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.

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About the Clear Separation of Functions and Responsibilities – Sunday, 30.5.2010

Posted on 1 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

According to the Preamble of the Constitution, the Kingdom of Cambodia is a multi-party liberal democracy. That different people make different observations and have different information and different opinions is natural – that these can also be expressed and discussed openly is legal under such a constitution, unless there is any criminal intent involved.

When putting the pieces for the Mirror together day by day, we encounter often confrontative news items which could be resolved easily by an open, mutual, clarifying consultation about facts and structural arrangements, which might overcome personal positions and feelings.

During the past week, we carried a report about a tragic event in India: “160 People Were Killed in a Plane Crash in India.” But this is not just a tragedy – it is necessary to investigate what led to this problem, in order to avoid similar events to happen in future. Naturally, questions about safety procedures have to be clarified – and there were some press reports claiming that the accident was the result of a soft handling of air safety regulations. When this discussion started, the management of Air India claimed to make a thorough investigation by themselves – and prohibited its employees to discuss related questions with the press. This resulted in further protests: “The striking employees were upset over the management’s gag order prohibiting some of its leaders to speak out in public on the Mangalore crash.”

In the meantime, the Indian government has set up a Court of Inquiry headed by a former high court judge, and a Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council with persons with a background in aviation, and experts in engineering and operations. They will conduct the inquiry, not Air India. And the strike was called off.

Does this mean that the Indian government does not trust the management of Air India? Maybe or maybe not – the fundamentally important point is that Operations and Safety are to be handled by two separate, independent bodies, which have to cooperate mutually.

Some months ago, I had an experience in Malaysia where this separation obviously works. – We were about 250 passengers, waiting to board a long distance night flight. But instead of calling us to board the plane, we were told that the flight is canceled, buses would transport us to different hotels and collect us again in the morning. So it happened – connections lost and schedules not met. The explanation: When the plane was prepared for departure, the air safety controller discovered that the pilot had landed only 11 hours ago – but no pilot is allowed to fly again, if not 12 hours passed between two flights. Malaysia Airlines had to accept this ruling from the air safety institution, though it meant a disruption of many schedules and a considerable economic loss. The airline had assigned the pilot – “just one hour too short should be OK” – but the independent safety supervisor rejected this.

Not good personal relations of different actors, and group or institutional loyalties assure smooth an safe procedures, but clearly defined, different institutions – which all have to refer to objectively defined rules. And these rules have to be kept and followed.

When Mr. Om Yentieng was recently appointed as head of the newly created Anti-Corruption Unit, it was reported that some persons from the opposition parties raised critical questions about him – this is a case where different people may have different opinions. But we did not see any critical questions raised against the fact the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit is also automatically a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, the body that is supervising the Anti-Corruption Unit. This is an objectively serious problem, whoever the person is. Everybody has to act responsibly in public offices – but this does not mean to be just responsible to oneself. Responsibility implies that one has to answer what is right and what is wrong to another institution. Where this is not structurally institutionalized, there is the danger that a conflict of interest may lead to wrong results.

Malaysian Airlines had the well founded interest not to disrupt its intercontinental schedule, and not to organize and pay for 250 hotel guests. But the air safety agency hand a different, also well founded interest: that the strict working schedules of pilots have to be kept.

When the US Securities and Exchange Commission [“The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation”] started to investigate the Australian mining company BHP Billiton, and links to the US$2.5 million which had been paid as tea money to “Cambodia,” this naturally triggered a public interest where and under whose authorities and according to which rules this money was used. Then an amount of US$20 million from the French oil company Total was added to the surprises, and additional millions from an Indonesian company.

Then allegations surfaced that the ban on sand export, imposed by the government, was not applied, and sand exports to Singapore continued.

Around the time when different partial answers related to payments were reported in the press (which could not be reconciled with each other) the Prime Minister tasked the Senior Ministers Sok An and Keat Chhon to present a consolidated answer to the National Assembly; then also the Ambassador of Cambodia in London offered to publicly discuss and refute such allegations, raised by the British NGO Global Witness.

But on 21 May 2010, the Cambodian Embassy in London withdrew the offer in a letter from which we quote:

On the issue you raised, I am pleased to advise that His Excellency Hor Nambora is no longer prepared
to enter into a public debate with Global Witness.

First, we believe it would be inappropriate to share a platform with representatives of your organisation
since it would appear you have a politically-motivated and hidden agenda to discredit the legitimately-
elected Government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Second, it seems clear that your group is starting to lose credibility and respect within the international
community, not least for the irresponsible and devious way in which you operate…

In short, as your group, leadership and campaigners certainly suffered from epilepsy and other mental disabilities, it would be more prudent for any Cambodian representatives or officials, not to take part in the debate.

Epilepsy is disease defined in medical terms as “a disorder of the central nervous system characterized by loss of consciousness and convulsions” – it is surprising that the Cambodian embassy claims to have such medical data on the staff of Global Witness, quite apart form the whole style of this official letter.

We do also not have any information that Global Witness “is starting to lose credibility and respect within the international community.” – Global Witness shares the list of their supporters publicly:

Trusts and foundations

  • Adessium Foundation
  • The Blue Moon Fund
  • The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • The DOEN Foundation
  • The Fledgling Fund
  • The Ford Foundation
  • The Jocarno Fund
  • The Joffe Charitable Trust
  • Foundation Open Society Institute (Zug)
  • The David and Elaine Potter Foundation
  • The RH Southern Trust
  • The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
  • The Roddick Foundation
  • The Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation
  • The Sigrid Rausing Trust
  • The Staples Trust
  • The Wallace Global Fund

Development organisations

  • Concern Worldwide
  • Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos)
  • Oxfam Novib
  • Trocaire

Governments

  • Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • DFID – Department for International Development (UK)
  • The European Commission
  • Irish Aid – Irish Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida)
  • Norad

To accuse Global Witness leadership of “epilepsy and other mental disabilities” is probably not making an impression on the supporters of the world wide activities of Global Witness. It will rather bring embarrassing questions, asking to explain how an embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia can act in such a non-professional way.

In Cambodia today, to make such a public statement, might this lead to a court case for disinformation and defamation.

Again: this is not first of all a question about the person who wrote this letter. It is a question in which way, in the diplomatic service where such a letter was written, responsibility is exercised – not only personally by oneself and for oneself – but in a way that one institution, or one part of the institution, has to submit itself to another institution, to clarify what is acceptable, and what is not, for the Kingdom of Cambodia.

During the week, the question has also been raised, whether somebody from outside tries “to teach” something to Cambodia. This may happen occasionally, but it is not as important as that the field, as described by the Constitution, is kept open to exercise the freedoms of expression and opinion. The article about Mr. Vann Molyvann, who has shaped the image of Phnom Penh and some other places in the contry, is such an example. In spite of his historical role and his achievements, he felt compelled to resign, when his professional judgment as an architect and as a long term protector of Khmer traditional culture was overruled for shot term economic gain. To listen to him is worth while. Not only because this previous warnings about the over-use of ground water in the Angkor area have now – finally – been seen as a real problem which may lead to the collapse of some of the old temples – similar to the destruction of more modern, but historical buildings in Phnom Penh and other cities, that are being destroyed and replaced by modern business buildings, for economic gain.

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Thai Goods Are Imported through the Cham Yeam Border Crossing without Checking – Wednesday, 26.5.2010

Posted on 27 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Koh Kong: At present, during the season to import fruits, hundreds of tonnes of Thai goods are imported at the Cham Yeam border crossing on cars, trucks, and carts each day, to be distributed in Koh Kong and other provinces and in Phnom Penh without proper checking on the quality of those goods by CamControl officials.

“According to information from the Cham Yeam border crossing, CamControl officials at the crossing do not care to check the quality of imported goods nowadays, but they just wait to collect money from the owners of the goods.

“A trader who imports goods on carts said that he has to pay CamControl officials stationed at the crossing Riel 10,000 to Riel 30,000 [approx. US$2.40 to US$7.10] per cart instead of checking, and there are no receipts for the payments. The above trader complained that he cannot protest against the requirement to pay money, otherwise they would block the goods from being imported by declaring that those goods are of no quality and that no tax had been paid. He added that besides goods loaded on carts, other goods are imported on cars and trucks without any checking, like the cars of traders that transport all types of sausages, and cars and trucks carrying small fish, drinks, and other goods.

“The above source added that on every single day, there are at least 100 to 150 carts that import Thai goods across the Cham Yeam border crossing. Because there is no proper checking, every day some prohibited and no-quality goods such as pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and fruits, that are considered to be garbage in Thailand, are now acquired by traders and imported for distribution at the markets anarchically.

“A CamControl official, Mr. Chea Ny, told Rasmei Kampuchea that recently, imported goods had been checked for their quality occasionally, and no chemicals [applied on those goods] were found.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5207, 26.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #487, 26.5.2010

  • ASEAN Police Will Step Up Cooperation and Strengthen Security and Economy in the Region
  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An Asked the Asian Development Bank to Continue to Cooperate with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [ESCAP – according to a meeting with an ADB delegation]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2258, 26.5.2010

  • There Will Be a Vote [in the National Assembly] to Promote Eleven Officials [to positions of secretary of state and minister] on 27 May 2010 [but their names are not yet mentioned]
  • French Officials Plan to Come to Cambodia to Help Improve the Procedures for Exporting Products to International Markets [according to a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Mao Thora]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #771, 26.5.2010

  • The Director of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], Naly Pilorge, Uses the Influence of Foreign Funds to Dismiss Staff [not respecting contracts and the labor law]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #665, 26.5.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Asked [Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng for Permission to Visit Ms. Meas Srey and Mr. Prum Chea [being jailed for uprooting Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6965, 26.5.2010

  • Three Persons, a Man and His Two Children, Died in the Forest [of diarrhea]; Diarrhea Killed Sixteen People among 543 Patients in Ratanakiri [Yesterday, Dr. Beat Richner announced in a full page ad in The Cambodia Daily that the hospitals to which he relates have diagnosed 290 cases with the germ “Vibrio cholerae” – Cholera – among 1300 patients treated, and informed the Cambodian authorities since several months, but the Cambodian authorities continue to deny that it is Cholera and wrongly claim that the treatment for Cholera and for diarrhea is the same]
  • Thma Koul Police Intercepted 22 Pieces of Luxury Grade Wood to Be Transported to Siam [Thailand – Battambang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #179, 26.5.2010

  • Brick Producers: The Price of Bricks Doubles because of the Increase of Demand for Construction Materials [at present, 10,000 bricks cost US$400]
  • Thai Court Released Warrant to Arrest [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as Terrorist

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5207, 26.5.2010

  • Thai Goods Are Imported through the Cham Yeam Border Crossing without Checking
  • New Ambassadors of Malaysia and of Laos Met and Greeted Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Voluntary and Charitable Donations – Sunday, 16.5.2010

Posted on 18 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

In many societies it is usual that corporations, and rich and not so rich individuals make donations for causes they consider important for the public good. During the past week it was reported that more than US$7 million was collected as donations during the celebration of the Cambodia Red Cross and Red Crescent Society’s anniversary on 8 May; it is the largest humanitarian organization in Cambodia, having also individual Members, and Volunteers. This is an impressive organization which has collected an impressive sum. To see whether or not this is the beginning of a spirit of voluntarism in society, it would be good to know how much the same charitable donors are making available to lift up the economic situation of orphanages, to create and maintain scholarships for needy students from the provinces, to support organizations engaged in the promotion of awareness of the endangered environment and its protection, and many similar endeavors.

In many countries, the Red Cross is one not-for-profit NGO like any other NGO – it receives private and corporate donations, like other NGOs receiving private and corporate donations; often these are encouraged by special tax reduction or tax exemption regulations for supporting such causes for the public good. Over the years I became aware that many persons in Cambodia, dealing with foreign NGOs working in the country, are not aware that these depend to a more or less strong degree on regular private donation, often from people in the middle and lower income brackets in their countries, and not only on public money. But it seems to be hardly a usual feature that Cambodian NGOs, working for the public good, receive similar donations from those who have money, in Cambodia. If there are worthwhile examples, it would be good to have them reported more prominently, and not only for the Cambodian Red Cross and Red Crescent Society.

But whatever the source of such funds – it is usual that that they are accounted for regularly and publicly. One argument of the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, why a special NGO law is necessary, was always that the finances of NGOs – as agencies handling social funds – have to be monitored publicly. Though NGOs have responded that they are subject to regular public audit already, and these audit reports have been available anyway, the request to make their financial records public was always among the main arguments to create such legislation.

Now it is all the more surprising, that the financial volume and the operating procedures of the Social Fund of the government, even it’s existence, referred to sometimes over the years, are not similarly transparent, and there are additional allegations that government representatives have received substantial monies, supposedly for a social fund, which cannot be found in any verifiable public financial record.

The present round of discussions was triggered by reports that an Australian mining company, which had operated for a limited period in Mondolkiri, is under corruption investigation at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, because it is also listed on stock exchanges in the USA. There are allegations that this may relate to payments to Cambodia. While the government was asked for precise, detailed information supported by documents, to be presented to the National Assembly, additional questions were added relating to payments from the French company Total. Some of the related, but not clarified pieces of information:

  • The Indonesian company Medco Energi said they paid US$4.5 million into a government social fund.
  • The Australian company BHP Billiton paid US$ 2.5 million as “tea money” – according to a statement by the Minister of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology in the National Assembly.
  • Payments of US$20 million by the French oil company Total, paid as a “signature bonus,” are not publicly traceable.
  • In addition, some of the monies are said to have be designated to pay for specific activities in Mondolkiri or in Pursat etc., but different, related information, cannot be reconciled.

Now the Prime Minister gave the task to explain the situation to the National Assembly to two Deputy Prime Ministers, the Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An, and the Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon. According to Mr. Phay Siphan, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister “said that all revenues must go to the national budget.” Obviously that is not what happened so far.

Interesting explanations and revelations relating to the past can be expected – combined with the hope that the order of the Prime Minister will be molded into clear administrative procedures for the future.

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Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign – Thursday, 6.5.2010

Posted on 6 May 2010. Filed under: Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“High ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party had expressed their concerns before, that the non-transparent management of the rich natural resources of Cambodia, as well as corruption, make citizens – the owners of those important resources – become poor, so that they cannot receive the benefits from the present anarchic exploitations of natural resources.

“Officials from 16 countries met in Phnom Penh for two days, on 4 and 5 May 2010, to discuss about the control of forestry resources and the trade of forestry products. Cambodian high ranking officials welcomed and chaired the discussion meetings to step up effective controls on forest resources. Asian and European officials came from Burma, Cambodia, China, England, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Siam [Thailand], the United States of America, and Yuon [Vietnam], to discuss how to promote forestry exploitation that follows legal standards.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä, the Director of Directorate G – Sustainable Development and Integration – in the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission, said that forestry trading is an important sector that boosts economic growth in Asian and European countries, and forestry products have significantly and enormously contributed to development of the economies of Asian and European countries. It is stressed that forestry products are essential for a national economy.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä said that good management of forestry resource will help prevent forestry destructions in any country, though forests can provide substantial national income. Cambodia used to export forestry products to some countries such as the former Soviet Union. But since Cambodia introduced reforms in 2001, the export of [unprocessed] forestry products abroad was halted [but illegal export continued].

“The Minister of Agriculture of Cambodia, Mr. Chan Sarun, who was also present at the discussions, said that people from the countries that attend the meeting can jointly create plans to strengthen forestry management and legislation. ‘We can create joint planning to improve forestry control and to strength fundamental laws, as well as cut down illegal forestry productions.’

“Recently, Cambodia has started to crack down on luxury grade wood trading, and after activities for one month, the authorities confiscated 6,000 cubic meter of such wood that was to be transported to China and Yuon. Some was to be exported to the international market via Singapore.

“Ebony, Thnong, and Beng are most wanted luxury grade woods to produce furniture in some countries, and most illegal exports from Cambodia are of these kinds of wood. Most luxury grade wood confiscated was found in Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Kompong Cham, Stung Treng, and Kratie. The destinations for its export are known to be China and Yuon, where millions of cubic meters are needed.

“The illegal wood trading in Cambodia reduced the rich forestry resource during the 1960s of about 75% of the whole country to drop to only more than 30% at present, according to some environmental organizations. Forestry expert officials and some sectors of the authorities have been blamed for their collusion, committing illegal wood trading, but most of the actors are not brought to the courts.

“According to reports from forestry administration officials, 207 forestry crimes have been reported to the courts, but some traders with a title as an Oknha, or with close relations to high government officials, have not been charged, though they colluded to commit forestry crimes in Cambodia. Some forestry administration officials enjoy their lives with the wealth they gained from the illegal cutting down of trees.

Global Witness said in a statement early April 2010, ‘The idea that Ty Sokhun has been removed from his post because of a failure to crack down on illegal logging is laughable.’ The organization thinks that to tolerate Mr. Ty Sokun after 15 years of forestry crimes originating from his office shows that the past spreading of forestry crimes seems to be forgotten.

Note – From the text of the Global Witness statement:

Sacking of Cambodia’s forest chief unconvincing as move against illegal logging

Press Release – 7.4.2010

Global Witness today welcomed the removal from his post of the Director General of Cambodia’s Forest Administration, Ty Sokhun, but warned that much more needed to be done to guarantee the survival of the country’s remaining forests and the fair and sustainable exploitation of the country’s other natural resources for the benefit of the many not the few.

Global Witness’s 2007 report, Cambodia’s Family Trees, documented how Ty Sokhun and the Ministry of Agriculture Director, Chan Sarun, sold off 500 or more jobs in the Forest Administration. The report also revealed that Ty Sokhun’s father-in-law was a key member of Cambodia’s biggest illegal logging syndicate.

“Ty Sokhun’s reign as Cambodia’s forest chief was a disaster for Cambodia’s forests”, said Simon Taylor, Global Witness Director. “On his watch we saw Cambodia’s forests shrink dramatically, largely due to illegal or ill-managed logging operations. It is a good thing he is gone, but he shouldn’t be let off the hook for what happened while he was in charge.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen says he sacked Ty Sokhun because he had no confidence in his ability to crack down on illegal logging but Global Witness questions why it has taken so long to act…

Taylor: “Ty Sokhun was not the only one responsible for the destruction of Cambodia’s forests. Our investigations have proven the complicity of officials and elites at the highest levels, including members of the Prime Minister’s own family. If Hun Sen genuinely wants closure on the destruction of Cambodia’s forests, he should commission a full independent enquiry into what has happened, publish the findings and punish the perpetrators.”

“At the occasion of the change of head of the Forestry Administration and the appointment of Mr. Chheng Kimson it was seen that some high ranking officials such as [Minister of Agriculture] Mr. Chan Sarun were spared to be called to account for their wrongdoings by the head of the Cambodian government, while in fact Mr. Chan Sarun and Mr. Ty Sokun are the most important persons responsible for forestry crimes for years. This way of suppressing illegal wood trading makes international donors to think that Cambodia does it just to satisfy them to get aid, while the Cambodian government is not really willing to intercept illegal wood trading. [[see also The Mirror of 7.4.2010]]

Note – from a historical Global Witness statement from December 2004

Resign or be sacked

Press Release – 3.12.2004

With the advent of Cambodia’s Consultative Group (CG) donor meeting on 6 and 7 December combating corruption is once more at the top of the political agenda. In line with this renewed emphasis, Global Witness is calling on the Director of the Forest Administration to be made accountable for the rampant corruption within his own department.

“Ty Sokhun should do the honourable thing and resign. If not, the Prime Minister should sack him.” said Jon Buckrell of Global Witness.

Ty Sokhun was made Director of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife1 in 1998. Since then, corruption within the department has if anything got worse. The May 2000 Asia Development Bank [ADB] Forest Concession Review characterised the crisis situation in Cambodia’s forest as “…total system failure; resulting from greed, corruption, incompetence and illegal acts…” However, according to the ADB so many people, companies, institutions and countries were responsible for the fiasco that no one should be made accountable. Since that time not one forest department official has been charged with corruption, let alone convicted. Yet as recently as April 2004 the Independent Forest Sector Review referred to “high levels of institutionalised corruption.” Still, no one is being held to account.

“How can the new Forest Administration hope to address corruption if the people at the top remain the same?” said Buckrell. Ty Sokhun is hopelessly compromised by his familial links to the timber trade. His father-in-law, Khun Thong, is one of Cambodia’s most prolific illegal loggers. “Ty Sokhun’s failure to make public his familial links to the timber trade is a massive conflict of interest and is in itself reason enough to dismiss him.”

Good governance is at the core of the new “Rectangular Strategy,” of the third legislature of the National Assembly, but the government has been talking tough on corruption and doing nothing for years, as has the donor community. At the 1996 CG meeting, then First Prime Minister H.R.H. Norodom Ranariddh stated that the Royal Government of Cambodia was committed to “implement appropriate measures,” to amongst other things “effectively combat corruption.” More recently at the 2001 CG the ADB’s Urooj Malik “respectfully urged” the Royal Government “to move forward with the finalization of legislation on Anti-corruption…”. The donors then pledged US$ 615 million, US$ 115 million more than the Cambodian government had actually asked for. In 2002 “the adoption of a new Anti-Corruption Law” was, according to the World Bank, by now “of particular and most urgent importance.” The donors pledged US$ 635 million.

“The Cambodian government must find the whole CG process absolutely hilarious. Each year they fail to meet their benchmarks and each year the donors give them more money.” said Buckrell.

Global Witness agrees with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sentiments, of more than two years ago, that “while good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.” During Monday’s CG, the donors must hold the entire government to account for their failure to put anti-corruption rhetoric into practice. The donors should insist on rapid enactment of an effective Anti-Corruption law and a register of business interests for politicians, officers in the military, and senior officials.

“Dismissing the Director of the Forest Administration is an absolute minimum first step any donor really interested in Cambodia’s development should expect from a government committed to reform and addressing corruption,” said Global Witness Director, Simon Taylor. “Our recent report, Taking a Cut, provides a number of other key minimum steps we would expect the Cambodian Government to undertake to clean up its act. Some years ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that his Premiership depended on his success in delivering improvements in the forestry sector. By any standards, he has thus far failed. The challenge is now to the donors and the Prime Minister to deliver.”

“According to a report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the trade in forestry products with markets in Asian countries, North America, and the European Union in 2001 amounted to about US$140 billion, while in 1999, it had been less than that. A report about the fight against illegal forestry crimes of the World Bank, from 2006, showed that the forest destructions in the world siphoned off more than US$10 billion each year.

“A well known opposition party leader in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, had said that corruption leads to the devastation of natural resources of Cambodia. He said that if there were a proper and transparent management of those resources, Cambodia were able to earn huge amounts of money for national construction and for some important infrastructure developments to serve the needs of the citizens.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy recalled that the exploitation of national resources does so far not contribute proper benefits for the nation and for poor citizens, due to corruption. If there were an accurate management, Cambodia could find sufficient income without depending on foreign aid or loans, as the government does at present.

“The Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that the improper management of the national budget, especially the collection of income from the exploitations of natural resources without transparency and without following the laws of control, make Cambodia lose its benefits. Mr. Yim Sovann suggests that the government should create effective laws to control the natural resources and to ensure that income from the exploitation of natural resources is not lost to corruption.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 6 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.17, #1438, 6.5.2010

  • Sweden Plans to Establish an Embassy in Cambodia [no exact date specified]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #470, 6.5.2010

  • A 30-Year-Old Woman Was Attacked with Acid over a Suspected Love Affair [the perpetrators are not yet arrested – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2241, 6.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Met with the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of Defense [Mr. Shimba Kazuya [防衛副大臣 榛葉賀津也], discussing about bilateral and regional cooperation]
  • Jointly Stepping Up the Fight against Human Trafficking
  • A Workshop about the Results from a Consultation to Cooperate Implementing the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women Was Held [Ms. Chim Manavy, the director of the Open Institute: priorities and strategies to achieve the same goals together cooperating between civil society organizations and institutions of the government, to effectively implement the action plan, had been discussed and set up, including Information and Communication Technology as a means to promote gender equality and to empower women, as stated in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #648, 6.5.2010

  • Journalists Publish a Declaration on Freedom of Information, Demanding that the Government Creates a Law about the Right to Know Soon [the government is drafting this law without open participation of journalists’ associations]
  • Samdech Euv [Father King] Norodom Sihanouk and Siamese [Thai] King Sent Each Other Good Wishes

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6948, 6.5.2010

  • Nearly 100,000 Hectares of Economic Concession Land in Kompong Thom Are Delivered to Twenty One Companies for Growing Agro-Industrial Crops
  • A Woman Was Raped and Killed and a Few Hours Later, the Perpetrator Was Arrested [Phnom Penh]
  • A Statement by Cambodian Journalists Published on the World Press Freedom Day Suggests that “The Right to Know Must Be Guaranteed for Cambodian Citizens by the Government”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

  • Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #165, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Claimed Again that the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda Is on Khmer Territory [while Thailand claimed it is on Thai territory. – Actually, it is on territory declared by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in a Joint Communique on 18 June 2008, signed together with UNESCO and the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a “buffer zone” not claimed by Cambodia in the context of the World Heritage Site designation plans]
  • [More than 100] Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protested in Front of the Council for the Development of Cambodia [CDC – to oppose the submission of a Master Plan for the development of the area from the Municipality to the CDC, but officials said that the Master Plan has not yet been delivered to the CDC – but people have already been evicted before the plan was accepted]
  • The Minister of Finance of Indonesia [Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati] Receives the Top Position in the World Bank [as its Managing Director]
  • Cambodia Railway Station Is Starting with New Life because of Continuing Investment [it is now controlled by the Toll Royal Railways; the whole Cambodian railway system is being repaired under US$141,1 million aid and credits from the Asian Development Bank, AusAID, and OPEC]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5190, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Imports Fuel Amounting to US$450 Million Each Year [according to a report from the Ministry of Commerce]
  • 199 Pieces of Ebony [loaded on a boat] Prepared to Be Imported to Vietnam, Were Seized on the High Sea [Kampot]

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Fraud? International Cooperation for Transparency – Sunday, 25.4.2010

Posted on 26 April 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 661 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 661

Cambodia entered into many different international relations since the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia was promulgated in 1993 and a new phase of history for the country began. International integration was one of the main policy goals of the government – regaining the seat for Cambodia in the United Nations, which had been held by a representative of the Khmer Rouge until 1991, long after the Khmer Rouge had lost their grip on the country, establishing new diplomatic relations, gaining membership in ASEAN, in the World Trade Organization [WTO], etc., and entering into many bilateral agreements – with other governments, with international organizations like the Asia Development Bank, and with Non-Government Organizations through the Ministry of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Some of these agreements have consequences in detail, which were not all foreseen or discussed with those who are affected – for example: the membership in the WTO will require that copyrights of international companies for computer software will have to be enforced from 2013 onward, and the import of goods and services from other countries has to be liberalized. Though this may have difficult consequences for some sections of the Cambodian economy, other sectors welcome it.

During the past week, a five-year Accountability in Governance and Politics program, financed by the USA, was inaugurated by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and the US Ambassador Carol A. Rodley, according to which the Cambodian government will cooperate, implementing specific projects, with the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. According to the nature of this program, international transparency will be necessarily be enhanced, even when this may relate to difficult challenges to be faced internationally.

What this can mean can be deducted from a difficult processes developing at present in the USA. Goldman Sachs – a full-service global investment banking and securities firm – one of the top financial institutions of the USA, is facing at present charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission [“The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation”] of fraudulently having contributed to the wide breakdown of financial systems, by systematically entering into contract with people and companies who were supposed not to be able to pay back what they borrowed. To give a small-scale example: one internal e-mail, now leaked, says “I’ve managed to sell bonds to widows and orphans” making “some serious money” for the bank; one section manager made a profit of $1 billion for the bank – but then the whole system collapsed and needed much higher government assistance. The future will show how this will be handled.

Once international government agencies get involved, the chance of achieving real transparency is higher. Repeated corruption allegations raised, for example, by the non-government agency Global Witness in the UK were easily dismissed here as not coming from a government agency, without dealing with their specific documentations. They had also raised questions related to the role of the – then – head of the Forestry Department, Mr. Ty Sokun, which were quickly and strongly rejected as “nonsense” and “lies” at that time, but recently he was removed from his position. The situation will be different in a case which is receiving ever more prominence recently.

The Australian Company BHP Billiton – “the world’s largest diversified natural resources company” – entered into a mineral exploration agreement with the Cambodian government in 2006 to explore for bauxite in Mondolkiri – unprocessed aluminum ore; parts of the exploration site, a 996-hectare mining concession, were in protected natural forest areas. It had also been announced that this was just for exploration, a decision could be found only later, as the transport of bauxite, or the production of aluminum which requires huge amounts of electricity, need further studies. But this plan was abandoned in 2009 because the studies had shown that bauxite mining in Mondolkiri would not be cost-effective.

But recently, during this month of April 2010, BHP Billiton announced that United States Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating corruption allegations which may relate to Cambodia, though this is not yet sure.

According to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of the USA, a company which has made illegal payments, can be fined to pay “up to twice the benefit that it sought to obtain by making a corrupt payment,” and staff involved may have to serve five years in prison.

Neither the US Securities and Exchange Commission nor BHP Billiton has stated that there were actually illegal payments. But the present investigations are based on some reports dating back to 2007.

According to various sources on the Internet, the Minister of Water Resources Lim Kean Hor had reported in the National Assembly at that time that the Prime Minister had informed him from Australia that BHP had paid US$2.5 million as “tea money” for the concession. BHP said, however, that this money was designated for a “social development fund” for health and education projects in Mondolkiri. According to other sources, BHP confirmed to have paid US$1 million to the government in 2006 to secure the concession agreement.

Later inquiries produced various incongruous pieces of information: that the money was not used, as designated, for health and education in Mondolkiri, but for irrigation in Pursat, and the records of the the Ministry of Economy and Finance show for 2006 only US$443,866 as income from mining concessions.

By Saturday, not only the US Securities and Exchange Commission was dealing with the BHP case, but also the UK Serious Fraud Office [“an independent Government department that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud, and corruption. We are part of the UK criminal justice system”].

A “social development fund” of the Cambodian government had also been mentioned before, in relation to substantial payments from Caltex, having obtained the right for off-shore oil exploration. While one government argument, why an NGO law is urgently needed, was the request to gain more transparency about social and development funds (which are, for NGOs, regularly audited by public auditing companies anyway), we have not seen any similar reporting so far about the government’s social development fund – its purpose, its administrative arrangements and it’s oversight bodies, and its assets and disbursements.

The Cambodia Daily carried on 24/25.4.2010 an article, “Precise Meaning of ‘Tea Money’ Up for Debate.” And Mr. Phay Siphan, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, is quoted to have pointed to the new anti-corruption legislation which shows that the government is committed to “highlight transparency.” – He will surely be able to shed more light onto this affair.

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The Order of Hun Sen to Prohibit Khmer Citizens from Gambling in Casinos Is Not Applied by the Owner of the Naga Casino – Wednesday, 17.3.2010

Posted on 17 March 2010. Filed under: Week 656 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 656

“The Naga Casino, located in Phnom Penh, is operating to extract money from people addicted to gambling in Cambodia, earning colossal profits, while small casinos had been shut down by the Cambodian government, and those addicted to gambling include some officials, and even parliamentarians who frequently appear there.

“An official who used to go to the Naga Casino, said that all kinds of gambling devices, such as slot machines and electronic games, exist in the Naga Casino. For common people, they can gamble on the ground floor hall of the Naga Casino. But for big clients such as some oknhas, senior officials, and parliamentarians who are addicted to gambling, they gamble in special rooms on the upper floors.

“According to general observations, among 100 gamblers who enter to gamble, most of them lose. The Naga Casino might benefit from its clients up to 90% of the money they spend. This is completely different from other countries where casinos are allowed to retain just about 3% of the money from their clients [and pay back the rest as winning money to their clients].

“Some gamblers are informed by the casino about the many rewards, and there are advertisements to attract gamblers, making them more obsessed from day to day. Moreover, on the compound of the casino, clients can order food, drinks, and cigarettes for free.

“In the casino, there is music played for the addicted gamblers with singers wearing short skirts, showing their thighs to please the gamblers, after they have lost everything.

“Those addicted to gambling said that after 7:00 in the evening, many people rush into the large gambling hall that provides the impression as if they were attending a party, and most gamblers are Khmers, 95%. The rest of 5% are Asian nationals, such as Yuon [Vietnamese], Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese.

“Based on Mr. Hun Sen’s order, Khmer citizens are not allowed to enter to gamble in casinos, but the Naga Casino allows Khmers to gamble freely. Some Khmers said that as long as you have money, you can enter the Naga Casino anytime and there are no problems.

“Special cameras are set up in the casino for security reasons, and an internal security department of Mr. Sok Phal [a deputy commissioner of the National Police] is also present there. That means that the police can monitor all activities of Khmer citizens, including those of government officials, oknhas, and parliamentarians, who are addicted to gambling whenever they enter the Naga Casino, but still, there is no action taken by the government to close the casino. According to some unofficial sources, it is estimated that addicted gamblers, who enter the casino, bring with them each day at least US$3 to US$4 million to be lost there. This casino is very lucrative, as it attracts addicted gamblers from small casinos that were closed by the government and it amasses all the profits alone there.

“It should be remembered that before small casinos were closed countrywide, it was seen that a Malaysian investor and owner of the Naga Casino, Mr. Chen Lip Keong, donated to Her Excellency Bun Rany Hun Sen [head of the Cambodian Red Cross] US$1 million, thousands of garments, and an ambulance. After [the Director General of the National Police] Mr. Hok Lundy died in a helicopter crash in Svay Rieng, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced to revoke the licenses and to close slot machine casinos nationwide. This resulted in the transfer of clients of small casinos automatically to the Naga Casino.

“Recently, Mr. Hun Sen reminded the Khmer authorities to close gambling sites and to restrict Khmer citizens from entering to gamble in casinos that operate with licenses, such as the Naga Casino and other casinos along the Siamese [Thai] and Yuon [Vietnamese] borders. Mr. Hun Sen warned that if any casinos, or the authorities monitoring them, permit Khmer citizens to enter, those casinos will be shut down and the police officials involved will be punished.

“However, it is really regrettable that some casinos owned by oknhas, who are investors and who are from the Cambodian People’s Party, especially also the Naga Casino, do not follow Mr. Hun Sen’s order. The Naga Casino has more clients of Khmer nationality entering to gamble, after Mr. Hun Sen ordered to close gambling sites and to ban Khmer citizens from going into the casinos to gamble, simply because the Naga Casino is not afraid of Mr. Hun Sen’s order since it had donated money and materials to the Cambodian Red Cross. At present, the Naga Casino seems open for Khmer citizens and offers a lot of incentives for gambling there.

“An agent of Khmer Amatak could get into the casino very easily, because guards did not ask him for his identification card. The agent wonders why the guards, especially the police of the Department of Information and Investigation of the Ministry of Interior posted there, do not care about Mr. Hun Sen’s order not to allow Khmers to enter the casino to gamble. The agent reached the ground floor and the upper floors and found that Khmer citizens, especially officials and businessmen of medium range, were openly gambling happily, as they did not need to hide themselves, as they would have to do at prohibited gambling sites, and they do not need to travel to casinos along the borders, which takes much time and money.

“Because of the growing number of Khmer citizens who enter the Naga Casino to gamble, this casino announced to recruit more staff to add to the current number of 2,000. According to information from the Naga Casino, more than 2,000 new staff are going to be recruited into the casino.

“Observers said that Mr. Hun Sen’s order is applied only to Khmer citizens who are poor and powerless, but it is not applied to all of the powerful, investors, oknhas, and especially not in big casinos with close relations to the Cambodian People’s Party, as they provide much financial support to officials of the Cambodian People’s Party and some humanitarian organizations. Typically, the owner of the Naga Casino consolidates his position by contributing millions of dollars and materials to the Cambodian Red Cross, and he seems to consider Mr. Hun Sen’s order as supporting his casino business, making him earn more profit than before, as there is no more competition from small gambling sites.

“Regarding the case of the Naga Casino, it is said that it is not afraid of anyone except of Mr. Hun Sen. Thus, to open the casino for Khmer citizens to enter is not something new, but it is just to attract Khmer citizens, to take their money, and to use it to bribe powerful officials. If Mr. Hun Sen really has the intention to suppress all gambling, he should dare to remove the ‘social worms’ that are making Khmer citizens to become poorer, and that are using casinos and other incentives to attract Khmer citizens. Also, it results from the weakness of the law enforcement authorities of the Cambodian government.

“The Naga Casino seriously violates the law about the suppression of gambling and it particularly violates Mr. Hun Sen’s order.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #745, 17.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #436, 17.3.2010

  • Sex Workers Call for the Permission to Continue Their Work to Sustain Their Lives
  • Forestry Crimes in Mondolkiri Continue Strongly

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2203, 17.3.2010

  • The Chinese Government Invites Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Visit China in Late April [2010]
  • The New Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia [Mr. Pan Guangxue – 潘广学] Promised to Support Cambodia [to further strengthen ties, solidarity, and cooperation between both countries]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #745, 17.3.2010

  • The Order of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to Prohibit Khmer Citizens from Gambling in Casinos Is Not Applied by the Owner of the Naga Casino/li>

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #628, 17.3.2010

  • Forestry Officials Intercepted a Car Loaded with Wood, but Let It Go Immediately after Negotiations [Stung Treng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6910, 17.3.2010

  • A One-Star Navy General Was Convicted to Serve One Year in Prison [for beating a boy and two teachers], but He Will Be Jailed Only 10 Ten Days and Then He Will Be Released [his position was suspended, but he will need to ask for permission from the prosecutors if he wants to go anywhere; at present he is hospitalized in Sihanoukville]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3834, 17.3.2010

  • The Anti-Corruption Law, Which Is a Tool to Protect and Hide Corruption, Might Become Valid only at the End of 2011

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #132, 17.3.2010

  • About 1,000 Villagers of Amleang Commune Protested in Front of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company [as it used machinery to clear their farmland – Kompong Speu]
  • First Agricultural Prison Is Opened [in Kravanh district, Pursat, on an area of 100 hectares, to train prisoners to do farming]
  • A Vietnamese Company [Vietnam Urban and Industrial Zone Development Investment Corporation] Studies a Project to Construct a Hydro-Electricity Dam in Stung Treng

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5152, 17.3.2010

  • The Government Plans to Publish the Commercial Law on the Website of the Ministry of Commerce [soon]
  • Blood Was Splashed [from bottles by red-shirt demonstrators, supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] in Front of the Government’s House, while [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Is Hiding in an Unknown Place

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Violence against Women Becomes More Cruel – Saturday, 13.3.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

“Reports presented by women’s organizations show that violence against women appears more cruel, where even fathers rape their daughters.

“In the morning of 12 March 2010, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, in collaboration with the Open Institute, organized a consultative meeting about wider participation to develop the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women, and many women’s organizations attended the meeting, presided over by a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Sy Define.

“According to the representatives of the organizations that participated in the discussions, violence against women, especially rape, domestic violence, and the trafficking of women and children, continue. Worst of all, even fathers rape their daughters. This shows that violence against women appears in more and more cruel forms.

“The executive director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, said that this important meeting was organized with the aim to reflect about violence against women, to show how to use Information and Telecommunication Technology (ICT) in relation to violence against women, and to discuss the roles and strategies of women’s organizations, and the ways how to cooperate with the Royal Government, to implement the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women in cooperation together.

“During a former, the first, meeting, there had been discussions about violence against women and the intersection between violence against women and ICT, so as to encourage the publication of information about violence against women through the media.

“Ms. Sy Define said during the meeting that the strategies promoting a wider participation between state institutions and civil society organizations to collaboratively implement the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women needs further deliberations, while the importance and the efficiency of the use of ICT to prevent violence against women and children is recognized.

“Ms. Sy Define added that this conference is to open the view of different actors with the same goal of cooperation and of proper strategies, so that separate strategies of civil society organizations become cross-field participation, especially in the review of the usefulness and the potential of the use of technological information infrastructure.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2200, 13.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 13 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #433, 13.3.2010

  • The Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany [Mr. Dirk Niebel] Asked the President of the National Assembly of Cambodia Why There Are No Members from the Sam Rainsy Party in the Nine Commissions [Mr. Heng Samrin responded that this is because the Sam Rainsy Party did not send their candidates during the elections to choose members for the commissions; also, Mr. Dirk Niebel suggested that Cambodia should not solve some criminal cases out of the court system, like rape and child labor abuse]
  • Military Officials in Kratie Continue to Do Wood Trading, Not Afraid of the Recommendation of the Head of the Royal Government [ordering them to stop being involved in such activities]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2200, 13.3.2010

  • Violence against Women Becomes More Cruel
  • Mr. Serey Kosal [a former FUNCINPEC soldier, now a member of the Royal Government with a position equal to a Senior Minister] Was Promoted to the Rank of a Four Star General

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #625, 13.3.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party, Donors, the United Nations, and Civil Society Organizations Are Concerned that the Anti-Corruption Law May Become a Law That Hides Corruption

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6907, 13-14.3.2010

  • The Spokesperson of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Released a Statement Rejecting the Interference of the UN Country Team [as it officially requested the National Assembly of Cambodia to delay the adoption, permitting to discuss the anti-corruption draft law, so that it could be reviewed by the opposition parties and civil society organizations]
  • The United States Granted US$10 Million for Education Programs [to improve the quality of education and to increase school attendance for all children, especially for those from families that lack access, like ethnic minority people, as well as girls, and children from very impoverished families]
  • More Than 200 Citizens Gathered [at the office of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] to Report Their Lost Land in Thpong, Oral, and Odongk Districts [taken over by some companies – Kompong Speu]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5149, 13.3.2010

  • Human Rights Report of the US Department of State [for 2009]: Cambodia Progresses in the Rights of the Disabled, but Restricts Freedom of Expression [according to the report released on 11 March 2010]
  • There Are 643 US Companies Listed in Cambodia [with a total capital of US$71 million] but Only 71 Are Investment Companies
  • Thailand Pretended that Thaksin Arrived in Siem Reap while Bangkok Starts to Be in Turmoil because of Demonstrations [Cambodia denied that Mr. Thaksin arrived in Cambodia]
  • Laos Asked Cambodia to Assist with Sending Teachers for Monks [as there is a lack in Laos]

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The Asian Development Bank: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is in Danger – Friday, 19.2.2010

Posted on 20 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“While within five years the global Millennium Development Goals should be reached, the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank said in a report on Thursday, 18 February 2010, that the global economic crisis had made Cambodia to walk ‘off track,’ and the government policies must focus on social welfare.

“Placing Cambodia together with Nepal and Laos, this report says that these countries are very much in danger due to a slow development process, which does not contribute to preventing poverty and child malnutrition.

“Cambodia walks ‘off track,’ not fulfilling more than half of the benchmark points listed in the global development goals, not fulfilling these Goals in seven of the eight Goals, which include to eradicate extreme poverty and the reduction of child mortality rates, to drop by two thirds of the 2009 rate by 2015.

“In 2003, Cambodia added one more Goal to the eight Millennium Development Goals, increasing their number to nine: the clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance and the aid for the victims.

“This report shows that only 20% of the Cambodia population were covered by any social protection projects. Only more than 1% of the GDP of Cambodia is spent on social protection measures, less than the
expenses in other countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan.

“The vice president of the Asian Development Bank, Ms. Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, said on 18 February 2010 in a statement that most stimulating measures focus on other fields rather than on social protection. ‘If we want to solve impacts of the economic downturn and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, necessary expenses on social protection must be increased substantially.’

“Relating to these comments, the Director of the UN Development Program’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Ajay Chhibber, warned that if there is no better social protection, people will fall back into poverty again.

“Among the 21 development indicators in this report, Cambodia is making slow progress in 9 indicators, including registration at primary schools, completing school education, child mortality, malnutrition, and maternal health care during pregnancy.

“Based on this report, there is no progress regarding the accomplishment of environmental sustainability in forestry cover and carbon emissions absorption.

“Anyway, this report says that Cambodia had achieved some specific Millennium Development Goals, such as combating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and supplying clean water. Also, the gender equity goals at most schools will be accomplished.

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, the chairperson of the Commission on Economy, Banking, and Audits of the National Assembly, Mr. Cheam Yeap, said that the government made plans in the national budget to help people who have difficulties.

“He added that the government had asked the National Assembly to provide US$18 million in addition to help people in agriculture.

“He went on to say that Prime Minister Hun Sen had asked bank officials to increase loans with low interest rates for the public. The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, referred questions to the Council for the Development of Cambodia, but Secretary-General Sok Chenda could not be reached for comment.

“In an interview with the country representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Mr. Ajay Markanday, he said that it is necessary to concentrate on investments in agriculture.

“He added that to address food security problems and starvation in developing countries, it is really important to focus on the amount of investment to strengthen agriculture. And a sustainable solutions for food security must be found.

“He continued to say that public funds have to be provided to create jobs for members of the poorest in the society, mostly of those are living in remote areas.

“Mr. Markanday added that when the economy starts to recover, food prices will likely rise. He added that the impact of this problem on the levels of poverty and malnutrition depend on the capacity of a country to counter it, based on the achievement of economic growth through investments.” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1877, 19.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 19 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #414, 19.2.2010

  • The Government Allowed Siamese [Thai] Embassy Officials to Meet Their Prisoner [sentenced to serve twenty years in prison for planting landmines in Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2181, 19.2.2010

  • The Ministry of Information Advised Radio and Television Stations to Stop Reading Texts from Newspapers and Making Additional Comments
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Received a Medal for “Most Innovative Use of Technology During a Trial” [by the Law Technology News Awards magazine, based in the United States]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #606, 19.2.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Said to Arrest the Chief Drug Smugglers Is Better Than to Create Rehabilitation Centers [for drug addicts]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6888, 19.2.2010

  • The UN Human Rights Council Rejected the Global Witness Report about Illegal Logging [accusing that families of some Cambodian leaders to cut trees – according to an announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3812, 19.2.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank Warned that If Cambodia Does Not Make More Efforts, It Will Fall Into Serious Poverty

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #115, 19.2.2010

  • The Authorities Set a Deadline for Illegal Pharmacies to Ask for Licenses [according to the Ministry of Health, there are more than 2,000 pharmacies operating countrywide where more than 1,000 have no licenses]
  • Construction Projects Approved in 2009 Declined by More Than 47% [amounting to only over US$200 million, while in 2008, they amounted up to US$381 million]
  • The Anti-Acid Crime Draft Law Will Reach the Government after the Khmer New Year [for adoption and to be sent further to the National Assembly]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5120, 19.2.2010

  • Japan Promised to Provide Aid [of about US$20 million] for the Development of the Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos Triangle Zone
  • After a Woman Was Gang Raped, Her Hands and Legs Were Tied and She Was Then Drowned in a Sewage Ditch in the CAMKO City Construction Area [the perpetrators are not yet identified – Phnom Penh]
  • [The president of the Human Rights Party] Mr. Kim Sokha Guaranteed that He Will Provide Financial Support for [two] Villagers Imprisoned for Removing Temporary Border Markers [offering them money and rice amounting to about US$100 per month for each family]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1877, 19.2.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is in Danger
  • [The President of the National Assembly] Heng Samrin Sent an Opposition Parliamentarians’ Questions over Border Issues with Vietnam to [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to Respond

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

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