Week 604

The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association Reacts against Hun Sen’s Announcement that There Is No Money to Increase the Salaries of Teachers- Saturday, 21.3.2009

Posted on 23 March 2009. Filed under: Week 604 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 604

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.
But I am now starting my return trip to Cambodia. According to schedule, I should be working again from Phonom Penh on Monday – first catching up with the delays, and then working again regularly.

Norbert Klein

“The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association strongly criticized Prime Minister Hun Sen Friday, 20 March 2009, after the Khmer Prime Minister announced during a convention to consider the Ministry of Education’s task, that he cannot increase salaries for teachers even though he wants to do so.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen, voted into office in a package vote, announced during the closure of the convention, ‘I would like to tell all of those who are responsible for tasks of supervision, that I do want to increase the teachers’ salaries, but our national budget is limited. Thus, we cannot increase the salaries of teachers beyond what they are now.

“Hun Sen, who rules the country with fear that his power is overthrown, said irresponsibly, ‘Where can we find money to increase teachers’ salaries? Moreover, now, that the global economy is declining and citizens who had earned much income before lose their income.’ He added that when the salaries of teachers or of civil servants are increased, they must be increased in a stable way.

“Reacting to the announcement of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, said that if Prime Minister Hun Sen has the intention to increase teachers’ salaries, there will be no problem for the current government to do so. Mr. Rong Chhun believes that teachers’ salaries should be increased to between Riel 800,000 and Riel 1,000,000, corresponding to between US$200 and US$250, so that it is in line with their appropriate living standard.

“Mr. Rong Chhun added, ‘I think that the government has enough money to increase the teachers’ salaries, and it is possible if the Prime Minister wants to do it in order to improve the teachers’ daily livelihood.’ Mr. Rong Chhun went on to say that money to increase the salaries for teachers might be taken from taxation and from the elimination of corruption, and the simplest way is to stop spending money wastefully on delegations who always accompany Prime Minister to attend different forums.

“Mr. Rong Chhun continued to say, ‘As I know, a delegation member receives Riel 2,000,000 [approx. US$500] and additional expenses for gasoline when they accompany the prime minister to inaugurate different achievements, and for other missions. He said that there are more than 100,000 teachers in Cambodia nowadays, and 93% of them have another job besides teaching to seek additional income to support the family economy.

“According to the president of the Cambodian Teachers’ Association, at present, primary school teachers receive Riel 100,000 per month [approx. US$25] which is less than that of lower secondary school teachers who receive Riel 200,000 per month [approx. US$50] and high school teachers who receive Riel 250,000 [approx US$65] per month.

“According to a new report of the Education Partnership, 99% of teachers said that teachers’ salaries alone are not enough for them to live. The report stated that the budget of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport for 2008 is twice more than that in 2000 – US$508,865,000 in 2008 compared to US$209,246,000 in 2000.

“In the same period, the initial salary of a [new] teacher has increased from US$20 to US$30 since 1999.

“The report said that at present, this amount of salaries cannot cover the daily needs of teachers, and teachers have no choice, besides trying to seek additional income by dong different jobs besides teaching.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh and the spokesperson of the party, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that if the Hun Sen government can prevent corruption, Hun Sen will not lack money to increase the salaries for teachers and for civil servants.

“Mr. Yim Sovann added that every year, millions of dollars from taxes are lost. Therefore, if Hun Sen could eliminate corruption in taxation, there will be no shortage of money to increase the salaries for teachers and for civil servants, such as police and soldiers.

“It should be noted that on 13 March 2009, the president of the biggest opposition party in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, wrote a letter to ask the prime minister to clarify the efficiency of law enforcement about finances in the national budget management for 2009.

“In that request, Mr. Sam Rainsy and opposition party parliamentarians said that in 2008, the taxation and the Water Supply Department collected about 60% of the total tax income which was high in the region. But in 2009, the Taxation and Water Supply Department requires that around US$585 million from tax is to be collected, which is an impossible amount due to the economic downturn which happened for two months in the early part of this year. Tax income is only US$64 million, compared to the same period in 2008 when it was US$86 million.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3717, 21-22.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 21 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #145, 21.3.2009

  • Child Sex Trafficking: Cambodia Is Ranked among Four Countries in Asia [the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand which are countries with an increasing number of child sex trafficking]
  • The World Bank Promises to Provide US$50 Million for Climate Change Projects in Cambodia
  • Vietnam Plans to Invest in Planting Rubber Trees in Cambodia and Laos [100,000 hectares in Cambodia and 100,000 hectares in Laos] while the Price of Rubber Declines [one tonne of raw rubber costs now more than US$1,200 in Cambodia]
  • The United States of America Affirms Not to Support the Independence of Tibet

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1903, 21.3.2009

  • Japan Provides US$200,000 to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Those Who Did Bad Deeds Receive Bad Deeds; Two Men Who Raped and Killed Two Little Girls [and hung their bodies on a tree] Were Handcuffed at Last [Pursat]
  • Millions of French Employees Demonstrate against the President [Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, demanding salary increases and work protection, while the economy declines]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #369, 21.3.2009

  • 12 Years Ago, there Was a Grenade Attack in Front of the National Assembly on Non-Violent Demonstrators [which killed about 20 people and inured more than 100]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6608, 21-22.3.2009

  • Sand Has Good Price to Be Sold to Singapore and Merchants Are Happy to Dredge It for Sale, while There Are Concerns of Landslides and about Natural Resources [Sihanoukville]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3717, 21-22.3.2009

  • The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association Reacts against Hun Sen’s Announcement that There Is No Money to Increase the Salaries of Teachers

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4841, 21.3.2009

  • Thai Parliament Members [from the Puea Thai Party] Demand Its Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Revoke the Word Calling Samdech Dekchor “Gangster”
  • A Man and His Adult Daughter Were Rolled over [by a truck] and Died Immediately [the truck driver escaped – Phnom Penh]
  • A Young Man Killed His Father to Help His Mother [when the man hit his wife with a stick to claim money from her, the son took another stick and hit his father to death, and then escaped – Kompong Speu]

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The Government Has to Check the Operation of the Naga Casino – Friday, 20.3.2009

Posted on 23 March 2009. Filed under: Week 604 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 604

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.
But I am now starting my return trip to Cambodia. According to schedule, I should be working again from Phonom Penh on Monday – first catching up with the delays, and then working again regularly.

Norbert Klein

“The president of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections – COMFREL – Mr. Kol Panha, told Kampuchea Thmey in the evening of 19 March 2009 that the government has to check the operation of the Naga Casino, and it has to fine it for an illegal operation. As he knows, it is only allowed that foreigners go in, and Khmer citizens are not allowed to gamble there. If the Naga Casino now dares to offer football betting, it is against the law, because the government has just closed all kinds of gambling sites, especially the football betting of the CamboSix Company, and all types of slot machine games.

“Mr. Kol Panha added, however, that the Royal Government should check the conditions of legally opening casinos in Phnom Penh, because – whether one agrees or not – there is criticism, when Khmer citizens are found to be allowed to enter those casinos, as it is not possible to prevent Khmer citizens from entering to gamble, because some powerful people like gambling, and [at present] they can exercise their authority to enter to gamble.

“Mr. Kol Panha added that another point that is considered to be inappropriate is, that the Naga Casino is facing a park made for the citizens of Phnom Penh, and it is near the Buddhist Institute, which is a place to provide religious education, and it is also close to the National Assembly, which is a place where laws are created which have to be implemented.

“Previously, the government allowed casinos to open along the borders, to attract foreign tourists – and Khmer citizens are barred to enter to gamble in those casinos, because they are for foreign tourists only. That is why many casinos are opened along the Thai and Vietnamese borders, while in Phnom Penh, there is only one casino, the Naga Casino, which the government has to monitor.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, told Rasmei Kampuchea that recently, he received information that football betting was added to the offers of the Naga Casino, after the Royal Government had closed all football betting sites. But the information that he got is not yet final, and he is observing this case. If this information is true, he will write to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, to have this operation of the Naga Casino brought under control.

“Mr. Son Chhay emphasized that if the Naga Casino continues to run football betting secretly, after the Royal Government closed football betting, the Royal Government has to take action or punish this illegal operation.

“Mr. Son Chhay said that what the Ministry of Economy and Finance as well as the Royal Government must do urgently, is to create a clear legal situation to control gambling, in order to avoid fraudulent operations, which lead to a loss of state income. He added that he will write to the Ministry of Economy and Finance immediately to investigate the Naga Casino, to clarify whether it runs football betting secretly or not, because the CamboSix company was completely closed already, and the Naga Casino cannot run football betting. What is to be considered is that the Naga Casino has the permission to operate gambling which does not include football betting. Therefore, if the Naga Casino runs football betting, it is illegal and the Royal Government should do something.

“It should be noted that recently, after the Royal Government had decided to completely close down the CamboSix company and other gambling sites, it is heard that the Naga Casino secretly issues football betting forms to its customers, and this could lead to citizens secretly engage in football betting, and it leads to criticism that the government closes the small ones and keeps a big one.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1902, 20.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 20 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #144, 20.3.2009

  • China Sends Experts to Assist in the Health Sector in Cambodia
  • Two US Journalists Are Arrested in North Korea, Creating More Tensions

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #368, 20.3.2009

  • The Ministry of Defense Sells the Air Force Headquarters [along the Russian Boulevard on the way to the airport, to a private company and will relocate to new headquarters along the National Road 3]
  • The UN Human Rights Councils Will Summon Yuon [Vietnamese] Representatives to Respond to Human Rights Violations against Khmer Kampuchea Krom [on 8 May 2009]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1902, 20.3.2009

  • The Government Has to Check the Operation of the Naga Casino
  • The Construction Sector of Cambodia Is Only Lightly Affected by the Global Economic Crisis [said a secretary of state of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, Mr. Phoeung Sophoan]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6607, 20.3.2009

  • US Officials Announce Not to Take Sides in the Khmer-Siamese [Thai] Border Disputes, but Want to See a Peaceful Solution
  • After Having Done Rice Cultivation for More Than 10 Years [at a certain region near the border], Khmer Farmers Are Now Prevented by Siamese Black-Clad Soldiers to Plough Their Fields [Banteay Meanchey]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #1717, 20.3.2009

  • UNESCO Asks Siam [Thailand] to Obey International Law in Solving Land Disputes at the Preah Vihear Regions

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4850, 20.3.2009

  • A Younger Brother of Lieutenant General Chhouen Chanthan [the chief of the bodyguards of the President of the Senate, Mr. Chea Sim] Involved in Shooting with a Bodyguard of the Municipal Governor [Mr. Kep Chuktema], Causing One Death and Wounding Two People [the bodyguard of Mr. Chea Sim died, and a bodyguard of Mr. Kep Chuktema was wounded and escaped – Phnom Penh]
  • France and Germany Criticize Pope over His [anti-]Condom Statement [he Pope said that using condoms might lead to a more serious spread of AIDS]

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There Is No Standard of Products Yet, but Producers Are Reluctant – Thursday, 19.3.2009

Posted on 23 March 2009. Filed under: Week 604 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 604

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.
But I am now starting my return trip to Cambodia. According to schedule, I should be working again from Phonom Penh on Monday – first catching up with the delays, and then working again regularly.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: All products in Cambodia will be required to follow a national industrial standard when the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy has created an expert institute, according to a high ranking official of the ministry.

“The director of the Department of Industrial Standards of the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, Mr. Ping Sivlay, said that after his institute will have created a new administration section and will have experts officials for managing it, the institute will organize standards for all products and will require their implementation countrywide, to provide safety to consumers in the country. He added that all products at markets will have to have standards, even for bulbs and fluorescent tubes.

“He said, ‘A one-meter-tube can last at least 700 hours, but because we have no set standard, one-meter tubes imported into our country can last between 300 and 400 hours maximally, then it will no longer be usable.’

“According to Mr. Sivlay, the Department of Industrial Standards of Cambodia will issue set standards soon, but he could not give a specific date. He just said that the ministry is organizing it.

“Mr. Sivlay went on to say, ‘We have two departments and are requesting the ministry to create two other departments.’

“Mr. Sivlay said that because so far, Cambodia does not have enough industrial standards, some local craftsmen that are producing various products, especially food products, are using some raw sources that can affect consumers’ health.

“Mr. Sivlay said that so far, the ministry had created standards for only 14 products, including for vinegar, fish sauce, rice powder, potato powder, chilly sauce, dry chilly, fresh water, bulbs, salt, and honey, and standards for the rest of about 100 products are being drafted.

“According to a document, the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy created standards since 2003, but only a very small number of producers ask for verification of their products according to these standards. The standards that the ministry created are categorized into two types: compulsory standards and voluntary standards. Among all products, compulsory standards are enforced by the Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Energy for only three types of products: fresh water, vinegar, and chilly sauce, but the number of producers who abides by the standard is very small.

“Mr. Sivlay added that based on the statistic he has, so far, there are about 130 sites that produce fresh water, but only 20% of them ask for standard verification. There are 30 sites that produce chilly sauce, 30 sites that produce vinegar, but only one site asked for standard verification.

“Local producers do not ask for standard verifications, because they are reluctant regarding the efficiency of standards and regarding different irregular problems related to the provision of standards.

“The president of Khmer Natural Handcrafts, Mr. Pok Leak Rasy, said by telephone on 12 March 2009 that the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy creates standards which is a great initiative, but they exist only on paper and are not implemented.

“He said, ‘It is a good idea, but I am afraid that officials who have laws in their hand just take the opportunity to seek benefits.’

“He added that according to publications of the ministry, his palm tree vinegar is also included in the compulsory standards of the ministry, yet he has not asked for standard verification, because so far, he sees that some other vinegar products are on the market that are made with acid, but they also received standard labels.

“He stated, ‘It is not because I do not have money to request for standard verification, but if I ask for that standard, it seems that my products are not different from those products.’

“Besides Khmer Natural Handicrafts, an owner of a fresh water enterprise that asked not to be named also expressed similar view.

“He added that if the law requires respect of the standards, he will follow, but his enterprise will not ask for it, because he has no trust in those standards.

“He emphasized, ‘Some fresh water enterprises label standards on their products and on cars, but when [fresh water] bottles are opened, there are mosquito larvae in the water and the quality is like normal water. Therefore, that standard is useless at markets, and only the consumers will decide.’

“The assistant of Mekong Food Production, Mr. Pich Chan, said the same day that so far, he has not thought about this problem, since the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy has not created standards for drinks produced by his enterprise, adding, ‘We will start thinking about it when the standard has been created.’

“Regarding this problem, Mr. Sivlay said that generally, when talking about standard problems, local producers seem to have a lot of concerns; however, the standards, indeed, do not make them to face complications or corruption, but it is just an efficient measure to promote the quality of their goods or products, and to encourage just competition.

“He added that because there are no such standards in Cambodia, most consumer goods at markets do not have a high quality, and as for food products, they mostly contain high amounts of chemicals or they are produced without having enough nutritional substances for health.

“He continued to say, ‘Based on previous experiments, we found that some fish sauce and soy sauce have nutritional substance of only 7%, while international standard say that there must be at least 15% of nutritional substances.’

“He added that because we do not have proper standards, some types of fish sauce at the markets are just made of salt and sugar with water and mixed with substances with a little odor. Then, they are put for sale at the markets. But if we have clear standards, they will no longer be able to use that method, and if they still use it, they might be fined or punished.

“He said, ‘When our departments start their operations, newspapers will have a lot of news about such punishments.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4849, 19.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 19 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #41, 19.3.2009

  • The European Community Does Not Provide Funds to the National Election Committee for District and Provincial/City Elections [but provides a legal expert and a technical expert]
  • Fire Destroyed 15 Houses near the Chinese Embassy [Phnom Penh]

 
Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #143, 19.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: 18 March 1970 Is the Day That War Erupted, but 18 March 2009 Is the Day that Japan Granted Aid [of more than US$40 million for mine clearance and clean water supply]
  • Samdech Dekchor Criticized Those Who Have Earned Degrees but Do Not Have Quality
  • Police Crack Down On Drugs in Large Scale, Arresting Three and Confiscating More Than 20,000 Drug Tablets [Phnom Penh]

 
Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1901, 19.3.2009

  • Banteay Meanchey and Sra Kaeo Officials Request to Open New Border Crossing Point to Expand Commerce and Tourism [between Cambodia and Thailand]
  • America and Food Aid Agencies Said that North Korea Rejected Food Aid
  • [Russian President] Medvedev Orders Weapons in Large Scale to
    arm the Russian Soldiers Again

 
Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6606, 19.3.2009

  • Vietnam Will Provide an Intercom System Worth US$500,000 [to the Cambodian police]
  • Sen Sok District Police Suppresses [two] AK-47 Rifle Robbers Who Planned to Commit Robbery [Phnom Penh]

 
Mate Nak, Vol.2, #25, 18-24.3.2009

  • Samdech Hun Sen Will Attend the ASEAN + 3 Summit [in Thailand in April]

 
Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #1715, 19.3.2009

  • Victims Demand the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to Define the Date to Hear Four Other Former Khmer Rouge Leaders Soon [Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khiev Samphan, and Nuon Chea]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4849, 19.3.2009

  • There Is No Standard of Products Yet, but Producers Are Reluctant
  • Mining and Electricity Are on the Discussion Agenda between a Vietnamese Delegation and the Ministry of Industry of Cambodia
  • If There Had Been No Coup on 18 March 1970 [by General Lon Nol, to oust Prince Sihanouk as Head of State], How Prosperous the Country Would be!
  • Two Members of the National Assembly from the Sam Rainsy Party [Mr. Kong Korm and Mr. Son Chhay] Will Become Members of a Commission
  • A 9-Year-Old Girl Was Attacked [to rob her gold ear rings], But Did Not Die, but Was Wounded [she was also stabbed],then Came from the Forest to Ask for Help [police are seeking to arrest a 19-year-old female suspect – Kompong Chhnang]

 
Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1676, 19.3.2009

  • Former US Ambassador [Mussomeli] Said that the Paris Peace Agreements Are Still Valid and Valuable
  • Citizens in the Northeast Oppose the Construction of Hydro-Electric Dams along the Mekong River [since fish, the source of their food and income, will be threatened]

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Concerns about the Future Continue – Sunday, 22.3.2009

Posted on 22 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 604 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 604

On 16 March 2009, the Mirror carried the headline Concerns about the Future of Phnom Penh Continue – another occasion to collect different voices about the actions of the administrative and the political leadership of Phnom Penh – after they had decided to almost completely fill in the Boeng Kak Lake.

On 15 March 2009, one day earlier, when I was in Carbondale, in Southern Illinois in the USA, the local newspaper, the Southern Illinoisan, carried an article New Lakes Should Solve Many Problems.

Surely, the situation is different in many respects. But the concern expressed there is common around the world: how to manage water resources in the context of modern city societies, where economic considerations, economic goals and gains, for some time had put aside more basic concerns for a livable natural environment. And only when disaster strikes – like during the floods last year in Phnom Penh – those directly affected are concerned for the future – and more people join in being concerned. More people – not all.

What does it mean that a simple 3-minutes video, taken in November 2008, and shared under the title Floods in a Phnom Penh District – Many residents are being harmed by floods in Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh on the Internet, was viewed by now more than 470,000 times?

The article in the Southern Illinoisan pointed to the fact that not only careful water management is important in a time of climate changes, when it becomes clearer that before that natural resources, including water, need careful attention – also the quality of life depends on lakes: “Today, many lakes are filling with silt. Demands are increasing, and where could new lakes be built? – Fish, waterfowl, and sportsmen thrive using lakes…. Southern Illinois needs reclamation based on good science for renewed soils, productive fields, meadows, forests, and sustainable water.”

The article concludes with the concern that “today’s ill advised and arbitrary regulations” might deny future generations to be able to enjoy the life which nature provides.

Before coming to Cambodia in 1990, I lived for some years in the city of Hamburg, which has a beautiful big lake in its center – a natural place of recreation, and an envy for many other cities.

Singapore, one of the outstanding examples of big city development in Asia, has retained the name of the “Garden City” – in spite of the scarcity of land on the Island of Singapore, sufficient green space is conserved all over town and protected against covering it up with buildings.

Like many other great cities, Manila and Mexico are proud to have cared to retain a lot of parks in their ever expanding cities.

The city of New York has not only the huge Central Park in its midst, but also a Department of Parks & Recreation: “Learn about your options for giving to Parks & Recreation and help ensure a green New York for many years to come!”

Phnom Penh seems to be moving in the opposite direction – its administration does not observe international trends in city planning, and also the population in general does not seem to be much concerned – apart from those who are being displaced.

How will future generations look back at the present history, when several communities in Phnom Penh, comprising of thousands of families, are relocated against the will of many to make place for huge construction complexes: expensive high rise residences, business centers, and shopping malls – while the present global financial crisis makes it difficult to estimate not only how all these modern construction projects can be financed – but also, who will be able to pay for the use of this newly created high cost space – if it can be completed.

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An Official of the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, Is Also Irritated with the Svay Rieng and Prey Veng Governors for Leasing Land to Vietnam – Wednesday, 18.3.2009

Posted on 20 March 2009. Filed under: Week 604 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 604

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.
But I am now starting my return trip to Cambodia. According to schedule, I should be working again from Phonom Penh on Monday – first catching up with the delays, and then working again regularly.

Norbert Klein

“While Khmer citizens as well as some handicapped soldiers do not have rice fields for cultivation, the government, in contrast, provides tens of thousands of hectares of land as concessions to Yuon [Vietnamese] troops and companies to come to clear forest and rice fields of Khmer citizens to grow agro-industrial crops along the Khmer-Yuon border and in some provinces.

“Thousands of hectares of citizen’s land lying along the Yuon border of An Giang Province, bordering Svay Rieng and Prey Veng, are being leased to Yuon companies by Khmer authorities along the Yuon border to grow agro-industry crops. The Phnom Penh Post published an article on 26 February 2009, quoting the Svay Rieng governor, Mr. Cheang Am, that 10,000 hectares of land in Svay Rieng are prepared to be leased to Yuon companies along the border and also, the Prey Veng governor, Mr. Ung Samy, told the Phnom Penh Post that he will discuss with Yuon officials in Yuon [Vietnam] about the leasing of rice fields along the border to Yuon companies to come to do rice cultivation in Khmer territory.

“A high ranking official of the Cambodian People’s Party and a former Prey Veng governor, Mr. Cheam Yeap, reacted that Cambodia must not lease land to neighboring countries, but it can lease it to far-off countries. He added, ‘If it would be leasing to America or Australia, it can be done, but if it is to Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos, it is impossible, because they are neighboring countries and they can take our Khmer land easily as in previous times.’

“A Khmer-American, originally from Svay Rieng, Mr. Prum Soanara, expressed his view that the government should lease land to the same Khmers, because it would be a solution for Khmer citizens who are jobless, while factories are closing, and many big construction projects have halted their activities due to the global economic crisis.

“Mr. Prum Soanara, a renewable energy engineer with a background in the US Navy, said that in our country, some citizens lack land to do rice cultivation, especially citizens in Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, and Takeo. If the government has land for leasing, why not leasing it to Khmer citizens? He referred to an example in Malaysia where their country provides all support to their farmers to benefit from the land. Therefore, the Cambodian government should distribute land to retired and handicapped soldiers to do farming to earn their living.

“Mr. Prum Soanara raised another example from Israel where land along the border is delivered to soldiers to do farming and also to defend their territorial integrity. He went on to say that the government must provide land to Khmer soldiers to do farming along the border and to protect the border since soldiers have guns, but should not leave the land unused.

“Also, Khmer citizens react against the leasing of tens of thousands of land along the eastern border to Yuon companies by the Svay Rieng governor, Mr. Cheang Am, and by the Prey Veng governor, Mr. Ung Samy, who are all high ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party. Citizens wonder whether the land is inherited from both provincial governors’ ancestors that they dare to do so. It is because of the hunger for ‘tea-money’ without caring about the loss of Khmer territory along the border, because after the land is leased from Cambodia of Yuon to do farming, Yuon can claim that it is legal land of Yuon in the future.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Son Chhay, reacted against the leasing of land along the border to Yuon companies and to Siamese [Thai] companies, because these are neighboring countries, and this will make Cambodia to lose territory along the borders in the future, because Yuons who come to live in the land leased, hardly return to their country, because they consider the land to belong to Yuon, and this creates future problems.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that he had once reacted against the leasing of land to nationals from neighboring countries in 2007, when he led a delegation of the National Assembly to Laos. He continued to say that when the government provides concession land along the border to Yuon companies, contracted for 99 years, Yuon will bring their workers to live in Khmer land, and this cannot guarantee the Khmer territorial integrity, and different countries in the world never do what Cambodia does nowadays.

“Mr. Son Chhay voiced concern about the loss of Khmer territory along the border when the Khmer government permits the leasing of rice fields along the Khmer-Yuon border in Svay Rieng and Prey Veng; the government must check these cases again and should not allow to lease the land, and those who have the land rights to lease and use the land along the border should be only Khmers.

“Mr. Son Chhay demands that the government cancels different contracts for leasing land along the border to foreign companies.

“The president of the Cambodian Watchdog Council [?] and president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, reacted that the government must not lease land to foreigners, and the leasing of land to neighboring countries is not good for Cambodia. He added that to persuade Khmer citizens to lease their fields to foreigners is to cut down paddy rice exports from Cambodia, this is not reasonable and if the Khmer government encourages Khmer citizens to produce lots of paddy rice, normally, the government has to find markets for citizens in this time of a global economic crisis.

“Mr. Rong Chhun went on to say that when leasing land to foreigners to do farming in Khmer territory while leaving its citizens unemployed, can the benefits from it support the everyday livelihood of citizens? He continued that Cambodia will earn no benefit from leasing land to neighboring countries, and the government must not lease land to Yuon and Siam, because one day, they will let their citizens come to live in Cambodia, and this will make Cambodia to lose territory, if the government does not take measures to avoid the loss of land in the future.” Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #40, 18.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #40, 18.3.2009

  • An Official of the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, Is Also Irritated with the Svay Rieng and Prey Veng Governors for Leasing Land to Vietnam
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Which Is Running Out of Funds, Announces Recruiting [30] Staff Members

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #142, 18.3.2009

  • Between 2015 and 2020 the Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam Will Increase to US$5 Billion [according to a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Vietnamese Minister of Industry, Mr. Vũ Huy Hoàng]
  • The Head of the Government Does Not Believe There Will Be Good Reports about Human Rights in Cambodia [because he assumes that people concerned for human rights will get paid their salaries only if they produce reports describing bad situations]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1900, 18.3.2009

  • The Opposition Party Asks to Check the Possibility of Creating New Investment Laws for Special Economic Zones near the Borders
  • Five Khmer Law Students Go to Participate in a Mock Trial with About 500 Groups of Students from 80 Countries around the World [in Washington]
  • Sudan Expels Thirteen Foreign Aid Agencies from Darfur [after the International Criminal Court had issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir, with accusations of crimes against humanity and of genocide in Darfur]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3714, 18.3.2009

  • The Construction of Hanoi Boulevard Leads to the Destruction of Citizens’ Houses in Sen Sok District [Phnom Penh]
  • Mr. Yim Sovann Welcomes a Report [of the Cambodian Institute for Development Studies] Which Assessed that in 2009 Cambodia Will Loose US$676 Million [in four sectors: agriculture, tourism, construction, and garment production]
  • Civil Society Dismisses Hun Sen’s Wish to See Human Rights Reports Supporting the Government [he criticized on 17 March 2009 local human rights organizations and human rights representatives of the United Nations in Cambodia, alleging that they work only for salaries, and their work is only to criticize the government and to ignore positive points achieved by the government]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6605, 18.3.2009

  • The Family of a Fatal Victim Accuses a Doctor, because She Did Not Have Riel 100,000, a Pregnant Woman Was Left Lying in Labor Pain until She Died [Pailin]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1422, 18.3.2009

  • Investment by South Korea Declined by 25% in 2008 and Will Continue to Fall in 2009 [according an official of the Korean Embassy in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4848, 18.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: “Bird Flu Is Still an International Plague and Must Be Carefully Observed”
  • A Car Hit Two Motorbikes at the Same Time Resulting in Three Deaths and Five Injured People [the car driver escaped – Kompong Cham]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1675, 18.3.2009

  • A Parliamentarian from the Opposition Party [Mr. Son Chhay] Asks the Government to Sue the CamboSix [soccer betting] Company [for corruption and for not paying taxes]

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Trade Unions Discuss Wages of Workers while Buying Orders Decreased to 40% – Tuesday 17.3.2009

Posted on 19 March 2009. Filed under: Week 604 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 604

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

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: Trade unions and the director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Studies found that to live properly, wages of industrial workers, especially garment workers, should be between US$87 and US$113 per month excluding overtime wages.

“Nevertheless, during a discussion on 16 March 2009 at the Phnom Penh Hotel, supported by the [German] Friedrich Ebert Foundation, trade unions and the director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Studies have not brought up any new measure to increase wages for workers, because of feeling threats from the global economic crisis.

“According to research conducted by the director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Studies since December 2008 until January 2009, by interviewing 353 garment workers (91% are female and 9% are male) from 47 factories around Phnom Penh: the average earning of a worker is US$79 per month from garment work, including the basic wage, additional wages according to production achievements, former wages, overtime payments, livelihood allowances, skills’ wage additionals, and various awards. But if overtime payment is not included, a worker earns only US$67 on average. As for their total expenses, both the expenses for daily necessities of a worker and their financial obligations (money to be sent to support their family), is US$72 per month on average, where US$57 (80%) are individual necessities (food and accommodation), and US$15 per month is to be sent home.

“As for the savings among workers interviewed, 81% have positive savings – that is US$10 per month can be saved – while 19% lack US$8 on average, because they earn low wages and do not work overtime, and their expenses are high, as they have to send much money to their home. This problem leads to the need for some support from their home, such as a supply of rice, fish, meat, or taking up additional loans.

“The director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Studies, Mr. Kang Chandararath, said that US$57 per month, or around US$1.90 per day, is available for daily necessities, and this is far less than the figure calculated by the National Institute of Statistics, which had estimated that for living in Phnom Penh, at least US$3 is necessary per day. According to the research, most workers, 85%, are not satisfied with their current wages, while 13% said that they are somewhat satisfied, and 3% said that they are satisfied.

“The president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union – C.CAWDU, Mr. Ath Thun, said regarding the wages of workers that he had gone to Hong Kong in China to attend a meeting, and he demanded that thorough research be done, and he submitted it as a request to the Royal Government. But the secretary-general of the National Industrial Federation Trade Union of Cambodia – NIFTUC, Mr. Kim Chansamnang, said that the wages of workers are still under discussions.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, Mr. Oum Mean, said that he does not dismiss this research, but he would like to call on workers to understand the difficulties of Cambodia, which was and which is being affected by the global economic crisis – and the whole world is the market of Cambodia. When economies decline, they do not have much income, and their demand will decline, making their buying orders in Cambodia also to drop. If there are no buying orders, the factories have to close, and not just US$70 or US$80 will be lost, but there will be nothing.

“Mr. Oum Mean asked workers to stay calm until the situation gets better. The president of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, Mr. Van So Ieng, said that in just the two months of 2009, buying orders for Cambodia declined to 40%. As for the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Cham Prasidh, he said recently that 70 factories closed since the economic crisis erupted in August 2008, and this made more than 51,000 workers jobless. Aware of this hard situation, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, called on 24 February 2009, during a certificate awarding ceremony to graduates, on workers not to demonstrate or to strike, in order to avoid the closure of factories which would lead to job losses.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1899, 17.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #39, 17.3.2009

  • America: Airports and the Sea Are the Places where Drugs Come Out from Cambodia
  • [Former Phnom Penh Police chief] Criminal Heng Pov Will Be Sentenced on 24 March 2009 for Murdering the Editor-in-Chief of Koh Santepheap

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #140, 17.3.2009

  • Thieves Broke into [six] Gold Stalls in the Olympic Market and Took Away Gold Worth Half a Million Dollars [police have not yet identified the thieves]
  • Israel Plans to Invite the Cambodian Prime Minister to Make an Official Visit
  • A Storm Destroyed 34 Houses, Seriously Wounded Eight People, and Lightly Wounded Four [Banteay Meanchey]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1899, 17.3.2009

  • Trade Unions Discuss Wages of Workers while Buying Orders Decreased to 40%
  • [Deputy Prime Minister and secretary-general of Funcinpec] Nhek Bun Chhay Plans to Sue CTN TV Presenter [Soy Sopheap for defaming Funcinpec five times]; More Than 2,000 Funcinpec Members Prepare to Demonstrate in Front of the CTN Television Station
  • Video of [a karaoke singer who suffered an acid attack in 1999 because of an affair with a high ranking official] Tat Marina’s Life Shown in Switzerland on 8 March 2009 [International Women’s Rights Day] Now Reaches Cambodia [the video was delivered to a human rights organization to make copies and distribute them to journalists]
  • [Ousted prime minister] Thaksin Encourages People to Support the Puea Thai Party so that He Can Return

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6604, 17.3.2009

  • Former Japanese Ambassador [Imagawa Yukio] Visits Cambodia Regarding Various Developments
  • Germany Grants Euro 130,000 for the UN Inter Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region [UNIAP]
  • 69-Year-Old Man Raped 7-Year-Old Girl [he was arrested – Sihanoukville]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #1713, 17.3.2009

  • Ieng Sary’s Lawyers Appeal against the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s Order to Close Their Website – http://sites.google.com/site/iengsarydefence/
  • [The president of the Sam Rainsy Party]: Hun Sen Government Faces Lack of Resources to Support Government Processes in 2009

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4847, 17.3.2009

  • An Arrest Warrant Is Released for an Advisor of a Leader [not mentioning who] for Deceiving and Using Fake Documents

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1674, 17.3.2009

  • Head of the Biggest Hospital in Cambodia Goes to Receive Treatment in Singapore [the director of the Calmette Hospital, a secretary of state of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Heng Taikry, suffered a stroke]
  • Opposition Party and a Civil Society Organization [the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO] Advise [CTN TV presenter and editor-in-chief of Deum Ampil] Soy Sopheap to Stick to Journalism [by stopping to use his position as a journalist to attack different political parties]

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Concerns about the Future of Phnom Penh Continue – Monday, 16.3.2009

Posted on 18 March 2009. Filed under: Week 604 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 604

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

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: After the leaders of the Phnom Penh Municipality were awarded a World Leadership Award in London in 2005, Phnom Penh continues to encounter many problems like in 2008, when the [north] western area of the city was flooded for several months. So far, the Boeng Kak Lake filling still continues, and therefore various concerns continue.

Note:

Different from – for example – the awarding of a World Heritage Site status by an official institution like UNESCO, there is a variety of different “World Awards” which are awarded by private business enterprises, where certain direct fees or indirect fees are involved. The following information is how the Word Leadership Award is celebrated: with an expensive Gala Dinner. The price to participate in the World Leadership Award Gala Dinner, and for having the name of the winners announced to the public, from the podium, and in a printed announcement – “full-page ad” and “prominent listing” – in the journal of the World Leadership Award, are given as follows:

World Leadership Awards Gala

Tables (Includes 10 tickets)

$25,000 Platinum Leadership Table

  • Premium placement and recognition from the podium
  • Prominent listing in Journal and a full-page ad
  • Signage at the event
  • Featured article in Counterpart newsletter and website

$15,000 Benefactor Table

  • First-class placement
    1. Prominent listing in Journal and a full-page ad
  • Signage at the event

$10,000 Patron Table

  • Fine placement
  • Prominent listing in Journal and a full-page ad

$5,000 Friends Table

  • Prominent listing in Journal and a full-page ad

Tickets

  • $500 Individual ($335 tax deductible)
  • $1,000 Couple ($670 tax deductible)

“According to a report organized by an independent research group, the continuous filling of the natural Boeng Kak lake in the center of the city will continually cause serious flooding at the suburbs and also, there is strong disagreement with this plan, since such filling will lead to deeper and more frequent flooding.

“According to The Cambodia Daily published on 12 March 2009, the director of a Cambodian country program for housing rights, Mr. David Pred [director of Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia, a small non-profit group, committed to social justice and defending the rights of the poor], said that the study was conducted by Australian independent researchers who were asked by a number of organizations in Cambodia to investigate the effects of the filling of the lake.

“Mr. Pred wrote in his email on Wednesday 11 March 2009, ‘The report confirms what many people have long suspected – that the filling of Phnom Penh’s largest natural lake will worsen the city flooding problem that has already become intolerable during the rainy season.’

“Mr. David Pred added, ‘The filling of the lake should be halted until those plans are made public and the people living north of the lake are reasonably assured that this project will not leave them under water every rainy season.’

“However, a deputy municipal governor, Mr. Pa Socheatevong, said that the City Hall had worked with French experts, addressing the issues related to filling the lake, adding, ‘We have already compiled the master plan correctly.’ [The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), required by law, has not been published in full; it was made without public bidding.]

“The director of the hydrology resources and meteorology department, Mr. Mao Hak, [Director of the Department of Hydrology and Water Works, or Director of Hydrology and River Works, or Director of the Hydrology Department, according to different sources on the Internet] said that the Ministry [Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology – the website announced on the government website for this Ministry – http://www.mowram.gov.kh – did not work at the time of this writing] had recommended to the municipality to build a 10-square-meter pipe to remove excess water. Now the municipality is working to solve the issue, and to prepare a water drainage system.

“Previously, the governor of the Russey Keo district, Mr. Kleang Huot, had said that the municipality has also restored the master channel at the Kob Srov dam. The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mok Mareth, said that flooding in Phnom Penh cannot be prevented unless pumping machines with a 25-cubic-meter per second capacity are set up, and an open master channel is constructed like in Boeng Trabaek, so that water can be brought to the Kob Srov dam, as the present long channel cannot remove the water in time, and there are not enough pumping machines at the Svay Pak dam.

“On 2 March 2009, the Phnom Penh municipal governor, Mr. Kep Chuktema, vowed to solve five major problems, and he also recognized that rain flooding in the north, which had caused serious destruction on public infrastructure and citizens’ houses, has not yet been solved.

“Residents in Russey Keo’s Tuol Sangkae commune blame the Shukaku company, which is dredging sand to fill the Boeng Kak lake and is pumping water to the Tuol Sangkae commune, as the cause of previous flooding. Therefore they are concerned. Also, residents of the Kiloumaetr Lekh Prammuoy Muoy and of the Khmuonh Communes ask the Phnom Penh municipal governor to plan carefully, so that they will not suffer from long lasting flooding like in the previous year.” Amnach Reas, Vol.2, #44, 16-22.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 16 March 2009

Amnach Reas, Vol.2, #44, 16-22.3.2009

  • Concerns about the Future of Phnom Penh Continue

Bakong, Vol.10, #256, 16-17.3.2009

  • 50,000 Garment Workers [among 300,000 garment workers in total] Lost Their Employment in the Past Six Months in Cambodia [since September 2008 – according to Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh]

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #38, 16.3.2009

  • Parliamentarians of the Sam Rainsy Party Ask Mr. Hun Sen to Clarify the Efficiency of the Enforcement of Financial Legislation in 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #140, 15-16.3.2009

  • The President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers: Most Factory Owners Do Not Deposit Money at the National Bank
  • The Asian Human Rights Commission Appeals to Cambodia to Continue Holding the National Congress
  • A Grenade Was Thrown at the Cars of a Siamese [Thai] Deputy Prime Minister and His Entourage, and It Wounded One Person, while Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the government] Threw Eggs

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1898, 15-16.2009

  • Samdech Heng Samrin Calls on Local, Provincial, and District Authorities to Crack Down On Gangsters
  • [District and provincial/city] Election Campaign Will Start be from 1 to 15 May 2009
  • More Than 50,000 Poor Students Receive Scholarships from the Government and from the World Bank [in 2009]
  • A Man Jumped into the River to Commit Suicide, as His Father Was Giving Him a Ride, when They Reached the Middle of the Chroy Chongva Bridge [he died – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3712, 16.3.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Salaries Should Be Increased to at least between US$100 to US$150 so that Civil Servants Have Economic Stability to Work
  • Yuon [Vietnam] Announces that It Will Exploit 50,000 Hectares of Forest Land in Cambodia [provided as concession land by the government with a 70 years contract, to cut trees in the forests in Mondolkiri and Ratanakiri]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1421, 16.3.2009

  • A Road [built in 1986 which is an important road connecting the Tuol Kork and Sen Sok districts in Phnom Penh] Will Be Named “Hok Lundy Road” [remembering the former director-general of the National Police who died in a helicopter crash last year]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4845, 15-16.3.2009

  • The Sambour Prey Kuk Temple Is Being Prepared for Listing as a World Heritage Site [Kompong Thom]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1672-1673, 15-16.3.2009

  • The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – Said that Tens of Thousands of Families of Khmer Citizens Suffer Human Rights Violations [this was said after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia dismissed the report on human rights by the U.S. Department of State]
  • The President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers [Chea Mony] Is Disappointed about the Refusal of the Ministry of Interior, Not Allowing Him to Visit Heng Pov [the former Phnom Penh police chief who is alleged to have been involved in murdering his older brother Chea Vichea, the former president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers]

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