Archive for February 1st, 2010

Eight Companies Will Invest in Agro-Industry Crops on More than 50,000 Hectares of Land – Monday, 1.2.2010

Posted on 1 February 2010. Filed under: Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

“Phnom Penh: The Royal Government, represented by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Chan Sarun, and representatives of eight companies signed, on 29 January 2010, contracts on agro-industry crop investment on more than 50,000 hectares of land. Most investments focus on rubber plantations in three northeastern provinces of Cambodia.

“The signing ceremony was held at the Ministry of Agriculture. The chief of the cabinet of the ministry, Mr. Hong Nareth, informed Rasmei Kampuchea, saying, ‘After the Minister of Agriculture had received the authorization from the head of the government, we organized this official contract signing ceremony.’ The 8 companies received economic concession land of more than 50,000 hectares for investment. Among the 8 companies, 1 company is from Malaysia, 1 from South Korea, 4 are from Vietnam, and 2 are local companies.

“Based on the contracts, he said that the Malaysian company will invest in agro-industry crops on more than 7,800 hectares of land in Mondolkiri. The South Korean company will invest to plant rubber trees on 6,600 hectares of land in Kratie. The companies from Vietnam will plant rubber trees and agro-industry crops, raise animals, and establish processing factories on 20,900 hectares of land in Kratie and Ratanakiri. Local companies will invest in rubber and agro-industry crops plantation on 16,900 hectares of land in Kratie.

“Speaking on behalf of the Royal Government, the Minister of Agriculture welcomed the investments by all investors that respond to the Royal Government’s needs. He considered the official decisions and deals at this time as mutual beneficial contributions and joint development efforts for Cambodia to reduce poverty, to create employment, and to transfer agro-industrial techniques to Cambodian people.

“The minister reminded all companies which have received the right to invest that they have to implement their activities according to the contracts. In the meantime, the ministry is ready to cooperate to ensure that the investment becomes successful.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5113-5114, 30-1.1-2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 1 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #401, 30.1.2010

  • Human Rights Watch Backs Prime Minister’s Warning to [army and navy] Generals [over their illegal actions and corruption]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2164-2165, 30-1.1-2.2010

  • An Armed Clash Broke Out at Point 532, Resulting in the Death of a Siamese [Thai] Soldier [Khmer soldiers claimed that Thai soldiers started shooting at Khmer soldiers first, when they tried to approach the Thai soldiers to ask why they came into Khmer territory]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Draft of an Anti-Corruption Law Has an Article about Property Declaration [all officials, such as military and police officials and politicians, are required to declare their property, otherwise they will be punished; but he did not predict when this law will be approved]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #593, 30.1.2010

  • The Ministry of Interior Said It Decided to Dismiss the Police Official [a second lieutenant] Oung Dara Who Raped a Woman in a Karaoke Parlor [already in October 2009 in Phnom Penh, by now his whereabouts are not known]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6871-6872, 30-1.1-2.2010

  • A Siamese [Thai] Student Who Tried to Enter the Preah Vihear Temple at Noon [illegally] Was Held
  • Two Robbers Robbed a Gold Seller, Taking Away 500 Chi of Gold [approx. US$66,500] and Riel 4 Million [approx. US$930 – Phnom Penh]
  • Swiss Musicians Played Music to Entertain Prisoners [in Kampot; this event was organized by the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, LICADHO]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #101, 1.2.2010

  • The Start of a Car Manufacturing Company’s Operations [a branch of the Korean Hyundai Motor Company] Was Postponed [to be established in Koh Kong by the end of this year, as the construction had been affected by bad weather]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5113-5114, 30-1.1-2.2010

  • Eight Companies will Invest in Agro-Industry Crops on More Than 50,000 Hectares of Land
  • A Mother [who had high blood pressure] and Her Son [who had mental disorders] Jointly Committed Suicide [by hanging, as they could not find money to support their lives – Phnom Penh]
  • A Woman Was Arrested for Driving a Car and Killing a Motor-Taxi Driver by Causing an Accident, and Injuring Another Person Seriously [Phnom Penh]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1867, 1.2.2010

  • [The Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson and parliamentarian] Mr. Yim Sovann Encouraged [the Prime Minister] to Arrest Corrupt Senior Military Officials so that They Can Be Convicted

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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From Announcing to Implementing Reforms – Sunday, 31.1.2010

Posted on 1 February 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 649 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 649

A problem faced by some powerful leaders is that they do not know what is really going on under their control – there is a layer of advisors and assistants who keep important information from reaching the top, or the arrangements for the activities of persons in high level leadership do not provide sufficient opportunities to see what happens on the ground.

Some years ago it the Prime Minister traveled by car on a major road of the country, over which he normally used to fly by helicopter – and it was then reported that he was surprised about the poor state of the maintenance of the road, ordered its repair as a priority, and decided to travel by car more frequently to see some of the reality which he cannot see from high up in the air.

Sometimes it is also questioned whether other important information is really reaching the Prime Minister, or whether it is filtered away by advisors and assistants.

In 2003, there was a embarrassing situation, when one of his nephews, Nim Sophea, was accused to be involved in a shooting affair, which left three people dead and four others injured. The nephew was arrested and convicted, but in an appeals process he was declared to be not guilty (the main culprit had fled and was never found – if I remember correctly). Around that time, the Prime Minister said that even his nephew would have to face the court – though, at that time, the media had already reported that Nim Sophea was already in China. This information had not reached the Prime Minister, so he did not know.

The Prime Minister’s speech on 28 January 2010, during the closing ceremony of a conference at the Ministry of Defense, is different: it shows that he knows very well what is going on. He did what was hardly ever heard before in public: he named several high ranking military leaders, present at the meeting – Sum Samnang, director-general of logistics and finance at the Ministry of Defence; Chao Phirun, director-general of materials and technical services; Ung Samkhan, commander of the Royal Navy; and Chhoeun Chanthan, chief of the senate president’s bodyguards – accusing them of corrupt actions: misusing their positions for their private business, using military equipment and personnel for personal gain, and wasting public property.

“Do not be commanders that are only good at wood trading, illegal logging, land grabbing, and illegal fishery.” – “The role of the military is to fulfill obligations for the nation, not to guard your mangroves, please check this again! Please do not use soldiers and military machinery to serve individual interests.” As five-star general and top military leader, the Prime Minister said that “from now on, military officials who are involved in illegal activities are not fit to work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.”

Such public frankness led to immediate words of welcome from Mr. Yim Sovann, the spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, who noticed that these announcements for a new outlook into the future has an implication also for the past: “What I am happy about is that he acknowledged past misdeeds.”

Also Mr. Thun Saray, the president of the human rights organization ADHOC, called for these new steps of reform to be put swiftly into action, pointing to a problematic weak link between high level policy directives and their implementation: “His speech is very good, but we also ask for its real implementation … sometimes when we take his speech to lower levels for implementation, they do not listen.”

In spite of these special considerations, this is an extraordinary situation which does not happen easily: that the head of the government, the spokesperson of the largest opposition party, and a respected leader in civil society immediately agree.

The reports of this week contain again material as in the weeks before, on which the words of the Prime Minister can be applied: “It Is Time to Stop; Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.”

We just repeat some pieces of information from the past week:

  • Local Authorities in Ratanakiri Were Threatened to Be Killed by Soldiers Trading Wood [when they tried to block those soldiers transporting wood to Vietnam; finally the authorities could not seize the wood and could just report the case to higher levels]
  • The Pursat Authorities Close Their Eyes, Not Seeing the Strong Logging Activities for Luxury Wood in the Forest
  • The UN Envoy on Human Rights in Cambodia Assessed that the Government Showed Willingness to Strengthen Human Rights in Cambodia
  • Intensive Wood Trading Continues at the Cambodian-Thai Border while the Border Disputes Remain Unsolved

The Prime Minister’s words were spoken in a specific context: referring to the reforms to happen in all sectors, including in the armed forces. That means, new procedures will have to be defined and applied. If this happens, the Prime Minister’s expectations may start to work: “It is time to end that some work in the military in order to use this as a shield to run their own businesses. If you wear ranking stars and cut trees, fellow soldiers will point at your face.”

Fellow soldiers did not do so in the past, because they could not expect that they would be supported at higher levels, as also some of the examples repeated above from the past week show. It will therefore be decisive to see what procedural changes will be established, and how their implementation will be monitored – by the public and the media – and enforced by the relevant institutions of the state.

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