Archive for November 19th, 2009

Royal Railway Workers Protest over Salaries, after the Royal Railways of Cambodia Have Been Contracted over to a Private Company – Wednesday, 18.11.2009

Posted on 19 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue for some days, as I am attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and then raveling back to Cambodia. I try to produce in time as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian government had signed an agreement to hand over the railway to the Toll Cambodia company to conduct the rail transportation operations for 30 years; the transport operations on the Cambodian railways as a public enterprise was terminated at the end of October 2009.

“The Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr. Tram Iv Tek, said that of the more than 1,000 railway staff and officials, only 670 are accepted by the company to continue working, while some of the others remain under the control of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

“An employee responsible for transport operations, Mr. Nguon Chan Hon, told Deum Ampil in anger, ‘Already 47 days have passed, but the company has not released the salaries of the workers; we do not cause any trouble, but we just want our salaries paid, because no one seems to responsible for it, after some were changed back from being on an autonomous enterprise, back to be under the state again.’ He added, ‘Development at the Royal Railways of Cambodia totally stopped, trains run at speeds of 40km/h down to 5km/h. What I tried to do all is lost.’

“A train driver, Mr. Nou Navy, said, ‘We do not want to trouble the leaders, but we want to ask about our salaries since October, and in November it is the 15th day. When the door is closed like this, we do not know the day set for the salaries to be paid. I met the head of accounting, and they said that a date has not yet been set, and we have to wait, because at present, there are four train lines operated: the Sokimex line, two coal train lines, and the Touk Meas line. A date cannot be specified yet, therefore you have to wait.’

“He added, ‘Even while it is a public workplace, it is not known where the specially designated money from the government, Riel 20,000 [approx. US$5] has gone. We have received nothing since the day Samdech Hun Sen announced to designate some money. At present, I only earn a salary of Riel 116,000 [approx. U$29] per month, and I have been working as a train driver for 28 years. Other workers shouted annoyingly, ‘Even nobody is promoted to new positions, and nobody knows when the salaries will be paid; if there are promotions, this happens only to their partisans.’

“Another driver, Mr. Sam Yan, said, ‘I would like to ask the Royal Government to pay attention to the workers, because for many years, they earned Riel 60,000 to Riel 70,000 [US$15 to US$17] and the highest level is Riel 120,000 [approx. US$30], for people in leadership positions only. Therefore, you people on the higher levels, please help to check this, so that staff workers stay calm.’

“A train engine mechanic, Mr. Soy Sambath, said, ‘More than 20 years ago, when I entered to work here in 1979, 80% of the railway infrastructure was left undestroyed, but today, by this hour, it is zero. It has to be rebuilt again from zero to 100%; most of the land had been leased away, and there is not even the necessary money to pay the salaries for the workers. If the money received for leasing land, formerly belonging to the railway, would be made know to the workers, and the money would be offered to the workers for their salaries, they would be satisfied.’

“Another worked, a lathe mechanic, Ms. Sokhim, said, ‘During 1979 and 1980, when the country just woke up from war, the railways managed to earn profit, but now when the country has peace, things have disintegrated, and there have been frequent derailings and other train accidents.’

“[Royal Railways of Cambodia Director-General] Sokhom Pheakavanmony told Deum Ampil, ‘I had already received the report and they are justified to worry, because as we all know, since 15 November 2009, the Royal Government decided, announced through Decrees 163 and 164, to hand over the Royal Railways of Cambodia to the Toll Cambodia company. Normally, when a cooperation is terminated by such an immediate transfer, the workers did not get any information, making them think that they lost their salaries. But actually, it is not so. Their salaries are guaranteed by clear contracts from the Ministry as well as from the Royal Railways of Cambodia. Their salaries are not lost, but it is just because they did not receive any clear information.’ He added that soon they will get information, which can reach only 40% to 50% of them, as some staff do not stay in one place, and some workers stay at far away provinces, so time is needed to access the information. ‘Therefore, there is no problem, We solved it already and today, we have just finished discussing it.’ He went on to say ‘Railways are a public enterprise, controlled by the public enterprise law, and the management of staff is based on regulations… . Normally, it is like this, when the railways is handed over to a new company. There could be some struggle between different opinions, and the management must follow the decisions of the government.’

“The under-secretary of state in charge of the Royal Railways of Cambodia, Mr. Touch Chankosal, told Deum Ampil, ‘I did not know that the workers had protested.'” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #339, 18.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #339, 18.11.2009

  • Royal Railway Workers Protest over Salaries, after the Royal Railways of Cambodia Have Been Handed over to a Private Company
  • Civil Organizations and the Government Hold a Social Accountability Seminar [under the theme of working together for social accountability]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2001, 18.11.2009

  • Cambodia Has No Plan to Negotiate with Siam [Thailand] to Solve the Diplomatic Disputes [according to the spokesperson of the government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #532, 18.11.2009

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Brings the His Protest over the Suspension of His Immunity to the European Union Parliament and World Parliaments of the World
  • Thai Deputy Prime Minister Sutheb Thaugsuban Warned to Use the Airforce to Destroy [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra’s Plane if it Crosses Siamese [Thai] Airspace

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6808, 18.11.2009

  • The Koh Kong Authorities Prepare 30,000 Hectares of land for a Chinese Company [“Union Development”] to Develop [to construct hotels, casinos, golf courses, and tourist areas]
  • Punishment over the Removal of Temporary Border Markers [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border]: [head of the National Border Committee] Va Kimhong: At the West There Is [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Who Does Not Recognize the Border, at the East There Is Sam Rainsy

Krong Long Vek, Vol.7, #164, 18.11.2009

  • Flooded Mangrove Forest in Siem Reap Is Being Destroyed by Evil Merchants

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #48, 18.11.2009

  • Japan Plans to Provide Nearly US$2 Million to Strengthen Tourism [in Cambodia, through a road traffic safety project from 2010 to 2013]
  • Cambodia and the Philippines Will Start Direct Flights between the Two Countries [in 2010 – according to the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon]
  • The United Nations Delivered an Award to the Head of the Cambodian Red Cross [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife, Ms. Bun Rany, for her successful leadership in fighting against AIDS and HIV, and in reducing discrimination against people infected with AIDS]
  • Three Wheel Motorbikes [Tuk-Tuk or Romorque Motos] Are Free from Fines for a While [until the end of 2009 for not having number plates]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5050, 18.11.2009

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Hopes that the Thai Man Suspected of Spying Will Be Released, but Cambodia Said It Depends on the Courts
  • Police Solve the Murder Case at the Tay Tay Restaurant [where a police official was shot dead; four suspects have been arrested, but the chief perpetrator is not identified yet – Phnom Penh]

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.

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Officials and Evil Merchants Collude to Open a Border Crossing to Transport Wood to Vietnam – Tuesday, 17.11.2009

Posted on 19 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue for some days, as I am attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and then traveling back to Phnom Penh. I try to be timely as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“According to a broadcast of a radio station based in Washington D.C. in the United States yesterday, about strong illegal logging of luxury wood in protected forested areas in a national park in Ratanakiri, bordering on Yuon [Vietnam], carried out by merchants colluding with some persons in the local authorities, an official, who asked not to be named, claimed there is collusion to open a Khmer-Yuon [Cambodian-Vietnamese] border crossing illegally to export luxury wood from Cambodia to be sold to Yuon merchants.

“According to this source, a Ratanakiri official, anonymly spoke about collusion to open an international crossing between the Ou Ya Dav district in Cambodia and a province’s district on the Yuon [Vietnamese] side of the border, during the first six months of 2009, leading to estimation that over 400 trucks transported trees, cut the Khmer natural forest, were transported by merchants and illegal business networks, to be sold to Yuon merchants who wait at the border.

“As an example of continuing loggings of luxury wood, a case was mentioned where merchants hired villagers to cut trees in Taveng district in Ratanakiri.

“The Phav village chief in Taveng Krom commune, Taveng district, Mr. Pel Hin, was quoted as saying that he noticed that merchants came to villages and hired poor villagers to cut valuable trees in the forest, and they then bought them from villagers. The village chief expressed concern about forest destruction, forests being resources of the state, and that the destruction might spread to the Vireakchey National Park, established by Royal Decree at the Kantuy Neak [dragon tail] region, bordering on Laos and on Yuon.

“The village chief said, ‘I am really concerned. When I attended some meetings, I told the meetings that there are companies buying and selling wood in my village.’

“The secretary of thhe Taveng Krom commune, Mr. Boeung, recognized that there are illegal loggings and then the transport of luxury wood, but he claimed that this had happened only during the last few months. He said, ‘I saw much luxury wood at Taveng Krom commune brought from Taveng Leu commune. Merchants brought it here to sell it.’

“The Taveng district’s military police chief, Mr. Keo Vichet, expressed regrets, as he has very few forces, and therefore he does not know such cases.

“However, according to direct monitoring by Radio Free Asia late last week in Phav village about illegal wood transactions, workers were seen transporting luxury wood; some had 10 cm by 15 cm width bars, 1 meter long, being transported from the village to the river, to be loaded in motor boats of merchants for exports.

“A worker said that he was hired by a local Chinese merchant in Vern Sai district, Nhok Thong, an illegal luxury wood merchant who hires poor villagers to enter to cut trees in the forest.

“The Taveng district governor, Mr. Kim Toeu, recognized that there are illegal wood businesses.

“Regarding this issue, Taveng Forestry Administration official in Ratanakiri recognized that there are such activities, involving merchants and some evil officials. He said about the loss of trees, ‘As for the activities and crimes in any specific district, those districts have to be responsible respectively.’

“Poor villagers from different villages, like Sieng Soy, Taveng Leu, Dambouk villages… have been contacted by merchants who have relations with some evil officials, using money to hire them to cut valuable trees in the forest and sell them to those merchants who go to buy trees in villages, such illegal activities happened repeatedly during recent months, as they are not afraid of the law.

“Those sources said also that many cubic meters of luxury wood were found, piled up at many places in areas near the Yuon border, in order to facilitate the transport in order to sell the wood to Yuon merchants who wait near the border crossing.

“The official of the province, who asked not to be named, was quoted as saying that the illegal transport of wood is most actively done during the night. According to his estimation since June 2009, the luxury wood cut by hired poor villagers was loaded onto more than 400 trucks, to be transported for sale to Yuon merchants.

“They cannot understand why forest crimes destroying state resources still exist, even though Prime Minister Hun Sen had promised in 2001, with words like swearing an oath, that he would give up leading the government, if his government was not able to crack down on illegal logging and illegal transport starting from 1 January 2002.

“This seems difficult to understand, and observers notice that even Oknha Try Pheap, an advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen, had been frequently accused by people in communities at different provinces, such as Pursat, of hiring poor people to cut valuable trees to be transported and sold to merchants from outside of the country.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #531, 17.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #338, 17.11.2009

  • The Head of the Government Shook Hands for the First Time with President Obama in Singapore [both leaders agreed to intensify relations in order to promote economic and social development in Cambodia]
  • China Has Invested More Than US$6 Billion in Cambodia within 15 Years

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2100, 17.11.2009

  • Cambodian and Siamese [Thai] Troops at the Border Move towards Friendship [Thai army commanders had told the Khmer army commanders that they will be seek confrontation with the Cambodian troops]
  • Cambodia Has Received Investments Amounting to More Than US$1.5 Billion from Vietnam [in aviation, banking, oil, gas, agriculture, and tourism – according to the Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Tram Bac Ha]
  • UN Commissioner [Dr. Nafis Sadis]: Other Countries Should Learn from Cambodia about the Fight against AIDS [Cambodia reduced the occurence of AIDS from 2% in 1998 to 0.9% in 2006]
  • ASEAN-US Ties Become Closer with the Historic Summit [the USA promised to step up its cooperation with ASEAN, described as one of its important partners, to promote peace and security in the region]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #676, 17.11.2009

  • Thaksin Shinawatra Warned to Fly from India to Cambodia on 19 October 2009 Crossing Siamese [Thai] Airspace, while Bangkok Prepared to Arrest Him

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #531, 17.11.2009

  • Officials and Evil Merchants Collude to Open a Border Crossing to Transport Wood to Vietnam
  • Protesters against the Suspension of Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [by 24 Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians and supporters] Marched in Front of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Residence [in Phnom Penh]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Considers Dissolving the Parliament to Hold New Elections while Yellow Shirt Demonstrators Are Accusing Thaksin Shinawatra as a Traitor, Selling National Territory

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6807, 17.11.2009

  • The National Assembly Suspended Mr. Sam Rainsy Immunity over the Removal of Border Markers at Chantrea District [in Svay Rieng]
  • A M79 Shell Exploded among Yellow Shirt Demonstrators [government supporters], Injuring Twelve People [Thailand]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #47, 17.11.2009

  • Cambodia Allowed a Thai Official to Meet the [Thai] Man Accused of Spying [by copying documents about the flight schedules of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to be sent to Thailand] while There Is Still No Solution for the Diplomatic Disputes
  • Mr. Obama Stated that the United State and China Do Not Need to Be Adversaries [during their political history, they had been, but then got on with each other. They got on in some sectors, but not in all]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5049, 17.11.2009

  • Thailand Rejected Indonesia’s Role to Solve the Dispute with Cambodia
  • Cambodia Is Worried about Khmer Workers in Thailand, but the Thai Ambassador Said that There Is No Problem
  • Mr. Obama Encouraged Myanmar to Release Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [Burmese elected democracy leader]

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.

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