From 2009 to 2010 – Where Are We Heading? – New Year, 1-3.1.2010

Posted on 2 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 645 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 645

According to different criteria, there are various ways to find measures to evaluate processes and situations. There are absolute measurements with fixed figures, and there are relative considerations – comparing different figures, or situations, and how they relate to each other.

An interesting example for the latter approach is in a report, quoting a high ranking member of the National Assembly, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Commission for Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit, who is also chairperson of the Permanent Committee of the Central Committee of the Cambodian People’s Party; he admitted “that some government officials from the Cambodian People’s Party are corrupt” – qualifying the statement with two additions: Not all are corrupt, and: There are also opposition party officials who commit corruption.

To put corruption in this way into a wider context seems to indicate that, after all, it is not a major problem. But it does not change the fact that corruption is corruption.

But this is now going to change – an anti-corruption law, existing in different stages of being prepared since the mid 1990ies, several times promised to be adopted at specific points in time, had recently been announced to move to reality in 2009. At least the draft has been sent from the Council of Ministers to the National Assembly, but it is still being kept secret. Except for one or two point, according to the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers:

“The only details of the anti-corruption law that have been made public on Friday is the fact that the staff of NGOs are required to disclose their personal assets. Under the law, NGO workers are defined as public servants, and side-by-side with officials who are paid by the government, they must disclose their assets. ‘It is an obligation to do so, if you don’t do it, you are jailed,’ Mr. Phay Siphan is quoted to have said.

Though the text of the draft law has not been published, is is just assumed that the same disclosure requirements and threats of punishment will also refer to non-NGO public servants.

Phnom Penh Buildings

Phnom Penh Buildings

Some friends wonder how such gorgeous buildings – for personal use on the right, or for rent to many, on the left – could be built by public servants with their known small public remunerations. Can it be assumed that the ownership of such buildings will also have to be disclosed according to the not yet published law?

But why this secrecy about the draft? The spokesperson of the Council of Minister claims that “the draft law cannot be made public, because it has yet to arrive at the National Assembly. Once it arrives there, it can then be released to the public.” But is it not a contradiction that he himself discussed part of it already publicly: the regulations about NGO staff? The shutting out of the people to accompany the process of the drafting of a law over more that a decade is difficult to understand; after all, as Article 51 of the Cambodian Constitution describes the public holding high authority: “The Cambodian people are the masters of their country.”

It is interesting to see that the attitude of high level government officials to keep information and differing opinions away from the public is at present being challenged in India.

The Indian Junior Foreign Minister [a Secretary of State] Mr. Shashi Tharoor questioned – publicly and on the Internet – the usefulness of new rules to tighten the visa processes for long term foreign tourists as a measure to control terrorism. “Issue is not security vs. tourism, but whether visa restrictions protect our security. [The city of Mumbai] killers had no visas,” [which had left 166 people dead] he wrote on Twitter. After he had been reprimanded and ordered to keep discussions out of the public, and to understand the “political culture,” he defended himself in a press conference, pointing out that he tried to put the debate on security into the wider context of different aspects of reality. And on the Internet he wrote: “But thanks for all the kind words over the last 24 hrs. Appreciate the support!”

Observing the Khmer press, there are many instances where some cause is mentioned – but not some second cause, which, according to other sources, definitely relate to the first one. In this way, a well advised further look and discussion is not facilitated, or it is even avoided intentionally.

As the Mirror tries to look whenever possible into the wider context – that is: other news available in the Khmer press, sometimes only days, or weeks, or even months or years in the past, but also information publicly available on the Internet, sometimes also adding some questions. We will try to put more of such Links into the regular production from now on, hoping that this may foster reflection, debate, and sometimes action.

The following are examples to show what this may mean, in relation to some specific, recent items:

We had these headlines:

  • A Cambodian Official [the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong]: Cambodia Will Not Be Affected, though the Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Preah Vihear Temple Support Agreement
  • A Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Joint Statements of Cambodia and Thailand during the Administration of [the former Thai prime minister] Mr. Samak’s Government [to support Cambodia to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site]

Link:

We missed – since the beginning until now – any report in any media in Cambodia, showing what the Cambodian delegation had agreed to in July 2008 to the following, neither have we read about the preparation for the next meetin of the World Heritage Committee next month:

Explanation of the term “RGPP” under the following Point 6.:

  • 6. Noting that the State Party of Cambodia submitted to the World Heritage Center the revised graphic plan of the property (RGPP) included in WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add2 (hereinafter called ” RGPP”) indicating a revised perimeter of the area proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List.

From the text of the decisions and conditions listing the Temple of Preah Viher as a UNESCO World Heritge Site:

  • 14. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners, to examine general policy matters relating to the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards;
  • 15. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents:

    a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone identified in the RGPP;

    b) updated Nomination dossier to reflect the changes made to the perimeter of the property;

    c) confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP;

    d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan;

  • 16. Further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center by February 2010, for submission to the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010 a full Management Plan for the inscribed property, including a finalized map.

We are not aware that this “revised graphic plan” was anywhere made public in Cambodia. The original graphic plan, which had been presented by the Cambodian delegation, described only a very narrow strip of about 30 meter around the main Preah Vihear Temple as the requested area for the World Heritage Site listing.

We had these news items:

  • The Authorities Armed with Electric Batons and Shields Blocked [nearly 100] Sereypheap Market Vendors from Protesting in Front of the Residence of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen [in Phnom Penh]
  • The Sereypheap Market Is Totally Demolished to Take the Land to Construct Flats for Sale; Market Vendors Can Just Cry

Link:

Other reports refer to a decision of the Prime Minister in June 2009, on a the policy for markets. After the Council of Ministers had released it on 16 June 2009, the vendors thanked the Prime Minister in writing. But now the Prime Minister’s deputy cabinet chief said that the case is not under the control of the Prime Minister.

But they have 25 years contracts, out of which only 13 are spent. Others have demolition equipment and electric batons. Who has the final say? What, then, is the value of a contract and of a promise?

We had this headline:

  • [The Thai Foreign Minister] Kasit Piromya Asked Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Stop Supporting Thaksin Shinawatra [in order to restore diplomatic ties]

Link:

Previously published Thai statements have always clearly based their requests to Cambodia on the fact that the former Thai prime minister has been convicted by Thai courts for a specific case of corruption, involving the sale of valuable public property to the – then – wife of Mr. Thaksin, and that, in addition, he has violated his bail conditions by not returning to the country, so that he is considered a fugitive criminal by Interpol.

But the spokesperson of the Cambodian Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia rejects the suggestions by the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs as a violation of sovereignty rights of Cambodia. “He should learn to respect a nation as a sovereign state. And recently we heard that Thaksin was appointed to another state” [Sri Lanka], as the Cambodia Daily reported about the statements by the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers.

It is reported that the Sri Lankan government firmly denied this.

But does it mean that a fugitive criminal – under an Interpol search warrant – can be considered to be welcome under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia?

We had this headline:

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Congratulated [19] Khmer Students for Winning Prizes from the Isles International University in Europe

Link:

In the Mirror, in a note to a Kampuchea Thmey headline, we had expressed some doubts about the event, about which the Cambodia Daily of 9 December 2009 had said that 19 “senior officials, lawmakers and businessmen were awarded doctoral degrees yesterday morning by the Isles International University, an organization that appears to be an international diploma mill with strong links to the discredited Irish International University… which was exposed as having no links to Ireland’s educational system in 2006, after having awarded honorary degrees to a number of politicians, including to the premier himself….”

Now, the Isles International University claimed to have been “‘approved by the Minister of Education in the Brithsh Isles of Grea Brivtain’ [spelling errors in the original] in an apparent reference to Great Britain. However, IIU’s name does not appear on a list of accredited, degree-awarding universities provided yesterday by the British Embassy in Phnom Penh.”

Advertisements, for example in the Cambodia Daily on 22.12.2009, with the names of the new Doctors and their pictures in academic gear, were placed by the Cambodian business conglomerate SKL Group Holding.

The group picture was prefaced by the text:

  • “Congratulations to all Graduates of Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Degree from Isles International University of European Union last 8th December 2009. The ceremony was held at the Hun Sen Cultural Center and being presided by Samdech HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • “To all Graduates who received the Grand Commander Order of the Noble World Order and Commander Order and Cavalier Order of the Noble World Order from King Albert II of Belgium.”

On 30.12.2009, the Cambodia Daily reported in a lengthy, detailed article under the headline Belgian Foreign Ministry Stumped by King Albert II Honors: “The Belgian government and royal palace have said they have no knowledge of the provenance of honors named after Belgian’s reigning monarch, King Albert II, that were recently awarded in Cambodia.”

One might expect that the story comes to an end here: an unfortunate fraud. But the revelations from the Belgian authorities did not result in embarrassment in Cambodia. The Cambodia Daily reports:

The office of one recipient said: “Generally, whenever they give him a medal, he must be happy. The university must have a network in Belgium.”

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who was awarded the Grand Commander Order of the Noble World Order of King Albert II, is quoted to have said: “I do not have any information about this award, but the Belgian government gave it to me…”

Actually, it did not.

The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers is quoted to say that “Isles plans to open its Cambodian branch after carrying out a six-month feasibility study that will begin in January… Sooner or later, Cambodia will have an IIU campus… We must study the market first.” He added that “the Isles’ Cambodian campus will be the organization’s first anywhere in the world…”

It has no accreditation in any country to give supposedly high academic degrees in any country, it has fraudulently given doctoral degrees and Royal Orders which are of no academic or royal dignity – but it is obviously still welcome to apply for accreditation in Cambodia; only “We must study the market first.” Is this the main criterion for the future of the country?

Where are we heading?

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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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The Government Suspends All Promotions for Government Positions in 2010 – Saturday, 21.11.2009

Posted on 22 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

“According to a recent notification from the Council of Ministers, the Royal Government decided to suspend all promotions for government positions in 2010. If a promotion in any position is planned, it has to wait until 2011.

“Formerly the Royal Government, in addition to having already a heavy overhead apparatus with many officials, had nominated countless advisors at ministries and at other institutions, and ministers and heads of institutions had appointed their officials to hold many positions. In any ministry, there are many directors and deputy directors. In a department, there are at least 10 deputy directors, while in the police, the military, and the military police, there are also many who are nominated as deputy directors… This makes the government to carry a burden of ever increasing expenses.

“According to the notification signed by a secretary of state of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Prak Sokhon, on 21 October 2009 and sent to the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and to the Council of Administrative Reform, the Royal Government decided to delay all promotions for positions of government positions, and all promotions of ranks [for police and the military], and it will not increase any allowances [like retirement benefits] etc. for the one year of 2010, and it will reconsider these cases again in 2011. According to the same notification, the Royal Government ordered also to stop the implementation of decisions for the ‘priority cluster’ [formerly identified as important areas in the administration to receive special financial support], and additional incentives based on work achievements for 2010.

“The notification added that the above plan is a measure to implement the budget implementation draft for the management of financial resources in 2010, aiming to save state resources in 2010.

“It should be noted that the Royal Government decided recently also to cut and to reduce the salaries of many advisers who had been appointed in a continuing process. and who had received high salaries [in addition to their normal salaries], to get again only their normal salaries based on their current positions, in order to save resources for 2010.

“A government official said on Friday that the decision of the Royal Government to suspend promotions for government positions, and the promotions in rank, is a proper measure, because previously, the Royal Government, different ministers, and heads of institutions, had appointed too many officials. At some institutions, there are 10 to 20 deputy directors, until there is no room and space for them to sit. Such nominations only added more expenses for the state, both for salaries and for other materials.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5053, 21.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 21 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #342, 21.11.2009

  • [Senior Minister and adviser to the Prime Minister] Om Yentieng: [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Becomes Spokesperson of [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit [Mr. Sam Rainsy said that Prime Minister Hun Sen is playing a dangerous game for Cambodia, as the biased foreign politics of Prime Minister Hun Sen makes Cambodia lose territory to Vietnam and lose good relations with Thailand]
  • [More than 30 officers of] Mixed Forces Were Sent to Destroy Drugs [ecstasy] Worth More Than US$100 Million on the Kravanh Mountain [more information about the crack-down will be released two to three days later – Pursat]
  • [Thai Deputy Prime Minister] Sutheb: If [fugitive former Thai prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Wants to End Problems [of the dispute between Cambodia and Thailand], He Must Resign from the Position of Economic Advisor to Cambodia

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2104, 21.11.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Open Hearing to Sentence [former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch on 23 November 2009
  • A Drunken Woman and Gang Member Drove a Car and Hit a Policeman so that He Almost Died [she was arrested – Battambang]
  • Kandal Police Got Hold of a Group of People Who Had Used Death Threats via Telephone to Extort Money from Leaders and from Businesspeople [a suspect was arrested]
  • Within One Week, There Were 50 New People Confirmed with A/H1N1 Flu [increasing the number to 444 in total – Cambodia]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #535, 21.11.2009

  • The Khmer Authorities Have Already Arrested Seven Villagers Who Resisted a Yuon [Vietnamese] Company from Grabbing Their Land [Kompong Thom]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6811, 21-22.11.2009

  • Result from the Council of Ministers’ Meeting: Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Decided to Approve the Anti-Corruption Draft on 11 December 2009

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5053, 21.11.2009

  • The Government Suspends All Promotions for Government Positions in 2010
  • The Cambodian and Thai Defense Ministers Plan to Meet to Negotiate about the Border in Pattaya [on 27 November 2009]
  • Cambodia Controls the Cambodia Air Traffic Services – CATS – Company Temporarily, and Thai Personnel Is Required to Work from Outside Their Offices [Cambodia just does not allow them to go near the radar system room, but they are not dismissed – according to the Council of Ministers]
  • Cambodia Is Preparing a Petroleum Law [including regulations for petroleum exploring, and a decree for petroleum related contracts] while the First Drop of Oil Will Be Extracted in 2013 [according to government officials]
  • The Cambodian Banking System Is Recognized on the International Arena and in the ASEAN Framework [because of its stability and noticeable improvements – according to the 39th ASEAN banking council, meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh]

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Bangkok Got Angry and Downgraded the Cambodian-Thai Diplomatic Relations to the Lowest Level – Friday, 6.11.2009

Posted on 7 November 2009. Filed under: Week 637 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

“Immediately after the Cambodian government appointed Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s and the government’s adviser, Bangkok was angry and summoned its ambassador back to Thailand as a so-called diplomatic retaliation. The Thai ambassador left Cambodia in the night of 5 November 2009. In response, the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, summoned the Cambodian ambassador to return to Phnom Penh. He considers that this is a normal reciprocity measure between government and government. Regarding this diplomatic dispute, there has not been any new report about border tensions between the two countries.

“Relating to Thailand recalling its ambassador, Mr. Sok An said that this is not the cutting off of diplomatic ties. When Thailand sends its ambassador to Cambodia again, we will send our ambassador to Thailand. He explained that there is no problem in the relations between both countries’ citizens and in commerce.

“He noted that Thailand did so, following a demand from the yellow-shirt group [of government supporters].

“He explained also that it is an internal affairs of Cambodia to nominate Thaksin Shinawatra, and Cambodia had appointed foreigners as advisers before, for example the current president of South Korea. He had also been an adviser of Samdech Dekchor.

“He criticized that Thailand has hurt Cambodia by sending troops to invade the Preah Vihear border areas in Cambodian territory. The second point is that when Cambodia proposed to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site, Thailand had sent partisans to disturb it.

“Contrastingly, [Thai] Deputy Prime Minister Sutheb Thaugsuban asked, ‘What would Cambodia think if Thailand nominated [the opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy as adviser?’ Mr. Sok An answered, ‘Cambodia would welcome such a nomination, because Cambodia has a citizen appointed by foreign country. Therefore, Thai people should be happy as one of their citizens is named adviser.’

“The decision of the Bangkok government to summon their diplomatic official like this, pushed the diplomatic ties between both countries to fall to a terrible level, threatening even political, economic, and cultural relation between both countries, as well as the solidarity in ASEAN.

“Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva said that Thailand summoned their ambassador back to Bangkok as a sign of first diplomatic retaliation toward Cambodia for appointing Thaksin Shinawara as adviser, and for rejecting to extradite him. He said that Thailand wants Cambodia to know the dissatisfaction of the Thai people.

“Immigration officials at the Phnom Penh International Airport said that the Thai ambassador boarded the plane at around 9:00 p.m. to travel back to Bangkok.

“Political analysts said that the decision of the Bangkok government will make ASEAN to be viewed as a quite fractioned institution, making the initative to establish the ASEAN community by 2015 to be in hazard, and it is necessary that there is a regional mechanism to restore the situation.

Cambodian Troops Are Prepared to Defend the Country from an Invasion

“At the border, the commander of special Intervention Unit 3, Mr. Srey Dek, said that the Cambodian troops are always on alert. He added, ‘If they dare to enter only half a millimeter, we will attack (open fire) immediately. But he said that so far, there is nothing abnormal.

“The Banteay Meanchey governor, Mr. Ung Oeung, said that the border situation remains normal. But there might be some psychological war coming relating to border closings. But there is nothing visible yet.

Thaksin Is Happy while Abhisit Is Pale

“The Thai former prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, said on Thursday that he accepted the position as economic adviser of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and he expressed appreciation toward Prime Minister Hun Sen for offering this honorable position. He said on his website, ‘I can refresh my brain while I am not yet able to serve the Thai people. I will ask for the permission from Thai people to provide economic advice to the Cambodian government, based on the appointment by King Sihamoni, until I can go back to my country. In fact, I have already become adviser of a government. I accept this position in order to keep my brain to remain fresh, otherwise it would become lame if I don’t keep it up to obtain new ideas and new developments. I want to work with the Thai people, but I cannot. The Thai government does not even allow me to carry a Thai passport.’

“Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra added, ‘Our neighbor is not an enemy. We must be close to each other forever. It is good that we are friends.’

“In the mean time, a legal adviser of Mr. Thaksin, [the former minister of foreign affairs who resigned after the high court found he had violated the Thai constitution] Mr. Noppadon Pattama, spoke to the former prime minister, regarding the issue that Thaksin Shinawatra feels that he has received a great honor, and he will provide advice on how to solve Cambodia’s economic problems and overcome poverty.

“Mr. Noppadon Pattama added that it is not necessary that Mr. Thaksin comes to live in Cambodia, because he can give advice through the telephone or the Internet. He said, ‘Thaksin Shinawatra has no plan to go to Cambodia at this time. Therefore, the government needs not worry or feel afraid, because it is not a political affair or seeking asylum. Mr. Hun Sen decided to appoint Thaksin, because he sees his value and ability.’

“Nevertheless, Thailand does not understand it as Mr. Noppadon does. On 5 November 2009, Thailand summoned their ambassador back to their country immediately as a move of disapproval of Cambodia for offering a position to Thaksin.

“The Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva said to journalist, ‘We have summoned our ambassador as the first diplomatic retaliation toward the Cambodian government so as to let the Thai people’s dissatisfaction known. The announcement of the Cambodian governments disrespects the legal system, and does influence the feeling of the Thai public.

“Abhisit said also that [Thai] aid for Cambodia will be suspended also, but the border between both countries are still open, and the relations between the people will not be affected.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5040, 6.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 6 November 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2091, 6.11.2009

  • Cambodia and Thailand Decided to Downgrade Their Diplomatic Ties; [the Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Thanks Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen after He Was Nominated Adviser
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Will Attract More Japanese Investors to Cambodia [during his visit to attend the Mekong-Japan summit in Tokyo on 6 and 7 November 2009]
  • Sihanoukville Governor, Mr. Sbang Sarath Was Accused because of Illegal Constructions

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #523, 6.11.2009

  • The Khmer Government Rejected the Demand of Siam [Thailand] to Control Two Thirds of Seabed Mineral Resources
  • The Sam Rainsy Party: The Prime Minister Does Not Deal with the Existing Internal Affairs of Cambodia, but Thinks about Siamese [Thai] Issues

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6798, 6.11.2009

  • The Thai Prime Minister [Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva] Summoned the [Thai] Ambassador Back, to Leave Cambodia, and He Opposes Thaksin Shinawatra’s Nomination [as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s and the governments economic adviser]
  • The Appeal Court Will Hold a Hearing This Morning over the Acid Attack Case [where the actress In Soklida’s aunt was attacked]
  • [More than 200] Romorque Motos [and Tuk-Tuk] Drivers Protested in Front of the Municipality to Demand a Delay to Make Number Plates and to Fine Them
  • A Man like an Animal Raped Three Daughters Two Times Each [he was arrested – Sihanoukville]
  • Within More Than One Week, Four People Were Killed by Murderers [four perpetrators were arrested – Battambang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #40, 6.11.2009

  • The Diplomatic War between Cambodia and Thailand Regarding Thaksin Shinawatra’s Case Leads to the Withdrawal of the Respective Ambassadors
  • The Government Explained the Increase of the Military Budget [from US$223 million in 2009 to US$277 million in 2010 to civil society organizations, saying that the budget will be used to strengthen the national defense capacity in order to improve the military sector in Cambodia; however, civil society representatives said that the government should address root problems in the military sector, rather than increase the budget]
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Announced to Lodge Complaints [at international institutions, against neighboring countries] over the Loss of Territory

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5040, 6.11.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Announced Places in 19 Cities and Provinces for Investigations over the Case 002 [involving five Khmer Rouge leaders: Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan, and Nuon Chea]
  • More Than 300 ATM Machines of Different Banks Have Been Set Up in Cambodia
  • Guards of Fishing Lot Number 10 Shot a Man to Death [two perpetrators were arrested and police is seeking to arrest another guard – Kampong Chhnang]
  • Wild Animals [67 turtles and 22 pythons] Loaded in a Car from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh Were Seized by Moung Russey District Police [the car driver was arrested – Battambang]

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The American Export-Import Bank Provides Financing for Products Being Exported from America to Cambodia – Wednesday, 28.10.2009

Posted on 29 October 2009. Filed under: Week 636 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 636

“Phnom Penh: The American Export-Import Bank of the United States of America announced on 27 October that it will provide financing for the purchase of products from the United States of America to buyers in the private sector in Cambodia, with the condition that the payments back have to be done within a period of seven years.

“This announcement follows a statement by US President Obama from June 2009, saying that Cambodia and Laos were no longer considered as countries following the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, referenced in section 2(b)(2B)(i) of the 1945 law about the American Export-Import Bank, which was amended. Before the decision of the president, the American Export-Import Bank was not allowed to provide any financing related to Cambodia because of this ban. The chairman and president of the American Export-Import Bank, Mr. Fred P. Hochberg, said, ‘President Obama opened a broader way for American companies that export products to Cambodia, and the Export-Import Bank is ready to help those companies. We are glad to announce that our bank will consider to provide short and medium terms financing for buyers of American products in the private sector of the expanding Asian market.’

“Different US agencies, including the American Export-Import Bank, have cooperated with other related agencies to check and assess the business hazards in Cambodia and in Laos, and they assessed also the hazards of doing business with the private sector in Cambodia. Laos remains under observation, and the American Export-Import Bank has not yet been involved in Laos, except for some financial operators, until the assessments finish.

“The American Export-Import Bank operates in Cambodia in the private sector only, to provide short term financing (to be paid back within one year), and medium term financing (to be paid back within seven years) for products exported from the USA. The assistance of the American Export-Import Bank for access to markets is limited to only business operators with commercial banks as legal guarantors. However, the American Export-Import Bank will consider business operations without the involvement of a bank as special cases.

“The American Export-Import Bank might consider also offering financing of products exported from the USA to buyers in the private sector in Cambodia with longer terms under clearly defined conditions. For instance, businesses which can receive financing are financial operations which are organized properly to seek income in foreign countries and have assets in bank accounts which the American Export-Import Bank recognizes, and have income from rent or things mortgaged, or a financing structure to handle goods, like commercial airplanes made in the USA.”As for the funds in 2009, after their financial year that came to an end on 30 September 2009, the amount of money that the American Export-Import Bank approved for financing to assist in the export of goods from the United States, amounts to more than US$21 billion.

“The American Export-Import Bank is the official agency that provides export credits from the USA. This independent and autonomously operating agency within the framework of the the US federal government, now 75 years old, helps to create and to support employment in the USA by providing export financing for US products, especially to new markets around the world, by offering guarantees for export credit and for direct loans.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2083, 28.10.2009

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Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1417, 28-29.10.2009

  • Cambodia Becomes a Member of the World Heritage Committee

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #322, 28.10.2009

  • The Prime Minister Will Leave to Attend the Japan-Mekong Cooperation Meeting [from 6 to 7 November 2009]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2083, 28.10.2009

  • The American Export-Import Bank Provides Financing for Products Being Exported from America to Cambodia
  • An Accident Surprised Phnom Penh as Two Military Officials Used Their Guns to Intervene to Release the Driver of the Car which Had Caused an Accident [finally, they were all arrested]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #518, 28.10.2009

  • The Prime Minister Ordered [the Meanchey district governor] to Sue a Female Gang Leader [who had been involved in a shootout] and Warned to Demote a Lieutenant General Who Had Intervened

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6790, 28.10.2009

  • The Thai Government Deployed Forces to Guard the Cambodian Embassy, as Siamese [Thai] Extremists Demonstrated against [the Cambodian] Support for [the Thai ousted and convicted former prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra
  • [Five] Crematoriums in the City Were Closed, as a Crematorium Outside of the City Was Opened [at Dangkao district, Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post, Vol.1, #35, 28.10.2009

  • The Prime Minister Warned to Dismiss Any Official Who Protects Juvenile Gang Members

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5032, 28.10.2009

  • A Foreign Company [Green Cameco, jointly managed by Korea and Australia] Plans to Build A Sky Train in Phnom Penh [from 2011 to 2014, 39 km, worth US$3.6 billion, and also a solar energy power plant – according to a meeting between Green Cameco and the Ministry of Economy and Finance]

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The National Election Committee Announces Registration Information for the Council Elections – Saturday, 14.2.2009

Posted on 15 February 2009. Filed under: Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 599

“On 13 February 2009, the National Election Committee published, at the office of the National Election Committee, with representatives from some parties participating, the date for the process to register for the commune councils elections, to participate in the first term district and provincial/city elections, which will be held on 17 May 2009.

“An official of the National Election Committee presiding over the meeting, Mrs. Koy Vet, announced the information for different parties, non-government organizations, and commune councilors, who need to register to participate in the elections.

“Officials of the National Election Committee said that the number of members of the provincial and city councils is 374, there are 11,353 voters, and there are 1,939 districts and cities. According to the National Election Committee, for the provincial and city elections and the number of voters to elect the district and provincial/city councils for the first mandate, it is expected that more than US$1.5 million will be spent.

“The National Election Committee pointed out that there are 1,621 and 11,353 voters, and the commune councilors must register at each commune through officials of the K.Kh.Kh.B [?], with observers joining from political parties and different organizations.

“Mrs. Koy Vet went on to say that after sending the name lists of voters to the capital city and the provinces, and the National Election Committee has validated the lists, the National Election Committee will publish the name lists of voters first on 24 March 2009 at the K.Kh./Kh.B [?], at communes, and at offices at the capital city and at towns.

“Mrs. Koy Vet continued to say that the registration of commune councils will start on 16 and continue to 21 February 2009, and only members of commune councils who are fulfilling their work are allowed to register in voter lists.

“The National Election Committee added hat on 4 February 2008, it held a training course about the registration of district and provincial/city councils for representatives from political parties, non-government organization, directors, and deputy directors of K.Th./Kh.B. [?] with a total of 180 participants.

“It should be noted that 36 officials of the National Election Committee and 120 officials of the K.Th./Kh.B. attended the training. There were five political parties, the Cambodian People’s Party, the Sam Rainsy Party, the Human Rights Party, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, and the Khmer Democratic Party, and nine non-government organizations participating in the training.

“The secretary-general of the National Election Committee, Mr. Tep Nitha, said that the period of the registration for councils is 5 days, and it might take 10 more days then to send the lists to the districts, provinces, and K.Kh./Kh.B. 20 days after that, they will be sent to the National Election Committee.

“Mr. Tep Nitha added that after the lists will have been published, the National Election Committee will permit 5 days for protests and corrections to the K.Kh./Kh.B. and 5 days to the National Election Committee, to deal with different complaints.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6578, 14-15.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 14 February 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #116, 14.2.2009

  • Around 500 Virgins Will Loose Their Virginity during Valentine’s Day [according to a survey conducted by the Association for the Development of People’s Health (? not identified) by questioning youth between the age of 14 and 25 in Phnom Penh]
  • The Municipality Will Provide Money to Support to Eradicate Mosquitoes in the City [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1873, 14.2.2009

  • Prices of Fuel in Cambodia Go Up while the Crude Oil Price on International Markets Drops [one liter of fuel is approx US$0.80 in Cambodia, while the price of one barrel of crude drops to US$35]
  • Citizens Ask TV Stations Not to Publish ‘Valentine’s Day’ on Televisions [because it might encourage youth to take up a foreign culture]
  • The Creation of the Sen Sok District was Announced [by splitting it off from the Russey Keo district]; Mr. Khuong Sreng Is the District Governor
  • The People’s Assembly of China Donates 24 Computers and 10 Cameras to the National Assembly of Cambodia
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva Admits that Burmese [Rohingya] Refugees Were Put on Boats and Let Floating on the Sea [resulting in starvation and deaths]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #344, 14.2.2009

  • [The president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Sam Rainsy Asks Banks in Other Countries to Block Money from People Who Stole from the Nation and Sell the Country [as mentioned in the Global Witness report]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6578, 14-15.2.2009

  • The National Election Committee Announces Registration Information for the Council Elections

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3687, 14-15.2.2009

  • Russia Has Not Canceled Dept [of more than US$1.5 billion] That Cambodia Owes

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4821, 14.2.2009

  • Industrial Research Institute – IRI – Found that 80% of Citizens Think that the Government Is on the Right Track [at the time of this writing, no reference to Cambodia on their web site]
  • Cambodia and Korea Will Sign an Agreement Later this Month to Open a Stock Exchange Market in Cambodia
  • A Plane Crashed onto a House in New York Killing 49 People [one victim was on the ground]

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The Government Will Control the Financial System and Money Laundering at Banks – Thursday, 12.2.2009

Posted on 13 February 2009. Filed under: Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 599

“Government officials said on Wednesday that the government will take measures to control all financial transactions which could, at present, be related to money laundering through banks, to prevent financial problems so that everything is up to international standards.

“A senior official of the Cambodian People’s Party and chairperson of the Commission on Finance, Banking, and Audits of the National Assembly said, ‘If there is money laundering and we do not have related legislation, it might create difficulties when international countries observe everything.’

“Mr. Cheam Yeap added, ‘If there is money laundering, this might trouble us when everything that happens is internationally observed, because it is absolutely prohibited that such money is spent in any other country, and we also will prohibit it, when we have related legislation. Therefore, the Royal Government will control everything well to avoid any activities against international laws, and if there are clear laws, nothing will be allowed to happen in future.’

“Mr. Cheam Yeap, a high ranking CPP official, made this statement as Cambodia plans to launch a stock exchange market this year, while Cambodia cannot avoid being affected by the global crisis.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap told Deum Ampil, ‘Money laundering has little effect, but corruption has strong effects. Therefore, after a criminal code will have been drafted, we will include all articles regarding corruption into the anti-corruption regulations of Cambodia.’

“Mr. Cheam Yeap went on to say, ‘This is not new, and the government took it up to draft a law to clearly organize structures how to act, because investors will come to deposit their assets in Cambodia.’

“Regarding the opening of a stock exchange market during this year, Mr. Cheam Yeap said, ‘Before investors in Cambodia cooperate with foreign countries such as Korea and Japan, they do whatever is possible for those who have money, to buy stakes even if it is a risky investment, at a time when international countries face a downturn and there will be some losses.’ [Note: original is difficult to interpret].

“Cambodian officials still assure the plan to open a stock exchange market in the city this year, while the global economy is facing a crisis and economic meltdown, even though there was some plan late last year to delay the stock exchange market. [Note: it seems that the Korea based construction activities for a 42 stories Double Gold Tower building, at the intersection between Sihanouk and Monivong Boulevards in Phnom Penh, are at present suspended].

“In view of the global economic crisis, and the stability of the Cambodian economy, economists voiced the concern that a stock exchange market in Phnom Penh might become a source of money laundering, involving banks which at present lack clear control according to international standard. [Note: The Cambodia Daily reports on the same day: “IMF Criticizes Bank of Cambodia for Its Weak Supervision”]

“However, officials of the Royal Government said that the government will not let such bad problems happen. Previously, there were distorted reports about money laundering committed by dishonest groups, but they had been denied by senior officials of the government.

“According to a plan by the South Korean government [Note: actually, this seems to be a misunderstanding – this was not a ‘government’ plan], the stock exchange of Seoul will help [interested business groups in] Cambodia to prepare a stock exchange market in Phnom Penh, to become a place for gathering sources of capital for developing the country. According of figures from the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Cambodia, the Cambodian economy grew in 2008 with a higher rate than during the year before [Note: Various sources mention 2007 10.2%, 2008 6.5%, 2009 4.8% or less predicted], which is a new strong boost to encourage the creation of a stock exchange market in Cambodia, assuming it will proceed smoothly. Due to the financial crisis, starting from America, banks in Korea are directly affected, and this causes the suspension of investment loans in foreign countries, and resulted in large-scale projects in Cambodia to be changed since mid and late 2008.”Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #115, 12.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 12 February 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #16, 12.2.2009

  • [The former Phnom Penh Police chief, now is detained in Prey Sar Prison] Heng Pov Begs for Intervention from Mr. Hun Sen [to allow him to take out money from his blocked bank account]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #115, 12.2.2009

  • The Government Will Control the Financial System and Money Laundering at Banks
  • [Spokesperson of the Council of Ministers] Phay Siphan: The Opening of the Border Crossing near the Preah Vihear Temple Will Wait until the Setting of Border Markers Has Been Finished
  • The United Nations Environment Program – UNEP – Encourages the Promotion of Environmental Protection in Phnom Penh
  • New US Ambassador [Ms. Carol A. Rodley] Praises Development in Phnom Penh

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1871, 12.2.2009

  • Japan Plans to Create a National Level University in Cambodia
  • Paddy Rice and Rice at Border Regions Is Stuck, because Siam [Thailand] Blocks the Import [Battambang]
  • Olympic Market Vendors Protest and Ask the [Thai Boon Rong] Company to Reduce Stall Prices by 50% and Make 20-Year Contracts

Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #340, 12.2.2009

  • [The Minister of Information] H.E. Khieu Kanharith Denied Closure of Any [Global Witness] Website

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #201, 12.2.2009

  • America Adopts US$800 Billion Package to Counter the Global Financial Crisis

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6576, 12.2.2009

  • More Than 200 Villagers at the Preah Vihear Temple Call for Food Aid while Some Families Are Facing Severe Difficulties
  • Australia Provides Distance Learning Program [through the Internet] about Skills to Treat Child Diseases in Cambodia
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality and the Ministry of Health Cooperate to Strengthen Transportation Services of Victims
  • Vietnam Ranks Second in Exporting Rice [after Thailand] while [6.7% of] Its People Lack Food [no comparative figures for Cambodia given]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3685, 12.2.2009

  • Official of the Untied Nations [Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen] Plans Clarifying Discussion about Corruption Problems at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Said that He Will Pay [Riel 10 million, approx US$2,500] to the National Election Committee, but Asked for the Right to Sue at the Supreme Court First

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4819, 12.2.2009

  • US$2.2 Billion Tonle Sap Projects Achieve Little Results [the Tonle Sap basin authorities showed that 339 projects being implemented or are to be implemented in the Tonle Sap basin region – aiming to help protect the environment, control the nature, and alleviate poverty – accomplished very little, because there is no cooperation in the project implementation]
  • A Boy Rescued from the Tuol Sleng Prison [in 1979 as seen in videos provided by Vietnam recently] Is Identified Before the Hearing of Duch [Mr. Nong Chanphal went to the Documentation Center of Cambodia to prepare a complaint, and he agreed to be a witness if the tribunal needs him]

Wat Phnom, Vol. 16, #8006, 13-15.2.2009

  • The Mobitel Company Gives a Simple Explanation about a Surprised Event in Phnom Penh [it released a statement explaining that on 6 February 2009, the company asked the municipal police to control security at its headquarters, while the company was investigating a possible hazard from outside of the technical system]
  • Australia and Denmark Continue Assisting the Reform of the Criminal and Justice Sector in Cambodia [according to a secretary of state of the Ministry of Interior and president of the National Board of Directors for Monitoring the Criminal and Justice Sector, Mr. Prum Sokha]

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Charge d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia Rafael Dochao Moreno: Cambodia Is on the Reform Track, and Reforms Are Crucial – Tuesday, 3.2.2009

Posted on 4 February 2009. Filed under: Week 598 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 598

“Phnom Penh: The cooperation between the Cambodian government and the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia was broadened towards civil society, and the European Commission is an important development partner of the government. A reporter of Rasmei Kampuchea, Mr. Yin Leangkong, had an interview with the Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia, Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno, to analyze these relations.

Rasmei Kampuchea: What improvements regarding relations of cooperation between the European Union [a political and economic union of 27 member states] and the Cambodian government do you see in recent years?

The Chargé d’Affaires: The relations between the European Union and the Cambodian government grew very well during these recent years, while we had significant economic and technical cooperation with the Cambodian government. Last year, we sent an observer mission to Cambodia in order to participate in observing the elections. Through the election observer mission of the European Union, we created some recommendations from the observations, and those recommendations were supported not only by civil society, but also by the Cambodian government and different opposition parties. Therefore, both groups – civil society and the Cambodian government – supported the position of the European Union regarding the elections.

Rasmei Kampuchea: What problems do you consider to be challenges between the European Commission and the Cambodian government?

The Chargé d’Affaires: Being partners, we always worked together and discussed with one another, and also we provided aid to the Cambodian government. Actually, we are not always satisfied with all what the Cambodian government has done, but also, we do not think that all what the government has done is mostly wrong. Our position is to offer support to reform programs of the Royal Government of Cambodia. We also follow with interest the slow reform progress, which has not accomplished what we had hoped for, for example, the adoption of an anti-corruption law is very slow. But we know also that the Royal Government of Cambodia is making efforts to encourage this work to move ahead.

“The European Union is also concerned about the forced evictions by using such force. Like the recent Dey Krahom case, we discussed it also with the Royal Government of Cambodia to find solutions for this problem, and we will continue to meet and discuss eviction problems, and the guarantee of the rule of law in Cambodia.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Do you consider such evictions to be part of corruption in the government?

The Chargé d’Affaires: It is a difficult problem, and I cannot answer this question, but I would like to emphasize that what we want to see is the rule of law. It is known that the European Commission has assisted Cambodia in many different sectors. For instance, we help the Khmer Rouge Tribunal’s proceedings, seeing that international standards of law have been established. We support also good governance in different sectors in Cambodia.

“Regarding the evictions, I am really concerned about the use of force in evictions, and we are concerned that there has to be support for the rule of law, leading to justice and fairness in compensations for the various families living there.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Together with the progress of this cooperation, the relations have also faced problems. What do you think can be done to make the cooperation between both sides smooth?

The Chargé d’Affaires: What is important is that we focus on bilateral discussions between the European Union and the Royal Government of Cambodia. I would like to mention three significant events: First, last November, we had regular and official discussions about human rights, good governance, and democracy. Second, we will discuss cooperation between the European Union and the Royal Government of Cambodia, to know what factors need to be improved. Third, we will provide support for different sectors through this cooperation, such as human rights, rural development, health, and education. In March, there will be a joint meeting between Cambodia and the European Commission, in order to further strengthen partnership, and make it smoother – which are the points for our eventual discussions.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Regarding the progress of democracy in Cambodia, do you think that Cambodia is on the right track?

The Chargé d’Affaires: Cambodia is on a track of reforms, and theses reforms are crucial. I would like to refer to the experience of Spain [the home country of Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno]. From 1939 to 1975, this country was under the control of the Dictator Franco, and during that period, the court system was very corrupt. However, after he died, Spain undertook reforms towards a just court system and a new administration system, but it took many years to improve the situation. Likewise, Cambodia needs much time to achieve these high goals, and it might take a generation.

“It is important that these reforms are started from the schools. Teachers need better salaries, and judges have to earn higher salaries in order to crack down on corruption, and all of us have to start working together to weed out corruption.

Rasmei Kampuchea: According to your point of view, is Cambodia already on the right track towards those positive goals?

The Chargé d’Affaires: We have sponsored and supported by funding programs for education through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. We do not grant monetary resources to build schools, but we support, both with funds and training, to expand the capability of education officials, like through accounting skill, financial management, and audits. As for the education sector in Cambodia, I can say that it is on the right track, and that is why we continue supporting this sector.

Rasmei Kampuchea: In May, Cambodia will hold provincial and city council elections. Has the Cambodian government requested funds or experts from the European Union?

The Chargé d’Affaires: We have not received any request from the government, asking for funds for the elections. But after the general elections in July 2008, we provided two experts to help the National Election Committee technically – one person helps with the legal section, and the other one helps with the publishing system. This support is provided for six to eight months. As we knew, there is much work that we have to do as stated in reports of the election observer missions, in order to assure independence and trustworthiness of the National Election Committee.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Some people think that the provincial and city elections are useless. What do you think? Are they useful for the progress of democracy or not?

The Chargé d’Affaires: I cannot say whether they are useful or not, but what I think is that the European Union provides support for decentralization and deconcentration. Therefore, any work contributing to encourage decentralization and deconcentration is good.

Rasmei Kampuchea: Relating to Siem Reap Airlines which has been black-listed in the European Union since late 2008, what is its process?

The Chargé d’Affaires: We got a report in late 2008 from a direct assessment by a group of the International Civil Aviation Organization that came to assess different safety systems, and they released a report saying that the safety systems in Cambodia need improvements. The report was sent also to the Royal Government of Cambodia for consideration. In November 2008, the European Union held a meeting with the Cambodian government to hear responses to the problems found. According to reports from member countries, the European Union decided to put Siem Reap Airlines on a blacklist, so that flights are not allowed to Europe, and this company had to halt their activities until now. What we want to see is that there should be assurances from the Royal Government of Cambodia and from Siem Reap Airlines about their safety and security procedures, before we remove it from the blacklist.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4811, 3.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #111, 3-4.2.2009

  • An Economist [the director of the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, Mr. Chan Sophal]: The Government Has to Prepare More Money to Encourage Local Products and to Export Goods
  • A Clay Grinding Machine Seizes [left] Hand of a Woman [a kiln worker – Siem Reap]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #333, 3.2.2009

  • Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party Form Alliance to Compete Together for Seats in the Future
  • 25 Houses Behind the Tuol Sangkae Electricity Power Station Were Destroyed [by fire – Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1863, 3.2.2009

  • Construction of the Kbal Thnol Elevated Road Will Begin in April, at a Cost of US$6 Million [Phnom Penh]
  • 20 Trainees Go to Japan to Study Human Resources Development in the Health Sector and in Medical Treatment Services
  • Mr. Obama Will Start Direct Negotiations with Iran and Syria

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #195, 3.2.2009

  • The National Bank Decreases the Bank Reserve Rate [from 16% to 12%] for Private Banks so that They Can Provide Loans to Reinvest in Real Estate

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #668, 3.2.2009

  • German [parliament] Delegation Wants to See Opposition Parties in Commissions of the National Assembly; [the chairperson of the parliamentary Commission on Economy, Finance, and Audits] Mr. Cheam Yeap: He Had Let Them to Join, but They Disagreed [as they have no responsibility for any commission – while the German delegation shared their experience that opposition parties also lead commissions so that all parties have to work together]
  • The 7NG Company Distributes Donations to Former Dey Krahom Residents [of 79 families who had recently agreed to receive a small house far away as compensation in Dangkao district after the eviction, and calls on the rest of 12 families to accept this also]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3677, 3.2.2009

  • 42 Court Officials [including the president of the Supreme Court, Mr. Dith Munty, and the prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Mr. Ouk Vithun] and 27 Generals Are Sent into Retirement
  • An English Television [Channel 4] Reported that Many Foreign Companies Are Seeking to Acquire Land in Cambodia

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4811, 3.2.2009

  • Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia Rafael Dochao Moreno: Cambodia Is on the Reform Track, and Reforms Are Crucial
  • Cambodians Become Fisher Slaves in the Sea of Thailand [theguardianweekly global network published an article with the title Forced to Fish: Cambodia’s Sea Slaves]
  • Cambodia Will Demand Thailand in a Bangkok Meeting to Define a Specific Date to Put Preah Vihear Border Markers [though there is no mutual agreement where to put them]

  • Hungary Will Forgive 50% of the Loans given to Cambodia and Change the Remaining 50% into Grant Aid [no amounts mentioned]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asks the Federal Republic of Germany to Assist in Legal and Court Reforms
  • The Government Closes the Sexy Apsara Paintings Website

    Note: It is an unclear situation, because the government has not issued a widely and publicly known banning order, and not all Internet service providers in Cambodia are blocking the site. – See the Mirror editorial from last Sunday here.]

  • 352 Species of Animals Are Found Living in the Region where the Kirirom 3 Hydro-Electric Dam Is to Be Built [there is concern that this plan will affect the shelter of the animals living in that 1,118 hectares of forest land]
  • Pictures of Carnivore and Herbivore Dinosaurs Found on Angkor and Bayon Walls

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3479, 3.2.2009

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Government Rejects 15-Day Ultimatum [for the premier to resign] by Pro-[ousted former Thai Prime Minister]-Thaksin Red-Shirt Demonstrators

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The Settling of Payments Outside the Banking Systems in Cambodia Amounts to Up to US$800,000,000 – Tuesday, 27.1.2009

Posted on 27 January 2009. Filed under: Week 597 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

“Phnom Penh: A report produced by the Australian & New Zealand Banking Group – ANZ – said that the settling of payments oustide of the banking systems in Cambodia amounts to up to US$800,000,000.

“A report published during the inauguration of the Wing Company [mobile phone banking – there is also a video explanation here] early this wekk said that at present, among more than 14 million Cambodian citizens, only 500,000 have bank accounts. The report added that so far, most citizens are settling their payments outside of the banking systems, with an annual amount of up to US$800,000,000.

“The director of the Sthapana Company, Mr. Bun Mony, said on the telephone on 24 January 2009 that he has never surveyed this field, but he is aware that so far the settling of payments outside of the banking systems is the usual habit of most Cambodian people.

“He went on to say, ‘I do not dare to confirm this number to be correct, but I think that the settling of payments outside of the banking systems is the culture of settling money affairs for most Cambodian citizens.’

“He added that this habit or culture should be changed, and people should start to think about settling payments through the banking systems, a public system, because this can bring a lot of benefits to the national economy.

“He continued to say, ‘If all citizens stop to hide their money under their mattresses and put it into the banks, the money will be gathered in one place; therefore, it is easy for transferring and using it for different commercial activities, and our state does not have always to think about printing new paper money.’

“He said also that keeping money under the mattress does not bring any benefit, and it might even face many hazards, but if one puts money into the bank, it is safe and brings benefit in the form of interest, and banks can use that money as loan capital to people who need it.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4805, 27.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1857, 27.1.2009

  • It Is Said that there Was an Intervention to Release a [Kompong Chhnang] Police Chief’s Son who Drove a Toyota Lexus and Hit a Man and a [6-months-pregnant] Woman to Death [Pursat]
  • Switzerland Grants Swiss France 1 Million [approx. US$865,000] for Banteay Srey Temple Maintenance
  • Two Died and One Was Wounded in a Traffic Accident Ahead of the Chinese New Year [Banteay Meanchey]
  • A Ferry Sank in the Sea of Vietnam – 40 People Drowned [mostly women and children; the ferry was overloaded]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6562, 27.1.2009

  • Siamese [Thai] Soldiers Came into a Prohibited Region near the Ta Moan Thom Temple, One Stepped on a Mine Loosing a Leg [Oddar Meanchey – it is not clear whether the designation of the area is mutually agreed or a uniletral Cambodian declaration]
  • Villagers Struggle for a Solution from the Provincial Court while the Authorities Promised to Solve Their Demand [to release their representatives who were arrested over a land dispute] on 29 January 2009 [Siem Reap]
  • Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam Visits Patients at the Bopha Meas Clinic [cf. Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #189, 22.1.2009: “If It Keeps Working, It Is against the Punishment Imposed; therefore It Is Better to Close It” – the Bopha Meas Clinic was ordered to be closed by the Ministry of Health, for violating the ban for private hospitals to use their own ambulance cars to transport patients; several expert doctors of this clinic are from Vietnam]
  • The Construction of a Bridge Connecting [Sihanoukville to] Koh Puos Island Will Be Completed within 14 More Months

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4805, 27.1.2009

  • The Settling of Payments Outside the Banking Systems in Cambodia Amounts to Up to US$800,000,000
  • Cambodia and Thailand Agree to Speed Up Border Negotiations; Joint Border Committees Will Meet on 2 and 4 February 2009; Thai Minister of Defense Will Arrive in Cambodia on 6 February 2009 to Discuss Troop Withdrawal
  • Evicted Former Dey Krahom Residents Protest at the National Assembly
  • Five Brutal Teenage Boys Raped a Woman [all of them were arrested – Baray, Kompong Thom]
  • During the Night of the Chinese New Year, There Were 38 Traffic Accidents in Phnom Penh, Killing Five People and Seriously Injuring Many
  • A Kompong Chhnang Veterinary Doctor Complained about Difficulties to Check Pigs Imported from Thailand [before they are brought into Phnom Penh, because some pig importing merchants do not obey policies and instructions of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery, and some at points of entry at the border do not work competently]

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

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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Thirty Percent of Construction Workers Are Unemployed – Wednesday, 31.12.2008 – end of the year 2008

Posted on 31 December 2008. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

“The Cambodian economy, which should continue to grow now, seems to be like a jammed brake, because investment capital this year declined up to [the figures available for] November, where foreign investment capital for construction, which is an important sector, decreased by more than 12%. Tens of thousands of workers are laid off, and this affects one important part of industry and then also others.

“The financial crisis strongly affects the construction sector in Cambodia, because big investment capital is mainly coming from foreign countries; as for investors from South Korea, they are directly affected by the meltdown of the economy in the United States of America.

“The latest figure of the Royal Government published, said that during 11 months of 2008, investment in the construction sector and in related furniture development declined by 12.5%; compared to the same period of last year, it declined from US$3.2 billion to US$2,8 billion. This figure is from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

“The above problems result from the decline of construction, from the prices of furniture materials, and from the meltdown of the world economy as a whole, while the construction sector around the world encountered also the same problems during 11 months of this year.

“As for Cambodia, the labor unions say that 30% of the construction workers are laid off, and various projects are suspended. The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction said that Cambodia had between 45,000 and 50,000 workers employed, with salaries between US$60 and US$1,200.

“Senior Minister and Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction H.E. Im Chhun Lim said that such meltdown happened at the same time of foreign investment projects being under development, and it is forecast that in 2009 the decline will continue.

“The problems in the construction sector strongly affect the prices of construction materials… prices declined around 30% to 40%; but even so, such materials cannot be sold, and businesspeople who had invested in this sector mostly did it depending on bank loans.

“He went on to say that big construction projects, such as the construction projects of the CamKo City [Cambodian-Korean City], or the double Gold Tower 42 [42 stories], and of the International Finance Center Tower, are still in progress, but they are not stable.

“Between June and November, there were around 1,869 construction sites countrywide, while in 2007, there had been 1,942.

“It is the first time that figures are released, after press reports had said that big construction projects in our country – in Phnom Penh – have all closed down.

“The president of the Cambodian Economic Association, Mr. Chan Sophal, shared his opinion that the construction sector was seriously affected during the last six months of this year, and in early 2009 it will get worse…

“The Cambodian Economy grew 10% on average during previous years, with the garment industry, tourism, and the construction sector as energetic forces.” Mate Nak, Vol.1, #16, 31.12.2008-6.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1374, 31.12.2008

  • Nine Pawn Houses’ Illegalities [accepting stolen motorcycles etc.] Were Stopped [in Phnom Penh]

Deum Ampil, Vol.2, #102, 31.12.2008-1.1.2009

  • The Supreme Court Will Decide the Fates of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun This Morning [appealing their conviction for killing the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea, in 2004 – Note: They have been released on bail!]
  • The National Assembly Decided to Allow Two Chinese Companies to Invest in the Electricity Supply System in Cambodia, Spending Around US$1 Billion [by constructing hydro-electricity dams on the Ta Tai River in Koh Kong, and the Russey Krom hydro-electricity dam near the Kravanh Mountains]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1834, 31.12.2008

  • The King Inaugurates a New Building of the Jayavarman VII Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap
  • The Ministry of Heath Prepares Six Health Hazard Warning Pictures to Be Put in Turn on Cigarette Packages
  • Israel Strongly Attacks the Hamas Group in Garza; 345 Palestinians and 4 Israelis Died [Note: After years of international criticism against the political system in the Palestinian territories, in early 2006 there were the first democratic elections – and Hamas won the majority in Gaza]
  • Sheikh Hasina Leads Election Results in Bangladesh [Note: Unofficial results say she won 255 seats, her rival only 32, out of 300]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #172, 31.12.2008

  • An Official of the Department of Education Voices Concern about the Future of Children and of Human Resources in Some Regions, where Children Drop Out of School to Become Merchandise Cart Draggers [at the Phnom Dey Cambodian-Thai border crossing point in Battambang]
  • Khmer Women Getting Married with Korean Men Wait Anxiously for Leaving [to Korea, after the ban of international marriages has been lifted]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6539, 31.12.2008

  • The Thai Parliament Met in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Continue to Block the Parliament House and Refuse to Withdraw

Mate Nak, Vol.1, #16, 31.12.2008-6.1.2009

  • 30% of Construction Workers Are Unemployed

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3653, 31.12.2008

  • [Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng Acknowledges that There Is Corruption among High Ranking Police Officers

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4782, 31.12.2008

  • The First Elevated Road in Cambodia, from Phnom Penh to Ta Khmao [in Kandal], Received Construction Permission [by the Phnom Penh Municipality]
  • Vietnam Said that Merchants Are Rushing to Smuggle Goods from the Khmer Border into Vietnam [in An Giang Province]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3467, 31.12.2008

  • Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya] Greeted [Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Mr. Hor Namhong by Phone and Plans to Visit Cambodia Officially [but the date of his visit is not yet fixed]

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

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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