Archive for June 8th, 2009

The US Action Is Also Helping to Crack Down on Human Trafficking in Cambodia – Monday, 8.6.2009

Posted on 8 June 2009. Filed under: Week 616 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 616

“According to a report on human rights situation, by the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association, in 2008, human trafficking and sex exploitation seem to have been reduced, compared to the year before; and the Unite States of America decided to remove Cambodia from the blacklist on human trafficking.

“The report said that in 2008, the Cambodian government sent a draft request on controlling and suppressing human trafficking and about sex exploitation to the National Assembly, which was subsequently adopted. After the adoption, some actions were taken by the authorities targetting some brothels during the last months.

“The report added that human trafficking, especially of women and children, was still high. There were 74 cases of human trafficking, where 19 cases related to trafficking workers. The perpetrators cheated the victims by luring them with jobs, or caught them into their cars while the victims were coming home or when they were along their way to school.

“Human traffickers use different places, like the shops of hairdressers, guesthouses, or karaoke parlors, and some bring victims to be sold directly to hotels. Besides local human trafficking, also the human trafficking to foreign countries still continues, where the victims are lured to work abroad, cheating them by promising that they would gain much money and become rich.

“The victims were trafficked across the border to be sold in Thailand and in Malaysia, where some went abroad legally with proper legal document and passports. But some were brought out of the country illegally by avoiding the police, and traveling on trains, cars, and taxis until they sadly reach their destinations.

“According to an interview with officials of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, though it does not have clear data about the number of cases of human trafficking, relevant institutions are focusing on educating people, particularly those who migrate to seek jobs in foreign countries, as this group is especially targeted by human traffickers.

“Now, the United States of America ranks Cambodia in the Second Tier [of three] over human trafficking, but they did not conduct observations as they had done in 2007. Nevertheless, the number of victims of human trafficking does not decline much, because many problems have not been solved, like the situation that people encounter poverty and unemployment, and domestic violence still exist, so that the members of some families are easily cheated and sold.

“If the government continues the efforts to fight human trafficking effectively by strengthening the enforcement of existing laws, by educating citizens about the hazards of human trafficking, and by dealing with some social problems following the actual situation, the general public and human rights organizations believe that human trafficking can be reduced significantly.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #, 8.6.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 8 June 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #204, 7-8.6.2009

  • [President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Mony: A Request of Farmers Sent to the Government [during the International Labor Day] Is Dead [there is no response from the government to the request. The request contained ten points: 1. Asking the government to create a labor court 2. Request to end the attempt to amend Articles 67 and 73 of the labor law; 3. End all types of discrimination against the freedom of association and against trade unions; 4. Order all investors to deposit money at banks and be responsible for workers’ salaries when banks are closed; 5. Give a good name to [murdered labor leader] Mr. Chea Vichea as a ‘Worker Hero’ and offer a place to build his statue; 6. Eliminate illegal dismissals and suspension of workers’ representatives; 7. Develop the job market and provide good work conditions in all sectors; 8. The Ministry of Labor should announce accident insurance regulations for workers; 9. Better wages should be provided; the government is asked to increase the number and quality of irrigation systems, and it should seek markets for farmers.]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1964, 7-8.6.2009

  • The Operation of the Royal Highness Hotel Is [temporarily] Suspended after Four [foreign] People Died because of Drug Overuse
  • A Law Student, Accused of Writing a Slogan against the Government, Is Fined Riel 5 Million [approx. US$1,250 – he had sprayed the slogan on a wall of his house]
  • Landslide in China Kills More Than 80 People

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #621, 8.6.2009

  • The US Action Is Also Helping to Crack Down on Human Trafficking in Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6670, 8.6.2009

  • Two Bodies of People from the Crashed Air France Plane Found Floating; There Is Plan to Seek More Bodies, the Plane is [probably] in a Depth of 4,600 Meters
  • Officials of the Royal Government Go to Japan to Present Tourism Opportunities and Investment Policies [to attract Japanese investors]
  • The Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Meets [four] Khmer Journalists [in Thailand], and He Recognizes Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen as an Experienced Leader

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3778, 8.6.2009

  • Slot Machines, Football Betting, and Lottery Gradually Reappear Again

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4914, 7-8.6.2009

  • [Khmer Rouge] Court Officials Deny That There Is Political Interference by the Government into the Trial of Khmer Rouge Leaders
  • After a Traffic Accident, a Motorbike Driver Came with His Group [of seven friends] to Hit Another Driver with Axes and Knives to Death, and Two Others Suffer Serious Injuries [the three victims are military officials, and now police are hunting the perpetrators – Kandal]

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

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Is there hope that what has been done will not be done again? – Sunday, 7.6.2009

Posted on 8 June 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 615 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 615

Editing the Mirror, day by day, is a reminder that both the different philosophies of time have some truth: is the flow of time linear, or is it circular?

The daily work and the changing dates remind us clearly that time is running in one line, step by step, from the past to the future.

But the daily work is also a reminder of another view of time, of human time, where a writer in the Hebrew Bible said about 2,300 years ago, in a desperate view of history:

Meaningless! Meaningless!
Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.

What does one gain from all the labor
at which one toils under the sun?

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered;
in days to come both will be forgotten.
Like the fool, the wise man too must die!

So is it true that there is not much that can be done – a statement often heard in Cambodia: “What can I do? I am only one person without power.” And recently a reader, from far away, wrote in view of the different reports from Cambodia, about the law, and the irregular law enforcement: “Crazy world, in Cambodia.”

Reviewing some reports from the past weeks, one is tempted to get into a similarly desperate mood.

  • The Mekong River Committee, where Cambodia is a member since decades, reminded its members that the Mekong is a rich, but vulnerable resource. Therefore its member countries had agreed, “to jointly study the developments in the Mekong River Basin.” But now a lot of uncoordinated plans have been developed in the different countries – “there is concern that those projects can damage the eco-system of the river, the movement of fish, and the settlements of people.”
  • According to the Constitution, Cambodia is “based on a multiparty liberal democratic regime, guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law” – but the Permanent Committee of the National Assembly was reported to discuss the reduction of the salaries of the parliamentarians from opposition parties who had boycotted a National Assembly meeting. To boycott sessions as a strong expression of dissent happens in many democratic countries; and it was never reported that salaries’ cuts were considered when members of various parties, including members of the former majority coalition, had to be absent from sessions. – Others expressed the fear that an opposition party “is threatened through the court system to have its voice eliminated.” A multiparty democratic regime is based on the assumption that there may be dissent. To consider the expression of disagreements as unacceptable undermines the basis of the Constitution.
  • A member of the National Assembly, Ms. Mu Sochua, has to appear at the Municipal Court to defend herself first, related to the counter-accusation by the Prime Minister, that she defamed him, while the court has not yet handled the original defamation suit of Ms. Mu Sochua against the Prime Minister. And her defense lawyer is under investigation by the Bar Association – he may lose his professional position as a lawyer.
  • A Law on Financial Leasing has been adopted by the National Assembly – “to develop banking and other financial systems in order to ease equal, safe, effective, and productive financial leasing operations” – but disabled children still are not assured to receive a 9-year basic education, and an end for serious child labor can only be expected by the end of 2016.
  • More than 70 garment factories have closed, and others operate with only a quarter of their capacity. At present, 38% of the nearly 5 million Cambodian children under the age of 15 cannot gain the full course of education, due to their economic problems and their social environment. Even so, the Minister of Finance believes that the Cambodian economy will not face a crisis. That means: the crisis in which these children live, and which sent tens of thousands of worker into unpaid unemployment, is not a crisis of the Cambodian economy?
  • The Cambodian Center for Human Rights had to delay holding a meeting with residents of the Boeng Kak Lake region inside of a building there, to talk about their problems, as they have to leave their houses – but the authorities intervened, claiming that there had not been a permission requested. But it is reported that a representative of the authorities was not able to say based on which law such a permission is necessary. – And organizers of the anti-corruption event, the Clean Hands Concert held recently at the Olympic Stadium, were summoned to the court for questioning about the use of a public stadium and criticizing the government. The stadium does not belong to the government, but either to the municipality or to the state. It is public property and should therefore be available to the public for public, lawful events, where the basic rights, like the free expression of opinion, should be actively protected by the law enforcement authorities. That the US Ambassador expressed the hope, at that event, that Cambodia will adopt an anti-corruption law soon, which the Cambodian government itself is drafting since more than a decade, was criticized as outside interference.
  • There had been a number of airlines in Cambodia over the years: Angkor Airways, Cambodian President Airlines, First Cambodia Airlines, Mekong Airlines, PMT Air, Royal Khmer Airlines, Royal Phnom Penh Airlines, and Royal Air Cambodge. While the relatives of the persons who were killed in a plane crash in June 2007 in Kampot are still waiting for a settlement of insurance claims, it was announced that a new national airline – Cambodia Angkor Air – will be inaugurated in July – but the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation declares to have no information at all about such plans.

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” So is there no way ahead, asked the writer of the old wisdom. He is almost giving up to try to achieve anything, but will only enjoy life:

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart… Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun – all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.

A later poet in the Roman empire arrived at a more cynical version: “Seize the day and place no trust in tomorrow.” The driving force of an almost unrestricted market economy, which created the present global economic crisis – internationally and everywhere – seems to be based on a similar thinking.

But is this the end? Whenever there were points of a new beginning, it started with persons with a vision towards change. At present, we observe such an effort by the President of the USA. This will either inspire also others, or we will hear many voices, desperately agreeing: “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

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