Angelina Jolie

[Sent to the Cambodia Daily on October 27. Not published.]

It’s a pity there wasn’t room on the front page of your October 26 issue to add a detail to the headline “Angelina Jolie Bought Land From KR Official”. The detail was “in December 2002”, something that got pushed down into the tenth paragraph of the article, sandwiched between misinformation about the use of the Khmer honorific “Ta” (it is normally given to any male over about 50, not just to “more prominent members of the Khmer Rouge”) and minutiae about the purchase that could apply to any similar exchange.

That raises a question: Is “The Daily Newspaper of Record Since 1993” nine years behind events? Or was the land sale reported in 2002, and is now being repeated because the October 26 Daily had a sudden unexpected gap and it was hoped that no one would notice the repetition?

Another alternative is that the land sale was not news in 2002 but is pretend news in 2011 because this is the only immediately available way to attack the Khmer Rouge tribunal. This supposition is supported by the article’s reliance on such silly revelations as the fact that Jolie’s charitable foundation “operates in Samlot district, an epicenter of communist activity in the 20th century”, whose inhabitants include “at least three people wanted by UN prosecutors”. My God! Where is Joe McCarthy when we need him? (The original article, in GlobalPost, said that there were three such people in Samlot and two other districts, which means that there could be only one in each district. Also, there is no such position as “UN prosecutor” in Cambodia, although the title is repeated in the article.)

Aside from biased recounting of other past events, the article is nothing but innuendo that it is reprehensible for anyone to have any business dealings with anyone who formerly held any significant rank in the Khmer Rouge. Going beyond innuendo, it claims that Jolie’s land purchase “may serve as another example [previous “examples” not cited] of the glaring impunity enjoyed by the Khmer Rouge”.

That grotesque rhetoric tells much more about the biases of the writers than about reality. An important factor in ending the Cambodian civil war was the pledge of the Royal Government that former KR would have the same rights as other citizens, which of course includes the right to buy or sell land. If the Cambodia Daily disagrees with that, then it should have the courtesy to tell its readers openly, instead of using “news” articles to insinuate the idea.

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