Investments on Islands in the Cambodian Sea Are Full of Secrets and Corruption as They Are Not Put Up for Public Bidding – Friday, 13.8.2010

Posted on 14 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“A high ranking official of the Sam Rainsy Party demanded the government to clarify the investments by private companies on some islands in the Cambodian sea. People want to know which companies control those islands and the leasing prices, and for how long. A request was made after the Cambodian government handed over some islands to local and foreign companies for investment, but the investment opportunities were not put up to facilitate accurate and transparent public biddings.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, said that it is illegal that the government delivered these islands to private companies, and the income from these investments is not inserted into the national budget. The investment or concession arrangements for those islands are confidential and corrupt. Mr. Son Chhay, said, ‘Where will the income from the islands be taken? As a parliamentarian, we have to observe and monitor the national income, after the government had issued sub-decrees to hand those islands over to companies, but we have not seen any documents about the amount of income from these leasings and concessions.’

“Mr. Son Chhay added that islands in the sea have as high a potential for the Cambodian economy as the beaches near Kep, Koh Kong, and Sihanoukville, because they attract national and international tourists. However, the government does not put them up for public bidding; this also affects the environment, and the background of the companies is not known. He said, ‘We have received information that several Khmer islands have been handed over by the government to powerful people or to relatives of government officials, and they then leased some islands to some foreign companies, exploiting for themselves the interests of the Khmer people.’

“In his response, a Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarian and chairperson of the Commission of Economy, Finance Banking, and Audit, Mr. Cheam Yeap, acknowledged that the government did not put the investment on those islands for public auction, because the government does not have detailed plans, to show them to the clients for bidding. Since the government was not able to create detailed plans, putting them for public bidding is impossible. This recognition by such a high ranking official from the Cambodian People’s Party shows that the investment or leasing of the islands to some companies is mysterious and can be plagued by corruption.

“Mr. Son Chhay stressed that he requested the government in writing since 2006 to clarify investments and leasing of islands to some companies without transparent public bidding, but he has not received any response from the government. Now, he is collecting documents to be used as evidence about the impact and the corruption, in order to submit them to the government and ask for clarification again. The intention is to summon ministers or other government representatives to clarify these investment on some islands that are being developed – their shares were sold in Hong Kong – in order to know whether such activity is legal or not, and whether it conforms with basic procedures. If there is no clarification, it can be concluded that what was done before was the illegal sale of some islands of the country.

“In July 2010, the Ministry of Tourism cooperated with UNESCO towards the registration of some beaches of Cambodia among the world most beautiful beaches [Reference not clear, maybe the UNESCO Environment and development in coastal regions and in small islands program, concerned with ‘environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, culturally respectful and economically viable development’]. It is expected that there will be strong support from national and international tourism. Also, the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon, said that after Cambodian beaches will have been noted, the Ministry of Tourism is trying to make some Cambodian beaches to be fully listed among the world’s most beautiful beaches during the nomination next year.

“Nevertheless, non-government officials watching the environment in Cambodia noticed that some companies taking charge of island developments do not study the effects on the environment. Like on Puos Island, while there is yet no result from the developments by a Russian company, there is mysterious information and it might be related to corruption. Obviously, the Puos Island development plan has not been provided any benefit to the nation, besides environmental deterioration and impacts on the living conditions of citizens who used to do fishing near the island.

“According to expert officials, there are about 40 islands in the Khmer sea with investment potential where some have already been developed, while some others are being developed by companies such as Rong Island, P’Oun Island, Bang Island, and Puos Island. Recently, the Cambodian government provided licenses to private companies to invest on four more islands in Koh Kong, such as Sameth, Putsa, Chhan, and Toteung islands. Among those companies, there are also Yuon [Vietnamese] companies, and the development periods are up to 90 years. This might lead of the loss of Cambodian territory, as the Cambodian government does not present investment contract documents for those companies.

“A non-government organization official in Kampot said that some years ago, a Yuon company, Try Pheap, developed Tonsay Island in Kep and evicted the Khmer citizens living there from that island. At present, that Yuon company has not continued its developments. After it obtained the license, it stopped its activities. Such a problem emerged, as previously the government did not conduct public biddings and did not set clear conditions publicly before offering a license to that private company. Therefore, from now on, the government must conduct public biddings before providing licenses to companies to develop and operate on islands in the Cambodian sea, in order to avoid secret and strongly corrupt practices as in the past.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3957, 13.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 13August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2326, 13.8.2010

  • The Head of the Government [Prime Minister Hun Sen] Called for Participation [from all relevant institutions and authorities] to Save the Tonle Sap Lake That Is Suffering Various Dangers
  • The CamActive Company Was Checked [following a complaint from the Monument Books and The United Knowledge companies that have legal contracts with the Cambodian authorities with exclusive rights to import and distribute English books from the Oxford University Press – according to the police of the Ministry of the Interior], and [6,465 English] Books of the Oxford University Press Imported Illegally Were Seized [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7033, 13.8.2010

  • Hundreds of Pieces of Ebony Wood Were Found Hidden in a Site in Ang Snuol District [nobody responsible for the site has been arrested – Kratie]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3957, 13.8.2010

  • Investments on Islands in the Cambodian Sea Is Full of Secrets and Corruption as They Are Not Put UP for Public Bidding

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #29, 13.8.2010

  • [The Opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy Welcomed to Find Border Solutions [by the government that intends to bring the Cambodian-Thai border issues to the UN Security Council]
  • 100 Years Ago Misery for Korean People Started [resulting from the invasion by Japan] – It Has Just Received an Apology from Japan [through the Japanese Prime Minister]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #236, 13.8.2010

  • Taiwan Reacts against a Comment of Mr. Hun Sen [who recently stated Cambodian adherence to the One-China Policy, stating that Taiwan is just a province of China; Taiwan claims that it is an independent state]
  • The Government Will Raise Border Issues [with Thailand] when the UN Secretary General Comes to Cambodia [in October 2010 – according to the Prime Minister Hun Sen – a plan for such a visit has not been confirmed by the UN offices in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5275, 13.8.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen Asked Thailand Not to Be Afraid of the International Organizations [like ASEAN, UN, UN special representatives, or any dignitaries like the Indonesian president – if they participate in the negotiations with Cambodia and Thailand over border issues] China Will Provide US$8 Million to Construct a Road to the Preah Vihear Temple]
  • More Than 300 Hectares of Rubber Plantation Were Expropriated from the Tai Seng Company to Be Delivered to the Samaki Group [temporarily, who had controlled it since 1980s – Ratanakiri]
  • The United States of America Praised the Mine Clearance Skills of Cambodian Troops [based on the achievements of Cambodian deminers sent to Sudan under the framework of the United Nations]

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Cambodian People’s Party Officials Were Accused to Be Behind the Creation of Reservoirs – Thursday, 12.8.2010

Posted on 13 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology sent a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen, naming some district governors and commune chiefs, saying that the Ministry suspects them as being involved in collusion to protect illegal reservoirs which are ruining the Tonle Sap lake.

“During a session of the Tonle Sap Authority yesterday [11 August 2010], the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Mr. Lim Kean Hor, stated that many local authorities collude with merchants to encourage farmers to claim that they own those reservoirs in an attempt to protect the reservoirs, whereas they are not allowed to be created around the Tonle Sap lake.

“He said, ‘We reported and sent the name list of those people to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen to consider and to decide an appropriate measure.’

“He added that he and his fellow officials just follow the Prime Minister’s order.

“In April, the Tonle Sap Lake Authority received an order from Prime Minister Hun Sen to demolish illegal reservoirs around the Tonle Sap lake, as well as those the Region 2 and 3 that are determined as conserved areas of flooded forest.

“239 illegal reservoirs set to be demolished in Region 2 are located in the six provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom, Pursat, and Siem Reap.

“The president of the Tonle Sap Lake Authority, Mr. Lim Kean Hor, stated also that 45 reservoirs were destroyed since 25 June 2010 and 288 markers were put in those regions.

“He added, ‘Though rainy reason blocks the destruction of those reservoirs and though we temporarily suspended the destruction, we still watch over the issues every day.’

“According to Mr. Lim Kean Hor, almost 10,000 hectares of the wet area surrounding the Tonle Sap lake are destroyed each year for the creation of reservoirs, the expansion of agricultural land and fishing lots, and of charcoal business operations.

“Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhayly said that the potential of the Tonle Sap lake can support the living of nearly four millions Cambodian people settling around the lake.

“He added, ‘The Tonle Sap lake is an important pulse of economy, of environment, and of culture in Cambodia.’

“He went on to say, ‘We must cooperate to protect and conserve the Tonle Sap lake and engage in the conservation for the development of eco-tourism.’ However, he said, ‘The Cambodian People’s Party must acknowledge what we did, because party officials such as district governors and commune chiefs signed on documents to allow the creation of those illegal reservoirs.'” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #235, 12.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 12 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2325, 12.8.2010

  • [The Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology] Lim Kean Hor Warned that Commune Chiefs and District Governors Should be Sued if Flooded Forest Is Still Being Destroyed by Wicked People
  • Documentary Books about Duch’s Sentence Will Be Distributed this Morning

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7032, 12.8.2010

  • In the First Six Months, There Were 3,065 Traffic Accidents, Where 908 Persons Were Killed [a decline by 26 deaths – compared to the same period in 2009], 2,807 Were Seriously Injured, and 2,807 Persons Were Lightly Injured [in Cambodia countrywide]
  • The Royal Government Gave Koh Pich Land Titles [to the Oversea Cambodian Investment Corporation of the director general of the Canadia Bank, Mr. Pung Kheav Se; the Koh Pich island covers a total area of 100 hectares and was contracted for 99 years for development]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3956, 12.8.2010

  • The US Senate Reduced the Military Aid to Cambodia by Half for 2011 to US$500,000 [considering also the deportation of 20 Uighurs by the Cambodian government to China]
  • The Tonle Sap Authority Plans to Seize All Rice Fields in the Flood Forest Areas and Warned that Some Officials Will Be Jailed [according to officials, more than 360,000 hectares of the total area of more than one million hectares of flooded forest have been destroyed]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #28, 12.8.2010

  • The Parliament Will Suggest to the Ministry of Economy to Monitor Tax Officials [as there are irregularities in tax collection; a parliamentarian, Mr. Cheam Yeap, said that he will ask the Ministry to take action against corrupt officials who collect tax more than the set amount]
  • The Ministry of Health Called on the 24 Municipal Governors to Join to Take Measures to Combat Infectious Diseases

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #235, 12.8.2010

  • An Iranian News Agency Said that Cambodia Opposes Sanctions [the Fars News Agency of Iran quoted the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, Mr. Hor Namhong, during his visit to Iran, as having said, ‘The policy based on sanctions is condemned everywhere and only constructive and positive policies can settle the problem]
  • A Man Was Arrested on Suspicion of Distributing Leaflets against Leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party [Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodian People’s Party Officials Were Accused to Be Behind the Creation of Reservoirs

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5274, 12.8.2010

  • Cambodia Will Have a New Professional Association to Respond to Hazards of Chemical Substances [a New Professional Association will be created on 19 August 2010; it aims to gather experts in chemicals to conduct studies and to participate to prevent hazards from chemicals in Cambodia]

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Cambodia Can Sell Forestry Carbon Credits on the International Market in 2011 – Friday, 23.7.2010

Posted on 24 July 2010. Filed under: Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

“Siem Reap: A senior forestry official of the Kingdom of Cambodia said that to sell carbon credits based on Cambodian forests to companies in developed countries, which are polluting the environment, might begin late this year or in 2011.

“The Director General of the Forestry Administration of Cambodia, Mr. Chheng Kim Son, said at 11:47 a.m. on 19 July 2010, ‘We hope that at the end of this year or in 2011, Cambodia will be able to sell abundant carbon credits for the first time from our forest to highly industrialized countries around the world which are emitting a lot of pollutants or greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year.’

“He added that currently, the forestry cover of Cambodia remains at 59.09% of the size of the country which can attract tonnes of gas, but in the first step, we can create forestry carbon credits on 60,000 hectares of forest from communities in Oddar Meanchey, and the same plan is to be carried out also in the Keo Seima district [in Mondolkiri].

“Mr. Chheng Kim Son explained that according to a study, the 60,000 hectares of forest can attract and ‘sink’ more than 8 million tonnes of carbon within 30 years. Negotiations on the price for selling are going on, but no prices have yet been specified, as this depends on buying requests by encouraging companies in developed countries to balance their carbon dioxide emissions by paying money to developing countries to protect their forests [so that this carbon dioxide can be absorbed and ‘sunk’ in, protecting the atmosphere].

“He added that forestry resources are globally valuable for biodiversity, especially for the living condition of people. Forests can contribute to the economic growth of a nation. Therefore, all development plans affecting forests must be studied and assessed carefully in order to avoid wastage in the future.

“The Minister of Environment of Cambodia, Mr. Mok Mareth, used to say about the loss of forest that, according to a report of the Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3), just the annual loss due to deforestation and the decline in forests amounts to US$2,000 billion to US$4,500 billion, but the amount received from unsustainable investment is just US$45 billion. This shows that to conserve the forest well, will provide 100 times of the price back. He said so on 20 June 2010 during a celebration of the International Day of Biodiversity in Cambodia, organized in Siem Reap.

“Mr. Mok Mareth added that “It is to be regretted that biodiversity – because of a niveau of high prices in the economy, with growing consumption, with a strongly increasing population, as well as with development without proper planing, the ecosystem of the nation is eroding, leading to the remarkable and alarming extinction of different species in the world . According to an estimation, about 10% of the biodiversity assessed is strongly in danger of extinction.

“Mr. Mok Mareth went on to say that such big failures are caused by poverty, by a lack of understanding about the importance and the value of biodiversity, and because of a lack of participation by all involved, including investors, local communities, and ethnic minority people. These negative experiences are a good lesson for the world, to reconsider human activities that destroy natural resources, so that it is necessary to work out new effective strategies to achieve the three goals of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: 1. Conservation, 2. Sustainable Consumption, and 3. Equal distribution of benefit in the use genetic resources.

“Civil society organizations working to protect forestry resources in Cambodia welcome the initiatives to sell forestry carbon credits of Cambodia for the first time, and this will become an important message to publicize the universal value and benefit of forests, so as to guarantee national economic development and to stop deforestation countrywide.”Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7015, 23.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 23 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2308, 23.7.2010

  • Within the First Six Months of 2010, 158 People Were Killed by Mines and Unexploded Ordnance [among the 367 victims, a remarkably increased number compared to 2009, where there wear 274 victims]
  • A Man Was Arrested for Raping His Daughter [Stung Treng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7015, 23.7.2010

  • Cambodia Can Sell Forestry Carbon Credits on the International Market in 2011
  • There Are Almost 100,000 Candidates to Take This Year Upper Secondary School Exam [Grade 12] at 191 Centers

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3939, 23.7.2010

  • A Siamese [Thai] Delegation Will Meet the Secretary General of UNECSO in France Today, Asking that Developments in the Area around the Preah Vihear Temple Must Be Agreed to by Siam [Thailand]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Courts Are Political Tools of the Cambodian People’s Party That Do Not Play Their Role to Provide Justice to Victims

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #1, 23.7.2010

  • [Two] Robbers Robbed an Owner of a Construction Material Shop, Taking Away US$3,000 Safely [Phnom Penh]
  • Oil Tank Truck Rolled over a Motorbike, Killing One Person and Injuring Two Others [Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #221, 23.7.2010

  • Nokia [the world famous mobile phone company of Finland] Will Open Its First Office in Cambodia [in Phnom Penh – on 23 July 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5257, 23.7.2010

  • The Court Will Cut the Parliamentary Salary of Ms. Mu Sochua by Riel 4 Million [approx. US$950] Each Month [as compensation to Prime Minister Hun Sen as she lost in the defamation case according to the court, which requires her to pay Riel 8 Million, approx. US$1,900]
  • Officials of the United Nations and of the Royal Government Agreed to Hold Discussions [in September 2010] to Seek Funding for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [facing a financial shortage; in 2010, it needs additional US$10 million and in 2011, it needs US$39 million]

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“The King Called on All Development Partners of Cambodia to Provide Financial and Technical Support for Forestry Reform in Cambodia” – Sunday, 11.7.2010

Posted on 12 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 672 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

On Saturday, 10 July 2010, it was reported that the King had called on all development partners of Cambodia to provide financial and technical support for forestry reform in Cambodia.

At this occasion, we reprint part of the history before this call by the King, starting with an old statement by Global Witness from December 2004, continuing with texts which had all been in Cambodian newspapers in 2010 and had been translated and published in The Mirror – a historical review for further consideration.

Resign or be sacked
3.12.2004

With the advent of Cambodia’s Consultative Group (CG) donor meeting on 6 and 7 December 2004, combating corruption is once more at the top of the political agenda. In line with this renewed emphasis, Global Witness is calling on the Director of the Forest Administration to be made accountable for the rampant corruption within his own department.

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

Ty Sokhun was made Director of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife1 in 1998. Since then, corruption within the department has if anything got worse. The May 2000 Asia Development Bank [ADB] Forest Concession Review characterized the crisis situation in Cambodia’s forest as “…total system failure; resulting from greed, corruption, incompetence and illegal acts…” Since that time not one forest department official has been charged with corruption, let alone convicted…

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

Global Witness agrees with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sentiments, of more than two years ago, that “while good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.” … Global Witness Press Release

And from the Khmer press in 2010:

It Is Time to Stop: Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities
Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces
29.1.2010

“Phnom Penh: The top Five-Star General, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, announced that from now on, military officials who are involved in illegal activities are not fit to work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, because they destroy the reputation of the armed forces, the reputation of the soldiers. …

“… ‘All military commanders, please remember that you have no authority to order soldiers to guard your mangroves. I tell you this for the future, because previously this happened… The role of the military is to fulfill obligations for the nation, not to guard your mangroves, please check this again! Please do not use soldiers and the military’s machinery to serve individual interests. If it still continues, do not say that I have not told you. How many stars showing your military rank you wear, though I wear only five stars, I will dismiss you even if you are wearing the big moon as the sign of your rank, I will dismiss you!’” – Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6870, 29.1.2010

The Authorities Intercept Wood Every Day, but Never Arrest the Wood Traders
24.3.2010

“After the Cambodian Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen, ordered to crack down on forestry crimes, the logging seems to continue even stronger, and some perpetrators drove luxury cars loaded with luxury wood in a procession of cars of high ranking officials to deceive the authorities.

“The authorities, including forestry administration officials, police, military police, and committees from the agencies from military and other units charged with suppressing forestry crimes and forestry criminals, intercepted cars and trucks loaded with wood and checked wood storehouses of some powerful people. But by now, the authorities have not arrested any traders to show their accomplishment to the Khmer public on television. …” – Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #634, 24.3.2010

Samdech Hun Sen Considers Forestry Crimes to Be Acts of National Betrayal
27.3.2010

“Phnom Penh: 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. …” – Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2212, 27.3.2010

Considering Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Should Not Be Allowed to Hold a Position,
but Should Be Punished according to the Law
7.4.2010

“Prime Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday morning, in a conference at the Chamkar Doung Royal University of Agriculture, to remove the director of the forestry administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. Such a removal of the holder of the same position, of a former head of the forestry administration – Mr. Ly Kim Han – happened also some years ago, making him feel heart-broken, and he died. But in Ty Sokun’s case, according to opinions expressed among the general public, he should face the law and receive punishment. To remove Ty Sokun, but to appoint him at the same time as Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, shows the great tolerance of the Prime Minister.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly announced the decision to take out Mr. Ty Sokun from the position of Director General of the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, because he was involved in illegal wood trading. But Mr. Hun Sen did not specify any measures to be taken against Mr. Ty Sokun, and he reassigned him to the position of Under-Secretary of State of Agriculture. Prime Minister Hun Sen said on 6 April 2010 at the Chamkar Doung Royal University of Agriculture, that the head of the forestry administration, Mr. Ty Sokun, was involved in corruption related to forestry crimes, and that the authorities had recently started investigations to intercept them. …

“… Prime Minister Hun Sen stressed that at this time, there will be no tolerance for any official who got involved in forestry crimes. ‘We take hot measures to hit the heads of the main leaders. Therefore, the Prime Minister has to decide to do things, even if they hurt, in order to create models of law enforcement in the campaign to intercept forestry crimes.’ …” – Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3852, 7.4.2010

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

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

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

“According to reports from forestry administration officials, 207 forestry crimes have been reported to the courts, but some traders with a title as an Oknha, or with close relations to high government officials, have not been charged, though they colluded to commit forestry crimes in Cambodia. Some forestry administration officials enjoy their lives with the wealth they gained from the illegal cutting down of trees. …” – Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

Records show 17 held for forestry crimes
9.7.2010

A total of 17 people are being held in pretrial detention in Koh Kong provincial prison on forestry-related charges dating back to 2008, according to a document provided this week by a prison worker who expressed frustration with the release last month of four forestry officials charged with involvement in an illegal logging ring.

The document shows that an additional seven people in the province have been convicted of forestry crimes and are serving sentences at the prison.

The official, who asked not to be named, said that all the people on the list were “poor” Koh Kong residents who had been arrested for such crimes as “collecting wood” and “clearing farmland.”

“It doesn’t seem very fair,” the official said. “Poor people who depend on clearing forest for their livelihood are convicted for up to five years for forestry crimes, while forestry officials involved with illegal logging rings are released.”

Although their case remains under investigation, the four Koh Kong Forestry Administration Cantonment officials were released on June 24 after being arrested in a raid amid a crackdown on illegal logging called for by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The small fish is punished, but the medium and big fish never get punished.”

Chhin Long, the chief clerk for the prosecution at the provincial court, said Tuesday that he had seen a document signed by Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun and the prime minister requesting the officials’ release.

Chheng Kim Sun, director of the Forestry Administration, noted on Thursday that the officials were still being investigated and could be summoned back to court at any time. He defended the release of the prisoners, describing it as part of standard legal procedure.

“The court is independent, and the court’s decision-making process in this case would be the same for rich and poor people, powerful and powerless people. It is not biased to one side,” Chheng Kim Sun said.

But Un Than Aan, provincial coordinator for the rights group ADHOC, said that although the releases might have been legal, the poor are bearing the brunt of the government’s logging crackdown.

“The release of the four officials can be done according to court procedure, because they are able to provide the court with a permanent job and address,” Un Than Aan said. “Poor people aren’t released because they have no permanent job or address, and they are often found guilty of forestry crimes because there’s enough evidence against them.”

ADHOC President Thun Saray said the pattern was consistent with past crackdowns.

“The small fish is punished, but the medium and big fish never get punished,” he said. “That’s been my observation for the last 15 years.” – Phnom Penh Post, 9 July 2010

“The King Called on All Development Partners of Cambodia
to Provide Financial and Technical Support for Forestry Reform in Cambodia”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5246, Saturday, 10.7.2010

“Financial and technical support” – plus, as Global Witness had quoted a 2002 statement of the Prime Minister in 2004 – “While good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.”

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Cambodia Will Hand Over Two Terrorist Suspects to Thai Embassy Officials on Monday – Monday, 5.7.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“On Saturday Cambodian police arrested two Thai citizens accused of being involved in planing a bomb attack in Bangkok last month. The two alleged terrorists will be handed over to Thai embassy officials today [5 July 2010].

“According to an announcement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation that the Phnom Penh Post received on Sunday, Siem Reap police on Saturday evening arrested suspects Kobchai Boonplod, born on 19 July 1967, and Varissareeya Boonsom, female, born on 30 September 1967, accused of having performed a terrorist bomb attack on 22 June 2010 in Bangkok.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Koy Kuong, said, ‘We had enough documents to confirm that they are bomb suspects before we arrested them.’ He added that the Cambodian authorities will hand over the two suspects to Thai embassy officials in Phnom Penh on Monday, 5 July 2010, at 9:30 at the Phnom Penh International Airport.

“He went on to say that Thai authorities spoke to the press last week, saying that the two suspects, who are masterminds of the bomb attack on the headquarters of the Bhumjaithai Party [a member of the present Thai government coalition] on 22 June 2010, escaped to Cambodia, but Thailand did not ask Cambodia to arrest them.

“Mr. Koy Kuong added, ‘The Cambodian government promised to extradite the two suspects to Thailand though there was no request from Thailand. This shows the willingness of the Cambodian Government to fight terrorism, as the Cambodian government always cooperates with other countries to combat terrorism. Monday last week, the Thai press had quoted Police Lieutenant Colonel Benjapol Rodsawas, deputy chief of the Sa Kaew immigration office, as saying that Varissareeya Boonsom and Kobchai Boonplod left Thailand separately on Wednesday last week and escaped to Cambodia a day after the bomb attack outside the headquarters of the Bhumjaithai Party at Phaholyothin Road in Bangkok. At that time, Cambodian officials rejected the information.

“Regarding this issue, the spokesperson of the Thai government, Mr. Panitan Wattanayagorn, stated yesterday that he could not comment on the situation until the perpetrators have been handed over to the Thai authorities today. But he welcomed the cooperation by Cambodia. He said, ‘In general, we welcome the cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia in all activities and we think that it encourages additional cooperation.’ Asked about the accusations by the Cambodian government, he said that he does not have a role to comment on the affairs or views of Cambodia.

“The executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, Mr. Chheang Vannarith, said that the arrest shows warming relations between both countries. He said, ‘I think that the Cambodian government takes a flexible position on bilateral ties with Thailand. I can see positive progress for bilateral ties.

“Both countries decided to withdraw their respective ambassadors in November last year, after Cambodia appointed former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [convicted for corruption in a land deal] as an economic advisor of the Cambodian government.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #207, 5.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 5 July 2010

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #108, 5-6.7.2010

  • Mr. Chea Mony: My New Term [as president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Is to Struggle to Demand a Salary Increase [to a minimum of US$93] and to Create a Labor Court

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2292, 4-5.7.2010

  • Illegal Check Points Are Increasing at Night in Phnom Penh [to extort money from citizens traveling on motorcycles], but Higher Level Officials Ignore This [they check whether people wear helmets, have back-view mirrors, number plates, and a motorbike license. Even if there is no problem, teenagers cannot negotiate what fine to pay to be free, even when they did not commit any wrongdoings]
  • [Ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Promises to Return to Thailand at the End of This Year [to unite the Thai nation]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6999, 5.7.2010

  • A Newly Created Site for Producing Mreah Prov Oil [an important ingredient for producing the drug Ecstasy – no information about who is involved – Veal Veng district, Pursat]
  • An Inhuman Drunken Man Fatally Shot a Person for Pleasure [the perpetrator is not yet identified – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3923, 5.7.2010

  • [Opposition party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua Will Return to Cambodia This Morning, While There Are Four Days Remaining for Her to Pay Her Fine [Riel 8 million or approx. US$1,860 for losing a defamation case with Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • Singapore Imports Sand to Enlarge Its Territory without Caring about the Destruction of the Cambodian Seashore Environment [according to Global Witness, this sea sand dredging threatens and affects fish as well as the bio-diversity of the sea]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #207, 5.7.2010

  • Cambodia Will Hand Over Two Terrorist Suspects to Thai Embassy Officials on Monday
  • Officials: The Number of Deaths from Lightning This Year Is Lower Than Last Year [63 people were killed during the first six months of 2010, in 2009, there were only 100 deaths]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5241, 4-5.7.2010

  • 32% of the Total Size of Cambodia Are Bio-Diversity Protected and Conservation Areas
  • Food Prices Increased by 30% within the First Six Months of 2010

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Private Mobile Phone Companies Asked Samdech Dekchor to Intervene to Make More Frequencies Available – Friday, 2.7.2010

Posted on 5 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“Phnom Penh: Private mobile phone companies are encountering a lack of frequencies and cannot provide their services to millions of mobile phone customers well, so they asked the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia to intervene to add more frequencies.

“According to a source familiar with the frequency issue, a licensed private company had asked the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, to intervene for the company to increase the frequencies available so that the companies can provide better services to their customers.

“The letter of request was also forwarded by Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen to the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, H.E. So Khun. But later, when the company asked to increase the number of frequencies, the Ministry said that there are no frequencies available. Actually, there are unused frequencies, but the Ministry does not make them available.

“Private companies asked the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen, to intervene supporting their request for the increase of available frequencies for licensed companies, so that they can provide good services to their clients.

“On 27 April 2010, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia stated during a meeting of the Public-Private Sector Forum that any requests for the increase of the number of frequencies for mobile phone companies, the Ministry has to send them to the Royal Government to decide. But according to a trustworthy source, previously, the Ministry had provided frequencies to some companies without including the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia in the decision. The Ministry did it on its own quietly. Some companies went directly to the Ministry, and the Ministry provided the frequencies to them immediately. However, some licensed companies, that had sent their requests to the head of the Royal Government for the increase of frequencies, had their requests rejected by the Ministry saying that there are no frequencies remaining.

“Some investors of private companies said that mobile phone companies operating at present are seeking ways to serve and to satisfy their clients who use their services, but the challenge is that some licensed companies are not provided with additional frequencies by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication to provide better services to their clients. Probably, some companies had colluded with the Ministry to receive more frequencies secretly, without involving the whole Royal Government.

“At present, millions of mobile phone clients are annoyed when calling from one phone to another, and some people had requested the companies to expand their service regions to ease communication. But some private companies said that the problem is not their capacity to expand their mobile networks, but the reason is that the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication does not provide them with more frequencies, as requested.

“Regarding this issue, Kampuchea Thmey tried to contact the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication for more information, but failed to receive such information.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 9, #2290, 2.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 2 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 9, #2290, 2.7.2010

  • Private Mobile Phone Companies Asked Samdech Dekchor to Intervene to Make More Frequencies Available
  • This Year the Number of Candidates to Take the Grade 9 Exam [lower secondary examination, usually at the age of 14 to 15, before entering higher secondary school] Is 159,724, Which is an Increase by 3,394 Candidates [the exam will be from 5 to 6 July 2010 countrywide]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6997, 2.7.2010

  • Deum Ampil Is Bankrupt; This Young News Center [a press center that had been created few years ago] Surprisingly Stopped Its Publications [newspapers and radio broadcasting; according to information by Deum Ampil to the Ministry of Information]
  • On 26 July 2010, The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Announce the Verdict to Sentence Brutal Former Tuol Sleng Prison Chief Duch [at 10:00 a.m.]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3921, 2.7.2010

  • The First Drop of Oil of Cambodia Will Be Produced by 12/12/2012 [but the government has not yet specified anything about the expected quantity]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #206, 2.7.2010

  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An: Cambodia Can Extract Its First Oil by December 2012 [after there had been positive results from the oil exploration in Block A in the gulf of Thailand, with joint investments by Chevron with 30%, Mitsui Oil Exploration with 30%, Kris Energy with 25%, and GS Caltex of South Korea with 15%]
  • The Court Set a Deadline for [opposition party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua to Pay Riel 8 million [approx. US$1,850] Compensation to the Prime Minister [for losing a defamation case; she is required to pay it within ten days after the announcement by the judge on 29 June 2010, otherwise legal measures will be taken against her]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5239, 2.7.2010

  • The National Assembly Adopted Two Draft Laws Relating to Economic Cooperation with ASEAN, China, and South Korea [to create an investment atmosphere which is free, coordinated, transparent, and competitive, in order to achieve a business environment based on friendship between ASEAN, China, and South Korea, offering protection to all investors. Also, the agreements will help to promote opportunities and increase the flow of investment capital from the private sector for the development of the economies of the ASEAN countries cooperating with China and South Korea]
  • [Former Phnom Penh police chief, now jailed in the Prey Sar prison] Heng Pov Was Brought [to court] for Questioning over the Murder of the Former President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea [in 2004 – Phnom Penh]
  • The Number of Workers Legally Abroad [in Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand] Is Nearly 30,000 [workers in South Korea can get between US$800 to US$2,000 per month, in Malaysia from more than US$200 to nearly US$300, and in Thailand a bit less than in Malaysia]

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The Sam Rainsy Party Supports the Development of the Triangle Economic Zone, but Suggested to the Government to Think of Some Bad Impacts – Wednesday, 30.6.2010

Posted on 5 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“The acting spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Kim Sophearith, said that all development must be linked with the interest of the nation and of the citizens. He said so on Tuesday 29 June 2010, after the secretariat of the National Assembly released an announcement on Monday 28 June 2010, that the National Assembly will hold an annual international conference in Kratie about the role of the parliament in encouraging and strengthening the development of the triangle zone.

“The announcement says that a conference between the Commissions on Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly of Cambodia, Laos, and Yuon [Vietnam] will be organized for four days, starting from 6 July 2010, aiming to step up friendship and cooperation between countries that are good neighbors, and to participate more actively to jointly encourage friendship, solidarity, and cooperation in the border regions of the three countries.

“It is noticed that Cambodia and Laos would gain little benefit from the development of the triangle economic zone, while Yuon, the initiator, benefits most. The triangle economic zone might create big industrial factories where Yuon can create best productivity processes, with the production for sale in the region, while Cambodia and Laos cannot do the same.

“Mr. Kim Sophearith added that he supports the development plans of the government, but the development must be thoroughly studied to discover any bad impacts in advance, because both development or poverty alleviation will have its impacts on the economy in Cambodia, to progress as in neighboring countries.

“Analysts noticed that most development plans of the government by investments, from local or from foreign investors, frequently victimize Khmer citizens. Obviously, in Phnom Penh, thousands of poor families, or tens of thousands of people, had suffered misery from intimidation, violence, human rights violations, or were imprisoned by the authorities or by development companies, like in the case of Sambok Chab and in the case of Dei Krahom in the Bassak commune, Chamkar Mon district, Phnom Penh, where citizens were evicted from their settlements where they had been living for a long time, now moved to the suburbs of Phnom Penh, where there are no adequate utility system, no schools, and no hospitals.

“Citizens in the Boeng Kak area in the Tuol Kork district are also being victimized by the development plans of the Shukaku company which belongs to Yeay Phou, well-known as a businesswoman among many in Cambodia, who is close to high ranking officials of the ruling party. Some citizens said that they had been offered very few solutions from the state, and some did not receive any, because the state carried out expropriation legislation adopted by the National Assembly earlier in 2010.

“The Sam Rainsy Party considers that this law will affect many poor families when the state intends to develop an area and then requires citizens living in that area to leave, even without receiving any compensation. Also, the development in the northeast of Cambodia in Ratanakiri or in Mondolkiri had seriously affected many ethnic minority people and their communities, when the government provided concession land to local and to foreign companies for their development.

“At present, many ethnic minority people are losing the traditions handed down from their ancestors, because they do not have the land of their graves any longer, or the land for cultivation. In addition, in Kompong Thom, various families of veterans who died or are disabled were victimized by the provision of economic concession land to a Vietnamese company to plant rubber trees.

“Thus, can this not be considered as development based on the misery of Khmer citizens? Moneaksekar Khmer criticizes this intending to ask the government to look at the difficulties of the many Khmer citizens who have been jailed due to such developments, where the government does not think sufficiently of the benefits for poor people. Therefore, because of the bitter lessons and experiences mentioned above, when planning the development of the triangle zone of the three countries – Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam – the Cambodian government must conduct thorough studies in advance about possible bad impacts on the environment and especially on the citizens in the region, as suggested by the acting spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Kim Sophearith, who said that all development must be linked with the interest of the nation and of the citizens.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3919, 30.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #517, 30.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister [Yim Chhay Ly], and the Senior Ministers [Chhay Thorn and Tao Seng Huor and two other officials] Are Infected with A/H1N1 [Swine Flu – according to the Ministry of Health]
  • The Ruling Party Condemns Those Who Block the Demarcation of the Border [while the opposition party says that it will continue to check the border demarcation in order to ensure transparency and independence]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2288, 30.6.2010

  • There Is No Bribery in the Demolition of Reservoirs around the Tonle Sap Lake [claimed the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Mr. Lim Kean Hor – it is said that some people who own reservoirs try to bribe officials so that their reservoirs are not demolished]
  • Burma Plans to Create Direct Flights to Cambodia [but has not specified the exact date]
  • Chemicals Are Still Applied on Food [to make it look fresh and to prevent the fly] Sold at Markets [which affect the health of eaters]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6995, 30.6.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Decided Not to Pay the Fine [approximately US$2,000] of Mu Sochua [for losing a defamation case with Prime Minister Hun Sen], while a Treasury Official Said that the Deadline for the Payment Is 1 July 2010
  • A Court Decided to Detain a Defrocked Monk in Prey Sar Prison, as there Were Pictures of 627 Beautiful Girls Found on a Memory Stick, Bathing [nude] in Holy Water, Whom He Had Filmed Secretly

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3919, 30.6.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Supports the Development of the Triangle Economic Zone, but Suggested to the Government to Think of Some Bad Impacts

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #204, 30.6.2010

  • Thailand Released [ten] Cambodian Citizens [and two soldiers] Arrested [for crossing the border illegally]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua: If I Was Afraid [of being jailed], I Would Not Have Sued the Prime Minister [she was aware of the possibility of losing the case against Prime Minister Hun Sen and of getting jailed, before she decided to sue him. Now she is required to pay a fine, but she will not pay it and rather get jailed, as she considers the verdict not to have provided justice]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5237, 30.6.2010

  • Inquiry: Violence against Women in 2009 Declined Much Compared to 2005 [according to a study about 3,040 citizens in 24 provinces and cities, the violence by husbands against wives declined from 64% in 2005 to 53% in 2009]
  • A Prince [the Duke of Gloucester] Who Is a Royal Family Member of the English Royalty Visits Siem Reap and the Banteay Chhmar Temple [to observe the repair of the temples by the Global Heritage Fund]
  • “Cultural Life in the City” Is the Theme of Cambodia during the World Exhibition in Shanghai [China]

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Sok An Clarified the US$28 Million Tea Money from the Total Company – Friday, 25.6.2010

Posted on 27 June 2010. Filed under: Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

Note:

Apologies – delays of the publication may occur until 17 July 2010 because of my international travel.

Norbert Klein
At present still in Brussels/Belgium at the meetings of ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, but soon again on the way – to Canada. I am not yet sure when I will be able to send the Saturday installment – maybe tomorrow, maybe only later.

“The Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, officially provided a written clarification regarding oil and gas issues, as well as the US$28 million paid by Total after a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Son Chhay, had asked seven questions.

“According to the letter of Mr. Sok An sent to the president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin, on 9 June 2010 and released on 24 June 2010 to respond to Mr. Son Chhay’s questions, it explains that the Royal Government never provided licenses to any oil company for exploitation, but signed oil deals to allow companies to study and explore oil and gas resources. Companies with which such oil deals have been made by the Royal Government are:

Campex,
Chevron,
CNOOC [China National Offshore Oil Corporation],
CPHL Petroleum,
Enterprise Oil,
GS-Caltex,
Idemitsu,
JCL Petroleum,
JOGMEC [Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation],
Kris Energy,
Kuwait Energy,
Lunin,
Medco,
Mitsui Oil Exploration Company,
Petrovietnam,
Polytec Petroleum Corporation,
Premier Oil,
PTTEP,
Resourceful Petroleum,
Singapore Petroleum Corporation,
Total,
Woodside.

Some of these companies had given up and left, because the oil and gas resources they were researching cannot be developed commercially.

“Responding to the questions that Mr. Son Chhay had asked, ‘What policies allow companies to gain profit before they get exploitation licenses?’ – Mr. Sok An said that these companies are qualified, they have sufficient techniques and resources to explore, they have proper programs responding to the needs for exploration, care about the environment, have the ability to enter into competition, they can provide appropriate benefits to Cambodia, and they meet other points stated in the regulations for oil exploration from 1991.

“Responding to the questions, ‘What payments do they have to make before they get a licenses? What payments have to be made into the state budget? If there are such payments, since when have such payments been implemented?’ – Mr. Sok An said that the companies do not have to pay all money before they receive oil deals. But when a company gets a deal, they might pay some money, like reward money for signing, and money for a social development foundation. But they are not obliged to pay it, and it depends on negotiations based on the expected oil potential. In the case that there is money paid, like reward money for signing, paid into the state budget, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the National Petroleum Authority deposits it into an account at the National Bank of Cambodia. The money is the income from oil for the Royal Government of Cambodia to be used, and the use of the money is not dependent on the companies signing the oil deals, like in the case of the social development foundation. The money for the social development foundation is also deposited into an account at the National Bank of Cambodia, but before the money can be taken out to be spent on any projects, there needs to be a discussion with company that signed the oil deal, as, in general, that money is used to serve the development in areas designated when the oil deal was signed.

“Another question is, ‘Where has the US$28 million payment of the Total company been used, and where has this been published? What policies were used to determine the amount of US$28 million?

“Mr. Sok An responded that the amount of money paid by Total is US$26 million (US$20 million as reward money for signing, and US$6 million was for the social development foundation). The rest of US$2 million is for processing the administrative work which the company volunteered to pay for the long term. No money has been paid to any individual who is an official of the Royal Government. The government manages and uses the income from the oil and gas resources through the same entrance and exit [that is the national budget]. As for the social development fund into which the oil companies paid, it is not so much and it depends on the potential of the resources; the foundation had been established in 1995.

“Mr. Sok An made these clarifications in response to the Sam Rainsy Part parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, who had sent a letter with questions on 7 May 2010, through the National Assembly.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #784, 25.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 25 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #513, 25.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Absolutely Firmly Ordered that No Primary Schools and Health Centers Should be Sold [especially those in Phnom Penh – previously, some primary school directors and heads of health centers had sold or relocated institutions for their own benefit]
  • The [SBJ] Bank of Vietnam Invests US$3 Million in Gold Minerals Development in Cambodia
  • More Than 6,000 Families at the Northeast Received Free Treatments from American Medics

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2284, 25.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Called On Citizens to Obey the Traffic Laws during the Inauguration of the Sky Road [in Phnom Penh]
  • Australia Has the First Female Prime Minister [Ms. Julia Gillard] after a Grim Party Revolt

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #784, 25.6.2010

  • Sok An Clarified the US$28 Million Tea Money of the Total Company

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #690, 25.6.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Must Cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] to Arrest the Persons Who Made the Grenade Attack in Front of the [former] National Assembly, to Be Convicted like [the Cambodian Freedom Fighters leader] Chhun Yasith [convicted to serve a life time prison term for attempting a coup d’etat in Cambodia in 2000]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6991, 25.6.2010

  • The 24th Synthesizing Report of the ILO Shows the Recovery of the Garment Sector [in Cambodia – the rate of export within five months of 2010 was more than that within the corresponding period last year; the rate of employment increased a little since 1 November 2009 and the rate of unemployment which results from the global financial crisis is stable – it is not deteriorating]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #690, 25.6.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Leader [Mr. Sam Rainsy] and Parliamentarian [Ms. Mu Sochua] Who Are Facing Arrest Will Attend the ASEAN Free Parties’ Forum in the Philippines as Honorary Speakers [from 27 to 29 June 2010]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #201, 25.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Said that the Sam Rainsy Party Was Also Involved in the Unsuccessful Coup [by the Cambodian Freedom Fighters – CFF]
  • Thai Soldiers Shot and Killed a Khmer Worker when He Was Returning from Work [accusing him of illegally trafficking motorbikes across the border – the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, condemned this fatal shooting and waits for an explanation from Thailand]
  • The Mong Riththy Group [Company] Invests US$10 Million to Plant Rubber Trees at a Seashore Region in Sihanoukville in 2010 [on 5,000 hectares of land]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5233, 25.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Asked the Ministry of Transport of China to Invest to Construct [many] Roads in Cambodia According to the Built-Operate-Transfer [BOT]

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The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority Received the Stockholm Water Supply Award – Tuesday, 8.6.2010

Posted on 9 June 2010. Filed under: Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

“Phnom Penh: The judges of the international award of the Stockholm International Water Institute [‘The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) is an independent policy institute that seeks sustainable solutions to the world’s escalating water crisis’] recently decided to give the Stockholm Water Industry Award for 2010 to the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority. The ceremony to deliver the award will be held in early September 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden. This is the third world-class award that the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority has won.

“The announcement about the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority receiving the Stockholm Water Industry Award for 2010 shows what the judges for this award of the Stockholm International Water Institute assessed and wrote about the qualifications of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority. Phnom Penh is located at the intersection of four rivers arms that serve as an endless water source. But because the country had suffered from chronic civil war for decades, the water supply system became obsolete, and the supply of water did not start to improve before the 1990ies.

“In 1993, Mr. Ek Sonn Chan was appointed by the government as the General Director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Department, and his team led officials and employees to do some basic work, like to totally repair the water supply system. He also initiated the creation of a new highly effective administrative system to issue invoices and receipts for payments. He also initiated international standard procedures to supply clean water to all residents of Phnom Penh. The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority is successful in fighting corruption and has shown the world that the fight against corruption can be successful in a developing country through the use of simple but effective leadership, based on policies and commercial strategies that are recognized worldwide. At present, as an autonomous unit, the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority is supplying water 24 hours a day to 90% of Phnom Penh, which has about 1.3 million citizens, and effectively controls its revenue and expenses. In the meantime, the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority continues to further develop the clean water supply system and to strengthens the internal control of the unit.

“Since 1998, the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority has set up a totally new supply system. The quantity of water lost as the result of broken and leaking pipes dropped from 72% in 1993 to only 6% in 2008, which is a very small quantity compared to that of other modern countries in the world. Nowadays, the collection of water bills recovers over 98% of the invoiced charges, which allows the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority to get the necessary money back to cover its operational costs. The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority reaches world standards due to its leading water supply system.

“The judges of the Stockholm International Water Institute added that the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority is strongly committed to act responsibly in social and environmental fields, showing to other developing countries that not only big countries can have regular access to clean water. The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority is a good model for all water supply institutions to improve their operations and to step up their care to provide good services to their clients. The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority has made effort to improve also the sanitation system in Phnom Penh, and the company is ready to be listed at the stock exchange in late 2010 [if it really starts to operate by that time].

“Mr. Ek Sonn Chan, appointed by the Royal government as General Director of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority, said during the conference, where the award of the Stockholm Water Industry Award was announced on 7 June 2009, that the judges for the provision of the international award to the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority recognized the supply of water in Phnom Penh as having international standard quality. The duty of the unit is to continue to supply clean water for the sake of public health in large quantities any time, and this with cheap prices. The price of water in Phnom Penh is cheapest in the region. The unit could reach the above mentioned achievement because Samdech Akkak Moho Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen had chosen a leader who has the ability to identify many priorities, such as the use of loans, who can also encourage all consumers to pay their bills. Also the former Phnom Penh governor, Mr. Chea Sophara, who had worked with the Asian Development Bank and with the understanding from the Minister of Industry not to interfere into the autonomy of this unit, had enormously contributed to the present success, as well as the help from the current municipal governor. In addition, there is collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and other institutions that provided loans, such as the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank, the Agence Française de Développement [AFD], and the Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA].

“Mr. Ek Sonn Chan said about the award, ‘We did not request this award. Others decided it. There were 64 requests from different institutions for the award in 2010, but only one was selected.’ The Stockholm International Award was established in 2000. This award is considered to be a world-class water award, created to encourage the supply of clean water for public well being. It is a great award for the field of clean water supply. The award will be delivered at a building that had also been used to deliver the Nobel Prizes, and the Swedish King will deliver it. In the past, the award was delivered to clean water institutions in the following countries:

  • 2000 to England
  • 2001 to Mexico
  • 2002 to Norway
  • 2003 to Canada
  • 2004 to India
  • 2005 to the United States of America
  • 2006 to Australia
  • 2007 to Singapore
  • 2008 again to the United States of America
  • 2009 again to Canada, and
  • 2010 to the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority of Cambodia

Most of the countries that won this award in the past are modern developed countries.

“It should be noted that the award won by the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority is the third world-class award for this unit: it had also received other awards, a first award in 2004 and a second award in 2006.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5218, 8.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #498, 8.6.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Authorities Will Take Strict Measures against Anybody Engaged in Football Betting [as the FIFA World Cup will start on 11 June 2010]
  • The United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA] Called on Donors to Provide Aid for the Care of Cambodian Women and Girls [it is estimated that each day, at least five Cambodian women die while delivering babies, because of the lack of health services and medical facilities]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2269, 8.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The High Price of Capital in Commercial Operations Is a Challenge for Our Competitiveness [he said so during the World Economic Forum on East Asia]
  • The Authorities Asked for a Delay for One More Month from Citizens Whose Houses Were Burnt Down [on 8 March 2010 in the Boeng Kak II commune, Phnom Penh] before Relocating Them to a New Area [they live in temporary shelters, and the authorities are preventing those who wanted to reconstruct their housing from doing so]
  • 7,004 Hectares of Agro-Industrial Crops Were Totally Destroyed [by a tropical storm] in the Koulen District [Preah Vihear]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #676, 8.6.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Officials Plan to Quietly Go to Visit and Monitor Border Markers at the Borders with Yuon [Vietnam and with Thailand; without informing the authorities – according to the Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson, Mr. Yim Sovann]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6976, 8.6.2010

  • FUNCINPEC and the Nationalist Party That Had Frictions, Signed to Create an Alliance with Each Other
  • Disastrous Storm Made 23 Houses Collapse in the Thmor Koul District [of Battambang], and Lightnings Killed Two Persons in the Bakan District [of Pursat]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3900, 8.6.2010

  • Poor Citizens [from 80 families in the Boeng Kak II commune, Tuol Kork district, Phnom Penh] Victimized by Fire [that bunt down their houses on 8 March 2010] next to Wat Neakavon Protested [in front of the Phnom Penh Municipality] against their Evictions and Asked for in-Place Development

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #188, 8.6.2010

  • The Donors Pledged to Provide Development Aid of Up to US$2.8 Billion for Three Years [from 2010 to 2012]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5218, 8.6.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority Received the Stockholm Water Supply Award
  • The Tax Income of May 2010 Amounts to Nearly US$59 Million [an increase by 22% compared to April]

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

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Voluntary and Charitable Donations – Sunday, 16.5.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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