Japan Plans to Invest to Plant Trees in Cambodia – Monday, 16.11.2009

Posted on 18 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

“Phnom Penh: A high ranking official of the Japanese Embassy to Cambodia told the Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries that some Japanese big companies plan to invest in Cambodia to plant trees, and one company has already conducted a study for such an investment.

“This information was shared by the Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Kuroki Masafumi, when he met with the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Chan Sarun, in the evening of 12 November 2009. The chief of cabinet of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Hong Narith, told Rasmei Kampuchea on 13 November 2009, during the cordial meeting, that Mr. Masafumi told the minister that following the results from the first Mekong-Japan meeting in Japan recently, where the Action 63 projects, includes the Green Mekong project, had been mentioned, some big investment companies of Japan are interested in investing in tree plantations, and one company had already studied this in three provinces – Kompong Chhnang, Kampot, and Ratanakiri. The study was finished, and implementation will follow soon. The ambassador asked for support from the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in this field.

“The chief of cabinet said that the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries had expressed full support for this crucial project. Also, he said that there is no problem with land in Kompong Chhnang, as it is state land. In the meantime, the minister asked the ambassador to help attract investors to invest in manufacturing agricultural products for export, as there are not many investments in that sector.

“During the meeting, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries expressed his gratitude towards Japan for assisting Cambodia so far, also a lot in the field of agriculture. Practically, at present, Japan is creating an aquaculture development center in Sihanoukville, amounting US$10 million.

“A project of capacity building to monitor agricultural quality standards is very important for addressing food security, and for attracting other projects that help to deal with Cambodian agricultural market problems and to promote public health.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #50, 15-16.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 16 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #3, 15-16.11.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Left Cambodia Safely while [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Failed to Get Him Arrested
  • US$11 Million Is Provided to the National Disaster Committee for Three Years [2009-2011; aid from the Japanese government, the European Union, and the World Bank]
  • The Director of a Water Filter Company Was Shot Dead by [anonymous] Gunmen [police concluded it is a case of rancor and seeks to arrest the perpetrators – Phnom Penh]
  • A Foreign [Swedish] Man Was Assaulted and Killed, and His Body Was Found in Kandal Stung District [the perpetrators are not yet identified – Kandal]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #20, 15-16.11.2009

  • Three Big Banks [the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia (BIDC), the Canadia Bank, and the Foreign Trade Bank] Joined to Provide US$33 Million in Loans to the Rural Development Bank for Paddy Rice Purchasing in 2009-2010
  • Cambodian and Laotian Deputy Prime Ministers [Mr. Hor Namhong and Mr. Thoung Loun Sisoulith] Had a Friendly Meeting to Talk about the Setting of Border Markers [both countries want to make the 121 temporary border markers already set – covering to 86% of the border, officially designated border markers]
  • A Cambodia Youth [Mr. Em Chanmakara] Won the Southeast Asian Awards for 2009 for Producing a Television Program with the Topic ‘Everybody Supports Children’
  • Because His Father Got Drunk [and committed domestic violence], a Son Attacked Him [together with two cousins] with a Knife with a Long Handle [and killed him – the son was arrested – Pursat]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.3, #675, 16.11.2009

  • Some Businesspeople in Phnom Penh Live with Fear because [Phnom Penh police chief] Touch Naruth Is Incompetent [to prevent murder crimes against businesspeople]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #530, 15-16.11.2009

  • [The spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party] Mr. Yim Sovann: Thaksin Shinawatra Has Nothing New to Say [about economic reforms for Cambodia, like the organizing of an investment atmosphere with competitors that obey the law]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6803, 16.11.2009

  • The National Assembly Rejected The Request [of the Sam Rainsy Party] to Delay the Meeting to Suspend Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [to make way for the Svay Rieng Municipal Court to open an investigation regarding his participation in the removal of six temporary wooden border markers on the Cambodian-Vietnamese Border]
  • The Apsara Authority Removed More Than 600 Big and Small Buildings, Accusing Them of Violating the Angkor Resorts Area [Siem Reap]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #46, 16.11.2009

  • The Cambodian Stock Market Building Will Be Opened on a Small Scale in Early 2010 [according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance]
  • Now Cambodia Should Be Included as a Member of APEC [a news source from Singapore said that Cambodia will become a member of APEC, if delaying measures by other members are not allowed]
  • ASEAN and the USA Asked Burma to Conduct Free Elections

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #50, 15-16.11.2009

  • Japan Plans to Invest to Plant Trees in Cambodia
  • The Thai Embassy Is Worried about Security, but Cambodia Said It Should Not Worry about That [Cambodia will fulfill its obligation to protect the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh]
  • Embassy Delegation of the “ASEAN plus 3” [India and Australia] Who Came to Play Golf Were Warmly Welcomed at the Poipet Border Crossing
  • [Forty two] Cambodian Security Forces Set to Move to Fulfill a UN Mission [as peace keepers] to Chad and to the Republic of Central Africa

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Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia – Sunday, 15.11.2009

Posted on 18 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

Several mails I had received during the week requested what this week’s editorial should be about. Agreed. The visit of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra to Cambodia has more than any other recent event received wide international attention – at the same time it resulted in bringing a range of different and opposing issues to the surface, beyond the straightforward political tensions.

The disparities start with the wording, how the visitor is called in national and international media: the possibilities extend from the fond description of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as an “eternal friend” by Prime Minister Hun Sen, to the more neutral description when referring to the “former Thai prime minister ousted by a military coup,” to the references – and this not only in part of the Thai press – to the “convicted fugitive, because of corruption, and who finally violated the bail requirements and fled the country to avoid going to prison.”

This is the first controversy.

The Cambodian government did not only refuse to live up to the Cambodian-Thai extradition agreement, “considering the prosecution and legal process against Thaksin Shinawatra as a politically motivated proceeding,” and therefore even handed back the Thai documents submitted to seek Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s extradition. On the other hand, the Thai government and part of the Thai media felt that already that extending an invitation and offering the function to be an adviser to the Cambodian government were an insult to the legal system of Thailand.

As a public reaction in Thailand, the popularity of the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, almost tripled, with appruval rates of 24% in September to 69% recently, according to a poll.

The interpretation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, that the present Cambodian-Thai dispute is basically a personal dispute between the two prime ministers, was not shared in the international press. More fundamental problems were touched upon: What does it mean for the international standing of a country when a search warrant by Interpol can be dismissed, after the fugitive, who is being sought under a “red alert” warrant, after a bail violation, and after a criminal conviction for corruption in dealing with the sale of valuable public property to a family member, up to the grotesque $60,000 event of the mysteriously mistaken box of chocolate.

How would such events be dealt with under a Cambodian anti-corruption law, due to be adopted by the National Assembly since a decade ago? If actions of corruption are committed in combination with political ones, are they then no longer subject to criminal prosecution?

There were several rumors and denials – that Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra would fly together with the Cambodian Prime Minister to the APEC meetings in Singapore.

Surprising also, that the Cambodian Prime Minister compared him to Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. In an interview with Times Online, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra said: “There are some similarities there, but not really everything. The similarity is we won elections, we rule the countries. We’ve been ousted by the coup d’etat and we come from the people. We are democratically elected leaders and we come from the majority of the people – a big majority, not just a small majority. She’s under house arrest, I’ve been kicked out of the country.”

The Cambodian government has never found such strong critical words against the ruling military in Myanmar. Will the Cambodian government also accept such advice and change its position? The statement “I’ve been kicked out of the country” contrasts with the fact that the self imposed exile abroad started with breaking bail arrangements with the Thai law enforcement authorities, traveling abroad without the promised return.

But the invitation to Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser may lead to a second kind of controversies.

Press reports in Cambodia were not enthusiastic about his speech in front of 300 selected economists. The Cambodian Daily said that his address “primarily dealt in generalities and contained little that Cambodian economists will not already know.” Not only that: Some of his advice runs contrary to some of the traditional approaches of Cambodian economic practice.

Thakshin Sinawatra became the favorite politician among a majority of the rural population in Thailand because of his new policy of favoring them directly, with debt relief and village loan funds administered by the local communities themselves. The revenue of the public and the private sector should, first of all, be directed towards the poorest sector of society, is his advice. Large scale land leasings to big companies in favorable relation with the government, leading to considerable groups of the rural population losing their land, coming to demonstrate in Phnom Penh, asking for justice, as happens so frequently in Cambodia, are not compatible which the vision of Thaksin Shinawatra’s economic policies.

Surprising is also his emphasis on the need of reconciliation and good neighborliness between Cambodia and Thailand, in order to foster Cambodia’s economic development, including the promotion of Thailand and Cambodia together for international tourism, presenting themselves as a “joint destination.” This runs against many recent antagonistic trends: the Thai government had proposed to submit Preah Vihear together with the Cambodian government to the World Heritage Committee, which was flatly rejected by the Cambodian side. During the last year there were even plans discussed in Cambodia to create an international airport 500 meters below the mountain range where Preah Vihear is situated, which is conveniently accessible from the north, from Thailand. This plan, to exclude the natural access to Preah Vihear – and therefore tourism via Thailand, was soon given up again as economically completely unreal. The public outcry some years ago, when Bangkok Airways had named one of its airplanes Angkor Wat – while other planes are named according to other international destinations, promoting tourism to these places – has no place in this context. The Cambodian Daily reported his emphasis on the need for cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia, as the two countries’ economic fortunes are inextricably linked – adding: “Of course, not all my compatriots see it that way right now.” Those who see it differently in Thailand are assumed to suffer from being shortsighted, driven by false patriotism.

One may ask whether the anti-Thai actions of 2003, when the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was ransacked because of a baseless rumor, resulting in further arson so that the hardware damage alone of that night was estimated at US$56 million, and the tensions before and after the designation of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, would also fall under a similar verdict by Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, that a false patriotism is in the way also in some of the Cambodian attitudes and actions.

It is surprising to consider how future suggestions of the new economic adviser of the Cambodian government will be handled, while land conflicts in rural areas continue, further large scale leasings of land are under consideration inviting countries from the Middle East to start agro-business ventures, and Japanese companies are considering to create new large tree planting schemes in Cambodia.

Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s suggestions may not only be unwelcome in his own country. They run counter to major trends of present day Cambodian big business.

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The Government Cuts Salaries of Advisers – Tuesday, 10.11.2009

Posted on 11 November 2009. Filed under: Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 638

“Phnom Penh: According to a circular of the Royal Government, the government decided to cut the salaries of all newly and continually appointed advisers who earn high salaries, advisers to high ranking officials, to receive only the normal amount in order to save state resources.

“The circular signed by the Prime Minister, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, on 27 October 2009, said that the Royal Government instructed all ministries and institutions to reorganize salaries for all advisers who have been offered equivalent positions, starting from under secretary of state upwards, to earn only the normal salaries of their current main positions.

“In the circular, the government noticed that previously, the Royal Government has nominated some officials as personal advisors of Prime Minister Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, of deputy prime ministers, or of the Royal Government of Cambodia… by providing them with equivalent positions besides their current positions, and those officials situations are administered so that they earn salaries through their new, additional positions an additional higher amount than they continue to get already in their current positions. The circular added that the current economy, which is encountering difficulties due to the impact from the global economic crisis, requires the government to take measure to save state resources, and therefore, it is necessary to cut the salaries of those advisers, so that all receive normal salaries.

“According to an informed source, there are at least 30 to 40 officials continually appointed as advisers of high ranking officials at each ministry. Some have only a position as head of an office, or deputy head of a department, or as head of a department, but they have also been nominated as advisors with positions equivalent to an under-secretary of state, or as secretary of state. Some ministers even hold also positions as senior ministers. Through such appointments, those officials receive also salaries from those new, additional positions, for example: an under-secretary of state receives a salary of about Riel 1.04 million [approx. US$260], and a minister Riel 1.5 million [approx. US$375]. Now, the Royal Government changes this so as to save state resources.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5042-5043, 8-10.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #332, 10.11.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Will Show Up for the First Time in Cambodia after He Has Been Named Adviser [he plans to give a lecture to 300 economists on 12 November 2009]
  • Economists: Siam [Thailand] Will Experience Great Loss if It Tries to Close Border Crossing with Cambodia [because Thai exports to Cambodia amounted US$2 billion in 2008, while Cambodian exports was only US$90 million]
  • The Khmer King Will Go to Japan in 2010 [following an invitation of the Japanese emperor to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Cambodian-Japanese friendship; and the Japanese Prime Minister invited also Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son, General Hun Manet, to visit Japan]
  • China Provides US$10 Billion in Loans to Africa

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2093-2094, 8-10.11.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Cambodian-Thai Dispute Is a Dispute between [Cambodian Prime Minister] Hun Sen and [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva [but not between nation and nation]
  • ASEAN Friends Are Worried about the Cambodian-Thai Diplomatic Dispute [the ASEAN Secretary-General, Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, appealed to both countries to be patient and to address the dispute peacefully]
  • Construction Workers Demand Legal Protection through Legislation on Working Conditions [some workers working at present at various construction sites have not been provided with health and safety protection]
  • A Man Infected His Wife with AIDS Who Then Died, but He then Raped His Eldest Daughter, Infecting Her with AIDS Also [he was arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • A 14-Year-Old Boy Rapped a 4-Year-Old Girl [he was arrested – Kandal]
  • Germany Celebrated the [20th] Anniversary of the Breakdown of the Berlin Wall [on 9 November 2009]

 
Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #670-671, 9-10.11.2009

  • Cambodia Celebrated the 56th Independence Day Anniversary [on 9 November 2009] while the [Director General of National Police] Hok Lundy’s Family [on 8 November 2009] Celebrated the One-Year Ceremony of His Death [in a helicopter crash]
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Ordered the Withdrawal of Some Troops from Preah Vihear, as Thaksin Shinawatra Plans to Come to Cambodia on 12 November 2009

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #525, 9.11.2009

  • A Parliamentarian [from the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Son Chhay] Asked [the president of the National Assembly] Mr. Heng Samrin to Create a Special Committee for Khmer Border Affairs

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6800-6801, 9-10.11.2009

  • The 56th National Independence Day Anniversary is Celebrated during the Era of the Second Kingdom of Cambodia
  • Thaksin Shinawatra Will Arrive at Cambodia on 12 November; Samdech Dekchor: If Thailand Closes Border Crossing, Cambodia Will Announce to Stop Importing Thai Products [Mr. Thaksin arrived already on 9.11.2009 in a private jet at the Phnom Penh Air Force Base]
  • Result from the Mekong-Japan Summit [in Tokyo]: Japan Continues to Help to Develop Sihanoukville Port and to Construct Neak Loeang Bridge [in Prey Veng, on the way to Vietnam]
  • The Garment Sector, Which Depends Much on Export, Declined by 24.5% due to the Economic Crisis [60,000 workers lost their jobs – according to the Ministry of Commerce]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #41-42, 9-10.11.2009

  • The Opposition Party Asked the Government to Explain the Tense Dispute between Cambodia and Thailand at the National Assembly
  • Cambodia Will Receive A/H1N1 Vaccines at the End of This Year [from the World Health Organization]
  • Cambodia Is a Place where Freedom of All Religions Is Freely Practiced without Discrimination [according to the 2009 assessment report of the US Department of State; 93% of the Khmer citizens adhere to Buddhism, 500,000 to 700,000 citizens adhere to Islam, and more than 282,000 adhere to Christianity]
  • The Demand of Energy [from coal, natural, gas, fosil fuel, and oil] Increases by 3.7% Each Year [from 2005 to 2030; according to the Asian Development Bank and APEC, the demand of energy of Cambodia will increase from 4.8 million tonnes in 2015 to 12 million tonnes in 2030; at present, only 20% of the Cambodian families have access to public electricity]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5042-5043, 8-10.11.2009

  • The Government Cuts the Salaries of Advisers
  • Thaksin Shinawatra Will Arrive in Cambodia Today as Thailand Warned to Take More Serious Actions
  • Japan Pledged to Provide US$5.5 Billion [in loans and grant aid] to the Mekong River Countries [to save them from the impacts of the global economic crisis]
  • Three Suspects Were Arrested for Kidnapping a Boy for US$3,000 [Kratie]
  • The Number of Deaths Worldwide by the A/H1N1 Flu Has Increased to 6,000

.

I will be departing Phnom Penh in the evening of 10 November 2009 to
participate in the UN Internet Govenrnance Forum in Sharm-el-Sheikh in
Egypt.

Apologies ahead of time – there will be some delays in the
publications, while I travel and are busy in a different time zone.

Norbert Klein – editor of the Mirror

.

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