Week 605

One Million Cambodians Have Diabetes and Hypertension – Monday,30.3.2009

Posted on 31 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605, Week 606 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 606

“Phnom Penh: As living becomes more modern and nourishing food increases, Cambodian people are facing two types of diseases that up to one million people have: diabetes and hypertension.

“The director of the Disease Information Center which is treating, counseling, and observing 1,300 people having diabetes in Phnom Penh and in Takeo, Mr. Maurits van Pelt, said, ‘At present, in Cambodia there are one million people having diabetes and hypertension.

“According to observations by the World Health Organization and of the Ministry of Health, 12% of people in Siem Reap and 20% in Kompong Cham have hypertension. Also, a similar observation which was conducted from 2004 to 2005 found that 5% of people in Siem Reap and 11% in Kompong Cham have diabetes.

“What is the cause of the high prevalence hypertension? Mr. Maurits van Pelt explained that it is because not many Cambodian people do exercise, and many eat much, making them fat and pot-bellied. Furthermore, it is also a result of genetic factors, since in China and in India, many people have such diseases, and Khmers have much genetic material in common with the two people.

“He added, ‘Laziness not to do exercise, no roads for walking, and some other factors resulting from different diseases, make people have hypertension. Also some urinary diseases may lead to hypertension and other diseases.’

“The president of the Disease Information Center questioned why leaders of rich countries are often slim and leaders of poor countries are fat and pot-bellied. He went on, ‘Khmer leaders do not act as models of the people, because they are too fat. Khmers like pot-bellies showing that that they are wealthy.’

“He continued to say that slim people have about 50 % of all diseases that exist, but fat people have more diseases, and overweight people are found to live seven years less than others. Urban people have twice as often hypertension, compared to those living in the countryside.

“He added, ‘Normally, we need to sweat half an hour per day, but many people say that the weather is too hot and they do not want to sweat; this is not right. To avoid overweight, we need to do physical work at least 30 minutes per day, and should not eat too much.’

“What should we eat to prevent hypertension and diabetes? Mr. Maurits van Pelt said that we should eat much vegetable, and eat some fish; Khmers should rather eat unpolished rice, for it contains Vitamin B, but Khmers like eating white rice for its taste, yet it contains much sugar and lacks vitamins.

“He said also, ‘If people are overweight, they must do exercise to put off their weight. Their health will be better. When they can put off a lot of weight to be in the right proportion with their height, they will no longer have hypertension.’

“Mr. Maurits warns, ‘The spreading of these diseases will increase, because there are more overweight people than before, more vehicles, more American food imported to Cambodia, which contains a lot of cholesterol, and such long-processed food is not good.’

“Regarding people having diabetes, Mr. Maurits said that diabetes patients have to be careful not to have hypertension. He added that if they have diabetes for five years, they may get urinary diseases and continue to have hypertension. Therefore, people who have diabetes have to do exercises, eat food that is not salty, and take care not to get overweight.

“He added that besides providing education through a Friends-Educate-Friends Program for people with diabetes in a district in Takeo and at poor regions in Phnom Penh, he is asking for funds from the European Unions to expand the program at Thma Puok district in Banteay Meanchey. But, there is no response from donors yet.

“He criticized donors, “I asked them once, but they did not agree to provide funds, saying that it is not important. They tell me to work with AIDS, but there are only more than 60,000 AIDS patients, while there are one million people having hypertension and diabetes.’

“He added that donors provide 60% of their funds for AIDS and less than 1% for non-infectious diseases. He said, ‘There are many AIDS and tuberculosis experts, but why aren’t there non-infectious disease experts?’

“Mr. Maurits continues to say, ‘I think Khmers dare not to ask for aid for this field. I think that is wrong.’

“The director of the World Health Organization in Cambodia, Mr. Michael O’Leary, said during the closure of the health convention last week that the high prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, and the changes of the pattern of living is a clear sign of the spreading of interaction between these in Cambodia.

“He added that a study shows that about half of the Cambodian men smoke cigarettes, and this number is still increasing. With these interrelated problems, progress must be made to deal with health care needs, for which the government has to find responses.

“However, [the Minister of Health] Dr. Mam Bunheng said, ‘The rate of smokers among men and women declines, but the indicators of the program have not yet achieved their goal in 2008. That is diabetes, hypertension, and the identification of people suffering on their heads in traffic accidents are difficult to measure. Therefore rechecking is necessary.”Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4858, 30.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Amnach Reas, Vol.2, #45, 30-5.3.2009

  • Rate of Students Dropping Out of School Is Still High
  • The Number of Rapes of Underage Persons Is Higher Than the Rapes of Adults [according to a report of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC, there were 419 rapes of women and children in 2008, out of which 280 cases were against underage persons]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #150, 29-30.3.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Calls on Red Shirt Group to Demonstrate against [Prime Minister] Abhisit until He Resigns
  • England Asks G-20 Economic Summit Session to Increase Fund to Assist Impoverished Countries by Around US$100 Billion

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1910, 29-30.3.2009

  • Phnom Penh Governor Allows the Opposition Party to Hold a Buddhist Commemoration Ceremony in Front of the Former National Assembly [for those who were killed by the grenade attack on 30 March 1997]
  • A Dam Broke in Jakarta and Killed 60

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6615, 30.3.2009

  • Siamese [Thai] Merchants Come to Buy Dry Cassava Like Normal

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4858, 30.3.2009

  • The Government Will Not Set the Start of the Trial of Khmer Rouge Leaders on 30 March as a National Holiday
  • One Million Cambodians Have Diabetes and Hypertension
  • The United Nations Highly Assesses the Royal Government for Combating AIDS and Human Trafficking

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1684-685, 29-30.3.2009

  • [The director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia] Mr. Chhang Youk Questions Why Duch Alone Is Heard in Court, but Not Also Nearly 200 Other Prison Chiefs
  • Khmer Side Demands Siamese [Thai] Troops to Withdraw Mine Danger Signs Put [along the Border in Samlot, Battambang]
  • [The chairperson of the Cambodian Committee for Solving Border Disputes] Va Kimhong Acknowledges that Solving Border Disputes Bilaterally Is Useless [he had said so nearly one year ago already, negotiations were useless]
  • [The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Rong Chhun: The Prime Minister Acknowledged that the Quality of Education in Cambodia Is Low [recently in a public speech], while [the Minister of Education] Im Sethy Is Very Angry [about a survey by the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association – allegedly not carried out carefully, and producing some wrong data, especially about high dropout rate]

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Different Challenges to Act? Different Conceptions of Communication? – Sunday, 29.3.2009

Posted on 30 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 605 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

Looking back at the end of a week to the past information carried, it is often difficult to understand easily what happened – or what not happened.

On Friday, we mirrored a report that in January 2009, there were 40 children under the age of six living with their parents in prisons. “The Prison Department of the Ministry of Interior is asking the Ministry of Economy and Finance to increase the monetary allowances for prisoners from Riel 1,500 [approx US$0.37] to Riel 2,800 [approx. US$0.69] per day, so that they can eat enough food.” And: “It should be remembered that children living with their parents in prison are not prisoners, and they must not receive any punishment…”

An increase from US$0.37 to US$0.69 per day is an increase of US$0.32 per day per person, that is $12.80 for all 40 children per day; that is $384 per month. For all 40 children for one whole year, this upgrade would cost $4,604.

Here are some other figures to which we referred during the week, as they had appeared in The Mirror:

  • US$200,000 were donated by the Japanese Government to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • US$18 Million had been loaned to the Government, but the World Bank might withdraw them
  • US$7.07 million were spent for the Senate in 2008
  • US$12.6 million are provided to Cambodia by the World Bank to expand international trade
  • US$100 Million is a loan from the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group to expand a mobile phone network
  • US$35 million on loan from Japan for the construction of clean water production

And US$4,604? Of course all these other moneys were not designated to feed 40 children under six in prison, and the paperwork on the way from the Prison Department of the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and then the search where, in the national budget to find US$4,604, also takes its time, while sorting out regulations.

But: “It should be remembered that children living with their parents in prison are not prisoners, and they must not receive any punishment…” Who is in charge? Who cares? Who could even care to get things moving, without being in charge?

= = =

But there were other problems to be faced, and not only by 40 children, but by the whole nation.

Not many publications have a prestigious history like The Economist from London. It began publishing in 1843 and has continued as a weekly magazine until the present. In 2007, it had a world wide circulation of more than 1.3 million.

In addition to its publications, The Economist has also a research arm, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and it is regularly organizing Economist Conferences around the world. Such a conference was held early this year also in Cambodia, on 16 February 2009 in Siem Reap, under the heading: Business Roundtable with the Government of Cambodia – On the verge of a breakthrough? [see The Mirror report in Rasmei Kampuchea of 13.2.2009] The Prime Minister was a keynote speaker at this conference. It was considered a special event that an Economist Conferences had been organized and was held in Cambodia. This had been announced:

Key issues to be discussed included:

  • In light of recent oil and gas discoveries in the Gulf of Thailand, what is the government doing to settle border claims with its neighbors?
  • With predictions that oil could start flowing by as early as 2011, how will the government manage Cambodia’s newfound wealth?
  • In evaluating the investment climate, are private equity firms being overly optimistic?
  • What new business opportunities are there for investment in Cambodia’s much needed infrastructure?
  • Given the recent boom in property development and construction, is greater regulation of the industry necessary and if so, what impact will this have on property investors?
  • How will Cambodia’s garment industry deal with greater competition from China and Vietnam? What is being done to boost efficiency in this important industry?
  • With a recession hitting the US, what is Cambodia doing to diversify its export markets?
  • How will the government offset growing inflation and an increase in commodity prices, particularly of oil?
  • Is Cambodia’s economy ready to move away from de facto “dollarization” to the Riel and what will this mean for business?

That this event was planned – as the many other Economist Conferences around the world – for high level business leaders, was obvious from the admission prices to participate in his one-day-only event:

US$ 990 Early Registration Fee (by 9 January 2009)
US$1,250 Standard Registration Fee
US$1,000 Corporate Network Members’ Fee

These high level conferences are prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which is described on their own Internet website with the following ambitious words:

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world’s foremost provider of country, industry, and management analysis. Founded in 1946 when a director of intelligence was appointed to serve The Economist, the Economist Intelligence Unit is now a leading research and advisory firm with more than 40 offices worldwide. For over 60 years, the Economist Intelligence Unit has delivered vital business intelligence to influential decision-makers around the world. Our extensive international reach and unfettered independence make us the most trusted and valuable resource for international companies, financial institutions, universities, and government agencies.

The appreciation for the fact that Cambodia had been the site of an Economist Conference turned into hostility, after – on 19 March 2009, the Economist Intelligence Unit published a 34 pages document: Manning the barricades – Who’s at risk as deepening economic distress foments social unrest?

In this document, the basic methodology of compiling the document is laid open, for three possibilities, asking If things feel bad now, how much worse could they get? – and it describes the third and worst possibility with the following words:

Failing confidence in the Dollar leads to its collapse, and the search for alternative safe-havens proves fruitless.
Economic upheaval sharply raises the risk of social unrest and violent protest. A Political Instability Index covering 165 countries, developed for this report, highlights the countries particularly vulnerable to political instability as a result of economic distress…

The political implications of the economic downturn, informed by the results of the Social and Political Unrest Index, are discussed at length in the second half of the report.

The full report, in both PDF and HTML format, is available online at http://www.eiu.com/special.

Putting a lot of detailed data from many countries through these procedures, which contain among others also terms developed by the Political Instability Task Force at the George Mason University in the USA, which elaborate also about further terms which we quote here:

Economic distress appears to be almost a necessary condition for serious instability, but it is not a sufficient one. There are many instances of declines in GDP per head that have not been followed by political instability. It is only when economic distress is accompanied by other, underlying or structural features of vulnerability that there is a high vulnerability to or risk of serious outbreaks of political and social unrest.

Defining political unrest

We define social and political unrest or upheaval as those events or developments that pose a serious extra-parliamentary or extra-institutional threat to governments or the existing political order. The events will almost invariably be accompanied by some violence as well as public disorder. These need not necessarily be successful in the sense that they end up toppling a government or regime. Even unsuccessful episodes result in turmoil and serious disruption. The assessment of what constitutes a “serious threat” still requires judgment and can be arbitrary, but this is a step forward from having no definition at all.

Political Instability Index

The overall index on a scale of 0 (no vulnerability) to 10 (highest vulnerability) has two component indexes—an index of underlying vulnerability and an economic distress index. The overall index is a simple average of the two component indexes. There are 15 indicators in all—12 for the underlying and 3 for the economic distress index.

As a result, a table is automatically calculated from the hundreds of data collected. We quote only the beginning of the resulting Political Instability Index of Rank, Country, and Score:


3Congo Kinshasa8.2
7Cote d’Ivoire7.8

Naturally, this ranking for Cambodia on Position 4 (from 165, with some countries sharing the same ranking number) was received with surprise, and even rejection. Considering the final results, it was quickly dismissed as a report supposedly produced with a hidden agenda against Cambodia. – More surprising is how the Cambodian embassy in England reacted against the Economist Intelligence Unit’s report, which misunderstands the report as made up of arbitrary statements targeting Cambodia – and therefore asking the Economist Intelligence Unit to “issue a retraction.” This is misunderstanding is obvious from the following excerpts of the letter of the Cambodian ambassador to the Economist Intelligence Unit:

Dear Sir,

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I am writing to express my deep concern and disappointment with your latest report, “Manning the Barricades” in which you highlight Cambodia as one of the countries most at risk of suffering serious social unrest as a consequence of the on-going global financial crisis.

Your scaremongering allegations are highly dangerous as they could be construed as actively inciting unrest. They also happen to be a gross distortion and misrepresentation of Cambodia’s true position and there can be no justification for these claims.

May I suggest that it is insulting for you to claim that Cambodia is more politically unstable than the war-torn nations of Iraq and Afghanistan…

You also appear to have rather arrogantly dismissed any serious evidence which contradicts your own claims; not least that provided by the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, who only in February 2009 addressed a Business Round Table event co-hosted by your own organisation.

You may recall that the Prime Minister used that occasion to record that Cambodia had just enjoyed a decade of blistering growth, more than doubling its per capita GDP between 1998 and 2007. He attributed this great success to political stability, forging deeper integration with the global trade and investment communities; and improved macro-economic management.

You also seem to have ignored Cambodia’s sizable oil and gas deposits, its wealth of natural resources as well as its growing reputation as a “must visit” tourist destination and as a center of enterprise and investment….”

It is extremely unfortunate that the result of an analysis of hundreds and hundreds of international data, which fully agree with the assessment of Cambodia’s economic growth during the last years, is not seen for what it says: that countries which had a high growth rate based on factors now being eroded by the international economic crisis, are facing a more serious danger of disrupting instability than countries which have been anyway politically instable, and economically at a low level. The Economist Intelligence Unit is not questioning past achievements – but it is sounding a warning that these achievements are now facing a most serious challenge, and therefore the new situation merits utmost attention.

This week’s reflection is much longer than usual.

It was written with the hope to improve communication between Cambodian and international voices, which is often mis-communication: while facts are presented with an invitation to rationally discuss them, they are emotionally dismissed. This is not useful, and ways have to be found to communicate better.

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Violence over Land Dispute in Siem Reap: Human Rights Organization ‘Criticizes’ while the Ministry of Interior Asks Citizens to Stop Arguing with Each Other – Saturday, 28.3.2009

Posted on 29 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – calls urgently on the Cambodian government to hold those police and military police in Siem Reap’s Chi Kraeng district responsible for violence on Sunday 22 March 2009.

“During a dispute about a rice field between two different groups of villagers in the Chi Kraeng and Anlong Samnor communes in Chi Kraeng district, police and military police shot and injured four people, and arrested nine.

“On Friday, 27 March 2009, the president of LICADHO, Ms. Kek Galabru, demanded the prosecution of those persons of the authorities who shot and injured farmers, and to find just solutions over the rice field dispute of 275 hectares which started in 2004.

“According to a three-day investigation by LICADHO, about 100 police and military police shot at around 300 farmers unreasonably and illegally.

“During a conference on Friday, LICADHO also showed a short video, showing that police were carrying AK-47 rifles, and shooting to threaten farmers regarding a land dispute between two groups of villagers in Chi Kraeng district in Siem Reap, on Sunday, 22 March 2009.

“The head of the investigation section of LICADHO, Mr. Oum Sam Ath, blamed the authorities and demanded a proper investigations about the armed clash, which the authorities claim to have been an act of self-defense.

“About 40 farmers who are seeking for a solutions from Phnom Penh [they are now in Phnom Penh] said during a conference at LICADHO expressing their fear and that they do not dare to return to their homes.

“Farmers demand the government to release nine villagers arrested on Sunday, and they ask for proper solutions for them so that they can again go to their dry season rice fields.

“It should be noted that after this event, the Ministry of Interior had sent a group of officials to investigate this land dispute in Siem Reap.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Interior, in charge of investigating the land dispute in Chi Kraeng , Mr. Pol Lim, said in the evening of 27 March 2009 that a working team of the Ministry of Interior led by the deputy police chief of the Ministry of Interior, H.E. Chhim Sarak, went to the site of the event in Chi Kraeng and met with the authorities on one side, and with citizens disputing the situation on the other. Also, the working team went to see the injured people at the provincial hospital. The working team pleaded with residents to stop arguing with each other and to let the authorities sort it out.

“Relating to the armed clash, which injured four people, Mr. Pol Lim stated that the working team is investigating in a confidential way. But for a first step, the working team discovered that the local authorities shot in self-defense, while the disputing people tried to hit the police who had gone to stop the arguments between the two groups of people, who competed for harvesting rice on the disputed land. Now, the court is dealing with nine people, who began the hitting, and if no one is found to be guilty, the court will release them.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, said that the government would like to absolutely reject LICADHO’s demand for government agencies to take responsibility for the above case.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4857, 28.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 28 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #151, 28.3.2009

  • Cambodia Warns Siam [Thailand] Not To Mix the Preah Vihear Issue with Its Political Crisis
  • Cambodia Welcomes New UN Envoy [Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, Nepali], but Asks Him to Act Faultlessly
  • A Chinese Man Was Sent to Serve 28 Years in Prison and Was Ordered to Pay Riel 70 Million [approx. US$17,300] for Drug Trafficking [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1909, 28.3.2009

  • Japan Prepares to Shoot Down Debris of North Korean Rocket [if anything might fall down towards Japanese territory]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #374, 28.3.2009

  • The Government Admits to the King that Cambodia Is Facing a Financial Crisis

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6614, 28-29.3.2009

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3723, 28-29.3.2009

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Commemorates the 12th Anniversary of the Grenade Attack in Front of the [former] National Assembly Building [on 30 March 1997, which killed 16 people and wounded more than 100] and Encourages the Government to Continue to Seek the Perpetrators to Be Prosecuted

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4857, 28.3.2009

  • Violence over Land Dispute in Siem Reap: Human Rights Organization ‘Criticizes’ while the Ministry of Interior Asks Citizens to Stop Arguing with Each Other
  • The Fourth Term Government Plans to Spend More Than US$377 Million on Irrigation Systems [where US$77 million come from different development partners]
  • Cambodian Products Are Exported to 130 Countries, but Export Prices Are Too Cheap

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Children in Prisons Are Suffering from Malnutrition – Friday, 27.3.2009

Posted on 28 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

“Phnom Penh: The condition of children and of women in prisons is being considered by the government and by human rights organizations in relation to their health, even though they are in prison.

“Children under the age of six are brought with their prisoner parents to live with them in prison. Therefore, do these children receive enough nutritious food?

“According to a report by the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – in January 2009, there are 40 children living with their parents in prisons. Children living in prison face malnutrition, lack other necessities, and lack education which is crucial for their growing up.

“A prison research official of LICADHO, Mr. Khieu Kolay, said that children are not required to live with their parents in prison, but parents themselves want their children to live with them because no one else can take care of them besides them. Thus, nobody can hinder them.

“Regarding monetary allowances for prisoners, the Prison Department of the Ministry of Interior is asking the Ministry of Economy and Finance to increase it from Riel 1,500 [approx US$0.37] to Riel 2,800 [approx. US$0.69] per day, so that they can eat enough food and also so that it is in line with the high inflation at the markets.

“According to Prison Regulation Number 34, children under the age of six are allowed to live with their parents in prison, since this provides benefits to children. Because the period of the first five-years of children is important for the growing of their bodies, their social living, and their mental development, the Regulation Number 34 requires prison authorities to provide children with their basic needs.

“However, in reality, these necessities are neglected. Women who are mothers, and pregnant women are not offered additional food and material for taking care of their children.

“It should be remembered that children living with their parents in prison are not prisoners, and they must not receive any punishment.

“Based on ADHOC’s report [maybe this should say ‘LICADHO’?], in January 2009 there were 40 children living with their parents in prisons, where 22 are male and 18 are female. There are 17 children in the Rehabilitation Center II, 2 in the prison in Takhmao, 2 in the prison in Battambang, 3 in Banteay Meanchey, 4 in Siem Reap, 8 in Sihanoukville, 1 in Koh Kong, 1 in Kompong Chhnang, and 2 in Kompong Cham.” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #150, 27.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 27 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, 48, 27.3.2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #150, 27.3.2009

  • Children in Prison [with their parents] Are Suffering from Malnutrition
  • More than 20,000 Red-Shirt Demonstrators [who support ousted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Surround Government House of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1908, 27.3.2009

  • Parliament Members from the Opposition Party Ask the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy to Investigate the Allegation that Ice Manufacturing Companies Steal State Electricity
  • Artillery Fire [between Tamil insurgents and government troops] Killed 54 Civilians in Sri Lanka

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #373, 27.3.2009

  • Former Khmer Rouge Leaders Said that the Conviction of Former Khmer Rouge Leaders Is Not Just, because Yuon [Vietnam] Also Killed Khmers after 1979

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6613, 27.3.2009

  • The Tense Conditions near the Preah Vihear Temple Gets Better after Siam [Thailand] Denied It Had Sent Troops to Violate Cambodian Territory
  • America Provides Helicopters to Mexico to Combat Drugs

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3722, 27.3.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Asks the Government to Increase Import Taxes and Assist Farmers with Resources

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4854, 25.3.2009

  • Officials: Big Construction of Buildings in Cambodia Is Still in Progress despite the Global Economic Crisis
  • The Ministry of Culture of Vietnam Donates Musical Instruments to the Ministry of Culture [of Cambodia]
  • Incheon City of Korea and Phnom Penh Sign to Tie Sister City Relations

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1683, 27.3.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Calls on Khmer Citizens to Care about Border Problems both at the West [with Thailand] and at the East [with Vietnam]

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The Education Sector Has No Quality because the Teacher’s Salaries Are Small and Insufficient to Cover Their Daily Livelihood Expenses – Thursday, 26.3.2009

Posted on 27 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

(Newly edited, corrected version – apologies: we had first uploaded an uncorrected version)

“The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association conducted a survey in mid 2008 in nine of the 24 provinces around the country with 430 teachers, among whom 23.91% are female, 46.37% of them are primary school teachers where 30.37% are female, 28.26% are secondary school teachers where 23.84% are female, and 25.21% of them are high school teachers where 12.60% are female. All responses honestly expressed accurately the actual facts in their situation as teachers, and the responses leave concerns for youth and for the nation in the future.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, said during a press conference in the morning of 25 March 2009 that according to the findings of the survey about the conditions of teachers and the education sector, the association is worried about the inactivity of about 53.91% of teachers who do not teach regularly. 93.04% of teachers said that the rate of students dropping out of school is high and, 45% consider that the education sector has no quality, and only 52.39% said that the education sector has pretty good quality.

“Mr. Rong Chhun asked the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to solve some issues as follow:

  1. Increase the value of a basic teaching unit for teachers from Riel 720 to Riel 2,000 per unit in 2009 in order to eliminate irregular teaching.
  2. Promote quality education to be as good as education elsewhere in the region.
  3. Eliminate corruption and poverty to cut down the rate of students dropping out of schools.
  4. Create sufficient schools and employment for teachers and for graduate students.

“Mr. Rong Chhun told reporters that based on the findings of the survey, 48% of teachers care to teach their students regularly. They said that they must be responsible for their obligation and role toward students and must have conscience and pity toward Khmer students of the next generations despite facing difficulties in their livelihood and earning improper salaries, making them unable to live and worker better.

“Mr. Rong Chhun stated that 53.91% of teachers are not attending school regularly, and they do not care about their students. As their justification for this unqualified teaching, teachers put the blame on the government that does not increase their salaries enough, so that their daily lives challenge them with difficulties and they have to take part of their time to do other jobs to earn money to support their families. 1.08% do not attend school regularly and do not care about their work and student’s future at all, and they just try to find another job and make some arrangement with school administrators or district and provincial education officials by paying them some kickbacks monthly.

“Mr. Rong Chhun added that in that survey, 6.95% of teachers responded that students do not drop out of schools, claiming that students understand the value of education to be important for their future and that they want to be good citizens in society. He went on to say that 93.4% of teachers said that the rate of students dropping out of school is high and the survey found that 40.85% of primary students drop out of school, 38.55% of secondary students, and 32.64% of high school students. This percentage shows that the education sector falls into a hazardous condition.

“Teachers claim that students drop out of school because of poverty, lack of means for traveling, or finding jobs at factories. Students spend much time to buy lesson handouts, test papers, sweet snacks, and candy from their teachers. Because some teachers take money from students and most teachers do not teach regularly, students drop out of school and lack self-confidence.

“Mr. Rong Chhun continued to say that 2.60% of the teachers responded that the quality of education is good because of the attention of students and because of the efforts of teachers who work without caring about their small or big salaries.

“He added that 52.39% of the teachers assessed that the quality of education is pretty good, and problems exist because students are absent a lot, and take their time out to earn money to support their living.

“45% of the teachers considered that the quality of education is poor, or that it has no quality, because at the schools, there are no proper exams following a set standard plan which would require 95% of the students from a class, in addition the number of students per class is too high, there is a lack of books for students, and there are many types of gambling sites around schools. Teachers earn low salaries, are not satisfied to teach, and spend time to teach additional private classes. The social environment is bad and this attracts students to be corrupt in their education [e.g. they pay some money to their teachers so that not all days when they were absent will be noted down]. If students are poor, teachers do not teach them and care only about their stomach, students are frequently absent and do not want to study because they think that they will not get jobs after they have graduated. This disappoints them.

“At the end the survey is pointing out that the [second] principle of the Millennium Development Goals is not followed successfully, which has the aim to ‘ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling,’ though this is also set as the national plan of the Royal Government. To achieve this strategic goal, education for all, and with quality, the Royal Government has to provide proper salaries for teachers, and has to provide sufficient study materials and schools.” Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, 46, 26.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 26 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #46, 26.3.2009

  • The Education Sector Has No Quality because the Teacher’s Salaries Are Small and Insufficient to Cover their Daily Livelihood Expenses
  • [The President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Mr. Chea Mony Plans to Lead a Demonstration [against factories’ owners who do not release the salaries of workers, and who dismiss trade union leaders from their factories]
  • The Chi Kraeng District’s Citizens Sued the Siem Reap governor, Mr. Sou Phirin, and the Armed Forces [for their attempt to kill them, after they shot citizens resulting in four people seriously injured]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #149, 26.3.2009

  • Conditions at the Preah Vihear Temple Is Very Tense after Nearly 100 Siamese [Thai] Troops Entered into the Veal Intry Region
  • The Cambodian Embassy in England Reacts against the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Report
  • [A leading mobile phone company of Cambodia] Mobitel Borrows US$100 Million from the International Finance Corporation [a member of the World Bank Group] to Expand Network Capacity

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1907, 26.3.2009

  • China Asks for the Creation of a New Currency for the World [to replace the dollar as the international reserve currency]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6612, 26.3.2009

  • Four Unidentified Men Came to Shoot Dead a Military Officer in His Home [Siem Reap]
  • Another House Storing and Producing Drugs Was Found in Takeo [related to the one in Phnom Penh recently raided]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4855, 26.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen] Asks the Korean Parliament to Support the Korean Government to Help Develop Cambodia
  • The National Election Committee Prepares to Print Nearly 60,000 Ballots for [district-provincial/city] Council Elections
  • The Minister of Commerce [Mr. Cham Prasidh]: Exports of Cambodia Faces Obstacles due to Disagreement [between the Ministry of Commerce and different other institutions – the total export in 2008 was only more than US$3,356 million]
  • Canada and England Are Also Big Markets of Cambodia [in 2008, Canada accepted goods worth more than US$212 million from Cambodia and stands in second rank, and England had approx. US$164 million, while the USA, the biggest import country of Cambodian goods, had US$2,041 million]
  • Japan Provides a US$35 Million Loan for the Construction of Clean Water Factories
  • Approximately US$200 Million per Year Is Lost in Traffic Accidents

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The Government Signs a Stock Exchange Establishment Deal with South Korea – Wednesday, 25.3.2009

Posted on 26 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

“The Cambodian government and a South Korean [private] company signed a joint venture agreement to open a stock exchange market in Cambodia, but government officials did not disclose a date for the launching.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mr. Hang Chuon Narong, said during the ceremony that the deal with the Korea Exchange KRX, a stock exchange operator of South Korea, will provide the government with 55% control, and the rest of 45% will be administered by the Korea Exchange.

“Mr. Hang Chuon Narong said, ‘We have done a lot of work to create confidence and we have to convince different companies to join this stock market, and this also takes time. We will later decide the date when to open this market.’ He added that if the stock market cannot open as planed in December this year, it might open in 2010.

“The project manager of the Korea Exchange [in Cambodia], Mr. Lee In-Pyo [이인표], acknowledged that the global financial crisis prevents a clear prediction into the future. But the launching of this market during a time of crisis might help to create good chances for this market. He continued to say that the Korean stock exchange had helped Korea to recover again quickly from the financial crisis in Asia in 1997 by attrackting foreign capital into the Korean economy.

“The Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon, declined to comment whether the stock exchange will be opened in December or not. But he said that there is a warning from the prime minister. ‘We will not create something which will disappear within two days.’

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said in February that the stock exchange might be postponed due to the financial crisis.” Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1424, 25.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1385, 25-26.3.2008

  • Samdech Hun Sen: Cambodia Plans to Send Troops to Chad and Central Africa [the number of troops is not yet known]

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, 45, 25.3.2009

  • [The Minister of Information and spokesperson of the government]: The Opposition Party Agrees to Let the Country Fall into Unrest so that It Can Take Power
  • America: Cambodia Is among 22 Countries with Serious Tuberculosis [13,000 Cambodian people and 1.6 million people around the world die every year of this disease]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #147, 24.3.2009

  • The World Bank Provides US$12.6 Million to Cambodia to Expand International Trade
  • Two Cambodian Students Receive Scholarships to Study at the University of the United Nations [in Costa Rica, about international peace]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1906, 25.3.2009

  • An Emergency Meeting [between Siem Reap authorities and civil society organizations on human rights] Is Held over the Armed Clash Which Injured People in Chi Kraeng District

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6611, 23.3.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Announces [former Tuol Sleng Prison chief] Duch’s Hearing Will Be Held on 30 March 2009
  • For 2009-2010, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport Announced 3,345 Scholarships [for high school diploma students]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1424, 25.3.2009

  • The Government Signs a Stock Exchange Establishment Deal with South Korea
  • The Central Bank Will Provide Loans for One Month to Private Banks

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4854, 25.3.2009

  • The Prime Minister Prohibits the Creation of Medical Faculties at Private Universities
  • A Woman Was Beheaded while Picking Cashew Nuts to Robb Her Platin Jewelry Worth More Than Four Chi [perpetrators are not yet identified – Kompong Cham]
  • Five Died and Five Others Were Seriously Injured along the Road in Phnom Penh [by traffic accidents within two days]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1681, 25.3.2009

  • World Khmer Krom Federation Leader Asks [the Documentation Center of Cambodia] to Research Also about Torture against Khmer Kampuchea Krom People during the Pol Pot Regime

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Opposition Party and Civil Society Organization Criticize the Senate for Not Fulfilling Its Obligation according to the Constitution – Tuesday, 24.3.2009

Posted on 25 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

“Responding to the recent 10th anniversary celebration of the creation of the Khmer Senate, opposition party and civil society organizations called on this supreme law institution to conduct reforms, and they criticized this institution for not fulfilling its obligation according to the Constitution, but it acts like a sewage pipe through which national resources flow out.

“During the 10th anniversary celebration of the Senate on Friday, the president of the Senate and president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Chea Sim, said that the Senate contributes to the political stability and development of the Kingdom of Cambodia since this legislative body was established on 25 March 1999.

“Chea Sim, who is known not to be very powerful both in the party and in the public, made a speech at that occasion, saying ‘In the period of 10 years since the creation of this body, the Senate has walked on an honorary way by doing different activities to help restore the country and to develop the nation in all sectors and the Senate has played an important role to integrate Cambodia into the region and into the world during this era of globalization.’


An Internet address to the Cambodian Embassy in the USA continues to carry, since ten years, since 1999 until now, a wrong version of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia. We refer here to the obsolete version of the Constitution which the Cambodian Embassy in Washington continues to present to the US and the international public – in this document the Senate does not exist, and the description of the function of an Acting Head of State is wrong.

The Cambodian Embassy in the USA has also a second, newer address, with the amended version of the Constitution.

The Cambodia e-Government Homepage carries only the amended, new version of the Constitution, however with a different wording in the second part of Article 12.

We carry all three versions of this text. We leave it to our readers to consider what this says about the status of government administered websites, and about the role of the Senate.

Article 12: (Cambodian embassy in Washington – old, but still available)

In case of the death of the King, the President of the Assembly shall take over the responsibility as Acting Head of State in the capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Article 12 – New (As amended March 1999): (Cambodian embassy in Washington – amended version)

In case of the death of the King, the President of the Assembly Senate shall take over the responsibility as Acting Head of State in the capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In the case that the President of the Senate cannot perform his duties of the acting Head of State as “Regent” in the place of the King on the death of the King the responsibilities of Head of State in the capacity of regent shall be exercised in conformity with the second and third paragraph of new Article 11.

Article 12- New (As amended March 1999): (Cambodia e-Government Homepage)

In case of the death of the King, the President of the Assembly Senate shall take over the responsibility as Acting Head of State in the capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In the case that the President of the Senate cannot perform his duties of the acting Head of State as “Regent” in the place of the King on the death of the King the responsibilities of Head of State in the capacity of regent shall be exercised in conformity with the second and third paragraph of new Article 11.

Additional information:

Article 11- New (As amended March 1999): (Cambodia e-Government Homepage)

In the case that the King cannot perform His normal duties as Head of State owing to His serious illness as certified by doctors chosen by the President of the Senate, the President of the Assembly and the Prime Minister the President of the Assembly and Senate shall perform the duties of Head of state as “Regent”

In the case of the President of the Senate cannot perform his duties as the acting Head of State replacing the King as “Regent” when he is ill seriously as provided in the above paragraph the President of Assembly shall take them over.

In the case as stated in the above paragraph, other dignitaries as following hierarchy can perform Acting Head of State as Regent:

A.First Vice-President of the Senate

B.First Vice-President of the Assembly

C.Second Vice-President of the Senate

D.Second Vice-President of the Assembly

“While Article 12 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia states that the Senate has the obligation to coordinate between the National Assembly and the government, opposition party, and civil society organizations criticized that the Senate with 61 members does not fulfill its task following the constitution.


Actually, Article 12 of the Constitution does not deal with the obligations mentioned here in the press at all – see the texts quoted above. The function of THE SENATE is described in Articles 99 to 115 in Chapter VIII, and in Article 116 and 117 in THE ASSEMBLY AND THE SENATE in Chapter IX of the Constitution. We bring the full texts of these articles, as the discussion in the press is not referring to the actual texts in the Constitution.

Article 99 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate is a body that has legislative power and performs its duties as determined in the constitution and law.

The Senate consists of members the number of which does not exceed half of all of the members of the Assembly.

Some Senators shall be nominated and some shall be elected universally.

A Senator can be re-nominated and reelected.

Article 100 – New (As amended March 1999):

The king shall nominate two Senators.

The Assembly shall elect two Senators by majority Vote.

Others shall be universally elected.

Article 101 – New (As amended March 1999):

The organization and operating procedures concerning the nomination and election of the Senators and the determination of the electors, election organization and electoral constituencies shall be determined by law.

Article 102 – New (As amended March 1999):

The term for Senators is six years and this term shall expire upon replacement by new Senators.

When the election of the Senator cannot be conducted due to war and special circumstances, the Senate can continue its term year by year upon the proposal of the King.

The declaration of continuity of its term shall be decided by at least a two-third majority of all members of the senate.

In the circumstance described above the Senate shall assemble everyday. The Senate has the right to terminate the above situation with good reason.

If the Senate cannot assemble due to the invasion of foreign troops the proclamation of the state of emergency shall be continuously in effect automatically.

Article 103 – New (As amended March 1999):

The mandate of senators shall be incompatible with the holding of any active public function, with the functions of members of the National Assembly, and of any membership in other institutions provided for in the constitution.

Article 104 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senator shall enjoy parliamentary immunity.

No Senator shall be prosecuted, detained or arrested because of opinions expressed during the exercise of his or her duties.

The accusation, arrest, or detention of a senator shall be made only with the permission of the Senate or by the Standing Committee of the Senate between sessions, except in the case of flagrant delicto. In that case the competent authority shall immediately report to the senate or to the Standing Committee for decision.

The decision made by the Standing Committee of the Senate shall be submitted to the Senate at its session for approval by a two-thirds majority vote of all senators. In any case, detention or prosecution of a Senator shall be suspended by a three-quarters majority vote of all senators.

Article 105 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall have an autonomous budget to conduct its functions.

Senators shall receive remuneration.

Article 106 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall hold its first session no later than sixty days after the election upon notice by the King.

Before taking office, the Senate shall decide on the validity of each member’s mandate and vote separately to choose a president, Vice president and its members of each commission by a two- third majority vote.

All Senators must take the oath before taking office according to the text contained in annex 7.

Article 107 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall hold its ordinary sessions twice a year. Each session shall last at least three months. If there is a proposal from the king or the prime Minister, or at least one-third of the senate, the Senate standing Committee shall call an extraordinary session of the Senate.

Article 108 – New (As amended March 1999):

Between the senate sessions, the Senate Standing Committee shall mange the work of the Senate.

The permanent Standing Committee of the Senate consists of the President of the Senate and the Vice- presidents and the Presidents of the senate commissions.

Article 109 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate sessions shall be held in the Royal capital of Cambodia in the Senate Hall, unless stipulated otherwise in the summons, owing to special circumstances.

Except where so stipulated and unless held at the place and date as stipulated any meeting of the Senate shall be considered as illegal and void.

Article 110 – New (As amended March 1999):

The president of the Senate shall chair the Senate sessions, receive draft bill and resolutions adopted by the senate, ensure the implementation of the internal rules of procedure and manage the senate’s relations with foreign countries.

If the President is unable to perform his duties owing to illness or to fulfill the functions of Head of State as interim or as Regent, or is on a mission abroad, a Vice President shall replace him.

In case of resignation or death of the president or Vice Presidents, the Assembly shall elect a new President or Vice Presidents.

Article 111 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate sessions shall be held in public.

The Senate shall meet in closed session at the request of the President or of at least one-tenths of its members, of the King or of the Prime Minister or the President of Assembly.

The Senate meeting shall be considered as valid provided there is a quorum of seven-tenths of all members.

The numbers of votes which are required for the Assembly approval as provided for in the constitution shall be applied to the Senate as well.

Article 112 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate has the duties to coordinate the work between the Assembly and the Government.

Article 113 – New (As amended March 1999):

The senate shall examine and give a recommendation to a draft or proposed law that was firstly adopted by the Assembly and other matters that the Assembly submitted within no more than one month. If it is an emergency case that duration shall be reduced to seven days.

If the Senate approves, or disapproves but not within the time limit stipulated above, the law adopted by the Assembly shall be promulgated.

If the Senate calls for the modification of the draft and the proposed law the Assembly shall take that draft and that proposed law into account a second time immediately. The Assembly shall examine and decide whether to eliminate all or some of the provisions or any terms that the Senate calls for so doing.

The exchange of the draft or the proposed law between the Senate and the Assembly shall be done only within one month. This duration shall be reduced to ten days if it is the case of national budget or finance and the duration shall be reduced to only two days if it is an urgent case.

If the Assembly withholds for longer than the time stipulated or delays while inspecting the law the principle duration for the Assembly and the Senate shall be extended so that the time duration for both are equal.

If the Senate rejects the draft or the proposed law this draft or proposed law cannot be reviewed a second time by the Assembly before one-month duration. This duration shall be reduced to fifteen days in the case of the national budget and finance cases and to four days if it is an urgent case.

In the examination of the draft and the proposed law a second time the Assembly shall adopt same by open vote with an absolute majority.

The draft or the proposed laws adopted by the above method shall then be sent for promulgation.

Article 114 – New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall establish necessary commissions. The organizing and the functioning of the Senate shall be provided for in the Internal Rules of the Senate. These internal rules shall be approved by a two-third majority vote of all senators.

Article 115 – New (As amended March 1999):

In the case of a senator dying, resigning, or breaching the rules of membership of the senate, within at least six months before expiration of the term, the vacancy shall be filled by a person appointed or elected according to the procedures stipulated in the internal rules of the Senate and the law on the election and nomination of senators.


Article 116 – New (As amended March 1999):

In the special case, the Assembly and the Senate can assemble as the congress to resolve the important issues of the nation.

Article 117 – New (As amended March 1999):

The national issues mentioned above in new article 116 and the organizing and functioning of the congress shall be determined by Law.

“The president of the biggest opposition party in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, said, ‘For 10 years, the Senate does not show that it is necessary in whatever way at all. The Senate just spends huge amounts of money wastefully.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy added, ‘The Senate is defined as a legislative body in the Constitution, but the implementation of its role to serve special interests is a different thing.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy stated in 2008 that the Senate spent nearly Riel 2,800 million, corresponding to US$7.07 million, for the salaries of senators and for other expenses. Also, Mr. Sam Rainsy criticized the election procedure for the Senate, which is not a general election, but it allows only commune councilors to elect members of the Senate, which is not a democratic procedure; he had asked that the election of the Senate should also be an election directly involving the general people.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘The current Senate was elected in 2006 by commune councilors from 2002, but since 2002 and up to 2009, much has changed.’

“Political observers in Cambodia said that the Senate itself was created with problems from the beginning, because this supreme body was established as a political deal after the parliamentary elections in 1998. At that time, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was the president of Funcinpec, was offered the position of president of the National Assembly as an award for him for leading Funcinpec to join the coalition government with the Cambodian People’s Party, which led to the creation of the Senate as power basis for the Cambodian People’s Party’s president Chea Sim, who has led the Senate since 1999.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy went on to say, ‘Ten years ago, the Senate was created from political opportunism, to create a position for Chea Sim.’ He continued to say that everyone knows since the beginning that the Senate is not useful at all, and since the time it was created, the Senate shows that it is really not useful for the nation.’

“The president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Mr. Ou Vireak, expressed the same opinion as Mr. Sam Rainsy, and he agreed that the creation of the Senate from the beginning was for the provision of power and a role for the Cambodian People’s Party, and Funcinpec was just a tool, resulting from mixing different factors, and it does not serve the interests for the nation.

“Mr. Ou Vireak added that even though the Senate checks laws adopted by the National Assembly and other laws to guarantee the contents of those laws [that they are constitutional], this legislative body shows also that its power to change and to edit laws is limited.

“Mr. Ou Vireak said, ‘Senators are just like readers of the laws adopted by the National Assembly.’ He went on to say that for 10 years, the Senate sent only two laws back to the National Assembly to be checked again, but even then the second body cared only about some word used, but not about the contents of those laws.

“Political observers criticized that the Senate lacks the power to make itself a body that works with authority to recheck laws, and so the Senate is now not different from other institutions that only serve as political power for the Cambodian People’s Party. Unlike in other democratic nations, Cambodian senators are elected to represent their parties and they depend on the support from their parties.

“The executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, Mr. Sok Sam Ouen, said, ‘If a senator or a parliamentarian is dismissed or resigns from a party, that senator or parliamentarian’s seat will be also be lost [but it is to be filled by the party].’ Such a situation shows that the political parties controls the National Assembly and the Senate.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #1719, 24.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #44, 24.3.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy: The Cambodian People’s Party Does Not Collect Land Taxes from Citizens, but Grabs Land All of a Sudden

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1905, 24.3.2009

  • [Minister of Defense] Tea Banh: Soldiers’ Salaries Are Late because Document Preparation [for salaries to the Ministry of Economic and Finance] Has Not Yet Been Done [he apologized to the soldiers for this lateness and promised their salaries will be released in this March]
  • Indonesia Sends a Navy Ship to the Somali Gulf
  • A Plane Crashed in the US State of Montana and Killed 17 People

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6610, 24.3.2009

  • Khmer Artifacts Are Borrowed for Nine Exhibitions in Japan

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #1719, 24.3.2009

  • Opposition Party and Civil Society Organization Criticize the Senate for Not Fulfilling Its Obligation according to the Constitution

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4853, 24.3.2009

  • The Prime Minister Dismisses Report about Political Hazard in Cambodia [by the Intelligence Unit based in England that put Cambodia among countries with political instability such as Sudan, Zimbabwe, Chad, and Angola]
  • Samdech Dekchor: “Budget [for health sector] Must Not Be Reduced in Spite of the Global Financial Crisis”
  • Two Groups of [nine] Robbers Who Conducted Almost 10 Robberies Surprising Kandal Are Arrested
  • Two Houses Which Store and Produce Drugs in Russey Keo District Are Cracked Down [two Chinese nationals and four Khmers are arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodia and America Will Continue to Search for Relics of US Soldiers Lost during the Vietnam War

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1680, 24.3.2009

  • An Economic Intelligence Unit Said that Cambodian Economy for 2009-2010 Will Plummet under 1% [while Cambodia expects 6% economic growth in 2009]

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BBC Asks Hun Sen Government about the Provision of Land to Companies using the Development Concession Image – Monday, 23.3.2009

Posted on 24 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

Apologies for the delays in publishing – we are almost up to date – last Sunday’s editorial is still delayed – it will come later in the day.

Norbert Klein

“Facing questions by the British Broadcasting CooperationBBC – about land concessions in Cambodia, rights abuses against people over land issues, the exercise of power by the leaders of the country, and providing land to partisan merchants’ private companies using the system of economic concessions, a representative of the Hun Sen government, Svay Sitha, responded back and forth repeatedly.

“Some points of his answers make one think that he does not know the process of land issues in Cambodia well. Frequently, he used the word ‘probably’ in his answers to protect the director of the Pheapimex Company, who is close to the prime minister and his family.

“Svay Sitha, who is an opportunist politician, who took the chance to become a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, close to Deputy Prime Minister and Senior Minister Sok An, who is also close to Mr. Hun Sen, and who answerer to the questions, saying, ‘Cambodia hears frequently voices repeated, especially from non-government organizations, that publish things in an attempt to disgrace the government.’

“His explanation shows that he acted as if he were a defense lawyer of the Pheapimex Company of Cheung Sopheap, called Yeay Phou [Grandmother Phou], and of Lao Meng Khin, who is an Oknha, who then became a politician as an advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen. Svay Sitha mentioned three conditions for the government to provide land concession to different companies, including the Pheapimex Company. He explained that unless a company has a clear plan to use the land, has work experience, and has sufficient resources for the operation, when a land concession is offered by the government.

“The Pheapimex Company of Yeay Phou, who is close to Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife, and who frequently shares her money for the prime minister’s use for different occasions, was focused by the BBC regarding more than 310,000 hectares of state land and citizens’ land, delivered by Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party government to this private company, while by now, there has nothing significantly been achieved from the use of that land.

“Regarding this point, Svay Sitha said that ‘probably’ the government has a reason to allow this company to have the right to control land concessions without activities on that land. Particularly, Svay Sitha seemed not to know what is the progress of land issues in Cambodia well, since he said that both the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] and Prime Minister Hun Sen conducted so-called land reforms in 1981, in 1988, and in the early 1990s.

“What this secretary of state and spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, who is close to Mr. Sok An, had said shows that he does not know the events and issues which led to different land disputes at the present time. What he raised was in the last period of the State of Cambodia [1989 to 1993] ruled by the CPP with Hun Sen as prime minister, which used the term ‘Economic Autonomy’ as the goal to manage state property, such as factories and land, to be later sold to merchants who piled up the benefits of their money and property, which now changed into another image, by which the government led by the same person and the same partisans use the term ‘Economic Development’ in order to hide the selling of state property and state resources.

“The Pheapimex Company of Yeay Phou, who is a big merchant woman, whose husband Lao Meng Khin became a senator for the Cambodian People’s Party, due to special influences which were mentioned by different press agencies inside and outside of the country,and by observers regarding her close relation with leaders of the country. This company has the right to control up to 350,000 hectares of land in Pursat and in Kompong Chhnang, which is against the Cambodian law, which allows one company to hold only 10,000 hectares of land concessions.

“Particularly, also farming land of people in different districts in Kompong Chhnang and in Pursat, including pagodas and other places of the people, are included in the invading maps of the Pheapimex Company, which has received licenses from the Hun Sen Cambodian People’s Party government. This case triggered strong protests from people until activities of this company were stalled, and Svay Sitha explained that ‘probably’ the Hun Sen government has some reasons to let this company continue controlling land without conducting development activities.

“This is a question of the BBC to seek answers from the Hun Sen government from Svay Sitha, who was made responsible for responding to questions of the BBC over Hun Sen’s government using power and positions to provide land concessions to partisan companies that have close relations, providing benefits.

“What Mr. Svay Sitha answers seems to follow, is what Prime Minister Hun Sen had told Sok An, ordering him to help clean the reputation of the government over the provision of land concessions and economic concessions to partisan companies, under the pretext of development of crops and of agro-industry. He tried to clarify, saying, ‘There is no such case that companies that have relations with Samdech Dekchor or other powerful persons in the government [receiving land concessions].’

“Recognizing that local companies provide more benefits than foreign companies, Svay Sitha’s answer was as if he admitted this when he said, ‘This principle (to provides land concessions to local companies) is applied when somebody would come to invest leasing land in Cambodia through economic concessions.’

“This explanation of Svay Sitha about the provision of economic land concessions contradicts what a member of the National Assembly, the chairperson of the Commission on Economy, Finance, Banks, and Audits, Cheam Yeap, who is also from the Cambodian People’s Party, had said. Mr. Cheam Yeap said in an interview with Radio Free Asia recently that the government should not lease land to neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, for fear of losing land, like in previous historic experiences. He said so after a foreign newspaper had quoted Svay Rieng governor Cheang Am as saying that 100,000 hectares of land along the border is kept for leasing to Yuon [Vietnam].

“Contradicting to what Mr. Cheam Yeap had said, Svay Sitha told radio BBC that the government really provided land concessions to neighboring countries. Svay Sitha said, ‘There were Memorandums of Understanding signed between Cambodia and different neighboring countries for their investment.’

“Anyway, Svay Sitha described Yeay Phou’s company, ‘The Pheapimex Company has capital and the capacity to work, and the company “probably” has the most capital – which means it is better prepared.’

“Answering back and forth repeatedly in an attempt to clean up the bad reputation of the Hun Sen government over his negligence, what led to land disputes and land grabbing from people around the country, Svay Sitha indirectly criticized the former commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Ke Kim Yan, as he was removed from his position by the prime minister over land issues, and the use of troops to protect private interests.

“Svay Sitha’s excuses cannot clean the bad reputation of the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen over the provision of hundreds of thousands of state land as economic concessions to private companies and partisans, and letting land grabbing from people happen around the country, until there is criticism by local and international human rights groups.” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1678-1679, 22-23.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 23 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #144, 22-23.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: The Government Still Does Not Collect Land Taxes but Continues to Help Farmers
  • Samdech Euv [the King Father] Thanks Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Who Provided Him Justice [Mr. Hun Sen recently expressed his support for the Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime led by Samdech Euv]
  • The Asian Human Rights Commission Asks the Government to Strengthen Its Efforts to Solve Land Problems
  • The Prime Minister Asks the Opposition Party to Look at Its Own Development

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #370, 22-24.3.2009

  • UNDP Still Freezes Funds for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1904, 22-23.3.2009

  • In 2009, 400,000 Vietnamese People Lost Their Employment
  • The Minister of Information [Mr. Khieu Kanharith] Encourages Fellow Officials to Improve Their Information Technology Abilities

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6609, 23.3.2009

  • In Phnom Penh in 2008 There Were 4,798 Weddings, 12,673 Births, and 2,030 Deaths [the population of the city was 1,325,681]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #1718, 23.3.2009

  • Armed Forces Shoot at Citizens, Killing One and Injuring More Than Ten in Chi Kraeng District in Siem Reap [more than 50 citizens are arrested. – An official of the Ministry of Defense, Mr. Sinh Samut, who was asked by citizens to help intervene the case, said that on 22 March 2009, forces, such as the military police of Siem Reap, went to displace citizens who are doing rice farming on 475 hectares of land, in order to grab their land for merchants, and he added that a district governor had sold the land secretly to merchants who bribed the authorities to provide them land]
  • The Cambodian Side of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [with more than 250 staff members] Is Satisfied with a US$200,000 Donation by the Japanese Government

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4852, 22-23.3.2009

  • The Sixth International Circus Festival Is Celebrated in Phnom Penh and Battambang
  • The Thai Prime Minister and [five] Ministers Pass a Vote of Confidence

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1678-1679, 22-23.3.2009

  • BBC Asks Hun Sen Government about the Provision of Land to Companies using the Development Concession Image
  • World Bank Warns They Might Withdraw a US$18 Million Loan, if Developments of the Government Affects the Citizens’ Benefits

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

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