Archive for May, 2010

Vann Molyvann: Some Public Properties Are State Properties, but They Are under the Control of the Ruling Party – Saturday, 29.5.2010

Posted on 30 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Mr. Vann Molyvann, the greatest Khmer architect since the 1960ies, recalls pleasant memories and achievements, having designed many public constructions, but it is now important in his mind that some of his greatest achievements have been changed, and the public can no longer have access to them; that means that the management and the exploitation of those achievements serve only a small group.

“Since Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953, Mr. Vann Molyvann invested all his efforts to work with Samdech Norodom Sihanouk to organize the muddy Phnom Penh city to become a modern city, but in the late 1960ies, Cambodia fell into war, and finally the country came under control of the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime, developments which had forced Mr. Vann Molyvann to flee Cambodia, leaving behind numerous works of New Khmer Architecture.

“After living abroad for more than 20 years, Mr. Vann Molyvann returned to Cambodia and continued to work as an architect, trying to organize the city of Phnom Penh with the intention to keep the Khmer architecture for a long time. Mr. Vann Molyvann had opposed some plans that destroyed the beauty of the city, like the construction of high-rise buildings near the Royal Palace, or in the historical and cultural areas in Siem Reap, which did not satisfy some officials, and they did not appreciate the idea to conserve Khmer architecture. That caused Mr. Vann Molyvann to resign from his position in the Cambodian government.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann told Mr. Tom Waiter of The Wall Street Journal that he met [when he was student of law in France] Mr. Henri Marchal, a French expert architect, working at the French School of the Far East [which was also involved in the study and restoration of Angkor Wat], and at that time he realized that he wanted to be an architect. Then Mr. Vann Molyvann was transferred to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts – the highest institution for Arts studies, where he studied until 1950. Mr. Vann Molyvann came back to Cambodia in 1956.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann recalled that it was difficult work and a challenge the start to design some important buildings, like the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, the Independence Monument, the National Olympic Stadium, the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and especially the plan to organize Phnom Penh to become a modern city. To reorganize the city maintaining Khmer architecture was difficult, as the country had been under French colonial rule for almost 100 years, everything seemed to be full of French architecture.

“He recalls that he produced many plans for the Independence Monument and submitted them to the Head of State [Prince Sihanouk], and he was afraid to directly disagree with the Head of State about how to organize the city and other great public construction tasks in Phnom Penh. Mr. Vann Molyvann began dredging earth to fill up some areas to the south area of the Royal Palace and some other parts of Phnom Penh in order to create parks and to keep Phnom Penh clean.

“As for the National Olympic Stadium that can seat 60,000 people, it is great architecture, using Khmer style that further beautifies Phnom Penh. The Chaktomuk Conference Hall was his first plan, drafted so that it looks like an open palm leaf. The library in the Institute of Foreign Languages and the Royal University of Phnom Penh were built in Khmer style. By the early of the 1960ies, Cambodia had many great public works of constructions that were internationally admired.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann added that he had fled the country for some time when Cambodia started to have a civil war. He returned to Cambodia in 1993 and was assigned Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, in charge of land management, and his special work was to organize the World Heritage areas in Siem Reap cooperating with UNESCO. When Mr. Vann Molyvann opposed the constructions of some hotels and international entertainment places that affect the beauty and the Angkor scenery, some officials were not satisfied with him.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann went on to say that the government wanted him to use the resources of the Angkor area to develop Siem Reap without the participation from local citizens. In 1998, he was appointed as head of the Apsara Authority, and his role was to conserve ancient temples and the Angkor scenery. He said that three years later in 2001, there were disagreements among experts over the development and the use of ground water that can affect the stability of the base of ancient temples, and if there were no solutions, many ancient temples would collapse and could not last long. However, some powerful officials still kept to promote these developments against the ideas and the concepts of Mr. Vann Molyvann, which caused him to resign from his position.

“Now Mr. Vann Molyvann is old, and he returned recently to Cambodia and drove his own car to see the great works of architecture that he had built, like the Independence Monument, the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, the National Olympic Stadium, the National Library etc., and he found that they changed much. Real estate considered to be state property is not managed properly. It seems like the current rulers manage state properties just as they like, which does not serve the public interest.

Independence Monument and one-third built 42-stories Golden Double Tower

Independence Monument and one-third built 42-stories Golden Double Tower

“Actually, private companies built flats around the National Olympic Stadium, making it lose some areas formerly used for sports, and it affects the environment, as it blocks the free flow of air. Cambodia has not had a law regarding the turning of state property into private property, but so far, some state buildings have been transferred to private companies, but without transparent bidding processes. There was also collusion to exchange state buildings in the center of the city for places in the suburbs, based on private interests.

“With some sadness and anger, Mr. Vann Molyvann spoke out loudly that at present: the great architecture that he constructed with all his efforts for the public and for the interest of society no longer remains. Mr. Vann Molyvann said that those properties no longer belong to the state, as they are managed by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party instead.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann’s claim seems right, because nowadays, most state buildings are controlled by state institutions with officials from the ruling party in charge, like the Chaktomuk Conference Hall which is controlled by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and the National Olympic Stadium which is controlled by the Ministry of Education, where even Khmer Kampuchea Krom people are not allowed to use those places to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the loss of Khmer Kampuchea Krom land [to Vietnam], being denied for some illogical reasons.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #38, 29-30.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 29 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #490, 29.5.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Sent a Letter to the Ministry of Interior for the Second Time to Ask for Permission to Visit Two Prisoners [jailed for removing Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng]
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Lacks US$3.1 Million for the Process in 2010 [the Cambodian side of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal needed US$6.5 million; so far, US$3.4 million has been granted by Australia, the European Union, Germany, and Japan, so they still lack US$3.1 million]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2261, 29.5.2010

  • Two Groups of Citizens Continue to Accuse the Heng Development Company of Grabbing Their Land, now Asking for an Intervention from Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and His Wife
  • Nine Teenage Boys [between 17 and 28 years old] Lured a [19 year old] Teenage Girl and Raped Her [three of them were arrested – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6968, 29-30.5.2010

  • The Authorities Used Force to Disperse Protesters from the Area at the Independence Monument [close to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s city house]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #38, 29-30.5.2010

  • Vann Molyvann: Some Public Properties Are State Properties, but They Are under the Control of the Ruling Party
  • Creating a Law to Control Political Party Budgets Would Help to Reduce the Buying of Votes and of Paying Political Activists

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5210, 29.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asked the World Tourism Organization to Continue to Help Conserve Porpoises in Cambodia
  • Electricité du Cambodge Can Supply Only 250 Megawatt of Electricity, while the Demand for Consumption Is Up to 290 Megawatts [therefore, electricity is cut off at irregular times in some areas]

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Cambodia Rejected Report of Amnesty International – Friday, 28.5.2010

Posted on 29 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“A government official rejected a report of Amnesty International on 27 May 2010. Amnesty International released its Amnesty International Report 2010 on human rights, saying that forced evictions affect the livelihood of thousands of families.

“The report mentions one case of the Group 78 in the Tonle Basak commune, Phnom Penh, and another case in the Chi Kraeng district, Siem Reap, where security forces used weapons to shoot at protesters injuring them. In conclusion, regarding forced evictions, Amnesty International wrote that there were at least 26 such cases, where 27,000 people, mostly the poor, were evicted.

“The report continues to say that police had arrested 149 people protesting against land grabbing. It says, ‘The rich and powerful continued to abuse the criminal justice system to silence people protesting against evictions and land grabs.’

“The spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, blamed the writers of the report that they did not study the actual situation in Cambodia before they started writing the report. Mr. Tith Sothea commented, ‘This group just want to control Cambodia, but does not help Cambodia with anything. They just attack the Cambodian government without any basis.’

“Amnesty International claims that they had sent their delegations to Cambodia several times; they wrote in this report that accusations against perpetrators raping women and girls were not always made, due to the weakness of the implementation of anti-corruption legislation by the courts and the frequent use of monetary arrangements outside of the court system [without criminal investigations and convictions]. The report adds that such solutions are normally made by negotiations between law enforcement officials and victims, to make the victims withdraw their complaints. Quoting different publication, the report noticed that the number of cases of rape of women and girls in general, as well as violence against women sex workers, keeps increasing. And these cases happen to victims who are younger and younger [many are below the age of 10].” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5209, 28.5.2010

Note:

In order to facilitate the evaluation of the controversial Amnesty International Report 2010, we select here the section of the Cambodia Country Report.

Amnesty International Report 2010

Amnesty International Report 2010

Forced evictions continued to affect thousands of families across the country, predominantly people living in poverty. Activists from communities affected by forced evictions and other land confiscations mobilized to join forces in protests and appeals to the authorities. A wave of legal actions against housing rights defenders, journalists and other critical voices stifled freedom of expression. The first trial to address past Khmer Rouge atrocities took place. The defendant, Duch, pleaded guilty, but later asked to be acquitted.

Background

At least 45,000 garment factory workers lost their jobs as a result of the global economic crisis and a number of companies reduced salaries. Surveys indicated growing mass youth unemployment as some 300,000 young people faced joblessness after completing their high school and bachelor degrees. For the first time, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered Cambodia’s state report, which the authorities had delayed submitting for 14 years. The Committee identified serious shortcomings in the implementation of a number of treaty obligations, including those relating to the judicial system, housing, and gender inequalities. Cambodia’s human rights record was reviewed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in December.

Forced evictions

Forced evictions continued to affect the lives of thousands of Cambodians. At least 26 forced evictions displaced around 27,000 people, the vast majority from communities living in poverty. In July, a number of international donors called for an end to forced evictions “until a fair and transparent mechanism for resolving land disputes is in place and a comprehensive resettlement policy” is established.

On 16/17 July 2009, security forces forcibly evicted Group 78, a community group in Phnom Penh, after a deeply flawed legal process. The last 60 families had no choice but to dismantle their houses and accept compensation that prevented them from living near their former homes and workplaces. Most of the families were relocated outside the city with few work prospects.

After civil society criticism, the World Bank attempted to strengthen safeguards in a multi-donor supported Land Management and Administration Project to protect security of tenure for people in urban slums and other vulnerable areas. In early September, the government responded by terminating its contract with the Bank.

Human rights defenders

The rich and powerful continued to abuse the criminal justice system to silence people protesting against evictions and land grabs. Police arrested at least 149 activists for their peaceful defense of the right to housing.

On 22 March 2009, security forces shot at unarmed villagers in Siem Reap province, injuring at least four people. The villagers, from Chikreng district, were protesting against the loss of farmland that had come under dispute. By the end of the year, no authority had investigated the shooting, but police had arrested at least 12 of the villagers, two of whom were subsequently convicted of robbery for attempting to harvest their rice on the disputed land. Seven were acquitted but remained in arbitrary detention pending a prosecutorial appeal.

Informal representatives from communities in most provinces increasingly formed grassroots networks,
jointly voicing concerns over forced evictions and intimidation.

International justice

In March, the historic first hearing of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC, Khmer Rouge Tribunal) took place with the trial of Kaing Guek Eav (known as Duch). Duch was commander of the notorious security prison S-21. During the 72-day hearing, survivors and victims of Khmer Rouge atrocities heard for the first time evidence against “those most responsible.” Duch admitted responsibility for crimes committed at S-21, including killing about 15,000 people.

The trial of four senior Khmer Rouge leaders was in preparation, and the International Co-Prosecutor submitted requests to open investigations into an additional five suspects. The Cambodian government spoke out against additional investigations saying they could lead to unrest, apparently in an attempt to exert influence over the tribunal.

In July, co-investigating judges decided to allow “confessions” obtained by torture as evidence in the case of Ieng Thirith. This breached the “exclusionary rule” in Article 15 of the UN Convention against Torture which binds the ECCC.

Freedom of expression –

A series of prosecutions of people who criticized government policies had a stifling effect on freedom of expression.

Courts sentenced newspaper editor Hang Chakra, and the director of an NGO, both affiliated to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), to prison terms for peacefully expressing views.

The Phnom Penh Court convicted Mu Sochua, Secretary-General of the SRP, of defamation for filing a complaint – also for defamation – against the Prime Minister. She had no legal counsel because her lawyer had withdrawn from the case after receiving threats of legal action for speaking about the case at a press conference. Mu Sochua received a non-custodial sentence.

On 10 July 2009, one of the few remaining opposition-affiliated daily newspapers, Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience), stopped publishing. The editor, Dam Sith, issued a public apology for articles, over which the government had requested a criminal investigation for “incitement.”

By the end of the year, police had made no progress on the investigation into the murder of Moneaksekar Khmer reporter Khim Sambor. He had been killed by unknown assailants during the July 2008 elections.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

On 12 October 2009, the National Assembly passed the new Penal Code. This retained defamation as a criminal offense. Opposition parliamentarians and civil society groups criticized a new Law on non-violent demonstrations, passed by the National Assembly in October. Authorities routinely denied permission for demonstrations and the law, if adopted, risked codifying such restrictions.

Violence against women and girls

Prosecution of rapists remained rare, due to poor law enforcement, corruption in the courts and widespread use of out-of-court financial settlements. Settlements were typically arranged by law enforcement officials and stipulated that the victim withdraw any criminal complaint. Reports indicated that rapes of women and girls, including sex workers, continued to increase, with the age of victims falling.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Cambodia in March/May, September and October/December.
  • Cambodia: Urban development or relocating slums? (ASA 23/002/2009)
  • Cambodia: After 30 years Khmer Rouge crimes on trial (ASA 23/003/2009)
  • Cambodia: Briefing for the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: 42nd session, May 2009 (ASA 23/004/2009)
  • Cambodia: Borei Keila – Lives at risk (ASA 23/008/2009)

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 28 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #489, 28.5.2010

  • The Government Rejected the Criticism [by the Sam Rainsy Party] over the Setting of Border Markers in Takeo [government official said that the claim by the Sam Rainsy Party that the Border Marker 270 was put in a rice field of a Cambodian farmer is only based on the farmer’s claim]
  • A Group of Ten Robbers Was Arrested [in Kompong Speu]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2260, 28.5.2010

  • UNDP: Cambodia Has the Opportunity to Reduce Poverty and to Boost Development through Income from the Mineral Sector

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #667, 28.5.2010

  • Parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party Voted to Add More Members to the Council of Ministers [“the cabinet”], Which Makes this Institution to Have Too Many Members

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6967, 28.5.2010

  • The Owner of the Phnom Yat Cloth Shop Was Threatened at Gun Point by a General [the victim’s family filed a complaint against the general – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3819, 28.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: We Do Not Support the Nomination of More Government Members, Which Is Unnecessary, as Cambodia Is Poor

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #181, 28.5.2010

  • The National Assembly Voted to Nominate More Officials, as Requested by the Cambodian Government [one was appointed at the Prime Minister’s office, and ten others as secretaries of state at various ministries]
  • A New Elevated Road Will Be Constructed in the Disputed Boeng Kak Development Area

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5209, 28.5.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected Report of Amnesty International
  • The Opposition Party Asked for a Postponement of the Setting of Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Posts in Takeo [as Border Post 270 was put in a rice field of Khmer farmer]
  • Kangwon Province of the Republic of Korea Donated Four Firefighter Trucks and Twelve Ambulances to Siem Reap

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Cambodia Promises to Use the Money from Mineral Resources Transparently – Thursday, 27.5.2010

Posted on 28 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“International experts who attended the international conference about mineral exploration that was held for the first time in Cambodia on Wednesday, 26 May 2010, said that mineral exploration in Cambodia, which has not provided any yield so far, is like a blank project that can get benefits from the experience in other countries so as to avoid any possible mistakes.

“The conference was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh with 300 participants from all around the world to discuss transparency and development for the mineral exploration sector which has just started to be developed in Cambodia.

“This conference was organized also in view of the internal investigation about the accusation against the BHP Billiton company that is known in the public with the allegation that it had bribed [the government] to gain exploration rights in Mondolkiri.

“UNDP Resident Representative Douglas Broderick said during his speech that the start to develop the mineral exploration sector in Cambodia is part of the start to develop these resources. He said, ‘Minerals are under the ground. And it depends on our cooperation to ensure that the Cambodian people can get their benefits from the huge income from the exploitation of these natural resources.’

“Prime Minister Hun Sen considers the natural resources of the country as a new treasure that can contribute to the potential of the economy. He added that natural resources as well as agriculture, the garment and the construction sectors, and tourism can contribute to the development of the economy of the country.

“The Prime Minister stressed, ‘If Cambodia has the opportunity to explore its mineral treasures, Cambodia will use the income from it responsibly for the sake of the nation.’

“In his speech, that strongly criticized Global Witness, Mr. Hun Sen called on the participants to share their knowledge in order to help the government to maximize the financial benefits from this sector, to develop the country and to reduce poverty.

“A senior expert in mineral exploration of the World Bank, Mr. Craig Andrews, told the Phnom Penh Post that this sector will provide benefits to the country if related regulations and taxes are properly enforced, and correctly aimed at the important points, before the exploration begins.

“He suggested that Cambodia should not follow Australia regarding the collection of high taxes from the profits of the exploration, saying that the exploration in Australia and in Cambodia requires policies that are different.

“Mr. Craig Andrew said that a policy to collect low taxes from the exploration, and the stability of the country, will help Cambodia to attract foreign investors.

“According to the economic and mineral exploration expert Roderick Eggert, the developing exploration sector that can be taken as models of international success are that of Chile and of Botswana.

“He said, ‘Cambodian is starting as a blank project. The country has the chance to do the right things to get benefits from other countries. He added that mineral exploration companies are paying attention to transparency and openness.'” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #180, .275.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 27 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #488, 27.5.2010

  • Cambodia Does Not Depend on Mineral Resources Alone for Its National Economic Development
  • India Promised to Send Back Eight Khmer Citizens Who Were Trafficked to India [eight Khmer Citizens phoned their families in Cambodia to seek help from human rights organizations and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2259, 27.5.2010

  • The Government Will Cancel the Exploration and Exploitation Rights of Any Company That Commits Crimes [said Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #666, 27.5.2010

  • [Phnom Penh Municipal Governor] Kep Chuktema Does Not Allow the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community to Organize a Commemoration of the Anniversary of the Loss of [Khmer Kampuchea Krom] Land [to Vietnam] in Front of Wat Botum [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6966, 27.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Strongly Reacted against Global Witness, Calling this Organization a Group of Thieves in London [over their criticism of the lack of transparency related to the management of payments received from natural resources exploration companies]
  • Each Year Ratanakiri Loses 2,000 Hectares of Forest Land [because of the clearance of land by forestry criminals to claim land for selling, and by ethnic minority people to claim farmland – according to the Ratanakiri governor]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3890, 27.5.2010

  • Civil Society Encourages Donors to Press the Government over Human Rights Issues and Democracy during a Meeting planned for 2 June 2010 [between Cambodia and development partners]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #180, .275.2010

  • [UN Meeting] in the United States of America: The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Receives US$16.9 Million New Funds for 2010 [promised by donors]
  • Cambodia Promises to Use the Money from Mineral Resources Transparently

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5208, 27.5.2010

  • The UN Secretary General Called for Funds for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [funds needed in 2010 are more than US$21 million]
  • An Investigating Judge Issued a Warrant to Bring [opposition party president] Sam Rainsy to Court [for questioning over the accusation of having faked public documents, and having spread misinformation]
  • The Government Has a Plan to Give 133,145 Hectares of Social Concession Land for 4,000 Families of Soldiers and Members of the Police [in sixteen provinces]

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Thai Goods Are Imported through the Cham Yeam Border Crossing without Checking – Wednesday, 26.5.2010

Posted on 27 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Koh Kong: At present, during the season to import fruits, hundreds of tonnes of Thai goods are imported at the Cham Yeam border crossing on cars, trucks, and carts each day, to be distributed in Koh Kong and other provinces and in Phnom Penh without proper checking on the quality of those goods by CamControl officials.

“According to information from the Cham Yeam border crossing, CamControl officials at the crossing do not care to check the quality of imported goods nowadays, but they just wait to collect money from the owners of the goods.

“A trader who imports goods on carts said that he has to pay CamControl officials stationed at the crossing Riel 10,000 to Riel 30,000 [approx. US$2.40 to US$7.10] per cart instead of checking, and there are no receipts for the payments. The above trader complained that he cannot protest against the requirement to pay money, otherwise they would block the goods from being imported by declaring that those goods are of no quality and that no tax had been paid. He added that besides goods loaded on carts, other goods are imported on cars and trucks without any checking, like the cars of traders that transport all types of sausages, and cars and trucks carrying small fish, drinks, and other goods.

“The above source added that on every single day, there are at least 100 to 150 carts that import Thai goods across the Cham Yeam border crossing. Because there is no proper checking, every day some prohibited and no-quality goods such as pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and fruits, that are considered to be garbage in Thailand, are now acquired by traders and imported for distribution at the markets anarchically.

“A CamControl official, Mr. Chea Ny, told Rasmei Kampuchea that recently, imported goods had been checked for their quality occasionally, and no chemicals [applied on those goods] were found.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5207, 26.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #487, 26.5.2010

  • ASEAN Police Will Step Up Cooperation and Strengthen Security and Economy in the Region
  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An Asked the Asian Development Bank to Continue to Cooperate with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [ESCAP – according to a meeting with an ADB delegation]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2258, 26.5.2010

  • There Will Be a Vote [in the National Assembly] to Promote Eleven Officials [to positions of secretary of state and minister] on 27 May 2010 [but their names are not yet mentioned]
  • French Officials Plan to Come to Cambodia to Help Improve the Procedures for Exporting Products to International Markets [according to a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Mao Thora]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #771, 26.5.2010

  • The Director of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], Naly Pilorge, Uses the Influence of Foreign Funds to Dismiss Staff [not respecting contracts and the labor law]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #665, 26.5.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Asked [Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng for Permission to Visit Ms. Meas Srey and Mr. Prum Chea [being jailed for uprooting Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6965, 26.5.2010

  • Three Persons, a Man and His Two Children, Died in the Forest [of diarrhea]; Diarrhea Killed Sixteen People among 543 Patients in Ratanakiri [Yesterday, Dr. Beat Richner announced in a full page ad in The Cambodia Daily that the hospitals to which he relates have diagnosed 290 cases with the germ “Vibrio cholerae” – Cholera – among 1300 patients treated, and informed the Cambodian authorities since several months, but the Cambodian authorities continue to deny that it is Cholera and wrongly claim that the treatment for Cholera and for diarrhea is the same]
  • Thma Koul Police Intercepted 22 Pieces of Luxury Grade Wood to Be Transported to Siam [Thailand – Battambang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #179, 26.5.2010

  • Brick Producers: The Price of Bricks Doubles because of the Increase of Demand for Construction Materials [at present, 10,000 bricks cost US$400]
  • Thai Court Released Warrant to Arrest [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as Terrorist

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5207, 26.5.2010

  • Thai Goods Are Imported through the Cham Yeam Border Crossing without Checking
  • New Ambassadors of Malaysia and of Laos Met and Greeted Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen

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The Minister of Information Claims that Internet Games Are Not Illegal – Tuesday, 25.5.2010

Posted on 26 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Disagreement emerged regarding places operating Internet games in Cambodia after there had been a report that the Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, stated that those places are not related to money betting, and they should not have been closed.

“According to the deputy director of the VTC Online Internet game company, Mr. Ha Manh Hung, about 300 such places were closed this year after Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered to crack down on gambling.

“Earlier this month, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, said that the authorities considered Internet games to be a type of betting, and therefore they are illegal in Cambodia.

“But according to a report on the Internet site of Deum Ampil, Mr. Khieu Kanharith said, ‘The Prime Minister did not give a wrong order, but the implementation goes beyond the order in some areas.’

“Mr. Khieu Kanharith said that the closure of such operations does not correspond to the recommendation of Samdech Hun Sen, because video games are not related to betting, but they have a role to develop modern technical skills for the youth, the next generation.

“But the Minister added that game shops operating near schools should be closed. He went on to say, ‘Game operators should have strategies and policies to prevent students from forgetting their studies, for example, by allowing them to play not more than three hours per day.’

“When the Phnom Penh Post contacted him by telephone on Monday, he said he could not comment on it, because he is in China.

“Some officials of the Ministry of Information also refused to comment, saying that they do not know about it.

“There is still a lack of clarity about the fate of Internet games in general.

“A police official of the Tuol Svay Prey I police post in Phnom Penh, Mr. Chin Sitha, said, ‘We continue to take action against coffee shops and Internet shops that operate computer games until we receive different orders from the head of the district police.’

“The Phnom Penh police chief, Mr. Touch Naroth, refused on Monday evening to give comments on this case.

“Information technology companies are also careful until they know the situation clearly.

“Mr. Ha Manh Hung from VTC Online Internet game company said on Monday, ‘We want to know the position of the government.’

“This Vietnam-based company had announced earlier this month that the company has delayed releasing Internet games in Cambodia, after some places operating Internet games had been intercepted, adding that the company had already spent US$80,000 on advertisement.

“Mr. Ha Manh Hung said, ‘If the situation becomes clear, we will start releasing games. But if the situation remains the same, we will not waste our money again.’

“He continued to say that before, the company had cooperated with Vietnamese authorities to implement some measures to control game players by encouraging to limit their playing time, for example by reducing their score points if somebody plays for three consecutive hours, or after 9:00 p.m.

“He suggested that a forum or a meeting with government officials would help to address this disagreement.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #178, 25.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #486, 25.5.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Will Open Four Roads from the Boeng Kak Area to Connect to the South [in order to reduce traffic congestion]
  • A Car Fatally Struck a Person and Moved On, Hitting Four Other Cars [the car driver is held by police – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2257, 25.5.2010

  • In 2009, the Bilateral Trade between Cambodia and Thailand Dropped by About 22% [the trade amounted to US$1,658 million]
  • Those Having Diarrhea Accused the Kratie Health Department of Not Caring to Save Them [so far, five people have died in the hospital. – Today, Dr. Beat Richner announced in a full page ad in The Cambodia Daily that the hospitals to which he relates have diagnosed 290 cases with the germ “Vibrio cholerae” – Cholera – among 1300 patients treated, and informed the Cambodian authorities since several months, but the Cambodian authorities continue to deny that it is Cholera and wrongly claim that the treatment for Cholera and for diarrhea is the same]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6964, 25.5.2010

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Announce the Verdict on Former Tuol Sleng Prison Chief ‘Duch’ on 26 July 2010

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3888, 25.5.2010b>

  • Cambodia Sees 30% Tax on Income from the Exploitation of Minerals Countrywide [the 30% shall bring income from mineral exploration into the state budget of Cambodia in order to avoid its loss into corruption]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #178, 25.5.2010

  • Khmer Embassy Officials Visited a Khmer Worker Arrested in Thailand [accused of having joined to burn down a bank in Bangkok]
  • [200] Romeas Haek District Residents Protested in Front of the Municipality [to demand the release of a man and the lifting of the accusations against fifteen others over a land dispute – Svay Rieng]
  • The Minister of Information Claims that Internet Games Are Not Illegal

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5206, 25.5.2010

  • Australian Minerals Company Finds 8.1 Tonnes of Gold
  • Chamkar Mon Police Arrested Seven Drug Smugglers and Users, Seizing 103 Small Packages of Ice Drugs [Phnom Penh]

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The Third Bilateral Meeting between Cambodia and the United States of America – Monday, 24.5.2010

Posted on 25 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Phnom Penh: According to an announcement of the US Embassy on 21 May 2010, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Mr. Scot Marciel, and a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Ouch Borith, chaired the third annual discussion between Cambodia and the United States of America. Both delegations discussed many topics, such as US aid to Cambodia, food security, climate change, security cooperation, and general issues in the region.

“US aid to Cambodia aims to assist the priority sectors of the Royal Government of Cambodia as stated in the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government of the Cambodia to help develop Cambodia in the upcoming decades. Those sectors are poverty alleviation, agriculture, good governance, and capacity building. The US aid for those priority sectors is the same as that provided by the USA 60 years ago when the aid program of the United States of America began in 1955.

“Both sides discussed also different strategies where both countries can cooperate, like in military relations, when the US medical ship USS Mercy will arrival at the Sihanoukville sea port on 15 June 2010. Mr. Marciel also talked about the US aid for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and listened to the description of Secretary of State Ouch Borith about the achievements of the Royal Government of Cambodia in reducing poverty, promoting education and the health sector, strengthening basic infrastructure, and addressing some challenges from the global economic crisis. The Cambodian side informed Mr. Marciel also about the efforts of Cambodia to fight corruption and to reform the court system.

“This bilateral discussion provided also the opportunity for both sides to review the planning to organize the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Cambodian-US diplomatic ties. The anniversary will be celebrated by organizing some events in July. The bilateral ties between Cambodia and the United States of America have progressed much by now, especially during the last 10 years. Even though there had been some unavoidable disagreements, both sides believe that the depth and extent of the relations will continue to grow stronger in the future.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6963, 24.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 24 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #485, 23-24.5.2010

  • The King Returns from the Visit to Japan
  • 160 People Were Killed in a Plane Crash in India

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2256, 23-24.5.2010

  • Cambodia Dismissed the Information that Khmers Joined to Burn Down the Krung Thep Bank [Bangkok]
  • A Military Truck Loaded with 63 Pieces of Ebony Was Intercepted, Showing Some Irregularities [it is suspected that the material belongs to a powerful military official in Kompong Speu]
  • Seven Garment Workers Died and 32 Others Were Injured in a Traffic Accident [in Takeo]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #770, 24.5.2010

  • USAID Says that Cambodia Loses US$45 Million, but [Oknha] Mong Riththy Said Cambodia Loses US$146 Million over the Import of Pigs without Paying Tax

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6963, 24.5.2010

  • The Third Bilateral Meeting between Cambodia and the United States of America
  • A Reporter of Voice of America Reporting in Khmer [Mr. Sok Povkhemara] Received an Award [of Mr. David Burke for covering special information about Khmer Rouge leaders: he went directly to the northwest of Cambodia to interview five former Khmer Rouge leaders, questioning them a lot about their role in the genocidal regime]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3887, 24.5.2010

  • There Are No Discussions to Happen to Cancel the US$315 Million Dept [that Cambodia owes the United State of America] during the Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Cambodia-America Diplomatic Ties
  • The Number of Tourists Increased [by 10% compared with four months last year], so that the Siem Reap Authorities Force Sites Trading Recyclable Items [discarded bottles, carton, scrap metal, plastic] to Move Out from the City [these sites look messy, affecting the beauty of the city]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #177, 24.5.2010

  • The Authorities Prohibit Villagers [in the Amleang commune] to Cultivate Rice, but They Allow a [Phnom Penh Sugar] Company [of Oknha Ly Yong Phat] to Clear Disputed Land [Kompong Speu]
  • Cambodia Asked Thailand to Release a Khmer Worker Accused of Having Been Involved in Demonstrations

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5205, 23-24.5.2010

  • An American Man Was Arrested for Debauchery with [underage] Girls [in Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodia Will Host the 30th ASEANPOL [ASEAN Chiefs of Police] Conference [from 24 to 28 May 2010 in Phnom Penh]

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“The Right to Know” and to Participate – Sunday, 23.5.2010

Posted on 24 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

The Mirror frequently reports about the difficulty of journalists to get information about public concerns when they contact officials at different ministries, even when there are spokespersons appointed. It happens from time to time that these officials refer to others, and the referred persons again to others – and a question remains unanswered, or with different conflicting responses. The most recent such case relates to the more than US$25 million, paid by foreign companies – and it is difficult to know where and according to which procedures they were used or are still kept.

Now it is reported that also the Prime Minister has such problems: it is reported that he warned army commanders to report in detail about the border situation, neither to exaggerate, nor to understate the reality. The media can only welcome such a statement by the Prime Minister, as it may help to clarify the need to have reliable information provided by those who have it – in this case those in charge of leadership of the military at the border.

There were other – related and unrelated problems – in the reports during the last months. On the one hand there is support for the soldiers who are charged with keeping a dangerous situation of border tensions under control – while higher level political discussions between Cambodia and Thailand, which could lead to a final solution of the border problems, do not progress. So there is emotional support for the troops. On the other hand there were many more reports of illegal logging also from the northern border region, since there is more military stationed there.

That the Prime Minister called on the troops to protect the forest and the land in the areas of their bases may be understood in this context – but it does not relate only to the northern border region. Since larger private enterprises started to sponsor and financially support specific military units, there were also reports in the media that up to 150 soldiers have been deployed to protect the preparations for a sugar production entity against the people who claim that this happens on their land. What is the meaning of the Prime Minister’s words – “the troops should protect the forest and the land in the areas of their bases” – in such a situation?

International and national news during the week covered extensively the escalating tensions in Thailand, and the final, violent confrontations between the – initially – peaceful protesters and the military, which led, at the end, to the loss of the life of many people. More than 35 buildings were set on fire after the leadership of the Red Shirts had declared an end of the confrontation; in one building alone, the dead bodies of 10 persons were now found, who had been killed by the fire.

The discussions to come to a common understanding about what happened is controversial – when a solution was closer as ever during these weeks, and then everything turned around negatively. The following is a quote from a Most Viewed report and analysis in the Bangkok Post from three days before the final violence, from 16.5.2010, moved by the concern that the situation was heading toward a bloody conflict. Such reports stands also under the warning of the Prime Minister: to try to find the reality – “neither to exaggerate, nor to understate” – however difficult this is, step by step.

…The military coup in 2006 wrongly overthrew the then democratically elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. That was no democracy.

The coup council handed the power back to the people in 2007. The People Power Party (PPP) won the following election. That was democracy.

The PPP was banned by the Constitution Court for electoral irregularities and the parliament the democratically elected representatives of Thailand voted the Democrats into power. That was democracy.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) argue against the Democrat-led coalition government’s legitimacy and protest for the government to step down and call a general election.

That was democracy.

And the UDD had won.

The goals of the UDD from the very start: They wanted a House dissolution. They will have one in September. They wanted a general election. They will have one on Nov 14. All within seven months and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s term actually ends in January 2012, a year and a half from now.

They should be dancing in the streets, celebrating victory. Then we can all go to the voting booth in November. Peace and democracy. But no.

The truth has revealed itself. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship is simply using democracy as a front in the interests of dictatorship. Refusing the peaceful compromise, forsaking the democratic process, continuing to harm the country for the interests of one man, Thaksin Shinawatra, fighting against security forces of the rightful democratic government of Thailand – that’s an uprising, it’s a rebellion.

It’s criminal. That is not democracy.

If you disagree with me and think the UDD is in the right, then let me simplify it: The next time you’re pulled over by the law in a traffic stop, you should just burn tires, shoot slingshots at the cop and call him a dictator…

Here’s Thaksin’s dilemma. Peace and the democratic process don’t guarantee his return to power…

Accepting the compromise is a loss of face and may even make Prime Minister Abhisit look good in the eyes of the people, for biting the bullet and extending his hand. Thaksin Shinawatra can no longer rely on the voting booths. He can no longer rely on the democratic process. The UDD has used democracy as a tool – manipulated and exploited it to return Thaksin to power. Now that they are no longer confident that the democratic process will serve their interests, the UDD has transformed itself from a democratic movement into an uprising, a rebellion, a criminal organization.

It’s worth repeating: They wanted a House dissolution. They have one in September. They wanted a general election. They have one on Nov 14. That’s democracy. Instead, they flushed democracy down the toilet…

The UDD is screaming: ”Now! Now! Now! Prime Minister resign now!” Thaksin Shinawatra is crying: ”Me! Me! Me! I want my power back!” That’s not democracy…

And when there’s a rebellion, the government must put down the rebellion. Otherwise, we have anarchy. The law must be swift, severe and certain – any student of criminology can tell you that.

It didn’t have to come to this. It shouldn’t have come to this. But here we are on the brink of anarchy because of the pride, greed and vengefulness of one man, and of the indecisiveness, uncertainty and lack of leadership of another.

One day later, on 17.5.2010, the Bangkok Post wrote that Red leaders all miscalculated and are losing. Instead of accepting the proposals of the government,

“they promptly replied with more demands to the government…

The hardliners in the UDD wanted to corner Mr. Abhisit with more conditions, while the moderate camp led by Mr. Veera Musikhapong tried in vain to convince the others to stop the rally by accepting the prime minister’s proposal…

If only they had agreed to disperse the protest after Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban reported to the Department of Special Investigation last week, they would have emerged as the winner of the political standoff. The leaders could have told the demonstrators that they successfully forced the prime minister to call an early poll.
In fact, the offer by Mr Abhisit was the best ever since the red shirts converged on the capital in mid-March…

The hard core members miscalculated that they could press for more from the prime minister after seeing him show signs of compromise…

The UDD has come up with new calls for Mr Abhisit to immediately quit and not lead the interim government while waiting for the new elections to take place…

The only condition for the prime minister is to immediately end the rally with no more bargains. It would not have turned out this way had the UDD leaders not made the wrong move.

In December 2005, Prime Minister Hun Sen had warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution. Nobody can hope that the continuing confrontations related to land conflicts remain mostly solved against the people who have lived and worked on the land for years. This is not only a political concern which the Prime Minister raised in 2005; also many agro-economists consider big agro-business less productive economically – and socially.

The public, the citizens, need to know and be involved, when basic future policy is developed. Obviously, part of the rural population in Thailand felt that they were kept out, and not listened to. Their peaceful protest was not listened to in time, and got finally beyond control.

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It Is Time to Value the Riel and Stop Trading with Foreign Currencies at the Markets in Cambodia – Saturday, 22.5.2010

Posted on 23 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Earlier on, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians had frequently demanded that the National Assembly should promote the use of the Riel, and now there is a plan by the government for the de-dollarization of the economy towards the use of the Riel in general, which is welcomed immediately by the opposition party.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Yim Sovann, welcomed this plan on Friday, 21 May 2010, saying, ‘This is what we have demanded for a long time, to value our national currency and to prevent inflation by using the Riel.’ Mr. Yim Sovann told Moneaksekar Khmer, ‘During sessions of the parliament, I had often raised this issues of using the Riel in our Cambodian economy, to both enhance our national prestige and to promote the Riel in order to effectively maintain macro-economic stability.’

“Mr. Yim Sovann said so after a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance had mentioned, during a meeting on 20 May 2010, a plan of the government to de-dollarize the economy by using the Riel, considering also economic and social observations of the UNDP in Asia and the Pacific. Mr. Hang Chuonarong said that Cambodia wants to de-dollarize towards the use of the Riel. However, the Secretary of State said, ‘We want to change, but we are not sure from which step to start.’

“There is the same insight like what the opposition party had said, that only the use of the Cambodian currency can help Cambodia to maintain economic stability and its prestige. A millionaire and senator from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Kong Triv, stated in support of the initiative that Cambodia should use the Riel to show its integrity at the international arena.

“Anyway, this initiative was intensively debated on Thursday, 20 May 2010. Most participants wanted Cambodia to take effective actions to ensure the use of its currency. For years, Cambodia had been criticized for allowing the free use of foreign currencies, including the US Dollar, which is being lively traded in the markets of Cambodia – and that devalues the Riel.

“Mr. Yim Sovann said that dollar notes are used for buying and selling, including even such simple daily vegetable products like water convolvulus, and this partly devalues its own currency – something no other countries do as Cambodia does. Neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam established their central banks for exchanging foreign currencies into their countries’ currencies. Everywhere in Yuon [Vietnam], the Dong is used. He added that tourists as well as investors exchange Dollar notes or their countries’ currencies when they leave Cambodia [for Thailand of Vietnam].

“As for foreign currencies used in Cambodia, it is not only the US Dollar. In some provinces of Cambodia bordering Siam [Thailand] and Yuon, their currencies are also invading . For example, if one want to go to Bavet in Svay Rieng or to Phnom Din district in Takeo, one needs to exchange Riels and Dollars for Dongs in advance. And if one wants to go to Oddar Meanchey or to Koh Kong, one needs to exchange money to have Thai Baht, because at those places, Riel notes are not used in general, and some common vendors do not even know Khmer Riel notes well.

“The most important problem is that earlier on as well as recently, it had been reported that the Koh Kong Water Supply and Electricity Authority – exclusively controlled by a local millionaire and senator from the Cambodian People’s Party, Ly Yong Phat, known to hold a Siamese identification card – officially decided to order the citizens in the town to settle their electricity bills with Thai Baht. This seems to show to have indirectly cut-off the province of Koh Kong from Cambodia and attached it to Siam.

“This bad decision, that leads to the devaluation of one’s own currency, seems to be a part of the devaluation of the national identity, and it is seen to originate from the Cambodian government itself, as most bidding and expense-income projects of the state are settled by using US Dollars rather than Riels. Therefore, the Cambodian People’s Party government has to be awake and stop devaluing its own currency. If it prints Riel notes, but does not use them broadly in the country, it is useless to print them and to waste national resources on it. In fact, it is not a good practice when a nation does not support its own country, but values the currencies of other nations.

“At present, the Riel of Cambodia is not used broadly to settle the account of important products – which is very dangerous for Cambodia. Thus, the government should reconsider the demands mentioned above by the opposition party and in a timely way introduce new strategies to guarantee the potential of the Riel in the markets.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3886, 22-23.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 22 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #484, 22.5.2010

  • Cambodia Supports a Statement of Vietnam That Expresses Concern about the Situation in Siam [Thailand]
  • Cambodia Is among the Twenty Countries around the World to Receive [direct agricultural] Aid from the United States of America
  • [Oknha] Mong Riththy: Collecting Taxes for Pigs Imported from Neighboring Countries Will Help Farmers [each year Cambodia loses US$146 million on imported pigs]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2255, 22.5.2010

  • Wood Trading Still Continues Strongly in Oddar Meanchey
  • According to Latest Information, 85 Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the Thai Government] Died and 1,898 Were Injured
  • Agricultural Officials Encourage Citizens to Grow Foreign Grass [it contains higher nutrition than local grass]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6962, 22-23.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sun Asked for a Reduction of Wood Consumption, but Suggested the Use of Iron and Cement Instead in Order to Reduce Logging
  • The Koh Kong Town Runs Out of Clean Water as the Water Reservoir Dries Up Due to the Too Hot Weather
  • Mr. Philippe Gréciano [professor at the university of Grenoble in France, who has also worked at the international genocide court it Rwanda] Is Appointed as Defense Lawyer of [former Khmer Rouge leader] Khiev Samphan

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3886, 22-23.5.2010

  • It Is Time to Value the Riel and Stop Trading with Foreign Currencies at the Markets in Cambodia

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5204, 22.5.2010

  • Five People Trafficking Humans across the Border Were Arrested and Seventeen Victims Were Freed [Sampov Loun district, Battambang]
  • The Destructions in Bangkok Amounts to US$1.5 Billion

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Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree – Friday, 21.5.2010

Posted on 22 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: Important positions of some officials – such as police, customs, and CamControl – at border crossings for international travelers and at border crossings for local travel are, at present, not reassigned properly, contrary to the terms that are clearly set by the Royal Government in a sub-decree.

“Sub-Decree 64, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2001, that consists of 13 chapters and 39 articles, clearly speaks about the structure for the administration, and the roles and terms of the officials that must be followed.

“According to Chapter 8, about the terms in Article 29, the head of border crossings for international travelers, and the officers at border crossings for local travel, the heads of sea ports, and the heads of other expert authorities must be reshuffled every two years. According to Article 30, officials stationed at border crossings for international travelers, and at other border crossings, will be reshuffled every year.

“But in reality, those officials collude with each other systematically, and important officials are not reshuffled according the terms as clearly stated in the Sub-Decree of the Royal Government. On the contrary, most officials holding important positions, such as in the police, or as tax and custom officers at international border crossings, and at other border crossing for local traffic, stay in their lucrative positions more than five years, and some even up to eight years, and the relevant ministries do not reassign them. In addition, the number of ‘mixed officials’ [police, tax officials, CamControl, and local authorities] at each international border crossing point is too high.

“It is seen that when related ministries and institutions do not implement the terms for the officials working at international and other border crossings for relevant ministries for years, without being reassigned, those officials use their positions to commit all kinds of corruption. They commit dishonest activities for personal gain and seek money for bribing the higher levels, so that they can stay in their positions longer, which leads to the loss of income for the state.

“In Chapter 11 of the Sub-Decree about penalties, Article 35 clearly states that officials who take the opportunity to use their positions and power to arbitrarily create difficulties for travelers, for for owners of vehicles, and relate to all types of goods crossing the border, or who violate their duties, will be convicted according to the law. However, in reality, none of them has been punished. Officials working at the same border crossing for several years usually make the citizens, and especially big traders feel afraid of them, as they think that officials who can stay at their posts for many years are not normal cases: they must have the backing of some high ranking officials. This allows those officials to do whatever they want.

“The Sub-Decree also established a monitoring procedure, with a representatives from the Council of Ministers as the head, and representatives from other ministries and institutions, and from the related municipalities, according to a notification from a Minister of the Council of Ministers, to monitor the activities and to checking the related offices, in order to report to the head of the government.

“But the mechanism seems ineffective for the day-to-day activities at international and other border crossings. Some police, customs, and CamCotrol officials are not reshuffled as required according to the sub-decree. Those officials use money collected at the border crossings to control the flow of document themselves. Some do this directly with the departments and their staff at each ministry. Others do it directly through the Customs Office, so that they can hold their positions at border crossings for years.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen warned on 6 April 2010 during the closing convention of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, that even if they fail to reshuffle, officials will be punished according to their terms that seem to allow those officials to commit corruption systematically as they know the place well.

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, told reporters that through direct monitoring at some international border crossings, such as the Poipet border crossing, the international seaport in Sihanoukville, and the Smach international border crossing in Komopong Cham, there are many organizational structures of administration, and more than 1,000 coalition personnel involved, including police, military, and CamControl officials, and local authorities.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap added that the collection of state income is destroyed by corruption, committed by a small number of people working at those border crossing points. If an official takes, personally, just Baht 5 or Riel 1,000 or Riel 500 to buy something to eat, pretty much money is lost. They cause difficulties for the trading of citizens and of national and international investors. He suggested that the number of those officials should be reduced by half in order that much benefit can be contributed to Cambodia.

“Therefore, related ministries must check these unclear points, because the collusion not to reshuffle important positions of officials at international and other border crossings, and the too high number of officials, seriously violates the Sub-Decree signed by the head of the Royal Government.

“Many officials who do not have high ranking officials backing them and have no money to bribe higher levels, complained that they could not stay at good posts like others, because those working at such good posts are not reshuffled as before, but there are biddings for positions. This is a bad model for law enforcement which requires reforms.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 21 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #483, 21.5.2010

  • The Phanpimex Company Destroyed a State Electricity Cabin to Claim Land [Phnom Penh]
  • The Garment Sector Creates Employment for More Than 300,000 Workers [in Cambodia, despite of the global economic crisis]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2254, 21.5.2010

  • Robbers Armed with AK Rifles Robbed a Village Chief in Banon District, Battambang [taking away some money and jewelries]
  • Opportunists Committed Looting and Robberies and Burnt Down [about 35] Buildings in Bangkok

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #769, 21.5.2010

  • The Great Heroic King [the former King] Should Raise the Restricted Freedom and Human Rights Issues of Kampuchea Krom People in His Meetings with Yuon [Vietnamese] Leaders during His Visit to Yuon [Vietnam – no date of his visit is specified]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #661, 21.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Yim Sovann: Mr. Om Yentieng Has Made No Achievements in Combating Corruption [recently, Mr. Om Yentieng was nominated head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – he will be automatically also a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, the body that is supervising the Anti-Corruption Unit; it seems that this construction implies that the head of the Unit is also supervising himself]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6961, 21.5.2010

  • More Than 30 Buildings Were Burnt Down in Bangkok – the International Community [the European Union and the United States of America] Condemned the Violent Suppression, but Were also Surprised with the Violence of the Demonstrators
  • In a Raid on a Drug Site in Sihanoukville, Sixteen People Were Arrested [for drug smuggling]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3885, 21.5.2010

  • The Opposition Party Calls the Prohibition to Visit [two] Farmers Being Jailed [for removing border markers in Svay Rieng] a Breach of the Rights of Parliamentarians

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #176, 21.5.2010

  • The Cambodian People’s Party Will Create Quick Reaction Youth Teams Countrywide [before the elections in 2012 and 2013]
  • The Nomination of Mr. Om Yentieng [a senior advisor of the Prime Minister] Invites Criticism [he was appointed by Prime Minister Hun Sen as the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that Mr. Om Yentieng is not able to fight corruption as head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee of Cambodia under the Council of Ministers, and also, he might be influenced by Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

  • Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree
  • Cambodia Loses US$45 Million Each Year due to the Import of Pigs from Thailand [about one million pigs are imported to Cambodia each year, affecting local pig raisers; according to the head of the Cambodian Macro, Small, Medium Enterprise Project [MSME] of USAID, Mr. Curtis Hundley]

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Cambodia Prepares Commercial Law to Resolve Disputes Relating to Foreign Dumping Sales – Thursday, 20.5.2010

Posted on 21 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian government, through it’s Ministry of Commerce, in collaboration with USAID, organized to draft legislation to resolve disputes relating to foreign dumping sales of products imported from neighboring countries.

“The anti-dumping draft consists of 6 chapters and 124 articles that have been written since 15 October 2009. This draft covers all requirements of the World Trade Organizations for carrying out measures against dumping, like measures to impose special tax compensations on dumping products, and other measures to protect local investors and products. The draft law designs all procedures and measures to enforce commercial resolutions to address the bad impact on the local industry that can result from dishonest trades and massive imports. This new law aims to support the development of competition and productivity.

“The head of the Department of International Commerce of the Ministry of Commerce, who participated in the discussions to create that law, Mr. Sok Sopheak, told reporters that this new law is drafted to protect the local industry and productivity, adding, ‘When foreign products are imported to Cambodia and are sold at dumping price levels (cheaper than local products), for example, if the [original] price of a product is US$5, but it is sold for US$4, local industry will collapse, and the importer can supply their products without end. Thus, to deal with such activity, we take counter-measures by prohibiting the import or we investigate and demand compensation.’

“Mr. Sok Sopheak went on to say, ‘So far, cement, pigs, and other products were affected by dumping sales from neighboring countries, and we have not had laws to open investigations or to take measures in response. We have not had accurate figures about dumping. We just received protests from pig raisers and producers of cement and of other products who claimed that they were affected.’

“Officials of the Ministry of Commerce said that the anti-dumping draft will be discussed and finalized at relevant ministries and then sent to be approved at the Council of Ministers in late 2010. This law might then reach the National Assembly in mid 2011, and the teams responsible for drafting this law will try to finish it soon for the sake of the local community and of local producers.

“The head of the Cambodian Macro, Small, Medium Enterprise Project [MSME] of USAID that supported the creation of the draft about anti-dumping commercial resolutions, Mr. Curtis Hundley, said that in Cambodia, dumping of Vietnamese and Thai products has happened, bankrupting local producers. Vietnam and Thailand financially support their farmers, and they produce and export products in large quantities to Cambodia by using dumping prices that destroy the local industry and local products in Cambodia.

“Mr. Curtis added that Thailand and Vietnam exported products, such as pigs, fish, bricks, kiln products, cement, and coffee to Cambodia and sold them at dumping price levels. In 2007, Vietnam exported pigs to Cambodia that led to protests. At that time, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen ordered a halt of the import of pigs from Vietnam for eight months, until the problem had been addressed. In 2008, Thailand had local market problem and exported pigs to Laos and Cambodia, making Cambodian farmers abandon their pig raising because of the dumping imports – Thai pigs were sold at cheaper prices than Cambodian pigs. Therefore, this law will lead to commerce with equity, fairness, and honest competition in Cambodia so as to prevent the import of illegal products.

“The commercial anti-dumping draft law was the topic for discussions on 19 May 2010 between the team that drafted it, officials of the Ministry of Commerce, and foreign experts, to adjust the wording in some points.

“Thirty to forty local businesspeople will attend a one-day meeting to check and discuss the draft with scholars, experts, and legal people on 20 May 2010 at the Hotel Intercontinental.

“The discussion will invite active talks between the participants and small teams with members of the drafting team. That draft will play an important role in setting, analyzing, assessing, and reporting about problematic imports, raised by businesspeople working with experts.

“The meeting will also focus on considerations about different ways to adjust the language and wording of the draft to make it easy, considering which institutions should be in charge of commercial resolutions among the Cambodian authorities. The investigating authorities under the Ministry of Commerce can conduct inquiries on technicalities and recommend solutions through the setting of taxes or quota of the import of products from abroad.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5202, 20.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Agence Française de Développement [AFD] Wants to Stop Providing Aid, Changing to Provide Loans for Development [according to a meeting between the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon, and the AFD’s Director of the Asian Department, Ms. Martha Stein Sochas

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #482, 20.5.2010

  • An Inhuman Man Raped His Three Daughters [ages between 6 and 11 years old] Fifteen Times [he was arrested – Siem Reap]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2253, 20.5.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Rejected the Request to Create a Border Demarcation Committee, presented by Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer [in order to check the setting of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border in Svay Rieng; the court claimed that the government already has a committee to conduct such affairs]
  • A Colonel Was Killed and Two Other Soldiers Were Seriously Injured in a Traffic Accident [Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6960, 20.5.2010

  • The Persons Who Looked Down on the Angkor Wat Temple [by putting Angkor Wat place mats on the floor in front of toilets in a hotel] Made a Public Apology [one is from the Philippines, the other from Malaysia – Siem Reap]
  • The 145th World Telecommunication and Information Society Day Was Celebrated [displaying banners and letting fly balloons to promote the understanding about Internet access and other information and ICT technologies, contributing to social and economic development, and to reduce the gender gap – on 18 May 2010 in Phnom Penh] [Probably not mentioning why Cambodia is among the countries with the highest prices in the region]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3884, 20.5.2010

  • Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer Will Appeal Later This Week against the Rejection by the Municipal Court of the Request to Create a [additional] Border Demarcation Committee

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #175, 20.5.2010

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Suppressed [anti-government] Red Shirt Demonstrators Successfully but Left behind Turmoil in Bangkok [four other demonstrators and an Italian reporter were killed and 50 others were injured – and Red Shirt activists are supposed to be the arsonists of 35 major fires in Bangkok]
  • Villagers Having Land Disputes, Warn They Will Block a Portion of National Road 5 Today [to demand the provincial governor to solve the land dispute over 145 hectares with the KDC International company – Kompong Chhnang]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5202, 20.5.2010

  • Cambodia Prepares Commercial Law to Resolve Disputes Relating to Foreign Dumping Sales
  • Lightning Fatally Struck a Six-Months Pregnant Woman, and a Tropical Storm Destroyed 27 Houses and Killed Cattle in Svay Rieng

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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