Week 560

Week 560 – 2008-05-18: Selective Concern About Social Issues

Posted on 20 May 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 560 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

It is a little over a month since the commemoration of the International Women’s Day, which provided a focus to consider not only the role of women in society but also wider issues relating to the roles and relations between women and men. Several events in Cambodia and the world have made us aware that we are facing many difficult situations, and that society is confronted with formerly unknown questions and challenges to which there are no easy answers.

The report that a self-help organization in Australia has requested that working visas be granted to women from foreign countries who want to be sex workers in Australia appears at first sight to be sensationalist – but the spokesperson of the sex workers association explained their position with a very clear argument: “We are considering an human rights approach to labor migration generally, and then any labor migration policy can include a non-discriminatory approach to sex workers as well.” This human rights approach may appear unusual to readers of the Cambodian press, considering the difficulties in life and society that sex workers here regularly face: for example, on Saturday, two women, 19 and 26 years old, were shot and killed in Phnom Penh, supposedly in an argument between the killers and the male pimp of the two women. Who is committed to care so that sex workers are not stuck in criminal dependence and complete exploitation, and who helps society to see and care about the human rights of sex workers? – Actually, hundreds of women from different countries in Asia have traveled to Australia to work as sex workers, using visas for tourists or for types of work which they cannot really do. Fortunately, there are publicly recognized organized efforts to de-criminalize the immigrant status of these women and to provide them with at least the same general legal protections that other foreign workers in Australia enjoy.

This week another Cambodian woman suffered severe burns in an acid attack. The victim, now in a hospital in Vietnam, is disfigured – she lost one eye and one ear. Almost daily there were new reports – and comments. The family of the victim reported that her long close relationship with a senior official had broken down, and that they had received a telephone threat that the blood of the whole family would be shed if they did not return the estranged lover. While the family received the requested police protection, the head of the Municipal Police was also quoted to have commented that there was no evidence of the threat, just the family’s allegations. Of course, the badly injured victim is quite some evidence. In the past, many other acid victims have remained without evidence about their attacker. In this case, suspects have been identified and one was arrested – a police officer. Also, a night club was closed; it belongs to the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Military Police, supposedly the “senior official” who is abroad, a woman. So it was a lesbian relationship which broke down and resulted in the acid attack, if the present assumptions change into information.

Meanwhile, there was discussion about the legal implications, especially relating to observations and suggestions made by the former Minister of Women’s Affairs: “Acid attacks, which often target women, should be considered a crime which is heavier than just bodily injury… The victim can be considered to belong to a special group, similar to rape victims. And the crime is heavier than stabbing a person with a knife, because it leaves scars on the body, hurts the feelings, and creates mental problems.” She made also reference to two past court cases: one woman had been sentenced to 18 years in prison for an acid attack that had killed her husband in 2004. Not much later, a man had poured acid on his wife, but he got a sentence of only six months in prison, and it was suspended, pending a five years probation period.

The Cambodian League for the Promotion & Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO] published their studies of an increasing number of acid attacks reported in newspapers – in reality there were probably more – covering three years until 2003: “Living in the Shadows – Acid attacks in Cambodia.” There was an average of one attack every 25 days, in which somebody did not want to kill, but wanted to inflict suffering and humiliation on the attacked person forever.

One year later, LICADHO followed with another report: “Rape and Indecent Assault in Cambodia” which detailed problems related to the prosecution of such frequent and massive violence through the Cambodian legal system, as well as with the challenges that victims, many of them children even under the age of ten, face in society.

In spite of the fact that such horrible stories are regularly reported in the press, we are not aware that there have been any major and continuing public attempts to deal with such violence, which seems to take place all over the country. The efforts of the former Minister of Women’s Affairs, to promote a draft law which would have imposed stiff penalties on perpetrators of acid attacks, met conservative opposition. She reported that the opponents felt that “acid attacks were the result of family discord and punishing them too severely could provoke greater disharmony.” Also, there seems still to be widespread reluctance to directly talk about such crimes when there is a case. The Cambodia Daily reported: “Women’s Affairs Minister Ing Kantha Phavi referred questions to ministry spokeswoman Sy Define, who said Thursday she was too busy to talk to a reporter. Ho Naun, chair of the National Assembly commission on women’s affairs, said she was too busy to talk to a reporter Thursday…”

But can improvement be hoped for if there is not a lot of public discussion? Isn’t this necessary even for problems that are difficult to speak about? We can observe that two issues have been taken up in two different rounds of electronic communication about cultural and moral values, although these debates have not appeared in newspapers .

The first relates to a report in Rasmei Kampuchea – which we had not even “mirrored” as it seemed to be an isolated case – about a video clip which was shared among some people by mobile phone. It is about a couple who had their 7 or 8 year old daughter take a video while they had sex. “Some people say that this couple is not right in their mind, other people say that this video was taken just for fun.” The most serious concern is about the effect on the child. A Women’s Mailing List is starting a discussion, asking for comments and suggestions on this matter, and raising concern that this is a wrong use of Information and Communication Technology.

The second is on another open email Mailing List where members of the growing community of bloggers in Cambodia are the main participants. Someone took offense at an advertisement in which an attractive women rides a new motorcycle on the market – the complaint is that the woman rather than the motorcycle really attracts attention, and there is a suggestion for “the government, especially the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information, to monitor advertisements” so that they are consistent and do not affect “the Khmer culture and disvalue the women.”

The first video clip – though objectionable – shows a kind of peaceful family situation, although it is not typically seen by others. If people think that it is necessary to discuss how to handle this one video clip case, they should surely also want to conduct social outreach and discussion about what to do about the massive availability of pornographic CDs in shops all over the country, some of it of an extremely violent nature and some showing the severe exploitation of children.

The call for the government to monitor advertisements to see whether they conform to Cambodian culture resulted in an intense exchange of opinions. Some people pointed to the general situation in the country, which has achieved a respectable degree of freedom of expression, in comparison to other countries in the region, and warned against any opening for censorship. They also raised the question of who in government – which must serve but not control the citizens, according to the Constitution – would implement such monitoring, and which criteria of “culture” would be used. This could open a much deeper debate – some people will surely want to reference the Chbap Serei – the old traditional Rules for Women – but others might believe it quite necessary to distinguish which aspects of the Chbap Serei are important and which should be rejected.

There is no way to avoid the difficult personal challenge: to strive towards personal understanding and positions which every person has to clarify for themselves, and to engage in an ongoing dialog – private and public – to find common ground. This search must include dealing with the changing ways in which women and men relate to each other. This process is not easy, and everyone can make mistakes along the path to achieving both personal responsibility and social accountability. Perhaps one mistake happens often is to focus a lot of attention on smaller issues, and less on very serious ones.

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Saturday, 17.5.2008: Ms. Mu Sochua Considers Acid Attacks to Be Crimes That Cannot Be Condoned; There Is a Rumor Saying that Brigadier General Chea Ratha Has Been Removed from Her Position to Open an Inquest

Posted on 18 May 2008. Filed under: Week 560 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

“With no law to define specifically the penalty for acid attacks, several officials said more or less the same, ‘There will be a trial of this case of an acid attack, based the the obvious damage which has been inflicted on the victim’s appearance.’

“However, the deputy secretary-general of the Sam Rainsy Party and former Minister of Women’s Affairs Ms. Mu Sochua said, ‘Acid attacks, which often target women, should be considered a crime which is heavier than just bodily injury.’

“This statement was made after there was an acid attack against Ms. In Soklida’s aunt, Ms. Ya Soknim, after there had been threats by phone from a deputy staff officer of the National Military Police, Ms. Chea Ratha, and after the arrest of the suspect Ea Puthy, accused to have used a weapon illegally.

“According to Ms. In Soklida’s statement from a hiding place in an interview with Radio Free Asia, she said clearly, ‘When living with Brigadier General Ms. Chea Ratha I felt scared already as if I was like a dead person, though I was alive.’

“Ms. In Soklida said, ‘The period that I had relations with Ms. Chea Ratha was since she was deputy head of the Phnom Penh police. Now she is in the Military Police under the command of [National Military Police commander] Sao Sokha.’

“Ms. In Soklida continued between sobs, ‘She has gone into hiding for five weeks, but few days ago, I saw the information in a newspaper, publishing the acid attack on my aunt, which causes me real pain.’

“Moreover, Ms. In Soklida said, ‘I know that they are searching for me at all my relatives’ houses. Furthermore, they threatened and insulted my relatives in many ways, though the relatives don’t know anything about me; but they accuse my relatives that they hide me.’

“What Ms. In Soklida said shows the way for the authorities at all levels to find the criminals who conducted an acid attack on Ms. Ya Soknim at 10:10 a.m. of 8 May 2008 in front of the RAC [?] clinic.

“Additionally, Ms. Ya Siyet, Ms. In Soklida’s mother, told journalists about this bad episode, ‘At the end of 2006, Ms. Chea Ratha started loving my daughter and took my daughter to live with her.’

“Then, when Ms. In Soklida hid herself from the hands of Ms. Chea Ratha, Ms. Ya Siyet said, ‘Ms. Chea Ratha was very angry and she accused In Soklida’s aunt – Ms. Ya Soknim who was attacked by acid – that she was the person who hides In Soklida.’

“Ms. Ya Siyet added that before the acid attack on the victim Ya Soknim, Ms. Chea Ratha and her followers had checked the victim’s house to find In Soklida, but they did not see her. At that time, Ms. Chea Ratha made a phone call to threaten the victim to return In Soklida to her, otherwise the whole family would not be able to live happily.

“Ms. Ya Siyet claimed that because Ms. Chea Ratha had threatened her younger sister very often, the victim decided to record Ms. Chea Ratha’s voice as evidence.

“It should be noted that on Wednesday, an arrest warrant for four suspects – who are all related to the acid attack on the victim Ya Soknim who is now being operated in Yuon [Vietnam] – was issued.

“[The director general of the National Police] Mr. Hok Lundy stated cautiously that he did not want to give detailed information to journalists, but he said that now, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court issued a warrant to arrest three or four suspects.

“Regarding this shocking case, [the Sam Rainsy Party deputy secretary-general and] the former Minister of Women’s Affairs Ms. Mu Sochua said on Wednesday, ‘Acid attacks which often target women should be considered to be a crime that is heavier than just bodily injury.’

“She stressed, ‘The victim can be considered to belong to a special group, similar to rape victims. And the crime is heavier than stabbing a person with a knife, because it leaves scars on the body, hurts the feeling, and creates mental problems.

“The Deputy Secretary-General also reminded the public that when she was Minister of Women’s Affairs in 2002, she had tried to create a law on domestic violence, which would have threatened ten years imprisonment for those who commit an acid attack.

“Separately, it is said that finally the deputy staff officer of the National Military Police, Ms. Chea Ratha, has been removed from her position; this shows the beginning of an inquest into the case of the acid attack on Ms. Ya Soknim.

“If this information is correct, we hope that the person who is behind the attack and the actual perpetrators will not be able to escape from the net of the law. However, we would like that the law will put serious penalties on those criminals, because, as Ms. Mu Sochua has already said, ‘An acid attack is more serious than stabbing a person with a knife, since it leaves scars on the body, it hurts the feeling, and it creates mental problems for the victims.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #156, 17.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 17 May 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1643, 17.5.2008

  • More Than One Million Thumbprints against Corruption Were Presented to the National Assembly; [Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers president] Chea Mony and [Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association president] Rong Chhun Claimed that the National Assembly Did Not Accept Them [the thumbprints were rejected by the first committee chairperson of the National Assembly and the Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarian Ms. Khuon Sodary]
  • The Association for Democracy Was Not Successfully to Hold a Demonstration in Poipet [prevented by police, claiming they had not asked for permission, so it would interfere with public order and social security]
  • Chief Drug Trafficker and Producer Importing form Laos [Chen Yon On – Owner of Sok San Hotel, Stung Treng] Put in Jail at Prey Sar Prison [by a warrant on 16 May 2008]
  • Lutheran World Federation [LWF] Spent Approximately US$34 Million on Rural Development in Cambodia [from 1997 to 2007]
  • The Chinese Government Said that the Number of Deaths from the Earthquake Goes up to More Than 50,000

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #156, 17.5.2008

  • Ms. Mu Sochua Considers Acid Attacks to Be Crimes That Cannot Be Condoned; There Is a Rumor Saying that Brigadier General Chea Ratha Has Been Removed from Her Position to Open an Inquest
  • [Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association president] Rong Chhun Called on Citizens Not to Vote for the Cambodian People’s Party Which Does Not Serve the People
  • International Buddhist Visakh Bochea Day [17 May 2008] Is in Hanoi a Mockery to Buddhism [because the communist government of Vietnam has suppressed Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #20, 17-20.5.2008

  • [More than 10] Thai Black Clad Soldiers [special border protection unit] Threatened Khmer Citizens at Sragam [phonetic] Border Crossing [and destroyed household equipment – Anlong Veng, Oddar Meanchey]
  • Number of Deaths from the Tropical Cyclone in Burma Increases to 43,318

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6347, 17-18.5.2008

  • [Dr. Chakravarthi Rangarajan, chairperson of the Independent Commission on AIDS in Asia and Chief Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister of India]: Cambodia Is a Model Country Which Successfully Prevents AIDS Infections [in a report “Redefining AIDS in Asia – Crafting an effective response” presented to the UN]

Meatophum, Vol.52, #668, 16-24.5.2008

  • Khmer and Thai Journalists Promote Relations to Exchange Information at the Borders

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3462, 17-18.5.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party vice-president] Kong Korm: Current Power Holders in Cambodia Are Those Who Serve the Benefits of Vietnam
  • The World Bank Aid for Developing Cambodia in 2008 Could Be Strongly Disturbed by Corruption [according to some civil society officials]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4591, 17.5.2008

  • Japan Provided Grant Aid of Yen 1,392 Million [approx. US$13,330,000 ] for the Implementation of Two Projects in Cambodia [in which Yen 1,039 mio – approx. US$9,950,000 – is for the repair of a Kompong Cham Hospital and Yen 353 mio – approx. US$3,380,000 – is for human resources development scholarships]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3311, 17.5.2008

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Ambassador Has Not Responded to Request by Kampuchea Krom Khmer Organization to See Tim Sakhan [who has been defrocked on accusation of having perpetrated an offense against the Buddhist law, because he is accused to have destroyed the harmony between Vietnam and Cambodia, now jailed in Vietnam]

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How to enhance the trust in the rule of law

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Friday, 16.5.2008: Civil Society Organizations March, Carrying Thumbprints to the National Assembly This Morning

Posted on 17 May 2008. Filed under: Week 560 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

“More than 40 civil society organizations will march carrying thumbprints to the National Assembly on the morning of 16 May 2008, to push the government to adopt an anti-corruption law. However, the director of an institute of civic studies claimed that this is just an empty game that will not bring any results.

“The Khmer Institute of Democracy [KID] official Pok Puthearith [who was in charge of collecting the thumbprints] told Kampuchea Thmey that his organization and more than 40 civil society organizations will march, carrying thumbprints to the National Assembly on the morning of 16 May 2008, to push the government to quickly adopt an anti-corruption law.

“He added, ‘There are approximately 1,100,000 to 1,200,000 thumbprints to be carried to the National Assembly. The first intention is to push the National Assembly and all politicians to promise openly to the public that, when they win the next term election and have created a government, they must adopt an anti-corruption law without any reservation and very quickly. The second intention is to show to the public that this thumbprint collecting campaigns aims to push the Royal Government to adopt [an anti-corruption] law without any more delay.’

“Mr. Pok Puthearith continued that this march has already been permitted by the [Phnom Penh] municipality on 13 May, requiring to march from near the Independence Monument.

“Phnom Penh municipality representatives could not be reached for comment on the evening of 15 May 2008; however, the National Assembly Economy and Finance Committee and the Cambodian People Party [CPP] parliamentarian Mr. Cheam Yeap said that the anti-corruption law is still being discussed with the international community; that is why it has not yet been adopted.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap went on to say, ‘Now the anti-corruption law is in the hands of the government. The international community had asked the government to make five changes – first, to clarify the meaning of corruption, second, the composition of the anti-corruption committee, third, rules for property declarations, fourth, the rights and the power of the general-secretariat of the anti-corruption committee, and fifth, penalties.’ Meanwhile, Mr. Cheam Yeap expressed the hope that early next term, the anti-corruption draft law will reach the National Assembly, and then the National Assembly will begin the discussion towards the adoption.

“The director of an institute of civic studies and a constitutional law expert, Mr. Chhim Phal Vorun, mentioned that morally he supports the anti-corruption activities, but he has not yet seen any strategies and measures to prevent, or fight against corruption, therefore this is just a useless activity.

He added, ‘Corruption is an act that we cannot accept morally, but in reality, activities to fight against corruption are useless without first creating strategies, or actions to measure the obvious extent of corruption – without these, it is just an activity deceiving the citizens pretending that we all fight against corruption.’

Mr. Chhim Phal Vorun also said, ‘As the first step to fight against corruption, we must throw away all useless thoughts lying about the reality until today, such as general ideas against corruption and ideas against individuals or groups of individuals in state institutions – these ideas are not useful, but the important thing is to measure the extent of corruption which exists in state institutions, in civil society institutions, and in private institutions. Corruption is everywhere. That is why we have conducted studies to know why there is corruption, and the studies show that it is because these institutions do not have good governance, transparency, and accountability.’

“Therefore, provable actions to fight against corruption requires that the Khmer society as a whole, in the state, in the civil society, and in private institutions, include good governance, transparency, and accountability in their domains.

“Mr. Chhim Phal Vorun expressed his view that actions claiming only a goal is just an empty game – if it is not a realistic action.

“Regarding the call to the government to adopt an an anti-corruption law, the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association president Mr. Rong Chhun has also made a statement to support this demand, saying that it has been fourteen years that this law has been discussed but not been issued.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1642, 16.5.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 16 May 2008

Cambodge Soir, Vol.1, #32, 15-21.5.2008

  • Cotton Scarf Producers and T-Shirt Printers Are Happy When Elections Approach [because their businesses are profitable when many parties buy many cotton scarf or T-shirts for their activists and supporters]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1642, 16.5.2008

  • Funcinpec Prepares to Sue the National Electio Committee at the Constitutional Council [over the rejection of five candidates – parliamentarian from Siem Reap and from Ministry of Rural Development Sin Son; the third candidate and parliamentarian from Kompong Thom Sim Sol; substitution candidate from Kompong Cham and under-secretary of the Ministry of Cults and Religion Hing Kimthon; substitution candidate from Kompong Speu; and Mr. Lu Laysreng’s advisor Sok Sony and substitution candidate from Oddar Meanchey Pen Samnang]
  • Civil Society Organizations March, Carrying Thumbprints to the National Assembly This Morning
  • Numbers of Deaths and Missing People in the Earthquake in China Increase to More Than 50,000 and More Than 60,000 People Wounded

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6346, 16.5.2008

  • Cambodia and Vietnam Agreed on Project to Construct a Six Lane Highway [on 14 May 2008]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3461, 16.5.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh] Mr. Yim Sovann: The Cambodian People’s Party Is Taking Advantage of Citizens’ Blood by Making Demagogy [by calling it the government’s accomplishments as basis for the election campaign]
  • Svay Rieng Authorities Do Not Care about Yuon [Vietnamese] Immigrants Flowing Dramatically into Cambodia through Bavet Border Crossing

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.11, #1312, 16.5.2008

  • Mr. Kep Chuktema Will Continue to Be Municipal Governor during the Fourth Term [according to observers who noticed Prime Minister Hun Sen’s speech during the inauguration of the Boeng Trabaek High School library on 12 May 2008]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4590, 16.5.2008

  • Plan to Ask Duch as Witness of Hor Namhong Lawsuit against Sam Rainsy Canceled [reason not mentioned]
  • Cambodian Government Provides Aid of US$100,000 to Chinese Victims of the Strong Earthquake
  • Statute of Yeay [grandmother] Penh [the founder of Phnom Penh] Was Inaugurated This Morning [at 6:30 a.m., presided over by municipal governor Kep Chuktema]

Samleng Sadeav, Vol.1, #10, 16-17.5.2008

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Asked Foreign Minister of Sweden to Push the Hun Sen Government to Observe Human Rights [during a meeting on 9 May 2008]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3310, 16.5.2008

  • The Great Heroic King Norodom Sihanouk [the former King] Granted an Audience to the Head of the Committee of Law Strengthening the Protection of Human Rights in Cambodia [Dr. Heang Rithy who often criticizes openly the law systems in Cambodia]

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How to enhance the trust in the rule of law

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Thursday, 15.5.2008: Civil Society: Small Number of Parties Participating the Elections Makes Non-Ruling Parties Stronger

Posted on 15 May 2008. Filed under: Week 560 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

“The National Election Committee [NEC] had started the registration for political parties that intend to compete in fourth term parliamentary election since 28 April 2008 until 12 May 2008. Since the start of the registration of political parties on 28 April 2008, until 12 May 2008, the NEC had listed only twelve parties, among which only three parties have been officially recognized by the NEC.

“On the afternoon of 12 May, the NEC held a press conference on the results of the registration of political parties. Mr. Tep Nitha said that the NEC has listed twelve parties as follows:

1. Cambodian People’s Party
2. Khmer People Niyum Party
3. Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party
4. Norodom Ranariddh Party
5. Funcinpec
6. Human Rights Party
7. Sangkum [Khmer] Niyum Party
8. League for Democracy Party
9. Sam Rainsy Party
10. Khmer Anti-Poverty Party
11. Khmer Democratic Party
12. Khmer Republican Party.

“The NEC secretary-general Mr. Tep Nitha said that among the twelve parties which had registered, only three parties have been officially recognized by the NEC – the Cambodian People’s Party, the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party, and the Norodom Ranariddh Party. As for the other eight parties, their documents have been being checked, but the registration of the Sangkum Khmer Niyum was rejected, because it did not have sufficient documents.

“Mr. Tep Nitha said that the number of parties participating in the competition of the fourth term parliamentary election is smaller compared to the 1993 election, when there were 39 parties, and in the 2003 election when there were 23 parties.

“With only twelve parties listed by the NEC, civil society representatives expressed various views.

“The Committee for Free and Fair Elections [COMFREL] executive director Mr. Koul Panha said that having only twelve parties registered and to be officially recognized by the NEC is not a good sign, as there are not as many parties as before, probably because of the formula for the calculation of candidates’ numbers of positions, as some parties lack the resources and the money to participate in the election.

“Mr. Koul Panha continued that because of such problems, some parties do not participate. Other problems are that some parties do not have their presidents present in the country, and the main reason is that some parties do not have the hope to win any seat, because of the seat calculation formula, according to which the parties do not believe they can guarantee seats like in the 1993 election, which had a formula to encourage smaller parties; if they had some results, they could get the rest of the seats, but now the formula is different – the winners will get many seats.

“The director of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO] Ms. Pong Chiv Kek [known also as Dr. Kek Galabru] finds that it is a negative sign, though previously when there were many parties registered at the NEC, it was difficult for the citizens to decide for which party they should vote; first of all, citizens lacked information about those political parties, so when there were too many parties, it was difficult for them to decide, and the second reason is that to have a strong opposition, votes must be concentrated, since when there are many parties for citizens to vote, votes are split, and a formula is used to allocate seats which does not help small parties, but it helps only the bigger parties. So, this formula is different from that in the 1993 election, created by the United Nations, which helped small parties. By 1998, the formula was changed in order to allocate seats which did not help the smaller parties.

“Ms. Pong Chiv Kek added that if there are many parties, votes are split, making opposition parties which do not hold power weaker and also weakening democracy, as we also need strong non-ruling parties to challenge the government. If the government does well, they support it, but if the government has problems and goes a wrong way, non-ruling parties will pull the government back and take care so that it works for equality.” Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #19, 14-16.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 15 May 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #100, 15.5.2008

  • Battambang Electricité du Cambodge Chief Lim Bunthon Extorts between US$150-US$200 from Citizens of Each House [so electricity is available to their houses]
  • Gunfight between Robbers and Police at Midnight: Four Police Wounded, One Robber Killed, Frightening the People [on 14 May – Tuol Kork, Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1641, 15.5.2008

  • Forrest Crimes in Kulen Prum Tep Animal Refuge Still Seriously Exist [Preah Vihear]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #19, 14-16.5.2008

  • Civil Society: Small Number of Parties Participating in the Election Makes Non-Ruling Parties Stronger
  • Food Inflation in Cambodia Seriously Affects the Living Condition of Poor Students [by forcing them to drop out of school in order to help seek income for their families]
  • Teachers Criticize Quality of Education [Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association president Mr. Rong Chhun said that comparing the quality of education in Cambodia to other countries based on previous research, the quality of education in Cambodia is declining very shamefully, because of incompetent leaders, promotion of education is not effective, citizens’ children do not get sufficient education]
  • In First Three Months [of 2008], Number of Tourists Visiting Cambodia Is More than 600,000

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6345, 15.5.2008

  • Retirement Frame of Teachers Is at the Age of 60 and at the Age of 55 for Public Officials
  • Khmer Literature and Language Survive on the Province of Surin [Thailand] after Being Forbidden for 50 Years

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3460, 15.5.2008

  • Official Arrested Chief Drug Trafficker Chen Yon, Owner of Sok San Hotel, Stung Treng [on 13 May]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4589, 15.5.2008

  • Government Signed Development Cooperation Agreement with Sweden [that Sweden plans to provide credit of Swedish Kroner 400 million [approximately US$70 million] to continue projects on three important priority fields – primary education, good governance, and the strengthening of democracy and human rights]
  • UN Pushes All Nations Worldwide to Plant 7,000 Million Trees by Next Year

Samaki Cheat, Vol.10, #112, 15.5.2008

  • England Provides Aid of US$15 Million to Cambodia [for three years – 2008-2010 to participate in poverty reduction and economic growth for Cambodian people]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3309, 15.5.2008

  • [Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association president] Mr. Rong Chhun Confirms His Stance of Staying on Democratic Side and He Will Not Join the Ruling Party or Sam Rainsy Party

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How to enhance the trust in the rule of law

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Wednesday, 14.5.2008: Cambodian Official Rejects Request for Khmer Prostitutes to Work in Australia

Posted on 15 May 2008. Filed under: Week 560 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

“A Cambodian official voiced concern earlier this month after an Australian association of prostitutes called for ”immigrant working visas ” for foreign prostitutes who intend to sell sex in Australia.

“Cambodia will not allow its prostitutes to travel to Australia with immigrant visas to continue their careers as prostitutes. This is according to the Minister of Information and the Royal Government’s spokesperson Mr. Khieu Kanharith’s information by phone, saying that ‘we have just stopped the permission for marriages between Khmers and foreigners because of exploitation. Now it is difficult to marry Khmer nationals, let alone talking about prostitution, it becomes more difficult.’

“It should be noted that the Royal Government of Cambodia stopped early March to issue permission for marriages between Khmers and foreigners until further notice, because some Khmer women who lack knowledge and live in poor conditions are often cheated under the pretext of a marriage to a foreign country, but finally they become prostitutes.

“There is an alliance of sex workers in Australia which raised the current needs of foreign prostitute immigrants on 29 April 2008, as Australia is expecting many foreign prostitutes as they are also expecting many doctors.

“Elena Jeffreys, the president of the Australian sex workers’ association, told the Australian media Australian Broadcasting Corporation, ‘We are considering an human rights approach to labor migration generally, and then any labor migration policy can include a non-discriminatory approach to sex workers as well.’

“She added that the Australian Immigration Department could save millions of dollars each year used for apprehending illegal immigrants and raids on brothels [searching for illegal immigrants], if those who are sex workers could ask for working visas.

“However, the Cambodian official called for caution about such kind of plan.

“Cambodian officials and human rights activists indicated that most Cambodian prostitutes earn only US$1.25 from serving one client, and it would be difficult for them to meet the requirements to apply for working visas to work in Australia.

“Ms. Kek Galabru [the director of LICADHO], a leading human rights activist, said by phone that she does not support such a request, but it depends on the sex workers themselves to ask or not to ask for such visas; and she will give them advice related to these issues.” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #68, 14-15.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #99, 14.5.2008

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Company Dac Lac [which gets nearly 10,000 hectares of land concession from the Cambodian government for rubber plantation] Destroys Khmer Trees in [Ou Ya Dav] Ratanakiri
  • Printing of 20,000-Riel Notes Causes Inflation – Prices of Goods Increasingly Soar

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #68, 14.5.2008

  • Cambodian Official Rejects Request for Khmer Prostitutes to Work in Australia
  • Thailand Asks UNESCO to Postpone the Listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site; Cambodia Does Not Care about This

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1640, 14.5.2008

  • US Senior Official [Christopher Hill] Cancels His Visit to Cambodia [because he is busy]
  • Lieutenant Colonel Used Two Short Guns to Rob. He Was Arrested [10 May – Tuek Thla, Phnom Penh]
  • The Ministry of Health Makes Efforts to Prevent Dengue Fever During This Rainy Season
  • Serious Earthquake in Central China Killed More Than 12,000 People [12 May 2008]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #153, 14.5.2008

  • Stung Treng Anti-Terrorist Police Extort Money from Yuon [Vietnamese] Nationals Who Enter Cambodia Illegally

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3459, 14.5.2008

  • Khmer Laborers, Workers, Businesspeople at Poipet Border Crossing Plan to Hold Demonstration against Corrupt Customs Officers and Immigration Police
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy: If Sam Rainsy Party Wins the Elections, Contracts between the Government and Dishonest Companies Will Be Canceled
  • International [election] Observers Should Not Become Foreign Tourists

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4588, 14.5.2008

  • Three Norodom Line Members [Princess Norodom Vacheara, Prince Norodom Sirivudh, and Prince Norodom Chakrapong] Disappear from the 2008 Parliamentary Election Name Lists

Samleng Sadeav, Vol.1, #9, 14-15.5.2008

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Will Not Appear to Explain to Phnom Penh Court on 22 May 2008 [over Hor Namhong’s lawsuit]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3308, 14.5.2008

  • Kratie Forestry Officials Extort US$200 from Each Boat Transporting Wood

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How to enhance the trust in the rule of law

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Tuesday, 13.5.2008: National Election Committee Makes Final Announcement: Twelve Parties Have Registered for 2008 Election

Posted on 14 May 2008. Filed under: Week 560 |

Yesterday we assumed that there would not be publications for Tuesday, as it is a National Holiday. But to our surprise there were papers. You see the here.

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

  • Sam Rainsy Accused the Cambodian People’s Party of Buying Its People
  • Cambodian People’s Party High-Ranking Official Said Sam Rainsy Should Check Himself Again
  • “Phnom Penh: The National Election Committee [NEC] announced on 12 May, the deadline for the registration of parties and candidates, that only twelve parties had registered and sent their candidates’ names for the parliamentary election, which will be held in more than two months.

    “Only the political parties that submitted their candidates’ lists to the NEC by the afternoon of 12 May 2008 can join the election on 27 July 2008, after the NEC has checked the accuracy of the lists submitted.

    “in the 2003 parliamentary election, there were 23 parties participating.

    “The NEC stated that the twelve parties that had submitted their candidates’ name lists to the NEC are the Cambodian People’s Party, Funcinpec, the Human Rights Party, the League for Democracy Party, the Sangkum Yutethor Party (the Just Society Party), the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party, the Sangkum Khmer Niyum Party, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, the Sam Rainsy Party, the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, the Khmer Democratic Party, and the Khmer Republican Party.

    “The NEC member Mr. Mao Sophearith said that so far, the NEC has officially recognized the Cambodian People’s Party, Funcinpec, and the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party. As for the Sangkum Khmer Niyum [also called Khmer United People Party], its registration was rejected; as for the other parties, the NEC is checking their documents.

    “Mr. Mao Sophearith also said that the parties that have candidates to stand in all the 24 provinces and towns countrywide are the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP], Funcinpec, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, the Human Rights Party, the Hang Dara Democratic Movement Party, the League for Democracy Party, the Khmer Republican Party, and the Khmer Democracy Party. As for the Sangkum Yutethor Party, it has candidates from nine provinces and towns, and the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party has candidates from seven provinces and towns.

    “The NEC secretary-general Mr. Tep Nitha said that the number of parties declined because some parties face financial problems, or they have not prepared enough candidates.

    “While the NEC stopped accepting the the registration of political parties and their candidates’ lists, the Sam Rainsy Party [SRP] continues to suffer from the defection of some of its officials.

    “The parliamentary candidate of the SRP from Battambang, listen on the third position, decided to resign from the SRP to join the CPP on 11 May, causing the SRP some difficulties to send its candidates’ name list to the NEC on the day of deadline, 12 May 2008.

    “Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, said the parliamentary candidate Mr. Uong Kosal of the SRP from Battambang, who had been listed on the third position, joined the CPP and he, Hun Sen, hopes that there will be more such defections, though the candidates’ name list had already been sent to the NEC.

    “Samdech Dekchor continued that if anybody comes, we must accept them, because Samdech had announced already that they are accepted until the election day, except for two kinds of people – prisoners and criminals.

    “Mr. Sam Rainsy accused the CPP of buying people and votes

    “The opposition party president, Mr. Sam Rainsy, said in a press conference on the morning of 12 May 2008 that the CPP buys people and votes only from the SRP, as for the other parties, the CPP never attracts their members.

    “In that press conference, Mr. Sam Rainsy presented seven witnesses who, he claimed, had beeb invited by the CPP to join, but they refused.

    “Mr. Sam Rainsy continued that in these invitations mentioned above, they use money, giving positions, and promises to help them to find jobs. Another way is the use of threats by not guaranteeing the invited people safety and peace if they do not join. The witnesses that appeared publicly on that day are not afraid of such threats and they announce publicly that there were attempts of buying their loyalty.

    “Mr. Sam Rainsy went on to say that the CPP broadcasts the names of a small number of those who have defected on television, to denigrate the SRP and to deceive the citizens’ eyes, so that they should not believe the SRP. Those who changed to the CPP are a group of people who hunger for power and who are corrupt.

    “As for the CPP’s senior official Mr. Cheam Yeap, he reacted, ‘I absolutely disagree with this. The Cambodian Peoples’ Party has no money to buy anyone and does not consider them as chickens or ducks.’ He added, ‘I want Mr. Sam Rainsy to check himself again to know the reasons why his people leave him. What has he done?’ He used a comparison saying that if the water is cold, there will be many fish and they will not change their place. He said that nepotism and the focus on money can be the reasons why they left.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4587, 13.5.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Tuesday, 13 May 2008

    Areyathor, Vol.15, #1227, 13-14.5.2008

    • Getting Its Name Registered Is Terrible, Let Alone Doing Something if It Is Accepted [mocking the parties that registered at the National Election Committee on 12 May which is the day of deadline]

    Chakraval, Vol.16, #2777, 13.5.2008

    • Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] Loses a Villa Built During French [colonial] Time Daun Penh, Phnom Penh] Worth Nearly US$7 Million [it is expropriated]

    Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #98, 13.5.2008

    • European Union to Send 120 Observers to Monitor Elections on 27 July 2008

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1639, 13.5.2008

    • Sam Rainsy Counter-Sues Hor Namhong [on accusation of involvement in the Khmer Rouge regime] and Also Asks for Samdech Euv [the former King] to Be Summoned to Court
    • Prime Minister Awarded Degrees to Graduates and Inaugurated New Library at the Royal University of Law and Economics
    • Journalists in Cambodia Have Lots of Experience but Most of Them Are Not [professionally] Trained – says Cambodian Association for the Protection of Journalists president Um Sarin]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4587, 13.5.2008

    • National Election Committee Makes Final Announcement: Twelve Parties Have Registered for 2008 Election
    • New Printed 20,000-Riel Notes Officially Put in Use
    • Lack of Money and Lack of Members Are Main Reasons for the Decline of a Number of Parties
    • Czech Government Will Help Cambodia With Development in Some Sectors
    • Oxfam Warns that Deaths [from tropical cyclone] in Myanmar May Increase to 1.5 Million

    Have a look at last week’s editorial: How to enhance the trust in the rule of law

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    Monday, 12.5.2008: National Election Committee Calls for Many National and International Observers to Monitor Fourth Term Elections

    Posted on 13 May 2008. Filed under: Week 560 |

    In view of a series of National Holidays in Cambodia during the next days, we
    want to announce that we will not have any regular publications during the
    following events and days:

    13-15 May: King’s Birthday

    19 May: Visakh Bochea Day (celebrated to commemorate the Birth and
    Enlightenment of the Buddha)

    23 May: Royal Ploughing Ceremony


    It turned out to be different – several newspapers which had not published during other National Holidays continued to publish. So do we.

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 560

    “Phnom Penh: Officials of the National Election Committee [NEC] call for more participation of national and international non-government organizations to observe the coming elections.

    “Secretary-general of the NEC Mr. Tep Nitha said that so far, there are approximately 8,400 observers from 23 non-government organizations being authorized by the NEC. As for 42 international observers, they are from the US National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the US Embassy, and the Cambodian-Japanese Forum; and recently the NEC just received letters of request from Peru and Nigeria to observe the elections. He continued that observers play a very important role in the election process. Observers can conduct evaluations and release statements according to what they have seen during the elections, and such evaluations have influences the elections on the whole.

    “Mr. Hang Puthea, the executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia [NICFEC], stated that to have national and international observers participating as observers contributes to make the elections free and fair. He added that his organization plans to increase the number of national observers up to 7,000 and international observers up to 150 for this fourth term election.

    “According to Mr. Tep Nitha, the NEC is receiving registrations of national observers until 20 July 2008, and of international observers until 27 July 2008.” Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #18, 10-13.5.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 12 May 2008

    Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #96, 11.5.2008

    • [Human Rights Party vice-president] Mr. Keo Remy Concerned about Increasing Price of Land, Making It Impossible for People and Public Servants to Have Accommodation

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1638, 11-12.5.2008

    • Ethnic Minority Tribespeople in Ratanakiri Plan to Hold Demonstration against Land Grabbing [with the collusion of officials]
    • Ieng Thirith Will Stand Behind Court Dock on 21 May 2008

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #152, 11-13.5.2008

    • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay: Sam Rainsy Government Will Organize the Country to Be Free from Being Controlled by Mafia Group

    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #18, 10-13.5.2008

    • Opposition Party Opposes the Adoption of Coal-Fueled Power Plant Investment
    • Hor Namhong: I Was the Head of the Prisoners’ Committee of Boeng Trabaek but I Was a Victim
    • Taiwan Tells Men to Be Aware of Problems if They Want to Get Married to Khmer Women [after the Cambodian Government suspended international marriages – according to The China Post]
    • National Election Committee Calls for Many National and International Observers to Monitor Fourth Term Elections

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6332, 12.5.2008

    • [Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Mr. Long Visalo Testifies for Mr. Hor Namhong against Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Accusation
    • More than Ten Parties Stand for Elections; Sam Rainsy Party Will Register Today, Which Is the Deadline

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3457, 12.5.2008

    • Sam Rainsy Sues Back against Hor Namhong at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [on accusation of being involved in the killing of people during the Khmer Rouge regime]; Prosecutors Summon Duch to Be a Witness for Hor Namhong
    • Are New 20,000-Riel Notes [with the portrait of King Norodom Sihamoni] Printed to Welcome the King’s Birthday or to Buy Votes?

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4586, 11-12.5.2008

    • [Minister and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Mr. Hor Namhong: ‘I Will Ask Thailand to Release [four] Khmer Citizens [who were arrested on 28 April in Thailand while they were transporting potatoes to sell to Thai businesspeople]
    • Mentally Ill Woman and Daughter Try to Commit Suicide Together [on 9 May – the daughter is hospitalized – Koh Soutin, Kompong Cham]

    Snadai Khmeng Wat, Vol.8, #144, 12-15.5.2008

    • 200-500 Big Trees Are Illegally Cut in Oral Mountain Animal Refuge per Day [Kompong Speu]

    Have a look at last week’s editorial: How to enhance the trust in the rule of law

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