Improving Communication by Communicating – Sunday, 6.6.2010

Posted on 7 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

The major event during the week was the meeting of the Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum, which brought more than 100 representatives from donor countries and from international financial organizations to Cambodia, to meet with representatives of the Cambodian government. One newspaper quoted a Cambodian official as saying, before the meeting: “Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected.” As expected! On the other hand, just days before this meeting, a group of local NGOs released a study with a critical call to the donor community, suggesting that donors should press the government to fulfill agreed requirements carrying out major reforms in the country and to apply Joint Monitoring Indicators defined in the past. Global Witness, the UK based monitoring agency supported by 17 trusts and foundations, 4 development organizations from different countries, and 7 governments, suggested that the donors should take “a coordinated stand against the horribly subverted dynamic of aid in Cambodia in which their country’s money props up the basic functions of the state, leaving an elite free to exploit the state’s assets for personal profit.”

There are voices saying that the pledge of about US$1 billion is a sign that the donors don’t care about critical statements – either deploring the fact of the pledges realize “as expected,” or taking the pledges as a sign of a flat endorsement of the Cambodian government’s policies. Both these opinions are wrong.

To publish critical evaluations of aid effectiveness some days before such a meeting helps to get broad attention. But to expect that it would greatly affect the meeting, assumes that the international donor delegates arrive to sit around the table and then decide on the spot how much to pledge. They all come with the results of a year’s deliberations at home, considering information and opinion gathered and discussed with others, and decisions prepared towards the meeting.

Both sides then, in the formal meeting, share their well considered long range statements:

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The aid provided by development partners is a very important contribution for the development of Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will use the aid effectively, adding that the government will continue to solve major problems such as corruption, land ownership, and judicial reform.”

“The World Bank country director, Ms. Annette Dixon, said, representing the donors, that she lauded the development of Cambodia since the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum held in December 2008, but the progress of the government is still limited in terms of its work to improve strategic planing and to manage aid. She said, ‘It is important for the government to take the lead in aligning resources to development priorities.’”

That is more than a hint that the donors think that available resources are not aligned to development priorities.

What went on during the closed-door meetings may have been more mutually engaging – but the most important things will happen – or not happen – during the course of the year which starts now towards the next meeting. And it will depend on the monitoring of ongoing events and the related discussions – including the regular follow-up in the press and by government and non-government agencies’ observations.

This is a field of hard work: to observe, to analyze, to compare, to speak up, to share – regularly and consistently.

There will be questions requiring answers, and if the questions do not get answers easily, they have to be repeated and made more precise and receive follow-up, maybe again and again. This is the role of the public, and especially of the media. That is why the press is also called “the fourth power” in a state – independent also, like the three others: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, mutually separate, as Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia requires.

The Mirror tries to contribute to this important process.

One element of regular surprise is information like the following, which we carried during this week:

  • Oknha Ly Say Kheang, a Big Trader Destroying the Forest, Appeared in Sihanoukville after Having Escaped from Arrest for a While [he was spotted driving a luxury car and relaxing in Sihanoukville]

A fugitive from prison. Was he arrested?

  • More Than 60 Persons [police, military police, soldiers, as well as a prosecutor, a commune chief and a village chief] Surrounded a Site where a Military Captain is Storing Luxury Grade Wood [seizing 922 pieces of wood, but the owner of the wood has not been arrested]

Why 60 persons for one suspect? And he was not arrested?

  • The Authorities Seek to Arrest Citizens over a Land Dispute [with the Heng Development Company; two persons were arrested for inciting villagers to go to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence]

“Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law” says Article 31 of the Constitution. But some get arrested and others not! So many cries for help trust in the highest authority of the government, carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady. When will this confidence wear out if there are too many disappointments?

  • The Government Declared to Fight Corruption [Prime Minister Hun Sen said that there are only a handful of corrupt officials, and the government will encourage other officials to fight corruption together]

We will read it in the press.

And here is a variety of related observations:

An interesting source of income for the state reported:

  • Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places

Not much, less than US$500. There is no report how much was collected from new, big cars driving around town without neither temporary nor permanent license plates. Almost every day when I am driven around town on a motorcycle-taxi, I see some. Probably there was nothing to report because nothing is being collected from them.

The President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin Does Not Allow Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit and Monitor the Putting of Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; the Sam Rainsy Party claims that the marker is planted on Khmer territory, while the government denies it]

Members of the National Assembly, elected by the people (The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people – says Article 51 of the Constitution), need a permission before they can travel inside of the country? Article 40 of the Constitution sound different: Citizens’ freedom to travel, far and near, and legal settlement shall be respected. We did not reed that the parliamentarians claimed this Constitutional right.

The result:

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Were Prevented from Visiting and Checking a Border Marker [in Takeo, as their visit was blocked by more than 30 armed forces and more than 50 local citizens]

And finally a dilemma:

  • The Opposition Party President Sam Rainsy Plans to Go to the Philippines to Meet with Parliamentarians and Democrats in Asia [at the end of this month, to welcome the newly elected president of the Philippines when he takes office]

Probably there will be many international guests there, especially from the ASEAN region. Among them politicians from Cambodia. But Mr. Sam Rainsy is facing the court in Cambodia, though he is abroad to avoid arrest – but he is free in France, and he is free to travel.

Could another politician from the ASEAN region, the former Thai Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra, also go to the Philippines? Maybe not. There is a search warrant for him from Interpol, and the Thai government is now in the process to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin through Interpol to 187 countries, which makes it more and more difficult to travel anywhere. Except to Cambodia:

  • Cambodia Expressed [through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] the Position Not to Extradite Thaksin to Thailand

He was convicted by a Thai court for corruption – for arranging the sale of valuable Bangkok land without bidding and at a low price, to his wife. But he left the country – “temporarily for about a week,” after paying bail – and did never return.

Everybody is equal before the law? Not quite.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Cambodia Must Find Solutions to Encourage Faster Exports – Saturday, 5.6.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

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

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

Note:

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

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

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

r

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 5 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #496, 6.6.2010

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

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2267, 6.6.2010

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

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

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5216, 6.6.2010

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

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Thai Goods Are Imported through the Cham Yeam Border Crossing without Checking – Wednesday, 26.5.2010

Posted on 27 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Koh Kong: At present, during the season to import fruits, hundreds of tonnes of Thai goods are imported at the Cham Yeam border crossing on cars, trucks, and carts each day, to be distributed in Koh Kong and other provinces and in Phnom Penh without proper checking on the quality of those goods by CamControl officials.

“According to information from the Cham Yeam border crossing, CamControl officials at the crossing do not care to check the quality of imported goods nowadays, but they just wait to collect money from the owners of the goods.

“A trader who imports goods on carts said that he has to pay CamControl officials stationed at the crossing Riel 10,000 to Riel 30,000 [approx. US$2.40 to US$7.10] per cart instead of checking, and there are no receipts for the payments. The above trader complained that he cannot protest against the requirement to pay money, otherwise they would block the goods from being imported by declaring that those goods are of no quality and that no tax had been paid. He added that besides goods loaded on carts, other goods are imported on cars and trucks without any checking, like the cars of traders that transport all types of sausages, and cars and trucks carrying small fish, drinks, and other goods.

“The above source added that on every single day, there are at least 100 to 150 carts that import Thai goods across the Cham Yeam border crossing. Because there is no proper checking, every day some prohibited and no-quality goods such as pork, chicken, eggs, vegetables, and fruits, that are considered to be garbage in Thailand, are now acquired by traders and imported for distribution at the markets anarchically.

“A CamControl official, Mr. Chea Ny, told Rasmei Kampuchea that recently, imported goods had been checked for their quality occasionally, and no chemicals [applied on those goods] were found.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5207, 26.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #487, 26.5.2010

  • ASEAN Police Will Step Up Cooperation and Strengthen Security and Economy in the Region
  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An Asked the Asian Development Bank to Continue to Cooperate with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific [ESCAP – according to a meeting with an ADB delegation]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2258, 26.5.2010

  • There Will Be a Vote [in the National Assembly] to Promote Eleven Officials [to positions of secretary of state and minister] on 27 May 2010 [but their names are not yet mentioned]
  • French Officials Plan to Come to Cambodia to Help Improve the Procedures for Exporting Products to International Markets [according to a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Mao Thora]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #771, 26.5.2010

  • The Director of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], Naly Pilorge, Uses the Influence of Foreign Funds to Dismiss Staff [not respecting contracts and the labor law]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #665, 26.5.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Asked [Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng for Permission to Visit Ms. Meas Srey and Mr. Prum Chea [being jailed for uprooting Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6965, 26.5.2010

  • Three Persons, a Man and His Two Children, Died in the Forest [of diarrhea]; Diarrhea Killed Sixteen People among 543 Patients in Ratanakiri [Yesterday, Dr. Beat Richner announced in a full page ad in The Cambodia Daily that the hospitals to which he relates have diagnosed 290 cases with the germ “Vibrio cholerae” – Cholera – among 1300 patients treated, and informed the Cambodian authorities since several months, but the Cambodian authorities continue to deny that it is Cholera and wrongly claim that the treatment for Cholera and for diarrhea is the same]
  • Thma Koul Police Intercepted 22 Pieces of Luxury Grade Wood to Be Transported to Siam [Thailand – Battambang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #179, 26.5.2010

  • Brick Producers: The Price of Bricks Doubles because of the Increase of Demand for Construction Materials [at present, 10,000 bricks cost US$400]
  • Thai Court Released Warrant to Arrest [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as Terrorist

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5207, 26.5.2010

  • Thai Goods Are Imported through the Cham Yeam Border Crossing without Checking
  • New Ambassadors of Malaysia and of Laos Met and Greeted Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen

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.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...