Week 561

Week 561 – 2008-05-25: Memorable Events – “Historical Events”?

Posted on 26 May 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 561 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

On Monday, we mirrored a report saying that the price of crude oil had risen to US$127 per barrel [one barrel corresponding to the 55-US-gallon steel drum, known also as the 44-UK-gallon drum, and as the 200-liter drum], from around US$100 at the beginning of the year. President Bush visited Israel, celebrating its 60th anniversary, addressing the parliament without any reference to the tragedy the affected Arab population endures. The subsequent appeal by President Bush, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, asking to increase the output of oil to lower the price of oil, was rejected, and by Friday the price was up to US$ 135. Compared to these hectic changes, the increase of the high grade gasoline price by Riel 200 per liter sees to be quite moderate. Some international banking experts predict a gradual increase up to US$200 per barrel.

Not many radical plans to re-arrange the economy to deal with such coming changes are known.

The week brought also some news about planned international investments. It was reported that the former Thai prime minister intends to invest approximately US$10 billion in the Cambodian border province of Koh Kong: to establish gambling casinos and other recreational sites. The sum of 10 billion sounds enormous – five times the amount spent by the international community for the 18 months of UNTAC administration of Cambodia during 1992/1993. The purpose of the reported investment is similar to the already existing casinos in the north-western border region adjacent to Thailand. The plans are said to have been discussed already between the former Thai and the present Cambodian prime ministers over a round of golf in Siem Reap.

A Russian investor wants to create factories in Cambodia and to export Cambodian agricultural products – agricultural products, when processed to international trading standards, have often been seen as an important fields to diversify the Cambodian export industry beyond the garment sector.

And two banks intend to set up branches in Cambodia: The president of the prestigious South Korean Woori Bank [우리은행] presented this intention to the Prime Minister.

And Mr. Han Chang-Woo [한창우] who is introduced to be a world class billionaire, with the 21st rank on a list of the super-rich, is creating the Maruhan Japan Bank [マルハンジャパン銀行] in Cambodia. Though there is not one of the big Japanese banks in the background, in this case information on the Maruhan Company is publicly accessible – quite different from some other business ventures with a supposedly Japanese background: the administration of the Genocide Memorial site in Chung Ek was privatized and handed over to a Japanese company, which has only a Post Box address in Phnom Penh, and about which the Japanese Embassy in Phnom Penh could not give any information at the time when the Cambodian government transferred this historical genocide site to an unknown foreign business. – The Maruhan corporation and its plan are transparent: it has made its money mainly from the popular “Pachinko” pinball game centers in Japan, but it has also major investments in the casino industry in Macau. Its Japanese website list details of its central offices in Tokyo, and also the street address for the new bank in Phnom Penh, the name of the Chief Executive Officer in Cambodia, as well as the financial plan: to start with a capital of US$25 million – 85% will come from Maruhan, and 15% – US$3,750,000 – is expected to come from local partners in Cambodia.

In none of these investment plans are any references explaining how they relate to any general economic or social development strategies of the country – especially also in view of the world wide economic crisis related to the rising price of energy and the growing international food shortage.

The two major natural disasters – in Myanmar, and in China – were reflected in various ways in the local and in the international media. In Myanmar, the situation seems to have started to change, after the ASEAN foreign ministers met in Singapore – and it was agreed that help for the victims of the cyclone could be accepted only if it would be handled by ASEAN members, and by staff from Asian countries. At the same time unofficial voices from the very same region admitted that the ASEAN countries alone do not have the large scale logistical capabilities which were made available by many different countries during the disaster created by a tsunami in 2004, or after the major earthquake in Pakistan in 2005. Those victims who still survive in Myanmar would rather have to wait longer for attention, while the governments were sorting out how to respect the sovereignty of Myanmar, under a government which had swept away the results of an election which the military – the present powerholders – did not like.
In the meantime, the world observed how the government of China responded to their earthquake disaster: not only deploying their own resources, but welcoming foreign experts and foreign aid, under the eyes of the international press – acting as fast as possible. “Keep up the battle and do not fear exhaustion, strengthen supervision over the use of earthquake disaster relief funds to ensure relief work progresses forcefully, properly and effectively,” admonished the Ministry of Finance the public, and the vice-governor of the Sichuan province is reported to have initiated punitive action against some officials who were negligent in their efforts, or who misused relief material. He also invited the media to help supervise the distribution of relief materials; the province would publicize in detail the allocation of donated materials and cash.

After the UN Secretary-General had not received any response to his letters of concern from the leadership in Myanmar, and after they had even refused to accept his telephone calls, he traveled via Thailand to Myanmar, and was finally received by Senior-General Than Shwe, the leader of the ‘State Peace and Development Council’ – the organ of the military junta – for a two-and-a-half hour discussion. After the meeting, the UN Secretary-General announced that Burma would now allow foreign aid personnel from any nationality into all affected regions of the country, even foreign helicopters could transport aid into the country which has very limited, and partly destroyed land transport facilities. This was really a historical breakthrough: the serious restrictions on assisting the cyclone victims, which the assembled ministers of foreign affairs of ASEAN had accepted, were now removed.
An international donor’s meeting – today on Sunday in Yangon – was, however, confronted with a wide gap between different perceptions and positions. The material resources on US and French navy ships off the coast of the cyclone stricken region could be flown in within 20 minutes by helicopter – but the government of Myanmar will not allow that – the goods have rather to be loaded on small ships and brought into the port of Yangon. But these ships and the necessary unloading mechanisms on the high sea are not readily available – and even if they were, it will be much more time consuming to transport the relief goods on land, given the limited number of vehicles, destroyed roads and bridges, and therefore the difficulties to reach many affected areas. The desperate needs of many people cannot receive a timely response.

The Burmese side had prepared a list of request for US$10 billion – but the representatives of about 40 countries present were prepared to pledge only about US$50 million, because no realistic needs’ assessment and implementation plans were available. That the Burmese government continues to work with artificial figures – like on Monday: “Number of Deaths from Tropical Cyclone in Myanmar Climbed up to 77,738” – and reportedly presented on Sunday also lists with “precise numbers” of how many chicken and how many pigs had been killed by the cyclone, while the communication infrastructure in the affected ares is not functioning, created new conflicts.

The World Bank – approached for their response to the disaster – declared to be prepared to cooperate with expert personnel in assessment and planning. As Burma had discontinued to repay any loans since 1998, the regulations of the bank would not allow to extend new loans. How the opinion of the minister of foreign affairs of Singapore can be understood and handled, that the World Bank should forget about their regulations decided upon by the governments which provide its funds, only the future can show.

The concerns for the victims, and the concerns not to irritate those who assumed power over the country and hold it, had also its repercussions in Cambodia, when police were sent out on two days to confiscate an insert into The Cambodia Daily, called The Burma Daily, on 16 and 19 May 2008, for two reasons: “the articles showed a tendency critical of the government of the Burmese military junta,” as a Khmer newspaper wrote, and because they had been published without legal permission. The latter is contested by the publisher, as The Burma Daily was not sold separately, but was an insert, while the authorities claim, on the other hand, that this insert had the format of a new publication. The two confiscated issues of The Burma Daily – now available on the Internet at http://www.burmadaily.org – are critical of the restrictive attitude of the military leadership preventing timely and effective international aid – but compared to the extraordinary efforts of the UN secretary-general to travel himself to Myanmar, after his phone calls were rejected, the criticism in The Burma Daily supplement were mild and not different from wide sections of the international press. The high praise in detail, which the UN Secretary-General has in the meantime given to the Chinese authorities for their way of acting in face of massive human suffering is an adequate comment on the situation.

That three Cambodian journalists were arrested and chained by the police, on a court official’s order, when they inquired about a truck transporting wood in an area of Kompong Thom where illegal logging is said to happen frequently, contrasts not only with the officially stated policy of the Cambodian government against illegal logging, but it is also quite different from the recently reported practice of the Chinese authorities in the earthquake disaster region, where the media are invited to help to prevent fraud. A similar clear, encouraging call from the authorities in Cambodia to the local media, followed by actual support in the case of conflicts, might become another historical step in fighting corruption.

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Saturday, 24.5.2008: Sar Kheng Said that the Government Does Not Dare to Arrest Drug Trafficking Chiefs

Posted on 24 May 2008. Filed under: Week 561 | Tags: |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“This week Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng admitted that the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] government has not yet done anything noticeable over drug cases in Cambodia.

“He added, ‘The real chief has not been arrested yet, and drug trafficking chiefs still live freely. They are still acting freely and recreate their networks.’

“Over the course of time, the police had arrested some members of big drug networks in Cambodia, but there was no legal action taken to bring any drug trafficking chiefs to court; therefore drug trafficking and the production of drugs still continue and lead to the distribution and to the use of drug countrywide.

“When Mr. Sar Kheng said, ‘They know them, but they do not dare to arrest them,’ we do not know to which drug trafficking cases this refers, because previously, only small drug traffickers were arrested to be punished according to the law.

“The Minister of Interior Mr. Sar Kheng seems to take the opportunity to also criticize the ineffectiveness of the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s CPP.

“He said that previously, only small drug traffickers had been arrested, but the drug trafficking chiefs have not been arrested, and therefore drug trafficking still exits, together with the creation of new networks.

“The Minister of Interior Mr. Sar Kheng did not explain the reason why his ministry, which is in charge to deal with these cases, does not fulfill its work efficiently to arrest the drug trafficking chiefs.

“However, the fact that the minister made this comment is assumed by other people as a sign that he probably knows who the drug-trafficking chiefs are on the national level, but the government does not dare to take action because of some issues which are kept secret.

“However, what the Deputy Prime Minister said is quite different from what the Prime Minister and CPP Vice President Mr. Hun Sen had said – Mr. Hun Sen has never dared to raise the problem of drug trafficking.

“The police of the government, with help from international anti-drug-trafficking agencies, has frequently found many big drug manufacturing sites and planting areas in Cambodia. On 1 April 2007, a big drug manufacturing site and nearly four tonnes of substances used for producing drugs were found at Traeng Trayueng Commune, Phnom Sruoch District, Kompong Speu, after having received information from international anti-drug-trafficking agencies from outside the country.

“The owners of the site, which pretended to be a cow farm, were the Chinese national Chea Chung and his partner Oknha Om Chhai, both of whom had close relations with senior officials in the government and in the National Assembly of Cambodia.

“Chea Chung used to be an advisor to Deputy Prime Minister Nhek Bun Chhay, the Funcinpec secretary-general. According to many documents received from Funcinpec, Nhek Bun Chhay had appointed Chea Chung to hold high positions, like he had been appointed to work in the investment sector in the Nhek Bun Chhay group.

“Oknha Om Chhai was an advisor to the President of the National Assembly and Honorary President of the ruling CPP Mr. Heng Samrin. After his arrest and after he was brought to the anti-drug-trafficking section in the Ministry of Interior, carefully guarded by police, it was reported that Oknha Om Chhai had committed suicide by jumping from a window of the building. We do not know whether or not, what Mr. Sar Kheng said, ‘They know them, but they do not dare to arrest them,’ refers to the case of Chea Chung and Om Chhai, who have had relations with senior officials of this regime.

“Mr. Sar Kheng said, ‘The chiefs must be found,’ but we do not know whether these words are political words to agitate the public to restore the reputation of the ruling CPP, which is defamed by the Prime Minister Hun Sen who rules the country but lets corruption and land grabbing happen and does not arrest drug trafficking chiefs.

“It should be noted that the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the anti-drug-trafficking chief, Sar Kheng, had announced publicly, at the time when police arrested the people and collected many pieces of evidence in the form of equipment used for producing drugs in a farm in Kompong Speu, that – even if the drug trafficking chiefs are backed by officials of any rank – he will arrest them to be punished. After this announcement, the national and the international public, hating drugs which destroy our social fabric, were happy and waited carefully to see the actions that would be taken by Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng. However, so far, there was no action taken over this Kompong Speu big case, a fact that also the US ambassador to Cambodia observes.

“For a long time we did not see that the Deputy Prime Minister and anti-drug-trafficking chief takes actions and expresses his commitment; it is just recently that the Deputy Prime Minister, who is second in power after Prime Minister Hun Sen, stated that there is no noticeable action used to persecute drug trafficking chiefs. This announcement makes observers think that those who are behind the big drug trafficking chiefs may be higher in position than the Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng.” Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3317, 24.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 24 May 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1649, 24.5.2008

  • In Svay Rieng, Transportation of Paddy Rice to Vietnam Still Continues

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #161, 24.5.2008

  • Association of Friends of Khmer Journalists Called on the Authorities to Release Three Journalists
  • [Sam Rainsy Party deputy secretary-general] Mu Sochua: The Sam Rainsy Party Will Increase the Number of Woman Candidates to a Maximum; [Funcinpec new president] Keo Puth Rasmey: Funcinpec Has a Small Number of Woman Candidates, but They Are Very Qualified
  • Commune Councilors of the Cambodian People’s Party [from Phnom Sruoch District, Kompong Speu] Have Warned that Land Disputes Will Stop People to Vote for the Cambodian People’s Party

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #22, 24-27.5.2008

  • An Association for Helping Khmer Women Who Are Married in Foreign Countries Is to Be Created [Secretary of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs You Ay raised this in a meeting focused on human trafficking]
  • Khov Chily and Dac Lac Company Still Clear Land to Grab Minority Tribespeople’s Land [Mondolkiri]
    Phnom Penh Authorities Construct a Common Crematorium at a Phnom Penh Suburb [at Wat Prey Sar]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6353, 24-25.5.2008

  • Praying to the King of Bulls [in the Royal Ploughing Ceremony] for Good Agricultural Yields Showed a Good Omen: It Will Bring Good Yield of Corn, Pretty Good Yield of Paddy Rice, and Medium Yield of Beans
  • Regarding the Media for the Election, the Sam Rainsy Party Fears Three Fair Programs May Be Eliminated [the round table meeting and equity program of UNDP]
  • Nearly 200 Protesters from Battambang Walk towards Phnom Penh [to seek help from the government to solve land disputes]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3468, 24-25.5.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: The Government Is Extorting Money from Citizens through the Increase in Fuel Tax

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4597, 24.5.2008

  • Shortage of Medicines against Common Diseases and Discrimination from the Community Still Affect Those Who Have AIDS
  • Banteay Meanchey Governor Is Reshuffled [Mr. On Sum has replaced Mr. Ung Oeun, former Siem Reap deputy governor going to work in the Ministry of Interior]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3317, 24.5.2008

  • Sar Kheng Said that the Government Does Not Dare to Arrest Drug Trafficking Chiefs
  • Ms. Chea Ratha’s Visa Expired since 15 May 2008 [but she has not yet returned to Cambodia]

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How NOT to avoid critical reflection

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Friday, 23.5.2008: Three Journalists Were Arrested and Chained Just because They Asked for Information about a Truck Carrying Wood

Posted on 24 May 2008. Filed under: Week 561 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“Kompong Thom: Three journalists were arrested by Santuk District Police under direct order by a Kompong Thom court prosecutor, and they were chained at midnight, because these three journalists were covering information about a truck carrying wood at 7:15 p.m. of 21 May 2008 at Kompong Thma Village, Kompong Thma Commune, Santuk District, Kompong Thom. Police said they were arrested on the accusation of attempting to extort money from the owner of the wood, while a prosecutor said they were accused of deception.

“The arrest of the journalists and the confiscation of reporting equipment, and sending them to the police station and then chaining their legs at midnight, just in response to the accusation from the owner of wood alone, seem to be too fierce an action to implement the law, and these acts also seem to threaten the journalists in general.

“The director of the Kompong Thma commune forestry administration, Mr. Mao Chanthy, said that his police arrested the three journalists based on a direct order from the Kompong Thom court prosecutor Mr. Ti Sovinthal, on the accusation that they tried to extort money, and besides this, he did not know anything more. The three arrested journalists are 1. Ruos Chanti, 2. Tob Suon – both of them are reporters for Samleng Santepheap – and 3. Suon Sinat, a reporter for Meatophum, and all of them live in the Prasat Commune, Santuk District, Kompong Thom, and in the Balang Commune, Baray District, Kompong Thom.

“Santuk District police chief Mr. Mat Moly, called Diyamong, declined to make any comments for Kampuchea Thmey and used very fierce words like, ‘What? You force me to explain? I will not explain, because I was busy with a meeting.’

“Mr. Ruos Chanti, the Samleng Santepheap reporter who was chained in the morning of 22 May at the Santuk District Police station, told Kampuchea Thmey with a sad face that this was a very painful experience, and it is not just for all three of them.

“Mr. Ruos Chanti said that at 7:00 p.m. of 21 May 2008, the three of them drove on two motorbikes to the Kompong Thma market, and by chance they saw a Korean 2.5-tonner-truck carrying wood used for construction, mixed with some new wood, and wood was piled up on the pavement at the above mentioned village, and then they went to ask for information and twice took photographs, when suddenly the prosecutor and the police arrived, and the prosecutor ordered the police to arrest the three of them.

“The Kompong Thom court prosecutor Mr. Ti Sovinthal told Kampuchea Thmey by phone that he ordered to arrest the three journalists because they were extorting money from the owner of the wood, as he pointed at the three journalists saying that they extorted money from him.

“Mr. Ti Sovinthal continued that the three journalists tried to extort Riel 450,000 [approx. US$115] from the owner of the wood, which made the owner of the wood almost faint, but the prosecutor affirmed that the person who received the Riel 450,000 was a person called Eng, and he is not a journalist among the three journalists arrested, and Ti Sovinthal said he did not accuse them of extorting the money. That would be too serious, but he accused them of deception, based on Article 45 [?] so they can be detained or not, depending on investigating judges. However, the person who received the Riel 450,000 named Eng will not be able to escape, because he had already issued an arrest warrant for him.

“Regarding the reasons leading to the arrest of the three journalists and the explanation by the prosecutor, there are many opinions mainly from some people in legal professions, saying that obviously there was no evidence and no witness to prove that the three of them had extorted money from the owner of the wood, because also the prosecutor said that they did not get the Riel 450,000. The prosecutor just got the information from the owner of the wood alone, and also there was no police who had directly seen the money that the owner of the wood gave the three journalists, and they did not hear anything from the three journalists speaking about money extortion, and there is no witness and no evidence to prove that they extorted or were trying to extort money.

“It is said that wood is being loaded from Tum Ring to Kompong Thma almost every day, and almost all wood merchants pay money to the forestry officials and to the police everywhere, and also the Kompong Thom forestry administration and the Santuk District Police chief get their benefits. Therefore, if journalists want to disclose the crime of illegally transported wood, those who destroy the natural resources are not happy. So it is likely that maybe they put the blame on the three journalists unjustly.

“A man who directly witnessed the event said that the three journalists did not say anything to extort money from the owner of the wood; they just asked where the wood was carried from, to whom money was paid, and whether there was a legal permit for the wood or not.

“While the owner of the wood answered their questions, claiming that there was a legal permission and money had been duly paid to every place, the journalists also took immediately pictures of the truck, when suddenly police and the prosecutor arrived, spoke to the owner of the wood, and arrested the journalists. Police officials of Kompong Thom said that they would start to defeat the journalists.

“Many journalists are observing these events and are waiting to see the next actions that will be taken by the powerful prosecutor Ti Sovinthal, the Kompong Thom court prosecutor, towards the three journalists. However, what makes our journalists interested is to see if the detention is just a pretext to extort money [from the three arrested journalists, so that they will be released].” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1648, 23.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 23 May 2008

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1329, 23-24.5.2008

  • Phnom Penh Has a Center for Education and Treatment of Drug Addicts [at Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1648, 23.5.2008

  • Three Journalists Were Arrested and Chained Just because They Asked for Information about a Truck Carrying Wood
  • Scandal at Center for Social Development Revealed [executive director Ms. Seng Theary is said not to respect some internal regulations]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #582, 23.5.2008

  • [Director of an institute of civic studies] Chhim Phal Vorun Revealed that the [US based] International Republican Institute Cut Aid because [the former president of Cambodian Center for Human Rights and now the Human Rights Party president] Kem Sokha Was Corrupt [he said so on the Sambok Khmum Radio]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #160, 23.5.2008

  • Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer [name not mentioned] Shifted Date to Appear to Explain to the Court over Hor Namhong’s Lawsuit
  • Burmese Embassy in Phnom Penh Prohibits Officials of the Sam Rainsy Party to Express Condolences to the Victims of the Tropical Cyclone
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay: In the Third Term, the Government Has Power to Entirely Control the National Assembly

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6352, 23.5.2008

  • On 30 May 2008, Chief Monks of Both Sects [the Thammayuth and the Mohanikay] Will Draw Lots to Assign Numbers to All the Eleven Parties on Ballot Papers
  • The World Bank Granted Cambodia US$30 Million for Maintenance Projects and US$11.5for Provision of Land Titles
  • Cambodian Security Ranks 91 while Thai Security Ranks 118 [global peace index]
  • Fifteen Women Were Burned in Kenya [they were accused of using ill will sorcery to kill other people]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4596, 23.5.2008

  • World Class Billionaire [21st in world rank – Han Chang-Woo – 한창우] Launched “Maruhan Japan Bank” in Cambodia [with Japanese capital participating]
  • Crude Oil Price Climbs Up to US$135 per Barrel [on Wednesday, 21 May 2008], Indonesia Faces More Protests

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3316, 23.5.2008

  • Each Party Has Only Eight Minutes to Present Its Policy on Cambodian National Television [TVK]
  • It is not believed that the [Phnom Penh] Municipality Dares to Truck Rubbish to Put It in Front of the CINTRI [rubbish collection] Company

Snadai Khmeng Wat, Vol.8, #146, 23-25.5.2008

  • Cambodian Police Cooperates with Thai Police to Arrest [deputy chief-of-staff of the Cambodian Military Police, now in Thailand] Ms. Chea Ratha [related to acid attack]

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How NOT to avoid critical reflection

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Thursday, 22.5.2008: Chea Sim Makes Pressure to Remove Sok An and Cham Prasidh from Their Positions after the Fourth Term Election

Posted on 23 May 2008. Filed under: Week 561 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“According to some Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] officials, there have been strong arguments between the president and the vice-president of the CPP over the intention to remove Sok An and Cham Prasidh from their fixed positions of ministers after the fourth term election.

“This source said that Chea Sim, the President of the CPP, had told the CPP Vice-President Hun Sen to take actions to remove the Senior Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers Sok An, from his position, which he has held for many years and for many terms, and which is full of corruption, and also the Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh, whose name in Chinese is Yu Tek Hua [phonetic]. This would bring some new blood, and some change among members of the CPP for the coming fourth term government.

“These requests had first been strongly opposed by Hun Sen in order to protect his in-law [there is a family link by marriage between children of the Prime Minister and of the Senior Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers] so that he continues to hold the controls of the main state machinery of the government. The Council of Ministers has the right to make initial decisions to accept money from foreigners, and to give the right to foreign companies to do businesses in Cambodia, and this institution has also a big power in land management. As for the Ministry of Commerce, it is seen that it functions in the second important role – after the Council of Ministers – as it can earn income form everything that comes in, and it is called a lucrative ministry.

“Previously, some people remarked that the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia was shrunk to be the ministry of Cham Prasidh’s family. It was seen that some important departments in the Ministry of Commerce were controlled by Cham Prasidh’s family and his relatives alone, including his sons and daughters, his nephews and nieces and cousins. Because of these reasons, the current Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh became miraculously a millionaire who has expensive villas in the city, in the suburbs, and at the coast, while some Khmer citizens can hardly buy rice to fill their rice cooking pots.

“As for Sok An, he is one level more special than Cham Prasidh. According to some ministers in the Council of Ministers, they said that in this ministry, many important positions belong to Sok An’s children and nephews or nieces who have just graduated. As for other staff, they were changed to any place where they cannot earn much. Moreover, Sok An has gained much benefits, called commissions, from foreign investors who want to invest in Cambodia.

“There was a report that last year Sok An collected tens of thousands of dollars monthly from some areas for which foreign companies had entered into some contracts with the government, but then left those areas unused, like the Koh Puas [Snake Island] island which had been contracted to the Malaysian Ariston Investment Company; but when Ariston was late and failed to make the planned investments, much money had already been collected and stuffed into Sok An’s drawer. In this case, one wonders if this happened just with the Ariston Company alone; Sok An eared tens of thousands of dollars per month – so how many other companies in Cambodia have a similar situation to that of the Ariston Company, and how many millions of dollars did Sok An earn from these cases?

“However, based on the information source from some CPP officials, in fact, the money earned by the Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers, as well as that of the Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh, is not just for them alone: one third of the money is delivered to Hun Sen, to be spent as he decides.

“By now, because of the unbalance of sharing of benefits using the power of the ministries, Hun Sen also started to attack this situation indirectly in a speech, saying that now the houses of some ministers are no longer houses; they all became villas.

“To sum up, it is noted that both Cham Prasidh and Sok An are the pipe to pump in and to collect money for Hun Sen. Now, Chea Sim claims therefore a reassignment of Sok An and of Cham Prasidh from their positions, which they have held for many years, and this shows that the party president is presenting his real intention: to cut the economic blood vessel of Hun Sen, who is his strong opponent within the CPP. To be fair towards Chea Sim and his group, Hun Sen should now make some contribution, to respond to Chea Sim’s intentions.

“It should be mentioned that although Hun Sen and Chea Sim are the two main sides – one side is Chea Sim and the other is Hun Sen – inside the CPP, we cannot overlook Heng Samrin, the former President of the People’s Republic of Cambodia, and now the Honorary President of the CPP. Because in the party, Heng Samrin, who is known as the ‘Old Respected Leader Achar Vech,’ has also many honest people which are not much lower in rank than those of Chea Sim and Hun Sen. Heng Samrin’s and Chea Sim’s group have many points in common – both groups are victims of the injustice of Hun Sen’s group, that means high and important positions are held by Hun Sen’s people, but for lower positions, Hun Sen leaves them for Chea Sim’s and Heng Samrin’s groups.

“This is the reason why Chea Sim, who has been patient for many years, dares to protest against Hun Sen by requesting the removal of Sok An and of Cham Prasidh from their lucrative positions, to let other people from Chea Sim’s line to hold these positions in the coming fourth term government.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3466, 22.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 22 May 2008

Cambodge Soir, Vol.1, #33, 22-28.5.2008

  • ‘Inflation Will Push More Citizens to Vote’ [because it is the only opportunity for them to put pressure on parties to help solve this problem – says executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections – COMFREL – Mr. Kol Panha]

Deum Tnot, Vol.1, #17, 22-23.5.2008

  • Gaps in the Election Law Make Some Parties to Have Access to Media to Propagandize All the Time

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1647, 22.5.2008

  • The Cambodian People’s Party Restates that There Will Be No Coalition Government with the Sam Rainsy Party
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Granted an Audience to a South Korean Bank President [on 20 May 2008 over the creation of a Woori Bank in Cambodia]
  • Thirty Percent of Ratanakiri Children [of minority tribespeople] Do Not Have Access to a School
  • The United Nations Secretary-General [Ban Ki-Moon]: Burma Allows Foreign Helicopters to Transport Aid into the Country [he said on Tuesday]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #159, 22.5.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party president] Sam Rainsy: Everyone Must Seriously Consider the Publication of The Guardian [reference to a publication, “mirrored” also here on 20.5.2008]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #21, 21-23.5.2008

  • The National Election Committee [NEC] Invited All Directors of Radio and Television Stations to Explain to them the Publication Regulations during the Election Campaign
  • Female Immigrants from Southeast Asia Face Difficulties in Taiwan

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6351, 22.5.2008

  • Cambodian Rice Price Increases 13% while in Vietnam It Increases 27% and in Thailand 23%
  • Russian Investor Wants to Create Factories and to Export Cambodian Agricultural Products [according to a meeting between the Rural Development Bank president and the government advisor Mr. Son Sokun, and Mr. Gugarevich Juri Vladislavovich]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3466, 22.5.2008

  • Chea Sim Makes Pressure to Remove Sok An and Cham Prasidh from Their Positions after the Fourth Term Election

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4595, 22.5.2008

  • Tens of Thousands of Teachers Got Only 488 Uniforms [after the Royal Government had organized a ceremony to show uniforms for teachers, with rank signs on them, on 17 May 2008]
  • Myanmar Does Not Accept Aid Sent by US Soldiers [according to a broadcast by state media on Wednesday 21 May 2008]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #660, 22.5.2008

  • Phnom Penh Authorities Are Hunting for Brigadier General Chea Ratha
  • Khieu Samphan Was Sent to Hospital [because of high blood pressure] while His Comrade [Ieng Thirith] Goes to the Court Dock

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Wednesday, 21.5.2008: Mine Clearing Rate Will Decline in 2008

Posted on 21 May 2008. Filed under: Week 561 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“A Senior Official of the Cambodian Mine Action Center [CMAC] said that in 2008 the mine clearing rate will decline because this year mine clearing officials are required to learn additional skills.

“CMAC general director Mr. Khem Sophoan said, ‘During this time, the mine clearing rate of landmines in 2008 will decline, because now some of our mine clearing staff have been withdrawn to learn more skills. Nowadays, there are 205 mine clearing staff of the CMAC who are being trained, and after they have finished their training course, we will send 205 more staff members until we have 600 of our staff trained according to the goal set.’

“Mr. Khem Sophoan continued that the training takes three months.

“In 2007, CMAC cleared 27 million square meters of landmines. In 2008, the landmine clearance will decline, because CMAC staff are busy with training.

According to the CMAC report, in the period of four months in 2008, the CMAC cleared 9,184,303 square meters of landmines and 1,115,580 square meters of fields with unexploded ordnance. The CMAC has also put up 1,690,454 mine danger signs, reduced landmine danger zone size by 24,432 hectares, and found a new areas of 18,583 hectares with landmines, 9,981 anti-personnel mines, 189 anti-tank mines, 36,295 unexploded ordnances, 49 hand-made mines, and 3,111 kilogram of bullets.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1646, 21.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #104, 21.5.2008

  • [Human Rights Party president] Mr. Kem Sokha Criticized Ratanakiri Authorities That Used Dictatorial Means to Prevent Citizens to Hold Non-Violent Demonstration against Forest Destruction

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #69, 21-27.5.2008

  • Prime Minister: Three Opposition Parties [the Sam Rainsy Party, the Human Rights Party, and the Norodom Ranariddh Party] Will Get 25% of the Votes and the Cambodian People’s Party Will Get the Rest
  • [By 20 May 2008] The National Election Committee Has Recognized Ten Parties, Rejected one Party [the Sangkum Khmer Niyum, because it did not complete the documents required correctly], and Asked Another Party [the Khmer Democratic Party] to Reorganize its Documents
  • The US Provided US$2 Million for Setting Up Information Boards at All Provincial and Municipal Courts

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1646, 21.5.2008

  • Mine Clearing Rate Will Decline in 2008
  • The Earthquake Makes China to Lose US$9,500 Million [while number of deaths reaches 71,000]
  • Burma Opens Its Door to Accept Aid from Neighboring Countries in Asia [it will allow neighboring
    countries to go to see the destroyed areas and to check the distribution of foreign aid to victims]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.9, #581, 21.5.2008

  • If All Democratic Parties Unite, Those Who Steals from the Nation Will No Longer Be Able to Get Benefits from Khmer Inheritance
  • Land Disputes Strongly Spread while the Election to Change the Prime Minister Is Getting Nearer

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #158, 21.5.2008

  • The World Bank Said that Providing Land by the Government to Be Occupied by Companies for Long Years Is Like Preventing Khmer People from Becoming Richer
  • People from the Legal Profession Said that There Would Be Lawsuits against Hor Namhong from Victims of Boeng Trabaek Prison

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6350, 21.5.2008

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Open a Hearing on the Request for Bail of Ieng Thirith [Ieng Sary’s wife] This Morning

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #12, .5.2008

  • [Right] Ear and [right] Eye of In Soklida’s Aunt Has Been Removed [in a hospital in Vietnam], because the Wounds by the Acid Attack Were Too Serious

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4594, 21.5.2008

  • The Cambodia Daily Will Be Suspended for Thirty Days if It Continues to Publish The Burma Daily [according to a warning by the Minister of Information and the government spokesperson Mr. Khieu Kanharith yesterday]

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #659, 21.5.2008

  • Samdech Prime Minister: “If the 7th of January [1979] Is Forgotten, There Should Not Be Hearings of [former] Khmer Rouge Leaders” [he said during a certificate awarding ceremony to graduates of the Western University at the National Institute of Education]

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How NOT to avoid critical reflection

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Tuesday, 20.5.2008: The Ministry of Information Seized Newspapers Published without Legal Permission that Have an anti-Burma Tendency

Posted on 20 May 2008. Filed under: Week 561 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 561

“A small sized newspaper with four pages with the name The Burma Daily, published and inserted in the The Cambodia Daily, was seized by the Ministry of Interior, which had been asked by the Ministry of Information, claiming that this newspaper is published without having asking for legal permission from the ministry; furthermore its articles showed a critical tendency towards the government of the Burmese military junta.

“On Monday morning of 19 May 2008, there were police at many newspaper stalls in Phnom Penh, seizing The Burma Daily, which had been distributed for sale together with The Cambodia Daily. The police claimed that they acted based on higher orders when they confiscated the newspapers from newspaper stalls and from children selling newspapers along the roads.

“Regarding the confiscation of The Burma Daily, the head of the Information Department of the Ministry of Information, Mr. Yem Noy, stated that the Ministry of Information had asked the authorities to seize the newspapers, because they had been published without legal permission; moreover, it was deceptive to publish them inside The Cambodia Daily, which has a legal permission from the ministry. However, the Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, could not be reached for comment.

“The newspapers of The Burma Daily, which were seized by the authorities on the morning of 19 May 2008, were published in English, with four pages, on white paper, and they had the same size as The Cambodia Daily; most of the articles talked about Burma. Generally speaking, the articles showed a tendency critical of the government of the Burmese military junta, especially focusing on the events after the tropical cyclone in Burma.

“By 19 May 2008, The Burma Daily published a second issue, and according to its context, it was clear that Mr. Bernard Krisher is the publisher and Mr. Kevin Doyle is the editor-in-chief; and they are also the publisher and the editor-in-chief of The Cambodia Daily.

“So far, no reaction has been seen yet from the publisher of The Cambodia Daily regarding the actions of the authorities.

“It should be stressed that The Burma Daily was not published and sold separately, but it was inserted into the The Cambodia Daily. But the volume and issue numbers were different.

“The Press Law, Chapter 1, Article 5, talks about press freedom; it states that in general, the press has the right to share information, under the control of the Royal Government, except for any information that undermines national security or relations with other countries. Therefore, using Cambodia as a basis to publish information which has an anti-Burma tendency in the The Burma Daily, contradicts the Press Law, so the government did not allow it.” Chakraval, Vol.16, #2778, 20.5.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2778, 20.5.2008

  • The Ministry of Information Seized Newspapers Published without Legal Permission that Have an anti-Burma Tendency
  • Daun Penh and Chamkar Mon District Rank First in Selling Drugs in Phnom Penh [according to a police who checked drug trafficking sites in the seven districts in Phnom Penh]

Chuoy Khmer, Vol.2, #103, 20.5.2008

  • Authorities Have Closed Clubs Belonging to Chea Ratha, after an Arrest Warrant Had Been Issued over the Acid Attack on In Soklida’s Aunt; the Culture of Impunity Is Spreading in Khmer Society

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1645, 20.5.2008

  • Ratanakiri Authorities Rejected People’s Application to March in a Demonstration [on 20 May 2008], but Allow Meeting at Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] Headquarters
  • Police [under the command of Director General of National Police Hok Lundy] Checked General Chea Ratha’s House [on 17 May 2008, with a court warrant] over the Acid Attack
  • Four Khmer Construction Workers Died Because an Elevator Fell from the Eleventh Floor of a Constructing Building [Bangkok, Thailand – 18 May 2008]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3464, 20.5.2008

  • More Than 150,000 Citizens Are Facing Evictions from Their Land and Houses [in Cambodia, according to The Guardian, UK]
  • Thai Foreign Affairs Officials Said that the Preah Vihear Area Includes Many Square Kilometers of Land without a Clear Demarcation [this was said two days after the Thai Senior Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Noppadon Pattama met with Deputy Prime Minister and Senior Minister in Charge of the Council of Ministers Sok An on 15 May 2008]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4593, 20.5.2008

  • ASEAN Foreign Affairs Senior Officials Met, Considering Aid for Myanmar [19 May 2008 – Singapore]
  • China Declared Three Days of Mourning, while the Number of Deaths Increases

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #33, 20.5.2008

  • Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] Has Condemned the Murder of [the Norodom Ranariddh Party] Activist Sok Run [murdered on 16 May 2008, but local authorities claim he died from fainting]
  • Soldiers in Kratie Pointed Guns at Members of Fourteen Families [when citizens tried to protest the clearing of their land] to Grab Their Land

Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #6, 20.5.2008

  • Former Khmer King [Norodom Sihanouk] Still Worries about the Monarchy [because there were many bad moments among the members of the royalist camp – according to a senior official of Funcinpec]
  • Cambodia Plans to Put New Border Markers along the Thai Border [according to senior officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia]

Have a look at last week’s editorial: How NOT to avoid critical reflection and discussion

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