Week 602

Can Changing Priorities Change the Law? – Sunday, 8.3.2009

Posted on 13 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 601

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

The life of a society is not like a mechanism which works according to preset laws of physics or chemistry. The different agents in a society – all the people, and some people with special functions – may see different things getting more important, and they change their mind. But not every change of mind can lead to a change of the rules according to which a society works.

Some of such changes are surprising. We take some examples from quite different fields, just to show that a direction was taken, or a result was reached, which had not been expected at all.

On 22 January 2009, General Ke Kim Yan was removed from his position of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander-in-chief by Prime Minister Hun Sen. This had triggered concerns among some generals at military garrisons and at divisions, being afraid that they too might be removed, but Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh had affirmed that there are no such shifts to come -m but they came. Later, on 7 February 2009, we mirrored a report that the Prime Minister had explained that the removal of the commander-in-chief was part of the ongoing military reform. The rumors that there might be more involved showed up in the press on 13 February 2009, claiming that the Prime Minister had ordered to take legal action against Mr. Ke Kim Yan. More detailed information reached the public, when the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported three days later that the government criticized the press for publishing leaked information (without denying its content). According to the minutes, “the Council of Ministers has been informed and commented on the termination of the position of commander-in-chief of HE Ke Kim Yan based on two reasons: First, reforming the RCAF rank and file by adhering to work effectiveness in the military rank and file. Second, involvement with land issues by a top and powerful person in the military rank and file and doing business by using the name of military for personal gain.” The minutes went on to describe a resolution by the Council of Ministers to have both military and government bodies investigate Ke Kim Yan’s land dealings.

And the end? This week came the final clarification: The Prime Minister announced that Mr. Ke Kim Yan will be the 10th Deputy Prime Minister, heading the drug control administration.

The 14th ASEAN Summit was held from 27 February to 1 March 2009, in Hua Hin, Thailand. After the ASEAN Charter had come into force in December 2008, the summit was under the heading ‘ASEAN Charter for ASEAN Peoples,’ to start a new era of ASEAN with people at the heart of cooperation. It had therefore been expected that the summit would focus on human rights, but the global financial crisis moved up to the top of the agenda.

Nevertheless, it had been foreseen because of this orientation of ASEAN – being for the ASEAN people – some people not from the governments, but from civil society, would also have a chance to meet and to discuss with government leaders. But as it was reported, the government representatives of Cambodia and Myanmar threatened rather to boycott this meeting than to discussion the creation of an ASEAN human rights institution with civil society persons. So the persons from Myanmar and from Cambodia withdrew, in order not to be an obstacle to this important discussion.

Even so, by the end of the summit, it had not been possible to find an agreement about the nomination of an ASEAN human rights commissioner, also the creation of the ASEAN human rights organization did not progress well. The plan originally announced was not achieved.

But the final declaration of the summit continues to uphold the vision of ASEAN as “a rules-based community of shared values and norms, a cohesive peaceful, stable and resilient region with shared responsibility for comprehensive security, as well as a dynamic and outward-looking region in an increasingly integrated and interdependent world.”

The confidence, that events and decision will be proceeding according to set rules, is basic for the stable development not only for an international community like ASEAN, but for every society. That is why the events described above are confusing for the public – for “the people” – because the rules according which events proceeded, and the values and norms applied, are not transparent to the public.

Now there is another field where it is not clear how rules-based proceedings – a state of law, as another terms says – were applied in the closure of the gambling chain CamboSix, which was announced by the Prime Minister on 24 February 2009 during a graduation ceremony, explaining the negative social consequences of gambling. But CamboSix had, after all, a license to operate, issued by the competent authorities of the government, valid until the year 2011. Now, about an estimated number of 6,000 to 8,000 workers lost their jobs, and the Minister of Finance was quoted that though the government had issued a license, there are “no particular contract links between both parties.” But the international partial co-owners see this differently: CamboSix, partly owned by foreign companies, claims to have lost more than US$12 million in investments made before the withdrawal of their license, and they will ask for compensation according to the legal protection provided to investors in general.

Raising this question is not giving an endorsement for gambling. But how is the public to understand this action? Just five days prior to this suspensions, the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance Chea Meng Chhieng had stated the 2009 goals of the state to collect a 12.5% tax, to produce more tax income over the 2008 figures: US$20 million, tax income from all kinds of gambling.

As we had reported on 24 February, the Prime Minister had ordered the Ministry of Economy and Finance to observe all hotels that have entertainment clubs and all types of electronic entertainment centers, as they are required to prohibit Khmer citizens to enter for gambling. “If there is any violation of the rules, like permitting Khmer citizens to enter, the Ministry of Economy and Finance must revoke their licenses and immediately stop their operation within 24 hours.”

Police in Phnom Penh, who do not understand the difference between computer based gambling and computer games, have closed also about 20 of the 160 shops hosting the role-playing game Justice X-War 2, though this is a game where the participants do not bet and cannot win any money. Even the Secretary-General of the government’s National Information Technology Development Authority, Dr. Phu Leewood, was quoted in the Cambodia Daily to regret this confusion: “Gambling is betting, while gaming is not. I used to play games a lot when I was at university.” But shops stay closed, and many people who wanted to register for the upcoming game tournament at the Cambodia ICT World Expo, scheduled for 3 to 5 April 2009, do not dare to come forwards, as they are afraid to be mistaken to be gamblers.

So far, there are many reports how the soccer-betting company CamboSix is affected. Is this regulation also be enforced where a hotel has a gambling room with slot machines? According to recent observations, there does not seem to be such checking in force at the Naga Casino – the biggest such establishment in Phnom Penh.

On 4 September 2007, we had mirrored a Khmer newspaper report that a door was opened too late for a Cambodian 4-Star General to enter the casino, so he called four police vans and had three Malaysian Naga Casino foremen handcuffed – followed by a report one day later that $150,000 were spent for the release of these three Malaysian employees of Naga Casino.

On Friday, we carried a headline that the Prime Minister apologized to the public for the late action of closing gambling institutions. There are also reports that there is an understandable wide public support for this action. It might falter again, if the public will see – as in the past – that the enforcement of sudden government decrees, and the enforcement even of laws, continues to be selective.

In spite of the failure of the recent ASEAN summit to nominate an ASEAN human rights commissioner for the ASEAN human rights organization to be created, the vision of ASEAN as “a rules-based community of shared values and norms” remains as a hope that all member countries will make progress, if this vision is upheld, and will be “peaceful, stable and resilient, as well as dynamic and outward-looking” as the final ASEAN summit document says for the whole community.

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Samdech Dekchor: “To See the Problems Faced by Women Is to See the Apparent Conditions of Women” – Saturday, 7.3.2009

Posted on 11 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

“Phnom Penh: The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, drew the attention of the participants in the Women’s Day 8 March celebration, in the morning of 6 March 2009 at the Chaktomuk conference hall, to the different problems faced by women, by looking at the apparent conditions of women.

“Samdech said that when speaking of the investments for women, this does not refer to the small budget of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs [the full website of the Ministry – http://www.mwva.gov.kh – was not available at the time of the writing]. This means that investments in society include, as a part of such investments also a part for the benefit for women, because every achievement, such as most roads, schools, hospitals, and professional training centers provide advantages also for women. But there are other, separate measures and investments for women, such as legal protection and education for women, for which special investments are needed. Investments for women are also investment for the whole society. To say it simply: to help women is to help ourselves.

“Samdech Hun Sen noticed that recently, Cambodian social morality dropped dramatically and needs urgent actions to be restored and improved, where one action taken by the Cambodian government that is welcomed by women is the closure of gambling sites, as this leads to reduce domestic violence. Some other challenging problems for women is that the number of boys receiving education is higher than that of girls at the high school level of education and at the next higher level of education; the rate of girls dropping out from school is still high, many women are illiterate or have limited access to education, women still encounter obstacles in accessing health care, big gaps between the income of women and men still exist, few women participate in politics in the Royal Government or in private institutions. In addition, actions taken to punish sexual abuses, trafficking of women and children, actions against women’s exploitation and domestic violence are still limited.

“Samdech Dekchor considers these problems to be major concerns of the Royal Government and of all of us, which need to be solved in time.

“Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen instructed all relevant ministries to strengthen law enforcement, especially the laws to crack down on human trafficking and sexual exploitation, to prevent domestic violence, and to protect victims. This work needs urgent decisions, because recently, there were rapes together with cruel murders in some provinces and cities, where the relevant ministers and the local authorities must strengthen law enforcement, and they have the obligation to prevent and to eliminate the culture of violence, particularly violence against women and children, more efficiently, in order to implement the policies of the Royal Government, which is committed to protect the rights and benefits of the citizens and to promote their health and that of the whole society.

“During that occasion, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen fully supported the policies, strategies, and programs of the third term Neary Ratanak program of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the strategic plan for gender mainstreaming at all relevant ministries and institutions, to encourage the equal participation of women in politics with potential, effectiveness, equity, and justice.

Note:

The program Neary Ratanak – Women are precious jewels was initiated by Ms. Mu Sochua, while she was Minister of Women’s Affairs (1998-2004), as a program to promote gender equality. An old Cambodian proverb says, “Man are gold; women are a piece of cloth [if it gets stained, it can never be cleaned” – this is to be changed to “Men are gold. Women are precious jewels.”

“The present Minister of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi, presented the Third Neary Ratanak program as a five-year strategic plan, which includes: 1. Strategic plan to enhance women’s confidence to participate in the economy, to promote women to make decisions towards good governance, and to change social attitudes and behaviors, to combat violence against women, to reduce maternal mortality, and to promote the health of girls and women. 2. To monitor and report gender distribution in national policies. 3. To monitor and observe the development of gender indicators to be included in policy processes and in national programs, and in different sectors.

“During this year’s 8 March, the United Nations chose a topic about the equality between women and men, responsible for social work including taking care of those who contracted AIDS [actually, the UN slogan for the International Women’s Day for 2009 is Unite to End Violence against Women]. As for Cambodia, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs decided to choose a different topic: Women Involved in Developing Economy and Society.

Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi added that choosing this topic aims to strengthen the participation of women dedicated in 2009 toward the promotion of women’s involvement in the economy and in social task, where women cooperate actively, a key factor affecting the improvement of living conditions, general well being, the status of women, their roles, and the reduction of all types of discrimination against women, which leads to domestic violence, as well as efforts to change social attitudes, to improve social morality, women’s value, and the Khmer family structure.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4839, 7.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 7 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #133, 7.3.2009

  • The Government Warns It Will Revoke the Operational License of Daily Lotteries If They Are Not Obeying the Law
  • The Prime Minister Suggests to Organize Classical and Traditional Song Contests while Some Television Stations Almost Forgot Them
  • America Warns It Will Shoot Down North Korean Missiles

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #359, 7.3.2009

  • [A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian]: If There Had Not Been Struggles to Fight the Yuon [Vietnamese] Troops Which Had Invaded Cambodia [to topple the Khmer Rouge regime], There Would Not Have Been a Paris Peace Agreement

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1891, 7.3.2009

  • Conference [at the Ministry of Interior]: Police Found That in One Year [2008], There Were More Than 10,000 People Jailed
  • A Customs Official Was Shoot with Many Bullets while He Was Sitting in a Park, Waiting for His Lover [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3705, 7.3.2009

  • The Plan to Abolish the National Congress [by Prime Minister Hun Sen], though It Is Defined in the Constitution, Leads to Criticism that It Is an Act of Elimination of Democracy

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4839, 7.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: “To See the Problems Faced by Women Is to See the Apparent Conditions of Women”
  • Women from Civil Society: Participation of Women in the Society Is Improving
  • Siem Reap Military Police Commander’s Daughter Is Kidnapped during the Day [kidnappers wanted the police to release one of their member who was arrested during the operation, in exchange for the release of the girl – there is no information about money paid]
  • Foreign Investment in Cambodia Is Worth US$11.47 Billion
  • Prison Officials Want Their Salaries to Be Raised and Their Rank Signs to Be Like Those of the Police
  • Thai Investors [from fifteen companies] Seek Markets to Sell Fresh Fruit and Vegetables in Cambodia]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

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More Than 35% of Citizens Use Loans from Microfinance Institutions – Friday, 6.3.2009

Posted on 10 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: Cambodian microfinance officials said that the number of citizens getting loans from microfinance institution in Cambodia belong to over one million families among the more than three million families in the country.

“The director and general manager of the Microfinance Institution Sthapana Limited, Mr. Bun Mony [also a member of the board of the Cambodian Microfinance Association], told journalists at the Hotel Cambodiana on Thursday morning that in 2007, there were 18 microfinance institutions with a total capital of US$271 million, providing small-scale capital for Cambodian citizens. In 2008, capital to lend to citizens rose up to US$437 million, which was an increase by 61%. He added that this growth had increased for several years between 60% and 80%.

“He went on to say that at present, more than one million Cambodian families have received loans from different microfinance institutions – counted in December 2008. Among one million families, he assumes that in every family involved, each one receives capital for family supplies; recent figures shows that there are more than three million families in Cambodia. He continued to say, “According to my own calculations, 35% of Cambodian families gain benefits from microfinance.’

“Regarding the global economic crisis, Mr. Bun Mony said, ‘In 2009, we face a somewhat tense situation when we try to expand our loan programs. We cannot expect to achieve 50% to 60% growth like in previous years, but the expansion will decline to only between 10% to 20%.’ He explained that this problem relates to the sources of capital, because we do not yet have enough capital ourselves, while big countries are facing a crisis. It leads also to a slowdown for our country.

“Mr. Bun Mony explained the extent to which the financial crisis affects loan distributions, saying that this crisis affects every country and it affects also Cambodia. As for the microfinance sector, it is heavily affected, because around 80% of the present capital sources from which loans are received for citizens to develop the economy come from foreign countries. While even economically rich countries have a crisis, we are affected. That means we will face difficulties to seek additional sources of capital to strengthen our microfinance activities.

“He went on to say, ‘The difficulties that we are facing is to find sources of capital. Therefore, we have to do something to maintain the sustainability of capital sources, to support sustainable economic development. We all saw that we must strengthen our management to promote trust from the community of international investors, so that they trust the market in Cambodia.’

“Mr. Bun Mony said also, ‘All are challenged by this tense situation. Not only the citizens, also the microfinance institutions and the providers of capital.’ He added that before the financial crisis, 50 banks came to seek opportunities for investment in Cambodia – that is, they provided us loans, since they trust our microfinance systems: there are only 18 licensed institutions, but we have more than 50 capital providers.

“Mr. Bun Mony described what happened to this sector after Cambodia had new financial regulations [requiring a higher cash retention rate]: ‘After we had this new financial regulation, there was no operator saying that they have loans for us.’

“Regarding what the government did to help this sector, Mr. Bun Mony said that previously, he had asked the government to ease restrictions on the local sources of capital, but the government found it difficult to help us. He added that microfinance institutions are absolutely private sector institutions.

“Relating to aid from the government, he said that he received no response from the government, because he had never raised it to the government.

“The chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Cambodian Microfinance Association, Mr. Huot Eng Tong, said that in the present global financial situation, the microfinance sector is suffering serious impacts. ‘Anyway, I strongly hope that the finance sector will receive support from all sides to encourage microfinance institutions to achieve further development and success.’

“Mr. Huot Eng Tong added that this sector plays a crucial role to develop the country, to help Khmer citizens to create, expand, and improve their economic activities, in agriculture, and in population centers and in rural areas, to offer citizens job opportunities, to alleviate poverty, and to provide cheaper financial resources at rural areas than the bigger private sectors do, the institutions with higher interest rates.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4838, 6.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 6 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #131-132, 5-6.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Apologizes [to the public] for the Late Closure of Gambling
  • Samdech Prime Minister: [former Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander-in-chief] Ke Kim Yan Will Be the 10th Deputy Prime Minister [heading drug control administration]
  • Asian Human Rights Committee [based in Hong Kong]: Cambodia Should Have an Organization’s Law
  • Cambodia Will Create the Position of a Military Attaché at the [Cambodian] Embassy in the United States of America [according the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong]
  • Two Men Raped a 13-Year-Old Girl and Left Her Get Lost in the Forest [police have not yet arrested the two men although there are indications from the victim’s family – Kompong Thom]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1890, 6.3.2009

  • The European Community Announces New Aid to a Food-for-Work Program in Cambodia [worth approx. US$17 million]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6595, 6.3.2009

  • USAID Provides US$21 Million to Promote Economic Growth
  • Preah Vihear Authorities Start Building Steps to the Preah Vihear Temple
  • In the Northeast of Thailand Is Khmer Surin

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4838, 6.3.2009

  • More Than 35% of Citizens Use Loans from Microfinance Institutions
  • The National Assembly Will Restore Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity
  • Two Months in Early 2009: 16 Factories Closed, 11 Factories Opened, and 16 Factories Suspended Their Work
  • The Korean Ambassador [Mr. Shin Hyun-Suk – 신현석, 申 鉉 錫] Said that despite the Global Economic Crisis, Korea Still Helps Cambodia
  • Ten US Private Companies Come to Check Potential for Future Investment in Cambodia
  • A Man Killed His Colleague and Wrote a Note before Escaping [saying that he killed in self defense, and that he will commit suicide – police are seeking him – Phnom Penh]
  • The United States of America Criticizes Israeli Plan to Demolish Many Houses of Palestinian Citizens

Wat Phnom, Vol.16, #8009, 6-8.3.2009

  • [The Director General of the National Police] General Net Savoeun Digs Out Big Criminal Cases Again [it is not mentioned which ones]; Samdech Hun Sen Sets Two Important Strategies to Reform the National Police Institution [1. Reduce crimes to control social security, and 2. Reduce inactivity of police which makes people not to trust police competence]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

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Interview between Koh Santepheap and the Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, Regarding the International Women’s Day 8 March – Thursday, 5.3.2009

Posted on 9 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

“1. What is the meaning of 8 March?

“The International Women’s Day (8 March) is a day that women around the world celebrate to commemorate and welcome achievements obtained after struggling for the equality between men and women. These struggles took place during the 19th century in European countries [and the USA] while women in those countries were oppressed, exploited, and forced to be sex slaves. The United Nations celebrates this day and many counties mark it as a national holiday. As women in all continents, often separated by national borders, different races, and by different religions, cultures, economies, and political systems, gather to celebrate their day of commemoration, they can recall the traditions representing at least nine [reference not given for 90 year] decades of struggles for equality, justice, peace, and development.

Note:

It is remarkable how the present commemoration of this history, with early reference to the political struggle of women – initially women textile workers – for economic, political, and social emancipation of women, lost part of its memory, in some countries even turning into a Women’s Day celebration, where the political history is suppressed and replaced by a vague mixture of Mother’s Day and St Valentine’s Day.

The early history was clearly a history of political struggle [most data from the UN website mentioned above]:

  • 1909 – The Socialist Party of the USA organized the first National Woman’s Day which was observed across the United States on 28 February 1909.
  • 1910 – The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honor the movement for women’s rights and to assist in achieving universal voting rights for women.
  • 1913-1914 – As part of the peace movement around the beginning of World War One, 1914-1918, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on February 1913. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies to protest the war.
  • 1917: Aware of the sufferings of the war, women in Russia protested and organized strikes for “Bread and Peace” on 8 March – the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Four days later, the Russian head of stage, the Czar, abdicated, and the provisional government granted women the right to vote.
  • 1945 – The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men.
  • 1975 – International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day.
  • 1977 – Only then, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace, to be observed on any day of the year by member states, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

Nowadays in Cambodia, the major part of the industrial work force, creating a considerable share of export earnings, are women textile workers. There is ample reason to remember a much earlier section of the social struggles of women. In 1836, the first big strike of women textile workers ever was organized in the USA – and this was in Lowell, Massachusetts. This is now a town of 105,000 people – about 40,000 of them being Cambodian immigrants. Lowell is the second largest “Cambodian” city in the USA, after Long Beach in California.

Are the Cambodian women in the textile industry, fighting for their rights, aware of this historical coincidence? Are the Cambodians in Lowell aware of the historical role of their city of Lowell in the struggle for equal rights for women and men, and of the situation of the women in the textile industry of Cambodia today?

This “Cambodian” US city was the place of the first massive strike of women in the world, The Lowell Mill Girls Go on Strike in 1836, when 1,200 to 1,500 girls walked in procession through the streets, singing their special song:

Oh! isn’t it a pity, such a pretty girl as I –
Should be sent to the factory to pine away and die?
Oh ! I cannot be a slave,
I will not be a slave,
For I’m so fond of liberty
That I cannot be a slave.

The reference to slavery was clearly a reference to their working condition – there is no reference in the records about the history of the International Women’s Day that the political struggles considered or included the situation of prostitution and the related sexual exploitation of women.

“2. How important is 8 March for Cambodian women?

“Cambodia marks the International Women’s Day of 8 March as a national holiday. To women, 8 March is very important. 8 March is the day when many women assemble to express their opinions, address issues, and discuss problems, in order to seek proper solutions. Also, accomplishments by women, and different achievements of work are presented.

“8 March is not the only day concerned with women’s rights, though some opinions refer to it as if it were the only day that women can address exercising their rights. This idea is wrong. Women’s rights are human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 1, ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…’ Thus, women’s rights and human rights have to be implemented every time, throughout the life of human beings. Like women worldwide do it, Cambodian women use 8 March as the day on which women struggle with the government to define the agenda of work and to raise questions about different policies to support the equality between men and women.

“3. Previously, what did you organization, the Open Institute, do, related to 8 March? What programs will the Open Institute organize this year for this day?

“In 2008, we organized discussions through electronic messages like Internet blogs, joint mailing list – like gender@lists.open.org.kh, a discussion forum via electronic messages – about women’s problems and gender awareness. We compiled a report “Observations on Women’s News Published,” it is accessible at http://women.open.org.kh/km/monitoring [only in Khmer], and this was done in cooperation with the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, government institutions, and local non-government organizations to celebrate the International Women’s Day.

“In 2009, the organization defined the topic ‘Women Involved in Developing the Economy and in Social Affairs’ and will organize some activities:

  1. Publish articles related to the International Women’s Day: The Women’s Program will cover news about activities of institutions and of organizations that do women-related work.
  2. Editorial: An editorial will be published focusing on the above topic.
  3. Cooperate with the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, government institutions, and local non-government organizations to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
  4. Discussions via communication refer to the Women’s Web Portal [only in Khmer] from 20 February to 13 March 2009 about the topic ‘Women Involved in Developing the Economy and in Social Affairs’ through Internet blogs, online forums, and joint mailing list, as well the issuing certificates of appreciation for certain participants. For detailed information please go to: http://women.open.org.kh/files/8%20March/Announcement [only in Khmer].
  5. Opinion poll on the Women’s Web Portal: ‘Did Women really involve themselves in developing the economy and in social affairs?’
  6. Sending messages by phone: ‘Promote Women by Using the Web Portal about Women’ http://women.open.org.kh

“4. Besides 8 March, what programs does the Open Institute have to help to promote women’s rights in Cambodian society?

“We organize:

Women’s Forum Meetings: They are conducted with the aim to coordinate discussions about different challenges of women regarding gender issues. The meetings provide opportunities for women to gather, and they promote cooperation among women’s institutions, the government, and relevant institutions, to find solutions for women’s issues, so that women’s conditions improve.

Workshops: Through these workshops, the findings and comments from the women’s forums will be published, and addressed to government institutions, women’s networks and organizations, the media, and the public, in order to look for joint solutions which support and encourage gender equality in Cambodia.

Discussions about communication means on the Women’s Web Portal: to encourage discussions about gender issues in Cambodia through:

  1. a joint Mailing List: gender@lists.open.org.kh [Khmer and English]
  2. blog: http://women.open.org.kh/km/blog [Khmer and English]
  3. online forum: http://women.open.org.kh/km/forum [mostly Khmer]

“These discussions offer opportunities to gender activists, experts in law, rights, and researchers, the media, and individuals, to meet via electronic means and to step up cooperation, and expand the culture of sharing information between institution and institution, and institutions and individuals.

“5. There is one point in the women’s program of the Open Institute focusing on the strengthening of the technological capacity of women in communication, and in information technology, for women. How important is this point?

“At present, technology, communication, and information technology advance dramatically in Cambodia, and news are crucial in strengthening women’s competence. Technology, communication, and information technology can be used for searching, receiving, and publishing news. Most women in the Southeast Asian countries, including Cambodia, are not encouraged to use present technology, communication, and information technology, making them not a major source of news and of knowledge.

“Technology, communication, and information technology are used to empower women, such as the provision of training and the enhancement of women’s competence to the challenges of the labor market. Through technology, communication, and information technology, they can form networks between women and men from community to community, and from person to person, engaging in communication without discriminating borders or between different races. Women can share their knowledge, their work experiences, successes, and problems with men, to prove that women are also involved in development tasks and in social development, and to make men understand more about the achievements and efforts of women, about different requirements between men and women due to their different sex which is defined biologically, and about challenges for women. This sharing contributes to reduce gender stereotypes, and to reduce discrimination against women gradually, so as to reach gender equality in all sectors.

“6. Regarding women’s work, how does the Open Institute cooperate with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and with civil society?

“Women and gender issues are international problems. Therefore, they need to be solved globally with the participation from all institutions and races. Likewise, the Open Institute has to cooperate also with other organizations and institutions to implement this task. Several organization have joined to build up women’s competence, encourage gender equality, bring together analysts and seek solutions for women’s issues, by cooperating with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Open Institute has participated as a member of the gender technical working team organized by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, with the participation by representatives from all ministries, from local and international organizations, and from United Nations Development Fund for Women.

“As a permanent member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women – Cambodia section, which is a network consisting of 70 organizations as members, the Open Institute plays an important role and fulfills important obligations, such as to publish news countrywide about the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In addition, we are also involved in contributing some points to the concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women – Cambodia.

“7. In its strategic and operational plans, what did the Open Institute define as the basis to motivate Cambodian women to join in developing the nation?

“The encouragement of more women to join in developing the nation is a strategic plan of the organization, as stated in the aims of the organization: ‘To promote gender equality by ensuring that all program areas equally benefit women and men.’ Therefore, we have a program Women Empowerment for Social Change, by which we created successful cooperation between organizations working related to women and their rights, through the provision of information about rights, the provision of training about technology, and about communication and information technology. These things are to help build up capacity and skills for women, help women’s work become more efficient and more challenging in the labor market.

“In the meantime, we organize women’s forums which are held every two months, so that women from different institutions and with different skills meet each other to discuss issues and find out joint solutions for their issues. We organize also workshops to produce publications addressed to the public and to relevant institutions about the results of discussions during the forums, such as different findings and comments provided during the discussions, in order to look for different policies supporting the equality between men and women. When women earn support and have sufficient capacity, women will be confident and dedicate themselves more to the development of the economy and of the society.

“8. Based on your point of view, what are major challenges and obstacles against the promotion of women’s rights in Cambodian society?

“The major obstacle against the promotion of women’s rights is a general opinion in society toward women, and the context of a (Khmer) social structure with men as controllers, which values men more than women, and even though we have the Constitution and different laws protecting women’s rights, and the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government, which sets the strategic goal to encourage gender equality, there are many other obstacles, such as the weak implementation of laws.

Note:

The Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government, a basic policy paper presented by the Prime Minster in 2004, refers to GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT under 2.5 Other Cross-Cutting Programs, subsection 6. GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT.

“Especially, Prime Minister Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen also called on all institutions of the ministries for gender mainstreaming in all policies and programs. Thus, we see that by law, Khmer women are protected and valued. But the practical implementation is not what the law states.

“In Cambodian social structures, men lead almost all sectors, including the family. Most men are breadwinners and are considered to be the head of the family. Therefore, all decisions are mostly made by men. Because of this culture and society, women are not encouraged to go to school or to continue their education to higher levels, and are seldom offered opportunities for training like men. This leads most women to have lower education than men, and it hinders women to hold high positions.

“Hence, at the workplace, it is seen that most work is organized and decided by men, and most men are in dominating positions; as for women, they do lower class work, which leads to the situation that up to 70% of the total labor force are women. Though Khmer women have been eligible to vote and to stand as candidates in elections since 1955, the number of women involved in politics and in leadership positions is still limited. Women hold only about 14% of seats resulting from elections; and only 7% of women lead any institutions of the ministries. This reflects the imbalance of power between men and women. Furthermore, for society to acknowledge women’s achievements, women have to do twice of the men’s work at the workplace or in society; women and women’s work are not valued, and women’s leadership is not trusted. This factor makes women reluctant, and to have less self-confidence.

“9. Are there solutions for those challenges or obstacles?

“We must have solution as a strategy and as a system, so that women can fully gain the benefits from laws and policies of the government, which contribute to change women’s conditions in Cambodia. To promote women’s rights, to encourage gender equality, and to encourage more participation by women in economy, politics, and society, the government – by cooperating with different partnership organizations and non-government organizations – must have, and strictly implement, the following policies:

  • Apply gender mainstreaming in all policies at national and sub-national levels
  • Strictly enforce different treaties and international covenants, for which Cambodia is also a signatory country, that are the basis to protect women’s rights
  • Provide opportunities for women to more regularly take part in discussions about drafts of different policies, about the division and management of resources, about projects in the national budget, and in different processes of decision making
  • Create systems for jobs and implement actual methods to encourage equal opportunities for men and women, and to encourage the provision of skills for women to work in enterprises by connecting different markets
  • Encourage insurance policies for safety at work, and establish a legal system which results in better salaries for women
    Encourage policies to fully empower women
  • Encourage girls to learn as much as possible and to study with the same high goals as boys. Doing so helps also to cut down migration, exploitation, and sexual slavery.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6593 on 4.3.2009, and #6594, on 5.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 5 March 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1889, 5.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: If the Cambodian People’s Party Loses the Elections, Thousands of Development Projects Might Be Halted
  • Owners of Micro-Finance Institutions Dismiss Sam Rainsy Party’s Parliamentarian [who had suggested to suspend or delay confiscating houses and land of farmers, while prices of agricultural products drop dramatically – they said that if they did, their institutions would not have money to repay foreign countries, and they claimed that 99% of citizens who had asked for loans can repay their debt]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.357, 5.3.2009

  • A Successor to Replace Mr. Yash Ghai [the former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia], a Former Challenger of Strong Man Hun Sen, Is Found [Professor Surya Prasad Subedi, Nepali, is assigned as the new Special Representative in Cambodia]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6594, 5.3.2009

  • Interview between Koh Santepheap and the Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, Regarding the International Women’s Day 8 March
  • Four Political Parties [the Cambodian People’s Party, the Sam Rainsy Party, Funcinpec, and the Norodom Ranariddh Party] Register on the Election List [to join district and provincial/city elections planed to be held on 17 May 2009]
  • The Authorities Crack Down on Internet Shops [running online video games] Which Addict Students
  • Australian Embassy Provides 15,000 Australian Dollars to the Special Olympics in Cambodia

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3703, 5.3.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Leaves to Tell the Inter-Parliamentary Union that the Khmer National Assembly Does Not Obey the Law and the Constitution [since it has not restored his immunity although he had paid a fine to the National Election Committee that had already withdrawn the complaint against him]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4837, 5.3.2009

  • Prime Minister Initiates to Eliminate the National Congress from the Constitution
  • Note:
    The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia established an annual event, which was never held.

    THE NATIONAL CONGRESS

    Article 147:

    The National Congress shall enable the people to be directly informed on various matters of national interests and to raise issues and requests for the State authority to solve.

    Khmer citizens of both sexes shall have the right to participate in the National Congress.

    Article 148:

    The National Congress shall meet once a year in early December at the convocation of the Prime Minister.
    It shall proceed under the chairmanship of the King.

    Article 149

    The National Congress adopts recommendations to the Senate, the National Assembly, and to the Executive branch for reflection.
    The organization and operation of the National Congress shall be determined by law.

  • Because a Factory Owner Has Not Released Salaries for Five Months, Workers Ask for Help from Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen] and from Her Excellency [Bun Rany Hun Sen – Kandal]
  • Cambodian Prime Minister Asks ASEAN to Play an Important Role in Bilateral Disputes in the Region
  • Banks in Cambodia Have Total Worth of More Than US$4 Billion

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Co-Judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Release Search Warrant after Confidential Information Leaked – Wednesday, 4.3.2009

Posted on 5 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

“The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia – ECCC – released an announcement yesterday, 3 March 2009, about a violation of the confidentiality of investigations, after there was information about confidential documents published by defense lawyers on their website.

“The announcement said that responding to clear and repeated violations against the instruction of the co-investigating judges, the co-investigating judges ordered defense lawyers to stop immediately their publication of documents related to investigations, except for documents that had been published already on the website of the ECCC, and take off those documents from the website of the defense lawyers, otherwise they will be punished for a new offense.

“In the meantime, the co-investigating judges sent copies of the documents of the warrant to the Professional Unit, which relates also to the Defense Protection Unit, to consider measures to be implemented.

“The announcement added that this decision was made based on Regulation 56.1 of the internal regulations of the ECCC, which states, ‘To protect all sides’ rights and interests, investigations must not be made public. All individuals taking part in investigations have to keep confidentiality.’ This regulation must by applied to all individuals joining investigations, especially to lawyers of all sides, and to all types of evidence. The internal Regulation (56.1) adds that only co-investigating judges have the authority to decide to publish information regarding investigations being conducted, or permit any media or any third parties to receive information about investigations.

“In the case that they do not abide by the different conditions defined by judges, Regulations 35 to 38 will be implemented. The co-investigating judges would like to explain the different reasons leading to this decision.

“Before there are public hearings, all procedures of the court always start with short or long investigations, depending on the extent of work. The confidential characteristic of this stage is crucial for the quality of the court process, especially to guarantee the protection of privacy of individuals, whose names are included in case documents, and to guarantee the presumption of innocence, and also the investigative efficiency.

“Co-investigating judges know that the stages of confidential investigations will not allow observers outside of the court to know much of the the process of that procedure. Thus, co-investigating judges try to limit the duration of investigations to make them as short as possible. The co-investigating judges recalled that in Duch’s case, the duration of the investigation was less than one year (the concluding warrant, sending the case for a hearing, with detailed clarifications about the different accusations, was published on 8 August 2008), which cannot be considered to be too long, looking at the complexities of the case. Likewise, the co-investigating judges try as much as possible to work speedily, so that the present investigation of a second case will proceed without delay.

“In order to promote public awareness as much as possible, the co-investigation judges reminded the public that every month, they produce bulletins, briefly describing the activities of different units of the ECCC . In addition, to guarantee the efficiency of all policies above, the co-investigating judges will make more publications than before about their different activities and publish more documents related to the investigations.

“The co-investigating judges would like to remind the public that though all decisions of the court might be opposed by appeals complaints, the respect for decisions has to be upheld.” Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #30, 4.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1382, 4-5.3.2009

  • An American Man Was Found Dead on the Floor [in his house – police concluded his head was hit, but they do not know whether he hit himself or someone hit him – Phnom Penh]

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #30, 4.3.2009

  • Co-Judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Release Search Warrant after Confidential Information Leaked
  • Civil Society Wants that ASEAN Human Rights Committee Has Power
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua Asks Micro-Finance Institutions to Suspend or Delay Seizing Houses and Land of Farmers [while they cannot pay interest to those institutions regularly, because they are affected by the dropping prices of agricultural products]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #130, 4.3.2009

  • [The former commander-in-chief] General Ke Kim Yan Will Become a Deputy Prime Minister
  • It Was Discovered That Electricity Was Stolen at the Residence of His Excellency Oknha Sat Nary [by setting the electricity meters to run slowly; it is estimated that the state lost approx. US$250 per month, but the authorities have not accused anybody]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1887, 3.3.2009

  • Those Who Earn Their Living by Transporting Tourists and the Boat Tourism Association Demonstrate against the Sou Ching Company [which sells tickets to tourists, and after tourists buy tickets from them, they will not allow them to visit the Tonle Sap Lake]
  • Sweden Promises to Support Cambodia [in development and in other sectors – according to the visiting secretary-general of the Swedish Parliament, Mr. Anders Forseberge]
  • The Thai Government Admits that to Arrest [ousted prime minister] Thaksin and Bring Him Back to the Country Is Difficult

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #356, 4.3.2009

  • Kompong Som Residents Were Surprised Seeing Thousands of Body Guards Protecting the Prime Minister and His Family while Swimming at the Sea [on 13 and 14 February 2009]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6593, 4.3.2009

  • Five Civil Society Organizations [the Human Rights and Complaints Reception Committees, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, the NGO Forum, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union and CEDAW] Published a Statement about the ASEAN Human Rights: “Wanting to See This Committee to Have Full Power”

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1418, 4.3.2009

  • The Elimination of Some Obligations for Foreigners to Buy Tickets to Visit the Visit Angkor Region Is Welcomed [before foreign tourists were required to buy three follow-up day tickets by which they had to visit three fixed follow-up days, but now they can choose any three days among the week and as for those who buy one week tickets, they can choose any week of the month]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4836, 4.3.2009

  • US Ambassador for ASEAN Praises the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [Scot Marciel, Ambassador to ASEAN and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs]
  • 77 Enterprises Are Accused at the Court for Not Respecting the Labor Law [by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and 201 enterprises were fined]
  • Cambodia Prepares to Transport 25 Tonnes of Battery Wastes to Belgium
  • Goods Crossing the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port Drops by 40% during the Global Financial Crisis
  • Rebels Killed Guinea Bissau President
  • Donor Countries Promise to Provide US$5 Billion to Gaza [Saudi Arabia provides US$1 billion, the United State of America US$900 million, and the European Union US$436 million]

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Construction Bidders: US$17 Million to Construct Health Buildings Is Stalled because of Foreign Advisors – Tuesday 3.2.2009

Posted on 3 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

“Phnom Penh: A US$17 million loan from the World Bank to build referral hospitals at provinces as well as many health centers and posts has been stalled for two years, because of a lack of management competency of foreign advisors from LBG [unclear what LBG stands for in the original – maybe the quantity surveyor company LBG-NGT Corporation from Tuas/Singapore – but maybe not]. This was stated by construction bidders who attended biddings to implement this project.

“Construction bidders criticized that for two years, there has been no construction, but there were one or two biddings. Because of this slowness, the construction of up to 10 referral hospitals and many health centers and posts in most provinces, worth more than US$10 million, has been stalled until now.

“The same source added that though recruitment for the construction project was transferred to IPA [unclear what IPA stands for in the original – maybe the recruitment company Independence Procurement Agency – but maybe not] by the Ministry of Economy and Finance recently, this project still faces the possibility of failure. It is said that the trouble originates from the LBG advisors .

“The source blamed that the technical advisors of LBG are incompetent to do the managing, and furthermore, in the plans, there are no calculations based on standard formulas and on proper construction standards. This is a major obstacle for the construction bidders, and even though many companies had protested against the mistakes of the LBG technical advisors, there was no action taken by the Healthcare Services Specification Project of the Ministry of Health.

“According to the bidders, the project was put for bidding again for a second time at the end of 2008, but still there were not many bidders attending. There will be a third bidding, and this may be continue forever.

“Bidders know well that even if one or two more biddings are held, there still will be no bidders.

“Moreover, the rushed delivering of contracts for two projects, the Kampot and the Stung Treng referral hospitals, worth more than US$2 million, in mid February 2009 by IPA, leads to a loss of tens of thousands of dollars, because the price of the bidding for this project was 60% to 80% higher compared to the formerly calculated price.

“The source went on to say that the construction processes at most places have been stalled for years, which makes the expenses for technical advisors to increase by more than 20%, which is most highly problematic. Bidders criticized this and also requested that leaders of the Ministry of Health should check the contracts between the ministry and LBG advisors urgently. At the same time, they have to recheck the management system at the secretariat supporting the heath sector.

“Bidders still remember Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s former words, saying that substantial expenses for foreign advisor services were right. Bidders emphasize that this is not acceptable. Everyone knows that better health services in rural areas are desperately needed by citizens almost everywhere, and also in this priority sector of the Royal Government, which is to be strengthened. Thus, the above source calls on the Ministry of Health to thoroughly check and take action against any negative points, or any individual who wastes a lot of national resources, because all money to support the health sector comes from all Cambodian citizens who will have to repay the loan to the World Bank in the future.

“Regarding what is mentioned above, Rasmei Kampuchea tried to contact the secretariat of the Ministry of Health, and LBG, for explanations, but could not reach them.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4835, 3.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #29, 3.3.2009

  • Co-Lawyers of [former Khmer Rouge leader] Nuon Chea Ask the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to Question [former King] Samdech Sihanouk, [Prime Minister and Vice-President of the Cambodian People’s Party – CPP] Hun Sen, [President of the Senate and President of the CPP] Chea Sim and [President of the National Assembly and Honorary President of the CPP] Heng Samrin [because they were former leaders with high positions in the Khmer Rouge regime]
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Seeks Intervention by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to Restore His Immunity

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #129, 3.3.2009

  • Thailand Provides Baht 1.4 Billion Loan [approx. US$39 million] to Cambodia to Construct Road 68 from Ou Smach [in Oddar Meanchey] to Siem Reap
  • In 2010, Cambodia Will Host Military Exercises between ASEAN and the United States of America [according commander-in-chief Pol Sarouen]
  • Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Praises [anti-government] Red-Shirt Demonstrators for Not Causing Violence [during the ASEAN summit]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1887, 3.3.2009

  • Former Khmer Rouge Fist Lady [Ieng Thirith] Puts All Blame on Nuon Chea [during a hearing on 24 February 2009]
  • Troops at the Preah Vihear Region Face Serious Shortage of Water [because water in ponds or from a waterfall dry out]

Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #353, 3.3.2009

  • Bilateral Talks about Khmer-Siamese [Thai] Border Disputes Will Be Held in April 2009; Khmer Troops Arrested a Thai Soldier with a Mine in Khmer Territory Who Planned to Plant a Mine Near [Khmer] Barracks [Anlong Veng, Oddar Meanchey]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6592, 3.3.2009

  • Problems Faced by the City: Crimes, Sexual Problems, Traffic, Orders, Land Disputes, Flooding, and Public Services
  • Because Repeatedly Being Asked for Land, an Old Man Could Not Bare It and Took a Machete to Behead His Son [he was arrested, Kompong Cham]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4835, 3.3.2009

  • Bidding Constructers: US$17 Million Plan to Construct Health Buildings Is Stalled by Foreign Advisors
  • Cambodian Government Seeks Solutions [with Thailand] so that Khmer Agricultural Products Can Be Exported to Thai Markets
  • The Ministry of Meteorology and Water Resources Forecasts that This Year Cambodia Might Have a Drought

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Meeting between Samdech Hun Sen and Mr. Abhisit in Hua Hin – Monday, 2.3.2009

Posted on 3 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

“On Friday evening, 27 February 2009, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, and the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, met outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN – Summit at the Cha Am coast of Hua Hin in Thailand, and both sides agreed to fully support the Joint Border Committee to try to mark the border.

The Nation reported that the Cambodian-Thai border committee has achieved only very small progress early February to find border solutions near the Preah Vihear Temple. Both sides had a disagreement about the demand by Thailand to use the word Phra Viharn [in Thai] and the word Preah Vihear [in Khmer].

“Mr. Abhisit told journalists after his meeting with Samdech Hun Sen, ‘Actually, there are some disagreements, but we have a mechanism to handle this work which will lead to important results.’ He added, ‘We will not let such disagreements block other cooperation.’

“Besides land border disputes, the prime ministers of both countries discussed cooperation at the sea-border overlapping zones, where both countries claim the same areas as belonging to their respective integral regions, where it is believed that abundant oil and natural gas resources are situated. Mr. Abhisit said also that both countries will seek joint development projects on energy at those overlapping zones.

“Reuters news agency reported that both countries agreed to organize a technical expert group to fulfill the task to mark the border at zones rich of oil and gas. Mr. Abhisit told reporters, ‘Our mutual understanding recently progressed much, and we are looking for possibilities to begin cooperation on energy. ‘

“Cambodia has a 37,000 km2 zone to be explored, and another 27,000 km2 are regions disputed with Thailand, known as an overlapping zone.

“Prime Minister Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen used to say early in February that the Cambodian government is organizing projects to exploit oil and gas in the sea in 2010. A big US oil company, Chevron, is exploring oil in the Cambodian sea.

“It should be noted that border disputes between Cambodian and Thailand led to clashes in mid 2008, when Thailand deployed troops in the Preah Vihear region, after the Preah Vihear Temple was listed as a world heritage site. This dispute led to a small battle at the Preah Vihear region, while in October, both sides agreed to raise this problem at negotiations.

“During the meeting between both prime ministers, both countries agreed to continue cooperation to develop infrastructure and the Emerald Triangle Project, which is a region where the Cambodian, Thai, and Laotian borders meet.


The ASEAN Summit Started

“Leaders of the 10 member countries of ASEAN attended the opening of the 14th ASEAN Summit at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Cha Am, a coastal town in Phetchaburi Province.

“The Bangkok Post reported that the inauguration of the ASEAN summit started, with Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva as the president of ASEAN, calling for all ASEAN leaders to cooperate to help the region to overcome the economic crisis.

“An ASEAN anthem with the title ‘ASEAN Way’ was played, starting the occasion. That anthem was written by Thai musicians.


Cambodia and Burma Boycott ASEAN Human Rights Discussion

“Cambodia and Burma threatened to boycott joining the discussion with civil society organizations yesterday Sunday, a discussion to create an ASEAN human rights institution.

“The Bangkok Post went on to say that the effort to establish an ASEAN human rights organization started to become difficult on Saturday morning, when Cambodia and Burma prevented civil society organizations’ representatives from Cambodia and from Burma to take part in the discussions with ASEAN leaders.

“The decisions of Cambodia and of Burma were directed against civil society representatives from Cambodia, Pen Somony, and from Burma, Khin Omar, not to attend the discussion.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen not only rejected civil society representative Pen Somony, but he also said that the candidate chosen to attend the human rights discussion was just a person from a political league.

“Laos and Vietnam expressed the same idea as Cambodia and Burma, because leaders of both countries did not want to discuss with civil society representatives that are not close to the government.

“On Friday, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and senior human rights officials of ASEAN did not agree about the nomination of an ASEAN human rights commissioner. It is not yet known whether the ASEAN human rights organization can be formed or not.


ASEAN Signs Free Trade Deal with Australia an New Zealand

“All ministers of economy of ASEAN signed a free trade deal with Australia and New Zealand. The 10 members of the ASEAN countries signed the deal on the first day of the summit in Thailand, which suffers from the economic slowdown.

“It is expected that this whole deal can support the economy of ASEAN with up to US$48 billion by 2020, but little will be achieved to help solve the present crisis. Negotiations to create a 12-country free trade zone began in 2004.

“The new deal means that the ASEAN block has encouraged free trade relations with the economies of all of its important neighboring countries. Earlier on, ASEAN had signed similar deals with China, Japan, and South Korea.

“Also, ASEAN plans to organize a unified market by 2015, with the intention to compete with India and China.

“The Minister of Trade of Australia, Mr. Simon Crean, said that this deal is an essential event to join the economies of the countries of the region. The New Zealand Minister of Trade, Mr. Tim Grosser, said that it was a huge deal and also a politically necessary deal.

“Mr. Grosser went on to say, ‘Formerly we had considered Southeast Asia to be a source of threat, instability, and a hazard. Changing this view, an agreement was signed, considering Southeast Asian countries as a huge economic opportunity. This is a very welcome change within 30 years.’

“The summit in Cha Am, a resort in Thailand, witnessed two agreements of ASEAN being concluded: one on commerce, and one on investments. The member countries of ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“The 14th ASEAN Summit was to focus on human rights, but the global financial crisis took the top of the agenda this year.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1886, 1-2.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 2 March 2009

Bakong, Vol.10, #255, 2-3.3.2009

  • Cambodia Obtains Little Aid from Canada [Canadian officials said that Canada will narrow its bilateral aid focusing on 20 countries and Cambodia will not be included]

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #28, 2.3.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Demands that the National Assembly Restore His Immunity [after he paid a fine to the National Election Committee]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #128, 1-2.3.2009

  • [Former Khmer Rouge leader] Ieng Thirith Cursed Those Who Accused Her of Killing People to Fall into the Seventh Level Hell
  • Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior Asks Prison Administrators to Respect Human Rights Policies of Prisoners
  • Police Do Not Take Action Against a Policeman Who Raped a 13-Year-Old Girl when Her Mother Filed a Complaint [Kompong Thom]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1886, 1-2.3.2009

  • Meeting between Samdech Hun Sen and Mr. Abhisit in Hua Hin
  • Egypt Asks to Establish School of Navigation in Cambodia and a Honorary Consulate [so that Cambodians gain skills and have the possibility to go to work in Egypt]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #355, 1-3.3.2009

  • The International Community Still Encourages the Hun Sen Government Not to Use Any Pretext to Delay Adopting an Anti-Corruption Law

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6591, 2.3.2009

  • Thailand Announced Not to Charge Visa Fees from Tourists while Eight ASEAN Countries Had Already Abolished It

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4834, 2.3.2009

  • Heads of Governments of Cambodia and of Thailand Agree to Solve Border Disputes through the Memorandum of Understanding from 2000
  • The British Ambassador [Mr. Andrew Mace]: The Government Has to Create a Social Safety Network [so that all can live happily in the society]
  • Five AK-47 Rifles Are Used [by eight robbers] to Shoot at Gold Sellers and Kill One [police have not identified the robbers – Koh Thom, Kandal]
  • The Number of Khmer Vendors in the Thai Rung Kloeu Market Declined by 50% [after Poipet or the Ou Chrov district was changed to be Poipet City: according to Thai Rak Thai]

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