Archive for May 20th, 2008

Tuesday, 20.5.2008: The Ministry of Information Seized Newspapers Published without Legal Permission that Have an anti-Burma Tendency

Posted on 20 May 2008. Filed under: Week 561 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“A small sized newspaper with four pages with the name The Burma Daily, published and inserted in the The Cambodia Daily, was seized by the Ministry of Interior, which had been asked by the Ministry of Information, claiming that this newspaper is published without having asking for legal permission from the ministry; furthermore its articles showed a critical tendency towards the government of the Burmese military junta.

“On Monday morning of 19 May 2008, there were police at many newspaper stalls in Phnom Penh, seizing The Burma Daily, which had been distributed for sale together with The Cambodia Daily. The police claimed that they acted based on higher orders when they confiscated the newspapers from newspaper stalls and from children selling newspapers along the roads.

“Regarding the confiscation of The Burma Daily, the head of the Information Department of the Ministry of Information, Mr. Yem Noy, stated that the Ministry of Information had asked the authorities to seize the newspapers, because they had been published without legal permission; moreover, it was deceptive to publish them inside The Cambodia Daily, which has a legal permission from the ministry. However, the Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, could not be reached for comment.

“The newspapers of The Burma Daily, which were seized by the authorities on the morning of 19 May 2008, were published in English, with four pages, on white paper, and they had the same size as The Cambodia Daily; most of the articles talked about Burma. Generally speaking, the articles showed a tendency critical of the government of the Burmese military junta, especially focusing on the events after the tropical cyclone in Burma.

“By 19 May 2008, The Burma Daily published a second issue, and according to its context, it was clear that Mr. Bernard Krisher is the publisher and Mr. Kevin Doyle is the editor-in-chief; and they are also the publisher and the editor-in-chief of The Cambodia Daily.

“So far, no reaction has been seen yet from the publisher of The Cambodia Daily regarding the actions of the authorities.

“It should be stressed that The Burma Daily was not published and sold separately, but it was inserted into the The Cambodia Daily. But the volume and issue numbers were different.

“The Press Law, Chapter 1, Article 5, talks about press freedom; it states that in general, the press has the right to share information, under the control of the Royal Government, except for any information that undermines national security or relations with other countries. Therefore, using Cambodia as a basis to publish information which has an anti-Burma tendency in the The Burma Daily, contradicts the Press Law, so the government did not allow it.” Chakraval, Vol.16, #2778, 20.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2778, 20.5.2008

  • The Ministry of Information Seized Newspapers Published without Legal Permission that Have an anti-Burma Tendency
  • Daun Penh and Chamkar Mon District Rank First in Selling Drugs in Phnom Penh [according to a police who checked drug trafficking sites in the seven districts in Phnom Penh]

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #103, 20.5.2008

  • Authorities Have Closed Clubs Belonging to Chea Ratha, after an Arrest Warrant Had Been Issued over the Acid Attack on In Soklida’s Aunt; the Culture of Impunity Is Spreading in Khmer Society

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1645, 20.5.2008

  • Ratanakiri Authorities Rejected People’s Application to March in a Demonstration [on 20 May 2008], but Allow Meeting at Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] Headquarters
  • Police [under the command of Director General of National Police Hok Lundy] Checked General Chea Ratha’s House [on 17 May 2008, with a court warrant] over the Acid Attack
  • Four Khmer Construction Workers Died Because an Elevator Fell from the Eleventh Floor of a Constructing Building [Bangkok, Thailand – 18 May 2008]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3464, 20.5.2008

  • More Than 150,000 Citizens Are Facing Evictions from Their Land and Houses [in Cambodia, according to The Guardian, UK]
  • Thai Foreign Affairs Officials Said that the Preah Vihear Area Includes Many Square Kilometers of Land without a Clear Demarcation [this was said two days after the Thai Senior Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Noppadon Pattama met with Deputy Prime Minister and Senior Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers Sok An on 15 May 2008]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4593, 20.5.2008

  • ASEAN Foreign Affairs Senior Officials Met, Considering Aid for Myanmar [19 May 2008 – Singapore]
  • China Declared Three Days of Mourning, while the Number of Deaths Increases

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #33, 20.5.2008

  • Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] Has Condemned the Murder of [the Norodom Ranariddh Party] Activist Sok Run [murdered on 16 May 2008, but local authorities claim he died from fainting]
  • Soldiers in Kratie Pointed Guns at Members of Fourteen Families [when citizens tried to protest the clearing of their land] to Grab Their Land

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #6, 20.5.2008

  • Former Khmer King [Norodom Sihanouk] Still Worries about the Monarchy [because there were many bad moments among the members of the royalist camp – according to a senior official of Funcinpec]
  • Cambodia Plans to Put New Border Markers along the Thai Border [according to senior officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia]

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How NOT to avoid critical reflection and discussion

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Week 560 – 2008-05-18: Selective Concern About Social Issues

Posted on 20 May 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 560 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

It is a little over a month since the commemoration of the International Women’s Day, which provided a focus to consider not only the role of women in society but also wider issues relating to the roles and relations between women and men. Several events in Cambodia and the world have made us aware that we are facing many difficult situations, and that society is confronted with formerly unknown questions and challenges to which there are no easy answers.

The report that a self-help organization in Australia has requested that working visas be granted to women from foreign countries who want to be sex workers in Australia appears at first sight to be sensationalist – but the spokesperson of the sex workers association explained their position with a very clear argument: “We are considering an human rights approach to labor migration generally, and then any labor migration policy can include a non-discriminatory approach to sex workers as well.” This human rights approach may appear unusual to readers of the Cambodian press, considering the difficulties in life and society that sex workers here regularly face: for example, on Saturday, two women, 19 and 26 years old, were shot and killed in Phnom Penh, supposedly in an argument between the killers and the male pimp of the two women. Who is committed to care so that sex workers are not stuck in criminal dependence and complete exploitation, and who helps society to see and care about the human rights of sex workers? – Actually, hundreds of women from different countries in Asia have traveled to Australia to work as sex workers, using visas for tourists or for types of work which they cannot really do. Fortunately, there are publicly recognized organized efforts to de-criminalize the immigrant status of these women and to provide them with at least the same general legal protections that other foreign workers in Australia enjoy.

This week another Cambodian woman suffered severe burns in an acid attack. The victim, now in a hospital in Vietnam, is disfigured – she lost one eye and one ear. Almost daily there were new reports – and comments. The family of the victim reported that her long close relationship with a senior official had broken down, and that they had received a telephone threat that the blood of the whole family would be shed if they did not return the estranged lover. While the family received the requested police protection, the head of the Municipal Police was also quoted to have commented that there was no evidence of the threat, just the family’s allegations. Of course, the badly injured victim is quite some evidence. In the past, many other acid victims have remained without evidence about their attacker. In this case, suspects have been identified and one was arrested – a police officer. Also, a night club was closed; it belongs to the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Military Police, supposedly the “senior official” who is abroad, a woman. So it was a lesbian relationship which broke down and resulted in the acid attack, if the present assumptions change into information.

Meanwhile, there was discussion about the legal implications, especially relating to observations and suggestions made by the former Minister of Women’s Affairs: “Acid attacks, which often target women, should be considered a crime which is heavier than just bodily injury… The victim can be considered to belong to a special group, similar to rape victims. And the crime is heavier than stabbing a person with a knife, because it leaves scars on the body, hurts the feelings, and creates mental problems.” She made also reference to two past court cases: one woman had been sentenced to 18 years in prison for an acid attack that had killed her husband in 2004. Not much later, a man had poured acid on his wife, but he got a sentence of only six months in prison, and it was suspended, pending a five years probation period.

The Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO] published their studies of an increasing number of acid attacks reported in newspapers – in reality there were probably more – covering three years until 2003: “Living in the Shadows – Acid attacks in Cambodia.” There was an average of one attack every 25 days, in which somebody did not want to kill, but wanted to inflict suffering and humiliation on the attacked person forever.

One year later, LICADHO followed with another report: “Rape and Indecent Assault in Cambodia” which detailed problems related to the prosecution of such frequent and massive violence through the Cambodian legal system, as well as with the challenges that victims, many of them children even under the age of ten, face in society.

In spite of the fact that such horrible stories are regularly reported in the press, we are not aware that there have been any major and continuing public attempts to deal with such violence, which seems to take place all over the country. The efforts of the former Minister of Women’s Affairs, to promote a draft law which would have imposed stiff penalties on perpetrators of acid attacks, met conservative opposition. She reported that the opponents felt that “acid attacks were the result of family discord and punishing them too severely could provoke greater disharmony.” Also, there seems still to be widespread reluctance to directly talk about such crimes when there is a case. The Cambodia Daily reported: “Women’s Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi referred questions to ministry spokeswoman Sy Define, who said Thursday she was too busy to talk to a reporter. Ho Naun, chair of the National Assembly commission on women’s affairs, said she was too busy to talk to a reporter Thursday…”

But can improvement be hoped for if there is not a lot of public discussion? Isn’t this necessary even for problems that are difficult to speak about? We can observe that two issues have been taken up in two different rounds of electronic communication about cultural and moral values, although these debates have not appeared in newspapers .

The first relates to a report in Rasmei Kampuchea – which we had not even “mirrored” as it seemed to be an isolated case – about a video clip which was shared among some people by mobile phone. It is about a couple who had their 7 or 8 year old daughter take a video while they had sex. “Some people say that this couple is not right in their mind, other people say that this video was taken just for fun.” The most serious concern is about the effect on the child. A Women’s Mailing List is starting a discussion, asking for comments and suggestions on this matter, and raising concern that this is a wrong use of Information and Communication Technology.

The second is on another open email Mailing List where members of the growing community of bloggers in Cambodia are the main participants. Someone took offense at an advertisement in which an attractive women rides a new motorcycle on the market – the complaint is that the woman rather than the motorcycle really attracts attention, and there is a suggestion for “the government, especially the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information, to monitor advertisements” so that they are consistent and do not affect “the Khmer culture and disvalue the women.”

The first video clip – though objectionable – shows a kind of peaceful family situation, although it is not typically seen by others. If people think that it is necessary to discuss how to handle this one video clip case, they should surely also want to conduct social outreach and discussion about what to do about the massive availability of pornographic CDs in shops all over the country, some of it of an extremely violent nature and some showing the severe exploitation of children.

The call for the government to monitor advertisements to see whether they conform to Cambodian culture resulted in an intense exchange of opinions. Some people pointed to the general situation in the country, which has achieved a respectable degree of freedom of expression, in comparison to other countries in the region, and warned against any opening for censorship. They also raised the question of who in government – which must serve but not control the citizens, according to the Constitution – would implement such monitoring, and which criteria of “culture” would be used. This could open a much deeper debate – some people will surely want to reference the Chbap Serei – the old traditional Rules for Women – but others might believe it quite necessary to distinguish which aspects of the Chbap Serei are important and which should be rejected.

There is no way to avoid the difficult personal challenge: to strive towards personal understanding and positions which every person has to clarify for themselves, and to engage in an ongoing dialog – private and public – to find common ground. This search must include dealing with the changing ways in which women and men relate to each other. This process is not easy, and everyone can make mistakes along the path to achieving both personal responsibility and social accountability. Perhaps one mistake happens often is to focus a lot of attention on smaller issues, and less on very serious ones.

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Monday, 19.5.2008: Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra Plans to Make Big Investments in Koh Kong

Posted on 20 May 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“Phnom Penh: According to news published by Thai Rak Thai on 17 May 2008, the former Thai prime minister Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra plans to make big investments in the province of Koh Kong, Cambodia.

It should be noted that a few days ago, there were many newspapers in Thailand which published the news mentioned above. To make sure whether it is true or not, Thai Rak Thai and other journalists interviewed the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense of Cambodia, Mr. Tea Banh, and he said that the news that the Thai newspapers had published, that the former Thai prime minister, Mr. Thaksin, plans to invest in Koh Kong is true, but it is still being studied. According to this investment plan, Mr. Thaksin is interested to establish casinos and other recreation sites with the guarantee to continue to operate them. Mr. Thaksin plans to invest approximately US$10 billion. [???]

“It should be stressed that, when Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra was the prime minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, he had wanted to run casinos and recreation sites in Thailand for a long time, but his plan was opposed by Thai officials. Thai Rak Thai reported that General Tea Banh had given an interview to journalists during the inauguration of the National Road 48 from Koh Kong to Srae Ambel, which had been presided over by Samdech Hun Sen and had also the attendance of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Mr. Somchai Wongsawat, who is Mr. Thaksin’s brother-in-law.

“The same newspaper stated also that the fact that Mr. Thaksin plans to invest in Koh Kong, creating casinos and other recreation sites is not surprising, because when Mr. Thaksin first had returned to his country [after he had been overthrown by a military coup], he went to play golf with Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen in Siem Reap, and he had already discussed also this plan, because this colossal investment needs also the support from Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“The Cambodian government strongly intends to convert Koh Kong into a special economic zone and to developed the area soon. Kampuchea Thmey tried to ask for a comment from General Tea Banh and from officials of the Council for the Development of Cambodia [CDC] but could not reach anybody.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1644, 18-19.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 19 May 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #102, 19.5.2008

  • The United Nations Linked Aid of US$114 Million for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal with the Arrests of Three Former Khmer Rouge Officials [former Commander-in-Chief of Pol Pot’s regime and Ta Mok’s son-in-law Meas Mut, former Khmer Rouge senior official Nai, and another former Khmer Rouge who is now a general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces]
  • Phnong Tribespeople from Pichda District of Ratanakiri Are Angry with the Khov Chily company that Has Grabbed Their Land, and They Have Declared Not to Vote for the Cambodian People’s Party

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1644, 18-19.5.2008

  • Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra Plans to Make Big Investments in Koh Kong
  • Japan Mine Action Service Provided US$200,000 to Support Mine Clearing in Tasaeng Commune [Kamrieng district, Battambang]
  • Two Female Sex Workers [one was six month pregnant] Shot Dead [by four perpetrators on 17 May 2008 at Monireth Boulevard, Phsa Deumko, Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #157, 18-20.5.2008

  • Mondolkiri Authorities Restricted the Freedom of Expression of Minority Tribespeople [by rejecting request of hundreds of minority tribespeople to march, and by rejecting to accept invitations for some representatives of the provincial authorities]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6348, 19.5.2008

  • By 10 May 2008, Six Parties [the Cambodian People’s Party, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party, the Human Rights Party, the Sangkum Yutethor Party (the Just Society Party), and the League for Democracy Party] among Twelve Parties Are Officially Recognized by the National Election Committee

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3463, 19.5.2008

  • [Twentytwo – eleven among them female] Security Police [of Preah Vihear] Have Been Deployed to Patrol the Preah Vihear Temple after There Was a [territorial integrity] Dispute with Siem [Thailand]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4592, 18-19.5.2008

  • Cambodia Will Construct One More Big Hydro-Electricity Plant [420 to 480 megawatts] in the Northeast of the Country [in mid 2009 with Vietnamese investments of US$611.230.000]
  • Oil Price Increased to US$127 per Barrel after Mr. Bush Had Asked Saudi Arabia to Decrease the Price [by increasing oil production]
  • Number of Deaths from Tropical Cyclone in Myanmar Climbed up to 77,738

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3312, 18-19.5.2008

  • Fuel Increased by Riel 200 [Caltex Gold quality fuel increased from Riel 5,100 to Riel 5,250 per liter]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #657, 19.5.2008

  • General Ms. Chea Ratha Arrived in Bangkok [by a flight from China]; Ms. In Soklida Is in Vietnam
  • [Sam Rainsy Party president] Sam Rainsy Might Flee the Country like Prince Ranariddh because of the Lawsuit of the Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Hor Namhong
  • Tuberculosis Strongly Spreads among Garment Workers [according to non-government organizations and the Ministry of Health]

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