Week 547

Week 547 – 2008-02-17: Dealing with International News

Posted on 21 February 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

When there are rumors in the national press which allegedly relate to defined events in the country, it may be easy to stop them: for example, there were reports saying “The Government Plans to Draft a Law Allowing Foreigners to Have the Right to Own Khmer Land.” The Prime Minister was able to easily deny this, as was reported: “Dekchor Hun Sen: I Have Never Had Even a Dream about Making a Law to Sell Land to Foreigners.”

In other cases it is not at all easy to separate rumor from facts. Newspapers often note that their efforts to verify a report or to get the government side of a story failed because the officers in charge did not respond to a phone call, declined to respond by saying they were too busy, or just hung up the phone when they understood that a journalist was calling. This is bad practice in a democratic society, as it leaves the national public uninformed and forced to rely on rumor. Unfortunately, there are currently few mechanisms to fix this in the Cambodian situation. There are even frequent complaints that Article 96 of the Constitution is not honored; this prescribes that the deputies of the National Assembly “have the right to put a motion against the Royal Government… The replies shall be given by one or several ministers depending on the matters related to the accountability of one or several ministers… The explanations shall be provided within 7 days after the day when the question is received.”

When it comes to internationally raised questions, recent examples show that these are not so easy to ignore or suppress as questions raised within Cambodia. Those who start international public debate are not so easily quieted when questions are evaded or responses take up side issues instead of the substance of the concerns . Sometimes a response or tactic which may have finished public debate nationally is counter-productive on the international level – instead of calming the debate, it magnifies it.

Two recent examples demonstrate this:

After Global Witness published its controversial report “Cambodia’s Family Trees” – 100 pages with over 400 carefully compiled footnotes from Cambodian and international resources – the Cambodian government prohibited its distribution. This probably resulted in much wider interest in the document than it would have received otherwise, especially as it can be downloaded from the Internet in its English and its Khmer versions. This interest was raised even further, after a Cambodian ambassador called the report, “groundless, unacceptable, and rubbish,” without specifying in detail the reasons for this judgment, and he called on those agencies that had financially supported Global Witness to review their decisions.

One of the reactions: the government of Ireland, a supporter of Global Witness, requested the Cambodian government to substantiate their objections to the detailed allegations contained in the Global Witness report. It can be expected that other governments will also look forward to the response of the Cambodian government.

In an example this past week, Amnesty International published – easily accessible internationally on the Internet – a 74-page report entitled “Rights Razed – Forced Evictions in Cambodia.” The report quotes many specific incidents with locations and dates, and details how these incidents violate relevant Cambodian laws as well as international covenants to which the Cambodian government has subscribed in the process of regaining its rightful place in the international community of nations after decades of tragic conflicts.

Instead of taking the time to carefully study and respond to this document, a refutation of less than one page was given to the international public. It criticized an Amnesty International staff member who had been interviewed by an international news agency. In fact, what needs attention is not what was reported about the brief press review with that staff person, who is not the head of Amnesty International or an official spokesperson, but what needs attention is the detailed description of many serious problems suffered by people displaced in Cambodia, whose fate is described in the 74 pages of the official report of Amnesty International. Unless specific cases can be carefully refuted, with facts and documentation, the Amnesty International report will of course be used by the international public to form an opinion about the state of law and the atmosphere of care for the weak and poor sections of society in Cambodia.

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Saturday, 16.2.2008: Khmer Citizens That Cannot Speak Khmer

Posted on 17 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

In two communes at the northern border of the country, people are far away from the national society

“Preah Vihear: Khmer citizens living at the northern border of the country, including in Sralau Muoy and Sralau Pir communes, situated along the upper Mekong river bank bordering the Laotian side of the Mekong river, have until now not yet received any influence in terms of any dissemination of information from their own society and the cultural relations of their own country, because they are in a remote area next to the border of Laos.

“The people in the two communes of Sralau Muoy and Sralau Pir live very far away from the Khmer society ever since the border was set between the two countries of Cambodia and Laos during the French [colonial] era. The area is around 150 kilometers far away from the provincial town. There are no roads there connecting them to the town. In the dry season, the two communes can only be reached by trucks, because they can use cow-cart roads. It is very difficult to reach Kompong Sralau village, located in Sralau Muoy commune, at the Mekong river bank. In the rainy season, both communes cannot be reached, neither by car nor by motorbike or even cow-carts, because vehicles would get stuck, and many creeks cannot be crossed.

“In the two communes, all Khmer people were under the ideological influence of Siam [Thailand] during the time of control by Siam. Currently, in their villages and communes, their general language is 95% Laotian, while the Khmer language is used only when they meet with guests coming from outside once in while. Recently, a reporter from Koh Santepheap has traveled to the Khmer-Lao border with a delegation of the Provincial Department of Education, Youth and Sports, to Sralau Muoy and Sralau Pir. ‘At that time, we met a Khmer woman named Sen Mi. She is 36 years old, living in Kompong Sralau village, in the Sralau Muoy commune.’ She told Koh Santepheap in Khmer, with a Laotian accent, that she is Khmer, living in this village since she was very young. She had completed school with grade 6 (in the Laotian language), but she does not know any single Khmer letter, because in her village, a Khmer school existed only since 2000. So older people do not know the Cambodian language. Most of them can only speak Laotian.

“The people, who live in Sralau Muoy commune, have close relations with Laotian people, where they live on each side of the Mekong river bank, and they regularly cross the river by small boats to do business and exchange information with each other. Regarding their occupations, besides farming, the Kompong Sralau villagers enter the forest to seek non-timber forest products such as limes, rattans, and vines etc. All of these products are brought to the Laotian side of the river bank for Laotian businesspeople, because all of them have more trust in Laotian people, more than in their own Khmer people living nearby. Almost all of their life depends on business with Laotians. Most of those villagers also use mobile phones connected to Laotian services provider companies, to contact other people in Laos, and they travel by boat to reach each other, both Khmers and Laotians, without any document. As for the currency, people in both of Sralau’s communes generally use, the Kip, the Laotian currency only. There is hardly any Riel used in the area. However, if they want to relate to business more closely to Cambodia, they exchange their Laotian Kip into Dollars in a Laotian market.

“It is to note again that 95% of the children 10 years old and below do not know Khmer, they know only the Laotian language. Nowadays, when a delegation or tourists come and look at the upper areas of the Sralau communes, they see the area where our Cambodian citizens live next to the Great Mekong river border: at night, the other side of the river bank at the Smao island in Laos, has a lot of electricity, but if one looks back to our Khmer Sralau commune, it is dark and quiet…

“Monks, who stay at Wat Botom Phallaram in Kompong Sralau village, as well as commune councilors, and people in the Sralau Muoy commune, appeal through Koh Santepheap to the Royal Government to build a road connecting the Preah Vihear provincial center to Kompong Sralau village, a distance of around 150 kilometers, and they hope that Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen will respond to this request, in order to enable them to have easier communication in all fields with the present society of Cambodia as well as in the future. They want this area to regularly get connected to the Khmer community again, and to reduce the use of the language and culture of another nation.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6273, 16-17.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 16 February 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1569, 16.2.2008

  • In Cambodia, 30 People Die from Tuberculosis per Day [according to Mao Tan Eang, Director of National Center for TB and Leprosy Control]
  • Lun Phun [Sam Rainsy Party official who has just joined the Cambodian People’s Party and was appointed as an advisor to the government]: Sam Rainsy Party Will Be Dissolved because of Eng Chhay Ieng [secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party]
  • Asian Development Bank Representative [Muhammad Saad Hashim] Studies Situation of Economic Development in Cambodia
  • Fortune Teller Stalls and Market Stalls at Wat Phnom Exhibition Site Demolished for Reconstruction of Garden
  • Young Man, Who Had Been Disowned by Parents, Hanged Himself [15 February – Kang Meas, Kompong Cham]
  • [General Secretary on the Karen National Union, Pado Mahn Sha,]Senior Leader of Burmese Insurgents, Murdered in Thailand [14 February]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6273, 16-17.2.2008

  • Khmer Citizens That Cannot Speak Khmer – In two communes at the northern border of the country, people are far away from the national society
  • Khmer Rouge Tribunal Plans to Prolong Its Mandate to 2011 and Increase the Expense, Which Have Not Yet Been Made Available, to $170 Million
  • Young Woman, Who Cannot Repay Debt of $200, Attempted to Jump into the River to Commit Suicide; She Was Prevented by Police [Phnom Penh]

Meatophum, Vol.52, #677, 18-23.2.2008

  • Senior Officials Leave Sam Rainsy Party Like Water Flowing through a Broken Dike
  • Mr. Keang Vang [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kampot who has recently joined Funcinpec] Affirms that Funcinpec Is Democratic, so He Returned
  • Chicken and Duck Eggs and Pork from Yuon [Vietnam] Hidden Under Vegetables Are Imported through Doung Pram Pir Daeum Crossing Every Day [Memut, Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3389, 16-17.2.2008

  • Asian Development Bank Must Prevent Its Aid from Being Used by Ruling Party for Political Benefit
  • US Secretary of State [Condoleezza Rice] Disappointed about [slow] Speed of Reforms in Cambodia
  • Director of Anti-Corruption Program of Pact Cambodia [Sek Barisoth] Concerned about Missing Points in Anti-Corruption Draft Law
  • Concerning Preah Vihear Temple, Siamese [Thai] Side Still Continues Insolently to Abuse Khmer Sovereignty and Integrity
  • [Director-general of the National Police] Hok Lundy Takes Action against Unusual Police Vehicle License Plates [which are used by criminals]
  • Chea Mony [the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia] Pushes Supreme Court to Consider Amnesty for Falsely Accused Murderers Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun [accused of killing Chea Vichea in 2004, leader of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia]

Prithtikar, Vol.6, #68, 15.2.2008

  • Purpose to Block the Listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site Is an Abuse [of the verdict of the International Court of Justice]
  • It Is Time AZ Company Should Remove Checkpoints Extorting Money from Travelers from National Road 4

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1279, 15.2.2008

  • Dekchor Hun Sen: I Have Never Had Even a Dream about Making a Law to Sell Land to Foreigners
  • Blood Still Continues Bleeding from Sam Rainsy Party; Mr. Hor Sopheap [who once left Sam Rainsy for Funcinpec and had recently returned to Sam Rainsy Party] Also Leaves [for the Cambodian People’s Party]; Eng Chhay Ieng Is a Thorn in the Eyes of Officials of the Party

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4517, 16.2.2008

  • US Demanded Debt [of approx. $154 million out of the debt of $339 million], Cambodia Said the Debt Was Owed by Illegal Government [of the Khmer Republic]
  • [Prince] Thomico: Officials Leave [Sam Rainsy Party] because They Lost Hope They Could Overcome the Cambodian People’s Party
  • Japan Provides Concession Loan [of US$31 million] to Create Special Economic Zone [in Sihanoukville]
  • Ministry [of Public Works and Transport] Instructs the Owners of Private Vehicles with State License Plates, Police License Plates, and Cambodian Royal Armed Forces License Plates to Change the Plates in Time [the due date is 1 March 2009]
  • Director of Tonga [garment] Factory Takes Legal Action against a Small Number of Workers Who Destroyed Factory Equipment [Dangkao, Phnom Penh]
  • Man, Who Took Beehives up to the Top of a Sugar Palm Tree, Got Stung All over His Body [14 February – Samraong Tong, Kompong Speu]
  • Police Suppressed Pornographic Video House and Arrested One Owner [Dangkao, Phnom Penh]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3249, 16.2.2008

  • Hun Sen Appoints Many Advisors for Himself after Sar Kheng’s Power Had Been Strengthened at the Ministry of Interior
  • Ten More Officials of the Sam Rainsy Party [names not mentioned] Continue to Leave
  • Siam [Thailand] Still Wants Equal Share of Khmer Preah Vihear Temple
  • US National Democratic Institute Organizes Meeting between Parliamentarians and Workers
  • Nhek Bun Chhay [secretary-general of Funcinpec] Wants to Remove Nuth Sokhom [Minister of Health] at the End of Term [over corruption in bidding for medical supplies]
  • Yeay [“grandmother”] Phan [Suy Sophan, the president of the Phanimex company] Takes Over Even Sites of Hospital of Labor and Department of Labor

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Friday, 15.2.2008: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reacts to the Allegations of Amnesty International

Posted on 17 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

“On 13 February 2008, the Khmer Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement [full text, 1 page, is here] rejecting the criticism by Ms. Brittis Edman, an Amnesty International official, who had claimed on 11 February that 150,000 Khmer poor people were illegally evicted from their houses by armed authorities, and that the land was granted to private companies [full text of the statement by Amnesty International – not a statement by the staff member Brittis Edman – 74 pages, with detailed references to cases, as well as to national and international law, can be downloaded here here]. This statement was made after this international organization’s staff had met and talked with poor people living in Dey Krahom, Rik Reay, and Group 78 communities in Sangkat Tonle Basak who are faced with forced eviction by armed forces of the government, in order to seize the land and hand it over to private firms.

“The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs response statement called Ms. Brittis Edman’s accusations totally groundless. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed that there has been no illegal eviction as mentioned in the statement; most of the people who live in those communities agree with the companies and the authorities.

“Ms. Brittis Edman has previously said during meetings with people from the three communities in Sangkat Tonle Basak that the government’s armed forces forcefully evicted people for the benefit of private companies, and they contributed to and caused massive human rights violations, as those people do not get offered an appropriate solution from the companies that want to occupy the land.

“Ms. Brittis Edman added that these forced evictions are serious and illegal acts. On behalf of Amnesty International, she appealed to the Hun Sen government to stop to forcefully evict poor from these communities, as the government is obliged to protect legal settlement rights of the people.

“Ms. Brittis Edman’s statement was released after her visit to land grabbing victims in some provinces and municipalities in Cambodia. She stated that the victims in Dey Krahom are among the 150,000 poor people mentioned. She continued that people evicted from these areas should have a legal and suitable solution, and relocation sites should be first developed before evictions.

“Yesterday, on 14 February, Mr. Eng Chhay Eang, the secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party, a member of the National Assembly from Battambang, and the vice-president of the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes, issued a statement condemning the authorities in Ratanak Mondol, Battambang, who ordered armed forces to pull down the houses of Mr. Sat Sarang and of Ms. Seng Im in Rasmei Sangha village, Sdau commune, on 13 February 2008.

“Mr. Eng Chhay Eang stated that the authorities in Ratanak Mondol ordered armed forces to pull down the house of Mr. Sat Sarang in order to develop a road, without having any agreement with the house owner or an appropriate compensation for him. This act is a violation of the Constitution and of the law on land management.

“Mr. Sat Sarang legally built his house on this land in 1996. In the event that the authorities need this land to develop a road, it is necessary to have a suitable and fair policy for the land owner, following Article 44 of the Constitution: ‘The right to confiscate possessions from any person shall be exercised only in the public interest as provided for under law and shall require fair and just compensation in advance.’

“Mr. Eng Chhay Eang added that any official or authority, who use their power in violation or without a warrant to confiscate property, shall be fined from Riel 10 to 25 million, and face disciplinary actions according to Article 261 of the land law.

Mr. Eng Chhay Eng also called on the National Authority for the Resolution of Land Disputes to take action to prevent local authorities, who illegally order armed forces by their own will, from pulling down houses or from seizing land from legal owners. These owners are protected by the Constitution and the land law.

“Concerning the evictions of people in provinces and municipalities from their residences, Mr. Om Sam Ath, the Monitoring Technical Supervisor for human rights violations of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – said, ‘People have been evicted from their homes in some provinces and towns in Cambodia. During some of these evictions in the past, some people were arrested and jailed, and some were injured due to violence; some were even killed.’

“Mr. Om Sam Ath continued that the government should not have taken such quick reaction against Amnesty International’s criticism of forced evictions of poor people from their residences by armed forces in illegal acts. The government should clearly note that this organization’s criticism is really true, or that it is just a not complete statement. He continued that many people and civil society have joined to lobby the government to stop using violence in evicting people from their communities, but the government should try to find suitable solutions to develop those communities of people at the relocation sites. This kind of illegal evictions make people lose, while private companies will get great benefits.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #110, 15-16.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 15 February 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2754, 15.2.2008

  • Woman Who Sells Cupcakes in Sihanoukville Takes Legal Action against Mr. Ngor Srun, Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers [and son-in-law of the president of the senate] on Accusation of Threatening [her and her husband] for Land Rights
  • Prime Minister Denies Allowing Foreigners to Have the Right to Own Land While Some People Are Concerned about the Crisis of Rising Land Prices
  • Sam Rainsy Gives Up Dozens of Faithful Officials and Gets Eng Chhay Ieng [considered controversial by some people as secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party]

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #44, 15.2.2008

  • Irish Government, a Donor of Global Witness, Pushes Hun Sen Government to Investigate Cambodia’s ‘Family Tree’ [Global Witness publication claiming deforestation and corruption]
  • Head of No Longer Appropriate Opposition Party Is Incompetent to Reconcile the Party; He Quietly Goes Abroad
  • Strongman Hun Sen Destroys Sam Rainsy Party by Using the Strategy which the Siamese [Thai] Thieves Used [in the year 1594], of Throwing Duong Silver Coins [as bait for the greedy] to Destroy a Lungvek Military Outpost

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1568, 15.2.2008

  • Khmer Rouge Tribunal Needs $170 Million for the Process to the End in 2011
  • Attempt by Thai Side to Take Preah Vihear Temple as Joint Property [actually, the Thai side does not claim it as property] Contradicts the Decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague
  • [Six-year-old] Boy Lied on and Hugged His [allegedly alcoholic] Mother’s Dead Body More Than Ten Hours Because He Was Not Aware that She Had Died [13 February – Battambang]
  • Drunken Bodyguard of a High Ranking Official, Waiting Impatiently for the Music of a Song He Had Requested to be played [in a restaurant] Fired a Gun Shot, Seriously Wounding a Woman [13 February – he escapes – Meanchey, Phnom Penh]
  • Widower Set Himself on Fire to Die, the Fire Also Burned His House, Leaving His Six Children [13 February – reason not known – Baray, Kompong Thom]
  • Kampot Province Residents Crowd to Get Water from a Dragon-Protected Buddha Statue [for drinking and treating diseases – Banteay Meas]
    Snow Storms Make China Lose $15 Billion

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #110, 15.2.2008

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reacts against Accusation by Amnesty International
  • Yim Sovann [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh] Pushes Asian Development Bank to Pressure the Government to Eliminate Corruption

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6272, 15.2.2008

  • Anyone Can Be Nationalistic; Samdech Hun Sen Clarifies a Rumor that the Government Is Making a Law to Sell Land to Foreigners
  • [Female] Signer Sok Pisey Is Requested to Pay $110,000 Compensation to [KH Promotions] Company [accusing her of breaking a contract – Phnom Penh]
  • Khmer Surin Teacher Comes [from Thailand] to Find Khmer Language Textbooks in Cambodia
  • Burmese Military Regime Accuses Opposition of Wanting to Divide the Country into Two Parts

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3388, 13.2.2008

  • Yim Sovann [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh]: If Sam Rainsy Party Wins Elections, It Will Cancel Casino Contracts

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4516, 15.2.2008

  • Sam Rainsy Asks People Not to Care about Senior Officials Who Leave [the Sam Rainsy Party]
  • Can USA Create a Permanent Military Base in Cambodia? [as a rumor says – US Ambassador Joseph A. Mussomeli said there is no plan to do so]
  • Prime Minister: There Is No Preparation of Legislation to Sell Land to Foreigners
  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen during an inauguration of a school building in Kompong Speu]: ‘All Students Without Difference Shall Have the Guarantee that They Can Go to School by 2010’

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Thursday, 14.2.2008: The United Kingdom Will Grant US$15 Million Financial Support for the Development to Cambodia

Posted on 15 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

“Phnom Penh: The Senior Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Keat Chhon, and the Ambassador of the United Kingdom, Mr. David Reader, signed an agreement on financial support through a grant of US$15 million to implement the national development strategic plan for the next three years.

“The funds to support this program will be granted to the Royal Government directly through the national budget. The purpose of this program is to provide additional funds to implement poverty reduction programs proposed in the national development strategic plan of the Royal Government of Cambodia, as well as to speed up and strengthen reforms in public finance administration, customs, tax, and land management, allowing wider access to basic services including education, health care, business facilities, the right to land ownership for the poor, and to improve the effectiveness of the grant for government capacity building programs.

“Mr. Keat Chhon, Senior Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, said that the cooperation agreement to reduce poverty and to improve development is the first step of the joint commitment of the grant recipient and the development partners to ensure the effectiveness of the grant, by providing financial assistances through the Royal Government’s system. ‘On behalf of the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, I would like to assure you of our commitment to transparently use the assistance donated by our development partners, and to fully assure you that the funds will be used for the expected objectives with transparency, and we take all measures to avoid any misuse of the aid for purposes different from the planned and agreed objectives. We would like to vow to use the development aid efficiently and make sure that it will maximize the benefits for the poor.’

“The British Ambassador Mr. David Reader added, ‘The Royal Government of Great Britain would like to compliment the Royal Government of Cambodia for its initial implementation of the multi-donor budget support program. This kind of direct funding is not only a major step toward the improvement of the ownership of Cambodia of its own development programs, but also an improvement of the cooperation with other development partners. This program will help the Cambodian government to speed up its reform efforts to stimulate growth and eliminate poverty. This program is our main endeavor to support the Cambodian government to achieve our joint commitment: to reduce poverty, to improve governance, to solve the problem of corruption, and to respect human rights.’ This grant will be given in the context of multilateral cooperation for the elimination of poverty and development, funded by the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, the European Commission, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, and the World Bank.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6271, 14.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 14 February 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #43, 14.2.2008

  • Hisham Mousar [officials in charge of observing the Khmer Rouge tribunal for the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association]: Issuing a Verdict in Nuon Chea’s Case Maybe Interfered by Ruling Politicians
  • Monk Yoeung Sin [President of the Association of Kampuchea Krom Khmer Monks]: Kampuchea Krom Khmers and Monks Lose Belief in Yuon [Vietnamese] Government over Promise to Release Six Kampuchea Krom Khmer Monks
  • Phnom Penh Authorities Refuse to Provide Wat Phnom Site to Human Rights Party to Hold Public Forum
  • Armed Forces Prevented Workers of Phnom Penh Garment Factory from Holding a Strike [demanding owner provide payment for food and wages monthly – Meanchey, Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1567, 14.2.2008

  • Cases of Rape of Children and Women Strongly Increased in 2007 [according to Ny Chakrya, chief of investigation department of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association]
  • There Was Once a Japanese Village in Ponhea Leu District [Kandal] in the 17th Century [according to professor of archaeology Hirorshi Sugiyama of the Nara Institute (of Science and Technology?)]
  • A Man Who Has Two Children Raped a 13-Year-Old Girl; He Was Arrested Two Hours Later by Police [12 February – Mittapheap, Sihanoukville]
  • New Thai Government Considers Making Muslim Provinces in the South Autonomous

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #109, 14.2.2008

  • Sam Rainsy: Sam Rainsy Party Prepares to Receive Confidence [votes] from Khmer Citizens to Lead the Government in 2008
  • Authorities Raided You Hour Guesthouse and Arrested 25 Drug Users and Robbers [13 February – Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6271, 14.2.2008

  • The United Kingdom Will Grant US$15 Million Financial Support for the Development to Cambodia
  • 40 Military Chiefs Trained in English [at the Cambodian-Indian Center for English at the Royal Academy of Cambodia]
  • Thailand Prepares to Hold Trade Fairs in Siem Reap and in Phnom Penh

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3387, 14.2.2008

  • Before 1979, China Provided US$1 Billion Grant Aid to the Khmer Rouge Regime [according Lao Mong Hay, researcher at the Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong; he added that after 1979, China provided another $1 billion grant aid to the Khmer Rouge to fight the Vietnamese in Cambodia who had ousted the Khmer Rouge regime]
  • Sam Rainsy: Only the Sam Rainsy Party and the Cambodian People’s Party Are Final Competitors in the 2008 Elections

Phkay Proek, Vol.12, #333, 14.2.2008

  • Apsara Authority Plans to Give Compensation of $5,000 per Hectare of Land to Mr. Son Chhay [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh – for Son Chhay’s three hectares of land in the Angkor area, Siem Reap]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4515, 14.2.2008

  • Eng Chhay Ieng [secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party: Sam Rainsy Party Meets a Storm [Ms. Mu Sochua, deputy secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party accuses the Cambodian People’s Party of having a strategy to destroy other parties]
  • Russia Holds First Forum of Diplomats in Cambodia
  • Scientists Concerned about Use of Fake Medicines for Malaria Treatment in Cambodia and in the Region
  • Government Provides Further $4 Million Special Finance to Rice Millers’ Federation
  • Phnom Penh Police Commissioner [Touch Naroth]: Nearly All Entertainment Clubs Distribute Drugs and Operate Drug Abuse
  • Municipality Requires Motorcycle Sellers to Provide Two Helmets to Every Buyer of a Motorcycle

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #620, 14.2.2008

  • Yuon [Vietnam], China, and Russia Were Chiefs of the Killing Fields Regime of Democratic Kampuchea [a letter to the editor]

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Wednesday, 13.2.2008: The Government Plans to Draft Law Allowing Foreigners to Have the Right to Own Khmer Land

Posted on 14 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

“An official from the Council of Ministers recently said that a new draft law allowing foreigners to own Khmer land will be sent to the National Assembly to be deliberated and adopted in the near future.

“The draft law, which is known to have been initiated to satisfy the goal of wealthy foreigners, especially Chinese and Yuon [Vietnamese], is receiving strong reactions from civil society and from Khmer people.

“Ms. Pung Chhiv Kek [Dr. Kek Galabru], president of the local human rights organization Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, said that nowadays, land issues in Cambodia are moving towards a crisis; if the law permits foreigners to own Khmer land, it would cause a situation of double deprivation.

“Based on the Cambodian constitution, foreigner shall not have the right to own a house or a building, and they shall not have the right to own a plot of land in Cambodia, this right is only for those who hold Khmer citizenship. If the new draft law is adopted, it would be a surprise and very terrifying for the future of Cambodia. Parts of Cambodian land would be lost to foreigners for money.

“The director of an organization working on legal issues based in Cambodia, the Cambodian National Research Organization, said that if this new law is promulgated, it will seriously affect Cambodia’s sovereignty.

“It is to be noted that currently there are some companies owned by foreigners who have been given the right by the government to own several thousand hectares of land through what is called land or forest concessions. Some of these contracts have a validity of up to 90 years. This means that they are land owners for one or two generations. Examples are the granting of land to a Yuon [Vietnamese] company to plant rubber trees in Ratanakiri on more than 100,000 hectares of land, and authorizing a forest concession to a Yuon company in Kompong Thom.

“These actions give those foreign companies the opportunity to destroy natural forests and to use the lands granted by the state in an anarchical way.

“It is remembered that during the 1970s, through the leasing of the Snuol rubber plantation in Kratie to a Yuon company, it had been used as a military base to fight the government. But now, it is believed that such leasings provide a good opportunity for the neighboring foreigners to invade Khmer lands.

“Referring to the people in Ratanakiri, today there are many Yuon rubber plantations that have been in operation in this province, employing their own [Vietnamese] workers. This became dangerous for Khmers, because after the Hun Sen government had seized the forests where Khmer people were doing their business, and granting it to foreign companies with the argument that those foreign companies would provide jobs to Khmer people – but finally it is nothing, and the jobs are only for their own [foreign] labor. This is becoming a serious tragedy for Khmer people and for the country.

“Relating to this case, according to a government official, Khmer major companies are just a tool of foreign businesspeople; they establish close relations with Hun Sen government officials to connect the lines to get commission from foreigners. The foreigners are not afraid to spend their money to buy a country. This is a big factor, pushing to have a draft law, allowing foreigners to own land in Cambodia.

“Such trends that led to this kind of criticism, seems to be sensitive since last year, and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself announced in a public forum that his government would not sell the state’s sovereignty and its decision rights. But some observers noted that Hun Sen seems not to know what state power sovereignty is. Until now the state’s mechanisms seem to be led by private businesspeople, while Prime Minister Hun Sen is just a tool.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #108, 13.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1566, 13.2.2008

  • Important Leaders of Sam Rainsy Party Rush to Leave the Party; Leader Cannot Prevent Them
  • Cambodia Prepares to Conduct Third Census in Order to Observe All Issues Relate to the People
  • Illegal Transportation of Wood Still Continues in Rovieng District [Preah Vihear]
  • Anlong Veng District Plans to Build Historic Museum of Khmer Rouge Regime
  • Pakistani Ambassador [Tariq Azizuddin] Goes Missing at Afghan Border [local sources say he was taken hostage by gunmen – 11 February 2008]
  • Two American Journalists Taken Hostage in Iraq
  • Gunmen Robbed Four Paintings Worth $163 Million in Museum in Switzerland [10 February 2008]
  • US Arrests Four Persons [accused to be] Chinese Spies

Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #555, 13.2.2008

  • 20 Funcinpec Senior Officials Join Norodom Ranariddh Party
  • Mr. Mam Sonando [Director of Sambok Khmum Radio] Says Parties That Do Not Join Together Are Not Nationalistic but They Think Only about Own Power and Partisanship

  • Rectangular Strategy
    to Reduce Poverty, but Khmer People Still Go to Beg in Other Countries
  • High Ranking Officials Have Hundreds or Thousands of Hectares of Land, but They Expel Poor People to Get Land for Businesspeople

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #108, 13.2.2008

  • The Government Plans to Draft Law Allowing Foreigners to Have the Right to Own Khmer Land
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy: Cambodia Has Not Been Developed Like Its Neighbors
  • Eng Chhay Ieng [secretary-general of Sam Rainsy Party]: Sam Rainsy Party Opens Door for Politicians Who Want to Serve the Nation [to enter Sam Rainsy Party]
  • Ms. Pong Chiv Kek [Dr. Kek Galabru, the president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights] Criticizes Authorities Who Prevented Civil Society Officials from Meeting Boeng Kak Villagers as Hindering Freedom of Expression
  • Old Blood Is Really Bleeding Out, but New Pure Blood Is Fully Flowing into Sam Rainsy Party [responding to Rasmei Kampuchea article ‘Sam Rainsy Party Is Bleeding Before Elections’ because officials and parliamentarians join the Cambodian People’s Party]
  • Siamese [Thai] Pigs Still Imported to Cambodia Freely through Phnom Proek District Corridors [Battambang]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6270, 13.2.2008

  • Fourth Official Leaves Sam Rainsy Party: Fourth Official Mr. Lun Phun Decides to Leave the Party and Join the Cambodian People’s Party

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3386, 13.2.2008

  • Sam Rainsy: Our Country Ruined because of Leaders after Khmer Rouge
  • Eng Chhay Ieng: Many People Who Suffer Injustice Come to Join Sam Rainsy Party at Local Levels
  • Plaintiff [in case of $1,100 debt] Died [from sickness] in Front of Dith Munty, President of the Supreme Court, during a Hearing
  • Olympic Games in China Destroy Khmer Trees and Roots [a customs officer said much wood is exported to China]
  • Many [Toyota] Land Cruisers Are Seen Driven in the Streets [which makes Cambodia appear to be rich] but Many Khmer People Starve

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1278, 13.2.2008

  • Subtraction Still Continues in Sam Rainsy Party [mocking as officials leave Sam Rainsy Party]

Samleng Kamkor, Vol.1, #2, 12-13.2.2008

  • Funcinpec Declines and Faces Disappearance because of Politicians Who Betray the Party
  • Illegal Logging in Battambang and Pursat Does Not Decline

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3246, 13.2.2008

  • Ministry of Education Still Does Not Take Action against Corruption and Irregularities of Selling [fake high school] Diplomas

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #619, 13.2.2008

  • Two or Three [officials] Leave Sam Rainsy Party for Cambodian People’s Party but Hundreds of Thousands [of supporters] Turn from Cambodian People’s Party to Sam Rainsy Party

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Tuesday, 12.2.2008: Prime Minister Strongly Criticized the Secretary General of the Sam Rainsy Party

Posted on 13 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

“Kompong Thom: The defection of high-ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] led to verbal clashes between Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and the secretary general of the opposition party.

“On 11 February, during the inauguration ceremony of the Hun Sen Prasat High School in Prasat commune, Santuk district, Kompong Thom, Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, considered the comments of Secretary General Eng Chhay Eang as Pol Pot language, language that had been used during the Pol Pot regime, and that the very bad words used should not have been used.

“This statement is a reaction responding to the accusation by Mr. Eng Chhay Eang, who had stated that the CPP had bought officials from other parties.

“In an article in the Cambodia Daily of 11 February, Mr. Eng Chhay Eang was quoted as saying, ‘Political parties should behave in an ethical way, saying that a political party should not buy people’.

“Samdech said that he has the obligation to protect human dignity. Human freedom can not be bought.

“With this statement, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen had presented three [former] SRP officials who had just joined the Cambodian People’s Party last week, including Mr. Gnor Sovann, a member of the National Assembly [NA] from Kandal, Mr. Sok Pheng, a member of the NA from Kampong Thom, and Mr. Chhim Sarith, the deputy secretary general of the SRP, who were all present.

“Samdech Hun Sen highlighted that so far, seven SRP members of the NA had defected and joined other parties, three among them had already joined the CPP. Concerning the comment about selling or buying heads, as mentioned in the comment by the SRP official, Samdech Dekchor said, ‘How could Mr. Ngor Sovann and Mr. Sok Pheng, who hold positions as lawmakers, be considered as goods like chickens, ducks, or cattle, for sale?’ Samdech said that the words of ‘selling or buying heads’ is Pol Pot language that had been used during the Pol Pot regime, ‘I do not expect that in the 21st century people will still use such words.’

“Samdech Dekchor appealed to respect human dignity, and he considered the comment by an SRP’s leader as a sign by which they are just hiding their weaknesses. Their weaknesses made it difficult to stay for their former colleagues, and now they turned around to blame those officials who had defected to have their heads sold to someone else, and accused the CPP of buying them.

“Samdech Dekchor warned that they should improve their party internally, otherwise there will be some more persons who defect.

“Samdech Dekchor continued to say that the CPP welcomes all people from all sectors without classifying them as new or as old members. Samdech added that he wanted to eliminate the slogan, ‘When the river rises, the fish eat ants, when the river recedes, the ants eat the fish.’ Samdech said that in the past, when Lon Nol came to power, he took revenge on those who were faithful to Samdech Preah Sihanouk. When Pol Pot held power, they took revenge on the Lon-Nolists and on supporters of Samdech Euv [the Father King] as well. The later ones destroyed the previous ones. Samdech Hun Sen asked whether we should follow that way? As for those who prepare the way for the next generation, revenge should not be practiced within a party.

“Samdech Dekchor said that some politicians are busy with gambling. They play again and again; when they lost, they cheat others. Another politician is busy with women and destroys a party, and now he tries to pressure the King to allow him to return to the country, but Hun Sen can not help him. Others only accuse the government and the CPP.

“At the same time, Samdech Dekchor also stated the CPP’s stance to help the people. He added that if the CPP wins the election for the 4th mandate of the Royal Government, the CPP will still enter into a partnership with Funcinpec. Samdech showed his hope, he does not believe that Funcinpec will not get any seats. However, in case Funcinpec gains nothing, the CPP will form the government alone, and give some lower ranking positions to Funcinpec officials, such as undersecretary-of-state positions.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4513, 12.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #41, 12.2.2008

  • Kem Sokha [President of Human Rights Party]: Many Sam Rainsy Party Members Come to Support Human Rights Party
  • National Election Committee Beats Drum Calling for $17 Million to Arrange the 2008 Elections
  • Amnesty International Tells Hun Sen Government to Stop Evicting Citizens [from their houses or land]
  • Hun Sen Uses Positions and Money to Lure Sam Rainsy Party Officials to Provide Benefits for the Cambodian People’s Party, and Later He Will Throw Them Away Like Paper Tissues

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1565, 12.2.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Fights Back against Opposition Party and Affirms Retaining Funcinpec as Partner
  • Samdech Thomak Pothisal Chea Sim: Cambodian People’s Party Is Strong, because It Is Supported by the People
  • Oknha Try Heng Distributed Gifts to More Than 3,000 Citizens on the Occasion of the Chinese New Year [Phnom Penh]
  • Workers Demonstrated and Destroyed [Tonga Garment] Factory, because the Owner Did Not Pay Them Their Money [11 February – Dangkao, Phnom Penh]
  • Man Raped Married Woman While Her Husband Was Away [8 February – he is arrested – S’ang, Kandal]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #107, 12.2.2008

  • Sam Rainsy: Thanks to Cambodian People’s Party for Helping to Extract Some People from the Sam Rainsy Party [Sam Rainsy considers those who leave and join the Cambodian People’s Party to be unqualified]
  • Hun Sen Declares Plan to Create Government Alone if There Are No Defectors

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6269, 12.2.2008

  • Cambodian People’s Party Does Not Buy People; Samdech Dekchor Criticizes Mr. Eng Chhay Ieng’s Words [that the Cambodian People’s Party buys Sam Rainsy Party officials] for Being Cheap Language
  • Cambodian Canadian Man Killed [by unknown people – 6 or 7 February – Kompong Siem, Kompong Cham]
  • Policeman Committed Suicide Because New Chief of Administration Police Office Stopped Him from Guarding Nimit Commune [10 February – Ou Chrov, Banteay Meanchey]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4513, 12.2.2008

  • Prime Minister Strongly Criticized the Secretary General of the Sam Rainsy Party
  • Sam Rainsy Party Is Bleeding Before Elections [because officials and parliamentarians join the Cambodian People’s Party]
  • Prime Minister Ambitious about Having Lower Secondary Schools in All Communes by 2012
  • Chinese Prime Minister [Wen Jiabao] Met Former King [on 10 February in Beijing]
  • Sihanoukville: Representative of Owners of 25 Hectares of Land Is Missing

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #618, 12.2.2008

  • Amnesty International Condemns Khmer Government for Expelling Poor People [from their land]

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Monday, 11.2.2008: Companies Invested on 70,000 Hectares of Economic Land Concession in Kratie Province, Only 200 Hectares of the Land Have Been Planted With Rubber Trees

Posted on 12 February 2008. Filed under: Week 547 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 547

“Kratie: Ten companies had been granted authorization to invest on more than 70,000 hectares of economic land concessions in Kratie province. Until now, only one company has planted rubber trees on 200 hectares of land. The others have just leveled the ground and cut down trees.

“Mr. Kuy Huot, Director of the Kratie Provincial Department of Agriculture recently told Rasmei Kampuchea that in Kratie, there are 10 companies that were granted economic land concessions by the Royal Government. Among them, 6 companies are in Sambo district, 3 companies are in Snuol, and 1 company is in Kratie, totaling 70,000 hectares of land.

“But those companies seem to have not done anything remarkable according to the contracts made with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“So far, the contracts of two companies in Svay Chreah commune, Snuol, and of a Chinese company in Sambo were terminated or temporarily suspended.

“The director of the Kratie Provincial Department of Agriculture continued to say that among all companies only Phou Rieng, that was granted nearly 10,000 hectares in Snuol, has planted rubber trees on more than 200 hectares of land. The company will continue to plant rubber trees on additional 300 hectares of land in 2008 as projected according to the company’s master plan.

“Some other companies planted no trees in 2007. They only leveled the ground and prepared roads into the company’s premise, and they built some infrastructure within their companies.

“Mr. Kuy Huot noted that the delayed process of these companies in Kratie is due to the fact that they are waiting for their master plans to be approved by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

“Some other companies have already prepared [rubber] seedlings to be planted during the rainy season in 2008.

“The director of the Provincial Department of Agriculture added also that those companies that have economic land concessions include Phou Reing, Heng Heng Sambath, and the Tong Meng Group that had planed to plant rubber trees. But they do not plan to plant rubber trees, but to grow teak trees using seedlings of a quick-growing variety.

“For granting authorization to private companies to invest on economic land concessions, the Royal Government has the clear policy of granting only land not covered by forest. The benefits from such investments are used to encourage the private sectors to create employment for people and income for the country.

“Mr. Kuy Huot added that the companies that received these economic land concessions have to plan and study the socio-economic and environmental impact in advance. Besides that, the Ministry of Agriculture and the provincial authorities have to ensure that the companies’ investments will achieve good results and will not have negative effects.

“Actually, some of these companies having economic land concessions for investment in Kratie did not properly follow the Royal Government’s policy. Those companies only want to occupy the land and the forests so that they can gain benefit for their own companies”. Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4512, 10.2.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 11 February 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #40, 11.2.2008

  • Human Rights Party Concerned about Yuon [Vietnamese] Entering to Get Voter Registration Cards Issued to Vote for Cambodian People’s Party
  • Parliamentarians and Officials of No-Longer Opposing Party [= Sam Rainsy Party] Who Are Hungry for Power Join the Cambodian People’s Party
  • Sam Rainsy Sends Followers to Join and Ask for Power from the Cambodian People’s Party Before He and All Other Officials Become Hun Sen’s Slaves after the 2008 Elections [Chuoy Khmer editorial]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #106, 11.2.2008

  • Mr. Eng Chhay Ieng [secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party]: Even if Eng Chhay Ieng would Leave, Sam Rainsy Party Would Not Be Weak
  • Prince Ranariddh: I Am Not Confident that I Will Be Able to Return to the Country Soon

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3384, 11.2.2008

  • Eng Chhay Ieng: Sam Rainsy Party Does Not Consider Individuals’ Positions to Be Important [about Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians leaving the party to join the Cambodian People’s Party]
  • Oknha Khov Chily Removed as Advisor to Chea Sim because of Land Disputes [in Koh Kong]
  • Nuon Chea Calls for Help from Strongman Hun Sen; Ieng Sary Sent [from hospital] Back to Khmer Rouge Tribunal Prison

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4512, 10-11.2.2008

  • Companies Invested on 70,000 Hectares of Economic Land Concession in Kratie Province, Only 200 Hectares of the Land Have Been Planted With Rubber Trees
  • About 20% of Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Join Cambodian People’s Party
  • Samdech Dekchor Speaks about Preparation to Reconstruct Main Irrigation Systems in Kompong Speu with More Than US$50 Million
  • US Ambassador [to Cambodia Joseph A. Mussomeli]: In Many Countries Ambassadors Have Bodyguards, but Not Here [he said he walks his three-year-old son every day in Phnom Penh without being afraid of anything]
  • Australian Federal Police Will Come to Help to Increase Capacity of Cambodian Officials Who Implement Laws against Drugs

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