Week 678

Disregarding or Facing Agreements in the Press? – Sunday, 22.8.2010

Posted on 23 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

The Mirror was created to mirror the Khmer language press – that is to focus on important dynamics in society, as they are reflected in the press. That includes also to observe when there seem to be discrepancies between different streams of reporting. And it includes also to observe what seems not to be reported in the Khmer language press, though one would expect it.

Monitoring what is going on includes also to observe the reaction to one’s own publication. The main website of The Mirror by now gets up to 10,000 visits per month (it started in January 2007 with zero – replacing the former edition printed on paper).

While observing this wide interest with satisfaction, it is also disappointing to see that some important pieces of information, related to the conflicts with Thailand, are regularly not reported in the Khmer press. If this impression is wrong, we would appreciate to be informed which publications and public documents in the Khmer press we missed. The Mirror does not have access to confidential information; what we use and quote is publicly available, especially on the Internet.

In response to careful, detailed documentations, where we asked for specific responses, if our documentation is deficient, so that we can correct and improve it, there was either no response – and the public debate continues as if it were not missing some important points – or I get mail saying just “You are completely wrong!” I do not mind to get such mail, if it points to where I am wrong – I appreciate corrections.

Therefore I am repeating here some essential points, and I will do so until they are receiving proper attention in the present situation of tensions.

I was utterly surprised, talking recently to a friend who is a regular reader: when I mentioned some of the facts which had been on The Mirror repeatedly, he had obviously missed them. He thought the controversies about the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage list were related to Thailand referring to maps drawn by Thailand, and therefore Thailand was denying that the whole area around the Temple of Preah Vihear was designated a World Heritage Site.

The contrary is true, according to the documents. Emphasis in the following sections is added during editing.

For Preah Vihear

From the Cambodian 2008 submission document, THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR – Proposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List (UNESCO), Edited by the Council of Ministers, PHNOM PENH, JUNE 2008:

On 6 May 2008 His Excellency Mr. SOK An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, welcomed his Excellency Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand… The meeting was conducted in a fruitful and constructive atmosphere to discuss ways and means of strengthening the neighborly cooperation for a further reach for long lasting cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand… The Kingdom of Cambodia strongly stresses that the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear is without prejudice to the demarcation work of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) between Cambodia and Thailand; and the zoning (“Zonage” in French) stipulated in the document submitted by Cambodia to UNESCO shall not be considered as boundary line.

And finally, during a meeting in Paris (France) on 22 May 2008 between a Cambodian delegation led by His Excellency Mr. SOK An,…The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support for the Heritage Committee to be held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For its part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple.

On 18 June 2008, a Joint Communique was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, including a map presented and signed by Mr. Var Kim Hong, the Head of the Cambodian Border Committee, which was – as far as we know – never presented in the media in Cambodia (again – any correction of this information is welcome), but it was repeatedly in The Mirror, including the Cambodian proposed map for the listing, the last time here. The text says the following:

1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Québec, Canada, July 2008), of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.

2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.

3. The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schéma Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;..”

This is the last public map, a Cambodian map, which was to “supersede” – that is: to replace – the formerly used Cambodian maps.

As a consequence, this was decided:

The World Heritage Committee,

9. Notes that the property proposed for inscription is reduced and comprises only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves;…

14. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners,…

15. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents: c) Confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP [“revised graphic plan of the property”]; d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan)

All these points were to be implemented after convening this international coordinating committee, inviting the Government of Thailand and others, to work together and to present their results.

Questions:

– Why is the discussion in the Khmer media not referring to the official documents about the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear, clearly limited in nature: “only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves.” This is not based on a map unilaterally drawn by Thailand, but it relates to what the Cambodian side had officially brought to the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There is nothing to be discussed with Thailand.”

– Why are the Khmer media disregarding that there were – from the beginning – the following requests by the World Heritage Committee: “to convene an international coordinating committee… inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand… [to provide the expected results] – a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone…” It has never been reported in the press that the Cambodian Government did invite the Thai Government according to this request by the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There are no buffer zones.”

Reading the documents, it seems that Thailand is not insisting on some unilaterally drawn Thai maps, but looks forward that the documented decisions of the World Heritage Committee be implemented.

For the Border

This is a different legal issue from the World Heritage Listing (though, of course, related).

In order to demarcate the border between the two countries, a Memorandum of Understanding “on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary” was concluded between the two countries in June 2000, long before the Preah Vihear World Heritage Listing was on the agenda of the relevant UNESCO committee. This Memorandum is related to the whole stretch of the border. That the whole length of the approximately 800 km border is to be demarcated shows that both sides agreed that this is not yet done – there is not yet mutually agreed border. Both sides agreed on this – otherwise they would not have signed this joint agreement.

While there is frequent reference to this Memorandum of Understanding from 2000 in the Khmer press, it was quite difficult to find it in Cambodia, also consulting with several persons from the media did not help. One e-mail request to a friend in Thailand immediately provided a source on the Internet.

But there is a noteworthy difference in the handling of the related task: While in Thailand, related government officials and agencies are accountable to the Thai National Assembly about what they do related to the border – the executive is monitored by the legislative – we are not aware that either the Cambodian National Assembly nor the Khmer press have requested similar information to monitor the activities of the Cambodian government officials and agencies involved. The different legal arrangements under the different constitutions of both countries result in different procedures.

Shortly after Prime Minister Hun Sen had made his conciliatory declaration about a win-win solution by mutual dialogue without a winner and a loser, several statements from various other sectors of the government were released, strongly blaming Thailand and calling for multilateral negotiations. The Prime Minister added his voice – but more recent news say that there still may be a bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers soon in Brussels at an ASEN meeting.

Whatever the future will bring in terms of bilateral or multilateral meetings – the written submissions and the documented decisions will have to be faced. To continue to disregard them can hardly bring the solution where both sides win, the goal that Prime Minister Hun Sen has seen as important for all.

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Parliamentarians: Within Seventeen Years, Only Six Ministers Appeared to Make Clarifications in the Parliament – Saturday, 21.8.2010

Posted on 22 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: According to the first study by Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, since the general elections in 1993, or within 17 years, only six ministers appeared at the parliament to clarify questions. But government officials explained that, based on the regulations, there clarifications can be given both directly and verbally, or through letters.

“Findings from the study were shown publicly in a press conference on 20 August 2010. The team leader of the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, Mr. Son Chhay, said that since 1993, probably only six ministers showed up to respond to questions of parliamentarians in the parliament. That means also that within one 3 years period there was only one minister making clarifications. Until now, the Prime Minister has never come to answer to questions from parliamentarians following Article 96 of the Constitution. It is different from other democratic countries where prime ministers and government members regularly appear to give clarifications in parliament.

Article 96:

The deputies have the right to put a motion against the Royal Government. The motion shall be submitted in writing through the Chairman of the National Assembly.
The replies shall be given by one or several ministers depending on the matters related to the accountability of one or several ministers. If the case concerns the overall policy of the Royal Government, the Prime Minister shall reply in person.

The explanations by the ministers or by the Prime Minister shall be given verbally or in writing.

The explanations shall be provided within 7 days after the day when the question is received.

In case of verbal reply, the Chairman of the National Assembly shall decide whether to hold an open debate or not. If there is no debate, the answer of the minister or the Prime Minister shall be considered final. If there is a debate, the questioner, other speakers, the ministers, or the Prime Minister may exchange views within the time-frame not exceeding one session.

The National Assembly shall establish one day each week for questions and answers. There shall be no vote during any session reserved for this purpose.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that the procedures for questioning and for inviting ministers to appear are difficult. Sometimes, only two months after a request letter was sent there is a response, and sometimes it takes even up to one year. Some ministers do not care about answering questions from parliamentarians.

“A parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, presented a study about government members who did not properly adhere to the principles of the Constitution, which set the rules for questioning and answering to questions of parliamentarians through letters, or straight and verbally.

“Mr. Son Chhay said that 132 letters with questions were sent to members of the government in 2009, but they responded to only 23%, or 39 letters, from Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians. Within eight months of 2010, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians submitted 47 letters to the government, but only 15 letters received a response.

“Mr. Son Chhay added, ‘In 2009, we sent 24 letters to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, and he responded to 13 letters. The Prime Minister answered more questions than others among the members of the government. The Minister of Interior, Mr. Sar Kheng, received 21 letters from parliamentarians in 2009 and he replied to 9 letters, and in 2010, he received 8 letters and he responded to 2.’

“Mr. Son Chhay went on to say that Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians sent 10 letters in 2009 and 2 more letters in 2010 to the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Mr. Kim Kean Hor, but he did not respond at all. Also, the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Cham Prasidh, did not respond to questions from parliamentarians.

“Mr. Son Chhay stressed that submitting letters to request clarifications and to invite members of the governments, including the head of the government, to appear to clarify questions from parliamentarians in the parliament itself allow the government time to defend itself and to present its achievements in the past. This also helps to encourages the government to work with responsibility. ‘We aim to strengthen the implementation of democracy and to consolidate national institutions.’

“Also, another statement was released by Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians over the loss of their roles in the parliament of Cambodia. Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians voiced strong concern about the possible disappearance of democracy in Cambodia, which is affecting national development and social tranquility more seriously.

“Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians appeal to the ruling party to immediately check to fix all the limitations in order to appropriately implement the principles of multi-party democracy, as stated in the Constitution of 1993.

“Responding to the above mentioned concerns, a spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, said that to respond, there are two ways: responding by letter, or directly and verbally. So far, government officials frequently sent official letters, and sometimes they appeared directly in parliament to respond. He added that the government is formed by elections, and the Cambodian People’s Party, that won a massive support in the parliament, always rules the country following democracy and respecting the rights of the citizens, who are the voters. The government is not dictatorial or lawless. The government is on the right tract based on democracy. If the opposition party wants further reforms beyond this, it has to wait until it wins the elections.

“A senior member of the Cambodian People’s Party and a long standing member of the National Assembly, Mr. Cheam Yeap, said that the Cambodian People’s Party always obeys the laws and the Constitution since 1993. Also, [the president of the National Assembly] Samdech Heng Samrin, often allows more Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians than those from the Cambodian People’s Party to express their opinions along with the participation of national and international organizations that carefully observe the proceedings.

“In addition, during the press conference in the morning of 20 August 2010, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians announced that they have sent a letter to the US parliament and Senate to express their support for the United States of America adopting an amendment to financial legislation that requires US listed oil exploration companies operating in Cambodia to publicly disclose their expenditures and income. Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians consider that this law helps to promote transparency in the investment and in the management of income from mines, and in the oil and gas sectors in Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5282, 21.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 21 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2333, 21.8.2010

  • Thailand Sent Letters to the Ten Members of ASEAN to Suggest How to Solve the Disputes with Cambodia Bilaterally
  • After an Electric Fault Occurred [producing toxic smoke] in the M.V Factory, 120 Workers Fainted [Kompong Chhnang]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7040, 21-22.8.2010

  • A Railroad Construction Company Asked the Authorities to Crack Down on the Stealing of Concrete Supports and of Iron Bars [Kampot]
  • The Ministry of Labor Warned It Will Take Legal Action against Companies with Irregularities in Sending Workers to Malaysia [according to a meeting between the Ministry of Labor and 31 companies sending workers abroad]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3964, 21-22.8.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party] Parliamentarians and a Human Rights Organization [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] Expressed Regret over the Verdict against Chi Kraeng District Residents [nine citizens were sentenced to 3 years imprisonment over a land dispute, but they will serve only 17 months and the rest will be suspended – Siem Reap]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #36, 21.8.2010

  • The Vietnamese President [Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet [Nguyễn Minh Triết]] Will Visit Cambodia [from 26 to 28 August 2010 in response to an invitation by the Khmer King]
  • Cambodia Does Not Accept a Bilateral Solution with Thailand [according the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Koy Kuong]
  • Only One of the Students [countrywide] Gets an A Level, and 81.90% Passed [or 87,561 students among the 106,908 candidates passed the Grade 12 examinations]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5282, 21.8.2010

  • Parliamentarians: Within Seventeen Years, Only Six Ministers Appeared to Make Clarifications in the Parliament
  • Ebony [2.377 cubic meters] and Wild Animals [about 166 kg, including snakes, big lizards, and turtles] Were Intercepted at the Chrey Thom Border Crossing [for export to Vietnam; no persons are yet caught – Kandal]
  • Scientific Evidence Shows that Chemicals Are Still Found in Food Sold at the Markets [affecting the health of the consumers – studies conducted by the Royal Academy]

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A Rich Man Hit Two Persons to Death, but the Court Freed Him – Friday, 20.8.2010

Posted on 21 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: Road traffic police officials brought the son of a rich person who drove a car and fatally hit two persons at 11:00 p.m. on 15 August 2010, in front of house number 5 on Monyreth Boulevard in Damnak Thom village, Stung Meanchey, Meanchey, Phnom Penh, for a hearing in the morning of 19 August 2010 to find justice for the two victim’s families. But as soon as the hearing finished, that man was freed immediately. It was a really lucky result for the son of a rich family.

“During the hearing, Mr. Te Sam Ang was the judge and Mr. Sok Roeun was the prosecutor, along with the presence of the accused, Bun Sokvisal, who was standing in the wooden dock. He is a doctor at a district referral hospital and lives in Prek Boeng village, Ang Snuol, Kandal. The verdict was to sentence him to two years in prison, but it was all suspended and he was fined to pay Riel 3 Million [approx. US$700] to the state, but without any compensation imposed for the two victim’s families.

“It has been said that after the accident, the rich family went to meet the victim’s families to negotiate, and they agreed to pay for the funeral, and to give them money in exchange for the withdrawal of their charges at the court. Maybe this is the reason for the decision of the judge.

“The driver of the car was Bun Sokvisal, the son of a well-known and rich official of the Phnom Penh Municipality. It is not known whether this decision was right or wrong, but usually, if there is a fatal traffic accident, the driver must be detained.

“On 11:00 p.m. on 15 August 2010, a light gray Camry car with the number Phnom Penh 2T-6542, driven by Bun Sokvisal, crashed into a motorbike, killing the driver and a companion.” Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #35, 20.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 20 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2332, 20.8.2010

  • Victims of Mines and Unexploded Ordnance Increased in the Latest Period [within six months of 2010, there were 158 victims, compared to the same period in 2009, there were 151]
  • Two Construction Workers Were Attacked by [about ten] Gang Teens, They Killed One, and the Other Sustained Serious Injuries [police are trying to identify the perpetrators – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7039, 20.8.2010

  • The Ministry of Justice Reminded All Municipal Courts of the Code of Ethics for Judges over the Performance of Their Duties [as some judges leave their duties to clerks to investigate without the presence of judges and of prosecutors, which is against the laws]
  • A Man Killed His Mother-In-Law, Wife, Son, and [two] Sisters-in-Law [five persons] and Then Committed Suicide [after he had a dispute with family members, as he was repeatedly caught trying to rape a sister-in-law; three other family members were seriously injured – Svay Rieng]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3963, 20.8.2010

  • Hundreds of Stoung District Residents Protested in Front of the Kompong Thom Municipal Court to Demand the Release of [Sam Rainsy Party activist] Lem Nath Who Is Innocent [she was arrested on the allegation of forging thumbprints]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #35, 20.8.2010

  • A Rich Man Hit Two Persons to Death, but the Court Freed Him
  • Russian Tycoon [Alexander Trofimov] Apologized to Nineteen Khmer Victimized Girls [over debauchery; some of them are underage]
  • Seventeen Khmer Workers Were Rescued from Malaysia [they suffered from forced labor, working as fishermen and domestic servants]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #241, 20.8.2010

  • The Khmer and Thai Prime Ministers Might Discuss Border Disputes [in Belgium during an Asia-Europe Summit, from 4 to 5 October 2010]
  • [Three] Representatives of Kos Krolor Residents Flee into the Forest [after police surrounded their houses over land disputes with a military police official who tried to evict 415 families from an area of 1,672 hectares to claim land for a rubber plantation – Battambang]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5281, 20.8.2010

  • Trade Unions Announced to Strike in Mid September [from 13 to 14] to Demand a Pay Rise [to between US$75 and US$93 as minimum wage per month; at present it is just US$61]
  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An Asked South Korea to Help Intercept Illegal Marriages [between Khmer women and Korean men]
  • By 2010, Cambodia Has Been Provided with US$250 Million Grants and Loans [separation and amounts of the two not reported] from South Korea

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More Than 30% of the Size of Ratanakiri Is Contracted to Foreign Companies for Mineral Exploration, Affecting the Environment and the Living Conditions of the Poor Citizens – Thursday, 19.8.2010

Posted on 20 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“The rich natural resources in Cambodia, especially gold, gems, and diamonds, attract the attention from foreign investors to invest in mining in Cambodia, and the leading companies are the OZ Company and Southern Gold company of Australia. Also, some Yuon [Vietnamese] companies that do not make their identity known, operating illegally on gold exploitation, siphoning national resources out from Cambodia.

“The Yuon press quoted the director of the Saigon Jewelry Company, the biggest gold company in Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Long [Nguyễn Thành Long], as having said that the company had shown its plan to the Yuon government to ask for permission to invest in factories in Cambodia and Laos. If this company earns the approval from the Yuon government or from the governments where it plans to invest, this company will establish gold manufacturing factories abroad not later than in late 2010.

“Yuon officials said that this company will start its production with the trademark SJC in Laos this year, investing in Laos first, before seeking to create factories and branches in Cambodia. Some other Yuon companies investing in gold trade, such as the Sacom Bank, the Agri-Bank, and the Hun Huang [? – phonetic], and have opened representative offices in Cambodia and are strengthening and expanding their business operations.

“Yuon investors see huge benefits from investments in Cambodia and in gold exploration in the northeast of Cambodia; they have sent skilled workers to come to conduct illegal exploitation with the backing from military officials or civil authorities. Gold deposits in the northeast of Cambodia are being exploited illegally by traders, not leading to national income.

“Recently, Yuon traders had sent a barge on the Sekong river to Siem Pang district in Stung Treng, loaded with gold filtering machines, in an attempt to conduct illegal gold exploitation. The local authorities blocked the barge for some time to clarify questions about legal documents, but they will likely let it go after an intervention from the provincial level.

“Also, citizens in the Veun Sai district in Ratanakiri are worrying about the impact on water quality in the Sesan river, as Chinese gold miners are drilling to explore gold ore on Pang Island. They said that the Chinese company has been operating for two months, employing more than 10 Khmer workers, using two machines for drilling, and disposing waste water into the Sesan river, from which citizens consume water for their daily living.

“Citizens complained that at present, the water in the Sesan river was dirty and can no longer be used, but the local authorities do not intervene. Pang Island in the Sesan river has an area of 200 meter in length and 100 meter in width, and there live Krueng ethnic minority tribespeople, who have settled there since long. Now they are seriously affected by the gold exploitation by the Chinese company Indochine Resources [a holding company for the Indochine Group, ‘the largest mineral concession holder in The Royal Kingdom of Cambodia’ – including Indochine Mining].

“Officials of the Ministry of Industry. Ratanakiri Department, said that the Ministry of Industry provided a license to Indochine Resources in November 2009, to explore metal ore on an area of 200 square kilometers. So far, no companies have been registered also to exploit resources. All are just conducting explorations, and any exploitation in the past was illegal.

“The exploitation means that a company can gain benefits from the ore, whereas exploration means just to drill to find ore samples for experiments, but some companies colluded with expert officials and the authorities in charge to conduct exploitation while they only have exploration rights, so they gain benefits without paying tax to the state on their profits. Such anarchy occurs at the northeast of Cambodia, and some officials and members of the authorities are happy to collect personal benefits from it.

“According to expert officials, in Ratanakiri more than 3,000 square kilometers, or 30% of the size of the province, have been contracted to 19 companies to conduct explorations. Those companies deal with quarries, or they are construction companies, sand companies, gems companies, granite companies, and metal companies etc., and 10 companies have not received exploitation license. Citizens complained that some activities of those companies violate the land they own, and there is also deforestation.

“Civil society officials often voiced concern relating to the issues that some mineral exploration companies do not obey the laws, and that the requirements from relevant ministries and the exploitation by some companies affect the environment and the living condition of citizens. Expert officials never take restrictive actions against these companies doing exploitation, though citizens from the region had reported about improper activities of those companies.

“Since private companies started anarchic mine exploration in Cambodia without any interception by expert officials, they have extracted almost everywhere underground mineral deposits, but so far, no money has been paid into the national budget. Officials of civil and international organizations frequently warned that the improper management of mineral resources might seriously damage Cambodia. Therefore, the government must create laws to carefully control mineral resources and income.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3962, 19.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 19 August 2010

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1452, 19-20.8.2010

  • Two Persons Were Killed by Lightning while They Were Transplanting Rice Seedlings [Sihanoukville]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.1, #2331, 19.8.2010

  • Four Workers Were Attacked with Acid – They Sustained Serious Burn over Their Bodies [it is suspected this attack was related to rancor or a triangle love story; the two perpetrators have not yet been found – Phnom Penh]
  • Turtles and Many Other Types of Wild Animals Were Intercepted by Wild Aid [cooperating with the military police of Siem Reap to raid two sites selling animals – pangolins, soft shell turtles, and snakes]
  • A Plane Crash in Thailand Killed Five High Ranking Officials of the Ministry of Environment

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7038, 19.8.2010

  • Mobile Custom Officials Intercepted Two Trucks Loaded with Ebony [about 40 cubic meters illegally cut; the owner of the wood is known, but officials asked not to provide names [officials asked for understanding from journalists that they cannot provide the names while the investigations go on – Prey Veng]
  • The Gold Mining Area in Ratanakiri Cracked Down On Last Month Starts Operating [illegally] Again

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3962, 19.8.2010

  • More Than 30% of the Size of Ratanakiri Is Contracted to Foreign Companies for Mineral Exploration, Affecting the Environment and the Living Conditions of the Poor Citizens
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Criticized Corruption [over mining proceedings] of the Ministry of Industry, Which Led to the Canceling of the Kravanh Mountain Eco-Tourism Investment Project
  • At Least 145 Citizens Have Been Arrested [since 2008] over Land Disputes due to the Weak Court System [according to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #34, 19.8.2010

  • An Armed Clash Broke Out at the Choam Sa Ngam Border Crossing Point while Troops [of Cambodia and of Thailand] Were Patrolling [there is no report of casualties – Oddar Meanchey]
  • Japan Grants Technical Aid worth More Than US$4 Million for Agricultural Development [to improve agricultural productivity and to promote markets for agricultural products at the west of the Tonle Sap lake through the technical support to the Departments of Agriculture of Battambang, Pursat, and Kompong Chhnang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.9, #240, 19.8.2010

  • ASEAN Begins Discussing about the Cambodian Request for an Intervention over the Khmer-Thai Border Disputes
  • Vietnam Strengthens Military Cooperation with Cambodia [Prime Minister Hun Sen had asked Vietnam during a visit by the Vietnamese Senior General Le Van Dong to help consolidate the defense sector of Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5280, 19.8.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank Plans to Provide US$558 Million [cooperation financing] from 2011 and 2013 [to support poverty reduction, to promote rural development, to improve the economy and agriculture, to strengthen the capacity of human resources, and to develop the financial sector and the private sectors]
  • The DK Fund [established 1998 by a Korean who was orphaned and later received a scholarship to study in the USA] Chose Cambodia to Provide Scholarships for Poor Students for Ten Years [the DK Fund plans to create a vocational training center in Sihanoukville, and a health science university in Cambodia]

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Local Unemployment Pushes More Khmer Workers to Migrate – Wednesday, 18.8.2010

Posted on 19 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Local Unemployment urges more Khmer workers to migrate to find jobs in foreign countries, especially in Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Siam [Thailand], and Taiwan. This makes many Khmer citizens to suffer from the exploitation of their labor, and lead to human rights abuses and forced labor, which make them to get sick and sometimes it leads to fatal sicknesses. In addition, sometimes Khmer workers who were domestic servants, have been mistreated and did not have sufficient nutrition, and the companies that sent them to work abroad, never cared about their living conditions.

“According to officials of a human rights organization, there are 26 licensed companies that are sending Khmer workers abroad, but there are also some unlicensed companies. Many Khmer workers abroad suffered from various abuses, and some of them died. When Khmer workers endured such misery or died abroad, the companies did not intervene to find justice for the victims, and also the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training did not help to find proper solutions, following the laws of Cambodia.

“Officials of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], said that they received information about four victimized women who asked for intervention to take them back from Malaysia in July 2010. Some were mistreated by not having enough food, some were beaten and even raped, and some were forced to work like cattle without a break. Those who work at factories were forced to work overtime, straining their working conditions, and violating the previous promises of companies in Cambodia, as the actual situation in Malaysia is quite different from the promises.

“Officials of human rights organization in Cambodia said that from 2008 to 2010, they have received 92 complaints from Khmer workers abroad, and there were 130 victims. Some female workers who just returned from Malaysia said that they were mistreated by not having enough food, they were insulted and intimidated. This happened to them since they were sent to work as domestic servants in Malaysia. More than that, their passports were taken away, so that they had difficulties in finding outside assistance and to return to Cambodia, unless they were able to run to the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia.

“According to officials of the Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility [CARAM] organization that monitors the situation of migrant workers, about 20,000 female workers are laboring in Malaysia, more than 200,000 in Siam [Thailand], about 9,000 in Korea, and many others in Arab countries, as well as in Japan and in Taiwan. The executive director of CARAM, Mr. Ya Navuth, said that poverty, unemployment, and the threatening global economic crisis force Khmer citizens to leave Cambodia to find jobs in other countries. More and more Khmer workers migrate abroad, though they already know that they will have to face many difficulties. Observers noticed that poverty, unemployment, and no land for farming are factors that make Cambodian citizens to take the risk to seek jobs abroad. These factors are the results of wrong policies of the government that does not contribute to broad economic growth, so that citizens can get jobs and earn an income to live properly. Formerly, the government banned citizens from migrating abroad – like to Thailand – but the government does not create jobs for a large section of the population, for people who are unemployed, so that they cannot earn their daily living.

“Officials of human rights organization in Cambodia discovered that many Khmer workers suffered from abuses of their human rights and of violations of labor laws, and from being trafficked, but they did not gain much support from officials of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training under the administration of [Minster] Vong Soth. Contracts between workers and companies exist only on papers, while in reality companies both in Cambodia and abroad violate those contracts. In fact, the conditions set in the contracts are good, but at work at their destination, companies take away their passports , and worst of all, their difficulties do not receive caring attention from the companies at all.

“Officials of human right organizations watching over migrant workers noticed that by now, there is still no mechanism to address the difficulties of workers abroad by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, though it is reported that some companies forced Khmer workers to labor like slaves day and night. More than that, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training seems insensitive about the scandals of some companies, sending workers abroad, though those companies violate the labor law.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3961, 18.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2330, 18.8.2010

  • The Daun Penh Authorities Gathered 23 Homeless People [and sent them to the Phnom Penh Social Center]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7037, 18.8.2010

  • Police Intercepted 245 Kg of Wildlife Meat to Be Exported to Vietnam [perpetrators have not yet been caught – Ratanakiri]
  • In 2010, There Were More Intercepted Cases of Human Trafficking Than Last Year [in the first six months of 2010, 104 suspects including 10 foreigners were detained and there were 269 victims]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3961, 18.8.2010

  • Local Unemployment Pushes More Khmer Workers to Migrate

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #33, 18.8.2010

  • Court Will Hear [the opposition party leader] Sam Rainsy’s Case on 8 September 2010 over a Charge of Disinformation
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asked the Citizens to Eat Pork Again, but They Must Cook It Well [recently, there was a breakout of blue ear diseases on pigs, which had led to the banning of pig imports from neighboring countries]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #239, 18.8.2010

  • The Government Promised to Cover 50% of the Risk of Loans in Agriculture – the government will cover 50% of the risk of loans by commercial banks providing loans for the expansion of rice production, so that Cambodian rice export can reach 1 million tonnes by 2015]
  • Four Vietnamese Citizens Were Tried for Illegally Operating Brothels [if they are found guilty, they will be sentenced to serve from two to three years in prison]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5279, 18.8.2010

  • Cambodia Sets 2015 as the Year When At Least One Million Tonne of Rice Is to be Exported [according to Prime Minister Hun Sen – that would be an 80-fold increase in 5 years !!!]
  • A Robber Shot Dead a Teacher to Rob His Motorbike in Stung Meanchey District [Phnom Penh]

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A Civil Society Group for Social Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials – Tuesday, 17.8.2010

Posted on 18 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: A Civil society group for social accountability and transparency demanded the Anti-Corruption Unit to take action against a section of the tax collecting system for taking more money than what the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance state.

“In the morning 16 August 2010, a civil society group for social accountability and transparency organized a press conference at the Baitong Restaurant in Phnom Penh about their fight against corruption in the form of excessive tax collection for vehicles.

“The president of the Independent Democratic Association of Non-Formal Economy, Mr. Von Pov, said during the conference that every year from July to October, a tax collection is implemented countrywide by tax officials of the Tax Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The collection is carried out in order to build up the national budget for the restoration and maintenance of public infrastructure, and all Cambodian citizens are obliged to pay tax on their vehicles, such as cars and motorbikes, though they suffer from the global economic crisis.

“Mr. Von Pov added regarding the tax collected by tax officials, that civil society groups for social accountability and transparency noticed that most citizens, who own vehicles, were forced by tax officials to pay an excess amount over that stated on the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. He added that at present, 1,391,565 cars and trucks, and 11,356,398 motorbikes [the number of motorbikes given is unrealistically high – that means that about 80% of all citizens, including babies and the whole rural population – own a registered motorcycle; we assume the number includes a mistype and may be 1,356,398 – Editor] have been registered and allowed to travel in Cambodia and they are required to pay tax. On average, if a vehicle is required to pay an additional amount of Riel 2,000 [approx. US$0.50] to tax officials, that means Cambodian citizens waste about US$1 million each year. This is corruption resulting from public officials using their positions as public officials to gain personal gain, so that corruption does not refer only to the stealing of money.

“Mr. Von Pov went on to say that to contribute to achieve the second stage of the Rectangular Strategy and to promote good governance, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, especially the Tax Department, must supervise tax officials so that they work following the official calculations for the collection of taxes. Also, the Tax Department must punish officials who commit offenses, or collect administrative fines from them, if they collect amounts beyond the tax invoices, and the Anti-Corruption Unit must take measures in such cases.

“A Coordinator of the East Asia and Pacific Social Accountability Network, Mr. San Chey, said that even though invoices are issued by the Tax Department, still excess tax collection happens, particularly in the Ponhea Leu district in Kandal and Prey Veng. He added, ‘We will submit reports within one week to the Tax Department to take action.’

“After there had been such criticism about excess tax collections by tax officials, the Tax Department released an announcement on 10 August 2010, where the third point reads, ‘Before paying tax, please read the tax tables posted publicly and pay accordingly the amount set in these tables. If tax officials demand more, please report their names and ID Card number to the Tax Department.’

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng, could not be reached for comments on Monday evening, but he used to say in a previous press conference that corruption relates not only to big money, but even 50 cents can also be considered as corruption.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

  • A Civil Society Group for Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials
  • The Minister of Agriculture Called On Citizens to Eat Pork Again [claiming that the ‘blue ear disease’ of pigs does not infect people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7036, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia Adheres to Peaceful Positions; while in Cambodia, the Secretary General of ASEAN, Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, Asked Cambodia and Thailand to Be Patient [in solving their border disputes]

Meatophoum, Vol.54, #796, 16-21.8.2010

  • Cambodia Asked Vietnam to Help Solve the Border Dispute [with Thailand; according to a letter sent by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam – who is at present chairing ASEAN – to help either within the structure of ASEAN, or directly

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3960, 17.8.2010

  • Which Tax Officials are Punished for Forcing Citizens to Pay Excessive Taxes?

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #32, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia and Iran Signed an Agreement to Create an Economic Committee in Order to Step Up Economic Cooperation [economic cooperation between Cambodia and Iran will focus on on tourism, the oil industry, investments, agriculture, industry, Iranian export of technical services and engineering, and the exchange of expert delegates]
  • Three People Were Killed and Three Others Were Injured by Lightning [Kompong Cham]
  • Police Burnt again Chicken Meat of No Quality, but Have Never Caught a Persons Who Owns It [Banteay Meanchey]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #238, 17.8.2010

  • Prosecutors [of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] Appealed against the sentence of Duch, [the former Tuol Sleng prison chief, who was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, but considering his past jail term and the reduction of punishment, he will have to serve only about 19 more years]
  • Thailand Arrested a Cambodian Man Accusing Him of Spying [as he walked near a Thai military base; according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, he might be released after there was investigation and a request for his release by Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5278, 17.8.2010

  • A Vietnamese General [Le Van Dung] Visits Cambodia to Consolidate the Military Cooperation between the Two Countries
  • Six People Were Killed and Ten Others Were Slightly Injured in Traffic Accidents [in Phnom Penh and Preah Vihear, on 15 August 2010]
  • The Club of Cambodia Journalists Reacted against the Detention of a Kampuchea Thmey Journalist [as he was detained just for a minor traffic accident; the Club of Cambodian Journalists expressed concern, and considers it as a violation of human rights, protected by the Constitution of Cambodia]

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Seventy Five Percent of the Victims of Traffic Accidents Were Motorbike Drivers – Monday, 16.8.2010

Posted on 17 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: To help prevent and reduce the number of deaths in traffic accidents, the Global Road Safety Partnership and Handicap International Belgium collaborated with the National Road Safety Committee to organize a workshop about the draft of a ten years road traffic safety plan 2011-2020 at the Sunway Hotel on 12 August 2010.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior and deputy head of the National Road Safety Committee, Mr. Khan Savoeun, said that in recent years, the number of deaths in traffic accidents rose alarmingly. According to a report of the Ministry of Interior, within six months of 2010, there were 3,040 traffic accidents and 6,346 victims, where 913 people were killed, 2,853 seriously injured, and 2,562 lightly injured. According to a report on traffic accidents in 2009 by Handicap International Belgium, among the victims 75% were motorbike drivers, where 35% died because of head injuries as they did not wear helmets, 49% drove over the speed limit, and 13% were drunk while driving. In 2009, traffic accidents made Cambodia waste US$248 million.

“Mr. Khan Savoeun added that according to a survey by the Ministry of Health about helmet use by motorbike drivers in 2009, 72% of the drivers wore helmets during the day and 46% at night. He called especially on travelers to join to prevent and lessen traffic accidents by trying to obey the law to wear helmets, to fasten seat belts, not to drive over the speed limit, and not to drive when drunk. Only participation from all travelers can help prevent and cut down traffic accidents, as it is said in a slogan ‘Traffic Safety Starts from Me’ – and it is stated in the goals of ASEAN countries’ plans. If they do not join, all road safety plans will not succeed.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7035, 16.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 16 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2328, 15-16.8.2010

  • The Head of Police of the Dangkao District Removed the Head of the Traffic Section and Suspended the Deputy Head over Their Mistakes in Detaining a Kampuchea Thmey Journalist
  • A USAID Representative Praised Cambodia over a Successful Reduction of the Spread of HIV [by 2010, there are 40,039 people having AIDS, and about 95% of them receive life extending pills]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7035, 16.8.2010

  • Seventy Five Percent of the Victims of Traffic Accidents Were Motorbike Drivers
  • A Toyota Camry Crashed into a Motorbike, Killing a Woman and Her 2-Years-Old Child and Seriously Injuring Her Husband [Phnom Penh]
  • After as Many as 107 Garment Workers Fainted [because of a lack of oxygen in the Main Harton [[phonetic]] factory], the Authorities Suspend Work for Two Days [Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3959, 16.8.2010

  • A Barge and Yuon [Vietnamese] Skilled Workers Crossed the Sekong River into the Siem Pang District to Conduct Unlicensed Gold Ore Exploitation while the Governor Is Asleep [Stung Treng – Vietnamese traders sent a barge with many skilled workers and with gold ore exploring machines to the Siem Pang district – those Vietnamese traders are backed by some powerful officials]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #31, 15-16.8.2010

  • Court Arrested a Moto-Taxi Driver Who Drove [a female] Distributor of Leaflets [in Phnom Penh, criticizing government leaders]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #237, 16.8.2010

  • 60,000 Workers Plan to Strike to Demand a Wage Increase [on 13 September 2010; at present, the minimum salary of workers is US$61 per month; according to the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, Mr. Ath Thun]
  • Four Suspects Were Arrested over a Drug Crime [in Phnom Penh]
  • Burma Plans to Release [the Burmese elected leader] Suu Kyi after the Elections [to be held on 7 November 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5277, 15-16.8.2010

  • The Head Diplomat of Cambodia [Mr. Hor Namhong, the Minister of Foreign Affairs] Sent a Letter to the ASEAN General Secretary to Ask for the Coordination by ASEAN over Border Disputes [with Thailand]
  • The Brazilian Ambassador Plans to Encourage [Brazilian] Experts in the Agriculture of Sugar Cane Growing to Come as Advisors [to Cambodia]

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