To Trust the Law Means to Trust that the Law is not only Written, but that It Is Implemented – Sunday, 29.8.2010

Posted on 30 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 679 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

Important Announcement

Would you please mouse-click, further up on this page here, on About The Mirror to read information about changes planned to be implemented, starting from 1 September 2010.

Thanks,

Norbert Klein
Editor of The Mirror

Social stability depends on a situation where the citizens trust that the law is implemented. Not every time when somebody thinks to be treated unjustly this is also true. But the fact that every week there are several reports of demonstrations of groups of people, in different parts of the country, who feel they are suffering injustice – mostly related to land use and land rights – should be a sign of alarm. Social stability can be enforced for some time, but that is different from social stability based on peace and justice.

In 2002, the Prime Minister had said in his opening speech to the Consultative Group Meeting between representatives of the Cambodian Government and representatives of cooperating countries and international institutions:

“We are conscious that corruption in the public machinery, be it judiciary or administrative or any other, increases transaction costs for everyone and reduces predictability in law enforcement and implementation of government’s policies… The government believes that enactment of adequate laws and regulations to prevent and punish corruption is crucial for addressing this problem.”

And in December 2005 he warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution.

Are these words of the Prime Minister out of date?

Seeing that during many of present demonstrations people carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady shows that many people still have hope in interventions by the Prime Minister to provide justice – even when they have lost confidence that the normal process of the courts will achieve this goal.

Violations of the law happen regularly and massively, as claimed in the Cambodian press, and this is also confirmed by high ranking officials of the government. Just to quote some examples from the current week reported in The Mirror:

  • Contraband Is Massively Imported while Members of the Authorities Are Collecting Colossal Amounts of Money
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Had Often Warned against It, but Frequently Heads of Some Institutions and Units Continue to Nominate Their Children’s Spouses or Other Relatives to Take Their Positions When They Retire
  • Tax Officers Who Collect Excessive Amounts of Money from Road Tax Payments Face Dismissal [so this is happening]
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Intercept Forestry Crimes Is No Longer Followed [recently, there is more illegal wood transported]
  • Disabled Veterans and Retiring Civil Servants Complained about Difficulties to Get Their Salaries [as they were told to wait from day to day]

Not all press reports are verified – but if there are repeatedly reports about the same kind of violations, one would expect concerned statements from the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, explaining to the public what the authorities are doing to check what is going on to rectify what is wrong.

It is surprising that, instead, the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, when requested to look into problems in the way society is operating in spite of the regulations of the Constitution of 1993, made appeasing statements. He said that the government always rules the country following the law, adding, “If the opposition party wants further reforms beyond this, it has to wait until it wins the elections.” Many people who are convinced they suffer injustice do not want to see a complete political change, they just want to see that the laws and the Constitution of 1993 are really implemented.

When the 2010 report of Amnesty International drew the attention to the plight of thousands of Cambodian citizens suffering from forced relocations – in case of Group 78 in the Tonle Basak commune and other cases – the same spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers accused Amnesty International not to have studied the actual situation. Even accusations were made that such reports about the plight of Cambodian people asking for justice are only written to gain money for the writers. One might expect that the spokesperson would rather elaborate what the government is doing to help the people who have lost their homes, where they had had their livelihood – though poor – established for many years.

Will the Minister of Justice also be accused of “not to have studied the actual situation” for blaming the court system of not functioning according to the law, and therefore not delivering justice:

  • The Ministry of Justice Released a Letter to Warn Judges and Prosecutors Who Read Newspapers during Hearings and Assign Clerks to Assume Their Responsibility Instead

When a Delegation of the European Parliament recently visited Cambodia to study the medical sector, they observed the gap between what the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says, and the realities they met. The Mirror carried repeatedly reports about sick people who could not get proper attention in hospitals if they were not able to pay first.

The public is not so much interested in claims by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers that everything is all right. It would rather be interesting to read more about what measure are taken or planned to bridge the gap between the requirements of the Constitution – from which we quote here – than to be referred to a possible change by electoral vote, if the people want to see the Constitution implemented.

Some related quotes from the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – always interesting and important reading:

  • Article 72: The health of the people shall be guaranteed. The State shall give full consideration to disease prevention and medical treatment. Poor citizens shall receive free medical consultation in public hospitals, infirmaries and maternities.
  • Article 74: The State shall assist the disabled and the families of combatants who sacrificed their lives for the nation.

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Vietnam Tightens Military Ties with the United States of America while It Has Border Tensions with China – Wednesday, 11.8.2010

Posted on 12 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“Vietnam shows new military relations with the United States of America this month amid more tensions with China, as both countries claim some territory in the South China sea as belonging to their respective countries.

“The USS John S. McCain warship [a guided-missile destroyer], that docked in the Danang city port, departed on Tuesday for a four days joint exercise with the Vietnamese navy.

“On Sunday, the USS Gorge Washington aircraft carrier, that had just attended an exercise with South Korea recently in South Korean sea territory, which had led to condemnations from the Beijing government, received a Vietnamese delegation.

“The visit by the US navy invites strong attention due to regional tensions lately.

“A Vietnam expert at the Australian Defense Force Academy, Mr. Carl Taylor, said, ‘The tensions between China and Vietnam grew worse since over a year ago. The USA is showing its military presence and Vietnam is taking the opportunity to show itself.’

“Normally, the Hanoi government has very careful relations with its ideological ally China, but the regional ambition of its bigger neighbor raised tensions in Vietnam to a certain level.

“The ties between Hanoi and Washington have come across a long way since the end of the Vietnam war in 1975; both countries’ diplomatic ties were normalized 20 years later.

“The USA became an important partner of Vietnam, not just in trade.

“According to a recent source from the Ministry of Defense of Vietnam, the Hanoi government grew more uneasy with the ambition of China. The presences of the US navy at a Vietnamese port is very important strategically for Vietnam to demonstrate regional balance in military issues.

“Mr. Taylor said, ‘I think that the USA can play a more important role in the region.’

“The South China Sea has been the reason for territorial disputes for a long time, especially regarding the Spratly and Paracel islands that Vietnam claims to be its territory. China also claims the Spratly islands like Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam do also.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, Ms. Nguyen Phuong Nga [Nguyễn Phương Nga], last week condemned China for sending a ship to conduct seismic surveys in the Paracel region, violating Vietnam’s territorial integrity.

“Senior US commanders said that they are keeping a close eye over the stepping up of Chinese military presence there, particularly the presence of the navy in the South China Sea.

“Last week, China conducted a navy and airforce exercise in the South China Sea, a week after the Secretary of State of the US Department of State, Ms. Hilary Clinton, said solutions of territorial disputes are the core for regional stability.

“During a Southeast Asian regional security forum Ms. Hilary Clinton said that the Washington government is ready to cooperate in multilateral discussions over the islands and added that this is in the national interest of the USA, considering the respect for international law in the region.

“The Beijing government immediately condemned this intention to internationalize the dispute, saying that such an action could worsen the situation.

“That US warships often dock at Vietnamese ports irritates China. Mr. Taylor said, ‘Vietnam becomes more sensitive to the Chinese reactions. The docking of the US navy in Danang shows that Vietnam is prepared to confront the displeasure of China.'” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5273, 11.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2324, 11.8.2010

  • Traders Are Transporting Wood into the Srae Noy Settlement Area Day and Night
  • Police Helped a Female Worker Returning from Malaysia [after she worked there for two years] Who Almost Lost Her Memory and Cannot Find the Way to Her Home [Siem Reap]
  • The Murderer Who Raped and Killed a Female Security Guard Was Sentenced to 20 Years Imprisonment [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7031, 11.8.2010

  • A Man Was Attacked with Acid, Poured on His Head around Midnight by Two Perpetrators [who escaped; the victim was seriously wounded – Phnom Penh]
  • There Will Be More Than 2,400,000 Foreign Tourists in 2010 [according to a prediction by the Ministry of Tourism; in the first six months of 2010, there were 1,221,156 tourist arrivals, an increase by 12.39% compared with the corresponding period in 2009]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3955, 11.8.2010

  • Lawyers of [former Khmer Rouge leader] Ieng Sary Stated Their Confidence in Their Ability in Defending Their Client [by strongly opposing the use of the Joint Criminal Enterprise principle at the trial chamber of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #27, 11.8.2010

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Put Blame on Journalists [for misquoting his words about the use of military means to solve border disputes with Cambodia]
  • A Medical Association from South Korea [with 50 staff members] Helps to Treat Khmer Patients in Kompong Speu

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #234, 11.8.2010

  • Hundreds of Families in the Russey Keo District [near the Cambodian Japanese Friendship or Chroy Chongva bridge] Will Be Asked to Remove Their Houses for the Claiming of Land to Create a Public Park [Phnom Penh]
  • The Deposit for the Production of [estimated] More Than 100 Million Tonnes of Titanium Discovered in Koh Kong – Its Exploitation Will Start Next Year [Titanium ore can be manufactured to 45% as Titanium slag, that can be sold for US$700 to US$2,500 per tonne based on market prices – other estimates for the price of slag is $400 per tonne]
  • Mr. Leonard Cohen [a famous singer throughout the world – “Hallelujah” became the fastest-selling digital single in European history] Will Organize a Humanitarian Concert for Cambodia [at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on 27 November 2010; the concert tickets are available in this website: http://www.themekongsessions.com%5D
Leonard Cohen’s most famous song

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5273, 11.8.2010

  • Hearing of [opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Case over the [alleged] Faking of Public Documents and Disinformation Will Be Held on 8 September 2010
  • The Anniversary of the 2008 Registration of the Tuol Sleng [genocidal] Museum under the Memory of the World of UNESCO Was Organized [Phnom Penh]
  • Vietnam Tightens Military Ties with the United States of America while It Has Border Tension with China

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Trade Unions Should Have Only One Voice to Negotiate with Employers – Friday, 30.7.2010

Posted on 31 July 2010. Filed under: Week 675 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

“Trade unions agreed that they should have only one voice to negotiate with enterprises if disputes take place.

“The head of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, said on Thursday, 29 July 2010, that in a meeting about the draft of a Trade Union Law it was suggested by the government that in an enterprise, even though there are many trade union representatives [there are by now 49 different labor federations and associations], there should be only one person chosen to negotiate with the employer. He went on to say that there is no adequate opportunity provided for trade unions to voice their opinion responding to the government and to the Ministry of Labor that created that draft. He said that this law is restrictive and leaves less power to trade unions when they act to support workers.

“The head of the Cambodian Confederation of Trade Unions, Mr. Vong Sovann, said on Thursday that a closed door meeting had found that this draft states the obligations of workers and of employers. He said, ‘We think that the draft should be changed to a [general] law on “expert organization,” but it is just our idea and we will send it to the government after the meeting.’ He added that trade unions want the government to consider this and to remove some points. He said, ‘There should not be a requirement to state the financial situation of a union to the Ministry. The draft might rather suggest that trade unions have to be transparent for their members, which is not a problem.’

“Mr. Vong Sovann does not agree with the requirement that legally registered trade unions will have to register again after the draft will have been adopted. Therefore, the meeting will suggest to the government to remove this point. He said, ‘If strikes or demonstrations due to labor conflicts happen, the law should not consider them as crimes which might lead to the arrest of some representatives of the workers.’ Trade union representatives met to discuss also some important key issues like strikes, unjust implementation of the labor law, penalty conditions, and the court system.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #226, 30.7.2010

http://www.camfeba.com/

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 30 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2314, 30.7.2010

  • The European Union Considers Duch’s 35 Year Imprisonment as Insufficient [but he has to serve 19 years only, considering his past imprisonment and a reduction of punishment; he was responsible to oversee the murder of more than 10,000 people in the Tuol Sleng Prison]
  • A Deputy Director of a [Natural Resources and Biodiversity Protection] Organization Was Arrested for Raping an Underage Girl Twice [she is 14 years old, Siem Reap]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7021, 30.7.2010

  • The European Union Released a Report about Cooperation in Cambodia [which focuses on human rights, good governance, and climate change; there was also discussion about the release of European Union Blue Books, written about the support of the European Union in various important sectors, part of its commitment to encourage transparency and to promote understanding about extensive development programs of the European Union]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3945, 30.7.2010

  • Cambodia Announced to Use Troops to Withstand Siamese [Thai] Ambitions to Take Control of the 4.6 Square Kilometers around the Preah Vihear Temple

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #17, 30.7.2010

  • Siam [Thailand] Set a Time to Walk Out from the UNESCO Meeting [of the World Heritage Committee, which is to make a final decision at 10:00 p.m. [no time zone given] on 29 July 2010 about the Cambodian management plan for the Preah Vihear Temple region; the Thai Prime Minister said that Thailand has prepared troops to withstand Cambodian troops if the border dispute at the Preah Vihear region would becomes more tense]
  • The Ministry of Agriculture Drafted a Sub-Decree about Agriculture Related Contracts for the First Time [in order to promote trust between farmers and companies]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #226, 30.7.2010

  • Trade Unions Should Have Only One Voice to Negotiate with Employers
  • A Hyundai Truck Assembly Factory in Koh Kong Will Begin Its Operations in September 2010
  • The National Assembly Asked the Apsara Authority to Check Requests of Citizens [from 1,255 families, to allow them to reconstruct their houses and selling stalls]
  • The United Nations Declared that the Right of Access to Clean Water Is Also Human Right

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5263, 30.7.2010

  • HAEDA City Group [from South Korea] Starts the Angkor Resort City Project with US$470 Million as Capital [to construct a four-star hotel, condos, a golf course, a commercial center, a supermarket, a health center, etc.]
  • The National Assembly Decided to Withhold Money of [opposition party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua’s Salary [as compensation to Prime Minister Hun Sen, as she lost in a defamation case]

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Eighty Percent of the 1,621 Communes in the 24 Provinces and Cities Are Rural Areas – Friday, 16.7.2010

Posted on 19 July 2010. Filed under: Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

Apologies again for the delay – I am back in Phnom Penh, but I returned with a defective computer. I hope within one day to be up to date again.


Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: According to a report of the United Nations for 2010, there are 1,621 communes in the 24 provinces and cities in Cambodia, where 80% is rural areas.

“The report on the outlook of fundamental developments for 2010, recently published by the United Nations, says that Cambodia has 24 provinces and cities, but only 142 communes are considered as [densely] populated or urban, while as many as 1,479 communes remain rural.

“The same source adds that in Phnom Penh, 10 among the 76 communes are considered as rural.

“Besides Phnom Penh, the report divides the rest of the 23 provinces and cities into 4 areas: low lying areas, the Tonle Sap lake area, highlands, and the seashore area.

“In the low lying areas, among the 616 communes, only 27% are considered urban. That means 83% of the total area is rural. The low lying areas cover Kandal, Kompong Cham, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, and Takeo.

“The Tonle Sap lake area consists of 8 provinces: Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom, Oddar Meanchey, Pailin, Pursat, and Siem Reap. In these 8 provinces, among the 491 communes, only 30 are urban, while the other 461 are still rural. To sum up, as much as 85% of the communes are rural.

“The highlands of Cambodia comprises 6 provinces: Kompong Speu, Kratie, Mondolkiri, Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, and Ratanakiri. In total, only 10 communes in these 6 provinces are urban, whereas the rest of 276 are rural. To conclude, only 9% of this area is considered urban.

“In the seashore area, there are 4 provinces, and only 19% of the communes of those provinces are urban. The 4 provinces are Kampot, Kep, Koh Kong, and Sihanoukville, where there are 152 communes, but only 9 are considered as urban.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5251, 16.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 16 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2302, 16.7.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Will Pay an Official Visit to Singapore on 26 and 27 July 2010 [detailed information about this visit has not yet been provided]
  • After the Authorities Checked [two] Companies Sending Workers to Malaysia, They Found Many Underage Girls [between 15 to 16 years old among them – Chamkar Mon district, Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7009, 16.7.2010

  • The Maternity and Child Death Rate Is Still a Concern for Cambodia [according to the Minister of Health, the death rate decreased from 472 among 100,000 live births in 2005 to only 416 deaths in 2008, and this problem needs more attention from the government]
  • Ms. Mu Sochua Stressed Her Position Again that She Would Rather Get Jailed Than Pay Riel 16.5 Million [approx. US$3,930] for Losing a Defamation Case [against Prime Minister Hun Sen – as she considers the verdict not to be just]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3933, 16.7.2010

  • A Visit [from 14 to 22 July] of US Under-Secretary of State [Mr. William J. Burns] to Southeast Asia Is Crucial to Ensure the Respect for Human Rights and Democracy in Cambodia [according to an announcement of the US Department of State]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #216, 16.7.2010

  • A Study [by the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking, conducted by interviewing 400 workers who had been sent back from Thailand through the Poipet Border Crossing]: One Fourth of Migrants Were Trafficked
  • Demonstration to Mark the Thai Invasion onto Territory [claimd by Cambodia, close to the Preah Vihear Temple, led by the president of the Cambodian Confederation Union, Mr. Rong Chhun] Was Blocked by the Authorities [Phnom Penh]
  • [Cambodian] Officials Receive Training on the Management of Oil Resources [from oil experts from New Zealand]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5251, 16.7.2010

  • Eighty Percent of the 1,621 Communes in the 24 Provinces and Cities Are Rural Areas
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Said the Ball Is in Phnom Penh’s Court [that means Cambodia should send a Cambodian ambassador to Thailand first] while Phnom Penh Said It Is in Bangkok’s [Thailand should send a Thai ambassador to Cambodia first]
  • Major General [Chim Sok] Ordered [two] Body Guards to Beat a Man Seriously after a Traffic Accident [where that man’s car had hit the General’s Lexus car from behind] and the General Demanded US$10,000 as Compensation [while the man can afford only US$4,000 – Phnom Penh]
  • Two People Were Killed after a Crash between Two Motorbikes [Prey Veng]

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Officials: Cambodia Organizes Freedom Parks for Assemblies – Tuesday, 6.7.2010

Posted on 8 July 2010. Filed under: Week 672 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“A government official said on Monday that Cambodia is making way to create Freedom Parks for citizens to demonstrate, but local activists are concerned that this would restrict the freedom of expression. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, told Agence France-Presse [AFP], ‘All provinces and cities are organizing places for Freedom Parks.’ He added that the authorities countrywide had been notified accordingly.

“He went on to say that the parks planed to be established to provide safety and to permit people to freely express their opinions from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; it is compulsory to use them according to a law adopted last year that is the subject of controversial discussion.

“The law limits the number of demonstrators to 200 only; opposition party members and activists said that the authorities will use this limit defined in the law to restrict the freedom of expression.

“People from around the country have frequently demonstrated near the residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen about various issues, including about forced evictions, for which the government faces increasing criticism.

“An official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Chan Soveth, said that the new parks might also reduce the level of attention from the general public, if demonstrators are forced to demonstrate far from the Prime Minister’s residence. He added, ‘It is a good idea to provide an opportunity to people to express their ideas, but we are worried that Freedom Parks might force people to demonstrate at places which they do not prefer.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #208, 6.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2293, 6.7.2010

  • [The Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Expressed His Gratitude toward Cambodia [for sending two bomb attack suspects to Thailand]
  • In a Tragic Event, a Whole Family [of six members] Was Killed in a Traffic Accident [after a collision between a car and a truck – Siem Reap]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7000, 6.7.2010

  • An Inhuman Man Raped a Seven-Month Pregnant Woman and Then Killed Her; It Is a Grave Tragedy Where the Mother and the Infant Were Killed [the perpetrator was arrested – Sihanoukville]
  • The US President Announced Investments of US$2 Billion for Solar Energy Projects [to create solar energy plants]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3924, 6.7.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua: The Petition to Ask the United States of America to Help to Monitor Judicial Systems in Cambodia Has Reached the Hands of [US President] Barrack Obama

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #208, 6.7.2010

  • Officials: Cambodia Organizes Freedom Parks for Assemblies
  • The Opposition Newspaper Khmer Machas Srok Suspends Its Publication due to Bankruptcy [after Deum Ampil, another critical paper, was announced on 2 July 2010 to be bankrupt]
  • The Government Encourages the Conservation of Old Constructions to Attract Tourists [like buildings of historical nature or traditional houses]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5242, 6.7.2010

  • Mu Sochua Maintains Her Position Not to Pay a Fine [for losing a defamation case against Prime Minister Hun Sen – considering the court verdict not to have been just] and Prepares to Get Jailed
  • Two People Were Killed and Four Others Were Wounded after a Truck Loaded with Cows Hit Motorbikes [Takeo]

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The Ministry of Interior Asked for the Establishment of Public Expression Compounds at Cities and Provinces – Saturday, 3.7.2010

Posted on 6 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Cambodia asked all municipal governors to establish locations for public expression, following the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations.

“According to a letter from the Ministry of Interior to the district and municipal councils and municipal governors that Kampuchea Thmey received on 2 July 2010, signed by the Minister of Interior, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations had been announced by Royal Decree 1209/025, dated 5 December 2009, to replace the demonstration law of 1991 of the State of Cambodia. According to Article 14 and 25 of the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations which becomes valid after six months, each province and city must create public expression sites, choosing appropriate compounds or centers in the areas under their authority which people can easily know and find to conduct peaceful demonstrations or to express their ideas publicly; the maximum number of participants is 200 people.

“The letter from the Ministry of Interior adds that in order to have agreements about the creation of public expression sites in provinces and cities, the Ministry of Interior called for meetings for internal discussion between district councils and governors to create public expression sites with a minimum size of 600 square meter (15 meter by 40 meter).

“Regarding the creation of public expression sites by the Ministry of Interior, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, who had led several demonstrations, Mr. Rong Chhun, spoke to Kampuchea Thmey in the evening of 2 July 2010, saying that it is not necessary for the authorities to create public expression sites, as this is a restriction of the freedom of expression, but the Ministry should allow the people to demonstrate at the places they want.

“Mr. Rong Chhun added, relating to the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations, he had often defended the opinion that citizens can protest at the places or institutions they prefer. He said that the creation of public expression sites is not necessary, as most citizens want to protest in front of the institutions where they want their protest to be heard. Therefore, when public expression sites are established far from such related institutions, their expression or protest will not be cared for.

“Mr. Rong Chhun went on to say that according to this Law on Peaceful Demonstrations, if any citizens does not protest at the places designated, they violate the law.

“In Phnom Penh, the authorities had checked a location at a park at the west of the Dragon Bridge [near Wat Phnom] to establish a public expression site in accordance with the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #22, 3.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 3 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 9, #2291, 3.7.2010

  • The Ministry of Interior Asked for the Establishment of Public Expression Compounds at Cities and Provinces
  • More Than 700 Cartons of Ecstasy [about one million tablets] Recently Imported Were Intercepted [five people including a Chinese man were arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • Traders Illegally Export River Sand Abroad by Using Old Licenses [previously, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that river sand must not be exported, but it is for local use only]
  • Samdech Euv [the former King] and Samdech Mae [the former Queen] Go to Beijing [for medical checkups]
  • Within Five Months of 2010, there were More Than One Million International Tourist Arrivals in Cambodia [an increase by 11% compared to the corresponding period in 2009 – according to the Ministry of Tourism]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6998, 3-4.7.2010

  • Japan Granted US$2.26 Million as Salaries for National Staff at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [from April to September 2010]
  • The Head of the Royal Government [Prime Minister Hun Sen] Ordered the Demolition of Reservoirs in the Regions 2 and 3 [in provinces around the Tonle Sap lake] in Order to Save the Tonle Sap Lake [as such reservoirs affect bio-diversity and the eco-system – the order did not say anything about the reservoirs in a third region]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3922, 3-4.7.2010

  • When Will Relevant Officials Declare Their Property as Required by the Anti-Corruption Law?
  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy: That Yuon [Vietnam] Removed Its Border Marker [Number 184 in Svay Rieng] Invading [Cambodian territory] Indicates Success in Protecting the Eastern Territory
  • The Ministry of Interior Requires All Municipal Authorities to Create Public Expression Compounds with a Minimum Size of 600 Square Meters

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5240, 3.7.2010

  • The Authorities Asked 70 Monks of the Srah Chak Pagoda to Leave the Pagoda Temporarily for Reorganization [after a monk secretly filmed nude girls bathing with holy water – Phnom Penh]
  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An Asked Italy to Help Repair and Conserve the Preah Vihear Temple [according to his meeting with the Italian Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Michelangelo Pipan]
  • 449 People Having Cholera and Other 4,000 Alleged Cases Were Found [in Kampot, Koh Kong, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom, Kratie, Pailin, Phnom Penh, Prey Veng, Pursat, Ratanakiri, and Sihanoukville, resulting from the use of unhygienic water, as there is a lack of water in the dry season; 60 people died already, according to officials of the Ministry of Health]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Not Everything Legal is Considered Legitimate – Sunday, 20.6.2010

Posted on 22 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 669 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 669

A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Health spoke against the economic exploitation from blood donations and blood infusions during an event at the occasion of the World Blood Donors’ Day. Did she say that the financial transactions related to blood donations and transfusions are illegal? No. They are legal. But she still considers these business aspect as “totally against the moral of medical professionalism, and such behavior must be avoided.”

We encounter here a situation where something that is legal is still being considered not to be legitimate. No law is violated, but still some people claim to have good reasons to say that it is not acceptable.

And the Secretary of State elaborated further about the consequences of such a discrepancy, when – from a moral perspective – a legal but illegitimate action leads to a loss of “trust from the general public” in medical institutions which are involved in such actions.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Subedi, is quoted to have made a similar remark. Speaking to journalists he said that several reasons: “the lack of resources, institutional problems, and the interference from outside of the court system have created institutions which are not trusted by citizens.”

He did not say that the law is violated – but still: the result is not trusted by many citizens.

Probably it can be said that many actions which caused the sufferings and the deaths of many people under the Khmer Rouge regime were implemented according to the law – the laws of that time – and still a basic feeling for justice considers them not to have been legitimate.

To question legality in the name of legitimacy is not without problems – but still it has to be raised in every society which is built on basic human values, such as the values stated in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia; nobody can avoid to face this dilemma.

As reported by Reuters, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia stated at the end of his third mission to Cambodia on 17 June 2010, that he was troubled by the land disputes and the apparent inability of the poor to get a fair hearing in court. And in a reference to the government’s tough stand on dissent, he expressed concern about what he called a narrowing of the political space for debate. He has the duty to report the results of this visit to the UN Human Rights Council, and he will do so in September 2010. Again: there was no statement claiming that laws are violated – but also a clear indication that he understands that there is doubt and lack of trust in the courts, and in the legitimacy of the results of court actions, felt and expressed by many people.

Facing this situation , the head of the government’s Cambodia Human Rights Commission is quoted to have said already that he expects that the assessment by the UN Special Rapporteur will not be correct, as he was in the country only for a short visit.

It is a general phenomenon that flawed or wrong information and opinion can best be countered and maybe corrected by open and transparent communication – but this may also lead to clarify that there are different, even opposing opinions.

The rapporteur, Mr. Surya Subedi, expressed also that he was disappointed that he could not meet the Prime Minister – a meeting had been scheduled only for the end of his 10-days visit, and the visit could not materialize because the Prime Minister was unwell.

In response, the Prime Minister criticized Mr. Subedi, considering it as a sign of disrespect that he said he was disappointed about the Prime Minister’s illness. “Every time he’s come here, I’ve met him,” Hun Sen said. “From now on, I’ll see him just once a year. I hope he will hear this: I’m ill, I don’t need to report to you,” Hun Sen added, accusing Subedi of wanting to “colonize” his country.

The necessary exchange of information and of opinion with Mr. Subedi, as the United Nations appointed Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, will not become easier. When Cambodia was “colonized” like many other countries by European powers and by Japan were colonized, this was done with military threat or lethal force. It is not obvious why this service of the United Nations, agreed upon with the Royal Government of Cambodia, looking into the status of the human rights situation in Cambodia, considering the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the laws based on it, is an effort to colonize Cambodia.

If it were not that hundreds of people would demonstrate – often holding pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady whom they trust that they will help them to find justice – and thousands of people gave their thumb prints to raise their concerns, considering that they have been unjustly evicted – Mr. Subedi would not listen. He listened also to these people after meeting government representatives and members of the judiciary. And these people are among the ‘masters of their own country” according to Article 51 of the Constitution, and they have the right to struggle, with all other sections of society, that the application of the law is felt to be legitimate.

Where this social consensus is lost – like recently in large section of the Thai society – this can lead to serious problems.

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Changing Approaches to Old Problems – Sunday, 13.6.2010

Posted on 14 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

Though the development of labor unions has progressed over the years, there were always also tensions. First, it has to be acknowledged that there will always be tensions, that is: between labor unions on the one side, through which workers express their opinion and negotiate their claims and rights – and the owners of the enterprises where they work. Both sides need each other, and it is always necessary to work towards an equilibrium between both sides and their interests.

In many countries with a market economy system, it is the state that is watching over this balance of power so that it is fair and helps maintain social peace and, if possible, also economic progress in a society. But when one of these sides has the impression that the state does not take a neutral position, but is favoring one side over the other, relations get strained.

The recently passed legislation to restrict public demonstrations by limiting the number of participants to 200, and to designate a place for these people to meet, restricting their public display by marching together, followed by announcements that the Ministry of Labor is drafting a new law on Labor Unions. While there was no general opposition to regulate the role of labor unions by law, it was greeted by suspicion that it is another attempt to control the unions, for example be imposing some mechanisms how they have to report their finances transparently. – It is not publicly known that the government is planning to impose similar regulations on the other side. The Ministry of Labor has indicated that the draft of the law would be made available for discussion in time – again this is not yet seen to come, after the draft anti-corruption law had been kept confidential almost until the time when it was discussed and voted upon.

At the same time where such a move to more regulation by the state is perceived in Cambodia, there are unprecedented movements in China that workers of some international companies are breaking out of the system of the Chinese, state regulated labor unions, where workers have started to act independently – not 200, but close to 20,000 in one place – to claim public attention to their situation.

The Bangkok Post presented an interesting analysis and overview of these developments – and its problems – on 13 June 2010:

On Friday morning, about 17,000 workers at a Honda car parts plant in Zhongshan, China, held a protest march to the factory gates. They were demanding an almost doubling of their wages and the right to form their own labor unions, as opposed to the government controlled national federation of trade unions. This was the third Honda plant hit by a work stoppage in the last two weeks…

It is more that a little ironic that China, a country that in March announced a new certification system for reporters which requires training in Marxist theories, has been seeing increasing incidents of labor groups demonstrating for greater rights.

It is, of course, a basic premise of Marxism that capitalism exploits the working class, who are the true producers of wealth in society.

The events in Zhongshan follow close on the heels of the bad publicity surrounding a spate of suicides at the giant Foxconn Technology group… which employs more than 300,000 workers making iPhones and other electronic devices. Workers at the compound complained that they were driven like robots by the excessively fast assembly line…

The company agreed to a 65% pay increase for workers, which it says will be passed on to the buyers of its electronic goods.

It is encouraging that the company has taken steps to improve the lot of workers, but this coincides with the announcement that the company might move some of its production lines back to Taiwan, if the government there offers enough incentives, especially lowering the minimum wage for hiring foreign laborers.

The awakening of China’s labor force has to be considered a good thing, but striking a balance that allows a much better quality of life for workers, and enough profitability to keep the companies offering foreign direct investment interested will be a challenge for the workers, for the companies, and for the government.

The Mirror had reported recently about a protracted labor conflict – and that the plan of workers to suspend their work for three days, to demand an increase of salaries, and that the employer obey the labor law, is still not canceled.

Such developments may have an influence also on Cambodia. Not only in terms of labor-management relations in Cambodia, but it may also lead to new job opportunities for Cambodian workers abroad – an increasing number of people finding employment and economic returns in other countries: in Malaysia, in South Korea, and increasingly in some Arab countries.

And this at a time – though in a different context – when the Cambodian Watchdog Council is requesting that the number of foreigners living in Cambodia should be made more transparent, and probably more controlled.

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The Third Bilateral Meeting between Cambodia and the United States of America – Monday, 24.5.2010

Posted on 25 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Phnom Penh: According to an announcement of the US Embassy on 21 May 2010, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Mr. Scot Marciel, and a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Ouch Borith, chaired the third annual discussion between Cambodia and the United States of America. Both delegations discussed many topics, such as US aid to Cambodia, food security, climate change, security cooperation, and general issues in the region.

“US aid to Cambodia aims to assist the priority sectors of the Royal Government of Cambodia as stated in the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government of the Cambodia to help develop Cambodia in the upcoming decades. Those sectors are poverty alleviation, agriculture, good governance, and capacity building. The US aid for those priority sectors is the same as that provided by the USA 60 years ago when the aid program of the United States of America began in 1955.

“Both sides discussed also different strategies where both countries can cooperate, like in military relations, when the US medical ship USS Mercy will arrival at the Sihanoukville sea port on 15 June 2010. Mr. Marciel also talked about the US aid for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and listened to the description of Secretary of State Ouch Borith about the achievements of the Royal Government of Cambodia in reducing poverty, promoting education and the health sector, strengthening basic infrastructure, and addressing some challenges from the global economic crisis. The Cambodian side informed Mr. Marciel also about the efforts of Cambodia to fight corruption and to reform the court system.

“This bilateral discussion provided also the opportunity for both sides to review the planning to organize the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Cambodian-US diplomatic ties. The anniversary will be celebrated by organizing some events in July. The bilateral ties between Cambodia and the United States of America have progressed much by now, especially during the last 10 years. Even though there had been some unavoidable disagreements, both sides believe that the depth and extent of the relations will continue to grow stronger in the future.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6963, 24.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 24 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #485, 23-24.5.2010

  • The King Returns from the Visit to Japan
  • 160 People Were Killed in a Plane Crash in India

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2256, 23-24.5.2010

  • Cambodia Dismissed the Information that Khmers Joined to Burn Down the Krung Thep Bank [Bangkok]
  • A Military Truck Loaded with 63 Pieces of Ebony Was Intercepted, Showing Some Irregularities [it is suspected that the material belongs to a powerful military official in Kompong Speu]
  • Seven Garment Workers Died and 32 Others Were Injured in a Traffic Accident [in Takeo]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #770, 24.5.2010

  • USAID Says that Cambodia Loses US$45 Million, but [Oknha] Mong Riththy Said Cambodia Loses US$146 Million over the Import of Pigs without Paying Tax

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6963, 24.5.2010

  • The Third Bilateral Meeting between Cambodia and the United States of America
  • A Reporter of Voice of America Reporting in Khmer [Mr. Sok Povkhemara] Received an Award [of Mr. David Burke for covering special information about Khmer Rouge leaders: he went directly to the northwest of Cambodia to interview five former Khmer Rouge leaders, questioning them a lot about their role in the genocidal regime]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3887, 24.5.2010

  • There Are No Discussions to Happen to Cancel the US$315 Million Dept [that Cambodia owes the United State of America] during the Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Cambodia-America Diplomatic Ties
  • The Number of Tourists Increased [by 10% compared with four months last year], so that the Siem Reap Authorities Force Sites Trading Recyclable Items [discarded bottles, carton, scrap metal, plastic] to Move Out from the City [these sites look messy, affecting the beauty of the city]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #177, 24.5.2010

  • The Authorities Prohibit Villagers [in the Amleang commune] to Cultivate Rice, but They Allow a [Phnom Penh Sugar] Company [of Oknha Ly Yong Phat] to Clear Disputed Land [Kompong Speu]
  • Cambodia Asked Thailand to Release a Khmer Worker Accused of Having Been Involved in Demonstrations

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5205, 23-24.5.2010

  • An American Man Was Arrested for Debauchery with [underage] Girls [in Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodia Will Host the 30th ASEANPOL [ASEAN Chiefs of Police] Conference [from 24 to 28 May 2010 in Phnom Penh]

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Officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Travel to New York to Verify Funding – Tuesday, 18.5.2010

Posted on 19 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: A delegation of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will travel to the headquarters of the United Nations in New York in the United States of America late this week again, to verify the funding for the mixed tribunal – according to officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“There was a visit to the UN headquarters after the United Nations and donors agreed in February 2010 to grant US$43 million for the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders, where US$10.7 million is for the Cambodian side in 2010. But so far, the money has not been transferred into the account of the Cambodian side.

“The head of the Public Affairs Office of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Reach Sambath, said with hope that the delegation of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, both from the Cambodian and international sides, that will travel to New York late this week, might get positive results relating to the funding for the salaries. The funds for salaries had been promised to be provided to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, but the money for the Cambodian side has not yet been transferred, while there is no such problem for the international side.

“The Khmer Rouge Tribunal has to spend approximately US$485,000 as salaries for the 294 members of the Cambodian staff. But in April, they received only half of their salaries, as funds for the Cambodian side were not adequate.

“Mr. Reach Sambath added, ‘There are still no salaries for the Cambodian side for May 2010. In April, we could only get half of the normal amounts. There are no salaries for May, but the staff is working as normal, as they had experienced this before.’

“In the meantime, Mr. Reach Sambath added that the judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have not provided the exact date when they will announce the verdict for the Case 001, for the former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Kek Eav, alias Duch.

“Mr. Reach Sambath said, ‘We cannot predict the date when the verdict will be announced for the Case 001, as the judges have not informed us. The date of the announcement of the verdict of the former Tuol Sleng prison chief has been postponed due to problems with the translation of the verdict into three languages (Khmer, English, and French), as this must be written out in detail.

“Anyway, Mr. Reach Sambath said that the verdict will be announced before the co-prosecutors will send Case 002 to the trial chamber, which is planned for September 2010.

“It should be noted that the hearings of Case 01 of the former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Kek Eav, alias Duch, started on 30 March 2009 and finished on 25 November 2009. After the hearing of Duch had been finished, the court had announced that the verdict will be released in the first semester of 2010.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5200, 18.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #480, 18.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Supports that More Women Should Have Positions in the National Police [at present, there are only few women serving in the police]
  • Samdech Dekchor: Security in Villages and Communes Is a Hot Issues for the Police [he asked the police to suppress gangs and robberies to ensure the security of the citizens]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2251, 18.5.2010

  • Cambodia Suggests the Thai [conflicting] Sides Should Conduct Peaceful Negotiations to End Violence
  • The Cambodian Beaches Are Selected and Recognized as Among Most Beautiful Beaches in the World [according to the Cambodian Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #657, 18.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian] Son Chhay Said There Should be Investigations [by the government] over the Dredging of Sand which Is Sold to Singapore, though There Had Been Denials [from Oknha Mong Riththy and from the Cambodian Ambassador in the United Kingdom, rejecting the allegations of the Global Witness report]
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Has Not Received a Permission to Visit Mr. Prum Chea and Ms. Meas Srey [who are being jailed for removing border markers in Svay Rieng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6958, 18.5.2010

  • The Authorities Are Investigating the Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel for Having Angkor Wat Placemats on the Floor in Front of Toilets
  • A Mute and Deaf Girl Was Raped and Then Killed while She Was Washing Clothes in a River [perpetrators are not yet identified; Pursat]
  • Within Twenty Minutes, a Tropical Storm Destroyed 253 Houses – 22 Were Totally Destroyed, and Three People Were Injured [Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3882, 18.5.2010

  • [About 180 citizens representing] More Than 2,000 Families in Kratie Protested over Land Grabs against the ECY Cassava Company [they gathered in front of Wat Botum in Phnom Penh to ask for an intervention by Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #113, 18.5.2010

  • In the United States of America Three Khmers Were Arrested for Falsifying Marriage Documents
  • [A former general, a military leader of the anti-government Red Shirt groups] Seh Daeng Died [after he was shot in the head during the demonstrations five days ago]; the Red Shirt Groups Will Not Withdraw while [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vejjajiva Announced that the Demonstrators Have to Withdraw

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5200, 18.5.2010

  • Officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Travel to New York to Verify Funding
  • The Number of Deaths in the Bloodshed in Bangkok Increased to 36
  • A City in Japan Donated Twenty Firefighter Trucks to the Phnom Penh Municipality

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