Archive for December 18th, 2008

The Rich and the Powerful Are Using the Court Systems against the Poor in Land Disputes – Wednesday, 17.12.2008

Posted on 18 December 2008. Filed under: Week 591 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 591

“The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – announced that in 2008, 146 villagers countrywide have been accused of criminal offenses regarding land disputes with the rich and the powerful in the country. Among them, 50 are detained unjustly by provincial and municipal courts, and 91 others escaped from the authorities.
 
“The president of ADHOC, Mr. Thun Saray, said that since early 2008 until nearly the end of the year, accusations by courts against villagers involved in land disputes increased significantly after the forth term elections on 27 July 2008, where the Cambodian People’s Party won 90 [of the 123] seats of the National Assembly. He described that the court activities are like a system to commit more serious corruption, as the courts decide on such cases following orders from the rich and the powerful.
 
“Mr. Thun Saray added, ‘The arrest of villagers not just happens in one place, but it happens almost in every province and city, and such accusation seem to be a system organized by the rich and the powerful. The court system is used by the rich and the powerful in order to press all citizens who are involved in land disputes with high ranking officials or with the rich.’
 
“He went on to say that many citizens involved in land disputes had been released by different courts, when they agreed to leave the land that is the object of a dispute with the rich and with high ranking officials. The use of all courts is a system of the rich and of the powerful, which is like a new system making us all to have more worries.
 
“The president of LICADHO, Ms. Pong Chiv Kek [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru], said that when villagers agree to give thumbprints [as their ‘signature’] to abandon the land under dispute with high ranking officials and with the rich, they would be released by the courts. Courts never hold hearings on land disputes for citizens fairly and justly; the poor always lose their cases. She accused the Khmer courts of rarely deciding for the poor to win their cases, and she promised that a motion with the signatures of thousands of citizens, demanding to halt the detention of villagers involved in land disputes, will be sent to King Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni and to Prime Minister Hun Sen soon.
 
“Asked about corruption and the courts’ bias towards the rich and the powerful in land disputes, Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana said that it is normal that land disputes be settled by courts. He added, ‘We are a democratic country, so we use the law to solve different disputes in the courts. Therefore, solving land disputes in the courts is not against democracy. But if we find that a count really shows bias towards the rich and the powerful, that court will be punished according to the law.’
 
“However, a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior and a member of the National Council for Solving Land Disputes, Mr. Nuth Sa An, agreed that the courts are really used to press the poor. He continued to say that he intervened some cases to release villagers, because he found that courts showed bias towards the rich and the powerful. Nonetheless, if any villager provokes protests over land disputes, they will be arrested.
“At present, land disputes are spreading around Cambodia, and they are mostly between the rich and the powerful – and poor villagers in cities and in remote areas of some provinces such as Battambang, Ratanakiri, Kratie, Kompong Speu, Kampot, Kandal, and Kompong Chhnang.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3641, 17.12.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Deum Ampil, Vol.2, #98, 17-18.12.2008

  • Cambodia Hopes that the New Thai Prime Minister [Abhisit Vejjajiva – อภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ] Will Continue to Solve the Border Dispute Based on the Results of Previous Negotiations [said Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers Phay Siphan]

 
Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1822, 17.12.2008

  • Malaysia Announced that It No Longer Requires Foreign Workers [because of an increase of unemployment], but Cambodia Has Not Received Any Notice
  • Signs Are Put up [at Boeng Choeung Ek and Boeng Tompun lakes] to Prohibit the Digging and Removing of Soil from the Lakes [Phnom Penh]
  • [Thousands of] Iraqi Citizens Rally to Demand the Release of a Reporter Who Threw His Shoes at Mr. Bush [in Baghdad]

 
Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #305, 17.12.2008

  • Corruption at the Department of Education of Prey Veng Disclosed [teachers accused leaders of the department of cutting teachers’ salaries and of releasing the salaries late]

 
Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6527, 17.12.2008

  • Vendors Warn They Will Burn [their second hand clothes merchandise and break the border barriers] if Police Blocks Vendors and Cart Draggers from Crossing into Thailand [Poipet – controversies about paying border crossing fees]
  • Cholera in Zimbabwe Killed Nearly 1,000 People
  •  

 Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3641, 17.12.2008

  • The Rich and the Powerful Are Using the Court Systems against the Poor in Land Disputes
  • Analysts Criticize that Chinese Aid Is a Strategy for Political and Economic Benefit

 
Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4770, 17.12.2008

  • A Khmer [artist] in the United States of America Draws Erotic Pictures of Apsaras and Publishes Them on a Website [reahu.net]
  • Obama Chooses Chinese-American Physics Nobel Prize Winner [Steven Chu] as US Secretary of Energy


Note:

From the autobiography of Steve Chu – and the role of education and thinking in clear, logical steps:

“My father, Ju Chin Chu, came to the United States in 1943 to continue his education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in chemical engineering, and two years later, my mother, Ching Chen Li, joined him to study economics.

“When my parents married in 1945, China was in turmoil and the possibility of returning grew increasingly remote, and they decided to begin their family in the United States.

“Education in my family was not merely emphasized, it was our raison d’être. Virtually all of our aunts and uncles had Ph.D.’s in science or engineering, and it was taken for granted that the next generation of Chu’s were to follow the family tradition. When the dust had settled, my two brothers and four cousins collected three MDs, four Ph.D.s and a law degree. I could manage only a single advanced degree.

“I approached the bulk of my schoolwork as a chore rather than an intellectual adventure. The tedium was relieved by a few courses that seem to be qualitatively different. Geometry was the first exciting course I remember. Instead of memorizing facts, we were asked to think in clear, logical steps.”

Note:

The Khmer artist Reahu describes his work, intentions, and criticism received, like this:

“I’m trying to build an online Khmer Arts community for novice artists, advance artists, graphic artists, tattoo artists, or anyone for that matter who is interested in Khmer Arts. We can share ideas, discuss about your designs, and network with other Khmer artists from across the United States and around the world.

“According to the Sanskrit epic poem, the Mahabharata, the gods decided to mix up a batch of soma, the elixir of immortality. The gods were to drink the elixir to become immortal. The asura Reahu, disguised himself as a god and drank some of the elixir. Soriya (the sun) and Chantra (the moon) spotted the imposter, Reahu, and told Vishnu. Just as Reahu was swallowing the soma, Vishnu sliced off his head with a sword. Since the soma had passed into the throat the head had already become immortal and remained alive. Because Soriya and Chantra were responsible for reporting the misdeeds of Reahu, the head, chases them across the sky and tries to eat them. Occasionally he catches and swallows one of them, causing an eclipse. But the victim quickly falls out of Reahu’s throat and the eclipse ends. Many still believe that banging on drums or utensils during the eclipse helps to scare Reahu into releasing the Sun or Moon.

“The meaning of life is an elusive concept that has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific and theological speculation. For thousands of years, men and women of every age, race, and culture have sought to understand the meaning of life. Throughout history, scientists and philosophers, theologians and artists, politicians and social activists, monks and sages, and men and women from all walks of life have discussed and debated many questions in the quest to discover the meaning of life.

“Things in a person’s life can have meaning (importance), but a meaning of life itself, i.e., apart from those things, can’t be discerned. In this context, a person’s life is said to have meaning (significance to himself and others) in the form of the events throughout his life and the results of his life in terms of achievements, a legacy, family, etc. But to say that life itself has meaning is a misuse of language, since any note of significance or consequence is relevant only in life (to those living it), rendering the statement erroneous.

“One of the central views in Buddhism is a nondual worldview, in which subject and object are the same, and the sense of doer-ship is illusionary. On this account, the meaning of life is to become enlightened as to the nature and oneness of the universe. According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering, that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation by following the Noble Eightfold Path.
It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing oneself from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. From this, one can attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana and that will be the meaning of my life. — Reahu

“I believe in constructive criticisms! But lately, I’ve received many unwanted complaints regarding that some of my works disgraced the Khmer culture. Judging from the complaints, I wonder how we as Khmer will be able to make it in the 21st Century. Please be open-minded, you must be able to see beyond the four walls surrounding your hut. So please! My prohook eating brothers and sisters this is art, one man’s point of view captured on canvas: An admiration of Apsaras as celestial beings. If this brings down the Khmer culture, then your Khmer culture is still under the Khmer Rouge. So, I take the pleasure of deleting them.”

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The Mirror of the Cambodian Economy in 2009 – Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Posted on 18 December 2008. Filed under: Week 591 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 591

 
“Cambodia made remarkable achievements in terms of macro-economic stability, but there are many concerns which create an increasingly unclear situation for the future of the economy. The growth of the GPD was on average 11.1% since 2004, and 10.2% in 2007, and the annual inflation rate was 5.1%.
 
“The demands for garment export from foreign countries are lower, the profits from the construction sector are diminishing, and the number of tourists drops, so that it is estimated that the GDP growth drops to 6.7% in 2008 and 4.9 in 2009. This drop is estimated to occur, despite expanding taxation. As for the expenses, the negative figures of net exports will increase in 2008 and in 2009, and investments will also decline much.
 
“There are many challenges affecting four important fields of possible growth. First, the rising price of rice seems to provide many opportunities for Cambodia, a rice exporting country, although the size of response by strong supplies is still unclear, because of the recent drop of price and of agricultural investments, which are still limited.
 
“Second, the garment sector is affected by the meltdown of the economy in the United States of America, which is a big export target country for Cambodia (though many companies are partly protected, because they serve the low end market with cheap prices); in 2009, the restrictive protection measures by the United State of America and by the European Union towards China come to an end, which is a big challenge, because this country has big garment export capacities.
 
“Third, the construction sector is declining by 17%, compared to the first six months of last year.

“Fourth, tourism is also affected by the global economy which is weaker than before, and by the border disputes with Thailand. The increase in the number of tourists visiting Cambodia declined from 20% last year to only 13% in the first six months of 2008.
 
“Commercial recession will further drop in 2009, because the export of garments to foreign countries will decline more. The growth of exports declined from 18% last year to 4% in the first six months of 2008. On the contrary, the growth of imports is strong, reflecting the increase of local demand and higher prices for the import of fuel early in this year. Consequently, the current account deficit is estimated to grow from 8.4% of the GDP in 2007 to 12.3% in 2008.
 
“Although there is a plunge in exports, the cost of the import of fuel which is now lower than before, and the diminishing local demand seem to make the current account deficit decline to around 8% of the GDP in 2009. Foreign investment is forecast to drop from a high level of 10% of the GDP in 2007 to only 5.2% in 2009, because foreign investors become more careful to invest in different developing countries.
 
“The pressure of inflation starts to drop. Inflation of the consumers’ price for twelve months went up to the highest rate at 25.7% in May 2008, an increase to the double compared to late 2007, before it declined to 18.1% in October 2008. Food prices have contributed much to the inflation to grow to the high current level, as food accounts for a big share of more than half of the consumers’ price index.
 
“The increase of local demand is also a factor when banks increased credit in circulation, out of the amount of money held in banks and also related to the flow of foreign capital. The effect of the rising price of fuel imports was decreased by administrative intervention in the price. Even though there is a considerable drop of the price of food and of importing energy, the inflation in twelve months is estimated to decline from 16% last year to only 10% in late 2009.
 
“The central bank’s restrictive currency policy helps to reduce inflation and financial hazards. The central bank increased the requirement of capital held by the banks in July 2008 to the double amount, setting a ceiling for loans to the real estate sector, increased the required capital holding rate in September 2008 for the third time, and limited the withdrawal of cash from the central bank in October 2008.
 
“As a results of those measures, the increase in credit taken out by the private sector during twelve months declined from 103% in June 2008 to 82% in September, and it is estimated that it will drop to 42% in December 2008. The stable currency exchange rate, on average Riel 4020 per US$1 in the first six months of 2008, dropped little since the middle of the year, motivating the central bank to stop interventions in the currency exchange market.
 
“Recent concerns show the difficult balancing of taxation policy. At first, the government responded to the effects of high food and fuel prices by implementing a stricter taxation policy to ease the inflation pressure on the economy which uses the dollar as a measure of reference.
 
“However, in the meantime in view of some positive aspect of the growth rate and the declining inflation pressure for whatever reasons, the government is changing to new ways, and it is making plans to increase expenses. The taxation recession is estimated to change little at 2.2% of the GDP in 2008 (before considering aid), and the government estimated that it will increase to 3.5% in 2009.
 
“The government continues its different reform efforts, although there was some decline during the elections. The improvement of the legal framework (especially the adoption of a law about the handling of assistance which makes it easier for companies to use their real estate as collateral for borrowing money), helped to move Cambodia up in an investment report for 2009 (from 150th to 135th, among 181 countries).
 
“Another important new reform was the institution of an automated system for customs data at the Sihanoukville port in May 2008. In September 2008, the government began to implement the second stage of its Rectangular Strategy by focusing on good governance and rural development again.”Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3456, 16.12.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2834, 16.12.2008

  • The Siamese [Thai] Parliament Voted [235 for and 198 against], Supporting the President of the Opposition [Democrat] Party [Abhisit Vejjajiva – อภิสิทธิ์ เวชชาชีวะ] to Become Prime Minister, while Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Surround the Parliament to Protest
  • [Four] Stalls at Phsar Kandal Market Burned, Surprising the People at Night [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1821, 16.12.2008

  • [Cambodian former prime minister] Pen Sovann Will Sue The Cambodia Daily if It Does Not Apologize to Him [for saying that he wants to leave the Human Rights Party and return to the Cambodian People’s Party]
  • The Mong Reththy Group Imports 150 Yorkshire Pigs from England to Be Fed and Bred in Cambodia
  • A Japanese Organization [ALC] Grants Scholarship to [20 outstanding] Cambodian Poor Students [to learn Japanese at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. – ALC – only in Japanese is here]
  • [The Minister of Foreign Affairs] Mr. Hor Namhong Went to Pay Respect to the Soul of Mr. Ali Alatas at the Indonesian Embassy in Phnom Penh [Mr. Ali Alatas was Minister of Foreign Affair and was an important person to help seek peace for Cambodia, his efforts contributed towards democratic elections in 1993]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #159, 16.12.2008

  • Dangkao District’s Authorities Stop Actions of the Stubborn Owner of a Pit [which is dug deeply to dig out soil for sale, causing nearby farmland to slide into the pit – the owner of the pit is a brigadier general]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6526, 16.12.2008

  • ASEAN Summit Meeting: Thai Foreign Affairs Officials Organize the Meeting for the Third Week of February Next Year [in Chiang Mai]
  • Second Hand Clothing Vendors Protest against the Payment of Taxes in Poipet [of Riel 1.5 per kg, to get export permission to Thailand – Banteay Meanchey]
  • Vang Sreyno [a famous film star] Wrote a Letter to Apologize to the Municipal Governor so that She Is Not Accused at the Court [regarding her high-speed driving, which caused an accident damaging the lion statue at the Samdech Preah Sanghareach Chuon Nath Memorial]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3640, 16.12.2008

  • Ethnic Minority Tribespeople in Ratanakiri’s Ta Veng District React against a Project to Clear Thousands of Hectares of Forest Land [provided as concession land by the government to the Sovannaphum Company to grow industrial crops]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4769, 16.12.2008c

  • Kratie Police and Military Police Confronted Each Other over a Intercepted Truck, Loaded with Illegally Cut Luxury Wood of More than 20 Cubic Meters [the Kratie deputy military commander, Mr. Sak Sarang, demanded the wood back from the police, to put it into the military police station in Kratie, but the Stung Treng police disagreed]
  • Three More Khmer Registered Ships Are Said to Be Impounded in Russia [for illegal fishing]
  • Experts Said that the Place where Bird Flu Appeared Is Under Control[Kandal Stung, Kandal]
  • More Than 200 Bikers [including foreigners] Participated in Bike Racing in Kirirom [Kompong Speu]
  • An Iraqi Reporter Threw His Shoes at [US president] Bush in Baghdad [in a press conference with the Iraqi prime minister – to express his condemnation for the killing of so many Iraqi people]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3456, 16.12.2008

  • The Mirror of the Cambodian Economy in 2009

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