Week 639

Considering Public Financial Resources – Sunday, 22.11.2009

Posted on 23 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

This Saturday, we reported: “According to a recent notification from the Council of Ministers, the Royal Government decided to suspend all promotions for government positions in 2010. If a promotion in any position is planned, it has to wait until 2011.” That was even more surprising than another report which the Mirror carried on 10.11.2009: “The Government Cuts Salaries of Advisers” – which, in a way, was only the correction of a violation of common sense (and economic justice): Why should only some public servants, employed full time, get a second salary for an additional function as adviser, a task to be adhered to during working hours which are already covered by another salary? But such double, or even multiple payments for some persons, seem to have gone on for years. In many other countries, the Auditor General – being an independent position without special loyalties – might have intervened many years ago.

When working to select and to present texts for the Mirror, related to some new millions of dollars “to help Cambodia,” it is surprising that quite often the text does not specify whether this refers to a credit to be paid back, or to a grant. Even some statements of preference, from where it is more agreeable to receive funds – whether there are conditions of transparency or of human rights adherence part of the agreement, or whether funds come without such expectations – do not distinguish between grants and loans. Though the latter have a minor condition: they have to be paid back.

The Mirror referred last month to the loans of about US$ 1 billion Cambodia had contracted with China in 2008 and 2009, continuing: “We are not aware that details about the timing and the terms of the re-payment obligations were published. Neither did we see any evaluation of the situation in terms of what is called a “sustainable external debt” – which is defined by some scholars of economics as “a situation where a country is expected to be able to meet its current and future debt obligations in full, without recourse to debt relief, rescheduling of debts, or the accumulation of arrears, and without unduly compromising growth.”

Some old debts did received special attention in recent reporting. On 11 November 2009, one paper had reported, supposedly based on information from high ranking Cambodian officials, that the Russian Government is considering to cancel the US$1.5 billion debt that Cambodia owes to Russia. But this had to be corrected on the basis what high ranking Russian officials said: when the president of the National Assembly and his delegation returned without success from Russia: “Russia Refuses to Cancel Debt” – it was clear that in spite of similar efforts in 2006 and 2008, the Russian government had not agreed to wipe out these old debts from the 1980ies. While we did not see details about the related negotiations, it is interesting to remember what had been reported formerly in 2007: that the Russian government is prepared to consider arrangements for the old debts under three conditions:

  1. Russia asks for the resumption of Moscow-Phnom Penh flights, for the promotion partly of tourism, and partly of investment.
  2. Russia asks Cambodia to strengthen military relations between the two countries by asking the ministries of defense of the two countries to have good relations again, because so many members of the Cambodian armed forces studied in Russia; therefore, the Cambodian Government should accept the request and organize those who studied military affairs in Russia again, and Russia, in turn, promises to accept Cambodian students to study in Russia.
  3. Russia sees the possibility to exploit natural gas in Cambodia, and asks the Cambodian National Assembly to facilitate relations, so that Russia can come to invest in oil drilling, because Russia has long years of experience in [oil and] gas drilling and hopes that Cambodia will allow Russian investors to come to invest in natural gas exploitation in Cambodia.

We do not remember that these points – especially as they relate also to untapped oil resources – have ever been mentioned in the more recent reports about maritime oil resource negotiations with a number of other countries. It should therefore be no surprise that the latest delegation to Russia to discuss the old debts did not bring the expected solution: that Russia would simply write off US$1.5 billion.

Another old, much much smaller debt, also shows up from time to time. We quote old headlines as a reminder:

  • 16.2.2008: US Demanded Debt [of approx. $154 million out of the debt of $339 million], Cambodia Said the Debt Was Owed by an Illegal Government [of the Khmer Republic]
  • 18.2.2008: US Discusses Debt Owed by Lon Nol Era; General Opinion Says US Should Better Cancel the Debt
  • 8.9.2009: America Hopes that an Agreement on the Cambodian Debt to the USA Will Be Achieved Soon to Cancel the Cambodian Debt
  • 23.9.2009: The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mr. Hor Namhong Will Discuss Possible Solutions to the Debt from the Time of General Lon Nol’s Regime [the Khmer Republic] of More Than US$300 Million That Cambodia Owes America

To look forward to comprehensive information about all debt obligations, in light of what economic theories say about an appropriate “sustainable external debt” ratio is not unreasonable.

The recent dramatic decisions, to cut the salaries of the large number of advisers, and to freeze all promotions in the civilian and uniformed services, “aiming to save state resources in 2010,” is a signal of a new approach to handle public funds.

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The Government Suspends All Promotions for Government Positions in 2010 – Saturday, 21.11.2009

Posted on 22 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

“According to a recent notification from the Council of Ministers, the Royal Government decided to suspend all promotions for government positions in 2010. If a promotion in any position is planned, it has to wait until 2011.

“Formerly the Royal Government, in addition to having already a heavy overhead apparatus with many officials, had nominated countless advisors at ministries and at other institutions, and ministers and heads of institutions had appointed their officials to hold many positions. In any ministry, there are many directors and deputy directors. In a department, there are at least 10 deputy directors, while in the police, the military, and the military police, there are also many who are nominated as deputy directors… This makes the government to carry a burden of ever increasing expenses.

“According to the notification signed by a secretary of state of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Prak Sokhon, on 21 October 2009 and sent to the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and to the Council of Administrative Reform, the Royal Government decided to delay all promotions for positions of government positions, and all promotions of ranks [for police and the military], and it will not increase any allowances [like retirement benefits] etc. for the one year of 2010, and it will reconsider these cases again in 2011. According to the same notification, the Royal Government ordered also to stop the implementation of decisions for the ‘priority cluster’ [formerly identified as important areas in the administration to receive special financial support], and additional incentives based on work achievements for 2010.

“The notification added that the above plan is a measure to implement the budget implementation draft for the management of financial resources in 2010, aiming to save state resources in 2010.

“It should be noted that the Royal Government decided recently also to cut and to reduce the salaries of many advisers who had been appointed in a continuing process. and who had received high salaries [in addition to their normal salaries], to get again only their normal salaries based on their current positions, in order to save resources for 2010.

“A government official said on Friday that the decision of the Royal Government to suspend promotions for government positions, and the promotions in rank, is a proper measure, because previously, the Royal Government, different ministers, and heads of institutions, had appointed too many officials. At some institutions, there are 10 to 20 deputy directors, until there is no room and space for them to sit. Such nominations only added more expenses for the state, both for salaries and for other materials.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5053, 21.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 21 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #342, 21.11.2009

  • [Senior Minister and adviser to the Prime Minister] Om Yentieng: [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Becomes Spokesperson of [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit [Mr. Sam Rainsy said that Prime Minister Hun Sen is playing a dangerous game for Cambodia, as the biased foreign politics of Prime Minister Hun Sen makes Cambodia lose territory to Vietnam and lose good relations with Thailand]
  • [More than 30 officers of] Mixed Forces Were Sent to Destroy Drugs [ecstasy] Worth More Than US$100 Million on the Kravanh Mountain [more information about the crack-down will be released two to three days later – Pursat]
  • [Thai Deputy Prime Minister] Sutheb: If [fugitive former Thai prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Wants to End Problems [of the dispute between Cambodia and Thailand], He Must Resign from the Position of Economic Advisor to Cambodia

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2104, 21.11.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Open Hearing to Sentence [former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch on 23 November 2009
  • A Drunken Woman and Gang Member Drove a Car and Hit a Policeman so that He Almost Died [she was arrested – Battambang]
  • Kandal Police Got Hold of a Group of People Who Had Used Death Threats via Telephone to Extort Money from Leaders and from Businesspeople [a suspect was arrested]
  • Within One Week, There Were 50 New People Confirmed with A/H1N1 Flu [increasing the number to 444 in total – Cambodia]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #535, 21.11.2009

  • The Khmer Authorities Have Already Arrested Seven Villagers Who Resisted a Yuon [Vietnamese] Company from Grabbing Their Land [Kompong Thom]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6811, 21-22.11.2009

  • Result from the Council of Ministers’ Meeting: Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Decided to Approve the Anti-Corruption Draft on 11 December 2009

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5053, 21.11.2009

  • The Government Suspends All Promotions for Government Positions in 2010
  • The Cambodian and Thai Defense Ministers Plan to Meet to Negotiate about the Border in Pattaya [on 27 November 2009]
  • Cambodia Controls the Cambodia Air Traffic Services – CATS – Company Temporarily, and Thai Personnel Is Required to Work from Outside Their Offices [Cambodia just does not allow them to go near the radar system room, but they are not dismissed – according to the Council of Ministers]
  • Cambodia Is Preparing a Petroleum Law [including regulations for petroleum exploring, and a decree for petroleum related contracts] while the First Drop of Oil Will Be Extracted in 2013 [according to government officials]
  • The Cambodian Banking System Is Recognized on the International Arena and in the ASEAN Framework [because of its stability and noticeable improvements – according to the 39th ASEAN banking council, meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh]

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The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication Will Set up an Equal Phone Cost System at the End of This Month – Friday, 20.11.2009

Posted on 20 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue until next Monday, as I was attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and i am now traveling back to Cambodia. I try to be timely as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: According to the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, Mr. So Khun, who spoke to journalists in the morning of 19 November 2009 at the Phnom Penh Hotel, where he presided over a workshop about the joint use of mobile phone relay and transmission towers, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication of the Kingdom of Cambodia will set equal phone service costs at the end of this month.

“The minister said that so far, the post and telecommunication sector has advanced dramatically, and it is a pride of the ministry as well as of the Cambodian government under the wise leadership of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen. However, together with this progress, the ministry noticed that mobile phone companies in Cambodia compete with each other over phone call costs. This is not yet considered as a conflict, but just as a sign of disagreements. Therefore, the ministry prepares to set a general cost system. The minister added that the cost that the ministry plans to set is not yet known, but the ministry is discussing to set a cost system that all mobile phone companies in Cambodia can accept.

“Regarding the workshop about the joint use of mobile phone relay and transmission towers, Mr. So Khun said that this is a good way to promote the telecommunications sector in Cambodia, because at present, this sector is being served by nine mobile phone companies and many ISP/VOIP systems. About 4,500 mobile phone towers have been set up both on the ground and on the roof of houses, in order to compete in attracting about 5.3 million clients, who need mobile phone towers so that they can use their mobile phones. ‘It is a great pride and we acknowledge that the telecommunications sector does grow, but meanwhile, we must think also about the environment, the stable health of citizens, and public order in the society and in the nation.’

“The general manager of the Tower Master Cambodia Co Ltd (TMCC), Mr. Ung Veasna said, the company had received concession rights to operate for 35 years to set up and to maintain mobile phone towers.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2103, 20.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 20 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #341, 20.11.2009

  • Cambodia Vows to Try to Find Solutions on Climate Change [by supporting publications and offering training to citizens about this problem]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2103, 20.11.2009

  • The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication Will Set up an Equal Phone Cost System at the End of This Month
  • The Government Issued an Instruction about Places where Smoking Is Banned [it is not allowed in buildings and offices of officials at different ministries, at municipalities, at district and commune offices, at meeting halls, at toilets, and in the entry and exit ways to official buildings]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #679, 20.11.2009

  • Development of Koh Kong [by Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra] to Become a Second Hong Kong Is Delayed for Two to Three Years until Cambodia and Siam [Thailand] Have Ended Their Diplomatic Disputes

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #534, 20.11.2009

  • A US Parliamentarian [Mr. Edward Roy] and the European Union Condemn the Suspension of the Immunity of Mr. Sam Rainsy, Following a Request from Yuon [Vietnam, over his participation to remove Cambodian-Vietnamese temporary border markers; they consider this as a restriction of the voice of the opposition party]
  • Nine [Thai] Persons Working with the [alleged] Siamese [Thai] Spy [at the Cambodia Air Traffic Service] Were Expelled from Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6810, 20.11.2009

  • A Bilateral Meeting of Cambodia and the Inter-Government Committee of the Russian Federation Decided to Continue the Discussion in Moscow in 2010 about the Debt That Cambodia Owes [the debts that Cambodia owed since the Soviet era. Cambodia asked Russia to cancel it. But now, both sides agreed to further discuss it, later on in 2010 in Moscow]
  • America Grants More Than US$10 Million to the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (KHANA) [it is recognized by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, based in Britain, as a local non-government organization that conforms to international standards in working on HIV/AIDS]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #50, 20.11.2009

  • Thaksin Shinawatra Has the Intention to Help the Alleged Spy [now detained at the Prey Sar prison], but He Waits until Cambodia Finishes [court] Procedures

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5052, 20.11.2009

  • More Than Three-Hour Fire Destroyed 229 Houses at Chrang Chamres 2 Commune [because of a gas explosion from a house; there were no deaths – Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh]
  • Thaksin Wants to Live in the Northeast Border Area of Thailand [according to his website]

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Three Were Arrested for Preventing the Implementation of a Notification to Confiscate Land in Kompong Thom – Thursday, 19.11.2009

Posted on 20 November 2009. Filed under: 1, Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue for some days, as I am attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and then traveling back to Cambodia. I try to be on time as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“According to a news source, at least three disabled veterans, poor citizens, were arrested between 14 to 16 November 2009, when they resisted armed forces and police of the Kompong Thom authorities, coming to enforce a notification to confiscate land, where the authorities claimed that those citizens live there illegally, in Banteay Rou Ngieng village, Kraya commune, Santuk district, Kompong Thom.

“The source of this information claimed that there is an association with more than 1,700 families of disabled veterans, living there since 2004, and that the association lives on more than 10,000 hectares of land, where each family was provided with 3 hectares by the head of that community, for housing and for growing different crops, since 2005. But on 14 and 16 November 2009, about 50 armed forces and other authorities came with machinery to remove their houses, and they arrested three people.

“The disabled veterans said that the authorities burnt their houses, shot at them, and even arrested some people and hit them with riffle handles, in order to evict them to seize the land for the Tan Bieng company [a Vietnamese company].

“Responding to the accusation that the authorities ordered armed forces to burn their houses, shoot at them, and arrest people, the Kompong Thom deputy police chief, who had gone himself to conduct the eviction, Mr. Nou Thany, told Deum Ampil on 18 November 2009, via phone, ‘The accusation is not true. And if there is anything true in it, the authorities used only their right to self protection, because those disabled people used knives, sticks, and gasoline bottles to burn the machinery of the authorities and to chase them away and to hurt them with knives.’ He added that the action was taken following a notification to confiscate the land for the Tan Bieng company, which had received the right from the Royal Government to make some investment on that land. For evictions, the municipality has a policy to offer each of them a plot of land in the nearby Thma Samlieng area, but only somewhat more than 100 of them agreed to register to take this offer of land at the new location. The rest protested, rejecting this policy and they used force against the authorities who went to enforce the eviction order.

“Mr. Nou Thany emphasized that the disabled veterans association does have the right to create an association at that area, but not the right to control the land. Therefore, there was a notification, ordering them to leave. Before they would have to leave, the municipality had set the deadline of 25 November 2009 for them to accept new land; however, they turned to resist strongly on 14 to 17 November 2009.” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #340, 19.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 19 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #340, 19.11.2009

  • Three Were Arrested for Preventing the Implementation of a Notification to Confiscate Land in Kompong Thom
  • Most Malaria Medicines Are Fake and No-Quality Medicines [according to expert officials of the Ministry of Health]
  • Tragedy as a Boat Sunk [because of strong wind] Resulting in the Deaths of a Man and of Three Children while His Wife Survived [Kandal]
  • Two Young Men Died Immediately after They Were Hit [while riding on a motorbike] Behind a Bus of the Capital Company [Battambang]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2102, 19.11.2009

  • [About 300] Staff and Workers of the Royal Railways of Cambodia Stopped Protesting after the Ministry [of Public Works and Transport] Promised to Pay Their Salaries on 27 November 2009
  • More Than 600 Square Kilometer of Cambodia Are Still Mine Infested [according to the Cambodian Mine Authority]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #533, 19.11.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy and Ms. Tioulong Saumura Attended the European Community Parliament Meeting about Cambodia Yesterday [in Brussels]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6809, 19.11.2009

  • The Red Shirt Demonstrators Announced to Conduct a Large Demonstration on Sunday [29 November 2009] to Dismiss [Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva’s Government
  • Special UN Envoy [in charge of AIDS in the Asia Pacific, Dr. Nafis Sadik] Met with a Group of Most Vulnerable People in the City [drug addicts, people infected with AIDS, and orphans – Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #49, 19.11.2009

  • Court Started to Question a Thai Man about Spying [he had copied flight documents of Prime Minister Hun Sen and of Thai ousted fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to send the copies to Thailand]
  • Cambodia Is Still the Country with the Most Corruption among the Countries in the Region [of Asia Pacific; according to a report of Transparency International, Cambodia stands at the 158th position among 180 countries affected by corruption in the public sector, while in 2008, Cambodia was at the 166th position]
  • Construction Investments Increased by 22% within 9 Months Compared to the Corresponding Period [last year; by the end of September 2009, there were 1805 projects amounting to US$1.165 Billion, while in 2008 there were only 1558 projects]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5051, 19.11.2009

  • A Robber Shot a Policeman to Death and Then after Half-an-Hour Siege the Robber Was Shot Dead by Police [if he had agreed to let police arrest him and not shoot one policeman to death, he would not have be killed – Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh]
  • A Japanese Man [a staff member of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)] Fell from the Second Storey of a Building of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Died [police has not identified why he fell down – Phnom Penh]
  • The Minister of Tourism Asked UNESCO to Help Create a Master Plan for Eco-Tourism around the Tonle Sap Lake

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Royal Railway Workers Protest over Salaries, after the Royal Railways of Cambodia Have Been Contracted over to a Private Company – Wednesday, 18.11.2009

Posted on 19 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue for some days, as I am attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and then raveling back to Cambodia. I try to produce in time as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian government had signed an agreement to hand over the railway to the Toll Cambodia company to conduct the rail transportation operations for 30 years; the transport operations on the Cambodian railways as a public enterprise was terminated at the end of October 2009.

“The Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr. Tram Iv Tek, said that of the more than 1,000 railway staff and officials, only 670 are accepted by the company to continue working, while some of the others remain under the control of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

“An employee responsible for transport operations, Mr. Nguon Chan Hon, told Deum Ampil in anger, ‘Already 47 days have passed, but the company has not released the salaries of the workers; we do not cause any trouble, but we just want our salaries paid, because no one seems to responsible for it, after some were changed back from being on an autonomous enterprise, back to be under the state again.’ He added, ‘Development at the Royal Railways of Cambodia totally stopped, trains run at speeds of 40km/h down to 5km/h. What I tried to do all is lost.’

“A train driver, Mr. Nou Navy, said, ‘We do not want to trouble the leaders, but we want to ask about our salaries since October, and in November it is the 15th day. When the door is closed like this, we do not know the day set for the salaries to be paid. I met the head of accounting, and they said that a date has not yet been set, and we have to wait, because at present, there are four train lines operated: the Sokimex line, two coal train lines, and the Touk Meas line. A date cannot be specified yet, therefore you have to wait.’

“He added, ‘Even while it is a public workplace, it is not known where the specially designated money from the government, Riel 20,000 [approx. US$5] has gone. We have received nothing since the day Samdech Hun Sen announced to designate some money. At present, I only earn a salary of Riel 116,000 [approx. U$29] per month, and I have been working as a train driver for 28 years. Other workers shouted annoyingly, ‘Even nobody is promoted to new positions, and nobody knows when the salaries will be paid; if there are promotions, this happens only to their partisans.’

“Another driver, Mr. Sam Yan, said, ‘I would like to ask the Royal Government to pay attention to the workers, because for many years, they earned Riel 60,000 to Riel 70,000 [US$15 to US$17] and the highest level is Riel 120,000 [approx. US$30], for people in leadership positions only. Therefore, you people on the higher levels, please help to check this, so that staff workers stay calm.’

“A train engine mechanic, Mr. Soy Sambath, said, ‘More than 20 years ago, when I entered to work here in 1979, 80% of the railway infrastructure was left undestroyed, but today, by this hour, it is zero. It has to be rebuilt again from zero to 100%; most of the land had been leased away, and there is not even the necessary money to pay the salaries for the workers. If the money received for leasing land, formerly belonging to the railway, would be made know to the workers, and the money would be offered to the workers for their salaries, they would be satisfied.’

“Another worked, a lathe mechanic, Ms. Sokhim, said, ‘During 1979 and 1980, when the country just woke up from war, the railways managed to earn profit, but now when the country has peace, things have disintegrated, and there have been frequent derailings and other train accidents.’

“[Royal Railways of Cambodia Director-General] Sokhom Pheakavanmony told Deum Ampil, ‘I had already received the report and they are justified to worry, because as we all know, since 15 November 2009, the Royal Government decided, announced through Decrees 163 and 164, to hand over the Royal Railways of Cambodia to the Toll Cambodia company. Normally, when a cooperation is terminated by such an immediate transfer, the workers did not get any information, making them think that they lost their salaries. But actually, it is not so. Their salaries are guaranteed by clear contracts from the Ministry as well as from the Royal Railways of Cambodia. Their salaries are not lost, but it is just because they did not receive any clear information.’ He added that soon they will get information, which can reach only 40% to 50% of them, as some staff do not stay in one place, and some workers stay at far away provinces, so time is needed to access the information. ‘Therefore, there is no problem, We solved it already and today, we have just finished discussing it.’ He went on to say ‘Railways are a public enterprise, controlled by the public enterprise law, and the management of staff is based on regulations… . Normally, it is like this, when the railways is handed over to a new company. There could be some struggle between different opinions, and the management must follow the decisions of the government.’

“The under-secretary of state in charge of the Royal Railways of Cambodia, Mr. Touch Chankosal, told Deum Ampil, ‘I did not know that the workers had protested.'” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #339, 18.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #339, 18.11.2009

  • Royal Railway Workers Protest over Salaries, after the Royal Railways of Cambodia Have Been Handed over to a Private Company
  • Civil Organizations and the Government Hold a Social Accountability Seminar [under the theme of working together for social accountability]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2001, 18.11.2009

  • Cambodia Has No Plan to Negotiate with Siam [Thailand] to Solve the Diplomatic Disputes [according to the spokesperson of the government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #532, 18.11.2009

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Brings the His Protest over the Suspension of His Immunity to the European Union Parliament and World Parliaments of the World
  • Thai Deputy Prime Minister Sutheb Thaugsuban Warned to Use the Airforce to Destroy [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra’s Plane if it Crosses Siamese [Thai] Airspace

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6808, 18.11.2009

  • The Koh Kong Authorities Prepare 30,000 Hectares of land for a Chinese Company [“Union Development”] to Develop [to construct hotels, casinos, golf courses, and tourist areas]
  • Punishment over the Removal of Temporary Border Markers [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border]: [head of the National Border Committee] Va Kimhong: At the West There Is [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Who Does Not Recognize the Border, at the East There Is Sam Rainsy

Krong Long Vek, Vol.7, #164, 18.11.2009

  • Flooded Mangrove Forest in Siem Reap Is Being Destroyed by Evil Merchants

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #48, 18.11.2009

  • Japan Plans to Provide Nearly US$2 Million to Strengthen Tourism [in Cambodia, through a road traffic safety project from 2010 to 2013]
  • Cambodia and the Philippines Will Start Direct Flights between the Two Countries [in 2010 – according to the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon]
  • The United Nations Delivered an Award to the Head of the Cambodian Red Cross [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife, Ms. Bun Rany, for her successful leadership in fighting against AIDS and HIV, and in reducing discrimination against people infected with AIDS]
  • Three Wheel Motorbikes [Tuk-Tuk or Romorque Motos] Are Free from Fines for a While [until the end of 2009 for not having number plates]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5050, 18.11.2009

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Hopes that the Thai Man Suspected of Spying Will Be Released, but Cambodia Said It Depends on the Courts
  • Police Solve the Murder Case at the Tay Tay Restaurant [where a police official was shot dead; four suspects have been arrested, but the chief perpetrator is not identified yet – Phnom Penh]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Officials and Evil Merchants Collude to Open a Border Crossing to Transport Wood to Vietnam – Tuesday, 17.11.2009

Posted on 19 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue for some days, as I am attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and then traveling back to Phnom Penh. I try to be timely as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“According to a broadcast of a radio station based in Washington D.C. in the United States yesterday, about strong illegal logging of luxury wood in protected forested areas in a national park in Ratanakiri, bordering on Yuon [Vietnam], carried out by merchants colluding with some persons in the local authorities, an official, who asked not to be named, claimed there is collusion to open a Khmer-Yuon [Cambodian-Vietnamese] border crossing illegally to export luxury wood from Cambodia to be sold to Yuon merchants.

“According to this source, a Ratanakiri official, anonymly spoke about collusion to open an international crossing between the Ou Ya Dav district in Cambodia and a province’s district on the Yuon [Vietnamese] side of the border, during the first six months of 2009, leading to estimation that over 400 trucks transported trees, cut the Khmer natural forest, were transported by merchants and illegal business networks, to be sold to Yuon merchants who wait at the border.

“As an example of continuing loggings of luxury wood, a case was mentioned where merchants hired villagers to cut trees in Taveng district in Ratanakiri.

“The Phav village chief in Taveng Krom commune, Taveng district, Mr. Pel Hin, was quoted as saying that he noticed that merchants came to villages and hired poor villagers to cut valuable trees in the forest, and they then bought them from villagers. The village chief expressed concern about forest destruction, forests being resources of the state, and that the destruction might spread to the Vireakchey National Park, established by Royal Decree at the Kantuy Neak [dragon tail] region, bordering on Laos and on Yuon.

“The village chief said, ‘I am really concerned. When I attended some meetings, I told the meetings that there are companies buying and selling wood in my village.’

“The secretary of thhe Taveng Krom commune, Mr. Boeung, recognized that there are illegal loggings and then the transport of luxury wood, but he claimed that this had happened only during the last few months. He said, ‘I saw much luxury wood at Taveng Krom commune brought from Taveng Leu commune. Merchants brought it here to sell it.’

“The Taveng district’s military police chief, Mr. Keo Vichet, expressed regrets, as he has very few forces, and therefore he does not know such cases.

“However, according to direct monitoring by Radio Free Asia late last week in Phav village about illegal wood transactions, workers were seen transporting luxury wood; some had 10 cm by 15 cm width bars, 1 meter long, being transported from the village to the river, to be loaded in motor boats of merchants for exports.

“A worker said that he was hired by a local Chinese merchant in Vern Sai district, Nhok Thong, an illegal luxury wood merchant who hires poor villagers to enter to cut trees in the forest.

“The Taveng district governor, Mr. Kim Toeu, recognized that there are illegal wood businesses.

“Regarding this issue, Taveng Forestry Administration official in Ratanakiri recognized that there are such activities, involving merchants and some evil officials. He said about the loss of trees, ‘As for the activities and crimes in any specific district, those districts have to be responsible respectively.’

“Poor villagers from different villages, like Sieng Soy, Taveng Leu, Dambouk villages… have been contacted by merchants who have relations with some evil officials, using money to hire them to cut valuable trees in the forest and sell them to those merchants who go to buy trees in villages, such illegal activities happened repeatedly during recent months, as they are not afraid of the law.

“Those sources said also that many cubic meters of luxury wood were found, piled up at many places in areas near the Yuon border, in order to facilitate the transport in order to sell the wood to Yuon merchants who wait near the border crossing.

“The official of the province, who asked not to be named, was quoted as saying that the illegal transport of wood is most actively done during the night. According to his estimation since June 2009, the luxury wood cut by hired poor villagers was loaded onto more than 400 trucks, to be transported for sale to Yuon merchants.

“They cannot understand why forest crimes destroying state resources still exist, even though Prime Minister Hun Sen had promised in 2001, with words like swearing an oath, that he would give up leading the government, if his government was not able to crack down on illegal logging and illegal transport starting from 1 January 2002.

“This seems difficult to understand, and observers notice that even Oknha Try Pheap, an advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen, had been frequently accused by people in communities at different provinces, such as Pursat, of hiring poor people to cut valuable trees to be transported and sold to merchants from outside of the country.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #531, 17.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #338, 17.11.2009

  • The Head of the Government Shook Hands for the First Time with President Obama in Singapore [both leaders agreed to intensify relations in order to promote economic and social development in Cambodia]
  • China Has Invested More Than US$6 Billion in Cambodia within 15 Years

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2100, 17.11.2009

  • Cambodian and Siamese [Thai] Troops at the Border Move towards Friendship [Thai army commanders had told the Khmer army commanders that they will be seek confrontation with the Cambodian troops]
  • Cambodia Has Received Investments Amounting to More Than US$1.5 Billion from Vietnam [in aviation, banking, oil, gas, agriculture, and tourism – according to the Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Tram Bac Ha]
  • UN Commissioner [Dr. Nafis Sadis]: Other Countries Should Learn from Cambodia about the Fight against AIDS [Cambodia reduced the occurence of AIDS from 2% in 1998 to 0.9% in 2006]
  • ASEAN-US Ties Become Closer with the Historic Summit [the USA promised to step up its cooperation with ASEAN, described as one of its important partners, to promote peace and security in the region]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #676, 17.11.2009

  • Thaksin Shinawatra Warned to Fly from India to Cambodia on 19 October 2009 Crossing Siamese [Thai] Airspace, while Bangkok Prepared to Arrest Him

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #531, 17.11.2009

  • Officials and Evil Merchants Collude to Open a Border Crossing to Transport Wood to Vietnam
  • Protesters against the Suspension of Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [by 24 Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians and supporters] Marched in Front of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Residence [in Phnom Penh]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Considers Dissolving the Parliament to Hold New Elections while Yellow Shirt Demonstrators Are Accusing Thaksin Shinawatra as a Traitor, Selling National Territory

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6807, 17.11.2009

  • The National Assembly Suspended Mr. Sam Rainsy Immunity over the Removal of Border Markers at Chantrea District [in Svay Rieng]
  • A M79 Shell Exploded among Yellow Shirt Demonstrators [government supporters], Injuring Twelve People [Thailand]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #47, 17.11.2009

  • Cambodia Allowed a Thai Official to Meet the [Thai] Man Accused of Spying [by copying documents about the flight schedules of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to be sent to Thailand] while There Is Still No Solution for the Diplomatic Disputes
  • Mr. Obama Stated that the United State and China Do Not Need to Be Adversaries [during their political history, they had been, but then got on with each other. They got on in some sectors, but not in all]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5049, 17.11.2009

  • Thailand Rejected Indonesia’s Role to Solve the Dispute with Cambodia
  • Cambodia Is Worried about Khmer Workers in Thailand, but the Thai Ambassador Said that There Is No Problem
  • Mr. Obama Encouraged Myanmar to Release Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [Burmese elected democracy leader]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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Japan Plans to Invest to Plant Trees in Cambodia – Monday, 16.11.2009

Posted on 18 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

“Phnom Penh: A high ranking official of the Japanese Embassy to Cambodia told the Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries that some Japanese big companies plan to invest in Cambodia to plant trees, and one company has already conducted a study for such an investment.

“This information was shared by the Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Kuroki Masafumi, when he met with the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Chan Sarun, in the evening of 12 November 2009. The chief of cabinet of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Hong Narith, told Rasmei Kampuchea on 13 November 2009, during the cordial meeting, that Mr. Masafumi told the minister that following the results from the first Mekong-Japan meeting in Japan recently, where the Action 63 projects, includes the Green Mekong project, had been mentioned, some big investment companies of Japan are interested in investing in tree plantations, and one company had already studied this in three provinces – Kompong Chhnang, Kampot, and Ratanakiri. The study was finished, and implementation will follow soon. The ambassador asked for support from the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in this field.

“The chief of cabinet said that the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries had expressed full support for this crucial project. Also, he said that there is no problem with land in Kompong Chhnang, as it is state land. In the meantime, the minister asked the ambassador to help attract investors to invest in manufacturing agricultural products for export, as there are not many investments in that sector.

“During the meeting, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries expressed his gratitude towards Japan for assisting Cambodia so far, also a lot in the field of agriculture. Practically, at present, Japan is creating an aquaculture development center in Sihanoukville, amounting US$10 million.

“A project of capacity building to monitor agricultural quality standards is very important for addressing food security, and for attracting other projects that help to deal with Cambodian agricultural market problems and to promote public health.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #50, 15-16.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 16 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #3, 15-16.11.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Left Cambodia Safely while [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Failed to Get Him Arrested
  • US$11 Million Is Provided to the National Disaster Committee for Three Years [2009-2011; aid from the Japanese government, the European Union, and the World Bank]
  • The Director of a Water Filter Company Was Shot Dead by [anonymous] Gunmen [police concluded it is a case of rancor and seeks to arrest the perpetrators – Phnom Penh]
  • A Foreign [Swedish] Man Was Assaulted and Killed, and His Body Was Found in Kandal Stung District [the perpetrators are not yet identified – Kandal]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #20, 15-16.11.2009

  • Three Big Banks [the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia (BIDC), the Canadia Bank, and the Foreign Trade Bank] Joined to Provide US$33 Million in Loans to the Rural Development Bank for Paddy Rice Purchasing in 2009-2010
  • Cambodian and Laotian Deputy Prime Ministers [Mr. Hor Namhong and Mr. Thoung Loun Sisoulith] Had a Friendly Meeting to Talk about the Setting of Border Markers [both countries want to make the 121 temporary border markers already set – covering to 86% of the border, officially designated border markers]
  • A Cambodia Youth [Mr. Em Chanmakara] Won the Southeast Asian Awards for 2009 for Producing a Television Program with the Topic ‘Everybody Supports Children’
  • Because His Father Got Drunk [and committed domestic violence], a Son Attacked Him [together with two cousins] with a Knife with a Long Handle [and killed him – the son was arrested – Pursat]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.3, #675, 16.11.2009

  • Some Businesspeople in Phnom Penh Live with Fear because [Phnom Penh police chief] Touch Naruth Is Incompetent [to prevent murder crimes against businesspeople]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #530, 15-16.11.2009

  • [The spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party] Mr. Yim Sovann: Thaksin Shinawatra Has Nothing New to Say [about economic reforms for Cambodia, like the organizing of an investment atmosphere with competitors that obey the law]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6803, 16.11.2009

  • The National Assembly Rejected The Request [of the Sam Rainsy Party] to Delay the Meeting to Suspend Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [to make way for the Svay Rieng Municipal Court to open an investigation regarding his participation in the removal of six temporary wooden border markers on the Cambodian-Vietnamese Border]
  • The Apsara Authority Removed More Than 600 Big and Small Buildings, Accusing Them of Violating the Angkor Resorts Area [Siem Reap]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #46, 16.11.2009

  • The Cambodian Stock Market Building Will Be Opened on a Small Scale in Early 2010 [according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance]
  • Now Cambodia Should Be Included as a Member of APEC [a news source from Singapore said that Cambodia will become a member of APEC, if delaying measures by other members are not allowed]
  • ASEAN and the USA Asked Burma to Conduct Free Elections

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #50, 15-16.11.2009

  • Japan Plans to Invest to Plant Trees in Cambodia
  • The Thai Embassy Is Worried about Security, but Cambodia Said It Should Not Worry about That [Cambodia will fulfill its obligation to protect the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh]
  • Embassy Delegation of the “ASEAN plus 3” [India and Australia] Who Came to Play Golf Were Warmly Welcomed at the Poipet Border Crossing
  • [Forty two] Cambodian Security Forces Set to Move to Fulfill a UN Mission [as peace keepers] to Chad and to the Republic of Central Africa

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