Saturday, April 25, 2015

Are Gina Rinehart's 9 'Cambodian daughters' orphans?

An open letter to Scott Neeson, executive director of the Cambodian Children’s Fund - the NGO providing Gina Rinehart with her 9 'Cambodian daughters'

Gina Rinehart and 2 of her 9 'Cambodian daugthers'

Dear Scott

Are the two girls who appear in the photo below with Gina Rinehart genuine orphans? Or do they have at least one living parent?

The same question applies to the other 7 orphans ‘adopted’ by Gina Rinehart.

As you know, it is generally accepted that 75% of children residing in Cambodian ‘orphanages’ have at least one living parent.

If these two girls (and Ms Rinehart’s other 7 ‘Cambodian daughters’)  have families, were their parents (or single parent) provided with a financial incentive to give these girls up to Gina Rinehart so that she could become their ‘mum’?

It may well be that all nine girls have benefited enormously, from an educational point of view, from their association with Gina Rinehart.  It may well be that their futures will be much more secure as a result of their having been ‘adopted’ by Ms Rinehart. And if all nine girls are, indeed, genuine orphans, Ms Rinehart taking them under her wing has been an act of kindness, generosity and benevolence to be applauded.

However, it may also be, if Ms Rinehart’s 9 Cambodian daughters do in fact have families, that you have mislead her regarding their status as ‘orphans’.

Are all these nine girls, or any of them, orphans, Scott?

A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer will suffice.

If these girls have families a Pandora’s Box of questions arise – the kinds of questions you have consistently refused to answer this past few years when I have put them to you. These are questions you refuse to answer when put to you by any member of the media who is interested in more than simply publishing Cambodian Children’s Fund press releases as ‘news’.

Given that you have 700+ children in residential care at the Cambodian Children’s Fund, and given that most of the these 700+ children have families, the questions I am asking here are relevant not only to Gina Rinehart’s 9 ‘Cambodian daughters’ but to all the other CCF girls (and boys) in your care who could or might be ‘rescued’ by wealthy non-Cambodian individuals.

How much money does a sponsor or donor need to be able to become a ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ to a child living in institutional residential care at the Cambodian Children’s Fund?

There is a fine line between an individual such as Ms Rinehart offering, out of the goodness of their hearts, to help materially disadvantaged children, and the trafficking of children. The Cambodian “Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation” is relevant in this context:

Article 8:Definition of Unlawful Removal

The act of unlawful removal in this act shall mean to:
1)    Remove a person from his/her current place of residence to a place under the actor’s or a third persons control by means of force, threat, deception, abuse of power, or enticement, or
2)    Without legal authority or any other legal justification to do so to take a minor person under general custody or curatoship or legal custody away from the legal custody of the parents, care taker or guardian.
Article 9: Unlawful removal, inter alia, of Minor

A person who unlawfully removes a minor or a person under general custody or curatorship or legal custody shall be punished with imprisonment for 2 to 5 years.

Were any or all of Ms Rinehart’s 9 ‘Cambodian daughters’ removed from their homes by the Cambodian Children’s Fund as a result of ‘deception’ (passing the girls off as ‘orphans’) or ‘enticement’ - money paid to the parents?

If you and CCF have any commitment to the precepts of transparency and accountability, Scott, it should be very easy for you to answer the questions asked here – all of which could be boiled down to one question:

Do the 9 girls ‘adopted’ by Gina Rinehart have living parents?


AUSTRALIA’S richest person, Gina Rinehart, is famously estranged from at least two of her own children — but she has news for them: there are some new kids on the block.
The normally intensely private iron ore magnate has broken her silence today to tell the Herald Sun of the “special bond” she shares with nine Cambodian “daughters”, all orphans she rescued in 2007 from the sordid backstreets of Phnom Penh.
The girls, who are now mostly in their late teens, are central to Ms Rinehart’s daily life.
“The girls are known as my Cambodian daughters,” she says proudly in a rare interview.
Asked if she feels protective and proud of them, as if they were her own daughters, the Hancock Prospecting chair says: “Yes. They are growing into impressive, lovely, polite, considerate, young ladies.”
A third of Cambodia’s 15 million people live on less than a dollar a day.
But life for these young women, who had only ever known extreme poverty and misery as orphans struggling to survive, is now very different.
They are at the very heart of Gina Rinehart’s rarefied world.
Ms Rinehart is paying for them to be educated at top Asian universities, and they are welcome guests at her new luxury beachside pad at an exclusive cove on Sentosa Island, Singapore.
They are also flown overseas for birthdays, black tie events and special treats.
“I’ve visited them many times and we keep in regular contact, including bringing them overseas for special occasions, birthdays, awards,” Ms Rinehart said.
According to friends, Ms Rinehart excitedly shares frequent updates about the girls and their achievements with those within her close circle.
The mining magnate has long been at loggerheads with two of her four children — John Hancock, 38, and Bianca Rinehart, 36 — over the profits of a family trust set up by her late father, Lang Hancock.
Youngest daughter Ginia, 27, has sided with her mother.
Another daughter, New York-based Hope Welker, 29, has pulled out of the dispute after originally siding with her older siblings.
Last week, as her two elder children won access to emails and documents that could assist their legal fight, Ms Rinehart decided the time was right to finally talk about the Cambodian girls.
“It’s a very warm and special bond,” Ms Rinehart said.
“We keep in regular contact. Some have already finished uni, and others are in various stages of their uni degrees,” she said.
“Education and opportunity make an enormous difference and change people’s lives, as we have seen with my girls.”
In 2007, Ms Rinehart read an article on the hideous Cambodian child sex trade.
It detailed how thousands of children, some as young as five, faced daily violence and unimaginable abuse, and the risk of death.
“I first heard about their situation when I read an article about the terrible and frightening treatment of too many young Cambodian women and I thought that I’d like to be able to help,” the 61-year-old said.
“We made some investigations and tracked down people who could connect us, and got involved,” she said.
Ms Rinheart founded The Hope Scholarship Program.
The nine girls were chosen from local orphanages.
Ms Rinehart is said to have personally ensured that the girls were cared for in a special safe house, cooked for by a chef and educated in a local school.
She then helped them all attend university.
She even gave them motorbikes on which to travel around the busy streets.
Ms Rinehart predicts that the girls will be future “leaders” of Cambodia.
“It has been fantastic to see them grow into beautiful ladies and become young leaders for their country,” she said.
“A country they are devoted to, and want to see benefit from greater education and higher economic growth.”
Ms Rinehart, who lobbies Australia’s government to cut red tape to help investment, encourages the girls to study two of her own role models: Lee Kuan Yew, the late prime minister of Singapore, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “who helped their countries create economic growth and reduce poverty”.
“Others who wish to donate … would also bring much happiness to their own lives for helping these lovely children,” Ms Rinehart said.
Scott Neeson, executive director of the Cambodian Children’s Fund, which runs the scholarship program, says the girls love Ms Rinehart.
“These girls were taken under the wing of Gina many years ago, quietly, selflessly and securely … these young women are reflections of the woman they love and call mum,” he writes in Ms Rinehart’s newly published book, From Red Tape to Red Carpet … And Then Some.
Mr Neeson says that the girls know a “very different Gina” to the one they read about in the media, saying; “There’s nothing written about her love and heart.”
At Ms Rinehart’s request the Herald Sun has not named the Cambodian girls, in order to protect their “privacy and security”.

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