Archive for January 11th, 2010

Chea Mony: That Demonstrations and Strikes Decreased Does Not Mean that there Are Proper Working Conditions – Monday, 11.1.2010

Posted on 11 January 2010. Filed under: Week 647 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647

“Phnom Penh: The president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers stated that there were more than 100 demonstrations and strikes held by workers in 2009, but this number is less than in previous years. However, the decline in numbers is not due to better working conditions, but due to restrictions imposed by the government on demonstrations and strikes, especially due to suppression of workers movements by the local authorities.

“Generally, demonstrations and strikes do not achieve 100% results, but only through them can problems of workers get solved up to 70%. He said that when demonstrations and strikes are conducted by workers, there can be solutions, but if not, there are not any solutions for their problems. He added, ‘We do not use demonstrations and strikes as a weapon to trouble factory owners or the government, but it is because some factories do not respect working condition regulations at all, and strikes are held because the relevant ministries are incapable of implementing the law. Thus, the procedures to demonstrate and to strike is a good way for workers, or it can be considered as a good medicine to solve their problems.’

Deum Ampil contacted the secretary of state [of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training], Mr. Oum Mean, to comment on the claim of the free trade union leader, but he did not make any comment, saying that he was fulfilling his mission in a province, and then shut off his mobile phone.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #384, 10-11.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 11 January 2010

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #93, 11.1.2010

  • [The president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Mr. Chea Mony Asked the United States Not to Impose Taxes on Garment Products Exported from Cambodia to the United States

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #384, 10-11.1.2010

  • Chea Mony: That Demonstarations and Strikes Decreased Does Not Mean that there Are Proper Working Conditions

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2147, 10-11.1.2010

  • A Major Shot About 10 Times into the Air [reason unknown], but the Authorities Did not Dare Not to Arrest Him [though there were soldiers at a nearby post, and also military police and police did not arrest him – Prampi Makara district, Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6854, 11.1.2010

  • Nearly Two Tonnes of Quails and Hundreds of Bottles of Johnie Walker Whisky [of no quality] Were Burnt or Destroyed [Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.2, #86, 11.1.2010

  • Prices of Gasoline Start to Rise Again [to about US$1.07 Premium and US$1.04 Regular per liter in Cambodia after the price at international markets for crude oil increased up to US$90.25 per barrel]
  • Officials [of the Ministry of Health] Are Concerned about the Spreading of Cholera in the Dry Season [because of unsanitary living conditions]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5096, 10-11.1.2010

  • The Svay Rieng Court Will Open the Hearing on [opposition party president] Sam Rainsy on 27 January 2010 [over the removal of border markers]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1853, 11-12.1.2010

  • The Court Will Convict Five Citizens and Mr. Sam Rainsy on 27 January over [the removal] of Border Marker 185
  • [Former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch Will Be Indicted and Added into Case 002 with [four other] Khmer Rouge Top Leaders [Nuon Chea, Khiev Samphan, Ieng Sary, and Ieng Thirith]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Building Confidence Requires Transparent Application of the Law – Sunday, 10.1.2010

Posted on 11 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 646 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 646

Drafts for an anti-corruption law have been under consideration since 14 years, but now a draft was finalized by the Council of Ministers in December and sent to the National Assembly. The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers had declared – in response to expressed public interest its content – that it is still secret until it reaches the National Assembly.

This did not prevent him to disclose what we reported in the Mirror in our New Year’s comment:

The only details of the anti-corruption law that have been made public on Friday is the fact that the staff of NGOs are required to disclose their personal assets. Under the law, NGO workers are defined as public servants, and side-by-side with officials who are paid by the government, they must disclose their assets. ‘It is an obligation to do so, if you don’t do it, you are jailed,’ Mr. Phay Siphan is quoted to have said.

A New Year’s surprise is the news that – though the draft sent in December must have reached the National Assembly by now – it will not be debated until April at the earliest. The promise, that this draft will be made public after sending it to the National Assembly, is now added to the long list of not kept promises which led do the past delays.

And it has to be remembered that in the past, drafts of laws were available for public consideration during the often long processes of their preparation. Why not also now?

Such delays give only rise to rumors and speculations. For example, one voice claimed to know that the requirement to disclose personal assets will not apply to every low level public servant at the local level, but only to those elected into public functions, or higher level public servants appointed by sub-decree and decree. But as the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers said that also NGO workers will be considered to be public servants required to disclose their personal assets – at which level will this apply?

Whatever the reason for this promise of disclosure after transmission to the National Assembly not fulfilled, it does not build trust among the public.

A state of law is a situation where everybody – both law enforcement and the citizens – know the rules and what can be expected. The rule of law does not have much flexibility – like to apply or not to apply the law under specific circumstances. It is not a question of convenience when to apply it, or on whom not to apply it. Trust in the rule of law – trust that justice will prevail in society – is based on the confidence that the law is applied equally on every person, without any difference of social status of economic power.

This week brought some complex problems to the public.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia were established, after long and complicated negotiations between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the United Nations, as an independent court to clarify what had happened during a clearly defined and limited time of the Khmer Rouge regime, and to find justice for crimes committed.

After similar warnings by the Prime Minister, now the President of the Senate and of the Cambodian Peoples Party stated that he is concerned that war might break out, if more than the five people presently facing the court would be indicted. This gives not only the impression that highest level leaders of the state do not have confidence that the law enforcement agents, the courts and the police, and in addition other armed elements of the state are able to control and maintain public order. It raises the question whether the decision to establish the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia as an independent court, by agreement with the United Nations, is valid or can be conveniently be revoked.

Of course legal agreements can be revoked – with good reasons when they do not serve justice: the Mondolkiri provincial authorities canceled the concessions of 50 companies that did not do for what they had been contracted.

The removal of markers at the border with Vietnam by the president of the Sam Rainsy Party – in response to claims by Cambodian farmers that these border markers cut them off from some of their farming land – leads almost day-by-day to new levels of conflict. He committed what he says was a symbolic act to point to the loss of land. A court and leaders of the government point out that this was – whatever the motivation behind – an illegal act for which the courts find a response based on the law. The fact that most recently Mr. Sam Rainsy is quoted with a statement that he will agree to let the court convict him, if the arrested farmers are released and their land is returned, offers a deal. But as in the case of suggested restrictions on the independence of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, it is not easy to see how a deal could be made, which would allow the course of the law to be deviated. Present appeals to the King, asking for his intervention, do not show how this could legally happen; a Royal Pardon can be contemplated only after somebody is convicted.

The disclosures by publicly known persons, children in their twenties of high ranking parents, about the tremendous wealth at their disposal – a residence of US$500,000 and another residence of US$200,000 and a rubber plantation of 400 hectares – Porsches, Bentleys and Humvees, and a US$500,000 Mercedes McLaren SLR – automatic assault rifles, Glock pistols and a sniper’s rifle – provide an interesting field for the new anti-corruption law, once it is in place – plus the question whether all these weapons are legally licensed, and on what grounds. There were, over time, repeated shooting incidents reportedly by children of high ranking parents, who used firearms, but not for self-defense or protection against violence.

Will there be questions by some agencies – nothing is know yet – to investigate how such riches could be collected, while the modest salaries of the parents are known and cannot account for such extreme wealth. One of the children interviewed said: “Your parents give you all these things. You can’t say no. If someone gives you cake, you eat it.” A anti-corruption commission will not be satisfied with such an answer.

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