Cambodia Suspends Marriage Licenses with South Koreans – Monday, 22.3.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia sent a diplomatic note to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea on 5 March 2010, informing the embassy that the Cambodian government decided to suspend the licensing of marriages between Cambodians and South Koreans. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, spoke to Rasmei Kampuchea, saying that the Phnom Penh government made this decision after the authorities arrested a female matchmaker who took 25 Khmer women at the end of 2009 to be sold to marry South Korean men, and on 3 March 2010, court sentenced the woman to serve 10 years in prison for trafficking these women.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, ‘It is just a temporary suspension, but not a permanent one. We do so only with South Korea. We need to review the procedures in order to curb trafficking more effectively.’

“In 2008, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia had already once decided to suspend the right of Khmer citizens to marry foreigners. At that time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Khmer citizens, who planned to get married with foreigners, to directly contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but not to contact matchmakers or brokers. That was a new measure of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia to prevent possible human trafficking.

“Mr. Koy Kuong added that he did know when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will lift the suspension of the right of Cambodian citizens to marry South Koreans.

“The Korean news agency Yonhap had reported that the number of Cambodian women getting married with Korean men had doubled in 2009, compared with 2008. It reported that in 2008, there were 551 marriages, but in 2009, the number rose to 1,372.

Yonhap quoted an official of the Korean Embassy in Cambodia as saying that the decision of the Cambodian government applied only for marriages with persons of Korean nationality, because – among all marriages between Khmers (women) and foreign men, 60% were with Korean men, and most marriages were arranged through matchmakers.

“The official of the Korean Embassy in Cambodia told Yonhap that the Korean Embassy will try to encourage the Cambodian government to think that marriages with Korean men are not human trafficking, adding that most Khmer women [in Korea] are successful in their lives being married in Korea.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5156, 21-22.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 22 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #440, 21-22.3.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected Information from The Nation Which Said that [Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Is in Siem Reap to Give Orders [to his supporters, the] Red-Shirt Groups [to demonstrate in Thailand]
  • Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam Will Increase to US$7 Billion by 2015 [or about US$1 billion to US$2 billion each year; according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)]

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #99, 22-23.3.2010

  • In 2009, Fifty Nine Cambodian Millionaires Were Appointed as Oknhas

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2207, 21-22.3.2010

  • Cambodia Warned the United Nations Team [in Cambodia] to Stop Interfering with Internal Affairs of Cambodia [pointing to the statement of the UN team relating to the procedure of the handling of the anti-corruption law]
  • A Tragedy Occurred in a Traffic Accident Where Six Cars Hit Each Other, Killing Three People and Injuring Eight Others Seriously [Kompong Speu]
  • Twenty Five Percent of the Cambodian Citizens Have Hypertension [according to the head of the Cambodian Medical Association, Dr. Khuon Pichet]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #632, 21-22.3.2010

  • The Members of an European Union Delegates Said that the Presence of Mr. Sam Rainsy in Cambodia [for the elections] Is Very Important [to reflect democracy in Cambodia; they will make efforts to encourage the Cambodian government to permit Mr. Sam Rainsy to return to Cambodia]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6914, 22.3.2010

  • Officials of the European Union Assessed that Human Rights and Democracy in Cambodia Are at an Acceptable Level
  • Generals Led Armed Forces to Control Cutting of Luxury Wood, and Seized Cut Wood along the Dangrek Mountains [about 400 cubic meters of wood and thirteen cars were confiscated – Oddar Meanchey]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3838, 22.3.2010

  • The Svay Rieng Municipal Court Allowed Five Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit Two Persons Jailed over the Border Issue

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #134, 22.3.2010

  • The Ministry of Economy and Finance Summoned 60 Real Estate Companies to Discuss the Application for Licenses [so far, only 10 companies had applied for licenses]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5156, 21-22.3.2010

  • Cambodia Suspends Marriage Licenses with South Koreans

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1888, 22.3.2010

  • Opposition Party Parliamentarians Plan to Visit [two] Farmers Jailed [for two years] for Uprooting Border Markers [Svay Rieng]

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Perception and Reality – Again – Sunday, 18.1.2009

Posted on 19 January 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On Monday, 12 January 2009, we had the 100,000th visit to the Mirror – starting from January 2007.

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

In the Mirror, we have taken up the public importance of perceptions several times over the years.

Actually, we had raised this question at the beginning of the publication of The Mirror on the Internet in January 2007, with reference to Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia under the tile “Perception and Reality.” At his inauguration, he had pointed to the important role of perceptions held by the public – which may or may not conform to reality, but are nevertheless extremely important for the political situation of a country.

And Dato Seri Syed Hamid Albar, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, took up the concern for the role of perceptions, saying that “negative developments do not contribute to creating a climate of confidence in the world, which is vitally necessary for all of us, regardless of different faiths and beliefs, to live in peace and harmony.”

Not only the reality is important – but how it is understood and interpreted what is heard and seen – this too is extremely important. Some good things may be misunderstood as if they were bad. But if many things heard and seen result in negative perceptions, it can have deeply devastating consequences for a seemingly well functioning society.

This week, we list up some reports – really not knowing how the public can help to clarify what is confused, to avoid moving further down into the dark.

The international Human Rights Organization Human Rights Watch had, in its 2009 report covering the situation of many countries, also criticized Cambodia.

Human Rights Watch does not report only about notoriously criticized countries like Myanmar, but it deals also with the human rights situation – to name some more countries – in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and in the United States of America. Many of these countries take problems raised very seriously.

The brief Cambodia section of the Events of 2008 is followed by about 20 additional, detailed background documents

The content of all this is – unfortunately – not new: criticism of the criminal justice system, cases of intimidation, violence, imprisonments. Endemic impunity, rampant corruption, and illegal plundering of natural resources. And: Cambodia is due to be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Commission in December 2009.

Most cases had been reported in the Khmer press during the year, quite a number also we had mirrored.

The official Cambodian reaction was reported in the Cambodia Daily as follows:

“Om Yentieng, head of the government’s human rights committee, dismissed the report’s findings, saying Human Rights Watch was defaming the country with lies and, in the process, making themselves foolish.

‘I refuse all of the accusations,’ he said, ‘they are just trying to make up things, or they just want to spoil heir name. They are playing the role as a puppet in order to gain an advantage for themselves.’”

(Cambodia Daily, 16 January 2009)

As an illustration of the gap between this perception and the reality we point to some reports mirrored during the past week – small and big events:

  • When people need public certifications or documentation, there are often no publicly displayed fees, saying transparently what is to be paid – “The price of a certificate, to get employment, to register the place of residence, or to get married is US$5.00, but the price goes up with its urgency – US$5.00 for one month – US$45.00 for 15 days, US$100.00 for one week, and US$150.00 for one day.” Similar arrangements may be in place in other countries too. But the report claims what is said to be general knowledge: “…these extra charges do not go to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.”
  • When a family had lost their new born son in a hospital formerly supported by Japan, the following financial dealings were reported. They had been going on for some time, but nobody had dared to speak up. – “There are notices written on the walls of the Japanese hospital with big Khmer letters on blue background, saying please do not pay anything to the staff, but only to the cashiers. Patients who are not able to pay for the services are invited to contact a monitoring group, and if someone asks for money in addition to the prescribed fees, they should be reported to the monitoring group. The service charges are approx. US$3.50 for a woman delivering her first baby; the normal room charge is approx. US$2.50 per night. – However, everything is different from the above prohibition notice. Each patient pays extra money in addition to the services, such as approx. US$10.00 to US$30.00 for doctors, approx. USUS$2.50 to each medical staff who injects three syringes three times per day etc. A woman said that, when the head of her baby appeared half way, first the doctors asked her how much money she would offer them. That woman offered them approx. US$12.00, but the doctors demanded more. Because she begged that that was all the money she had, they agreed. This is an incredible story, but that was what that woman said herself. Another woman staying in the next bed offered the doctors US$5.00, but only when they arrived at the sum of US$30.00 they agreed.”
  • When defense lawyers at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal were unable to get information about alleged kickbacks of Khmer staff – to higher level persons, for having received their positions – which would have satisfied them that there will be no unfairness in the trials, they finally filed a request for clarification of these corruption allegation at the Phnom Penh court. Now they feel intimidated by judges who prepare to sue them for defamation – instead of being grateful that the allegations could be refuted by a court forever.
  • When a delegation from the Senate and from human rights groups tried to inspect and to check forest sites allegedly cleared for planting rubber trees in Ratanakiri, the DM Group, the company under suspicion, prevented them from fulfilling their task.
  • When a Danish Woman had bought several thousand over-the-counter painkiller tablets with codeine, that can be easily and legally bought at many pharmacies all over Phnom Penh, and she tried to mail them at the Post Office – they are cheap here, and she hoped to sell them abroad to make some small extra money to support her son – she was arrested. Now she was convicted to serve 15 years in prison and fined approx. US$7,500 for drug trafficking. None of the press report said anything about any involvement with illegal substances.
  • When 234 families felt threatened as owners of their land by the Heng Development Company, they were satisfied that the Kandal provincial court had confirmed their land rights on 26 February 2007. But now the company deployed machinery and started to clear their land. When the legal owners protested, the company told them that the Kandal court had made a wrong judgment. The Military Police in Kandal Stung, led by their commander – a nephew of the director of the Heng Development Company – deployed 20 to 30 armed military police who opened fire with their AK-47 rifles – at least three men were seriously injured.
  • When it was reported that the US company PHI Mining had bought the Indochina Mining Corporation, now a subsidiary of PHI Mining, and that it now cooperates with the Cambodian company Angkor Metal Corporation, it was not big news. But maybe it had been big news before, and we had missed to see it – or it should have been big news. As we have mirrored yesterday, his cooperation relates to Cambodian natural resources , where the initial valuation of this copper ore area is estimated at USUS$1 billion. And we also mirrored yesterday that the Angkor Metal Corporation does not disclose much about itself in the way other companies do, though the US partner company writes that the “Founders of Angkor Metal Corporation include a son and a son-in-law of Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, thus ensuring political support to acquire and extend mining license.”
  • The Constitution of Cambodia says:

    The National Assembly shall approve the national budget, State planning, loans, financial contracts, and the creation, modification and annulment of tax. (Article 90)

    We do not have information about any public bidding for the financial contract for national mineral resources, which the Angkor Metal Corporation finally got, neither do we have information on the status of the National Assembly approval procedures for the project and loan agreements – in the range of US$500 million – which are, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, already signed by Cambodia and by Kuwait.

    As stated initially, in public politics the perception of what is going on is often more important for the public democratic process than the reality – so we raised all the issues above – all based on information which was either in Cambodian newspapers, or which is available publicly on the Internet. Prime Minister Badawi had accepted, therefore, the need for self-criticism in searching for the reasons for such perceptions. But at the same time he considered it necessary to engage in identifying what he saw as “wanton violations of human dignity, natural justice, human rights and international law.”

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    National Holiday – Wednesday, 7.1.2009

    Posted on 8 January 2009. Filed under: Week 594 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 594

    40 Years and 30 Years Later

    Forty years after the defeat of the German state – the German Reich – at the end of the Second World War, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Richard von Weizsäcker, spoke on the anniversary, 8 May 1985. Many commentators said that this was probably the most important speech ever given in Germany on the topic.

    Thirty years after the defeat of the Cambodian state – the Democratic Kampuchea, the Khmer Rouge – the President of the Cambodian People’s Party spoke on the anniversary, 7 January 2009.

    In both countries there had been great disagreement over how to regard their historic dates, since it marked both the end of a terrible period of history and the beginning of a period in which other countries wielded power over key aspects of life and government.

    We document here some abbreviated sections of statements about these two historic events.

    From the 1985 speech of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany in the German Parliament:

    It does not help to move into the future if we or others are too reluctant to hurt feelings. We need, and we have the self-confidence, to face the historical truth, without hiding the facts and without favoritism.

    The day of 8 May is for us, above all, a day of remembrance of what people had to suffer. It is at the same time a day challenging us to openly think about the course of our history. The more honestly we are prepared to really acknowledge what happened, the more we may be open to face the consequences responsibly.

    All who lived through the day of 8 May 1945 consciously have personal memories and thus quite different experiences. Some returned home, others became homeless.

    It was difficult to orient oneself immediately and clearly. There was uncertainty in the country. The military defeat was complete. Our fate was in the hands of the enemies. The past had been terrible, also for many of those enemies. Wouldn’t they make us pay for what we had done to them?

    Most Germans had believed that they were fighting and suffering for a good cause for their own country. And now it turned out: all that was not only futile and useless, but it had served the inhuman goals of a criminal leadership.

    We had to think back to a dark abyss of the past, and to look ahead into an uncertain dark future. But it became clearer, day by day, what we all must say today: The day of 8 May was a day of liberation.
    We all have good reasons to recognize the day of 8 May 1945 as the end of a period of German history when we went wrong.

    [For the full text of the German original: WEIZSÄCKER-REDE 1985 – “8. Mai war ein Tag der Befreiung” click here.]

    From the 2009 speech of the President Cambodian People’s Party during the 7th of January Celebration of the Victory Over Genocide Day

    “The victory of 7th January saved the fatherland and the people of Cambodia from the harsh regime of genocide in a timely manner,” and the anniversary marked the end of “the dark chapter of Cambodian history” – he thanked Vietnam for “saving the country from genocide.”

    While the former King Sihanouk had initially pleaded Cambodia’s case before the United Nations against the new Cambodian government installed by the Vietnamese in January 1979 after they had dismantled the Khmer Rouge regime, he later evaluated the Vietnamese invasion of 1979 differently and positively [quoting a translation from French]:

    The January 7, 1979
    By N. Sihanouk

    Beijing, December 18, 2006

    Some very senior (CPP) Officials recalled (with good reason) that “without the January 7, 1979,” I would – with (the future King) N. Sihamoni, Samdech N. Monique Sihanouk – be dead in the hands of Pol Potists (Khmer Rouge).

    This is strictly conformed to the historical truth.

    In this regards, I pay tribute and I express my deepest gratitude to H.E. Samdech Heng Samrin, H.E. Samdech Chea Sim, H.E. Samdech Hun Sen, to the Heng Samrin Khmer Armed Forces (Front), and to the DRV [Democratic Republic of Vietnam] and its armed forces.
    It is certain that, without them, Pol Pot, and following my death, Pol Pot’s Angkar of the “Democratic Kampuchea” would have been still leading an ultra-infernal Cambodia.

    (Signed) Norodom Sihanouk

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    Links and Lessons from Far Away Africa – Sunday, 28.12.2008

    Posted on 30 December 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 592 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 592

    When we mirrored, on 26 December 2008, that Captain Moussa Dadis Camara had declared himself president of Guinea, after a coup following the death of President Lansana Conte, 74, I first did not think that this deserved much attention in the Mirror.

    Then I remembered some connections: on 19 June 2008 we had mirrored that the Cambodian Prime Minister had decided to sell 120,000 tonnes of rice and to send agricultural experts to Guinea, responding to a request by the prime minister of Guinea. At that time I had wondered what kind of link might exist to this small country in Africa – hardly anybody knows where it is located.

    But already in 2001 an ambassador of Guinea had presented his credentials and diplomatic relations were established – though Cambodia does not have an embassy anywhere in Africa, while having diplomatic relations with 17 countries in Africa.

    In March 2008, 15 artists from the circus school in Guinea “Centre d’Art Acrobatique Keïta Fodéba” were in Cambodia for 3 months.

    In November 2008, during the opening of the Least Developed Countries Ministerial Conference in Siem Reap, the Prime Minister spoke about new possibilities of cooperation at a time of rising prices for rice: “I have looked at the list of participants and it reminds me of a number of countries in Africa that I visited in the times when I was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs [1979 to 1990]. Recently Guinea contacted Cambodia to purchase some agricultural products. This has made me think that in time of crisis there are always opportunities as at the time of fuel and food crisis, Cambodia could see the opportunity of expanding production to provide food for both local and the world.”

    Research brought to light more and more facts that seem worthwhile to consider in relation to Cambodia. Guinea is obviously a country which has had a lot of problems. The death of the president was considered by a group of younger military leaders as a chance to act They seem to have seen no other possibility to rectify the situation but a coup d’etat – against the constitution and the laws of their country, though completely without bloodshed or using force.

    What had happened?

    Guinea is in West Africa, about one third bigger than Cambodia, but with only 10 million people compared to Cambodia’s 14 million. It is rich in minerals and has the world’s biggest reserves of bauxite, which is the basis to create aluminum. At present it is fourth in the world in bauxite production, after Australia, Brazil and China. It has also diamonds, gold, iron, nickel, and uranium.

    Since its independence from France in 1958 – five years after Cambodia – it has had only two presidents: Sékou Touré until 1984, and General Lansana Conte, who seized power after the death of his predecessor; the support of the armed forces was essential for his power throughout the years. During these years, multi-party elections were held for the first time in 1993 when General Conte, as head of the military government, was elected president of a civilian government – this was the same year that the elections organized by UNTAC were held in Cambodia. Conte was reelected in 1998 and in 2003, but all three elections were said to have had irregularities. In the meantime, an electoral term was extended from 5 to 7 years, after the president’s party had won 91 of the 114 seats. It is said that “he ruled the country with an iron fist for 24 years.”

    Guinea’s immense riches have attracted the major mining companies from different countries: AngloGold Ashanti (from South Africa), Billiton (the world’s largest mining company, from Australia – since 2006, Billiton is also conducting bauxite exploration in Mondolkiri, with “the exclusive rights to negotiate a mining agreement with the government” at the end of their study, and there is also a Billiton Petroleum office in Phnom Penh), Global Alumina (from the USA), Rio Tinto (UK and Australia), and RusAl (from Russia). Some pictures show how the bauxite is collected by big machines, and then transported to be shipped out of the country. A major contractor on the Guinean side says:

    “In collaboration with the Government and people of Guinea, Guinea Alumina Corporation will develop a world class alumina business that provides value to shareholders, sustained economic and social benefits to the people of Guinea, and a quality supply of alumina to the world.”

    But in spite of such lofty declarations and the riches of the country, Guinea is listed in position 202 when comparing the per capita income in different countries – lower than Cambodia. Cambodia is in position 180 on the same list of 225 countries.

    A lack of transparency about how “the people of Guinea” benefit from these riches, compared to the share taken by the international companies, led to dissatisfaction, accusations of high level corruption, and strikes in 2006 and 2007, and violent protests.

    When Captain Moussa Dadis Camara declared himself president and suspended the constitution, he stated as the justification the mismanagement and corruption of the former government. He created a 32-member National Council for Democracy and Development – replacing the ministers with 26 military officers and 6 civilians – and promised to hold elections in two years. There had been tensions in the military since several months, when younger officers had expressed their opposition to the corrupt practices of some of the higher level officers.

    During the coup nobody was arrested, but the members of government were dismissed, as well as 22 generals close to the former political powers. It is reported that Captain Moussa Dadis Camara met with politicians, religious leaders, trade union representatives, and members of civil society, declaring that the main motive for taking power is to fight corruption and to secure the interests of the country: all contracts with international companies, which had invested billions of dollars, will be canceled for review, to root out corruption; whoever has misappropriated state assets or personally benefited from public resources will be punished.

    The international reaction? A voice representing the international companies said: “It is very likely that the new regime may seek to extort monies from current operators and prospectors and that a new democratic regime may try to impose heavier royalties and taxes,” even calling it “extortionary pressure” if the new government would try to negotiate more balanced agreements about their own resources being sold abroad.

    It is interesting that voices from the international community, which had not questioned the corruption involved in the arrangements of “exporting” the mineral wealth of the country without transparency and without benefits for the people, is now raising mainly the concern about having violated the results of the electoral system of the country.

    It is remarkable, however, that President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, one of the neighboring countries, is calling to recognize and to support the new government, because of its positive goals.

    Considering this history of Guinea – allegations of corruption based on bad governance and misuse of resources, which finally led to an effort for a radical new beginning – it is appropriate to remember that Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly spoken about his concerns of a similar situation for Cambodia: growing dissatisfaction by people who do not see that the society provides them justice, who might resort to attempts to bring about a radical change. On the other hand, he has also raised concerns that people who see their chances of illegal enrichment too much controlled by the government might attempt to grab power in order to exercise their greed without restraint. These statements shall not be forgotten.

    In 1999, the Prime Minister had said: “Should we not manage the land issue in a good manner, we might have to face a farmers’ revolution.” He mentioned this again in 2004, addressing the National Forum on Land Management in the presence of national and international representatives.

    In 2002, opening the Consultative Group Meeting between representatives of the Cambodian Government and representatives of cooperating countries and international institutions, he said:

    “We are conscious that corruption in the public machinery, be it judiciary or administrative or any other, increases transaction costs for everyone and reduces predictability in law enforcement and implementation of the government’s policies… The government believes that enactment of adequate laws and regulations to prevent and punish corruption is crucial for addressing this problem. In this spirit, the Royal Government is committed to finalize the draft of the Anti -Corruption Law before the end of June 2003.”

    In February 2007, the Chinese People’s Daily Online quoted the Cambodian Prime Minister:

    “The land grabbers dare to get a lot of land illegally while we have always appealed again and again to stop… The land grabbers are not simple people, they must be powerful people in the government. I asked the question, do they dare to conduct a coup d’etat in the future?” And he is quoted to have replied himself that they really dare to do so. “So before they conduct a coup d’etat, we need to take action against them.”

    What happened in Guinea should not happen in Cambodia. The political action necessary has been pointed out by the Prime Minister clearly enough.

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    Thursday, 20.12.2007: Finally It Is Clear, Ratanakiri Authorities Are Behind the Cutting of Trees to Claim Land; Ratha Visal and Pen Bunna Arrested in a March

    Posted on 21 December 2007. Filed under: Week 539 | Tags: , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 539

    “A march organized by the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] to support the [Prime Minister’s] decision not to allow the cutting of trees and the clearing of forests to claim land, was cruelly suppressed on Wednesday morning. At that time, the ADHOC representative, Mr. Pen Bunna, and Mr. Ratha Visal, a Radio Free Asia reporter, were arrested, which shows very clearly that the Ratanakiri authorities are behind the crime of cutting trees and claiming land, contrary to what the Khmer Prime Minister Hun Sen had stated.

    “According to a source from Ratanakiri, at least two fire engines with approximately 60 armed police under the strict control of Mr. Bou Lam, the Ratanakiri deputy governor, and You Kan Vimean , the deputy chief of forestry administration, were sent to suppress the march organized by ADHOC, to support the government’s decision to stop the cutting of trees and the clearing of forest to claim land. It was reported that Mr. Ratha Visal, a Radio Free Asia reporter, and Mr. Pen Bunna, the head of the ADHOC office in Ratanakiri, were arrested by a deputy provincial prosecutor, but they were later released.

    “The suppression of the march, which had been organized by ADHOC, by the Ratanakiri authorities caused a shock and strong surprise among citizens, because so far it has often been observed that the authorities cruelly suppress all marches against the government – but now the authorities suppressed a march which supports a decision of the government. This is strange.

    “It should be noted that during the recent few months, the powerful Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a decision, ordering to urgently stop all deforestation and clearance of forests to claim land from state property. The decision was publicized in order to prevent the grabbing of state forest land by rich and powerful people.

    “Anyway, the suppression of the march by Ratanakiri authorities confused the citizens’ feelings related to the intention of this decision, and it triggered the question if Hun Sen’s decision is real or just a play for the cutting of all trees in Ratanakiri.

    “It is remembered that between 2003 and 2004, a scandal of mass deforestation in Ratanakiri was revealed in Vireakchey National Park, which is protected by a royal decree. In the Ou Yeul and Kantuy Neak areas, big luxury wood trees were logged to sell them to Yuon [Vietnamese] companies.

    “According to a complaint by the Ministry of Environment on 15 November 2004, which was in charge of the park, deforestation was conducted on an area of 6,420 hectares, equal to 80 percent of the whole park, that made the state lose approximately $18 million. Those who destroyed the forest were found – all of them were provincial officials starting from the provincial governor Kham Khoeun, the deputy provincial police commissioner Yoeung Baloung, and the provincial military chief Moeung Samoeun, to simple commune police, which shows that the illegal logging was systematic. But finally, none of those high ranking officials, including Kham Khoeun and Moeung Samoeun, were sent for trial, except for Yoeung Baloung and four to ten low level police.

    “However, the shock about that illegal logging did not mean that it reduced the illegal logging in the northeastern Cambodian province; trees are illegally cut in considerable amounts.

    “Mr. Bou Lam, who is known as a brother of Bou Thang [CPP member of parliament for Ratanakiri] and deputy Ratanakiri governor, became the president of forest protection community and You Kan Vimean, is a deputy chief of forestry administration – they are reported to be strong protectors for active illegal logging.

    “The report said that You Kan Vimean protected many sawmills, causing citizens to lose confidence, and then illegal logging started again; it was like a broken dam overflowing with water. Some sources said that Muong Poy, the current Ratanakiri governor, also very much benefits from the illegal logging and the grabbing of land. Speaking to the point, just replacing Kham Khoeun for less than two years, Muong Poy became a millionaire, and he has now many villas in the province and in Phnom Penh, so many that he cannot remember the number of villas he owns very well.

    “The money earned from the selling of forest and land makes Ratanakiri authorities confused about the laws, and they are not afraid of anything at all, not even Hun Sen’s regulations.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #76, 20.12.2007

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Thursday, 20 December 2007

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1523, 20.12.2007

    • Samdech Dekchor Threatens to Reveal His Former Spy Who Is in the Opposition Party [in Samleng Yuvachun Khmer Son Chhay, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Phnom Penh, says that the Prime Minister is probably referring to him, though without justification]
    • Mr. Yash Ghai [UN Secretary-General’s Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia] Is Just a Person Without Civilization [says Sea Kosal, Cambodian ambassador to the UN]
    • Ukraine’s Orange Revolution Leader Ms. Tymoshenko Gets Position of Prime Minister

    Khmer Amatak, Vol.8, #537, 19.12.2007

    • Election Days Approaches, Judicial System Reforms Are Still on Paper and Lips

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #76, 20.12.2007

    • Finally It Is Clear, Ratanakiri Authorities Are Behind the Cutting of Trees to Claim Land; Ratha Visal and Pen Bunna Arrested in a March
    • Prince Thomico Urges Prince Ranariddh to Hold Conference of Monarchists to Attract Support Again
    • Mr. Son Chhay [SRP parliamentarian, Phnom Penh]: If Cambodia Does Not Strengthen Respect for Human Rights, Cambodia Cannot Stay with Other ASEAN Members

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6223, 20.12.2007

    • Cambodian Royal Ambassador and Representative to the UN [Sea Kosal] Accuses Mr. Yash Ghai [UN Secretary-Generals Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia] of Looking Down on Cambodia [through his report about human rights situation in Cambodia]
    • US Prepares to Send 80 Observers to Monitor Elections [in Cambodia]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3342, 20.12.2007

    • Global Witness Gets Gold Medal [from the Center for Global Development, Washington/USA] for Report on Deforestation of Cambodia’s Family Trees
    • Chief Murderer Ieng Sary Uses American Lawyer to Defend Him in Court

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4467, 20.12.2007

    • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen]: ‘Disregarding Agriculture Is a Big Political Mistake’
    • Pork Imported from Thailand Invades Siem Reap Markets
    • A Colonel’s Wife Takes a Taxi from Phnom Penh to Hangs Herself in Wat Dei Doh Pagoda [Kompong Cham – allegedly for domestic issue]

    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.14, #3212, 20.12.2007

    • Civil Society Organizations Call for Government to Stop Verbal Attacks against Mr. Yash Ghai [UN Secretary-Generals Representative for Human Rights in Cambodia]

    Sralanh Khmer, Vol.3, #580, 20.12.2007

    • Yuon [Vietnamese] Government Provides Money to Yuon Associations to Buy Land from Poor Khmer Citizens [according to officials of Ministry of Interior]
    • US Increases Visa Price in Order to Strengthen Safety and Security

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    Tuesday, 18.12.2007: Mr. Yash Ghai Responds to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen

    Posted on 19 December 2007. Filed under: Week 539 | Tags: , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 11, No. 539

    “Phnom Penh: After a strong reaction from the head of the Royal Government last Wednesday, Mr. Yash Ghai, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, responded with a statement.

    “On 12 December, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen had said, at the inauguration of a dormitory for female students at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia, that he will not work with a Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia, if the present person is not changed. What Samdech said at that time was in reaction to a report by Mr. Yash Ghai which overstated the facts in Cambodia.

    “Mr. Yash Ghai issued a press release in the afternoon of 17 December, saying that he is a special representative and a specialist who is assigned by the UN Secretary-General.

    “He has a mandate to observe the respect of human rights and the basic freedoms in the country, in order to help the Cambodian government and the Cambodian people to insure that the Cambodian laws and norms are effectively respected, as an encouragement for international cooperation in the field of human rights, and he has to report annually to the UN Council for Human Rights which has been newly created.

    “In his role as a special representative, he is not an employee of UN, and he also does not get a salary. His work is to serve the public free of charge. Mr. Yash Ghai is a professor of constitutional law and a protector of human rights who has a lot of experience in promoting the rule of law in many countries. He is not a representative of the country of Kenya. He is a representative for human rights according to the rules laid down in the Charter of the United Nations, to which Cambodia has subscribed as a member, including to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to many treaties which were also ratified by Cambodia, so they became part of Cambodian law.

    “The declaration by Mr. Yash Ghai stated that as the Special Representative he does not want to talk with the government through newspapers. He had asked in advance to meet many ministers during his visit. Those ministers did not respond to the request, or refused to meet him. Having had no such meetings, he stated publicly his big concerns which he is obliged to take up as his task. These concerns will be raised in his next report to be further discussed in detail. He hopes that the government will respond to the content of his evaluation. He is prepared to discuss the report in detail, and to listen to the views of the government all the time.

    “Mr. Yash Ghai stated also that he did not call for the international community to cut aid to Cambodia. In contrast, he encouraged all states as UN members, which are obliged to adhere to the UN constitution, to continue with their efforts to provide more aid as well as to play more important roles to acknowledge the reality of human rights in Cambodia – i. e. to acknowledge the mandate of the Special Representative to participate in making a contribution.

    “Samdech Hun Sen had said last week that we have difficulties, because no one is blinder than the one who is not blind but does not intend to see anything, and no one is deafer than the one who has ears but does not intend to listen.

    “Samdech asked why, at this time, the one who said something wrong does not correct his speech? Such a correction does not require anything besides saying “Very sorry for a misunderstanding against the government.” If one just says Sorry, we will accept it. If acknowledging that something stated was wrong, is this bad? May be it is not intentionally done in a bad way – but they know only one thing: that all we do is wrong.

    “Samdech Hun Sen ended with another phrase that he has the right to receive [or not to receive] Mr. Yash Ghai, and also the government members have the same right [to receive or not to receive him]. If the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon still uses Mr. Yash Ghai, Samdech will not receive and work with him forever.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1521, 18.12.2007

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Tuesday, 18 December 2007

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1521, 18.12.2007

    • Mr. Yash Ghai Responds to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen
    • Kampuchea Khmer Krom Monks Try to Petition Vietnamese Embassy, Demanding Release of Mr. Tim Sakhan [who has been defrocked on accusation of having perpetrated an offense against the Buddhist law, because he is accused to have destroyed the harmony between Vietnam and Cambodia, now jailed in Vietnam]
    • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Receives Minister of Foreign Affairs [Nitya Pibulsonggram] of the Kingdom of Thailand
    • Great Elder Hun Neang [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s father] Visits Site of a Buddhist Center and Gives Gifts to Citizens [Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.1, #74, 18.12.2007

    • All Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Vow to Protect the Houses of Citizens at the Dey Krahom Community [from being removed by the 7NG Company – Phnom Penh]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.40, #6221, 18.12.2007

    • Cambodia and Thailand Agree on Joint Visas; Tourists Can Use ACMECS Visas to Cross Border of the Two Countries
    • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Welcomes Agreement on Joint Visas
    • Rate of Births and Rate of Deaths in Phnom Penh Decline in 2007 While Marriages Increase

    Meakea Thmey, Vol.7, #86, 17.12.2007

    • Samdech Preah Mohavirak Khsatr [the Great Heroic King] Norodom Sihanouk and Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen Have the Same Political Lines

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3340, 18.12.2007

    • Mr. Sam Rainsy Led Parliamentarians to Hold Hands with Citizens at the Dey Krahom Community against Eviction [by 7NG Company – on 17 December – Phnom Penh]
    • Hundreds of Hun Sen Government Police Beat Khmer Krom Monks to Please Yuon [Vietnam – the monks petitioned the Vietnamese Embassy, demanding the release of Tim Sakhan]
    • Opposition Leader Notices that Corruption Is Still Obstacle to Investment

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.15, #4465, 18.12.2007

    • Foreign Businesspeople Rush to Buy Paddy Rice throughout Cambodia
    • Minister of Meteorology and Water Resources [Lim Kean Hor] Holds Press Conference on Suspension and Granting Permissions [for the companies that respect the contract conditions] for Sand Dredging
    • Cambodia Opens International Border in Northeast with Vietnam
    • Kep City Plans to Arrange Boat Races on the Sea to Attract Tourists
    • Man Attacks His Wife Twice with an Ax, Then Hangs Himself [in domestic violence – Prey Kabbas, Takeo]

    Sangkum Kampuchea, Vol.2, #35, 17.12.2007

    • Samdech Hun Sen Blames Rich Countries for Causing Climate Change

    Sar Noeung Khmao, Vol.8, #231, 17-18.12.2007

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