Disregarding or Facing Agreements in the Press? – Sunday, 22.8.2010

Posted on 23 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

The Mirror was created to mirror the Khmer language press – that is to focus on important dynamics in society, as they are reflected in the press. That includes also to observe when there seem to be discrepancies between different streams of reporting. And it includes also to observe what seems not to be reported in the Khmer language press, though one would expect it.

Monitoring what is going on includes also to observe the reaction to one’s own publication. The main website of The Mirror by now gets up to 10,000 visits per month (it started in January 2007 with zero – replacing the former edition printed on paper).

While observing this wide interest with satisfaction, it is also disappointing to see that some important pieces of information, related to the conflicts with Thailand, are regularly not reported in the Khmer press. If this impression is wrong, we would appreciate to be informed which publications and public documents in the Khmer press we missed. The Mirror does not have access to confidential information; what we use and quote is publicly available, especially on the Internet.

In response to careful, detailed documentations, where we asked for specific responses, if our documentation is deficient, so that we can correct and improve it, there was either no response – and the public debate continues as if it were not missing some important points – or I get mail saying just “You are completely wrong!” I do not mind to get such mail, if it points to where I am wrong – I appreciate corrections.

Therefore I am repeating here some essential points, and I will do so until they are receiving proper attention in the present situation of tensions.

I was utterly surprised, talking recently to a friend who is a regular reader: when I mentioned some of the facts which had been on The Mirror repeatedly, he had obviously missed them. He thought the controversies about the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage list were related to Thailand referring to maps drawn by Thailand, and therefore Thailand was denying that the whole area around the Temple of Preah Vihear was designated a World Heritage Site.

The contrary is true, according to the documents. Emphasis in the following sections is added during editing.

For Preah Vihear

From the Cambodian 2008 submission document, THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR – Proposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List (UNESCO), Edited by the Council of Ministers, PHNOM PENH, JUNE 2008:

On 6 May 2008 His Excellency Mr. SOK An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, welcomed his Excellency Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand… The meeting was conducted in a fruitful and constructive atmosphere to discuss ways and means of strengthening the neighborly cooperation for a further reach for long lasting cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand… The Kingdom of Cambodia strongly stresses that the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear is without prejudice to the demarcation work of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) between Cambodia and Thailand; and the zoning (“Zonage” in French) stipulated in the document submitted by Cambodia to UNESCO shall not be considered as boundary line.

And finally, during a meeting in Paris (France) on 22 May 2008 between a Cambodian delegation led by His Excellency Mr. SOK An,…The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support for the Heritage Committee to be held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For its part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple.

On 18 June 2008, a Joint Communique was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, including a map presented and signed by Mr. Var Kim Hong, the Head of the Cambodian Border Committee, which was – as far as we know – never presented in the media in Cambodia (again – any correction of this information is welcome), but it was repeatedly in The Mirror, including the Cambodian proposed map for the listing, the last time here. The text says the following:

1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Québec, Canada, July 2008), of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.

2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.

3. The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schéma Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;..”

This is the last public map, a Cambodian map, which was to “supersede” – that is: to replace – the formerly used Cambodian maps.

As a consequence, this was decided:

The World Heritage Committee,

9. Notes that the property proposed for inscription is reduced and comprises only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves;…

14. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners,…

15. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents: c) Confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP [“revised graphic plan of the property”]; d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan)

All these points were to be implemented after convening this international coordinating committee, inviting the Government of Thailand and others, to work together and to present their results.

Questions:

– Why is the discussion in the Khmer media not referring to the official documents about the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear, clearly limited in nature: “only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves.” This is not based on a map unilaterally drawn by Thailand, but it relates to what the Cambodian side had officially brought to the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There is nothing to be discussed with Thailand.”

– Why are the Khmer media disregarding that there were – from the beginning – the following requests by the World Heritage Committee: “to convene an international coordinating committee… inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand… [to provide the expected results] – a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone…” It has never been reported in the press that the Cambodian Government did invite the Thai Government according to this request by the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There are no buffer zones.”

Reading the documents, it seems that Thailand is not insisting on some unilaterally drawn Thai maps, but looks forward that the documented decisions of the World Heritage Committee be implemented.

For the Border

This is a different legal issue from the World Heritage Listing (though, of course, related).

In order to demarcate the border between the two countries, a Memorandum of Understanding “on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary” was concluded between the two countries in June 2000, long before the Preah Vihear World Heritage Listing was on the agenda of the relevant UNESCO committee. This Memorandum is related to the whole stretch of the border. That the whole length of the approximately 800 km border is to be demarcated shows that both sides agreed that this is not yet done – there is not yet mutually agreed border. Both sides agreed on this – otherwise they would not have signed this joint agreement.

While there is frequent reference to this Memorandum of Understanding from 2000 in the Khmer press, it was quite difficult to find it in Cambodia, also consulting with several persons from the media did not help. One e-mail request to a friend in Thailand immediately provided a source on the Internet.

But there is a noteworthy difference in the handling of the related task: While in Thailand, related government officials and agencies are accountable to the Thai National Assembly about what they do related to the border – the executive is monitored by the legislative – we are not aware that either the Cambodian National Assembly nor the Khmer press have requested similar information to monitor the activities of the Cambodian government officials and agencies involved. The different legal arrangements under the different constitutions of both countries result in different procedures.

Shortly after Prime Minister Hun Sen had made his conciliatory declaration about a win-win solution by mutual dialogue without a winner and a loser, several statements from various other sectors of the government were released, strongly blaming Thailand and calling for multilateral negotiations. The Prime Minister added his voice – but more recent news say that there still may be a bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers soon in Brussels at an ASEN meeting.

Whatever the future will bring in terms of bilateral or multilateral meetings – the written submissions and the documented decisions will have to be faced. To continue to disregard them can hardly bring the solution where both sides win, the goal that Prime Minister Hun Sen has seen as important for all.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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Preah Vihear – Who Said What and Why – Sunday, 1.8.2010

Posted on 4 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 675 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

When the media in both countries – Cambodia and Thailand – quote various sources to make conflicting claims, it is again an occasion to try to mirror these sources and leave it to our readers to draw their conclusions.

As ever, such a statement is always combined with the invitation to point out if the sources we quote are misquoted, or if there is an important reference missing. But it is not convincing to accuse the writer of this documentation simply to be wrong without showing substantive evidence, as happens sometimes. What follows is all based on publicly available documents. But as this case is complex, the following text is long; maybe a lot of confusion comes from not reading the texts. The pieces presented here were selected in the hope that some quick negative conclusions – not based on available texts, either disregarding, or even contradicting them – can be clarified. All this is written, to quote words from the final agreements negotiated by Senior Minister Sok An with representatives of Thailand and UNESCO before the decisive meeting of the World Heritage Committee in July 2008 – in a spirit of friendship and cooperation, in the spirit of goodwill and conciliation – as it is stated in the final joint document before the 2008 decisions.

The Early History

Going back in history is often necessary to clarify facts. But their meaning may have changed over time. As a German, I know that there was a time when the Germans considered that Karl der Grosse, crowned in the year 800 – not long before the temple of Preah Vihear was started to be built – is at the beginning of our German history, while also the French considered Charlemagne as their’s. Actually, at his time, he ruled over large parts of western and central Europe, not over France or Germany as they exist now. But since the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schuman – a French with a good German name – took the initiative in 1950 to create again common political entities in Europe – the European Union – we have almost forgotten the old historical and emotional divides.

There is a long pre-history for the present history of the Preah Vihear conflicts. But for the discussion of the present situation, it may be enough to start in 1962, when the International Court of Justice in The Hague came to the conclusion that it …FINDS THAT THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR IS SITUATED IN TERRITORY UNDER THE SOVEREIGNTY OF CAMBODIA.

Cambodian comments often go further back. Maybe this is not necessary, as the 1962 court ruling is not questioned by the political leadership of the governments of both sides, in spite of the fact that this is often disregarded or denied.

It is not surprising that some people, even some people with a wide group of supporters, have taken different positions. The present government of Thailand accepts the 1962 verdict. Whoever doubts this, should provide quotable evidence. Last week, after a group of Thai nationalists had demonstrated in front of the UNESCO office in Bangkok on 27.7.2010, rejecting any discussion of the status of Preah Vihear by the World Heritage Committee, the Thai prime minister invited representatives of the People’s Alliance for Democracy – PAD, widely overlapping in membership with the “Yellow-Shirts” – to clarify where he does not agree, and where he agrees with them. “The PAD wanted an end to the Thai-Cambodia Memorandum of Understanding, because it ‘turned a Thai territory into a disputed territory.’ But Abhisit thought that the MOU turned a territory that Cambodia thought to belong to them, to become a disputed territory. The PAD wanted the government to boycott the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brazil, because attending the meeting would signify that Thailand accepted the listing of Preah Vihear as a world heritage site, and only disagreed with the temple’s management plan. But for the Thai prime minister, it is exactly the present management plan which he did not want to see accepted.

To disregard this point is obviously confusing, not clarifying, the state of affairs.

Or is it this way of interpreting the MOU – the Joint Communique – assumed to by the Thai prime minister’s one, also a reason why the media in Cambodia never published the Joint Communique (details further down), neither in Khmer nor in English? It is difficult to understand why such an important document, including a new Cambodian draws map, which was discussed in parliament in Thailand, was not – at that time or later – presented also to the Cambodian public.

The Preparations toward the Listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear

The inscription into the World Heritage List was first proposed by Prime Minister Hun Sen to the UNESCO Director General on 10 October 2001. The necessary detailed documentation was submitted on 20 January 2006. The Cambodian Nomination File was considered by the next session of the World Heritage committee, meeting from 23 June to 2 July 2007 in Christchurch/New Zealand.

Some of the detailed discussions and decisions of the World Heritage Committee may be surprising, as they are very practically oriented, according to the purpose of the World Heritage List, as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. It is not about national interests, but about culture as “part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole.”

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

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

Therefore the Draft Summary Record of the decisions from the 2007 meeting show that the concerns of the World Heritage Committee are of an eminently practical nature, as the purpose of any listings is to make the cultural heritage of the world easily accessible. The notes from the Committee show this clearly:

Having taken note of the willingness to collaborate for the safeguarding of the property of the Sacred Temple of Preah Vihear, expressed by the States Parties of Cambodia and Thailand in the framework of the meetings of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand, Requests the State Party of Cambodia to implement, in close co-operation with the neighboring Government of Thailand, detailed arrangements for the conservation of the property, based on the principles expressed by the two States Parties at the 5th Meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand, especially in respect of:

a) Joint management;
b) The continued open border;
c) Mine clearance;
d) Protection of the natural forest areas surrounding the property, especially of small areas where burning has been recently observed on the Cambodian territory.

The formal decision from 2007 states not details, but simply the procedure to be followed:


The State Party of Cambodia and the State Party of Thailand are in full agreement that the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear has Outstanding Universal Value and must be inscribed on the World Heritage List as soon as possible.
Accordingly, Cambodia and Thailand agree that Cambodia will propose the site for formal inscription on the World Heritage List at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2008 with the active support of Thailand…
The World Heritage Committee, further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit a progress report to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2008.

As a result of the understanding achieved at the 2007 meeting, preparations for 2008 started, marked by a number of joint Cambodian-Thai agreements and declarations. They are all quoted in the very large 2008 Submission Document:





THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR
Proposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List (UNESCO)

Edited by the Council of Ministers

PHNOM PENH
JUNE 2008

This document, presented to the public in the name of the Council of Ministers, in English (later, before the World Heritage Committee Meeting, it was also made available in Arab, French, and Spanish), presents the positive common experiences on the way to the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear, saying:

In a spirit of friendship, neighborliness and mutual understanding between the two countries, the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand have been working together in recent months to strengthen dialogue and consultation in a number of areas of mutual interests. These fruitful developments focus in particular on inscribing the TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR on the World Heritage List in 2008. Thailand has confirmed its decision, as expressed at the 31st Session of the World Heritage Committee held in Christchurch (New Zealand, 23 June to 2 July 2007), to support the inscription of the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear.

These confirmations were made:

1

Firstly, by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, His Excellency Mr. Samak Sundaravej, on the occasion of his visit to Phnom Penh on 3 and 4 March 2008 at the invitation of His Excellency Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia

2

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

3

And finally, during a meeting in Paris (France) on 22 May 2008 between a Cambodian delegation led by His Excellency Mr. SOK An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers and a Thai Delegation led by His Excellency Mr. Noppadon Pattama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand in the presence of a number of UNESCO eminent members, led by Her Excellency the Deputy Director General of UNESCO for Culture, Mrs. Françoise RIVIERE. The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support Heritage Committee to be held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For it part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple

This wording became part of the JOINT COMMUNIQUE of 18 June 2008, a joint Cambodian-Thai-UNESCO declaration, the last common step towards the World Heritage Committee meeting on 8 July 2008.






JOINT COMMUNIQUE

On 22 May 2008, a meeting took place between H.E. Mr. Sok An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia and H.E. Mr. Noppadon Pattama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand, to continue their discussion regarding the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List. The meeting was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in the presence of Mrs. Françoise Rivière, Assistant Director General for Culture of UNESCO, Ambassador Francesco Caruso, Mr. Azedine Beschaouch, Mrs. Paola Leoncini Bartoli and Mr. Giovanni Boccardi. The meeting was held in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. During the meeting both sides agreed as follows:


  1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Quebec, Canada, July 2008), of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.
  2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.
  3. The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schema Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;
  4. Pending the results of the work of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) concerning the northern and western areas surrounding the Temple of Preah Vihear, which are identified as N. 3 in the map mentioned in paragraph 1 above, the management plan of these areas will be prepared in a concerted manner between the Cambodian and Thai authorities in conformity with the international conservation standards with a view to maintain the outstanding universal value of the property. Such management plan will be included in the final management plan for the Temple and its surrounding areas to be submitted to the World Heritage Center by 1st February 2010 for the consideration of the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;
  5. The inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List shall be without prejudice to the rights of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand on the demarcation works of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) of the two countries; 6. The Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand express their profound appreciation to the Director-General of UNESCO, H.E. Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, for his kind assistance in facilitating the process towards the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List.

Phnom Penh, 18 June 2008               Bangkok, 18 June 2008

For the Royal Government For the Government of the Kingdom

of Cambodia, of Thailand, (signed) (signed) Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers Paris, 18 June 2008 Representative of the UNESCO (signed) Assistant Director-General for Culture



Cambodian Joint Communique Map



There had been some final problems: The Cambodian side, represented by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and Senior Minister in Charge of Border Affairs Var Kimhong – “in the spirit of goodwill and conciliation” – negotiated and made incisive decisions (having the former Cambodian map as well as graphic references, referring to the 1962 decisions “superseded” by the new Cambodian side map presented here, declaring that Cambodia “accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple” – all this without much discussion in the Cambodian public. On the other side, however, the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs was instructed by the Constitutional Court of Thailand that the government would need, for such decision, the authorization by the Thai parliament.

In spite of these last minute reservations, the World Heritage Committee declared the Temple of Preah Vihear a World Heritage site. Instead of peaceful continued cooperation, confrontation and violence followed.

As far as we were able to monitor the Khmer media, the Joint Communique, and the appended map, were never published in the Cambodia press. Neither were the conditions published, which accompanied the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear. The Decisions of the World Heritage Committee, meeting from 2 to 10 July 2008 in Quebec/Canada, state the following (excerpts):


“The World Heritage Committee,


  1. Recalling Decision 31 COM 8B.24, which recognized ‘that the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear is of great international significance and has Outstanding Universal Value on the basis of criteria (i), (iii) and (iv), and agreed in principle that it should be inscribed on the World Heritage List’,

  1. Recognizing that the Joint Communique signed on 18 June 2008 by the representatives of the Governments of Cambodia and Thailand, as well as by UNESCO, including its draft which was erroneously referred to as having been signed on 22 and 23 May 2008 in the document WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add.2, must be disregarded, following the decision of the Government of Thailand to suspend the effect of the Joint Communique, pursuant to the Thai Administrative Court’s interim injunction on this issue,

  1. Notes that the property proposed for inscription is reduced and comprises only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves;

  1. Encourages Cambodia to collaborate with Thailand for safeguarding the value of the property, in view of the fact that peoples of the surrounding region have long treasured the Temple of Preah Vihear,…

  1. Inscribes the Temple of Preah Vihear, Cambodia, on the World Heritage List…

  1. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners, to examine general policy matters relating to the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards;

  1. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents:

a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone identified in the RGPP;
b) updated Nomination dossier to reflect the changes made to the perimeter of the property
c) Confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP;
d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan.

These requirements – to convene an international coordinating committee, to cooperate with the Thai government, to provide a map delineating the buffer zone identified in the Cambodian government – were, according to our monitoring of the press in Cambodia, never published, nor any information about the content of reports submitted by the Cambodian side. Quite to the contrary, and surprisingly, a highly placed spokesperson at the Cambodian Council of Ministers, distanced himself from the results achieved by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, claiming that “there is no buffer zone,” and ‘there is nothing to be negotiated with Thailand.”



After a year of tensions, confrontations, and occasional fighting, the World Heritage Committee, meeting in Sevilla/Spain from 22 June to 30 June 2009, could not do much more than the following; it

Requests the State Party [of Cambodia] to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2010, a report on the progress made in the implementation of the recommendations by the Committee in its Decision 32 COM 8B.102 [2008 in Quebec/Canada], for the examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010.” The decision 32 COM 8B.102 is the one which requests, as stated above, “to convene an international coordinating committee… inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners…

In spite of these clear requests by the World Heritage Committee for cooperation, the Thai government declared, even some days before the recent meeting in Brazil, that they had not received any invitation to cooperate, nor information about the Cambodian submission. As a result, representatives of the Thai government, up to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, stated that Thailand could not accept a decision about a management plan, though Thailand would have had to be involved in its consideration, if previous recommendations of the World Heritage Committee would have been implemented.



On the other hand, there were various statements from the Cambodian side – quite different from the spirit of friendship and conciliation, which had been regularly invoked in former joint statements. The following is published especially because it is so different from the attitude in which Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, Minister of the Council of Ministers, had brought forward the process toward the listing of Preah Vihear in 2008. Under the date 29.6.2010, the Spokesman & Deputy Director, Office of the Council of Ministers’ Press Department, distributed an opinion text widely to many members of the media, written by Pen Ngoeun, Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers, member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers – with the following qualifying note: “This article represents only the personal opinion of the writer, and does not reflect under any shape and form the opinion of the PRU nor that of the Office of the Council of Ministers. Considering the way of its distribution and the pubic positions of the author and of the person who distributed the text, and its timing, it seem to be worth while to quote some sections from it:



29 June 2010


OPINION
WILL THAILAND’S ENMITY TOWARDS CAMBODIA END:


Will it end one day, and soon enough, after 150 years of its happening? Cambodia had nothing to do with it.


Its source was the failure of Siam King Mong Kut and his ministers. Colonel F. Bernard, President of the French Commission for the delimitation of the French-Siamese border in virtue of the Convention of 13 February 1904 had made an observation about the Thais, which is worth remembered. He said: “the superiority of their self-esteem was the primary cause of their troubles and misfortune… He wrote in a book published in 1933, “L’Ecole des Diplomates, within the context of the Thai diplomacy during the reign of king Mong Kut of Thailand, the reign of King Ang Duong of Cambodia and the mission of M. de Montigny, the plenipotentiary of the French Emperor Napoleon III to the court of King Mong Kut. Colonel F. Bernard had mentioned as well that: “The ministers of Siam have had negotiated for a long time already with England and America; they have the intelligence and the ability of the Westerners, which obviously had made them to acquire that “superiority of their self-esteem” which is equated in recent times to “arrogance” and “condescension” which are the current state of mind of the government of Abhisit Vijjajeva, with “former terrorist” turned foreign minister Kasit Pyromya, and the malicious and machiavellic [deputy prime minister] Suthep Thaugsuban at his sides… In 1853 King Ang Duong of Cambodia wrote a letter to the French Emperor Napoleon III to express his friendship and solicit his support. The immediate consequence of which had been to stop the armies of Siam from marching at will into Cambodia to conquest and ravage the many provinces of Cambodia to the West and North, and to relieve Cambodia from paying tributes to Bangkok. Siam, now Thailand always acts like a hungry mad dog that missed a good piece of meat and had never stopped dreaming about it, since…

The arrogance, the condescension, and the obstinacy which cause the failure of King Mong Kut and his ministers from executing the annexation policy by annihilating Cambodia and her people create an endless nostalgia that Thailand had never allowed itself to wake up and liberate itself from the bad dream of the hungry mad dog. Therefore, Thailand’s territorial ambition on Cambodian territories has become its grand design to be executed by the government of Thailand if any of such a government wishes to have a reasonable life span. From then on, Thailand has learn, acquired, and mastered the art of distortion of the facts, dissemination of misinformation and disinformation, the art of accusation, of denial with arrogance, condescension and obstinacy… In 1954, not even a mere one year after Cambodia acquired full independence from France, Thai armed forces occupied the Temple of Preah Vihear, to be ordered out by the international will, the LaHaye ICJ Judgments of 15 June 1962. Finally, Thailand has made official, its territorial ambition on Cambodian territories in 2007 in Christchurch, New Zealand during the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee by presenting for the first time to such an important international gathering a map dressed up unilaterally and secretly by Thailand and thus laying claim on an area of 4.6 km sq. inside the Cambodian territory near the Temple of Preah Vihear, as an objection of various uncoordinated, confusing, illegitimate, and nonsense motives to the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear to the World Heritage List. Again, Thailand’s arrogance, condescension, and obstinacy were its primary troubles and misfortune. In 2008, the Temple of Preah Vihear was inscribed unanimously on the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee…

And again, some sections of another opinion piece, from the same origin, distributed in the same way, on 13.7.2010:

Thailand plans to oppose a management plan for the Preah Vihear temple while overlapping territory nearby remains subject to dispute, Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya says. Cambodia does not have “an overlapping territory” with Thailand. There was a claim by Thailand that uses the unilateral map in similar fashion as the Nazis (led by Hitler) and the Fascists (led by Mussolini) for the purpose sending troops to invade and occupy foreign territory.

One cannot be sure if this is an attack against Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, or whether Mr. Pen Ngoeun, though he is an Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers, a member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit (PRU) of the Office of the Council of Ministers, does not know that the documents, elaborated with great care by the Deputy Prime Minister, spell out in detail the buffer zones, otherwise referred to as overlapping territories, and it was the Cambodian side, that presented a map to “supersede” the formerly used maps, relating to the 1962 decision of the International Court of Justice.

To make sure that Kasit does not bang his head too much against the wall from trying to come up with new innuendo, suggestion and speculation, here is a crude fact to chew: The Temple of Preah Vihear has been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 2008. Kasit need to pick up the WHC 32 COM 8B. 102 and read it… It is clear from a few sentences above, that Cambodia has implemented the requirements of the World Heritage Committee – WHC – and has conformed herself to the procedures set forth by the Committee. And NOT to leave the door wide open for speculation and mind twisting, Deputy permanent secretary for culture Somsuda Leyananija has the task to tell the truth, as to why… Let’s play the game, fair and square in conformity with the WHC rules and procedures.

It s reported that Cambodia had submitted a progress report to the World Heritage Secretariat, but two weeks before the meeting in Brazil, it had neither be distributed to the members of the committee, it had not been shared with Thailand – in spite of the recommendation by the World Heritage Committee that Cambodia should seek such cooperation – and its content had also not been made available to the public in Cambodia. None of the UNESCO and World Heritage Committee Press Releases, which describe in detail the many decisions taken recently in Brazil, make any reference to Preah Vihear. But the fact that the Cambodian report was forwarded again to next year’s meeting – similarly to what had been done also from 2009 to 2010 – is now reported in Cambodia as a big victory for Cambodia. Asked about his comment, the Thai prime minister said: “Please find out and read the resolution yourself.”

The official Cambodian side acted differently: within 4 hours, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers issued two long statements on 2.8.2010, a “Summary” about the Brazil session, mainly referencing questions of the conservation of the site without reference to any past action taken by the formerly requested joint international elaboration of plans, and some hours later a “Clarification,” stressing that “it was Cambodia who has achieved immense victory,” because the World Heritage Committee:

Takes note that the World Heritage Center has the documents submitted by the State Party;
Further welcomes the steps taken by the State Party towards the establishment of an international coordinating committee for the sustainable conservation of the Temple of Preah Vihear’
Decides to consider the documents submitted by the State Party at its 35th session in 2011.

These are the officially recorded successes. The Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers adds, however, some remarks about a Thai “intoxication campaign” against the Cambodian management plan, a campaign which “was a total debacle because Thailand had no substantive arguments.” The Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers presented its own arguments as follows:

On the contrary, the Thai intoxication campaigns’ spending of B10 millions with the dispatch of 50 delegates in order to oppose the management plan at the site of the Cambodian Temple of Preah Vihear, was a total debacle because Thailand had no substantive arguments against the World Heritage Centre Report of the two documents submitted by Cambodia. Moreover, Thailand has failed in its efforts to have the Temple inscribed by the two countries, and has failed in its efforts to have joint management of the Temple.

The Press and Quick Reaction unit of the Office of Council of Ministers notes that the signing of the Compromise Decision 34 COM, 7B.66 by Cambodia, Thailand, and witnessed by the Chairperson for the 34th Session of the World Heritage Committee in Brazil clearly affirmed the recognition by all parties concerned of the official documents concerning the Management Plan for the conservation and sustainable development at the site of the Cambodian Temple of Preah Vihear, which had never been recognized previously.

It is obvious that the intoxication campaign by the Thai Government to lure the local and international public opinion has adversely damaged its own image and credit as an old saying which goes “If you fan the flame, you blow up the fire or As you sow, so shall you reap.”

To underline further the failure of the Thai Government, it must be stressed for the benefits of the public and international opinion that it is not like what the Thai Government claimed that it had succeeded to “postpone”the Management Plan to next year. In fact, the WHC final decision did not mention either about the terms Postpone – Defer or Delay but choose to use the wording Consider which means that the documents submitted by Cambodia, namely the Progress Report on the State of Conservation and Development of Preah Vihear and its Management Plan, were officially received by WHC and will consider it at the next session.

Much information is available – what will be the next steps? One journalist suggests that “facing reality” may be the only way out, and this includeds new open, mutual talking, again “in a spirit of friendship and cooperation, in the spirit of goodwill and conciliation”

Part of the reality is also geography.

The Temple of Preah Vihear

The Temple of Preah Vihear

This picture provides a view over the Temple of Preah Vihear: 500 meters down, to the left, is the landscape of the Cambodian Province of Preah Vihear; the temple lies at a different level, high above the plain. Until mid 2008, it was easily accessible for thousands of tourists, approaching the Temple of Preah Vihear from the Thai side, on the right of the picture, from the Khao Pra Viharn National Park.

After all, a World Heritage Site is according, to the UNESCO World Heritage concept, “part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole.”






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Using Computers: Upholding Rights and Freedoms while Fighting Crime – Sunday, 18.7.2010

Posted on 21 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

The Ministry of Defense hopes that the use of computers will help better to cut down the names of ‘ghost soldiers’ from the salary lists of the military. This was expressed by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, who said that the present census of all soldiers will be more accurate and thorough this year than in previous years. “It is an annual census to find out the real number of soldiers and of the children of those soldiers, and to cut out the names of soldiers who have retired or who died, or are not present anymore.” There are some traditional elements in this process, even surprising ones – if one assumes that soldiers would be known, present, and listed at their command posts: “All soldiers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are required to show up at their command posts. The soldiers will there be asked to identify themselves by showing themselves and their ID numbers, as well as to specify the number of children they have at present in the lists… the names of soldiers who do not show up will be deleted from the salary lists of the Ministry of Defense.”

Considering the results of a similar exercise in 2008, where – according to Mr. Cheam Yeap, a member of the National Assembly from the Cambodian People’s Party – the government found 10,000 ghost soldiers and 10,000 ghost police, for whom salaries were regularly paid out (to whom?), the new findings might again bring considerable savings to the national budget.
Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat added that there is confidence that this year, the data will be accurate, because of the use of a computer system to store all documents.

The newly created Anti-Corruption Unit of the government will start with to collect about 100,000 declarations of assets, and this process is to be implemented before November 2010, “to facilitate a quick enforcement of the law.” Though the Anti-Corruption Unit is to keep all these documents, it has not been announced how this is going to happen practically. Even trusting the capacities of computer systems, it will be difficult to receive and file more than 1,000 asset declarations per day during the remaining days before November.

But the past week brought also a different reminder about the power of computer systems: Cambodian authorities began creating legislation against cyber crimes. “A workshop about the creation of legislation against cyber crimes was held on 13 July 2010 at the Council of Ministers, and government officials, officials of national and international organizations, and representatives of Internet Service Providers, of telecom companies, of technology companies, of publication institutions, and of other relevant fields participated in the workshop… The advancement of technology is a double-edged sword. It can make many things easier and provides abundant benefits for quick development. But it also creates opportunities for criminals to use it to commit various offenses.” This double reality was pointed out: that by now communication technology plays an ever growing role in society – but on the other hand, Cambodia is also experiencing similar problems and threat as they happen in other countries also, which can be a threat for security, economy, and the general and political life of a society.

This Cambodian workshop was held also to consider how other countries are dealing with this new world wide problem. The head of the Economic Crime Division of the Council of Europe, Mr. Alexander Seger, referred to the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime of 2001, which had been developed during four years before it was presented to the member states of the Council of Europe, but which is also open for other states to sign and to access, so that among the 47 countries which signed it, there are also non-European countries: Canada, Japan, South Africa, and the United States of America.

These preparatory efforts in Cambodia are considering the same range of criminal activities which happen also in other countries around the globe. “Cambodia has already experienced many problems that allow cyber criminals to commit offenses using such technology. There are many cases where all must pay attention, to prevent cheating on the Internet, to receive the inheritance from someone illegally, not to respond to electronic messages asking for passwords, or messages threatening someone, stealing of passwords, and the distribution of child pornography into computer systems, or the sending of spam mails.”

What is remarkable is the fact that the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime does not only point to the threats which can come from criminal use of the Internet, and to the need to protect society from them. Included in this document of 28 pages is also a warning that the need for criminal prosecution shall not violate fundamental rights of the citizens to be protected:

The member States of the Council of Europe and the other States signatory hereto,… Convinced of the need to pursue, as a matter of priority, a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cyber crime, inter alia, by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international co-operation;…

Mindful of the need to ensure a proper balance between the interests of law enforcement and respect for fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1950 Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the 1966 United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other applicable international human rights treaties, which reaffirm the right of everyone to hold opinions without interference, as well as the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and the rights concerning the respect for privacy;

Mindful also of the right to the protection of personal data, as conferred, for example, by the 1981 Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data;…

Have agreed as follows:

Each Party shall adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offenses under its domestic law, when committed intentionally…

followed by chapters on Illegal access, Illegal interception, Data and System interference, Misuse of devices, Computer-related forgery and fraud, Offenses related to child pornography and to infringements of copyright, etc.

When representatives of governments, of the business community, and of civil society – according to the multi-stakeholder principle introduced by the United Nations for dealing with questions of the present Information Society – met in June for an Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum in Hong Kong, the issue of cyber security was also high on the agenda. While there was an emphasis on legal measures to assure the security and stability of the Internet, and on technical facilities to implement such controls, a group of civil society representatives from Southeast Asia made their common concern public in a 2010 Southeast Asia Civil Society Declaration on Internet Governance.

This Southeast Asian reflection starts with a references to the UN Summits for the Information Society of 2003 and 2005, especially with their Declaration of Principles, which the representatives of governments from around the globe had voted upon:

We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003 for the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Building on this guideline, which had led to the setting up of the Internet Governance Forums, this civil society declaration says among others in a longer text:

Key Observations of the Asia Pacific regional Internet Governance Forum

In response to the first Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum Roundtable in Hong Kong on 15-16 June 2010, we, netizens, journalists, bloggers, IT practitioners and nongovernmental representatives from across Southeast Asia, offer the following observations from the Roundtable:

Critical issues of Internet governance in Asia should guide future discussions on Internet governance policy:

Openness

Open access to information is the right of every individual, a right that serves as a fundamental venue for one’s knowledge- and capacity-building. Access to information ultimately helps foster creativity and innovation, thus promoting sustainable human and economic development. Openness is key to a democratic and open society. Restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression online, such as state censorship which blocks Internet intermediaries, is one of the threats to open societies. Intimidation and state censorship facilitate self-censorship, a hazardous social phenomenon that further undermines democracy and openness.

Access

The Internet is for everyone; it is a public good. Yet a Digital Divide between those countries and communities with Internet access and those without persists, and has not been sufficiently addressed in discussions on Internet governance. Proceedings at the Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum indicated a higher priority must be placed on addressing not only the global digital divide, but also regional and national ones. While Singapore enjoys high Internet access rates (70% penetration), countries like Burma and Cambodia are at the other end of the spectrum (0.22% and 0.51% penetration, respectively), ranked the lowest of 200 countries studied in the World Bank.

Internet access is fundamental for progress. Various factors, such as political, economic and social development, poverty levels, and technological infrastructure affect whether and how often people can access the Internet. Internationally coordinated efforts must be made to address domestic policies that contribute to the digital divide in Southeast Asia and find solutions to bridge the gap.

Cyber Security

Definition of cyber security must include elements that address the right to privacy and to civil and political freedom.

An individual’s right over his/her own privacy, including personal data and information, must not be sacrificed…

Today’s information society connects personal IT devices directly to the outside world, no longer storing personal data on a single server. Given the involvement of the government and businesses (especially state-owned enterprises) in running such technologies, surveillance and identity theft remain a constant threat against Internet users.

In this regard, any national security policy must not deviate from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all international human rights covenants to which states are parties…

The references of the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime and of the Southeast Asia Civil Society Declaration on Internet Governance to human rights and freedoms, not only threatened by criminal action, but also by efforts to impose extensive control, are important reminders that security must be human security.

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The Ministry of Commerce Announced It Earned Riel 129,949 Million – Friday, 26.3.2010

Posted on 27 March 2010. Filed under: Week 657 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

“The Minister of Commerce, Mr. Cham Prasidh, said that in 2009, the Ministry was able to earn Riel 129,949,000,000 [approx. US$31 million] for the nation.

“Mr. Cham Prasidh said during a meeting of the Ministry of Commerce on 24 March 2010 that the income came only from public services that the Ministry provides to private companies.

“The services operated by the Ministry to get income include the registration of commercial operations and of commercial trademarks, the provision of certificates to certify the origin of products, and the checking of product quality, especially for food products for export and import, and for products sold at local markets.

“According to a report on the work in 2009 and on setting goals for 2010, 3,116 trademarks were registered in 2009, where only 698 were trademarks of local companies. Also, in 2009, the Ministry registered commercial operations for 2,045 companies which declined by about 26.5%, compared to 2008. Among those companies, only 39 companies were new companies, a drop by 2.5%.

“The same report added that though the registration of commercial operations declined, foreign investors from Vietnam, Korean, China, Malaysia, and Singapore significantly continue to trust the economic conditions and the political stability in Cambodia.

“The same source continued to say that the registration of export permits, based on the conditions and the origin of the products, covered 243 factories and 26 shoes factories. Those factories employ 320,834 workers who earned about US$27 million as monthly salaries.

“The exports to the United States of America amounted to about US$1.518 billion, which dropped by approximately US$471 million. The exports to Canada were US$198 million, declining by US$4.9 million compared with 2008. The exports to the European Union amounted to US$655 million, a drop by about 18%.

“Exports to other countries also declined. The exports to the American continent, excluding the United States of America and Canada, were about US$34 million, a downturn by about US$11 million. The exports to Europe, excluding the European Union countries, were about US$33 million, a decline by around 23%.

“The report adds that most products that Cambodia exported were garments and other textile products, shoes, rice, handicrafts, beer, and agricultural products, such as pepper.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5160, 26.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 26 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #444, 26.3.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy: The Temporary [Cambodian-Vietnamese] Border Markers Cost Cambodian Territory [he bases this statement on a 1:100,000 French colonial map of 1952, deposited at the United Nations in 1964, and a 1:50,000 map printed by the US Army in 1966]
  • The Spokesperson of the Siamese [Thai] Army Rejected [the Cambodian information] that Many Siamese Soldiers Were Killed by Cambodian Soldiers [during armed clashes at the border region near the Preah Vihear Temple]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2211, 26.3.2010

  • The Foreign Trade of Cambodia Declined in 2009 [to US$10 billion, a drop by 10.4%]
  • Three Laotian Men Were Arrested in Daun Penh District [Phnom Penh] for Drug Smuggling

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #636, 26.3.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay: After the Anti-Corruption Law Becomes Valid, the Sam Rainsy Party Will Propose a Law Which Sets Up Proper Salaries for Civil Servants

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6918, 26.3.2010

  • Three Suspected Robbers Were Sentenced by Citizens [they stole a motorcycle and were beaten by a mob to death, as police could not stop the beating – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3821, 26.3.2010

  • Sam Rainsy: What I Showed [the map and documents] Is Not for Defeating Any Individual [but for the sake of the country], and Prum Chea and Meas Srey Should Be Released as a Humanitarian Gesture [they are in jail for removing border markers in Svay Rieng]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #139, 25.3.2010

  • 700 Citizens of the Amleang Commune Continue Their Protest to Demand the Release of Their Representatives [detained for burning down the on-site office of Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company in Kompong Speu]
  • Human Rights Watch Asked Cambodia to Amend the Sub-Decree about Refugees [as the present one does not provide enough protection procedures to prevent deportation according to the international convention, which the Cambodian government signed so that Cambodia became a member]
  • The Government Plans to Create Public Housing for Poor Citizens for Long Range Rent Periods [of up to 50 years]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5160, 26.3.2010

  • The Ministry of Commerce Announced It Earned Riel 129,949 Million
  • The Law about Ownership by Foreigners of Upper Floor Houses Will Be Adopted by the National Assembly Next Week
  • The Siem Reap Authorities Intercepted a Third Wood Storehouse, Seizing 523 Pieces of Wood [about 15 cubic meters] and 66 Round Poles

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The Education Sector Has No Quality because the Teacher’s Salaries Are Small and Insufficient to Cover Their Daily Livelihood Expenses – Thursday, 26.3.2009

Posted on 27 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

(Newly edited, corrected version – apologies: we had first uploaded an uncorrected version)

“The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association conducted a survey in mid 2008 in nine of the 24 provinces around the country with 430 teachers, among whom 23.91% are female, 46.37% of them are primary school teachers where 30.37% are female, 28.26% are secondary school teachers where 23.84% are female, and 25.21% of them are high school teachers where 12.60% are female. All responses honestly expressed accurately the actual facts in their situation as teachers, and the responses leave concerns for youth and for the nation in the future.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teacher’s Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, said during a press conference in the morning of 25 March 2009 that according to the findings of the survey about the conditions of teachers and the education sector, the association is worried about the inactivity of about 53.91% of teachers who do not teach regularly. 93.04% of teachers said that the rate of students dropping out of school is high and, 45% consider that the education sector has no quality, and only 52.39% said that the education sector has pretty good quality.

“Mr. Rong Chhun asked the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen to solve some issues as follow:

  1. Increase the value of a basic teaching unit for teachers from Riel 720 to Riel 2,000 per unit in 2009 in order to eliminate irregular teaching.
  2. Promote quality education to be as good as education elsewhere in the region.
  3. Eliminate corruption and poverty to cut down the rate of students dropping out of schools.
  4. Create sufficient schools and employment for teachers and for graduate students.

“Mr. Rong Chhun told reporters that based on the findings of the survey, 48% of teachers care to teach their students regularly. They said that they must be responsible for their obligation and role toward students and must have conscience and pity toward Khmer students of the next generations despite facing difficulties in their livelihood and earning improper salaries, making them unable to live and worker better.

“Mr. Rong Chhun stated that 53.91% of teachers are not attending school regularly, and they do not care about their students. As their justification for this unqualified teaching, teachers put the blame on the government that does not increase their salaries enough, so that their daily lives challenge them with difficulties and they have to take part of their time to do other jobs to earn money to support their families. 1.08% do not attend school regularly and do not care about their work and student’s future at all, and they just try to find another job and make some arrangement with school administrators or district and provincial education officials by paying them some kickbacks monthly.

“Mr. Rong Chhun added that in that survey, 6.95% of teachers responded that students do not drop out of schools, claiming that students understand the value of education to be important for their future and that they want to be good citizens in society. He went on to say that 93.4% of teachers said that the rate of students dropping out of school is high and the survey found that 40.85% of primary students drop out of school, 38.55% of secondary students, and 32.64% of high school students. This percentage shows that the education sector falls into a hazardous condition.

“Teachers claim that students drop out of school because of poverty, lack of means for traveling, or finding jobs at factories. Students spend much time to buy lesson handouts, test papers, sweet snacks, and candy from their teachers. Because some teachers take money from students and most teachers do not teach regularly, students drop out of school and lack self-confidence.

“Mr. Rong Chhun continued to say that 2.60% of the teachers responded that the quality of education is good because of the attention of students and because of the efforts of teachers who work without caring about their small or big salaries.

“He added that 52.39% of the teachers assessed that the quality of education is pretty good, and problems exist because students are absent a lot, and take their time out to earn money to support their living.

“45% of the teachers considered that the quality of education is poor, or that it has no quality, because at the schools, there are no proper exams following a set standard plan which would require 95% of the students from a class, in addition the number of students per class is too high, there is a lack of books for students, and there are many types of gambling sites around schools. Teachers earn low salaries, are not satisfied to teach, and spend time to teach additional private classes. The social environment is bad and this attracts students to be corrupt in their education [e.g. they pay some money to their teachers so that not all days when they were absent will be noted down]. If students are poor, teachers do not teach them and care only about their stomach, students are frequently absent and do not want to study because they think that they will not get jobs after they have graduated. This disappoints them.

“At the end the survey is pointing out that the [second] principle of the Millennium Development Goals is not followed successfully, which has the aim to ‘ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling,’ though this is also set as the national plan of the Royal Government. To achieve this strategic goal, education for all, and with quality, the Royal Government has to provide proper salaries for teachers, and has to provide sufficient study materials and schools.” Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, 46, 26.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 26 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #46, 26.3.2009

  • The Education Sector Has No Quality because the Teacher’s Salaries Are Small and Insufficient to Cover their Daily Livelihood Expenses
  • [The President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Mr. Chea Mony Plans to Lead a Demonstration [against factories’ owners who do not release the salaries of workers, and who dismiss trade union leaders from their factories]
  • The Chi Kraeng District’s Citizens Sued the Siem Reap governor, Mr. Sou Phirin, and the Armed Forces [for their attempt to kill them, after they shot citizens resulting in four people seriously injured]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #149, 26.3.2009

  • Conditions at the Preah Vihear Temple Is Very Tense after Nearly 100 Siamese [Thai] Troops Entered into the Veal Intry Region
  • The Cambodian Embassy in England Reacts against the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Report
  • [A leading mobile phone company of Cambodia] Mobitel Borrows US$100 Million from the International Finance Corporation [a member of the World Bank Group] to Expand Network Capacity

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1907, 26.3.2009

  • China Asks for the Creation of a New Currency for the World [to replace the dollar as the international reserve currency]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6612, 26.3.2009

  • Four Unidentified Men Came to Shoot Dead a Military Officer in His Home [Siem Reap]
  • Another House Storing and Producing Drugs Was Found in Takeo [related to the one in Phnom Penh recently raided]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4855, 26.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen] Asks the Korean Parliament to Support the Korean Government to Help Develop Cambodia
  • The National Election Committee Prepares to Print Nearly 60,000 Ballots for [district-provincial/city] Council Elections
  • The Minister of Commerce [Mr. Cham Prasidh]: Exports of Cambodia Faces Obstacles due to Disagreement [between the Ministry of Commerce and different other institutions – the total export in 2008 was only more than US$3,356 million]
  • Canada and England Are Also Big Markets of Cambodia [in 2008, Canada accepted goods worth more than US$212 million from Cambodia and stands in second rank, and England had approx. US$164 million, while the USA, the biggest import country of Cambodian goods, had US$2,041 million]
  • Japan Provides a US$35 Million Loan for the Construction of Clean Water Factories
  • Approximately US$200 Million per Year Is Lost in Traffic Accidents

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Meeting between Samdech Hun Sen and Mr. Abhisit in Hua Hin – Monday, 2.3.2009

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

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

“On Friday evening, 27 February 2009, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, and the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, met outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN – Summit at the Cha Am coast of Hua Hin in Thailand, and both sides agreed to fully support the Joint Border Committee to try to mark the border.

The Nation reported that the Cambodian-Thai border committee has achieved only very small progress early February to find border solutions near the Preah Vihear Temple. Both sides had a disagreement about the demand by Thailand to use the word Phra Viharn [in Thai] and the word Preah Vihear [in Khmer].

“Mr. Abhisit told journalists after his meeting with Samdech Hun Sen, ‘Actually, there are some disagreements, but we have a mechanism to handle this work which will lead to important results.’ He added, ‘We will not let such disagreements block other cooperation.’

“Besides land border disputes, the prime ministers of both countries discussed cooperation at the sea-border overlapping zones, where both countries claim the same areas as belonging to their respective integral regions, where it is believed that abundant oil and natural gas resources are situated. Mr. Abhisit said also that both countries will seek joint development projects on energy at those overlapping zones.

“Reuters news agency reported that both countries agreed to organize a technical expert group to fulfill the task to mark the border at zones rich of oil and gas. Mr. Abhisit told reporters, ‘Our mutual understanding recently progressed much, and we are looking for possibilities to begin cooperation on energy. ‘

“Cambodia has a 37,000 km2 zone to be explored, and another 27,000 km2 are regions disputed with Thailand, known as an overlapping zone.

“Prime Minister Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen used to say early in February that the Cambodian government is organizing projects to exploit oil and gas in the sea in 2010. A big US oil company, Chevron, is exploring oil in the Cambodian sea.

“It should be noted that border disputes between Cambodian and Thailand led to clashes in mid 2008, when Thailand deployed troops in the Preah Vihear region, after the Preah Vihear Temple was listed as a world heritage site. This dispute led to a small battle at the Preah Vihear region, while in October, both sides agreed to raise this problem at negotiations.

“During the meeting between both prime ministers, both countries agreed to continue cooperation to develop infrastructure and the Emerald Triangle Project, which is a region where the Cambodian, Thai, and Laotian borders meet.


The ASEAN Summit Started

“Leaders of the 10 member countries of ASEAN attended the opening of the 14th ASEAN Summit at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Cha Am, a coastal town in Phetchaburi Province.

“The Bangkok Post reported that the inauguration of the ASEAN summit started, with Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva as the president of ASEAN, calling for all ASEAN leaders to cooperate to help the region to overcome the economic crisis.

“An ASEAN anthem with the title ‘ASEAN Way’ was played, starting the occasion. That anthem was written by Thai musicians.


Cambodia and Burma Boycott ASEAN Human Rights Discussion

“Cambodia and Burma threatened to boycott joining the discussion with civil society organizations yesterday Sunday, a discussion to create an ASEAN human rights institution.

“The Bangkok Post went on to say that the effort to establish an ASEAN human rights organization started to become difficult on Saturday morning, when Cambodia and Burma prevented civil society organizations’ representatives from Cambodia and from Burma to take part in the discussions with ASEAN leaders.

“The decisions of Cambodia and of Burma were directed against civil society representatives from Cambodia, Pen Somony, and from Burma, Khin Omar, not to attend the discussion.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen not only rejected civil society representative Pen Somony, but he also said that the candidate chosen to attend the human rights discussion was just a person from a political league.

“Laos and Vietnam expressed the same idea as Cambodia and Burma, because leaders of both countries did not want to discuss with civil society representatives that are not close to the government.

“On Friday, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and senior human rights officials of ASEAN did not agree about the nomination of an ASEAN human rights commissioner. It is not yet known whether the ASEAN human rights organization can be formed or not.


ASEAN Signs Free Trade Deal with Australia an New Zealand

“All ministers of economy of ASEAN signed a free trade deal with Australia and New Zealand. The 10 members of the ASEAN countries signed the deal on the first day of the summit in Thailand, which suffers from the economic slowdown.

“It is expected that this whole deal can support the economy of ASEAN with up to US$48 billion by 2020, but little will be achieved to help solve the present crisis. Negotiations to create a 12-country free trade zone began in 2004.

“The new deal means that the ASEAN block has encouraged free trade relations with the economies of all of its important neighboring countries. Earlier on, ASEAN had signed similar deals with China, Japan, and South Korea.

“Also, ASEAN plans to organize a unified market by 2015, with the intention to compete with India and China.

“The Minister of Trade of Australia, Mr. Simon Crean, said that this deal is an essential event to join the economies of the countries of the region. The New Zealand Minister of Trade, Mr. Tim Grosser, said that it was a huge deal and also a politically necessary deal.

“Mr. Grosser went on to say, ‘Formerly we had considered Southeast Asia to be a source of threat, instability, and a hazard. Changing this view, an agreement was signed, considering Southeast Asian countries as a huge economic opportunity. This is a very welcome change within 30 years.’

“The summit in Cha Am, a resort in Thailand, witnessed two agreements of ASEAN being concluded: one on commerce, and one on investments. The member countries of ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“The 14th ASEAN Summit was to focus on human rights, but the global financial crisis took the top of the agenda this year.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1886, 1-2.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 2 March 2009

Bakong, Vol.10, #255, 2-3.3.2009

  • Cambodia Obtains Little Aid from Canada [Canadian officials said that Canada will narrow its bilateral aid focusing on 20 countries and Cambodia will not be included]

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #28, 2.3.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Demands that the National Assembly Restore His Immunity [after he paid a fine to the National Election Committee]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #128, 1-2.3.2009

  • [Former Khmer Rouge leader] Ieng Thirith Cursed Those Who Accused Her of Killing People to Fall into the Seventh Level Hell
  • Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior Asks Prison Administrators to Respect Human Rights Policies of Prisoners
  • Police Do Not Take Action Against a Policeman Who Raped a 13-Year-Old Girl when Her Mother Filed a Complaint [Kompong Thom]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1886, 1-2.3.2009

  • Meeting between Samdech Hun Sen and Mr. Abhisit in Hua Hin
  • Egypt Asks to Establish School of Navigation in Cambodia and a Honorary Consulate [so that Cambodians gain skills and have the possibility to go to work in Egypt]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #355, 1-3.3.2009

  • The International Community Still Encourages the Hun Sen Government Not to Use Any Pretext to Delay Adopting an Anti-Corruption Law

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6591, 2.3.2009

  • Thailand Announced Not to Charge Visa Fees from Tourists while Eight ASEAN Countries Had Already Abolished It

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4834, 2.3.2009

  • Heads of Governments of Cambodia and of Thailand Agree to Solve Border Disputes through the Memorandum of Understanding from 2000
  • The British Ambassador [Mr. Andrew Mace]: The Government Has to Create a Social Safety Network [so that all can live happily in the society]
  • Five AK-47 Rifles Are Used [by eight robbers] to Shoot at Gold Sellers and Kill One [police have not identified the robbers – Koh Thom, Kandal]
  • The Number of Khmer Vendors in the Thai Rung Kloeu Market Declined by 50% [after Poipet or the Ou Chrov district was changed to be Poipet City: according to Thai Rak Thai]

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

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.


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Monday, 21.7.2008: The Great Heroic King Samdech Euv Issued a Letter to Respond to Critics about the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Regime

Posted on 22 July 2008. Filed under: week 570 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 570

“Phnom Penh: A Royal Letter of the Great Heroic King dated 19 July 2008, which was published [on his Internet website] for all compatriots who are his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, is his response to a not named political dignitary who accused the Sangkum Reastr Niyum [often translated as “People’s Socialist Community” or “Popular Socialist Community”] to have eliminated all political parties, so that there remained only one party: the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party. Without making any comment, this Royal Letter is made know also here:

Royal Letter
Norodom Sihanouk
of Cambodia
to his most Beloved Compatriots, Brothers and Sisters, Children, Grandchildren, and Great-Grandchildren

Phnom Penh, 19 July 2008

Yesterday night, a political dignitary said that the Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime eliminated all political parties and made Cambodia to have only one Party – the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party – which started from 1954 to 1969.

Responding to this very unjust accusation, I would like to correct it and to tell the truths to our compatriots and to history as follow:

1.The Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime started in 1955, not in 1954.

2.The Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime did not eliminate other parties. In 1955, there was a national election to elect a parliament, monitored by the International Control Commission (officially called the International Commission for Supervision and Control [to supervise the cease-fire at the end of the French-Vietnamese military confrontation in Vietnam at the end of French colonial rule in Indochina, the withdrawal of foreign troops, the release of prisoners of war, and the overall compliance with the terms of the agreement]) in which there was India as president, and Poland as a representative of the communist block, and Canada as a representative of the democratic block as members.

“The triumph of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party was a sign of multiparty democracy, and the elections were 100% fair, as monitored by internationals.

“The results of the national election were announced by International Control Commission as follows:

  • The Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party won 82% of the citizens’ ballots
  • The Democratic Party got 13%
  • The Khmer Vietminh People’s Party got 3%

“Mr. Sim Va, who opposed Sihanouk 500%, was not happy with the 100% Sihanoukist Assembly. He got the permission from Preah Karuna Preah Bat Norodom Suramarit [Sihanouk’s father] (who reigned as King after me) to dissolve the Assembly which supported Sihanouk very much. I resigned from the throne in 1955 and created the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party, in response to requests of citizens who were Sihanoukists, in order to participate in the national election to choose a parliament, monitored by internationals.

“In 1958, there was another national election to elect a parliament. The result was as follows:

“The Sangkum Reastr Niyum continued to gain more successes than before. As for the Democratic Party that did to want to be shamed, it did not dare to compete with the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party. The Khmer Vietminh People’s Party dared to join the competition, but it received only 1% of the ballots from the compatriots.

3.Samdech Krom Preah Sisowath Monireth, my uncle, told Lon Nol and Prince [Sisowath] Sirik Matak of their National Renovation Party and the Democratic Party that the fortress of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum was very strong; anyone who wanted to destroy the fortress of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum by an attack from outside would not be successful. Unless enemies could get inside of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum, the fortress of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party could be ruined.

“That was why Lon Nol, Prince [Sisowath] Sirik Matak and others joined the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party in order to ruin it, by making a coup d’état on 18 March 1970 when I was not in the country.

“Hence, the accusation which says that Norodom Sihanouk made the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Party the only party is very unfair. But it was Lon Nol and Prince [Sisowath] Sirik Matak and others who had merged their parties into the fortress of the Sangkum Reastr Niyum in order to destroy it from inside when I was not in the country.

4.As for Prince Sisowath Yuthewong [the founder of the Democratic Party], I took as good care of him as I could. He wanted to stay at a royal palace belonging to the King in Kep, and in Tonle Bati; I, on behalf of the King of Cambodia, gave him and his wife, a French national, everything he wanted. My uncle, Samdech Sisowath Monireth told my mother that Sisowath Yuthewong and his wife acted like King and Queen, that was not like democrats!

“I pray in the name of the three virtues of the Buddhist trinity [the Buddha, his Teaching, and his disciples], to the angels who protect Cambodia, such as the angels who hold the huge white protective parasol, and to the spirits of all former Kings and Queens of the Kingdom of Cambodia, to take care of our most beloved compatriots, brothers and sisters, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, for the five Buddhist goods: Ayu [long life], Vannak [good complexion – having a good life], Sokhak [health], Poleak [strength], and Padepheaneak [wisdom] forever.

Thank you very much.

(signed) N. Sihanouk

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6402, 21.7.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 21 July 2008


Chouy Khmer, Vol.2, #136, 20.7.2008

  • A Group of Attachés from the Embassies of the United States, of China, of Yuon [Vietnam], and of France Went to See Siem [Thai] Soldiers Who Steal Khmer Land Directly


Note: Please review the documentation presented yesterday – Sunday.

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1698, 20-21.7.2008

  • According to a Decision [of the government], Riel 20,000 [approx. US%5] Is Added to the Salary of Civil Servants, Police, and Soldiers Countrywide [starting from July 2008]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #, 20-22.7.2008

  • Hun To, a nephew of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen, Ordered [three] Bodyguards to Hit a Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian [Mr. Nuon Vuthy from Kompong Cham, regarding a minor problem of how to drive cars from a ferry in Prek Kdam, Kandal]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #54, 29-21.7.2008

  • Thailand Uses Unilateral Map to Send Soldiers to Invade Cambodia [in response to a letter from Prime Minister Hun Sen of 17 July 2008, Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said on 18 July 2008 that the area which Thai soldiers are going to control is Thai territory]
  • Two Economic Police Extorted Riel 4,000,000 [approx. US$980] from Wood Merchants [who were loading illegal wood – Kampot]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6402, 21.7.2008

  • Cambodia Reported the Invasion of Thailand to the United Nations [Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said the diplomatic representative of Cambodian in New York sent a letter to the UN]
  • Two 100 Millimeter Cannons Are Set up by Thailand in Front of Preah Vihear Temple
  • At the Western Borders, Thailand Promises to Send Khmer Laborers Home to Vote, and to Asks Khmer Soldiers Not to Get Involved [in the dispute] in the Preah Vihear Area
  • The Great Heroic King Samdech Euv Issued a Letter to Respond to Critics about the Sangkum Reastr Niyum Regime


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3517, 21.7.2008

  • Sam Rainsy Party Announced [on 20 July 2008] to Give Cash Rewards to Informers Who Point to Evidence of Bad Ploys Which Affect the Election Results on 27 July 2008 [US$1,000 will be given for officials of Provincial Election Committees, and US$10,000 for officials of the National Election Committee]
  • A Government That Is Weak Makes Neighboring Countries Look Down On It


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4646, 20-21.7.2008

  • Thirty Five Organizations [members of a national council for justice] Held a Course to Train Election Observers [19 July 2008]
  • Some Areas in Five Cambodian Provinces [Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, Takeo, Kampot, and Kompong Speu] Are Affected by the [Rice Pest] Brown Plant Hopper
  • Indonesia Will Sentence Men Who Lay Bombs with No Mercy to Death [reference to 2002 Bali bombing]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3364, 20-21.7.2008

  • A Research Organization in the United States [Cholana Khmer Machas Srok, ‘Movement of the Masters of the Khmer Country’] Said that Nearly Two Million Yuon [Vietnamese] Wait to Vote for the Cambodian People’s Party of Hun Sen

Click here – and have a look at the last editorial – The Cambodian-Thai border crisis develops while the Khmer public is not aware what the Cambodian government representatives had agreed upon, to get the Preah Vihear Temple listed as a World Heritage Site, on a most narrowly defined piece of land.

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