An Official Said the Visit to Singapore Benefits Cambodia – Wednesday, 28.7.2010

Posted on 29 July 2010. Filed under: Week 675 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

“Phnom Penh: The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, returned to Cambodia in the evening of 27 July 2010, after paying an official visit to the Republic of Singapore for three days.

“At the Phnom Penh International Airport, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Hor Namhong, held a press conference, saying that the visit to Singapore was essential for Cambodia as it benefits Cambodia, since Singapore has a vigorous economic growth. Practically, within the first six months of 2010, Singapore achieved a 17% economic growth. Because Singapore is an important economic partner of Cambodia, both countries’ trade increased within these six months. Trade increased up to 62%, amounting to more than US$1 billion. Also, investments from Singapore are rising.

“During the visit, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen had discussions with the Singaporean prime minister, and both sides agreed to concentrate on mutual economic development and the exchange of their perspective on regional issues.

“The Cambodian Prime Minister, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, made a speech during a business meal, organized by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Singapore in the National University of Singapore in the morning of 26 July 2010.

“Samdech Hun Sen invited Singaporean businesspeople, who have never visited Cambodia, to come to study the Cambodian reality, take up investment opportunities, and meet with Cambodian commercial associations to seek partners and to cooperate to contribute to successful results together. He added, ‘You have capital, knowledge, and experience, and with the extensive potential of Cambodia, there are many places and opportunities where both countries’ economies can benefit from each other.’ Samdech Dekchor promised Singaporean investors and businesspeople to facilitate a favorable and friendly business atmosphere, to be widely open for Singaporean investments and businesses.

“Samdech Hun Sen asked Singaporean investors to establish rice milling factories in Cambodia, because Cambodia harvests lots of paddy rice each year, but the export of unprocessed paddy rice makes Cambodia to lose a lot of profits.

“It should be noted that both countries established diplomatic ties in 1965, but severed them in 1975. They were then reestablished in 1992.

“The trade from Singapore to Cambodia in 2009 amounted to more than US$208 million, while the Cambodian export to Singapore was more than US$481 million.

“From 1994 to 2010, the amount of investments from Singapore was more than US$570 million, concentrated in several sectors, such as tourism, industry, agriculture, and infrastructure.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5261, 28.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2312, 28.7.2010

  • According to the Opinion of His Excellency Hor Namhong [Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] the Sentence of Duch [the former Tuol Sleng Prison chief] Is Too Light [he was sentenced for 35 years in jail, but considering his prior imprisonment and a reduction of the penalty, he will serve only up to 19 years]
  • Twelve Foreigners and Two Khmers Were Seriously and Lightly Injured after a Bus Hit a Cow and Overturned [Kompong Thom]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7019, 28.7.2010

  • Duch’s Verdict Seems to Be Surprisingly Tolerant [based on the impression of Cambodian citizens; according to The New York Times] while the Cambodian Center for Human Rights Said It Is a Model for the Cambodian Courts
  • Workers of the PCCS Garment Factory Strike and Blocked the Russian Federation Boulevard [to demand the factory to re-employ a worker’s representative], but the Authorities Used Force to Disperse Them [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3943, 28.7.2010

  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections [COMFREL] ((Note: if an Internet access brings up “http://www.comfrel.org/khm/index.php” – by deleting “khm/index.php” the English version of the COMFREL site should appear)) in Cambodia Criticized the Government for Using the Courts to Push the Opposition Party Away from Competition for the Upcoming Elections
  • A US Senator [Mr. John Kerry] and the Sam Rainsy Party Encouraged that an Independent Court Systems Be Established in Order to Eliminate Impunity in Cambodia

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #15, 28.7.2010

  • [Opposition party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua Praised [the head of the Cambodian Red Cross] Her Excellency Bun Rany Hun Sen [for her effort to protect the honor of Khmer women]
  • The Royal Government Invests in the Improvement of National Road 5 [377 km from Phnom Penh to Banteay Meanchey; responsible for this is the Chamroen Industrial Development company of Cambodia to spend US$500 million; and the width of the road will be enlarged to 15 meters]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #224, 28.7.2010

  • Duch Will Appeal against the Sentence [that convicted him to 35 years in prison] while the World [France, Japan, the USA, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights] Welcome the Sentence
  • Ms. Mu Sochua Accepted Money from the Women Movement [collected for her, to compensate Prime Minister Hun Sen, as she lost in a defamation case]
  • The Ministry of Education Warned Dishonest Invigilators [who get bribes from students and allow them to cheat during the Grade 12 exams]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5261, 28.7.2010

  • An Official Said the Visit to Singapore Benefits Cambodia
  • Regarding Duch’s Verdict, Cambodia Says It Is Not Appropriate while a Foreign Country [France] Says It Is Good
  • [About 1,000] Yellow-Shirt Demonstrators [who protested in front of the UNESCO office in Bangkok] Demanded that the Preah Vihear Temple Is Excluded from the World Heritage List [it is related to the unilateral development plan of Cambodia in the Preah Vihear temple region]

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The ADB Wants Cambodia to Step Up Investments in Agriculture – Monday, 12.7.2010

Posted on 14 July 2010. Filed under: Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

Sorry for the new delays – computer problems.

I hope to be back in Phnom Penh by the coming weekend.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: The president of the Asian Development Bank, Mr. Kuroda Haruhiko [ADB総裁黒田東彦], stated during a food safety forum in Manila in the Philippines on 7 July 2010, that with the signs of economic recovery in Asia, the area has to achieve regional food security, where also Cambodia has to step up investments in agriculture.

“The Asian Development Bank stated on 8 July 2010 that it wants the Cambodian government to find more investors in agriculture, while the economy in Asia is recovering from the global economic crisis. Therefore, investments in agriculture must be stepped up in order to protect poor people from the bad impacts of rising food prices.

“The president of the Asian Development Bank, Mr. Kuroda Haruhiko, said that to achieve regional, national, and family food security are long term challenges for Asia, even though the economy is getting better at present. In 2008, the food crisis was taken by the Asian Development Bank as an example of a difficult experience. Mr. Kuroda added that in mid 2008, food prices around the world increased to the highest rate in 30 years, and many people among the poor in Cambodia had difficulties in managing their money to buy their daily food.

“The intention of the Asian Development Bank is in line with strategies of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and especially also of the Royal Government of Cambodia as a whole, as Cambodia is trying to recover from the economic crisis and is heading toward success. Cambodia is accomplishing development in agriculture and is strengthening strategic plans in this field countrywide, since Cambodia is a country that depends mainly on agriculture; many national and international investors are cooperating with the Royal Government of Cambodia to serve agriculture.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2298, 11-12.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 12 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2298, 11-12.7.2010

  • The ADB Wants Cambodia to Step Up Investments in Agriculture
  • Nine Stone Grinding Machines Used for Exploring Gold Were Intercepted and Six People Were Arrested [all Vietnamese – they had established the sites illegally – Ratanakiri]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7005, 12.7.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Issued a Verdict, Ordering a Gunman to Come to the Court to Receive His Punishment [while drunk, the gunman, a police official of the Ministry of Interior, drew his pistol and fatally shot a man in Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Did Not Permit Marching [by the Cambodian Confederation Union on 15 July 2010] to Mark the Second Anniversary of the Siamese [Thai] Invasion in the Regions of the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia
  • More Than 100 Tuol Kork Market Vendors Protested against the Increase of Stall Prices [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3929, 12.7.2010

  • The Cambodia Representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [Mr. Christophe Peschoux], Who Has Been Warned [by the Cambodian government] He Might Be Expelled, Plans to Write an Explanation of the Legal Issues and the International Obligations of Cambodia [recently, he criticized that the deportation of two Thais over a bomb attack accusation in Bangkok was a ‘political decisions’ which lacked appropriate procedure]
  • More Than 10,000 Khmer Workers [among 4,000] Can Have the Opportunity to Work Legally in Siam [Thailand] after a Campaign to Clear Illegal Workers [by the Thai authorities; the Khmer Embassy is providing forms for clarifying their nationality so that they can continue to work in Thailand]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5247, 11-12.7.2010

  • The Head Monk of a Pagoda Took Off His Robe to Commit a Robbery – He Was Arrested with Three Other Members [Kompong Chhnang]
  • Twenty Two Reservoirs and a 19 Kilometers Long Canal [in the area of the Tonle Sap lake] Have Been Completely Filled in and Destroyed [there are 249 reservoirs in total; those reservoirs can affect bio-diversity and the eco-system of the Tonle Sap lake]

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Economists: A Cambodia Stock Market Can Use Both the Dollar and the Riel – Thursday, 8.7.2010

Posted on 9 July 2010. Filed under: Week 672 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“Phnom Penh: The stock market of Cambodia scheduled to be established at the end of this year might use both Dollar and Riel.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mr. Hang Chuonarong, said on 6 July 2010, after a press conference at the office of the Asian Development Bank in Cambodia, that this is a choice being discussed by stock market experts, but so far, no official decision has been made. He added, ‘The government has nothing decided, but experts, highly skilled in stock exchange matters, are thoroughly discussing and studying its advantages and disadvantages.’

“According to the Principal Economist in the Office of Regional Economic Integration of the Asian Development Bank, Mr. Jayant Menon, the choice to use both currencies (Dollar and Riel) is a mechanism that Cambodia must take into consideration, because it is related to the currency polices, and the polices about interest rates, especially the stability of the Riel, the national currency of Cambodia.

“He went on to say that to invest by using the Dollar or the Riel is not a problem for the operation of the stock market in Cambodia, but it depends on where Cambodia wants investments to flow to. He added that the problem is whether Cambodia needs local or needs foreign investment. If Cambodia needs foreign investment, foreign investors might find it somewhat difficult to invest in the stock exchange of Cambodia.

“So far, the Dollar, the US currency, is used for 90% of the transaction value [the Riel is used for 10%] at the markets and for payments in Cambodia, while in Laos, it is used only for 50%, and in Vietnam for merely 20%.

“Regarding this issue, Mr. Narong recognizes this point, but he said that the use of the Dollar has both positive and negative qualities. He explained that the use of the Dollar is good, because its value does not change much, it is easy for settling payments in exports, and it attracts foreign investment for economic growth, but it can cause difficulties for the authorities to manage currency policies and some other problems.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5244, 8.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 8 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2295, 8.7.2010

  • Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam Will Cooperate to Solve Dollarization Problems [to deal with challenges that result from using different currencies in the economy, to allow the three countries to promote efficient currency policies and currency exchange policies]
  • Samdech Hun Sen and His Wife Donated Two Male Elephants to the [South] Korean Government [for breeding]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7002, 8.7.2010

  • Police Intercepted a Twelve-Seater Car Loaded with 110 Pieces of Ebony, and a Person Who Tried to Protect the Wood Claiming that He Is a Military Police Officer [finally police seized the car and arrest the driver – Takeo]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3926, 8.7.2010

  • Cambodia Loses US$20 Million to US$90 Million per Year because of Failures in Its Dollarization Policy [according to studies by the Supreme National Economic Council – (interesting: its web site has also a non-operational button Call for donation) – the International Monetary Fund, and the Asian Development Bank, the extensive use of dollars in Cambodia, on the one hand, helps attract foreign investment and trade and enables the banking and financial systems to improve quickly through the increase of deposited money, the prevention of market disturbances, and the inflation of the prices of goods – but, on the other hand, it weakens the possibility of the National Bank of Cambodia to create its own currency policies, including for the prevention of financial crisises in the banking system, the control of the inflation rate of currency exchanges, and the printing of currency notes]
  • The Court Will Issue a Warrant to Detain [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua on 16 July 2010 if She Does Not Pay a Fine by the Deadline [for losing a defamation case against Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #2, 8.7.2010

  • The World Bank: Cambodia Is Very Open for Foreign Investments [compared to other countries in Southeast Asia and in the Pacific, but It Takes Longer [to launch an operation in Cambodia, which takes 86 days on average, while in other countries, it takes only 42 days]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Starts to Construct a Demonstration Compound [at a park near the Canadia Bank’s High Rise Building]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5244, 8.7.2010

  • Economists: A Cambodia Stock Market Can Use Both the Dollar and the Riel
  • Cambodia Denied that Thai Red-Shirt [anti-government] Leaders Take Shelter in Siem Reap [the Thai Prime Minister said that two red-shirt leaders are hiding in Cambodia]
  • More Than 6,000 People Suffered Injuries and Death along the Road [within six months of 2010, there were 3,040 cases of traffic accidents in Cambodia which killed 991 people, seriously injured 2,853, and lightly injured 2,562]

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Seven Companies Receive Economic Concession Land from the Government – Saturday, 8.5.2010

Posted on 8 May 2010. Filed under: Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“Phnom Penh: Seven local and foreign companies received economic concession land from the Royal Government of Cambodia to grow agro-industrial crops and trees. The agreement to provide concision land was made on 5 May 2010 at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and was chaired by Minister Chan Sarun.

“In front of the participants and leaders of the companies that got concession land, the Minister of Agriculture expressed appreciation for those companies as they are trusted by the Royal Government. And he suggested to those companies to invest more, to promote a proper and sustainable ago-industrial sector, based on plans that include the exchange of techniques, the creation of jobs, and the increase of income and of health services, roads, and agricultural markets. He asked those companies to care about protecting the environment in order to avoid, and to reduce, as much as possible bad impacts on the environment because of their investment operations, to promote the plantation of trees, especially rubber trees, and the manufacturing for export, based on a proper sharing of benefits between the investors and the state.

“The seven companies that received economic concession land:

  1. PLT Company, 7,900 hectares in Rovieng district, Preah Vihear, for planting rubber trees
  2. CRCK Rubber Development company, 6,044 hectares in Sandan district, Kompong Thom, for planting rubber trees
  3. Hua Ling company, 7,773 hectares in O’ Reang Euv district and Monorum district in Mondolkiri, to plant Srol trees [a type of pine trees; its rosin is of better quality than that of rubber trees]
  4. CCV company, 5,730 hectares in Santuk district, Kompong Thom, for planting acacia
  5. IPD Instance Pro-Trading, 987 hectares in Sambou district, Kratie, for planting rubber trees
  6. Camtri Corporation, 2,409 hectares in Chhouk district, Kampot, for planting acacia trees
  7. Krongbuk-Ratanakiri Rubber Development Company, 6,695 hectares in Andong Meas district, Ratanakiri, for planting rubber trees.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5192, 8.5.2010

Note:

The article contains:

  • No information which company is national, and which is foreign
  • No information about the bidding process through which these companies “received economic concession land from the government”
  • There is no information presented about any financial conditions that had to be met to receive these contracts
  • There is no information given about the number of years covered by the various contracts
  • The minister asked those companies to care about protecting the environment, but there is no information given whether and what kind of measurable data for the protection of the environment are part of the concession contracts, and what kind of penalty regulations have been contracted, in case the environment protection regulations might be violated
  • What is considered to be “proper sharing of benefits between the investors and the state” is not spelled out in terms of monetary or percentage figures.

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 8 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #472, 8.5.2010

  • The National Assembly Adopted a Law about the Creation of [six] More Consulates in China [at important cities of China to facilitate trade related visits between the two countries]
  • Korea Grants US$3.3 Million to Support the Health Sector in Siem Reap
  • The European Union and Cambodia Jointly Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Creation of the European Union [on 9 May 2010 – the date relates to a programmatic speech by Robert Schuman, Foreign Minister of France between 1948-1952, on 9 May 1950. – The Mirror editorial tomorrow will deal with this in detail – relating also to relations within ASEAN]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2243, 8.5.2010

  • The Heng Development Company Is Accused of Violating 4,000 Hectares of Residents of Four Communes in Kandal Stung District [in Kandal; around 250 citizens came to protest in front of the residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh]
  • Son of [the Kompong Speu deputy governor] Mr. Tong Seng Drove His Car to [intentionally] Hit a Worker [working at his ice factory, because the worker demanded his salary that had not been paid for four months], but the Authorities Released the Driver [after there had been interventions from generals – Kandal]
  • Leaders of Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the government] Agreed to Disperse on 10 May 2010

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #650, 8.5.2010

  • [Opposition part parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Many Questions [about payments from foreign companies to Cambodia related to mineral and oil concessions] Were Not Answered by the Government

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6950, 8-9.5.2010

  • The Authorities Require Land Owners of 3,177 Unused Plots of Land in Seven Districts in Phnom Penh to Pay Land Tax to the State
  • The Chamkar Mon Authorities Raided Four Night Clubs Including the “Young Girl Night Club” Where There Were Many Teenage Girls [Phnom Penh. – The Owners of three clubs were arrested for involvement with drug distribution, and nude dance presentations; the fourth club was not found to have committed any violations]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3874, 8-9.5.2010

  • The Honor of the Poipet Immigration Police Is Getting Lost as They Extort Money from Workers
  • A Luxury Grade Wood Storehouse in Sihanoukville Was Checked, and 10 Cubic Meter of Wood Was Found Buried in the Ground

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5192, 8.5.2010

  • Seven Companies Receive Economic Concession Land from the Government
  • Early 2010, the Number of Cambodian Workers Who Migrate Abroad Increased [from January to April 2010, 2,607 workers were sent to work in Malaysia and 500 to Korea]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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The United States of America Launched a Program of Accountability in Governance and Politics – Wednesday, 21.4.2010

Posted on 22 April 2010. Filed under: Week 661 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 661

“Phnom Penh: The United States of America launched a Program of Accountability in Governance and Politics with US$16.2 million to promote accountability and transparency in the Cambodian government.

“The program was launched on 20 April 2010 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh, and it was chaired by the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, and by the US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol A. Rodley.

“The United States Agency for International Development [USAID] developed this Accountability in Governance and Politics 5-year program, aimed at assisting Cambodia by encouraging the government to be responsible for implementing their policies through: 1. Strengthening of accountability, transparency, and broad access to information; 2. Creation of modern leadership; and 3. Support for the electoral systems.

This program will provide US$7.2 million to the International Republican Institute from 2009 to 2014, concentrating on consolidating the capacity of civil servants and of officials of political parties through the analysis of public surveys and through the creation of effective strategies for decision making.

“This program also offers US$6.08 million to the National Democratic Institute for increasing transparency over decisions of the government, and for further strengthening the access to public information about policy formation.

“The program also provides US$2.29 million to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems to strengthen the understanding of politics and the participation by women in government positions.

“Ms. Carol A. Rodley said that democracy in Cambodia is young, but it has progressed much since the first elections in 1993. She added that the United States of America hopes to cooperate with related institutions of the government, with civil society, and with all political parties to strengthen democracy in Cambodia. She went on to say, ‘I am exited about the extensive consolidation of skills and of experiences that these organizations have contributed to Cambodia, with which they can implement the projects at their areas. I believe that we will see positive results within five years.’

“On the same occasion, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An highly assessed USAID for initiating and for funding this crucial program, and he hopes that it will contribute to promote the understanding and the participation of citizens in creating and implementing various policies that are more accountable and more transparent, so as to lead to a broader implementation of democracy in Cambodia.

“He added that the projects to be implemented are also consistent with the political program of the Royal Government that is encouraging the participation from all circles in the process to establish policies, in project organization, and in different decisions made by the Royal Government through consultations to ensure a balanced progress in Cambodia. The Royal Government clearly stated that civil society and non-government organizations are important partners for economic and social development, as well as for the strengthening of democracy and the respect for human rights in Cambodia.

“He hopes that these projects will be implemented equally and faithfully by the three organizations, according to their goals, in order to join with the Royal Government to strengthen democracy, development, and the implementation of polices to further develop the economy and the society.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5177, 21.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #458, 21.4.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank [ADB] Predicted that the Cambodian GDP Will Grow by 4.5% in 2010 and by 6% in 2011 [if the global economic growth is in line with the forecast of the ADB, and if the climate is favorable for agricultural cultivation in Cambodia]
  • Samdech Hun Sen Will Lead a Delegation to Attend the Inauguration of the Expo 2010 Shanghai [in China on 29 April 2010]
  • The Number of People Killed by an Earthquake in China [in the northwest] Rose to 2,000

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6920, 21.4.2010

  • The Municipal Court Issued a Warrant to Bring Mr. Sam Rainsy to the Court [for a hearing, not for arrest] over an Accusation that He Faked Public Maps
  • A Fierce Lightning Storm Killed Six People during a Rain in the Early Visakh Lunar Month in Bakan District [Pursat – the Visakh month is the second month in the traditional lunar calendar, in 2010 extending from the end of March to the end of April]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3859, 21.4.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank Found that the Rate of Poor Khmer Citizens Strongly Increased in Rural Areas

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.154, #1, 21.4.2010

  • Asian Development Bank: Cambodia Lacks behind Its Neighboring Countries in the Garment Sector and in Tourism
  • [The Former Phnom Penh police chief, now jailed at the Prey Sar Prison] Heng Pov Published a Book Praising [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Politics [“The Strategy of Putting the Fire of War in Cambodia to an End” – ហេង​ពៅ “យុទ្ធសាស្ត្ររំលត់ភ្លើងសង្គ្រាម​នៅ​កម្ពុជា”]
  • The Land Dispute in Amleang Commune Is Still Hot as There Is Still No Solution [about 500 villagers continue to protest against Oknha and Senator Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company encroaching on what they claim is their land]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5177, 21.4.2010

  • The United States of America Launched a Program of Accountability in Governance and Politics
  • [Twenty seven] Foreign Journalists from the time of the War between 1970 and 1975 Arrived in Cambodia Again [for a reunion, and they were welcomed by the Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith]
  • [The President of the Cambodian People’s Party and of the Senate] Samdech Chea Sim Welcomes the Former Head of State of Vietnam [Mr. Trần Đức Lương (Tran Duc Luong} during his visit to Cambodia to strengthen the ties and good cooperation between both countries]

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Tears and Ashes Remain and the Future Is Not Not Clear after the Fire behind Wat Neak Voan – Wednesday, 10.3.2010

Posted on 11 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

Note:

Apologies for the delay – I am still at an ICANN conference – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the global coordination for the Internet name space – in Nairobi/Kenya. I hope to be back in Phnom Penh next Monday. I try to avoid delays – but I am kept busy at the conference and do not always have Internet access when I would like to have it.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: One of the hundreds of victims of the terrible fire which destroyed more than 200 houses on 8 March 2010 said, between sobs and with tears, ‘My house was totally burnt down. I am seeking if anything remained which I could sell to get some money to buy food.’

“On 9 March 2010, the victims of the fire continue exploring to see if there is any property left in the ashes from the fire whose cause is still not known. Some surrounded their land by markers, some dug in the ashes, and some went to the water blackened by the fire to see if there is anything from their lost property.

“A victim with six children, Ms. Sum Srey, said in between sob, when she was asked about the fire, pointing to the deadly smoke, ‘That fire burnt very fast. I have nothing left. I am looking for anything remaining that can be sold for money to buy food.’

“According to the local authorities, no lives were lost in the fire next to Wat Neak Voan in the night of 8 March 2010. But 178 big and small houses constructed next to each other in the area, 10 rooms of monks in the Wat, and 21 rooms of students were totally burnt down. This destruction made 257 families, 90 monks, and 181 students lose their shelter.

“This big fire broke out at 18:40 p.m. southwest of Wat Neak Voan in the Boeng Kak II commune, in Tuol Kork district.

“According to investigations by the police, the fire was caused by an electric fault in a house owned by a Mr. Phoeun Pho, a construction worker.

“About 60 firefighter cars rushed to the site to intervene but encountered problem with the narrow roads to reach the site to put out the fire. Some families could take few belongings in time, and some families’ property was all stolen or snatched away by thieves.

“Sister Kong Satha, whose husband is a motor-taxi driver – they have nine children to care for – who rented a house in the area, said with tears that she could only take the television set and a bike. Everything else was burnt. And she did not receive any donation, as the village chief said that her family’s name is not on the list.

“The Tuol Kork district governor, Mr. Seng Ratanak, said that in the first stage, donations were distributed to only 257 families that owned real houses, and the authorities will assist those who rented houses later.

“The district governor said that to reorganize the area, the Phnom Penh Municipality provides two options. First, each family will be offered a 6 by 12 meter plot of land in Ponhea Leu District, Kandal if they agree to leave, and second, if they still want to settle on the same area, the authorities will organize it technically by constructing wider roads.

“The victims of the fire, besides losing their property and their houses, now have also to struggle for their daily lives after this dreadful event. Some fear that they will no longer be allowed to reconstruct their houses on their previous sites, and they will be forced to settle in other areas which are remote, and where it is difficult to earn a living. They just hope that they will not be victimized twice, once by the fire, and then by a forced eviction to live in a remote area where it will be difficult to live.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5146, 10.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #430, 10.3.2010

  • The UN Encourages Cambodia to Strengthen Information and Communication Technology [to boost economic development]
  • 74,000 Hectares of Land [in 22 provinces] Are Prepared to Be Allocated for Decommissioned Soldiers [according to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2197, 10.3.2010

  • The Prosecutor Rejected the Request of Mr. Sam Rainsy to Postpone His Appearing at the Municipal Court [over the accusation to have faked maps, and a defamation case initiated by the government – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #622, 10.3.2010

  • [The President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Rong Chhun Called Not to Threaten Teacher Association Officials at Provinces and Cities in the Whole Country [when they make negative comments to journalists about the education system]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6904, 10.3.2010

  • Today the National Assembly Will Discuss the Anti-Corruption Draft Law Which Has Been Long Awaited by the Public
  • 178 Houses, 10 Rooms of Monks, and 21 Rooms of Students [who lived in the pagoda] Became Ashes after a Fire Broke out [in the “Railway Block,” Phnom Penh]
  • The Production of Fake Medicines Was Intercepted by a Raid of the Economic Police, and Twenty Six Types of Drugs, Weighing 19.28 Tonnes All Together, Were Seized [a Chinese man was arrested – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3828, 10.3.2010

  • The Siamese [Thai] Government Declared a State of Emergency from 11 to 23 March 2010, under the Internal Security Law [as big demonstrations by red shirt demonstrators were planned in Bangkok and in seven provinces]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #127, 10.3.2010

  • Besides a Lack of Food and Shelter, the Victims of the Fire in Boeng Kak II [257 families in the “Railway Block”] Are Worried about Being Evicted [Phnom Penh]
  • [The ASEAN Secretary-General] Surin Pitsuwan: The Media Quoted His Words Incorrectly [by publishing that he was strongly concerned about a recent military exercise in Cambodia; actually, he said that he is concerned about the continuing border tension between Cambodia and Thailand]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5146, 10.3.2010

  • Tears and Ashes Remain and the Future Is Not Not Clear after the Fire behind Wat Neak Voan
  • The National Assembly Rejected the Request [of the Sam Rainsy Party and civil society] to Delay Discussing the Anti-Corruption Draft Law

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The Cambodian Commercial Scale Is Not Yet in Balance – Friday, 5.2.2010

Posted on 6 February 2010. Filed under: Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

“Phnom Penh: The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, stated on 4 February 2010 during the inauguration ceremony of the new building of the Ministry of Commerce, ‘The Cambodian commercial scale for exports is not yet in balance.’

“He added, ‘Our foreign commerce amounts to about US$10 billion. But the Cambodian export is only something more than US$4 billion, while the imports to Cambodia amount to much more. The Cambodian-Thai bilateral trade is more than US$2 billion; the Cambodian-Chinese is more than US$1 million; and the Cambodian-Korean trade is more than US$2 billion. In total, it is more than US$5 billion.’

“To reduce this commercial imbalance, Samdech Hun Sen called on local investors to boost productivity for export, handicrafts, fishery, and other products to meet both local demands and that on foreign markets, because Cambodia has many markets such as China, Japan, Korea, the ASEAN countries, Europe, and other markets.

“Samdech Hun Sen continued to say, ‘Just as a first stage, China allowed us to export more than 318 types of products and later on 400 types, but Cambodia does not have products to be exported to China, and to member countries of ASEAN allowing Cambodia, Laos, and Burma to export to them. But Cambodia does not have products to be exported to those countries.’ Samdech Hun Sen went on to say, ‘Cambodia must strengthen its position for exports, like meat processing, eggs, vegetables, and other goods which can be sold to tourists who visit Cambodia. The creation of markets for farmers growing vegetables and raising animals, and the selling of their products to many shops, creates consistent commercial processes, and we do not need to import many things from abroad. In the meantime, those products must have quality, be attractive, and safe. The Ministry of Commerce has to assist to seek markets for these products and to encourage more exports so as to earn more profit.’

“Regarding the commercial scale issue, an economist of the Cambodian Economic Development Institute, Dr. Kang Chandararoth, spoke to Deum Ampil, saying, ‘The commercial scale is not in balance, because previously, Cambodia exported many not-processed products [to become final products]. Thus, it makes Cambodia lose value-added profits. Also, it is related to the size of places or of raw materials that we use to make those products, as the commercial infrastructure of Cambodia faces many shortages.’ He recommended, ‘Cambodia has to reform its transport infrastructure and its commercial laws to facilitate the operations of investors.’

“Also, the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon, stated on 3 February 2010 in a press conference at the Phnom Penh Hotel, ‘The Ministry of Tourism will improve tourism services, including the creation of various attractions.'” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #406, 5.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 5 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #406, 5.2.2010

  • The Cambodian Commercial Scale Is Not Yet in Balance
  • The National Authority for Combating Drugs Reacted against a Human Rights Watch Report [rejecting accusations that there is mistreatment of people held at rehabilitation centers]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2169, 5.2.2010

  • Civil Society Official [the director of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC, Mr. Thun Saray]: Because of [Opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Acts It Is Difficult to Help Him [as he acted against the law: Mr. Sam Rainsy removed temporary border markers and was sentenced to serve a two-years prison term]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #731, 5.2.2010

  • [Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries] Chan Sarun and [the Director General of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife of the Ministry of Agriculture] Ty Sokun Do Not See the Forestry Crimes in Cambodia

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #598, 5.2.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson and parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: The Increase of Electricity Prices Shows the Government’s Incompetence to Develop the Economy

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6876, 5.2.2010

  • Human Rights Conditions in the 2009 Report Are Better Than in 2008, Especially There Was Not Imprisonment for Defamation [according to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #105, 5.2.2010

  • The Prime Minister Will Visit Preah Vihear This Weekend [on 6 February 2010]
  • Five Khmer Fishermen Escaped from Thai Boats and Fled to East Timor [after they saw their Thai boat owner throwing the body of a Khmer fisherman over board who had gotten sick and died]
  • The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC): The Freedom of Expression in Cambodia Was Restricted [in 2009]
  • The UN Studies the Copy Right Law Situation in Cambodia as Copyright Legislation Is Not Properly Implemented

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5118, 5.2.2010

  • [Puea Thai Party president, former general, and former Thai prime minister] Chavalit: The “People’s Army” Now Have Already Had Their Leader [he rejected a request for him to lead the so called “people’s army,” a group in the Thai military supporting the Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra]

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Petro Vietnam Signed an Agreement on Oil Exploration in Block 15 with the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority – Saturday, 14.11.2009

Posted on 16 November 2009. Filed under: Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 638

Apologies for the delays, which may continue into the coming week, as I am attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone. I try to be timely as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“The Cambodian National Petroleum Authority and the Petro Vietnam Exploration Production Corporation, which is part of the Vietnam Oil And Gas Group, signed an agreement on oil exploration in Block 15 (XV) in the evening of 12 November 2009 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh.

“The ceremony was organized under the presidency of the Minister of the Council of Minister, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, by the head of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, and by a Deputy Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr. Hoàng Trung Hải [Hoang Trung Hai].

“This agreement was signed by Mr. Sok An and by director of the Petro Vietnam Exploration Production Corporation General Director of Petro Vietnam Exploration and Production Corporation Nguyễn Vũ Trường Sơn [Nguyen Vu Truong Son].

“The deputy director of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, Mr. Ho Vichet, said that the oil sector in Cambodia attracts the attention from many international oil companies to invest in it. Practically, some companies have been offered the right to study and to explore oil in Cambodia both in the sea and on land. Positive results of oil exploration in the Cambodian sea in Block A resulted in trust about the existence of oil resources both in the sea and on land in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“Mr. Ho Vichet added that so far, the government has offered oil companies the right to study and explore all oil blocks, and each company is fulfilling their tasks at their respective blocks, following the agreements. Also, there are some companies signing agreements on inland oil on with the Royal Government of Cambodia and others are continually following up to invest also in the fields at those blocks that still remain unexplored.

“The head of the Board of Directors of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, Mr. Đinh La Thăng [Dinh La Thang], said that this is a new breaking of a record regarding cooperation in the field of oil exploration between the two countries. Block 15 is located at the northeast of the Tonle Sap Lake in the Cambodian inland, where oil availability is estimated for 30 years, and gas availability for 35 years, and the exploration will take 7 years.

“As for Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai, he said that the signing of an oil agreement for Block 15 is the fist cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam in the oil sector, which is being considered by the Vietnamese government as potential sector to encourage economic development, and to ensure energy stability in the country. ‘The signing today marks a better cooperation between the two countries.’

“Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said that this agreement will provide a lot of benefits, like human resources development, exchange of experience in the oil sector, creation of new jobs, income which contributes to achieving success for the goals of the Royal Government to develop the economy and the society, as well to reduce poverty. ‘I consider the event today as a new testimony which clearly demonstrates a long term development of traditional, historical, and strategic relations inherited between the people of Cambodia and the people of Vietnam, especially by strengthening economic cooperation and of investment in the private sector.’

“The Deputy Prime Minister added that to successfully develop the oil and gas sectors, Cambodia necessarily needs joint cooperation in investment with highly experienced and successful companies. He said, ‘In this sense, I would like to highly assess the right decision of the Petro Vietnam, and I would like to express my appreciation towards the Vietnamese leader and government for encouraging and supporting investment projects in Cambodia. The ceremony today is not only a sign of a new success in good cooperation between the two countries, but I think it is also the opening in a broader sense for further investments between Cambodia and Vietnam. The Royal Government of Cambodia always supports and encourages different companies in Vietnam that are operating and plan to invest in Cambodia.” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #336, 14.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 14 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #336, 14.11.2009

  • Petr Vietnam Signed an Agreement on Oil Exploration in Block 15 with the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority
  • [The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong Leads a Delegation to Attend the World Summit on Food Security [from 16 to 17 November 2009 in Rome, Italy]
  • [Head of the Cambodia Red-Cross and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wife] Bun Rany Will Receive an HIV/AIDS Leadership Award from UNAIDS [on 17 November 2009 for her noticeable leadership in the battle against HIV in Cambodia and in the region]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2098, 14.11.2009

  • The Special Paratrooper Brigade 911 Was Withdrawn from the Preah Vihear Border Region
  • On 17 November 2009, There Will Be an ASEAN-Japan Security Exercise at the Sihanoukville Port
    The A/H1N1 Flu Killed Already 3,900 US Citizens

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #529, 14.11.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy: The Cambodian Authorities Listen to Yuon [Vietnam] to Suspend His Immunity
  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Has Not Been Seen to Go to Meet with the Khmer King [after he was named advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen and of the government]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Said that the [Thai] Embassy in Cambodia Is Not Closed, and He Does Not React against the Expulsion of the First Secretary [of the Thai Embassy] from Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6805, 14-15.11.2009

  • Puea Thai [opposition] Party Delegation Came through the Poipet Border Crossing to Meet Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra in Siem Reap
  • Thaksin Shinawatra: In Order to Have Further Development, the Focus Must Be on Agriculture and Tourism, for Which a Clean Environment is important, and High Security Is Required for Tourists [speaking to Cambodian economists]
  • Cambodia and Laos Signed an Agreement to Exchange International Telecommunication Services [to connect international phone services directly to each other, as well as to other countries in the region]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5047, 14.11.2009

  • Cambodia Asked [other ASEAN countries] Not to Raise the Cambodian-Thai Dispute during the ASEAN-US Summit
  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Asked for a Delay of the Session to Suspend Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [on 16 November on the ground that the complaint of the Svay Rieng Court over his participation to remove temporary border markers at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border is not a civil case, but a territorial complaint]

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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Official Visa Application Site

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

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

“Dear Sir,

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

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

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

“Your sincerely,

“Khieu Kanharith”

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

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

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

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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