Changing Approaches to Old Problems – Sunday, 13.6.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ILO: More Than 1,500 Workers Die Every Year in Cambodia because of Occupational Accidents – Friday, 30.4.2010

Posted on 1 May 2010. Filed under: Week 662 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

“Phnom Penh: The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that in Cambodia more than 1,500 people were killed last year by occupational accidents. That means four persons die each day at their workplace.

“Regarding these occupational accidents, ILO announced that Cambodia will celebrate the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 30 April 2010 by a march in Kampot City.

“The celebration on 30 April 2010 will be held under the topic ‘Understanding about Your Safety and Health Hazards and the Prevention of Occupational Accidents.’

“The head of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, Mr. Leng Tong, said that in 2009, nearly 3,000 workers in Cambodia suffered from serious accidents relating to their work.

“The president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, which has a membership in the fields of tourism, garment production, and construction, Mr. Ath Thun, considers the figures provided by ILO about deaths at work places as based on accurate monitoring.

“Mr. Ath Thun said that Cambodia is a developing country, and in general, investors in Cambodia do not care much about the health of workers, while also the government does not pay much attention to the health of workers. As health issues of employees and workers do not receive much attention, this results in accidents happening continually. In recent years, there is a fast growing number of high-rise buildings that do not have occupational safety systems, and there is no clear regulation about who has to take the responsibility when accidents happen, and when workers are killed, whether their families get proper compensation, or they are left with little money.

“Mr. Ath Thun added that most occupational accidents occur at construction sites and brick kilns, in fishery, as well as at other companies, institutions, and small enterprises that are not following standards and that do not have proper occupational protection systems. In the garment sector, workers often lost a hand or suffered from chemical substances that affect their health. Some others encountered traffic accidents when they went to or came out of their factories.

“The recent announcement by ILO, on 29 April 2010, says that the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training of Cambodia has broadened its publications about occupational safety and health to the provincial level, conducting a public demonstration in Kampot. More than 350 participants, representatives of the government and of employers and employees, will join to celebrate by marching from the Kampot Bridge along the river, carrying signs and banners with slogans on the way to the next celebration site at the Kampot Municipality to listen to speeches and to watch performances about safety.

“Along the roads in Kampot, banners with slogans are on display, and leaflets to promote public understanding about the importance of occupational safety and health are distributed.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training in charge of occupational safety and health, AIDS, and social security, Mr. Huy Hansong, who will chair the event in Kampot on 30 April 2010, said in the announcement that health and safety hazards – problems that have been occurring at present – cannot be identified only through normal ways assuming people’s general understanding. ‘We must have new ways to deal with these dangers and educate workers and employees about practical and new measures of prevention.

“On behalf of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, he said that the Royal Government of Cambodia highly prioritizes the improvement of the quality of life of the people. Ensuring a healthy, safe, and productive atmosphere are key factors to achieve this goal. Cambodia is implementing, at the national level, a system for stronger occupational safety and health, in order to offer sufficient protection for the occupational safety and health for all workers and employees.

“The announcement also quotes an ILO specialist on occupational safety and health for East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, Mr. Kawakami Tsuyoshi [川上 剛], as saying that ‘this is the fifth time that Cambodia celebrates this international day, and this shows the commitment of Cambodia to achieve occupational safety and health. But we must not be too proud. We should consolidate our effort to get closer to the employees at their workplaces and to provide them with practical support to prevent accidents.’

“It should be noticed that the celebration of the International World Day for Safety and Health at Work by a march in Kampot in the morning of 30 May 2010 is funded by the Korea Program of the ILO, the Better Factories Cambodia program of the ILO, and by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training of Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5162, 28-29.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 30 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #465, 30.4.2010

  • Cambodia Equips Troops with More Modern Weapons [saying that Cambodia will shoot back with DK 12.7-milimeter machine guns and B40 rockets if invaded]
  • The European Union Plans to Show Films Promoting Women in Society [from 3 to 9 May 2010 at the French Cultural Center – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2236, 30.4.2010

  • [The president of the Cambodian Confederation Union] Mr. Rong Chhun, Plans to Show the Film “Who Killed Chea Vichea” despite Not Having a Permission from the Authorities
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Left to Attend the Shanghai 2010 World-Expo [in China]
  • A 60-Year-Old Man Was Arrested for Raping a 14-Year-Old Boy [Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6943, 30.4.2010

  • Cambodia Wants Indonesia to Manufacture Agricultural Machinery in Cambodia [according to the report about a meeting between the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Sok An, and the Indonesian Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Ngurah Swajaya, at the end of his mission in Cambodia]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3867, 30.4.2010

  • Trade Unions Can March to Send a Petition to the National Assembly [on 1 May 2010], but the Authorities Prohibit to Show the Film “Who Killed Chea Vichea”
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Cambodia Has to Adhere to Its International Obligations and Only Communist Countries Use the Word “Interference in Internal Affairs” [recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia issued a diplomatic note to request foreign ambassadors not to interfere in Cambodian internal affairs – ((actually, the term “Interference in Internal Affairs” is regularly used as a traditional principle of ASEAN))]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #161, 30.4.2010

  • Documentary Film about [the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Vichea’s Murder Is Not Allowed to Be Shown in Public [as there is no permission from any minister]
  • Russia Wants to Buy More Rice but Is Negotiating the Price [Russia wants to buy 20,000 tonnes of rice in 2010]
  • Tropical Storm in Preah Vihear Destroyed Twenty Houses and Injured Three People

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5162, 28-29.4.2010

  • ILO: More Than 1,500 Workers Die Every Year in Cambodia because of Occupational Accidents
  • Cambodia Announced to Have Taken Full Control of the Ta Krabei Temple [at the Cambodian-Thai border]; Siamese [Thai] Citizens and Soldiers Can Go There as Visitors
  • More Than Five Tonnes of No-Quality Bra Fish [a fresh water fish] and Quails Imported from Vietnam Were Seized [Kandal – the may be detrimental to health if eaten]

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The New Demonstration Law Is More Difficult Than That of 1991 Which Did Not Limit the Number of Demonstrators – Tuesday, 30.3.2010

Posted on 31 March 2010. Filed under: Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“When the new demonstration law of Cambodia, adopted by the National Assembly in 2009, was published on Monday 29 March 2010 at the Sunway Hotel through a workshop at national level by the Ministry of Interior, officials of civil society organizations said that this new law is more difficult than the previous one.

“A senior investigating official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, spoke to journalists after the workshop, saying that the limitation of the number of people to participate in a demonstration or in a strike, limited to 200, is too tight, because at each factory there are thousands of workers.

“Nevertheless, the Minister of Interior, Mr. Sar Kheng, stressed that for all demonstrations, there must be letters sent to inform the Ministry of Interior in advance, so that it can take measures for security and protection. He added that any group of persons that want to demonstrate must write a letter to their municipal authorities, where the demonstration is to happen, five days before the event, and the number of people allowed to join in a demonstration is only 200.

“Another point that is seen as a threat against those who intend to demonstrate is that the new non-violent demonstration law requires at least three representatives to attach their photos and addresses with the proposed letters. Regarding this point, civil society organization officials said that this makes it probably difficult for those who suffer from injustice or disagree with something to decide to stand as representatives, because those who were targeted in a demonstration can use tricks to put the blame on the leaders of demonstrations. They can be arrested easily as their names, photos, and addresses have already been attached to the papers to be submitted to the Ministry of Interior.

“Mr. Chan Soveth thinks that this new demonstration law imposes more difficult conditions for demonstrators and strikers than that of 1991. The law of 1991 also required to submit request letters to get a permission for a demonstration, but it did not limit the number of people who could participate. Also, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association [Mr. Rong Chhun], who frequently appears in demonstrations, said that most articles of the new demonstration law inhibit demonstrators from acting freely. The Constitution, the basic law of the country, clearly states that Khmer citizens have ample rights to enter politics, to demonstrate, to strike, or to assemble.

“Many people are aware that these statements exist only on the paper where the Constitution is printed. Some of those who dare [with reference to the Constitution] to demonstrate when they are not satisfied with the situation in a company, or with actions of the government, have been cruelly confronted by armed forces, when the authorities dispatched them arguing that this is done for public security reasons. Some non-government organization officials say that – because government officials in charge do not have the courage to address problems by meeting protesting citizens face-to-face – they use violent measures to suppress the citizens who act based on the Constitution. Furthermore, because the government is afraid it may get a bad reputation because of demonstrations, it decided to rather violate democratic policy.

“It is natural that people compare the actual situation of different countries implementing democratic principles, like Cambodia and Siam [Thailand]. At present, tens of thousands of red-shirt demonstrators, supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, are all over Bangkok and are shouting their slogans freely to demand the dissolution of the parliament, and of the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva, but the armed forces did not harass them. That means that the demonstrators are allowed to express their opinions as they like. This indicates that the democratic space in Siam is wide, and citizens who oppose the government have sufficient rights to express their intentions and their positions toward their government – this is much different compared with Cambodia.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3845, 30.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #447, 30.3.2010

  • Mr. Sar Kheng Asked for Understanding for the Non-Violent Demonstration Law, while Civil Society Is Not So Satisfied with It
  • More Than 10,000 Citizens in Kompong Speu Received A/H1N1 Vaccine Injections

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2214, 30.3.2010

  • An Amleang Commune Counselor and Another Villager [representatives of the Amleang Commune residents] Were Released from Temporary Detention [they were arrested for having been in a crowd that burned down the on-site office of Oknha and Senator Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company over a land dispute]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #639, 30.3.2010

  • [The Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua Asked the Supreme Court to Delay Her Hearing until after 17 April 2010 [over a defamation court case, initiated by Prime Minister Hun Sen against her, as she is in the USA and cannot appear on 7 April 2010 as summoned by the Supreme Court]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6921, 30.3.2010

  • The Minister of Industry Launched the Construction Site of the A Tai River Hydro-Electric Dam [which will generate 246 megawatts; it might cost about US$540 million, to be invested by a Chinese company, and it is expected to be operating by 2014 – Koh Kong]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3845, 30.3.2010

  • The [Kompong Speu] Court Must Punish the Brigadier General Who Shot a Citizen [in the head], Wounding Him Seriously [just because of a minor driving mistake]
  • The New Demonstration Law Is More Difficult Than That of 1991 Which Did Not Limit the Number of Demonstrators

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #141, 30.3.2010

  • About 3,000 Cubic Meter of Wood Were Seized [the head of the Department of Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Ty Sokun, said that about 100 loggers, including powerful people and traders, will have to face legal actions after the authorities found that they store illegally cut wood]
  • The Malaysian Petronas Petroleum Company Will Withdraw Its Investments from Cambodia [to develop petroleum resources] Next Month [it is the second company, after Shell, that withdrew in 2007 – no reason given]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5163, 30.3.2010

  • A Man Was Convicted to Serve Fifteen Years in Prison and a Woman to Twenty Years for Trafficking People to Be Prostitutes in Malaysia
  • Bangkok: Negotiations Failed [to achieve the protesters’ goal, as Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva declined to dissolve the parliament immediately as demanded by the red shirt groups, supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] – and Gun Fire and Bomb Explosion Continue to Be Heard

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Eight Companies Will Invest in Agro-Industry Crops on More than 50,000 Hectares of Land – Monday, 1.2.2010

Posted on 1 February 2010. Filed under: Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

“Phnom Penh: The Royal Government, represented by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Chan Sarun, and representatives of eight companies signed, on 29 January 2010, contracts on agro-industry crop investment on more than 50,000 hectares of land. Most investments focus on rubber plantations in three northeastern provinces of Cambodia.

“The signing ceremony was held at the Ministry of Agriculture. The chief of the cabinet of the ministry, Mr. Hong Nareth, informed Rasmei Kampuchea, saying, ‘After the Minister of Agriculture had received the authorization from the head of the government, we organized this official contract signing ceremony.’ The 8 companies received economic concession land of more than 50,000 hectares for investment. Among the 8 companies, 1 company is from Malaysia, 1 from South Korea, 4 are from Vietnam, and 2 are local companies.

“Based on the contracts, he said that the Malaysian company will invest in agro-industry crops on more than 7,800 hectares of land in Mondolkiri. The South Korean company will invest to plant rubber trees on 6,600 hectares of land in Kratie. The companies from Vietnam will plant rubber trees and agro-industry crops, raise animals, and establish processing factories on 20,900 hectares of land in Kratie and Ratanakiri. Local companies will invest in rubber and agro-industry crops plantation on 16,900 hectares of land in Kratie.

“Speaking on behalf of the Royal Government, the Minister of Agriculture welcomed the investments by all investors that respond to the Royal Government’s needs. He considered the official decisions and deals at this time as mutual beneficial contributions and joint development efforts for Cambodia to reduce poverty, to create employment, and to transfer agro-industrial techniques to Cambodian people.

“The minister reminded all companies which have received the right to invest that they have to implement their activities according to the contracts. In the meantime, the ministry is ready to cooperate to ensure that the investment becomes successful.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5113-5114, 30-1.1-2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 1 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #401, 30.1.2010

  • Human Rights Watch Backs Prime Minister’s Warning to [army and navy] Generals [over their illegal actions and corruption]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2164-2165, 30-1.1-2.2010

  • An Armed Clash Broke Out at Point 532, Resulting in the Death of a Siamese [Thai] Soldier [Khmer soldiers claimed that Thai soldiers started shooting at Khmer soldiers first, when they tried to approach the Thai soldiers to ask why they came into Khmer territory]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Draft of an Anti-Corruption Law Has an Article about Property Declaration [all officials, such as military and police officials and politicians, are required to declare their property, otherwise they will be punished; but he did not predict when this law will be approved]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #593, 30.1.2010

  • The Ministry of Interior Said It Decided to Dismiss the Police Official [a second lieutenant] Oung Dara Who Raped a Woman in a Karaoke Parlor [already in October 2009 in Phnom Penh, by now his whereabouts are not known]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6871-6872, 30-1.1-2.2010

  • A Siamese [Thai] Student Who Tried to Enter the Preah Vihear Temple at Noon [illegally] Was Held
  • Two Robbers Robbed a Gold Seller, Taking Away 500 Chi of Gold [approx. US$66,500] and Riel 4 Million [approx. US$930 – Phnom Penh]
  • Swiss Musicians Played Music to Entertain Prisoners [in Kampot; this event was organized by the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, LICADHO]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #101, 1.2.2010

  • The Start of a Car Manufacturing Company’s Operations [a branch of the Korean Hyundai Motor Company] Was Postponed [to be established in Koh Kong by the end of this year, as the construction had been affected by bad weather]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5113-5114, 30-1.1-2.2010

  • Eight Companies will Invest in Agro-Industry Crops on More Than 50,000 Hectares of Land
  • A Mother [who had high blood pressure] and Her Son [who had mental disorders] Jointly Committed Suicide [by hanging, as they could not find money to support their lives – Phnom Penh]
  • A Woman Was Arrested for Driving a Car and Killing a Motor-Taxi Driver by Causing an Accident, and Injuring Another Person Seriously [Phnom Penh]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1867, 1.2.2010

  • [The Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson and parliamentarian] Mr. Yim Sovann Encouraged [the Prime Minister] to Arrest Corrupt Senior Military Officials so that They Can Be Convicted

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Chea Mony: That Demonstrations and Strikes Decreased Does Not Mean that there Are Proper Working Conditions – Monday, 11.1.2010

Posted on 11 January 2010. Filed under: Week 647 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647

“Phnom Penh: The president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers stated that there were more than 100 demonstrations and strikes held by workers in 2009, but this number is less than in previous years. However, the decline in numbers is not due to better working conditions, but due to restrictions imposed by the government on demonstrations and strikes, especially due to suppression of workers movements by the local authorities.

“Generally, demonstrations and strikes do not achieve 100% results, but only through them can problems of workers get solved up to 70%. He said that when demonstrations and strikes are conducted by workers, there can be solutions, but if not, there are not any solutions for their problems. He added, ‘We do not use demonstrations and strikes as a weapon to trouble factory owners or the government, but it is because some factories do not respect working condition regulations at all, and strikes are held because the relevant ministries are incapable of implementing the law. Thus, the procedures to demonstrate and to strike is a good way for workers, or it can be considered as a good medicine to solve their problems.’

Deum Ampil contacted the secretary of state [of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training], Mr. Oum Mean, to comment on the claim of the free trade union leader, but he did not make any comment, saying that he was fulfilling his mission in a province, and then shut off his mobile phone.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #384, 10-11.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 11 January 2010

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #93, 11.1.2010

  • [The president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Mr. Chea Mony Asked the United States Not to Impose Taxes on Garment Products Exported from Cambodia to the United States

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #384, 10-11.1.2010

  • Chea Mony: That Demonstarations and Strikes Decreased Does Not Mean that there Are Proper Working Conditions

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2147, 10-11.1.2010

  • A Major Shot About 10 Times into the Air [reason unknown], but the Authorities Did not Dare Not to Arrest Him [though there were soldiers at a nearby post, and also military police and police did not arrest him – Prampi Makara district, Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6854, 11.1.2010

  • Nearly Two Tonnes of Quails and Hundreds of Bottles of Johnie Walker Whisky [of no quality] Were Burnt or Destroyed [Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.2, #86, 11.1.2010

  • Prices of Gasoline Start to Rise Again [to about US$1.07 Premium and US$1.04 Regular per liter in Cambodia after the price at international markets for crude oil increased up to US$90.25 per barrel]
  • Officials [of the Ministry of Health] Are Concerned about the Spreading of Cholera in the Dry Season [because of unsanitary living conditions]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5096, 10-11.1.2010

  • The Svay Rieng Court Will Open the Hearing on [opposition party president] Sam Rainsy on 27 January 2010 [over the removal of border markers]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1853, 11-12.1.2010

  • The Court Will Convict Five Citizens and Mr. Sam Rainsy on 27 January over [the removal] of Border Marker 185
  • [Former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch Will Be Indicted and Added into Case 002 with [four other] Khmer Rouge Top Leaders [Nuon Chea, Khiev Samphan, Ieng Sary, and Ieng Thirith]

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Listening to Husband and Wife Who Live with AIDS in Siem Reap,Talking about Difficulties to Receive Life Extending Drugs – Saturday, 26.12.2009

Posted on 27 December 2009. Filed under: Week 644 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 644

“Siem Reap: A Husband and wife who live among more than 3,000 people who are also living with AIDS and are receiving life extending drugs in Siem Reap and in neighboring provinces, talked about their difficulties to receive life extending drugs at the Siem Reap referral hospital. Below is what they said:

1. Services Provided Depend on Salaries

“I and my wife received life extending drugs for free through the [French NGO] Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) since 2004 until mid 2008. After receiving these life extending drugs, I seemed to have gained hope to continue living, as I and my wife were cared for and we were offered non-discriminating services free of charge.

“But it is disappointing that after MSF had finished their term, the situation changed, as we continued to receive drugs and services from the Siem Reap referral hospital. More than 3,000 people have AIDS, including I and my wife, and we receive now services from state doctors.

“But in actual fact, we are not offered the same intensive services like before, starting from the point submitting the Patient’s Books to get queuing numbers to receive health counseling and blood examinations, for checking and for observations. These activities are offered with discrimination by the hospital’s service providers in a rude attitude.

“If we compare the wide gap between the present services to those provided by MSF, the present personnel does not speak responsibly, like saying, ‘State medics who earn Riel 100,000 to Riel 200,000 [approx. US$24 to 48] as their salaries, they provide services based on it. It is not like that organization’s medics who earn US$400 to US$500.’

2. A Money Number Is Quicker than a Queuing Number

“Every time I and my wife are to receive life extending drugs, we have to arrive at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. to submit our Patient’s Books in exchange for queuing numbers. I noticed that every time, even though we try to arrive early, we can hardly receive low queuing numbers to meet our doctors soon. We have to pass by an informal checkpoint (a group of people in charge of checking our books for the appointment dates). If I am not mistaken, they are not members of the staff of the state hospital. The purpose of this group is to make us feel bored if we have to wait for a long time, in order to extort money. This is really true, because once they talked to me, directly asking me and my wife to give them Riel 10,000 [approx. US$2.40] to Riel 20,000, so that they will arrange for us to see the doctors soon, without following the sequence of the queuing numbers. Riel 10,000 is not much for the rich. But as it is known, we are people living with AIDS, before we could receive free life extending drugs, we had sold our property to have money for medical treatment, like for buying medicines from private hospitals, and we consulted also traditional medicine men. Finally, we decided to come to receive services from the state hospital, because we have almost no more money left, and we do not even have enough money to buy our daily food. How can we have money to pay for that group (that offers to disregard the queuing numbers)?

3.Having Money in a Vessel or Having a Blood Vessel

“When the date for a blood test came, I and my wife entered the room of a female doctor (short, short hair, and broad hips). Later on I knew she is Dr. Phary. Arriving in the room, I greeted and chatted with her for a short while, but after she checked my book, she did not start to do her work. She was busy talking on the phone with other persons. Then she went out and came in repeatedly, keeping me and my wife waiting for a long time in her room. When she came into the room again, other patients followed her to meet her. (Looking at their appearance and jewelry) I thought they are her important clients. They handed their books to the doctor, and I saw they had put Riel 20,000 in it. Because she saw the money, Dr. Phary became friendly towards them and started taking their blood, and they did not need to wait long like me. After that she told her clients, ‘Next time before you come, phone me first, and you do not need to take a queuing number…’ (people having money are welcome, I thought). Because we had been waiting already for a long time, I asked the doctor to now take my blood test. I said, ‘Is it because I do not have money though I came first? Why do you let me wait this way?’ She stared at me as if I were her enemy and started to take my wife’s blood first. For my turn, I did not expect she would mistreat me as a revenge, by injecting the needle many times, missing the blood vessel. Then I realized: having no money is having no blood vessel!

4. Examinations at the Private Parts

For such examinations, I just want to ask the hospital or the AIDS authorities to offer training also to women as counselors, so that female patients would not have to be examined by male counselors. When women need health examinations about AIDS, they have to meet male doctors in charge of women’s diseases. If there were female doctors in charge of women’s diseases, they would have different ethics as medics. But what this group said is immoral and improper for Khmer women.

“All in all, regarding the four points mentioned above, I want the provision of life extending drugs to be strengthened, so that it is smooth and not discriminating, and patients do not have to feel bored every time they go to receive drugs.

“I believe that they make it difficult for us to receive services from state hospitals, so as to create opportunities to do their private businesses (by directly contacting doctors, and using the informal group checking appointments).

“Above is a sad account of people living with AIDS, and the authorities, at all levels, working with AIDS patients, should consider this.

“Regarding the above account, after journalists of Rasmei Kampuchea had received the letter from a representative of people having AIDS, at 10:00 a.m. on 25 December 2009, we contacted the head of the Siem Reap referral hospital, Mr. Pen Phalkun, for a comment, and he responded that this case will have its effect for people having AIDS, and he emphasized that he would question those doctors before noon of 25 December 2009, before he would come to Phnom Penh on the same day.

“Mr. Pen Phalkun stressed that doctors are not allowed to extort money from people living with AIDS, or to take life extending drugs home. He will investigate this case further. He asked back, ‘Do you know the names of these doctors?’ If he knew names, he would take action immediately.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5083, 26.12.2009


Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 26 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #371, 26.12.2009

  • Illegal Logging Becomes Serious in Ratanakiri
  • Siamese [Thai] Leaders Denied Planning Coup in Cambodia and Want Indonesian President to Be Mediator
  • A 11-Year-Old Boy Is Charged of Raping a 7-Year-Old Girl [Poipet]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2134, 26.12.2009

  • Sam Rainsy Wants to Alone Take the Responsibility for the Removal of the Temporary Border Markers
  • In 2009, 37,000 of the 40,000 People WITH AIDS Receive Life Extending Drugs
  • A Woman Knocked Down the Pope on Christmas Day

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #564, 26.12.2009

  • What Is behind the Idea of [the president of the National Assembly] Mr. Heng Samrin to Shut off the Microphone to Stop [opposition party parliamentarian] Mr. Son Chhay to Ask [the head of the Border Committee of Cambodia] Mr. Var Kimhong Questions about Border Issues?

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6841, 26-27.12.2009

  • More Than 2,000 People Marched to Demand to Postpone the Land Clearance [of 5,000 hectares by a company in Mondolkiri]
  • [Temporary] Records of Marriages, Births, and Deaths in the City in 2009 Show 4,500 Marriages, 12,068 Births, and 1,899 Deaths [Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5083, 26.12.2009

  • Listening to Husband and Wife Who Live with AIDS in Siem Reap,Talking about Difficulties to Receive Life Extending Drugs
  • Thai Leaders Denied Planning War and Violence against Cambodia and against [Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra
  • Vietnam Establishes a Large-Scale Fertilizer Factory in Cambodia [which can produce 500,000 tonnes of fertilizer each year, in Kien Svay, Kandal, at a cost of US$65 million]
  • China Granted US$3 Million to Create a Forest Park at the Bottom of the Koulen Mountains [Siem Reap]

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The Appeals Court Delayed Hearing on Chea Ratha’s Case for the Second Time – Saturday, 7.11.2009

Posted on 8 November 2009. Filed under: Week 637 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

“The Appeals Court of Cambodia has delayed a hearing on former national military police officer Chea Ratha over the crime of an acid attack on Ms. Ya Sok Nim, the aunt of Ms. In Soklida, who had a lesbian relationship with Chea Ratha.

“The second delay was made again without giving a clear reason, like it was also with the first delay on 22 October 2009.

“Ms. Ya Sok Nim and her husband had written a letter to the Court of Appeals requesting it to reject the decision of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to release seven suspects that were identified by police as responsible for the acid attack.

“In the judgment, which had been openly criticized by police, a judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Mr. Din Sivuthy, ruled on 31 August 2009 to release Ms. Chea Ratha and six accomplices allegedly involved in the acid attack against Ms. Ya Sok Nim on 8 May 2008.

“Though there had been a strong challenge from Ms. Ya Sok Nim’s lawyer, the judge Sivuthy mentioned the lack of evidence as the basis for his decision, which was a surprise.

“After the court had pronounced this judgment, Ms. Ya Sok Nim and her relatives held a press conference, during which they re-played a recorded phone conversation, and in this conversation, a woman, identified as Ms. Chea Ratha, was threatening to use serious violence against Ms. Ya Sok Nim and her family. Some days later, she was attacked with acid.

“The Municipal Court has conducted hearings already twice where it finally decided to lift the accusation on two cases of acid attack from Ms. Chea Ratha. Seemingly, because of dollar power and probably a powerful person, the Court of Appeals delayed its hearings twice already.

“Ms. Ya Sok Nim’s letter, published by local newspapers on 25 September 2009, asked the Prosecutor General of the Court of Appeals to find justice for her. Mr. Uong Vibol and Ms. Ya Sok Nim wrote, ‘Your Excellency, to find justice for the victim… I and my wife, who suffers from the cruel activity of criminals… please help to order the prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to accept an appeal against the judgment by a group of judges led by Mr. Din Sivuthy who has lifted the accusations.’

“The crime of this acid attack on Ms. Ya Sok Nim is similar to other cases which happened previously in Cambodia.

“The victim and her family, members of civil society, and observers of the cruel acid attack against Ms. Ya Sok Nim are waiting to see whether the Appeals Court rejects the decision of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court or keeps this unjust judgment valid in the next hearing.

“The decision by a judge of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court caused the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Justice to establish a special committee, to review the courts’ work. The creation of this special committee had triggered criticism from people from professions of law and from civil society officials, saying that the government interferes in the institution of the courts.

“However, the Minister of Interior, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, wrote to explain to Prime Minister Hun Sen that this new committee just reviews the courts’ work, where there had been frequent information about irregularities by releasing perpetrators.

“Police officials of the Ministry of Interior had complained that the police had tried very hard to arrest perpetrators, but the courts released them. Therefore they wait to see whether Ms. Chea Ratha does have the same fate like Ms. Khuon Sophal or not, the former wife of a high ranking official at the Council of Ministers.

“The life and the appearance of the actress Tat Marina [who suffered also an acid attack] were saved by American doctors. But she and her family had decided to flee from the country in order to wait there for justice to be achieved by the Khmer authorities. They wait to see when the authorities will prosecute Ms. Khuon Sophal and her accomplices.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #524, 7.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 7 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #330, 7.11.2009

  • The Court Sentenced a Man [Mr. Ruos Sokhet, a journalist of The Globe magazine] Who Threatened Mr. Soy Sopheap to Serve Two Years in Prison [for distributing disinformation by sending disparaging telephone text messages to the president of the Cambodia Television Network and to the director of Deum Ampil, Mr. Soy Sopheap]
  • Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] Said He Wants to Get Divorced, while Princess Marie Said She Does Not [he appeared at the court as plaintiff over his divorce case without the presence of Princess Marie]
  • The Number of People Infected with the A/H1N1 Virus Increased to 313, while the Number of Deaths Remains at Four [in Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2092, 7.11.2009

  • Cambodian and Siamese [Thai] Army Commanders Promised Not to Interfere in the Diplomatic Dispute [between the two governments]
  • A [Vietnamese] Man Tried to Rape His [Vietnamese] Girlfriend, then Killed Her by Breaking Her Neck and Threw Her Body into a River [he was arrested – Kompong Chhnang]
  • America Will Not Withdraw Sanctions against Myanmar [if the generals in Myanmar, who hold power, do not make noticeable improvements toward democratic reforms]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #524, 7.11.2009

  • The Appeals Court Delayed Hearing on Chea Ratha’s Case for the Second Time
  • The King Asked Mr. Hun Sen to Check a Request to Pardon Mr. Hang Chakra [the editor-in-chief of Khmer Machas Srok who was convicted to serve one year in prison for disinformation]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6799, 7.11.2009

  • The Cambodian Ambassador Returned to Cambodia through the Poipet Border Crossing; Siam [Thailand] Warned They May Close the Border Crossings if the Dispute Continues
  • A [female] Garment Worker Died of an Electric Shock in the Golden Mile Factory [Phnom Penh]
  • The United Nations Evacuates Its Staff [of about 600] from Afghanistan [because of violent and bloody attacks at their living places during the last week by Taliban forces]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5041, 7.11.2009

  • Thailand Announced to Cancel the Agreements [on joint development] for Overlapping Zones [rich in gas and oil – according to The Nation] while Cambodia Said that this Is against International Law [as there is no point in the agreement mentioning a decision to cancel the agreement unilaterally]
  • A Draft Decree Relating to Mandatory Military Service Was Approved during a Session of the Council of Ministers [it deals with the conditions of the census, the selection, call-up, and the delay for youth that are busy with studies; in special cases there may be exemptions, while the authorities are starting to implement mandatory military services]
  • Car Hit Two Motorbikes, Killing Two People and Seriously Injuring One [no information given about the arrest of the perpetrating teenage driver – Phnom Penh]

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Foreign Co-Defense Lawyers of Nuon Chea File a Complaint about Corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Friday, 9.1.2009

Posted on 10 January 2009. Filed under: Week 594 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 594

“Phnom Penh: A foreign co-defense lawyer of [former Khmer Rough leader] Nuon Chea demanded the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to open an investigation regarding corruption allegations at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. This demand was made through a complaint to the Royal Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday on 8 January 2009. The Royal Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Count has not yet accepted this criminal complaint [on 8 January – Note: But on 9 January he did]

“Representing a group of three foreign co-defense lawyers of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Michiel Pestman presented this complaint to the Royal Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. The plaintiffs declared to be victims of a violation of the criminal law of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia [UNTAC] of 1992, the plaintiffs especially raised the allegation of corruption in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which can lead to destroy the basic right to receive just hearings.

“Through the complaint, the three foreign co-lawyers, Mr. Michiel Pestman, Mr. Victor Koppe, and Mr. Andrew Lanuzzi, as plaintiffs, base their complaint on a statement of the Open Society Justice Initiative [OSJI] of February 2007, a report by UNDP, and some local press articles. These documents alleged that the general staff as well as some judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal paid a portion of their salaries to higher officials of the Cambodian government, in response to having received their positions at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“The foreign co-defense lawyers mentioned also the history of facts related to previous corruption allegations related to the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“The foreign co-defense lawyers of Mr. Nuon Chea asked the Royal Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to open an investigation about corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“They said they make this demand, because their efforts to receive information from the Cambodian side and from Deputy Prime Minister Sok An regarding the accusations about corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal had not been successful, because no information was provided. That is why the foreign co-defense lawyers concluded that the people mentioned above and others acting similarly might violate the UNTAC criminal law of 1992, or other similar rules of prosecution by directly coordinating to help each other and to encourage corruption relating to the assignments at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal during the continuing investigation.

“Coming once in the morning and once again in the afternoon to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, on 8 January 2009, Mr. Michiel Pestman told reporters that the clerks did not accept his complaint, even though he had tried to deliver documents of complaint to the Royal Prosecutor’s clerks, and he had indicated that foreign lawyers would come again to meet them at 3:00 p.m. on 8 January 2009. But the clerks still did not accept the complaint and required them to come to the court again on Friday, 9 January 2009.

“Mr. Pestman added that the clerks had said that the complaint lodged by the foreign co-defense lawyers was a special one so they need to first talk to their superiors.

“Mr. Pestman went on to say that the corruption allegation, related to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, is a serious problem, and it can negatively impact on rights of the accused so that they not receive just hearings; it is a major concern of everyone involved in the process of these procedures.

“He went on to question with great concern how the Khmer Rouge Tribunal could provide justice to his defendants without clarification? Paying a portion of the salaries of officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to high ranking officials of the government makes these officials of the court unable to work independently.

“Mr. Pestman clearly indicated that staff of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal did cut a portion of their salaries as a kick-back to high ranking officials of the government, depending on reports published by the United Nations, but he did not know who those Khmer staff were, and to whom they had paid their money.

“Nevertheless, the spokesperson of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Reach Sambath, did not make any comment on the complaint of the foreign co-lawyers, filed at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Mr. Reach Sambath considers the corruption case at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to be a past problem, for which no facts had been found to support it. But he emphasized that the Cambodian side in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is highly committed to fight inequities. The court created a mechanism with a code-of-ethics councils and with mail boxes for staff to lodge complaints regarding corruption.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4790, 9.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 9 January 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1842, 9.1.2009

  • Samdech Hun Sen Told Thailand to Re-Consider the Timing and place of the ASIAN Summit [now planned for 27 February to 1 March 2009, in Chiang Mai]
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia Reacts against the Thai Authorities for Not Allowing Cambodian Tourists to Enter Thailand [from a tourist cruise ship on 25 December 2008 – although they held Thai visa – saying that they did so, because they were concerned about security problems]
  • Owner of a Shoe Factory Leaves More Than 100 Workers on the Day when the Salaries Were Due [the owner of the factory, a colonel, ordered his bodyguards to intimidate the workers not to protest, while workers, mostly underage girls, shouted that they have no money to buy rice and to pay to travel back to their home villages and towns]
  • Rate of Patients and People Who Died from Malaria Declined in 2008 [the number of patients was 46,931, and the number of deaths was 155, while in 2007 there were 59,848 patients and 219 deaths]
  • The Thai Central Bank: The Occupation of the Airports [in 2008] Caused Siam [Thailand] to Loose US$8.3 Billion

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #320, 9-10.1.2009

  • Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Kasit Piromya Will Meet Samdech Hun Sen on 25 and 26 January 2009 to Solve Border Disputes [according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kong]
  • Terrorist Leaders Who Planted Explosive Devices [in Phnom Penh] Are Arrested [in Poipet, police said that the suspects were involved also in the setting of explosive devices at the Cambodian-Vietnamese Monument on 29 July 2007 in Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #322, 9.1.2009

  • If People Reaching Retiring Age Still Collude to Delay Retirement, Why not Scrap Every Retirement Law All Together???

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #178, 8.1.2009

  • The Announcement of a Hearing of a Danish Woman and Her Son Accused of Dealing with Drugs Is Delayed [to 15 January 2009]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6547, 9.1.2009

  • Car Loaded with Corn Hit Anti-Tank Mine, Killing Three and Injuring Six Lightly and Severely on National Road 57 [Ratanak Mondol, Battambang]
  • Explosion Echoed behind the Office of the Prime Minister [Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, of Thailand – no one was injured]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3661, 9.1.2009

  • [International co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] Robert Petit Has Not Given Up the Demand to Investigate Six New Suspects [although the Khmer co-prosecutor of the tribunal, Ms. Chea Leang, released a statement opposing his demand]; Hearing of [the former Tuol Sleng Prison chief] Duch Will Start in March

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4790, 9.1.2009

  • Foreign Co-Defense Lawyers of Nuon Chea File a Complaint about Corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Customs Income in 2008 Was More Than US$290 Million, Which Was 30% Over the Expectation [it declined by 7.5% compared to 2007 – according the Customs Department director, Mr. Pen Siman]
  • A Dead Female Dolphin Floated Down in Front of Wat Chrouy Thma in Kompong Cham

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3471, 9.1.2009

  • World Bank Increases Access to Telecommunication Services for Poor Citizens in Five Provinces [Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, and Pursat]

Wat Phnom, Vol.16, #8002, 9-11.1.2009

  • [Phnom Penh governor] Mr. Kep Chuktema Plans to Spend US$10 Million [foreign money] on Public Lighting in Phnom Penh

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