Week 593

Looking Back and Looking Ahead – Sunday, 4.1.2009

Posted on 5 January 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 593

The beginning of a new year always challenges us – to look back, and to look ahead. In both cases we may gain some orientation. We know, more or less, what happened – but do we understand why? Are we satisfied with what we know? What do we like to continue, and what to change?

Or do we try to look more into the future than into the past? Looking forward to 2009 – but is it with fear, or with hope? May be we have our own clear plans what to do – but will we be ale to make things work out, because many others have the same hopes – or not?

Obviously, we cannot get all the lifetime prosperity, harmony, and affection which people wished for us so that the New Year would be a Happy New Year. But could we, maybe, foresee and say more – not for us as individuals, but for the society were we live?

The last couple of days provided two strong indications about that – but of a contradicting nature.

A paper reported that the president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court had said – though without using these words – that we do live in a society which is not governed by the law.

Quite a strong statement – because the Phnom Penh Municipal Court court “lacked judges for hearing 6,500 cases in 2008. Being unable to solve many cases like that, makes that hundreds of accused persons are detained beyond the legal limit, which states that the detention of an accused or of a suspect can be up to a maximum of six months. Then they have to be brought to court for a hearing, and if the court cannot find them to be guilty, they must be released immediately. However, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and Khmer courts in different provinces do not abide by this legal procedure, and continue to detain thousands of people for many years without conviction, which is against legal procedure and seriously violates the rights of the accused.” By the end of 2007, there had even been 9,200 such unsolved cases.

Not some uninformed and ill-intended observers said this, but the president of the Phnom Penh Municipal court.

And the future?

The president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court “acknowledged that Khmer courts are not yet quite in good order; therefore all Khmer courts need many more years to improve.”

The Court Watch Bulletins of the Center for Social Development describe what the accused – guilty or not – will have to endure for years to come (according to the time line given by the president of the Municipal Court): “The municipal court conducted hearings for three criminal cases every day, and half of those hearings lasted only not more than 20 minutes. So the period for hearing each case was very short, just enough to read the verdicts by which the court defined punishments, or defined who were the losers and the winners in a conflict. The result is that each case is not clearly analyzed according to the procedures of the law, and according to the facts. Therefore it is seen that frequently the rich and high ranking officials won cases against poor people, and against people who are not powerful in society.”

The president of the Municipal Court states now that one of the reasons for these regular violations of the law is a lack of staff at the courts: there are not enough judges and not enough prosecutors! There is no reason to doubt this. But we do not remember to have seen, in the press over the years, that the leadership of the courts, the leadership of the Ministry of Justice, the leadership of the government as a whole – responsible in different ways to upheld a state of law – has decried this situation, leading to regular gross violations of basic rights of citizens according to Cambodian laws, and initiated urgent efforts to rectify this situation.

The situation has an even worse aspect, when one considers that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng was quoted to have acknowledges that there is corruption among high ranking police officers.

But is all his going to be rectified – not immediately, but consistently, and step by step, without unnecessary delay?



The Supreme Court Released Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun on 31 December 2008 on bail – they had been arrested on 28 January 2004 and were convicted to serve 20 years in prison by the Phnom Penh court, for killing the labor union leader Mr. Chea Vichea on 22 January 2004.

But the president of the Supreme Court explained now that the present decision – to release them on bail – was made because the murder of the former president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia needs further investigation, as there were gaps in the procedures, and there is insufficient evidence.

This decision was widely welcomed – as it initiates a reconsideration not only of what really happened five years ago, but it will also be necessary to clarify:

  • What went wrong with the investigation of the police, and why?
  • What went wrong at the initial court procedures, when evidence offered by the defense was disregarded, and why?
  • What went wrong when the Appeals Court on 12 April 2007 upheld the convictions of Born Samnang and of Sok Samoeun, in spite of many indications raised in the international and national public – including by the former King – that the initial process was flawed, and why was there no new investigation ordered by the Appeals Court?

There is hope that the present decision of the Supreme Court will lead to justice for the two persons who spent already five years in prison.

But tis is only one side of the problem. The Supreme Court created an opportunity like never before, to go into detail, to clarify what went wrong and why, and who may have to take responsibility for what went wrong, and bear the consequences according to the law.

Not a revision of old, or the promulgation of new legal procedure will make Cambodia a state under the law – only the strict application of the law will help to bring change.

There was never a better chance for this than since the recent decision by the Supreme Court.


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The Municipal Court, Notorious for Corruption, Describes the Shortage of Judges for Hearings – Saturday, 3.1.2009

Posted on 4 January 2009. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 593

“The Phnom Penh Municipal Court, ranking first in committing corruption among the courts countrywide, described on Monday that it lacked judges for hearing 6,500 cases in 2008. Being unable to solve many cases like that, makes that hundreds of accused persons are detained beyond the legal limit, which states that the detention of an accused or of a suspect can be up to a maximum of six months. Then they have to be brought to court for a hearing, and if the court cannot find them to be guilty, they must be released immediately. However, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and Khmer courts in different provinces do not abide by this legal procedure, and continue to detain thousands of people for many years without conviction, which is against legal procedure and seriously violates the rights of the accused.

“The president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Chiv Keng, notorious for being biased toward the rich and frequently causing poor people to loose their cases, said that in 2008 the Phnom Penh Municipal Court did not solve around 6,500 cases, while by the end of 2007, there had been 9,200 unsolved cases. If one compares the two years, in 2008 there were more of the normal complaints filed at the municipal court solved than in 2007, because in 2008, there were only 6,500 complaints not solved in time, while in 2007, there had been 9,200 left unsolved.

“Chiv Keng said, ‘This does not mean that we received fewer complaints than last year. We received a similar number of complaints like last year, but this year, we worked more effectively, and the number of judges has also increased.’

“Chiv Keng, who was just promoted as an excellency in 2008, added that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court received between 3,000 and 5,000 complaints on average per year. He said that in 2008, also more complaints than in 2007 were addressed.

“Chiv Keng went on to say that at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the number of judges was increased in 2008 from 9 to 16, and it is planned to increase the number up to 45 judges in a few more months in 2009; it will also be requested to increase the number of prosecutors to 25, while at present, there are only 8 prosecutors.

“Chiv Keng continued to say that the space available for work is also a problem for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court; therefore the municipal court plans to construct a building with six floors in the compound of the present Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

“According to the last Court Watch Bulletin [Volume 5, #23, October 2008], published by the Center for Social Development, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court had only two hearing rooms in September 2007 in which the municipal court conducted hearings for more than 884 criminal cases between October 2006 and September 2007.

“The same report added that the municipal court conducted hearings for three criminal cases every day, and half of those hearings lasted only not more than 20 minutes. So the period for hearing each case was very short, just enough to read the verdicts by which the court defined punishments, or defined who were the losers and the winners in a conflict. The result is that each case is not clearly analyzed according to the procedures of the law, and according to the facts. Therefore it is seen that frequently the rich and high ranking officials won cases against poor people, and against people who are not powerful in society.

“The executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, said that he saw some progress in the Khmer court system, but there is a lot more work that the court has to do.

“He said, ‘Courts should make their judges more independent than they are at present, so that the judges can decide about the various complaints by themselves.’

“Chiv Keng acknowledged that Khmer courts are not yet quite in good order; therefore all Khmer courts need many more years to improve. Chiv King pointed out, ‘Now we are not 100% in good order, but we have made many reforms, and now, we do not hear as much criticism about corrupt courts as three or four years ago.’

“Chiv Keng added that at present, courts have ways by which citizens can report about inactivities of courts, or about different rule violations by courts. Chiv Keng continued to say that Cambodia needs more than 300 judgesT and prosecutors in addition countrywide. At present, Cambodia has only around 200 judges and prosecutors.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3656, 3.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 3 January 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1837, 3.1.2009

  • The Department of Information Denies Radio Free Asia Broadcast that Citizens Are Forced to Set Flags [in front of their houses to welcome the upcoming 7 January [1979] victory festival]
  • Former Thai Prime Minister [Somchai Wongsawat] Joins Samdech Hun Sen’s Daughter’s Wedding [Phnom Penh]
  • There Were More Than 8 Million Voters in the Voter Lists of the National Election Committee in 2008
  • Thieves Entered to Break a Safe in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Taking Riel 20 Million [approx. US$5,000]
  • The Number of Beggars at the Beaches in Sihanoukville Increase
  • A Senior Leader of Hamas Killed by an Air Strike Attack by Israel on Gaza
  • Cuba Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #174, 3.1.2009

  • A Korean Man Committed Suicide by Hanging without Any Known Reason [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6542, 3-4.1.2009

  • Three Explosive Devices Were Destroyed [by the Cambodian Mine Action Center – CMAC] – Police Conclude as a First Assumption that the Aim Was that the Sound of Explosions Should Trigger Disturbance [one hand made explosive device was set in front of the Ministry of Defense and two others were found west of the TV3 station – Prampi Makara, Phnom Penh]
  • A Girl in a Sugar Cane Plantation Was Raped by Three Wild Workers; One of Them Raped Her and the Ears of the Two Others Were Bitten [all of them were arrested – Koh Kong]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3656, 3.1.2009

  • The Municipal Court, Notorious for Corruption, Describes the Shortage of Judges for Hearings
  • [The president of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party] Sam Rainsy: Because of the Events of 17 April 1975 [when the Khmer Rouge regime took full control of Cambodia], There Were the Events of 7 January 1979 [which led to the invasion by Vietnam – critical appraisal of the 30th victory anniversary over the Khmer Rouge]
  • [Former Khmer Rouge leader] Ieng Sary Sent to and from the Calmette Hospital More Frequently because of Serious Illness
  • Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya] Is Pressed to Resign after He Phoned to Ask for Negotiations about Border Disputes with [the Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Hor Namhong [according to the Bangkok Post, he is pressed to resign by officials from the ruling Democratic Party of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4785, 3.1.2009

  • The Acid Attack on In Soklida’s Aunt Is Sent to Court to Be Sentenced; this Is ‘Special,’ Compared to the Cases of Tat Marina, Touch Sunich, and Pov Panhapich [who also suffered acid attqcks, because police take quick [[???]] action for what happened on 8 May 2008, while for the three other women, so far no perpetrators have been found and convicted; it is seen that Ms. In Soklida, a film star, is richer, because now, she owns a car taken away from Ms. Chea Ratha by police, and she has her own bodyguards]
  • Defense Lawyers of Victims Warn They Will Resign from Work in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [if there is no money for them]
  • The Royal Government Creates a Committee for the Management of Concessions and for the Rehabilitation of the Cambodian Railway [financed by the Asian Development Bank]
  • Siamese [Thai] Prime Minister Orders Investigations of Phone Call Threats against Him

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The Supreme Court Releases Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun – Friday, 2.1.2009

Posted on 3 January 2009. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 593

“Phnom Penh: This is a rare and almost incredible decision in the Cambodian court system during these latest decades. The Supreme Court decided to provide justice to Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun by releasing them from prison [on bail]. This was decided by the Supreme Court on 31 December 2008 during the hearing on the murder of Mr. Chea Vichea.

“After a four-hour hearing, the president of the Supreme Court who was presiding over the panel of five judges, the judge Dith Munty, announced to return the murder case of Mr. Chea Vichea to the Appeals Court for reinvestigation and retrial. The Supreme Court decided also to release Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun on bail, but requires them to be present on the dates that the court authorities decide.

“Judge Dith Munty explained that this decision was made because the murder case of the former president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia five years ago needs further investigation, as there are gaps in the procedures, and there is insufficient evidence.

“After the decision of the Supreme Court, the accused Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were immediately brought back to the PJ prison, to wait for the release order from the Supreme Court.

“This decision was welcomed by the families of the released, by civil society organizations, and by the embassies observing the murder case of Mr. Chea Vichea; and the decision was considered to be a new turning point for the Cambodian court system.

“With great happiness, Born Samnang’s parents, Ms. Nuon Kimsry and Mr. Voun Phon, expressed their satisfaction beyond words, outside of the court room, considering that the court had really brought justice.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, who observed the hearing with keen interest, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision. This decision is a new turning point in the court system in Cambodia. Now impunity will be eliminated in future by the correct implementation of the law.

“Representatives of several embassies had observed the hearings of the Supreme Court, and the US Embassy released a statement welcoming the decision to release the accused Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun [on bail].

“A few days before the hearing, the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia, Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Observatory for Protection of Human Right Defenders, Amnesty International, and the Treatment Committee, 21 organizations of human rights defenders communities, had released statements asking the Supreme Court to provide justice to the accused Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun. Civil society organizations believed that both of them are not the real murderers oft Mr. Chea Vichea.

“A Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, said that the decision of the Supreme Court about the murder of Mr. Chea Vichea is not related to reforms of the court system. He said also that that decision was not made according to someone else’s will or according to political considerations. It is a decision on which no one has the power to influence it, it is the will of the judges who have brought suspicions to an end through the process of the law.

“However, analysts of the murder case of Chea Vichea think that the Supreme Court made this decision because some of the police who built this case (Heng Pov’s group) are mostly criminals, and are now detained. Another point is that Mr. Heng Pov had also said that the former powerful police chief, who had recetly died, was also involved in the murder case of Mr. Chea Vichea. Therefore it is now the time that the Supreme Court acts independently to provide justice to the accused, Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun, who were imprisoned nearly five years.

“It should be noted that during the hearing of the Supreme Court on 31 December 2008, both Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun claimed that they are not the real murderers who shot dead Mr. Chea Vichea. As for the defense lawyers of the accused Born Samnang and of Sok Sam Oeun, they raised arguments to defend both of them. Sok Sam Oeun’s defense lawyer, Mr. Hong Kimsuon, claimed that both suspects are just persons that the police used to play a farce. Born Samnang’s defense lawyer, Mr. Chum Sovannaly, claimed that Born Samnang’s confession in this case is only a creation by the police who are incompetent [to arrest the real murderers]. They are Mr. Heng Pov’s group who persuaded and used money to lure Born Somnang and created fake evidence to put blame on both.

“The accused Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun had been arrested on 28 January 2004 and were convicted to serve 20 years in prison by the Phnom Penh court, for killing Mr. Chea Vichea on 22 January 2004.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4783-#4784, 1-2.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 2 January 2009

Chakraval, Vol.17, #2838, 2.1.2009

  • Police Has a Spokesperson; [Major-General Kiet Chantharith] Becomes the Spokesperson

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #103, 2-6.1.2009

  • Economist: Prices Can Drop As Long as There Is Intervention from the Government
  • Olympic Market Vendors Protest against the Thai Bunrong Company That Asks Them to Pay Vendors Stalls’ Prices 6 Months before Contracts End
  • Israel Rebuffs the United Nations’ Request for a Cease Fire
  • 10,000 Iranians Volunteer to Register Their Names to Commit Suicide Bombings in Israel

 
Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1835-#1836, 1-2.1.2009

  • Rare Photos Describing Events 30 Years Ago [about the victory over the Khmer Rouge regime on 7 January 1979] Are to Be Exhibited Next Week [at the Wat Phnom Exhibition Center]
  • 266 People Died and 1,103 Were Injured by Traffic Accidents in Phnom Penh in 2008
  • Being Discouraged by Poverty and Being Handicapped, a Man Decided to End His Life by Setting Himself and His House on Fire [Banteay Meanchey]

 
Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #317, 2.1.2009

  • It Is Time to Call [former Phnom Penh police chief, now jailed in Prey Sar Prison] Heng Pov to Reveal the Farce That He Made after the Murder of Chea Vichea [because he had organized to force Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun to confess that they killed Mr. Chea Vichea]
  • On 5 January 2009 Human Rights Watch Will Release a Book about Yuon [Vietnamese] Violations against Monks and against Khmer Krom People

 
Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #173, 1.1.2009

  • [Royal Cabinet advisor] Prince Sisowath Thomico Appeals to Royal Family Members to Stop Doing Politics
  • Deaths from Dengue Fever in Cambodia Declined [from 407 people in 2007 to 65 people in 2008]

 
Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6540-#6541, 1-2.1.2009

  • Observation during the First Day of the Implementation of the Traffic Law in Phnom Penh Shows that 85% of Drivers Wear Helmets
  • Cambodian Railways Concludes Work in 2008 and Issues Directions for 2009 [in 2008, 233,854 tonnes of goods and 4,924 passengers transported
  •  

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4783-#4784, 1-2.1.2009

  • The Supreme Court Releases Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun
  • Buddhist Circles Ask that the ‘Where Elephants Weep’ Opera Apologizes and Stops Performing [because there is criticism by some Buddhists and Monks in the audience. – Note: As this is an opera, all actors sing, also the monks – which seems to have been the rigger for the complaint; on TV station canceled already a program where it had been announce that ‘Where Elephants Weep’ would be broadcast]
  • In 2008, the Government Borrowed US$279.5 Million [and received US$109.3 million as grant aid from financial institutions and foreign countries – according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance]
  • [Father King] Samdech Euv Is Admitted to a Beijing Hospital for Blood Transfusion [because of leukemia]
  • The United States of America Trains Cambodian Officials about Oil Resources Management
  • The US Embassy Welcomes the Decision of the Supreme Court over [the president of Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Mr. Chea Vichea’s Case [where Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun were released on bail]
  • Cambodia Joins to Share Condolences for the Death of Former Malaysian King [Tuanku Ja’afar Ibni Al-Marhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman – at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh]
  • Eldest Daughter of Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen [Hun Mana] Gets Married [to Mr. Dy Vichea, a Son of the former Director General of the National Police Hok Lundy, who recently died in a helicopter crash,]
  • Fire in a Night Club in Bangkok Killed 60 People Crossing from 2008 to 2009 [it is said that the fire was caused by firecrackers released inside of the club]

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Happy New Year 2009 – Thursday, 1.1.2009

Posted on 2 January 2009. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 593

This day is one of the three New Year days we have in Cambodia – the International New Year is followed by the Chinese New Year on 26 January, and then in April the Khmer New Year on 14-16 April; the Chinese and Khmer New Year dates change every year, based on the Moon Calendar. “The country is so nice – we celebrate thrice!” on friend said.

There were greetings in many languages:
n-kh1
n-fr
n-th
n-vn
n-kr

n-hu
n-jp
n-es
n-ch
n-sr

More in detail, some were still preparing – or inviting to deeply think back – or announcing the moment stepping into the new year – and not yet believing that it has really happened:

  • Today is count down day.
  • Some final thoughts as we wave farewell to another year.
  • Firework now. Welcome 2009! Goodbye 2008!
  • Can’t believe it’s 2009

There were the simple and generous wishes for everybody – and overwhelming ones promising a lot – but also cautious ones: let us see how it will go –

  • Happy New Year
  • Cheer n Happy new year everyone!
  • Wish you a very Happy New Year and a lifetime of Prosperity, Abundance and Good Health.
  • Wishing you the best of 2009 as it unfolds.

And there were also reminders that it does not unfold well for all – where the strong and the weak are in conflict, the challenging question remains: What is justice in his case?

But the New Year is an invitation to look ahead – with different degrees of hope, even with inspiring conviction!

  • Looking forward to 2009
  • Welcoming 2009
  • I know what I want and what I will do. Is everyone with me?

For us, it is also an occasion to look back on two years, since we started to publish The Mirror in a new form, on the Internet. By the end of 2008, we had 97,535 visits – 6,057 in December alone.

The steadily increasing numbers have been a constant encouragement you are providing for our work – thanks a lot.

I dare also to say that we would appreciate it if those among our readers, who have the possibility to do so, would visit the right upper corner of this screen: Support the Mirror – and would help us to cover the costs by making a donation.

mirror_2007-2008_6057-97535

Thanks your your visits, which show us that what we do finds your interest – and it may even be a modest contribution on the long and tedious way of reorganizing the societies in which we live.

Norbert Klein

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Thirty Percent of Construction Workers Are Unemployed – Wednesday, 31.12.2008 – end of the year 2008

Posted on 31 December 2008. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

“The Cambodian economy, which should continue to grow now, seems to be like a jammed brake, because investment capital this year declined up to [the figures available for] November, where foreign investment capital for construction, which is an important sector, decreased by more than 12%. Tens of thousands of workers are laid off, and this affects one important part of industry and then also others.

“The financial crisis strongly affects the construction sector in Cambodia, because big investment capital is mainly coming from foreign countries; as for investors from South Korea, they are directly affected by the meltdown of the economy in the United States of America.

“The latest figure of the Royal Government published, said that during 11 months of 2008, investment in the construction sector and in related furniture development declined by 12.5%; compared to the same period of last year, it declined from US$3.2 billion to US$2,8 billion. This figure is from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

“The above problems result from the decline of construction, from the prices of furniture materials, and from the meltdown of the world economy as a whole, while the construction sector around the world encountered also the same problems during 11 months of this year.

“As for Cambodia, the labor unions say that 30% of the construction workers are laid off, and various projects are suspended. The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction said that Cambodia had between 45,000 and 50,000 workers employed, with salaries between US$60 and US$1,200.

“Senior Minister and Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction H.E. Im Chhun Lim said that such meltdown happened at the same time of foreign investment projects being under development, and it is forecast that in 2009 the decline will continue.

“The problems in the construction sector strongly affect the prices of construction materials… prices declined around 30% to 40%; but even so, such materials cannot be sold, and businesspeople who had invested in this sector mostly did it depending on bank loans.

“He went on to say that big construction projects, such as the construction projects of the CamKo City [Cambodian-Korean City], or the double Gold Tower 42 [42 stories], and of the International Finance Center Tower, are still in progress, but they are not stable.

“Between June and November, there were around 1,869 construction sites countrywide, while in 2007, there had been 1,942.

“It is the first time that figures are released, after press reports had said that big construction projects in our country – in Phnom Penh – have all closed down.

“The president of the Cambodian Economic Association, Mr. Chan Sophal, shared his opinion that the construction sector was seriously affected during the last six months of this year, and in early 2009 it will get worse…

“The Cambodian Economy grew 10% on average during previous years, with the garment industry, tourism, and the construction sector as energetic forces.” Mate Nak, Vol.1, #16, 31.12.2008-6.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1374, 31.12.2008

  • Nine Pawn Houses’ Illegalities [accepting stolen motorcycles etc.] Were Stopped [in Phnom Penh]

Deum Ampil, Vol.2, #102, 31.12.2008-1.1.2009

  • The Supreme Court Will Decide the Fates of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun This Morning [appealing their conviction for killing the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea, in 2004 – Note: They have been released on bail!]
  • The National Assembly Decided to Allow Two Chinese Companies to Invest in the Electricity Supply System in Cambodia, Spending Around US$1 Billion [by constructing hydro-electricity dams on the Ta Tai River in Koh Kong, and the Russey Krom hydro-electricity dam near the Kravanh Mountains]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1834, 31.12.2008

  • The King Inaugurates a New Building of the Jayavarman VII Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap
  • The Ministry of Heath Prepares Six Health Hazard Warning Pictures to Be Put in Turn on Cigarette Packages
  • Israel Strongly Attacks the Hamas Group in Garza; 345 Palestinians and 4 Israelis Died [Note: After years of international criticism against the political system in the Palestinian territories, in early 2006 there were the first democratic elections – and Hamas won the majority in Gaza]
  • Sheikh Hasina Leads Election Results in Bangladesh [Note: Unofficial results say she won 255 seats, her rival only 32, out of 300]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #172, 31.12.2008

  • An Official of the Department of Education Voices Concern about the Future of Children and of Human Resources in Some Regions, where Children Drop Out of School to Become Merchandise Cart Draggers [at the Phnom Dey Cambodian-Thai border crossing point in Battambang]
  • Khmer Women Getting Married with Korean Men Wait Anxiously for Leaving [to Korea, after the ban of international marriages has been lifted]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6539, 31.12.2008

  • The Thai Parliament Met in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Continue to Block the Parliament House and Refuse to Withdraw

Mate Nak, Vol.1, #16, 31.12.2008-6.1.2009

  • 30% of Construction Workers Are Unemployed

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3653, 31.12.2008

  • [Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng Acknowledges that There Is Corruption among High Ranking Police Officers

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4782, 31.12.2008

  • The First Elevated Road in Cambodia, from Phnom Penh to Ta Khmao [in Kandal], Received Construction Permission [by the Phnom Penh Municipality]
  • Vietnam Said that Merchants Are Rushing to Smuggle Goods from the Khmer Border into Vietnam [in An Giang Province]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3467, 31.12.2008

  • Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya] Greeted [Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Mr. Hor Namhong by Phone and Plans to Visit Cambodia Officially [but the date of his visit is not yet fixed]

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Dey Krahom Residents Raise Their Last Suggestions, while the Authorities Order Them to Remove Their Houses and to Leave – Tuesday 30.12.2008

Posted on 31 December 2008. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

“Phnom Penh: Dey Krahom residents, who did not leave at the last eviction efforts, demand housing development in place, or monetary compensation according to market prices, in exchange for leaving from the Dey Krahom area in Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh.

“Suggestions were raised a day ahead of the final deadline set by the Chamkar Mon authorities for Dey Krahom community residents, to remove their houses and to resettle in new housing at Damnak Trayueng village, Chaom Chau commune, Dangkao district of Phnom Penh.

“Representatives of Dey Krahom residents as well as other citizens raised two suggestions during a press conference in the evening of 29 December 2008, in exchange for leaving from their dilapidated huts in the Dey Krahom community. Residents want either to be provided with land to develop their residencies close to the present place, or, according to the other suggestion, the residents want a monetary compensation according to the market price of the land, finding an independent land assessing company to define the price of the land.

“Such suggestions from the Dey Krahom residents were made, while the Chamkar Mon authorities issued a final notice to the citizens living at the Dey Krahom community in the Pir and Dab Pram sections of the Tonle Basak commune, to remove their and houses to relocate to a new location, prepared for them by the 7NG Company, at Damnak Trayueng village, Chaom Chau, Dangkao, Phnom Penh. The final notice was signed by the Chamkar Mon governor, Mr. Lo Yuy, on 25 December 2008, stating that new 4-by-10-meter ground-floor houses were built by bricks , and a second floor can be built on top. The authorities said that at present, 1,374 families have changed to the new suburban location in Phnom Penh. There are only 91 families left that have not moved to the new location. The authorities ordered this rest of the residents to remove their houses by 30 December 2008 as a final deadline.

“However, the remaining residents refuse to leave the Dey Krahom community and said that they will struggle with their lives if violence is used to evict them.

“A representative of the Dey Krahom community, Mr. Chan Vichet, said that if the authorities use force to evict the residents from their houses at the Dey Krahom community, the residents will also response by force, in order to protect themselves and their property.

“However, the deputy Phnom Penh governor, Mr. Mann Choeun, who met with representatives of the Dey Krahom community in the morning of 29 December 2008, disagreed with the residents’ suggestions. But he presented other alternatives from the 7NG company representatives: the company and the authorities offer two choices to the Dey Krahom residents. First, to accept a flat in the suburban Dangkao district, plus Riel 770,000 [approx. US$190], 30 kg rice, a carton of noodle, and fish sauce. The second choice offered is that a family would be offered US$10,000 plus Riel 770,000, 30 kg rice, a carton of noodle, and fish sauce [but no housing]. The two choices provided by the company and by the authorities were rejected by the residents, saying that the new location is too far away, and it is difficult for their children’s schooling and for them to earn a living day by day.

“It should be noted that the Phnom Penh municipality signed an agreement, providing the Dey Krahom community land to the 7NG company in 2006. The 7NG company plans to develop this former area of poor people to become an area of housing and modern business buildings.

“However, according to a notice from the Council of Ministers on 8 July 2003, it agreed with the request of the Phnom Penh Municipality for social concession land at the Dey Krahom community, which covered at that time 4.70 hectares with 1,465 families in total, in order to develop housing for poor people. The Council of Ministers had agreed to provide 3.70 hectares as social concession land to develop housing at the Dey Krahom community.

“On the other hand, after receiving the rights from the Phnom Penh municipality, the 7NG company started its development work which has frequently led to disputes with the residents. Some were arrested, and one representative of the Dey Krahom community is still in detention at the Prey Sar Prison, while some of the other people agreed to accept housing constructed for them by the 7NG company.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4781, 30.12.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1833, 30.12.2008

  • A Foundation in the Republic of Korea Provides a Loan of US$120 Million for Four Development Projects in Cambodia [1. Construction of a water cleaning station to develop the Siem Reap river, 2. Improvements for National Roads 31 and 33, the Provincial Road 11, and a detour in Kampot, 3. Development of Daun Tri river water resources and Krang Ponley water resources in Kompong Speu, and 4. Restoration of important bridges along national roads]
  • Siamese [Thai] Troops Invite Khmer Troops to Have a Party on International New Year’s Day at the Border [Preah Vihear]
  • Victim’s Mother Said hat because She Could Not Find Money to Pay Medical Services on Time, Her Son Died in a Government Hospital [her son was hit with an axe on his head by an unidentified person, and when he was sent to the Pursat hospital, doctors did not care for him besides putting him on a intra-venous serum drip, because the victim’s family did not have enough money for any medical payment]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #171, 30.12.2008

  • Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya] Wants to Cooperate to Develop the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia [according to a Thai newspaper, The Nation. Note: Such cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand is also a condition set by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee]
  • International Human Rights Organizations [Human Rights Watch, the International Trade Union Confederation, and the Observatory for Protection of Human Right Defenders] Demand that Cambodia Release Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun [who are imprisoned for 20 years for killing the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea in 2004, while the former King and many people and human rights organizations question the flawed police and court procedures]
  • [Meanchey district governor] Mr. Kuoch Chamroen Asks Motorbike Owners [whose motorbikes were stolen or robbed] to Look for Their Motorbikes after Suppressing Second-Hand Motorbike Shops and Motorbike Pawn Shops [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, # #6538, 30.12.2008

  • The National Assembly Adopts Draft Law to Settle Budget Accounts of 2006 Which Were Late because of a Political Stalemate in 2003 Lasting 11 Months
  • Political Crisis in Thailand: [around 10,000] Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporting ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Block Parliament Meeting and Demand New Elections

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3652, 30.12.2008

    Former Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Nappadon Pattama] Encourages the New Government to Demand Khmer Territory around the Preah Vihear Temple

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4781, 30.12.2008

  • Dey Krahom Residents Raise Their Last Suggestions, while the Authorities Order Them to Remove Their Houses and to Leave
  • Vina Hong Kong Group Is Involved in Cutting Trees on Hundreds of Hectares in Ratanakiri [minority tribespeople, residents of Pa Ar village, Ke Chong commune, Bar Kaev district, sue this company at the provincial court for cutting trees]
  • [Three members of a] Group which Robbed a Bank and Gold Shops in Svay Pak [in Phnom Penh] and in Kompong Cham Arrested
  • The Four Kantha Bopha Hospitals Can Not Operate without US$25 Million Aid per Year [said Dr. Beat Richner, the founder of these children’s hospitals which provide free treatment]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3466, 30.12.2008

  • Workers and Vendors in Poipet Accused [new Poipet immigration police chief] Sao Bunrith to Be the Same as [former immigration police chief] Pich Saran [regarding corruption at the Poipet border crossing point]

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No Need to Wait for a Law on Access to Information: The Press in Cambodia Faces Rejection When Trying to Get Information – Monday, 29.12.2008

Posted on 30 December 2008. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

“Phnom Penh: In an attempt to play a better role as conveyor of messages from citizens to the Royal Government and from the Royal Government to citizens, the Club of Cambodian Journalists held the Fifth Editors’ Forum of Cambodia under the motto ‘Assessments by Editors of the Situation of Access to Information’ in the evening of 27 December 2008 at the Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh, with a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information, Mr. Nov Sovatharo, chairing. This important forum was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation like the previous forums.

“There was an active discussion after four speakers – Mr. Puy Kea, a reporter of the Kyodo News Agency of Japan, Mr. Pen Bona, co-editor of Cambodge Soir, Mr. Net Phatra, representing the Phnom Penh Post, and Mr. Chea Sayna, the editor of Koh Santepheap – expressed their opinions related to easiness and difficulties related to ‘Access to Information and Problems Faced.’ At the end, the editors’ forum decided to release the following joint declaration:

Joint Declaration of the Fifth Editors’ Forum of Cambodia ‘Access to Information without Waiting for a Law about Access to Information’
27 December 2008
Himawari Hotel
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

All of us, 35 people (as seen in the attached list with our signatures [not included here]) editors, publishing both through newspapers and through radio and TV in Cambodia, met during the Fifth Editors’ Forum in Phnom Penh on 27 December 2008 to discuss and to assess the situation of access to information which we face in our professional work during the year, and to find solutions. Under the theme of ‘Access to Information and Different Problems Faced speakers raised problems, expressed views, and provided recommendations related to:

  • The situation of access to information for foreign news agencies in Cambodia
    • Access to information related to the Preah Vihear border disputes
    • Access to information at different provinces countrywide
    • Access to information at central level (in Phnom Penh, at ministries, at private companies)

    Then, the Fifth Editor’s Forum of Cambodia discussed, in general, all points raised in the forum by the speakers and joined to assess the situation of access to information in Cambodia with high responsibility.

    Problems Identified Limiting Access to Information

    After discussions and assessments by the Fifth Editors’ Forum, the following problems are seen:

    1. Spokespersons or Public Relations Officials, or Information Officials: Many ministries and other state institutions, like the National Assembly, the Senate, as well as organizations and companies, do not have spokespersons or public relations officials, or information officials who professionally fulfill these tasks. This becomes a major obstacle against the flow of information for the general public, as guaranteed by the Constitution of 1993.
    2. Provision of Documents: In general, official documents are necessary, to be sure that a report and its information is made correctly, official documents are mostly not confidential documents, official documents have to be published by individual institutions and ministries that have to provide information to the public, and to publish about their own activities…, but often, such documents are not provided or prepared for publication and provided to journalists, not even their annual reports, and reports about the orientation of their work in the new year.
    3. Different Programs, Activities, and Meetings: Meetings that should be open are often declared to be internal and confidential affairs of the institutions, and journalists are asked to leave the meetings. At the same time, the work plans of the leaders of ministries and of other institutions are usually kept locked away in a drawer in the administration’s office, so that it sometimes seems that leaders of ministries are more secretive than the prime minister – and sometimes they do not seem to work.
    4. Announcements of Information: A small number of ministries announce information about some important events. But, regrettably, most ministries and institutions do not announce information, and some information is announced unexpectedly late.
    5. Regular Meetings and Press Conferences: In contrast to what is done in other modern countries, most ministries and institutions do not hold press conference or meet with journalists at all, although there were important and big problems to be explained and published. This makes the public to feel uninformed about the activities and the work of such ministries or institutions.
    6. Websites: Websites are one of the most important sources of information in this era of information technology. Most ministries and institutions have their own websites. This is an encouraging start. However, regrettably, most websites of ministries and of institutions are not kept updated with new information. Therefore, their websites cannot provide information and do not indicate where information can be found.

    Conclusion

    The weaknesses and gaps mentioned above are problems working against the access to information, and therefore the efficiency of different services, especially of public services, is questioned. Nevertheless, these problems can be addressed without waiting for a law about access to information. Corrections can be made through a change of behavior of some officials, and by a reorganization of the working structures at different institutions and ministries. The Royal Government has done a lot of work for people’s wellbeing and for national development, but the above shortages seems to swallow all achievements and accomplishments, when they are not shown to the public: to know, to hear, and to see. In the meantime, some facts in the social and economic life are ignored or are not solved in time, and consequently, everyone is a loser, both the Royal Government and the citizens.

    Appeal in a Situation that a Law about Access to Information Is Not Yet Adopted
    1. The Fifth Editor’s Forum of Cambodia would like to ask all ministries and institutions to appoint information officials or public relations officials, or spokespersons, and to organize their work so that they can work professionally and can fulfill their different tasks, such as to provide documents, to provide data about the work and about their activities, and especially to be able to respond to questions from journalists.
    2. All ministries and institutions should hold press conferences or meet with journalists regularly, to provide information about their activities and about the work of their ministries and institutions, and they must be conducted at least once per month.
    3. In cases of emergency, all ministries and institutions should release timely information for publication for the sake of the public. The publication of timely information can sometimes avoid danger and damage.
    4. All ministries and institutions should create their own websites to provide information to the public. As for some ministries and institutions that already have their own websites, they have to update information on their websites every day when there is new information.
    5. The Fifth Editors’ Forum of Cambodia will observe and assess the provision of information, and the Sixth Editors’ Forum, to be held again in 2009, will promote and strengthen the role of the Cambodian press in Cambodian society and in the international arena.

    Phnom Penh, 27 December 2008”
    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6537, 29.12.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 29 December 2008

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1832, 28-29.12.2008

    • Siem Reap Court Detains Three People, including a Journalist [of Sangkum Khmer], over a Land Dispute in Chi Kraeng District [for using violence against a real estate owner, and for provoking crimes, while residents said that they are arrested unjustly]
    • Pakistan and India Send Troops to their Border, Increasing Tension
    • China Sends Warships to the Gulf of Aden [to help fight Somali pirates]

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #314, 28-30.12.2008

    • Secretary of State of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology Tan Vanthara Appeared at a Gambling Site of the Phnom Penh Hotel
    • [Former military police officer] Chea Ratha Said Something about the Place Where She Is Hiding [she is living in a pagoda in a foreign country], Adding that She Is a Victim Regarding the Acid Attack [on the aunt of Ms. In Soklida, a well-known film star, with whom she had an affair]
    • [Former Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs] Noppadon Pattama Will Raise the Preah Vihear Temple Problem, to Attack [new Prime Minister] Abhisit Vejjajiva [during the meeting of the Thai parliament]

    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #170, 28-29.12.2008

    • Dey Krahom Community Residents Face Eviction on 30 December 2008 [after the Chamkar Mon district office issued the last notice for the rest of 91 families (of 1274 families) at the Building Block area to leave by 30 December 2008]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6537, 29.12.2008

    • No Need to Wait for a Law on Access to Information: The Press in Cambodia Faces Rejection When Trying to Get Information
    • Negotiation with Siam [Thailand] Is Still the Position for Border Issues and It Is the Most Appropriate Choice to Avoid War [said spokesperson of the government and Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith]
    • Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of the ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Start to Surround the Thai Parliament [to prevent the presentation of the policy statement by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva]
    • Israel Attacked Hamas in Gaza Causing Many Deaths [as revenge for Hamas rocket attacks on Israel – at least 271 people were killed and more than 620 others were injured. – Status on 29.12.2008: 1 soldier and 3 civilians were killed in Israel; more that 310 persons were killed in Gaza, and hundreds wounded]
    • More Than 98,000 Civilians Killed in Iraq [since 2003]

    Meatophum, Vol.52, #716, 29-31.12.2008

    • If [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Mr. Hor Namhong Does Not Assign His Son, Whom Should He Assign? [he will appoint his son, Hor Monyrath, to be ambassador in Japan from 2009]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3651, 29.12.2008

    • The Spokesperson of the Government [Mr. Khieu Kanharith] Said that If an Armed Clash Happens along the Khmer-Siamese [Thai] Border, Cambodia Would Need 20,000 Troops
    • Members of the European Parliament Prepare to Sue Yuon [Vietnamese] Airline [for preventing them, Mr. Marco Panella and Mr. Marco Perduca, to board a plane from Cambodia to Vietnam]
    • The Director of the Cambodia Mine Action Authority Was Removed from His Position Related to Corruption [over the collapse of financing for the mine-sniffing dog raising and breeding program – Mr. Sam Sotha was replaced by Mr. Chum Bunrong, an advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen]

    Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1336, 29.12.2008

    • The Public of the [Phnom Penh] City Welcomes that the Authorities Curb Down Illegal Motorbike Pawn Shops [because such places are said to increase robberies in the city – nearly 2,000 motorbikes were found, 70% do not have number plates or tax stickers]


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4780, 28-29.12.2008

    • The Ministry of Interior Starts to Release Money instead of Rice to Police in 2009 [because of quality problems, late delivery, and loss of rice – instead of 1 kilogram of rice Riel 2,800 is paid – approx. US$0.70 – no information given how many kg in total are provided per month]
    • The Setting of Cambodia-Vietnam Border Markers Is Delayed until 2012 [the Cambodian-Vietnamese border of 1,270 km needs to be marked with 370 markers, worth more than US$15 million, and Vietnam is responsible for the whole expenses]

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