A Too Quick Reaction from the Government – Thursday, 25.3.2010

Posted on 26 March 2010. Filed under: Week 657 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

“The anti-corruption law has already been adopted by the National Assembly and by the Senate of Cambodia. Therefore, after the King would have signed it, it will become valid. But what has to be remembered is that local civil society officials as well as officials of the United Nations had mentioned many shortages of the new law and criticized that the two institutions too quickly adopted the law. One problem they see is that the law requires high ranking officials of the government to declare their assets confidentially.

“UN officials in Cambodia criticized specifically the very quick adoption process of the crucial anti-corruption draft law. The government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen did not accept the recommendations suggested by UN officials, but warned to expel them from Cambodia. This results in a loss of trust in the general public whether the elimination of corruption in Cambodia can be achieved effectively.

“Officials of some non-government organizations said that UN officials just wanted the anti-corruption law of Cambodia to be more transparent, so that the Cambodian government can combat corruption successfully. Therefore, [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s government should not have expressed an angry reaction with the UN official’s criticism, but should take into account what they mentioned. In addition, the requirement for high ranking officials of the government to declare their assets confidentially seems to help hide the assets of corrupt officials rather than to uncover corruption.

“Officials of non-government organizations said that before, the Cambodian government had offered the opportunity for local civil society officials and for international organization officials to provide ideas toward the creation of the anti-corruption draft. But the anti-corruption draft, with 9 chapters and 57 articles, recently adopted by the National Assembly and by the Senate, does not include their recommendations. Moreover, both the National Assembly and the Senate used a very short time to adopt this important law, a process quite unlike the adoption of other laws which takes much time for reviewing and discussing.

“Cambodia had been ranked by Transparency International among the countries in the world where there exists very serious corruption [What is the Corruption Perceptions Index?Corruption Perceptions Index 2009 – Cambodia is on position 158 of 180 countries; this number is calculated based on 8 different suveys]. Even the US Ambassador to Cambodia had criticized that corruption leads to the loss hundreds of millions of dollars of national resources every year. That means corruption in Cambodia is a serious concern, starting from high levels to the lower, where even traffic police commit offensive acts. Thus, based on the content of the anti-corruption draft recently approved by the National Assembly and by the Senate, elimination of corruption seems impossible.

“Non-government organization officials observing corruption in Cambodia said that the 9-chapters-and-57-articles draft does not have explicit content as similar laws in Yuon [Vietnam] and in China have. Even the point about the declaration of assets of high ranking officials does not state the details clearly, and thereby does not explain how corrupt officials can be identified. The government led by Prime Hun Sen should reconsider the critical remarks by UN officials, but should not react against them too fast which does not help.

“It should be noted that the government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen had created an anti-corruption unit administered by Om Yentieng; soon it will create another anti-corruption committee. Creating two institutions that have similar roles does not explain what kind of power will be provided to which institution. With a vague anti-corruption law which does not comply with international standards, corruption might occur more seriously.

“All in all, the anti-corruption draft approved by the National Assembly, presided over by Mr. Heng Samrin, and by the Senate, headed by Mr. Chea Sim, is not praised by the general public, as the content of the law does not show its real value. Actually, the opposition party parliamentarians did not raise their hands to support its adoption. Only the parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party raised their hands to support it. Under such circumstances, the government, led by the Cambodian People’s Party, should consider the content of that law again, but should not react by warning to expel UN officials just because they pointed out deficiencies of that important law.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3841, 25.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 25 March 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1434, 25-26.3.2010

  • The Thai Parliament Began to Meet, though the Puea Thai Party Members Boycotted It

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #443, 25.3.2010

  • The Ministry of Health Launched a Campaign of A/H1N1 Vaccinations [for citizens in Phnom Penh; so far in Cambodia, there were 566 cases of infections, and six people died]
  • [About forty] War Journalists [from the 1970s] Will Have a Reunion in Cambodia Next Month [from 20 to 23 April 2010; according to the former Minister of Information of the Khmer Republic, Mr. Chhang Song]

Note:

Mr. Chhang Song had been the last Minister of Information of the Khmer Republic, which came to an end with the end of the Lon Nol government in 1975. Mr. Chhang Song went, like many others, as a refugee to the USA and became a US citizen. But in 1989, he returned to Cambodia and was among the few returnees who joined the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] – offering his experience to act as a communicator between the political leadership of the CPP and the Western world.

During the time, when the majority of the governments of the world – and the whole “Western world” continued to consider the Khmer Rouge seat in the General Assembly of the United Nations legitimate, while not recognizing the Cambodian government in Phnom Penh during the 1980ies, he testified in the Congress of the USA, speaking against support for the fighting factions of FUNCINPEC, the Khmer Rouge, and the Khmer People’s Liberation Front against the State of Cambodia from their positions at the Cambodian-Thai border. And he helped to organize an interview for Prime Minister Hun Sen with the US National Public Radio, to provide an interpretation to the US public about the Cambodian situation from inside of Cambodia, and not from the prevalent news outlets on behalf of the border camps of the three resistance factions.

Later he became a member of the Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia – but in 2001, he – together with Mr. Phay Siphan and Mr. Pou Savath – was expelled from the CPP and also from his position as a senator. Details are in a document of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

After six years, Mr. Chhang Song was called back into public service, as an advisor of the Royal Government of Cambodia with the rank of a minister.

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2210, 25.3.2010

  • A Popular Member of the Amleang Commune Council [from the Cambodian People’s Party] and a Villager Were Detained [for burning down the on-site office of Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company, while about 500 villagers are protesting – Kompong Speu]
  • [Former Khmer Rouge leader] Khiev Samphan Has Been Transferred to [Calmette] Hospital since Ten Days [he receives medical treatment for hypertension]
  • Two Chinese and one Khmer Man Were Brought to a Court for Smuggling Drugs Worth US$10,000 [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #635, 25.3.2010

  • Two Villagers among Five Victimized by a Land Dispute Were Detained when They Had Been Summoned by a Court for Questioning [Kompong Speu]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6917, 25.3.2010

  • The Daun Penh Authorities Started a Big Operation to Crack Down on [ten] Massage Shops and Karaoke Parlors Offering Sex Services – among Them also the Yang Chou Massage Shop Was Closed [a Chinese man who administered the place and 37 sex workers were arrested – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3841, 25.3.2010

  • A Too Quick Reaction from the Government

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #138, 25.3.2010

  • Cambodia Said that 88 Thai Soldiers Died during Armed Clashes in 2008 and 2009 [and also two Khmer soldiers died; according to a Deputy Commander of the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces, General Chea Dara]
  • Cambodia Has Produced Enough Salt for the Local Demand for This Year [now 80,000 tonnes have been produced already within five months while the total demand is 90,000 tonnes]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5159, 25.3.2010

  • The Siem Reap Authorities Intercepted Two Wood Storehouses and Found Nearly 400 Cubic Meters of Wood [of Oknha Sok Kong and of Oknha Lao Meng Khin – Siem Reap]
  • A Son of Two-Star General Chea Mon [military commander of Region 4] Was Arrested over a [robbery] Case Five Years Ago [Siem Reap]

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The Anti-Corruption Law Was Adopted with 100% of the Votes in Support – Friday, 12.3.2010

Posted on 13 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

Note:

Apologies for the delay – I am still at an ICANN conference – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the global coordination for the Internet name space – in Nairobi/Kenya. I hope to be back in Phnom Penh Monday. I try to avoid delays – but I am kept busy at the conference and do not always have Internet access when I would like to have it.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: An anti-corruption law was discussed and adopted by the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia in the morning of 11 March 2010 with 82 votes in favor from the 82 voters present.

“In the morning of 11 March 2010, the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia held its session to discuss and to adopt an anti-corruption draft law, and the proceedings were completed despite objections and a boycott by opposition party parliamentarians. According to information available, after Chapter 4 of the anti-corruption draft had been discussed and adopted, during a break, the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians decided to walk out of the session, saying that the anti-corruption draft does not protect the interests of the citizens but rather the interests of corrupt people.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Son Chhay, said during the discussion in the morning of 11 March 2010 that if the government creates a law in such a way, it is not necessary to have an anti-corruption law. He criticized that the draft law has many problems.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kompong Cham, Mr. Cheam Channy, said that if they want an active participation [against corruption] by the citizens, there should be no punishment against those who provide information [about corruption], otherwise no one dares to participate. As for Mr. Yim Sovann, he said he could not accept this draft law because it protects corrupt people. In addition, the budget of the Anti-Corruption Unit is to be part of the budget of the Council of Ministers. Therefore, he does not believe corruption can be prevented. He said that most corrupt people are working in the government. Thus, if the Anti-Corruption Unit is not independent, it is hard to trust it.

“Mr. Yim Sovann also mentioned that the declaration of assets must be made to be known publicly. If it is made only by a confidential letter, it is not a declaration. ‘We need to let our people know the assets of their leaders.’ At that time, he announced not to attend the session which was to start at 10:30.

“The Minister of the Council of Ministers, the representative of the Royal Government to defend the draft, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, said that the points raised by opposition party parliamentarians seem to imply that the law is useless. He said, however, that this draft law is crucial, and aims at combating corruption and some vicious people effectively. Also, this law involves various units and institutions to implement it cooperatively. In addition, even a good law is not always observed.

“Relating to the discussion and the adoption of the anti-corruption draft law, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights had sent a letter to the president of the National Assembly, saying that the draft law is prepared in a secretive way and it is not discussed with civil society organizations, and the Center asked the Royal Government to urgently deal with the concern that the goal of this law lacks political independency, it does not involve public participation, and it fails to protect informants disclosing cases of corruption.

“The United Nations released a statement welcoming the discussion and the adoption of the anti-corruption law by the National Assembly, saying that the anti-corruption law has been long awaited. The statement adds that the United Nations country team in Cambodia has been actively supporting the adoption of this important law since 2004. The draft law should be made available for public discussion with transparency and public participation, in order to ensure that it complies with international standard, as required by the Constitution, and to guarantee the protection of the rights and duties of the Cambodian citizens who are to benefit most from this law.

“The United Nations hopes that it is not too late to encourage the National Assembly to allow enough time for parliamentarians, civil society, donors, and the United Nations to study this law, and, if it is necessary, to amend some points. The United Nations in Cambodia hopes and encourages the National Assembly and the Senate to discuss this law in view of the possibility to amend it if it is necessary.

“The United Nations said that this statement is a contribution of the efforts to reorganize the law to make it more effective at present and in the future.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2199, 12.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 12 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #432, 12.3.2010

  • Japan Grants More Than US$670,000 to the Cambodian Mine Action Center [to clear mines in the northern regions of Cambodia]
  • The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Encourages the Protection of Wild Elephants [in Cambodia, as they are threatened by human activities and by climate change; the Cambodian side claimed that there are more than 270 elephants in the country while the WWF found that there are only 170]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2199, 12.3.2010

  • The Anti-Corruption Law Was Adopted with 100% of the Votes in Support
  • [The Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Announced that He Would Resign and Allow the Parliament to be Dissolved if Public Security Would Develop into Chaos
  • One Chinese and one Khmer Man Were Arrested for Storing and Distributing Nearly 20 Tonnes of Fake Medicines [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #743, 12.3.2010

  • The Fate of [the Burmese elected democracy leader] Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi and of [the Cambodian opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Are the Same, as They Are Imprisoned and Lose the Right to Participate in Elections

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #624, 12.3.2010

  • [The Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: The National Assembly Adopted a Law That Is an Iron Net to Defend Those Who Commit Corruption

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6906, 12.3.2010

  • The One-Star Navy General Who Surprisingly Caused Trouble in a School and Committed Violence at the Seashore Province [of Sihanoukville] Was Arrested

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3830, 12.3.2010

  • Sam Rainsy: The Anti-Corruption Law Is a Tool Used to Protect and to Hide Corruption, and to Punish Common Civil Servants

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #129, 12.3.2010

  • A Conflictive Anti-Corruption Law Was Approved by the National Assembly, but Concerns Remain [observers were astonished when the National Assembly approved that anti-corruption draft law consisting of 59 chapters within just one day and a half]
  • Sudan Is Interested to Invest in Agriculture in Cambodia

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5148, 12.3.2010

  • The National Assembly Adopted an Anti-Corruption Law after Opposition Party Parliamentarians Walked Out [of the session]
  • A Man [a gold seller and currency exchanger] Was Fatally Shot and His Wife Was Seriously Wounded in a Robbery in Front of Their House, and Property Worth About US$10,000 Was Taken Away [the two robbers are not yet identified – Meanchey]

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Civil Society Recognizes that There Are Many Trade Unions of Workers, but They Are Weak – Friday, 13.3.2009

Posted on 16 March 2009. Filed under: Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: According to a report of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], there are at present more than 1,000 trade unions of workers, including factory trade unions, tourism industry trade unions, construction workers trade unions, and informal economic sector trade unions. However, even though there are many trade unions, their freedom is still limited, they face discrimination from union to union, like threats and restrictions of their freedom of expression.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, said, ‘There are surely many trade unions, but many of them do not have members at garment factories. Nevertheless, the Cambodian Federation of Trade Unions with the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers as a member has done a lot of work to demand different, improved working conditions for garment workers, especially also demands for salaries.’

“Mr. Rong Chhun added ‘If all trade unions unite into one, demands by workers of trade unions will be stronger. As for now, there are two kinds of unions, among them only a small number of trade unions work for garment workers, while a large number of trade unions are created just to have names, but there are no members from the factories in those trade unions.’

“A high ranking official of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, Mr. Cheat Khemara, said that most disputes in factories happen, because demands of some trade unions are against the labor law, like the rate of major salary changes of garment workers, or disputes erupt when factory owners could not solve problems since the demands are against the law. If garment workers till trust those who provoke them without checking the labor law, both garment workers and owners, their employers, will lose benefits and the production of the garment industry, known to be a major force that made it possible for the Cambodian economy to grow so far, drops also.

“Mr. Khemara went on to say, ‘Activities which are against the law, do not strengthen law enforcement, and are burdened with individual interests that are against the development of the national economy.’

“The president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], Ms. Pong Chhiv Kek [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru], said, ‘At present, there are many trade unions of workers, but they do not have much substance.’ She explained that trade unions are not strong, because most of them are not independent, and they are under political influence.

“It should be noted that trade unions are weak because they do not yet have developed mutual solidarity, and sometimes, there is infiltration and fractionalism imported from outside. Also, all demands by trade unions seem not to be strongly focused by factory owners and by the government. As for the freedom of expression as well as to march and to demonstrate on a large scale, these activities are barred.”Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #138, 13.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 13 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #138, 13.3.2009

  • Civil Society Recognizes that There Are Many Trade Unions of Workers, but They Are Weak
  • [Former commander-in-chief] Ke Kim Yan Becomes [the tenth] Deputy Prime Minister, and [deputy national military police commander] Chhin Chanpor Becomes Deputy Commander of the Army [after the National Assembly provided a vote of confidence]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay: An Advisor to [President of National Assembly and Honorary President of the Cambodian People’s Party] Samdech Heng Samrin Used a Weapon to Warn US Embassy Officials [the Phnom Penh police chief, Mr. Touch Naruth, said that this person is identified, he works in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this case was already been reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because the US Embassy lodged already a complaint]
  • The South Korean President [Mr. Lee Myung-Bak] Plans to Visit Cambodia in 2009
  • Pyongyang Will Launch a Satellite on 8 April 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1896, 13.3.2009

  • An Additional Punishment of 16 Years Imprisonment Was Added to Heng Pov, so that His Imprisonment Is Increased to 74 Years and 6 Months; His [five] Accomplices Received Additional 15 Years Imprisonment Each [for conspiracy to murder the commander of the National Military Police, Mr. Sao Sokha – based on an anonymous death threat letter]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #363, 13.3.2009

  • Documentary Movie about the Acid Attack on Ms. Tat Marina [known to have had an affair with a high ranking official] Was Shown in Geneva
  • [The big soccer betting company] CamboSix Demands US$12 Million from the Hole-in-Basket Government for Contract Violation [because their contract, valid until 2011, was canceled]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3710, 13.3.2009

  • Income from Garment Industry Declined by US$180 Million Compared to [January] 2008

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4844, 13.3.2009

  • The National Assembly Provided a Vote of Confidence for Ten New Members of the Royal Government [with 86 votes in favor among 87, and the opposition parties absent]
  • The National Election Committee Affirms Again that Only Four Parties Will Participate in the [District and Provincial/City] Council Elections [the Cambodian People’s Party, Funcinpec, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, and the Sam Rainsy Party]
  • There Are About 10 Mobile Phone Companies and More Than 4 Million Mobile Phones [according the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1671, 13-14.3.2009

  • Opposition Parties Boycott the Meeting of the National Assembly to Conduct a Vote of Confidence to Assign New Members of the Government

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