Week 554

Week 554 – 2008-04-06: National Confrontations for Global Problems

Posted on 6 April 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 554 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 554

This is written on the day for which the Sam Rainsy Party had predicted that 5,000 people would follow their call for a demonstration. The demonstration is not only to highlight the plight of the people faced with increasing prices for fuel and food, and to demand “that the government decrease the price of goods or increase the salary for government officials and workers, commensurate with the inflation of the price of goods,” but also to denounce that “corruption and incompetence are the reason behind the problem.” On the other hand, government authorities have criticized the planned demonstration as leading to social instability without offering a solution, as the increase in the price of goods is a global phenomenon. The Prime Minister gave detailed arguments and “rejected criticism concerning the request that the government should fix the price of goods.”

Looking beyond the borders of Cambodia, into the region and into the whole world, is necessary. Doing so makes us painfully aware that the problems faced are much more serious than they appear when looking only at the local situation.

Already on 16 October 2007 – World Food Day – the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director General Jacques Diouf had asked: “If our planet produces enough food to feed its entire population, why do 854 million people still go to sleep on an empty stomach?” He added that “a right is not a right if it cannot be claimed.”

Since then, more and more elements show that the world is facing a crisis:

  • The world’s wheat stocks are lower than they have ever been during the last 30 years.
  • The price of grain has been rising for the last 5 years.
  • Global food prices rose 35% from January 2007 to January 2008.
  • Australia, one of the main grain exporting countries, has suffered drought for two years, reducing grain production.
  • Concern about climate change, and about the limited nature of oil resources and the resulting price increase, has led to an expansion of the bio-fuel industry. In many countries, more and more agricultural products are being turned into bio-fuel. It is estimated that a quarter of the corn production in the USA is turned into fuel for cars. Many other countries are moving in similar directions – for example, Indonesia and Malaysia turn palm oil, part of the daily food supply, into bio-fuel. The only country which has strongly denounced turning food into fuel is Cuba.
  • Countries which have achieved an enormous economic growth – like China – experience major changes in the quantities and types of food their increasingly wealthy citizens eat. More staple foods like rice, soybeans, and other grains are purchased, and also much more meat and milk than before. In 1985, the average meat consumption per year per person in China was 20 kg, it is now about 50 kg. And to produce 1 kg of meat commercially requires about 7 kg of grain as animal food; the same amount of grain can feed many fewer people if they eat it as meat instead of as grain.

It is no surprise that, during the last weeks and months, the international media have reported about serious tensions and sometimes riots related to the shortage of food:

During the past year, there were disturbances in several states in India because production of onions had decreased and the prices doubled.

  • In December 2007, there were huge demonstrations in Mexico, when the price of corn was raised.
  • There have been clashes over food prices in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Morocco, and Senegal.
  • In March of this year, the president of Egypt called on the army to increase the production of bread, after the market price of bread had risen 26% since the beginning of the year and some people were killed in the resulting social unrest.
  • During the past week, three people were killed and 25 injured during a riot over food prices in Haiti.
  • In Yemen, also during the past week, the government brought tanks to the streets against demonstrators protesting that the price of wheat had doubled since February.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has noted that this growing crisis may lead to widespread problems – especially for the most vulnerable, the poorer sections of society.

But there are no easy solutions, and probably none can be found in isolation from regional and world wide cooperation. The increasing populations in many countries, and the increasing prices for oil, have cummulative effects: the production of food and its transportation and processing get more expensive. The stronger economies can afford to pay more for oil and food, and the spiral of prices continues.

So the challenge in Cambodia is to find ways to meet these increasing international prolems. First of all, it is surely not adequate to simply dismiss allegations of government corruption and incompetence – it is unacceptable that anti-curruption legislation, which has been in various drafts for many years, and its final presenting to the National Assembly for discussion and adoption had been promised repeatedly, may again not be sent to the National Assembly before it recesses in view of the July national elections. It is also not encouraging that, although detailed allegations of large scale corruption in the telecommunications and electricity industries have been in the press often, it is not transparent to the public what the law enforcement agencies are doing – either transparently investigating and dismissing the allegations, or informing the citizens about how illegal personal enrichment is being brought to justice. Similarly, only open access to information for the media and the public, and decisive action by the government when needed, can adequately answer specific allegations of incompetence.

But attention to alleged problems of corruption and incompetence alone cannot solve the problem of rising food and fuel prices. That requires addressing fundamental question: what kind of consumer and producer society is the goal for Cambodia: What is the vision? What is the framework for a just distribution of the wealth that Cambodia produces? What are Cambodia’s policies and procedures in relation to its own resources, in relation to its neighbors, and in relation to the rest of the world?

The president of Germany said, at the occasion of the World Food Day 2007:

“Hunger is not an inescapable destiny, but it can be eliminated by wise policies.” This requires that governments of developing countries make food security a priority. He said “all people have a right to healthy food, produced in a sustainable manner appropriate to their culture. Democratic participation by the people is the best guarantee that governments will genuinely understand people’s basic needs and will take these into account.” He noted that people should have an adequate supply of food from their own fields and the surrounding region, which requires a type of agriculture based on “ownership” in developing countries and on functioning local structures and know-how.

Maybe such an aim, for as much self-sufficiency as possible, within a realistic understanding of the global context, can be one of the guideposts for the difficult discussions and decisions Cambodia has to make.

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Saturday, 5.4.2008: Ministry of Interior Permits Demonstration in Front of the National Assembly

Posted on 6 April 2008. Filed under: Week 554 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 554

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen wished Sam Rainsy to reach the age of one hundred years
  • Leaders of the opposition party may face legal action
  • Sam Rainsy asked 24 lawmakers to return to Phnom Penh to hold a demonstration on 6 April 2008
  • Latest information: The Ministry of Interior permitted demonstration in front of the National Assembly
  • “Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Interior decided on 4 April 2008 that the demonstration, which will be led by the Sam Rainsy on 6 April 2008, can be held in front of the new National Assembly building. However, it does not allow any march. Mr. Sam Rainsy, the president of the opposition party, has not made a final decision whether or not the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] will also march during the demonstration. Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen wished Mr. Sam Rainy to reach the age of one hundred years, so that he will continue to compete with him on the stage of Cambodian politics.

    “A reliable source said that in the morning of 4 April 2008, Phnom Penh municipal authorities convened an urgent meeting under the direction of Mr. Kep Chuk Tema, the Phnom Penh municipal governor. The meeting aimed to watch over the demonstration of the SRP planned for 6 April 2008. District governors, chiefs of police, and chiefs of military police from all seven districts were present at the meeting.

    “Sources from the meeting said that Mr. Kep Chuk Tema told the participants to be prepared, in order to ensure security around the clock. All equipment to be used must be prepared and made available in the related districts and in the related areas, such as markets, and particularly around the headquarter of the SRP.

    “Mr. Kep Chuk Tema gave orders for the time of the demonstration, ‘Our police and the authorities of the seven districts must have enough forces available at any time to prevent illegal acts. The municipal authorities must prevent the opposition party, opportunists, or dishonest groups from doing anything that causes difficulties, insecurity, social disorder, and fears to the million of people who are living in Phnom Penh. Such problems can be caused by a handful of people.’

    “However, according to the same source, Mr. Kep Chuk Tema said that this year there is no ‘die-hard volunteer activist’ who opposes the government and the Phnom Penh municipal authorities, as it was in 1998 and 2003. For the last several days, the SRP hired moto-taxi and tuk-tuk drivers to distribute leaflets to appeal to people to participate in the demonstration on 6 April 2008. Also, Mr. Sam Rainsy turned around and sought activists in the provinces to help. Therefore the district authorities and the police must observe everywhere in Phnom Penh. If there is any mobile force from the provinces entering Phnom Penh, the authorities must stop such potential forces.

    “The Phnom Penh municipality is afraid that on 6 April 2008, if the demonstration still proceeds marching, leaders of the demonstration cannot control the demonstrators, and the demonstration could become violent, as demonstrators walking might take things from other people in their houses, shops, and markets. All demonstrators could then face legal action.

    “The municipality has arranged three lawyers to manage any cases relating to the demonstration planned for 6 April 2008.

    “Mr. Kep Chuk Tema gave an absolute order that the municipality does not allow any [marching] demonstrations, whether they are violent or non-violent, because such demonstrations are not a solution. The demonstration can not solve any problem, such as the increasing price of many goods and rice; and the government and the municipality are taking measures to deal with these problem.

    “Mr. Sam Rainsy said that the SRP told its 24 lawmakers who are in their fieldwork to return to Phnom Penh on Saturday, 5 April 2008, to participate in the demonstration scheduled on Sunday, 6 April 2008. Mr. Sam Rainsy added, ‘I will participate as well, but we have to wait for the information from the negotiators with the municipality.’ He said that SRP lawmakers, including Ho Vann, Nou Sovath, and Sok Sothy, may continue to negotiate with the municipality even in the afternoon of 5 April 2008, but he has not yet received any information about the status of the negotiations. After the municipality had stated its firm position to prohibit a [marching] demonstration, Mr. Sam Rainsy has not yet decided whether or not the demonstration would be held with a march or just at one place, or whether it would be canceled. He has to wait for information from the negotiators with the municipality. He said, ‘We cannot do anything based on the decision made by only one person. We must talk with those who are in charge and with the government.

    “Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen wished the president of the opposition party to reach the age of one hundred years .

    “Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, wished the president of the opposition party the great strength to compete in upcoming elections.

    “Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen sent Mr. Sam Rainsy such a wish during the inauguration of Meanchey University in Banteay Meanchey, in the morning of 4 April 2008.

    “Samdech Dekchor said, ‘I want to compete with the strong, not with the weak.’ He added, ‘I don’t want to compete with those who are not strong and who are weak.’

    “Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen said that he wished the president of the opposition party good health up to the age of one hundred years. If he continues to be the leader of the opposition party, Samdech will continue to be leader of the ruling party. He said, ‘Provided that you continue to be the leader of the opposition party, I continue to be leader of the ruling party. There is nothing wrong if the prime minister is the same person, because the president of the opposition party is also the same.’

    “Samdech Hun Sen added that the selection of a new prime minister, to have the same one again, or to change, is up to the decision of the Cambodian people.

    “According to the latest information, the Ministry of Interior agreed to allow the SRP to conduct a demonstration in front of the new building of the National Assembly, but it did not allow any march.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4559, 5.4.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Saturday, 5 April 2008

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1611, 5.4.2008

    • Satellite Television Network (Dekchor DTV) Officially Inaugurated in Cambodia [3 April by Cambodia DTV Network Limited under cooperation with Cambodian National Television]
    • Sam Rainsy Struggles to Use 24 Parliamentarians’ Immunity to Demonstrate
    • Agriculture Is Still Leading in Economic Growth
    • Kuoy Ethnic Minority Community to Demonstrate, Asking to Establish a Ban on Gold Mining in Their Rovieng District [Preah Vihear]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6315, 5-6.4.2008

    • National Election Committee Instructs Parties; Political Parties Must Deposit Riel 15 Million [approx. US$ 3,750]; in Case They Get at Least 3% of the Votes, They Will Be Refunded

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3431, 5-6.4.2008

    • Mr. Sam Rainsy Call Citizens to Vote to Change a Leader Who Is Incompetent to Prevent the Increase of Prices of Goods, and Incompetent to Prevent Corruption

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4559, 5.4.2008

    • Ministry of Interior Permits Demonstration in Front of the National Assembly
    • Vietnam Seizes Wood Worth Nearly US$2 Million [allegedly] Transported Illegally from Cambodia

    Have a look at last week’s editorial: “using an iron fist to administer justice”
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    Friday, 4.4.2008: Survey Report Says That Mr. Sam Rainsy Will Become Prime Minister in 2008

    Posted on 5 April 2008. Filed under: Week 554 |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 554

    “A survey on candidates for the position of prime minister indicates that Mr. Sam Rainsy is in the first rank, before Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is currently holding the position as the prime minister of Cambodia.

    “According to a website seen by Khmer Machas Srok, there are only four candidates for the position of prime minister mentioned who receive supports as participants competing in the 2008 national elections. The four candidates are Mr. Sam Rainsy from the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP], Mr. Hun Sen from the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP], Prince Norodom Ranariddh from the Norodom Ranariddh Party, and Mr. Kem Sokha from the Human Rights Party.

    “The internationally accessible website www.buzzdash.com, where the public can express its opinion on almost all possible sectors, ranging from trade, sports, and politics, indicates a variety of opinions related to competitors on the market, as well as the support ranges for each [of the many different] candidacies. It shows the clear figure of supporters [who have left their opinion on this website]. On this opinion poll during the last two months, 44% of the visitors supported Mr. Sam Rainsy; 36% supported Mr. Hun Sen; 13% supported Prince Norodom Ranariddh; and 5% supported Mr. Kem Sokha.

    [Actually, the Internet address http://www.buzzdash.com does not point to a public opinion polling institution – it is a program where every Internet user on the World Wide Web can, free of charge, in less than 5 minutes, create any opinion polling site – writing a question of not more that 70 letters, and providing 2 to 5 answers for the visitors to click on, indicating their preference]

    “The CPP of Prime Minister Hun Sen is concerned, because the people who gave their opinion for the party have suffered from suppression and threats of grabbing their lands by powerful and rich, who are relatives and officials of the prime minister.

    “Corruption is a root problem which the CPP established. The national and international public blamed the Hun Sen-led government, a so-called ‘hole-in-the-basket’ government [metaphor for not being able to maintain or preserve their assets], for not protecting the properties and interests of the Cambodian people, who are demanding that an anti-corruption law be created soon.

    “Currently, the price of gasoline and of goods of all kinds is constantly increasing. This is a serious failure of the Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency of the government led by Mr. Hun Sen. Therefore, the majority of the people have turned to support the SRP, which is the only big and well-known opposition party in Cambodia.

    “To conclude, even though the CPP has ‘conscripted’ people and attracted them by giving them government positions, for example providing positions to those who defected the SRP to join the CPP, it would be impossible for them to win, because the communist party [misnomer, pointing at the CPP] will come to an end of its political life during the coming 2008 parliamentary election.

    “It should be noted that lawmakers from the SRP proposed to the National Assembly to create a law to provide Cambodian people living abroad to have the right to vote in the same way as Cambodian people living in Cambodia during the 2008 national election. This is a practice that other countries in different parts of the world follow. For the rest of the world, citizens living anywhere around the world [depending on the home country] may still vote to select the leaders for their home country. However, a similar proposal was rejected by Cambodian government officials.

    “According to a report on a similar survey made by the NGO Pulroth Vichea [no details identified] led by Dr. Chhim Phal Virun, concerning various provinces which have up to four parliamentary seats, the SRP is competing with the CPP. The report indicated that the CPP might receive more than 60 seats, and the Sam Rainsy Party might received more than 40 seats. More than 20 seats might go to any of the other parties. There are many people who did not participate in the 2007 Commune Council elections. If young people who have just reached the voting age, and people who did not go to cast their votes in 2007, will go to vote for the SRP this year, Mr. Sam Rainy will become prime minister to lead Cambodia, just like what the opinion poll predicted.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #130, 4-5.3.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Friday, 4 April 2008

    Chakraval, Vol.16, #2768, 4.4.2008

    • World Bank Predicts that Cambodian Economy Continues Growing

    Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #78, 4.4.2008

    • [Human Rights Party vice-president] Keo Remy Criticizes Preparation for Closed Elections of Provincial and Town [and District] Council Leaders [the elected village councilors will elect the leaders of provinces, towns, and districts – there will be no general elections for these positions, until now filled by appointments by the Ministry of Interior]
    • Samdech Euv [former King] and Samdech Mae [former Queen] Will Return from China on 6 April

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1610, 4.4.2008

    • There Is Hope Again for Khmer Rouge Tribunal Funds
    • Cambodian Leader [Hun Sen] Calls for Changing the Attitude, and not Use Generalized Words Which Attack All Muslim Citizens [saying “terrorist attack by Muslims” implies wrongly that more than 1 billion Muslims are all enemies]
    • Municipality Prohibits Construction of Houses on Dangerous River Embankments

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #130, 4-5.4.2008

    • Poll Says Mr. Sam Rainsy Will Become Prime Minister in 2008

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6314, 4.4.2008

    • Asian Development Bank Provides US$20 Million [aid] for Development of Tonle Sap Lake Areas of Cambodia
    • More Than 300 Hectares of Dry Season Rice Destroyed by Insects in Kompong Thom
    • [South] Korean Company Plans to Invest in Banks, Electricity, and Special Economic Zones [in Kompong Speu and Sihanoukville]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #34, 4.4.2008

    • [Three] Yuon [Vietnamese] Companies Cut Trees on Concession Land of More Than 2,000 Hectares in Mondolkiri for Rubber Plantation

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4558, 4.4.2008

    • Municipal Governor Explains to Students Not to Attend Demonstration [organized by opposition party] on 6 April
      Cambodia Asks Australia to Help with Training in Oil Exploration

    Have a look at last week’s editorial: “using an iron fist to administer justice”

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    Thursday, 3.4.2008: Water Should Not Be Stirred up to Be Dirty; Demonstration against Increasing Prices of Goods Is Not a Solution

    Posted on 4 April 2008. Filed under: Week 554 | Tags: |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 554

    “Phnom Penh: Social turmoil might be created due to a demonstration led by political parties which will compete in the 27 July 2008 election, even though they demand that the government decrease the price of goods or to increase the salary for government officials and workers, commensurate with the inflation of the price of goods. Observers said that this is not a solution, because it just like muddying the water or to pollute a pond to make the fish die.

    “On 1 April 2008, the Sam Rainsy Party issued a letter, calling for the participation in a non-violent mass demonstration led Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers on 6 April 2008. Actually, this call indicates an intention to conduct demagogy by taking advantage of the current situation, when the increase in the price of goods is a global phenomenon. What is the use of such activities which attempt to pollute the social environment, while the government has been trying to solve the problems step by step? What is the point for which these people are trying to cause social instability? Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen has rejected criticism concerning the request that the government should fix the price of goods. Responding to some ideas about setting the price of goods, Samdech Dekchor said that in order to set fixed prices for goods, ‘first of all, political measures would have to be taken to dissolve all political parties and non-governmental organizations, so that they will not protest, and to arrest all demonstrators. Secondly, Cambodia would have to cut off relation with ASEAN. Then, Cambodia would have to withdraw itself from the World Trade Organization, and cut off its relations with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Asia Development Bank; only after that, we could fix the price of goods. Is this possible? If anyone would dare to do so, they would die, because it is contrary to the law of the progress of human society. Therefore, it is time for those who lie to stop telling lies, and it is also time for those who got cheated to stop accepting to get being cheated.’

    “‘Mr. Sam Rainsy is not stupid, he boasted that he is an economist. For the time being, no one knows on what ground he relies as he declares to conduct a mass demonstration, besides sating that corruption and incapacity are the reason behind the problem. All these points sound beautiful, but they do not have a clear basis for making any accusations. If they accuse the government of incapacity, under what conditions would they considering the government to have capacity? The government makes progresses in many respects in terms of social infrastructure and development. The price of land is skyrocketing. Increasing land prices indicate that investments arrive, while the progress of the construction sector clearly indicates that the living standard of people have improved, not like in times of war. Corruption is nothing new, but they try to accuse the government. Why is it so important for them to try to make the society suffer by such acts of incitement, to obtain political gains?’

    “Some observers said that the reason is that Mr. Sam Rainsy is running out of supporters – from top to low-ranking officials – as many defected to join the Cambodian People’s Party. Regarding Mr. Sam Rainsy’s panic, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, the government spokesperson, warned that Mr. Sam Rainsy would be held responsible if the demonstration became violent. Observers said that Mr. Sam Rainsy should not try to take political advantage from this situation. This is not a good way, because to demonstrate does not lead to a solution to decrease the price of goods. In fact, the government is not interested to see such things happening during its mandate, but this is a global issue that has serious effects on everyone.

    “They should not kindle a fire to satisfy their political ambition, while Cambodian citizens are looking forward to celebrating the Khmer New Year soon.

    “During the inaugural ceremony of Seila Nimith Temple, known as Wat Da, in Kriel, Baray, on 25 March 2008, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen criticized such psychological warfare, which will fail by itself. On the Cambodian markets, there is an increase in the price of rice, fuel, utility items, and particularly construction materials. What is the cause of these increasing prices? One must review the common context of the whole world to reflect what the situation in Cambodia is. Some of the factors that the world is facing are global issues. First of all, concerning the US economy, the engine of global economic growth, is suffering from serious deficits and this seriously affects the economies of Cambodia, Europe, and Japan. These points should be taken into consideration.

    “Concerning the increasing oil price, the USA can not control such a situation, even though the US is a country which has many oil reserves. Some regions in the USA do not do business in oil, but the USA does business overseas.

    “As for the increasing oil price, the global demand is increasing on a large scale. Particularly in Cambodia, the oil consumption demand is increasing, as there is an increase in the number of cars and motorbikes. The global demand relates also to energy security, as some countries use fuel to produce electricity. Oil producing countries do not increase their oil production, sometimes they even reduced production. This leads to an increase in the price of oil, and it makes other goods follow. The enormous global needs of all kinds are interconnected.

    “As for the rising price of rice, Samdech Dekchor said that the rice price should have risen in 2000 and 2001, because then there were big floods. However, at that time, the price of rice in the markets remained stable, and the state did not intervene in the market. Thailand and Vietnam bought rice from Cambodia, because the rice price level in Thailand and in Vietnam is higher than in Cambodia. If Cambodian rice were more expensive than Vietnamese and Thai rice, they would not buy rice from Cambodia, and we would import rice back to Cambodia.

    “Final Information: According to a report, officials of the Sam Rainsy Party went to distribute leaflets to call people to participate in the demonstration. A lawmaker from the Sam Rainsy Party, stated that they would conduct the demonstration, and it is just enough to inform the municipality. ‘Therefore, there is not need to wait for a permission.’” Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6313, 3.4.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Thursday, 3 April 2008

    Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #77, 3.4.2008

    • If Yuon [Vietnam] Would Agree to Send Troops to Maintain Security during Khmer [Cambodian] Election Day, It Would Be an Abuse of Sovereignty
    • [Former Phnom Penh Police Commissioner] Criminal Heng Pov Asks for Intervention from [Hun Sen’s Advisor] Om Yentieng to Withdraw US$200,000 from Canadia Bank

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1609, 3.4.2008

    • [Minister of Meteorology and Water Resources] Lim Kean Hor: Collapse of River Embankment in Russey Keo Not because of Sand Dredging [Phnom Penh]
    • Phnom Penh Municipality Prepares to Use More Than 4,000 Armed Forces to Protect the Fourth Term Parliamentary Elections

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6313, 3.4.2008

    • Water Should Not Be Stirred up to Be Dirty; Demonstration against Increasing Prices of Goods Is Not a Solution
    • Ministry of Defense Rejects Rumor about Request for Vietnam to Help Protect Security during Elections
    • Man Beat His Seven-Months-Pregnant Wife; Police Surrounded and Arrested Him while Villagers Were Astonished [Ba Phnom, Prey Veng]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3429, 3.4.2008

    • Sam Rainsy Party Announces that There Will Be 5,000 People Attending Non-Violent Demonstration

    Have a look at last week’s editorial: “using an iron fist to administer justice”

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    Wednesday, 2.4.2008: 48 Houses of Citizens in Samaki Village Fell into the River, and Two People Are Missing

    Posted on 2 April 2008. Filed under: Week 554 | Tags: , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 554

    “Over a distance of 70 meters dozens of houses fell into the Tonle Sap River on 1 April 2008. Five people were injured and had to be rescued. One child was missing due to the collapse.

    “The authorities were evacuating people who reside along the bank of Tonle Sap River in Samaki village opposite of the Psar Touch milk-production factory, in order to avoid any danger of continuous landslides.

    “48 houses of 58 families, who live in Group 20, Samaki Village, Russey Keo, Phnom Penh, located along National Road No. 5, opposite the Samaki Market, fell into the Tonle Sap River at 3 p.m.

    “The authorities said that 48 houses of 58 families collapsed into the Tonle Sap River, so that five people had to be rescued from the water when their houses collapsed. The rescued people were one child and four old people.

    “Kop Sleh, the deputy governor of the above district, said that the collapsed houses were built in a disorderly manner along the river bank.

    “He added that the authorities were evacuating the residents along the river bank for fear that the collapse might continue.

    “He considered the collapse to be a natural disaster, giving as the reason that now we are in the dry season when the current of the river is weak. A collapse might happen more probably during the rainy season, when the current is much stronger. As for the people who were victimized by the disaster, the authorities are looking for a location for them to live for the time being, in order to wait for permanent solutions later.

    “He denied that the collapse was caused by sand dredging operations, even though local people claimed that there were ships dredging sand along the Tonle Sap River at night. According to information from the scene, two children disappeared while their parents were out doing their business.

    “This is the second incident after the collapse of the Koh Norea river bank, located in Nirouth, Meanchey, Phnom Penh. That disaster caused the loss of many houses and assets.

    “The collapse of the river bank caused citizens’ houses to fall into the river in the afternoon of 1 April 2008 at Samaki village, Russey Keo district. The collapsed land is more than 70 meters long and 30 meters deep. The authorities are seeking for any more missing people.

    “Victims said that if the collapse had happened at night, many people would have died, as they return to their houses after their work or business.

    “Citizens blamed private companies for causing the collapse of the river bank due to sand dredging operations at night, even though Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered the relevant ministries to ban private companies from dredging sand in the river.” Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #76, 2.4.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Wednesday, 2 April 2008

    Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #76, 2.4.2008

    • 48 Houses of Citizens in Samaki Village Fell into the River, and Two People Are Missing
    • [Human Rights Party president] Kem Sokha: That Hun Sen Agrees to Provide Allowance of US$6 to Workers Is Political Demagogy; [president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia] Chea Mony: Provision of Allowance of US$6 to Workers Is Success of the Trade Union
    • After Elections, Human Rights Party Government Will Decrease Prices of Goods and Gasoline and Increase Salaries for Public Servants and Workers
    • Prampi Makara District Police Seize Citizens’ Motorcycles at Night to Extort Money [Phnom Penh]

    Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #63, 2-8.4.2008

    • Prime Minister Agrees to Review of Property Rights along Cambodian Railway

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1608, 2.4.2008

    • Government Will Take Action against Provocative Activity Calling for a Demonstration [demanding decrease of prices of goods and increase of salaries for public servants and garment workers]
    • Cambodia and Qatar Officially Establish Diplomatic Relations
    • New Constitution Draft in Burma Bans [Burmese elected democracy leader] Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi from Holding Power [because she had been married to a foreigner]

    Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #568, 2.4.2008

    • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Nephew [name not mentioned] Spent US$800,000 Within One Week Only, Surprising Europe [according to Prince Norodom Ranariddh’s speech on Sambok Khmum Radio]

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #128, 2.4.2008

    • [Former Director of Electricité du Cambodge] Tan Kimvin’s and His Partisans’ Corruption Resulted in a Loss of More Than US$36 Million of State Income [in 2007 – according to an official of Electricité du Cambodge]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6312, 2.4.2008

    • Frightening Accident Tragedy [collision between a mini bus and a truck] that Killed Eleven People and Injured Eleven Others at Cashew Plantation [1 April – Cheung Prey, Kompong Cham]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3428, 2.4.2008

    • 24 Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Call for Citizens to Attend a Non-Violent Demonstration Demanding Decrease of Prices of Goods and Increase of Salaries
    • [Minister of Defense] Tea Banh Calls for Yuon [Vietnamese] Troops to Come to Help to Maintain Security during General Elections, Causing Mixed Reactions

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4556, 2.4.2008

    • World Bank: Cambodia Faces Inflation but This Does Not Effect Economic Growth
    • Opposition Party Beats Political Drum because of Increasing Prices of Goods

    Have a look at last week’s editorial: “using an iron fist to administer justice”

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    Tuesday, 1.4.2008: National Assembly Discusses Law on Management of Provinces, Towns, and Districts

    Posted on 2 April 2008. Filed under: Week 554 | Tags: |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 554

    “To be transparent in the administration of provinces, towns, and districts, the National Assembly yesterday held a meeting to discuss the Draft Law on the Administration of Provinces, Towns, and Districts. According to this draft law, governors and deputy governors will be elected. Through this new law, Cambodia will hold elections to select governors and deputy governors for provinces, towns, and districts across the country. Currently, governors and deputy governors of provinces, towns, and districts are appointed by the Ministry of Interior.

    “H. E. Sar Kheng, a deputy prime minister and the minister of interior, who came to defend the above-mentioned law on behalf of the government, which the National Assembly was taking up to be discussed, asserting that the Law on the Administration of Provinces, Towns, and Districts is very important for the condition and the situation of Cambodia.

    “His Excellency added that the law does not only improve the management in general, but also helps upgrade the management of the administration [for the general public].

    “Officials who drafted this law emphasized that this new law is helpful to ensure the functioning of legislative power [not only on the national level, but also in provinces, towns, and districts]. It is particularly important for the administrative management. A lawmaker from the opposition party criticized the Law on the Administration of Provinces, Towns, and Districts, and requested the Ministry of Interior not to appoint innumerous municipal and provincial governors and deputy governors as it this a waste of national resources. The lawmaker suggested that there should be only one governor and three vice governors in one province.

    “It should be noted that the Law on the Administration of Provinces, Towns, and Districts consists of 8 chapters and 286 articles. The law defines that governors and vice governors in the provinces, towns, and districts, who are currently appointed only by the Ministry of Interior, will be elected.” Areythor, Vol.14, #1320, 2-3.4.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Tuesday, 1 April 2008

    Areyathor, Vol.14, #1320, 2-3.4.2008

    • National Assembly Discusses Law on Management of Provinces, Towns, and Districts

    Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #75, 1.4.2008

    • [Former Phnom Penh Police Chief] Criminal Heng Pov Has Nearly US$1 Million Deposited in Canadia Bank

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3427, 1.4.2008

    • Prime Minister Makes Sok An Ashamed because of [Cambodian Television Network] Presenters [to whom people can send information about land disputes]
    • Yuon [Vietnam] Has Rice Crisis after Khmer Government Suspends Paddy Rice Export

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4555, 1.4.2008

    Have a look at last week’s editorial: “using an iron fist to administer justice”

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    Monday, 31.3.2008: Sam Rainsy Appeals to FBI to Re-Investigate the Case of 30 March 1997

    Posted on 1 April 2008. Filed under: Week 554 |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 554

    “Phnom Penh: The Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] appealed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] of the United States of America to re-open its investigation into the events of the hand grenade attack in front of the former National Assembly which happened eleven years ago, killing more than 10 demonstrators and injuring more than 100. The party criticized that the government has not yet made any progress in the investigations.

    “A spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior claimed that the Ministry has not yet closed the case. The authorities welcome the Sam Rainsy Party if it is providing evidence, witnesses, or other reasons relating to the case.

    “The general secretariat of the SRP issued a statement on 29 March 2008, focusing on the 11th anniversary of the commemoration of the death of the victims, killed by a hand grenade attack in front of the former building of the National Assembly on 30 March 1997.

    “Eleven years ago, about 100 demonstrators, including garment workers, participated in a demonstration led by the SRP, demanding a reform of the judicial system in Cambodia. Thirty minutes after the start of the demonstration, four hand grenades were thrown into the crowd, leaving 16 dead and more than 100 injured.

    “The statement of the SRP said, ‘Eleven years have passed, and the Cambodian government declared that the case of this hand grenade attack is still open, but the investigation has not yet made any progress. For eleven years, justice has not yet been found for the victims. This causes questions about the honesty of the government. The families of the victims wonder whether or not justice is being sought.’

    “The SRP appealed to the FBI to re-open its investigation to ensure that criminals and those who are behind the attack cannot run away from justice, and to promote respect for the rule of law in Cambodia.

    “General Khieu Sopheak, the secretary general of the Ministry of Interior and the spokesperson for the ministry, told Rasmei Kampuchea in the afternoon of 29 March 2008 by phone that ‘in the investigation of few years ago, our authorities found a suspect who is a Brazilian national, but afterwards the suspect denied to be involved. However, we still keep the case open. The Ministry of Interior has not yet closed the case, because persecution is still possible.’

    “Concerning the statement that the SRP said that justice has not yet been sought for the victims, General Khieu Sopheak said that ‘the victims are Khmer people and they have Khmer blood like us. Therefore, we have to seek justice for them. The government and the authorities happily welcome if the SRP provides evidence, witnesses, or any other motivation concerning the case.’

    “The spokesperson said that Mr. Sam Rainsy had written a letter to officially apologize to the Prime Minister that he would no longer make any allegations without clear evidence that the government was behind the event.

    “As for the appeal of the SRP to the FBI to re-open its investigation, Khieu Sopheak said, ‘It is up to the FBI. We cannot give any comment concerning this request.’” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4554, 30-31.3.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 31 March 2008

    Chalna Sangkum, Vol.3, #15, 31.3.2008

    • A Letter to the Editor Requests to Publish the Article “City With No Sidewalks” Again

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1606, 30-31.3.2008

    • Anti-Poverty Party Chief [Kravanh Daran] Boats by Saying that Samdech Hun Sen Is Strong, but He Is Not Afraid
    • Gold Seller Shot Dead and His Bodyguard Wounded; A Box of Gold Robbed [29 March 2008 – Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh]

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #126, 31.3.2008

    • Samdech Euv [the former King] Will Return to Cambodia on 6 April 2008; He Will Not Enter the Royal Palace but Will Proceed Directly to Siem Reap
    • [Former US International Republican Institute Cambodia Director] Ron Abney: Report [supposedly by the US FBI] States that Hun Sen’s Bodyguards Organized Grenade Attack [opposite National Assembly on 30 March 1997]
    • [Telecom Cambodia Director] Nhek Kosal Vithyea’s Corruption of Stealing from the Nation Is Very Unjustly Covered Up [without action taken against corruption]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6310, 31.3.2008

    • Anniversary of Grenade Attack Opposite National Assembly Commemorated in Past Eleven Years; Mr. Sam Rainsy: Murderers Will Be Arrested in 2009 [it doesn’t say how and by whom]
    • USA [through USAID] Provides $500,000 for [wildlife] Conservation in Northeastern Cambodia

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3426, 31.3.2008

    • Mr. Sam Rainsy Calls Khmer Citizens Who Suffer Increasing Prices of Goods to Attend Large Non-Violent Demonstration on 6 April 2008
    • Yuon [Vietnamese] Immigrants Have Increased the Number of Branches of their Association by 55 out of the Total Goal of 75 Branches throughout Cambodia [according to Vietnam News Agency]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4554, 30-31.3.2008

    • Sam Rainsy Appeals to FBI to Re-Investigate the Case of 30 March 1997

    Have a look at last week’s editorial, “using an iron fist to administer justice”

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    Sunda,2007-09-09: Interpreting and Applying Laws

    Posted on 13 September 2007. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 554 |

    The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 524

    During the week, several activities related to law enforcement and law application were highlighted.

    As of 1 September 2007, the new road traffic law, signed by the King already many months ago, is to be enforced – but several voiced had raised concerns that even the plan of the Phnom Penh municipality, to deploy additional forces at traffic lights, preparing to carry out traffic law enforcement, cannot solve the problem that there is not enough capacity to educate thousands and thousands of motorcycle drivers in time, to issue the newly required licenses. Observing the actual situation on the roads in Phnom Penh, the education, control, and punishment of drivers of big cars with or without licenses, which are statistically said to be responsible for most traffic accidents, still has not been addressed publicly as a high priority, compared to the problems of unlicensed drivers of small motorcycles.

    If an impatient high-ranking military person can call a van with uniformed personnel in his support, because the gate of the Naga Casino was not opened for him quickly enough, then the time of having the traffic law enforced evenly on everybody seems to be still in the distant future.

    On the other hand it was reported that the Prime Minister ordered to seize military vehicles that transport goods for businesspeople. There have been repeatedly allegations that military vehicles are involved also in transporting illegal logging products. If these words of Prime Minister would be enforced and publicly reported, that would be an important new step to clarify old allegations of complacency. Especially if not only such vehicles would be impounded, but also the beneficiaries of such illegalities would be publicly called to justice. – Such events happen frequently in China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

    That a house where identification cards, degree certificates, bodyguards’ identity cards, authorization letters, and a large number of other documents had been forged over the years has been identified and raided by the authorities is good news. What is not so clear: it is the reported that after the raid, the involved officials were reluctant to say whether also documents of higher level leaders had been forged. Why were journalists not encouraged and assisted to make reports covering the whole range of criminal actions discovered, as an incentive to the public to be more vigilant?

    A difficult legal discussion was unfolding since a hitherto almost unknown group in the USA – it is using the name “Cambodian Action Committee for Justice and Equity” – suggested that legal steps should be taken so that the Father King Sihanouk could appear before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia [ECCC], the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. This suggestion was rejected by a whole range of government and a wide spectrum of political party institutions. It is remembered, however, that the Father King had in the past also spoken about the possibility that he might testify at the tribunal, to contribute to the clarification of historical events. To accept such an invitation – published only on the Internet web page of the Father King – to the spokesperson and some other staffers of the ECCC, to come for a three-hours meeting at the Royal Palace, would surely have been beyond the scope of decisions for persons under United Nations contractual legal obligations to make quickly without headquarter involvement. So far, these communications have not lead to mutually satisfactory results. Given the high level international diplomatic stakes involved, this could also hardly be expected.

    Looking back at the week, it is a learning field of how difficult it is to come to common conclusions about legal affairs. But such a situation cannot be just left unattended for the future development of a society, based on the rule of law, laid down in the Constitution. It is a challenge to engage even more into the clarification – not only among legal scholars, but among the citizens of the country of many different strata – how to develop and establish the society ever more based on reliable and justly applied laws for every citizen – including for non-citizens living in the country.

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