Week 655

The Passing of the Anti-Corruption Law, and Planned Changes in Telecommunications – Sunday, 14.3.2010

Posted on 15 March 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

As regular readers of The Mirror know, we often quote the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia to have a clear basis when trying to better understand certain actions and events. Today’s editorial is written hoping for discussions and explanations, and, if necessary, clarifications and corrections. Recently, there were actions and statements, which seem to call for explanations and clarifications, so that a common public understanding can be achieved. One issue is related to the Anti-Corruption Law, and the other to regulatory plans or decisions in the field of telecommunications.

As for the Anti-Corruption Law, this is not an attempt to analyze its content. It is only to share some observations, some of which seem to have implications related to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The first observation is related to formalities, as this is the Cambodian law which has been drafted for the longest time compared to other laws – since 1994, and with active support for this process by the United Nations since 2004. Then, in December 2009, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers announced that the draft is now ready, but he disclosed only one point: that also the heads of NGOs would have to declare their assets, adding that the text would be available for consideration as soon as it would be at the National Assembly. This too took a surprisingly long time; because of timing problems, the parliamentarians of the Human Rights Party declared not to take part in the parliamentary deliberations of this draft, as they did not have enough time to review this important text, which was actually distributed only on 5 March 2010, while a session of the National Assembly was scheduled to be held already on 10 March 2010. And then the draft, under deliberation since 1994, was adopted very fast, without any amendments, in just one and a half days.

An Anti-Corruption Law had been awaited eagerly since years, as Cambodia was ranked 158 out of 180 countries on the latest list of the corruption perception index of Transparency International, and it was ranked the second most corrupt Southeast Asian country after Indonesia, in an annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy.

The UN country team in Cambodia, made up of 23 specialized agencies, had expressed its concern that an extra-ordinary session was convened only days after the draft had been shared with the members of the National Assembly. But the Cambodian government considered the call by the UN country team for “a transparent and participatory” process to be “flagrantly interfering in the internal affairs of a UN member state,” and to be a statement outside of its mandate, though “good governance and the promotion and protection of human rights” is one of the four fields of the agreed UN Development Assistance Framework, on which the work of the UN country team is based.

But not only the timing gives cause to questions. The UN country team was also advised by the Cambodian government to “refrain from acting as if it were the spokesperson of the opposition parties.” We are not aware that this had been the case, but the press had also quoted the Prime Minister as saying, “if somebody wants this law to be amended, they have to wait until they win the elections.” We cannot verify that the Prime Minister said so, but these words seem to indicate that the constitutional principle, stated in Article 51, “The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate” is not considered to be applicable. In normal parliamentary proceedings under the separation of the three powers of the legislative, the executive, and the judicial, no executive can know – before the deliberations in the legislative – if a draft will be amended or not. This is not only something which may happen because of efforts of opposition party members, but also any active member of the parliamentary majority may scrutinize drafts and propose amendments, before voting on a draft.

Besides, the Senate, and the Constitutional Council, are additional important stages to consider legislation passed by the National Assembly – irrespective of party allegiances of their members – which may result in amendments, before a law is presented to the King. Such considerations may not only come from opposition parties, but they are foreseen as possible in the Constitution itself. The Senate and the Constitutional Council were not created just to rubber-stamp what the National Assembly has decided.

There is a second issue, which seems to be of a more technical nature – but it has fundamental implications for the free flow of information, and for the basic principles for the management of the economy of the country, as laid out in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The Articles 56 and 63 of the Constitution say: “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall adopt the market economy system” and “The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

Two weeks ago, under the 28.2.2010, The Mirror had presented, in more detail, considerations under the headline of “Internet Governance, Censorship, and the UN Multi-Stakeholder Approach” about plans to force all Internet communication between e-mail users of different Internet Service Providers in the country through only one Internet Exchange Point [IXP]. A deputy director of Telecom Cambodia – the organization to operate the IXP – had said that a Web site that attacks the government could then be blocked. As the Minister of Information said: there is no legal basis for this.

In the meantime additional information appeared and is discussed: Telecom Cambodia might get the right to operate a monopoly by becoming the only company in Cambodia with the right to internationally buy Internet connection, and all other Internet Service Providers would have to buy their international access from Telecom Cambodia, one of their competitors. Such interference into economic affairs is difficult to understand in view of the legal framework defined in the Constitution, where the state is ordered – rather than to interfere into the marked – to guarantee that the market can operate freely “in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people” according to the forces of competition in the market.

It should be remembered that Telecom Cambodia was created in order to disengage the regulatory and the operational functions which formerly had been both combined in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

The second term government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, starting from 1998, had adopted as its key orientation a “three pronged strategy” – the second prong was the re-integration of Cambodia into the international community – the UN, ASEAN, and the World Trade Organization. The other two elements were “establishing peace and security,” and “promoting administrative and judicial reforms.”

In a speech of the Prime Minister to welcome the Third Asian-German Editor’s Forum on 31 January 2000, he referred to this principle, “I think it is best to give everyone of you the role as an evaluator for your judgment to be made on the current situation of Cambodia. What I can share in this efforts is the three pronged strategy which I have put out… Essentially, one needs to have a clear and correct vision before one can develop Cambodia as a process.” This orientation led also to extensive consultations with advisors of the World Bank about the situation of the telecommunication sector in the country, which the Prime Minister had identified on several occasions as a crucial field for the future of Cambodia, in a situation, where the costs of using the telephone and the Internet was – and still is – high in Cambodia, compared to neighboring countries.

The International Telecommunication Union [ITU] is about 100 years older than the United Nations, but it is now part of the UN system. In the ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Report of 1998 it is stated that previously, investment in the “telecommunication services sector have been limited by the fact that most countries had state-owned monopoly carriers. This era is now coming to an end. Since 1984, 44 Public Telecommunication Operators have been privatized… telecommunications has a dual role as both a traded product and service, and as a facilitator of trade in other products and services… What are the benefits of trade liberalization? Freer trade in telecommunications promises to deliver at least three economic gains: new and improved products and services, lower prices, and additional investment. Open trade in telecommunication services should result in more competition, lowering prices for most businesses and for many consumers and providing both with a choice of different service providers.”

The World Bank advice, at that time, for Cambodia, showed the direction. The following direct quotes are from the final report and presentation of its “Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility.”

  • World Bank project to strengthening the Cambodian Telecommunications regulatory framework with rules for fair competition – interconnection regime
  • Aims at cost effective communications – Doing nothing in not an option, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication – MPTC – as it is cannot long survive
  • Mobile vs. Fixed Phones: THE BIG DIFFERENCE:
    • fixed: state sector, no money, no autonomy, slow progress
    • mobile: private money, growing fast, light handed regulation
    • competition in mobiles has produced, good services
    • state management has produced poor service, stagnation and lost opportunities
  • Principal Institutional Problem:
  • MPTC is an integrated, policy, regulatory, operational and asset management agency
  • Expert advice is unanimous that this leads to
    • conflicts of interest
    • poor asset management
    • business decisions suffer from political intervention
    • political priorities suffer from a preoccupation with business issues
  • All Advisers Recommend
  • MPTC should have its current functions located in separate agencies:
    • policy – the correct function for MPTC is regulation, an independent function
    • business operations – Telecom Cambodia a commercial entity with operational autonomy, eventually private

The present intentions, to re-establish, a monopolistic role for Telecom Cambodia, would revert what has been achieved under the Prime Minister’s guidance, related to the second of his three-pronged objectives: to place the policies of the Cambodian government, after decades of international isolation, into the present international context. Telecom Cambodia was created as an operator under the rules of the market, to have competition among other operators, and to establish the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications as a technical regulator. To give a mandatory monopolistic role to Telecom Cambodia is contrary to the efforts of a decade, and is contrary to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

I have observed these developments during the last two weeks form abroad, participating in the meetings of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN – the institution coordinating the assigning and the functioning of the Internet addresses, which was held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

In a reception by the Communications Commission of Kenya – the main telecommunications regulator of the country – we received the following bag to carry our documents. It is inscribed with the words which show that the monopolies have been abolished in the telecommunication sector, and the results ensure fairness for all – and much lower costs than in Cambodia:

Fairness

Fairness


Ensuring fair play

Kenyan Broadband Pricing

Kenyan Broadband Pricing

.

The public is invited to sign up for Internet connections in this developing country in East Africa at a fair, low price:

1499 Kenyan Shilling per month, that is US$20 for unlimited broadband Internet access at a speed of 256 Kilobit per Second – how long will this remain a distant dream in Cambodia?

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Violence against Women Becomes More Cruel – Saturday, 13.3.2010

Posted on 13 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

“Reports presented by women’s organizations show that violence against women appears more cruel, where even fathers rape their daughters.

“In the morning of 12 March 2010, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, in collaboration with the Open Institute, organized a consultative meeting about wider participation to develop the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women, and many women’s organizations attended the meeting, presided over by a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Sy Define.

“According to the representatives of the organizations that participated in the discussions, violence against women, especially rape, domestic violence, and the trafficking of women and children, continue. Worst of all, even fathers rape their daughters. This shows that violence against women appears in more and more cruel forms.

“The executive director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, said that this important meeting was organized with the aim to reflect about violence against women, to show how to use Information and Telecommunication Technology (ICT) in relation to violence against women, and to discuss the roles and strategies of women’s organizations, and the ways how to cooperate with the Royal Government, to implement the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women in cooperation together.

“During a former, the first, meeting, there had been discussions about violence against women and the intersection between violence against women and ICT, so as to encourage the publication of information about violence against women through the media.

“Ms. Sy Define said during the meeting that the strategies promoting a wider participation between state institutions and civil society organizations to collaboratively implement the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women needs further deliberations, while the importance and the efficiency of the use of ICT to prevent violence against women and children is recognized.

“Ms. Sy Define added that this conference is to open the view of different actors with the same goal of cooperation and of proper strategies, so that separate strategies of civil society organizations become cross-field participation, especially in the review of the usefulness and the potential of the use of technological information infrastructure.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2200, 13.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 13 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #433, 13.3.2010

  • The Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany [Mr. Dirk Niebel] Asked the President of the National Assembly of Cambodia Why There Are No Members from the Sam Rainsy Party in the Nine Commissions [Mr. Heng Samrin responded that this is because the Sam Rainsy Party did not send their candidates during the elections to choose members for the commissions; also, Mr. Dirk Niebel suggested that Cambodia should not solve some criminal cases out of the court system, like rape and child labor abuse]
  • Military Officials in Kratie Continue to Do Wood Trading, Not Afraid of the Recommendation of the Head of the Royal Government [ordering them to stop being involved in such activities]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2200, 13.3.2010

  • Violence against Women Becomes More Cruel
  • Mr. Serey Kosal [a former FUNCINPEC soldier, now a member of the Royal Government with a position equal to a Senior Minister] Was Promoted to the Rank of a Four Star General

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #625, 13.3.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party, Donors, the United Nations, and Civil Society Organizations Are Concerned that the Anti-Corruption Law May Become a Law That Hides Corruption

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6907, 13-14.3.2010

  • The Spokesperson of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Released a Statement Rejecting the Interference of the UN Country Team [as it officially requested the National Assembly of Cambodia to delay the adoption, permitting to discuss the anti-corruption draft law, so that it could be reviewed by the opposition parties and civil society organizations]
  • The United States Granted US$10 Million for Education Programs [to improve the quality of education and to increase school attendance for all children, especially for those from families that lack access, like ethnic minority people, as well as girls, and children from very impoverished families]
  • More Than 200 Citizens Gathered [at the office of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] to Report Their Lost Land in Thpong, Oral, and Odongk Districts [taken over by some companies – Kompong Speu]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5149, 13.3.2010

  • Human Rights Report of the US Department of State [for 2009]: Cambodia Progresses in the Rights of the Disabled, but Restricts Freedom of Expression [according to the report released on 11 March 2010]
  • There Are 643 US Companies Listed in Cambodia [with a total capital of US$71 million] but Only 71 Are Investment Companies
  • Thailand Pretended that Thaksin Arrived in Siem Reap while Bangkok Starts to Be in Turmoil because of Demonstrations [Cambodia denied that Mr. Thaksin arrived in Cambodia]
  • Laos Asked Cambodia to Assist with Sending Teachers for Monks [as there is a lack in Laos]

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The Anti-Corruption Law Was Adopted with 100% of the Votes in Support – Friday, 12.3.2010

Posted on 13 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

Note:

Apologies for the delay – I am still at an ICANN conference – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the global coordination for the Internet name space – in Nairobi/Kenya. I hope to be back in Phnom Penh Monday. I try to avoid delays – but I am kept busy at the conference and do not always have Internet access when I would like to have it.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: An anti-corruption law was discussed and adopted by the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia in the morning of 11 March 2010 with 82 votes in favor from the 82 voters present.

“In the morning of 11 March 2010, the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia held its session to discuss and to adopt an anti-corruption draft law, and the proceedings were completed despite objections and a boycott by opposition party parliamentarians. According to information available, after Chapter 4 of the anti-corruption draft had been discussed and adopted, during a break, the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians decided to walk out of the session, saying that the anti-corruption draft does not protect the interests of the citizens but rather the interests of corrupt people.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Son Chhay, said during the discussion in the morning of 11 March 2010 that if the government creates a law in such a way, it is not necessary to have an anti-corruption law. He criticized that the draft law has many problems.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kompong Cham, Mr. Cheam Channy, said that if they want an active participation [against corruption] by the citizens, there should be no punishment against those who provide information [about corruption], otherwise no one dares to participate. As for Mr. Yim Sovann, he said he could not accept this draft law because it protects corrupt people. In addition, the budget of the Anti-Corruption Unit is to be part of the budget of the Council of Ministers. Therefore, he does not believe corruption can be prevented. He said that most corrupt people are working in the government. Thus, if the Anti-Corruption Unit is not independent, it is hard to trust it.

“Mr. Yim Sovann also mentioned that the declaration of assets must be made to be known publicly. If it is made only by a confidential letter, it is not a declaration. ‘We need to let our people know the assets of their leaders.’ At that time, he announced not to attend the session which was to start at 10:30.

“The Minister of the Council of Ministers, the representative of the Royal Government to defend the draft, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, said that the points raised by opposition party parliamentarians seem to imply that the law is useless. He said, however, that this draft law is crucial, and aims at combating corruption and some vicious people effectively. Also, this law involves various units and institutions to implement it cooperatively. In addition, even a good law is not always observed.

“Relating to the discussion and the adoption of the anti-corruption draft law, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights had sent a letter to the president of the National Assembly, saying that the draft law is prepared in a secretive way and it is not discussed with civil society organizations, and the Center asked the Royal Government to urgently deal with the concern that the goal of this law lacks political independency, it does not involve public participation, and it fails to protect informants disclosing cases of corruption.

“The United Nations released a statement welcoming the discussion and the adoption of the anti-corruption law by the National Assembly, saying that the anti-corruption law has been long awaited. The statement adds that the United Nations country team in Cambodia has been actively supporting the adoption of this important law since 2004. The draft law should be made available for public discussion with transparency and public participation, in order to ensure that it complies with international standard, as required by the Constitution, and to guarantee the protection of the rights and duties of the Cambodian citizens who are to benefit most from this law.

“The United Nations hopes that it is not too late to encourage the National Assembly to allow enough time for parliamentarians, civil society, donors, and the United Nations to study this law, and, if it is necessary, to amend some points. The United Nations in Cambodia hopes and encourages the National Assembly and the Senate to discuss this law in view of the possibility to amend it if it is necessary.

“The United Nations said that this statement is a contribution of the efforts to reorganize the law to make it more effective at present and in the future.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2199, 12.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 12 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #432, 12.3.2010

  • Japan Grants More Than US$670,000 to the Cambodian Mine Action Center [to clear mines in the northern regions of Cambodia]
  • The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Encourages the Protection of Wild Elephants [in Cambodia, as they are threatened by human activities and by climate change; the Cambodian side claimed that there are more than 270 elephants in the country while the WWF found that there are only 170]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2199, 12.3.2010

  • The Anti-Corruption Law Was Adopted with 100% of the Votes in Support
  • [The Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Announced that He Would Resign and Allow the Parliament to be Dissolved if Public Security Would Develop into Chaos
  • One Chinese and one Khmer Man Were Arrested for Storing and Distributing Nearly 20 Tonnes of Fake Medicines [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #743, 12.3.2010

  • The Fate of [the Burmese elected democracy leader] Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and of [the Cambodian opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Are the Same, as They Are Imprisoned and Lose the Right to Participate in Elections

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #624, 12.3.2010

  • [The Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: The National Assembly Adopted a Law That Is an Iron Net to Defend Those Who Commit Corruption

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6906, 12.3.2010

  • The One-Star Navy General Who Surprisingly Caused Trouble in a School and Committed Violence at the Seashore Province [of Sihanoukville] Was Arrested

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3830, 12.3.2010

  • Sam Rainsy: The Anti-Corruption Law Is a Tool Used to Protect and to Hide Corruption, and to Punish Common Civil Servants

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #129, 12.3.2010

  • A Conflictive Anti-Corruption Law Was Approved by the National Assembly, but Concerns Remain [observers were astonished when the National Assembly approved that anti-corruption draft law consisting of 59 chapters within just one day and a half]
  • Sudan Is Interested to Invest in Agriculture in Cambodia

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5148, 12.3.2010

  • The National Assembly Adopted an Anti-Corruption Law after Opposition Party Parliamentarians Walked Out [of the session]
  • A Man [a gold seller and currency exchanger] Was Fatally Shot and His Wife Was Seriously Wounded in a Robbery in Front of Their House, and Property Worth About US$10,000 Was Taken Away [the two robbers are not yet identified – Meanchey]

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Samdech Dekchor: If They Want to Amend the Anti-Corruption Law, They Have to Wait until Their Election Victory – Thursday, 11.3.2010

Posted on 13 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

“A session was held as planned on Wednesday morning of 10 March 2010 at the National Assembly to discuss and to approve an anti-corruption draft law, though the opposition parties and some civil society organizations had asked for a delay. There were 106 parliamentarians in the meeting [before the parliamentarians of the Sam Rainsy party walked out], but the Human Rights Party parliamentarians did not participate. Only parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party and from the Sam Rainsy Party were present. The anti-corruption draft law, presented for approval to the National Assembly, was approved through a show of hands, with 87 votes in favor out of 106.

“Regarding the approval of this anti-corruption law, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said during the opening of a national conference at the occasion to publish the penal code, at the Intercontinental Hotel on Wednesday morning of 10 March 2010, that some people had asked for a delay for the approval [actually the request had been for an extended period of consideration and discussion] of the anti-corruption draft law, while previously, they had wanted it to be approved soon. But now, they do not want it soon. Anyway, this is impossible, because of the majority of votes in the National Assembly. Samdech Hun Sen added that when this law will have been approved, not only government officials, but also civil society organization officials will have to declare their asset, and they will get the same punishments if they violate the regulations. He continued to say that if somebody wants this law to be amended, they have to wait until they win the elections.

“It should be noted that an anti-corruption law was being drafted since 1994, but only in December 2009, this draft was approved by the Council of Ministers and made public in the National Assembly on 24 February 2010 [actually the draft reached the National Assembly already before 29.12.2009, according to a statement by a secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, as quoted in The Mirror on 29.12.2009].

“The anti-corruption draft law, which had not been published publicly before last week, consists of 9 chapters and 57 articles that describe the punishment for persons who give bribes or take bribes, to serve between 7 days and 15 years in prison. Also, the law describes the creation of two anti-corruption institutions: a National Anti-Corruption Council with members from 11 institutions, and an Anti-Corruption Unit. They will be created by the Royal Government, and the duty of both institutions is to offer counseling, education, and publication, and to create plans to prevent and to suppress corruption. In addition, it establishes the procedure for the declaration of assets and debts, and describes who is required to make such declarations: senators, parliamentarians, and members of the Royal Government appointed by Royal Decrees or Sub-Decrees, and leaders of civil society organizations. Once this law is adopted, there will be an Anti-Corruption Unit under the administration of the Council of Ministers, and 11 members of a National Anti-Corruption Council will be selected by the King, the Senate, the National Assembly, and the Royal Government, with a term of five years.” Areyathor, Vol.16, #1433, 11-12.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 11 March 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1433, 11-12.3.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor: If They Want to Amend the Anti-Corruption Law, They Have to Wait until Their Election Victory

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #431, 11.3.2010

  • Germany Signs an Agreement to Grant Euro 19 Million [for the alleviation of the consequences of the global economic crisis which are particularly affecting the poor segments of the population]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2198, 11.3.2010

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal to Get More Than US$80 Million for Two Additional Years of the Process [donors, countries not yet known, promised to provide this aid]
  • The Municipal Governor Announced to Stop Providing Licenses for Entertainment Clubs and for Karaoke Parlors Temporarily [because of a campaign against drugs and gambling, to promote security]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #623, 11.3.2010

  • There Were Strong Argument during the Discussions of the Anti-Corruption Draft Law [between parliamentarians of the ruling party and of an opposition party]
  • [The head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Mony Said That It Is a Shame for Cambodia as [80 tonnes of garments from China] Finished Products Were Imported to Be Labeled ‘Made in Cambodia’ for Re-Export

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6905, 11.3.2010

  • A Japanese International Trade Organization Office Was Opened in Cambodia [to boost bilateral trade]
  • [Two] Nigerian Men and Their Khmer Girlfriends Were Arrested for Cocaine Smuggling [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3829, 11.3.2010

  • Hun Sen Announced to Use the New Penal Code and to Cancel the Validity of All Articles of the Penal Code of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia [UNTAC – 1992/93]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5147, 11.3.2010

  • The National Assembly Discussed the Anti-Corruption Draft Law and Rejected an Opposition Party’s Request [to amend some articles]
  • The National Radio FM 96 Does Not Have Time Available for Broadcasting the Voice of Khmer Kampuchea Krom [Radio FM 96 does not have time to offer to Khmer Kampuchea Krom people to create their own programs to broadcast their voice, because all airtime is used for other programs]
  • Police Raided [two] Houses Copying VCDs [to protect copyrights, seizing many computers, thousands of VCDs, and other tools used for copying VCDs – Phnom Penh]

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Tears and Ashes Remain and the Future Is Not Not Clear after the Fire behind Wat Neak Voan – Wednesday, 10.3.2010

Posted on 11 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

Note:

Apologies for the delay – I am still at an ICANN conference – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the global coordination for the Internet name space – in Nairobi/Kenya. I hope to be back in Phnom Penh next Monday. I try to avoid delays – but I am kept busy at the conference and do not always have Internet access when I would like to have it.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: One of the hundreds of victims of the terrible fire which destroyed more than 200 houses on 8 March 2010 said, between sobs and with tears, ‘My house was totally burnt down. I am seeking if anything remained which I could sell to get some money to buy food.’

“On 9 March 2010, the victims of the fire continue exploring to see if there is any property left in the ashes from the fire whose cause is still not known. Some surrounded their land by markers, some dug in the ashes, and some went to the water blackened by the fire to see if there is anything from their lost property.

“A victim with six children, Ms. Sum Srey, said in between sob, when she was asked about the fire, pointing to the deadly smoke, ‘That fire burnt very fast. I have nothing left. I am looking for anything remaining that can be sold for money to buy food.’

“According to the local authorities, no lives were lost in the fire next to Wat Neak Voan in the night of 8 March 2010. But 178 big and small houses constructed next to each other in the area, 10 rooms of monks in the Wat, and 21 rooms of students were totally burnt down. This destruction made 257 families, 90 monks, and 181 students lose their shelter.

“This big fire broke out at 18:40 p.m. southwest of Wat Neak Voan in the Boeng Kak II commune, in Tuol Kork district.

“According to investigations by the police, the fire was caused by an electric fault in a house owned by a Mr. Phoeun Pho, a construction worker.

“About 60 firefighter cars rushed to the site to intervene but encountered problem with the narrow roads to reach the site to put out the fire. Some families could take few belongings in time, and some families’ property was all stolen or snatched away by thieves.

“Sister Kong Satha, whose husband is a motor-taxi driver – they have nine children to care for – who rented a house in the area, said with tears that she could only take the television set and a bike. Everything else was burnt. And she did not receive any donation, as the village chief said that her family’s name is not on the list.

“The Tuol Kork district governor, Mr. Seng Ratanak, said that in the first stage, donations were distributed to only 257 families that owned real houses, and the authorities will assist those who rented houses later.

“The district governor said that to reorganize the area, the Phnom Penh Municipality provides two options. First, each family will be offered a 6 by 12 meter plot of land in Ponhea Leu District, Kandal if they agree to leave, and second, if they still want to settle on the same area, the authorities will organize it technically by constructing wider roads.

“The victims of the fire, besides losing their property and their houses, now have also to struggle for their daily lives after this dreadful event. Some fear that they will no longer be allowed to reconstruct their houses on their previous sites, and they will be forced to settle in other areas which are remote, and where it is difficult to earn a living. They just hope that they will not be victimized twice, once by the fire, and then by a forced eviction to live in a remote area where it will be difficult to live.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5146, 10.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #430, 10.3.2010

  • The UN Encourages Cambodia to Strengthen Information and Communication Technology [to boost economic development]
  • 74,000 Hectares of Land [in 22 provinces] Are Prepared to Be Allocated for Decommissioned Soldiers [according to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2197, 10.3.2010

  • The Prosecutor Rejected the Request of Mr. Sam Rainsy to Postpone His Appearing at the Municipal Court [over the accusation to have faked maps, and a defamation case initiated by the government – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #622, 10.3.2010

  • [The President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Rong Chhun Called Not to Threaten Teacher Association Officials at Provinces and Cities in the Whole Country [when they make negative comments to journalists about the education system]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6904, 10.3.2010

  • Today the National Assembly Will Discuss the Anti-Corruption Draft Law Which Has Been Long Awaited by the Public
  • 178 Houses, 10 Rooms of Monks, and 21 Rooms of Students [who lived in the pagoda] Became Ashes after a Fire Broke out [in the “Railway Block,” Phnom Penh]
  • The Production of Fake Medicines Was Intercepted by a Raid of the Economic Police, and Twenty Six Types of Drugs, Weighing 19.28 Tonnes All Together, Were Seized [a Chinese man was arrested – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3828, 10.3.2010

  • The Siamese [Thai] Government Declared a State of Emergency from 11 to 23 March 2010, under the Internal Security Law [as big demonstrations by red shirt demonstrators were planned in Bangkok and in seven provinces]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #127, 10.3.2010

  • Besides a Lack of Food and Shelter, the Victims of the Fire in Boeng Kak II [257 families in the “Railway Block”] Are Worried about Being Evicted [Phnom Penh]
  • [The ASEAN Secretary-General] Surin Pitsuwan: The Media Quoted His Words Incorrectly [by publishing that he was strongly concerned about a recent military exercise in Cambodia; actually, he said that he is concerned about the continuing border tension between Cambodia and Thailand]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5146, 10.3.2010

  • Tears and Ashes Remain and the Future Is Not Not Clear after the Fire behind Wat Neak Voan
  • The National Assembly Rejected the Request [of the Sam Rainsy Party and civil society] to Delay Discussing the Anti-Corruption Draft Law

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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Amnesty International: Cases of Rape in Cambodia Increasing – Tuesday, 9.3.2010

Posted on 10 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

“Amnesty International said that cases of rape in Cambodia increased, and what is worse is that rape victims do not have sufficient access to receive justice, medical care and treatment, and consulting services. Amnesty International released a report on 8 March on the occasion of the International Women’s Rights Day.

“In the 60-pages report, 30 victims between the ages of 10 and 40 years old recounted their experience of corruption and the discrimination suffered from the police and the courts, which prevent them from getting necessary services; and on the other hand, most perpetrators are not arrested and convicted by the courts.

“Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, Ms. Donna Guest, stated that there is a lack of support for the victims, and the government must publicly take action against sexual violence, to show that there is no tolerance for such crimes, and to recognize the victims’ suffering. Amnesty International encouraged the government to promote education and to offer materials to police officials and especially policewomen, and to provide the necessary resources for them to professionally conduct timely investigations whenever there is an accusations.

“The Minister of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi, could not comment on the report of Amnesty International, saying that she had not yet seen the report. But she stressed that the government is also focusing on the prevention of violence against women. Regarding legal assistance for rape victims, Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi said that the government granted Riel 100 million [approx. US$24,000] for such legal services. She acknowledged that the number of rape cases increased. But the figure may not correctly reflect the reality of what happened. It can be said that the police works more effectively than before, and that the increasing number of reported rape cases reflects alsothat the police is more active than before.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5144-5145, 7-9.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #428-429, 7-9.3.2010

  • The Prime Minister Requests the Promotion of Four Generals to Become Four Star Generals [requesting the King to enact the promotions; they are the generals Sao Sokha, Chea Dara, Hing Bun Heang, and Nhek Huon]
  • A Woman Died from the Use of Skin Cream [Banteay Meanchey; recently, the Prime Minister had just warned about dangerous cosmetic products]
  • A/H1N1 Increased to 562 Cases by March 2010 [in Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2196, 9.3.2010

  • A Fire Destroyed Hundreds of Houses in the Railway Block Region [Phnom Penh]
  • A One Star [navy] General Was Accused by the Family of a [10-year-old] Boy, Denouncing Him to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [for beating the boy cruelly – Sihanoukville – the reason for the beating is not mentioned, he just went to the boy’s school, called him out by his name, and beat him up]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #741, 8.3.2010

  • Global Witness Criticized that the Government Sells Some Military Units to Private Companies [Prime Minister Hun Sen had announced that 42 private commercial companies in Cambodia tied the knot with some Cambodian military units]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #620-621, 7-9.3.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer Asked for a Delay for Him Not to Appear at the Court on 9 March 2010 [over a new complaint of the government relating to the allegation to have faked maps; as his client is not in the country]
  • [The president of the National Assembly of Vietnam] Nguyễn Minh Triết [Nguyen Minh Triet] Invited Samdech Euv [the former King] and Samdech Mae [the former Queen] to Visit Yuon [Vietnam]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6902-6903, 8-9.3.2010

  • [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s] Reaction in Response to the ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, Saying that It Is the Interference into Cambodian Internal Affairs [the ASEAN Secretary General had said the the military exercise test-firing some 200 Russian-made Katyusha rockets 100 kilometers from the disputed border area of Preah Vihear; he said that this might cause instability in the region. But Prime Minister Hun Sen responded that the Secretary General’s comment is an interference into Cambodian internal affairs]
  • Anti-Corruption Draft Law: An Asset Declaration Is Obligatory for Officials Starting and Up from Those Nominated by a Sub-Decrees
  • An Old, Fatal Well, 10 Meters Deep, Took the Lives of Six Villagers [in one day, because they worked in it and did not have sufficient oxygen – Kompong Cham]

Note:

TodayOnline reports about the same affair as Koh Santepheap:

Hun Sen slams Asean Sec-Gen

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday hit out at the Asean Secretary-General, accusing him of “crazy work” for questioning a recent rocket drill.

“I think that his excellency Surin Pitsuwan is not suitable as ASEAN Secretary-General,” Mr Hun Sen said during a speech, adding: “If you are stupid, don’t do it.”

He pointed out that other ASEAN leaders, including Thailand – with whom Cambodia has an ongoing border dispute – showed no concerns about the test.

Calling on Mr Surin, who is a Thai citizen, to retract his statement or face a confrontation when Asean leaders meet next month in Hanoi, he said: “You must make a correction … The rockets did not hit your head.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3826-3827, 8-9.3.2010

  • More Than 50,000 Tonnes of Remains of Bombs Dropped by B52s Are a New Instrument to Put Pressure on the United States of America to Consider Canceling the Debt of US$315 Million [that Cambodia owes the USA]
  • The Opposition [Sam Rainsy] Party Demands a Delay for the Discussion of the Anti-Corruption Draft Law, but Will Not Walk Out of the Parliament Meeting

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #125, 8.3.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected the Concern Expressed by the ASEAN Secretary General Regarding the Launching of BM21 Rockets
  • Income from Tourism in 2009 Dropped by 2%, from an Amount of US$1.5 Billion [though tourist arrivals increased by 1.7% – according to the Ministry of Tourism]
  • Cambodia Will Send More Than 200 Troops of a Construction Unit to Chad [in April 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5144-5145, 7-9.3.2010

  • Amnesty International: Cases of Rape in Cambodia Increasing
  • The Human Rights Party Announced to Boycott a Meeting [of the National Assembly] to Approve an Anti-Corruption Draft Law [saying that parliamentarians do not have enough time to review the draft documents distributed on 5 March 2010, while the meeting will be held on 10 March 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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International Women’s Day 2010 – a Lot to Think About – Monday, 8.3.2010

Posted on 9 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

In former years, The Mirror carried references and reflections about the International Women’s Day – its early history as a day of public celebration in 1911, but also its prehistory in 1834; which surprisingly enough relates to a strike of women working in the textile industry in Lowell – the city of Lowell in Massachusetts in the USA, which is now a center of Cambodian immigrants in the USA, while female textile workers play an important role for the national economy of Cambodia; but also considerations in 2008 and 2009 about the important role of this day in Cambodia at present.

For this year, we just collected from the last three weeks pieces of text which have already been published in The Mirror, related to the life of women – a lot to think about.

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Cambodia Will Have a Law to Control Battery Acid in the Future

The Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Cambodia is discussing to find ways to establish a law to control battery acid, as many victims are suffering from having been attacked by acid, using acid as a weapon.

It should be noted that there had been big cases of acid attacks, like those against Ms. Tat Marina, Ms. Ya Sok Nim, Ms. In Soklida’s aunt, and a CTN presenter, Mr. Tet Polen. Besides these major cases, there are many others. Generally, the lives of the victims of acid attacks were completely ruined, as they cannot work or come out to live in public like other common people.

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An American Man Was Sentenced to Serve Two Years in Prison for Child Molestation [Phnom Penh]

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The firm position of the Phnom Penh Municipality in 2010 is not like that in 2009; it will not allow dishonest officials to keep on committing bad activities towards the people. This was declared by an official during the convention in the morning of 15 February 2010 to reflect on the work during 2009, and to determine the targets for 2010; the meeting was chaired by the Phnom Penh governor, Mr. Kep Chuktema.

The governor went on to say that only by obeying discipline and with heightened responsibility can the efficiency of the work and its results increase. He added, ‘Considering 2009, Phnom Penh can be proud for having cooperated well with each other, effectively deploying our forces to prevent and intercept crime, the activities of gangs, the illegal use of weapons, gambling, human and sex trafficking, and drug related crimes.’

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106 Garment and Shoes Factories Closed [making more than 45,000 female workers unemployed in 2009 due to the global economic crisis]

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The First Meeting about the Implementation of the National Strategic Plan to Stop Violence against Women

The Open Institute, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, held the first consultative meeting on the topic ‘Participating in the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women, and the Importance of Using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Combat Violence against Women.’

Opening the meeting in the morning of 17 February 2010, a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Sy Define, said that the meeting was the first one held by a government institution with a civil society organizations on this issue, and it was organized after the government had published the ‘National Action Plan about the Prevention of Violence against Women’ last year. She stressed that even without reference to specific figures, rape and violence against women appear in new ways, and all forms appear more frequently and more cruelly.

She added that a major challenge for the prevention of violence against women, which needs to be addressed immediately, is the victims’ fear and shame. She emphasized that the victims often try to hide what happened, and even as there are more rapes happening, there is also the increased tendency to hide them. This is because women feel ashamed and they are afraid of being treated with contempt by the society, and also the knowledge of citizens in many communities is limited, including the knowledge about the legal procedures to appeal to the courts which require the victims, mostly the poor, to pay money.

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A Casino of Oknha Ket Theang Worth US$100 Million Will Open Next Week [in Bavet, Svay Rieng, at the border to Vietnam – he said that his casino can offer jobs to about 6,000 Khmer citizens – the majority of them women]

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The Asian Development Bank: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is in Danger

Placing Cambodia together with Nepal and Laos, this report says that these countries are very much in danger due to a slow development process, which does not contribute to preventing poverty and child malnutrition.

Among the 21 development indicators in this report, Cambodia is making slow progress in 9 indicators, including registration at primary schools, completing school education, child mortality, malnutrition, and maternal health care during pregnancy.

Anyway, this report says that Cambodia had achieved some specific Millennium Development Goals, such as combating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and supplying clean water. Also, gender equity goals at most schools will be accomplished.

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After a Woman Was Gang-Raped, Her Hands and Legs Were Tied and She Was Then Drowned in a Sewage Ditch in the CAMKO City Construction Area [the perpetrators are not yet identified – Phnom Penh]

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Civil Society: Public Leisure Time Activity Space for Youth Becomes Smaller but Commercial Entertainment Space Increases

Experts in youth problems said that according to their observation, public leisure time activity space for youth in the country is becoming smaller, but commercial entertainment space, such as night clubs and beer gardens, is increasing significantly.

A civil society organization official, who asked not to be named, said early this week that youth at present lacks public space for leisure time, but they are enjoying the increasing number of night clubs, bars, Karaoke parlors, and beer gardens, where they can drink alcohol, use drugs, and find many other services.

He emphasized, ‘When young people nowadays open their eyes, they see nothing but beer gardens and night clubs.’
According to him, present day youth problems, such as drug addiction, crimes, and sex trafficking, result from two factors: modernization and the surrounding environment. The environment for youth is formed, at present, by beer gardens, bars, and night clubs.

‘There is not much public space for youth, but we see there are more beer gardens and night clubs. I do not see that cinemas were changed into libraries, but several were changed into night clubs.’

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A Teacher Who Tortured Her Adopted Daughter [working as a domestic servant] Was Sentenced to Serve 20 Years in Prison and Her Husband to Serve 10 Years [Phnom Penh]

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A 13 Year-Old Pitiable Girl Was Raped by Two Men, Two Brothers [not relatives of the girl – who escaped – Kompong Chhnang]

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

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A Man Raped and Killed Two Nieces [they are four and twelve years old – Kampot]

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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 HIV/AIDS program will also strengthen the national health system, fight maternal mortality, and address also other present priority health issues

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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]

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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]

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There Are Nearly 500 Entertainment Places at Night, Most of Them Are Karaoke Parlor

At present, there are nearly 500 entertainment places in Phnom Penh, such as beer gardens, karaoke parlors, night clubs, discotheques, restaurants or other places where alcohol and some meals are served, accompanied with music, and female beer seller [called “Beer Girls”].

According to reports from the Phnom Penh Municipality, distributed during a recent convention to sum up the work in 2009 and to set the direction for 2010, big entertainment places include 76 beer gardens, 83 karaoke parlors, 10 night clubs, and 9 discotheques. Based on unofficial estimations by expert officials, there are around 300 other places such as clubs, restaurants, small restaurants, or places where soup is served like in beer gardens, where there are women to entertain the male guests.

It is worth to point out that in recent years, big and small entertainment places that run at night are growing like mushrooms.

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It Is Estimated that in 2010 in Cambodia, There Will be 56,200 People Having AIDS [29,500 women and 16,700 men – according to the Ministry of Health]

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Cambodia and America Cooperate to Fight Cross-Border Crimes and Sex Tourism [so far, 14 American tourists were arrested by the Cambodian authorities and sent to America to be convicted for child sex tourism; at present, Cambodia and the United States of America are cooperating on 30 cases of sex tourism]

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The Prime Minister Ordered to Check Shops Selling Cosmetic Products and Performing Cosmetic Surgery, and Using Chemicals for Cosmetic Purposes

The head of the Royal Government ordered leaders of the Ministry of Health on 2 March 2010 to cooperate with other related ministries and institutions to check all shops selling cosmetic products and performing cosmetic surgery, and using products containing chemicals that affect the health of clients, especially the health of women.

During the closing ceremony of the 31st convention of the Ministry of Health at the Intercontinental Hotel, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said, ‘The Ministry of Health must focus and closely cooperate with related ministries and other institutions to carefully check institutions that produce and sell cosmetic products and perform cosmetic surgery.’

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A Woman Was Attacked with Acid, Burning Her Body while She Was Riding on a Motorbike with Her Boyfriend from a Restaurant [the two perpetrators are not yet identified – Phnom Penh]

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The Prime Minister Warned that Police and Military Chiefs Had Better Leave Their Positions if They Do Not Dare to Crack Down on Brothels and Gambling Sites, Being Afraid of Interventions [from higher levels; officials who intervene against such activities will be demoted – he said so during a celebration on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, held in advance, on 4 March 2010]

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The International Women’s Day is a National Holiday in Cambodia. It provides an occasion for public awareness raising. As this recollection of random texts from three weeks of The Mirror shows, there is ample reason that such awareness has to continue throughout the year.

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