Archive for October 2nd, 2008

Thursday, 2.10.2008: Officials of Opposition Parities and of Civil Society Organizations Call on the Fourth Term Package Voted Government to Create Anti-Corruption Laws Soon

Posted on 2 October 2008. Filed under: Week 580 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 580

“Officials of opposition parties and of civil society organizations call on the fourth term package voted government to soon adopt anti-corruption laws, which have been delayed for long, in order to avoid criticism that the government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the vice president of the Cambodian People’s Party, again has no intention to fight corruption. The appeal by officials of political parties and of civil society organizations was made after Prime Minister Hun Sen stated during the first session of the Council of Ministers on Friday during the previous week that the fight against corruption remains a priority agenda item of the fourth term government.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen stated during that session that the government is still strongly committed to organize and to adopt anti-corruption laws, depending on other major laws as a basis to be adopted in advance. The fourth term package voted Prime Minister said, ‘When we will have created a one-way counter system, the operation [of multiple counters] for corruption will be closed. Before, investors had to go to this ministry a bit and to that ministry a bit, and the gap in approach between the different ministries was the gap of corruption to enter.’

“It should be noted that anti-corruption laws were drafted in 1998 by the opposition party and then, the government redrafted them. Now, the Council of Ministers is checking and editing them again before they are sent to the National Assembly to be adopted. A high-ranking official of the Sam Rainsy Party said that the Sam Rain Party will demand that the government will adopt the anti-corruption laws soon with no further delay, so as to serve the benefit of the citizens and of the nation. The government must not just promise without setting a clear time line by raising different reasons as pretexts like it did previously.

“Regarding the above issue, Mr. Yim Sovann, a member of the National Assembly from the Sam Rainsy Party, said that the government talks very little about measures to fight corruption in its political program, compared to the third term government. Mr. Yim Sovann added, ‘The leaders of this term government do not have really the political will and sufficient commitment to fight corruption – that is a concern for Cambodia. The promise to adopt anti-corruption laws appears on paper only, but to stamp out corruption remains ineffective, because anti-corruption draft laws lack many points, so that they cannot lead to efficient enforcement.’

“Mr. Ny Chakrya, the head of the Monitoring Unit of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – said that anti-corruption laws are abundant for ruling the country towards transparency and trust. Mr. Ny Chakrya continued, ‘These anti-corruption laws do not need to wait for the adoption of additional criminal laws, because these laws have their own penalties and procedures. These laws would be better adopted early during the present mandate in order that the process of the fourth term government is transparent from early on until the end of the mandate.’

“Previously, Prime Minister Hun Sen, the head of the Cambodian government, had promised in front of the international community and donor countries to have anti-corruption laws adopted by 2006, but there is no result from Hun Sen’s promise. As for important institutions granting aid to Cambodia, they do not urge the Hun Sen government to take action to eliminate corruption effectively, especially the World Bank. Therefore, an international organization publicly criticized that the World Bank smiles at the corruption in Cambodia.

“People who observe the political and the economic situation in Cambodia said that if Hun Sen does have the will to fight corruption, anti-corruption laws according to international standards might be created early by the fourth term government or even late in 2008. If there is further delay, it means that the fourth term government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, the vice president of the Cambodian People’s Party, again does not have the intention to fight corruption, which is deeply rooted in Khmer society; this will lead to corruption and bureaucracy spreading stronger in important state institutions, and the Cambodian economy might not develop like the economy in neighboring countries.

“Recently, Transparency International, with it’s headquarters based in Germany, published a report showing that Cambodian ranked 166th among 180 countries worldwide with serious corruption. This report said that Cambodia was the worst corrupt country in Southeast Asia after Burma, a dictatorial country, even worse than Laos. Such serious corruption makes Cambodia to not progress, even though this country has received loans and has received huge amounts of aid from the international community.

“Observers assessed already that if Prime Minister Hun Sen, the vice president of the Cambodian People’s Party, does not care to adopt anti-corruption laws early during the fourth term government, corruption might become more serious than during the third term government, because corrupt officials who steal from the nation continue to administer important state institutions, like during the third term package government – most of them are people from the ruling party. Therefore, if anti-corruption laws cannot be adopted soon, there is nothing to cope with the strong corruption during the fourth term package voted government.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3577, 2.10.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 2 October 2008

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6462, 2.10.2008

  • Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh Ended His Exile Abroad [he arrived in Siem Reap on 28 September 2008, and he said that he has no intention to unite the Norodom Ranariddh Party and Funcinpec, but still he is ready to join the fourth term government]
  • Positions of the Previous Mandate Came to an End, and 205 Officials Were Assigned to be Under-Secretaries of States of the Fourth Term Royal Government [25 September 2008]
  • The Thai Prime Minister [Somchai Wongsawat] Plans to Visit Cambodia, and also the Ministers of Foreign Affairs [of both countries] Plan to Discuss how to Solve the Border Disputes [on 13 October 2008 – according to the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, and the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh]
  • During Nine Months of This Year, 320 People Died from Traffic Accidents in Phnom Penh
  • A Wicked Man Raped Two [11 and 9 years old] Step-Daughters while Their Mother Was Not at Home; Surprised Villagers Called the Police [who arrested him – Basedth, Kompong Speu]
  • A Chinese Man Was Stabbed to Death in a Boiled-Corn Selling Stall at Prek Lieb [the murderers are not identified – 30 September 2008, Phnom Penh]
  • 27 People Are Indicted over the Toxic Milk Crisis in China [that made more than 50,000 children fall ill]
  • Afghanistan: 2008 Is the Year with the Highest Number of Deaths of Foreign Soldiers [there were at least 221 soldiers killed]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #254, 2.10.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh] Yim Sovann: Leaders of This Term Government Do Not Have the Real Will to Stamp out Corruption
  • The Development of Hun Sen’s Government Serves Opportunist Merchants as Top Priority, but Not the People

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3577, 2.10.2008

  • Officials of Opposition Parities and of Civil Society Organizations Call on the Fourth Term Package Voted Government to Create Anti-Corruption Laws Soon
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Criticized the Plan for Non-General Provincial and City Governor Elections That Do Not Reflect the People’s Will
  • There Is a Plan to Change Members of the Council of Ministers and of the National Assembly Next Year [according to an official of the Council of Ministers]

Click here to have a look at the last editorial: Pchum Ben – remembering those before us – to think into the future

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Week 579 – Sunday,2008-09-28: Pchum Ben 2008

Posted on 2 October 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 579 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 579

This weekend was the beginning of the Pchum Ben Festival days 2008, after two weeks of preparation – an occasion to remember and to pay respect to those before us, and to do so by bringing the members of large families together, nowadays often living far away from the places of their ancestral home. Many people from Phnom Penh travel to the provinces. The hectic public life in the capital city is replaced with a quiet atmosphere – after the national election, and, up to the first meeting of the new National Assembly – finally, with the participation of most members of opposition parties – and the formation of the new government, with an enormously huge number of members, compared to other countries.

To think back quietly is appropriate after these last couple of weeks, which brought so many new challenges.

One such intersection of the past, the present, and the future is the reminder during this week that Cambodia has the highest rate of disabled people among developing countries in the world – and the intention of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation to encourage the new Royal Government to ratify two international conventions, long overdue: the International Labor Organization Convention (No. 159) Concerning Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) – already from from 1985! – and the UN Convention for People with Disabilities – from 2006.

These broad agreements achieved among UN member governments help handicapped persons to find an accepted place in society, and also to be integrated into the job market. But during this same week we were also reminded of the gap faced by another group of job seekers: the gap between educational institutions selling their services, and business and industry expecting certain skills in new employees. At the end many Cambodian youth have difficulties to get jobs, while, on the other hand, employers find it difficult to recruit young staff who have been educated in skills for employment. There are no quick solutions, only calm and critical self-reflection may show where he necessary dialogue between he different social actors was missing and has to be established.

Another critical field that will require calm minds concerns the relations with Thailand – by “going back to the situation before 15 July 2008,” as the Prime Minister is reported to have said But that should lead, first of all, to the decisive last document from one month earlier – the Joint Communique of 18 June 2008 signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An for the Royal Government of Cambodia. This document is, strangely enough, hardly known in Cambodia, because the media in Cambodia have not published it, while it has a prominent place internationally. This silence of the Khmer press has contributed to the black-and-while discussion and approach to the border question. Maybe the reported discrepancy between the opinions of the Minister of Defense and of the Chairperson of the National Committee for Resolving Border Problems could also help towards the required open discussion?

Pchum Ben is also called Festival of the Dead. It is a tragedy that this is not only an expression inviting us to remember our ancestors. It is unfortunately also a time, year after year, where many people are killed by traffic accidents – many more than in a normal week. It had been reported that during the one week of Pchum Ben holidays travel in 2007, there were 48 people who lost their lives on the road and 889 were injured, compared to the weekly average of 26 killed and 383 injured. One report says:

“45% of all casualties during Pchum Ben were involved in speed-related crashes, followed by dangerous overtaking at 19%, and drink-driving at 14%. Low helmet wearing rates also account for the high percentage of head trauma casualties during the Festival’s travel period. 39% percent of motorbike users suffered head injuries in crashes; 96% of those were not wearing helmets.”

One can only hope that in this context – as in many others – to remember what already happened will turn into guidance for the future. Surely this is also part of the fundamental challenge of the Pchum Ben days, relating the lives of those before us to ourselves, and to the future.

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