Week 653

Internet Governance, Censorship, and the UN Multistakeholder Approach – Sunday, 28.2.2010

Posted on 2 March 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 653 |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

Apologies for the delay:

This is sent from Kuala Lumpur. I will be traveling until mid March in fulfilling my task as a member of the Nominating Committee of ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the organization that coordinates the management of the Internet addresses worldwide – to help to find candidates for the positions of members of the board of directors and other positions of leadership, and to evaluate and to appoint them.

I hope that the timing of the publication of The Mirror will not be affected too much, but some delays will be unavoidable.

Norbert Klein, editor

On Saturday, we mirrored an article reporting that in the course of the last five years, about US$500 million had been spent on information technology in Cambodia, and that the annual amount is increasing by about 30%. Information and Communication Technology – ICT – is an important factor in the development of a country – it creates jobs, and the services which become possible through the use of its instruments and its infrastructure have a deep impact on the economy and on the society.

Most people who use e-mail and other services of the Internet are satisfied when it works, and they do not care further. But from time to time it becomes obvious that the technology behind, which allows such convenient communication, can also become the instrument of unexpected and unwelcome interventions. Then, the social implications of some technical procedures provide a challenge to look into a field often covered under the term “Internet governance.”

So we will start with some technology first. – Some years ago, I was involved in a survey about the routes which e-mail from different ISPs – Internet Service Providers – travels. At that time it was obvious that mail sent from an account on Camnet to an account on Bigpond (to use an example from that time) traveled first out of the country on an expensive satellite link, then was redirected to another satellite to come back to Cambodia to end up in the mailbox of a user. Even if both sender and receiver were sitting in the same room, but had their e-mail addresses from different ISPs, an e-mail would travel via satellite out, and then back to earth again to return to another computer in the same room. A big waste, which contributes also to the high telecommunication costs in Cambodia.

But there is a way to avoid such waste: to set up direct links between different ISPs, so that e-mail between different users of the cooperating ISPs is redirected to travel on direct links via Internet Exchange Points – IXPs – in country, without long and expensive detours via satellite. As it is usual in many countries, the idea was discussed among different ISPs, and some – but not all – agreed to set up exchange points in Cambodia. This works so far quite well.

Now some change is proposed – what is the existing cheap technical solutions might become more expensive, and a single IXP would be used to monitor, filter, and maybe block certain Internet communication.

The debate started to get into the wider public with a report in the Phnom Penh Post on 31.12.2009, which said among others: “Two Internet exchange points (IXPs) are operating in Cambodia with the support of the majority of Internet service providers (ISPs), despite previous comments from the government that it wants state-owned Telecom Cambodia to monopolize the key connectivity service.” The existing multiple links work already: “We have 31 operating ISPs and only five smaller ISPs are not interconnected; we do not see the need for a government initiative.” And: the two existing Exchange Points do not charge for the service. It was also stated that the intended centralization by the government owned Telecom Cambodia would also endanger the technical security for all international communication because creating one single communication link creates at the same time a single point of failure. And an additional Exchange Point would also be welcome as an incentive for competition – “as long as it did not operate as a monopoly.”

But exactly this seems to be the intention.

On 24.2.2010, Mr. Chin Daro, the deputy director of Telecom Cambodia, which wants to get the exclusive right to operate an Exchange Point for the whole country which everybody would have to use and pay for, was quoted in the Phnom Penh Post saying, “If any Web site attacks the government or any Web site displays inappropriate images or pornography, or it’s against the principle of the government, we can block all of them.”

The debate took a very welcome principled turn by statements by the Minister of Information, reported in the Phnom Penh Post on 26.2.2010. “I don’t know what authority they’re saying that under,” he said in reference to the Telecom Cambodia official’s comments. “The government doesn’t have any policy on that,” adding, “Who should decide what should be filtered?”

The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications does not share this opinion. And the Phnom Penh Post adds, “A telecommunications industry representative who spoke on condition of anonymity said Thursday that the two officials’ contradictory statements could be taken as evidence that the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication was on the verge of overstepping its role, which is supposed to be that of a free market regulator. ‘The Ministry of Information is stating the law – only a judge has the authority to decide what can be censored, and they are upholding that.’”

When the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia was promulgated in 1993, Article 40 gave guidance to the freedom of communication (though at a time when the Internet did not yet play a wide role in correspondence and information exchange – the same spirit probably applies to the Internet):

  • “Citizens’ freedom to travel, far and near, and legal settlement shall be respected.
  • Khmer citizens shall have the right to travel and settle abroad and return to the country.
  • The rights to privacy of residence, and to the secrecy of correspondence by mail, telegram, fax, telex and telephone shall be guaranteed.
  • Any search of the house, material and body shall be in accordance with the law.”

It is also surprising how a high-ranking officer of a government institution can publicly announce that Telecom Cambodia intends the following: “If any Web site attacks the government … we can block all of them.” Actually, public servants are expected to serve under the Constitutions of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which solemnly declares in its Preamble: “Having awakened, stood up with a resolute determination to strengthen the national unity… and to restore Cambodia into an ‘Island of Peace’ based on a multi-party liberal democratic regime guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law…” A multi-party liberal (!) democratic (!) regime lives from defending the freedom for critical and opposing publicly debated opinion – and its officers are expected to defend the Constitution, not to stifle its application.

The present Minister of Information has a long history of defending these principles. He expressed his opinion against Internet censorship already once in 1999, when he was Secretary of State in the same ministry, at a time when there were rumors in the press in Hong Kong, that Cambodia would start to censor the Internet, in a letter of 3 June 1999, which he wanted to have shared widely, to Mr. Bill Herod, who had been active in helping to promote the use of the newly established Camnet e-mail system:

Dear Sir,

I do not know where SCMP [the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong] got this news (“Planned Net law ‘threat to democracy,’” May 31, 1999), but I can assure you that I am the one who has been fighting and continues to fight for the freedom of Internet access and the free flow of information in general. Everyday I find in my e-mail all kinds of information including some mail insulting me.

This is a fact of life. When we never attempt to control the import of books and magazines into Cambodia why would we want to block the Internet? What I said about the terrorist sites was only to express my concern over the price to be paid. Please be assured that I am very supportive of this form of communication and I will spare no effort in defending it. I hope you can help communicate this assurance to all of your subscribers and, if you have any problem concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me.

Your sincerely,

Khieu Kanharith

[Source: Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2003/2004, published by ORBICOM, IDRC, UNDP-APDIP, 2003, page. 138]

And again more recently, when for the first time some Cambodian ISP partly blocked access to some Internet web sites. The web site of K7 Media reported on 5.3.2009:

“Cambodian Minister of Information, Khieu Kanharith reacted officially to the publication of articles by ‘foreign language media’ alleging that the Cambodian government is trying to control audiovisual content on the Internet with a draft law. On Thursday March 5th, in front of journalists convened for a press conference on this topic, he said that he considered it ‘impossible’ to implement such measures…

“Khieu Kanharith stressed that the government had never sought to restrict access to some websites: when the website of the British environmental organization Global Witness was blocked, it resulted not from an intervention of the authorities, but – according to him – to that of a private Internet service provider, Angkor Net, who had decided on its own initiative to prevent its users from accessing it.

“’Even the Reahu blog which presents pictures of [bare-breasted] Apsaras was not shut down by the government,’ he added.

“’This is not a restriction on the freedom of the media. It was never in the intention of the government and the Ministry of Information to control on-line audiovisual contents,’ the Minister argued. He also claimed that the government supported press freedom and welcomed the fact that more and more Cambodians knew how to ‘use the Internet and the Khmer Unicode font [which enables to view (a unified, standardized version of the) Khmer script].’”

The discussion will continue. But it is now a discussion, where different persons in different high public position have different opinions, and share them publicly. The Mirror was created, from the beginning, with the conviction that the public exchange of opinion is an important exercise in implementing the high goals which liberal multi-party societies practice and enjoy, and by doing so contribute to the healthy development of society.

Since the United Nations held its first World Summits for the Information Society in 2003 and 2005, they were organized as “multi-stakeholder” events: governments, business, and civil society were cooperating together to tackle the new challenges of the Information Society. This model should also be applied in Cambodia.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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During Five Years, Cambodia Has Spent About US$500 Million on Information Technology – Saturday, 27.2.2010

Posted on 28 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: The president of the Information Communication Technology Association of Cambodia [Yellow Pages: “Website not working” – maybe later again?] and president of the Young Entrepreneur Association of Cambodia, Mr. Ken Chanthan, told Deum Ampil yesterday that during the recent five years, about US$500 million were spent on information technology in Cambodia, and each year the expenses increases by 30%. Thus, Cambodia should have the ability to create software on its own. He added, ‘In Cambodia, the access to computer and information technology is just around 5% to 10%, and most of the computers being used nowadays are clone computers [no-brand-name computers] because they are cheaper and it is easier for students and civil servants to buy them.

“He stressed that actually, in developed countries, Information and Communication Technology is an important field used to create jobs for people through the provision of services, such as the creation of software to be sold abroad, or for the publication of information in the country and abroad. Also, information technology can be used in small and medium scale industries to promote competition in productivity, or to promote markets, like in the tourism sector, where ICT can be used for booking airplane tickets and hotel rooms, and for checking information about various touristic sites. Now, Cambodia needs to change to more use of information and communication technology in order to develop the country to progress, like other countries in the world.

“He went on to say that on 4 and 5 March 2010, an international company from Korea will make a visit to study the possibilities of software development in cooperation with Cambodian companies, as Cambodia has the potential with Information Technology students who can cooperate to produce software. In addition, labor in Cambodia is cheap. Therefore, if Korean companies can establish a company to produce software in Cambodia, it will boost the information technology sector to progress quickly, contributing to the development of the country, and it will create employment for Cambodian people.

“According to a report from an information technology training center about the year 2009, there were 45,700 computers being used in Cambodia, but in 2010, the number might increase up to 56,300 computers.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #421, 27.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 27 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #421, 27.2.2010

  • During Five Years, Cambodia Has Spent About US$500 Million on Information Technology
  • The Global Fund Gives US$9 Million to Fight Malaria [the money will be used to buy 500,000 doses of anti-malaria drugs]
  • It Was the House Guard Who Killed a Malaysian Company Director and His Cook [he was arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • Twenty People in Kompong Chhnang Have Diarrhea and One of Them Died [probably Cholera]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2188, 2.2.2010

  • Thai Court Expropriated Part of [Thai ousted and fugitive] Thaksin Shinawatra’s Money: More Than Baht 46 Billion or US$1.4 Billion [confiscated, out of a US$2.3 billion “frozen” in banks in Thailand: according to a court verdict, which took 7 hours and 20 minutes to read: stating that he had abused his authority as prime minister, and he had concealed part of his assets, contrary to anti-corruption legislation; an amount of Baht 30.24 billion, or approx. US$900 million, was returned to Mr. Thaksin and his family, as it belonged to them before he took office as prime minister in 2001]
  • A Land Cruiser with the License Plate 21 8881 Killed a Woman and Injured Another Person – the Car and Driver Escaped [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #613, 27.2.2010

  • Soldiers, Police, and Traders Continue to Cut Trees and Transport Them Actively in Mondolkiri, Kratie, and Other Provinces – against the Order of the Prime Minister

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6895, 27-28.2.2010

  • Cambodia Has Many Publications Systems, but in Reality, their Activities Remain Limited [according to the Ministry of Information, by 2009, there were 385 newspapers, 50 printers, 172 magazines, 34 foreign newspapers, 28 foreign magazines, 10 imported press products, 11 international news agencies, 21 journalist associations, 133 printing houses, 6 printing institutions, nine private television stations, 93 private cable TV stations, and 43 private radio stations. – Apologies: classification not very clear]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3819, 27-28.2.2010

  • The Government Sued Mr. Sam Rainsy at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court [for using fake border related public documents, and carrying out disinformation, creating a downturn in democratic culture in Cambodia. The lawyer of the government, Mr. Ky Tech, said that if Mr. Sam Rainsy is found guilty, he will be sentenced to serve between 5 to 15 years in prison]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5137, 27.2.2010

  • A Vietnamese Ship Loaded with Nearly 5,000 Tonnes of Khmer Corn Escaped from the Kompong Som Port without Settling the Open Account of More Than US$1 Million
  • The 45th South East Asia Central Bank Governors’ Conferences Started in Siem Reap [on 26 February 2010]

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

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Mr. Sam Rainsy Responded to Hun Sen, Saying the Cambodian Leader Himself Fakes Maps and Does Not Even Know Where the Country’s Border Is – Friday, 26.2.2010

Posted on 26 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“The war of words from the Cambodian Prime Minister, whose angry reaction is surprising, leads to questions among observers – when he blasted Mr. Sam Rainsy, his opponent and president of the biggest opposition party in Cambodia over border issues, it led to different reactions trying to clarify. Khmer people have questions, and national and international observers as well as diplomats want to know why the powerful Prime Minister of Cambodia cannot agree upon other ways to clarify things between Khmers and Khmers, but rather make accusations to have border documents faked.

“In a new interview with Radio Free Asia aired yesterday morning, Mr. Sam Rainsy, a parliamentarian from Cambodia and now in France to continue a mission struggling to protect the territorial integrity of Cambodia from loss, because of the improper setting of border markers, said he is doing it to respond to the Cambodian Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen, who accused him of faking map documents of Cambodia.

“During the interview with Radio Free Asia on 25 February 2010, Mr. Sam Rainsy stressed, ‘I know that I have a clear basis for my arguments, unlike the current leader of Cambodia. I stand on the Khmer side in these border issues. We must express that we saw them (the neighboring countries) trying to create a new border that is wrong, and they want to absorb Khmer territory. Therefore, I stand on the Khmer side as a Khmer national, and I protect the territory.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy added, ‘Those who accused me that I am wrong and said that it is on Yuon [Vietnamese] territory [where the border markers stood] do not serve Khmer interests. Those people stand on the side of the Yuon.’

“He went on to clarify that his political struggle follows a model of major leaders of the country for the nation, which does not specify any time or place for its activities. Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘…Where do we stand, and for what? Do not just say what the current leader said, accusing me that I, Sam Rainsy, fake mapping documents. He himself fakes maps. He himself does not even know where the maps and where the borders of the nation are.’

“Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted in anger, using serious words accusing Mr. Sam Rainsy, who had raised border issues at the East with Vietnam, to be a traitor. It is an accusation that observers from civil society and among diplomats described as ‘too extreme.’

“Mr. Hun Sen’s reaction in anger was described by observers and by Khmer citizens in general as a mood that cannot be controlled any longer, as he said, ‘Diplomats in Cambodia, please bring this map, supposedly published on the Internet, which the opposition party is referring to, to be reviewed and compared with the real map, then we will see what will happen.’ He also announced what can be understood as a preparation to take action to arrest Mr. Sam Rainsy, to be jailed – another surprising attitude, according to various observers.

“What the Prime Minister said, whether intentionally or unintentionally, intends to show the power he has over the legislative body of Cambodia, as he said, ‘The National Assembly needs not to be afraid, because we cannot answer unclear questions, because if the questions are unclear, the answers would be also unclear’ (Sic).

“That the Prime Minister gave a clarification instead of the National Assembly [to which Mr. Son Chhay had directed this questions], and ordered the National Assembly not to give any responses to the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, is against the law. Therefore, the fact that he said, ‘We cannot answer an unclear questions, because if the questions are unclear, the answers will also be unclear,’ makes the responses from the government representative, Mr. Var Kimhong, at the National Assembly also unclear, just as a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, who had asked the question, observed.

“Observers said that both Mr. Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen had shown an intention to review maps. Thus, the solution that the leader should provide, should not be to arrest Mr. Sam Rainsy and jail him, but they should find a third party of international standing to review the maps to bring this problem to an end.

“Analysts said that intention to have Mr. Hun Sen review the maps by diplomats, proposed by Mr. Sam Rainsy, reflects the impression that the diplomats probably view the Cambodia Prime Minister as an involved party, and assumes that they believe Mr. Sam Rainsy’s claim. Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘Therefore, we take the documents and put them onto the only legal map of 1952, with a scale of 1:100,000, and it will be seen that in 1985, there was no invasion at the point where we visited.’

“He described the geography of the Khmer territory in the Samraung commune, Chantrea, Svay Rieng , saying that in 1985, there was no such loss, and what was set later as the border with Vietnam overlaps the demarcation in the map of 1952, which means that territory was lost later on, and Mr. Sam Rainsy claimed it resulted from the improper use of maps and the faking of mapping documents by the border committees of the two countries, Cambodia and Vietnam.

“Different from the accusation made by Prime Minister Hun Sen and by the head of the Cambodian Border Committee, Mr. Var Kimhong, saying that Mr. Sam Rainsy used faked maps, therefore the government will sue Mr. Sam Rainsy again, Mr. Sam Rainsy explained his position, that he works with the help of technical groups for mapping, and national and international experts, specialized computer experts using modern technical devices, including satellites, and his statement, that the review of the border area in Svay Rieng had shown a loss of Cambodian territory, is based on their findings.

“This reminded an observer to recall a notice by Dr. Mathews Verghese, a Singaporean scholar, who used to be the Singaporean Ambassador to Cambodia some years ago. Mr. Verghese wrote in The Straits Times of Singapore in 2004 that the border line of Cambodia with neighboring countries is moving into Cambodian territory.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy said that he will continue his struggle abroad, like what Samdech Norodom Sihanouk did during the period of his struggles, but he will not come to Cambodia to be jailed by Yuon [Vietnam]. If there would not have been a struggle, there would not have been the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia [UNTAC], nor elections. He will follow this model, saying, ‘I use my influence. What I can do is to help until justice is given to Cambodia and to the Khmer people who are victims.'” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1882, 26-28.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 26 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #420, 26.2.2010

  • A New Initiative Was Announced to Tackle the Impact of Climate Change in Cambodia [Cambodia received US$8.9 million from the UN, the European Union, and Denmark, to launch the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance to fight global warming]
  • Samdech Hun Sen: Though Cambodia Faces Many Major Problems, Including Aggression by Siam [Thailand], Cambodia Is Still Stable
  • The European Union Granted US$25 Million for Agriculture and Food Security in Cambodia [according to the Chargé d’Affaires of the European Commission to Cambodia, Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2187, 26.2.2010

  • A French Electricity Engineer Was Convicted to Serve Seven Years in Prison and Then to Be Deported from Cambodia [for buying child prostitution – Phnom Penh]
  • [The United States of] America Issued New Forms for Visa Applications to [the United States of] America [for non-immigrant visas, using the newly developed DS-160 web based application forms, starting from 1 March 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6894, 26.2.2010

  • Knot-Tieing Ceremony between Armed Forces and State Institutions and Civil Society Was Organized [state institutions, the authorities, and companies can voluntarily assist specific units of the Armed Forces with funds, food, or materials, to contribute to reducing difficulties of military units and to strengthening national unity. – But it was reported that there were also companies listed as supporters, where the leadership did not know how they got onto the list; having a policy not to support the military did also not prevent a company to be publicly listed as a supporter.]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Discipline Must Be Strictly Implemented [if police officials commit wrongdoings], and the Use of Positions and Power to Commit Wrong Act Is Completely Prohibited [he said during a convention of the Ministry of Interior]
  • [Former Phnom Penh police chief] Heng Pov, Convicted to Serve 94 Years in Prison, Was Brought to Court over a Bribery Case of US$40,000 relating to the Release of a Women Who Had Been Accused of Smuggling Drugs [he is accused to have been involved in a bribery case – he may have taken a bribe from the woman accused as a drug smuggler – for which he might receive an additional conviction if found guilty]
  • Japan Granted US$275,439 for Maternal and Infant Health Services

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.4, #3818, 26.2.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Appeals [against the conviction by the Svay Rieng court to jail him two years for removing border markers] as the Government Prepares to Sue Him in Two More Cases This Morning [for faking public documents and for disinformation over border issues]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #120, 26.2.2010

  • Cambodia and Vietnam Step Up Setting Border Markers amid Strong Criticism [eight border markers will be posted along the border in Ratanakiri]
  • More Prisons Are Established while the Number of Prisoners Keeps Increasing [the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, said that the prisons countrywide can house 8,000 prisoners only, but by 2009, there had already been 13,325 prisoners]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5136, 26.2.2010

  • “Tivea 06” [nickname of a police official] Was Sent to Court after He Was Found Putting Drugs into Beer [poisoning five police, where one of them died – Phnom Penh]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Suggested to introduce Direct Flights from Indonesia to Cambodia [to boost tourism]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1882, 26-28.2.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Responded to Hun Sen, Saying the Cambodian Leader Himself Fakes Maps and Does Not Even Know Where the Country’s Border Is

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

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Land Issues of Ethnic Minority People Were Raised during a Meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – Thursday, 25.2.2010

Posted on 25 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: The loss of forest land as ancentral burying areas and of farming land of ethnic minority people in Cambodia was presented to a committee in Geneva in Switzerland, at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, meeting last week.

“Three ethnic minority representatives and two non-government organization representatives attended the meeting. They returned to Cambodia on 23 February 2010.

“During a press conference at the NGO Forum on Cambodia in the morning of 24 February 2010, the representatives of ethnic minority people in Cambodia and of non-government organizations shared their reports on the situation of ethnic people in Cambodia, which they had made to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [based on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

“The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held its 76th meeting from 14 to 23 February 2010. Also, the Cambodian Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Sun Suon, attended the meeting, which is held every four years, to respond to questions of the UN committee in relation to the situation of ethnic minority people in Cambodia.

“In the report about the situation of ethnic minority people in Cambodia submitted to the UN committee, non-government officials and ethnic minority representatives stated that recently, there have been some improvements of the situation regarding education, infrastructure, and heath for ethnic minority people. But many serious issues related to natural resources, especially land violations against ethnic minority people in Cambodia, had happened.

“The report pointed to obvious forest violations, such as cases in Kangyu in Ratanakiri, in Bu Sra in Mondolkiri, in Snuol in Kratie, in Rovieng in Preah Vihear, in Oral in Kompong Speu, and at the Yeak Lom lake area in Ratanakiri.

“Forest and farming land, on which the life of ethnic minority people depends, was contracted by the government to private companies as economic concession land for rubber plantations or for mining.

“Ethnic minority people representatives stated during the press conference at the NGO Forum on Cambodia that frequently, their land was grabbed and resources from the forest, on which they rely, were seized. As for the sources of water near their places of living, they were changed by building dams across the river and the water is now contaminated.

“The Cambodian Ambassador to the United Nations was questioned by the UN committee over these serious human rights violations, especially the grabbing of land affecting 179,000 ethnic minority people living in 15 provinces of Cambodia.

“All questions and claims by representatives of the ethnic minority people above were rejected by Mr. Sun Suon, and he said that there are no such hot issues relating to the human rights situation and ethnic minority people’s rights. Regarding the provision of economic concession land to private companies, the government made it based on the law, and he said that forest land belongs to the state, but not to ethnic minority people’s communities.

“Nevertheless, the ethnic minority and non-government organization representatives, who listened to the responses of the Cambodian Ambassador to the UN during the meeting on Sunday, said that they cannot accept such answers that are irresponsible and contradict the real issues. Ethnic minority and non-government organization representatives want the Cambodian government to send a representative from Phnom Penh who knows the actual situation to argue and to respond to the questions of the United Nations at the next meetings.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5135, 25.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 25 February 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1431, 25-26.2.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sun Called Mr. Sam Rainsy a Traitor [for creating trouble at the Eastern border with Vietnam, while Cambodia is having border issues at the Western border with Thailand]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #419, 25.2.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen: There Can Be Opposition Parties Participating in the Next Elections, but There Should Be No Sam Rainsy [as he is convicted and is now facing an additional conviction over border issues]
  • During a Party to Welcome the Return to the Office of Tivea 06 [ “Mr. Anniversary 06,” a nickname of a police official], One Policeman Died and Four Others Were Affected by Poisoning [“Tivea 06” is held again for questioning over this case; before, he had been suspended from his duties in relation to a case of violence against a car mechanic – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2186, 25.2.2010

  • The Prime Minister Encourages Careful Recruitment for Outstanding Students to Work in Education Administration and Teaching [while it is known that often jobs are also given for favors, and not only based on qualifications]
  • In 2009 There Were More Criminal Offenses Than in 2008 [there were 3,456 cases, an increas by 575 cases; 353 people were killed and 1,574 were injured – according to the Ministry of Interior]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #611, 25.2.2010

  • People in a Forest Protection Community Received Death Threats from Forestry Criminals Backed by Powerful People [Lumphat district, Ratanakiri]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6893, 25.2.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Government Does Not Have the Right to Cut off Land for Other Countries
  • A Malaysian Man, the Director of a Company, and His Cook, Were Stabbed to Death; this Case Is Suspected to Be a Robbery [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.4, #3817, 25.2.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy: The Sam Rainsy Party Is Concerned about the Loss of the Territory Both at the West and at the East – Who Is A Traitor and Who Is Protecting the Territory Will Be Revealed Soon
  • Vietnam Plans to Plant Rubber Trees in Cambodia, Laos, and Burma, Spending More Than US$500 Million

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #119, 25.2.2010

  • Mr. Hun Sen Will Visit the Troops Again [stationed in Battambang Province, close to the northern border, on 27 February 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5135, 25.2.2010

  • Land Issues of Ethnic Minority People Were Raised during a Meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Warned Bangkok Not to Make Any Comments on His Second Visit to the Cambodian-Thai Border
  • Vietnam Assists in Information Technology at the National Assembly of Cambodia [donating printers, computers, and servers worth US$300,000]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1881, 25.2.2010

  • The Ruling Party Has Endless Excuses to Delay Approving an Anti-Corruption Law [Mr. Cheam Yeap, a parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, the chairperson of the Commission on Economy, Banking, and Audits of the National Assembly, said that we have to wait further, as the draft needs further review. ]

    It is not clear how some of these pieces of information fit together. The Mirror had published a press report on 29.12.2009, which said:

  1. “The draft of an anti-corruption law has not yet been publicly released, though one part of this draft law was disclosed last week by the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers. When this part of the draft became widely known, it was either welcomed or mocked, as this law will require also staff of non-government organizations, who earn little, to declare their property…
  2. “The Council of Ministers spokesperson Phay Siphan reiterated day-before-yesterday that the draft law cannot be made public, because it has yet to arrive at the National Assembly. Once it arrives there, it can then be released to the public…
  3. “However, a secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, who asked not to be named, said that the draft has already reached the secretary-general of the National Assembly.”

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The United States of America Granted US$13.4 Million for AIDS Action Programs – Wednesday, 24.2.2010

Posted on 25 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: According to an announcement by the US Embassy on 23 February 2010, the United States of America officially started a program with a contribution of US$13.4 million to improve the heath and the quality of life of Cambodian citizens, reducing the impact from HIV and AIDS, especially among vulnerable groups.

“The five year sustainable program against HIV and AIDS at the community level will provide health care to citizens suffering from AIDS, those having HIV, and orphans, and in the meantime, it will also help to prevent new infections among vulnerable groups. This program will be implemented by the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance [KHANA], a local non-government organization which has been funded by the United States of America since 1997.

“More than 700 people, including those having HIVS and children suffering from AIDS, government officials, civil society organizations, and development partners participated in the inauguration at Wat Ou Poath in Takeo. Wat Ou Poath will receive aid from the United States of America for this program in order to continue to run an orphanage for children suffering from the impact from AIDS, to offer living places for adults who have HIV, to create a place for HIV blood testing, and to provide other services.

“The US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol A. Rodley, praised the working strategies of this community level program. She said, ‘Working with leaders such as monks at Wat Ou Poath and with our development partner KHANA contributes a lot to combating AIDS countrywide. The United States of America will continue to support these activities.’ The program also aims also to improve the capacity of civil society to provide health care services and HIV prevention with quality and sustainability. To reach this aim, KHANA has trained more than 60 local non-government organizations and supported those taking care of people having HIV at more than half of the communities countrywide by offering caring services to 60% of the communities in Cambodia.

“The aid granted by the United States of America for HIV/AIDS programs in Cambodia in this year amounts to US$18.5 million. The aid is concentrated on the protection, the care, and the treatment for people having HIV and people facing the danger of HIS infection.

“The HIV/AIDS program will also strengthen the national health system, fight maternal mortality, and address also other present priority health issues.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6892, 24.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #418, 24.2.2010

  • Chinese Investors Are Seeking Concession Land of More Than 60,000 Hectares in Cambodia [to plant rubber trees; in 2009, Cambodia exported 42,000 tonnes of rubber, compared with Thailand, the biggest rubber exporting country, which exported 2.74 million tonnes]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2185, 24.2.2010

  • Booyong Company of Korea Donates 3,000 Digital Pianos Worth US$3.6 Million to the Ministry of Education

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #610, 24.2.2010

  • Samdech Euv Claimed that Ruom Rith [supposedly his pen pal from childhood times] Who Was Interviewed by the Internet Broadcaster World Khmer Radio [based in the USA] Is an Imposter

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6892, 24.2.2010

  • The Report of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association Says: The Shooting to Kill Khmer Citizens by Thai Soldiers Is a Serious Violation of Human Rights
  • The United States of America Granted US$13.4 Million for AIDS Action Programs

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3816, 24.2.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Will Hold a Press Conference [through video conferencing] This Evening in Response to a Warning by [the head of the Cambodian Border Committee] Var Kimhong [to sue him for using fake maps]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #118, 24.2.2010

  • In Early 2010, the Forestry Administration Suppressed 231 Forestry Crimes [seizing 510 cubic meters of wood]
  • Sixty Percent of the [116] Unlicensed Pharmacies Closed [after the authorities set a deadline to take action against them at the end of February – Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5134, 24.2.2010

  • A Younger Sister of the Korean President Lee Myung-Bak Wants to Establish Schools in Cambodia [according to a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen – Phnom Penh]
  • A Man Raped His Daughter for Three Years – When She Could No Bear It Any More, She Informed the Police to Arrest Him [Svay Rieng]
  • A Korean Drove a Lexus Car and Hit a Motorbike, Killing Three People [Kompong Thom]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Small and Medium Scale Industry in Cambodia Will Be Strengthened for ASEANization – Tuesday, 23.2.2010

Posted on 24 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: Starting from 2015, member countries of ASEAN will exchange goods freely. Cambodia is among them, a country that is preparing to develop itself, while small and medium scale industry remains not so strong and needs further development so that it can compete with other ASEAN countries.

“Relating to the development of small and medium scale industry, the secretary of a Cambodian macro-micro industry community, Mr. Ouk Ren, spoke yesterday to Deum Ampil, saying, ‘The development of small and medium scale industry in Cambodia is speeding up, and its capacity has to be further strengthened for its ASEANization in 6 points: 1. Organization of leadership institutions, 2. Financial supporting systems, 3. Marketing networks, 4. Extensive communication, 5. Information and communication technology, and 6. Promotion of leadership ability in all sectors.’

“He added, ‘Most small and medium scale enterprises are operated as family businesses. Therefore, if we do not organize them, it will be difficult for them to relate to, and to integrate into foreign trade. It requires that public services are coordinated and that improvements happen so that developments are in line with the global commercial situation.’

“He emphasized, ‘Nowadays, there are more than 100 small and medium scale industrial enterprises operating in Cambodia. At present, they are facing a financial crisis, and everyone is trying to improving their operations in order to recover; but they have not prepared themselves to integrate with other ASEAN countries. Anyway, we have this policy direction, but we do not yet have explicit strategies. In the meantime, we need leadership from the Ministries of Industry, of Economy, and of Commerce, as the private sector cannot function without passing through these government institutions.’

“As for Siam [Thailand], the General Director of the Industrial Extension Department of Siam, Mr. Atith Vuthikaro [phonetic], said, ‘A few small and medium scale enterprises have established branches to cooperate in trade with other ASEAN countries.’

“He added, ‘In Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos labor is cheap, and those countries provide good opportunities for Thai investment abroad, when Thai companies establish trade relations.’

“Mr. Atith went on to say, ‘Ten percent of the leading enterprises, or around 90,000, will concentrate on the expansion into ASEAN countries. Thirty percent of the Thai enterprises have been well developed. And many of those enterprises focus on food processing and the production of beverages.’

“The director general of a Thai industrial development structure, Mr. Manob Chaiwatana Suthorn [phonetic], said, ‘While seeking trading cooperation, we initially concentrate on Cambodia, Burma, Laos, and Vietnam, because these countries have cheap labor and a lot of raw materials for the development of small and medium scale enterprises.'” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #417, 23.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #417, 23.2.2010

  • Small and Medium Scale Industry in Cambodia Will Be Strengthened for ASEANization
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Introduce Uniforms for Moto-Taxi Drivers [and Tuk-Tuk drivers, to protect the safety of tourists, as some persons pretended to be moto-taxi drivers and caused many problems]
  • Cambodia Reconsiders Providing Family Books and Khmer Identification Cards to 24 Khmer Kampuchea Krom People [that the Thai authorities had arrested and sent to Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2184, 23.2.2010

  • The Minister of Information Rejected the Information that Khmer Kampuchea Krom People [in Vietnam] Are Not Allowed to Watch Television Broadcasted from Cambodia
  • A Man Killed Two Nieces and Then Raped Them [they are four and twelve years old – Kampot]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #609, 23.2.2010

  • [The vice president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm Welcomes Democrats and Those Loving the Nation to Join [with the Sam Rainsy Party; this is seen as a response to the Human Rights Party that had called for unity]
  • Prince Norodom Sirivudh Will Be Appointed as a Member of the Constitutional Council, to Replace Son Soubert [whose term will terminate in two weeks]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6891, 23.2.2010

  • A Government Official Announced to Sue Mr. Sam Rainsy; [the head of the Cambodian Border Committee] Va Kimhong: Maps Accusing the Government [over the setting of border markers with Vietnam, used by Mr. Sam Rainsy] Are Fake

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3815, 23.2.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Submitted a Draft [to the National Assembly] Requesting the Creation of a National Independent Board against Corruption

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #118, 23.2.2010

  • Cambodia Appeals to Citizens to Be Careful when Traveling to Thailand [as there will be a big demonstration held by the red-shirt demonstrators, supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on 26 February 2010]
  • Investment Projects Approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia in January This Year Dropped by 25% Compared to the Corresponding Period Last Year [the amount dropped from US$100 million to US$75 million]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5133, 23.2.2010

  • China Invested from 1994 to 2009 US$7,025 Million in Cambodia

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Environmental Pollution Has to Be Reduced in Four Industrial Target Areas – Monday, 22.2.2010

Posted on 23 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: The garment industry, brick kilns, rice milling, and the rubber processing industry are frequently considered by environmentalists as causing environmental pollution, which contributes to climate change in Cambodia as well as producing greenhouse gases, released into the atmosphere, a major source of global warming.

“The Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, is developing strategies to deal with the four target areas to economize the use of raw materials, to reorient the industry to create less pollution, and to use energy resource which effectively cut down environmental pollution.

“The chief technical advisor of the Cambodian Cleaner Production Program, Dr. P.K Gupta [Director of the National Productivity Council/National Cleaner Production Center of India], said during a consultation workshop about Industrial Energy Efficiency at the Sunway Hotel in the morning of 19 February 2010 that the reduction of greenhouse gases in Cambodian industry is a project of the Global Environment Facility approved in 2009. In Cambodia, it is found that the garment industry, brick kilns, rice milling, and the rubber processing industry are the most polluting fields compared to others. They play a most important role to develop the industry based economy of the country, consume the most fuel, and therefore emit most of the polluting smoke. Officials of the Ministries of Industry and of the Environment are looking for ways to reduce fuel consumption by shifting to other sources of energy for the production in these fields, sources that do not need high capital input and save electricity.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, Dr. Sat Samy, said, ‘Anyway, industrial development must be combined with environmental protection – otherwise we will spend much time and money to find remedies for the destruction caused by environmental pollution resulting from development.’ He added that in recent years, global climate change made journalists, politicians, and many other people around the world to pay more attention to, and to worry about the threats to the environment which can lead to climate change, floods, droughts, and global warming, that go against the desired social sustainable situation that human beings necessarily need for their everyday lives.

“The Technical Director General of the Ministry of Environment, Mr. Lonh Heal, said, ‘The four target areas are the ones on which efforts to reduce environmental pollution needs to be concentrated, because they contribute to climate change. Much scientific evidence shows that the release of greenhouse gases into the environment by human activities is the major source of global warming. Cambodia is a country that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1995. As a signatory country we have to prepare to fulfill the contracted duties about greenhouse gases in our national plans. Therefore, this workshop is an effort to coordinate between the Ministries of Industry and of the Environment under an Industrial Energy Efficiency Program of the Global Environment Facility. The workshop was held for one day to consult about how to make changes that benefit both industrial operators and reduce environmental pollution.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5132, 21-22.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 22 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #416, 21-22.2.2010

  • During a Raid at Dawn in a Restaurant Suspected of Dealing with Drugs, Nineteen People Were Arrested [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2183, 21-22.2.2010

  • While Wood Removed from an Old House Was Being Loaded on a Truck, Military Police Blocked it to Extort Riel 300,000 [approx. US$75, though there was sufficient documentation permitting the transport – Battambang]
  • A Truck Loaded with Containers Hit a Motorbike Driver, Killing Two People Immediately [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #735, 22.2.2010

  • The Export [of garments] Dropped by More Than 40%, and More Than 50,000 Workers Lost Their Jobs

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6890, 22.2.2010

  • That the Charges against [two] Local Human Rights Defenders and a Reporter [of Radio Free Asia] Were Dropped Was Welcomed [by the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights]
  • A 13 Year-Old Pitiable Girl Was Raped by Two Men, Two Brothers [not relatives of the girl – who escaped – Kompong Chhnang]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.17, #3814, 22.2.2010

  • The United Nations [through the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination] Warned that It Will Provide Asylum for Khmer Kampuchea Krom People if the Cambodian Government Does Not Provide Them with Khmer Citizenships

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #116, 22.2.2010

  • The King Will Leave for China for a Medical Checkup Today
  • Cambodia Will File a Complaint against Thailand Today at a Thai Provincial Court for Secretly Convicting [six] Khmer Citizens [to serve two years and three months in prison, without letting the Khmer authorities find lawyers for them – they entered Thai territory illegally to look for and to cut and steal luxury wood – [[the Cambodian wood merchants who would have benefited most are again not being targeted]]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5132, 21-22.2.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Supports the Government to Solve Border Issues with Thailand Appealing for International Help
  • Environmental Pollution Has to Be Reduced in Four Industrial Target Areas

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1878, 22.2.2010

  • The head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, Was Beaten by a Traffic Police, Injuring His Head [he was stopped by police and was fined Riel 5000, as his wife did not wear the seat belt; after that he started to drive, but another policeman beat him, through his car’s open window, and used rude words, though he was confused and thought Mr. Chea Mony had not yet paid the fine; Mr. Chea Mony asked the traffic police not to use violence against citizens]

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

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