Contraband Is Massively Imported while Members of the Authorities Are Collecting Colossal Amounts of Money – Monday, 23.8.2010

Posted on 24 August 2010. Filed under: Week 679 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

“Phnom Penh: State income declines, because some members of the authorities and customs officers take monetary advantage from the import of contraband and they put the money into their own pockets. After they receive bribes, they allow merchants to import these goods smoothly.

“According to regular observations at the Tumnup Dach border crossing at the Ou Bei Choan point in Ou Chrov district in Banteay Meachey, merchants do not pay money to the state, but to a group of members from various authorities or to customs officers.

“It should be noted that many gas tubes of merchants, with no taxes paid to the state, are massively imported but those merchants pay money to illegal check points along the way where soldiers, police and customs officers collect money. Each truck loaded with gas tubes has to pay them from US$30 to US$50, depending on how big or small the trucks are, so that they are not held up by these officers.

“According to trustworthy information that Kampuchea Thmey received from the Tumnup Dach border crossing at the Ou Bei Choan point, many merchants pay money to officers along the way instead of paying taxes. Some gas companies complained that they cannot sell their gas gainfully, as other merchants import a lot of gas without paying taxes and sell it at cheaper prices. Therefore, it is really difficult at present for companies working legally to sell their goods.

“Regarding to the above cases, some legally operating gas companies ask the heads of custom offices to help crack down on such activities. Particularly, the Ministry of Commerce should help to normalize the problem, otherwise state income will certainly drop.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2334, 22-23.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 23 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2334, 22-23.8.2010

  • Contraband Is Massively Imported while Members of the Authorities Are Collecting Colossal Amounts of Money
  • [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-Moon Is Already Prepared to Solve the Border Disputes between Cambodia and Thailand [according to the spokesperson of the United Nations, Mr. Farhan Haq]

Note:

The Cambodian press report reads too much into the release by the Office of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General.

The HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING, FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL, U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK, Friday, August 20, 2010, carry at the end a brief note:

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL HOPES CAMBODIA AND THAILAND WILL RESOLVE BORDER DISPUTE THROUGH DIALOGUE: In response to a question, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General hopes that Cambodia and Thailand will resolve the dispute along their border amicably through dialogue. He stands ready to help the parties.

On 20 August 2010 a publication in the region had reported that “The deputy spokesperson for UN Secretary General, Farhan Haq, replied to an email from the Cambodian press on August 18 saying that, ‘The Secretary-General is willing to mediate situation when both sides request him to do so.’”

The added explanation, “when both sides request him to do so” is almost a standard response – it is a polite, clear expression that no action will be taken if such a request comes only from one of the two sides.

But even this press report way rejected by Mr. Farhan Haq: he said that the report that Mr. Ban Ki-Moon was “willing to mediate” was inaccurate. He said that all he sent out was that Mr. Ban Ki-Moon “stands ready to help.”

What counts until now is the brief final note at the end, after several elaborate reports about other world affairs, in the official release of the HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING of 20 August 2010.

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7041, 23.8.2010

  • There Are 454 Hotels with 23,349 Rooms in Cambodian, Where Eight Are Five-Star Hotels
  • Australia Provided aid [AUD 4 Million or approx. US$ 3.60 Million] for the Construction of Justice Police Buildings [in five provinces: Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kompong Cham, Kompong Thom, Prey Veng]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3965, 23.8.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Had Often Warned against It, but Frequently Heads of Some Institutions and Units Continue to Nominate Their Children’s Spouses or Other Relatives to Take Their Positions When They Retire

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #37, 22-23.8.2010

  • The Royal Group [of Oknha Khit Meng] Plans to Invest US$2 Billion on Rung Island [the investment project of the Royal Group was approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia in 2008, and the company is seeking additional investment capital. It aims at attracting high class tourists to visit the island. The first phase of the project will have been finished within five years from now, to create an international airport, port, hotels, a golf course, and other recreation facilities for tourism – according to a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mr. Hang Chuon Narong]
  • Police Intercepted [two] Robbers Allegedly Involved in Almost 20 Robberies in Phnom Penh
  • Two Male Construction Workers Were Attacked with Acid over an Alleged Love Affair [the second acid attach in Phnom Penh in four days]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #242, 23.8.2010

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Is Ready to Negotiate with [the Cambodian Prime Minister] Mr. Hun Sen over Border Disputes [during the Asia Europe Summit in Brussels in October 2010]
  • The Prime Minister Warned He Will Remove Officials Who Irregularly Intervene in the Process of Making Appointments and to Change Them
  • A Trade Union Criticized a Sub-Decree about the Employment for Handicapped People [the head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, said that the government creates this policy just to make it look good, though many disabled people are victims of land grabbing – according to the sub-decree all state institutions and ministries have to recruit 2% of their staff from disabled people, and the private sector has to employ at the rate of 1%]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5283, 22-23.8.2010

  • The European Union Provides Nearly US$9 Million for the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance Program [to help strengthen the capacity of the National Climate Control Committee and the Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Environment, to coordinate the formation of national policies and strategic plans about climate change]
  • 183 Kilogram of Snakes [for export to Vietnam] Were Seized from Merchants and Were Released into the Vaiko River [three suspects were arrested – Svay Rieng]

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Parliamentarians: Within Seventeen Years, Only Six Ministers Appeared to Make Clarifications in the Parliament – Saturday, 21.8.2010

Posted on 22 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: According to the first study by Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, since the general elections in 1993, or within 17 years, only six ministers appeared at the parliament to clarify questions. But government officials explained that, based on the regulations, there clarifications can be given both directly and verbally, or through letters.

“Findings from the study were shown publicly in a press conference on 20 August 2010. The team leader of the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, Mr. Son Chhay, said that since 1993, probably only six ministers showed up to respond to questions of parliamentarians in the parliament. That means also that within one 3 years period there was only one minister making clarifications. Until now, the Prime Minister has never come to answer to questions from parliamentarians following Article 96 of the Constitution. It is different from other democratic countries where prime ministers and government members regularly appear to give clarifications in parliament.

Article 96:

The deputies have the right to put a motion against the Royal Government. The motion shall be submitted in writing through the Chairman of the National Assembly.
The replies shall be given by one or several ministers depending on the matters related to the accountability of one or several ministers. If the case concerns the overall policy of the Royal Government, the Prime Minister shall reply in person.

The explanations by the ministers or by the Prime Minister shall be given verbally or in writing.

The explanations shall be provided within 7 days after the day when the question is received.

In case of verbal reply, the Chairman of the National Assembly shall decide whether to hold an open debate or not. If there is no debate, the answer of the minister or the Prime Minister shall be considered final. If there is a debate, the questioner, other speakers, the ministers, or the Prime Minister may exchange views within the time-frame not exceeding one session.

The National Assembly shall establish one day each week for questions and answers. There shall be no vote during any session reserved for this purpose.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that the procedures for questioning and for inviting ministers to appear are difficult. Sometimes, only two months after a request letter was sent there is a response, and sometimes it takes even up to one year. Some ministers do not care about answering questions from parliamentarians.

“A parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, presented a study about government members who did not properly adhere to the principles of the Constitution, which set the rules for questioning and answering to questions of parliamentarians through letters, or straight and verbally.

“Mr. Son Chhay said that 132 letters with questions were sent to members of the government in 2009, but they responded to only 23%, or 39 letters, from Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians. Within eight months of 2010, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians submitted 47 letters to the government, but only 15 letters received a response.

“Mr. Son Chhay added, ‘In 2009, we sent 24 letters to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, and he responded to 13 letters. The Prime Minister answered more questions than others among the members of the government. The Minister of Interior, Mr. Sar Kheng, received 21 letters from parliamentarians in 2009 and he replied to 9 letters, and in 2010, he received 8 letters and he responded to 2.’

“Mr. Son Chhay went on to say that Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians sent 10 letters in 2009 and 2 more letters in 2010 to the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Mr. Kim Kean Hor, but he did not respond at all. Also, the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Cham Prasidh, did not respond to questions from parliamentarians.

“Mr. Son Chhay stressed that submitting letters to request clarifications and to invite members of the governments, including the head of the government, to appear to clarify questions from parliamentarians in the parliament itself allow the government time to defend itself and to present its achievements in the past. This also helps to encourages the government to work with responsibility. ‘We aim to strengthen the implementation of democracy and to consolidate national institutions.’

“Also, another statement was released by Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians over the loss of their roles in the parliament of Cambodia. Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians voiced strong concern about the possible disappearance of democracy in Cambodia, which is affecting national development and social tranquility more seriously.

“Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians appeal to the ruling party to immediately check to fix all the limitations in order to appropriately implement the principles of multi-party democracy, as stated in the Constitution of 1993.

“Responding to the above mentioned concerns, a spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, said that to respond, there are two ways: responding by letter, or directly and verbally. So far, government officials frequently sent official letters, and sometimes they appeared directly in parliament to respond. He added that the government is formed by elections, and the Cambodian People’s Party, that won a massive support in the parliament, always rules the country following democracy and respecting the rights of the citizens, who are the voters. The government is not dictatorial or lawless. The government is on the right tract based on democracy. If the opposition party wants further reforms beyond this, it has to wait until it wins the elections.

“A senior member of the Cambodian People’s Party and a long standing member of the National Assembly, Mr. Cheam Yeap, said that the Cambodian People’s Party always obeys the laws and the Constitution since 1993. Also, [the president of the National Assembly] Samdech Heng Samrin, often allows more Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians than those from the Cambodian People’s Party to express their opinions along with the participation of national and international organizations that carefully observe the proceedings.

“In addition, during the press conference in the morning of 20 August 2010, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians announced that they have sent a letter to the US parliament and Senate to express their support for the United States of America adopting an amendment to financial legislation that requires US listed oil exploration companies operating in Cambodia to publicly disclose their expenditures and income. Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians consider that this law helps to promote transparency in the investment and in the management of income from mines, and in the oil and gas sectors in Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5282, 21.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 21 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2333, 21.8.2010

  • Thailand Sent Letters to the Ten Members of ASEAN to Suggest How to Solve the Disputes with Cambodia Bilaterally
  • After an Electric Fault Occurred [producing toxic smoke] in the M.V Factory, 120 Workers Fainted [Kompong Chhnang]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7040, 21-22.8.2010

  • A Railroad Construction Company Asked the Authorities to Crack Down on the Stealing of Concrete Supports and of Iron Bars [Kampot]
  • The Ministry of Labor Warned It Will Take Legal Action against Companies with Irregularities in Sending Workers to Malaysia [according to a meeting between the Ministry of Labor and 31 companies sending workers abroad]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3964, 21-22.8.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party] Parliamentarians and a Human Rights Organization [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] Expressed Regret over the Verdict against Chi Kraeng District Residents [nine citizens were sentenced to 3 years imprisonment over a land dispute, but they will serve only 17 months and the rest will be suspended – Siem Reap]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #36, 21.8.2010

  • The Vietnamese President [Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet [Nguyễn Minh Triết]] Will Visit Cambodia [from 26 to 28 August 2010 in response to an invitation by the Khmer King]
  • Cambodia Does Not Accept a Bilateral Solution with Thailand [according the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Koy Kuong]
  • Only One of the Students [countrywide] Gets an A Level, and 81.90% Passed [or 87,561 students among the 106,908 candidates passed the Grade 12 examinations]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5282, 21.8.2010

  • Parliamentarians: Within Seventeen Years, Only Six Ministers Appeared to Make Clarifications in the Parliament
  • Ebony [2.377 cubic meters] and Wild Animals [about 166 kg, including snakes, big lizards, and turtles] Were Intercepted at the Chrey Thom Border Crossing [for export to Vietnam; no persons are yet caught – Kandal]
  • Scientific Evidence Shows that Chemicals Are Still Found in Food Sold at the Markets [affecting the health of the consumers – studies conducted by the Royal Academy]

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A Civil Society Group for Social Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials – Tuesday, 17.8.2010

Posted on 18 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: A Civil society group for social accountability and transparency demanded the Anti-Corruption Unit to take action against a section of the tax collecting system for taking more money than what the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance state.

“In the morning 16 August 2010, a civil society group for social accountability and transparency organized a press conference at the Baitong Restaurant in Phnom Penh about their fight against corruption in the form of excessive tax collection for vehicles.

“The president of the Independent Democratic Association of Non-Formal Economy, Mr. Von Pov, said during the conference that every year from July to October, a tax collection is implemented countrywide by tax officials of the Tax Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The collection is carried out in order to build up the national budget for the restoration and maintenance of public infrastructure, and all Cambodian citizens are obliged to pay tax on their vehicles, such as cars and motorbikes, though they suffer from the global economic crisis.

“Mr. Von Pov added regarding the tax collected by tax officials, that civil society groups for social accountability and transparency noticed that most citizens, who own vehicles, were forced by tax officials to pay an excess amount over that stated on the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. He added that at present, 1,391,565 cars and trucks, and 11,356,398 motorbikes [the number of motorbikes given is unrealistically high – that means that about 80% of all citizens, including babies and the whole rural population – own a registered motorcycle; we assume the number includes a mistype and may be 1,356,398 – Editor] have been registered and allowed to travel in Cambodia and they are required to pay tax. On average, if a vehicle is required to pay an additional amount of Riel 2,000 [approx. US$0.50] to tax officials, that means Cambodian citizens waste about US$1 million each year. This is corruption resulting from public officials using their positions as public officials to gain personal gain, so that corruption does not refer only to the stealing of money.

“Mr. Von Pov went on to say that to contribute to achieve the second stage of the Rectangular Strategy and to promote good governance, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, especially the Tax Department, must supervise tax officials so that they work following the official calculations for the collection of taxes. Also, the Tax Department must punish officials who commit offenses, or collect administrative fines from them, if they collect amounts beyond the tax invoices, and the Anti-Corruption Unit must take measures in such cases.

“A Coordinator of the East Asia and Pacific Social Accountability Network, Mr. San Chey, said that even though invoices are issued by the Tax Department, still excess tax collection happens, particularly in the Ponhea Leu district in Kandal and Prey Veng. He added, ‘We will submit reports within one week to the Tax Department to take action.’

“After there had been such criticism about excess tax collections by tax officials, the Tax Department released an announcement on 10 August 2010, where the third point reads, ‘Before paying tax, please read the tax tables posted publicly and pay accordingly the amount set in these tables. If tax officials demand more, please report their names and ID Card number to the Tax Department.’

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng, could not be reached for comments on Monday evening, but he used to say in a previous press conference that corruption relates not only to big money, but even 50 cents can also be considered as corruption.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

  • A Civil Society Group for Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials
  • The Minister of Agriculture Called On Citizens to Eat Pork Again [claiming that the ‘blue ear disease’ of pigs does not infect people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7036, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia Adheres to Peaceful Positions; while in Cambodia, the Secretary General of ASEAN, Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, Asked Cambodia and Thailand to Be Patient [in solving their border disputes]

Meatophoum, Vol.54, #796, 16-21.8.2010

  • Cambodia Asked Vietnam to Help Solve the Border Dispute [with Thailand; according to a letter sent by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam – who is at present chairing ASEAN – to help either within the structure of ASEAN, or directly

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3960, 17.8.2010

  • Which Tax Officials are Punished for Forcing Citizens to Pay Excessive Taxes?

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #32, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia and Iran Signed an Agreement to Create an Economic Committee in Order to Step Up Economic Cooperation [economic cooperation between Cambodia and Iran will focus on on tourism, the oil industry, investments, agriculture, industry, Iranian export of technical services and engineering, and the exchange of expert delegates]
  • Three People Were Killed and Three Others Were Injured by Lightning [Kompong Cham]
  • Police Burnt again Chicken Meat of No Quality, but Have Never Caught a Persons Who Owns It [Banteay Meanchey]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #238, 17.8.2010

  • Prosecutors [of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] Appealed against the sentence of Duch, [the former Tuol Sleng prison chief, who was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, but considering his past jail term and the reduction of punishment, he will have to serve only about 19 more years]
  • Thailand Arrested a Cambodian Man Accusing Him of Spying [as he walked near a Thai military base; according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, he might be released after there was investigation and a request for his release by Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5278, 17.8.2010

  • A Vietnamese General [Le Van Dung] Visits Cambodia to Consolidate the Military Cooperation between the Two Countries
  • Six People Were Killed and Ten Others Were Slightly Injured in Traffic Accidents [in Phnom Penh and Preah Vihear, on 15 August 2010]
  • The Club of Cambodia Journalists Reacted against the Detention of a Kampuchea Thmey Journalist [as he was detained just for a minor traffic accident; the Club of Cambodian Journalists expressed concern, and considers it as a violation of human rights, protected by the Constitution of Cambodia]

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Seventy Five Percent of the Victims of Traffic Accidents Were Motorbike Drivers – Monday, 16.8.2010

Posted on 17 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: To help prevent and reduce the number of deaths in traffic accidents, the Global Road Safety Partnership and Handicap International Belgium collaborated with the National Road Safety Committee to organize a workshop about the draft of a ten years road traffic safety plan 2011-2020 at the Sunway Hotel on 12 August 2010.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior and deputy head of the National Road Safety Committee, Mr. Khan Savoeun, said that in recent years, the number of deaths in traffic accidents rose alarmingly. According to a report of the Ministry of Interior, within six months of 2010, there were 3,040 traffic accidents and 6,346 victims, where 913 people were killed, 2,853 seriously injured, and 2,562 lightly injured. According to a report on traffic accidents in 2009 by Handicap International Belgium, among the victims 75% were motorbike drivers, where 35% died because of head injuries as they did not wear helmets, 49% drove over the speed limit, and 13% were drunk while driving. In 2009, traffic accidents made Cambodia waste US$248 million.

“Mr. Khan Savoeun added that according to a survey by the Ministry of Health about helmet use by motorbike drivers in 2009, 72% of the drivers wore helmets during the day and 46% at night. He called especially on travelers to join to prevent and lessen traffic accidents by trying to obey the law to wear helmets, to fasten seat belts, not to drive over the speed limit, and not to drive when drunk. Only participation from all travelers can help prevent and cut down traffic accidents, as it is said in a slogan ‘Traffic Safety Starts from Me’ – and it is stated in the goals of ASEAN countries’ plans. If they do not join, all road safety plans will not succeed.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7035, 16.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 16 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2328, 15-16.8.2010

  • The Head of Police of the Dangkao District Removed the Head of the Traffic Section and Suspended the Deputy Head over Their Mistakes in Detaining a Kampuchea Thmey Journalist
  • A USAID Representative Praised Cambodia over a Successful Reduction of the Spread of HIV [by 2010, there are 40,039 people having AIDS, and about 95% of them receive life extending pills]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7035, 16.8.2010

  • Seventy Five Percent of the Victims of Traffic Accidents Were Motorbike Drivers
  • A Toyota Camry Crashed into a Motorbike, Killing a Woman and Her 2-Years-Old Child and Seriously Injuring Her Husband [Phnom Penh]
  • After as Many as 107 Garment Workers Fainted [because of a lack of oxygen in the Main Harton [[phonetic]] factory], the Authorities Suspend Work for Two Days [Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3959, 16.8.2010

  • A Barge and Yuon [Vietnamese] Skilled Workers Crossed the Sekong River into the Siem Pang District to Conduct Unlicensed Gold Ore Exploitation while the Governor Is Asleep [Stung Treng – Vietnamese traders sent a barge with many skilled workers and with gold ore exploring machines to the Siem Pang district – those Vietnamese traders are backed by some powerful officials]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #31, 15-16.8.2010

  • Court Arrested a Moto-Taxi Driver Who Drove [a female] Distributor of Leaflets [in Phnom Penh, criticizing government leaders]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #237, 16.8.2010

  • 60,000 Workers Plan to Strike to Demand a Wage Increase [on 13 September 2010; at present, the minimum salary of workers is US$61 per month; according to the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, Mr. Ath Thun]
  • Four Suspects Were Arrested over a Drug Crime [in Phnom Penh]
  • Burma Plans to Release [the Burmese elected leader] Suu Kyi after the Elections [to be held on 7 November 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5277, 15-16.8.2010

  • The Head Diplomat of Cambodia [Mr. Hor Namhong, the Minister of Foreign Affairs] Sent a Letter to the ASEAN General Secretary to Ask for the Coordination by ASEAN over Border Disputes [with Thailand]
  • The Brazilian Ambassador Plans to Encourage [Brazilian] Experts in the Agriculture of Sugar Cane Growing to Come as Advisors [to Cambodia]

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Words Can Reveal or Obscure – Sunday, 15.8.2010

Posted on 16 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

On Thursday, 12 August 2010, The Cambodia Daily had a headline that said:

Gov’t Refutes Court Order on Land Dispute

And in the text this is explained as follows:

Ratanakiri Provincial Court has ordered the province’s largest rubber company to temporarily stop operations…

But an official at the Ministry of Agriculture said that the order should not be carried out, as it would harm government revenues coming from the rubber sector.

“The injunction cannot be implemented because it is on state land,” Ly Phalla, director general of the Ministry of Agriculture’s rubber department said yesterday.

Is this acceptable? When some personal interest is negatively affected by a court order favoring an opposing side, it is understandable that an individual does not want to follow a court order. But a court order has to be obeyed anyway in a country under a Constitution like the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodian. Or an appeal to a higher court can be made.

Is this suggestion by a high ranking official at a ministry, calling not to obey a court order, acceptable? If it is not acceptable, it would be interesting to read the sanctions which were taken against such a position.

But it is not surprising, then, that there was also a report in The Mirror of Thursday, 12.8.2010 – see details there – saying:

The report by the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Mr. Lim Kean Hor, does not relate to only one case, but he says that 45 illegally built reservoirs were already destroyed since 25 June 2010, but 239 illegal reservoirs which still are to be demolished, are located in the six provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom, Pursat, and Siem Reap. So it is a widespread fact, in spite of the criticism since many months, and an order by the Prime Minister in April 2010.

The Minister of Water Resources said he is just following the Prime Minister’s order, and “We reported and sent the name list of those people to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen to consider and to decide an appropriate measure.” The list names some district governors and commune chiefs, suspected to be involved in collusion to protect illegal reservoirs which are ruining the Tonle Sap lake. Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhayly took a similar position: “We must cooperate to protect and conserve the Tonle Sap lake and engage in the conservation for the development of eco-tourism…. The Cambodian People’s Party must acknowledge what we did, because party officials such as district governors and commune chiefs signed on documents to allow the creation of those illegal reservoirs.” – “He will hold all responsibilities for everything if there are any of subordinate officials taking bribes and trying to prevent these newly-built basins from being destroyed by the Government’s local authorities,” he added.

This is quite different from the call from another Ministry’s department director. It is obvious where proper responsibility is taken to act, and where it is difficult to understand what is said by others in high positions.

And one may ponder what is more surprising – that a department director of a ministry can publicly call to disregard a court order, or that a ministers really does what has to be done, in spite of the fact that it will create displeasure among members of the same party, as it includes a public admission that the Cambodian People’s Party must acknowledge what was done wrong. Such admission clears the way to a new, and better start.

= = =

In quite a different context, the question of taking responsibility for words spoken by persons with public responsibility has also to be addressed.

Even as it is complex and difficult to navigate, The Mirror tries to mirror it – mirroring what is in the media; and this may not in all cases correctly reflect reality. But it all relates to the painful tensions between Cambodia and Thailand.

On 4.7.2010, The Mirror carried reports about allegations in the Thai press that two Thai citizens, supposed to have been involved in planting a bomb in Bangkok, fled to Cambodia. The Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers rejected such reports, calling on the Thai government to end what it described as a “malicious campaign to fault Cambodia…” The Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mr. Koy Kuong said that these allegations were “stupid.” – “Cambodia completely denies this kind of provocative information.” – “They raise incorrect information. When Thailand has problems, they blame Cambodia.” – “If Thailand denies that they have accused Cambodia, then they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information,” he said. “I think this is a play from the Thai government officials, who speak out without taking responsibility for their comments.”

On 5.7.2010, one day later, The Mirror had a headline “Cambodia Will Hand Over Two Terrorist Suspects to Thai Embassy Officials on Monday” – they were arrested in Siem Reap. – Thai government officials did not have to apologize for a “malicious campaign” of “provocative information” and to correct wrong, “stupid” allegations, and they did not have to make corrections in all their media. While Thai government officials had been accused by their Cambodian counterparts of speaking out without taking responsibility for their comments. We are not aware that an apology for the accusations against the Thai side was published in all Cambodian media, that had carried the – now proved groundless – accusations against the related Thai voices.

Now again the Thai government is again urged by representatives of the Cambodian government to control their media better.

A press report from Thailand has been taken as the basis for a Cambodian appeal to the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, stating that the Thai Prime Minister’s words imply a violation of the UN charter – but the Thai Prime Minister claims that he was “misquoted, taken out of context and misunderstood” in what he had said in relation to the use of military force in border disputes. The Cambodian government sees this, on the other hand, as a Thai effort to blame the media, while actually continuing a Thai “toxic” campaign to confuse the public. And the Cambodian side retorts, in this war of words, that the Thai government should control its press better, and to publish immediately corrections, if necessary.

A similar need to correct supposedly problematic reports by the press was felt by the Cambodian side already once in February 2010. The international press had reported that the Cambodian Prime Minister had cursed his Thai counterpart:

“If you don’t tell the truth about Thai troops invading Cambodia, let magic objects break your neck, may you be shot, be hit by a car, may you be shocked by electricity or (may you be shot) by misfired guns.”

“Will Abhisit swear on having all his family members killed and having them (perish) in a plane crash, if (he still claims) that Thai troops did not invade Cambodia?”

In order to clarify the situation, the Cambodian Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, appealed to the media on 15.2.2010 to report correctly, saying that the Cambodian Prime Minister did not “curse” Mr. Abhisit, but just asked to swear that Thai troops did not invade Cambodia. “In the past, there are a lot of misunderstandings. So, I would kindly ask you to correct those words. Samdech (Hun Sen) did not curse, Samdech only ask Abhisit to swear whether Thai troops invaded Cambodia or not. If they didn’t invade Cambodia, just swear.”

Considering that most of the indirect exchanges over the press are – in addition to the difficult situation – mostly burdened by translations, from Thai to English, and from Khmer to English, and then re-translated again in the respective local media; there is enough room for emotional interpretation and misunderstanding.

“The Thai Prime Minister declared again that “Thailand is committed to solve the border dispute peacefully under the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding,” and the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An was quoted in the issue of Rasmei Kampuchea of 8-9.8.2010 also to appeal to adhere to this same Memorandum of Understanding.

But while the Cambodian Prime Minister also repeated this hope for a peaceful solution, he also warned last week again that the border tension could lead to “bloodshed,” a wording similar to his statement from October 2008, when the BBC reported that the Cambodia Prime Minster had threatened “all-out war, to turn the area around the disputed Preah Vihear temple into a ‘zone of death’.”

Is there any other way to what the Cambodian Prime Minister himself had said recently, as The Mirror reported:

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The Arrest of Journalists Is Worrying – Saturday, 14.8.2010

Posted on 16 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“Phnom Penh: Recently, several journalists have been detained by the authorities while they were fulfilling their duties as journalists and following the ethics of journalists, but some others had them arrested because dishonest merchants and related authorities exaggerated some stories changing them from right to wrong.

“According to a statement from the League of Democratic Journalists, several journalists had been arrested recently, which is really worrying. For instance, on 20 July 2010, the editor-in-chief of Chhanteak Koun Khmer was arrested in Kompong Thom, and on 21 July 2010 the editor-in-chief of Rasmei Eysan was arrested in Prek Prosob district in Kratie. On 2 August 2010, the head of a Cambodia watchdog office in Memut district in Kompong Cham was also detained.

Note:

Some information about the work of Cambodian Journalists on professional ethics:

“Those journalists were arrested, because merchants involved in illegal business colluded with dishonest officials and tried to find pretexts to put blame on journalists who were performing their work, and some wicked officials who act against their duties and the regulations sought ways to arrest the journalists in order to hide these scandals. The distortion of stories by dishonest authorities leads to internal frictions. They turn their rancor against journalists, and this becomes a concern for the function of journalism.

“The rancor by the authorities towards journalists frequently victimizes journalists. Actually, at 20:30 on 12 August 2010, also a journalist of Kampuchea Thmey was detained for a night by Dankao district police over a minor traffic accident. This resulted from discrimination by police and their rancor against journalists.

“Journalists expressed dismay over such an action from police who acted against the law. All offenses must be dealt with according to the law but not just how some people think in their mind.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2327, 14.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 14 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2327, 14.8.2010

  • The Arrest of Journalists Is Worrying
  • Two Construction Workers Were Killed after a Dilapidated Building [left from the French colonial time, in Kampot] Collapsed on Them

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7034, 14-15.8.2010

  • The European Union Provides Scholarships to 33 Khmer Students and Lecturers [to further their education and to give lectures in Europe; through the Erasmus Mundus Program for 2010 and 2011]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3958, 14-15.8.2010

  • An International Organization [Wildlife Alliance, based in Washington D.C] Voiced Concern over the Destruction of Natural Resources due to Mining at the Kravanh Mountain Area

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #30, 14.8.2010

  • Telecommunication in Cambodia Advances Strongly, but Prices of Mobile Phone Services Are Still High [by now, the number mobile phone users increased to 6,300,000 and the telecommunication sector contributes about US$40 million to the state budget each year]
  • The Worldwide Spreading of Swine Flu A/H1N1 Ends [claimed a representative of the World Health Organization]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5276, 14.8.2010

  • Cambodia Sent a Letter to ASEAN to Ask for Intervention over the Border Disputes with Thailand
  • Malaysia Wants to Import Rice from Cambodia [according to the Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia, Datuk Pengiran Mohd Hussein Mohd Tahir Nasruddin]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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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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Preah Vihear – Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Solution: “Dialogue, No Winning or Losing” – Sunday, 8.8.2010

Posted on 8 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 676 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 676

When The Mirror presented, as last Sunday’s issue, a series of quotes and excerpts from publicly available documents it was done with the hope that some quick negative conclusions – not based on available texts, either disregarding, or even contradicting them – can be avoided.

Some steps in time are clear and not contested, especially the 1962 decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, stating that it …FINDS THAT THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR IS SITUATED IN TERRITORY UNDER THE SOVEREIGNTY OF CAMBODIA.

Some other steps on the way are less well known widely, while they were also called into memory, for example some principles on which the World Heritage List is operated, as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. It is not about national interests, but about culture as “part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole.” The convention makes it clear that decisions about cultural world heritage do not make any judgment on the sovereignty and territory of States:

Whilst fully respecting the sovereignty of the States on whose territory the cultural and natural heritage… is situated, and without prejudice to property right provided by national legislation, the States Parties to this Convention recognize that such heritage constitutes a world heritage for whose protection it is the duty of the international community as a whole to co-operate. (Article 6.1).

The inclusion of a property situated in a territory, sovereignty or jurisdiction over which is claimed by more than one State, shall in no way prejudice the rights of the parties to the dispute. (Article 11.3).

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is concerned about World Heritage Sites, “part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole,” not about the solution of border problems.

There are rules and decisions of the World Heritage Committee, and there are declarations on the way to the decision of 2008 when the Temple of Preah Vihear was listed as a World Heritage Site, together with decisions how to elaborate its management. Though a management plan, prepared by the Cambodian side, is to be discussed only by the next meeting of the World Heritage Committee in 2011, statements by Prime Minister Hun Sen, quoted in the Cambodia Daily on 5 August 2010, cleared the way into the future:


“Mr. Hun Sen said yesterday that dialogue was the way forward for the two countries. ‘We will use dialogue to solve the rest of the problem,’ he said. ‘I don’t want winning or losing – it is better that we have the win together in solving the problem.’”

Actually, there are two separate – but related – problems:

One problem is concerned with the management plan for Preah Vihear requested by the World Heritage Committee with its 2008 decision to list the Temple of Preah Vihear, where it:

Notes that the property proposed for inscription is reduced and comprises only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves;
Encourages Cambodia to collaborate with Thailand for safeguarding the value of the property, in view of the fact that peoples of the surrounding region have long treasured the Temple of Preah Vihear,..
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…

The other problem is related to the demarcation of the Cambodian-Thai border, for which both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2000. The Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was quoted on 8 August 2010, to have said that “Thailand has no intention of revoking the border Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cambodia inked in 2000” – he said so in response to a “demonstration in the [Thai] capital yesterday demanding the Thai government to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding.” The same report says that “under the Memorandum of Understanding, Cambodia and Thailand need to consult each other if they want to carry out any activities in the disputed 4.6 sq km territory claimed by both countries near the Preah Vihear Temple.” It is not clear whether this Memorandum was published in the media in Cambodia – only the fact of its existence, not its content, has been referenced regularly in the press.

That these border problems also need to be addressed, was obviously agreed by both sides, as it is stated in the large Cambodian 2008 Submission Document, separating the two issues: the World Heritage inscription – and the border problems:

On 6 May 2008 His Excellency Mr. SOK An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, welcomed his Excellency Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand accompanied by a Thai delegation during their visit to Phnom Penh. The Kingdom of Cambodia strongly stresses that the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear is without prejudice to the demarcation work of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) between Cambodia and Thailand; and the zoning (“Zonage” in French) stipulated in the document submitted by Cambodia to UNESCO shall not be considered as boundary line.

The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support of the Heritage Committee to be held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For it part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple

The proposals of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has also in other situations worked successful for win-win results, solving complex problems, provide a clear way towards a solution for both problem, based on the existing common agreements.

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“The Right to Know” and to Participate – Sunday, 23.5.2010

Posted on 24 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

The Mirror frequently reports about the difficulty of journalists to get information about public concerns when they contact officials at different ministries, even when there are spokespersons appointed. It happens from time to time that these officials refer to others, and the referred persons again to others – and a question remains unanswered, or with different conflicting responses. The most recent such case relates to the more than US$25 million, paid by foreign companies – and it is difficult to know where and according to which procedures they were used or are still kept.

Now it is reported that also the Prime Minister has such problems: it is reported that he warned army commanders to report in detail about the border situation, neither to exaggerate, nor to understate the reality. The media can only welcome such a statement by the Prime Minister, as it may help to clarify the need to have reliable information provided by those who have it – in this case those in charge of leadership of the military at the border.

There were other – related and unrelated problems – in the reports during the last months. On the one hand there is support for the soldiers who are charged with keeping a dangerous situation of border tensions under control – while higher level political discussions between Cambodia and Thailand, which could lead to a final solution of the border problems, do not progress. So there is emotional support for the troops. On the other hand there were many more reports of illegal logging also from the northern border region, since there is more military stationed there.

That the Prime Minister called on the troops to protect the forest and the land in the areas of their bases may be understood in this context – but it does not relate only to the northern border region. Since larger private enterprises started to sponsor and financially support specific military units, there were also reports in the media that up to 150 soldiers have been deployed to protect the preparations for a sugar production entity against the people who claim that this happens on their land. What is the meaning of the Prime Minister’s words – “the troops should protect the forest and the land in the areas of their bases” – in such a situation?

International and national news during the week covered extensively the escalating tensions in Thailand, and the final, violent confrontations between the – initially – peaceful protesters and the military, which led, at the end, to the loss of the life of many people. More than 35 buildings were set on fire after the leadership of the Red Shirts had declared an end of the confrontation; in one building alone, the dead bodies of 10 persons were now found, who had been killed by the fire.

The discussions to come to a common understanding about what happened is controversial – when a solution was closer as ever during these weeks, and then everything turned around negatively. The following is a quote from a Most Viewed report and analysis in the Bangkok Post from three days before the final violence, from 16.5.2010, moved by the concern that the situation was heading toward a bloody conflict. Such reports stands also under the warning of the Prime Minister: to try to find the reality – “neither to exaggerate, nor to understate” – however difficult this is, step by step.

…The military coup in 2006 wrongly overthrew the then democratically elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. That was no democracy.

The coup council handed the power back to the people in 2007. The People Power Party (PPP) won the following election. That was democracy.

The PPP was banned by the Constitution Court for electoral irregularities and the parliament the democratically elected representatives of Thailand voted the Democrats into power. That was democracy.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) argue against the Democrat-led coalition government’s legitimacy and protest for the government to step down and call a general election.

That was democracy.

And the UDD had won.

The goals of the UDD from the very start: They wanted a House dissolution. They will have one in September. They wanted a general election. They will have one on Nov 14. All within seven months and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s term actually ends in January 2012, a year and a half from now.

They should be dancing in the streets, celebrating victory. Then we can all go to the voting booth in November. Peace and democracy. But no.

The truth has revealed itself. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship is simply using democracy as a front in the interests of dictatorship. Refusing the peaceful compromise, forsaking the democratic process, continuing to harm the country for the interests of one man, Thaksin Shinawatra, fighting against security forces of the rightful democratic government of Thailand – that’s an uprising, it’s a rebellion.

It’s criminal. That is not democracy.

If you disagree with me and think the UDD is in the right, then let me simplify it: The next time you’re pulled over by the law in a traffic stop, you should just burn tires, shoot slingshots at the cop and call him a dictator…

Here’s Thaksin’s dilemma. Peace and the democratic process don’t guarantee his return to power…

Accepting the compromise is a loss of face and may even make Prime Minister Abhisit look good in the eyes of the people, for biting the bullet and extending his hand. Thaksin Shinawatra can no longer rely on the voting booths. He can no longer rely on the democratic process. The UDD has used democracy as a tool – manipulated and exploited it to return Thaksin to power. Now that they are no longer confident that the democratic process will serve their interests, the UDD has transformed itself from a democratic movement into an uprising, a rebellion, a criminal organization.

It’s worth repeating: They wanted a House dissolution. They have one in September. They wanted a general election. They have one on Nov 14. That’s democracy. Instead, they flushed democracy down the toilet…

The UDD is screaming: ”Now! Now! Now! Prime Minister resign now!” Thaksin Shinawatra is crying: ”Me! Me! Me! I want my power back!” That’s not democracy…

And when there’s a rebellion, the government must put down the rebellion. Otherwise, we have anarchy. The law must be swift, severe and certain – any student of criminology can tell you that.

It didn’t have to come to this. It shouldn’t have come to this. But here we are on the brink of anarchy because of the pride, greed and vengefulness of one man, and of the indecisiveness, uncertainty and lack of leadership of another.

One day later, on 17.5.2010, the Bangkok Post wrote that Red leaders all miscalculated and are losing. Instead of accepting the proposals of the government,

“they promptly replied with more demands to the government…

The hardliners in the UDD wanted to corner Mr. Abhisit with more conditions, while the moderate camp led by Mr. Veera Musikhapong tried in vain to convince the others to stop the rally by accepting the prime minister’s proposal…

If only they had agreed to disperse the protest after Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban reported to the Department of Special Investigation last week, they would have emerged as the winner of the political standoff. The leaders could have told the demonstrators that they successfully forced the prime minister to call an early poll.
In fact, the offer by Mr Abhisit was the best ever since the red shirts converged on the capital in mid-March…

The hard core members miscalculated that they could press for more from the prime minister after seeing him show signs of compromise…

The UDD has come up with new calls for Mr Abhisit to immediately quit and not lead the interim government while waiting for the new elections to take place…

The only condition for the prime minister is to immediately end the rally with no more bargains. It would not have turned out this way had the UDD leaders not made the wrong move.

In December 2005, Prime Minister Hun Sen had warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution. Nobody can hope that the continuing confrontations related to land conflicts remain mostly solved against the people who have lived and worked on the land for years. This is not only a political concern which the Prime Minister raised in 2005; also many agro-economists consider big agro-business less productive economically – and socially.

The public, the citizens, need to know and be involved, when basic future policy is developed. Obviously, part of the rural population in Thailand felt that they were kept out, and not listened to. Their peaceful protest was not listened to in time, and got finally beyond control.

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Amnesty International: Cases of Rape in Cambodia Increasing – Tuesday, 9.3.2010

Posted on 10 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

“Amnesty International said that cases of rape in Cambodia increased, and what is worse is that rape victims do not have sufficient access to receive justice, medical care and treatment, and consulting services. Amnesty International released a report on 8 March on the occasion of the International Women’s Rights Day.

“In the 60-pages report, 30 victims between the ages of 10 and 40 years old recounted their experience of corruption and the discrimination suffered from the police and the courts, which prevent them from getting necessary services; and on the other hand, most perpetrators are not arrested and convicted by the courts.

“Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, Ms. Donna Guest, stated that there is a lack of support for the victims, and the government must publicly take action against sexual violence, to show that there is no tolerance for such crimes, and to recognize the victims’ suffering. Amnesty International encouraged the government to promote education and to offer materials to police officials and especially policewomen, and to provide the necessary resources for them to professionally conduct timely investigations whenever there is an accusations.

“The Minister of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi, could not comment on the report of Amnesty International, saying that she had not yet seen the report. But she stressed that the government is also focusing on the prevention of violence against women. Regarding legal assistance for rape victims, Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi said that the government granted Riel 100 million [approx. US$24,000] for such legal services. She acknowledged that the number of rape cases increased. But the figure may not correctly reflect the reality of what happened. It can be said that the police works more effectively than before, and that the increasing number of reported rape cases reflects alsothat the police is more active than before.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5144-5145, 7-9.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #428-429, 7-9.3.2010

  • The Prime Minister Requests the Promotion of Four Generals to Become Four Star Generals [requesting the King to enact the promotions; they are the generals Sao Sokha, Chea Dara, Hing Bun Heang, and Nhek Huon]
  • A Woman Died from the Use of Skin Cream [Banteay Meanchey; recently, the Prime Minister had just warned about dangerous cosmetic products]
  • A/H1N1 Increased to 562 Cases by March 2010 [in Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2196, 9.3.2010

  • A Fire Destroyed Hundreds of Houses in the Railway Block Region [Phnom Penh]
  • A One Star [navy] General Was Accused by the Family of a [10-year-old] Boy, Denouncing Him to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [for beating the boy cruelly – Sihanoukville – the reason for the beating is not mentioned, he just went to the boy’s school, called him out by his name, and beat him up]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #741, 8.3.2010

  • Global Witness Criticized that the Government Sells Some Military Units to Private Companies [Prime Minister Hun Sen had announced that 42 private commercial companies in Cambodia tied the knot with some Cambodian military units]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #620-621, 7-9.3.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer Asked for a Delay for Him Not to Appear at the Court on 9 March 2010 [over a new complaint of the government relating to the allegation to have faked maps; as his client is not in the country]
  • [The president of the National Assembly of Vietnam] Nguyễn Minh Triết [Nguyen Minh Triet] Invited Samdech Euv [the former King] and Samdech Mae [the former Queen] to Visit Yuon [Vietnam]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6902-6903, 8-9.3.2010

  • [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s] Reaction in Response to the ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, Saying that It Is the Interference into Cambodian Internal Affairs [the ASEAN Secretary General had said the the military exercise test-firing some 200 Russian-made Katyusha rockets 100 kilometers from the disputed border area of Preah Vihear; he said that this might cause instability in the region. But Prime Minister Hun Sen responded that the Secretary General’s comment is an interference into Cambodian internal affairs]
  • Anti-Corruption Draft Law: An Asset Declaration Is Obligatory for Officials Starting and Up from Those Nominated by a Sub-Decrees
  • An Old, Fatal Well, 10 Meters Deep, Took the Lives of Six Villagers [in one day, because they worked in it and did not have sufficient oxygen – Kompong Cham]

Note:

TodayOnline reports about the same affair as Koh Santepheap:

Hun Sen slams Asean Sec-Gen

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday hit out at the Asean Secretary-General, accusing him of “crazy work” for questioning a recent rocket drill.

“I think that his excellency Surin Pitsuwan is not suitable as ASEAN Secretary-General,” Mr Hun Sen said during a speech, adding: “If you are stupid, don’t do it.”

He pointed out that other ASEAN leaders, including Thailand – with whom Cambodia has an ongoing border dispute – showed no concerns about the test.

Calling on Mr Surin, who is a Thai citizen, to retract his statement or face a confrontation when Asean leaders meet next month in Hanoi, he said: “You must make a correction … The rockets did not hit your head.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3826-3827, 8-9.3.2010

  • More Than 50,000 Tonnes of Remains of Bombs Dropped by B52s Are a New Instrument to Put Pressure on the United States of America to Consider Canceling the Debt of US$315 Million [that Cambodia owes the USA]
  • The Opposition [Sam Rainsy] Party Demands a Delay for the Discussion of the Anti-Corruption Draft Law, but Will Not Walk Out of the Parliament Meeting

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #125, 8.3.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected the Concern Expressed by the ASEAN Secretary General Regarding the Launching of BM21 Rockets
  • Income from Tourism in 2009 Dropped by 2%, from an Amount of US$1.5 Billion [though tourist arrivals increased by 1.7% – according to the Ministry of Tourism]
  • Cambodia Will Send More Than 200 Troops of a Construction Unit to Chad [in April 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5144-5145, 7-9.3.2010

  • Amnesty International: Cases of Rape in Cambodia Increasing
  • The Human Rights Party Announced to Boycott a Meeting [of the National Assembly] to Approve an Anti-Corruption Draft Law [saying that parliamentarians do not have enough time to review the draft documents distributed on 5 March 2010, while the meeting will be held on 10 March 2010]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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