Archive for February, 2007

Tuesday, 27.2.2007: An Initial Investigation Finds That High-Ranking Officials Of The Cambodian People’s Party Are Behind The Release Of Chai Hour II Hotel Owner

Posted on 27 February 2007. Filed under: Week 497 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 497

“An official of the Ministry of Justice said on condition of anonymity that Thou Mony, a judge of the Appeals Court, had decided to withdraw allegations against Nim Sophea, Hun Sen’s nephew. He decided also to release Te Pao Ly, called Long [the owner of the Chai Hour II Hotel], and Som Leang [the Chai Hour II Hotel supervisor].

Now Thou Mony has been appointed already as a trial judge for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. He does not know what his fate might be in future because he is now being investigated. Therefore, he is just waiting to see the decision of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy.

“But this official of the Ministry of Justice believes that the Appeals Court Judge Thou Mony would probably not be punished, because those who intervened to release the Chai Hour II Hotel owner and supervisor were high-ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP]. Last week on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen claimed that judges have their own discretion to decide a case, but when the Chai Hour II Hotel owner was released, there must have been persons who intervened. Now Hun Sen wants to know who made an intervention in this case. Therefore he ordered the Ministry of Justice to start an investigation into this case, because the Ministry of Justice is both a part of the government and a member of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy.

“Hun Sen claimed that no one had reported the release of the Chai Hour II Hotel owner to him; but when there was information about the re-arresting of the same persons again, he realized that there must have been information about releasing this hotel owner by outside intervention instead. Now, as head of the government, he had to lodge a complaint in this case.

“According to an unidentified Western diplomat, there are still many issues that Hun Sen did not know, or he pretended not to know, where officials under his leadership had made mistakes. Corruption and injustice of court officials, and acts of cruelty of the armed forces that made people suffer – but there had not yet been solutions for these problems, even if there were many people who demonstrated, holding both his and his wife’s photos to appeal to Hun Sen for help.

“This diplomat said that Hun Sen often said to members of the national and international public that he is a member of Cambodia’s CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency – whatever is happening in Cambodia he knows – but why did he not know that the court released the Chai Hour II Hotel owner?

“The diplomat added with regard to Hun Sen’s reaction to the release of the Chai Hour II Hotel owner, that the court is responsible for this case, but it is not yet known whether or not the Supreme Council of the Magistracy dares to punish the judges who made mistakes.

“According to another unidentified official of the Ministry of Justice, an order to investigate the release of the Chai Hour II Hotel owner was issued only to look good, but in fact no judge or any other person who intervened was to be punished, because those who were behind the release were all high-ranking CPP officials.

“According to police officials of the Ministry of Interior, the arrest of the Chai Hour II Hotel owner was the result of a controversy rather than a real crackdown on human trafficking, because there are women who do sex–related business in a number of massage and karaoke lounges. As long as customers like them, they agree about a price for having sex – in such places like in the Washington Karaoke Club, the Paris Massage Club, the Chay Hong Massage Club, and so on. These are not only places for finding girls to have sex, but these places are also casinos. Why have there not been more crackdowns? Therefore, the arrest of the Chay Hour II Hotel owner was probably the result of a conflict of personal interests rather than of the government’s will to crack down on human trafficking.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3096, 27.2.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 27 February 2007

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6, #1277, 27.2.2007

  • Phnom Penh Municipality Rejects Norodom Ranariddh Party Proposal To Hold A Non-Violence Demonstration [on 4 March, at Olympic Stadium]
  • Which Member Of Parliament Grabs 1.5-Hectare Of People’s Land, Including Their Relatives’ Tombs? [Say Yan, called Say Mongkul, Member of Parliament, FUNCINPEC,, claimed that he has the the land ownership title]
  • A Young Man Brought His Girlfriend To A Guesthouse For Sex, Then Shared Her With His Six Friends [her long-time boyfriend had asked her on the phone to hang out at 11 p.m. After first refusing she agreed to go to a guesthouse where the other boys waited to rape her. They all left leaving her alone until morning. She told her mother and went at her mother’s hand to file a complaint at the police, giving the identities of the boys whom she all knew]
  • Keo Remy, Member Of Parliament [Sam Rainsy Party] From Phnom Penh, Proposes To Nguyen Phu Trong, President Of The National Assembly Of Vietnam, To Help Solve Khmer Krom Problems Concerning The Rights Of Khmer Kampuchea Krom People To Freedom And Religion [recently, they claim their rights have been violated]

Koh Santehpeap, Vol.40, #5977, 27.2.2007

  • The Japan Assistance Team For Small Arms Management In Cambodia Prepares To Hold Workshop On Arms Control [from February to March]
  • Transporting Hundreds Of Canisters Of Not Taxed Gasoline From The Vietnamese Border [through border-crossings such as Tanou, Kruos, and Srae Baraing, in Svay Chrom district]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3096, 27.2.2007

  • Hun Sen’s Announcement On Minister Of Rural Development Lu Laysreng’s Land Is Only A Pretext Of The Ruling Party For Cheating The People [he is having serious land disputes with 250 families in Balelay, Poipet, Ou Chhrov, in Banteay Meanchey]
  • Takeo Border Police Tightens Restrictions On Khmer Krom People Not To Enter Cambodia, But They Let Vietnamese Enter Freely
  • An Initial Investigation Finds Out That High-Ranking Officials Of The CCP Are Behind The Release Of Chai Hour II Hotel Owner

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4222, 27.2.2007

  • Cho Ray Hospital: There Was A Person Pretending To Be The Father Of The Singer Pov Panhapich [trying to visit her, but he was not allowed in – her father had died some time ago]
  • Samdech Hun Sen: [Khmer Rouge victim’s bones as] Evidences At Cheung Ek Genocide Memorial Are Very Important For Khmer Rouge Trial [statement during the ground-breaking ceremony of the Prek Chhray Bridge construction, approximately one kilometer south of the Cheung Ek Memorial]
  • The National Center For Tuberculosis And Leprosy Control Prepares To Provide Treatment For Children With TB In Accordance With New WHO Instructions

Reach Seima News, Vol. 2, #158, 27.2.2007

  • A Bodyguard’s Unidentified Mistress Who Wanted To Cross Into Vietnam Is Hit Unconscious By A Group Of Vietnamese Mototaxi Drivers In Kandal’s Chrey Thom Market, As Singer Pov Panhapich Is Hospitalized In Vietnam [Vietnamese mototaxi drivers disagreed that Khmer motorcycles or vehicles with Khmer license plates are allowed to enter Vietnam]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #2977, 27.2.2007

  • The Norodom Ranariddh Party Leadership And Samdech Krom Preah’s Attorney Seek Ways To Ensure His Safety Before He Returns To Cambodia [now he is a proctor at examinations at Aix-en Provence University, France]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #339, 27.2.2007

  • Bad Officials Run To The Council Of Ministers To Get Declarations Issued To Illegally Grab Land Which Has Already Owners [land already owned by someone in Bayab, Phnom Penh Thmey, Russey Keo, for which Mr. Prak Sokhun, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, issued a declaration already twice]

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Monday, 26.2.2007: ADHOC Shows That The Dropout Rate Of Children In A Number Of Rural Areas Is Still At A High Level

Posted on 27 February 2007. Filed under: Week 497 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 497

“Phnom Penh: According to officials of ADHOC [Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association], the dropout rate of children in a number of rural areas is still at a high level, especially in grades 6 and 9, because at these grades they have to change their local schools to other places which are far away from home,

“According to documents on the 2006 situation of human rights prepared by ADHOC, the royal government of Cambodia paid attention to establish a number of principles aimed to enhance primary education, for instance by providing subsidies to teachers who give private lessons to pupils three times per month every Thursday. According to ADHOC, even with such policies, many children still have difficulties in getting access to education, because the support and subsidy cannot meet the needs of teachers and students everywhere across Cambodia.

“As for the quality of education, ADHOC discovered, according to the same documents, that the repetition rate of pupils both in rural areas and in Phnom Penh had declined, but the level of pupils’ knowledge for each grade cannot yet sufficiently respond to pedagogical standards. Teachers in some schools tried to promote a number of weak pupils to the next grade, because they wanted to receive high praise from school directors. Moreover, there may also be cases that teachers take bribes from weak pupils [who want to be promoted to the next grade]. Meanwhile, some classes at high schools in Phnom Penh have up to 90 pupils per class – a number beyond any standards of teaching – making it difficult that pupils receive adequate explanations of the lessons offered by their teachers. This is a major reason making pupils weak at school.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6, #1276, 25-26.2.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 26 February 2007

Chakraval, Vol.15, #2653, 25.2.2007

  • KHANA [Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance] Supports Poverty Reduction For HIV-Positive People [Ong Sopheap, the president of KHANA, highlighted three priority areas, such as educating and training the most vulnerable groups, expanding the network of peer-to-peer education and building skills, and enabling them to get access to health and social services]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6, #1276, 26.2.2007

  • Underworld Shocked Phnom Penh Residents With Three Murders In Three Days [Singer Pov Panhapich is receiving treatment in a Vietnamese hospital, Hy Vuthy – trade union leader at the Suntex garment factory was shot dead, and a student of Hun Sen Chom Puvon High School was seriously injured]
  • Deputy Governor [Meas Savoun] Of Preah Vihear Is Charged With An Attempt To Murder A Construction Worker [Sok Sokom, male, 43, when he was putting up fences in a location bordering the governor’s land]
  • ADHOC Shows That The Dropout Rate Of Children In A Number Of Rural Areas Is Still At A High Level

Khmeng Wat, Vol.6, #122, 26.2.2007

  • There Will Be Punishment For Officials Who Were Involved In The Release Of A Former Boss Of Chay Hour II Hotel [accused in 2004 to have been involved in human trafficking, but soon released, supposedly “due to the lack of evidence”]
  • More Than Riel 100 Million [Approx. US$26,000], Given To Siem Reap Department Of Social Work, Is Lost – To Where? [blaming each other between the governor of the province Su Pirin and officials of the Department of Social Work]
  • Citizens In Sihanoukville Allege That Deputy Police Commissioner And His Group Grab Over 110 Hectare Land
  • Chief Of Nhang Commune And Governor Of Anong Meas District In Ratanakiri Sell 1,406 Hectares Of Land Of Ethnic Minorities To A Merchant

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #5976, 26.2.2007

  • A Calf Which Has [irregularly] Grown Upper Teeth Is Considered A Holy Calf [with healing power – Kampot]
  • Samdech Prime Minister Warns Of The Importing Of Right-Hand-Steering Vehicles From Thailand And Requests Thai Authorities To Help Prevent This Action
  • The National Election Committee [NEC] Does Not Allow The Center For Social Development To Release Guide Books [about the different parties participating in the Commune Elections because the Center is reprinting the positions of different political parties, including statements considered objectionable by the NEC]

Meatophum, Vol.50, #632, 26.2.2007

  • National Land Dispute Authority [established on 26 February 2006 under the leadership of Sok An, deputy prime minister] Calls Upon Attorneys To Help Its Work
  • Will Presiding Judge Kong Saet And Her Excellency Ly Vouch Leng Be Punished Or Not? [for the release of offenders involved in the 2004 Chay Hour II Hotel human trafficking case, liberating approximately 80 female sex workers]
  • People Of Dong Kdar And Prek Kak, Steung Trung, Thank Samdech Chea Sim And Hun Sen [for deciding to order Kompong Cham province governor and a general manager of a rubber plantation in Beong Ket to give 431.75 hectares of land back to 133 families]
  • Bang Pomsen, Called Po, The Chief Of Kompong Preah Koki Commune Police Station, And Commune Secretary Nuon Somaly Sell State-Owned Land [flooded forest and grassland kept for people in Kompong Chhnang to graze their cattle]

Neak Cheat Niyum, Vol.2, #28, 27-28.2.2007

  • Hun Sen’s Iron-Fist Order Should Be Implemented By Low-Level Officials Soon So That It Becomes Highly Efficient
  • The Issue Of Mr. Sar Somrong, Banteay Meanchey Deputy Governor, Who Grabs 25 Hectares Of Land from Five Families Has Not Yet Been Settled

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.14, #1151, 26.2.2007

  • Is Pov Panhapich’s Murder Case Is Similar To Touch Sunnich’s? [she was shot and made paralyzed for the rest of her life]

Reach Seima, Vol.2, #147, 8.2.2007

  • Gunmen With Their Anarchical Guns Are In Control; Touch Naruth [Phnom Penh Chief Police Commissioner] and Kep Chutema [Phnom Penh Governor] Are Incapable [Mr. Hy Vuthy, the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia leader in the Suntex garment factory, was shot dead]
  • Chea Mony [President of the Free Trade Union Of Workers Of The Kingdom Of Cambodia]: “If There Is More Shooting Of Factory Union Representatives, There Will Be Strikes.” [commenting on the killing of Hy Vuthy]
  • Deputy Military Commander Nuon Nguon In Ratanakmondol, Battambang, Grabs People’s Land [from more than 100 families]

Sar Noeung Khmao, Vol.8, #194, 26-27.2.2007

  • “Where There Is Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen, There Is Hope” – “Where There Is Suffering, There Is The Red Cross”[the slogans of Hun Sen and his wife who is president of the Cambodian Red Cross]
  • Local Company [Vimean Seila] Will Invest [US$530 million] In Seh And Tas Islands [to make these islands, located off Sihanoukville, become resort areas]
  • New Things To Be Seen On The Territory Of Svay Rieng Province [special economic zone at the border to Vietnam in Bavet, utilization of clean water, loans from the Asian Development Bank, Svay Rieng University, and 160 school buildings which were funded by Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #338, 25.2.2007

  • Sok An [Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers] Holds A Meeting With Court Officials And Ly Vouch Leng [appeals court director, about many irregularities at the Appeals Court]
  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Authorities Defrock Nine Khmer Krom Monks [accused of not respecting Vietnamese authorities’ orders]

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Sunday,2007-2-25: Oil

Posted on 25 February 2007. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 496 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 496

Since some weeks, results from drilling for oil in an off-shore area partly claimed by both Cambodia and Thailand have led to the expectation that considerable natural resources will be available in a few years time. This news has also led to discussions in the media in countries near and far. One Cambodian paper used dramatic language in discussing possible future problems: “Cambodia Will Have War Because Of Oil Wells.” Others state the challenges as if they were a contradiction: “Hun Sen Said Oil Is A Blessing, Not A Curse. But The Head Of The US Embassy Said This Is True Only if the Sources Of Corruption Are Rooted Out.”

Both positions are right. The perspective of an economically poor country looking forward to the riches which oil can provide is very understandable and does not need much discussion. But why the concerns that this may not be a blessing, but a curse?

The term “curse” – in the context of abundant natural resources – is not just used in the present discussion. The international cooperative structure of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative – EITI, in which 23 countries cooperate, has been created to fight what they call a “resources curse.” When good governance structures and procedures are not firmly established in a county, it has been observed that often the large revenues from resources are not fully transferred for the public good, but end up as personal wealth in the hands of a small group of people. EITI “supports improved governance in resource-rich countries through the verification and full publication of company payments and government revenues from oil, gas, and mining.”

At a conference on the Economic Outlook for Cambodia in 2007, Prime Minister Hun Sen assured the national and international participants, “The revenues from the recently confirmed discovery of oil reserves will provide additional money for financing development projects in Cambodia. These revenues will be directed to productive investment and poverty reduction. We will make sure that oil is a blessing, but not a curse.” It is interesting that Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, reported not only these statements but also the remarks by the US ambassador to Cambodia, expressing his concern that the Cambodian government should avoid the situation where “a small corrupt elite siphons off revenue that should go to improving the welfare of all the people.” – “Leaders of the countries should have the political will to demand that the revenues from these extractive industries be used solely for the improvement of the country.” He is quoted to have added, “In his open and eloquent speech yesterday (Thursday), Prime Minister Hun Sen showed his intent to demonstrate just such political will,” and many officials within the government also “recognize and have been working to responsibly manage Cambodia’s extractive industries.” In principle, both persons agree.

But there are significant examples from elsewhere where things did not work out for the benefit of the whole country. For example, in Nigeria, a country with huge oil exports and huge economic problems, the general economic level of the population remained very low. It is interesting to observe how Nigeria is trying to rectify what went wrong.

A Nigerian senator described the situation quite vividly some days ago: “You see, we have a problem with the law and even with the Constitution, the issue of immunity has guaranteed a cover for all sorts of mis-governance, abuse, waste and what have you. The office of a governor is so powerful because of the centrality of authority, the control of the local government tier and because of the indirect control of resources. When somebody does not have any experience in an institution, he will come into an office and abuse it because he doesn’t respect processes, he doesn’t respect order, he doesn’t respect accountability, he doesn’t respect transparency, he doesn’t respect due processes.”

In view of the allegations of widespread corruption in Nigeria, which had led to a serious decrease in foreign investment, an Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was established in 2003 as a law enforcement agency to investigates financial crimes according to detailed published criteria. The Commission was established with high-level support from the presidency, the legislature, and key security and law enforcement agencies in Nigeria. In September September 2006, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had 31 of Nigeria’s 36 state governors under investigation for corruption. Recently it created public controversy by publishing the names of 135 persons which the Commission considers unfit to stand for elections because of their involvement in corruption: 53 members of the ruling party, 39 and 27 members respectively from two other parties, and 19 others.

Cambodia still has time to prepare before oil and gas extraction can begin. The anti-corruption law, in different stages of being drafted since several years, could help to achieve the goals for oil revenue which the Prime Minister described: “These revenues will be directed to productive investment and poverty reduction.”

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Saturday, 24.2.2007: Sam Rainsy Party Incites People Over the Issue of Boeng Kak Land While Citizens Trust Municipal Authorities

Posted on 25 February 2007. Filed under: Week 496 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 496

“Phnom Penh: Mr. Kem Sokha’s Cambodian Center for Human Rights asked citizens living in the Boeng Kak area to be silent for a while in order to wait and see the authorities’ position on providing a 99-year investment contract to a Korean company, whereas the Sam Rainsy Party declared a plan to demonstrate against this investment. Meanwhile, Sam Rainsy Party local activists agitated public opinion with reference to the cutoff of electricity and water supplies, which occurred in the Boeng Kak area a few days go. But in fact, things are not as the Sam Rainsy Party says.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy, the leader of the Sam Rainsy Party, threatened to organize a mass demonstration against the investment plan for the Boeng Kak area which covers over 130 hectares, claiming that this investment would displace more than 4,000 families residing in the area. The Sam Rainsy Party compared the Boeng Kak development project to what had occurred in the Dey Krahom and Sombok Chab areas of the Tonle Bassac quarters, displacing citizens and leaving some of them without getting any replacement land after they were relocated to the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Mr. Sam Rainsy said that the Sam Rainsy Party would organize a demonstration to demand that the government authorities develop this area in place; even if the investment project is given to a private company, it should have to prepare infrastructure for the citizens in the place where they are currently living, without relocation such as was enforced in the case of the Sombok Chab area.

“Early this week, Mr. Kem Sokha’s Cambodian Center for Human Rights held a public forum about the investment plans for the Boeng Kak area. Mr. Kem Sokha stated, in front of hundreds of citizens in the forum, that he had to listen and see the municipal authorities’ position on the development project before deciding whether or not to organize any demonstration. According to Mr. Kem Sokha, citizens in the area had to be closely united in selecting their representatives to hold discussions with the municipal authorities. Mr. Kem Sokha was concerned that if the citizens’ representatives were weak, their hearts would be “bought” by the municipal authorities and they would be ordered not to protest against the authorities.

“Mr. Mann Choeun, a Phnom Penh deputy governor, claimed that the development project is not to evict the citizens from their current residences. He claimed that the development project is aimed at development in place, allowing the citizens to live in their current residences without relocation. The deputy governor confirmed, ‘When this development project is implemented, Phnom Penh will be like a Pearl of a City in the area.’ He added that there is no plan to relocate the citizens to the outskirts, as some people said for their own political advantage. Therefore, he insisted that the citizens should cooperate with the authorities to make Phnom Penh become like a Pearl of a City.

“According to Boeng Kak local authorities, opposition party activists agitated to make the citizens concerned about this investment project. Recently, many reports claimed that electric power was cut off in some places of the Boeng Kak area, as well as the water supply. But according to some other sources, the power supplies had really been cut off occasionally in the Boeng Kak area, and this was not due to the development project. Power cutoffs usually occur during the dry season, but this does not happen every hour or every day.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy’s declaration of his willingness to help citizens in the Boeng Kak area caused criticism, because while citizens in this area maintained silence, this opposition party tried to cause new trouble. It is understood that this is an attempt by the Sam Rainsy Party to gain political advantages before the Commune Council Election, which is scheduled for the 1st April 2007. Even though the Sam Rainsy Party tries to incite, it is observed that the citizens in Boeng Kak area have much trust in their local authorities.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6, #1275, 24.2.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 24 February 2007

Areyathor, Vol.13, #1216, 24-25.2.2007

  • Singer Pov Panhapich Was Gunned Down with Two Shots on Friday 23 February 2007, and Sent to Vietnam for an Operation to Take Out Bullets; It Is Hoped She Will Survive
  • One Supervisor of Chhay Huor II Hotel Was Arrested [charged with human trafficking and pimping]

Chakraval, Vol.15, #2652, 24.2.2007

  • $56 Million Is Likely to Be Given to the Cambodian Government by the U.S. for the Year 2007 [stated by embassy officials]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6. #1275, 24.2.2007

  • Sam Rainsy Party Incites People Over the Issue of Boeng Kak Land While Citizens Trust Municipal Authorities
  • 61 Year-Old Man Raped His 13 Year-Old Niece [neighbors helped call police for intervention]
  • 447 Villagers in Thma Kor Commune [Lvea Aem, Kandal] Received Assistance from a Delegation from the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Inspection

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #5975, 24.2.2007

  • Samdech Prime Minister Reminds Authorities Again to Relentlessly Crack Down on Gangsters [Prime Minister scolded authorities that they only do their jobs when they are reminded]
  • Military Police Cracks Down on Cock Fighting and Confiscates Motorbikes and Cars [in Sihanoukville]
  • Most People in Oddar Meanchey [a province bordering on Thailand] Eat Vegetables Imported from Thailand

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3094, 24-25.2.2007

  • Australia Will Help to Improve Democracy in Cambodia through Assistance and Cooperation [a promise by the visiting Australian Senate President Paul Calvert. Opposition leader Sam Rainsy informed the visitor about weaknesses in the human rights situation in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4220, 24.2.2007

  • Samdech Hun Sen: Traffic Accidents Claim Three to Four Lives Every Day [he encouraged the Ministry of Interior to check all regulations and see if existing regulations still fit the current situation]
  • Senior Minister Keat Chhon Announces Plan to Create Life Insurance Company [he said the ministry is preparing a contract with a foreign company; the insurance company will also operate a bond market]
  • A Domestic Airline of Cambodia Plans to Fly from Siem Reap to Southern Laos [this area has many historical temples]
  • Workshop on the Needs of Young Women Working as Beer Promotion Girls [workshop arranged by Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center. Girls working in this jobs are often viewed with contempt and abused by customers]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #2975, 24.2.2007

  • Many Judges Treat Defendants as if They Were Already Convicted Culprits before the Judgment [a guide on fair trials was published to help court officials]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #337, 24.2.2007

  • Hun Sen Said Oil Is a Blessing, Not a Curse; but the Head of the US Embassy [in Cambodia] Said It Is True Only if the Sources of Corruption Were Rooted Out [many ruling party members try to become members of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority. The ambassador said if the roots of corruption were not taken out, oil could be a curse]
  • Land Disputes Bring Down the Popularity of the Cambodian People’s Party

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Friday, 23.2.2007: As LICADHO Does a Good Job for Laborers, It Is Time for the Government to Abolish the Ministry of Labor or to Change the Minister

Posted on 24 February 2007. Filed under: Week 496 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 496

“A group of Khmer laborers went to work in Thailand, and later they returned to Cambodia, because private companies and the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training took advantage of them; LICADHO [Cambodian League for the Defense and Promotion of Human Rights] made a timely intervention. The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training did not comment at all about this. And the Top Manpower company did not agree to recognize its mistakes of taking much profit from the Khmer laborers, causing problems.

“37 of 43 Khmer laborers returned to Phnom Penh in the evening of Wednesday, 12 February 2007, after LICADHO and Forum Asia in Thailand, in cooperation with Thai authorities, intervened to bring the Khmer laborers back to Cambodia through the Poipet border-crossing.

“Ms. Pong Chhivkek [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru], the president of LICADHO, held a press conference in the morning of Thursday, 22 February 2007, and said that when the 43 Khmer laborers arrived in Thailand, the Top Manpower company took their passports away and sent them to work in a rubber factory in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province bordering Malaysia, located over 1,400 kilometers from Bangkok.

“Ms. Pong Chhivkek added that the Top Manpower company promised to provide laborers with Baht 250 [approx. US$7.50] and 3 meals per day, as well as appropriate accommodation, but it was not true, because the 43 laborers were forced to work too much in the rubber factory, working 10 hours per day and getting only Baht 148 per day, so that they had, in addition, to spend money for their food, and they had to stay in unbearable rooms in the factory.

“Ms. Pong Chhivkek told reporters that when the company took the passports from the Khmer laborers, they were concerned about their security and did not dare to walk out of the factory, because they were afraid that Thai police and soldiers might arrest them, with charges of illegally entering Thailand.

“Laborer Sry Sopheap, 32, from Kompong Cham, said that the wage she got was only Baht 148, different from the company’s promise that it would provide Baht 250 per day, but it forced the Khmer laborers to work too much, such as lifting rubber of more than 30 kilogram per piece, and they had to pay for their own food.

“Sry Sopheap added that the Khmer laborers were glad when they returned to Cambodia, and they demanded the Top Manpower company to return them the money paid to the company, and the passports that the company had taken from them when they were fulfilling passport procedures at the Poipet border-crossing to enter Cambodia.

“Another laborer, who spoke under condition of anonymity, said that when the news leaked that the Khmer laborers made a call to complain to the human rights organizations in Cambodia and Thailand and to Thai authorities to search the factory for Khmer laborers, supervisors in the rubber factory used five or six gangsters with Samurai swords hanging from their belts, to threaten the 43 Khmer laborers. When they saw that all Khmer laborers joined forces to counter the attack, those Thai gangsters retreated.

“A representative of Top Manpower said on Thursday, 22 February, that the contract between the company and rubber factory in Thailand was a little bit different from what had been advertised. Thai, Burmese, and Laotian workers, who work as contract workers for 7 to 8 hours per day, get Baht 250 each day.

“However, officials and Top Manpower representatives added that the Khmer laborers had some misunderstandings, because wages are different in each region in Thailand. The wage that the 43 Khmer laborers got in the province was Baht 148 per day, as set by the Thai Ministry of Labor. For food, the rubber factory promised to provide three meals per day, but that was changed into rice for the Khmer laborers.

“After the Khmer laborers crossed the Thai border to enter Cambodia, Top Manpower gave the 37 laborers $10 each for taking a taxi to Phnom Penh, and they arrived at the LICADHO office at 2 a.m. on Thursday, 22 February.

“Ms. Pong Chhivkek confirmed that LICADHO waited to help all laborers, as they had requested following an interview with them. She stated that the government’s Sub-Decree No.57 requires all such private companies to have $100,000 deposited in a bank to pay damages to laborers who work in foreign countries.

“Meanwhile, she appealed to the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to help monitor bad companies, to prevent them from attracting Khmer laborers to work in foreign countries. There were many Khmer laborers illegally working in Thailand, and they rely on the Khmer government to help to provide legality to them.

“It caused suspicion, as Minister Vorng Soth, the Minister of Labor, did not express any reaction at all to the issue of the Khmer laborers who were suffering in Thailand. It is suspected that the Ministry of Labor quietly received some part of the money from the labor of Khmer laborers working in Thailand. However, the Ministry of Labor should show that it has made efforts to pay attention to Khmer citizens, and it should not be silent like this, leaving it to a non-government organization to play a role to rescue the Khmer citizens. Even if the ministry did anything inappropriate and colluded with private companies, it should be considerate for Khmer-blood people who are being mistreated in a foreign territory.

“What this civil society organization has done should be taken into consideration by Prime Minister Hun Sen, to abolish the Ministry of Labor or to remove Minister Vorng Soth from office, because it was critical that the head of the ministry pretended not to know anything or to still be uninformed, even when it was known that Mr. Minister Vorng Soth had considerable knowledge. Mr. Prime Minister Hun Sen, the head of the government, must consider this issue, and should abolish the Ministry of Labor by transferring the duties to civil society for cooperation, to solve the issue of laborers working in foreign countries, because the Ministry of Labor only took advantage of the laborers, and when there was a problem, it pretended not to know anything.” Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #2974, 23.2.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 23 February 2007

Kampuchakbot, Vol.11, #242, 23.2-1.3.2007

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6, #1274, 23.2.2007

  • Sam Rainsy Party Wants the National Assembly to Increase the Number of Seats to 140 [from 123, as number of voters increased in the meantime to 3 million, but Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said this is an attempt to gain an advantage]
  • If You Want to Find Out the Cause of the Chhay Huor II Hotel’s Owner’s Release, Ask Judge Kong Saet and the Court of Appeals Director
  • Samdech Hun Sen: Oil Income Is a Blessing; It Is Not a Curse [some said the gap between the rich and the poor will be wider]
  • While the Vietnamese Are Happy During their New Year, People in Svay Rieng Are Short of Fish [some fish importers from Vietnam do not work during the Chinese-Vietnamese New Year]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #5974, 23.2.2007

  • Concerns over the Impacts from Nature and Culture; the World Is Getting Warmer; the Population Is Growing, Needs Are Changing [Japanese Economists and Cultural Anthropologists shared concerns at the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center in Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3093, 23.2.2007

  • People Trust More in Sam Rainsy as Their Sufferings Are Getting More Serious [Sam Rainsy always helps and speaks up to protect people from land grabbing, high price of gasoline, and other problems]
  • If the Court of Appeals Does Not Do a Good Job, Will Hun Sen Remove Ly Vuoch Leng [this Court of Appeals director doesn’t have a good reputation of making good court decisions, but nothing has ever happened to her]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.14, #1150, 23.2.2007

  • Which Official of the Council of Ministers Is Behind the Illegal Constructions of the Eng Phimex Company in Koh Kong? [they constructed 328 flats without proper technical standards in Smach Meanchey, Koh Kong. A source said that an official at the Council of Ministers is behind the company manager]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4219, 23.2.2007

  • Mr. Chan Sarun [Minister of Agriculture] Encouraged Farmers to Grow Vegetables Without Using Chemical Fertilizers [when he visited Takeo last weekend]

Reach Seima, Vol.2, #156,23.2.2007

  • Prime Minister Orders Officials at Low Levels to Report Who Is Grabbing Land? [at press conference at Cambodiana Hotel]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #2974, 23.2.2007

  • As LICADHO Does a Good Job for Laborers, It Is Time for the Government to Abolish the Ministry of Labor or to Change the Minister
  • Samdech Krom Preah Has Enough Evidence to Show the Responsibility of a Committee over the Sale of the Party Headquarters
  • Nuth Sokhom [Minister of Health] Is Trembling while Following Nhek Bun Chhay to Allow the Reopening of the [Chinese/Taiwanese] Ren-Ai Hospital [which had been ordered to be closed recently for not having a proper license and Khmer national doctors]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #2975, 24.2.2007 [advance information]

  • Is the Killing of Pao Panha Pich in the Middle of the City in the Early Morning Caused by a Love Triangle? [the actress, 23, was shot at around 6:20 on 23.2.2007, after she parked her car and started walking to an English language school. She was rushed to Calmet Hospital, then to Vietnam. Piseth Pilika was shot dead in 1999, and Touch Sunnich was shot in 2003]

[According to later radio reports, Pao Panha Pich died. One more life lost to violence]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #336, 23.2.2007

  • Sam Rainsy Says Hun Sen Pretends to Criticize the Court of Appeals because the Commune Election Is Getting Closer [Hun Sen warned the director of the Court of Appeals, after the quiet release of the Chhay Huor II Hotel owner, who is alleged to be trafficking humans for sexual exploitation]
  • A Member of the Opposition Party, Who Was Affected by a Handgrenade Attack, Still Avoids Home Due to Security Concern [the attack took place on 4 June 2005 but attackers are still at large, therefore the victim still stays away from home]

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Thursday, 22.2.2007: Lon Rithi Is Not the Biological Son of Former Khmer Republic President Lon Nol

Posted on 22 February 2007. Filed under: Week 496 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 496

“Phnom Penh: After the surprise that the son of the former Khmer Republic President Lon Nol [1970 – 1975] entered politics in Cambodia, the question was raised whether Lon Rithi is the biological son of the former Khmer Republic president or not.

“The surprising news emerged after last week that there was a recently established party named Khmer Republic Party, whose president, Mr. Lon Rithi, was said to be a son of the former Khmer Republic president. But Mr. Ok Socheat, Samdech Krom Preah’s adviser, told Kampuchea Thmey that he knew that Mr. Lon Rithi, the president of the Khmer Republic Party, was not Lon Nol’s biological son. He briefly told Kampuchea Thmey that General Lon Nol had had five wives and seven children.

“Mr. Ok Socheat said that Mr. Lon Rithi was the adopted child of Her Excellency Chhiv who was popularly called Lady Kheng by the other ladies. Lady Kheng asked Her Excellency Rong, a Cambodian-Chinese from Kompong Trach in Kampot, hat she wanted to adopt Mr. Lon Rithi when he was three years old. During his childhood, Lon Rithi lived with General Lon Nol’s family.

“Mr. Ok Socheat added that Lady Kheng had no children; therefore, she adopted a child. Mr. Lon Nol’s first wife had a daughter named Neang Deth. After his first wife died, he married Lady Kheng, his second wife. Lady Kheng, Mr. Lon Rithi’s mother by adoption, had recently been the president of the newly founded Khmer Republic Party. His third wife was Vietnamese, Mr. Ok Socheat did not remember her name, but he knew that the third wife resided in the neighborhood of O’Russey Market. His fourth wife lived in the neighborhood of Chbar Ampov, and the fifth was an illegitimate wife. Therefore, he was not certain how many of General Lon Nol”s children survived.

“Currently, it was known that Mr. Lon Rithi has a business as a shareholder, living in California, USA. After the year 1975, General Lon Nol exiled himself to Hawaii, USA, together with his second wife, Lady Kheng. In 1985, General Lon Nol died in Hawaii. Afterwards, Mr. Lon Rithi, Lady Kheng”s adopted child, moved to California.

“Chuon Narong, the spokesperson of the Khmer Republic Party, stated that it was every individual’s right to express their opinion, speaking to those who said that Mr. Lon Rithi was not General Lon Nol’s biological son. However, as far as he knew, Mr. Lon Rithi was General Lon Nol’s real eldest child among his five children. Mr. Chuon Narong confirmed that Mr Lon Rithi is 47 years old. Therefore, it was not important whether he was Lon Nol’s child or not. What was most important was that he could lead his new party to win the upcoming 2008 elections.

“Mr. Chuon Narong further stated that it was a surprise to just a small group of people who said that Lon Rithi was not Lon Nol’s child, because they were afraid that Lon Nol’s family would probably receive the majority in the upcoming election.

“Ok Socheat said that the Republicans showed up and engaged in politics again, urging the members of the royal family to stay out of politics. However, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, a party of royalists, was not afraid of this competition, because it was already known that this party, when Lon Rithi’s party stands for election, it will fail.

“Khieu Kanharith, the Cambodian People’s Party spokesperson, said that the constitution provided the basis for the Monarchy. Therefore, no regime can dissolve the Monarchy; only if there were a coup, the Monarchy could be abolished.

“Mr. Khieu Kanharith added that Cambodia adheres to a multi-party system of democracy – any party can stand for election, because the people decide the fate of the parties. It is known that the Khmer Republic Party is a new party that is presided over by Lon Nol’s son, but this party’s policy is not to overthrow the Monarchy. All parties can compete for the people’s votes.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy, the president of the opposition party, told Kampuchea Thmey that he was not afraid of the Republicans nor of non-republicans; any political party could stand for election. He said that he supports this party because every Khmer person has the right to express their opinion and to form their political party.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy added that any party is acceptable that is legal, non-violent, non-discriminatory, and adheres to a non-alliance stand.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy stated his last position that he supported this party which was established because those who decided so were people and politicians who did not need to be afraid whether they were Royalists or Republicans. However, he also said that what he hoped for most was that the country has full democracy and fairness so that the majority of the people’s votes are the main priority, and they will win with dignity.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6, #1273, 22.2.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 22 February 2007

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.6, #1273, 22.2.2007

  • Lon Rithi Is Not the Biological Son of the Former Khmer Republic President Lon Nol
  • Hok Lundy Donates Assistance to Five Orphans in the Poipet Area [50 kg of rice, 2 cases of noodles, 100 cans of tuna fish, through an police inspector in O’Chrov]

Khmere Thmeiy, Vol.14, #343, 21-22.2.2007

  • There Is Collusion to Allow Foreigners to Build Guest Houses on the Beach of O’Treh [Sihanoukville] and Nobody Has Interdicted It
  • Income From Oil and Natural Gas Will Push Cambodia to Fall into Greater Corruption [Cambodia may have $6 billion per year from oil and gas]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #5973, 21.2.2007

  • Warrant to Bring Krom Preah to Court Issued; Norodom Ranariddh Party Announced that 10,000 Members Will Have a Massive Non-violent Demonstration

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4217, 21 February 2007

  • Boeng Salang Primary School Students Are Considered to Be Example of Taking Care Well of Their School [citation provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Students do not wear shoes into class, and they are not allowed to bring water into classroom]
  • Samdech Hun Sen Shows His Intention to Place Labor Attachés at some Cambodian Embassies to Help Cambodian Laborers [who are working in different countries: to knows their numbers and places of work better]
  • Municipality Asks Those Who Live in Boeng Kak Area to Be Calm [as the company to displace them has not done anything yet, said Mr. Pa Socheatavong, deputy governor]
  • Victims, Who Got Cheated by Promise of Getting Sent to Work in Korea, Ask Samdech Chea Sim for Intervention [name of Senate President Chea Sim had been used to cheat $600 each from victims in Kompong Chhnag, mortgaging their houses to secure money from local banks]
  • Wife of the Phnom Penh Governor Met Female Candidates of Commune Elections in Dangkor District [she encouraged that if those women get elected, they should properly serve their communities]

Reach Seima, Vol.2, #155, 22.2.2007

  • National Election Committee Does Not Allow Prince Thomico’s Party to Campaign, Unless Some Policy Statements Are Changed [one of them reads: “liberate the country from the control of a foreign power”]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #335, 22.2.2007

  • Hun Sen Ordered the Ministry of Justice to Find Out Who Is Behind the Release of Leang Huor Hotel Owner [who had been arrested early February 2007. The Prime Minister called the release a shame – the Leang Huor Hotel was formerly called Chay Huor II and was in the center of allegations of human trafficking]

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Wednesday, 21.2.2007: Cambodia Will Have War Because of Oil Wells

Posted on 22 February 2007. Filed under: Week 496 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 496

“Cambodia has more oil wells than expected. If it could also refine the oil and had no corruption, the standard of the people’s living would be far better than today. However, experts expressed their concerns that the government of Cambodia, which was among the most corrupt governments in the world, would be able to swallow up most of the huge assets of oil.

“According to news reports from Asia received in Phnom Penh, many large oil companies began to apply for licenses to prospect for the huge oil and gas resources in Cambodia, but experts expressed their concern whether Cambodia’s large natural resource would serve to develop Cambodia or not. Companies from China, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Kuwait, Australia, and France applied for permission to research and tap the abundant power in this country. Chevron Corporation had drilled for oil in the Gulf of Thailand and discovered five oil wells in the last two years.

“According to research by the UN, the World Bank, Harvard University, and concerned institutions, Cambodia can produce approximately 2 million barrels of oil and roughly 2 million cubic feet of gas. In accordance with the oil and gas world market prices, the quantity of oil and gas could provide Cambodia nowadays with US$6 billion each year, extending over two decades.

“Cambodia is the poorest country in the world. 40% of the approximately 14 million of its population live under the poverty line; that is, they have Riel 2,000 per day. About 50% of children cannot finish their primary education, and about 30,000 children and babies die of diseases every year.

“Many experts are afraid that problems will occur as in other developing countries, where the revenue from oil and gas goes to a few persons without contributing to the improvement of the people’s living standard.

“The clearest example is Nigeria. When oil was discovered in the 1970s, this African country obtained approximately US$400 billion from oil products, but the revenue did not provide benefits to the people. 70% of the population still live with less than one dollar per day. Moreover, the country is still in debt of more tha $30 billion.

“Cambodia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, having the ruling Cambodian People’s Party still use violence to maintain power. However, in recent years, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government has been willing to implement some reforms and to show more respect for human rights than before, in order to receive foreign aid, as the government has approximately 60% of its budget as aid. Nevertheless, the country will no longer need the aid from the western countries and may not respect human rights in the future.

“In fact, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government established the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, which is under his control. The leading Sokimex Company in Cambodia would be expected to play an important role in the sector of energy. The company is governed by Sok Kong, Mr. Hun Sen’s friend.

“Cambodia’s biggest opposition party led by Mr. Sam Rainsy used to publicly condemn two companies [names not mentioned] which violated import tax legislation, and he demanded that they should retail oil in the country at a price equal to the international oil price market, which went down approximately 25% from mid-July to December last year.

“It will be possible to refine oil products in Cambodia by early 2009, and Cambodia hopes to have an agreement with Thailand on the overlapping areas that the two countries had claimed on the Gulf of Thailand. Talks between the two countries had taken place for many years, but did not lead to positive results.” Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #334, 21.2.2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #5972, 21 February 2007

  • Number of People Who Got Poisoned Increases to 450 [warning sign was put at the pond in Malai, Banteay Meanchey, suspected that drinking water has been poisoned. Lab test results not yet available]
  • Australian Senate President Paul Calvert Met Samdech Hun Sen [after visiting the King. Samdech Hun Sen said Cambodia and Australia maintain good cooperation to fight terrorism, drug trafficking, and human trafficking. He also said Cambodia receives a lot of assistance for improving the judicial system, and there are also other efforts to bring peace to Cambodia]
  • Unemployment Makes Rural People to Move to Cities for Economic Reasons, but Competitive Markets Require Capacity [Mr. Ith Sam Heng, Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, said in a review meeting for 2006]
  • Cambodia Has Drafted Laws on the Oil Sector Development Three Times Already [with assistance from experts and key officials. Sok An told Asia Pacific IMF Director Jeremy Carter]
  • A Thief Acts Like a Nurse and Uses Anesthetics to Cheat Money [in Kampot]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.14, #1149, 21 February 2007

  • Phnom Penh City Was Quieter That Normal During Chinese-Vietnamese New Year [many people went to visit provinces]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4217, 21 February 2007

  • Sihanoukville Residents May Face Water Shortage if there Is No Rain [before Khmer New Year, 13-15.4.2007]
  • Railway Improvement Is Stuck in Bidding Phase [bidding is for 30 years plan. Uk Chan Roth, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, was not able to answer when the bidding would be finished]
  • Iran Ambassador to Cambodia Wants Foreign Troops to Get Out of Iraq [he told National Assembly President Heng Samrin]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #2972, 21 February 2007

  • Head of Government Should Also Brag About the $6.2 Billion That Cambodia Owes Foreign Countries [Hun Sen inaugurates road construction sites every day and says that they are the achievement of his government, but he never talks about the $6.2 billion debts which the Cambodian people will have to repay]
  • The Warning [by Hun Sen] over Land Grabbing by the Powerful and the Rich Is Just Demagogy [Human Rights officials said it is just demagogy before the commune elections]
  • During Chinese-Yuon [Vietnamese] New Year, Most Schools Are Closed as Both Students and Teachers Do Not Show Up

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #334, 21.2.2007

  • Cambodia Will Have War Because of Oil Wells

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Tuesday, 20.2.2007: Hun Sen’s 11-Point Recommendations for the Environment: Over-Exploitation of Natural Resources Caused by Business Activities Will Result in the Loss of Natural Opportunities

Posted on 21 February 2007. Filed under: Week 496 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 496

[Note from the editor of the Mirror: The following is presented because it reflects a special concern for the long term negative consequences for the country of some short term present actions. The brief expositions after every one of the eleven points are explaining their meaning – it is not clear, however, from the original, which of these explanations are direct quotes, and which are reports about the statements of the Prime Minister. In spite of these formal shortcomings, the following text can have far reaching consequences for the future of the country if implemented, and they are also an important contribution to present public controversies relating to the environmental impact of some activities.]

“Phnom Penh: Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen presented some key points and recommendations relating to possible challenges in the future for natural resources and some environmental activities, during a conference on the environment looking back at the year 2006. The meeting also set some goals for 2007. His recommendations are as follows:

  1. “Strategies and Action Plans: Plans and strategies should be revised every three years to promote agriculture, forestry, fishery, and biodiversity in natural and in protected forests.
  2. “Conservation and protection of protected natural resources: Samdech Prime Minister emphasized that offenders must be held fully responsible. Actions have already been taken against those who committed offenses in Vireakchey Park and in Koh Kong Province.
  3. “Strengthening the management of protected national resources and related communities: To successfully and effectively achieve these goals, local people should participate in the implementation of related programs. Samdech Prime Minister recommended that the Ministry of Environment should work with officials at all levels to create community statutes for their management and to ensure equity in receiving benefits from protected natural resources.
  4. “Management of core centers for the Tonle Sap: Proper protection will bring in more income for development activities.
  5. “Management of Wetland Areas: Legal instruments should be established to ensure effective implementation with the participation of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology.
  6. “Management along coastal areas: The Prime Minister underlined that laws need to be reinforced to eliminate anarchy along the coastal areas. He added that all kinds of offenses must be rooted out. Illegal land ownerships must be returned to state property status.
  7. “Assess Sources of Impacts: Samdech Hun Sen encouraged the Ministry of Environment to transparently assess impacts of any investment projects.
  8. “Management of Industrial Waste: The Prime Minister ordered a strict enforcement to avoid pollution. The Ministry of Environment must establish legal instruments to control imported chemical substances.
  9. “Education and Dissemination of information: Education on the environment should be mainstreamed into public and private school curricula.
  10. “Duties of local authorities: It is hard to believe that local authorities do not know about offenses committed in their communities. Some authorities do not cooperate well with the Ministry of Environment but have to improve.
  11. “International Cooperation: We need to cooperate with other countries in the regions as agreed in the 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development held in South Africa.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #5971, 20 February 2007

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Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #5971, 20 February 2007

  • Hun Sen’s 11-Point Recommendations for the Environment: Over-Exploitation of Natural Resources Caused by Business Activities Will Result in the Loss of Natural Opportunities
  • 378 Villagers Got Poisoned from Drinking Water Taken from a Pond in Malai [Banteay Meanchey]: One Killed, 6 Blinded [Pasteur Institute has not yet published the result of its water analysis]
  • The International Labor Organization (ILO) –
    International Program on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) Evaluate Their Mid Term Project Implementation; the US Department of Labor Helps with More Than $4 Million to Fight Serious Child Labor [in Cambodia]
  • Authorities Alleged that Sam Rainsy Launched Election Campaign in Boeng Kak Lake Area [Sam Rainsy said there would be a mass demonstration over the lease of this area to property developers for more than 90 years. More than 3,814 families live in the area. The Municipality has not yet confirmed a new location where this people would be evicted to]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4216, 20 February 2007

  • Court Issues Warrant [for police] to Bring Samdech Krom Preah In [on return to Cambodia, after he failed to appear in court twice]
  • Lon Nol’s Older Son [Lon Rithi] Forms [Khmer Republican] Party to Participate in 2008 Election
  • UN: Last Year Cambodia Had 9.5 Percent Economic Growth [UNDP Resident Representative Douglas Gardner said Cambodia had a Gross Domestic Product of $6.5 million. Major income is from garment industry and tourism. Export industries have increased by 17%, while tourism increased by 20%]

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Monday, 19.2.2007: Organic Products to Meet Standards in Cambodia

Posted on 19 February 2007. Filed under: Week 496 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 4936

“Phnom Penh: As organic products in Cambodia are increasing in quantity, and farmers or producers are gaining trust in the products, a standards need to be established so that consumers continue to trust that the products come from sources where chemical fertilizers or insecticides are not used.

“To gain such trust, a new association was established, joined by those whose missions are involved in such kind of work. The association includes government institutions and cooperating international organizations such as the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the European Union.

“Mr. Hay Ly On, President of the Cambodian Organic Agriculture Association, said in his first workshop conducted at Sunway Hotel last weekend, that organic products appear to have great potential for export during the last few years, and they can be sold especially at tourist destinations like Siem Reap, and also in Phnom Penh as well as in other provinces. Therefore, standards need to be established to ensure high quality for each product. It requires proper certificating and labeling, so consumers will not by mistake get confused when they see other products on sale at the markets.

“Mr. Hay Ly On emphasized that during the first phase, ‘we aim to achieve organic standards for rice, and we ensure to establish a harmonization between the different internal checking systems. These provide aspirations and encouragement for producers and farmers to promote their products and crops to satisfy market demands as well as to promote people’s health, environment, and social economy.

“Mr. Un Bun Tha, a Deputy Director of the Domestic Product Department of the Ministry of Commerce, said that organic products is one of the priorities of the government’s development policies. Interministerial working groups have been trying to promote organic products such as vegetables, rice, and fruit for exports from Siem Reap. We need coordination to arrange a standard for reliability among consumers.

“He continued to say that organic products have not yet been standardized with proper certificates, but they rely on judgment of different groups, as nothing has been formalized.

“Ms. Birgitt Boor from the GTZ shared lessons relating to organic products in other developed countries, where such movements started since 1970. They moved so quickly during year 2000 that many countries created legal system, and their communities were able to expand their markets.

“Mr. Som Noroth, the Executive Director of the Cambodian Organic Agriculture Association, said that organic products were produced in Kompong Thom and Kampot, produced by the Rural Development Program of the GTZ; in Pursat by Oxfam Qebec, and in Battambang by DANIDA. Other involved local organizations are CEDAC, Srer Khmer, PUAC, ADRA, and HURREDO.”Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4215, 18-19 February 2007

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 19 February 2007

Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #5970, 19 February 2007

  • Incense Sticks Cause Blaze at a Market in Phnom Penh [62 stalls, in Tuol Kork] and Engulf [13] Houses in Siem Reap [on Chinese New Year]
  • December 2006 Accident Report: 98 Killed and 462 Injured

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4215, 18-19 February 2007

  • Announcement by Ministry of Religion and Cults Allowing Monks to Vote in Elections [same as ordinary people, announced by H.E. Min Khin, Secretary of State]
  • Prince Sirivudh’s Answer at the Phnom Penh Court ‘I don’t know’ [relating to details of the selling of the Funcinpec Headquarters Will Hurt Prince Ranariddh
  • Why Is a Statue of Jayavarman VII at Sukhothai? [Sukhothai formerly belonged to Cambodia. Such statues were set up by Cambodians to express their reverence]
  • [Grade 8] School Girl Committed Suicide while Being Treated for Chicken Pox, but Her Classmates Say She Was Broken Hearted for Not Having Received a Gift on Valentine’s Day [medical examination finds insecticide in her mouth and stomach]
  • Organic Products to Meet Standards in Cambodia

Sar Noeung Khmao, Vol.8, #193, 19-20 February 2007

  • Chinese Company [China Zhenrong] Invests $400 Million in Oil Exploration in Cambodia [Sihanoukville, Block D. This company also invests in oil refinery]

Snadai Khmeng Wat, Vol.6, #121, 19 February 2007

  • The King Requests the Public to Protect the Natural Environment; Samdech Hun Sen Announces also Regulations to Prevent Environmental Destruction and to Protect the Environment [during ceremony at the Don Bosco Technical School Phnom Penh the King appealed to the authorities at all levels and to the national and international community to pay high attention to the protection of the environment. Many people are filling soil onto wetland areas and there construct their houses]
  • Ratanakiri Court Has Not Yet Decided on the Land Dispute of H.E. Keat Chhon’s Sister for Land Grabbing from Indigenous Minority People [at Kong Yu and Kong Thom Village, Ou Ya Dav]

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Sunday,2007-2-18: Corruption and Land Grabbing and Future Actions of the Government

Posted on 18 February 2007. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 495 |

The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 495

There are many detailed definitions what the word “corruption” stands for. The World Bank says: “Corruption is the abuse of public power for private benefit.” Very simple and clear.

During this week, corruption was a lot in the news: on a conceptual, and on a practical level. Some of the discussions are becoming quite agitated. Why this development?

Conceptually, the problem of corruption has been on the agenda for years. The Prime Minister said, already in 2002, opening the Consultative Group Meeting between representatives of the Cambodian Government and representatives of cooperating countries and international institutions:

“We are conscious that corruption in the public machinery, be it judiciary or administrative or any other, increases transaction costs for everyone and reduces predictability in law enforcement and implementation of government’s policies… The government believes that enactment of adequate laws and regulations to prevent and punish corruption is crucial for addressing this problem. In this spirit, the Royal Government is committed to finalize the draft of the Anti -Corruption Law before the end of June 2003.”

Three years after that set date, during the 2006 Consultative Group Meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An identified corruption with harsh words as an evil affecting development in general:

“Corruption is a curse that undermines our aspirations for development, social justice and poverty reduction. The war against corruption is another set of reforms that will take time; much like the war against terrorism.

The adopted strategy is based on a three prone approach: prevention, law enforcement and mass support.”

But in spite of the fact that there surely would have been mass support for the fight against corruption, the law was still in draft form. Given this situation, the US Ambassador summed up, on behalf of the donor community, the accumulated concerns, recapitulating the steps taken:

“Immediately following the December 2004 Consultative Group Meeting, His Excellency Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen appointed the Ministry of National Assembly and Senate Relations and Inspection to establish a new drafting committee to revise the June 2003 draft anti-corruption law… In August 2005, a national workshop provided civil society, national and provincial officials and international technical experts an opportunity to review the draft law…
However, as the drafting and review process moves toward a conclusion, four critically important issues remain…
The current draft law… does not yet meet the international best practice standard highlighted at the December 2004 Consultative Group Meeting…”

Still, during this March 2006 meeting, US$601 million in assistance were pledged. Almost one year later, a draft anti-corruption law has not yet been presented to the National Assembly for debate and decision.

The irritation expressed by foreign diplomats on 12 January 2007, during a stocktaking meeting with representatives of the Cambodian government, have to be seen on the background of this history. And everybody will have to wait again.

But Cambodian society is increasingly encountering the problem of corruption on a different, practical level: the ever increasing massive cases of land grabbing by those who have the power to do so: “Corruption is the abuse of public power for private benefit.”

Way back in December 2005, the Prime Minister had warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution. The government would not allow such a development. As newspapers during this and the previous weeks show, land grabbing continues, in different provinces and under different circumstances. Now the Prime Minister has added a surprising, different concern: not the desperate farmers might create a revolution, but elements of the powerful who are the perpetrators of taking more and more land, may want to topple the government.

Will the country really see some strong action – not only words of admonition – to rectify what is obviously going wrong? Or is it just some noise before the Commune Elections, as some voices say?

It is interesting to note that two countries – Vietnam and China – with which the Cambodian government has good relations, are experiencing intensive anti-corruption campaigns, where also a number of high ranking officials shave lost their position; some of them were not only re-assigned to other tasks, but were arrested, and some were executed.

The Chinese People’s Daily Online reported on 13 February 2007 the concerns of the Cambodian Prime Minister:

“The land grabbers dare to get a lot of land illegally while we have always appealed again and again to stop,” and the Prime Minister is quoted further: “The land grabbers are not simple people, and they must be powerful people in the government. I asked the question, do they dare to conduct a coup d’etat in the future?” And he is quoted to have replied himself that they really dare to do so. “So before they conduct a coup d’etat, we need to take action against them.”

When the Chinese Import-Export Bank (China Eximbank) agrees to extend to Cambodia “preferential buyer’s credit loans” to be repaid, it may not be asking as many questions as Western donors ask when they provide non-refundable grants. But obviously the Chinese government is also concerned about the orderly future of Cambodian society.

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