Samdech Hun Sen Considers Forestry Crimes to Be Acts of National Betrayal – Saturday, 27.3.2010

Posted on 28 March 2010. Filed under: Week 657 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

“Phnom Penh: During a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen affirmed the position of the government regarding the campaign to strongly intercept forestry crimes, and not to give up. Although there may be barriers against it made of rock or of iron, any obstacles must be broken down.

“During the cabinet meeting yesterday, which took from morning to noon, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen spoke to all members of the Royal Government, saying that all related institutions, whether on the national or on regional levels, have to cooperate to intercept forestry crimes, and to reach the ringleaders. All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships, because the suppression of forestry crimes is the suppression of criminal groups – their activities have to be considered as activities of national betrayal.

“Samdech Hun Sen regards the interception campaign against illegal wood trading as a thunderstorm campaign, not a pleasant light drizzle.

“Also, Samdech Hun Sen knows that those who use to do such wood trading are backed by high ranking officials, but this time, no matter how high their positions are, they will be jailed.

“Samdech Hun Sen seriously warned some high ranking officials to withdraw from this business, because now the thunderstorm comes.

“He gave similar orders regarding the campaign to crack down on gambling sites and on drugs. All authorities must remember also the order to persecute the car owners that stick light black plastic foils on the inside of their car windows to conceal [who, or what is going on inside].

“Therefore, 2010 is a bad year for forestry crimes, for all kinds of gambling, and for cars which blackened windows.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2212, 27.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 27 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #445, 27.3.2010

  • Six Died and 50 Others Are Being Hospitalized – It Is Alleged to Be the Result of Cholera [Kratie]
  • A Strong Campaign Continues after an Illegal Storehouse for Wood of Oknha Ang Try, the [Owner-]Director of the Tiger Beer Company, Was Intercepted [almost 1,000 cubic meters of wood were found – Siem Reap]
  • Citizens and Civil Society [ADHOC and the World Wildlife Fund] Welcome the Suppression of Forestry Crimes in the Northeast

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2212, 27.3.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen Considers Forestry Crimes to Be Acts of National Betrayal
  • The National Assembly Will Discuss an Anti-Terrorism Draft Law on 1 April 2010
  • The Russey Keo District Authorities Cracked Down On a Big Storehouse of Luxury Wood in Chrouy Chongva [Phnom Penh] That Stores Various Goods, and They Seized 427 Pieces of Wood

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #637, 27.3.2010

  • The Kompong Speu Court Promised to Release [Two] Representatives of the Amleang Commune Residents on Monday [29 March 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6919, 27-28.3.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Orders to Continue to Investigate Illegal Places [like gambling sites], Brothels, Cars with Light Black Plastic Foils Obscuring their Windows, and Forestry Criminals
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Issued an Arrest Warrant for the Owner of the White Club for Operating Nude Dancing Performances [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3843, 27-28.3.2010

  • After a Murder Thirteen Years Ago which Is Part of History, the Authorities Can Still Just Promise to Try to Arrest the Murderers for Conviction [this refers to the attack with four grenades on demonstrators in front of the former National Assembly on 30 March 1997, when 16 people were killed and over 100 others were injured]
  • Communities of Ethnic Minorities Asked the Government [during the presentation of books about measures supporting ethnic minorities, organized by UNDP at the Cambodiana Hotel] to Halt Providing Concession Land [to private companies] for Mine Explorations [which affect their land and their living environment]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5161, 27.3.2010

  • National Road 4 [connecting Phnom Penh and the major port city of Sihanoukville] Was Blocked Nearly Two Hours by Protesting Residents Who Asked for the Release [of two of their representatives who were detained for burning down the on-site office of Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company in a land dispute – Kompong Speu]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Ordered to Reduce the Number of Officials [who do not have duties, but are] Attending Cabinet Session [to prevent the leaking of confidential information from cabinet meetings to the public]

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The Number of Clients of Electricité du Cambodge Increased to 338,567 and the Power Sold Is 1,643 Gigawatt-Hours – Tuesday, 23.3.2010

Posted on 23 March 2010. Filed under: Week 657 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

“Phnom Penh: A high ranking official of the Ministry of Economy and Finance said that in 2009, according to a source from Electricité du Cambodge,338,567 houses or offices were supplied with the power of 1,643 gigawatt-hours in Cambodia.

“The deputy secretary-general of the National Economic Council and a high ranking official of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mr. Hav Ratanak, said during a conference about the prospects for Cambodian in 2010, organized on 17 March 2010, that, according to the documents of Electricité du Cambodge, the amount of energy that this institution received and distributed, rose up to 1,643 gigawatt-hours, increasing by 192 gigawatt-hours, while the number of clients increased to 338,567, going up by 23,034, compared with 2008.

“He added that in 2009, 306,898 houses of citizens, 2,184 clients who are foreigners, 26,543 businesses, 1,094 industrial sites, and 1,848 government offices were supplied with electricity.

“According to Mr. Ratanak, in order to promote the plan to develop electricity in Cambodia, Electricité du Cambodge set up a three-year strategic plan, starting from 2010 to 2013. He said that between 2010 and 2013, Cambodia plans to import electricity of up to 5,108 gigawatt-hours from Vietnam and 625 gigawatt-hours from Thailand. Besides, other possible sources of electricity are from Kirirom I, Kirirom II, Kamchay, and the A Tai river hydro-electricity dams, and from electricity plants using coal to generate electricity.

“So far, it is believed that only 17% to 18% of Cambodians have access to electricity. Based on these projections, 70% of Cambodians will have access to electricity by 2030.

“In the region, the electricity prices in Cambodia were considered to be the highest, and Cambodia is also the country with least supply of electricity.

“The prices of electricity being supplied in Cambodia by Electricité du Cambodge are about Riel 610 [approx. US$0.14] per kilowatt-hour, if the consumption is between 0 to 50 kilowatt-hours per month, but if it is 0 to 100 kilowatt-hours or beyond, prices range from Riel 720 [approx. US$0.17] to Riel 940 [approx. US$0.22]. And for citizens, who use privately generated electricity, it is more expensive.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5157, 23.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #441, 23.3.2010

  • Cambodia Is at the 21st Position among 22 Countries with Serious Tuberculosis, 13,000 People Died in a Year

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2208, 23.3.2010

  • The South Korean President Requested to Recruit More Workers from Cambodia Than from Other Countries [this is in response to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s request – the Ministry of Labor of South Korea is recruiting 700 agricultural workers]
  • More Than Fifteen Cubic Meters of Kronhoung Wood Was Confiscated in Choam Ksant District [Preah Vihear]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #633, 23.3.2010

  • The Kompong Speu Court Summoned [five] Citizens, Victimized by the Use of Machinery of [Senator and Oknha] Ly Yong Phat to Clear Their Land
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Those Who Oppose the United Nations Protect Corrupt People

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6915, 23.3.2010

  • Hundreds of Cubic Meters of Wood Were Intercepted at the Memut Border Crossing [after the recent order by Prime Minister Hun Sen to control forestry crimes – Kompong Cham]
  • 180 Pieces of Luxury Wood Were Intercepted and Delivered to the Forestry Administration [Ratanakiri]
  • The National Bank of Cambodia Celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Printing of Riel Notes

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3839, 23.3.2010

  • Authorities Send the Case of the Boeng Kak Lake Residents Back and Forth and Do Not Have the Real Intention to Address It [on 22 March 2010, about 200 Boeng Kak Lake residents protested in front of the Phnom Penh Municipality to demand ownership documents for their land where they lived already for years]

Meatophoum, Vol.54, #764, 22-27.3.2010

  • In Mondolkiri, in One Tonne of Earth, 2.3 Grams of Gold Can Be Extracted [according to the OZ Minerals Company that has discovered four places in the province where gold can be extracted]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #136, 23.3.2010

  • Draft: Acid Attackers Might Stay for the Rest of Their Lives in Prison
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Will Commemorate the 13th Anniversary of the Grenade Attack of 30 March 1997 [where at least ten people were killed]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5157, 23.3.2010

  • The Number of Clients of Electricité du Cambodge Increased to 338,567 and the Power Sold Is 1,643 Gigawatt-Hours
  • Cambodia Rejected Information about Any Involvement with the B41 Grenade Explosions in Thailand [after Thai Television 3 broadcast that B41 grenades could have been imported from Cambodia]

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A Large Scale Raid Was Held to Stop the Selling of Military Materials at the Tuek Thla Market – Friday, 5.3.2010

Posted on 6 March 2010. Filed under: Week 654 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 654

“Phnom Penh: Hundreds of military police of the municipality, in collaboration with the Sen Sok district authorities and court officials, raided the Tuek Thla market at around 12:00 noon on 4 March 2010 and seized a lot of military materials, which had been displayed for sale. As a result, the authorities confiscated hundreds of military uniforms and other materials from ten stalls, and arrested some sellers of those materials to educate them.

“The operation was led by the Phnom Penh Military Police commander, Major General Ya Kim I, with the participation of the Sen Sok military police commander, the Sen Sok district governor, Mr. Khuong Sreng, and a Phnom Penh court official, Mr. Ek Chheng Huot.

“What the authorities confiscated most were military uniforms, and it is said that those uniforms had been sold by military generals to the traders; in some cases, the names of those who had provided them were still attached to the supplies of uniforms, which actually were to be distributed to soldiers at the Preah Vihear Temple.

“According to the authorities, there were not only military uniforms at the Tuek Thla market, but there were also many kinds of pistols and ammunition for pistols for sale. But they were not displayed openly for sale like the uniforms; they were sold and bought secretly.

“This was not the first raid at the Tuek Thla market to stop the selling of bullets and of police and military uniforms. There had been several raids before, but these activities could not be eliminated, as many heads of police units and military commanders do not distribute the materials to the fellow police and soldiers under their command, but keep them and sell them to traders. Therefore, the fellow personnel under their command lack uniforms and have to seek and buy these things by themselves. Thus, the sellers are not the ones to be blamed, because some heads of police units and military police commanders benefit personally by taking their troops’ belongings, and transport them by car to sell them to traders – everyone knows this problem.

“Besides some heads of police units and military commanders, who sell a large number of uniforms, it is also seen that some police, military police, and military personnel sold their uniforms there, as they have low and insufficient salaries. As for hammocks for the military, almost 90% of the soldiers do not get them from their leaders, but they can get their hammocks by buying them at the Tuek Thla market.

“In addition to uniforms, hammocks, and hats, about 90% of police and military police have to buy also their pistols themselves, because their leaders do not release them to them, as they are expensive, and the leaders can benefit by selling them secretly. They order their closest subordinates to contact traders, doing it as a secret business.

“Therefore, the suppression at the Tuek Thla market is just an action that looks good, as sooner or later, such operations will start again because persons in the armed forces, who do not have sufficient materials, since their leaders take these things and do not distribute them as required, need to buy them from the Tuek Thla market.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2193, 5.3.2010

Note:

It is not clear whether one expected part of the whole affair is only missing from the report, or whether it did not happen. The report says: “the authorities confiscated hundreds of military uniforms and other materials from ten stalls, and arrested some sellers of those materials to educate them… the sellers are not the ones to be blamed.” Was anybody also punished for these illegal actions? The traders were educated – but what about those who supplied the illegal merchandise? – “…everyone knows this problem.”

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 5 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #426, 5.3.2010

  • The Prime Minister Warned that Police and Military Chiefs Had Better Leave Their Positions if They Do Not Dare to Crack Down on Brothels and Gambling Sites, Being Afraid of Interventions [from higher levels; officials who intervene against such activities will be demoted – he said so during a celebration on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, held in advance, on 4 March 2010]
  • Acid Attack Will Increase, as the Perpetrators Consider It to Be Only a Misdemeanor [the Ministry of Interior is drafting stricter regulations against acid attacks – it is a general concern: misdemeanors are minor offense where perpetrators will not be punished seriously]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2193, 5.3.2010

  • A Large Scale Raid Was Held to Stop the Selling of Military Materials at the Tuek Thla Market
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: 2010 Is the Year of a Campaign to Eliminate Brothels and Illegal Gambling Sites
  • The Exercise to Fire [215] BM-21 Rockets Was Successful, as the Targets Were Hit Very Well [Kompong Chhnang]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11#740, 5.3.2010

  • The United States of America Said that Cambodia Is a Transit Country for Money Laundering and Drug Smuggling [according to a report released early last week by the US Department of State, saying that Cambodia still does not have appropriate laws to control money laundering]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6900, 5.3.2010

  • Each Year There Are 200,000 Graduates in Cambodia [but it is not mentioned here how many can find jobs]
  • An Austrian Man [Mr. Motalic Ganhad ((phonetic – obviously wrong – we were not able to clarify the name))] Who Died Left His Inheritance to the Cambodian Red Cross, Including a House and Half a Million Euro at a Bank in Austria

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3824, 5.3.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Will Hold a Press Conference about the Importance of the [anti-corruption] Draft of the Opposition Party, That the National Assembly Sent Back

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5142, 5.3.2010

  • The National Assembly Rejected an Anti-Corruption Draft, Presented by the Sam Rainsy Party [according to The Cambodia Daily, copies of the government’s draft anti-corruption law were finally released and hand-delivered to all lawmakers in the National Assembly – nearly three months after being approved by the Council of Ministers]
  • The Case of the Accident, where a Korean Man Drove a Car and Hit Three Persons, Killing Them, in Kompong Thom, Has Not Yet Been Settled [compensation is still being negotiated]

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The Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Declaration – Sunday, 7.2.2010

Posted on 8 February 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

The Mirror carried already last week a report about the extraordinary speech of the Prime Minister: “It Is Time to Stop; Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces” – where he directly named several generals present, criticizing their unacceptable, corrupt behavior. During the present week, there were still positive responses in the press, including from sources not so close to the government. Human Rights Watch, a US based organization, often very critical of the political climate in Cambodia, also supported the Prime Minister’s warning to commanders over their corrupt, illegal actions. And the Prime Minister himself continued to speak according to the same line, when he attacked nepotism, warning that nobody should nominate relatives and partisans for public office.

But we got also another response: “Words are cheap, nothing will change.”

And another, also anonymous voice, calls it to be my idea – while I actually quoted Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – that the Cambodian people are the masters of their country, because they can vote, saying, “Having rights is not enough. You’ve got to have the power to exercise those rights, so that they can be useful. That can also explain why the civil society has always failed in demanding for respect for human rights.”

These are pessimistic views, assuming and expecting that rights can be enjoyed automatically, while history shows in many different cultures that rights have to be fought for, even if they are written in the law, when other powers violate them.

The Prime Minister has spoken clearly.

According to a report in the Phnom Penh Post of 4 February 2010, “Farmers set to call soldiers to Kampot court,” saying

“A group of people in Chumkiri, Kampot, filed a complaint in the provincial court against members of an army unit they say are encroaching on their land and cutting down their fruit trees, escalating a standoff that began in 2001… The court complaint comes less than one week after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned top military officials to refrain from participating in illegal land-grabbing operations.

‘It is time to stop every activity involving illegal business or the support of illegal business. I don’t care how many stars or moons you have – I will fire you, and nobody will keep corrupt commanders in their seats,’ the Prime Minister had said at the end of a conference on military reform at the Ministry of Defense last week.”

So we will see.

But did civil society always fail in demanding respect for human rights? It is not clear on which basis this is said, and which understanding or misunderstanding of the term ‘civil society’ is used when saying so. First, there is no general, clear definition of this term. But it refers to all movements, associations, or individual citizens, independent from the state, whose aim is to improve policies, standards, or social structures, through common efforts. Civil society – that are organizations formed for these purposes – civil society organizations, non-government organizations, citizens action groups – but civil society is also all individual citizens in a social unit – be it a residential region, or a common interest group (for example enjoying sports or music, and caring together to see that the proper space is set aside for these purposes). Civil society is citizens who organize themselves to care for the quality of life where they live.

Civil society is also the majority of the citizens of Phnom Penh, who, in their majority, do not care that the Boeung Kak lake in this city is being destroyed, being filled up with sand for the benefit of some business interests to construct a commercial and housing center – though the plans have not even been made transparent and publicly know, leaving all the struggle for rights to the several thousand people who are directly affected, because they lose their traditional environment and with it also their means of living.

On 31 August 2008 The Mirror had reported the following: “Later in January 2008, Areyathor reported that Samdech Heng Samrin, the President of the National Assembly – and also a Honorary President of the Cambodian People’s Party – had signed a letter for the suspension of pumping of soil to fill Boeng Kak lake, and the paper reported also that the Phnom Penh governor and vice-governor allegedly disagree with each other about filling Boeng Kak lake.” We are not aware that the press has done any follow up on these reports. But the public is aware that the lake is gradually disappearing, that many residents had tried to organize themselves to jointly represent their concerns and demands, and that some of the remaining residents around the lake are at present living on top of rising dirty water, as the promised pumping for stagnant dirty water – as a result of the filing in of sand – was installed too late and is not strong enough.

Recently I had the opportunity to be in Myanmar, and to have dinner one evening at the Kan Taw Gyi lakeside – a wide park where hundreds of people enjoy walking around or sitting together, with a music stage, very many small restaurants, and a wonderful view. Phnom Penh is destroying such a possibility for its future.

The lake before being filled

The lake before being filled

The lake being filled

The lake being filled



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At the Kan Taw Gyi Lake in Yangon/Myanmar.

At the Kan Taw Gyi Lake in Yangon/Myanmar.



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Does civil society – the people in general in Phnom Penh – care? Or why not?

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A 30 Years Commemoration – Civil Society in Cambodia – Sunday, 29.11.2009

Posted on 30 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 640 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 640

The past weak saw a special anniversary celebration, which is in no calendar of national events: 30 years since NGOs started to work in Cambodia. Nowadays, when the participation of NGOs – foreign and national – is assumed as a regular feature of life in society, it is surely not easy to understand the extraordinary nature that foreign NGOs came to Cambodia in 1979. At that time, the majority of UN member states considered the Cambodian government to be illegal. The so called “Western” countries and the People’s Republic of China agreed on the point that the Khmer Rouge representative continued to legally represent Cambodia at the United Nations until 1990. Seeing this agreement between these two world powers normally not much in agreement, many Third World countries went along with this understanding. Only the socialist countries (except China) and India established diplomatic relations with the government in Phnom Penh after the end of the Khmer Rouge regime. And US citizens, working in Cambodia, even if their salaries did not originate from the USA, had to pay “punitive taxes” in the USA.

30 Years NGOs in Cambodia Celebration

30 Years NGOs in Cambodia Celebration

Eva Mysliwiec, now the director of Youth Star Cambodia, who had came to Cambodia in May 1980, spoke at the commemoration, on behalf of the NGO Organizing Committee, about the three decades of NGO partnerships with the people and government of Cambodia, saying,

“It is very moving to look around this room and to see so many people who have contributed to the Cambodia in which we live today. How far we have come since 1979!

I remember well my arrival in May 1980, in a country devastated by war and genocide. I remember vividly my first meeting with Samdech HUN Sen who was then Foreign Minister and 28 years old.”

There were only five NGOs, who had dared to break the boycot of their home governments: the American Friends Service Committee, CIDSE, Church World Service, OXFAM, and World Vision – now, as the Prime Minister announced in his speech, there are 3,207 NGOs and associations, that is 1,933 NGOs and 1,274 other associations. Eva Mysliwiec continued:

“The core of NGO work was focused on massive relief, meeting health needs and restoring agricultural production in order to prevent famine. Because of the embargo imposed by the Western Community and with precious few resources, NGOs found themselves in a unique role where they had to provide massive infrastructure assistance as well… NGO work in the eighties spanned virtually every sector of Cambodian society and economy, from the restoration of urban and rural water supply, to the rehabilitation of infrastructure, the provision of basic agriculture, education and health inputs, etc. – the list is endless.”

But in spite of all this emphasis on practical actions, she said:

“In my view, the most valuable role the NGOs played in the eighties was solidarity: bearing
witness to the suffering of Cambodian people, bearing witness to the unearthing of mass graves, bearing witness to the continuing hardship caused by the embargo and isolation and especially bearing witness to the resilience, ingenuity and determination of people to rebuild their country. They created a bridge between Cambodian people and the people in countries whose governments did not recognize Cambodia.”

This history has to be remembered, when nowadays, sometimes the opinion is expressed that NGOs have one role only: “to provide humanitarian assistance” – quite different from the wide variety of activities NGOs are engaged with in other countries of the world.

All the more it was interesting that also the keynote speaker, Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS (“Promoting a worldwide community of informed, inspired, committed citizens who are actively engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity” – with member organizations in 110 countries), described the fundamental task of civil society not just in terms of development or humanitarian project implementations, but located their role in the present situation, after the collapse of many schemes based on an free-market system, where human rights an democratic are more under threat than before.

“In Latin America, Africa, Eurasia and Asia authoritarian governments are being permitted to crack down with impunity on civil society and media freedoms through new, draconian legislative and fiscal controls if they control access to energy resources, investment or markets… Funding for defending these rights, for strengthening civil society architecture and for building solidarity across civil society groups is also much harder to come by as donor resources are stretched by increasing domestic needs and by more immediate humanitarian needs…

“The possibilities of mounting a coherent challenge to the economic paradigm of market fundamentalism and the patent inequity of the institutions of global governance have never been greater. For the first time in history peoples from Michigan to Manila, Madrid to Mali, and Mumbai to Moscow can share the realization that the root causes of their individual problems, and hence their interests, are in fact, identical. From slums to forests, fishing communities to assembly-lines, indigenous peoples to suburbia – the people we so often refer to as ‘ordinary’ are increasingly aware of the connectedness of their causes. It’s up to us as civil society to provide the means for them to mobilize in solidarity with each other. We have unprecedented access to the information, networks and technologies that permit us to support their struggles against tyranny and injustice…

“Speaking in Moscow a few months ago, Barack Obama affirmed that ‘meeting these challenges requires a vibrant civil society; the freedom of people to live as they choose, to speak their minds, to organize peacefully and to have a say in how they are governed; a free press to report the truth; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; a government that’s accountable and transparent.’

“We know from experience that active citizenship is the only antidote to this takeover of governance and that investing in the creation, nurturing and protection of civil society rights is the only vaccine. We know, or ought to, that empowering people to defend their own freedoms to exist, engage and express is not only the most sustainable development strategy but the only morally defensible one…

“Despite, or rather because of, our lack of hierarchical command and control structures, our diversity and belief in values-led approaches, civil society is better equipped to grasp, respond to, and evolve collective solutions that require a fundamental shift in world-view than either governments or businesses. And possibly better at displaying the humility required to build the cross-sectoral partnerships without which we cannot possibly resolve these crises…

“Doing so will take more than a business as usual approach from us. It will take each of us as individuals, organizations and alliances setting aside our egos, our brands, our narrow self-interests and our differences to come together in unprecedented levels of collaboration and genuine partnership that focuses on amplifying the voices of those least heard, and of finding common cause across boundaries of nationality, geography and thematic interest.

“If we can aspire to that ideal, we may, just may, address the stupendous challenges before us and even realize the goals you have all dedicated your lives to, whether you approach that goal through the lens of volunteerism or human rights, faith or secularism, charity or human rights – the overarching goal of civil society in all its forms – a world based on equity and justice.”

Such a challenge to reflect, to consider a clear fundamental orientation for the day-to-day work of civil society is important. And it is equally important that civil society communicates clearly to the other sectors of society its claims and commitments. It is important to see what the suggested orientation is: “to struggle against tyranny and injustice, and for equality.”

The address of the Prime Minister dealt, according to reports, a lot with the planned NGO Law. There is some apprehension among the NGO community, because a current draft is not available for public discussion in the community.

Some examples given, why an NGO Law is important – like to prevent terrorist acts planned under the cover of NGOs – were widely not seen as convincing: the intended terrorist attack against the British Embassy had been stopped in time, and the Indonesian terrorist Hambali was arrested – both without an NGO law.

The following reported concern of the Prime Minister is surprising. There are detailed and elaborate forms from the Council for the Development of Cambodia – CDC – where NGOs have to describe source of funding and work plans – on the national level and in the provinces – which serve exactly this purpose since many years ago, though the Prime Minister said now:

“The Royal Government wants to know where NGOs get the money from and how they use it for what. ‘Just this they do not want to tell.’”

Here are obviously some misunderstandings about administrative processes involved. In addition, most donors, providing financial resources to NGO, have requirements for professional auditing, and the results are not secret. Compared to the recent calls by the Prime Minister to curb multiple remuneration payments to government advisers, combined with the repeated calls by the Prime Minister to economize gasoline usage by a better control on the use of public vehicles, allows the assumption that the handling of finance in the NGO world is comparatively well organized and transparent.

What is important, therefore, is the clear statement of the Prime Minister, that the NGO Law will not interfere with the normal activities of NGO: “I guarantee that it is not an action to restrict the freedom of NGOs, please believe me.” Should lower level authorities try to act differently, civil society can appeal to this public promise of the Prime Minister.

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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 636

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 28 October 2009

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

  • Cambodia Becomes a Member of the World Heritage Committee

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #322, 28.10.2009

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

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2083, 28.10.2009

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

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

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6790, 28.10.2009

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5032, 28.10.2009

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

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The Korean Ambassador to Cambodia Stressed the Place of Bilateral Ties with Cambodia Ahead of a Visit by the Korean President Next Week – Thursday, 15.10.2009

Posted on 16 October 2009. Filed under: Week 634 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634 – Thursday, 15.10.2009

“Just a week before a visit by the South Korean President to Cambodia, the ambassador noticed that the pace of investment, of commerce, and of other ties between Cambodia and Korea has flourished significantly, making South Korea the country with the most investors in Cambodia and with the highest number of international tourists’ arrivals since the establishment of ties between both countries in 1997.

“The President of the Republic of Korea will lead a government and businesspeople’s delegation to make an official visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia for two days from 22 to 23 October 2009.

“During a roundtable meeting organized by the Club of Cambodian Journalists with support from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation of Germany on 14 October 2009 at the Hotel Cambodiana, the Korean Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Lee Kyung-Soo, said that the two-day visit by the Korean President in Cambodia is made in response to an invitation by Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, who officially visited the Republic of Korea (South Korea) in June 2009.

“The Korean Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Lee Kyung-Soo, recounted the achievements of the Cambodian-Korean ties ahead of a visit by the head of the Korean government to Cambodia during the forum about cooperation between Cambodia and the Republic of Korea. He said that besides meeting with the King and top leaders of Cambodia, the South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak will attend talks with Cambodian and Korean investors in Phnom Penh.

“The Ambassador said that Korean investments in Cambodia increased up to US$2.7 Billion by 2007. In 2008, investments amounted US$1,238 million. He said these are figures from the Council for the Development of Cambodia. In the first six months of 2009, Korean investments amounted to only US$100 million, declining by 58% compared to the corresponding period in 2008. He went on to say that this was due to the global economic crisis, but not due to any other reasons.

“Ambassador Lee Kyung-Soo added that after establishing diplomatic ties in 1997, Korean investors invested in the garment sector, in tourism, and in mineral resources development. From 2007 onward, Korean investors invested also in construction, real estate, agriculture, industry, and finance and banking.

“As for commerce, Korean is in the 7th position of countries importing products to Cambodia, worth US$309 million, while Cambodia is in the 80th position of countries importing to South Korea, exporting products worth US$294 million.

“Also, South Korea is one of the important donors of Cambodia. Since 2001, there have been US$220 million in loans and US$46 million in grant aid.

“The Ambassador said during the forum with Cambodian journalists that at present, there are 8,400 Khmer people living (legally) in Korea, including Khmer workers, Khmer women married to Korean men, and Khmer students. Among these 8,400 Khmer people, 2,900 are Khmer women married to Korean men, and 4,900 workers. There are about 4,000 Korean people living in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“According to an announcement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia on 14 October 2009, during the official visit to Cambodia, Mr. Lee Myung-Bak will meet the King of Cambodia, Preah Karuna Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromaneath Norodom Sihamony. Then he will meet in courtesey visits with the President of the Senate, Samdech Akkak Thoma Pothisal Chea Sim and the President of the National Assembly, Samdech Akkak Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin. He will have top bilateral meetings with the Cambodian Prime Minister, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen.

“The announcement says that Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and Mr. Lee Myung-Bak will witness a signing ceremony for two agreements between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, Mr. Hor Namhong, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Commerce of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Yu Myung-Wan – an extradition agreement, and an agreement on financial credits for economic development cooperation from 2009 to 2012.

“During the first official visit by the South Korean President, Mr. Lee Myung-Bak to Cambodia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that five more documents are expected to be signed also. 1. Agreement about cooperation between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Korea and the Chamber of Commerce of Cambodia; 2. Agreement on cooperation to produce publications; 3. Memorandum of Understanding about cooperation in the mine sector; 4. Memorandum of Understanding about joint cooperation in exploring mineral resources; and 5. Memorandum of Understanding about cooperation in investments to plant trees and on problems of climate change.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5021, 15.10.2009

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Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 15 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #311, 15.10.2009

  • Today the Cambodian Prime Minister Will Travel to China to Attend a [commercial and economic] Exhibition [some loan agreements are expected to be signed during his visiting]
  • South Korea Will Invest to Establish a Car Manufacturing Factory in Cambodia [the Hyundai company plans to establish a factory in Koh Kong]
  • Citizens Countrywide Spend US$69.5 Million per Year on Cigarettes [according to the Cambodia Movement for Health]
  • Thirteen More People Were Confirmed with Swine Flu [adding the number up to 146 in total in Cambodia]
  • Obama Agreed to Send 12,000 More Soldiers to Afghanistan [other sources of information say that no decision has been taken]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2072, 15.10.2009

  • The Director of the [new, planned] Southeast Asian Radio and Television Station Was Arrested for Allegedly Taking US$7 Million [Phnom Penh – The Cambodia Daily of 15.10.2009 reports that the station will start to broadcast in January 2010]
  • The United Arab Emirates Plan to Invest in Rice Cultivation in Cambodia [according to a meeting between the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology of Cambodia, Mr. Lim Kean Hor, and the Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori]
  • Road Tax Checking for 2009 Will Begin on 16 October 2009 Countrywide

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #509, 15.10.2009

  • For the Second Time the Appeals Court Rejected to Accept Mu Sochua’s Complaint [against Prime Minister Hun Sen for defamation] and It Will Not Summon [Prime Minister] Hun Sen for Questioning [while Ms. Mu Sochua had been fined Riel 16.5 million (approx. US$4,125), as a fine and as compensation, for losing in Prime Minister Hun Sen’s defamation case]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6779, 15.10.2009

  • Cambodia Is Waiting for an Official Response [which denies, according to press reports, that the Thai Foreign Minister would seek ASEAN’s approval for a “neutral organization” that “may provide an avenue for Thailand and Cambodia to settle the dispute”], but Cambodia Will Not Respond though the Media [according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, Mr. Hor Namhong, Cambodia will raise the Khmer-Thai border disputes during the ASEAN summit]

Note:

In the meantime The Cambodia Daily reported from the official Thai response, which quotes an agreement achieved during the visit of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva with Prime Minister Hun Sen: “Both sides agreed that the issue of the Temple of Phra Viharn be addressed through existing bilateral mechanisms between our two countries.”

It might also be remembered that there are multiple claims since many years on the Spratley Islands in the South China Sea, by the ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam (in addition to claims by China, and separately also by Taiwan), but the ASEAN member states have agreed that this conflict between member states of ASEAN should not be handled by ASEAN, as it might split the positions of the other ASEAN countries – and the countries concerned should work on their bilateral problems bilaterally.

Phnom Penh Post, Vol.1, #26, 15.10.2009

  • The National Assembly Adopted a Demonstration Law [less than 200 people can assemble at a public place with permission from the authorities, to be applied for at least 12 hours before]
  • [South] Korea Plans to Invest in a Hydro-Electric Dam at the Sesan River [US$700 million to generate 325 megawatt of electricity – Ratanakiri]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5021, 15.10.2009

  • The Korean Ambassador to Cambodia Stressed the Place of Bilateral Ties with Cambodia Ahead of a Visit by the Korean President Next Week
  • More Than US$200 Million Is Needed to Reconstruct the 1,200 Irrigation Systems Countrywide [according to the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1808, 15.10.2009

  • The Government Maintains a Position to Solve the Border Disputes with Siam [Thailand] in the ASEAN Framework

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