Cambodian Courts as Political Tools

Justice is blind Image source By Barry Blitt.
“The court has always been used as a political tool,” said Theary C. Seng, whose leadership of a human rights group, the Center for Social Development, is being challenged in what she says is a politically motivated court case. “But recently, there is a concentration of cases which seem to be very political and which seem to use the court as a political tool to silence opposition voices.”

The court cases come at a time when countries in the region are looking increasingly toward China as a political and economic model and questioning the democratic and humanitarian values of the West.
In recent years, China has become a major donor and investor in Cambodia in projects that do not place the kinds of demands on governing and management that generally accompany assistance from Western nations and aid organizations.
“We have been fearing all along that Cambodia’s government is looking eastward toward China and Vietnam as models,” with their strong central governments and intolerance of dissent, said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.
Together with land seizures that are driving tens of thousands of people from their homes, analysts say these actions demonstrate a sense of impunity in a government that has resisted efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Cambodia. From this New York Times article » By Seth Mydans.

The New York Times – Learning Network – Understanding the Quest to Protect Human Rights –

Overview: Students explore the concept of human rights by developing and defending their own “Bills of Human Rights” and by writing a reflective essay that compares their notions of human rights and the protection of them…  Go to this Law and Society Lesson.

Recriminations and Regrets Follow Suicide of South Korean

mourners of former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun Korea Pool/Reuters Image source
People mourn for deceased former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun at a memorial altar in Roh’s hometown of Bonghwa village in Gimhae on Sunday.

The mourners lashed out at the prosecutors and the conservative media who had relentlessly pursued accusations of corruption for the past year, after Mr. Roh had left office. Most also accused the sitting president, Mr. Lee, of guiding or at least encouraging the investigations. In Mr. Roh’s native village, Bongha, his supporters trampled a funeral wreath sent by the president.

“It has become a bad political habit for presidents in South Korea to try to gain support by punishing the former president,” said Kang Won-taek, a politics professor at Seoul’s Soongsil University. “What happened to Roh Moo-hyun shows that it is time to break this habit.”
But political experts, and even many average Koreans, say that their nation’s struggle to shed its authoritarian past was never finished, and that investigation of Mr. Roh highlighted at least two other legacies: a powerful presidency and a justice system with few checks and balances, especially on its prosecutors. The full article » By Martin Fackler

Judging the judges – Compare and Contrast the experiences of former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Thailand’s treatment of Thaksin Shinawatra and his suppporters

Thailand – 8/12/2008 – The former prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, skipped a court appearance Monday and announced he was seeking refuge in London, leaving behind more than $2 billion frozen by the generals who ousted him from power two years ago.
He said that in Thailand he had been the victim of a “political assassination” and said that his enemies had used dictatorial powers to persecute his family. “My family and I were continually treated unfairly, without justice or truth,” he said. in this New York Times article » By Jane Perlez (IHT)

Editors Note – 6/6/2009: Thailand’s “normal” rule of law has been overthrown and rewritten 17 times, on average every two and a half years, since the country became a constitutional monarchy 75 years ago.
The current military and court installed government of Abhisit Vejjajiva has ordered prosecutors to pursue cases against Thaksin supporters who claimed he had seized power illegally and he should call a new election.
But no prosecutions have been filed against the group, which helped Abhisit take power, by hijacking both Thailand’s international airports stranding over 300,000 tourists for weeks in December last year.

Abhisit claims his actions show “This is to signal to the world that our country has returned to normal,” Abhisit told reporters in Bangkok. “We will maintain the nation’s peace and order by using existing laws.”
More about the credibility of » Thailand’s military constitution.)

Examining the State of Education in Pakistan

Pakistan madras schools Zackary Canepari for The New York Times and the original photo and article can be found here. 

The madrasas offer almost no instruction beyond the memorizing of the Koran, creating a widening pool of young minds that are sympathetic to militancy.

Even if the madrasas do not make militants, they create a worldview that makes militancy possible. “The mindset wants to stop music, girls’ schools and festivals,” said Salman Abid, a social researcher in southern Punjab. “Their message is that this is not real life. Real life comes later” —after death. From this New York Times Article – By Sabrina Tavernise.

The New York Times – Learning Network – Examining the State of Education in Pakistan
Overview: In this lesson, students consider the growth of religious schools in rural Pakistan and their impact, then draw connections between recent current world events, their own experience and prior knowledge.Go to this Building Society Lesson.
The New York Times – Learning Network – Exploring the Shaping of Tolerance and Intolerance
Overview: Students examine the meanings of tolerance and intolerance and participate in a “town hall meeting” in which they represent different perspectives in order to explore how tolerance is shaped by various beliefs and contexts. Go to this Building Society Lesson.

The New York Times – Learning Network – Clash of Civilizations?
Overview of Lesson Plan: Students learn about a United Nations initiative to create the Alliance of Civilizations to resolve conflict between the East and West. They then discuss and dismantle a number of misconceptions about the Muslim world. Go to this Building Society Lesson

In Singapore, a More Progressive Islamic Education

More Progressive Islamic EducationNorimitsu Onishi/The New York Times
An all-girls high school chemistry class taught by Mohamed Muneer at the the Madrasa Al Irsyad Al Islamiah in Singapore.

Teachers exhorted their students to ask questions. Some, true to the school’s embrace of new technology, gauged their students’ comprehension with individual polling devices.
“The Muslim world in general is struggling with its Islamic education,” Razak Mohamed Lazim, the head of Al Irsyad said, explaining that Islamic schools had failed to adapt to the modern world. “In many cases, it’s also the challenge the Muslim world is facing. We are not addressing the needs of Islam as a faith that has to be alive, interacting with other communities and other religions.”From this New York Times Article By Norimitsu Onsishi.

The New York Times – Learning Network – Exploring What It Takes to Become a Well-Informed Citizen
Overview: In this lesson, students explore education requirements for different professions, and define the skills and knowledge that adults use in their everyday lives. Go to this Building Society Lesson.
• Related Lesson from: The Learning Foundation A Simplified Mock Trial
The Malaysian authorities’ refused to renew the publication of the weekly Catholic newspaper The Herald unless it stops using the word Allah as the word for God in the Malay language.
The Newspaper answered: Muslims, like Christians, do not worship a person called Allah. They worship a single supreme being, which the Arabic language denotes as Allah.
Students argue both sides of the issue and decide in the case: Only Muslims can use ‘Allah’ – Simplified Mock Trial Lesson Plan.
Tolerance.org10 Ways to Nurture Tolerance “Identify intolerance
(stereotypes and cultural misinformation depicted in news reports, movies, TV shows, computer games and other media) when children are exposed to it.” Go to this Building Society Lesson.

The same tactics used in 2008 of hijacking Bangkok airports is being used again

Thailand’s “entrenched elite” are using Mao’s tactics to purge political rivals

Editor | Fifty years since the “Cultural Revolution” and China is still recovering from the damage, while Thailand is again in 2014 copying the mistakes.

Tactics of blocking elected governments using vindictive and biased courts, a self serving media, a menacing military, and a street gang that seems to be above the law when they hijack government offices, foreshadow the chaos that followed Mao’s revenge.

Lesson compare Mao's Red Guard with Coup in Thailand Li Qingyou: “Our mentality was that when Chairman Mao waved his hand, we would move, and whatever he said, we would do. We never realized where it would all lead.”

“The movement, which Mao had asserted would ensure permanent revolution, was in fact launched mainly to purge his political rivals. These included Deng Xiaoping (later to become Chinese leader) and the moderate Liu, whose liberal economic policies had undermined Mao’s authority and called into question his ability to run the country day-to-day after his introduction of the catastrophic Great Leap Forward in 1959. » The full Times Online article.

Wang Guangmei Wang Guangmei and her husband Liu Shaoqi before his fall from grace and her public humiliation by Mao’s Red Guards… In 1966 he was stripped of the presidency, and the following year both were consigned to jail where he was to die, and from which she was not to emerge until 1978… She died on October 13, 2006, aged 85.
ESL lesson compare and contrast how China and Thailand have used political

  • “The Constitution Tribunal is illegitimate and the case is completely political,” said legal expert Kanin Boonsuwan, who helped draft the 1997 (Thai) Constitution. “Judicial powers have gone too far already; the judges are abusing their power and independence. This is not only about dissolution, but the future of democracy in Thailand.”
    Many legal experts see the dissolution case as a sham. Indeed, many wonder how a body created by those who overthrew Thaksin has any right to terminate political parties for allegedly attempting to overthrow democracy. And especially to do so for violating a constitution the junta leaders discarded? – The Rise of Thailand’s Third Branch – By Daniel Ten Kate – The Asian Sentenel

  • June 2010 update:

    Ousting Abhisit May Not End Protests Over ‘Autocratic Rulers’

    The current constitution, written after the 2006 coup, set up a Senate in which almost half the members are appointed. It also offered amnesty for generals such as Army Chief Anupong Paojinda, who helped oust Thaksin and (was) calling for parliament to be dissolved.
    “Abhisit may resign or dissolve parliament, but that doesn’t necessarily get us anywhere,” said Prudhisan Jumbala, a lecturer at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “Nobody can implement the rule of law without the cooperation of society, and neither side trusts the authority of the state.”
    The conflict underpins a split within Thailand’s 67 million people over the extent to which the country’s leaders should be elected. » The full Bloomberg article – By Daniel Ten Kate.

  • World Wise School – Worksheet Generalizations: How Accurate Are They?
    Overview | Students will examine how generalizations can be hurtful and unfair, and they will devise ways to qualify statements so they avoid stereotyping other people. Go to this Building Society Lesson.
  • A Learning Foundation Lesson Compare and Contrast
    Mao’s use of power with that in Thailand being used against deposed Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and anyone associated with him. Go to this ESL, Law and Society Lesson.

The cost of “yellow journalism”

Yonhap/The Associated Press
Choi Jin Sil, known as South Korea’s “national actress.” Her suicide followed that of other celebrities, and officials have blamed anonymous Internet slanderers for the deaths.

Most South Korean Web portals and online news sites have discussion boards where users can post uncensored, anonymous comments. Some news articles attract hundreds of feedback entries, ranging from thoughtful comments to raving obscenities.
The police reported 10,028 cases of online libel last year, up from 3,667 reported in 2004. “Yellow journalism” spread through the Internet and picked up by newspapers (is pervasive).
So many teenagers are addicted to online games that the government runs “Internet rescue” boot camps to help them rehabilitate.
Under a new edict from the Education Ministry, teachers must spend more time teaching online ethics, starting in primary school. Read the IHT Article » By Choe Sang-Hun