The British Ambassador Announced the Amount of Aid Promised for the Development of Cambodia – Saturday, 26.6.2010

Posted on 1 July 2010. Filed under: Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

Note:

Apologies again – for the present delay. The transfer of a file was delayed, and then I did not have Internet access because of traveling.

Norbert Klein
At present in Canada for an Internet stability related workshop. I hope that from next week on, I should be able to upload the daily supplements of The Mirror again regularly.

“The British Embassy to Cambodia said that within the amount of US$1.1 billion aid that the government receives from donors for 2010, the British government will provide £21 million to support development plans in Cambodia.

“The spokesperson of the British Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Neng Vannak, wrote in an email on 22 June 2010 that the amount of aid that the British government plans to provide to Cambodia is about £21 million, approximately US$33 million.

“He added that the aid of the British government will support health care and the improvement of accountability of Cambodian public finance.

“Besides announcing the amount of aid for the development in Cambodia, Mr. Vannak added that England is a country that is encouraging and attracting investments and boosting commercial ties in Cambodia.

“Mr. Vannak added that in 2009, English investors invested US$5.4 million. Most of the investment concentrated on the financial sector, construction, agriculture, and the garment industry. But the embassy has not yet released information for 2010.

He went on to say that relating to the commerce in 2009, the export of Cambodia to England amounted to about £177.23 million [approx. US$276 million], while the import from England to Cambodia was only £4.02 million [approx. 6.06 million]. The spokesperson of the British Embassy announced the £21 million aid for Cambodia after the Minister of Economy and Finance, Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon, declared early in the month that donors promised to provide about US$1.1 billion to support development plans in Cambodia. At that time, he just said that Japan is the country that promised to provide most aid.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5234, 26.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 26 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #514, 26.6.2010

  • A Student Died after a Fuel Tank Truck of the Tela Company Rolled Over Him [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2285, 26.6.2010

  • A Fire Which Resulted from an Overturned Car Burnt Two Persons to Death and Seriously Wounded Five Others [Kompong Chhnang]
  • Many Piglets Were Imported from Vietnam into Prey Veng [illegally], but the Officials in Charge Did Not Suppress It [but collude with the merchants

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6992, 26-27.6.2010

    Prime Minister Hun Sen Is Pleased with the Construction of Roads and Bridges by China That Have Quality and Are Cheap and Fast

  • Samdech Euv [the former King], Samdech Mae [the former Queen], and the King Returned Back to the Country [after paying a private visit to Vietnam]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3916, 26-27.6.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay: The Khmer Government Is Incompetent to Protect Its Citizens Who Are Mistreated and Killed by the Authorities of Neighboring Countries [recently, another Khmer citizen was shot dead by Thai soldiers who accused him of illegally trafficking a motorbike across the border]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5234, 26.6.2010

  • The British Ambassador Announced the Amount of Aid Promised for the Development of Cambodia
  • [The Minister of Economy and Finance] Mr. Keat Chhon Met with a Delegation of the International Monetary Fund That Came to Check the Performance of the Cambodian Economy
  • Cambodia Cannot Export Fruits Abroad because of Fruit Fly Contamination [according to a workshop held by the Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture]

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Small and Medium Scale Industry in Cambodia Will Be Strengthened for ASEANization – Tuesday, 23.2.2010

Posted on 24 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: Starting from 2015, member countries of ASEAN will exchange goods freely. Cambodia is among them, a country that is preparing to develop itself, while small and medium scale industry remains not so strong and needs further development so that it can compete with other ASEAN countries.

“Relating to the development of small and medium scale industry, the secretary of a Cambodian macro-micro industry community, Mr. Ouk Ren, spoke yesterday to Deum Ampil, saying, ‘The development of small and medium scale industry in Cambodia is speeding up, and its capacity has to be further strengthened for its ASEANization in 6 points: 1. Organization of leadership institutions, 2. Financial supporting systems, 3. Marketing networks, 4. Extensive communication, 5. Information and communication technology, and 6. Promotion of leadership ability in all sectors.’

“He added, ‘Most small and medium scale enterprises are operated as family businesses. Therefore, if we do not organize them, it will be difficult for them to relate to, and to integrate into foreign trade. It requires that public services are coordinated and that improvements happen so that developments are in line with the global commercial situation.’

“He emphasized, ‘Nowadays, there are more than 100 small and medium scale industrial enterprises operating in Cambodia. At present, they are facing a financial crisis, and everyone is trying to improving their operations in order to recover; but they have not prepared themselves to integrate with other ASEAN countries. Anyway, we have this policy direction, but we do not yet have explicit strategies. In the meantime, we need leadership from the Ministries of Industry, of Economy, and of Commerce, as the private sector cannot function without passing through these government institutions.’

“As for Siam [Thailand], the General Director of the Industrial Extension Department of Siam, Mr. Atith Vuthikaro [phonetic], said, ‘A few small and medium scale enterprises have established branches to cooperate in trade with other ASEAN countries.’

“He added, ‘In Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos labor is cheap, and those countries provide good opportunities for Thai investment abroad, when Thai companies establish trade relations.’

“Mr. Atith went on to say, ‘Ten percent of the leading enterprises, or around 90,000, will concentrate on the expansion into ASEAN countries. Thirty percent of the Thai enterprises have been well developed. And many of those enterprises focus on food processing and the production of beverages.’

“The director general of a Thai industrial development structure, Mr. Manob Chaiwatana Suthorn [phonetic], said, ‘While seeking trading cooperation, we initially concentrate on Cambodia, Burma, Laos, and Vietnam, because these countries have cheap labor and a lot of raw materials for the development of small and medium scale enterprises.'” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #417, 23.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #417, 23.2.2010

  • Small and Medium Scale Industry in Cambodia Will Be Strengthened for ASEANization
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Introduce Uniforms for Moto-Taxi Drivers [and Tuk-Tuk drivers, to protect the safety of tourists, as some persons pretended to be moto-taxi drivers and caused many problems]
  • Cambodia Reconsiders Providing Family Books and Khmer Identification Cards to 24 Khmer Kampuchea Krom People [that the Thai authorities had arrested and sent to Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2184, 23.2.2010

  • The Minister of Information Rejected the Information that Khmer Kampuchea Krom People [in Vietnam] Are Not Allowed to Watch Television Broadcasted from Cambodia
  • A Man Killed Two Nieces and Then Raped Them [they are four and twelve years old – Kampot]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #609, 23.2.2010

  • [The vice president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm Welcomes Democrats and Those Loving the Nation to Join [with the Sam Rainsy Party; this is seen as a response to the Human Rights Party that had called for unity]
  • Prince Norodom Sirivudh Will Be Appointed as a Member of the Constitutional Council, to Replace Son Soubert [whose term will terminate in two weeks]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6891, 23.2.2010

  • A Government Official Announced to Sue Mr. Sam Rainsy; [the head of the Cambodian Border Committee] Va Kimhong: Maps Accusing the Government [over the setting of border markers with Vietnam, used by Mr. Sam Rainsy] Are Fake

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3815, 23.2.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Submitted a Draft [to the National Assembly] Requesting the Creation of a National Independent Board against Corruption

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #118, 23.2.2010

  • Cambodia Appeals to Citizens to Be Careful when Traveling to Thailand [as there will be a big demonstration held by the red-shirt demonstrators, supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on 26 February 2010]
  • Investment Projects Approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia in January This Year Dropped by 25% Compared to the Corresponding Period Last Year [the amount dropped from US$100 million to US$75 million]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5133, 23.2.2010

  • China Invested from 1994 to 2009 US$7,025 Million in Cambodia

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Cambodia Wants the USA to Support Cambodia’s Candidacy as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council – Wednesday, 10.2.2010

Posted on 11 February 2010. Filed under: Week 651 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 651

“Cambodia has requested the United States of America to support the candidacy of Cambodia to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

“During a meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Hor Namhong, and [the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Ambassador to ASEAN] Mr. Scot Marciel at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the morning of 9 February 2010, Mr. Hor Namhong requested the USA, through Mr. Scot Marciel, to support Cambodia’s candidacy as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2013 and 2014.

“Since Cambodia has become a member of the United Nations, it has never participated working in the framework of the UN Security Council.

“Mr. Hor Namhong pointed out to Cambodia’s qualifications to serve as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, saying that Cambodia, with the help from the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), in 1993 organized free and fair elections for the first time in Cambodia after it had been freed from the Pol Pot genocidal regime.

“The next non-permanent Security Council Members of the United Nations will be elected in 2012.

“It should be noted that in recent years, Cambodia has sent its troops within the UN framework to help many developing countries and countries that have just recovered from war, such as Chad.

“During the meeting, Cambodia also requested America to cancel the debt that Cambodia owes America since the time of the Lon Nol regime time [the Khmer Republic, 1970 to 1975].

“Cambodia owes America more than US$300 million since the Lon Nol regime from 1970 to 1975.

Note:

The Cambodian Daily of 10.2.2010 explains details of the loan with normal repayment obligations:

“Between 1972 and 1974, the US Department of Agriculture financed $274 million in purchases of US cotton, rice, and flour for Cambodia… with interest, the total had risen to $339 million by 2007.”

The Cambodian Daily further reports: “Mr. Maciel also said that the had reiterated in the meetings that the US was ‘very disappointed’ with Cambodia’s decision in December 2010 to deport 20 ethnic Uighur asylum seekers back to China over the objections of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees” [contrary to the Cambodian commitment to the relevant UN conventions].

“Cambodia suggested two ways the USA could cancel the debt. In the first choice, Mr. Hor Namhong suggested the USA could just cancel all the debt, but as an alternative choice, he asked the USA via Mr. Scot Marciel to cancel 70% of the debt of more than US$300 million in order to allow Cambodia to develop the country. Cambodia would pay back the rest of 30% to the USA later.

“Though he listened that there are these two modalities proposed by Cambodia, Mr. Scot Marciel could only say that he will bring Cambodia’s request about the canceling of debt to the US government when he returns back.

Note:

The Cambodian Daily of 10.2.2010 adds the following further information:

Contrary to the explanation by Mr. Maciel, the spokesperson of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, claimed that the money was paid for the slaughter of Cambodians – “The debt was used for weaponry and the weaponry was used to destroy all things including the life in the country.”

“Mr. Scot Marciel stressed that in the USA there is no legal basis regarding the canceling of debts.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #410, 10.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #410, 10.2.2010

  • Cambodia Will Appeal to the Court in The Hague and to the UN Security Council [to solve the border dispute with Thailand; according to Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • US Wants Cambodia and Thailand to Peacefully Solve Border Disputes [according to the US Ambassador to ASEAN, Mr. Scot Marciel]
  • Cambodia Wants the USA to Support Cambodia’s Candidacy as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2173, 10.2.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Siamese [Thai] Troops Can No Longer Remain at the Ta Moan Temple [claiming that it is in Khmer territory]
  • Thailand Increases Security Efforts before the Court Makes a Judgment over the Property of [Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra
  • Cambodia and Italy Signed the First Agreement on Culture [about cooperation on development projects at the Angkor area, as well as about training for young experts in cultural preservation work at the Angkor area]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #733, 10.2.2010

  • The Cambodian Government Rejected Information that It Had Provided Khmer Citizenship to Thaksin Shinawatra

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #602, 10.2.2010

  • The Khmer King Is Listed as a Member of the Community of French Scholars [of the “Academie Française”; based on his contributions to pre-historical research in Cambodia, where he is appreciated for his efforts to maintain the Khmer cultural heritage, and especially, his support for a French training program for people in restoration techniques for the Khmer Angkor Wat Temples]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6880, 10.2.2010

  • A French Drug Addict Robbed the [Cambodia Asia] Bank; It Was the First Time that a Foreigner Committed Armed Robbery [he was arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • The Anti-Corruption Draft Reached the National Assembly [but the content is not yet made known]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #108, 10.2.2010

  • America Does Not Plan to Cancel the Debt [of about US$300 million; according to the US Ambassador to ASEAN, Mr. Scot Marciel]
  • [The North Korean President] Mr. Kim Jong Il Told the Chinese Ambassador that the Korean Peninsula Should Be Free from Nuclear Weapons

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5122, 10.2.2010

  • [Four] Robbers Went into a House, Shot One Person to Death and Seriously and Lightly Injured Three Others, and Took Away US$15,000 [Pailin]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1873, 10.2.2010

  • Hun Sen Warned that If Negotiations [with Thailand] Do Not Bring Solutions, Armed Force Will Be Used

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From 2009 to 2010 – Where Are We Heading? – New Year, 1-3.1.2010

Posted on 2 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 645 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 645

According to different criteria, there are various ways to find measures to evaluate processes and situations. There are absolute measurements with fixed figures, and there are relative considerations – comparing different figures, or situations, and how they relate to each other.

An interesting example for the latter approach is in a report, quoting a high ranking member of the National Assembly, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Commission for Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit, who is also chairperson of the Permanent Committee of the Central Committee of the Cambodian People’s Party; he admitted “that some government officials from the Cambodian People’s Party are corrupt” – qualifying the statement with two additions: Not all are corrupt, and: There are also opposition party officials who commit corruption.

To put corruption in this way into a wider context seems to indicate that, after all, it is not a major problem. But it does not change the fact that corruption is corruption.

But this is now going to change – an anti-corruption law, existing in different stages of being prepared since the mid 1990ies, several times promised to be adopted at specific points in time, had recently been announced to move to reality in 2009. At least the draft has been sent from the Council of Ministers to the National Assembly, but it is still being kept secret. Except for one or two point, according to the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers:

“The only details of the anti-corruption law that have been made public on Friday is the fact that the staff of NGOs are required to disclose their personal assets. Under the law, NGO workers are defined as public servants, and side-by-side with officials who are paid by the government, they must disclose their assets. ‘It is an obligation to do so, if you don’t do it, you are jailed,’ Mr. Phay Siphan is quoted to have said.

Though the text of the draft law has not been published, is is just assumed that the same disclosure requirements and threats of punishment will also refer to non-NGO public servants.

Phnom Penh Buildings

Phnom Penh Buildings

Some friends wonder how such gorgeous buildings – for personal use on the right, or for rent to many, on the left – could be built by public servants with their known small public remunerations. Can it be assumed that the ownership of such buildings will also have to be disclosed according to the not yet published law?

But why this secrecy about the draft? The spokesperson of the Council of Minister claims that “the draft law cannot be made public, because it has yet to arrive at the National Assembly. Once it arrives there, it can then be released to the public.” But is it not a contradiction that he himself discussed part of it already publicly: the regulations about NGO staff? The shutting out of the people to accompany the process of the drafting of a law over more that a decade is difficult to understand; after all, as Article 51 of the Cambodian Constitution describes the public holding high authority: “The Cambodian people are the masters of their country.”

It is interesting to see that the attitude of high level government officials to keep information and differing opinions away from the public is at present being challenged in India.

The Indian Junior Foreign Minister [a Secretary of State] Mr. Shashi Tharoor questioned – publicly and on the Internet – the usefulness of new rules to tighten the visa processes for long term foreign tourists as a measure to control terrorism. “Issue is not security vs. tourism, but whether visa restrictions protect our security. [The city of Mumbai] killers had no visas,” [which had left 166 people dead] he wrote on Twitter. After he had been reprimanded and ordered to keep discussions out of the public, and to understand the “political culture,” he defended himself in a press conference, pointing out that he tried to put the debate on security into the wider context of different aspects of reality. And on the Internet he wrote: “But thanks for all the kind words over the last 24 hrs. Appreciate the support!”

Observing the Khmer press, there are many instances where some cause is mentioned – but not some second cause, which, according to other sources, definitely relate to the first one. In this way, a well advised further look and discussion is not facilitated, or it is even avoided intentionally.

As the Mirror tries to look whenever possible into the wider context – that is: other news available in the Khmer press, sometimes only days, or weeks, or even months or years in the past, but also information publicly available on the Internet, sometimes also adding some questions. We will try to put more of such Links into the regular production from now on, hoping that this may foster reflection, debate, and sometimes action.

The following are examples to show what this may mean, in relation to some specific, recent items:

We had these headlines:

  • A Cambodian Official [the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong]: Cambodia Will Not Be Affected, though the Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Preah Vihear Temple Support Agreement
  • A Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Joint Statements of Cambodia and Thailand during the Administration of [the former Thai prime minister] Mr. Samak’s Government [to support Cambodia to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site]

Link:

We missed – since the beginning until now – any report in any media in Cambodia, showing what the Cambodian delegation had agreed to in July 2008 to the following, neither have we read about the preparation for the next meetin of the World Heritage Committee next month:

Explanation of the term “RGPP” under the following Point 6.:

  • 6. Noting that the State Party of Cambodia submitted to the World Heritage Center the revised graphic plan of the property (RGPP) included in WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add2 (hereinafter called ” RGPP”) indicating a revised perimeter of the area proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List.

From the text of the decisions and conditions listing the Temple of Preah Viher as a UNESCO World Heritge Site:

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

    a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone identified in the RGPP;

    b) updated Nomination dossier to reflect the changes made to the perimeter of the property;

    c) confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP;

    d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan;

  • 16. Further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center by February 2010, for submission to the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010 a full Management Plan for the inscribed property, including a finalized map.

We are not aware that this “revised graphic plan” was anywhere made public in Cambodia. The original graphic plan, which had been presented by the Cambodian delegation, described only a very narrow strip of about 30 meter around the main Preah Vihear Temple as the requested area for the World Heritage Site listing.

We had these news items:

  • The Authorities Armed with Electric Batons and Shields Blocked [nearly 100] Sereypheap Market Vendors from Protesting in Front of the Residence of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen [in Phnom Penh]
  • The Sereypheap Market Is Totally Demolished to Take the Land to Construct Flats for Sale; Market Vendors Can Just Cry

Link:

Other reports refer to a decision of the Prime Minister in June 2009, on a the policy for markets. After the Council of Ministers had released it on 16 June 2009, the vendors thanked the Prime Minister in writing. But now the Prime Minister’s deputy cabinet chief said that the case is not under the control of the Prime Minister.

But they have 25 years contracts, out of which only 13 are spent. Others have demolition equipment and electric batons. Who has the final say? What, then, is the value of a contract and of a promise?

We had this headline:

  • [The Thai Foreign Minister] Kasit Piromya Asked Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Stop Supporting Thaksin Shinawatra [in order to restore diplomatic ties]

Link:

Previously published Thai statements have always clearly based their requests to Cambodia on the fact that the former Thai prime minister has been convicted by Thai courts for a specific case of corruption, involving the sale of valuable public property to the – then – wife of Mr. Thaksin, and that, in addition, he has violated his bail conditions by not returning to the country, so that he is considered a fugitive criminal by Interpol.

But the spokesperson of the Cambodian Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia rejects the suggestions by the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs as a violation of sovereignty rights of Cambodia. “He should learn to respect a nation as a sovereign state. And recently we heard that Thaksin was appointed to another state” [Sri Lanka], as the Cambodia Daily reported about the statements by the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers.

It is reported that the Sri Lankan government firmly denied this.

But does it mean that a fugitive criminal – under an Interpol search warrant – can be considered to be welcome under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia?

We had this headline:

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Congratulated [19] Khmer Students for Winning Prizes from the Isles International University in Europe

Link:

In the Mirror, in a note to a Kampuchea Thmey headline, we had expressed some doubts about the event, about which the Cambodia Daily of 9 December 2009 had said that 19 “senior officials, lawmakers and businessmen were awarded doctoral degrees yesterday morning by the Isles International University, an organization that appears to be an international diploma mill with strong links to the discredited Irish International University… which was exposed as having no links to Ireland’s educational system in 2006, after having awarded honorary degrees to a number of politicians, including to the premier himself….”

Now, the Isles International University claimed to have been “‘approved by the Minister of Education in the Brithsh Isles of Grea Brivtain’ [spelling errors in the original] in an apparent reference to Great Britain. However, IIU’s name does not appear on a list of accredited, degree-awarding universities provided yesterday by the British Embassy in Phnom Penh.”

Advertisements, for example in the Cambodia Daily on 22.12.2009, with the names of the new Doctors and their pictures in academic gear, were placed by the Cambodian business conglomerate SKL Group Holding.

The group picture was prefaced by the text:

  • “Congratulations to all Graduates of Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Degree from Isles International University of European Union last 8th December 2009. The ceremony was held at the Hun Sen Cultural Center and being presided by Samdech HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • “To all Graduates who received the Grand Commander Order of the Noble World Order and Commander Order and Cavalier Order of the Noble World Order from King Albert II of Belgium.”

On 30.12.2009, the Cambodia Daily reported in a lengthy, detailed article under the headline Belgian Foreign Ministry Stumped by King Albert II Honors: “The Belgian government and royal palace have said they have no knowledge of the provenance of honors named after Belgian’s reigning monarch, King Albert II, that were recently awarded in Cambodia.”

One might expect that the story comes to an end here: an unfortunate fraud. But the revelations from the Belgian authorities did not result in embarrassment in Cambodia. The Cambodia Daily reports:

The office of one recipient said: “Generally, whenever they give him a medal, he must be happy. The university must have a network in Belgium.”

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who was awarded the Grand Commander Order of the Noble World Order of King Albert II, is quoted to have said: “I do not have any information about this award, but the Belgian government gave it to me…”

Actually, it did not.

The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers is quoted to say that “Isles plans to open its Cambodian branch after carrying out a six-month feasibility study that will begin in January… Sooner or later, Cambodia will have an IIU campus… We must study the market first.” He added that “the Isles’ Cambodian campus will be the organization’s first anywhere in the world…”

It has no accreditation in any country to give supposedly high academic degrees in any country, it has fraudulently given doctoral degrees and Royal Orders which are of no academic or royal dignity – but it is obviously still welcome to apply for accreditation in Cambodia; only “We must study the market first.” Is this the main criterion for the future of the country?

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Considering Public Financial Resources – Sunday, 22.11.2009

Posted on 23 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

This Saturday, we reported: “According to a recent notification from the Council of Ministers, the Royal Government decided to suspend all promotions for government positions in 2010. If a promotion in any position is planned, it has to wait until 2011.” That was even more surprising than another report which the Mirror carried on 10.11.2009: “The Government Cuts Salaries of Advisers” – which, in a way, was only the correction of a violation of common sense (and economic justice): Why should only some public servants, employed full time, get a second salary for an additional function as adviser, a task to be adhered to during working hours which are already covered by another salary? But such double, or even multiple payments for some persons, seem to have gone on for years. In many other countries, the Auditor General – being an independent position without special loyalties – might have intervened many years ago.

When working to select and to present texts for the Mirror, related to some new millions of dollars “to help Cambodia,” it is surprising that quite often the text does not specify whether this refers to a credit to be paid back, or to a grant. Even some statements of preference, from where it is more agreeable to receive funds – whether there are conditions of transparency or of human rights adherence part of the agreement, or whether funds come without such expectations – do not distinguish between grants and loans. Though the latter have a minor condition: they have to be paid back.

The Mirror referred last month to the loans of about US$ 1 billion Cambodia had contracted with China in 2008 and 2009, continuing: “We are not aware that details about the timing and the terms of the re-payment obligations were published. Neither did we see any evaluation of the situation in terms of what is called a “sustainable external debt” – which is defined by some scholars of economics as “a situation where a country is expected to be able to meet its current and future debt obligations in full, without recourse to debt relief, rescheduling of debts, or the accumulation of arrears, and without unduly compromising growth.”

Some old debts did received special attention in recent reporting. On 11 November 2009, one paper had reported, supposedly based on information from high ranking Cambodian officials, that the Russian Government is considering to cancel the US$1.5 billion debt that Cambodia owes to Russia. But this had to be corrected on the basis what high ranking Russian officials said: when the president of the National Assembly and his delegation returned without success from Russia: “Russia Refuses to Cancel Debt” – it was clear that in spite of similar efforts in 2006 and 2008, the Russian government had not agreed to wipe out these old debts from the 1980ies. While we did not see details about the related negotiations, it is interesting to remember what had been reported formerly in 2007: that the Russian government is prepared to consider arrangements for the old debts under three conditions:

  1. Russia asks for the resumption of Moscow-Phnom Penh flights, for the promotion partly of tourism, and partly of investment.
  2. Russia asks Cambodia to strengthen military relations between the two countries by asking the ministries of defense of the two countries to have good relations again, because so many members of the Cambodian armed forces studied in Russia; therefore, the Cambodian Government should accept the request and organize those who studied military affairs in Russia again, and Russia, in turn, promises to accept Cambodian students to study in Russia.
  3. Russia sees the possibility to exploit natural gas in Cambodia, and asks the Cambodian National Assembly to facilitate relations, so that Russia can come to invest in oil drilling, because Russia has long years of experience in [oil and] gas drilling and hopes that Cambodia will allow Russian investors to come to invest in natural gas exploitation in Cambodia.

We do not remember that these points – especially as they relate also to untapped oil resources – have ever been mentioned in the more recent reports about maritime oil resource negotiations with a number of other countries. It should therefore be no surprise that the latest delegation to Russia to discuss the old debts did not bring the expected solution: that Russia would simply write off US$1.5 billion.

Another old, much much smaller debt, also shows up from time to time. We quote old headlines as a reminder:

  • 16.2.2008: US Demanded Debt [of approx. $154 million out of the debt of $339 million], Cambodia Said the Debt Was Owed by an Illegal Government [of the Khmer Republic]
  • 18.2.2008: US Discusses Debt Owed by Lon Nol Era; General Opinion Says US Should Better Cancel the Debt
  • 8.9.2009: America Hopes that an Agreement on the Cambodian Debt to the USA Will Be Achieved Soon to Cancel the Cambodian Debt
  • 23.9.2009: The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mr. Hor Namhong Will Discuss Possible Solutions to the Debt from the Time of General Lon Nol’s Regime [the Khmer Republic] of More Than US$300 Million That Cambodia Owes America

To look forward to comprehensive information about all debt obligations, in light of what economic theories say about an appropriate “sustainable external debt” ratio is not unreasonable.

The recent dramatic decisions, to cut the salaries of the large number of advisers, and to freeze all promotions in the civilian and uniformed services, “aiming to save state resources in 2010,” is a signal of a new approach to handle public funds.

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Report of the National Audit Authority Does Not Show the Amount of Lost Money – Thursday, 5.11.2009

Posted on 6 November 2009. Filed under: Week 637 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

“At the Hotel Cambodiana there was a press conference organized by the National Audit Authority on 30 October 2009, to present an audit report about the management of public finances, which had been checked from 2002 to 2009. But the report was only for 2006.

“The general auditor, Mr. Ut Chhon, stated in the conference that this report only s negatives, but he did not respond in detail to questions of journalists like: ‘According to the audit results, how much money was lost by corruption each year?’

“During the conference, which lasted for several hours to share information through the report presented, there were four main points, which included 12 important items about resource management and the audit results included. Those important points are the same mentioned also in a book of 100 points in a report written by the Sam Rainsy Party in 2003.

“The report speaks about tax on unused land, which is in line with the policy of the Sam Rainsy Party. As a result of the audit it was found that there were many cases where tax was not paid for unused land, while several companies received concession land from the government of more than one million hectares, where the state has not set appropriate costs for leasing this land.

“The report speaks about this point, stressing that the Ministry of Agriculture, on behalf of the whole government, had signed agreements with more than 70 companies from 1992 to 2006, to provide more than one million hectares of concession land for development, and most agreements were made, deciding that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Economy and Finance are responsible for assessing and for setting the costs for leasing of the land. But by 2007, the assessment and setting of costs for leasing this concession land was not fully implemented in accordance with the above decision. The Ministry of Economy and Finance agreed with the audit report on this point.

“The National Audit Authority, established in 2000 ,started to work in 2002, and has worked by now for seven years. But this institution has only just now released a report, and the opinions was expressed that it was released to satisfy what donors want. Anyway, the auditor general, Mr. Ut Chhon, told journalists that the release of the report is done based on the will of the government, not because of pressure from any other country.

“Mr. Ut Chhon added that the audit of the working team had discovered some problems, like at some tax institutions, collecting taxes at the border, and monitoring and assessing the tax to be demanded for goods loaded in containers by some companies – this was difficult, and the assessment of tax collection covers only about 25%.

“He spoke also about the management of state property, and about the licensing of ownership of state property, where many of such cases occur in cities and provinces countrywide.

“According to the report consisting of more than 500 cases, it is said that corruption led to the loss of much state resources.

“When asked whether the general auditor can assess how much tax was lost every year, Mr. Ut Chhon said that he cannot say anything, and that every country is the same. But he added that only England made the amount of the lost money publicly known.

“At the end of the conference, Mr. Ut Chhon said that he expects that the release of this report will promote better relation between the public and the National Audit Authority, in order to ease the work of his institution in the future.

“However, what the national and the international public want is to know the amount of money missed because of corruption, and they want to see that the results of the audit explicitly identify negative points, especially about the loss of national resources.

“Recently, the US Ambassador in Phnom Penh, Ms. Carol Rodley, said that corruption in Cambodia amounts to a loss of state resource of about US$500 million each year. This speech had invited strong reactions from government officials.

“Analysts said that the National Audit Authority released the report just to satisfy donors.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #521-522, 31-5.10-11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 5 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #325-328, 31-5.10-11.2009

  • Cambodia Appointed [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin as Prime Minister’s Economic Advisor [on 27 October 2009]
  • Thai Parliamentarians Had Arguments over Thaksin’s Case [about the extradition to send him back if he comes to Cambodia]
  • 25,000 Condoms Will Be Distributed to Boat Racers [during the Water Festival]
  • The Government Provides US$4 Million to Set Up Pumping Machines to Pump [flood] Water from the Russey Keo District [Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodia Will Build a Nine-Storey Hospital [near the Calmette Hospital offering high standard health services with help from Denmark]
  • On the Second Day [of the Water Festival] a Boat Racer Died after a Boat Sank; the Audience Is Careful about the A/H1N1 Virus [Phnom Penh]
  • A Police Official [and another man] Raped a Virgin and Compensated Her With Only One Million Riel [approx. US$250; so they were not sent to court to be convicted – Phnom Penh]
  • The National Independence Day This Year Will Be Celebrated on 8 October [rather than on the normal 9 November in order to help the King attend the event – according the Permanent Organizing Commission for National and International Ceremonies]
  • Police and Fishery Officials Put the Blame on Each Other for Arresting Fishermen to Extort Money [Kompong Thom]
  • Cambodia Will Increase the Military Budget to US$277 Million in 2010 [while in 2009, it was US$223 million]
  • American Economy Grew by 3.5% in the Third Quarter [according to AFP]
  • 187 Countries Demands the USA to Withdraw the Ban of Transportation to Cuba

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2086, 31.10.2009

  • World Bank: The Asian Economy Recovers [because of timely stimulating resources made available by some countries like China and South Korea], but in Cambodia, there Is No Imprevement Yet
  • Cambodia Confirmed Again Not to Extradite [the ousted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to Thailand [if he comes to Cambodia]
  • A Danish Man Was Arrested in Poipet for Having Sexual Relationships with Many Young Girls
  • Three Orphans Were Tortured by the Director of an [orphan] Center, They Were Found with Marks on their Bodies [he was arrested – Kandal]
  • A Trach Tree Fell on a Poor House [because of strong wind], Killing Two People [a mother and her daughter] and Injuring Three [Mondolkiri]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #521, 31.10.2009

  • Report of the National Audit Authority Does Not Show the Amount of Lost Money
  • The Impact from Sand Dredging to Fill the Boeng Kak Lake Killed a Man and His Four Sons from an Electric Shock in the Sewage System [the electricity got into the water and shocked the man when he waded through the water in his house; then the children were also electrocuted when they waded through the water to help their father, thinking he had fainted and fallen because of fainting]
  • Yuth Phouthang Was Replaced as Koh Kong Governor [by the Srae Ambel district governor, Mr. Bun Leut] while [Phnom Penh Municipal Governor] Kep Chuktema Is Also Facing to Be Replaced [according to a person who asked not to be named]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6793, 31-1.10-11.2009

  • A Siamese [Thai] Court Sentenced Twelve Khmer Citizens to Serve Five to Eight Years in Prison for Entering Thai Territory to Cut Trees [Cambodia will appeal]
  • A Khmer Citizen Was Shot, Injured, and Arrested while Six Others Managed to Escape Back to Their Village [they climbed the Dangrek Mountains to cut trees – a local official said that they were in an the area where there are not yet border markers set up]
  • A Tragedy Happened at a Flooded House, Where a Man and Four Children Were Electrocuted [because of flooding] while His Wife and the Another Son Were Seriously Injured [Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh]
  • The Audit Authority Wants to See Income and Expense Outside of the National Treasury, Especially Foreign Aid, to Be Checked Thoroughly
  • Man Raped His Daughter and Another Man Rapped His Niece – Both Girls Are Six Years Old [both men were arrested – Banteay Meanchey]
  • The Authorities Lodged a Complaint at a Court against Mr. Sam Rainsy for Removing Temporary Wooden Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Markers

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #38, 4.10.2009

  • The Water Festival Finished Successfully, but the Number of Visitors Declined [to about one million] Compared to Last Year [because of economic problems of the people and because of the typhoon Ketasana]
  • South Korea Grants More Than US$200,000 [to Cambodia] to Restore Damages Caused by the Typhoon

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5035-503, 31.10.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Reduced Tension [between Cambodia and Thailand] by Saying that He Will not Come to Cambodia
  • The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology Informs that the Rain in the Rainy Season Has Come to an End
  • Asian Development Bank: Cambodia Is Among 19 Countries where More Than 10% of the Population [of about 14 million in Cambodia] Live in Poverty
  • The National Assembly of Cambodia Will Ask the “Duma” – the Parliament of Russia – to Encourage the Russian Government to Cancel the US$1.5 Billion Debt That Cambodia Owes
  • Because he Got Jealous, a Man Attacked His Wife with a Khvev [a long handled knife] and Cut Her Throat to Kill Her [he was arrested – Kos Krolor District, Battambang]
  • [Hundreds of] Thai Demonstrators Demanded that Their Government Closes the Border Crossings, and Recall their Ambassador from Cambodia [because Cambodia does not agree to withdraw the Cambodian troops and villagers from the contested 4.6 square km area around the Preah Vihear Temple]
  • [The president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Sam Rainsy Denied that He Removed the Wooden Border Markers [and said that local citizens did it – according to the cabinet of the Sam Rainsy Party]
  • A Man Lured a [14-year-old] Girl to Rape Her Seven Times [he was arrested – Battambang]
  • A Buddhist Elder Raped a Six-Year-Old Girl [he was arrested – Battambang]
  • A Tropical Storm Killed at Least 57 People in Vietnam

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The American Export-Import Bank Provides Financing for Products Being Exported from America to Cambodia – Wednesday, 28.10.2009

Posted on 29 October 2009. Filed under: Week 636 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 636

“Phnom Penh: The American Export-Import Bank of the United States of America announced on 27 October that it will provide financing for the purchase of products from the United States of America to buyers in the private sector in Cambodia, with the condition that the payments back have to be done within a period of seven years.

“This announcement follows a statement by US President Obama from June 2009, saying that Cambodia and Laos were no longer considered as countries following the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, referenced in section 2(b)(2B)(i) of the 1945 law about the American Export-Import Bank, which was amended. Before the decision of the president, the American Export-Import Bank was not allowed to provide any financing related to Cambodia because of this ban. The chairman and president of the American Export-Import Bank, Mr. Fred P. Hochberg, said, ‘President Obama opened a broader way for American companies that export products to Cambodia, and the Export-Import Bank is ready to help those companies. We are glad to announce that our bank will consider to provide short and medium terms financing for buyers of American products in the private sector of the expanding Asian market.’

“Different US agencies, including the American Export-Import Bank, have cooperated with other related agencies to check and assess the business hazards in Cambodia and in Laos, and they assessed also the hazards of doing business with the private sector in Cambodia. Laos remains under observation, and the American Export-Import Bank has not yet been involved in Laos, except for some financial operators, until the assessments finish.

“The American Export-Import Bank operates in Cambodia in the private sector only, to provide short term financing (to be paid back within one year), and medium term financing (to be paid back within seven years) for products exported from the USA. The assistance of the American Export-Import Bank for access to markets is limited to only business operators with commercial banks as legal guarantors. However, the American Export-Import Bank will consider business operations without the involvement of a bank as special cases.

“The American Export-Import Bank might consider also offering financing of products exported from the USA to buyers in the private sector in Cambodia with longer terms under clearly defined conditions. For instance, businesses which can receive financing are financial operations which are organized properly to seek income in foreign countries and have assets in bank accounts which the American Export-Import Bank recognizes, and have income from rent or things mortgaged, or a financing structure to handle goods, like commercial airplanes made in the USA.”As for the funds in 2009, after their financial year that came to an end on 30 September 2009, the amount of money that the American Export-Import Bank approved for financing to assist in the export of goods from the United States, amounts to more than US$21 billion.

“The American Export-Import Bank is the official agency that provides export credits from the USA. This independent and autonomously operating agency within the framework of the the US federal government, now 75 years old, helps to create and to support employment in the USA by providing export financing for US products, especially to new markets around the world, by offering guarantees for export credit and for direct loans.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2083, 28.10.2009

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Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1417, 28-29.10.2009

  • Cambodia Becomes a Member of the World Heritage Committee

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #322, 28.10.2009

  • The Prime Minister Will Leave to Attend the Japan-Mekong Cooperation Meeting [from 6 to 7 November 2009]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2083, 28.10.2009

  • The American Export-Import Bank Provides Financing for Products Being Exported from America to Cambodia
  • An Accident Surprised Phnom Penh as Two Military Officials Used Their Guns to Intervene to Release the Driver of the Car which Had Caused an Accident [finally, they were all arrested]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #518, 28.10.2009

  • The Prime Minister Ordered [the Meanchey district governor] to Sue a Female Gang Leader [who had been involved in a shootout] and Warned to Demote a Lieutenant General Who Had Intervened

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6790, 28.10.2009

  • The Thai Government Deployed Forces to Guard the Cambodian Embassy, as Siamese [Thai] Extremists Demonstrated against [the Cambodian] Support for [the Thai ousted and convicted former prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra
  • [Five] Crematoriums in the City Were Closed, as a Crematorium Outside of the City Was Opened [at Dangkao district, Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post, Vol.1, #35, 28.10.2009

  • The Prime Minister Warned to Dismiss Any Official Who Protects Juvenile Gang Members

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5032, 28.10.2009

  • A Foreign Company [Green Cameco, jointly managed by Korea and Australia] Plans to Build A Sky Train in Phnom Penh [from 2011 to 2014, 39 km, worth US$3.6 billion, and also a solar energy power plant – according to a meeting between Green Cameco and the Ministry of Economy and Finance]

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The Government Will Control the Financial System and Money Laundering at Banks – Thursday, 12.2.2009

Posted on 13 February 2009. Filed under: Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 599

“Government officials said on Wednesday that the government will take measures to control all financial transactions which could, at present, be related to money laundering through banks, to prevent financial problems so that everything is up to international standards.

“A senior official of the Cambodian People’s Party and chairperson of the Commission on Finance, Banking, and Audits of the National Assembly said, ‘If there is money laundering and we do not have related legislation, it might create difficulties when international countries observe everything.’

“Mr. Cheam Yeap added, ‘If there is money laundering, this might trouble us when everything that happens is internationally observed, because it is absolutely prohibited that such money is spent in any other country, and we also will prohibit it, when we have related legislation. Therefore, the Royal Government will control everything well to avoid any activities against international laws, and if there are clear laws, nothing will be allowed to happen in future.’

“Mr. Cheam Yeap, a high ranking CPP official, made this statement as Cambodia plans to launch a stock exchange market this year, while Cambodia cannot avoid being affected by the global crisis.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap told Deum Ampil, ‘Money laundering has little effect, but corruption has strong effects. Therefore, after a criminal code will have been drafted, we will include all articles regarding corruption into the anti-corruption regulations of Cambodia.’

“Mr. Cheam Yeap went on to say, ‘This is not new, and the government took it up to draft a law to clearly organize structures how to act, because investors will come to deposit their assets in Cambodia.’

“Regarding the opening of a stock exchange market during this year, Mr. Cheam Yeap said, ‘Before investors in Cambodia cooperate with foreign countries such as Korea and Japan, they do whatever is possible for those who have money, to buy stakes even if it is a risky investment, at a time when international countries face a downturn and there will be some losses.’ [Note: original is difficult to interpret].

“Cambodian officials still assure the plan to open a stock exchange market in the city this year, while the global economy is facing a crisis and economic meltdown, even though there was some plan late last year to delay the stock exchange market. [Note: it seems that the Korea based construction activities for a 42 stories Double Gold Tower building, at the intersection between Sihanouk and Monivong Boulevards in Phnom Penh, are at present suspended].

“In view of the global economic crisis, and the stability of the Cambodian economy, economists voiced the concern that a stock exchange market in Phnom Penh might become a source of money laundering, involving banks which at present lack clear control according to international standard. [Note: The Cambodia Daily reports on the same day: “IMF Criticizes Bank of Cambodia for Its Weak Supervision”]

“However, officials of the Royal Government said that the government will not let such bad problems happen. Previously, there were distorted reports about money laundering committed by dishonest groups, but they had been denied by senior officials of the government.

“According to a plan by the South Korean government [Note: actually, this seems to be a misunderstanding – this was not a ‘government’ plan], the stock exchange of Seoul will help [interested business groups in] Cambodia to prepare a stock exchange market in Phnom Penh, to become a place for gathering sources of capital for developing the country. According of figures from the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Cambodia, the Cambodian economy grew in 2008 with a higher rate than during the year before [Note: Various sources mention 2007 10.2%, 2008 6.5%, 2009 4.8% or less predicted], which is a new strong boost to encourage the creation of a stock exchange market in Cambodia, assuming it will proceed smoothly. Due to the financial crisis, starting from America, banks in Korea are directly affected, and this causes the suspension of investment loans in foreign countries, and resulted in large-scale projects in Cambodia to be changed since mid and late 2008.”Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #115, 12.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 12 February 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #16, 12.2.2009

  • [The former Phnom Penh Police chief, now is detained in Prey Sar Prison] Heng Pov Begs for Intervention from Mr. Hun Sen [to allow him to take out money from his blocked bank account]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #115, 12.2.2009

  • The Government Will Control the Financial System and Money Laundering at Banks
  • [Spokesperson of the Council of Ministers] Phay Siphan: The Opening of the Border Crossing near the Preah Vihear Temple Will Wait until the Setting of Border Markers Has Been Finished
  • The United Nations Environment Program – UNEP – Encourages the Promotion of Environmental Protection in Phnom Penh
  • New US Ambassador [Ms. Carol A. Rodley] Praises Development in Phnom Penh

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1871, 12.2.2009

  • Japan Plans to Create a National Level University in Cambodia
  • Paddy Rice and Rice at Border Regions Is Stuck, because Siam [Thailand] Blocks the Import [Battambang]
  • Olympic Market Vendors Protest and Ask the [Thai Boon Rong] Company to Reduce Stall Prices by 50% and Make 20-Year Contracts

Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #340, 12.2.2009

  • [The Minister of Information] H.E. Khieu Kanharith Denied Closure of Any [Global Witness] Website

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #201, 12.2.2009

  • America Adopts US$800 Billion Package to Counter the Global Financial Crisis

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6576, 12.2.2009

  • More Than 200 Villagers at the Preah Vihear Temple Call for Food Aid while Some Families Are Facing Severe Difficulties
  • Australia Provides Distance Learning Program [through the Internet] about Skills to Treat Child Diseases in Cambodia
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality and the Ministry of Health Cooperate to Strengthen Transportation Services of Victims
  • Vietnam Ranks Second in Exporting Rice [after Thailand] while [6.7% of] Its People Lack Food [no comparative figures for Cambodia given]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3685, 12.2.2009

  • Official of the Untied Nations [Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen] Plans Clarifying Discussion about Corruption Problems at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Said that He Will Pay [Riel 10 million, approx US$2,500] to the National Election Committee, but Asked for the Right to Sue at the Supreme Court First

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4819, 12.2.2009

  • US$2.2 Billion Tonle Sap Projects Achieve Little Results [the Tonle Sap basin authorities showed that 339 projects being implemented or are to be implemented in the Tonle Sap basin region – aiming to help protect the environment, control the nature, and alleviate poverty – accomplished very little, because there is no cooperation in the project implementation]
  • A Boy Rescued from the Tuol Sleng Prison [in 1979 as seen in videos provided by Vietnam recently] Is Identified Before the Hearing of Duch [Mr. Nong Chanphal went to the Documentation Center of Cambodia to prepare a complaint, and he agreed to be a witness if the tribunal needs him]

Wat Phnom, Vol. 16, #8006, 13-15.2.2009

  • The Mobitel Company Gives a Simple Explanation about a Surprised Event in Phnom Penh [it released a statement explaining that on 6 February 2009, the company asked the municipal police to control security at its headquarters, while the company was investigating a possible hazard from outside of the technical system]
  • Australia and Denmark Continue Assisting the Reform of the Criminal and Justice Sector in Cambodia [according to a secretary of state of the Ministry of Interior and president of the National Board of Directors for Monitoring the Criminal and Justice Sector, Mr. Prum Sokha]

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Global Witness Encourages Donor Countries to Use Their Influence on the Government to Check how Oil, Gas, and Minerals Exploration Licenses Were Given – Friday, 6.2.2009

Posted on 8 February 2009. Filed under: Week 598 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 598

Global Witness released a report for 2008 with big titles on the book cover ‘Country for Sale – How Cambodia’s elite has captured the country’s extractive industries.’ This book describes mysteries, corruption, and irregularities related to the provision of concessions to foreign oil, gas, and minerals exploring companies in Cambodia – but some high-ranking officials of the Cambodian government denied all Global Witness allegations.

“Global Witness, based in London/England, an organization monitoring the exploitation of global natural resources [‘Global Witness works to increase transparency in the granting of mineral concessions, in the flow of revenues from oil and gas companies to governments and in the trading of resources’], released a [72 pages] report on 5 February 2009 with the title, Country for Sale, in which it revealed many things about top officials of the government of Cambodia, allegedly involved in and colluding with corruption, jeopardizing forests and other natural resources.

“The report of Global Witness said that during the last 15 years, 45% of the land in Cambodia has been contracted out by concessions to foreign entities, and millions of dollars were received by the government from private companies to secure their concessions – but it is known that this money was lost and did not go to the books of the Ministry of Economics and Finance. Global Witness reports that its investigations discovered that oil, gas, and mineral exploring licenses were provided secretly to ruling officials and their relatives, and especially, that they are controlled by the military of Cambodia. Those top military officials are General Ouk Koasa, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces – RCAF – commander in charge of military development regions; Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh’s brother, Mr. Cham Borei; Prime Minister Hun Sen’s younger cousin, Okhna Dy Chouch or Hun Chouch; army commander, General Meas Sophea; a senator, Oknha Ly Yong Phat; a special advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights of the government, Mr. Om Yentieng; a senator and director of the Pheapimex Company, Mr. Lao Meng Khin; the RCAF commander-in-chief, General Pol Saroeun, and Oknha Try Heng.

“The report of Global Witness found that RCAF forces were deployed to guard areas rich in mineral resources such as in Preah Vihear, Stung Treng, and Pursat, and citizens’ land in those areas was grabbed through threats and violence. The report spoke also about the institution in charge of the oil and gas industry, called the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, an institution under direct control of the government – administered by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An

“Global Witness added that all ministries, departments, institutions, or authorities do not have any power over that institution, adding that the same politicians and powerful people involved in illegal logging now take control over the oil, gas, and mineral resources, and a handful of powerful people ruling the country have awarded expensive land concessions to private companies without transparency. Global Witness stated that mineral resources and the forest in Cambodia exist only once, and when those valuable natural resources are exhausted, they will disappear forever. All persons mentioned in the allegations by Global Witness regarding corruption, like some generals, oknhas, high-ranking officials of the government, such as General Ouk Koasa, Mr. Cham Borei, Mr. Dy Chouch or Hun Chouch, General Meas Sophea, Senator Ly Yong Phat, Senator Lao Meng Khin, and Oknha Try Heng could not be reached for comment. However, some government officials who provided interviews to Global Witness, claimed that the Global Witness report exaggerates the facts and is not true.

“Global Witness found that a special advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the president of the Human Rights Commission of the Royal Government of Om Yentieng, has received a mineral exploration license quietly; he said that Global Witness has distorted information about the Cambodian government for many years, adding, ‘I think that if that organization Global Witness knows what is right and wrong, and has trust towards the respect of the truth, one could call it to swear an oath with me. If I am wrong, I would die, and if I am not wrong, it [Global Witness] would die. This would be a quick and trustworthy method for the listeners to judge. But I believe that if they [Global Witness] want to lie, they do not lack continuing lying stories. Therefore I think that this is not strange and surprising, because they have lied for many years already. They have distorted information about Cambodia for many years.’

“A Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Mr. Tea Banh, reacted strongly to the Global Witness report, saying that he cannot accept allegations by this organization without any evidence. Mr. Tea Banh added that those having mineral exploration licenses have them all legally.

“The RCAF commander-in-chief, General Pol Saroeun, about whom Global Witness has written in the report, accusing him of having received a mineral exploration license quietly, denied that he is involved as a businessman, he said that he is just a military person. Mr. Pol Saroeun added, ‘No, I never had a company. I never do business. I am a soldier. Why is Global Witness accusing people like silly? They seem to look down on people too much.’

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, Mr. Ith Prang, said that the oil resources ow being explored to be exploited in future, have not yet produced even one percent of what is expected. The Cambodian government is not stupid in managing all natural resources.

“He continued to say, ‘So far, no oil has yet been produced, we just known that there is oil. Therefore, we have not planned how to use it, because no oil has been extracted yet. But the government is not stupid in distributing revenues of its resources.’ A secretary of state of the Ministry of Environment, Mr. Prach Son, said that many oil and mineral exploration companies in Cambodia are from foreign countries, from China or from Australia. All those companies get exploration licenses in Cambodia, but they are not allowed to take raw materials to their countries.

“Global Witness has tried to ask for explanations from government officials, oknhas, generals, companies mentioned in its report, but has, so far, not received sufficient explanations. It has not even obtained a response from Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen reacting to the report since it was released officially. There is only the Li Phoeung [?] company of China that provided an explanation, but Global Witness does not show the details [original unclear – actually, only the Swedish company Lundin Petroleum responded to the inquiries of Global witness – but for information referring to their website].

“The Global Witness director, Mr. Gavin Hayman, said that what the Cambodian government should do is not to provide new concessions too quickly to private companies. The Cambodian government should rather verify and conduct audits on the concessions already provided to those private companies. He went on to say that all donor countries should put pressure on the Cambodian government not to provide new concessions too quickly to private oil, gas, or mineral exploration companies, and to verify them again. The report has found that 70 companies have already received concession contracts and are exploring minerals. Those concessions have been provided without transparency, because there is no clear system in place for providing concessions, besides delivering them to high-ranking officials of the government. Also, he voiced concern about the loss of mineral resources for which concessions have been provided to foreign companies involved in serious human rights abuses in Cambodia, and the government should work effectively to control them.

“Global Witness showed in its report that some oil exploration companies in Cambodia had paid money to the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, and that money was probably not put into the National Treasury. The report added that oil, gas, and mineral exploration companies are required to pay kickbacks for signing up to bids for concessions with the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority. Like a company from Indonesia, PT Medco Energi Internasional, which has spent US$7.5 million to the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority. Moreover, each company having stakes in mineral exploration according to contracts, is also required to pay taxes annually. In the first year, a tax with the amount of US$800,000 was required to be paid for each concession.

“Global Witness added that in 2006 and 2007, money was not seen to have been put into the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The report said also that an oil exploration company has been exploring oil along the Tonle Sap Lake, the biggest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, which produces between 40% and 70% of fish for the Cambodian people. The Tonle Sap basin is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Global Witness criticized donor countries for not using their influences through development funds to improve good governance, while the annual international aid for Cambodia is equal to half of the national budget.” Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #336, 6.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 6 February 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #13, 6-8.2.2009

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Appointed Ms. Ke Sovannarath Secretary-General [before she was acting secretary-general]

Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #336, 6.2.2009

  • Global Witness Encourages Donor Countries to Use Their Influence on the Government to Check how Oil, Gas, and Minerals Exploration Licenses Were Given
  • [One faction of] The Norodom Ranariddh Party Asks the Presidents of the National Assembly and of the National Election Committee to Remove [NRP secretary general] Mr. You Hockry and Mr. Sao Rany [from the other faction of the NRP] as Members of Parliament

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1866, 6.2.2009

  • Cambodia Holds the Third Economic Forum [United Nations Development Program, Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and other development partners joined the event [Note: the member of the National Assembly Ms. Mu Sochua, was denied access by bodyguards; this surprised the German ambassador so much that he skipped to participate in this event]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #198, 6.2.2009

  • Military Police Surround the Mobitel Company and the Station of the Cambodian Television Network – CTN [of Oknha Kith Meng, for several hours] – Reason not Known
  • A Meeting of the Cambodian and Thai Ministers of Defense Will Be Held Today in Phnom Penh [to discuss border problems]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6571, 6.2.2009

  • Tragedy of a Farmer Family Who Rode a Cart Loaded with Firewood and Hit an Anti-Tank Mine, Triggering an Explosion, Killing Three People and Injuring Two More [a man and his two small sons died, his 6-year old daughter suffered serious wound, and his wife was lightly injured – Battambang]
  • A Car Coming Out from a House Pushed a [female] Student against a Wall, Killing Her [police are investigating, to ask for an arrest warrant for the car driver, also a woman]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3680, 6.2.2009

  • Real Estate Property of Ke Kim Yan Is Expropriated as Property of the Cambodian People’s Party [according to a high ranking official close to Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • [Around 20] Military Personnel of the First Region Used Violence to Evict Citizens from Their Land [and threatened to shoot those who dared to protest – Recheanukoul village, Stung Treng commune and district, Stung Treng]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4814, 6.2.2009

  • The Philippines Reduce Taxes for Goods from Cambodia
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Promises to Update Information on Its Website [after there was criticism from the public; however, confidential documents will not be published]
  • Japanese Investors Are Satisfied with Plan to Invest along Cambodian Beaches [in Koh Kong]
  • The National Bank of Cambodia Signs an Agreement with Citi Bank for Training about the Bond Market [officials of the National Bank of Cambodia will be sent to receive training in New York]
  • An Official of National Television [TVK] in Pursat Was Murdered in a Guesthouse [a woman rented a room to sleep with the murdered man, and two other men who had rented a room next door are also suspected in this robbery and murder]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3481, 6.2.2009

  • The Tokyo Government Blocks the Entry of [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin into Japan

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.


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