Archive for February 2nd, 2009

Censorship: Thousands of Crude Porn Sites Accessible on Internet – One Khmer Artist Blocked – Sunday, 1.2.2009

Posted on 2 February 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 597 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

When the Cambodian government held a three day consultation in September 2001, the Prime Minister opened it with a speech on Public Awareness about Information Technology. Charting the future, he said:

“The government’s top priority is to use Information Technology – IT – to serve and to meet the day-to-day needs of the people. IT should become as an efficient means for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government and the conduct of government business in accordance with the principles of transparency and good governance…

“IT will help strengthen democracy, ensure transparency, promote good governance in government and community businesses. With regard to the economic and social aspect, IT will improve major public service delivery to the local people and allow them to monitor and receive regularly and timely all kinds of information.”

In February last year, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of transparency again, more specifically in relation to economic development as a means of poverty reduction, in his keynote address 2008 Cambodia Outlook Conference: Mobilizing Cambodia’s Resources – Human, Natural, Financial – for Quality Development, Growth and Prosperity, when he said:

“A healthy private sector is the key to robust economic development and thus the government should ensure the legal framework for fair competition, transparency, accountability and productive relations with the public sector. The overall environment for enterprise will be strengthened through broadened good governance and human resources development. The public sector should also be strong in order to correct the market failures, essentially to reach the poor and disadvantaged.”

Recent days and weeks would have provided ample opportunity to demonstrate the promised open and transparent communication – using information technology, the telephone, and direct talk.

Unfortunately, in spite of repeated pledges to install official spokespersons in the different ministries and other government agencies, and even having trained 18 persons for this task and given them certificates, there is obviously a problem that the basic commitment to transparency – “for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government,” as the Prime Minister said – is disregarded.

Related to the Dey Krahom evictions, which continue to cause deep problems for the men, women, and children involved, we collected the following items from the Cambodia Daily in a single day – Friday, 30 January 2009:

  • “Shukaku representatives could not be reached for comment and CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin [the husband of the owner of the Shukaku company] turned off his phone when a reporter contacted him.”
  • At the office of the Boeng Kak Development committee, an employee declined to provide his name, but suggested, “I think you have to ask Phnom Penh Municipality.”
  • “Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema and his deputies Mann Chhoeun and Pa Socheatvong could not be reached for comment.”
  • After contacting the 7NG company, “a company representative said he would meet Thursday with the residents.” – However, when contacted Thursday, the meeting was canceled.
  • “Chhay Rithisen, director of the municipal land management department, could not be reached for comment. Deputy directors Sek Yorn and Sar Bamnang both directed questions… to Chhay Rithisen.”

Many people do not seem to care about the importance the Prime Minister has accorded to transparency and “to reach the poor and disadvantaged” when there are “market failures” which derail the ultimate goal of development.

Over the weekend there was another blow to transparency in Cambodia. It is widely acknowledged that, in addition to huge resources for knowledge, connectivity, and entertainment, the Internet provides access to pornography – according to experts, there are tens of thousands of pornographic websites. There is no technical Internet blocking of access to these sites in Cambodia, which, as Internet experts recommend that criminal violations of pornography abuse laws should be best handled through legal prosecution, not through arbitrary and ineffective blocking of Internet sites.

Now, however, though not blocking any real pornography sites, some Internet Service Providers in Cambodia have started to block access to the website of a Cambodian artist based in the USA:

When the web site of this Khmer artist became known through the press, he was strongly attacked, accused of destroying Khmer culture because he did not only paint pictures of Angkor Wat stone apsaras, but also of lifelike apsara dancers whose bodies were, like the stone carvings, not completely clothed.

He offers on his website professional hints in painting techniques, and he wrote also:

“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.

“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.

“One of the central views in Buddhism is a non-dual 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.

“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.”

A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information announced the intention to “publish services through electronic systems under the control of a law which is being drafted.” This announcement causes great alarm – not only because history has shown that the introduction of censorship of art has often been the entry point to suppress other freedoms, but because the Cambodian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and publication, and the state has to uphold impartiality and protect the rights and freedoms of citizens (Articles 41 and 109).

The wide intent of the draft of this legislation became clear when it was stated:

“All Internet Service Providers which ask for licenses from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication must, in advance, also ask for a second license from the Ministry of Information if this law is adopted, because these companies allow Internet users to connect networks and to use data in different networks.”

Does this mean, for example, that the Ministry of Information might refuse to license the apsara pictures on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which all foreigners see when they apply there for a visa?

Official Visa Application Site

Who in the Ministry of Information will be the authority on expressions of art, or decide – to quote the same Secretary of State – if “pictures can evoke sexual feelings” and should be prohibited? Is the work of art of one person a greater assault on the cultural traditions and remnants of the country than the destruction of the historic Bassac Theater, and now the threatened destruction of the landmark Renakse Hotel, which is the former Ministry of Justice and part of the architectural environment of the Royal Palace?

In the early years of the Internet, when the present Minister of Information was a secretary of state at the same ministry, he wrote an e-mail in 1999 to Bill Herod, one of the Internet pioneers in Cambodia, which was published internationally in the UNDP supported Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2003/2004, when the South China Morning Post in Hongkong had written there would be Internet censorship in Cambodia:

“Dear Sir,

“I do not know where SCMP got this news (“Planned Net law ‘threat to democracy,’” May 31, 1999) , but I can assure you that I am the one who has been fighting and continues to fight for the freedom of Internet access and the free flow of information in general. Everyday I find in my e-mail all kinds of information including some mail insulting me.

“This is a fact of life. When we never attempt to control the import of books and magazines into Cambodia why would we want to block the Internet?…

“Please be assured that I am very supportive of this form of communication and I will spare no effort in defending it. I hope you can help communicate this assurance to all of your subscribers and, if you have any problem concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me.

“Your sincerely,

“Khieu Kanharith”

It is important to recognize that questions of “Cambodian culture” are raised regularly by many different kinds of news. For example, the almost weekly news about the brutal rape and murder of Cambodian children raises questions about how this destruction of human culture is being handled, and no efforts to block the Internet in Cambodia could ever prevent that.

Furthermore, the blocking of the Reahu site will be reported around the world and will attract much more attention than the site would ever have received without such action. That is what also had happened when the introduction of 3G mobile phones was delayed – for fear they could deliver pornography to those who can afford the high cost of this new 3G technology, while crude pornography continues to be cheaply available all over the country where CDs are being sold.

What a pity, that there will again be a flood of negative attention on Cambodia, just as it happened when the prohibition of the Global Witness book on deforestation problems Cambodia’s Family Trees stimulated worldwide attention, which it never could have gained without the prohibition.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

The wide international interest The Mirror finds is reflected in the fact that during the last two days only, people in 45 countries read The Mirror.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

Many More High-Ranking Officials Close to Ke Kim Yan Face Removal from their Positions, and Generals at Military Garrisons and at Divisions Are in Panic – Saturday, 31.1.2009

Posted on 2 February 2009. Filed under: Week 597 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

“Recently, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh confirmed that the Cambodian military is as stable as normal, after the change of the commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces – RCAF – on 22 January 2009. Tea Ban’s claim was made after General Ke Kim Yan was removed from his position of RCAF commander-in-chief by Prime Minister Hun Sen on 22 January 2009, while the Khmer-Siamese [Thai] border disputes have not yet been solved and Khmer and Siamese troops are still in a tense mutual confrontation.

“The former RCAF deputy-commander-in-chief, General Pol Saroeun, was appointed RCAF commander-in-chief instead of General Ke Kim Yan quickly and unexpectedly on 22 January 2009. The shift of the RCAF commander-in-chief triggered concerns among some generals at military garrisons and at divisions, being afraid that they too might be removed from their positions eventually. Especially those who were close to General Ke Kim Yan are worrying that they might loose their positions.

“Regarding the above concerns of military officers with the rank of general, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh affirmed that there are no such shifts to come. Also, another high-ranking official of the Ministry of Defense, who asked not to be named, said that so far, the government has no plan to change more military commanders, and a recent meeting and agenda for the next military meetings do not mention the shakeup. But, according to some unofficial sources, there will be more changes affecting many other generals in the future, particularly those who were close to General Ke Kim Yan.

“Nevertheless, some senior-officials of the Ministry of Defense said that the vice-president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Prime Minister Hun Sen, appointed many more Generals and high-ranking military officers as his advisors, besides their current positions, after stripping General Ke Kim Yan of his rank. Some observers assessed that that Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed many Generals and high-ranking military officers as his advisors in an effort to assemble a strong military power, but it wastes many national resources. Therefore, generals and high-ranking military officers at garrisons and at divisions are very concerned, after Hun Sen quickly and unexpectedly removed Ke Kim Yan from the position of RCAF commander-in-chief.

“According to a source from the Ministry of Defense, when General Ke Kim Yan was removed from his position on 22 January 2009, 507 other military officers were also removed from the bodyguard unit of the president of the Senate, who is also the president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Chea Sim, and were sent back to their barracks. Among them, two brigadiers; the number of the bodyguard unit’s forces of Chea Sim were cut down to only around 100. This receives much attention by national and international observers, because they think that it is Hun Sen’s maneuver to reduce the bodyguard force of Chea Sim below what he had planned.

“Reacting to the above case, the recently promoted RCAF commander-in-chief, General Pol Saroeun, said on Thursday, 29 January 2009, that the redeployment of bodyguards is not a revocation, as those soldiers will not be shifted from their places forever. General Pol Saroeun told reporters, ‘We just bring them back to undergo more [military] training.’ The RCAF commander-in-chief added that there are still 100 soldiers to protect Chea Sim, because he is a top leader. Separately, on Wednesday, 28 January 2009, General Pol Saroeun also tried to halt rumors among some units of the armed forces about the removal of some more senior military officers, after the very quick removal of General Ke Kim Yan.

“On Thursday, reporters could not reach Chea Sim’s bodyguard chief, General Chhoeun Chanthan, for comments. However, the RCAF commander-in-chief General Pol Saroeun said that General Chhoen Chantan is not ranked down or removed. General Hem Savy, an officer of Chea Sim’s bodyguard unit, said that the order for 507 soldiers to go back to their military bases at Battalion 70 was made on Sunday, 25 January 2009, and there will be more removals. General Hem Savy told reporters, ‘We were removed following orders of the government.’

“An officer close to General Pol Saroeun, who asked not to give his name, hinted that around 10 more military commanders close to Ke Kim Yan and to Chea Sim might be removed, if they do not turn to support the powerful vice-president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Prime Minister Hun Sen. In the meantime, Hun Sen might organize a strategy to remove also Chea Sim from the position of president of the Cambodian People’s Party, because at present, Hun Sen holds the whole military power.

“Observers of the Cambodian People’s Party’s internal affairs noticed that before Ke Kim Yan’s removal, Hun Sen held only about 60% of the power. But after the changes, Hun Sen controls 100% of the power, even though Sar Kheng is holding the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. Obviously, the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, held by Sar Kheng, are also considered to be of concern, because Hun Sen can demote him any time.

“Observers of the Cambodian People’s Party’s internal affairs went on to say that after Hun Sen has already cleared out military commanders and police chiefs close to Sar Kheng and to Chea Sim, he may organize new internal arrangements of the party, and force Chea Sim to leave the position of the president of the Cambodian People’s Party, so that he can take up that position himself. Furthermore, he might reduce the power of the current secretary-general of the Cambodian People’s Party, Say Chhum, by putting his in-law, Sok An, into this position. As for the position of Sar Kheng, Hun Sen can remove him whenever he wants, but after having removed Ke Kim Yan, if he would also remove Sar Kheng, it might affect the Cambodian People’s Party internally and cause turmoil.

“High-ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party said that now, the internal power of the Cambodian People’s Party is totally controlled by Hun Sen, and if Hun Sen really has the ambition to become president of the Cambodian People’s Party, it is very easy, because when Ke Kim Yan was removed as RCAF commander-in-chief and Pol Saroeun was assigned to replace him, there was no reaction from Chea Sim’s and Sar Kheng’s factions, but they just kept silent and let Hun Sen create storm and rain as he liked.

“Observers said that even though Tea Ban had said that there is no more change to come for internal military affairs, information about the removal of more military officers close to General Ke Kim Yan was eventually disclosed. These disclosures worry generals and other high-ranking military officers at different garrisons and divisions very much, because they are afraid that also their positions can be affected. That means the removal of Ke Kim Yan is causing serious internal problems in the Cambodian People’s party, especially it is strongly and uncontrollably shaking the military situation.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #34, 31-1.1-2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 31 January 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1861, 31.1.2009

  • The Authorities of the Russey Keo District Office Ordered to Remove [around 20] Floating Houses along the Tonle Sap Riverbank [to maintain social order]
  • Somali Pirates Hijacked German Ship Loaded with [liquefied petroleum] Gas and Arrested Thirteen Sailors
  • UN Officials Met with [Rohingya] People Who Are Held in Detention in Thailand [after having been sent on boats floating on he sea]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #332, 31-2.1-2.2009

  • Human Rights Abuses in 2008 Increased [by 25% compared to 2007; according to the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO, there were 381 cases in 17 provinces and cities in 2008 – 212 cases related to land disputes – and there were 16,725 victims involved by 2,669 abusers, where 9.19% were abused by military personnel, 4.25% by military police, 17.59% by police, 16.80% by civil officials, 3.41% by court officials, 6.82% by business companies, 12.07% by civilian people, 8.92% by unidentified people, 1.05% by mobs, and 18.90% by different groups]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #334, 31.1.2009

  • Four-Star General Moeung Samphan Is Stripped of His Rank and More Than 3,000 Weapons of [RCAF Commander-in-Chief] Ke Kim Yan’s Supporters Are Taken Away
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Holds an Extraordinary Congress Today

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #194, 31.1.2009

  • The Norodom Ranariddh Party Will Be Changed into the Khmer Front Party, if there Is No Solution [for the dismissal of a high-ranking member of the party]
  • [Three] Citizens Who Had Been Detained regarding a Land Dispute Are Released [after several-days protests by around 140 families to release them – Siem Reap]
  • Cambodia Hopes that the New Envoy of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Cooperates with the Government Well

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6566, 31.1.2009

  • [Anti-government] Red-Shirt Demonstrators Gather in Front of the Cambodian Embassy [in Bangkok] to send a letter saying that the Thai government and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya are not just, and are not real representatives of the people; then they moved on to the Laotian and Vietnamese embassies]
  • Fire Destroyed More Than 50 Houses of People Doing Fishing at the Tumnup Rolork Region [Sihanoukville]
  • The National Bank of Cambodia Signed an Agreement with the National Bank of Laos [to strengthen bilateral cooperation in banking]
    US$1.5 Million [granted by World Bank, controlled by the Emerging Markets Consulting Program] to Help Exporting Companies to Open Export Market Access, for a Program of the Ministry of Commerce [this program will assist financial and technical sectors in order to help to increase their exports to new markets]
  • North Korea Cancels All Agreements with South Korea

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #34, 31-1.1-2.2009

  • Many More High-Ranking Officials Close to Ke Kim Yan Face Removal from their Positions, and Generals at Military Garrisons and at Divisions Are in Panic

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4809, 31.1.2009

  • The Municipality Issues a Statement Denying Allegations [by non-government organizations, some international organizations, and opposition parties] to Have Used Force to Evict People from the Dey Krahom Area [some further information by pictures is here]
  • 2009: FAO Grants US$2.25 Million for Strengthening Agriculture
  • Community Health Insurance Program Is Another Choice for Poor People
  • Cambodia Continues to Encourage Thailand to Return Khmer Artifacts Soon [that Thai authorities caught from illegal smugglings from Cambodia]
  • More Than One Million People Demonstrated against French President Nicolas Sarkozy [regarding his economic policies to reduce the number of permanent staff of state institutions, especially in schools, which disappoints and makes French people angry – France]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...