To Persuade the United States of America to Reduce Import Taxes of Garment Products Might Face Difficulties – Tuesday 13.1.2009

Posted on 14 January 2009. Filed under: Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

“In a meeting about textile problems among ASEAN member countries, organized in Phnom Penh last week, the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia encouraged all garment exporting countries in the Southeast Asian region to join to persuade the United States of America to reduce import taxes. This encouragement was made because the garment industries of many exporting countries, including Cambodia, are being affected by the meltdown of the global economy.

“The Minister of Commerce of Cambodia, Mister Cham Prasidh, notorious for corruption, said that persuading the USA is crucial for exporting markets, and it might help to face the economic crisis. Mister Cham Prasidh added, ‘When there is such a global financial crisis, what you see is the decline of demands. How long can our garment sectors stand with this crisis? As we know, we all, more or less, depend on the market of the USA, and this is the reason why we have to continue to try to persuade the USA to be interested to provide us import facilities with reduced taxes or with no tax.’

“Moreover, Cham Prasidh, an in-law of [the Minister of the Council of Ministers] Sok An, went on to say that the garment sector can continue progressing as long as all ASEAN member countries cooperate to expand markets in the region, before receiving better conditions from the USA. Also the deputy director of the Indonesian Textile Association expressed support with what was mentioned above, saying that this was probably a difficult time which needs an immediate solution among ASEAN member countries. Particularly, there must be an encouragement to cooperate in order to compete on the world markets while all countries are facing this financial crisis.

“It should be noted that from 1999 to 2004, the USA provided garment importing quotas to Cambodia without charging import tax. After the Multi-Fibre Arrangement [also known as the international Agreement on Textile and Clothing, 1974 to 2004] system ended, Cambodia has to pay 12.5% tax on average, making prices of garment products from Cambodia becoming more expensive, and it is difficult to compete with products from many other countries in Asia, such as China, Siam [Thailand], Yuon [Vietnam], Indonesia, and Bangladesh; most of these countries also depend on markets in the USA and in Europe.

“However, since many years, the garment sector became the biggest source of income for Cambodia, and it provides employment to more than 350,000 workers in around 400 factories countrywide. Since 2004, garment exports to world markets increased between 20% and 25% every year. Among the income from the export of garment products of US$2.7 billion in total in 2007, the USA absorbed products from Cambodia – especially garments – and the highest level was more than US$1.9 billion, compared to US$600 million for the export to markets in Europe, and US$146 million for the export to Canada.

“Nevertheless, the garment sector in Cambodia is being affected by the decline of garment demand on the US market, after this country, the most powerful country, faced a serious economic meltdown since 2008. The Minister of Commerce of Cambodia said that the garment export from Cambodia to international markets declined by 2% in 2008, so that the government expects that the USA will have policies to promote this sector again. But economists and other experts said that this expectation seems to be baseless.

“The president of a garment factory association in Cambodia recently said that when the economy falls down like this, the USA also needs to help itself. Now, Cambodia is worrying, because so far, around 60 factories have gradually closed and approximately 25,000 workers lost their employment. From April 2009 on, there are little buying orders, and prices have to be lower than before, making many factories to face serious losses.

“Civil society officials observing the garment sector in Cambodia assessed that in mid 2009, 20 more factories will finally close, because they cannot cover losses by bank loans which are also strongly restricted. In the meantime, a foreign economist said that the situation of the Cambodian garment sector might be out of trouble in at most one or two years, when the economy of the USA is expected to grow stronger again. This means that the decline of the garment sector in Cambodia has to wait until the economy of the USA grows strong again, while tens of thousands of Khmer workers of this sector loose their employment and incomes.

“Analysts criticized that corruption in the Ministry of Commerce, managed by Cham Prasidh, and in the Ministry of Labor, administered by Vong Soth, is also a reason making the garment sector in Cambodia face serious decline, because corruption in these two ministries encourages garment factory owners to pay much kickback while their businesses do not earn much profit. Therefore, in order to prevent that the garment sector continues to decline sharply, the Hun Sen government must take action to eliminate corruption urgently, so that factories owners do not decide to close their factories and one after the other leave Cambodia.”Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3664, 13.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #2, 13.1.2009

  • The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO] Published 84 Cases of Human Rights Violations in the Fourth Quarter of 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1845, 13.1.2009

  • The Plan to Expand the Capacity of the VietTel Company Is Supported by Prime Minister Hun Sen [VietTel is a telecommunications company from Vietnam, and this company aims to help promote development in Cambodia, especially in education by providing Internet access to schools and by creating a foundation to help the government to alleviate poverty]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #322, 13.1.2009

  • The Leader and His Terrorism Partisans [of four people who were involved in the setting of explosive devices in Phnom Penh recently] Were Accused by the Court of Creating Illegal Armed Forces, and of Terrorism
  • Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng Said that Cambodia Is Not a Drug Producing Country
  • The Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party Negotiate to Create an Alliance

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #181, 13.1.2009

  • More Than 60 People Protest in Front of the Provincial Primary Court to Ask for the Release of Mr. Hun Sengly from Jail [he was a representative of 415 families in Kos Krolor district in Battambang and was arrested in August 2008 regarding a land dispute]
  • The Indian Embassy Reacts to the Deaths of Three Indians [in a car accident in Dangkao district in Phnom Penh, and demands the government to take action against the driver who caused the accident – one day after the accident, he escaped from a private hospital and from his house in Phnom Penh]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva Received the Majority of Votes in By-Elections [his party and their allies won 20 of the 29 seats]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6550, 13.1.2009

  • A Farmer Couple Brought Their Children back from a Hospital [in Phnom Penh]; the Husband Died along the Road because of Pain [when he complained about strong pain , the taxi driver dropped him and his family along the road where he died – Kien Svay, Kandal]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3664, 13.1.2009

  • To Persuade the United States of America to Reduce Import Taxes of Garment Products Might Face Difficulties
  • Khmer and Siamese [Thai] Prime Ministers Will Discuss Border Disputes in Hua Hin [in Thailand during the ASEAN Summit from 27 February to 1 March 2009 – according to the Bangkok Post]
  • Can the Japanese Aid [of around US$21 million, promised by Japan on 11 January 2009] Make the Hearings of Former Khmer Rouge Leaders Proceed Soon?
  • Result of the Investigation about Illegal Logging in the Kantuy Neak [Ratanakiri] Region Is Not Yet Revealed [four park rangers who were reported to be missing during a mission returned to the Vireakchey National Park, they were not missing, they were on a 15-day patrol in the park]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4793, 13.1.2009

  • Producers of the Opera “Where Elephants Weep” Apologize, as It Was Prevented to Be Shown in All Television Channels, Offensive Scenes Will Be Changed [after complaints by the Buddhist orders]
  • Motorbike Competing with a Truck Collided with Another Truck Coming from the Opposite Direction, Causing Three Deaths [Kompong Speu]

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No Need to Wait for a Law on Access to Information: The Press in Cambodia Faces Rejection When Trying to Get Information – Monday, 29.12.2008

Posted on 30 December 2008. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

“Phnom Penh: In an attempt to play a better role as conveyor of messages from citizens to the Royal Government and from the Royal Government to citizens, the Club of Cambodian Journalists held the Fifth Editors’ Forum of Cambodia under the motto ‘Assessments by Editors of the Situation of Access to Information’ in the evening of 27 December 2008 at the Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh, with a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information, Mr. Nov Sovatharo, chairing. This important forum was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation like the previous forums.

“There was an active discussion after four speakers – Mr. Puy Kea, a reporter of the Kyodo News Agency of Japan, Mr. Pen Bona, co-editor of Cambodge Soir, Mr. Net Phatra, representing the Phnom Penh Post, and Mr. Chea Sayna, the editor of Koh Santepheap – expressed their opinions related to easiness and difficulties related to ‘Access to Information and Problems Faced.’ At the end, the editors’ forum decided to release the following joint declaration:

Joint Declaration of the Fifth Editors’ Forum of Cambodia ‘Access to Information without Waiting for a Law about Access to Information’
27 December 2008
Himawari Hotel
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

All of us, 35 people (as seen in the attached list with our signatures [not included here]) editors, publishing both through newspapers and through radio and TV in Cambodia, met during the Fifth Editors’ Forum in Phnom Penh on 27 December 2008 to discuss and to assess the situation of access to information which we face in our professional work during the year, and to find solutions. Under the theme of ‘Access to Information and Different Problems Faced speakers raised problems, expressed views, and provided recommendations related to:

  • The situation of access to information for foreign news agencies in Cambodia
    • Access to information related to the Preah Vihear border disputes
    • Access to information at different provinces countrywide
    • Access to information at central level (in Phnom Penh, at ministries, at private companies)

    Then, the Fifth Editor’s Forum of Cambodia discussed, in general, all points raised in the forum by the speakers and joined to assess the situation of access to information in Cambodia with high responsibility.

    Problems Identified Limiting Access to Information

    After discussions and assessments by the Fifth Editors’ Forum, the following problems are seen:

    1. Spokespersons or Public Relations Officials, or Information Officials: Many ministries and other state institutions, like the National Assembly, the Senate, as well as organizations and companies, do not have spokespersons or public relations officials, or information officials who professionally fulfill these tasks. This becomes a major obstacle against the flow of information for the general public, as guaranteed by the Constitution of 1993.
    2. Provision of Documents: In general, official documents are necessary, to be sure that a report and its information is made correctly, official documents are mostly not confidential documents, official documents have to be published by individual institutions and ministries that have to provide information to the public, and to publish about their own activities…, but often, such documents are not provided or prepared for publication and provided to journalists, not even their annual reports, and reports about the orientation of their work in the new year.
    3. Different Programs, Activities, and Meetings: Meetings that should be open are often declared to be internal and confidential affairs of the institutions, and journalists are asked to leave the meetings. At the same time, the work plans of the leaders of ministries and of other institutions are usually kept locked away in a drawer in the administration’s office, so that it sometimes seems that leaders of ministries are more secretive than the prime minister – and sometimes they do not seem to work.
    4. Announcements of Information: A small number of ministries announce information about some important events. But, regrettably, most ministries and institutions do not announce information, and some information is announced unexpectedly late.
    5. Regular Meetings and Press Conferences: In contrast to what is done in other modern countries, most ministries and institutions do not hold press conference or meet with journalists at all, although there were important and big problems to be explained and published. This makes the public to feel uninformed about the activities and the work of such ministries or institutions.
    6. Websites: Websites are one of the most important sources of information in this era of information technology. Most ministries and institutions have their own websites. This is an encouraging start. However, regrettably, most websites of ministries and of institutions are not kept updated with new information. Therefore, their websites cannot provide information and do not indicate where information can be found.

    Conclusion

    The weaknesses and gaps mentioned above are problems working against the access to information, and therefore the efficiency of different services, especially of public services, is questioned. Nevertheless, these problems can be addressed without waiting for a law about access to information. Corrections can be made through a change of behavior of some officials, and by a reorganization of the working structures at different institutions and ministries. The Royal Government has done a lot of work for people’s wellbeing and for national development, but the above shortages seems to swallow all achievements and accomplishments, when they are not shown to the public: to know, to hear, and to see. In the meantime, some facts in the social and economic life are ignored or are not solved in time, and consequently, everyone is a loser, both the Royal Government and the citizens.

    Appeal in a Situation that a Law about Access to Information Is Not Yet Adopted
    1. The Fifth Editor’s Forum of Cambodia would like to ask all ministries and institutions to appoint information officials or public relations officials, or spokespersons, and to organize their work so that they can work professionally and can fulfill their different tasks, such as to provide documents, to provide data about the work and about their activities, and especially to be able to respond to questions from journalists.
    2. All ministries and institutions should hold press conferences or meet with journalists regularly, to provide information about their activities and about the work of their ministries and institutions, and they must be conducted at least once per month.
    3. In cases of emergency, all ministries and institutions should release timely information for publication for the sake of the public. The publication of timely information can sometimes avoid danger and damage.
    4. All ministries and institutions should create their own websites to provide information to the public. As for some ministries and institutions that already have their own websites, they have to update information on their websites every day when there is new information.
    5. The Fifth Editors’ Forum of Cambodia will observe and assess the provision of information, and the Sixth Editors’ Forum, to be held again in 2009, will promote and strengthen the role of the Cambodian press in Cambodian society and in the international arena.

    Phnom Penh, 27 December 2008”
    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6537, 29.12.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 29 December 2008

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1832, 28-29.12.2008

    • Siem Reap Court Detains Three People, including a Journalist [of Sangkum Khmer], over a Land Dispute in Chi Kraeng District [for using violence against a real estate owner, and for provoking crimes, while residents said that they are arrested unjustly]
    • Pakistan and India Send Troops to their Border, Increasing Tension
    • China Sends Warships to the Gulf of Aden [to help fight Somali pirates]

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #314, 28-30.12.2008

    • Secretary of State of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology Tan Vanthara Appeared at a Gambling Site of the Phnom Penh Hotel
    • [Former military police officer] Chea Ratha Said Something about the Place Where She Is Hiding [she is living in a pagoda in a foreign country], Adding that She Is a Victim Regarding the Acid Attack [on the aunt of Ms. In Soklida, a well-known film star, with whom she had an affair]
    • [Former Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs] Noppadon Pattama Will Raise the Preah Vihear Temple Problem, to Attack [new Prime Minister] Abhisit Vejjajiva [during the meeting of the Thai parliament]

    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #170, 28-29.12.2008

    • Dey Krahom Community Residents Face Eviction on 30 December 2008 [after the Chamkar Mon district office issued the last notice for the rest of 91 families (of 1274 families) at the Building Block area to leave by 30 December 2008]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6537, 29.12.2008

    • No Need to Wait for a Law on Access to Information: The Press in Cambodia Faces Rejection When Trying to Get Information
    • Negotiation with Siam [Thailand] Is Still the Position for Border Issues and It Is the Most Appropriate Choice to Avoid War [said spokesperson of the government and Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith]
    • Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of the ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Start to Surround the Thai Parliament [to prevent the presentation of the policy statement by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva]
    • Israel Attacked Hamas in Gaza Causing Many Deaths [as revenge for Hamas rocket attacks on Israel – at least 271 people were killed and more than 620 others were injured. – Status on 29.12.2008: 1 soldier and 3 civilians were killed in Israel; more that 310 persons were killed in Gaza, and hundreds wounded]
    • More Than 98,000 Civilians Killed in Iraq [since 2003]

    Meatophum, Vol.52, #716, 29-31.12.2008

    • If [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Mr. Hor Namhong Does Not Assign His Son, Whom Should He Assign? [he will appoint his son, Hor Monyrath, to be ambassador in Japan from 2009]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3651, 29.12.2008

    • The Spokesperson of the Government [Mr. Khieu Kanharith] Said that If an Armed Clash Happens along the Khmer-Siamese [Thai] Border, Cambodia Would Need 20,000 Troops
    • Members of the European Parliament Prepare to Sue Yuon [Vietnamese] Airline [for preventing them, Mr. Marco Panella and Mr. Marco Perduca, to board a plane from Cambodia to Vietnam]
    • The Director of the Cambodia Mine Action Authority Was Removed from His Position Related to Corruption [over the collapse of financing for the mine-sniffing dog raising and breeding program – Mr. Sam Sotha was replaced by Mr. Chum Bunrong, an advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen]

    Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1336, 29.12.2008

    • The Public of the [Phnom Penh] City Welcomes that the Authorities Curb Down Illegal Motorbike Pawn Shops [because such places are said to increase robberies in the city – nearly 2,000 motorbikes were found, 70% do not have number plates or tax stickers]


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4780, 28-29.12.2008

    • The Ministry of Interior Starts to Release Money instead of Rice to Police in 2009 [because of quality problems, late delivery, and loss of rice – instead of 1 kilogram of rice Riel 2,800 is paid – approx. US$0.70 – no information given how many kg in total are provided per month]
    • The Setting of Cambodia-Vietnam Border Markers Is Delayed until 2012 [the Cambodian-Vietnamese border of 1,270 km needs to be marked with 370 markers, worth more than US$15 million, and Vietnam is responsible for the whole expenses]

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