Archive for June 19th, 2009

Civil Society Agrees with the Declaration of Their Property in Order to Encourage an Anti-Corruption Law to Be Adopted Soon – Tuesday, 16.6.2009

Posted on 19 June 2009. Filed under: Week 617 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 617

“Most civil society organizations agree to declare their property so that an anti-corruption law can be adopted soon by the National Assembly. But according to the law, such encouragement of the government is not appropriate, because civil society organizations do not earn their salaries from the government, but donors directly monitor them and if they found any irregularities or corruption among the leaders of civil society organizations operating in Cambodia, they will no longer assist them.

“The executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, said that his organization is thoroughly monitored by donors relating to different expenses by careful inspection. However, he welcomes the encouragement by civil society officials to declare their property, if it is an opportunity to accelerte the adoption of an anti-corruption law soon. He added that actually, civil society is not in control of power, so if there are any cases of corruption, it does not affect the political stability and the economy of the society. In contrast, the government is in control of power and the ruler of the nation, both in politics and for the economy. And if there is corruption, it is really a hazard for the citizens living in that society.

“Corruption is a major topic, that is why the government of Hun Sen and of the Cambodian People’s Party was very uneasy when the US ambassador, Mr. Carol Rodley, stated at the end of May that there is widespread corruption in Cambodia. After the statement of the ambassador, high ranking officials of the Cambodian government and a senior advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen, the chairperson of the government anti-corruption unit, Om Yentieng, released clarifying statements on TV, and there are as well continuing attacks against civil society criticizing ongoing corruption. Even a series of comedies performed on TV is attacking civil society unreasonably, in order to protect the actual corruption of some government officials. This is a example of really protecting corruption.

“The president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Mr. Ou Vireak, expressed it position as a civil society organization by agreeing to declare his property, so that an anti-corruption law, which is crucial, can be adopted and put into practice soon to prevent corruption, which is alarmingly widespread in Cambodia at present. Though the intention of civil society organizations to declare their property is not so important, nevertheless, civil society organizations are not afraid to make their property known.

“Cambodia is among the countries with serious corruption in a report published by USAID, where each year Cambodia is alleged to lose US$350 million to US$500 million through corruption. This makes the living standard of citizens more difficult, even though over the years, Cambodia received billions of dollars of foreign aid from the international community. At present, high ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party are asking those who provided loans to Cambodia to cancel the debts of Cambodia.

“Regarding the suggestion to see that civil society officials make their property known, some legal experts said that this is not a right method, as civil society officials are not in control of state power, through which corruption can be committed to take advantage of state property, both in real estate and in natural resources. Civil society organizations operate based on aid from the international community. If the heads of any organization commits corruption which leads to the loss of trust from donors, donors will stop granting aid to them. Thus, this problem is related to donors and programs only, between international donors and civil society, while the government does not need to worry about it, and donors do not just spend money to hire people to curse the government [as has been alleged].

“Many civil society organizations want to see an anti-corruption law adopted soon, which can guarantee the continuation of national development as well as to ensure that there is no corruption using the aid provided to Cambodia. Moreover, in the next few years, the revenue from natural oil, which is an important financial source for Cambodia, will need to be focused also, and this needs a clear law to control such income.

“The intention for civil society organizations to declare their property is not their own idea, aiming at development or at eliminating corruption. But it is a kind of idea introduced to silence them, without having at the same time the real intention to see the adoption of an anti-corruption law. Observers said that the Cambodian People’s Party government seems to have no intention to adopt an anti-corruption law to help reduce the spreading corruption in Cambodia.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3785, 16.6.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #211, 16.6.2009

  • The Bangkok Government Plans to Finish the Insurgency in the South in Three Years

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1971, 16.6.2009

  • [The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Mr. Hor Namhong Denies Thailand Dismissed the Demand for Compensation to Cambodia [for the burning down of the vendor’s market at the Preah Vihear temple]
  • Cambodia [through the World Wildlife Fund] Installs 200 Fixed Cameras and Adds Two Sniffing Dogs to Observe the Presence of Tigers
  • North Korea Warns There Might Be Nuclear War if the Tension Increases Further

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6677, 16.6.2009

  • The Permanent Committee of the National Assembly Decides to Discuss the Suspension of Ms. Mu Sochua’s Immunity on the Agenda at a Meeting on 22 June 2009

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3785, 16.6.2009

  • Civil Society Agrees with the Declaration of Their Property in Order to Encourage an Anti-Corruption Law to Be Adopted Soon
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Asks the Government to Show Oil Exploitation Contracts and the Income from Natural Resources Publicly
  • Citizens Encourage the Ministry of Interior and the National Police to Strengthen Social Security More [after there have been many robberies]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4921, 16.6.2009

  • Japan Grants Yen 2,143 Million [approximately US$21 million] to Cambodia [for the repair of the Roleang Chrey major water gates, for the construction of schools in Phnom Penh, and to support the efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia to improve the structural reforms of the economy]
  • The Salt Producers Association: This Year Cambodia Has to Import 50,000 to 60,000 Tonnes of Salt [because the production of salt this year is affected by unfavorable weather, and this is the first time that Cambodia has to import salt, as the local production cannot meet the demand]
  • Two Died and Four Were Wounded when a Car Collided with a Rubber Truck [Kompong Chhnang]
  • The Head of the Sovann Thomareach Pagoda Committee and His Assistant Are Arrested for Raping and for Acts of Debauchery with Hundreds of Women [Kandal]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1730, 16.6.2009

  • Illegal Logging Still Occurs after [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Declared to Maintain 60% of the Green Forest

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

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President Obama Makes Loans Available for Investment in Cambodia – Monday, 15.6.2009

Posted on 19 June 2009. Filed under: Week 617 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 617

“Phnom Penh: There is not always bad news about the relations between Cambodia and the USA. Now, the good news is that America decided to make loans available for American investment in Cambodia. It is expected that this decision by President Obama will encourage investments of both countries – Cambodia and America.

“Barack Obama’s decision will open the way for American companies to ask for loans to invest in Cambodia. According to a news report from Washington D.C. on 13 June 2009, President Obama made such a decision, because Cambodia is no longer a communist country.

“The Minister of Information and spokesperson of the government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, welcomed this decision and considers it as encouraging more commercial investment from America to Cambodia, since America is a major partner of Cambodia.

“Mr. Khieu Kanharith added that even though aid from America to Cambodia is small, the United States of America has assisted Cambodia a lot in different international institutions. Moreover, the decision of the American president is another step which will increase investments from America in Cambodia, though the American economy is facing the global crisis.

“A parliamentarian, the chairperson of the Commission of Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly, Mr. Chheang Von, said that the decision of America is a big encouragement for the Royal Government of Cambodia and a facilitation for trade and investment related to international cooperation between Cambodia and other countries, especially the United States of America, which is, in economic terms, the most powerful country of the world.

“Mr. Chheang Von, a former Cambodian ambassador at the World Trade Organization, explained that American investors can come to make a lot of investment in Cambodia through this decision. It is a new encouraging force to bring investors to Cambodia and brings pride to Cambodia under the reign of Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, which ensures trust to attract major countries and last but not least the United States of America to invest in Cambodia.

“The United Sates of America exported goods to Cambodia last year worth US$154 million while the export of garments and industrial products by Cambodia to the United States of America was more than US$2.4 billion.

“So far, the United States of America still does not offer commercial loans for investment in six communist [?] countries, such as Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4920, 14-15.6.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 15 June 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #210, 14-15.6.2009

  • Cambodia Agrees to Send Two [Muslim] JI Members Back to Siam [Thailand]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1970, 14-15.6.2009

  • America Removes Cambodia and Laos from the Blacklist Banning Commerce
  • Siamese [Thai] Government Sends 56 Khmer Krom People Back to Cambodia
  • The United Nations Decides to Put Sanction on North Korea

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #425, 14-16.6.2009

  • The Immunity of Parliamentarians during the Power of Prime Minister Hun Sen Is Most Important
  • [The president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Mr. Sam Rainsy and [the president of the Human Rights Party] Mr. Kem Sokha Condemn the Use of the Courts as a Tool to Oppress Parliamentarians

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6676, 15.6.2009

  • Mr. Ahmadinejad Wins the Presidential Elections Again and This Causes Turmoil in Tehran

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3784, 15.6.2009

  • The Permanent Committee of the National Assembly Will Revoke Ms. Mu Sochua’s Immunity on Monday [in order to open the way to handle the defamation complaint of Prime Minister Hun Sen against her – though her original defamation suit against the Prime Minister was not accepted to be handled by the court]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4920, 14-15.6.2009

  • President Obama Makes Loans Available for Investment in Cambodia
  • Technical Problems of the Airplane Made the Thai Prime Minister to Be Delayed at the Phnom Penh International Airport for Half of the Night
  • A Reporter of The Cambodia Daily Is Summoned to Be Questioned about [wrongly] Quoting [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Ho Vann’s Speech Which Led to a Complaint against Him [filed by 20 senior military officials]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1729, 15.6.2009

  • The Bayon Television Station [under the management by a daughter of Prime Minister Hun Sen] Criticizes the Authorities of the Phnom Penh Municipality Administered by Kep Chuktema over Gambling

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

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What Prevents an Easy Understanding of the Laws, of Information, and of Facts? – Sunday, 14.6.2009

Posted on 19 June 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 616 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 616

The Preamble of the Cambodian Constitution declares as what kind of country the Kingdom of Cambodia was being established in 1993, saying it is “to restore Cambodia into an ‘Island of Peace’ based on a multi‑party liberal democratic regime guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law.”

Again, according to the Constitution, how is this going to be accomplished?

Article 35:

Khmer citizens of either sex shall have the right to participate actively in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the nation. Any suggestions from the people shall be given full consideration by the organs of the State.

Why is this to be done?

Article 51:

The Kingdom of Cambodia adopts a policy of Liberal Democracy and Pluralism. The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people. The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, The Senate, the Royal Government and the Judiciary. The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate.

The Constitution speaks clearly: whatever the National Assembly and the Senate, the Royal Government, and the Judiciary do – they are empowered by the people, and they have to give full consideration to the suggestions coming from the people, as the Constitution in Article 51:

All power belongs to the people.

This week, there was a report in the press that a member a member of the Constitutional Council – the supreme legal institution of Cambodia – again referring to Article 51 of the Constitution which says, ‘The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate.’

And so he concluded that the appointment of three members of the judicial power – three judges – into positions of the executive power – the government – is not conform to the Constitution.

We have not read that this violation of the separation of the three powers has been rectified. And we assume that this has to be clarified in such a way that the people in general – not only some legal experts – can understand how it was solved. The advice given by Mr. Son Soubert, a member of the Constitutional Council, is clear and can easily be understood: court officials should resign from their positions in the judiciary, when they accept a position in the executive.

It is interesting to consider what the third president of the USA, Thomas Jefferson, known internationally as the main author of the 1776 US Declaration of Independence from England, which was also based on the opinion of the people as the foundation of the government in a democratic regime. How is the communication of the opinion of the people to the government achieved? He wrote, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that everybody should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

There were several reports during the week which are difficult to understand in this respect.

Formerly, there had been reports that visitors to Angkor Wat were surprised to see that lights were installed in some sections of the temple, and they assumed that this was done by drilling holes into the stones to fix the lamps.

Later, it was denied that new holes were drilled – but it was explained that old, existing holes had been used for the fixing of the lamps.

But the president of the Khmer Civilization Foundation, had had expressed his opinion that drilling holes into the Angkor Wat structures is damaging – after his statement was published he was to be taken to court by the government – but he fled the country in fear.

Then another paper reported: “Lights Installed to Lit Angkor Wat Temple during the Night Are Removed Quietly.” Why?

However, the President of the National Assembly is reported to have agreed to invite the Minister at the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, who is also heading the Angkor Authority, in charge of preservation of the Angkor cultural heritage, to clarify to the National Assembly what was the plan and what has happened related to bringing electricity to the most important cultural heritage site of the country.

More recenty, the Prime Minister is reported to have underlined the need to take legal action in this case: “If we did not curb the situation on time, what would have happened? They have spread the disinformation via mobile phones, and it could have created a huge turmoil.”

Finally, even the largest newspaper of the country, normally not hostile to the government at all, Rasmei Kampuchea, has been indicted by a government lawyer – probably because they also had reported about the concern about the way in which electricity was to be introduced, though the editor-in-chief of Rasmei Kampuchea was quoted to have said he did not know why a complaint had been filed by a government lawyer against Rasmei Kampuchea: “I don’t know… What do they sue me for?”

This is just one of the cases relating to the judiciary, which was prominently in the press during the last week. Is it a surprise that Cambodian journalists express concern at the sequence of legal actions filed by government officials over allegations of disinformation? It is no surprise that also the international media take this up more and more.

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