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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Preah Vihear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a consequence, this was decided:

The World Heritage Committee,

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

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

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

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

Questions:

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

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

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

For the Border

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Preah Vihear – Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Solution: “Dialogue, No Winning or Losing” – Sunday, 8.8.2010

Posted on 8 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 676 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 676

When The Mirror presented, as last Sunday’s issue, a series of quotes and excerpts from publicly available documents it was done with the hope that some quick negative conclusions – not based on available texts, either disregarding, or even contradicting them – can be avoided.

Some steps in time are clear and not contested, especially the 1962 decision of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, stating that it …FINDS THAT THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR IS SITUATED IN TERRITORY UNDER THE SOVEREIGNTY OF CAMBODIA.

Some other steps on the way are less well known widely, while they were also called into memory, for example some principles on which the World Heritage List is operated, as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. It is not about national interests, but about culture as “part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole.” The convention makes it clear that decisions about cultural world heritage do not make any judgment on the sovereignty and territory of States:

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

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

The UNESCO World Heritage Convention is concerned about World Heritage Sites, “part of the world heritage of mankind as a whole,” not about the solution of border problems.

There are rules and decisions of the World Heritage Committee, and there are declarations on the way to the decision of 2008 when the Temple of Preah Vihear was listed as a World Heritage Site, together with decisions how to elaborate its management. Though a management plan, prepared by the Cambodian side, is to be discussed only by the next meeting of the World Heritage Committee in 2011, statements by Prime Minister Hun Sen, quoted in the Cambodia Daily on 5 August 2010, cleared the way into the future:


“Mr. Hun Sen said yesterday that dialogue was the way forward for the two countries. ‘We will use dialogue to solve the rest of the problem,’ he said. ‘I don’t want winning or losing – it is better that we have the win together in solving the problem.’”

Actually, there are two separate – but related – problems:

One problem is concerned with the management plan for Preah Vihear requested by the World Heritage Committee with its 2008 decision to list the Temple of Preah Vihear, where it:

Notes that the property proposed for inscription is reduced and comprises only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves;
Encourages Cambodia to collaborate with Thailand for safeguarding the value of the property, in view of the fact that peoples of the surrounding region have long treasured the Temple of Preah Vihear,..
Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners, to examine general policy matters relating to the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards…

The other problem is related to the demarcation of the Cambodian-Thai border, for which both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 2000. The Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was quoted on 8 August 2010, to have said that “Thailand has no intention of revoking the border Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cambodia inked in 2000” – he said so in response to a “demonstration in the [Thai] capital yesterday demanding the Thai government to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding.” The same report says that “under the Memorandum of Understanding, Cambodia and Thailand need to consult each other if they want to carry out any activities in the disputed 4.6 sq km territory claimed by both countries near the Preah Vihear Temple.” It is not clear whether this Memorandum was published in the media in Cambodia – only the fact of its existence, not its content, has been referenced regularly in the press.

That these border problems also need to be addressed, was obviously agreed by both sides, as it is stated in the large Cambodian 2008 Submission Document, separating the two issues: the World Heritage inscription – and the border problems:

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

The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support of the Heritage Committee to be held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For it part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple

The proposals of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has also in other situations worked successful for win-win results, solving complex problems, provide a clear way towards a solution for both problem, based on the existing common agreements.

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

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


The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

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

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

The Early History

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Preparations toward the Listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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





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

Edited by the Council of Ministers

PHNOM PENH
JUNE 2008

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

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

These confirmations were made:

1

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

2

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

3

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

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






JOINT COMMUNIQUE

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


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

Phnom Penh, 18 June 2008               Bangkok, 18 June 2008

For the Royal Government For the Government of the Kingdom

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



Cambodian Joint Communique Map



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

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

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


“The World Heritage Committee,


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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



29 June 2010


OPINION
WILL THAILAND’S ENMITY TOWARDS CAMBODIA END:


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part of the reality is also geography.

The Temple of Preah Vihear

The Temple of Preah Vihear

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

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






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Disagreement among Co-Investigating Judges at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Thursday, 10.6.2010

Posted on 11 June 2010. Filed under: Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

“Phnom Penh: The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia [ECCC], called the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, announced
that there is disagreement among co-investigating judges after there had been some misinformation, and an international co-investigating judge considers it as disagreement.

“According to the announcement by the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges, released on 9 June 2010, the co-investigating judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal want to correct some information that led to a misunderstanding in a publication on 8 June 2010 of The Cambodia Daily, with the headline, ‘Khmer Rouge Tribunal Begins Investigations of Five New Regime Suspects’ and on 9 June 2010 ‘Khmer Rouge Judge Does Not Sign On to New Investigations.’

“The same announcement says that to ensure clarity, the co-investigating judges decided to make a public announcement on the above case, and declared on 9 June 2010 that the international co-investigating judge considers that there is disagreement between two investigating judges (a national judge, Mr. You Bunleng, and an international judge, Mr. Marcel Lemonde) over the appropriate time to begin inquiries.

“The announcement adds that relating to the plan for investigations on Case 003 and 004 to be organized before the end of this year, the international co-investigating judge will continue this work alone in accordance with the regulations of Procedure 27 of the internal procedures of the ECCC.

“Regarding the background of the disagreement, an international co-investigating judge, Mr. Marcel Lemonde, wrote a letter dated 2 June 2010 to Judge You Bunleng, saying, as the investigations on Case 002 have been completely finished, the investigators should not be kept to get their salaries paid without having work to do. He added that he cannot wait longer without a clear result. Therefore, if a warrant to begin new investigations would not be signed by Friday, 4 June 2010 at noon, he would have to write a note about the disagreement, because it could possibly lead to various negative consequences.

“The Khmer Rouge Tribunal asked The Cambodia Daily to correct the information published on 8 June 2010 with the headline “Khmer Rouge Tribunal Begins Investigations of Five New Regime Suspects” on page 26, claiming that the press quoted information that was ‘non-basis information’ and was not from the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2271, 10.6.2010

Note:

The Cambodia Daily added on 10 June 2010 that Mr. Marcel Lemonde stated that the letter to start further investigations waited for three weeks to be signed. Then Mr. You Bonleng signed it.

The Cambodia Daily then quotes Mr. You Bonmleng’s letter from 8 June 2010:

“Throughout the process of reflection on your proposal and the ultimatum you imposed on me, I had thought that it seemed time to take action as part of cases 003 and 004; I therefore signed the draft rotatory letters on Friday, June 4, 2010.

However, upon more attentive and deeper consideration of the question, I think that it is not yet opportune to take action in cases 003 and 004.

So I permit myself to return to you the draft rogatory letters containing your signature, mine being crossed out, and we shall contemplate discussion on any measures concerning cases 003 and 004 in the month of September 2010.”

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 10 June 2010

Areyathor, Vol.17, #1443, 10-11.6.2010

  • 250 Children Scavengers [at the major garbage dump of Phnom Penh] in Stung Meanchey Received Learning Materials from the Minister of Social Affairs [Mr. Ith Sam Heng]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #500, 10.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Considers the Armed Clash [between Cambodian and Thai soldiers] at Chambok Koang as a Minor Incident

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2271, 10.6.2010

  • Disagreement among Co-Investigating Judges at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] Is Disappointed with the UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur [who plans to focus only on judicial reforms in Cambodia, while ADHOC wants him to pay attention also to the land issues that result from the provisions of economic concession land to companies and the removal of people from the land]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #678, 10.6.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Called on Officials under His Administration to Conduct Reforms Using the Aid Received
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua: The Documentary Film “Who Killed Chea Vichea” [the murdered head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Will Be Shown Soon [though the authorities did not allow it]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6978, 10.6.2010

  • The Border Marker Number 241 at the K’om Samnor-Vinh Soeung International Border Crossing Was Inaugurated; the Provinces of Kandal and of An Giang [of Vietnam] Have Land and Water Borders of 29.5 Kilometer
  • Bill Gates Donates US$1.5 Billion to Impoverished Countries for the Care for Women and Children

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3902, 10.6.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Does Not Believe that Foreign Aid Can Be Used for the Right Targets and with Transparency, though [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Promised to Carry Out Reforms

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #190, 10.6.2010

  • Thirty Border Crossings in Banteay Meanchey Were Closed [in order to stop the illegal import of pigs, petroleum, gas, fruit, and no-quality foods from Thailand to Cambodia]
  • Cambodia Sugar [produced by a sugar factory in Koh Kong] Can Be Exported for the First Time [10,000 tonnes of sugar are exported to London]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5220, 10.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Called on Citizens Not to Do Football Betting during the FIFA World Cup [which will start on 11 June 2010, and he asked the authorities to suppress betting]
  • An Old French Man Received Two Years Imprisonment for Buying Child Debauchery, but His Imprisonment Will Be Implemented for Seven Months Only [Phnom Penh]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Cambodia Must Find Solutions to Encourage Faster Exports – Saturday, 5.6.2010

Posted on 6 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Phnom Penh: The encouragement for the faster export of Khmer products is still a big challenge, as the legal procedures to process export documentation are time consuming, as all documents have to go across too many desks in the administration, which results in delayed operations and high expenses, making Cambodia unable to compete on international markets with neighboring countries.

“A Royal Government advisor and a member of the Supreme National Economic Council, Mr. Sok Siphana, said early last week at the Phnom Penh Hotel, during a national workshop about the encouragement by the Rectangular Strategy for a better commercial operationalization, in order to improve business procedures for commerce, ‘We must find solutions that encourage faster commercial operations. This workshop will present many key measures, and we will discuss to find out how many stages there are to be passed, when rice is brought by farmers to be sold at a seaport, and then from the seaport to foreign countries, and what difficulties are encountered, so that they can be reduced, to improve and speed up commercial operations. We must know which steps should be eliminated or which steps could be adjusted.’

Note:

From The Mirror of Thursday, 29.4.2010: The 15th Royal Government-Private Sector Forum Was Held

“Before the private sectors can export anything, they have to ask for permissions from many places, wasting much money and time. To export more than 200 tonnes of rice is even more difficult and takes even longer time. The private sector needs to gain permissions from the Green Trade structure, that has the exclusive right to export rice. Then they need to ask for permission from many other ministries and institutions. Also, the working teams mentioned that for the transportation of livestock from Preah Vihear to Phnom Penh this process required to cross up to 37 check points, and companies have to pay both official and unofficial money at all those posts. Therefore, they asked the government to eliminate these activities.”

“Mr. Sok Siphana added that it was a technical workshop, attended mainly by senior customs officials and officials from the Ministry of Commerce, while the Supreme National Economic Council as a researcher, provided the necessary backup. The emphasis was on the export of rice, cashew nuts, soy beans, corn, and cassava; the import items considered were mostly medicines.

r

“Ms. Shamika Sirimanne, Chief, Socioeconomic Analysis Section at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), in Bangkok, said that the workshop will contribute to find key measures to encourage least developed countries to export products faster, in order to cut down time and expenses at different stages of the process. This problem affects exports abroad. She added, ‘According to our research, the export of products from Cambodia takes 50% more time than in other developing countries in this region. This shows that one cannot compete with other countries in the region in exports. Mr. Sok Siphana said, ‘Much rice is being exported. Also, our rice milling technology is advanced. The problem is that much of paddy rice produced by farmers is taken out to neighboring countries. This happens because we do not have trade credits to first buy much rice for storing and milling, and then to export it. As for the provision of credits, if the interest rates from banks are too high, farmers cannot ask for loans. Some banks boast that they have much money, but they do not dare to provide credits to farmers. Some banks do not have experts on agriculture working to provide loans to farmers. A large number of banks agree only to offer loans when clients have land or house titles for the bank’s security. This does not include big investors on agriculture, who can easily pay back the money they borrowed, or who can reduce their debt quickly.

“Mr. Sok Siphana said that about 20,000 tonnes of rice were exported in 2009. – This workshop was supported by UN ESCAP that had sent well-known experts from India and from the World Bank to share their experiences with Khmer officials.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5216, 6.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 5 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #496, 6.6.2010

  • The Royal Government Decides to Change the Cambodia Post Services into a Public Enterprise
  • The Minister of Finance of Japan [Mr. Kan Naoto – 菅直人] Becomes Prime Minister

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2267, 6.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Announced to Cancel the Collection of Market Fees by the Roth Sensopheap Company [except for parking and toilet fees, but not on their sales turnover – Phnom Penh]
  • Traders Are Actively Transporting Wood from the Animal Habitat Forest in Snuol District [according to local citizens – Kratie]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #674, 5.6.2010

  • [The acting president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm: We Asks the Government to Take 4 June as the Date to Commemorate the Loss of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Land [to Vietnam in 1994]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6974, 5-6.6.2010

  • The Cambodian Mine Action Center Shares Its Experience in Mine Clearance Internationally: with Colombia

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5216, 6.6.2010

  • Cambodia Must Find Solutions to Encourage Faster Exports
  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Plans to Go to the Philippines to Meet with Parliamentarians and Democrats in Asia [at the end of this month, to welcome the newly elected president of the Philippines when he takes office]
  • Only about 100,000 Motorbike Drivers among More Than 1,000,000 Have Driving Licenses
  • Two Lightnings Killed a Person and a Buffalo and Injured Another Person [Kompong Chhnang]

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“Forestry Crimes Are Activities of National Betrayal” – Sunday, 11.4.2010

Posted on 12 April 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 659 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 659

When Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke out against forestry crimes with extremely strong words – though forestry crimes used to go on regularly and since a long time, as the frequent descriptions in the Khmer press showed – it was understood by sectors of the police and of the military that he really expected change. Illegally cut wood used to be transported illegally – and some journalists who had tried to denounce some of these activities had been hindered or even harassed. And when the UK based organization Global Witness had published a documentation about illegal deforestation going on in Cambodia, the former head of the Forestry Department, Mr. Ty Sokun, had said that this documentation writes lies on every page.

We repeat here from The Mirror of 27.3.2010:

“During a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen affirmed the position of the government regarding the campaign to strongly intercept forestry crimes, and not to give up. Although there may be barriers against it made of rock or of iron, any obstacles must be broken down.

“During the cabinet meeting yesterday, which took from morning to noon, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen spoke to all members of the Royal Government, saying that all related institutions, whether on the national or on regional levels, have to cooperate to intercept forestry crimes, and to reach the ringleaders. All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships, because the suppression of forestry crimes is the suppression of criminal groups – their activities have to be considered as activities of national betrayal.

“Also, Samdech Hun Sen knows that those who use to do such wood trading are backed by high ranking officials, but this time, no matter how high their positions are, they will be jailed.”

As a result, there was a constant stream of related articles during the past week in the Khmer press which show that the Prime Minister’s words had initiated many activities and reactions. The Mirror carried some of them as examples; especially the situation of Mr. Ty Sokun received many comments:

  • A Wood Storehouse of the Canadia Bank in the Cultural Village [of Siem Reap] Was Raided, and Hundreds of Cubic Meters of Wood Were Found
  • As a Result of the Hot Campaign to Combat Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Was Removed and Chheng Kim Song Was Appointed to Replace Him
  • After Mr. Ty Sokun Was Removed from His Position, Documents Relating to Irregular Measures Were Disclosed
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Removes Ty Sokun and Warned Other Officials
  • A 45-Seater Bus Was Illegally Loaded with 68 Pieces of Ebony [the driver was arrested – Siem Reap]
  • Considering Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Should Not Be Allowed to Hold a Position, but Should Be Punished according to the Law
  • Ty Sokun Was Removed from His Position and the Newly Appointed Forestry Chief Was Warned [by Prime Minister Hun Sen] that He Would Be Jailed if He Cannot Intercept Forestry Crimes [Mr. Ty Sokun said that his ability was limited and most perpetrators have relations with high ranking officials and with the rich, and they often warned forestry officials]
  • The Prime Minister Openly Announced to Remove Mr. Ty Sokun from the Position of Director General of the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
  • The Wood Stored by the Owner of the [Siem Reap] Cultural Village Was Not 200 Cubic Meters, but More Than 600 Cubic Meters
  • The Dangkao District Authorities Found a Wood Processing Workshop [run illegally] in the Piphup Thmey Block of Buildings in Dangkao district of Oknha Hong Piv [and discovered hundreds of cubic meters of luxury grade wood – Phnom Penh]
  • A Truck Overturned and More Than 40 Cubic Meters of Ebony Fell on the Street, but the Head of the Forestry Department and Representatives of Other Authorities Did Not Dare to Touch It [an official who asked not to be named said that the wood belongs by an Oknha who has a license to transport it; the wood was to be transported from Pursat to Phnom Penh – Kompong Chhnang]
  • Civil Society Supports the Crackdown on Forestry Crimes by the Prime Minister [“and some associations suggested that former Director General of the Forestry Administration Ty Sokun must be bought to a court to be convicted according to the law”]

The last two headlines point to some concerns, which start to be raised again more, as time passes.

Obviously, some lower level servants of the state are not so sure if the words of the Prime Minister will really protect them, if the do what he said they should do. We remember his words: “All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships.”

But there is not only the fear of some people who actively implement the new directives. There is also starting some questioning how seriously the Prime Minsters words can be taken for what they say – on the one hand. But on the other, he is also quoted to have said to Mr. Ty Sokun and to his successor Mr. Chheng Kim Son, that Mr. Ty Sokun failed in his duties, so he is removed, but he is now appointed as an under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture; but, he is quoted to have added to Mr. Chheng Kim Son, if he too would fail: “Jail.”

So the question in The Mirror of 28.3.2020 cannot yet be put to rest: “Another Thunderstorm – or the Start of a Climate Change?”

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The Prime Minister Ordered to Check Shops Selling Cosmetic Products and Performing Cosmetic Surgery, and Using Chemicals for Cosmetic Purposes – Wednesday, 3.3.2010

Posted on 4 March 2010. Filed under: Week 654 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 654

“Phnom Penh: The head of the Royal Government ordered leaders of the Ministry of Health on 2 March 2010 to cooperate with other related ministries and institutions to check all shops selling cosmetic products and performing cosmetic surgery, and using products containing chemicals that affect the health of clients, especially the health of women.

“During the closing ceremony of the 31st convention of the Ministry of Health at the Intercontinental Hotel, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said, ‘The Ministry of Health must focus and closely cooperate with related ministries and other institutions to carefully check institutions that produce and sell cosmetic products and perform cosmetic surgery, and also monitor the use of chemicals when dealing with offenders, checking the procedures they follow, and even confiscating and destroying tools and materials they use, including products which harm public health.’

“Relating to this issue, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said that it is not a prohibition, but there must be thorough monitoring, as there can be problems later on, affecting the human body, such as damages to the nose, or skin damages, particularly for women who seek cosmetic surgery.

“In the meantime, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen asked the Ministry of Health to regularly take more careful actions, working with other related ministries and institutions to eradicate medicines and medical applications that are not qualified or even fake, and some of the institutions that produce and sell medicines and treat people are not licensed by expert institutions, often making the condition of patients to become worse instead of better.

“The Minister of Health, Mr. Mam Bunheng, stated the major results of the programs to expand and to strengthen the health system, achieved in 2009. The number of health centers countrywide increased from 967 to 984, and the number of health posts [smaller than health centers] increased from 108 to 111. There are 84 hospitals, where 25 are equipped with adequate techniques to provide services for emergency assistance in child birth, and in fundamental infant health care.

“Meanwhile, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen encouraged the Ministry of Health to further increase the number of health posts and centers, especially for people living in newly settled areas along the borders. Prime Minister Hun Sen said wherever people moving ahead and reach new areas, we must think of health services and of educational facilities to be established there.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #424, 3.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #424, 3.3.2010

  • The Prime Minister Ordered to Check Shops Selling Cosmetic Products and Performing Cosmetic Surgery, and Using Chemicals for Cosmetic Purposes

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2191, 3.3.2010

  • A Journalist [of Rasmei Kampuchea] Was Beaten [by a family running a gambling place] Just because He Took Photos of Their Offenses [three persons are arrested – Poipet]
  • Cambodia Will Have the Biggest Exhibition Hall Ever [of 8,400 square meters on Koh Pich island, Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6898, 3.3.2010

  • A Statement about the Level of the Mekong River, Issued by the Mekong Committee [from Vientiane, Laos]: Drought Causes the Water in the Mekong River to Be at a Lower Level [compared to the same period in previous years]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3822, 3.3.2010

  • The Opposition [Sam Rainsy] Party: The European Union Cannot Know How the Cambodian Government Spends Assistance Granted for Development [claiming that there is scarce documentation for the European Union to check – so that the Cambodian Government can making the results look better than the reality]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #122, 3.3.2010

  • The Minister of Defense [Mr. Tea Banh] Wants that Soldiers Learn Foreign Languages [to facilitate military cooperation in the region and at the wider international level]
  • The President of the Sam Rainsy Party, Convicted by a Court [to serve two years in prison for uprooting border posts] Wants to Return to the Country [though he is threatened to be arrested; but he did not yet specify a date]
  • The Cambodian-Indonesian Bilateral Commerce Increased by 24% [to US$165 million] within Ten Months of 2009, Compared with the Corresponding Period in 2008

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5140, 3.3.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank Provided a Loan of US$42 Million for Railway Restoration [in Cambodia]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1885, 3.3.2010

  • Civil Society [the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of twenty three non-government organizations] Condemned the Dangkao District Authorities for Threatening [three] Human Rights Activities [by seizing their cameras to take their memory cards away, during a protest by 335 families over a land dispute, when they planned to march to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence to seek his intervention, but they were prevented by the authorities – Phnom Penh]

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The Preah Vihear Authorities Sold More Than 70 Cubic Meters of Luxury Wood Seized from Illegal Wood Traders – Saturday, 13.2.2010

Posted on 14 February 2010. Filed under: Week 651 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 651

“Preah Vihear: The Preah Vihear authorities decided to sell 76 cubic meters of luxury wood, including wood of the second quality type, on 10 February 2010, without putting it up for pubic bidding. The wood had been seized by combined provincial forces [where forestry administration forces, military police, and police may cooperate] from illegal wood traders in 2009.

“In the afternoon of 10 February 2010, it was seen that more than 20 wood traders and forestry administration officials were collecting Beng, Kronhoung, Neang Nuon, and Thnung wood and 8 cubic meters of second quality wood onto nine trucks.

At 15:36, civil servants of the Preah Vihear Municipality said that they saw three trucks coming into the Preah Vihear Municipality compound to take the wood. Those trucks [made by the Korean company] Hyundai, were each loaded with 30 cubic meters of wood. At that time, journalists came to ask about compliance with the law regarding the permission for the transport of such wood, but the Tbaeng Meanchey district forestry administration chief, Mr Mom Sophal, said that journalists should not publish anything about it, and he would not provide a legal document from the forestry administration showing that it is allowed to sell the wood.

“Journalists continued to ask where the wood was being transported to. A wood trader appeared to claim that journalists did not need to ask such a question. He seemed to have appeared just to protect the wood by saying a few words, and then he became silent.

“After that, the head of the Tbaeng Meanchey district forestry administration strongly warned the journalists, saying that if they wanted to know whether the sale of the wood had been legalized or not, they should ask the Preah Vihear forestry administration chief, and he then stopped saying anything more.

“At the same day at 16:33, journalists contacted the Preah Vihear forestry administration chief, Mr. Pol Khamnara by phone, to clarify the case that wood traders had come into the Preah Vihear Municipality compound to take the wood away, but he said he was in Phnom Penh to attend a court hearing related to the case of the deputy governor Mr. Meas Saroeun, and as far as he knew, the Municipality allowed the wood to be transported to Prey Veng, and he suggested that if the journalist wanted to know more, they should ask the district forestry administration chief Mr. Nong Khemarin. When journalists approached Mr. Nong Khemarin, he said that those wood traders had received a legal permission to take the wood away. But when journalists asked him about the related legal document, he said that he had not yet seen it, so he had nothing to show. As for the Preah Vihear governor, Mr. Oum Mara, he could not be reached for comment as phone calls could not get through.

“It should be noted that during the last four years, there have been more truck transports by nearly 10 trucks loaded with Beng, Kronhoung, Neang Nuon, and Thnung wood. Whenever journalists asked for legal documents, the forestry administration chiefs claimed that the wood transports had been permitted by the law, but they never allowed journalists to see the documents.

“They frequently used the names of ministers [claiming that the ministers supported them] to warn the journalists.

“At 17:00., the journalists received a phone call from an official of the Preah Vihear court who said that he had not seen any legal documents. That official explained that the seized wood can be sold only after the court issues a permit allowing the forestry administration to put it up for bidding first.

“In Preah Vihear, luxury wood is being transported by wood traders all the time, and every time when they transport luxury wood out of the province, the phones of the relevant officials are all switched off, or nobody answers the phone calls. Kronhoung wood is being transported on various routes. Some goes through Nation Road 62 [towards Phnom Penh], and more than half of the remaining wood is transported by the wood traders from Sra Em village to Trapeang Prasat district and on to Oddar Meanchey, crossing Siem Reap, Kompong Thom, and Kompong Cham, to be sold at the Vietnamese border.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5125, 13.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 13 February 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2176, 13.2.2010

  • A Siamese [Thai] Black Clad Soldier [in the uniform of the Thai special border protection unit] Who Came to Lay Land Mines in Cambodia, Was Sentenced to Serve 20 Years in Prison
  • An Anti-Maritime-Mine Naval Ship [of the US Navy] Arrived in Cambodia for Joint Exercises [with the Cambodian navy]
  • One Million Red Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Prepare to Demonstrate in Thailand on 20 February 2010

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6883, 13-14.2.2010

  • The Shukaku Company Is Actively Developing the Boeng Kak Lake Area and So Far, 50% of the Lake Has Been Filled with Dredged Sand [only the sand filling is described as its “actively developing” activities – a construction and management plan – what is to happen on the adjacent land from which the residents are evicted – has not been made public]
  • At 9:00 A.M. of 11 February 2010, a Cambodian Flag Was Erected on Wat Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak, also called Wat Prasat [at the border with Thailand, in a contested buffer zone]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5125, 13.2.2010

  • The Preah Vihear Authorities Sold More Than 70 Cubic Meters of Luxury Wood Seized from Illegal Wood Traders
  • [Former Khmer Rouge leader] Khiev Samphan Said He Was a Powerless Head of State of the Khmer Rouge Regime
  • The International Fund for Agricultural Development Granted US$13,3 Million [for poverty reduction projects, and for the development of small-scale agriculture in the Tonle Sap area]
  • The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization Announced that there are Serious Diarrhea Cases [but denied it is cholera [[as claimed by others on the basis of bacteriological proof]] and therefore declared there is no need to declare a cholera emergency]
  • A Truck Drove over a Female Garment Worker and Killed Her [Phnom Penh]

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An Opposition Party: The Government Should Control the Cambodia Air Traffic Service Itself – Monday, 23.11.2009

Posted on 24 November 2009. Filed under: Week 640 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 640

“There had been several reports that information about confidential flight plans by the Cambodia Air Traffic Service (CATS) controlled by Thai people were leaked. The opposition party has demanded that the government should take control of the air traffic control itself, but there is no response. And now everything seems somewhat too late.

“The spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Yim Sovann, spoke to the media late last week, saying that the government should take the CATS company under its control to ensure that there is no economic loss, and it would be easier for the government to control national secrets. Mr. Yim Sovann said, ‘The Sam Rainsy Party had mentioned this case many times before, suggesting that all these important tasks should not be given to foreigners, and the government should control it by itself. But the state does not care.’

“In January 2001, the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation of the Cambodian government signed an agreement with the [Thai] Samart Corporation, providing an exclusive license for 22 years to this company, to organize, operate, and maintain a system for air traffic routing for civil aviation companies in Cambodia, and this company is also required to conform to the technical standards of BCT [an aviation maintenace company]. After receiving the license from the Cambodian government, Samart very quickly prepared the bidding procedure for the radar system and set up the necessary tools needed for its effective air traffic control operations.

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, agreed that it would be very good if the government would reconsider the air traffic control agreement with the Thai side. He added that Cambodia should have the ability to control this company, rather than allow foreigners to continue to control it. He said, ‘We should recheck that investment agreement, and we should check whether our human resources can take the place of the foreigners.’ He explained that Cambodia jointly created the company CATS with Thailand, because, at that time, Cambodia did not have sufficient experts, and air traffic was not so busy [like it is at present]. Mr. Cheam Yeap went on to say that to continue to let foreigners do the air traffic control affects the security of our nation through the secret release of confidential information to their government, adding that foreigners are not honest to us. He said, ‘Do not trust foreigners but only those having the same blood as Khmers. If we let them be at that place, they might release confidential information about national security, as one Thai person did already. They are not 100% honest towards us.’

“Mr. Cheam Yeap continued to say that according to new Article 90 of the Constitution of Cambodia, the Royal Government can make a request to the National Assembly [“The National Assembly shall approve the national budget, State planning, loans, financial contracts, and the creation, modification and annulment of tax.”]. Then the National Assembly will exercise its right to cancel any contract that can affect the national interest. The Thai spy can be considered as proof to cancel that contract. Another Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, said that the opposition party had expressed concerns since the beginning about problems of national security. Now, it happened as the Sam Rainsy Party had been concerned. He said he will write a letter to the government, because it is related to national security.

“He said, ‘I also saw information about the arrest of the Thai spy. I think it is an opportunity to respond to the Ministry of Defense and the Council of Ministers which had claimed that there would be no problems, but the problem exists now, and I want to know what measures they take.’ He emphasized that he will write a letter this week to the government to request it to check the control over the CATS company.

“Because of the secret copy of the flight plan of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, the Cambodia government ordered all Thai [CATS] personnel to stop working, after Mr. Siwarak Chutiphong, 31, had been arrested for spying, while the eternal friend of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Thaksin Shinawatra, visited Cambodia, to give a lecture about the Cambodian economy, as he is now an economic advisor of Cambodia.” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1817, 23.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 23 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #343, 23.11.2009

  • Forty Eight [not well-known] Civil Society Organizations Support the Suspension of Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [according to their joint statement]
  • The Ministry of Information Asks All Television Stations to Accept to Broadcast Advertisements for Khmer Sports and to Stop Broadcasting Foreign Sports
  • Forty Two People Died, Sixty Six Are Missing, and More Than 100 Were Injured through an Explosion in a Coal Mine [in China]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2105, 22-23.11.2009

  • A Lawyer Will Request Bail for Siwarak Chutiphong on Monday [this Thai engineer was arrested for copying the flight plans of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra to send them to Thailand]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #436, 22-23.11.2009

  • The Government Recognized that there Is Waste of National Resources and there are Wrongly Allocated Expenses

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6812, 23.11.2009

  • The Three Samdechs [Samdech Hun Sen, the Prime Minister; Samdech Heng Samrin, the President of the National Assembly, and Samdech Chea Sim, the President of the Senate] Responded to Samdech Euv [the former King] that the Setting of Border Markers and of the Border Line Is Done Based on the Map Deposited at the United Nations in 1964
  • 40,000 Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of Thai ousted and fugitive Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Prepare to Demonstrate against [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva in Chiang Mai, while 1,000 Yellow-Shirt Demonstrators Rallied to Demand the 4.6 Square Kilometer Land [near the Preah Vihear Temple]
  • A Man like an Animal Raped His 10-Year-Old Daughter Three Times, and then He Was Arrested [Kandal]
  • A French Man Took an Underage Girl to Have Sexual Relations into a Guesthouse and Was Arrested [Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #51, 23.11.2009

  • A Thai Engineer Acknowledged that He Provided Information [about the fight plans of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra] to the [Thai] Embassy [in Phnom Penh]
  • Vietnam Has Invested US$600 Million in Rubber Plantations in Cambodia [it plans to plant rubber trees on 100,000 hectares of land in Mondolkiri, Kompong Thom, Kratie, and Ratanakiri by 2012]
  • Supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra Warned to Kill [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva [by blowing up his car during his visit to Chiang Mai]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #50, 22-23.11.2009

  • Former US President [Jimmy Carter] Helped to Build 21 New Houses for Poor Cambodians [Kompong Speu]
  • [Two] Robbers Shot at a Student to Rob His Motorbike, but the Bullets Ricocheted and Hit and Injured Two Children [who were playing in front of their house during the robbery; the robbers escaped – Phnom Penh]
  • The Number of Deaths from Swine Flu [A/H1N1] Has Increased to 6,660 [worldwide, according to the World Health Organization]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1817, 23.11.2009

  • An Opposition Party: The Government Should Control the Cambodia Air Traffic Service Itself

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3,500, 22.11.2009

  • Cambodian Expands Diplomatic Ties in New York [the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is responsible to organize documentation to establish diplomatic ties with some countries that have not established contacts with Cambodia]

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Perception and Reality – Again – Sunday, 18.1.2009

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

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Cambodia Daily, 16 January 2009)

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

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

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

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

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

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