Not to Discuss Means Not to Clarify – Sunday, 8.2.2009

Posted on 10 February 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 598 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 598

The week brought further challenges to publicly clarify how the whole of society can deal with difficult problems.

The human rights organization ADHOC had published a report, describing quite specifically cases from the year 2008, and saying that human rights defenders, “providing advice to victims of land and resource seizures or seeking redress with the courts or authorities, or the release from detention of their community representatives,” have been the particular target of threats and accusations of incitement to protest. – Probably not many people might have expected a full agreement with this statement from the side of the authorities. Still, the response from the head of the Human Rights Committee of the government is disappointing because of its very general nature: “I think I cannot agree with the ADHOC report, and though some problems arose, I do not deny them, but it seems that I cannot agree with the assessment, and it is not done well.”

The failure to communicate mutually – the rejection to communicate – is even more painful to observe in relation to the recent report of the UK base organization Global Witness, ‘Country for Sale – How Cambodia’s elite has captured the country’s extractive industries,” about which we had mirrored sections from the Khmer press on Friday. This organization has accumulated information and experience in many countries, and is supported by private and public funds. They share their work with the international public on their website; they describe themselves with these words: “Global Witness works to increase transparency in the granting of mineral concessions, in the flow of revenues from oil and gas companies to governments, and in the trading of resources.”

Global Witness produced a 72 pages report with hundreds of details of information, most of it on the basis of describing legal provisions of the Kingdom of Cambodia, combined with facts which are available in published reports of the international companies involved, or are on the Internet. And in addition, Global Witness describes also in much detail which questions they raised – and to which of them they did, or they did not get responses. A careful reading of the study takes some hours, because of the many details documented. The document is full of surprises.

It is equally surprising, how quickly the study was rejected in a press release from Cambodian Embassy in London, accusing Global Witness “of pursuing a malicious campaign to try and discredit the country and its leaders. The Government is working hard to establish a sound and comprehensive framework governing the extractive industries. These will reflect best practice and be based on the principles of transparency and accountability.”

It is again surprising and indicative of the level of public information sharing, that a Secretary of State at the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, contradicts the Ambassador, when he is quoted to have said, “So far, no oil has yet been produced, we just known that there is oil. Therefore, we have not planned how to use it, because no oil has been extracted yet.”

The Cambodian Embassy in London – without addressing a single detail in the report, refutes it by a cynical graphic, calling it A collection of rubbish – with a picture showing the study already in a rubbish bin.

This spectacular picture does not only condemn the results of the studies of Global Witness to the rubbish bin, but throws away – unintentionally? – also the impressive list of laws and decrees of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which are all quoted and referenced in the study. Global Witness explains: “In the course of its investigation into Cambodia’s oil, gas and mining sectors, Global Witness obtained a number of key documents. Global Witness believes that it is important that these documents, which include key regulations for the extractive industries are easily available in the public domain.”

Legislation governing Cambodia’s oil sector

Primary legislation

  • Petroleum Regulations 1991
  • Royal Decree on the Formation of Cambodian National Petroleum Aithority

Secondary legislation

  • First amendment to the Regulations
  • Second amendment to the Regulations
  • Draft Model Petroleum Agreement

PSC [Production Sharing Contracts]

Global Witness understands that fees charged by the Cambodian Government in the PSCs vary depending on the contracting company. Global Witness has not been able to confirm whether any of the PSC holders entered into the form of contract laid out here in the draft model petroleum agreement, but understands that the draft is likely to have been used as a model for the final contracts.

 
Legislation governing Cambodia’s mining sector

RGC – Royal Government of Cambodia; MIME – Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy; MEF – Ministry of Economy and Finance;
Prakas – Decree

Mineral Resources Management and Exploration

  • 1996 Law on Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Management
  • Law on Protected Areas

Secondary legislation

  • MIME Circular 001
  • MIME Instruction Circular 002
  • MIME Prakas 340
  • Sub-decree 008
  • Sub-decree 113
    1994 Prakas on Protected Areas

The following are in Khmer:

  • MEF & MIME Prakas 006
  • MEF MIME Prakas Cost for Registration
  • MEF & MIME Prakas on Annual Land Lease
  • MEF & MIME Prakas on Mineral Royalty
  • MIME Prakas 011
  • MIME Prakas 340
  • MIME Prakas 1133 
  • MIME Prakas 942
  • MIME Prakas 1133
  • MIME Prakas 1192
  • RGC Decision 10
  • RGC Decision 20 
  • RGC Decision 43
  • RGC Draft Sub-decree on Defining Mining zone 
  • RGC Order 01
  • RGC Sub-decree 08
  • RGC Sub-decree 113
  • RGC Sub-decree on Conditions to Grant, extent & right transfer of Industry Mining License
  • RGC Sub-decree on Defining Authority and Role of mining officer
  • RGC Sub-decree on Suspension & revocation of mineral license

In spite of all the initial refusal to discuss details, it can only be hoped that a public dialogue, on the basis of existing laws and regulations – wherever including revisions by the legislative bodies of the country – can lead to a equitable and careful use of the riches of the nature.

As Monday, 9 February 2009, is a National Holiday, the Mirror will not publish translations from the press on this day.

There is a variety of interpretations of this important commemoration of Meakh Bochea: that Buddha, the Enlightened One, pronounced the principles of his teachings, summarized threefold: to do good, to abstain from doing bad, to keep a pure mind.

Without stepping back from time to time, from the daily conflicts, it may be impossible to come close to the three teachings.

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