Cambodia and Vietnam Step Up Their Cooperation in the Fields of Economy and Development – Monday, 7.12.2009

Posted on 8 December 2009. Filed under: Week 642 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 642

“Sihanoukville: The Kingdom of Cambodia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam signed several agreements, especially about the economy and about investments towards the development of the country.

“High ranking officials of Cambodia and of Vietnam again expressed a common position during the 11th Cambodian-Vietnamese bilateral committee meeting about cooperation in economy, culture, science, and technology, on 4 December 2009, at the Independence Hotel in Sihanoukville. There, an Aide Memoire of the meeting was also signed. It was signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong, and by the Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem [Phạm Gia Khiêm].

“The Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ung Sean, spoke to journalists after the meeting, saying that the Aide Memoire signed is a new success in strengthening the close and the longer term relations, as well as the cooperation between both countries. He added that the results achieved are a response to intentions of the leaders of both countries, as well as of the people.

“Mr. Ung Sean added, ‘I noticed that the Cambodian-Vietnamese committee meetings are getting to a deeper level from year to year, because of the stability and the speedy growth in both countries. The Cambodian economy has also achieves progress, though it is less than that of Vietnam. Thus, what we have achieved at present reflects the economic growth and the social progress in both countries. I hope that all relevant ministries and institutions with their representatives here will use the Aide Memoire as a guide for the cooperation between both sides – Cambodia-Vietnam and Vietnam-Cambodia – in order to accomplish what we have noted down in this document.’

“Mr. Ung Sean added, ‘During the meeting, there were some issues for which we have not yet achieved solutions, and they will require further discussion. In the meantime, he asked all relevant ministries and institutions to continue to discuss them to achieve in next year’s meeting what we have not yet achieved. Some tasks need further research and decisions from top political leaders, without which other institutions of both countries cannot make decisions directly.’

“The Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem, said in the meeting, ‘During this discussions, high ranking leaders of the both countries worked very hard, and we can conclude that success can be achieved through mutual trust, which includes solidarity and cooperation between both countries.’

“He expressed his appreciation for the increasingly effective and transparent cooperation from day to day, which is in line with the progress of the country, and this brings also new changes for the administration.

“Mr. Ung Sean said that during the meeting, 26 points for cooperation were discussed:

  1. In the education sector: Vietnam continues to grant 100 long-term scholarships and 450 short-term scholarships to Cambodia.
  2. In the field of agriculture: Cambodia continues to cooperate with Vietnam in the plantation of rubber. For this, 100,000 hectares of land have to be found, according to the request by Vietnam.

Besides this, both sides discussed also pest control, as insects destroy crops, and also the protection of some rare animals was on the agenda, so that they do not become extinct, to be achieved by the suppression illegal trafficking in these endangered species. The most important thing are good border relations, and both countries continue to demarcate the border, to be finalize in 2012.

“Also, there was discussion about cooperation in the construction of hydro-electricity dams along the Sesan II river, and both sides will try to avoid impacts on the environment. As for consulates and immigration offices, both sides decided to offer visas for Vietnamese tourists to visit Cambodia up to 30 days, while before visas were given only for 14 days.

“Relating to visas for Cambodian and Vietnamese workers, both sides agreed as a policy to allow workers with sufficient documents to stay for one year.

“In the land transport sector, Cambodia encourages Vietnam to finish the construction of National Road 78 from Ou Ya Dav to Ban Lung in Ratanakiri soon. Vietnam promised to finish it by 31 January 2010. Meanwhile, both sides promised to seek funds to build the Chrey Thom bridge soon. As for border demarcations, both sides gave orders that border markers put already must be maintained in place, but it must be ensured that there is no negative impact on the interests of both sides.

“Regarding investments, Cambodia noted Vietnam’s request to talk about the signing of a agreement to abolish overlapping double taxes.

“According to news from the Vietnam News Agency, published on 5 December 2009, Vietnam plans to invest US$2 billion in 2010.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2117, 6-7.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 7 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #355, 6-7.12.2009

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Claimed that There Will Be No War, while the Cambodian-Siamese [Thai] Diplomatic Dispute Is Still Tense
  • Puea Thai Party President [General Chavalit Yongchaiyudh] Believes that the Alleged Spy Siwarak Will Be Released

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2117, 6-7.12.2009

  • Cambodia and Vietnam Step Up Their Cooperation in the Fields of Economy and Development
  • Samdech Hun Sen: Fighting and Intimidating Each Other Is Outdated
  • Fire Burnt Down 27 Houses in Poipet

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #690, 7.12.2009

  • [The President of the Cambodian People’s Party and of the Senate] Chea Sim Was Sent for Emergency Medical Attention to Singapore because of Hypertension

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #548, 6-7.12.2009

  • Different Opinions Were Voiced over the Permission of the Cambodian Government for Yuon [Vietnamese] Workers to Work in Cambodia [officials from the Sam Rainsy Party and from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) said that this will affect the labor market of Khmer citizens]
  • Amnesty International and Khmer Historians Explain that a New War Cannot Happen because of some more Summons for More Former Khmer Rouge Leaders [to appear at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6824, 7.12.2009

  • A Man Killed His Wife because of Jealousy, and then Escaped [Sihanoukville]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #61, 7.12.2009

  • The Prime Minister Warned Citizens Not to Enter Thai Territory Illegally [to cut trees or to do something illegal, in order to avoid arrest and being shot dead by Thai authorities]
  • In 2009, the Number of Deaths in Traffic Accidents Is Rising, but the Number of Injuries Declines [there were 5,543 traffic accidents countrywide within eight months of 2009, where 1,209 people died, while during the corresponding period in 2008, there were 1,100 deaths caused by 6,827 accidents]
  • Thai Fishing Merchants Seek New Licenses in Koh Kong [to enter Cambodian maritime territory to do fishing; the licenses are valid for 6 months]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5066, 6-7.12.2009

  • The Cambodian Prime Minister Launched the Construction of a Road [from Oddar Meanchey to Siem Reap], Rejecting a Thai Loan Offer
  • Four Female Teachers Were Dismissed, Accused of Taking Money from the Students; then All Teachers Started to Strike, Halting all Teaching [demanding the Department of Education to allow the four dismissed teachers to resume their work – at the Bak Touk primary school in Phnom Penh]

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The Government Decided to Provide Ownership Rights in Co-Owned Buildings also to Foreigners – Saturday, 5.12.2009

Posted on 6 December 2009. Filed under: Week 641 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 641

“In the morning of 4 December 2009, the Royal Government of Cambodia approved a draft about the provision of ownership rights in co-owned buildings [‘condominiums’] also to foreigners, based on a draft by the Ministry of Land Management and Urbanization in consultation with the Ministry of Justice.

“According to an announcement from the Council of Ministers, the above draft consists of 8 chapters and 24 articles, and it responds to the Royal Government’s policy to attract investors, as well as to facilitate the growth of the real estate market, and to boost development to reduce poverty.

“At the same time, the cabinet meeting approved also the draft, comprising of 6 chapters and 13 articles, for a royal decree about the creation of a national maritime security committee.

“The national maritime security committee is to be used as an instrument on the national level to regulate, manage, and strengthen maritime security. It will also be the focal point for the coordination and cooperation between other relevant authorities, to strengthen the effective management and integration of different services for the sake of our nation, and for the expansion of cooperation with foreign countries.

“The announcement went on to say that during the cabinet meeting, also the draft for a royal decree about the formation of a secretariat for the National Council for Children, and its operation, was approved.

“Based on 15 years experience, and considering the changed conditions in the country because of developments in all sectors, and also of other problems challenging children, the National Council for Children must make change to its assigned structure in order to uplift the quality of this social sector, and to prove that the Royal Government cares about the living conditions to ensure the four rights [?] of Cambodian children, as well as to protect them.

“During the meeting, an agreement about an ASEAN commerce for the preparation of an ASEAN free trade zones, and an ASEAN treaty about combating terrorism were approved to be sent to the legislative body for ratification.” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #354, 5.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 5 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #354, 5.12.2009

  • The Government Decided to Provide Ownership Rights in Co-Owned Buildings also to Foreigners
  • Four Robbers That Had Robbed two Gold Sellers [husband and wife, about three years ago, taking a car and jewelry worth about US$30,000] Were Arrested while They Were Buying a Car [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2116, 5.12.2009

  • The World Trade Organization Director Welcomes the Fifth Anniversary since Cambodia Became a Member of the World Trade Organization
  • Samdech Hun Sen Set a Deadline at Five O’Clock on 4 December 2009 for [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva to Reply [whether to send the Thai ambassador back to Cambodia or not, otherwise he will launch the construction of the road from Siem Reap to Oddar Meanchey without using a Thai loan]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #547, 5.12.2009

  • Siamese Spy Siwarak Dropped His Bail Bid at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court [and changed his defense lawyer]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6823, 5-6.12.2009

  • Cambodia and Vietnam Held a Bilateral Meeting to Discuss Assistance for Victims of Human Trafficking
  • Cambodia and Vietnam Agreed to Finish the Border Demarcation in 2012 [according to a meeting between the Cambodian and the Vietnamese Ministers of Foreign Affairs]
  • The Number of Visitors to Siem Reap Increases Again [within 11 months of 2009, there were 2.044,577 visitors, compared to the corresponding period last year, there were 2,062,488, but it had been further down in previous recent months]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5065, 5.12.2009

  • [The Thai ousted prime minister, convicted for corruption, who fled the country breaking his bail promise] Thaksin Shinawatra and [former Thai general and prime minister] Chavalit Yongchaiyudh Plan to Help Arrange the Release of the Thai Engineer and Alleged Spy [according to former Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Noppadon Patama]
  • Vietnam Helps to Build Five Radio Stations in Cambodia [for the national radio to expand its broadcasts in provinces with no good access to radio: Mondolkiri, Preah Vihear, Prey Veng, Ratanakiri, and Siem Reap]
  • [Twenty one] Civil Society Organizations [as well as international organizations that work on human rights and legal affairs] Asked to Meet the King to Talk about the Human Rights Situation [on 10 December 2009, the International Human Rights Day]

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Cambodia Was Criticized from Different Sides over Human Rights Issues – Wednesday, 2.12.2009

Posted on 3 December 2009. Filed under: Week 641 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 641

“At the beginning of the UN Human Rights Council meeting on Monday, 1 December 2009, Cambodia was criticized from different sides over human rights issues, including housing rights, attacks on its citizens, and injustice at the courts.

“Created in 2006, the Universal Periodic Reviews by this council checks the human rights practices of the 192 members states of the United Nations every four years in order to solve problems of human rights violations and to promote the respect of international human rights.

“A researcher of Amnesty International, Ms. Brittis Edman, said on Monday that she hopes that land ownership rights and housing issues will be the most important agenda items of the meeting in Switzerland.

“Ms. Edman wrote in her email, ‘It is the very important that forced evictions and housing rights are brought to be discussed and reflected in the report on the findings. It is also important that all the monitoring states call on their governments to approve and to strengthen laws that clearly ban forced evictions.’

“Most non-government organizations working on human rights, that were invited to express suggestions regarding human rights problems on the record of the government, presented notes to the UN Human Rights Council, using serious words against Cambodia.

“A submission by Human Rights Watch, an international organization, says, ‘While Cambodia had experienced strong economic growth since the UN-brokered elections in 1993, the government has treated respect for human rights as an obstacle, rather than an aid, to development.’

“This submission specifically addressed concerns about the lack of independence at the courts, intimidation against freedom of expression, forced evictions, and violence against women, among other problems.

“In contrast, the document submitted by the government to the council says, ‘The Royal Government guarantees rights and freedoms, and continues with its commitment to achieve the best human rights for Cambodian citizens.’ But it has provided little documented evidence about the achievements of those rights.

“Responding to criticism from international human rights organizations, the government frequently called to review any problems in the context of the history of the country that has just recovered from the Khmer Rouge regime and from civil war.

“The government documentation continues to say, ‘Any human rights assessment in Cambodia should be based on considerations about the previous situation, on the efforts made during the first stage following the Paris Peace Agreements [of 1991].’

“The deputy head of the Human Rights Committee of the Cambodia government, Mr. Mak Sambath, said on Monday that Cambodia will be presented during the Universal Periodic Review by members of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee Mr. Touch Khemarin and Mr. Ith Rady, who is an undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Justice.

“Mr. Mak Sambath said, ‘They have the ability to work on the task because they have worked a lot with the government and with civil society.

“He added that the independence of the courts, the freedom of expression, and violence against women, are issues expected to be presented during the review.

“Both the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and Amnesty International said on Monday that they have representatives to present their cases.

“Not only the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Surya Subedi, who had reported to see serious human rights violations in Cambodia, but also several other countries consider that Cambodia is under oppressive rule, though this country has international agreements about the respect of democracy, which includes the respect for human rights as a major point of policy.” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1824, 2.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #351, 2.12.2009

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Expressed the Accusation That There Is a [not named] Third Person Who Creates Trouble between the Leaders in Phnom Penh and in Bangkok [according to the Bangkok Post]
  • Cambodia Sends Representatives to Present the [Cambodian] Human Rights Situation to the United Nations
  • Two Cars Collided with One Another, Hitting Two Motor-taxi Drivers to Death, while They Were Sitting and Waiting for Clients [Phnom Penh]
  • Lecturers of the Royal University of Agriculture Strike [by not teaching the students who have paid tuition fees] because of not Transparent Actions of the Leadership [under corruption allegations; about 500 students protested]
  • Over 600 People [including government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and non-government organizations] Gathered to Mark the World AIDS Day [in Cambodia, there are 44,371 people infected with AIDS, and 92% of them receive medical treatment; 70% are orphaned children]
  • Cambodia and South Korea Signed an Agreement to Build a Building for the Cambodian Stock Market Worth US$6 Million

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2113, 2.12.2009

  • Four Khmer Citizens Carrying Drugs into Thai Territory Were Arrested by Thai Police and Sent to Court
  • Officials of the Ministry of Health Said Pregnant Women and Children Receive the A/H1N1 Vaccines First [Cambodia has received 300,000 doses of A/H1N1 vaccines from the World Health Organization]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6820, 2.12.2009

  • In One Year [from early 2009 to November] Siamese [Thai] Black Clad Soldiers [of the special border protection unit], Shot and Killed 4 Khmer Citizens, Injured 3, and Jailed 96 at Oddar Meanchey Border Area
  • Two American Men Had Different Problems: One Was Arrested in Siem Reap for Shooting, and the Other Fainted and Died during the Night in Phnom Penh
  • [The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong Encouraged the Asian Development Bank to Look at Cambodia’s Railway Problems
  • In 2008, Two Million People Died of AIDS [70% in the sub-Sahara region], and 2.7 Million Were Infected with HIV [according to UNAIDS and WHO]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #58, 2.12.2009

  • [The Australian company] OZ Minerals Hopes to Extract 2 Million Ounces of Gold by 2010 [in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5062, 2.12.2009

  • A Thai General: Phanlub Pinmani – phonetic -, a member of the Puea Thai Party, said the diplomatic] Dispute Might Lead to War
  • More Than 80 Pieces of Luxury Wood Had Been Hidden by Merchants in Kounmom District, but Were Intercepted [Ratanakiri]
  • Two Sand Dredging Workers Died because of Inhaling Chemicals and Lacking Oxygen [Koh Kong]
  • America Announces to Continue to Help Cambodia to Combat AIDS

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1824, 2.12.2009

  • Cambodia Was Criticized from Different Sides over Human Rights Issues

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The National Assembly Prepares to Release the Salaries of Personnel through a Bank, and to Collect Taxes on the Salaries – Monday, 30.11.2009

Posted on 1 December 2009. Filed under: Week 641 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 641

“Phnom Penh: Personnel of the National Assembly (not to be confused with the 123 parliamentarians) is required to receive their salaries through a bank account and to pay taxes for their salaries; according to the plan, this will start from January 2010.

“On 25 November 2009, 73 persons employed at the National Assembly, in positions of directors and deputy directors of departments, are preparing documents and have their photos taken to fill in application forms to open accounts at the ANZ Royal Bank. This is the first step. Next comes the filling of forms by normal staff of the National Assembly – their total number is not given. But it is known that those staff are under the administration of the secretariat of the National Assembly, where at present, there are 1,200 staff members and some other contracted persons.

“Officials of the National Assembly in charge of this work said that the National Assembly organizes to release the salaries through a bank, following public financial reforms of the Royal Government. Also, this eases the release of the salaries for civil servants at other cities and in the provinces, as they need not come to collect their salaries in Phnom Penh, and it improves the efficiency of the management of resources. The release of salaries to staff of the National Assembly through a bank will begin in January 2010.

“The private ANZ Royal Bank received the exclusive right from the Cambodian government to handle the release of the salaries of civil servants and officials of all ministries and institutions. This agreement was made in mid 2007.

“The head of the commercial communication section of the ANZ Royal Bank, Mr. Nou Netra, who is organizing the documents to open bank accounts for the staff of the National Assembly, said that so far, the ANZ Royal Bank has already prepared to release the salaries for 35 of the 36 state institutions, and it has been operating at 27 ministries.

“Meanwhile, personnel of the National Assembly will also have to pay taxes on their salaries, which had been decided to begin in October 2009, but the National Assembly had asked to delay it until early 2010.

“During a meeting between the secretariat of the National Assembly and tax officials of the Ministry of Economy and Finance last week, tax officials mentioned the order of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen regarding the collection of taxes on salaries of civil servants at all ministries and state and private institutions.

“Monthly salary taxes will be collected in accordance with the amendment of the taxation law that was published to be used on 31 March 2003.

“The ranges for the collection of taxes on staff salaries are set as follows:

  • from Riel 500,001 [approx. US$125] to Riel 1,250,000 [approx. US$312]: 5%
  • from Riel 1,250,001 to Riel 8,500,000 [approx. US$2,125]: 10%
  • from Riel 8,500,001 to Riel 12,500,000 [approx. US$3,125]: 15%
  • more than Riel 12,500,000: 20%.

“It should be noted that the total number of staff of the National Assembly and the total amount of their salaries are not given. But the amount of their salaries depends on their experience and certified level of education. Normal staff who are high school graduates earn more than Riel 600,000 [approx. US$150], and heads of departments earn Riel 1,200,000 [approx. US$300] and above.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5060, 29-30.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 30 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #349, 29-30.11.2009

  • Army Commanders at the [Cambodian-Thai] Border Meet Each Other More Often and Play Sports, while Diplomatic Ties Are Still Tense
  • Cambodia Will Ask to Extend the Time Necessary to Clear All Mines from Cambodia for 10 More Years [at a an international conference in Colombia about mines and other explosion devices]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2111, 29-30.11.2009

  • A Branch Director of the Acleda Bank in Kompong Cham and His Girlfriend Were Arrested for Taking Nearly Half a Million Dollars [Phnom Penh]
  • A Court Decided to Release a Man Accused of Rape and of Taking Photos to Extort Money [from his sister-in-law, due to lack of evidence – Phnom Penh [according to another source, the man tried to catch her for committing adultery with another person]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #542, 29-30.11.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Yim Sovann: There Should Be No More Tensions, while the Border Issues near the Preah Vihear Temple Are Being Solved

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6818, 30.11.2009

  • To Eliminate Gender Inequality, there Must Be an Increasing Number of Women Officials [according to a workshop organized by the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #56, 30.11.2009

  • [More than 100] Sam Rainsy Party Members Defected to the Cambodian People’s Party [however, the spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Yim Sovann. said that the number was exaggerated, because there were only two or three members who defected]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1478, 30.11.2009

  • Nine Types of Foodstuff [6 tonnes] Worth US$200,000 Arrived as Humanitarian Aid from South Korea [to assist victims of the typhoon Ketsana]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5060, 29-30.11.2009

  • The National Assembly Prepares to Release the Salaries of Personnel through a Bank, and to Collect Taxes on the Salaries
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Asked Cambodia to Consider Asking for a Loan [from Thailand, to construct a road with the amount of about US$41 million] again, as the Military Commanders Promised that there Will Be No Armed Clashes
  • Siamese [Thai] Black Clad Soldiers [that is from the Special Border Protection Unit] Shot at a Group of Khmer Citizens, Killing One Youth [they had entered the forest to cut trees on Thai territory – Oddar Meanchey]
  • The National Assembly Asked the Government to Provide Documents and to Explain the Border Demarcation [with Vietnam]

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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

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

Norbert Klein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #339, 18.11.2009

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

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2001, 18.11.2009

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

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

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6808, 18.11.2009

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

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

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5050, 18.11.2009

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

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Petro Vietnam Signed an Agreement on Oil Exploration in Block 15 with the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority – Saturday, 14.11.2009

Posted on 16 November 2009. Filed under: Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 638

Apologies for the delays, which may continue into the coming week, as I am attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone. I try to be timely as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“The Cambodian National Petroleum Authority and the Petro Vietnam Exploration Production Corporation, which is part of the Vietnam Oil And Gas Group, signed an agreement on oil exploration in Block 15 (XV) in the evening of 12 November 2009 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh.

“The ceremony was organized under the presidency of the Minister of the Council of Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, by the head of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, and by a Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr. Hoàng Trung Hải [Hoang Trung Hai].

“This agreement was signed by Mr. Sok An and by director of the Petro Vietnam Exploration Production Corporation General Director of Petro Vietnam Exploration and Production Corporation Nguyễn Vũ Trường Sơn [Nguyen Vu Truong Son].

“The deputy director of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, Mr. Ho Vichet, said that the oil sector in Cambodia attracts the attention from many international oil companies to invest in it. Practically, some companies have been offered the right to study and to explore oil in Cambodia both in the sea and on land. Positive results of oil exploration in the Cambodian sea in Block A resulted in trust about the existence of oil resources both in the sea and on land in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“Mr. Ho Vichet added that so far, the government has offered oil companies the right to study and explore all oil blocks, and each company is fulfilling their tasks at their respective blocks, following the agreements. Also, there are some companies signing agreements on inland oil on with the Royal Government of Cambodia and others are continually following up to invest also in the fields at those blocks that still remain unexplored.

“The head of the Board of Directors of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, Mr. Đinh La Thăng [Dinh La Thang], said that this is a new breaking of a record regarding cooperation in the field of oil exploration between the two countries. Block 15 is located at the northeast of the Tonle Sap Lake in the Cambodian inland, where oil availability is estimated for 30 years, and gas availability for 35 years, and the exploration will take 7 years.

“As for Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, he said that the signing of an oil agreement for Block 15 is the fist cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam in the oil sector, which is being considered by the Vietnamese government as potential sector to encourage economic development, and to ensure energy stability in the country. ‘The signing today marks a better cooperation between the two countries.’

“Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said that this agreement will provide a lot of benefits, like human resources development, exchange of experience in the oil sector, creation of new jobs, income which contributes to achieving success for the goals of the Royal Government to develop the economy and the society, as well to reduce poverty. ‘I consider the event today as a new testimony which clearly demonstrates a long term development of traditional, historical, and strategic relations inherited between the people of Cambodia and the people of Vietnam, especially by strengthening economic cooperation and of investment in the private sector.’

“The Deputy Prime Minister added that to successfully develop the oil and gas sectors, Cambodia necessarily needs joint cooperation in investment with highly experienced and successful companies. He said, ‘In this sense, I would like to highly assess the right decision of the Petro Vietnam, and I would like to express my appreciation towards the Vietnamese leader and government for encouraging and supporting investment projects in Cambodia. The ceremony today is not only a sign of a new success in good cooperation between the two countries, but I think it is also the opening in a broader sense for further investments between Cambodia and Vietnam. The Royal Government of Cambodia always supports and encourages different companies in Vietnam that are operating and plan to invest in Cambodia.” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #336, 14.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 14 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #336, 14.11.2009

  • Petr Vietnam Signed an Agreement on Oil Exploration in Block 15 with the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority
  • [The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong Leads a Delegation to Attend the World Summit on Food Security [from 16 to 17 November 2009 in Rome, Italy]
  • [Head of the Cambodia Red-Cross and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife] Bun Rany Will Receive an HIV/AIDS Leadership Award from UNAIDS [on 17 November 2009 for her noticeable leadership in the battle against HIV in Cambodia and in the region]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2098, 14.11.2009

  • The Special Paratrooper Brigade 911 Was Withdrawn from the Preah Vihear Border Region
  • On 17 November 2009, There Will Be an ASEAN-Japan Security Exercise at the Sihanoukville Port
    The A/H1N1 Flu Killed Already 3,900 US Citizens

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #529, 14.11.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy: The Cambodian Authorities Listen to Yuon [Vietnam] to Suspend His Immunity
  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Has Not Been Seen to Go to Meet with the Khmer King [after he was named advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen and of the government]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Said that the [Thai] Embassy in Cambodia Is Not Closed, and He Does Not React against the Expulsion of the First Secretary [of the Thai Embassy] from Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6805, 14-15.11.2009

  • Puea Thai [opposition] Party Delegation Came through the Poipet Border Crossing to Meet Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra in Siem Reap
  • Thaksin Shinawatra: In Order to Have Further Development, the Focus Must Be on Agriculture and Tourism, for Which a Clean Environment is important, and High Security Is Required for Tourists [speaking to Cambodian economists]
  • Cambodia and Laos Signed an Agreement to Exchange International Telecommunication Services [to connect international phone services directly to each other, as well as to other countries in the region]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5047, 14.11.2009

  • Cambodia Asked [other ASEAN countries] Not to Raise the Cambodian-Thai Dispute during the ASEAN-US Summit
  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Asked for a Delay of the Session to Suspend Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [on 16 November on the ground that the complaint of the Svay Rieng Court over his participation to remove temporary border markers at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border is not a civil case, but a territorial complaint]

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Report of the National Audit Authority Does Not Show the Amount of Lost Money – Thursday, 5.11.2009

Posted on 6 November 2009. Filed under: Week 637 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

“At the Hotel Cambodiana there was a press conference organized by the National Audit Authority on 30 October 2009, to present an audit report about the management of public finances, which had been checked from 2002 to 2009. But the report was only for 2006.

“The general auditor, Mr. Ut Chhon, stated in the conference that this report only s negatives, but he did not respond in detail to questions of journalists like: ‘According to the audit results, how much money was lost by corruption each year?’

“During the conference, which lasted for several hours to share information through the report presented, there were four main points, which included 12 important items about resource management and the audit results included. Those important points are the same mentioned also in a book of 100 points in a report written by the Sam Rainsy Party in 2003.

“The report speaks about tax on unused land, which is in line with the policy of the Sam Rainsy Party. As a result of the audit it was found that there were many cases where tax was not paid for unused land, while several companies received concession land from the government of more than one million hectares, where the state has not set appropriate costs for leasing this land.

“The report speaks about this point, stressing that the Ministry of Agriculture, on behalf of the whole government, had signed agreements with more than 70 companies from 1992 to 2006, to provide more than one million hectares of concession land for development, and most agreements were made, deciding that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economy and Finance are responsible for assessing and for setting the costs for leasing of the land. But by 2007, the assessment and setting of costs for leasing this concession land was not fully implemented in accordance with the above decision. The Ministry of Economy and Finance agreed with the audit report on this point.

“The National Audit Authority, established in 2000 ,started to work in 2002, and has worked by now for seven years. But this institution has only just now released a report, and the opinions was expressed that it was released to satisfy what donors want. Anyway, the auditor general, Mr. Ut Chhon, told journalists that the release of the report is done based on the will of the government, not because of pressure from any other country.

“Mr. Ut Chhon added that the audit of the working team had discovered some problems, like at some tax institutions, collecting taxes at the border, and monitoring and assessing the tax to be demanded for goods loaded in containers by some companies – this was difficult, and the assessment of tax collection covers only about 25%.

“He spoke also about the management of state property, and about the licensing of ownership of state property, where many of such cases occur in cities and provinces countrywide.

“According to the report consisting of more than 500 cases, it is said that corruption led to the loss of much state resources.

“When asked whether the general auditor can assess how much tax was lost every year, Mr. Ut Chhon said that he cannot say anything, and that every country is the same. But he added that only England made the amount of the lost money publicly known.

“At the end of the conference, Mr. Ut Chhon said that he expects that the release of this report will promote better relation between the public and the National Audit Authority, in order to ease the work of his institution in the future.

“However, what the national and the international public want is to know the amount of money missed because of corruption, and they want to see that the results of the audit explicitly identify negative points, especially about the loss of national resources.

“Recently, the US Ambassador in Phnom Penh, Ms. Carol Rodley, said that corruption in Cambodia amounts to a loss of state resource of about US$500 million each year. This speech had invited strong reactions from government officials.

“Analysts said that the National Audit Authority released the report just to satisfy donors.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #521-522, 31-5.10-11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 5 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #325-328, 31-5.10-11.2009

  • Cambodia Appointed [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin as Prime Minister’s Economic Advisor [on 27 October 2009]
  • Thai Parliamentarians Had Arguments over Thaksin’s Case [about the extradition to send him back if he comes to Cambodia]
  • 25,000 Condoms Will Be Distributed to Boat Racers [during the Water Festival]
  • The Government Provides US$4 Million to Set Up Pumping Machines to Pump [flood] Water from the Russey Keo District [Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodia Will Build a Nine-Storey Hospital [near the Calmette Hospital offering high standard health services with help from Denmark]
  • On the Second Day [of the Water Festival] a Boat Racer Died after a Boat Sank; the Audience Is Careful about the A/H1N1 Virus [Phnom Penh]
  • A Police Official [and another man] Raped a Virgin and Compensated Her With Only One Million Riel [approx. US$250; so they were not sent to court to be convicted – Phnom Penh]
  • The National Independence Day This Year Will Be Celebrated on 8 October [rather than on the normal 9 November in order to help the King attend the event – according the Permanent Organizing Commission for National and International Ceremonies]
  • Police and Fishery Officials Put the Blame on Each Other for Arresting Fishermen to Extort Money [Kompong Thom]
  • Cambodia Will Increase the Military Budget to US$277 Million in 2010 [while in 2009, it was US$223 million]
  • American Economy Grew by 3.5% in the Third Quarter [according to AFP]
  • 187 Countries Demands the USA to Withdraw the Ban of Transportation to Cuba

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2086, 31.10.2009

  • World Bank: The Asian Economy Recovers [because of timely stimulating resources made available by some countries like China and South Korea], but in Cambodia, there Is No Imprevement Yet
  • Cambodia Confirmed Again Not to Extradite [the ousted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to Thailand [if he comes to Cambodia]
  • A Danish Man Was Arrested in Poipet for Having Sexual Relationships with Many Young Girls
  • Three Orphans Were Tortured by the Director of an [orphan] Center, They Were Found with Marks on their Bodies [he was arrested – Kandal]
  • A Trach Tree Fell on a Poor House [because of strong wind], Killing Two People [a mother and her daughter] and Injuring Three [Mondolkiri]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #521, 31.10.2009

  • Report of the National Audit Authority Does Not Show the Amount of Lost Money
  • The Impact from Sand Dredging to Fill the Boeng Kak Lake Killed a Man and His Four Sons from an Electric Shock in the Sewage System [the electricity got into the water and shocked the man when he waded through the water in his house; then the children were also electrocuted when they waded through the water to help their father, thinking he had fainted and fallen because of fainting]
  • Yuth Phouthang Was Replaced as Koh Kong Governor [by the Srae Ambel district governor, Mr. Bun Leut] while [Phnom Penh Municipal Governor] Kep Chuktema Is Also Facing to Be Replaced [according to a person who asked not to be named]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6793, 31-1.10-11.2009

  • A Siamese [Thai] Court Sentenced Twelve Khmer Citizens to Serve Five to Eight Years in Prison for Entering Thai Territory to Cut Trees [Cambodia will appeal]
  • A Khmer Citizen Was Shot, Injured, and Arrested while Six Others Managed to Escape Back to Their Village [they climbed the Dangrek Mountains to cut trees – a local official said that they were in an the area where there are not yet border markers set up]
  • A Tragedy Happened at a Flooded House, Where a Man and Four Children Were Electrocuted [because of flooding] while His Wife and the Another Son Were Seriously Injured [Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh]
  • The Audit Authority Wants to See Income and Expense Outside of the National Treasury, Especially Foreign Aid, to Be Checked Thoroughly
  • Man Raped His Daughter and Another Man Rapped His Niece – Both Girls Are Six Years Old [both men were arrested – Banteay Meanchey]
  • The Authorities Lodged a Complaint at a Court against Mr. Sam Rainsy for Removing Temporary Wooden Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Markers

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #38, 4.10.2009

  • The Water Festival Finished Successfully, but the Number of Visitors Declined [to about one million] Compared to Last Year [because of economic problems of the people and because of the typhoon Ketasana]
  • South Korea Grants More Than US$200,000 [to Cambodia] to Restore Damages Caused by the Typhoon

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5035-503, 31.10.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Reduced Tension [between Cambodia and Thailand] by Saying that He Will not Come to Cambodia
  • The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology Informs that the Rain in the Rainy Season Has Come to an End
  • Asian Development Bank: Cambodia Is Among 19 Countries where More Than 10% of the Population [of about 14 million in Cambodia] Live in Poverty
  • The National Assembly of Cambodia Will Ask the “Duma” – the Parliament of Russia – to Encourage the Russian Government to Cancel the US$1.5 Billion Debt That Cambodia Owes
  • Because he Got Jealous, a Man Attacked His Wife with a Khvev [a long handled knife] and Cut Her Throat to Kill Her [he was arrested – Kos Krolor District, Battambang]
  • [Hundreds of] Thai Demonstrators Demanded that Their Government Closes the Border Crossings, and Recall their Ambassador from Cambodia [because Cambodia does not agree to withdraw the Cambodian troops and villagers from the contested 4.6 square km area around the Preah Vihear Temple]
  • [The president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Sam Rainsy Denied that He Removed the Wooden Border Markers [and said that local citizens did it – according to the cabinet of the Sam Rainsy Party]
  • A Man Lured a [14-year-old] Girl to Rape Her Seven Times [he was arrested – Battambang]
  • A Buddhist Elder Raped a Six-Year-Old Girl [he was arrested – Battambang]
  • A Tropical Storm Killed at Least 57 People in Vietnam

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Cambodia as a Member of the International Community of States – Sunday, 11.10.2009

Posted on 12 October 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 633 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 633

Serious questions surfaced during the week about the meaning of the consequences when a state has resolved to sign international covenants, and has entered into certain agreements of international cooperation.

The discussion of the draft Penal Code in the National Assembly, during several days on the way towards its adoption, revealed some surprising elements – some of a formalistic nature, others relating to substantive understandings.

Article 88 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia states clearly and simply: “The National Assembly sessions shall be held in public.”

When, on 6 October 2009, crucial draft articles were to be discussed, two members of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia were asked to leave the observation gallery. This was later explained to be a measure related to security concerns – but the same persons had attended the meeting unencumbered during previous days. – And it is remembered that ambassadors and several embassy staff members from different countries were prevented on 23 June 2009 to enter and to observe the session, when the immunity of a member of an opposition party was to be discussed.

The present debate took place several days after Dr. Surya Subedi, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental UN body where 47 member states are represented, shared his first report to the Council on 1 October 2009. When Mr. Yim Sovann, a member of the National Assembly from the Sam Rainsy Party, referred to Dr. Subedi’s concern about legal provisions for the freedom of expression, Mr. Ai Khan, a member of the National Assembly from the Cambodian People’s Party, is reported to have said: “I do not know who Subedi is… he does not understand about the words criticizing, scorning, and defaming… I want to notify H.E. Yim Sovann: Do not raise a foreigner’s ideas for discussion here.” Mr. Cheam Yeap, a member of the National Assembly also from the Cambodian People’s Party, had also been reported to respond to a reference to Dr. Subedi as “a foreigner’s request concerning this.” And Mr. Chheang Vun, the chairperson of the Assembly’s Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Media and Information, rejected Dr. Subedi’s statements as a violation of Cambodia’s sovereignty.

Dr. Subedi had not been speaking just “as a foreigner,” in fulfilling a mandate given to him by the UN Human Rights Council. In response to having been told that all Cambodian court actions had been conducted in accordance with Cambodian laws, he had not spoken to violate Cambodia’s sovereignty, but stated that he was “concerned that the laws in question themselves fell short of the standards required by international human rights treaties and practice, and that Cambodia’s judiciary was taking a restrictive approach in interpreting these laws, ultimately leading to excessive restrictions on freedom of expression.” Dr. Subedi is just expressing what is assumed internationally and in general: when a state accedes to international human rights treaties, it is assumed that they will be adhered to – they are not “a foreigner’s opinion.” They are part of multilateral intergovernmental agreements being clarified.

The discussion of the draft Penal Code in the National Assembly showed that by Saturday, 10 October 2009, 525 of the 672 articles had been approved – without a single change, in spite of the many questions for clarification, or suggestions for changes by Assembly members of the opposition parties. This absolute unity of opinion of the deputies of the Cambodian People’s Party is at least surprising in view of Article 77 of the Constitution: “The deputies in the National Assembly shall represent the entire Khmer people, not only Khmers from their constituencies. Any imperative mandate shall be nullified.” Not one of them seems to have thought to pronounce a different position from the majority. And this while they are – by the Constitution! – not bound by any “imperative mandate” ordering them what position to take. It is no surprise that Ms. Mu Sochua, a member of an opposition party, asked in view of the way the debate did not lead to the slightest change of the draft, why to spend more time in such kind of discussion: “I think we should just put a stamp on it.”

Another serious conflict of understanding, difficult to solve, is the warning by the Prime Minister, “that the government will not accept, or even stop receiving foreign aid, if aid is linked with conditions. Recently, the government has canceled the assistance of the World Bank for a land registration program.”

This is obviously a double threat: not only a warning towards the members of parliament in the countries which have to discuss and to negotiate how much money from the taxpayers of their country they will make available for which purposes and under which conditions. As a person from ADHOC pointed out, it is a threat also against those people of Cambodia who might benefit from such international aid.

In the case of the World Bank, their conditions were actually what both sides – the World Bank and the Cambodian government – had agreed upon together, about a Land Management and Administration Program: under which conditions Cambodians living on a certain piece of land for a certain period of time could get an ownership title for this land. But when the World Bank discovered and raised their observation, that the agreement is not applied evenly, the Prime Minister canceled the cooperation. The Program was applied mostly in rural areas, but people in certain settlements in the city do not get land titles, but are “evicted” or, to use the new wording of the government, are “temporarily relocated” (which often involved massive violence).

The aid, of which the Prime Minister is reported to be tired, relate to “linking it with conditions about the respect of human rights, the solution of land disputes, resettlement of the poor, and especially the creation of an anti-corruption law, an old intent of Cambodia,” as a newspaper explained.

Various pronouncements of the Prime Minister over the years had stated clearly that these are also his own political goals, when he said that a new farmers’ revolution might happen if land grabbing continues, and it is the Prime Minister himself who had announced, over the years, the planned creation of an anti-corruption law.

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