Week 575

Week 575 – Sunday,2008-08-31: Boeng Kak Lake: The Prime Minister’s Recommendations – Urgent Human and Environmental Concerns

Posted on 1 September 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 575 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

Mirrors have limits and cannot show everything. This Mirror of the Khmer press is similarly constrained because the press itself does not report everything, and we must select. We try to cope with these limitations by selecting a wide variety of items over time; combining the depth of translated articles with the overview of translated headlines; adding explanations and information in [square brackets] and underlined links to additional material available on the Internet; and recollecting past information that is relevant to present events.

This week’s current events demand to recall concerns and recommendations from the recent past.

Last Friday, we carried the translation of a long article “Those Who Live at Boeng Kak Lake Go to Give Their Thumbprints to Get Money and New Housing.

This article said that “500 families had agreed… to take the money offered, because they want to run their businesses and live in the new places with a good environment, and they do not want to live above the sewage at the lake which affects their heath.” – But the article does not say that all together 4,000 families are affected.

“All the citizens said that they want to see the company develop the Boeng Kak region soon, requesting that the company has to act very quickly and make good development, so that the area is not left unused or sold to another company.” – But while those who have to go are said to wish the company all the best, neither the name of the company, and nothing about the fact that the public has not seen any overall plan, is mentioned.

“Most of the citizens agreed to take US$8,000 and Riel 2 million, because they want to choose a new location by themselves where it is easy to run their everyday living businesses.” – Most of the 500 families out of 4,000, that is – moving to Chaom Chau, beyond the airport, to the outskirts of Phnom Penh 15 km away from close to the center of the city, where they are now.

“As for the development of the Boeng Kak region, it is seen that the company has started to pump sand into the lake, gradually, since 26 August 2008.”

Already in March 2007, Samleng Yuvachun Khmer had reported that there might be conflicts over the development of the Boeng Kak area. At that time, it was reported that the Phnom Penh municipality told the residents that there would be development ‘in place,’ meaning that, as part of the development project, people would be assisted to have new housing in the same area. Some details were reported:

“At present, the Boeng Kak area covers 133 hectares, which a company leased from the government at the price of $0.60 per square meter for every year according to the 99-year contract. The company has to pay roughly US$79 million for the lease of this area. Currently, there are 4,012 families living in this area, and the people have come to live in this area since the 1980s or 1990s. In an interview with people living in this area, most of them supported the project of development in place; that is, that they are not relocated to the outskirts during the construction.

The people of the Boeng Kak area are still afraid that the development project will probably affect their residences. Even though the Phnom Penh municipality authorities assured them about the development, the people are still concerned, and do not trust the Phnom Penh municipal authorities and the governor Kep Chutema, because the authorities have not considered the people’s interests as important.”

Now, it seems that the concept of development “in place” has been abandoned.

In January 2008, an article in Khmer Machas Srok highlighted concerns also about the environmental impact and the secretive method of concluding the contract:

“Shukaku Inc., has been preparing to connect a pipe to dredge sand from the Tonle Sap River opposite the Royal Palace to fill Boeng Kak Lake…

Before allowing Shukaku Inc. to dredge sand from the river to fill 133 hectares of Boeng Kak Lake, the Ministry of Meteorology and Water Resources, … the Ministry of Environment,… as well as other relevant institutions must join together to study carefully the impact on the environment, if this company dredges sand to fill Boeng Kak Lake, leaving only 10 hectares of the lake’s surface, in order to guard from damages…

[The newspaper] called the signing of the contract to grant the concession of Boeng Kak Lake to Shukaku Inc. seriously corrupt, involving senior officials in the government and in the Cambodian People’s Party, who do not think about the public interest and the impact on the environment. This huge development plan was not publicly announced so that other private companies could have participated in the bidding for the development of the Boeng Kak Lake area…

Shukaku Inc. belongs to Yeay Phou [‘Grandmother Phou,’ Mrs. Chheung Sopheap, the director of the Pheapimex company] and her husband Mr. Lao Meng Khin, who advises Prime Minister Hun Sen on international affairs,.. asking for an investment license in the Boeng Kak Lake area,… with a lease contract for 99 years at a price of more than $70 million. This price of the lease is considered by economists to be very cheap; moreover, the contract was signed quietly and secretly between the Council of Ministers, the Municipality, and Shukaku Inc.”

Later in January 2008, Areyathor reported that Samdech Heng Samrin, the President of the National Assembly – and also a Honorary President of the Cambodian People’s Party – had signed a letter for the suspension of pumping of soil to fill Boeng Kak lake, and the paper reported also that the Phnom Penh governor and vice-governor allegedly disagree with each other about filling Boeng Kak lake.

It is noteworthy that even the severe warnings of Prime Minister Hun Sen seem to have been completely disregarded in this matter. The Mirror had asked already in March 2007: “Do Phnom Penh City Plans Ignore the Prime Minister’s Recommendations?” We repeat the words of the Prime Minster below – the “11-Point Recommendations for the Environment: Over-Exploitation of Natural Resources Caused by Business Activities Will Result in the Loss of Natural Opportunities.

On 20.2.2007, The Mirror “reported the Prime Minister’s Eleven Point Recommendations for the environment and the concern that over-exploitation of natural resources caused by business activities will result in the loss of natural opportunities and protections. There are serious warnings about the long term negative consequences for the future of the country, if short term benefits are pursued recklessly, without the serious concern for the future. One cannot but wonder why these concerns are not reflected at all in the plans forcefully pushed ahead by the Phnom Penh municipal administration for the Boeng Kak area.

The Prime Minister makes it clear that utmost care is necessary when it comes to considerations about the natural environment, calling that strategies and action plans need to be revised every three years. Human insight into the delicate natural balance of environmental factors is still fairly new, and therefore plans need to be regularly adjusted in order not to miss some important points…

The Prime Minister stressed that it is difficult to protect endangered natural resources. Many voices have been reported which warn of severe flooding for the city of Phnom Penh if important reservoirs which provide temporary basins for excessive rain water – such as the Boeng Kak Lake – are filled in to a large extent. Who will be held responsible – and who will pay the enormous costs of flooding – when the warnings come true? The Prime Minister has emphasized that offenders must be held fully responsible for the consequences of their actions. How will this be realized, once the plans are implemented and if they have strong negative consequences?

The Prime Minister also stressed that successful and effective control of natural resources can best be achieved when the affected local people participate in the implementation of related programs. Until now, only rough ideas about the future have been shared with the public, and inquiries by the media about details have not resulted in much clarification, because the officials in charge ‘are too busy to talk to reporters.’ None of the press reports we are aware of mention anything about the most important recommendation of the Prime Minister: that in the case of environmentally sensitive developments, the Ministry of Environment should work with officials at all levels to create community statutes which make sure that the benefits from development based on the use of nature should be shared equitably.

The Prime Minister added that the possible impacts have to be assessed by the Ministry of Environment, and that such assessment has to be carried out transparently… It is obvious that the requirement that the assessments be transparent – especially to the people living in the area and being affected – has been disregarded.

Finally, it is astonishing that such far-reaching plans are being pursued without an open publicly announced bidding process. It is astounding that a hardly known company, which is identified in some media as Japanese and in others as Korean, got a 99-year lease agreement which will have fundamental consequences for the capital city of Cambodia for the next century – without broad public debate. One can only hope that the profound concerns expressed by the Prime Minister will be heeded before too much damage has been done.”

The Prime Minister’s recommendations from early last year urgently need to be fulfilled. Because the pumping of sand – the beginning of probably irreversible damage – has now started.

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Saturday, 30.8.2008: Khmer Authorities Cooperate with the US FBI to Investigate Murder of Moneaksekar Khmer Journalist

Posted on 31 August 2008. Filed under: Week 575 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

“Regarding the brutal murder of Mr. Khim Sambo, a journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer and his [21-year-old] son Khat Sarinpheata, on 11 July 2008, so far the Phnom Penh authorities have not arrested the murderer or those who are behind to be convicted according to the law. The weakness of the authorities to find the murderer to be prosecuted makes the general public and some local and foreign civil society organizations strongly criticize the Phnom Penh authorities, because so far, the murderer still lives freely and is staying outside of the net of the law.

“Civil society officials and the general public have requested the Phnom Penh authorities to speed up the investigations to seek the murderer who shot dead the journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer and his son, and also those who are behind the murder to be punished, and also to know the clear reasons why the father and the son were murdered; is it for political reasons or other reasons? – so that the general public and civil society organization officials know the root of the story that led to the brutal murder.

“The reasons for the shooting of Mr. Khim Sambo and his son Khat Sarinpheata to death near the Olympic Stadium on 11 July 2008, while they were returning from their exercises, is not known yet, though it is being investigated by the authorities. Unless the murderer is convicted, the real reasons of the murder cannot be revealed. However, the authorities have not had any clear light that can lead to identify the murderer, as it is not easy.

“Because of complications to look for the murderer, the authorities decided to cooperate with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation – FBI – in Cambodia, to cooperate to seek the murderer and those who are behind them to be convicted according to the law. It is hoped that this cooperation will lead to arrest the real murderer to be sentenced soon, because the FBI has high skills in investigation and can provide ideas to the Cambodian authorities to look for the murderer who shot dead Mr. Khim Sambo and his son.

“A high ranking police official who asked not to mention his name said that yesterday, on 29 August 2008, the FBI in Cambodia met for the first time with the Cambodian authorities to discuss the cooperation to seek the murderer and those who are behind the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and his son. The first time meeting between the Khmer authorities and the FBI was attended by Mr. Touch Naroth, the head of the Phnom Penh police, and some other officials, and by Mr. Laro Tan (a Cambodian-American), the head of the FBI office in Cambodia. Both sides focused on the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and his son by anonymous persons.

“A police official said that during the meeting between Mr. Laro Tan, the director of the US FBI office in Cambodia, and the Cambodian authorities yesterday, Mr. Touch Naroth reported in detail about the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and his son Khat Sarinpheata, how the Cambodian police had investigated before cooperating with the FBI office. Also, Mr. Laro Tan was satisfied with the report about the investigation by the Cambodian authorities, and the FBI agreed also to cooperate with the Cambodian authorities.

“The police official continued to say that Mr. Laro Tan responded that he will also ask the director of the FBI in the United States to offer two experts – one for investigations, and the other for drafting a ‘wanted’ circular with a sketch of the face of the suspect, and he is also an expert in performing autopsies

“The cooperation between the Phnom Penh authorities and the US FBI to investigate the murder of Mr. Khim Sambo and of his son Khat Sarinpheata was welcomed by civil society organization officials and by the general public, and it is hoped it will help to find the murderers and those who are behind them to be convicted soon.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3552, 30.8.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 30 August 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1733, 30.8.2008

  • Primary Investigation Says Murder of Moneaksekar Khmer Journalist Is for Rancor against His Son [who was also murdered. – Why is this so reported? Because a policeman said it might be so]
  • While Prices of Goods Are Going Up, Khmer Rat Meat Is Best-Selling
  • All Kinds of Trees and Wildlife at Kirirom National Park Are Endangered [because preservation officials there allow illegal logging and hunting – Kompong Speu]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #233, 30.8.2008

  • Kampuchea Krom Associations and Organizations Ask for Permission from Yuon [Vietnamese] Embassy to Visit Mr. Tim Sakhan [who has been defrocked on the accusation of having perpetrated an offense against the Buddhist law, because he was accused to have destroyed the harmony between Vietnam and Cambodia – he is now seriously ill and kept in house arrest in Vietnam]
  • Strongman [Prime Minister Hun Sen] Pushes Prince Ranariddh to Be at a Dead End Road, Forcing Him to Swallow His Saliva [to change his mind against his own will – by urging him to return to Funcinpec again]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #86, 30.8.2008

  • Municipal Police Does Not Take Action against Traffic Jams


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6437, 30-31.8.2008

  • Authorities Recruit 30 Persons to Create Militia to Defend Chub Kokir Village [where Thai black-clad uniform soldiers – special Border Unit forces – threaten Cambodian people to demolish their houses – Banteay Ampil, Oddar Meanchey]
  • [Cambodia] Urges Negotiations Soon; Thailand Cancels Negotiations for Reason of Crisis [demonstrations in Bangkok]; Cambodia Cannot Accept
  • Constructions Spread on Prohibited Areas Next to Phnom Penh International Airport Fences


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3552, 30-31.8.2008

  • Khmer Authorities Cooperate with the US FBI to Investigate Murder of Moneaksekar Khmer Journalist
  • Civil Society Wants Office of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodian to Be Maintained

  • Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4681, 30.8.2008

    • Siamese [Thai] Police Cannot Control Demonstrators; Demonstration Is Stronger
    • Four Cambodian Children [who were arrested on accusation of entering Thailand illegally on 26 August 2008] Are Released by Siamese [Thais] and Two Siamese Citizens [who were arrested on accusation of entering Cambodia illegally on 27 August 2008] Are Also Released in Exchange


    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3397, 30.8.2008

    • Dispute between People and a Company in Kampot over Sand Pumping to Extend the Beach Area [the pumping affects people’s livelihood]

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    Friday, 29.8.2008: Those Who Live at Boeng Kak Lake Go to Give Their Thumbprints to Get Money and New Housing

    Posted on 30 August 2008. Filed under: Week 575 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

    “Phnom Penh: On 27 August 2008, from morning to night, many citizens, including husbands, wives, and children 18 years and older, went to the headquarters of a company [the writer of this article, focused on this company, surprisingly does not name the company or give any related information] that has received a legal permit to develop the Boeng Kak region, so some residents start to go and give their thumbprints, to leave the Boeng Kak region, getting compensation money or new housing.

    “Mr. Man Chhoeun, the Phnom Penh Municipal deputy governor and the person in charge of this task with a Boeng Kak regional developer company, said that 500 families had agreed to receive the compensation money of US$8,000 and Riel 2 million [approx. US$490] or new housing with Riel 2 million [approx US$490], costly solutions for the developer company.

    “As for citizens who agree to take the compensation money or new housing, the company will continue to offer this, until no more family is left outside of this scheme.

    “At the company headquarters, the citizens who went to accept the compensation money or new housing in order to leave the old region, said that they took the money because they want to run their businesses and live in the new places with a good environment, and they do not want to live above the sewage at the lake which affects their heath.

    “The new housing that they agree to receive can be constructed one floor above the ground, and it is in Cham Chao, Dangkao. After leading their families to see [models of] those new housing, they agreed to give their thumbprints to accept the new housing, because they are satisfied with the new housing. All the citizens said that they want to see the company develop the Boeng Kak region soon, requesting that the company has to act very quickly and make good development, so that the area is not left it unused or sold to another company.

    “While this exchange process is going on – [citizens accept money or housing while the company gets the thumbprints in exchange, showing that the citizens agree the leave the region], it is seen that the company had prepared documents very carefully, including fair lucky draws, and thumbprints are taken from husbands, wives, and children who are 18 or older, and the company explained clearly the statutes of the contracts, in order to avoid any future complicated problems.

    “In the meantime, the company also informed about another good news: that the company offers Riel 100 million loans [approx. US$25,000] with a very low interest rate, to help the citizens from the Boeng Kak region who agree to live in new locations, to run small businesses.

    “Now, the citizens living at the Boeng Kak Lake gradually go to give their thumbprints to receive the compensation money and new housing; as for the company, it is trying to prepare everything for the citizens without delay.

    “Most of the citizens agreed to take US$8,000 and Riel 2 million, because they want to choose a new location by themselves where it is easy to run their everyday living businesses.

    “As for the development of the Boeng Kak region, it is seen that the company has started to pump sand into lake, gradually, since 26 August 2008.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #1680, 29.8.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Friday, 29 August 2008


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1732, 29.8.2008

    • Chief Demonstrators in Siam [Thailand] Could Get Capital Punishment


    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #232, 29.8.2008

    • [Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian] Son Chhay: Sam Rainsy Party Will Not Participate in First National Assembly Session to Save Face of the Cambodian People’s Party; Sam Rainsy: Our Final Legal Struggle, We Will Complain to UN and Co-Presidents of the 1991 Paris Peace Conference
    • Corruption over Donation to Army at Preah Vihear Temple Area Revealed [good quality food and modern equipment was taken by high ranking military officers]


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6436, 29.8.2008

    • Thai Police Call on Demonstrators to Move Out of Government Office


    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3551, 29.8.2008

    • UN Criticizes Cambodian Government Report on Human Rights [of not being changed]
    • Sam Rainsy: Our Country Increasingly Gets Away from Democracy and It Is Very Dangerous [that the government is ruled by only one party]
    • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Yim Sovann Supports UN Envoy’s Proposal Urging for a Third Party to Monitor Elections in Cambodia


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4680, 29.8.2008

    • Those Who Live at Boeng Kak Lake Go to Give Their Thumbprints to Get Money and New Housing
    • Monk Raped Ten-Year-Old Girl and Killed Her [27 August 2008, he is arrested – Baray, Kompong Thom]


    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3396, 29.8.2008

    • Cambodian People’s Party Takes All Positions of National Assembly Committee Chairs
    • Siam [Thailand] Asks to Suspend Negotiations – but Its Solders Still Invade Khmer Land

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    Thursday, 28.8.2008: Nephews of Khmer Prime Minister Cause Five People to Die during Third Term Royal Government

    Posted on 29 August 2008. Filed under: Week 575 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

    “Nephews of Prime Minister Hun Sen have caused four people to die in traffic accidents during the third term government that will come to an end next month. Relatives of innocent people who died because of Mr. Hun Sen’s nephews mostly were paid US$4,000 in order to save the perpetrators from being convicted.

    “Early 2004, a nephew of Mr. Hun Sen was involved in a traffic accident near a fence at the Olympic Stadium where he was with his group of children of the rich, causing four innocent people to die, because of a brutal gun fire. In that event, a nephew of the Prime Minister who holds the surname Hun and his group drove a car and hit people, but none was injured. After chatting with each other for a moment, a heavy shootout with firearms started; it was the gunfire from the faction of Mr. Hun Sen’s nephew which hit a seller of Lout Chha – a fried rice and coconut seller – resulting in the death of four people, and then the perpetrators and their group paid US$4,000 to the families of each victim.

    “Also, a nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Hun Chea, drove a car and hit a person, killing him, in Phnom Penh last week, and the perpetrator paid US$4,000 compensation, like in the killing of four people in 2004.

    “However, causing a person to die this time agitates people from the legal profession as well as a well-known newspaper of the United States. Furthermore, officials of the government said that a person who causes the death of another person like this will not be able to avoid a conviction according to the law.

    “A lawyer, an official of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, reported to The Cambodia Daily that drivers involved in accidents that result in the death of a persons cannot legally escape from a conviction of a crime by paying a compensation to the family of the dead victim.

    “However, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, the Minister of Information and the government spokesperson, seemed to protect the perpetrator, Mr. Hun Sen’s nephew, in a press conference on Sunday.

    “It is reported that Mr. Hun Chea, Mr. Hun Sen’s nephew, had paid a compensation of US$4,000 to the family of the victim who rode on his small motorcycle and died through the accident, but there is no legal action taken. Mr. Khieu Kanharith said that doing so [paying a compensation to the victim’s family] is legal in Cambodia.

    “Lawyer Kea Eav, also an expert in traffic law, and Mr. Ung Chun Hour, the director of the Transportation Department of the Ministry of Public Work, said that anyone who causes an accidents that leads to the death of another person, cannot legally avoid a criminal investigation and prosecution towards finding solutions according to the criminal code. They recognized, however, that this law is frequently not practiced. Mr. Kea Eav criticized the speech of Minister Khieu Kanharith as a misunderstanding, as it is against the law that the authorities would let such cases to be solved on the basis of compensation payments. He added, ‘Accidents which result in the death of another person are a crime that cannot be solved through compensation. A compensation payment cannot stop criminal proceedings.’

    “Mr. Ung Chun Hour, a co-drafter of the new traffic law, said that frequently, the authorities violate this law to solve problems through compensation payments outside of the judicial system. He continued to say, ‘They are wrong, if they do not use the judicial system, though frequently also the victims’ families want to avoid to use legal procedures which take very long before a solutions is achieved.’

    “Mr. Jeffrey M. Kahan, a legal and development advisor of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that there is not one clause in the legislative procedure code which allows a compensation payment to stop a clearly criminal procedure.

    “The traffic law states, ‘Anyone who causes an accident which leads to an unintentional killing will be convicted to serve from one to three years in prison, and will be charged with between Riel 2 million [approx. US$490] and Riel 6 million [approx. US$1,480]. This clause does not talk about compensation.’

    “Mr. Joel Brinkley, a well-known writer, whose article was published in the Modesto Bee in California/USA, wrote an article on 22 August 2008 with the title ‘The world leader in corruption is – Cambodia.’ This article pointed to an accident caused by a nephew of Prime Minister Hun Sen, killing an innocent person, but the perpetrator was able to avoid to be caught in the net of the law. This article in the Modesto Bee makes officials of the government feel uneasy, as the Minister of Information tried to explained things in a press conference on Sunday.

    “As a matter of fact, during the third term government, Mr. Hun Sen’s nephews caused the death of five people, and this does not include such different cases as that Oknha Hun To hit Mr. Nuon Vuthy, a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, a few days ahead of the election, at the Prek Kdam Ferry Dock.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #231, 28.8.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Thursday, 28 August 2008


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1731, 28.8.2008

    • Siam [Thailand] Announces Cancellation of Negotiation [on removal of all troops from the Preah Vihear Temple] Scheduled to Be Held in Siem Reap on 29 August [due to the crisis in Thailand, reports Kampuchea Thmey – but a Thai Foreign Ministry statement denied that the cancellation is related to the Bangkok demonstrations]
    • Siamese [Thai] Criminal Court Prepares to Issue Arrest Warrants for the Leaders of the Demonstrations
    • Election Observation Supplies Worth More Than US$180,000 Transferred by European Community to 17 Cambodian Non Governmental Organizations
    • Number One [condom plus brand] Lubricant Is Surprisingly Used [by women factory workers] to Cure Pimples [Sihanoukville]


    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #231, 28.8.2008

    • Nephews of Khmer Prime Minister Cause Five People to Die during Third Term Royal Government


    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #84, 28.8.2008

    • Cambodia and Thailand Will Cooperate to Promote Tourism at the Preah Vihear Temple Area [according to The Nation of Thailand]


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6435, 28.8.2008

    • Traffic Accidents in Cambodia: More Than Four People Die Each Day; in 2007, More Than 1,000 People Died and More Than 7,000 Were Injured


    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3550, 28.8.2008

    • US Federal Bureau of Investigation Prepares to Investigate the Murder of a Moneaksekar Khmer Journalist


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4679, 28.8.2008

    • Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos Sign Border Agreements


    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3395, 28.8.2008

    • Siem Reap Governor [Sou Phirin] Allows Businesspeople to Cut 60 Hectares of Flooded Forest Where Fish Lay Eggs
    • Boeng Kak Lake Residents Worried and Concerned While the Company Tests Soil Pumping [from the Mekong to the Lake] for the First Time [Phnom Penh]

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    Wednesday, 27.8.2008: Seng Theary Is Ordered to Stop Working, but There Are Persons to Defend Her

    Posted on 28 August 2008. Filed under: Week 575 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

    “Phnom Penh: Ms. Seng Theary, the president of the Center for Social Development [established in 1995 ‘to promote democratic values and improve the quality of life of the Cambodian people through training, seminars, research, publication, broadcasting, partnership with other like-minded organizations and institutions and dialogue with Cambodians from all walks of life’], has been told to stop to work two times already, because she does not follow her contract responsibly as seen by the board of directors, and still continues to work without caring about the order to stop, issued by the board of directors that has appointed her to this position.

    “On 26 August 2008, many journalists went to the Center for Social Development, because they had been informed by phone that the Center for Social Development had planned to hold a press conference, but when they arrived there, they were prevented to enter.

    “Mr. Vi Houi, the president of the board of directors of the Center for Social Development, reported to Kampuchea Thmey in the evening of 25 August 2008 that the board of directors plans to hold a press conference about the firing of Ms. Seng Theary from her work on 26 August 2008, but Ms. Seng Theary’s supporters had requested to discuss the possibility to keep her as the president of the center.

    “Mr. Vy Huy added that Ms. Seng Theary has been fired already more than 60 days ago, but she refused to leave. He said that the board of directors has contacted some donor countries, but they had responded asking that at this stage, the donors requested to stay quiet temporarily. If there would be no agreement between Ms. Seng Theary and the board of directors, there would be no salaries for the staff, as well as no money to pay the rent for the office.

    “On 26 August 2008, some staff members had distributed some documents to the journalists and asked them to wait outside of the fence, but later there was no one from the center to inform them what happened or to offer interviews to the journalists, so that the journalists, both Khmers and foreigners, after waiting until after 11:00, finally decided to leave.

    “The journalists said that maybe the staff of the Center for Social Development asked the journalists to sit and wait, to share with them the arguments between staff and board, that is why they did not offer any interviews and did not say anything at the beginning.

    “According to some staff, the Center for Social Development started to have internal disputes, since Ms. Seng Theary had taken full control of the center. As soon as the board of directors had appointed Ms. Seng Theary as president [in 2006], she started to strengthen her power, and when she was strong enough, she did not recognize this board of directors that had assigned her as president, and created another board of directors that supports her, causing rift and turmoil.

    Note:

    A press release from the staff side is http://www.csdcambodia.org/pdf/2008/PressRelease-30-June-08.pdf/

    “Many analysts said that leading a small center, depending on foreign donations, can bring rifts and disagreements: what laws to teach to citizens, and therefore, how citizens can then consider them as models. At present, Khmer citizens are not much weaker in knowledge than Seng Theary; but being the president of the center, she refused to give up her power, but what would happen if she ruled over the rules of the country?

    “The letters announcing the press conference of the Center for Social Development on 26 August 2008 say that Ms. Seng Theary had already once been fired on 20 May 2008, and then she was fired a second time by the board of directors on 24 June 2008.

    “The board of directors of the Center for Social Development has intervened with Ms. Seng Theary’s work already twice: once on 18 July 2007 and then again on 10 September 2007.

    “Ms. Seng Theary has been hired to work since March 2006. During her work at the Center for Social Development, she had attended only four of the nine meeting of the board of directors.

    “Ms. Seng Theary does not follow the contract she had agreed to with the board of directors of the Center for Social Development.

    “Ms. Seng Theary had formed a board of directors while she was working under the administration of the board of directors of the Center for Social Development. There are eleven members in the new board of directors, as published by the Phnom Penh Post on 16 May 2008.

    “Ms. Seng Theary had rejected a request to reorganize the statute structures for the Center for Social Development under the guidance by Oxfam – United States.

    “Ms. Seng Theary does not fully cooperate with two arbiters – one comes from an important donor country, and another one is the founder of the Center for Social Development. As a result, the Center for Social Development lost aid from an important donor country.

    “Ms. Seng Theary had requested coordination, but that request aims to ask the board of directors to do what she wants; she offered two choices to choose from – to ‘agree’ or to ‘disagree.’ The board of directors had responded by requesting a face-to-face meeting to solve the requests by Ms. Seng Theary, but she considered this response to be a ‘disagree’ answer, and she continues activities in her own ways by publishing another new board of directors’ list on the website of the Center for Social Development.

    “It has been 63 days since the board of directors terminated Ms. Seng Theary. To leave her position for a long period vacant would affect the prestige of the Center for Social Development, and also its resources for the foundation. Also other foundations may not continue with their support from about October 2008.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1730, 27.8.2008

    Note:

    Ms. Seng Theary, who earned her degree in law in the USA, became internationally known through her book Daughter Of The Killing Fields – Asrei’s Story, where she describes her early childhood and life under the Khmer Rouge regime, then the flight of her family to Thailand and the resettlement in the USA – the description of her history is regularly accompanied by her own reflections.

    As executive director of the Center for Social Development, the activities of the Center and she herself were often in the public limelight because of the controversial nature of these engagements, symbolized in the concern for “Four Freedoms”

    “The Voice of Justice Program, at every opportunity, reminds the readers of the Voice of Justice columns or the Voice of Justice Research Bulletins and the radio listeners of the Four Freedoms – i.e., Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Belief, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want – which build the foundation for democracy, human rights, and social and economic development.

    We continually lobby for a Freedom of Information Act, for a freer press, for a freer right to assembly, for a freer and open society… for we believe every Cambodian is born to be, and desires to breathe freely.”

    These concerns are publicly expressed in the “Voice of Justice Column,” published twice a month in Khmer in Koh Santepheap and in English in The Phnom Penh Post.

    Ms. Seng Theary took also an active role in some events which attracted public attention:

    • When the “G8” meeting took place in Germany in 2007 – the leaders of 7 Great industrialized countries plus Russia – an alternative meeting was also organized, as usual, with a critical appraisal of the interests of the powerful as over against the rest of the world, as even such large countries like China and India are not represented, and there are no African or Latin American members in the group. – Ms. Seng Theary was invited to speak to the “P8” meeting as one of the persons from “People” from 8 poor countries, to raise public consciousness of poverty in the world, urging the G8 to take action to end the plight of the poor.
    • The gathering of the “Dream for Darfur,” after having organized similar symbolic actions in different countries’ genocide memorials, planned to light a candle of commemoration at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Memorial in January 2008, led by Hollywood actress Mia Farrow and one of the few Tuol Sleng survivors, the painter Mr. Van Nath, coordinated by the Center for Social Development – but this was prevented by armed authorities.
    • More recently, Ms. Seng Theary’s requested to speak as a “civil party” participating in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia – the Khmer Rouge Trial – where there is also a role foreseen for the participation of victims. But the majority of judges ruled that only lawyers of civil parties could speak in pre-trial hearings, not victims themselves; so far, no victims’ voice could be heard in this court.

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Wednesday, 27 August 2008


    Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #83, 27.8-2.9.2008

    • Mr. Hun Chea [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew] Seeks a Lawyer to Sue an American Newspaper, Accusing it of Defamation [he asks for evidence for the accusation that he drove a car and fatally hit someone in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh]
    • [US Ambassador] Joseph [Mussomeli]: Preah Vihear Temple Dispute Can Be Solved by ASEAN


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1730, 27.8.2008

    • Seng Theary Is Ordered to Stop Working, but There Are Persons to Defend Her
    • [Thai Prime Minister] Samak Says Demonstrations Cannot Force Him from His Position; Siamese [Thai] Police Prepare to Resist 35,000 Demonstrators
    • Rumor in Pursat that the Spirit of Military Chief Khleang Moeung [heroic leader against invading Thai troops around 1482] Tells People Who Were Born in the Year of the Tiger and in the Year of the Monkey to Get Washed with Magic Water, or They Will Meet Danger


    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #230, 27.8.2008

    • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Says that the American Newspaper [The Modesto Bee about a fatal traffic accident and about impunity, saying “The world leader in corruption is – Cambodia”] Reflects the Facts in Cambodia
    • Sam Rainsy Says Hun Sen Government Is Afraid of Paris Peace Accord, Fearing to Lose Power [over border issue]


    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #83, 27.8.2008

    • Constitutional Council Refuses to Recount Votes [in Svay Rieng] at Sam Rainsy Party’s Request


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6434, 27.8.2008

    • Miracle before Siam’s [Thailand’s] Invasion: A Piece of Rock from the Phnom Tbaeng Mountain Broke Loose and Rolled Down, and There Was a Pair of Flying Lights in January 2008 [People in Preah Vihear provincial town claim now to remember that back, in the evening of 27 January 2008, they saw two lights flying down from the mountain. One light disappeared at the Preah Vihear Provincial Office and the other light flew to the West]


    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3549, 27.8.2008

    • Mr. Sam Rainsy Criticizes the Constitutional Council and the National Election Committee of Being Puppets of the Cambodian People Party

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    Tuesday, 26.8.2008: Vietnam to Provide Telecommunication Satellite Services to Different Countries

    Posted on 27 August 2008. Filed under: Week 575 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

    “The Vietnamese newspaper Saigon Liberation reported on 22 August 2008 that a Vietnamese state company, Telecommunication International, which is responsible for the first Vietnamese telecommunications satellite VINASAT-1, has discussed with foreign customers the possibility to provide them services.

    “Its important partners include Asia Broadcast Satellite [ABS], which is a big Asian company in telecommunications, based in Hong Kong, Universal Telecomm Services of the United States, Protostar of Singapore, and Thaicom of Thailand.

    “Vietnam’s Telecom International and ABS have signed a protocol on the capacity of exchanges between VINASAT-1 and ABS-1. This document is used as a starting point for the cooperation between the two companies in telecommunication and satellite services.

    “Medium scale satellite VINASAT-1 was launched in April 2008 with a capital of US$300 million. It can provide services over Southeast Asia, part of China, India, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and Hawaii. This satellite would last from 15 to 20 years. The transmitting capacity of VINASAT-1 corresponds to 10,000 telephone lines or 120 television stations.

    “Before having its own telecommunication satellite, Vietnam had to spend $15 million each year on telecommunication satellite services of foreign countries such as of Russia, Australia, and Thailand.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6433, 26.8.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Tuesday, 26 August 2008


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1729, 26.8.2008

    • Siam [Thailand] Is Very Embarrassed at [29th] ASEAN Inter Parliamentary Assembly [AIPA] General Assembly [18-24 August in Singapore; because many countries supported the principle to prohibit invasions of one country against another]

    • Note:

      We could not yet find an AIPA report mentioning this; the legislators present decided, however, to hold the 30th AIPA General Assembly in Thailand in 2009 – normally a gesture of confidence towards a country]

      As for the basic orientation of the Assembly, we quote from the Opening Speech of the AIPA Assembly, by the Prime Minister of Singapore:

      “By 2015, ASEAN will become a single market and production base.

      The founders of AIPO understood the need to take a larger view of the region’s interests beyond national and domestic considerations.

      And when problems arise between ASEAN countries, which is inevitable from time to time, this will give you a feel for the people on the other side of the issue, so that we can keep the difficulties in perspective and maintain the friendship between our countries.

      This makes it even more necessary for parliamentarians to set the tone in ASEAN cooperation, to lead and manage domestic sentiments, to stand firm against xenophobic attitudes, and to support policies which keep our economies open and integrated.”

    • Construction of Concrete Fences at Border Is New Government’s Priority Plan


    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #82, 26.8.2008

    • The New National Assembly and the Government Will Be Created through One Package Voting [according to the Cambodian Government’s spokesperson Khieu Kanharith]


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6433, 26.8.2008

    • Cambodia Calls [the planned border separators, built by concrete] “Fence”, Thailand Calls the [concrete construction] “Wall” – Government Spokesperson Rejects the Use of the Word Used by the Bangkok Post Which Means a Different Thing
    • Samdech Euv [the retired Father King]: Royal Family Members and Politics – Princes and Princesses Are Finally Unsuccessful
    • Vietnam to Provide Telecommunication Satellite Services to Different Countries


    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3548, 26.8.2008

    • Opposition Parties [Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party] Complain to Signatory Countries of 1991 Paris Peace Accord about Unfair Election in Cambodia
    • Yuons [Vietnamese] Are Still Able to Enter to Do Rice Farming on Khmer Land at Border Area, without Any Intervention [by Cambodian authorities]
    • Khmer Soldiers at Preah Vihear Temple Border Have Malaria and Respiratory Diseases


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4677, 26.8.2008

    • Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party Maintain Position Not to Participate in [Inaugural] National Assembly Session if There Is No Solution [for election irregularities]
    • Collection of Road Taxes [2008] Started on 15 September 2008 and It Will Finish on 14 November 2008

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    Monday, 25.8.2008: United States of America Grants More Than US$34 Million for Heath and Education Projects in Cambodia

    Posted on 26 August 2008. Filed under: Week 575 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 575

    “Phnom Penh: The government of the United States of America and the Royal Government of Cambodia will sign two bilateral agreements at a total cost of US$34.3 million as donor funds for 2008, from the U. S. Agency for International Development [USAID] to promote priority sectors in Cambodia – health and education.

    “The [signing] ceremony will be held on 25 August 2008 and will be presided over by Samdech Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Mr. Joseph Mussomeli, the US Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Hor Namhong, a Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Ms.
    Erin Soto, USAID Mission Director, who will sign on behalf of the US government. These new funds will add to nearly US$200 million since USAID granted funds for the health and education sectors of Cambodia since 2002.

    “An announcement by the US Embassy on 23 August 2008 said that the first agreement will be a grant of a total volume of US$32.2 million to strengthen the health sector as a priority. This fund will promote all activities aiming at the reduction rate of infections and of the impact of HIV/AIDS, and the prevention and the wiping out of big infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis and bird flu, in order to improve child and maternal health and reproductive health, and to strengthen the public heath system, also including the strengthening of additional technical skills for health staff.

    “The second agreement will provide more than US$2 million in total to support plans of the Royal Government of Cambodia for the education sector. The funds will be used for the existing programs to improve the quality of education as the basis to increase access to schools for Cambodian children, as well as for children of minority peoples, and for those who do not get access to employment [disabled persons?], and also support the schooling of very poor children. This activity will also focus on the implementation of new study programs at the national level with educational standards which will cut down the rates of dropping out of school and of the repetition of classes through the enhancement of the quality of teaching and through assessments of the results of the students’ studies.

    “In addition to the activities in the health and education sectors, USAID assists also some programs for the benefit of all the Cambodian citizens, including programs to strengthen human rights, the rule of law, of basic good governance, and of decentralization, the fight against corruption, the development of the private sector, and the fight against human trafficking. USAID expects to grant US$57.5 million to Cambodia in 2008.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4676, 24-25.8.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 26 August 2008


    Deum Tnot, Vol.1, #32, 25-26.8.2008

    • Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh, the Former President of the Third Term National Assembly and Co-President of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, Had [a huge number of] 59 Advisors and 66 Assistants


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1728, 24-25.8.2008

    • National Election Committee Rejects Opposition Party’s Request to Show Evidence [of irregularities for deleting voters’ names – NEC claims that the names were deleted a long time ago]
    • Many Mountains in Pailin Seriously Destroyed [by powerful people’s land grabbing]


    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #229, 24-26.8.2008

    • People Talking on Mobile Phones Were Killed by Lightning, because [Posts and Telecommunication Minister] So Khun Is Poor in Communication Technology [???]
    • Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Will Take Evidence to Complain to UN Together, in Early September [over irregularities in election]


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6432, 25.8.2008

    • Government Official [Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith] Accuses an American Newspaper [The Modesto Bee] of Insulting Cambodia [an article by Pulitzer Prize winner former journalist and now professor of journalism at Stanford University Joel Brinkley, quoting the Phnom Penh Post report and the US Ambassador about a fatal traffic accident and impunity: “The world leader in corruption is – Cambodia”]


    Rasmei Angkor, Vol.11, #1351, 25.8.2008

    • Robbers Shot at Gold Seller and Robbed Him of Nearly 300 Chi of Gold [worth approx. US$30,000]; the Gold Seller Is Wounded and a Neighbor, Who Tried to Help Him, Was Shot Dead [by robbers – Angkao, Phnom Penh]


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4676, 24-25.8.2008

    • United States of America Grants More Than US$34 Million for Heath and Education Projects in Cambodia
    • Samdech Krom Preah [Prince Norodom Ranariddh] Decides Not to Enter Politics [according to Prince Thomico]
    • Thai Opposition Group Announces to Hold a Large Demonstration to Expel the Government on 26 August 2008

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