Civil Society: Public Leisure Time Activity Space for Youth Becomes Smaller but Commercial Entertainment Space Increases – Saturday, 20.2.2010

Posted on 21 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“Phnom Penh: Experts in youth problems said that according to their observation, public leisure time activity space for youth in the country is becoming smaller, but commercial entertainment space, such as night clubs and beer gardens, is increasing significantly.

“A civil society organization official, who asked not to be named, said early this week that youth at present lacks public space for leisure time, but they are enjoying the increasing number of night clubs, bars, Karaoke parlors, and beer gardens, where they can drink alcohol, use drugs, and find many other services.

“He emphasized, ‘When young people nowadays open their eyes, they see nothing but beer gardens and night clubs.’

“At present, Phnom Penh has 375 square kilometers, but besides around Wat Phnom, youth can hardly find other parks. Places where they can do some physical activities are the Olympic Stadium and some few small parks, but when it comes to beer gardens, night clubs, and other places providing terribly services, they can be found at every corner of the roads.

“Regarding this comment, an independent councilor and researcher of youth problems, Mr. Tong Soprach, said on 17 February 2010 that as he has noticed, the above comment seem to be true.

“According to him, present day youth problems, such as drug addiction, crimes, and sex trafficking, result from two factors: modernization and the surrounding environment. Modernization pushes youth to fall into bad habits due to the influx of other cultures, materialism, and peer pressure. That young people are easily impressed by their peers happens because of their environment. The environment for youth is formed, at present, by beer gardens, bars, and night clubs.

“He said, ‘They are easily attracted by their friends – when they open their eyes, they see such places.’

“There are hardly any places for playing sports, besides one or two, at universities and at the old stadium.

“He added, ‘There is not much public space for youth, but we see there are more beer gardens and night clubs.’

“Besides the two experts above, the coordinator of the Cambodian Youth Council, Ms. Mao Puthearoth, recognized that libraries, bookstores, places in the open air, and places for playing sports were not increased in recent years, but there are many places of entertainment attracting young people when they travel around town every day.

“She said, ‘I do not see that cinemas were changed into libraries, but several were changed into night clubs.’

“Responding to this issue, she said that the Cambodian Youth Council will ask the Ministry of Education to focus on this issue.

“She stressed, ‘We want the government to pay attention to these issues and establish a youth policy on the national level, which is now still in the status of being drafted.

“Ms. Puthearoth said that the Cambodian Youth Council is encouraging the government to create places of entertainment for youth and take youth problems into consideration, before it decides to provide licenses for any commercial entertainment places to be operated, especially night clubs and other strange places for youth.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5131, 20.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 20 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #415, 20.2.2010

  • Cambodia [the Cambodia Angkor Air company] Buys [two] Planes Worth US$40 Million [to boost the country’s tourism sector]
  • A Teacher Who Tortured Her Adopted Daughter Was Sentenced to Serve 20 Years in Prison and Her Husband to Serve 10 Years [Phnom Penh]
  • Three Nigerians Were Convicted to 16 Years Imprisonment for Drug Smuggling [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2182, 20.2.2010

  • Police Arrested 21 Black People and Seized One Kilogram of Drugs [Phnom Penh]
  • The United Nations Called on the World to Contribute US$1.44 Billion as Aid for Haiti

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #607, 20.2.2010

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Gangs Jointly Beat Three Khmer Siblings, Killing One and Injuring Two Others Seriously [in Vietnam]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6889, 20-21.2.2010

  • Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Surround a Bank in Bangkok and Are Selecting an Uniformed Guards Troop to Oppose [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva’s Groups
  • Khmer Farmers Continue to Illegally Cross the Border to Enter Thailand [to seek jobs – Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3813, 20-21.2.2010

  • Charges [over defamation regarding a conflict in a Cambodian Muslim community] against a Radio Free Asia Reporter [Mr. Sok Serey – and others he had interviewed: two local human rights defenders, and one more person] Were Dropped [because there was no “malicious intent” in the reporting, and no reason to assume that the report would be “disturbing or likely disturbing the public peace” – but another person was jailed for five months for destruction of property – Takeo]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5131, 20.2.2010

  • Civil Society: Public Leisure Time Activity Space for Youth Becomes Smaller but Commercial Entertainment Space Increases
  • The Cambodian Mine Action Center Needs US$95 Million to Support Five Year Operations [from 2010 to 2014, to clear landmines from 20,000 hectares, and to clear 100,000 hectares suspected to have mines]

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Khmers from Kampuchea Krom in Vietnam and Uighurs from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China – Sunday, 27.12.2009

Posted on 28 December 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 644 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 644

The following information is not saying that the situation of the Khmer people in Kampuchea Krom – now a part of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – and the situation of the Uighur people in the People’s Republic of China is the same. There are a lot of reasons to point to the differences – but still, there are similarities in spite of the many differences in history, culture, and politics.

A brief survey of both situations is presented her, because people from both regions have been in the press during the last week. But while people in Cambodia have general information about the history why Kampuchea Krom is not part of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which leads to an understandable immediate emotional relation – from Khmers to Khmers – there were hardly any reports in the Khmer press about the asylum seekers’ background. In one report they were even called “Chinese ethnic Uighurs” – on the other hand, it is not usual in the Khmer press to speak about “Vietnamese ethnic Khmers” when referring to Khmer people from Kampuchea Krom.

The following brief information is also not claiming to be a comprehensive description of the two complex fields under discussion. Information is collected in good faith – but where there may be important omissions or mistakes, we invite our readers always to come forward with their Comments in order to present a better picture – not only in this case, but in general.

The Khmer Kampuchea Krom in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

The area of the lower Mekong Delta was inhabited by Khmers long before the arrival of the Vietnamese. In the 17th century, more and more Vietnamese people moved South, so that the Khmers in the Mekong Delta became a minority in their original environment. In 1623, King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia (1618-1628) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trịnh-Nguyễn War [Trinh-Nguyen War] in Vietnam to settle in the area of Prey Nokor. In 1698, Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh [Nguyen Huu Canh] was sent by the Nguyen rulers of Huế [Hue] to set up Vietnamese administrative structures, separating the Mekong Delta from the rest of Cambodia. Cambodia had no energy to resist this gradual Vietnamization, because it used more of its energy for a conflicts with Thailand. By 1698, the area had a Vietnamese administration.

Before that, Prey Nokor had been the most important access to the sea for Cambodia. Under the name of Sài Gòn [Saigon], it became the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina.

In 1939, Jules Brevié as head of the French administration, draw a line on the map basically do delineate the maritime borders between Cochinchina and Cambodia, but this “Brevié Line” was also used, when Cambodia gained independence from France, to set the border between South Vietnam and Cambodia. Saigon became the capital of South Vietnam from 1954 to 1975, and in 1976, it was named Hồ Chí Minh City [Ho Chi Minh City]. And with it, the originally Khmer inhabited Mekong Delta became Vietnam.

According to Vietnamese statistics, now there are more than 1 million Khmer Krom in Vietnam.

The Uighurs [also Uygurs or Uigurs] in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region [新疆维吾尔自治区] “spans over 1.6 million sq. km and borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China’s largest natural gas-producing region. It administers most of Aksai Chin, a territory formally part of Kashmir’s Ladakh region over which India claims sovereignty since 1962.

“‘Xinjiang’ literally means ‘New Frontier,’ a name given [only as late as 1884] during the Qing Dynasty [清朝 – 1644 to 1912]. It is home to a number of different ethnic groups and major ethnic groups include Uyghur, Han, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz and Mongol [in the extreme North-West of present day China]. Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan, Sinkiang and East Turkestan…

“With a documented history of at least 2,500 years, and a succession of different peoples and empires vying for control over the territory, Xinjiang has been, and continues to be, a focal point of ethnic tensions well into the beginning of the 21st century.” [Main source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang]

The 13th century European-Venetian traveler to China, Marco Polo, described the region as Turkistan. One part of the vast “region became part of the Russian Empire in 1860, as Russian Turkestan [Туркестанский Край], later as the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, then split into the Kazakh SSR (Kazakhstan), Kyrgyz SSR (Kyrgyzstan), Tajik SSR (Tajikistan), Turkmen SSR (Turkmenistan) and Uzbek SSR (Uzbekistan). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these republics gained their independence.” [Main source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkestan]

The eastern section of the area, inhabited by Uighur speaking people – a Turkic language, related to the Turkish language and completely unrelated to Chinese – did not gain political independence, as it had become part of China in 1884, after China had conquered the region, established it as Xinjiang (“new frontier”) as a province; as the name shows, it was clearly identified as a newly acquired border region.

A rebellion in 1933 tried to gain independence by establishing the First East Turkistan Republic – only for a brief time.

Another rebellion in 1943 established the Second East Turkistan Republic, from 1944 to 1949. During this uprising, a brother of Mao Tse-Tung, Mao Ze-min, was killed. The Second East Turkistan Republic came to an end when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army entered the region, and it was renamed in 1955 as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. (As it was now part of the People’s Republic of China, it could also be used in 1964 to test the first Chinese nuclear explosion.)

Having been made a part of the People’s Republic of China, this opened also a steady stream of Han-Chinese immigrants into the Uighur region.

The fear of Uighurs to lose their social and economic role in their own region, including their cultural and religious identities – the Uighurs are traditionally Muslim – led to a series of violent clashes. In 1962, 60,000 people fled to the Soviet Union and were accepted as refugees, there were student demonstrations in the 1980ies, in 1990 there was an uprising that resulted in 50 people being killed. In 1997, 30 Uighurs were executed as suspected separatists.

The ethnic tensions, which also let to the establishment of an East Turkestan Independence Movement, saw a newly element added recently, relating to some international Islamist-fundamentalist terrorist movements. As the long history of the Uighur struggle to have their own identity respected shows, present day terrorist elements cannot be called to be the main problem of ethnic self determination – which does not necessarily mean political separation. But the problems became more complicated during the last conflicts in 2009: some Han Chinese voices in the Uighur region are reported to reject the policy of the state to accept a certain autonomy of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as discriminatory against non-Uighur – Chinese – immigrants.

Some officials of the Cambodian government claimed that the 20 Uighurs, who were forced to be sent to China were treated like this, because they were illegal immigrants who had not entered the country with proper documents. That is what hundreds of thousands of Cambodians did, who fled the country to Thailand during and after the Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia.

Now there are 24 Khmer people from Kampuchea Krom who were deported from Thailand as illegal immigrants – but as a first step, the Poipet authorities rejected to provide shelter for them, as some seem originate from within the country. But not all. Six of them arrived now in Phnom Penh to seek assistance from the government and the UNHCR to receive Khmer nationality. In whatever way they came to Thailand and were sent to Cambodia – if they came from Kampuchea Krom, they are Vietnamese citizens (whether they carry identity papers or passports from where they came from or not). As they are Khmer, the Thai authorities could send these “illegals” to Cambodia, hoping they will get Cambodian citizenship and will not be repatriated to Vietnam.

The twenty Uighurs did not have such a place of origin to go to, they had fled their place of origin. There were no reports that they had been personally identified as having committed crimes – there were two children among them! – but they were sent to China.

But they were not “Chinese ethnic Uighurs” – unless we also call the six Khmer people asking for Cambodian nationality “Vietnamese.” And in both cases it is similarly difficult to see why one should – as some commentators say – “Just leave them to their government.” In both cases, the history, which they carry in their lives, is more complex than to be appropriately dealt with, using such simpleminded advice.

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United Nations International Human Rights Day – Thursday, 10.12.2009

Posted on 11 December 2009. Filed under: Week 642 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 642

Message at the occasion of the United Nations International Human Rights Day, from the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations. Human Rights Day serves as a yearly landmark to remember the victories won in the long struggle to respect the dignity of all human beings. But its main purpose is to mobilize against major threats to human rights, namely poverty, discrimination, gender inequality, climate change and terrorism. “Embrace Diversity. End Discrimination” is the motto of this 61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration.

This motto is particularly pertinent in the contemporary world that has become more diverse than ever before. Migration flows at national and international levels are increasing. Continuing economic hardship, armed conflicts and tensions between communities in all parts of the world have pushed thousands to abandon their homelands in search of a better future.

These movements deeply affect all societies. Our major challenge today is to promote harmonious relations among people of different ethnic origin, culture, religion or belief. Ignorance and fear, accentuated by the ongoing economic and financial crisis, is a fertile ground for discrimination and new prejudices to arise. We must not let this happen.

It is only through mutual respect, understanding, constructive dialogue and acceptance of the right to be different that we will diffuse tensions and build more peaceful multicultural societies.

The Durban Review Conference held earlier this year voiced a message of solidarity with all those who remain excluded, marginalized and discriminated. UNESCO is working actively to translate this message into fact because we are committed to the principles of non-discrimination and respect for cultural diversity.

Promoting exchange and dialogue among cultures counts among our top priorities. Dialogue alone will enable us to look beyond our differences and prejudices and to realize that we are united by many common dreams, aspirations and challenges.

Cultural or any other specificity must be aligned with respect for fundamental freedoms. When it comes to the full implementation of human rights, there can be no compromises. Respect for cultural diversity can never justify partial violation of human rights on the grounds of cultural relativism. This is why UNESCO attaches great importance to clarifying the notion of the right to take part in cultural life. It could mark an important step in protecting cultural diversity and lifting possible misconceptions. The other two rights within UNESCO’s mandate – the right to education and the right to freedom of opinion and expression – are instrumental to safeguard cultural diversity.

The 2010 International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures provides an ideal platform for promoting tolerance, mutual respect and dialogue among cultures. These values are the foundations of a new humanism, a universal vision rooted in a profound respect for human dignity, fundamental rights and the diversity of cultures. This vision compels each and every human being to feel an engaged sense of responsibility towards the other and the safeguarding of our planet.

Indeed, the hopes of the world are turned towards the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. It is our shared responsibility to make concrete commitments towards present and future generations, and to extend full assistance to all those who are directly affected by climate change. UNESCO will be actively engaged in the follow-up to this Summit, through initiatives that encompass education, culture and the sciences, in full respect of human rights.

Let us join forces to reaffirm our determination to make universal human rights a common standard of achievement for all, a reality for everyone.

Note:

The next regular publication of the Mirror, after the present public holiday, is planned for Friday, 11 December 2009.

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Bangkok Got Angry and Downgraded the Cambodian-Thai Diplomatic Relations to the Lowest Level – Friday, 6.11.2009

Posted on 7 November 2009. Filed under: Week 637 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

“Immediately after the Cambodian government appointed Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s and the government’s adviser, Bangkok was angry and summoned its ambassador back to Thailand as a so-called diplomatic retaliation. The Thai ambassador left Cambodia in the night of 5 November 2009. In response, the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, summoned the Cambodian ambassador to return to Phnom Penh. He considers that this is a normal reciprocity measure between government and government. Regarding this diplomatic dispute, there has not been any new report about border tensions between the two countries.

“Relating to Thailand recalling its ambassador, Mr. Sok An said that this is not the cutting off of diplomatic ties. When Thailand sends its ambassador to Cambodia again, we will send our ambassador to Thailand. He explained that there is no problem in the relations between both countries’ citizens and in commerce.

“He noted that Thailand did so, following a demand from the yellow-shirt group [of government supporters].

“He explained also that it is an internal affairs of Cambodia to nominate Thaksin Shinawatra, and Cambodia had appointed foreigners as advisers before, for example the current president of South Korea. He had also been an adviser of Samdech Dekchor.

“He criticized that Thailand has hurt Cambodia by sending troops to invade the Preah Vihear border areas in Cambodian territory. The second point is that when Cambodia proposed to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site, Thailand had sent partisans to disturb it.

“Contrastingly, [Thai] Deputy Prime Minister Sutheb Thaugsuban asked, ‘What would Cambodia think if Thailand nominated [the opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy as adviser?’ Mr. Sok An answered, ‘Cambodia would welcome such a nomination, because Cambodia has a citizen appointed by foreign country. Therefore, Thai people should be happy as one of their citizens is named adviser.’

“The decision of the Bangkok government to summon their diplomatic official like this, pushed the diplomatic ties between both countries to fall to a terrible level, threatening even political, economic, and cultural relation between both countries, as well as the solidarity in ASEAN.

“Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva said that Thailand summoned their ambassador back to Bangkok as a sign of first diplomatic retaliation toward Cambodia for appointing Thaksin Shinawara as adviser, and for rejecting to extradite him. He said that Thailand wants Cambodia to know the dissatisfaction of the Thai people.

“Immigration officials at the Phnom Penh International Airport said that the Thai ambassador boarded the plane at around 9:00 p.m. to travel back to Bangkok.

“Political analysts said that the decision of the Bangkok government will make ASEAN to be viewed as a quite fractioned institution, making the initative to establish the ASEAN community by 2015 to be in hazard, and it is necessary that there is a regional mechanism to restore the situation.

Cambodian Troops Are Prepared to Defend the Country from an Invasion

“At the border, the commander of special Intervention Unit 3, Mr. Srey Dek, said that the Cambodian troops are always on alert. He added, ‘If they dare to enter only half a millimeter, we will attack (open fire) immediately. But he said that so far, there is nothing abnormal.

“The Banteay Meanchey governor, Mr. Ung Oeung, said that the border situation remains normal. But there might be some psychological war coming relating to border closings. But there is nothing visible yet.

Thaksin Is Happy while Abhisit Is Pale

“The Thai former prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, said on Thursday that he accepted the position as economic adviser of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and he expressed appreciation toward Prime Minister Hun Sen for offering this honorable position. He said on his website, ‘I can refresh my brain while I am not yet able to serve the Thai people. I will ask for the permission from Thai people to provide economic advice to the Cambodian government, based on the appointment by King Sihamoni, until I can go back to my country. In fact, I have already become adviser of a government. I accept this position in order to keep my brain to remain fresh, otherwise it would become lame if I don’t keep it up to obtain new ideas and new developments. I want to work with the Thai people, but I cannot. The Thai government does not even allow me to carry a Thai passport.’

“Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra added, ‘Our neighbor is not an enemy. We must be close to each other forever. It is good that we are friends.’

“In the mean time, a legal adviser of Mr. Thaksin, [the former minister of foreign affairs who resigned after the high court found he had violated the Thai constitution] Mr. Noppadon Pattama, spoke to the former prime minister, regarding the issue that Thaksin Shinawatra feels that he has received a great honor, and he will provide advice on how to solve Cambodia’s economic problems and overcome poverty.

“Mr. Noppadon Pattama added that it is not necessary that Mr. Thaksin comes to live in Cambodia, because he can give advice through the telephone or the Internet. He said, ‘Thaksin Shinawatra has no plan to go to Cambodia at this time. Therefore, the government needs not worry or feel afraid, because it is not a political affair or seeking asylum. Mr. Hun Sen decided to appoint Thaksin, because he sees his value and ability.’

“Nevertheless, Thailand does not understand it as Mr. Noppadon does. On 5 November 2009, Thailand summoned their ambassador back to their country immediately as a move of disapproval of Cambodia for offering a position to Thaksin.

“The Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva said to journalist, ‘We have summoned our ambassador as the first diplomatic retaliation toward the Cambodian government so as to let the Thai people’s dissatisfaction known. The announcement of the Cambodian governments disrespects the legal system, and does influence the feeling of the Thai public.

“Abhisit said also that [Thai] aid for Cambodia will be suspended also, but the border between both countries are still open, and the relations between the people will not be affected.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5040, 6.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 6 November 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2091, 6.11.2009

  • Cambodia and Thailand Decided to Downgrade Their Diplomatic Ties; [the Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Thanks Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen after He Was Nominated Adviser
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Will Attract More Japanese Investors to Cambodia [during his visit to attend the Mekong-Japan summit in Tokyo on 6 and 7 November 2009]
  • Sihanoukville Governor, Mr. Sbang Sarath Was Accused because of Illegal Constructions

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #523, 6.11.2009

  • The Khmer Government Rejected the Demand of Siam [Thailand] to Control Two Thirds of Seabed Mineral Resources
  • The Sam Rainsy Party: The Prime Minister Does Not Deal with the Existing Internal Affairs of Cambodia, but Thinks about Siamese [Thai] Issues

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6798, 6.11.2009

  • The Thai Prime Minister [Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva] Summoned the [Thai] Ambassador Back, to Leave Cambodia, and He Opposes Thaksin Shinawatra’s Nomination [as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s and the governments economic adviser]
  • The Appeal Court Will Hold a Hearing This Morning over the Acid Attack Case [where the actress In Soklida’s aunt was attacked]
  • [More than 200] Romorque Motos [and Tuk-Tuk] Drivers Protested in Front of the Municipality to Demand a Delay to Make Number Plates and to Fine Them
  • A Man like an Animal Raped Three Daughters Two Times Each [he was arrested – Sihanoukville]
  • Within More Than One Week, Four People Were Killed by Murderers [four perpetrators were arrested – Battambang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #40, 6.11.2009

  • The Diplomatic War between Cambodia and Thailand Regarding Thaksin Shinawatra’s Case Leads to the Withdrawal of the Respective Ambassadors
  • The Government Explained the Increase of the Military Budget [from US$223 million in 2009 to US$277 million in 2010 to civil society organizations, saying that the budget will be used to strengthen the national defense capacity in order to improve the military sector in Cambodia; however, civil society representatives said that the government should address root problems in the military sector, rather than increase the budget]
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Announced to Lodge Complaints [at international institutions, against neighboring countries] over the Loss of Territory

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5040, 6.11.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Announced Places in 19 Cities and Provinces for Investigations over the Case 002 [involving five Khmer Rouge leaders: Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan, and Nuon Chea]
  • More Than 300 ATM Machines of Different Banks Have Been Set Up in Cambodia
  • Guards of Fishing Lot Number 10 Shot a Man to Death [two perpetrators were arrested and police is seeking to arrest another guard – Kampong Chhnang]
  • Wild Animals [67 turtles and 22 pythons] Loaded in a Car from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh Were Seized by Moung Russey District Police [the car driver was arrested – Battambang]

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The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications Are Seeking Solutions in the Mobile Phone Business Conflict – Friday, 16.10.2009

Posted on 18 October 2009. Filed under: Week 634 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634

“Mobile phone businesses in Cambodia, working under unclear regulations, seem to encounter unexpectedly a stormy and disorderly time. For the morning of 16 October 2009, the Minister of Post and Telecommunications plans to organize a special meeting with representatives of mobile phone companies to intervene in the existing conflict, but it is expected that proper results cannot be found from just one coordination meeting.

“Mobile phone service providers said that the circular of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, administered by Minister Keat Chhon, from 29 September 2009, says to require all mobile phone companies to pay taxes for all types of calls by their clients [calls-in and calls-out]. But it is said that tax officials do not join now to work on taxes, which must always be settled at the end of every year.

“Mobile phone service providers note that the circular of Mr. Keat Chhon seems to bring a new restriction for mobile phone companies, as calls within the same system, which at some companies cost zero cents, will have to change soon. The free calls within the Beeline and the Smart Mobile systems will no longer be allowed to continue, while the Ministry of Economy starts to collect taxes from these call by their clients.

“It is noted that the initiative for a clear set of taxes on call led to this intervention, requiring all mobile phone companies to limit all call to be cost charged, in order to eliminate dishonest competition at the market, for which the Beeline company had been accused by the Mobitel company.

“The Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications agreed to issue a license for a data management center to control the data of telecommunication and of information technology services, based on Decree 135, dated 15 September 2008. Through the plan to create a center to control data of telecommunication and information technology services, the government, represented by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, will cooperate with the private data management center as stated in the cooperation deal.

“This center for the control of data of telecommunication and of information technology services will be responsible for:

  1. Directly control all data of telecommunication and information technology services, and update them, based on the advance of technology in this sector;
  2. Control and monitor all activities of the center;
  3. Regularly report about the traffic and the figures of income, in order to facilitate the calculation of taxes, and the distribution of income between the state. and the telecommunication and information technology service providers and operators, who are partners;
  4. Provide accurate data for income forecasts, to analyze the economic potential, and for development projects in telecommunication and information technology.
  5. Broaden and control the inter-network connections, in order to ensure calls between different system to work smoothly to avoid traffic congestion between all operating networks;
  6. Support small operators to operate through the opening of special networks outside of the system;
  7. Disconnect illegal traffic exchanges, following the authorities’ orders and the telecommunication regulations;
  8. Regularly review the system at set times for all operating networks.

“Some mobile phone operators are not satisfied with this, because probably the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication lacks the capital and the technicians, and therefore will cooperate with private companies to control telecommunication and information technology services, leading to conflicts of interest among mobile phone companies. Actually, the state already has the a structure within Post and Telecommunications that can control telecommunication data, and it is not necessary to cooperate with a private data management center, a private company.

“Also the circular that restricts certain system call of the clients, according to mobile phone service providers, will create work for the private data management center and encourage this company to begin collecting call taxes. This might ease the tax collection of the Ministry of Economy, but it leads to conflicts of interest, as the state does not have the ability to work on this by itself, but offers this opportunity to a private company to easily take benefits.

“[The Minister for Post and Telecommunications] Mr. So Khun had tried to intervene to solve the conflicts between mobile phone companies which are competing with each other dishonestly, including the fact that some stopped to connect inter-system traffic, but it seemed to create problems between mobile phone businesspeople in Cambodia. These might be the result of uncertain laws and regulations for the operation of mobile phone businesses in Cambodia.

“There is one proper solution to end the conflicts among mobile phone operators, that is the suggestion to the government, especially to Prime Ministry Hun Sen, to cancel the license for a data management cente with full rights to control the telecommunication and the information technology data in Cambodia, and to encourage the state to administer this itself, because by doing so, at least some of the profits do not fall into the hands of a private company.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #661, 16.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 16 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #312, 16.10.2009

  • Gold Sellers and Currency Exchangers Were Robed Again, Taking Away More Than US$50,000 [Phnom Penh]
  • Cotton Will Have Markets Again after There Is Investment for Export to International Markets
  • There Are Positive Signs of Recovering at Micro-Finance Institutions [Sthapana Limited, Amarith, and Prasak micro-credit-institutions claim that they are again giving out more loans]
  • Cambodia Asked for Financial Support from the United Arab Emirates to Develop Some Projects [in infrastructure and agriculture – no information stated if these were requests for loans or for grants]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2073, 16.10.2009

  • Cambodia Might Not Bring the Border Dispute to the ASEAN Summit [after the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs sent an official response, to deny the intention to create a neutral unit in ASEAN to solve border disputes, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia – according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong]
  • Three Chinese Men Were Arrested for Questioning after Assaulting and Injuring Two Police Seriously [Kampot]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #661, 16.10.2009

  • The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications Are Seeking Solutions in the Mobile Phone Business Conflict
  • Russia Will Intensify Cultural Ties with Cambodia to Open a New Historical Page [by showing Russian films about the victory of Russia in World War II, from 20 to 24 October 2009, at the Russian Center of Science and Culture along the Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh; and Cambodia and Russia will cooperate in film production in 2010]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #510, 16.10.2009

  • Within the Last Four Months More Than 400 Trucks Loaded Wood from Ratanakiri to Carry to Yuon [Vietnam – according to a Ratanakiri official who reported it anonymously]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6780, 16.10.2009

  • Houses [of 28 families] Constructed on a Pedestrian Area at the Roundabout of the Chroy Chongva Bridge Were Removed [and destroyed, to widen the road – Phnom Penh]
  • [The head of the Directorate of Cinema and Cultural Diffusion of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts] Mr. Sin Chanchhaya [son of the well-known signer Sin Sisamut]: The Reason Why Khmer Films Cannot Progress, Is that Film Productions Are Made by Non-Professional People
  • Because of Losing Riel 60,000 [approx. US$15], a Cruel Man Got Angry with His Wife and Hit Her to Death [he was arrested – Kratie]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5022, 16.10.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian] Mu Sochua Decided to End the [defamation] Case against the Prime Minister [saying that she will not appeal to the Supreme Court]
  • Queensland Police [of Australia] Donates [five] Speed Checking Devices and [thirty] Alcohol Checking Devices to the Cambodian Police

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1809, 16-18.10.2009

  • The Opposition Parties and a Civil Society Organization [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] Said that if a New Demonstration Law [limiting the number of people to less than 200 to assemble at a public place with permission from the authorities, to be applied for at least 12 hours before] Is Not Corrected, It Would Be Just a Tool to Cheat about the Implementation of Democracy in Cambodia

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During the Three Quarters of 2009 so Far, 61% of Rape Victim Were Underage Persons – Saturday, 10.10.2009

Posted on 11 October 2009. Filed under: Week 633 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 633

“Phnom Penh: The increasing number of rapes indicates that Khmer tradition is falling apart under the influence of bad foreign culture, spread through porn videos played at some coffee shops, and through drug abuse.

“Based on news from five local newspapers, Koh Santepheap, Rasmei Kampuchea, Kampuchea Thmey, The Phnom Penh Post, and The Cambodia Daily, information collected by End Child Prostitution, Abuse and Trafficking in Cambodia – ECPAT-Cambodia – shows in a Media Analysis of Rape, Trafficking for Sexual Purpose, Indecent Cases in Third Quarter 2009 [in Khmer] that there were 69 cases of rape involving 70 victims. To tally the numbers within the three quarters of 2009, there were 216 rape cases and 225 victims, where 137 of them, 61%, affected underage persons. It should be noted that an Australian woman, a tourist, also became a rape victim. [ECPAT-Cambodia is a member of the international network End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes – ECPAT International.]

“Compared to the corresponding period in 2008 with 211 cases, there were 5 cases more. The provinces and cities with a high number of rapes are Battambang with 43 cases, Phnom Penh 22 cases, Kompong Cham 19 cases, Kandal 18 cases, Pursat and Banteay Meanchey each 17 cases, Kompong Speu 12 cases, Takeo 11 cases, and the other cases in other provinces. There were 6 cases of rape-and-murder, where one young girl was raped by seven teenagers living in the same village and then murdered cruelly by cutting her throat and stabbing her several times.

“These inhuman acts were done by 261 suspects, among whom 20 were underage people. Most of the crimes were committed by Khmers, but there were also some cases involving others: 2 Koreans, 3 Vietnamese, 2 Thais, 1 Cambodian Muslim, and 1 case of a woman. Notably, gang rapes [where several teenagers raped one girl or woman] add up to 21 cases, where 2 to 7 perpetrators were involved in the gang-rape cases. There were 15 cases where both the victims and the suspects were underage people. As for the relations between the victims and the suspects, there were 103 cases where the victims were raped by their neighbors in the same villages, in 40 cases by family members and relatives, in 35 cases by people knowing each other, in 9 cases a boyfriend raped his girlfriend, and in 24 cases there is no report about the relationship. As for the law, 217 suspects were arrested, and 147 cases were sent to be solved by the counts, 56 cases were under further investigations by police, in 39 cases the suspects escaped, in 2 cases the suspects were released on bail, and 1 case was addressed out of the court system. There was only one case with a comparatively high verdict, in which the court indicted the suspect for rape, and the perpetrator then was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison and was ordered to pay a fine of Riel 4 million [approx. US$975].

“There were some factors reported which were involved frequently in rapes cases, where there were 69 cases where the perpetrators used special opportunities, 47 cases were planned, 22 cases involved drug abuse and alcohol, 6 cases resulted related to watching porn movies and pictures, and for other cases no such circumstances were reported. There were 65 cases resulting from a situation where the victim stayed alone, 35 cases where the victim trusted to go with the suspect, 32 cases happened where the victims were attacked while sleeping, and 20 cases happened while the victims went out for a walk at night.

“During this time, there were 5 cases of human trafficking victimizing 8 women and 5 underage girls, 1 person was 1 Vietnamese. Compared to the same period in 2008, there was a decline of 3 cases. There were 8 suspects, including 1 Chinese man, and 2 were women. Four of them were arrested, and 3 were sent to be prosecuted by the court. Two suspects were under police investigation, and one escaped. There were no reports about how the suspects were convicted by the courts. Places of human trafficking are the road from Takeo to Banteay Meanchey, the city of Phnom Penh, Pailin, and Battambang.

“Within the same period, there were 11 cases of producing child pornography, involving 12 victims, where 10 were girls between the ages of 5 and 17. Among the 12 victims, 2 were Vietnamese and 10 were Cambodian. Involved in these cases were 11 suspects from age 19 to age 68, and most of them are tourists from America, England, France, Japan, and Switzerland. Nine of them were arrested and convicted to serve 3 years in prison. Those cases occurred in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, Battambang, and Kandal.

“ECPAT-Cambodia noticed that there was a slight increase in the number of rapes, and a slight decrease in the number of human trafficking, based on the information in those newspapers. But the number of victims who were underage is alarmingly high. Also there were cases of extreme cruelty like gang rapes and murders, while the number of suspects that were prosecuted is low. Therefore ECPAT-Cambodia appeals to relevant organizations and institutions, especially to the Royal Government of Cambodia, to strengthen law enforcement by the courts and the police, and to make the related laws widely known to the citizens. All parents have to be very careful about the safety of their sons and daughters, especially when they are very young.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #67, 10-11.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 10 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #307, 10.10.2009

  • Radio Free Asia Dismissed [two more staff members:] Sam Borin and San Sovityak
  • The Cambodian Red Cross Has US$570,000 to Assist Citizens Suffering from the Flood
  • Robbers Armed with AK Rifles Robbed Jewelry [worth approx. US$2,000] and Injured a Man Seriously [Kompong Cham]
  • Eighty Countries Support the Cambodian Candidacy as Member of the World Heritage Committee [at the 35th UNESCO General Conference]

Note:

During the last meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in June 2009, the following countries were represented on the committee:

Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Tunisia, United States of America.

While there are at present 851 sites registered in 141 countries, the World Heritage Committee can have only 21 members.

According to its rules, there cannot be only countries on the Committee which have registered World Heritage Sites, it is not the primary task of committee members to defend the cases of their countries. Countries which want to be on the committee have to offer their services, according to the Director-General of UNESCO, Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, to fulfill the following tasks:

“to work for harmonious synergy among the Organization’s three main legal instruments for cultural diversity:

  • the World Heritage Convention of 1972;
  • the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage of 2003; and
  • the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted by UNESCO in 2005.”

In addition, the members of the World Heritage Committee will have to work more on developing the following two fields:

  • “to develop the complementarity of science and culture, notably in the 80 sites which carry the twin labels of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program and World Heritage, and
  • to reinforce the link between biodiversity and cultural diversity.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2068, 10.10.2009

  • Samdech Hun Sen: The Powerful Who Protect Gangsters Must Be Punished
  • The Minister of Water Resources Considers Typhoon Ketsana as the Most Disastrous Ever for Cambodia [destroying infrastructure and crops]
  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections (COMFREL) Is Concerned that Relocated Citizens [in the context of clearing sites where they used to live, to make place for business and high rise housing developments] Do Not Have the Right to Register for the Elections
  • A Journalist and His 4-Year-Old Son Were Killed in a Traffic Accident [they were hit by another motorbike – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #506, 10.10.2009

  • [Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarian] Mr. Cheam Yeap: An Anti-Corruption Law Could Not Be Created for Many Years, because the National Assembly and the Government Sent Its Drafts Back and Forth [but he said that it will be adopted within the first six months of 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #67, 10-11.10.2009

  • During the Three Quarters of 2009 so Far, 61% of Rape Victim Were Underage Persons
  • One Hundred More People Died in Landslides in the Philippines

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5017, 10.10.2009

  • The Defamation Complaint of Samdech Hun Sen [against Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua Will Be Heard Again on 28 October 2009
  • Siem Reap Town Became Like a Water Reservoir, after a Dam, Surrounding the Town, Had Been Built [improperly]
  • Nearly 2,000 Workers of the Tac Fat Factory Are Striking for Two Days with No Solution [after the factory had closed – Phnom Penh]
  • Vietnam Prosecuted Six People and Sent Them to Serve Six Years in Prison for Campaigning for [multi-party] Democracy
  • It Is Surprising! Obama Received the Nobel Peace Prize! [in 2009 for his hard effort to strengthen international diplomatic developments and cooperation among the people]

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The Ministry of Culture Says It Is Not Able to Bring Back Khmer Artifacts Put Up for Sale in the United State of America – Tuesday 10.3.2009

Posted on 14 March 2009. Filed under: Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

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

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: A high-ranking official of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts stated that the Cambodian government is not able to bring back artifacts which are not listed here and lost, but are reported now in the United State of America and in some other countries.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, Mr. Chuch Phoeun, told Deum Ampil on Monday evening 9 March 2009, ‘The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is not able to collect Khmer artifacts that are lost and not yet listed as Cambodian cultural heritage, even though those artifacts are claimed to be property of Cambodia.’

“The statement was made after the Internet website TwinCities.com reported that many types of artifacts are offered for sale at the eBay company, based in the United States of America, which were brought from Cambodia, China, Egypt, Italy, and many other countries. Mr. Chuch Phoeun added, ‘Though we have national and international laws, we lack money for the listing of such artifacts as objects of cultural heritage of Cambodia, in order to provide proper identification of those artifacts.’

“The Secretary of State went on to say, ‘We can only list artifacts at the National Museum as objects of cultural heritage, but artifacts at other museums in the provinces are not yet well listed. We lack money.’

“According to the Secretary of State, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts receives Riel 500 million [approx. US$124,000] per year from the Ministry of Economy and Finance for conserving and maintaining temples around Cambodia. He continued to say that Cambodia needs hundreds of millions of dollars for the conservation and maintenance and the development of thousands of cultural sites countrywide, and to comply with this task, it is necessary to receive and to requests more aid from partner countries, while Cambodia cannot yet provide these resources.

“However, the above report did not state the number of artifacts put up for sale at the eBay Internet auctions company. The report said that the government of China, an Asian country with an old civilization, is trying to demand those artifacts back to its country in whatever condition.

“Regarding what was mentioned by the Secretary of State, Khmer citizens regret that the government does not make as much efforts as possible to return those artifacts to the country as other countries do, to return the rich and invaluable cultural property of the nation. In late 2008, Thailand announced to return to Cambodia artifacts illegally trafficked to Thailand.

“It should be noted that until now, some partner countries assist so that some temples and artifacts are repaired and preserved, like temples of Angkor Wat, Banteay Srey, and Ta Prum.” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #135, 10.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #3410, 10.3.2009

  • Mr. Hun Sen Strongly Hopes that the US and European Economies Will Grow Again [so that Cambodian workers will not be unemployed because of factory closures, exporting products to markets in the United State of America and in Europe]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party] Parliamentarian Mu Sochua Was Prevented by Body Guards to Attend the Inter Parliamentary Union Meeting [claiming that she did not have identification letter for the meeting – held in Phnom Penh from 9 to 11 March 2009: Regional Seminar on the Role of Parliaments in Promoting Peaceful and Sustainable Societies in South-East Asia]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #135, 10.3.2009

  • The Ministry of Culture Says It Is Not Able to Bring Back Khmer Artifacts Put Up for Sale in the United State of America
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dismisses Information about a [Sri Lanka] Tamil Insurgents’ Base in Cambodia
  • Hungary Eliminates 50% of Cambodia’s Debt and Provides 50% Grant Finance
  • Electricité du Cambodge Encourages a Plan to Connect Electricity from Vietnam as Soon as Possible to Overcome the Need for Electrical Cuts-off in the City
  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin: “I am like a dog in the country that could be caught any time”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1893, 10.3.2009

  • Siamese [Thai] and Khmer Troops Confront Each Other Again at the Cham Sragam Border Crossing Point [after Khmer troops removed a Thai troops post at the border, claiming that it was in Khmer territory]
  • Man Hit His Wife with a Long Handle Knife Twice to Behead Her because of Jealousy [police are seeking him – Siem Reap]
  • 12,000 US Troops Will Be Withdrawn from Iraq in September 2009

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6595, 6.3.2009

  • The President of the Senate Guarantees that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Seek Justices for Victims; Samdech Thama Pothisal Chea Sim: Problems Left from the Past Must Be Solved

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.14, #3707, 10.3.2008

  • [Minister of Interior from the Cambodian People’s Party] Encourages the Cambodian People’s Party to Cooperate to Share Power with Three Other Political Parties [after the district and provincial/city elections on 17 May 2009]
  • The Government Should Publishes the Results of Setting Land Border Markers at the Khmer-Yuon [Vietnamese] Border

Neak Cheat Niyum, Vol.4, #51, 11.3.2008

  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Order Big and Small Workshops [in Phnom Penh] to Relocate to Suburbs

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4841, 10.3.2009

  • Four Suspects Are Arrested for Kidnapping Siem Reap Military Police Commander’s Daughter [the hostage is released and police are seeking two other kidnappers who escaped with US$80,000]

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Valentine’s Day Troubles – Sunday, 15.2.2009

Posted on 16 February 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 599

The Phnom Penh Post reported on Friday, 13 February 2009, the results of a study by the Cambodian sociologist Tong Soprach, including that:

“The study questioned youths on two occasions… and found that 61.2 percent of respondents considered Valentine’s Day special, but that most knew little about the origins of the day itself. Most youths recognized the day as foreign, with several respondents renaming the occasion ‘loving day.’”

For these students, the fact that Valentine’s Day is foreign is not negative. Not so for some others; one newspaper reported: “Citizens Ask TV Stations Not to Publish ‘Valentine’s Day’ on Televisions, because it might encourage youth to take up a foreign culture.” And it is not reported whether they know – or care to know – the origins of this day and its name. But even if TV did not report on it, many people know anyway and are prepared – there are many stands at the roadside, especially near universities and high-schools, selling roses, because the student want to buy them.

Obviously, Valentine’s Day has also become an institution in other countries in Asia: the Chinese News Agency XinhuaNet has a nice picture with the heading: “A couple of lovers walk with a bouquet of roses in Harbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, Feb. 14, 2009. Lots of lovers bought roses to celebrate the Valentine’s Day.”

“A couple of lovers walk with a bouquet of roses in Harbin

“A couple of lovers walk with a bouquet of roses in Harbin

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-02/14/xin_372020614194431210571.jpg

There is no expression of concern that this is “foreign cultural influence.” And it is even more surprising that the same publication also has a picture from North Korea with the caption: “A couple pose for photos at an exhibition on ‘Kim Jong Il flowers’ held in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Feb. 14, 2009. The exhibition was held to celebrate the upcoming 67th birthday of DPRK top leader Kim Jong Il.” There was no mention of Valentine’s Day – but a young man and a young women have their picture taken together in front of red roses on 14 February – there seems to be some special meaning intended.

A couple pose for photos at an exhibition on Kim Jong Il flowers

A couple pose for photos at an exhibition on 'Kim Jong Il flowers

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-02/14/xin_35202061420347811815914.jpg

However, Cambodia is one country where the question of a clash between traditional culture and Valentine’s Day became an issue. India is another, especially since there has recently been violence against women – with claims that it is in order to protect Indian culture.

Male activists of the conservative Hindu Sri Rama Sena organization entered the “Amnesia Bar and Restaurant” in the Indian city of Mangalore on Saturday evening, 24 January 2009, and threatened the women sitting inside. They objected to women drinking alcohol and dragged them outside, where many fell or were pushed to the ground. They also told the women that they would face dire consequences if they were seen in a bar again. The group left the bar after threatening its owner.

Many people, including public figures in India and some in Cambodia, condemned this violence, and there was a lot of public discussion. Some voices suggested that maybe the victims had provoked the attack by their behavior, which was not – in the opinion of critics of the women – in accordance with Indian culture. They suggested that the Sri Rama Sena organization should also be praised – it celebrates all traditional Hindu festivals elaborately and does a lot to propagate cultural traditions which, they said, are not sufficiently protected, and that the organization had to act as a “moral police.”

Then, on 10 February, a group of self appointed “moral police” stopped a bus in Mangalore, knowing that a 16 year old Hindu high-school student was on the bus with her Muslim boyfriend. They dragged her out and brought her to the police, who called her parents to hand her over to them. She could not bear the public shame and killed herself the next day.

Violence continued: near the famous white marble monument of Taj Mahal, radical traditionalists attacked three young couples of lovers and cut their hair to shame them. Others attacked and burnt a shop selling Valentine’s Day greeting cards, and some entered restaurants looking for lovers having special Valentine’s Day meals together. In some cases, they threatened that they would force any lovers to immediately get married to “legalize” their behavior of showing that they liked each other – there were raids on shopping centers where young people hang out and walk around, holding hands.

In the meantime, some people who had committed violence were arrested – but often the authorities were slow to act, as the victims were considered to have violated traditional culture.

Madhu Chandra, a well-known human rights activist, strongly defended the civil liberties of couples. “It is the right of every Indian citizen to express our love in the different manners acceptable, in the Indian way, or in the English way, or in the Islamic way.”

Wide attention was created, however, only when a group of young women, many of them students, started to publicly claim their rights and fight back in an unusual way. Some of these voices were on the Internet:

“All of us bloggers are protesting, holding hands against this infringement of our right to hold hands, and walk in and out of pubs or anywhere else without being beaten up or molested for it.”

“In Indian culture, a girl could be a Master of Business Administration, or a Doctor, a teacher, a mother, or she could be just another adult citizen. A girl’s wishes don’t count. It just doesn’t make sense …. and you see semi-literate neighbors and elders and now even the local criminals, are deciding how she is allowed to dress, with whom she socializes, and what she eats or drinks?

“Why do we make excuses for our culture? Let’s be honest. It needs to see major reforms.”

As they had been accused of being “pub-going, loose, and forward [modern] women,” a group quickly set up an organization of “Pub-Going, Loose and Forward Women,” which in a couple of days had more than 30,000 members, to campaign for their rights. As a sign of protest against the Sri Rama Sena organization, they called on women and girls across the country to send parcels of pink panties by courier to the Sri Rama Sena office in the city of Hubli. It is reported that a huge number of such parcels were delivered from many different regions of India before and on Valentine’s Day.

Has all this anything to do with the origin of Valentine’s Day? Maybe yes – there are different traditions, but they are all related to an act of defiance against a forceful power interfering with personal choices to accept and to give love. One Indian blogger told the story this way:

“Of the varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine’s Day, the widely accepted one is that associated with the Roman Empire during the third century. To be precise, a priest named Valentinus was beheaded by Emperor Claudius the Cruel on 14 February of the year 269. Valentinus performed secret weddings, after the Emperor Claudius banned marriages in order to prevent soldiers from deserting his army. The good saint refused to deny Christ and so was thrown into prison, where he healed the jailer’s blind daughter. He fell in love with her and left a note in the cracks of his cell the night before his execution: ‘From Your Valentine.’

“Gradually, 14 February became the date for exchanging love messages. The date is marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers.”

One young woman in India wrote about the attacks of those who claim to protect Indian culture, giving her impression that these men – old and also young – have mostly been living without any experience of relating to women in a situation of mutual respect. The traditional culture had assigned a secondary role to women. Most of the young men involved came from schools for boys only, so they have not had the experience to relate to girls in a daily school situation among equals. Once they meet girls, they either claim a social and cultural power superiority – or they can only think of sexual relations.

The report in the Phnom Penh Post shows a similar narrow-mindedness:

“New research on young Cambodian attitudes towards Valentine’s Day and sexual relationships has found that more than half the interviewees questioned were happy to engage in sexual intercourse. In fact, the research shows that many middle-class Cambodians are using Valentine’s Day not to celebrate their love, but as a catalyst for sex.

“Disturbingly, however, 66 percent of males planned to have sex with their partners regardless of consent, with 39.5 percent of those males losing their virginity.”

Should Valentine’s Day be suppressed? That would only be an expression of not respecting gender equality. Maybe Valentine’s Day could be an occasion to learn and to reflect that it is not about sex, but about growing into a renewed culture of women and men, in mutual respect and cooperation, and in love.

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The Municipal Court Upholds the Decision that the Complaint about Corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Not Be Dealt with – Tuesday, 10.2.2009

Posted on 11 February 2009. Filed under: Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 599

“Phnom Penh: The Phnom Penh Municipal Court decided to uphold the decision that the complaint of the foreign defense lawyers of Mr. Nuon Chea, the Brother Number 2 of the Khmer Rouge regime, will not be dealt with. This is based on a judgment by the deputy prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Mr. Sok Kalyan, on 5 February 2009. This judgment was published on Sunday.

“Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalyan, responsible for handling the case, told foreign defense lawyers of the former president of the Khmer Rouge National Assembly, that the complaint regarding corruption allegations at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will not be taken up to be settled.

“Yesterday, on Monday evening, 9 February 2009, Mr. Sok Kalyan clearly explained the decision, that the corruption allegations case will not be taken up, because the evidence does not state that a crime is imminent, and the perpetrators are not known.

“Deputy prosecutor Sok Kalyan added that normally, when deciding to take up a case, a prosecutor decides to address a fact by pointing to individuals involved in a crime. But checking all evidence in the complaint of Mr. Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers, nothing indicates that a crime is imminent to happen in relation to the accusation about corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Mr. Sok Kalyan added that another point is that the complaint of Mr. Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers is a defamatioin complaint and does not point out why individuals are suspects in this corruption case. They say that it was just heard that there was corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, but there is no document to prove the nature of what is called corruption. And it does not point out clearly to the individuals suspected of receiving bribes.

“This refusal to take up a corruption case at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal was made after the prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court had summoned Mr. Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers to question them, to defend their case one or two times, and he had planned to summon many other witnesses for questioning.

“Mr. Andrew Ianuzzi said as a plaintiff that Mr. Nuon Chea’s foreign defense lawyers are surprised that the Municipal Court decided not to take up the case. He had met with the deputy prosecutor, Mr. Sok Kalyan, on Wednesday [4 February 2009] morning, and he had been told that there were plans to question many other witnesses. However, within just 24 hours, this decision was reversed.

“Mr. Nuon Chea’s foreign defense lawyers have not yet decided how to appeal this decision. Mr. Andrew Ianuzzi said that the foreign defense lawyers of Mr. Nuon Chea must think carefully, before they appeal, as they have two more months to present a complaint to the Appeals Court, to take up the corruption complaint at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to be dealt with.

“However, finally Mr. Sok Kalyan concluded that the a decision not to work on this corruption complaint is possible because there is no imminent pressure. This is so, because the prosecutor checked the different procedures based on evidence, and there is no evidence proving an immediate danger of crimes being committed, as had been the original accusation.

“On 8 January 2009, the foreign defense lawyers of Mr. Nuon Chea, Mr. Michael Pestman, Mr. Victor Koppe, and the assistant lawyer Mr. Andrew Ianuzzi, as plaintiffs, lodged a complaint at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. In the complaint the foreign defense lawyers of Mr. Nuon Chea asked to clarify corruption allegations at the Cambodian side of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. They claimed that corruption would affect the process of hearings of the former Khmer Rouge leaders.

“Talk about a corruption scandal at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal started in early 2007, when the Open Society Justice Initiative released a corruption report. But officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal at the Cambodian side, as well as government officials, denied it and considered this corruption scandal to be just a claim without a basis facts.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4816, 8-9.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 10 February 2009


Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #10, 10.2.2008

  • Mr. Hun Sen Curses Critics Distorting Facts to Fall into the 800th Level of Hell [cursing civil society, non-governmental organizations, and opposition parties that criticize the Cambodian government, saying that it lets some local companies backed by powerful officials to use armed forces to evict citizens from their houses to grab their land and throw them out into the suburbs, and criticize that foreign aid for Cambodia is wasted, and corruption makes citizens poorer and poor, resulting in a big gap between the rich and the poor]


Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #114, 10-11.2.2009

  • Some Casinos Let Khmers Enter Which Is against the Prime Minister’s Order
    National Real Estate Appraisal Association of Cambodia Is Inaugurated under the Presidency of [Minister of Economy and Finance] Mr. Keat Chhon


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1868-#1879, 8-10.2.2009

  • Samdech Hun Sen Denies that [ousted Thai prime minister] Thaksin Is in Koh Kong [as claimed by Bangkok Post]
  • Khmer Kampuchea Krom Federation Calls on Monks to Attend the 2nd Anniversary Demonstration Celebration this Morning [to remember a demonstration held by Khmer Kampuchea Krom monks in Kleang province [now Sóc Trăng province] in Vietnam
  • A Bad Forest Fire at Southern Australia Killed 128 People [present estimate may be up to 230]
  • Russia Allows the United States of America to Transport Military Supplies through Russia to Afghanistan


Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #338, 10.2.2009

  • [1,055] Staff of the Railway Station Demand 20% Increase of Their Salaries Following Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s Words [who had promised that their salaries would be increased]
  • The Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia – NICFEC – and the Committee for Free and Fair Elections – COMREL – Will Not Deploy Observers for the [district and provincial/city council] Elections on 17 May 2009 [they said that their organizations are facing financial problems, and COMFREL added that these indirect elections are useless]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #340, 8-10.2.2009

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Will Summon Three-Star General Heng Hong to Question Him about Taking another Man’s Wife [in view of the new monogamy law]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6573-#6573, 9-10.2.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Recommends that the Production of Films Related to Monks Must Pass through the Ministry of Cult and Religion, and Samdech Sanghareach [the head of one of the two Buddhist Orders, in order to avoid problems]
  • 20 Universities from Britain Start to Exhibit together Their Information to the Education Sector in Cambodia
  • Many Bullets Were Shot in the Air to Threaten Citizens Not to Construct Houses; the Provincial Governor Issues Order to Arrest Five Soldiers [Preah Vihear]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3682-#3683, 9-10.2.2009

  • Ethnic Minority People in Bu Sra Commune, Pechr Chenda District, Mondolkiri, Prepare to Protest against the Khov Chily Company Again [over a land dispute – according to human rights officials]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4816, 8-9.2.2009

  • The Municipal Court Upholds the Decision that the Complaint about Corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Not Be Dealt with
    Thailand Announces to Open the Border Crossing to the Preah Vihear Temple, while Cambodia Denies to Do the Same [the Cambodian government said what Thailand announced is just to reopen a Thai national park along the border near the Preah Vihear Temple]
  • Cambodian Embassy in Britain Reacts to the Global Witness Report [saying that it is stupid]
  • Japanese Investors Come to Study to Improve the Transportation Sector in Cambodia
  • A Thai Tourist Airline [Bangkok Airways] Offers Flights from Cambodia to Samui Island [in Thailand, starting from now until 30 June 2008]
  • Cambodia Confiscated Nearly One Kilogram of Heroin at the [Phnom Penh International] Airport [and a Taiwanese man was arrested]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3482, 8-9.2.2009

  • Around 200 Olympic Market Vendors Were Surprised when the [Thay Boonrong] Company Detained One of Their Representatives Yesterday [after vendors decided to send a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, to ask for his intervention regarding the rising prices of vendors’ stalls in the market]

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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Censorship: Thousands of Crude Porn Sites Accessible on Internet – One Khmer Artist Blocked – Sunday, 1.2.2009

Posted on 2 February 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 597 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

When the Cambodian government held a three day consultation in September 2001, the Prime Minister opened it with a speech on Public Awareness about Information Technology. Charting the future, he said:

“The government’s top priority is to use Information Technology – IT – to serve and to meet the day-to-day needs of the people. IT should become as an efficient means for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government and the conduct of government business in accordance with the principles of transparency and good governance…

“IT will help strengthen democracy, ensure transparency, promote good governance in government and community businesses. With regard to the economic and social aspect, IT will improve major public service delivery to the local people and allow them to monitor and receive regularly and timely all kinds of information.”

In February last year, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of transparency again, more specifically in relation to economic development as a means of poverty reduction, in his keynote address 2008 Cambodia Outlook Conference: Mobilizing Cambodia’s Resources – Human, Natural, Financial – for Quality Development, Growth and Prosperity, when he said:

“A healthy private sector is the key to robust economic development and thus the government should ensure the legal framework for fair competition, transparency, accountability and productive relations with the public sector. The overall environment for enterprise will be strengthened through broadened good governance and human resources development. The public sector should also be strong in order to correct the market failures, essentially to reach the poor and disadvantaged.”

Recent days and weeks would have provided ample opportunity to demonstrate the promised open and transparent communication – using information technology, the telephone, and direct talk.

Unfortunately, in spite of repeated pledges to install official spokespersons in the different ministries and other government agencies, and even having trained 18 persons for this task and given them certificates, there is obviously a problem that the basic commitment to transparency – “for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government,” as the Prime Minister said – is disregarded.

Related to the Dey Krahom evictions, which continue to cause deep problems for the men, women, and children involved, we collected the following items from the Cambodia Daily in a single day – Friday, 30 January 2009:

  • “Shukaku representatives could not be reached for comment and CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin [the husband of the owner of the Shukaku company] turned off his phone when a reporter contacted him.”
  • At the office of the Boeng Kak Development committee, an employee declined to provide his name, but suggested, “I think you have to ask Phnom Penh Municipality.”
  • “Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema and his deputies Mann Chhoeun and Pa Socheatvong could not be reached for comment.”
  • After contacting the 7NG company, “a company representative said he would meet Thursday with the residents.” – However, when contacted Thursday, the meeting was canceled.
  • “Chhay Rithisen, director of the municipal land management department, could not be reached for comment. Deputy directors Sek Yorn and Sar Bamnang both directed questions… to Chhay Rithisen.”

Many people do not seem to care about the importance the Prime Minister has accorded to transparency and “to reach the poor and disadvantaged” when there are “market failures” which derail the ultimate goal of development.

Over the weekend there was another blow to transparency in Cambodia. It is widely acknowledged that, in addition to huge resources for knowledge, connectivity, and entertainment, the Internet provides access to pornography – according to experts, there are tens of thousands of pornographic websites. There is no technical Internet blocking of access to these sites in Cambodia, which, as Internet experts recommend that criminal violations of pornography abuse laws should be best handled through legal prosecution, not through arbitrary and ineffective blocking of Internet sites.

Now, however, though not blocking any real pornography sites, some Internet Service Providers in Cambodia have started to block access to the website of a Cambodian artist based in the USA:

When the web site of this Khmer artist became known through the press, he was strongly attacked, accused of destroying Khmer culture because he did not only paint pictures of Angkor Wat stone apsaras, but also of lifelike apsara dancers whose bodies were, like the stone carvings, not completely clothed.

He offers on his website professional hints in painting techniques, and he wrote also:

“I’m trying to build an online Khmer Arts community for novice artists, advance artists, graphic artists, tattoo artists, or anyone for that matter who is interested in Khmer Arts. We can share ideas, discuss about your designs, and network with other Khmer artists from across the United States and around the world.

“The meaning of life is an elusive concept that has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific and theological speculation. For thousands of years, men and women of every age, race, and culture have sought to understand the meaning of life. Throughout history, scientists and philosophers, theologians and artists, politicians and social activists, monks and sages, and men and women from all walks of life have discussed and debated many questions in the quest to discover the meaning of life.

“One of the central views in Buddhism is a non-dual worldview, in which subject and object are the same, and the sense of doer-ship is illusionary. On this account, the meaning of life is to become enlightened as to the nature and oneness of the universe. According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering, that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation by following the Noble Eightfold Path.

“It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing oneself from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. From this, one can attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana and that will be the meaning of my life.

“I believe in constructive criticisms! But lately, I’ve received many unwanted complaints regarding that some of my works disgraced the Khmer culture. Judging from the complaints, I wonder how we as Khmer will be able to make it in the 21st century.”

A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information announced the intention to “publish services through electronic systems under the control of a law which is being drafted.” This announcement causes great alarm – not only because history has shown that the introduction of censorship of art has often been the entry point to suppress other freedoms, but because the Cambodian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and publication, and the state has to uphold impartiality and protect the rights and freedoms of citizens (Articles 41 and 109).

The wide intent of the draft of this legislation became clear when it was stated:

“All Internet Service Providers which ask for licenses from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication must, in advance, also ask for a second license from the Ministry of Information if this law is adopted, because these companies allow Internet users to connect networks and to use data in different networks.”

Does this mean, for example, that the Ministry of Information might refuse to license the apsara pictures on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which all foreigners see when they apply there for a visa?

Official Visa Application Site

Who in the Ministry of Information will be the authority on expressions of art, or decide – to quote the same Secretary of State – if “pictures can evoke sexual feelings” and should be prohibited? Is the work of art of one person a greater assault on the cultural traditions and remnants of the country than the destruction of the historic Bassac Theater, and now the threatened destruction of the landmark Renakse Hotel, which is the former Ministry of Justice and part of the architectural environment of the Royal Palace?

In the early years of the Internet, when the present Minister of Information was a secretary of state at the same ministry, he wrote an e-mail in 1999 to Bill Herod, one of the Internet pioneers in Cambodia, which was published internationally in the UNDP supported Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2003/2004, when the South China Morning Post in Hongkong had written there would be Internet censorship in Cambodia:

“Dear Sir,

“I do not know where SCMP got this news (“Planned Net law ‘threat to democracy,’” May 31, 1999) , but I can assure you that I am the one who has been fighting and continues to fight for the freedom of Internet access and the free flow of information in general. Everyday I find in my e-mail all kinds of information including some mail insulting me.

“This is a fact of life. When we never attempt to control the import of books and magazines into Cambodia why would we want to block the Internet?…

“Please be assured that I am very supportive of this form of communication and I will spare no effort in defending it. I hope you can help communicate this assurance to all of your subscribers and, if you have any problem concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me.

“Your sincerely,

“Khieu Kanharith”

It is important to recognize that questions of “Cambodian culture” are raised regularly by many different kinds of news. For example, the almost weekly news about the brutal rape and murder of Cambodian children raises questions about how this destruction of human culture is being handled, and no efforts to block the Internet in Cambodia could ever prevent that.

Furthermore, the blocking of the Reahu site will be reported around the world and will attract much more attention than the site would ever have received without such action. That is what also had happened when the introduction of 3G mobile phones was delayed – for fear they could deliver pornography to those who can afford the high cost of this new 3G technology, while crude pornography continues to be cheaply available all over the country where CDs are being sold.

What a pity, that there will again be a flood of negative attention on Cambodia, just as it happened when the prohibition of the Global Witness book on deforestation problems Cambodia’s Family Trees stimulated worldwide attention, which it never could have gained without the prohibition.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

The wide international interest The Mirror finds is reflected in the fact that during the last two days only, people in 45 countries read The Mirror.

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