Investments on Islands in the Cambodian Sea Are Full of Secrets and Corruption as They Are Not Put Up for Public Bidding – Friday, 13.8.2010

Posted on 14 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“A high ranking official of the Sam Rainsy Party demanded the government to clarify the investments by private companies on some islands in the Cambodian sea. People want to know which companies control those islands and the leasing prices, and for how long. A request was made after the Cambodian government handed over some islands to local and foreign companies for investment, but the investment opportunities were not put up to facilitate accurate and transparent public biddings.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, said that it is illegal that the government delivered these islands to private companies, and the income from these investments is not inserted into the national budget. The investment or concession arrangements for those islands are confidential and corrupt. Mr. Son Chhay, said, ‘Where will the income from the islands be taken? As a parliamentarian, we have to observe and monitor the national income, after the government had issued sub-decrees to hand those islands over to companies, but we have not seen any documents about the amount of income from these leasings and concessions.’

“Mr. Son Chhay added that islands in the sea have as high a potential for the Cambodian economy as the beaches near Kep, Koh Kong, and Sihanoukville, because they attract national and international tourists. However, the government does not put them up for public bidding; this also affects the environment, and the background of the companies is not known. He said, ‘We have received information that several Khmer islands have been handed over by the government to powerful people or to relatives of government officials, and they then leased some islands to some foreign companies, exploiting for themselves the interests of the Khmer people.’

“In his response, a Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarian and chairperson of the Commission of Economy, Finance Banking, and Audit, Mr. Cheam Yeap, acknowledged that the government did not put the investment on those islands for public auction, because the government does not have detailed plans, to show them to the clients for bidding. Since the government was not able to create detailed plans, putting them for public bidding is impossible. This recognition by such a high ranking official from the Cambodian People’s Party shows that the investment or leasing of the islands to some companies is mysterious and can be plagued by corruption.

“Mr. Son Chhay stressed that he requested the government in writing since 2006 to clarify investments and leasing of islands to some companies without transparent public bidding, but he has not received any response from the government. Now, he is collecting documents to be used as evidence about the impact and the corruption, in order to submit them to the government and ask for clarification again. The intention is to summon ministers or other government representatives to clarify these investment on some islands that are being developed – their shares were sold in Hong Kong – in order to know whether such activity is legal or not, and whether it conforms with basic procedures. If there is no clarification, it can be concluded that what was done before was the illegal sale of some islands of the country.

“In July 2010, the Ministry of Tourism cooperated with UNESCO towards the registration of some beaches of Cambodia among the world most beautiful beaches [Reference not clear, maybe the UNESCO Environment and development in coastal regions and in small islands program, concerned with ‘environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, culturally respectful and economically viable development’]. It is expected that there will be strong support from national and international tourism. Also, the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon, said that after Cambodian beaches will have been noted, the Ministry of Tourism is trying to make some Cambodian beaches to be fully listed among the world’s most beautiful beaches during the nomination next year.

“Nevertheless, non-government officials watching the environment in Cambodia noticed that some companies taking charge of island developments do not study the effects on the environment. Like on Puos Island, while there is yet no result from the developments by a Russian company, there is mysterious information and it might be related to corruption. Obviously, the Puos Island development plan has not been provided any benefit to the nation, besides environmental deterioration and impacts on the living conditions of citizens who used to do fishing near the island.

“According to expert officials, there are about 40 islands in the Khmer sea with investment potential where some have already been developed, while some others are being developed by companies such as Rong Island, P’Oun Island, Bang Island, and Puos Island. Recently, the Cambodian government provided licenses to private companies to invest on four more islands in Koh Kong, such as Sameth, Putsa, Chhan, and Toteung islands. Among those companies, there are also Yuon [Vietnamese] companies, and the development periods are up to 90 years. This might lead of the loss of Cambodian territory, as the Cambodian government does not present investment contract documents for those companies.

“A non-government organization official in Kampot said that some years ago, a Yuon company, Try Pheap, developed Tonsay Island in Kep and evicted the Khmer citizens living there from that island. At present, that Yuon company has not continued its developments. After it obtained the license, it stopped its activities. Such a problem emerged, as previously the government did not conduct public biddings and did not set clear conditions publicly before offering a license to that private company. Therefore, from now on, the government must conduct public biddings before providing licenses to companies to develop and operate on islands in the Cambodian sea, in order to avoid secret and strongly corrupt practices as in the past.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3957, 13.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 13August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2326, 13.8.2010

  • The Head of the Government [Prime Minister Hun Sen] Called for Participation [from all relevant institutions and authorities] to Save the Tonle Sap Lake That Is Suffering Various Dangers
  • The CamActive Company Was Checked [following a complaint from the Monument Books and The United Knowledge companies that have legal contracts with the Cambodian authorities with exclusive rights to import and distribute English books from the Oxford University Press – according to the police of the Ministry of the Interior], and [6,465 English] Books of the Oxford University Press Imported Illegally Were Seized [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7033, 13.8.2010

  • Hundreds of Pieces of Ebony Wood Were Found Hidden in a Site in Ang Snuol District [nobody responsible for the site has been arrested – Kratie]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3957, 13.8.2010

  • Investments on Islands in the Cambodian Sea Is Full of Secrets and Corruption as They Are Not Put UP for Public Bidding

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #29, 13.8.2010

  • [The Opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy Welcomed to Find Border Solutions [by the government that intends to bring the Cambodian-Thai border issues to the UN Security Council]
  • 100 Years Ago Misery for Korean People Started [resulting from the invasion by Japan] – It Has Just Received an Apology from Japan [through the Japanese Prime Minister]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #236, 13.8.2010

  • Taiwan Reacts against a Comment of Mr. Hun Sen [who recently stated Cambodian adherence to the One-China Policy, stating that Taiwan is just a province of China; Taiwan claims that it is an independent state]
  • The Government Will Raise Border Issues [with Thailand] when the UN Secretary General Comes to Cambodia [in October 2010 – according to the Prime Minister Hun Sen – a plan for such a visit has not been confirmed by the UN offices in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5275, 13.8.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen Asked Thailand Not to Be Afraid of the International Organizations [like ASEAN, UN, UN special representatives, or any dignitaries like the Indonesian president – if they participate in the negotiations with Cambodia and Thailand over border issues] China Will Provide US$8 Million to Construct a Road to the Preah Vihear Temple]
  • More Than 300 Hectares of Rubber Plantation Were Expropriated from the Tai Seng Company to Be Delivered to the Samaki Group [temporarily, who had controlled it since 1980s – Ratanakiri]
  • The United States of America Praised the Mine Clearance Skills of Cambodian Troops [based on the achievements of Cambodian deminers sent to Sudan under the framework of the United Nations]

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Vann Molyvann: Some Public Properties Are State Properties, but They Are under the Control of the Ruling Party – Saturday, 29.5.2010

Posted on 30 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Mr. Vann Molyvann, the greatest Khmer architect since the 1960ies, recalls pleasant memories and achievements, having designed many public constructions, but it is now important in his mind that some of his greatest achievements have been changed, and the public can no longer have access to them; that means that the management and the exploitation of those achievements serve only a small group.

“Since Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953, Mr. Vann Molyvann invested all his efforts to work with Samdech Norodom Sihanouk to organize the muddy Phnom Penh city to become a modern city, but in the late 1960ies, Cambodia fell into war, and finally the country came under control of the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime, developments which had forced Mr. Vann Molyvann to flee Cambodia, leaving behind numerous works of New Khmer Architecture.

“After living abroad for more than 20 years, Mr. Vann Molyvann returned to Cambodia and continued to work as an architect, trying to organize the city of Phnom Penh with the intention to keep the Khmer architecture for a long time. Mr. Vann Molyvann had opposed some plans that destroyed the beauty of the city, like the construction of high-rise buildings near the Royal Palace, or in the historical and cultural areas in Siem Reap, which did not satisfy some officials, and they did not appreciate the idea to conserve Khmer architecture. That caused Mr. Vann Molyvann to resign from his position in the Cambodian government.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann told Mr. Tom Waiter of The Wall Street Journal that he met [when he was student of law in France] Mr. Henri Marchal, a French expert architect, working at the French School of the Far East [which was also involved in the study and restoration of Angkor Wat], and at that time he realized that he wanted to be an architect. Then Mr. Vann Molyvann was transferred to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts – the highest institution for Arts studies, where he studied until 1950. Mr. Vann Molyvann came back to Cambodia in 1956.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann recalled that it was difficult work and a challenge the start to design some important buildings, like the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, the Independence Monument, the National Olympic Stadium, the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and especially the plan to organize Phnom Penh to become a modern city. To reorganize the city maintaining Khmer architecture was difficult, as the country had been under French colonial rule for almost 100 years, everything seemed to be full of French architecture.

“He recalls that he produced many plans for the Independence Monument and submitted them to the Head of State [Prince Sihanouk], and he was afraid to directly disagree with the Head of State about how to organize the city and other great public construction tasks in Phnom Penh. Mr. Vann Molyvann began dredging earth to fill up some areas to the south area of the Royal Palace and some other parts of Phnom Penh in order to create parks and to keep Phnom Penh clean.

“As for the National Olympic Stadium that can seat 60,000 people, it is great architecture, using Khmer style that further beautifies Phnom Penh. The Chaktomuk Conference Hall was his first plan, drafted so that it looks like an open palm leaf. The library in the Institute of Foreign Languages and the Royal University of Phnom Penh were built in Khmer style. By the early of the 1960ies, Cambodia had many great public works of constructions that were internationally admired.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann added that he had fled the country for some time when Cambodia started to have a civil war. He returned to Cambodia in 1993 and was assigned Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, in charge of land management, and his special work was to organize the World Heritage areas in Siem Reap cooperating with UNESCO. When Mr. Vann Molyvann opposed the constructions of some hotels and international entertainment places that affect the beauty and the Angkor scenery, some officials were not satisfied with him.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann went on to say that the government wanted him to use the resources of the Angkor area to develop Siem Reap without the participation from local citizens. In 1998, he was appointed as head of the Apsara Authority, and his role was to conserve ancient temples and the Angkor scenery. He said that three years later in 2001, there were disagreements among experts over the development and the use of ground water that can affect the stability of the base of ancient temples, and if there were no solutions, many ancient temples would collapse and could not last long. However, some powerful officials still kept to promote these developments against the ideas and the concepts of Mr. Vann Molyvann, which caused him to resign from his position.

“Now Mr. Vann Molyvann is old, and he returned recently to Cambodia and drove his own car to see the great works of architecture that he had built, like the Independence Monument, the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, the National Olympic Stadium, the National Library etc., and he found that they changed much. Real estate considered to be state property is not managed properly. It seems like the current rulers manage state properties just as they like, which does not serve the public interest.

Independence Monument and one-third built 42-stories Golden Double Tower

Independence Monument and one-third built 42-stories Golden Double Tower

“Actually, private companies built flats around the National Olympic Stadium, making it lose some areas formerly used for sports, and it affects the environment, as it blocks the free flow of air. Cambodia has not had a law regarding the turning of state property into private property, but so far, some state buildings have been transferred to private companies, but without transparent bidding processes. There was also collusion to exchange state buildings in the center of the city for places in the suburbs, based on private interests.

“With some sadness and anger, Mr. Vann Molyvann spoke out loudly that at present: the great architecture that he constructed with all his efforts for the public and for the interest of society no longer remains. Mr. Vann Molyvann said that those properties no longer belong to the state, as they are managed by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party instead.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann’s claim seems right, because nowadays, most state buildings are controlled by state institutions with officials from the ruling party in charge, like the Chaktomuk Conference Hall which is controlled by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and the National Olympic Stadium which is controlled by the Ministry of Education, where even Khmer Kampuchea Krom people are not allowed to use those places to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the loss of Khmer Kampuchea Krom land [to Vietnam], being denied for some illogical reasons.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #38, 29-30.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 29 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #490, 29.5.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Sent a Letter to the Ministry of Interior for the Second Time to Ask for Permission to Visit Two Prisoners [jailed for removing Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng]
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Lacks US$3.1 Million for the Process in 2010 [the Cambodian side of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal needed US$6.5 million; so far, US$3.4 million has been granted by Australia, the European Union, Germany, and Japan, so they still lack US$3.1 million]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2261, 29.5.2010

  • Two Groups of Citizens Continue to Accuse the Heng Development Company of Grabbing Their Land, now Asking for an Intervention from Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and His Wife
  • Nine Teenage Boys [between 17 and 28 years old] Lured a [19 year old] Teenage Girl and Raped Her [three of them were arrested – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6968, 29-30.5.2010

  • The Authorities Used Force to Disperse Protesters from the Area at the Independence Monument [close to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s city house]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #38, 29-30.5.2010

  • Vann Molyvann: Some Public Properties Are State Properties, but They Are under the Control of the Ruling Party
  • Creating a Law to Control Political Party Budgets Would Help to Reduce the Buying of Votes and of Paying Political Activists

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5210, 29.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asked the World Tourism Organization to Continue to Help Conserve Porpoises in Cambodia
  • Electricité du Cambodge Can Supply Only 250 Megawatt of Electricity, while the Demand for Consumption Is Up to 290 Megawatts [therefore, electricity is cut off at irregular times in some areas]

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It Is Time to Value the Riel and Stop Trading with Foreign Currencies at the Markets in Cambodia – Saturday, 22.5.2010

Posted on 23 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Earlier on, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians had frequently demanded that the National Assembly should promote the use of the Riel, and now there is a plan by the government for the de-dollarization of the economy towards the use of the Riel in general, which is welcomed immediately by the opposition party.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Yim Sovann, welcomed this plan on Friday, 21 May 2010, saying, ‘This is what we have demanded for a long time, to value our national currency and to prevent inflation by using the Riel.’ Mr. Yim Sovann told Moneaksekar Khmer, ‘During sessions of the parliament, I had often raised this issues of using the Riel in our Cambodian economy, to both enhance our national prestige and to promote the Riel in order to effectively maintain macro-economic stability.’

“Mr. Yim Sovann said so after a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance had mentioned, during a meeting on 20 May 2010, a plan of the government to de-dollarize the economy by using the Riel, considering also economic and social observations of the UNDP in Asia and the Pacific. Mr. Hang Chuonarong said that Cambodia wants to de-dollarize towards the use of the Riel. However, the Secretary of State said, ‘We want to change, but we are not sure from which step to start.’

“There is the same insight like what the opposition party had said, that only the use of the Cambodian currency can help Cambodia to maintain economic stability and its prestige. A millionaire and senator from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Kong Triv, stated in support of the initiative that Cambodia should use the Riel to show its integrity at the international arena.

“Anyway, this initiative was intensively debated on Thursday, 20 May 2010. Most participants wanted Cambodia to take effective actions to ensure the use of its currency. For years, Cambodia had been criticized for allowing the free use of foreign currencies, including the US Dollar, which is being lively traded in the markets of Cambodia – and that devalues the Riel.

“Mr. Yim Sovann said that dollar notes are used for buying and selling, including even such simple daily vegetable products like water convolvulus, and this partly devalues its own currency – something no other countries do as Cambodia does. Neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam established their central banks for exchanging foreign currencies into their countries’ currencies. Everywhere in Yuon [Vietnam], the Dong is used. He added that tourists as well as investors exchange Dollar notes or their countries’ currencies when they leave Cambodia [for Thailand of Vietnam].

“As for foreign currencies used in Cambodia, it is not only the US Dollar. In some provinces of Cambodia bordering Siam [Thailand] and Yuon, their currencies are also invading . For example, if one want to go to Bavet in Svay Rieng or to Phnom Din district in Takeo, one needs to exchange Riels and Dollars for Dongs in advance. And if one wants to go to Oddar Meanchey or to Koh Kong, one needs to exchange money to have Thai Baht, because at those places, Riel notes are not used in general, and some common vendors do not even know Khmer Riel notes well.

“The most important problem is that earlier on as well as recently, it had been reported that the Koh Kong Water Supply and Electricity Authority – exclusively controlled by a local millionaire and senator from the Cambodian People’s Party, Ly Yong Phat, known to hold a Siamese identification card – officially decided to order the citizens in the town to settle their electricity bills with Thai Baht. This seems to show to have indirectly cut-off the province of Koh Kong from Cambodia and attached it to Siam.

“This bad decision, that leads to the devaluation of one’s own currency, seems to be a part of the devaluation of the national identity, and it is seen to originate from the Cambodian government itself, as most bidding and expense-income projects of the state are settled by using US Dollars rather than Riels. Therefore, the Cambodian People’s Party government has to be awake and stop devaluing its own currency. If it prints Riel notes, but does not use them broadly in the country, it is useless to print them and to waste national resources on it. In fact, it is not a good practice when a nation does not support its own country, but values the currencies of other nations.

“At present, the Riel of Cambodia is not used broadly to settle the account of important products – which is very dangerous for Cambodia. Thus, the government should reconsider the demands mentioned above by the opposition party and in a timely way introduce new strategies to guarantee the potential of the Riel in the markets.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3886, 22-23.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 22 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #484, 22.5.2010

  • Cambodia Supports a Statement of Vietnam That Expresses Concern about the Situation in Siam [Thailand]
  • Cambodia Is among the Twenty Countries around the World to Receive [direct agricultural] Aid from the United States of America
  • [Oknha] Mong Riththy: Collecting Taxes for Pigs Imported from Neighboring Countries Will Help Farmers [each year Cambodia loses US$146 million on imported pigs]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2255, 22.5.2010

  • Wood Trading Still Continues Strongly in Oddar Meanchey
  • According to Latest Information, 85 Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the Thai Government] Died and 1,898 Were Injured
  • Agricultural Officials Encourage Citizens to Grow Foreign Grass [it contains higher nutrition than local grass]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6962, 22-23.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sun Asked for a Reduction of Wood Consumption, but Suggested the Use of Iron and Cement Instead in Order to Reduce Logging
  • The Koh Kong Town Runs Out of Clean Water as the Water Reservoir Dries Up Due to the Too Hot Weather
  • Mr. Philippe Gréciano [professor at the university of Grenoble in France, who has also worked at the international genocide court it Rwanda] Is Appointed as Defense Lawyer of [former Khmer Rouge leader] Khiev Samphan

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3886, 22-23.5.2010

  • It Is Time to Value the Riel and Stop Trading with Foreign Currencies at the Markets in Cambodia

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5204, 22.5.2010

  • Five People Trafficking Humans across the Border Were Arrested and Seventeen Victims Were Freed [Sampov Loun district, Battambang]
  • The Destructions in Bangkok Amounts to US$1.5 Billion

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Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree – Friday, 21.5.2010

Posted on 22 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: Important positions of some officials – such as police, customs, and CamControl – at border crossings for international travelers and at border crossings for local travel are, at present, not reassigned properly, contrary to the terms that are clearly set by the Royal Government in a sub-decree.

“Sub-Decree 64, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 2001, that consists of 13 chapters and 39 articles, clearly speaks about the structure for the administration, and the roles and terms of the officials that must be followed.

“According to Chapter 8, about the terms in Article 29, the head of border crossings for international travelers, and the officers at border crossings for local travel, the heads of sea ports, and the heads of other expert authorities must be reshuffled every two years. According to Article 30, officials stationed at border crossings for international travelers, and at other border crossings, will be reshuffled every year.

“But in reality, those officials collude with each other systematically, and important officials are not reshuffled according the terms as clearly stated in the Sub-Decree of the Royal Government. On the contrary, most officials holding important positions, such as in the police, or as tax and custom officers at international border crossings, and at other border crossing for local traffic, stay in their lucrative positions more than five years, and some even up to eight years, and the relevant ministries do not reassign them. In addition, the number of ‘mixed officials’ [police, tax officials, CamControl, and local authorities] at each international border crossing point is too high.

“It is seen that when related ministries and institutions do not implement the terms for the officials working at international and other border crossings for relevant ministries for years, without being reassigned, those officials use their positions to commit all kinds of corruption. They commit dishonest activities for personal gain and seek money for bribing the higher levels, so that they can stay in their positions longer, which leads to the loss of income for the state.

“In Chapter 11 of the Sub-Decree about penalties, Article 35 clearly states that officials who take the opportunity to use their positions and power to arbitrarily create difficulties for travelers, for for owners of vehicles, and relate to all types of goods crossing the border, or who violate their duties, will be convicted according to the law. However, in reality, none of them has been punished. Officials working at the same border crossing for several years usually make the citizens, and especially big traders feel afraid of them, as they think that officials who can stay at their posts for many years are not normal cases: they must have the backing of some high ranking officials. This allows those officials to do whatever they want.

“The Sub-Decree also established a monitoring procedure, with a representatives from the Council of Ministers as the head, and representatives from other ministries and institutions, and from the related municipalities, according to a notification from a Minister of the Council of Ministers, to monitor the activities and to checking the related offices, in order to report to the head of the government.

“But the mechanism seems ineffective for the day-to-day activities at international and other border crossings. Some police, customs, and CamCotrol officials are not reshuffled as required according to the sub-decree. Those officials use money collected at the border crossings to control the flow of document themselves. Some do this directly with the departments and their staff at each ministry. Others do it directly through the Customs Office, so that they can hold their positions at border crossings for years.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen warned on 6 April 2010 during the closing convention of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, that even if they fail to reshuffle, officials will be punished according to their terms that seem to allow those officials to commit corruption systematically as they know the place well.

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, told reporters that through direct monitoring at some international border crossings, such as the Poipet border crossing, the international seaport in Sihanoukville, and the Smach international border crossing in Komopong Cham, there are many organizational structures of administration, and more than 1,000 coalition personnel involved, including police, military, and CamControl officials, and local authorities.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap added that the collection of state income is destroyed by corruption, committed by a small number of people working at those border crossing points. If an official takes, personally, just Baht 5 or Riel 1,000 or Riel 500 to buy something to eat, pretty much money is lost. They cause difficulties for the trading of citizens and of national and international investors. He suggested that the number of those officials should be reduced by half in order that much benefit can be contributed to Cambodia.

“Therefore, related ministries must check these unclear points, because the collusion not to reshuffle important positions of officials at international and other border crossings, and the too high number of officials, seriously violates the Sub-Decree signed by the head of the Royal Government.

“Many officials who do not have high ranking officials backing them and have no money to bribe higher levels, complained that they could not stay at good posts like others, because those working at such good posts are not reshuffled as before, but there are biddings for positions. This is a bad model for law enforcement which requires reforms.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 21 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #483, 21.5.2010

  • The Phanpimex Company Destroyed a State Electricity Cabin to Claim Land [Phnom Penh]
  • The Garment Sector Creates Employment for More Than 300,000 Workers [in Cambodia, despite of the global economic crisis]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2254, 21.5.2010

  • Robbers Armed with AK Rifles Robbed a Village Chief in Banon District, Battambang [taking away some money and jewelries]
  • Opportunists Committed Looting and Robberies and Burnt Down [about 35] Buildings in Bangkok

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #769, 21.5.2010

  • The Great Heroic King [the former King] Should Raise the Restricted Freedom and Human Rights Issues of Kampuchea Krom People in His Meetings with Yuon [Vietnamese] Leaders during His Visit to Yuon [Vietnam – no date of his visit is specified]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #661, 21.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Yim Sovann: Mr. Om Yentieng Has Made No Achievements in Combating Corruption [recently, Mr. Om Yentieng was nominated head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – he will be automatically also a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, the body that is supervising the Anti-Corruption Unit; it seems that this construction implies that the head of the Unit is also supervising himself]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6961, 21.5.2010

  • More Than 30 Buildings Were Burnt Down in Bangkok – the International Community [the European Union and the United States of America] Condemned the Violent Suppression, but Were also Surprised with the Violence of the Demonstrators
  • In a Raid on a Drug Site in Sihanoukville, Sixteen People Were Arrested [for drug smuggling]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3885, 21.5.2010

  • The Opposition Party Calls the Prohibition to Visit [two] Farmers Being Jailed [for removing border markers in Svay Rieng] a Breach of the Rights of Parliamentarians

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #176, 21.5.2010

  • The Cambodian People’s Party Will Create Quick Reaction Youth Teams Countrywide [before the elections in 2012 and 2013]
  • The Nomination of Mr. Om Yentieng [a senior advisor of the Prime Minister] Invites Criticism [he was appointed by Prime Minister Hun Sen as the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit – the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that Mr. Om Yentieng is not able to fight corruption as head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee of Cambodia under the Council of Ministers, and also, he might be influenced by Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5203, 21.5.2010

  • Most of the Important Positions at International Border Crossings Are Not Reassigned, not Following a Sub-Decree
  • Cambodia Loses US$45 Million Each Year due to the Import of Pigs from Thailand [about one million pigs are imported to Cambodia each year, affecting local pig raisers; according to the head of the Cambodian Macro, Small, Medium Enterprise Project [MSME] of USAID, Mr. Curtis Hundley]

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Malaysian “Investments” – Saturday, 15.5.2010

Posted on 17 May 2010. Filed under: Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

Note:

After having been knocked out late on Monday, 10.5.2010, by a bad, but not clearly identified intestinal infection, I am sorry that I could not earlier, and cannot more speedily, catch up again, but maybe it will be done by Monday, 17.5.2010, noon.

Because of the King’s Birthday National Holiday on 13.5.2010, which was extended into further days, it is now intended to have publications, during the current week, only for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Norbert Klein
Editor of the Mirror

I welcome to see Comments in response to publications on The Mirror. When there are Comments, I consider them not as “Letters to the Editor,” but as comments, and I hope other readers may also comment on the Comments.

But the the special situation of this week allows me to respond directly to one comment in detail.

In response to our translated article headline “Malaysian Investors and Investments Are Coming to Cambodia while Cambodia Is Still Unable to Export Its Products” on Monday, 10.5.2010, there was the following Comment noted:

“Do you find this investment not good to your country??”

The “you” is obviously not myself, but the journalist of Khmer Amatak who wrote the article – or all readers in Cambodia. But I will present some subsequent information from the local press.

Before the Billion-Dollar – US$! – deals were signed, there was not much known about their content, only that they would have a total volume of about US$1 billion. This is somewhat surprising, as Article 90 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says: “The National Assembly is an organ which has legislative power, and performs its duties as provided for in the constitution and laws. The National Assembly shall approve the national budget, State planning, loans, financial contracts, and the creation, modification and annulment of tax.” As the financial contracts would also involve one between a Malaysian private company and the Cambodian government, some information towards the National Assembly and the public might have been expected.

All reports in the press welcomed this huge Malaysian investment – for example the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, was quoted in The Cambodia Daily saying “he was aware of the deals and believed that the investment would be a huge plus for the Cambodian economy.”

The climate of the reporting changed later, however, after it was revealed that the major part of the deals – the contract between the Malaysian company Nexbis and the Cambodian government (to provide items to print, including identity cards, passports, and visa – the contract is with the Cambodian Ministry of Interior) was not a Malaysian investment, but a contract for which the Cambodian government will have to pay US$700 million – an amount which corresponds to about 35% of the Cambodian government’s budget for 2010. This payment obligation covers the major part of the “one billion deal” which had been considered to be Malaysian investments in Cambodia.

Some comments were reported in The Cambodia Daily:

  • “That’s a very sizable sum” – Bretton Sciaroni, chairman of the International Business Club.
  • “I am in darkness. I know nothing” – the spokesperson of the Ministry of Information, Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak.
  • No information provided – the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Koy Kuong.
  • National Police spokesperson Kirth Chanthatith said he did not know “what was going on.”
  • Ministry of Interior foreign police department in charge of visas Pen Piseth said he knew nothing.
  • Deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s passport department said he was completely unaware of the deal.
  • The director of the Immigration Department of the National Police Thong Lim: “I do not know about the deal.”
  • The Secretary General of the Ministry of Finance and Economy Hang Chuon Naron said he was unaware of the deal, “I don’t have any information about this. But I think it is not realistic.”

No surprise that now the question is raised, how this deal was concluded – obviously without an open process of competitive bidding. And the question of priorities, to find US$700 million for one of the biggest single deal ever entered into, has not been discussed in the National Assembly, responsible for the national budget.

And in addition, questions are raised about the nature of the company Nexbis – formerly Entertainment Media & Telecoms Corporation – which was hardly known in Cambodia. Now more and more information is coming from Australia, where Nexbis is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange – but it has not reported the Cambodian deal.

In closing, I repeat the Comment received. It is a question to the readers of The Mirror: “Do you find this investment not good to your country?”

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Seven Companies Receive Economic Concession Land from the Government – Saturday, 8.5.2010

Posted on 8 May 2010. Filed under: Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“Phnom Penh: Seven local and foreign companies received economic concession land from the Royal Government of Cambodia to grow agro-industrial crops and trees. The agreement to provide concision land was made on 5 May 2010 at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and was chaired by Minister Chan Sarun.

“In front of the participants and leaders of the companies that got concession land, the Minister of Agriculture expressed appreciation for those companies as they are trusted by the Royal Government. And he suggested to those companies to invest more, to promote a proper and sustainable ago-industrial sector, based on plans that include the exchange of techniques, the creation of jobs, and the increase of income and of health services, roads, and agricultural markets. He asked those companies to care about protecting the environment in order to avoid, and to reduce, as much as possible bad impacts on the environment because of their investment operations, to promote the plantation of trees, especially rubber trees, and the manufacturing for export, based on a proper sharing of benefits between the investors and the state.

“The seven companies that received economic concession land:

  1. PLT Company, 7,900 hectares in Rovieng district, Preah Vihear, for planting rubber trees
  2. CRCK Rubber Development company, 6,044 hectares in Sandan district, Kompong Thom, for planting rubber trees
  3. Hua Ling company, 7,773 hectares in O’ Reang Euv district and Monorum district in Mondolkiri, to plant Srol trees [a type of pine trees; its rosin is of better quality than that of rubber trees]
  4. CCV company, 5,730 hectares in Santuk district, Kompong Thom, for planting acacia
  5. IPD Instance Pro-Trading, 987 hectares in Sambou district, Kratie, for planting rubber trees
  6. Camtri Corporation, 2,409 hectares in Chhouk district, Kampot, for planting acacia trees
  7. Krongbuk-Ratanakiri Rubber Development Company, 6,695 hectares in Andong Meas district, Ratanakiri, for planting rubber trees.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5192, 8.5.2010

Note:

The article contains:

  • No information which company is national, and which is foreign
  • No information about the bidding process through which these companies “received economic concession land from the government”
  • There is no information presented about any financial conditions that had to be met to receive these contracts
  • There is no information given about the number of years covered by the various contracts
  • The minister asked those companies to care about protecting the environment, but there is no information given whether and what kind of measurable data for the protection of the environment are part of the concession contracts, and what kind of penalty regulations have been contracted, in case the environment protection regulations might be violated
  • What is considered to be “proper sharing of benefits between the investors and the state” is not spelled out in terms of monetary or percentage figures.

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 8 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #472, 8.5.2010

  • The National Assembly Adopted a Law about the Creation of [six] More Consulates in China [at important cities of China to facilitate trade related visits between the two countries]
  • Korea Grants US$3.3 Million to Support the Health Sector in Siem Reap
  • The European Union and Cambodia Jointly Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Creation of the European Union [on 9 May 2010 – the date relates to a programmatic speech by Robert Schuman, Foreign Minister of France between 1948-1952, on 9 May 1950. – The Mirror editorial tomorrow will deal with this in detail – relating also to relations within ASEAN]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2243, 8.5.2010

  • The Heng Development Company Is Accused of Violating 4,000 Hectares of Residents of Four Communes in Kandal Stung District [in Kandal; around 250 citizens came to protest in front of the residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh]
  • Son of [the Kompong Speu deputy governor] Mr. Tong Seng Drove His Car to [intentionally] Hit a Worker [working at his ice factory, because the worker demanded his salary that had not been paid for four months], but the Authorities Released the Driver [after there had been interventions from generals – Kandal]
  • Leaders of Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the government] Agreed to Disperse on 10 May 2010

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #650, 8.5.2010

  • [Opposition part parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Many Questions [about payments from foreign companies to Cambodia related to mineral and oil concessions] Were Not Answered by the Government

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6950, 8-9.5.2010

  • The Authorities Require Land Owners of 3,177 Unused Plots of Land in Seven Districts in Phnom Penh to Pay Land Tax to the State
  • The Chamkar Mon Authorities Raided Four Night Clubs Including the “Young Girl Night Club” Where There Were Many Teenage Girls [Phnom Penh. – The Owners of three clubs were arrested for involvement with drug distribution, and nude dance presentations; the fourth club was not found to have committed any violations]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3874, 8-9.5.2010

  • The Honor of the Poipet Immigration Police Is Getting Lost as They Extort Money from Workers
  • A Luxury Grade Wood Storehouse in Sihanoukville Was Checked, and 10 Cubic Meter of Wood Was Found Buried in the Ground

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5192, 8.5.2010

  • Seven Companies Receive Economic Concession Land from the Government
  • Early 2010, the Number of Cambodian Workers Who Migrate Abroad Increased [from January to April 2010, 2,607 workers were sent to work in Malaysia and 500 to Korea]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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The Preah Vihear Authorities Sold More Than 70 Cubic Meters of Luxury Wood Seized from Illegal Wood Traders – Saturday, 13.2.2010

Posted on 14 February 2010. Filed under: Week 651 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 651

“Preah Vihear: The Preah Vihear authorities decided to sell 76 cubic meters of luxury wood, including wood of the second quality type, on 10 February 2010, without putting it up for pubic bidding. The wood had been seized by combined provincial forces [where forestry administration forces, military police, and police may cooperate] from illegal wood traders in 2009.

“In the afternoon of 10 February 2010, it was seen that more than 20 wood traders and forestry administration officials were collecting Beng, Kronhoung, Neang Nuon, and Thnung wood and 8 cubic meters of second quality wood onto nine trucks.

At 15:36, civil servants of the Preah Vihear Municipality said that they saw three trucks coming into the Preah Vihear Municipality compound to take the wood. Those trucks [made by the Korean company] Hyundai, were each loaded with 30 cubic meters of wood. At that time, journalists came to ask about compliance with the law regarding the permission for the transport of such wood, but the Tbaeng Meanchey district forestry administration chief, Mr Mom Sophal, said that journalists should not publish anything about it, and he would not provide a legal document from the forestry administration showing that it is allowed to sell the wood.

“Journalists continued to ask where the wood was being transported to. A wood trader appeared to claim that journalists did not need to ask such a question. He seemed to have appeared just to protect the wood by saying a few words, and then he became silent.

“After that, the head of the Tbaeng Meanchey district forestry administration strongly warned the journalists, saying that if they wanted to know whether the sale of the wood had been legalized or not, they should ask the Preah Vihear forestry administration chief, and he then stopped saying anything more.

“At the same day at 16:33, journalists contacted the Preah Vihear forestry administration chief, Mr. Pol Khamnara by phone, to clarify the case that wood traders had come into the Preah Vihear Municipality compound to take the wood away, but he said he was in Phnom Penh to attend a court hearing related to the case of the deputy governor Mr. Meas Saroeun, and as far as he knew, the Municipality allowed the wood to be transported to Prey Veng, and he suggested that if the journalist wanted to know more, they should ask the district forestry administration chief Mr. Nong Khemarin. When journalists approached Mr. Nong Khemarin, he said that those wood traders had received a legal permission to take the wood away. But when journalists asked him about the related legal document, he said that he had not yet seen it, so he had nothing to show. As for the Preah Vihear governor, Mr. Oum Mara, he could not be reached for comment as phone calls could not get through.

“It should be noted that during the last four years, there have been more truck transports by nearly 10 trucks loaded with Beng, Kronhoung, Neang Nuon, and Thnung wood. Whenever journalists asked for legal documents, the forestry administration chiefs claimed that the wood transports had been permitted by the law, but they never allowed journalists to see the documents.

“They frequently used the names of ministers [claiming that the ministers supported them] to warn the journalists.

“At 17:00., the journalists received a phone call from an official of the Preah Vihear court who said that he had not seen any legal documents. That official explained that the seized wood can be sold only after the court issues a permit allowing the forestry administration to put it up for bidding first.

“In Preah Vihear, luxury wood is being transported by wood traders all the time, and every time when they transport luxury wood out of the province, the phones of the relevant officials are all switched off, or nobody answers the phone calls. Kronhoung wood is being transported on various routes. Some goes through Nation Road 62 [towards Phnom Penh], and more than half of the remaining wood is transported by the wood traders from Sra Em village to Trapeang Prasat district and on to Oddar Meanchey, crossing Siem Reap, Kompong Thom, and Kompong Cham, to be sold at the Vietnamese border.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5125, 13.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 13 February 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2176, 13.2.2010

  • A Siamese [Thai] Black Clad Soldier [in the uniform of the Thai special border protection unit] Who Came to Lay Land Mines in Cambodia, Was Sentenced to Serve 20 Years in Prison
  • An Anti-Maritime-Mine Naval Ship [of the US Navy] Arrived in Cambodia for Joint Exercises [with the Cambodian navy]
  • One Million Red Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Prepare to Demonstrate in Thailand on 20 February 2010

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6883, 13-14.2.2010

  • The Shukaku Company Is Actively Developing the Boeng Kak Lake Area and So Far, 50% of the Lake Has Been Filled with Dredged Sand [only the sand filling is described as its “actively developing” activities – a construction and management plan – what is to happen on the adjacent land from which the residents are evicted – has not been made public]
  • At 9:00 A.M. of 11 February 2010, a Cambodian Flag Was Erected on Wat Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak, also called Wat Prasat [at the border with Thailand, in a contested buffer zone]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5125, 13.2.2010

  • The Preah Vihear Authorities Sold More Than 70 Cubic Meters of Luxury Wood Seized from Illegal Wood Traders
  • [Former Khmer Rouge leader] Khiev Samphan Said He Was a Powerless Head of State of the Khmer Rouge Regime
  • The International Fund for Agricultural Development Granted US$13,3 Million [for poverty reduction projects, and for the development of small-scale agriculture in the Tonle Sap area]
  • The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization Announced that there are Serious Diarrhea Cases [but denied it is cholera [[as claimed by others on the basis of bacteriological proof]] and therefore declared there is no need to declare a cholera emergency]
  • A Truck Drove over a Female Garment Worker and Killed Her [Phnom Penh]

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An Opposition Party: The Government Should Control the Cambodia Air Traffic Service Itself – Monday, 23.11.2009

Posted on 24 November 2009. Filed under: Week 640 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 640

“There had been several reports that information about confidential flight plans by the Cambodia Air Traffic Service (CATS) controlled by Thai people were leaked. The opposition party has demanded that the government should take control of the air traffic control itself, but there is no response. And now everything seems somewhat too late.

“The spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Yim Sovann, spoke to the media late last week, saying that the government should take the CATS company under its control to ensure that there is no economic loss, and it would be easier for the government to control national secrets. Mr. Yim Sovann said, ‘The Sam Rainsy Party had mentioned this case many times before, suggesting that all these important tasks should not be given to foreigners, and the government should control it by itself. But the state does not care.’

“In January 2001, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation of the Cambodian government signed an agreement with the [Thai] Samart Corporation, providing an exclusive license for 22 years to this company, to organize, operate, and maintain a system for air traffic routing for civil aviation companies in Cambodia, and this company is also required to conform to the technical standards of BCT [an aviation maintenace company]. After receiving the license from the Cambodian government, Samart very quickly prepared the bidding procedure for the radar system and set up the necessary tools needed for its effective air traffic control operations.

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, agreed that it would be very good if the government would reconsider the air traffic control agreement with the Thai side. He added that Cambodia should have the ability to control this company, rather than allow foreigners to continue to control it. He said, ‘We should recheck that investment agreement, and we should check whether our human resources can take the place of the foreigners.’ He explained that Cambodia jointly created the company CATS with Thailand, because, at that time, Cambodia did not have sufficient experts, and air traffic was not so busy [like it is at present]. Mr. Cheam Yeap went on to say that to continue to let foreigners do the air traffic control affects the security of our nation through the secret release of confidential information to their government, adding that foreigners are not honest to us. He said, ‘Do not trust foreigners but only those having the same blood as Khmers. If we let them be at that place, they might release confidential information about national security, as one Thai person did already. They are not 100% honest towards us.’

“Mr. Cheam Yeap continued to say that according to new Article 90 of the Constitution of Cambodia, the Royal Government can make a request to the National Assembly [“The National Assembly shall approve the national budget, State planning, loans, financial contracts, and the creation, modification and annulment of tax.”]. Then the National Assembly will exercise its right to cancel any contract that can affect the national interest. The Thai spy can be considered as proof to cancel that contract. Another Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, said that the opposition party had expressed concerns since the beginning about problems of national security. Now, it happened as the Sam Rainsy Party had been concerned. He said he will write a letter to the government, because it is related to national security.

“He said, ‘I also saw information about the arrest of the Thai spy. I think it is an opportunity to respond to the Ministry of Defense and the Council of Ministers which had claimed that there would be no problems, but the problem exists now, and I want to know what measures they take.’ He emphasized that he will write a letter this week to the government to request it to check the control over the CATS company.

“Because of the secret copy of the flight plan of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, the Cambodia government ordered all Thai [CATS] personnel to stop working, after Mr. Siwarak Chutiphong, 31, had been arrested for spying, while the eternal friend of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Thaksin Shinawatra, visited Cambodia, to give a lecture about the Cambodian economy, as he is now an economic advisor of Cambodia.” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1817, 23.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 23 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #343, 23.11.2009

  • Forty Eight [not well-known] Civil Society Organizations Support the Suspension of Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [according to their joint statement]
  • The Ministry of Information Asks All Television Stations to Accept to Broadcast Advertisements for Khmer Sports and to Stop Broadcasting Foreign Sports
  • Forty Two People Died, Sixty Six Are Missing, and More Than 100 Were Injured through an Explosion in a Coal Mine [in China]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2105, 22-23.11.2009

  • A Lawyer Will Request Bail for Siwarak Chutiphong on Monday [this Thai engineer was arrested for copying the flight plans of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra to send them to Thailand]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #436, 22-23.11.2009

  • The Government Recognized that there Is Waste of National Resources and there are Wrongly Allocated Expenses

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6812, 23.11.2009

  • The Three Samdechs [Samdech Hun Sen, the Prime Minister; Samdech Heng Samrin, the President of the National Assembly, and Samdech Chea Sim, the President of the Senate] Responded to Samdech Euv [the former King] that the Setting of Border Markers and of the Border Line Is Done Based on the Map Deposited at the United Nations in 1964
  • 40,000 Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of Thai ousted and fugitive Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Prepare to Demonstrate against [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva in Chiang Mai, while 1,000 Yellow-Shirt Demonstrators Rallied to Demand the 4.6 Square Kilometer Land [near the Preah Vihear Temple]
  • A Man like an Animal Raped His 10-Year-Old Daughter Three Times, and then He Was Arrested [Kandal]
  • A French Man Took an Underage Girl to Have Sexual Relations into a Guesthouse and Was Arrested [Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #51, 23.11.2009

  • A Thai Engineer Acknowledged that He Provided Information [about the fight plans of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra] to the [Thai] Embassy [in Phnom Penh]
  • Vietnam Has Invested US$600 Million in Rubber Plantations in Cambodia [it plans to plant rubber trees on 100,000 hectares of land in Mondolkiri, Kompong Thom, Kratie, and Ratanakiri by 2012]
  • Supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra Warned to Kill [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva [by blowing up his car during his visit to Chiang Mai]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #50, 22-23.11.2009

  • Former US President [Jimmy Carter] Helped to Build 21 New Houses for Poor Cambodians [Kompong Speu]
  • [Two] Robbers Shot at a Student to Rob His Motorbike, but the Bullets Ricocheted and Hit and Injured Two Children [who were playing in front of their house during the robbery; the robbers escaped – Phnom Penh]
  • The Number of Deaths from Swine Flu [A/H1N1] Has Increased to 6,660 [worldwide, according to the World Health Organization]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1817, 23.11.2009

  • An Opposition Party: The Government Should Control the Cambodia Air Traffic Service Itself

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3,500, 22.11.2009

  • Cambodian Expands Diplomatic Ties in New York [the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is responsible to organize documentation to establish diplomatic ties with some countries that have not established contacts with Cambodia]

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Knowing – Using – or Disregarding the Law – Sunday, 18.10.2009

Posted on 20 October 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 634 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634

Discussions about the law, or actions without much awareness or even disregard for the law, are reaching the media regularly, sometimes in increasing numbers – just like now. This reflects, of course, also a general awareness in certain sections of the public.

Whoever mentions the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia is mostly happy about it, and since the introduction of the Senate into to political structures of the country, there was hardly any suggestion that the Constitution should be changed – though there have been repeated pleas that its implementation should be improved. Though one member of the National Assembly is reported to have said recently he regrets that the death penalty is excluded by the Constitution – an opinion quite contrary to international developments during the last decade.

But that does not mean that it is always clear how certain basic statements in the Constitution are to be translated into practice. The conflicts between different mobile phone service providers, going on since a couple of weeks already, have shown this.

The Constitution simply says in Articles 56, 57, and 63:

  • “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall adopt the market economy system.
  • The preparation and process of this economic system shall be determined by the law.
  • Tax collection shall be in accordance with the law…
  • The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

But had it been “determined by law” what, for example, as we mirrored on 15 October 2009, that “Road Tax Checking for 2009 Will Begin on 16 October 2009 Countrywide.” Why only now in October, one might ask – does this boost tax income, or did it delay payments to the state by those who have enough resources to own motorized vehicles?

The charges and payment methods of several old and new mobile phone providers – all supposedly operating according to a market economy system – led not only to confrontative discussions among them, but also to a disruption of certain services: some systems were said to not have forwarded calls to some other systems – the users, the consumers, suffered from these conflicts, so that finally appeals to the government were made to find solutions.

What had happened? Some newer companies had started to offer new fee and payment systems, including free calls between users of the same system, but charging for calls to others networks. Competitive pricing seemed for those who offered it within the market economy system, as in many other countries – where it is left to the market to see which company survives with the response they get from their customers.

The Constitution, concerned with the most favorable results for the end consumer, seems to support this also:

  • “The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

Cheaper communication costs seem to fulfill this goal.

It is always a good practice so look at innovative approaches in other countries – not necessarily to follow everything, but to seriously consider solutions others found in their context:

Earlier this year, the Tata corporation of India, dealing with cars, telecommunications, and steel, is setting up with the Japanese DOCOMO company, a new cellular service in the Indian market, where there are already more than 350 million customers. So Tata DOCOMO had to find ways to compete. All very similar to Cambodia – but on a much smaller scale. Tata DOCOMO used special lower cost pricing – charging per second where others charge per minute, charging SMS by the number of of letters sent, and not per message.

But it seems that decisions have been taken in Cambodia not to allow a “free market management,” by not allowing some companies to offer their customers free services. And even a special private company will be introduced to do the work which in many other countries is one of the tasks of the regulators, not of another private company – doing public coordination – which was not formed as a not-for-profit, and not by public bidding.

Not according to existing laws, but by administrative intervention, a market problem is being solved.

During the week, another crucial problem of acting within and according to the framework of the law was raised: Who knows what the law says – how is this made know? Known to the citizens what rights they have, and know to the law enforcement agents throughout the country – the police and the courts – which rights of the citizens they have to protect.

We repeat some observations from Saturday, 19.10.2009 – more details and the source is there:

Civil Society Wants to See that the Government Publishes the Contents of Law as Broadly as It Does at the National Assembly

“Though Article 13 of the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Council of Ministers (1994) provides that “all norms and standards with general effect must be published in the Official Gazette,” the publication of Cambodian laws is intermittent, incomplete and poorly distributed…

“On the basis of the Cambodian specific experience … there is an argument that the publication and distribution of law in electronic form is an appropriate tool to address the question of access to information in a legal system which has operated without adequate access to even the most basic legal information.

“Though there are issues to consider with regard to the development of a legal information system which will work in the Cambodian context, the country would appear to be at a juncture whereby there is sufficient political will to commence a dialogue with government, academia and civil society with a view to developing a model for the sustainable provision of legal information via the internet. Ideally, any movements in this direction would be accompanied by a regulation requiring all institutions of state to provide certain identified classes of documents for free electronic distribution…”

But there are different opinions about the sequence in which new legislation is needed in society: “The Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers Said that an Anti-Corruption Law Should Be Created before a Demonstration Law.” Why this sequence? “Because if corruption can be prevented, workers and citizens in general will not demonstrate or strike.”

Of course there are also those who just don’t seem to care, as long as the law enforcement leadership of the country does not care either, as we had mirrored:

“Koh Kong, Kompong Thom, and Prey Veng Governors Do not Care about Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Crack Down On Gambling”

.

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Construction Bidders: US$17 Million to Construct Health Buildings Is Stalled because of Foreign Advisors – Tuesday 3.2.2009

Posted on 3 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

“Phnom Penh: A US$17 million loan from the World Bank to build referral hospitals at provinces as well as many health centers and posts has been stalled for two years, because of a lack of management competency of foreign advisors from LBG [unclear what LBG stands for in the original – maybe the quantity surveyor company LBG-NGT Corporation from Tuas/Singapore – but maybe not]. This was stated by construction bidders who attended biddings to implement this project.

“Construction bidders criticized that for two years, there has been no construction, but there were one or two biddings. Because of this slowness, the construction of up to 10 referral hospitals and many health centers and posts in most provinces, worth more than US$10 million, has been stalled until now.

“The same source added that though recruitment for the construction project was transferred to IPA [unclear what IPA stands for in the original – maybe the recruitment company Independence Procurement Agency – but maybe not] by the Ministry of Economy and Finance recently, this project still faces the possibility of failure. It is said that the trouble originates from the LBG advisors .

“The source blamed that the technical advisors of LBG are incompetent to do the managing, and furthermore, in the plans, there are no calculations based on standard formulas and on proper construction standards. This is a major obstacle for the construction bidders, and even though many companies had protested against the mistakes of the LBG technical advisors, there was no action taken by the Healthcare Services Specification Project of the Ministry of Health.

“According to the bidders, the project was put for bidding again for a second time at the end of 2008, but still there were not many bidders attending. There will be a third bidding, and this may be continue forever.

“Bidders know well that even if one or two more biddings are held, there still will be no bidders.

“Moreover, the rushed delivering of contracts for two projects, the Kampot and the Stung Treng referral hospitals, worth more than US$2 million, in mid February 2009 by IPA, leads to a loss of tens of thousands of dollars, because the price of the bidding for this project was 60% to 80% higher compared to the formerly calculated price.

“The source went on to say that the construction processes at most places have been stalled for years, which makes the expenses for technical advisors to increase by more than 20%, which is most highly problematic. Bidders criticized this and also requested that leaders of the Ministry of Health should check the contracts between the ministry and LBG advisors urgently. At the same time, they have to recheck the management system at the secretariat supporting the heath sector.

“Bidders still remember Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s former words, saying that substantial expenses for foreign advisor services were right. Bidders emphasize that this is not acceptable. Everyone knows that better health services in rural areas are desperately needed by citizens almost everywhere, and also in this priority sector of the Royal Government, which is to be strengthened. Thus, the above source calls on the Ministry of Health to thoroughly check and take action against any negative points, or any individual who wastes a lot of national resources, because all money to support the health sector comes from all Cambodian citizens who will have to repay the loan to the World Bank in the future.

“Regarding what is mentioned above, Rasmei Kampuchea tried to contact the secretariat of the Ministry of Health, and LBG, for explanations, but could not reach them.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4835, 3.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #29, 3.3.2009

  • Co-Lawyers of [former Khmer Rouge leader] Nuon Chea Ask the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to Question [former King] Samdech Sihanouk, [Prime Minister and Vice-President of the Cambodian People’s Party – CPP] Hun Sen, [President of the Senate and President of the CPP] Chea Sim and [President of the National Assembly and Honorary President of the CPP] Heng Samrin [because they were former leaders with high positions in the Khmer Rouge regime]
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Seeks Intervention by the Inter-Parliamentary Union to Restore His Immunity

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #129, 3.3.2009

  • Thailand Provides Baht 1.4 Billion Loan [approx. US$39 million] to Cambodia to Construct Road 68 from Ou Smach [in Oddar Meanchey] to Siem Reap
  • In 2010, Cambodia Will Host Military Exercises between ASEAN and the United States of America [according commander-in-chief Pol Sarouen]
  • Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Praises [anti-government] Red-Shirt Demonstrators for Not Causing Violence [during the ASEAN summit]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1887, 3.3.2009

  • Former Khmer Rouge Fist Lady [Ieng Thirith] Puts All Blame on Nuon Chea [during a hearing on 24 February 2009]
  • Troops at the Preah Vihear Region Face Serious Shortage of Water [because water in ponds or from a waterfall dry out]

Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #353, 3.3.2009

  • Bilateral Talks about Khmer-Siamese [Thai] Border Disputes Will Be Held in April 2009; Khmer Troops Arrested a Thai Soldier with a Mine in Khmer Territory Who Planned to Plant a Mine Near [Khmer] Barracks [Anlong Veng, Oddar Meanchey]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6592, 3.3.2009

  • Problems Faced by the City: Crimes, Sexual Problems, Traffic, Orders, Land Disputes, Flooding, and Public Services
  • Because Repeatedly Being Asked for Land, an Old Man Could Not Bare It and Took a Machete to Behead His Son [he was arrested, Kompong Cham]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4835, 3.3.2009

  • Bidding Constructers: US$17 Million Plan to Construct Health Buildings Is Stalled by Foreign Advisors
  • Cambodian Government Seeks Solutions [with Thailand] so that Khmer Agricultural Products Can Be Exported to Thai Markets
  • The Ministry of Meteorology and Water Resources Forecasts that This Year Cambodia Might Have a Drought

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

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