Week 623

Different Bits of Information – Questions for All to Consider – Sunday, 2.8.2009

Posted on 4 August 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 623 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 623

Foreign Investors Are Coming to Cambodia – Thai Investors Seek Investment Partners in Cambodia – Vietnam Invests US$200 Million in Banking and in an Airline – and even though the number of European tourist decreased heavily, the number of Asian tourists rose significantly. The number of tourists from Vietnam is now higher than that from Korea, which had been top for several years. “Therefore, there is nothing to worry.”

In addition to the usual stories about foreign grant aid, accepted – or expected – to continue to flow, there were also reports about voluntary donations, publicly reported, from private business – the examples we quote are from external sources. To what extent is such a culture of voluntarily sharing for public interest purposes also developing within the Cambodian business community, or among Cambodian individuals who can consider their private property as a basis for generous sharing? Behind the official grants from Japan are, of course, the resources of Japanese people, who share them through the channels of their government:

  • Swiss Construction Company Holcim Grants US$90,000 for the Conservation of Temple Paintings of the Bakong Temple
  • Khmer Machas Srok Expresses Appreciation to The Phnom Penh Post for Granting Money to Mr. Hang Chakra [in prison for 12 months for alleged disinformation and defamation]
  • The Vietnamese Bank for Investment and Development Donates US$800,000 to the Cambodian Red Cross
  • Japan Grants More Than US$33 Million for Three Big Projects [National Road 1 improvement, aquaculture project in Sihanoukville, rural clean water supply in Memut, Kompong Cham]

“So there is nothing to worry?” There are also strange gaps

“According to a report by the United Nations International Labor Organization in 2007, among 10,000 Khmer graduating students each year, only 10% can find jobs” – then probably there should be also hardly any job openings here:

A New Big Website for Staff Recruitment in Cambodia Is Operated

This assumption was completely wrong: there is a huge number of job openings, all clearly arranged according to 30 job categories and 30 locations, in Phnom Penh and in the provinces. Why this discrepancy? There had been frequently, over the years, some criticism of the educational system, not being aware of and geared towards the labor market. Instead of some hesitating remarks, now the Prime Minister has contributed his view:

“The Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Mr. Hun Sen, had voiced his concern that higher education does not have much quality, but the institutions are more concerned with quantity, and he blamed some universities to have poor management…

“Does the Royal Government of Prime Minister Hun Sen have specific measures to strengthen the state and the private higher education? Education analysts expressed the concern that if the Royal Government does not take strict actions, the quality of education in Cambodia will fall into a deep crisis, and it will be difficult to restore the situation to normals as most educational institutions care only about profits. This analyst asked the Royal Government to check the operation of the national Accreditation Committee of Cambodia for educational quality assessment administered by the Council of Ministers, which so far does not take any action.”

Even if a solution is far away and a complex task, it seems that the place where the necessary action is not being taken has been identified. Instead of tasking the Ministry of Education with serious reforms of the educational system, a kind of super-ministry was created in the form of the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia. It will be interesting to see what kind of consequences the clear analysis of the Prime Minister will have on the structure “ which so far does not take any action” according to analysts of the system.

There were more occasions where the Prime Minister sharply criticized members of the administration. We quote another report from this week:

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, ‘Since a long time, the riverbank [in Kandal] was not repaired, but just now when the water rises, they get started. Now the water broke some parts of the riverbank, and I almost want to hit the Kandal provincial governor one day. After I phoned him and gave an order, the work started – if I had not phoned, nothing would happen.’
“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen also repeated his previous recommendation to look at the roads. Samdech explained, ‘When I say again to look at the roads, that means: first, there must not be illegal check-points along the roads, and second, if the road is damaged, it must be repaired.

“His warning is not only aimed at the Kandal provincial governor, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen encouraged also other governors in Cambodia to be highly responsible in repairing roads in their respective regions, and they should build more recreational places without waiting for the prime minister to shout and give orders before they take any initiative.”

So there is negligence at high levels in the administration? There are illegal check-points? Were there not orders given years ago to abolish them?

Obviously severe problems exist in some layers of the administration which wield power:

  • A Big Gambling House in the Center of Phnom Penh Was Raided and More Than 80 Gamblers Were Arrested; the Owner of the Gambling House, Che Im, Was Arrested for a While, but Then Was Released again after a High Ranking Official Intervened – Who?
  • Sixteen of Poor Citizens Hired to Transport Wood from the [Thai side of the] Dangrek Mountains Were Surrounded and Arrested by Thai Soldiers, and One Could Escape – Who in Cambodia can hire people to illegally cross into Thailand in this military security area around the Preah Vihear Temple?
  • Former Kandal Market Director and District Governor Signed a Permission to Allow [private electricity] Producers to Operate, Violating a Directive by the Municipal Governor – Does he now know the rules?
  • The Krakor District Authorities in Pursat Warned Forest Protection Activists [who collected thumbprints of citizens to request the government to ban logging and forest clearance by private companies ] – Do they not also protect the forest? In whose interest are the officials working?

Here, we did not take up any of the many international voices expressing concern about the state of affairs in Cambodia. Whenever international voices raise some concern, they are frequently rebuked by official voices in Cambodia: They are biased and inaccurate, they really do not know what is happening in Cambodia!

Obviously the Prime Minister knows, and sometimes his patience is almost running out in view of what is happening in the administration.

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The Vietnamese Embassy Asks Cambodia to Focus on Investment of Vietnamese Companies in Cambodia – Saturday, 1.8.2009

Posted on 1 August 2009. Filed under: Week 623 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 623

“Phnom Penh: The Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Ngô Anh Dũng [Ngo Anh Dung], had met with the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, to discuss existing cooperation in some important sectors with Vietnamese investments in Cambodia.

“An official of the Council of Ministers told reporters that after the meeting on 29 July 2009 at the Council of Ministers, Mr. Ngô Anh Dũng stated his intention to continue the existing work of the former ambassador, and he pointed to some important points that the Vietnamese government has requested to keep under attention, which are related to major investment sectors in Cambodia such as mines and energy where there is investment by Vietnamese companies. Therefore, the ambassador asked for cooperation and instructions from the Cambodian government. Regarding the oil sector, the ambassador said that both countries have large resources of oil and gas, because Vietnam has a lot of experience in these fields, as it has cooperated with Cuba, some countries in Africa, and Russia. As for agriculture and rubber plantations, the Royal Government of Cambodia had provided already 100,000 hectares as concession land. Also, the Viettel company is a licensed investor in telecommunications [brand name Metfone – 500,000 mobile phone users]. There is cooperation in culture, and in expanding tourism [after 5 years with tourists from South Korea topping the list, in 2009 there are more Vietnamese tourists than Korean] by combining tourism of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, since these three countries are similarly rich in cultural and artistic potential. Vietnam has already assisted in human resources development for Cambodia, so this is like what has already also been done before.

“In response, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An agreed that Vietnam is a country with much experience in development. Thus, Cambodia will try to ensure good and timely cooperation.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4961, 1.8.2009

Note:

This meeting followed several days of high level talks on Cambodian-Vietnamese cooperation, about which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam reported

Vietnam, Cambodia talk further cooperation

“Vietnamese and Cambodian leaders have met in Phnom Penh to discuss measures to boost the bilateral economic relations.

“During his three-day working visit to Cambodia , beginning on July 25, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trương Vĩnh Trọng [Truong Vinh Trong] held talks with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Vice Chairman of the Cambodian National Assembly Heng Samrin on July 26.

“The Cambodian leaders highlighted the visit by Deputy Prime Minister Trương Vĩnh Trọng, saying that the two countries’ solidarity and friendship have been further reinforced and developed.

“Deputy Prime Minister Trương Vĩnh Trọng and his entourage also paid a courtesy visit to Buddhist Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong at the Ounalom Pagoda, and presented hospital beds, medical equipment and computers to the Cambodian Buddhist Center’s infirmary.
The same day, the Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trương Vĩnh Trọng and the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen attended a ceremony to inaugurate the Cambodian national airline – Cambodia Angkor Air, a joint venture between Vietnam Airlines and the Cambodian Aviation Administration.

“They also witness the awarding of the Cambodian Government’s license to the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) to open a representative office in Cambodia, and to set up an insurance company, and an investment development company in Phnom Penh.”

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 1 August 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #251, 1.8.2009

  • Siem Reap Deputy Governor Om Mara Was Nominated Preah Vihear Governor
  • Dangkao Police Chief Is Accused of Assault and Using a Weapon Illegally [during a car accident in Kampot]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2011, 1.8.2009

  • Samdech Heng Samrin Asked the Japanese Ambassador, Who Has Just Finished His Term, to Help Attract Japanese People to Visit and Invest in Cambodia
  • The Director of the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute [Mr. Srun Limsong] Was Fined Riel 100 Million [approx. US$25,000] for Violating State Land [he had cleared state forest land, destroying the natural environment, and then claimed the land as his private property, in Koh Kong]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #458-459, 31-1.7-8.2009

  • Khmer Machas Srok Expresses Appreciation to The Phnom Penh Post for Granting Money to Mr. Hang Chakra [the editor-in-chief of Khmer Machas Srok who was convicted to 12 months in prison for alleged disinformation and defamation against government officials]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Mr. Yim Sovann: The Sam Rainsy Party Will Not Appeal Ms. Mu Sochua’s Case, because as Citizens Know, There Is No Trust in the Khmer Courts
  • A Khmer Pregnant Woman Committed Suicide by Jumping from the Fifth Floor of the Fortune Hotel [she died – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6717, 1-2.8.2009

  • The Cambodian Government Lifts Visas Requirement for Citizens of Five Countries in ASEAN [it is not mentioned here which countries]
  • The Cambodian National Assembly President and a Delegation Will Attend the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly [in Thailand from 2 to 6 August 2009]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4961, 1.8.2009

  • The Prime Minister Warns about Using Cambodia as a Country of First Refuge so that the Cambodia Can Be Used to Try to Move on to a Third Country
  • The Vietnamese Embassy Asks Cambodia to Focus on Investments of Vietnamese Companies in Cambodia
  • Cambodia Found Old [ceramics] Treasures at the Preah Vihear Temple [Cambodia plans to ask UNESCO to conduct experiments to establish the age of the ceramics found]
  • Robbers Shot a Woman to Death to Take Her Motorbike [Kompong Cham]

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The Kandal Provincial Governor Was Blamed by the Prime Minister for Being Lazy in Constructing Roads – Friday, 31.7.2009

Posted on 1 August 2009. Filed under: Week 623 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 623

“Phnom Penh: The prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, used serious words on 31 July 2009 at a closing conference to sum up the task of the Ministry of Tourism, and Samdech warned the Kandal provincial governor Chhun Sirun over his negligence, not repairing roads and the river bank in Kandal.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, ‘Since a long time, the riverbank was not repaired, but just now when the water rises, they get started. Now the water broke some parts of the riverbank, and I almost want to hit the Kandal provincial governor one day. After I phoned him and gave an order, the work started – if I had not phoned, nothing would happen.’

“Besides such serious warnings towards the Kandal Governor Chhun Sirun, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen praised the Battambang governor, Mr. Prach Chan, who has frequently asked for funds to improve and repair many public recreational places and parks.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen also repeated his previous recommendation to look at the roads. Samdech explained, ‘When I say again to look at the roads, that means: first, there must not be illegal check-points along the roads, and second, if the road is damaged, it must be repaired.

“His warning is not only aimed at the Kandal provincial governor, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen encouraged also other governors in Cambodia to be highly responsible in repairing roads in their respective regions, and they should build more recreational places without waiting for the prime minister to shout and give orders before they take any initiative.

“Moreover, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen instructed again all authorities on all levels not to sell any pre-schools or children’s playgrounds for whatever other purpose, they should be kept as state property.”Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #250, 31.7.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 31 July 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #250, 31.7.2009

  • The Kandal Provincial Governor Was Blamed by the Prime Minister for Being Lazy in Constructing Roads
  • The Wife of Major General Vong Von and Her Supporters Went to Hit the Second Wife of Her Husband at Her House, and the Second Wife Was Seriously Injured [there is no information about any action against the violent perpetrators – Phnom Penh]
  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections Reports: More than 400,000 Eligible Voters Failed to Vote in 2008
  • The Prime Minister Orders the Authorities to Check Foreigners Whose Visas Are Expired
  • The Cambodian and American Chambers of Commerce Will Start to Cooperate for the Development of Energy in the Greater Mekong Basin

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2010, 31.7.2009

  • The Cambodian and Siamese [Thai] Ministers of Foreign Affairs Prepare to Discuss Border Issues [on 3 and 4 August 2009]
  • The National Election Committee Does Not Understand the Comfrel Report
  • The Minister of Health Orders to Close All Unlicensed Clinics

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #631, 31.7.2009

  • Many Well-Known Dignitaries, Businesspeople, and Officials Earn Their Doctorate Degrees at the Chamroen University of Poly-Technology [most students of this university are government officials]

Note:

From the Website of the Chamroen University of Poly-Technology:

“Providing higher education to a growing number of qualified people who are eager to increase their knowledge in the future, CUP University is an established university of Cambodia. It was founded to complement the Royal Government in making this education available.

Recent News:

On 6 September 2007, CUP conferred the Degree of Honorary Doctor in Philosophy in Political Science upon Samdech Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly and an Honorary Doctoral Degree in Public Policy and Management upon H.E. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6716, 31.7.2009

  • The Spreading of the Provision of Sexual Services [to tourists] Affects Tourism Sites and Khmer Women Honor Is Lost [Siem Reap]
  • Anti-Tank Mines Exploded at Two Places, Killing One Person, Injuring Two, and Destroying a Tractor and Homebuilt Small Agricultural Truck [Battambang]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4960, 31.7.2009

  • The Minister of Health: We Have Deployed Health Officials at Hospitals and at Health Centers to Respond to the A/H1N1 Threat
  • A Woman Was Raped by Her Father and Brother – Police Has Already Arrested the Father [Battambang]

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Most Members of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association Do Not Get State Funds to Buy Paddy Rice to Store It – Thursday, 30.7.2009

Posted on 31 July 2009. Filed under: Week 623 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 623

“Phnom Penh: A three-page document with the names of medium and big scale rice millers in three districts of Battambang shows that they do not receive benefits from the Rice Millers Association. The source of such benefits is US$18 million that the government, through the Rural Development Bank, provides to the Rice Millers Association each year, to be distributed to rice millers that are members of the association, to buy paddy rice for storage. But the director of the Rural Development Bank, Mr. Son Kunthor, and the president of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association, Mr. Phou Puy, rejected this claim.

“Owners of eleven rice mills in Sangkae, Thma Koul, and Moung Russey districts in Battambang claimed that they have difficulties to gain benefits from the association. At least five of them said that they have never received any benefits since they became members of the Rice Millers Association.

“A member of the Rice Millers Association, Mr. Touch Kim Huot, told Deum Ampil by phone in the evening of 29 July 2009 that the Rice Millers Association had contacted him, inviting him to borrow money from the association, but the amount of money offered was very little, so that he could not do anything with it. He added, ‘Therefore, I didn’t borrow from them; I don’t want to risk anything, because the amount of money was too small. I have not borrowed money from the association for four or five years.’ According to this rice miller, the Rice Millers Association requires to deposit real estate before anyone can borrow money from the association. As he has only one piece of real estate, he cannot put it as mortgage to the Rice Millers Association. He might better ask for a loan from banks where, through mortgaging the same real estate, he can request much more loans.

“Another owner of a rice mill in Thma Koul in Battambang, Meng, said, ‘I have never asked for a loan, because there is no benefit from it.’ He said that when he first became a member of the Rice Millers Association, he attended their meetings, but after he found that there was no benefit from it, he then normally did not attend, even when he was invited for a meeting. Without criticizing anybody directly, this rice miller said, ‘Only their partisans can get something, as for us, we have never received anything.’

“Besides the above two rice millers, some others who have received small amounts of loans complained about the complicated procedures and the commissions to be paid. Responding to Deum Ampil via telephone, another rice miller, Cheng, said that the procedure to request for a loan from the association is complex. Just for submitting the forms, one has to pay money, and after having received a loan, one month interest is taken immediately. When paying back the loan, one has to spend more for service charges to the association, which is responsible for taking the money back to the state in Phnom Penh. He said, ‘I decide to ask for a loan from the Canadia Bank, because it is easier.’

“Another rice miller from the Ou Ta Ki commune, Thma Koul, Battambang, said, ‘The association can offer loans, but 5% of the total loan must be paid in advance, and the interest rate is 0.5% per month. Actually, this expense is comparable to private banks. Therefore, to ask for a loan from a private bank is easier. Another thing is that the association has never assigned any work or supplied rice for me; they share only with their special members.’

“They complained about their difficulties in receiving benefits from the Rice Millers Association, and this disappoints some members to almost not attend the meetings. However, this does not apply to all, as some rice millers close to the Rice Millers Association president and his relatives can receive some benefits.

“Last week, both the president of the Cambodia Rice Millers Association, Mr. Phou Puy, and the secretary general in charge of the above affairs, Mr. Son Kunthor, rejected the above information and moreover, Mr. Phou Puy toldDeum Ampil briefly, ‘Don’t believe those ghosts!'”Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #249, 30.7.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 30 July 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #249, 30.7.2009

  • Most Members of the Cambodian Rice Millers Association Do Not Get State Funds to Buy Paddy Rice to Store It
  • The Minister of Tourism: Despite Tourism Declining by 1%, Our Situation Is Better Than that of Neighboring Countries
  • The Number of A/H1N1 Cases in Cambodia Increased to Nineteen; the Singaporean Government Donates One More A/H1N1 Scanner to Cambodia

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2009, 30.7.2009

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Already Prepared Money for Paying the Fine in a Losing Case [this decision by the party is in contrast to what Ms. Mu Sochua herself had said earlier: that she would rather go to jail than pay a fine]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #457, 30.7.2009

  • Two of the Three Vietnamese [suspected] Murderers Who Killed a Khmer Officer in Banteay Meanchey Were Released [the provincial court claimed they were not the perpetrators]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6715, 30.7.2009

  • Australia Promises to Assist the [Cambodian] National Authority for Combating Drugs
  • A Poor Soldier’s Family with Too Many Children Seeks Manioc Tubers in the Forest to Mix them with Rice [Oddar Meanchey]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4958-4959, 29-30.7.2009

  • Former Thai Coup Leader Blamed the Government over Tensions at the Border; Thai Parliament Decided to Provide a Loan of More Than US$41 Million to Cambodia for Road Construction
  • Cambodian Tourism Now Sees Effects from the Economic Crisis [http://www.mot.gov.kh]
  • Cambodian and Vietnamese Ministers of Transport Agreed to Open Six More Border Crossings
  • Cambodian Officials Asked Vietnam to Help Crack Down on Illegal Wood and Wild Animals Exports [from Cambodia]
  • Two Young Men Died after Driving on a Motorbike, and They Hit a Car [Battambang]
  • An English Man Was Arrested for Pornography involving a Child under Fifteen Years Old [Phnom Penh]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1761, 30.7.2009

  • Opposition Party and Civil Society Support The Financial Times Saying that Cambodia Takes Action to Stifle Opponents

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Higher Education Institutions Care Only about Profit while the Accreditation Committee of Cambodia for Assessing the Quality of Education at the Council of Ministers Is Asleep – Wednesday, 29.7.2009

Posted on 30 July 2009. Filed under: Week 623 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 623

Note:

The Accreditation Committee of Cambodia is to be a national independent higher education quality assessment body. It was established in March 2003 under the supervision of the Council of Ministers, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, to develop standards of education in Cambodia.

Khmer Amatak had conducted research at state and private higher education institutions after the Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Mr. Hun Sen, had voiced his concern that higher education does not have much quality, but the institutions are more concerned with quantity, and he blamed some universities to have poor management, especially over the quality of education required and set up by the Ministry of Education.

Khmer Amatak noticed that the quality of education at universities is still a major problem, even though there is a directive from Prime Minister Hun Sen. Khmer Amatak found some specific problems: most universities do not require their students to do assignments, and graduate assignments are written by hiring other people to do it, sometimes students are not required to defend their assignment results, lecturers offer the students’ test answers in advance, some students, especially those who are civil servants, attend classes irregularly and use different means to bribe their lectures so that they understand them, some lecturers do not have enough experience and teaching skills, some lecturers do not have sufficient time to do research, as they work also as civil servants, or they have to teach many sessions at different universities. Khmer Amatak found some other problems, like that the Ministry of Education does not conduct regular educational quality assessments at different higher education institutions, or pretends not to see the problem.

“A student of the Norton University of Law, who asked not to be named, told Khmer Amatak that lecturers give students’ test questions before the exam, so that the students can prepare the answers. This student complained that they are not happy with such activities of their lecturers, because at the end there are no real exams, but just copying of lessons. This student added that they are hard working, obey discipline, and want to show their real ability through fair exams, because the results will prove their real ability and pride. Most students of this university are disappointed with the management committee, and especially with the rector for not taking any thorough measures to ensure the quality of education. They asked the board of directors of this university to strengthen the quality of education by checking the lecturers’ capacity, and posing strict discipline on lecturers and on students.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, issued a statement expressing serious concerns over the quality of the recent Grade 9 examinations. In this 2009 Grade 9 examinations, more than 91% of students passed. Mr. Rong Chhun criticized that this results does not reflect real quality. He blamed the Ministry of Education for lowering the passing scores from 250 points to only 230 points; moreover, the examinations were conducted poorly, like the contents of some exam papers were known and distributed ahead of the examinations, and observers were bribed by students. He asked to abolish the poorly conducted Grade 9 examinations, and requested to take only the semesters’ results and the students’ attendance records instead. To do so would save more than US$2 million, which could be used to increase the teachers’ salaries. What he had requested had been rejected by officials of the Ministry of Education.

Khmer Amatak is also observing the Grade 12 examinations [at present in their third day]. Mr. Rong Chhun said that there have been many irregularities. Students are allowed to bring with them papers they use for cheating in their examination rooms, students bribe examination observers, so that their cheating papers are not seized and that they are allowed to call outside to ask for help or for answers for their examinations, the bribes are low or high, depending on the subjects etc… He added that the Ministry of Education does not strictly implement the ordinances and the laws about the education system, and on education officials or observers. So far, there has not been any reaction from the Ministry of Education over what he has mentioned.

“Retired education officials voiced their opinion to Khmer Amatak, saying that Cambodia is encountering an education slowdown, since the quality of education in Cambodia has not responded to the quality standards required by the international labor market. According to a report by the United Nations International Labor Organization in 2007, among 10,000 Khmer graduating students each year, only 10% can find jobs. The same report showed that between 300,000 and 400,000 young graduating students are seeking jobs. According to the observation of the UN program and the national development strategic plan of Cambodia for 2006 to 2010, there is the highest rate of graduating young people ever, creating specific opportunities and challenges in Cambodia. Cambodia will have to face severe problems at the labor market for young people seeking jobs, and it is estimated that within five more years, the number of young people hunting for jobs will increase over 300,000. While Cambodia is already encountering serious problems at the labor market to absorb the young people, the number of young unemployed people will be more than the total growth of the labor force. Therefore this is a potential contributing to social instability, if there are no solutions.

“Does the Royal Government of Prime Minister Hun Sen have specific measures to strengthen the state and the private higher education? Education analysts expressed the concern that if the Royal Government does not take strict actions, the quality of education in Cambodia will fall into a deep crisis, and it will be difficult to restore the situation to normals as most educational institutions care only about profits. This analyst asked the Royal Government to check the operation of the national Accreditation Committee of Cambodia for educational quality assessment administered by the Council of Ministers, which so far does not take any action. In addition, the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport has to conduct a thorough assessment of the education programs of all universities.

“A civil society official said that the Royal Government should consider the appointment of leaders of educational institutions, especially of those from the private sector, with persons of high positions in the government, making it difficult to do any real assessment.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #630, 29.7.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #248, 29.7.2009

  • Former Kandal Market Director and [Daun Penh] District Governor Signed a Permission to Allow [private electricity] Producers to Operate, Violating a Directive by the Municipal Governor
  • Two Foreigners [a Chinese American and a Pakistani] Were Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Drug Smuggling

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2008, 29.7.2009

  • The [Cambodian] Government Will Open a New International Border Crossing near the Preah Vihear Temple [5 km to the east of the temple, and the former border crossing will be closed forever – while the Thai government sees no reason to change the historical access route which was used for centuries and build new infrastructure]
  • A Man and His Wife, Who Killed a Family [of three] by Cutting Their Throats Were Sentenced to Life Imprisonment [Phnom Penh]
  • Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen Granted an Audience to the New Ambassador of the Russian Federation [Mr. Alexander I. Ignatov]
  • [Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Hor Namhong: Russia Is a Good Friend That Has Helped Cambodia after the Pol Pot Regime; Twenty Five Khmer Students Receive Scholarships to Study in Russia Every Year

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #456, 29.7.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian and former Minister of Women’s Affairs] Mu Sochua Will Be Accompanied by Many Supporters to Go to Listen to the Judgment [on 4 August 2009, as a result of the Prime Minister’s defamation lawsuit against her]
  • The Krakor District Authorities in Pursat Warned [two] Forest Protection Activists [who collected thumbprints of citizens to request the government to ban logging and forest clearance by private companies – the list with thumbprints was confiscated]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6714, 29.7.2009

  • [Four] Women and a Man Were Arrested and Nearly 1 kg of Heroin Was Confiscated [Phnom Penh – the arrested persons are from Nigeria and from Sierra Leone)]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1760, 29.7.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Son Chhay: The Government Is Creating a National Airline while Losing National Values [Cambodia cannot run a national airline on its own, it cooperates with a Vietnamese company]
  • [The spokesperson of the Council of Minister] Phay Siphan Called the Demand to Revise the Listing of the Preah Vihear Temple [by a member of the Thai Royal family] an Insult against the Thai King [as it was against the decision of the Thai King]

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The Royal Government Is Disappointed about Land Concessions Provided to Private Companies – Tuesday, 28.7.2009

Posted on 29 July 2009. Filed under: Week 623 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 623

“Low grade forest land, eroded partly because of a lack of forest coverage, has been provided as concession land to some local investors in order to develop agriculture and agro-industry, based on available land, but so far, some local investment companies have not acted and there is little action on some land while the owners of the companies put blame on the global economic downturn and say that they cannot do anything because there is no market demand.

“An official working at the Ministry of Agriculture, who asked not to be named, said recently that the Royal Government has provided millions of hectares of concession land in some provinces to some local investment companies to grow agricultural and agro-industry crops, in order to counter the global economic crisis. The Royal Government has successfully increased agricultural output during the last five years, making the economic situation in Cambodia to suffer only a minor crisis that did not affect the inflation rate, as the Riel remains stable so far. The concession of land focusing on local eroded forest land aims at promoting agriculture to withstand the economic crisis, and the Royal Government expected that those companies would produces paddy rice, and other agricultural and agro-industrial crops. But by now, those companies have not acted, and some companies are clearing the remaining forest very slowly, intending to delay developing the contracted concession lands.

“The same official added that not only the Ministry of Agriculture, but also the Royal Government, which had provided eroded forest land to those companies, do not understand their intention, avoiding to begin operations in response to the Royal Government’s aim. Most companies said that they have not finished clearing the remaining forest and land, or have not yet checked what kinds of crops to plant. These are pretexts they use so that they are not blamed by the Royal Government, though they do not fulfill the Royal Government’s plan to act against the economic crisis from which Cambodia is suffering like other countries. Even though the effect is small, the Royal Government is concerned about it.

“Cambodian economists said that if private companies would fulfill the intention of the Royal Government, Cambodia would be able to prevent inflation, including national and international economic problems of the people. Also the head of the Royal Government, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, had called on all farmers to do rice cultivation twice a year in areas with irrigation systems. If farmers can cultivate twice a year and not let their land lay unused, 80% of all farmers would be able to improve their living in some degree, starting from the struggle for their own family economy. As the people in these companies make little effort and do not involve many citizens, the Royal government is deeply disappointed about these local investment companies that have not fulfilled the Royal Government’s plan, which is to strongly encourage agriculture so that no agricultural land in Cambodia is left unused and does not produce anything of value.” Krong Long Vek, Vol.7, #162, 27.7.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #247, 28.7.2009

  • Japan Grants More Than US$33 Million for Three Big Projects [National Road 1 improvement project, creation of an aquaculture project in Sihanoukville, and a rural clean water supply project in Memut District, Kompong Cham]
  • A Swiss Construction Company [Holcim] Grants US$90,000 for the Conservation of Temple Paintings of the Bakong Temple
  • Two Old Women Were Murdered in [separate] Robberies, where One Was Shot to Death on a Road, and the Other Was Hit so that She Died at Her House [perpetrators have not yet been arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • Vietnamese Bank [the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam] Donates US$800,000 to the Cambodian Red Cross
  • President Nicolas Sarkozy Fainted while He Was Jogging [he was hospitalized immediately, his condition is reported to be stable]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2007, 28.7.2009

  • There Have Not yet Been any Deaths related to the A/H1N1 Virus in Cambodia; there Was No A/H1N1 Infection at the Olympic Market [according the Ministry of Health – though there had been several disturbing rumors]
  • Samdech Akkak Ponhea Chakrey Heng Samrin Asks Vietnam to Continue to Expand Investments in Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6713, 28.7.2009

  • Cambodia Angkor Air, the New National Airline of Cambodia, Was Inaugurated [on 27 July 2009 in Phnom Penh with an investment of US$100 million [from Vietnam], where Cambodia has a 51% share while a Vietnamese company has 49%]
  • A New Big Website for Staff Recruitment in Cambodia Is Operated [it is accessible here: http://www.camhr.com]
  • North Korea Is Prepared to Negotiate [but only] with the United Sates of America

Krong Long Vek, Vol.7, #162, 27.7.2009

  • The Royal Government Is Disappointed about Land Concessions Provided to Private Companies

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4957, 28.7.2009

  • [Former Tuol Sleng Prison chief] Duch Rejected the Testimony of a Witness [Mr. Kok Sros] and a Torture Note [by the American historian David Chandler, based on an interview 10 years ago – it is claimed that the witness was a former Tuol Sleng Prison guard who claimed that Duch ordered every cruel torture against prisoners; however, Duch rejected that this person was a guard, and he demanded to be shown the staff lists for which it is claimed that there were more than 2,300 staff members]
  • Cambodia Sets New Date to Clear All Mines from the Country [2009 had been set as a goal, which had to be changed to 2020]
  • Riverbank Slid into the Mekong River, Taking Half of a Flat [fortunately, there was no casualty – Nirouth, Meanchey, Phnom Penh]
  • [Fifty] Remains of Vietnamese Volunteer Soldiers Who Died during the War in Cambodia Are Repatriated [to Vietnam]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1759, 28.7.2009

  • Global Witness Said that Senior Military Officials Collude with Foreign Companies to Exploit Mines Illegally [pointing to the names of Gen. Pol Saroeun and Gen. Meas Sophea, claiming they are involved in gold, cooper and other ore mining]

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The Number of European Tourists Declines in Siem Reap, but the Number of Asian and Local Tourists Increases – Monday, 27.7.2009

Posted on 28 July 2009. Filed under: Week 623 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 623

“Siem Reap: Tourism companies serving tourists in Siem Reap, and especially tourism agencies aiming at tourists from Europe, are deeply concerned and might go bankrupt, because the number of European tourists dramatically dropped in 2009.

“However, the Siem Reap Tourism Department shows in its report that even though the number of European tourist decreased heavily, the number of Asian tourists, and especially also local tourists, rose significantly. Therefore, there is nothing to worry.

“A tourist guide who asked not to be named, who works at Indochina Tourism, a well-know tourism company, said that early in 2009, the number European tourists declined, and if compared to 2008, it declined by about 40%. This guide added that in 2008, during the rainy season, they could guide four to five groups of tourists per month, but in 2009, there were at the most only two groups.

“According to this guide, the decline in the number of European tourists might result from two factors: the global economic crisis, and the rainy season. However, this guide is not totally hopeless, as in mid-October there normally comes the season of many tourists.

“Despite such a situation, the Ministry of Tourism tries its best to find strategies to attract tourists, such as local and international tourists.

“According to the first six months’ report of 2009 of the Siem Reap Tourism Department, within the first six months of 2009, 1,195,259 tourists came to Siem Reap. This number dropped by 0.65% compared to the same period in 2008, where there had been 1,203,190 tourists.

“The report says that there were 503,028 foreign tourists. Thus, their number declined by 13.9% compared to 2008, when there had been 578,794 tourists, while the number of local tourists was 692,267, which increased by 10.86% compared to 2008 with 624,369 tourists. The number of Vietnamese tourists, however, rose significantly.

“The report adds that so far, there have been 116 hotels with 8,649 rooms, and 222 guesthouses with 2,912 rooms; 115 restaurants; 35 massage parlors where 3 are not licensed; 15 karaoke parlors where 7 are not licensed; and 140 tourism agencies. As for transportation services, there are 231 taxis, an association of 94 moto-taxis, an association of 217 boats, and 31 companies offering recreational and entertainment services.”Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2006, 26-27.7.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 27 July 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #246, 26-27.7.2009

  • A Big Gambling House in the Center of Phnom Penh Was Raided and More Than 80 Gamblers Were Arrested; the Owner of the Gambling House, Che Im, Was Arrested for a While, but Then Was Released again after a High Ranking Official Intervened
  • [The former Executive Director of the Center for Social Development] Seng Theary: I Will Struggle based on the Law, though There Is Little Hope [after she has been dismissed as through a court decision]
  • Vietnam Invests US$200 Million in Banking and in an Airline [in Cambodia]

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #74, 27-28.7.2009

  • The Minister of Post and Telecommunication [Mr. So Khun]: A Telecommunication Law Will Be Ready in 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2006, 26-27.7.2009

  • The Number of European Tourists Declines in Siem Reap, but the Number of Asian and Local Tourists Increases
  • A Plane in Iran Ran beyond the Runway and Exploded, Killing Seventeen People

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #455, 26-28.7.2009

  • Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister [Trương Vĩnh Trọng] Came to Join in the Inauguration of the Cambodian National Airline]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6712, 27.7.2009

  • Sixteen of [seventeen] Poor Citizens Hired to Transport Wood from the [Thai side of the] Dangrek Mountains Were Surrounded and Arrested by Siamese [Thai] Soldiers, and One Could Escape
  • The Ministry of Economy Has Licensed Six Insurance Companies [the Cambodian National Insurance (CAMINCO), the Forte Insurance, the ACLEDA Insurance, the Infinity Insurance, the Campubank Lonpac Insurance, and the Cambodian Reinsurance Company (Cambodia Re)]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4956, 26-27.7.2009

  • A Member of the Banteay Meanchey Council Was Stabbed to Death by a Group of Vietnamese Young Men [they got angry with him for he told them not to speak so loud in a restaurant – the police arrested three perpetrators who had escaped to Battambang]
  • American Troops Train Cambodia Navy [Sihanoukville]
  • Thai Investors Seek Investment Partners in Cambodia [Phnom Penh]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1758, 27.7.2009

  • A Civil Society Person Said that Reforms in Different Sectors of Cambodia Cannot Move Ahead because of Political Interference from All Kinds of State Institutions [the director of LICADHO, Ms. Pong Chhiv Kek – Dr. Kek Galabru – said that reforms in Cambodia cannot grow when there is political interference. Recently more than 40 judges between the age of 60 and 66 were retired. Civil society official said this is just the beginning, but even the change of personnel will not be efficient if there is no judicial reforms in Cambodia. Dr. Galabru commented that reform cannot bring change as long as the the Supreme Council of Magistracy, the highest judicial institution and other institutions involve also politicians, and judges, prosecutors, and lawyers are not free from political influence. She added that now everything is involved in politics: the police, the military police, and also the universities.

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