Week 626

Laws, Regulations, and Orders – and What Happens in Reality – Sunday, 23.8.2009

Posted on 23 August 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 626 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

There is no doubt – according to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, this is a country which is to live as a state of law.

But we are mirroring, almost every week, where laws of the country, or regulations pronounced by the government, or orders given by persons in positions of high responsibility are disregarded. This is a fact, but this should not happen. Of course small or big violations of laws happen in every country. When we mirror quite a number of such violations, we do not focus on what violations of the law are committed just by some individuals. But we focus on examples where violations happen within the structures of society and its administration by the government.

Without being based on a clear definition, the term of a “failed state” is often used in international political debate and in the media reporting about it. This negative term is in contrast to a positive definition of one basic characteristic of what makes a state: a state is an institution which claims to have a “monopoly on the legitimate use of force within its borders” – to use a widely used description in the political theory of states.

When a state loses its ability to exercise the use of force effectively – like at present in Somalia or Afghanistan, where regional warlords, or well organized armed groups, or strong terrorist networks, or pirates operate regularly, and the government is not able to effectively control them by using the legitimate force a state should have. Then the nature and existence of such a state is being doubted. But the term has also been used to describe a situation where not political, but criminal activities become dominant in some geographical regions or fields of society – like in some Mexican border provinces with the USA, where hundreds of people have been murdered by illegal drug trafficking organizations, and the legitimate forces of the state have not been able to control and to put an end to such violence.

In international media there is also a wider use of the term for situations where laws are not enforced equally, because of high crime rates, extreme political corruption, illegitimately applied strong bureaucratic social control, ineffectiveness of the courts, military mingling in politics, or traditional cultural powers exercising more force than the laws of the state (in some cases where the laws proclaim gender equality, but cultural factors maintain the dominance or even violent oppression by men over women).

Cambodia has seen many years of economic, social, and political developments which have overcome the dangerously conflicting situation where different political groupings – and their armed sections – were competing with words and with arms to establish legitimate statehood, with the power also to also use legitimate force. The presence of UNTAC 1992-1993 and the establishment of the Kingdom of Cambodia have brought an end to uncertainty – even as the military conflict with the Khmer Rouge in parts of the country continued until 1996.

All the more remnants of claimed independence from the rule of law, or just its disregard over extended periods of time, cannot be tolerated by a state of law. It is with this concern that the press reports when there is the perception of actions or actors to be above the law, and it is taking up such concerns, when we mirror such acts of defiance against the legitimate power of the state.

Last week, we reported, “The Prime Minister Warns Institutions Where Officials Take Anti-Aging Pills but Do Not Retire.” This is serious, because the institutions about which the Prime Minster speaks are not just some small private institutions, but he speaks about people with positions as public servants – employees of the state. They do not only not make space available for younger graduates to move in – maybe the retirement system as such is not taking care of the persons who should retire? However, a state of law cannot tolerate that the law is not being used to provide justice for all. But the Prime Minister adds a revealing observation, “But for officials who have support, have power, and have much money, the computers do not list them for retirement.” Corruptive power paralyzes the proper operation of a retirement system of the state itself, and does so with discriminating advantages for some.

We mirrored that “Community Forestry Committees in Two Provinces Ask the Government to Cancel Land Concessions for Tens of Thousands of Hectares” – as far as we know, there is a official limit of 10,000 hectares per concession. And there are also reports, again and again, that one big Cambodian company has by far much larger concessions. How can the perception be removed that having a lot of resources can make one to be above the law? What is true: Is there such a limit? Or: Is there such a company which controls much more than is legitimate for others? If both these pieces of information are true, there is a problem with the state of law.

There are positive signs. The press carries often reports about illegally cut wood being transported – with locations and dates given, and sometimes also reports about the attack on journalists who try to document such activities by taking pictures – and being attacked for it. Not often we have also reports like the following one: “Action Was Taken to Crack Down On Luxury Wood Worth Millions of Dollars within Three Days, and More Than 172 Cubic Meters of Wood Were Seized – Ratanakiri.”

But how often had the Prime Minister to call for an end to sand dredging – while actually an intervention by local authorities, on the basis of ministerial regulations or laws should be sufficient. But sand dredging still continues: “A Sand Dredging Company in the Keo Phos Region in Sihanoukville Is Violating Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Halt Sand Dredging.” How much longer?

Recently, several Khmer newspapers had reported repeatedly about chicken meat of dubious quality being imported from Thailand without intervention by the authorities. This week we had even a report about the wider extent of such activities: “Law on Food Safety and Quality Is Not Implemented, Making Cambodia a Trash Basket for Foreign Leftovers.” Finally it was now reported that 10 tonnes of rotting chicken meat was confiscated and disposed of. Thanks to the continuing reporting in the media, the authorities finally also moved into action.

The press has to be praised to share information with the public, and to raise critical questions, where the authorities do not take the required action in time and on their own initiative, based on the law. Recently it had been reported: “Expert Official: Kompong Speu Deputy Governor and Oknha Tong Seng Constructed a 10-Floor Building opposite the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh, Violating a Ban by the Authorities” – according to this expert’s information, buildings in the area close to the Royal Palace must not be over 30 meters high. Finally, it was even reported: “Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Bans Citizens to Rent Rooms in the Illegal 10-Storys-High Building.”

When the former operator of the Renakse Hotel – immediately in front of the Royal Palace – got her 49 years contract retracted, there was also talk that the new owner Alexson Inc., to whom the property supposedly had been sold (we do not remember that there were any reports about an open bidding process before the sale), would demolish the building. What would be constructed instead was never officially announced, but when commercial developers in Phnom Penh took over property in the city, they normally had plans to build business centers or high rise housing. It is surprising anyway that a historical building, in front of the palace, is to be destroyed for commercial use. This will definitely be a much more serious intervention into the environment of the Royal Palace than the 10-floors building hundreds of meters away, in front of the Cambodiana Hotel.

Ten Floors Building - higher than 30 meters

Ten Floors Building - higher than 30 meters

What is highly surprising, however, is the fact that the construction of this building was going on for many months – and after the bare construction had been finished, work was going on to equip the building and to paint it. But the authorities in charge of supervising all construction activities in the capital city did not intervene, Only now, after the building is finished, questions are raised. How comes the authorities did not realize a problem much earlier? Who is responsible fo rthis oversight? Which laws will be applied to call the persons who failed to responsibility?

The media had also raised similar questions about the timing relation between the planning of the new building for the Council of Ministers – and the harsh criticism not only for poor workmanship, but also for its internal layout and its external access arrangement. As a result of such observatins at the end, its originally intended use will not be realized. The media, which asked for some explanation, for the public, at that time, were left guessing. Even so, the hope always continues that there will be more openness in sharing information – a natural feature for any successful democratic state.

Office of the Council of Ministers

Office of the Council of Ministers

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The Number of Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protesting against Their Eviction Declines Steadily – Saturday, 22.8.2009

Posted on 23 August 2009. Filed under: Week 626 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“The Daun Penh authorities had agreed to wait seven more days before evicting people from Village 2 and Village 4 of the Boeng Kak community. The delay was made following the decision during a meeting with the Daun Penh authorities on 20 August 2009, when also the Phnom Penh Municipal deputy governor Koet Chhe joined the event. In the meantime, the number of people protesting against their eviction has declined steadily.

“On 20 August 2009, forces deployed by the the Phnom Penh authorities, dispersed citizens of 70 families, to stop them protesting in front of the Municipality, and yesterday [21 August 2009], there was a report that only 40 families [instead of 50] keep on protesting, and the number might still be smaller on 28 August 2009.

“Different news said on 21 August that some citizens stated they better die by the hands of the Khmer authorities, than agree that their houses are demolished by force by the machinery of the authorities.

“Boeng Kak residents said that the protest by citizens from Village 4 in the Boeng Kak region in Phnom Penh aimed to demand the Shukaku company of Oknha Lao Meng Khin, a Senator from the Cambodian People’s Party, to offer an in place development [as this was originally also discussed as a possibility]. This demand was raised again during the protest in front of the Phnom Penh Municipality on Thursday 20 August 2009, but the protesters were then chased away by the authorities.

“A representative of the 70 families in Village 4, Mr. Pov Toury, said that his villagers have not given up protesting, but they stay quietly at their house. If there is an action to remove their houses, they will struggle to death. He said, ‘If they come to remove my house, I will struggle to death… I cannot go anywhere else, because, you know, our houses are our lives.’

“But after that protest there was information that 30 families had agreed to remove their houses.

“An official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia yesterday morning that the authorities do not respond to the demands of the residents, disappointing many observers.

“A Daun Penh district councilor from the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Heng Samnang, said that the authorities do not care to solve their demands. He said, ‘I also raised the case, but I do not have much power.’

“On 20 August 2009, a special working team of the Housing Rights group held a press conference to announce that citizens of Village 4 had agreed to accept the option of development-in-place offered by the government in 2007. But they do not agree to leave the Boeng Kak region for four years before they can return, because they fear that they authorities would forget the promise.

“Since the development plan of the Shukaku company started to move on, after the permission for the investment plan was granted in 2007, citizens of two villages of the Boeng Kak region have been affected. Some had finally agreed to remove their houses in order to avoid to be tormented by the authorities through violent actions as had previously happened to other villagers in Phnom Penh.

“Human rights officials from non-government organizations said that the inhabitants of at least four more villages will face eviction from that region.

“It should be noted that Amnesty International released a statement late last week, asking the Khmer authorities to immediately stop evicting citizens from Village 2 and from Village 4 in the Boeng Kak region.

“The statement of Amnesty International asked the authorities to reconsider the plan to evict citizens and move them to live in the Damnak Trayueng region, a suburb of Phnom Penh, because in that region, there are no proper shelters, there is no utility system, no toilets, no water pipe system, no health center, and no possibility to find jobs.

“Amnesty International asked also for clarification about the development on that total region of 133 hectares, and asked the Khmer authorities to specify clearly the date when the inhabitants are required to remove their houses, and to guarantee the citizens their right to return to the Boeng Kak region after the time of their temporary relocation is over.

“Furthermore, Amnesty International appealed on the Cambodian government to adhere to its obligations under international human rights treaties, which do not allow forced evictions, because they will lead to human rights violations.

“According to information from the authorities, so far 30 more families have removed their houses from the Boeng Kak region, and there are only about 40 families remaining. Thus, the delay until 28 August 2009 might make more families to agree to remove their houses. The authorities expect that it will be like the case of the inhabitants of 78 Group, where there was a delay until all citizens agreed to remove their houses.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #474, 22.8.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 22 August 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #269, 22.8.2009

  • The National Authority for Combating Drugs Rejects a Report about 60 kg of Heroin [that was confiscated in Indonesia, with the claim that it was transported from Cambodia]
  • 200 Prisoners [from among 3,000 in total] Were Transferred from the Prey Sar Prison [in Phnom Penh] to Prisons in Siem Reap and in Banteay Meanchey [as the Prey Sar Prisons cannot house them all]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2029, 22.8.2009

  • Siamese [Thai] Amy Commander [General Songkitti Jaggabatara] Plans to Come to Meet with Cambodian Army Commanders [on 24 August 2009, to discuss about troops and the border issues]
  • Four People Died and Four Others Were Wounded in a Horrific Accident [where two trucks crashed into each other – Kompong Cham]
  • Drunken Driving Police Officer Who Fatally Hit Is Summoned to Appear in Court on 26 August 2009

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #474, 22.8.2009

  • The Number of Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protesting against Their Eviction Is Steadily Declining

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6735, 22-23.8.2009

  • In [Phnom Penh] City, 67% of Traffic Accidents that Happened during Daytime Were Due to Over-Speed Driving, and 50% of the Accidents that Occurred during the Night Were Due to Drunken Driving [in May 2009, 131 people died countrywide in traffic accidents]
  • Southeast Asia Is Being Threatened by Sea Pirates [according to Deputy Prime Minister Sok An]
  • Disabled Athletes Returned from Malaysia [after joining the ASEAN Para Games] with One Gold Medal, Nine Silver Medals, and Five Bronze Medals

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4979, 22.8.2009

  • Canada Is Happy to Continue to Help in Land Title Registration for Cambodian Citizens [by providing aid for this field]
  • A Woman [a currency changer at the Samaki Market] Was Shot to Death to Rob Her Money Bag [with about US$3,000; two perpetrators escaped – Phnom Penh]

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The Ministry of Interior Plans to Sue Chea Mony of Providing False Testimony to the Court – Friday, 21.8.2009

Posted on 22 August 2009. Filed under: Week 626 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Cambodia plans to sue the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, for presenting an untrue testimony to the court.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, told Kampuchea Thmey by phone in the afternoon of 20 August 2009 that the Ministry of Interior reserves all rights to sue the president of the Cambodia Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, for providing an unreal testimony and for using a court hearing he attended on 17 August 2009 to announce unreal information, leading to misunderstandings.

“Mr. Khieu Sopheak said, ‘First, we consider that it is the provision of untrue testimony, and second, it is the use of a court hearing to announce unreal information to the audience at the hearing, and to national and international journalists. Therefore, the Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Cambodia reserves its right to prepare a lawsuit to be sent to the court, based on Mr. Chea Mony’s actions.

“However, Mr. Khieu Sopheak has not yet specified the date when a lawsuit against the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, will be sent to the court.

“On 20 August 2009, Kampuchea Thmey could not ask for a comment from the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, who is the younger brother of Mr. Chea Mony, who was gunned down in 2004, as no one picked up the phone.

“It should be remembered that on 17 August 2009, the Appeals Court opened a hearing on the murder of the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea, who was murdered near the Wat Langka in 2004, and during the hearing, Mr. Chea Mony participated as a plaintiff. At that time, he said publicly that he thinks the government was behind the murder of his older brother.

“His words received a strong reaction from the hearing judge and prosecutors, and they even noted down the words he said during the hearing.

“It should be noted that after the murder of the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea, two men [Boun Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun] were arrested on the accusation that they were involved in the murder, but recently, the Appeals Court had decided to release them on bail, saying that there was insufficient evidence to put the burden on them; and on 17 August 2009, the Appeals Court decided to provide them with the further freedom and to reinvestigate the case.

“After the Appeals Court had ordered Mr. Chea Vichea’s case to be reinvestigated, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Kingdom of Cambodia and the International Labor Organization (ILO) released a statement of welcome for the decision decision to reinvestigate that murder case.”Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2028, 21.8.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 21 August 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #268, 21.8.2009

  • Cambodia Denied the Accusation by Siam [Thailand] that the Cambodian Navy Is Patrolling the Overlapping Sea Area
  • A French Man Was Arrested for Debauchery with an Underage Girl [Phnom Penh]
  • Within Five Hours, Two People Died in [two separate] Traffic Accidents in Meanchey District [Phnom Penh]
  • North Korea Wants Direct [bilateral] Talks with America [on nuclear issues]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2028, 21.8.2009

  • The Ministry of Interior Plans to Sue Chea Mony of Providing False Testimony to the Court
  • The Drunken Driving Case of Mr. Chan Saroeun [a lieutenant-colonel] Killing a Person Reaches the Court [he is detained temporarily at the Phnom Penh Police Station until there is action by the Municipal Court]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6734, 21.8.2009

  • Worrying about A/H1N1, the Minister of Health Calls on Citizens Not to Travel to Thailand If Not Necessary
  • About 1,500 Khmer Scholars Who Returned from Foreign Countries Were Sent to the S-21 Center [Duch said that the Khmer Rouge top leader, Pol Pot, had initiated the policy to jail Khmer scholars at the Tuol Sleng prison]
  • Japan Has Helped to Construct the Telecommunications Network in Phnom Penh since the 1990s

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4978, 21.8.2009

  • Indonesia Confiscated 60 kg of Heroin Exported from a Cambodian Airport
  • A Lexus, Overtaking Another Car on Steep Road, Crashed into a Camry, Coming from the Opposite Direction, Resulting in Four Deaths [two people are Turks and two are Khmers] and Two Injured People [Kompong Cham]
  • Lightning in 2009 is the Wildest in the Last Six Years [by July 2009, there have been 100 deaths already, while in the whole year of 2008, there were only 95 deaths and in 2004, only 45 deaths – according to the Department of Meteorology]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1777, 21-23.8.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy: The Presence of [US Senator] Jim Webb Will Bring Political Change in Cambodia [he said that at least, America can help prevent Cambodia from getting far from democracy and the rule of law]
  • Siam [Thailand] Announced to Cancel Joint Statement [of 18 June 2008, with Cambodia] about the Listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site [as it was signed by the Thai Foreign Minister, though he would have asked first for the agreement by the Thai parliament, because a minister cannot act on matters of national sovereignty according to Thai law]

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A Drunken Official Drove a Car and Hit a Man and Killed Him by Driving Over Him – Thursday, 20.8.2009

Posted on 21 August 2009. Filed under: Week 626 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“In the night of 18 August 2009, a heavily drunken man drove a Chevrolet and hit and rolled over a security guard who worked for a coffee shop and hotel in the center of Phnom Penh, killing him immediately.

“Police and witnesses said that at around 7:20 p.m. on 18 August 2009, a white Chevrolet with number plate 2K-6542 was driving very fast from the crossing at the water storage tower near the Olympic stadium towards the market called Phsar Depou, along the Jawaharlal Nehru road. Near the Atlantic coffee shop and hotel, the driver of the car lost control over it, as another car was driven backwards from that shop, causing that car to avoid it, but hitting a parking guard close by and push him onto the road. After hitting the guard, the offensive car did not stop, but accelerated and rolled over the guard and dragged him about 20 meters, and then the car drove away.

“Witnesses said that at that moment, police of the Phsar Daeum Kor post intervened to stop that the [speeding] car, but could not catch it as it was driving too fast. Unfortunately, that car struck a 2002 Toyota Camry and got stuck. Because the owner of the Toyota Camry is also a police official, he then joined the others to arrest the offensive car [that had backed out and hit the parking guard].

“According to Prampi Makara district police, the driver of the car that rolled over the guard and killed him is Chan Saroeun, a lieutenant-colonel, and deputy chief of staff of the [Phnom Penh] Municipal Police. Police said that he was so heavily drunk that he did not recognize the other police officers when he was brought to be detained at the Prampi Makara police station; the police searched his car and found two guns, one AK-47 and another one pistol.

“However, the Prampi Makara district police could not detain him, because he is a high ranking official, and there was an intervention to release him, from a higher level, at that night. Those who knew him said that he is a high ranking official who is responsible for the enforcement of the traffic law. But he did not act as a good model implementing the traffic law, but he drove a car while he was drunk, hit a person, and rolled over that person killing him. Now, what should be done in such a case?

“The man who died in the traffic accident is Chan Lonh, born in 1970 in Kompong Rou, Svay Rieng. He had been a security guard of the Atlantic coffee shop and hotel for many years. He was a polite and friendly person.

“His wife is Sin Sopheak, 33, she has a son of about two years, and is now 6 month pregnant. At this pint in time, her husband was killed and taken away from her by this terribly act, while the perpetrator is a high ranking police official. Can she receive justice?” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4977, 20.8.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 20 August 2009

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1408, 20-21.8.2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #267, 20.8.2009

  • Cambodia and the World Bank Confirm Success in Land Registration
  • Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Bans Citizens to Rent Rooms in the Illegal 10-Storeys-Heigh Building [Phnom Penh – see Deum Ampil in yesterday’s Mirror]
  • Bombs Exploded in Baghdad, Killing 58 People [by the time of this publication, already 95 persons reported killed and more than 500 wounded]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2027, 20.8.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asks the New President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency to Help Encourage Japanese Investors to Cambodia
  • The Ministry of Labor Said that There Are Around 20,000 Employees Who Lost Their Jobs
  • 19-Year-Old Girl Who Was Heavily Drunk Drove a Car and Hit a Moto Driver and Damaged Two Cars [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6733, 20.8.2009

  • The Cambodia Offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and of the International Labor Organization Appreciate that more Investigations Happen in the Case of Chea Vichea [former president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union who was murdered in 2004]
  • Violent Robbery in Phnom Penh: A Woman Was Shot with Five Bullets to Rob Her Money Bag, where Three Bullets Hit Her [she is a money-lender – the bag contained money and jewelry worth approx. US$2,000; she suffered serious injuries and two robbers escaped]
  • A Thai Cultural Committee Granted Bath 1 Million [approx. US$30,000] to Repair an Old Building of the Battambang Municipality [the building was built in 1905 by a Thai official]

Historical Note:

  • 1794: The Battambang and Siem Reap areas had fallen under Siamese control.
  • 1863: Cambodia became a “protectorate” of France.
  • 1867: In a Franco-Thai treaty, Siam, which had never been under foreign colonial control – only in 1932 the name of Siam was changed into Thailand – renounced claims of dominion over Cambodia, but it kept the regions of Battambang, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, and Oddar Meancheay, which became provinces of Thailand.
  • 1887: France announced the formation of the Union of Indochina, which at that time included the general area of Cambodia, and the Vietnamese regions of Tonkin, Annam, and Cochinchina.
  • 1893: Laos was also forced into the Union of Indochina, after France had threatened war on Siam, changing the region of Laos from Siamese to French sovereignty.
  • 1905: The French administratin in Battambang erected the building, for which Thailand now offered funds for its upkeep.
  • 1907: Battambang was returned to French Indochina by a French-Siamese agreement.
  • 1940: When in war erupted between Thailand and France – the Second World War had started in 1939 – the Thai ground and air forces were stronger than the French military in the region, and started to invade the French Union of Indochina. And Japan – which had a militay presence in South East Asia during the Second World War, allied to Germany and Italy, forced France to give up the province of Battambang and part of the province of Siem Reap and return them again to Thailand.
  • 1946: After Japan had been defeated by the Allied Forces of the Second World War – including France – in 1945, these were returned by Thailand to the French controlled Union of Indochina.

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4977, 20.8.2009

  • A Drunken Official Drove a Car and Hit a Man and Killed Him by Driving Over Him
  • Cambodia and Brunei Want to Remove Some Obstacles in Tourism [especially, to arrange direct flights from Brunei to Cambodia]
  • Lightning Killed Two People and Injured One while They Were Taking a Shelter from the Rain in Their Store [Kompong Cham]
  • IMF: [Global] Economic Recovery Has Started [said the chief economist of the IMF, Olivier Blanchard]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3496, 20.8.2009

  • The Ministry of Health Announced a System of Free-of-Charge Treatment for Disabled People, and Gave this Task to Two Big Hospitals [the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital and the Kosamak Hospital – which have been partly privatized but continue also partly under government control]
  • [Fifty People of the] Community to Be Evicted from the Boeng Kak Region Protested in Front of the Phnom Penh Municipality [19 August 2009]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1776, 20.8.2009

  • Leaflets Accusing the Government of Having a Yuon [Vietnamese] Head and a Khmer Body Were Found to Have Been Distributed [in Phnom Penh]

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Law on Food Safety and Quality Is Not Implemented, Making Cambodia a Trash Basket for Foreign Leftovers – Wednesday, 19.8.2009

Posted on 20 August 2009. Filed under: Week 626 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“A food safety and quality law was adopted by the National Assembly in 1996, attempting to protect the health and wellbeing of the citizens, but it unfortunately this law has been ignored and is not implemented effectively.

“Cam-Control officials who have the obligation to check goods at distribution points and at markets do not apply the above law strictly. Vendors who respect the law and do not dare to sell no-quality or expired goods, said that Cam-Control officials never pay attention to check goods thoroughly, but they just go to check occasionally, but it is not for checking, but to collect money from the vendors and from businesspeople who do illegal business by distributing or selling no-quality or expired goods.

“They went on to say that Cam-Control officials inform illegal vendors and businesspeople in advance about the date they will go to check goods and instruct them to remove their no-quality and expired goods from the locations to be checked, and replace them with legal goods to deceive the public.

“Citizens who use no-quality or expired goods accused Cam-Control officials, especially also the Ministry of Commerce, of destroying their health and wellbeing. Citizens asked why Cam-Control officials earn state salaries from the taxes paid by citizens, but why do they work to serve the interests of illegal vendors and businesspeople.

“Vendors and businesspeople added that no-quality or expired goods are imported through international border crossings, especially from Vietnam. Some other types of goods have expired, because they were kept too long at the stores or could not be sold.

“Occasionally, the authorities had cracked down on no-quality goods, such as chicken meat and eggs imported from Siam [Thailand] and Yuon [Vietnam]. One real example is the no-quality chicken meat confiscated recently by the authorities in Sen Sok district, Phnom Penh.

“According to the above source, a businesswoman, whose husband is a military police official, took up the business of importing no-quality chicken meat from Siam [Thailand] for a long time, but the local authorities did not intervene, keeping it as their ‘rice-cooking pot.’ The reason of the recent crack-down is that the businesswoman had stopped paying bribes to the authorities, because that place is no longer in the area of Russey Keo district under those who formerly controlled it.

“Formerly, the storehouse for illegal goods was under the control of the Russey Keo district, but after the Royal Government decided to create the Sen Sok district in Phnom Penh, two districts of Russey Keo were cut off to be under the control of the Sen Sok district.

“People living at the above location said that there would not have been any crack-down, if there had been no conflict of interest between the new district authorities and the Russey Keo authorities. Citizens complained not only about no-quality or expired goods, but they also expressed deep concerns about the contamination of food with chemicals, such as in the case of all kinds of meat, so that it maintains a good appearance, to look like Prahok and Po’ok, so that flies do not gather around it, and vegetables and fruits looking fresh, with Kuy Teav [noodle soup], and Num Banhchok [Khmer traditional noodle] so that it appears fresh, with fish sauce, soy sauce, and chili sauce, so that it can be kept for a long time etc… Chemicals are used with many other kinds of food.

“A doctor who asked not to be named told Khmer Amatak that eating food containing chemicals can seriously affect the health, resulting in liver cirrhosis (?), or kidney stones, nerve problems, diabetes, and other diseases. He warned that adding chemicals to food will lead to long term health problems and reduces the life expectancy of citizens.

“The director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, Dr. Yang Saing Koma, said that Khmer farmers are using chemical fertilizers to grow paddy rice, vegetable, and fruits, to produce high yields. He warned that using chemical fertilizers not only affects those who apply the chemicals, but also seriously affects those who eat the products.

“He called on the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries to take action to prevent the import of fertilizers with high chemical effects, and to announce their hazards. He recommends that the Ministry of Agriculture organize programs to train farmers to use organic fertilizers. Dr. Saing Koma said that his organizations has organized training courses to teach farmers how to produce using organic fertilizers.

“Khmer farmers blamed the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries for not taking strict action to prevent the import of chemical fertilizers by illegal dishonest businesspeople and for not making the hazards of using chemical fertilizers widely known, which allowings those businesspeople to continue cheating Khmer farmers to use chemical fertilizers, which seriously affect their heath and waste national resources.

“The World Health Organization had asked the Ministry of Health of Cambodia to crack down on the import of expired medicines and medicines produced with improper standards, especially from black markets. The World Health Organization had warned about the serious health hazards for Khmer citizens, specifically for farmers who live in remote areas where there are no proper health systems, and they frequently buy medicines from unlicensed pharmacies or from unprofessional medics.

“No-quality and expired medicines are trafficked countrywide without thorough checking by the Ministry of Health. Many pharmacies are run with no license, but the Ministry of Health does not penalize them according to the law. It is reported that some officials of the Ministry of Health commit corruption when they go to check private pharmacies and clinics.

“Also, the production of pure [bottled drinking] water in Cambodia is facing serious problems, because the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy does not check the production properly. Many types of pure water is being sold around Cambodia, and it is known that many brands do not have quality standards. Officials are accused of committing corruption when they go to check for pure water, fish sauce, soy sauce etc. by exchanging Khmer citizens’ health and wellbeing for their own benefit.

“Khmer citizens complained that at present, Cambodia is becoming a trash bin to accept goods that other countries throw away, while relevant officials become murderers who collude with wicked businesspeople and use the health and lives of citizens as their capital.

“Khmer citizens would like to call on the Royal Government, especially the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Commerce, to take thorough measures to prevent the import of no-quality or expired goods and the import of chemical fertilizers which is a way to guarantee health and wellbeing of the citizens, and particularly to save their money. The Royal Government must take action against Cam-Control officials who commit corruption, leading to damage to citizens’ health.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #639, 19.8.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #266, 19.8.2009

  • America Confirms to Help to Boost the Cambodian Economy by Keeping on Buying Goods
  • Expert Official: [Kompong Speu Deputy Governor and Oknha] Tong Seng Constructed a 10-Floor Building [opposite the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh], Violating a Ban by the Authorities [according to an expert official, buildings in the area around the Royal Palace must not be over 30 meters heigh]
  • Cambodia: Manoeuvers and the Establishment of a Navy Base by Siam [Thailand] on Kut Island Does Not Affect [Cambodian] Sovereignty [according to Navy commander General Tea Vinh]
  • The Number of Confirmed Cases of A/H1N1 Flue [in Cambodia] Rose to Twenty Six
  • The National Assembly Ratified the ASEAN Investment Scheme

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2026, 19.8.2009

  • Siamese [Thai] Soldiers Arrested Eleven Cambodians and One Was Shot at and Was Seriously Wounded [a Thai army commander said that they were involved in illegal logging on Thai territory, while local official of Cambodia claimed that the 11 Cambodians were among 43 others who crossed into Thailand to work]
  • Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung Died at 85
  • Electricity Consumers Can Pay Fees through the ATMs of the ACLEDA Bank
  • A Woman Died from a Lightning Bolt in Heavy Rain; another Young Woman Was Killed by a Lighting while She Was Transplanting Rice Seedlings [Koh Kong and Kampot]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #639, 19.8.2009

  • Law on Food Safety and Quality Is Not Implemented, Making Cambodia a Trash Basket for Foreign Leftovers

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #471, 19.8.2009

  • [The director of the Khmer Civilization Foundation] Moeung Sonn Asked for a Royal Pardon [he was convicted to serve two years in prison for disinformation and incitement over his comments about the fixing of lighting at Angkor Wat]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6732, 19.8.2009

  • Siamese [Thai] Soldiers Shot at 116 Khmer Citizens, Hired to Carry Wood on the [Thai region of the] Dangrek Mountains, Which Made Them Escape; One Was Seriously Injured and Seven Are Missing

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4976, 19.8.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: Cambodian-American Diplomatic Tied Reaches Their Top [through the establishment of the US Embassy in Cambodia, and the cooperation in fighting terrorism and in other sectors; Prime Minister Hun Sen said so during a meeting with US Senator Jim Webb, on 18 August 2009]
  • Hundreds of Moto-Taxi Drivers in Sihanoukville Protest, Asking to Lower the Taxes [for motorbike imports], and against the Fines [for old motorbikes]
  • Aung San Suu Kyi [the Burmese elected democracy leader in house arrest] Supports the Reduction of Sanctions against Her Country [according to US Senator Jim Webb, who had met with Burmese Junta leaders and was allowed to meet Ms. Aug San Suu Kyi. He said in a press conference in Thailand that Ms. Suu Kyi does not oppose the reduction of sanction against Burma]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1775, 19.8.2009

  • [US Senator] Jim Webb: America Accepts the Concerns of the Opposition Parties for Consideration [about human rights violations, and the muzzling of the freedom of expression by the government]

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One More Week Delay for Boeng Kak Lake Residents – otherwise Their Houses Will Be Removed – Tuesday, 18.8.2009

Posted on 19 August 2009. Filed under: Week 626 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“Phnom Penh: Citizens living temporarily in Village II and Village IV at the Boeng Kak Lake region in Srah Chok, Daun Penh, were informed by officials of the Phnom Penh municipality of a delay of one more week for them to remove their houses, after there had been a request for a suspension of the announced evictions, after new negotiations on 17 August 2009 between their representatives and officials of the Phnom Penh municipality.

“The negotiations were held after the Phnom Penh municipality had issued the notification #180, dated 10 August 2009, requiring more than 50 families that have not agreed with any compensation offered, when they move out to make space for the development of the Boeng Kak region, and they have not yet removed their houses.

“The notification informed Boeng Kak residents in Village 2 and Village 4 in Srah Chok, Daun Penh, that the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Phnom Penh Municipality will develop the Boeng Kak region into a modern commercial center, with housing, as a beautiful and hygienic place, providing services and offering entertainment.

“Therefore, so that the development of the Boeng Kak region can be carried out smoothly, the residents should accept one of the following compensation options of the Royal Government:

  • Accept US$8,000 compensation, and Riel 2 million [approx. US$500] for the expenses of removal of the house.
  • Accept a flat at Damnak Trayueng village, Dangkao, and Riel 2 million for the expenses of removal of the house.
  • Accept development in place, but agree to remove the house and leave, to live in a new place temporarily, which is set up by the Phnom Penh Municipality

“The notification of the Phnom Penh Municipality leaves them seven days, starting from the date it was signed.

“After receiving the notification, residents of more than 50 remaining families, who have not accepted any compensation package, came to negotiate at the Phnom Penh Municipality to delay the eviction, where five representatives of the residents and officials of the Phnom Penh Municipality met to negotiate on 17 August 2009.

“During the negotiations, officials of the Phnom Penh Municipality informed the residents that in response to the suggestions of more than 50 remaining families who had not accepted any compensaton package of the Royal Government of Cambodia, but who then might agree to accept the third choice – development in place – the Phnom Penh Municipality decided to delay the eviction for one more week for them, to move to a new place temporarily, set up by the Phnom Penh Municipality with an area of 77 plots of land in Trapeang Krasaing village, Dangkao.

“The Phnom Penh Municipality will take the residents to see the place where they would live temporarily, and will help to transport their belongings free of charge.

“If somebody does not move within this one week of delaye, the Phnom Penh Municipality will order the Daun Penh district office to take action to remove the houses, and it will not take responsibility for any damages on materials and property of the citizens.

“An official of Daun Penh district office said that there were up to 1,300 families in Village II and Village IV.

“More than 1,200 families had already accepted compensation packages offered, where most had agreed to take US$8,000 as compensation and Riel 2 million as removal expenses.

“There were more than 120 families remaining, but recently, 70 families had accepted compensation, and there are now only more than 50 families remaining.

“That official added that the remaining 50 families had not accepted any compensation deals, because there were people who had incited them, making them to hesitate. ‘Thus, these residents should now stop believing any incitements.’

“The residents should hurry to accept compensation package offered, and remove their houses to facilitate the Royal Government and the Phnom Penh Municipality to develop the Boeng Kak region, in order to avoid flooding and to prtect all the families, especially the children, from chronic diseases coming from the bad odor of that terrible environment.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4975, 18.8.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #265, 18.8.2009

  • [Agence française de développement from] France Loans the Garment Manufacturers Association US$5 Million [to help train garment workers’ skills]
  • Singaporean Investors Show Interest to Invest in Real Estate in Cambodia
  • [Minister of Information] Mr. Khieu Kanharith Lighted the Fire to Cremate the Body of a Journalist of Rasmei Kampuchea, Mr. Dy Prin [who died from an illness]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2025, 18.8.2009

  • Report [of the Department of Information and Audio Visuals of the Ministry of Information] Said that Khmer Machas Srok Had Changed some of Prime Minister’s Words [in an article]
  • Civil Society [Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections (NICFEC) and the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Do Not Understand the Reasons for the Creation of a Foundation [for victims who suffer from the court system] by the Sam Rainsy Party [and suggest it should not be created by a political party]
  • A French Woman [Ms. Martine Lefeuvre, whose Khmer husband, Mr. Ouk Ket, was killed at Cheung Ek] Recounted the Atrocities at the S-21 Prison, Controlled by [former Tuol Sleng Prison chief] Duch

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6731, 18.8.2009

  • The Investigation of Chea Vichea’s Murder Continues; the Appeals Court Decided to Continue the Release of Boun Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun on Bail
  • US Senator [Jim Webb] Visits Cambodia [on 18 August 2009]
  • Two Factory Owners Had Ran Away from More Than 500 Workers [from the Sky Sino Factory and AIA Factory, the owners are from China – Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4975, 18.8.2009

  • The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction of Cambodia and the Counterpart Ministry of Vietnam Sign a Memorandum of Understanding
  • One More Week Delay for Boeng Kak Lake Residents – otherwise Their Houses Will Be Removed – Tuesday, 18.8.2009
  • Thirteen Investment Projects [worth US$400 million] Were Agreed upon and Signed [during a visit of Vietnamese investors last week, according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia: there were agreements to create many Cambodian-Vietnamese companies, and agreements on the provision of loans. The companies are – among others – to produce food and to manufacture agricultural products for export; to create a sugar factory, an ethanol factory, and electricity generation]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1774, 18.8.2009

  • [The president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Mony: The Government Hatched to Murder of [his older brother and former president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Vichea; the Appeals Court Continues the Investigation on Boun Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun

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The Prime Minister Warns Institutions Where Officials Take Anti-Aging Pills but Do Not Retire – Monday, 17.8.2009

Posted on 17 August 2009. Filed under: Week 626 |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626

“Phnom Penh: The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia seriously warned the leadership of some ministries and state institutions that do not report about retiring officials.

“The serious warning was made during a meeting of the Council of Ministers on 14 August 2009, because Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen had not received reports about officials who arrive at their retiring age, but if there were reports, they included only officials who do not have much power and money.

“The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, gravely warned, ‘I don’t know why the computers [producing the retirement lists] include only poor officials who do not have money and power; the computers pick them up, though they have not reached their retirment age. But for officials who have support, have power, and have much money, the computers do not list them for retirement.’

“Samdech emphasized, ‘It is because these computers are controlled by people; they are not cleverer than the people [who control them]. Why do people, who have arrived at retiring age, not retire?’ Samdech said, ‘If we let such casees continue, how can reforms progress, while there is no reform made from the base? Where can the meaning of the saying “Young Bamboos Replaces Old Bamboos” be found, while people approaching retirement age do not retire?’

“In the meantime, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen encourages all ministers to produce clear reports about officials who reach retirement age, and send them directly to him.

“It should be remembered that, at present, many graduates complain about the shortage of job opportunities, while some ministries and state institutions said that they have a sufficient number of officials. Therefore, students graduating in the country and coming back from studies abroad find it difficult to find jobs, both in the state and in the private sector. In January 2009, some civil society organizations had found thirteen names of officials of the Ministry of Education who take anti-aging pills [mocking] and do not retire.

“The findings of these civil society organizations mentined above is just a small part of the problem, and only in one institution, and it does not cover observations at other institutions; so it is not known how many officials at other places ‘take anti-aging pills’ and do not retire.

“Also, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen mentioned some institutions directly during the meeting of the Council of Ministers, institutions that commit serious corruption.”Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2024, 16-17.8.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 17 August 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #264, 16-17.8.2009

  • Investment by Vietnam Increased to US$122 Million in the First Six Months of 2009 [while in the same period in 2008, it was only US$20 million]
  • The Government Will Invite Community Representatives [from 19 provinces and cities] Suffering from Problems Related to Resources of Land and Nature, to Discuss and to Find Solutions Early This Week

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2024, 16-17.8.2009

  • The Prime Minister Warns Institutions Where Officials Take Anti-Aging Pills but Do Not Retire
  • Customers Were Irritated with the Mobile Phone System of the Mobitel Company When They Could Not Call [on 14 August 2009]; [Minister of Post and Telecommunication] So Khun: Mobitel Should Be Careful Not to Lose Customers
  • Crematoriums in Phnom Penh Are Ordered by the Phnom Penh Municipality to Be Demolished Step by Step

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #638, 17.8.2009

  • Community Forestry Committees in Two Provinces [Pursat and Kompong Chhnang] Ask the Government to Cancel Land Concessions for Tens of Thousands of Hectares

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #470, 16-18.8.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kampot] Ms. Mu Sochua: There Are No Apologies [for defamation from neither side], but If there Would Be Equal Treatment [for both sides], Apologies Might Be Possible
  • Amnesty International Asks Cambodia to Reconsider Evictions of Boeng Kak Lake Residents
  • Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6730, 17.8.2009

    • Action Was Taken to Crack Down On Luxury Wood Worth Millions of Dollars within Three Days, and More Than 172 Cubic Meters of Wood Were Seized [Ratanakiri]
    • After Nearly Two Months of No Rain, Heavy Rain Came with Lightnings Which Killed Two People [Pursat]
    • A Night Club Offering Sex Services Owned by a Korean Man Was Raided [and 42 sex workers were found, 15 are Khmers, and 27 are Vietnamese – Siem Reap]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4974, 16-17.8.2009

    • Thailand Sends Warships and Marines to Kut Island, to Oppose Oil Exploration by the Total Petroleum Company [according to information from Bangkok, the Thai navy established a new base on Kut Island in Trat Province, to strengthen patrolling, after Cambodia had awarded the French Total company a concession to explore oil in a region that Thailand considers to be disputed – and Cambodia has suddenly refused to sign the contract with Total after years of negotiations, without giving a reason publicly]
    • The Sesan Krom II Hydro Electric Dam Will Start to Produce in 2010 [the investment is from the Power Engineering Consulting Company from Vietnam, worth approx. US$816 million]

    Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1773, 17.8.2009

    • A Sand Dredging Company in the Keo Phos Region in Sihanoukville Is Violating [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Order [to halt sand dredging]

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