electricity was cut. In September 2010, over 1500 affected families were forced to accept compensation for their homes and land well below the market value, with Shukaku Inc. offering a reimbursement of US$4000 for property despite property values assessed at over US$40,000.

The Boeung Kak settlement consisted of nine villages surrounding the iconic lake in central Phnom Penh and home to 4000 families.

By April 2012, 3500 families were coerced into accepting compensation for a fraction of the market value for their homes and land, driving many families into destitution.

The Boeung Kak evictions constitute the largest forced relocation of Cambodians since the Khmer Rouge evacuated Phnom Penh in 1975.

Displaced Villager In Phnom Penh from Corrupt Government Concession to Cronies

Displaced Villager In Phnom Penh from Corrupt Government Concession to Cronies

Shukaku Inc is a front company for Peophemex and is owned by Lao Meng Khin and his wife, both close associates of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, and major financial backers of the Cambodian People’s Party. The Chinese firm Erdos Hong Jun Investment Co., Ltd. formed a joint venture company with Shukaku Inc to develop Boeung Kak into a high-end residential, commercial and tourism complex.  The Cambodian Government granted permission to re-register the lease agreement in the name of the joint venture, called Shukaku Erdos Hongjun Property Development Co. Ltd.

Boeung Kak residents were denied title en masse, and residents denied the protection of a fair process for resettlement and compensation of people found to be residing on State land, in accordance with World Bank safeguards. The World Bank ruled on the side of the villagers, but the Cambodian government refused to cooperate with the Bank and turn, the World Bank informed the Cambodian government that it would stop providing loans to Cambodia and would not resume lending until there was a satisfactory resolution of the Boeung Kak case.

cam bkk-two cam2 cam3 cam4

Cambodia cracked down harder on the displaced villagers. In May, 2012, female residents of Boeung Kak staged a peaceful demonstration and were surrounded by a mixed force of military police, anti-riot police and district guards, who used violence to break up the demonstration and then arrested 13 women, including a 72-year old. Their trial began two days later on May 24th, and just one hour after charges against them had been filed. Requests by lawyers for a trial delay to allow them to prepare their defense, review the case file and evidence, and bring in witnesses were all denied. They stood trial at 2pm – without a lawyer – after court prosecutors spent the morning interviewing them. They were charged with “cursing public authority” and “encroaching upon the land of a public figure” – Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, the owner of Shukaku.

By 5:30 pm that afternoon, all 13 women had been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. During the trial, the police arrested two more community representatives who were waiting outside the court prepared to testify as witnesses for the 13 women who were on trial.

In June 20th, 2012, the government reacted to local and international outrage by cracking down harder calling the 4000 villagers “prostitutes and terrorists”.

“Because there was an uncontrollable mixed renting by all kinds of people, this area turned to be an insecure place, shelter for criminals, gangsters, drug dealers, prostitutes and terrorists,” the Phnom Penh municipality said. Boeng Kak had, as a result, suffered from a “disappearance of national customs, traditions and Khmer culture.”

The extent of government corruption in Cambodia is so stark that revenue from illegal logging is several times that derived from legitimate enterprises. A USAID report titled “Cambodian Corruption Assessment” stated that “grand corruption involving illegal grants of logging concessions coexist with the nearly universal practice of small facilitation payments to speed or simply secure service delivery”.

“Forestry and mining concessions are signed behind closed doors … no one outside the system knows what proportion of earnings go to pay taxes, what proportion go to international businesses as excessive profits, and what proportion are transferred to foreign bank accounts.”

The tentacles of graft reach up to the highest levels, where officials maintain their position thanks to control of patronage systems that substitute for a system of government in Cambodia.

Cambodia could have earned enough revenues from its oil, gas and minerals to become independent of foreign development aid according to Global Witness, but high-level corruption, nepotism and patronage have siphoned the countries resources into the pockets of a few and left the country dependent on foreign aid and starving for access to health care, education, and basic rights.

The small number of powerbrokers surrounding the prime minister–members of the ruling elite or their family members– are the beneficiaries of these deals where millions of dollars are paid by Chinese oil and mining companies to secure access to these resources, never reaching state accounts.

“The same political elite that pillaged the country’s timber resources has now gained control of its mineral and petroleum wealth. Unless this is changed, there is a real risk that the opportunity to lift a whole generation out of poverty will be squandered,” said Gavin Hayman of Global Witness.

In 2012, the killing of journalists and environmental activists, thousands of forced evictions, the murder and beating and imprisonment of those protesting land grabs, allegedly including torture and in at least two cases murder, have dominated the mundane reality of Cambodian politics. A 15-year-old girl in Kratie province was shot dead as security forces tried to wrestle control of a plot of land away from local villagers to make way for a Russian rubber plantation that had been promised to a private firm in a land grant by the Cambodian government, and a well-known environmental activist was gunned down in April while investigating illegal logging and government corruption.

In a U.S. embassy cable released by WikiLeaks in 2011, the US embassy Phnom Penh outlined the symbiotic relationship between the Hun Sen government and corrupt cronies. “These business leaders contribute money to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and Hun Sen” and which these “symbiotic relationships illustrate the networks of business tycoons, political figures, and government officials that have formed in Cambodia, which reinforce the culture of impunity and limit progress on reforms such as Hun Sen’s self-declared “war on corruption.”

cam Choeung Sopheap (aka Yeay Phu) with Hun Sen

The US embassy cable titled the owners of Pheapimex “Yeay Phu & Lao Meng Khin: “Power Couple” said the business owners were “One of the most politically and economically connected couples in the country (after Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife and Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh and his wife)” and said they “are the co-owners of Pheapimex Fu Chan Co. Ltd, a controversial logging company that has expanded to cover salt iodization, iron ore extraction, bamboo cultivation, pharmaceutical imports and hotel construction….(and) now has access to at least 315,028 hectares of land for agribusiness.

The cable said “ Phu, who is of Chinese origin, uses her contacts in China to attract foreign investment from Chinese companies such as Wuzhishan LS and Jiangsu Taihu International. Her husband, Lao Meng Khin, is a Vice President of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, and he serves as a CPP senator and advisor to Hun Sen. Together, they have a joint venture with Sy Kong Triv through Wuzhishan LS for a pine tree plantation in Mondulkiri Province. This dynamic duo has a rather strong relationship to Hun Sen and his wife, Bun Rany. Lao Meng Khin has accompanied the Prime Minister on more than one trip to China, while Yeay Phu, who is a board member of the Cambodian Red Cross, is reportedly a close friend and business associate of Bun Rany. Yeay Phu is also a business associate of Tep Bopha Prasidh, the wife of the Minister of Commerce; and Ngyn Sun Sopheap, the wife of the Director of the National Department of Customs and Excise. The Pheapimex couple’s son is married to the daughter of Lim Chhiv Ho, the Managing Director of Attwood Import Export Co., Ltd. In addition to Khmer, Lao Meng Khin speaks Mandarin Chinese and Yeay Phu speaks several Chinese dialects.”

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