Just Deny… or Investigate and Clarify? – Sunday, 25.7.2010

Posted on 26 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

After the acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch had presented a report Off the Streets: Arbitrary Detention and Other Abuses against Sex Workers in Cambodia to the press, and this was reported on 21.7.2010, on the following day of 22.7.2010 there was already another press report: “The Government Dismissed the Report of Human Rights Watch.”

As this 76-pages report is based, as it states, on more than 90 interviews and group discussions with sex workers in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and Siem Reap, one wonders how a government spokesperson could dismiss such a report on the day after its public presentation – a report that contains Testimonies from sex workers from around the country. The denial cannot be based on an investigation of the details and facts claimed to be real, with names and locations of witnesses, unless there is no respect for the persons quoted, not assuming that some of the terrible experiences they describe are correct and deserve legal clarification.

The press reported from the presentation that some of these cases were claimed to have happened: “Some members of the police abuse sex workers without ever receiving any punishment, and police punch them, beat them with rattan sticks, batons, and electric shock batons. In some cases, sex workers have been raped by police while they were in detention, and all sex workers have to pay bribes, or their money was simply stolen by police.”

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says in Article 31:

“Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law, enjoying the same rights, freedom and fulfilling the same obligations regardless of race, color, sex, language, religious belief, political tendency, birth origin, social status, wealth or other status.”

What are the implications – under the Constitution – when statements by Cambodian citizens who claim to have been victimized and abused by police, including the allegation of regular impunity, are dismissed and not taken up by agencies which should rather care for equal justice.

Human Rights Watch did not only report their observations, they also made practical proposals, as reported in the Khmer press:

“…the report of Human Rights Watch suggests the creation of a special committee to thoroughly and independently conduct investigations on violence and the extortion of money by law enforcement officials, by security guards working in the parks, and by staff or volunteers of municipal social rehabilitation centers; this committee should have representatives from the government who are capable and respectful, as well as from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Department of Social Affairs, UN agencies, non-government organizations, and representatives of sex workers.”

It seems that all this has now been dismissed – and the alleged impunity may continue without being investigated? – No investigation and clarified about what was wrong, and what was true and has to be punished according to the laws of the country?

On 26.7.2010 the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia – the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – will announce its first verdict, on the former head of the Tuol Sleng prison. He is the only one of the five persons facing the court who has not denied the accusations against him.

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Visak Bochea Day, a National Holiday – Wednesday, 28.4.2010

Posted on 29 April 2010. Filed under: Week 662 | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

Deum Ampil had reported that “Cambodia will celebrate on Visak Bochea Day the birth, enlightenment and death to Nirvana of Lord Buddha on one day, the first full moon day on 28 April this year.

“’The ceremony this year will be presided over by Samdech Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, and it is conducted at Phnom Udong,’ quoting a statement from the National Assembly. Buddhists around the world will mark the same day.

“This year also marks the Buddhist calendar year 2553.”

In order to share with our readers, especially the international readers, some more information about the role of this commemoration nowadays, I talked to some people, asking them about the meaning of Visak Bochea for them.

Everybody I talked to identified the day as the day remembering the birth of the Buddha – therefore some people called it “a day similar to Christmas on the Christian calendar.”

So what happens on this day? “Cambodian people go to the pagoda.” – “Did you go?” – “No. This is something old people do.” – This was the tenor of all responses I got, and I record this here, because it is obviously a problem that merits attention and discussion: What does this disjunct mean between the claimed action of “the Cambodian people,” and the inner distance expressed towards this tradition and its celebration. Occasional appeals “to uphold Khmer culture” will not bring much more clarity. What is the meaning of the basic values, described in Article 43 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – when it is known, but not finding much active and lively response?

  • Khmer citizens of either sex shall have the right to freedom of belief.
  • Freedom of religious belief and worship shall be guaranteed by the State on the condition that such freedom does not affect other religious beliefs or violate public order and security.
  • Buddhism shall be the religion of the State.

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United Nations International Human Rights Day – Thursday, 10.12.2009

Posted on 11 December 2009. Filed under: Week 642 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 642

Message at the occasion of the United Nations International Human Rights Day, from the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations. Human Rights Day serves as a yearly landmark to remember the victories won in the long struggle to respect the dignity of all human beings. But its main purpose is to mobilize against major threats to human rights, namely poverty, discrimination, gender inequality, climate change and terrorism. “Embrace Diversity. End Discrimination” is the motto of this 61st anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration.

This motto is particularly pertinent in the contemporary world that has become more diverse than ever before. Migration flows at national and international levels are increasing. Continuing economic hardship, armed conflicts and tensions between communities in all parts of the world have pushed thousands to abandon their homelands in search of a better future.

These movements deeply affect all societies. Our major challenge today is to promote harmonious relations among people of different ethnic origin, culture, religion or belief. Ignorance and fear, accentuated by the ongoing economic and financial crisis, is a fertile ground for discrimination and new prejudices to arise. We must not let this happen.

It is only through mutual respect, understanding, constructive dialogue and acceptance of the right to be different that we will diffuse tensions and build more peaceful multicultural societies.

The Durban Review Conference held earlier this year voiced a message of solidarity with all those who remain excluded, marginalized and discriminated. UNESCO is working actively to translate this message into fact because we are committed to the principles of non-discrimination and respect for cultural diversity.

Promoting exchange and dialogue among cultures counts among our top priorities. Dialogue alone will enable us to look beyond our differences and prejudices and to realize that we are united by many common dreams, aspirations and challenges.

Cultural or any other specificity must be aligned with respect for fundamental freedoms. When it comes to the full implementation of human rights, there can be no compromises. Respect for cultural diversity can never justify partial violation of human rights on the grounds of cultural relativism. This is why UNESCO attaches great importance to clarifying the notion of the right to take part in cultural life. It could mark an important step in protecting cultural diversity and lifting possible misconceptions. The other two rights within UNESCO’s mandate – the right to education and the right to freedom of opinion and expression – are instrumental to safeguard cultural diversity.

The 2010 International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures provides an ideal platform for promoting tolerance, mutual respect and dialogue among cultures. These values are the foundations of a new humanism, a universal vision rooted in a profound respect for human dignity, fundamental rights and the diversity of cultures. This vision compels each and every human being to feel an engaged sense of responsibility towards the other and the safeguarding of our planet.

Indeed, the hopes of the world are turned towards the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen. It is our shared responsibility to make concrete commitments towards present and future generations, and to extend full assistance to all those who are directly affected by climate change. UNESCO will be actively engaged in the follow-up to this Summit, through initiatives that encompass education, culture and the sciences, in full respect of human rights.

Let us join forces to reaffirm our determination to make universal human rights a common standard of achievement for all, a reality for everyone.

Note:

The next regular publication of the Mirror, after the present public holiday, is planned for Friday, 11 December 2009.

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A 30 Years Commemoration – Civil Society in Cambodia – Sunday, 29.11.2009

Posted on 30 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 640 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 640

The past weak saw a special anniversary celebration, which is in no calendar of national events: 30 years since NGOs started to work in Cambodia. Nowadays, when the participation of NGOs – foreign and national – is assumed as a regular feature of life in society, it is surely not easy to understand the extraordinary nature that foreign NGOs came to Cambodia in 1979. At that time, the majority of UN member states considered the Cambodian government to be illegal. The so called “Western” countries and the People’s Republic of China agreed on the point that the Khmer Rouge representative continued to legally represent Cambodia at the United Nations until 1990. Seeing this agreement between these two world powers normally not much in agreement, many Third World countries went along with this understanding. Only the socialist countries (except China) and India established diplomatic relations with the government in Phnom Penh after the end of the Khmer Rouge regime. And US citizens, working in Cambodia, even if their salaries did not originate from the USA, had to pay “punitive taxes” in the USA.

30 Years NGOs in Cambodia Celebration

30 Years NGOs in Cambodia Celebration

Eva Mysliwiec, now the director of Youth Star Cambodia, who had came to Cambodia in May 1980, spoke at the commemoration, on behalf of the NGO Organizing Committee, about the three decades of NGO partnerships with the people and government of Cambodia, saying,

“It is very moving to look around this room and to see so many people who have contributed to the Cambodia in which we live today. How far we have come since 1979!

I remember well my arrival in May 1980, in a country devastated by war and genocide. I remember vividly my first meeting with Samdech HUN Sen who was then Foreign Minister and 28 years old.”

There were only five NGOs, who had dared to break the boycot of their home governments: the American Friends Service Committee, CIDSE, Church World Service, OXFAM, and World Vision – now, as the Prime Minister announced in his speech, there are 3,207 NGOs and associations, that is 1,933 NGOs and 1,274 other associations. Eva Mysliwiec continued:

“The core of NGO work was focused on massive relief, meeting health needs and restoring agricultural production in order to prevent famine. Because of the embargo imposed by the Western Community and with precious few resources, NGOs found themselves in a unique role where they had to provide massive infrastructure assistance as well… NGO work in the eighties spanned virtually every sector of Cambodian society and economy, from the restoration of urban and rural water supply, to the rehabilitation of infrastructure, the provision of basic agriculture, education and health inputs, etc. – the list is endless.”

But in spite of all this emphasis on practical actions, she said:

“In my view, the most valuable role the NGOs played in the eighties was solidarity: bearing
witness to the suffering of Cambodian people, bearing witness to the unearthing of mass graves, bearing witness to the continuing hardship caused by the embargo and isolation and especially bearing witness to the resilience, ingenuity and determination of people to rebuild their country. They created a bridge between Cambodian people and the people in countries whose governments did not recognize Cambodia.”

This history has to be remembered, when nowadays, sometimes the opinion is expressed that NGOs have one role only: “to provide humanitarian assistance” – quite different from the wide variety of activities NGOs are engaged with in other countries of the world.

All the more it was interesting that also the keynote speaker, Ingrid Srinath, Secretary General of CIVICUS (“Promoting a worldwide community of informed, inspired, committed citizens who are actively engaged in confronting the challenges facing humanity” – with member organizations in 110 countries), described the fundamental task of civil society not just in terms of development or humanitarian project implementations, but located their role in the present situation, after the collapse of many schemes based on an free-market system, where human rights an democratic are more under threat than before.

“In Latin America, Africa, Eurasia and Asia authoritarian governments are being permitted to crack down with impunity on civil society and media freedoms through new, draconian legislative and fiscal controls if they control access to energy resources, investment or markets… Funding for defending these rights, for strengthening civil society architecture and for building solidarity across civil society groups is also much harder to come by as donor resources are stretched by increasing domestic needs and by more immediate humanitarian needs…

“The possibilities of mounting a coherent challenge to the economic paradigm of market fundamentalism and the patent inequity of the institutions of global governance have never been greater. For the first time in history peoples from Michigan to Manila, Madrid to Mali, and Mumbai to Moscow can share the realization that the root causes of their individual problems, and hence their interests, are in fact, identical. From slums to forests, fishing communities to assembly-lines, indigenous peoples to suburbia – the people we so often refer to as ‘ordinary’ are increasingly aware of the connectedness of their causes. It’s up to us as civil society to provide the means for them to mobilize in solidarity with each other. We have unprecedented access to the information, networks and technologies that permit us to support their struggles against tyranny and injustice…

“Speaking in Moscow a few months ago, Barack Obama affirmed that ‘meeting these challenges requires a vibrant civil society; the freedom of people to live as they choose, to speak their minds, to organize peacefully and to have a say in how they are governed; a free press to report the truth; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; a government that’s accountable and transparent.’

“We know from experience that active citizenship is the only antidote to this takeover of governance and that investing in the creation, nurturing and protection of civil society rights is the only vaccine. We know, or ought to, that empowering people to defend their own freedoms to exist, engage and express is not only the most sustainable development strategy but the only morally defensible one…

“Despite, or rather because of, our lack of hierarchical command and control structures, our diversity and belief in values-led approaches, civil society is better equipped to grasp, respond to, and evolve collective solutions that require a fundamental shift in world-view than either governments or businesses. And possibly better at displaying the humility required to build the cross-sectoral partnerships without which we cannot possibly resolve these crises…

“Doing so will take more than a business as usual approach from us. It will take each of us as individuals, organizations and alliances setting aside our egos, our brands, our narrow self-interests and our differences to come together in unprecedented levels of collaboration and genuine partnership that focuses on amplifying the voices of those least heard, and of finding common cause across boundaries of nationality, geography and thematic interest.

“If we can aspire to that ideal, we may, just may, address the stupendous challenges before us and even realize the goals you have all dedicated your lives to, whether you approach that goal through the lens of volunteerism or human rights, faith or secularism, charity or human rights – the overarching goal of civil society in all its forms – a world based on equity and justice.”

Such a challenge to reflect, to consider a clear fundamental orientation for the day-to-day work of civil society is important. And it is equally important that civil society communicates clearly to the other sectors of society its claims and commitments. It is important to see what the suggested orientation is: “to struggle against tyranny and injustice, and for equality.”

The address of the Prime Minister dealt, according to reports, a lot with the planned NGO Law. There is some apprehension among the NGO community, because a current draft is not available for public discussion in the community.

Some examples given, why an NGO Law is important – like to prevent terrorist acts planned under the cover of NGOs – were widely not seen as convincing: the intended terrorist attack against the British Embassy had been stopped in time, and the Indonesian terrorist Hambali was arrested – both without an NGO law.

The following reported concern of the Prime Minister is surprising. There are detailed and elaborate forms from the Council for the Development of Cambodia – CDC – where NGOs have to describe source of funding and work plans – on the national level and in the provinces – which serve exactly this purpose since many years ago, though the Prime Minister said now:

“The Royal Government wants to know where NGOs get the money from and how they use it for what. ‘Just this they do not want to tell.’”

Here are obviously some misunderstandings about administrative processes involved. In addition, most donors, providing financial resources to NGO, have requirements for professional auditing, and the results are not secret. Compared to the recent calls by the Prime Minister to curb multiple remuneration payments to government advisers, combined with the repeated calls by the Prime Minister to economize gasoline usage by a better control on the use of public vehicles, allows the assumption that the handling of finance in the NGO world is comparatively well organized and transparent.

What is important, therefore, is the clear statement of the Prime Minister, that the NGO Law will not interfere with the normal activities of NGO: “I guarantee that it is not an action to restrict the freedom of NGOs, please believe me.” Should lower level authorities try to act differently, civil society can appeal to this public promise of the Prime Minister.

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Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen Claimed that the Non-Government Organizations Law Will Not Block the Freedom of Non Government Organizations – Wednesday, 25.11.2009

Posted on 25 November 2009. Filed under: Week 640 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 640

“Phnom Penh: Pointing to the importance to create a law about non-government organizations (NGOs) being drafted by the government, the Cambodian Prime Minister said on 24 November 2009 that previous problems caused by some NGOs encourage the government to create a law on organizations of different kinds, in order to ensure their proper operation, but this law will not affect the freedom of the NGOs.

“Examples raised by Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen during the 30th anniversary celebration of the partnership between NGOs and Cambodia, were of an organization which had been prosecuted in the United State regarding the adoption of children from Cambodia, which finally became human trafficking, and of another organization that sheltered under an NGO some years ago and had taken the British Embassy as its target for a terrorist attack, but this plan was suppressed in time by the government. [The terrorist] Hambali left Cambodia and was later arrested in Thailand, after the attack on the island of Bali in Indonesia.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, ‘These examples do not imply that the Royal Government is suspecting other organizations that are implementing good activities of participating in terrorism, but please do not forget that some organizations are doing bad things.’ Therefore, we need a law to control NGOs. He stressed, ‘I guarantee that it is not an action to restrict the freedom of NGOs, please believe me.’

“During the 1980s there were just less than 30 NGOs in Cambodia. But by 2009, there are 3,207 NGOs and associations, where 1,933 are NGOs and 1,274 are associations, that is why Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen observed that Cambodia is a heaven for NGOs that carry out different activities.

“The claim about the practicality of an NGO law was made, while an NGO law is being drafted carefully by the Royal Government; some NGOs expressed the fear that the Royal Government will exercise prohibitive controls over NGOs through that law. Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, ‘I am aware that some NGOs that have acted correctly, and they do not care too much about this law, but some organizations protested loudly, and I wonder why they claim to promote the rule of law, but they want to act without a law.’

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen added, ‘Anyway, we will neither restrict the freedom to creat NGOs, nor take away the funding of NGOs.’ He added that some NGOs demand that the government has to be transparent, providing information, but they themselves do not have such transparency. The Royal Government wants to know where NGOs get the money from and how they use it for what. ‘Just this they do not want to tell, but they oppose the government. The Royal Government also wants to know how much capital is from government, from development partners, and from NGOs, so that we can know the total amount of capital to allocate each year in each sector, where at present, we do not control it and we are not aware of how many activities are contributed by NGOs. This point creates difficulties for macro management or other relevant tasks.’ Samdech went on to say that sometimes, there are some overlapping activities of NGOs, and what is more problematic is that some NGOs had expressed their voice absolutely in the same way as opposition parties. Such organizations protest more than others, because they feel afraid, just because the laws in Cambodia do not allow political parties to receive funds from foreign donors.

“Samdech continued to say that in the first stage of law enforcement on NGOs, there will be difficulties. Anyway, the Royal Government will make it function smoothly.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2107, 25.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #3, 345.11.2009

  • A Man Entered a House to Rape a 14-Year Old Girl when Her Parents Were Not at Home [the man was arrested – Battambang]
  • The Laotian Prime Minister Will Arrive in Cambodia This Morning [to visit Cambodia officially on 25 and 26 November 2009]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2107, 25.11.2009

  • Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen Claimed that the Non-Government Organizations Law Will Not Block the Freedom of Non-Government Organizations
  • The Cambodian Prime Minister Did Not Take Office by Robbing Power from Others like it Happened in a Neighboring Country [claimed Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • Three Top Drug Smugglers Were Arrested by Military Police in Takhmao [Kandal]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #538, 25.11.2009

  • If [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Closes the Border, It Does Not Cause Any Trouble for [Prime Minister] Hun Sen, but for Khmer Citizens [who earn their living at those border crossings; but Prime Minister Hun Sen still announced his firm opinion that Cambodia does not care about the warning from Thailand to maybe close the border]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6814, 25.11.2009

  • Samdech Deckhor Hun Sen: Now It Should Be Time to Create a Law about Non-Government Organizations and Associations
  • The Former Singaporean Prime Minister [Mr. Goh Chok Tong, now a senior minister] Visited Cambodia [to study the current situation, especially different measures that Cambodia has been taking to deal with the global financial crisis and other future problems]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #25, 53.11.2009

  • Prosecutors [of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] Asked to Jail [Tuol Sleng former prison chief] Duch for a Long Period [for the torture and murder of many people]
  • Oddar Meanchey Villagers [of 36 families] Sleep on the Ground opposite the National Assembly [they escaped from arrest by the Oddar Meanchey authorities over land disputes with Oknha and senator Ly Yong Phat]
  • Netherlands Wants to Invest in Solar Power [in Cambodia, worth US$300 million]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1477, 25.11.2009

  • Fire in Boeng Salang Commune Destroyed Two Houses and a Car, and Other Property Was Totally Burnt [the fire was caused by an electric fault – Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5056, 25.11.2009

  • Drug Smugglers Shot Police in Response, Killing One Policeman and Seriously Injuring Two Others [two suspects, husband and wife, were arrested – Phnom Prek, Battambang]
  • Thai Former Prime Minister Mr. Samak Sundaravej Died of [liver] Cancer [both disputing countries, Cambodia and Thailand, expressed condolences over his death]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1819, 25.11.2009

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court’s Position is Upheld [by the Appeals Court] over [the president of the Khmer Civilization Foundation] Mr. Moueng Son’s Case [the court sentenced him to jail for two years for disinformation, over his comment about fixing of lighting at the Angkor Wat Temple]

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A Teacher Who Dares to Tell the Truth Is Threatened to Be Dismissed from a School – Thursday, 15.1.2009

Posted on 16 January 2009. Filed under: Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On Monday, 12 January 2009, we had the 100,000th visit to the Mirror – starting from January 2007.

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

“Civil society officials in Cambodia and abroad expressed concern about the freedom of expression in Cambodia. The authorities of the government threaten activists of trade unions, teachers, civil servants, human rights officials, and democrats.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association in Kompong Thom, who is a teacher of the high school in Triel, Mr. Sun Thun, was investigated by an inspection team of the Provincial Department of Education, and they plan to dismiss him. He is accused of causing anarchy and insulting leaders of the government while teaching students.

“Civil society people abroad noticed that Mr. Sun Thun is a model teacher who dares to express his opinion actively according to the Constitution, and who dares to criticize corruption and injustice in the society, illegal logging, and human rights abuses committed by some leaders in the government and by other relevant officials.

“Civil society officials who are members of a group monitoring the situation from outside of the country absolutely condemned the activities of officials of the Department of Education of Kompong Thom and of the director of this high school for threatening and trying to make the consciousness of other teachers insensitive, so that they do not to criticize leaders of the school and government leaders, even though they live under pressure and suffer human rights abuses and earn small salaries.

“Members of a monitoring group abroad voiced concerns that Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly and the right to education suffered serious setbacks in 2009, because the government uses a scenario acting through the ministry, provincial departments, school leaders, or other institutions, to put pressure on teachers and other civil servants. A group observing Cambodia based in Kristiansand [Norway – there is an office of the NGO Save the Children, Norway] would like to ask national and international organizations to help intervene in this case at the Triel High School, and to urge the Cambodian government to respect the Freedom of Expression, the right to education, and the Freedom of Assembly for meetings by Khmer citizens.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, asked the Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport, Mr. Im Sethy, to keep Mr. Sun Thun as a teacher at the Triel High School in the commune of Triel, Baray district, Kompong Thom.
 
“Mr. Rong Chhun wrote an official letter on 14 January 2009, saying that the argument of the director of the Triel High School and of the Department of Education of Kompong Thom, to request the Ministry of Education to reassign Mr. Sun Thun away from the Triel High School, was not right, and that Mr. Sun Thun had not committed any wrongdoing.

“Mr. Rong Chhun emphasized that according to the questions Mr. Sun Thun was asked, according to a report about the administration and financial inspection team regarding Mr. Sun Thun’s words which were broadcast by Radio Free Asia about wells, prices of birth certificates of Grade 9 students, iron for constructing small schools, and about Mr. Sun Thun’s disagreement to remove a stall selling small things from the school compound – all these points cannot be considered to be wrongdoings of Mr. Sun Thun and are not applicable as reasons to reassign him away by force.

“Mr. Sun Thun told a news agency that he did criticize corruption, about the cutting of wages for hours worked by teachers, and he had criticize bad leadership of the present leaders.

“The deputy director of the Triel High School, Mr. Ouch Phally, said that Mr. Sun Thun criticized the leaders of the government while teaching students.

“It should be noted that Mr. Sun Thun, a teacher and president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association in Kompong Thom, has enough rights to express his opinion through the press, he has the right to negotiate with leaders from all levels in the educational institution according to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Chapter 3, Article 41 and 42, the Common Statute of Civil Servants [?] of the Kingdom of Cambodia in Chapter 55, Article 36, the Law on Education in Chapter 7, Article 37, and the treaties of the International Labor Organization which guarantee to citizens of both sexes the right to express opinions, the rights of association, and the right of negotiations.

“Mr. Rong Chhun believes that Mr. Sun Thun will receive justice after an investigation by the administration and financial inspection team. Activities of the director of the Triel High School and of leaders of the departments, related to rancor and about discriminating related to the freedom of association, and to revoke any teacher can be made as long as they have committed serious wrongdoings about which the school director or the leaders of the department had advised them two or three times, following administrative regulations, but if they still not change, then their supervisors can suggest to the Ministry of Education to help to advise them. Mr. Sun Thun has no wrongdoings, and his supervisors never summoned him before to advise him, but there was immediately the request to remove him by force; this goes against the administrative procedures.

“Therefore Mr. Rong Chhun believes that Mr. Sun Thun will receive justice by keeping him to teach the students at the Triel High School.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #326, 15.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 15 January 2009

Kampuchea Thngai Nis, Vol.5, #396, 15-22.1.2009

  • Sok Sam Oeun Is Ordained as a Monk after the Supreme Court Released Him on Bail [after five years in] Jail [convicted for murdering the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Chea Vichea in January 2004]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1847, 15.1.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Opens a Pretrial Conference for the Hearing of Kaing Gek Eav [also known as Duch, former Tuol Sleng Prison chief] This Morning

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #324, 15.1.2009

  • New Video Document with the Title “Who Are the Khmers in Kampuchea Krom” Is Produced by the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Association [based in the USA]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #326, 15.1.2009

  • A Teacher Who Dares to Tell the Truth Is Threatened to Be Dismissed from a School

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #183, 15.1.2009

  • People Who Pull Carts with Merchandise [many of them children] Kneel Down to Beg Customs Officers Extorting Their Money [they earn around Baht 50 [approx. US$1.45] from one trip [over the border to Thailand and back in Poipet], but they have to pay between Baht 20 and Baht 30 to each post – they are very poor, but officials seem to have no mercy for them, extorting even the little money they earn with hard work]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6552, 15.1.2009

  • The Ministry of Information Reacts to the Allegation that the Royal Government Will Attempt to Limit Publishing through the Internet [made by the Association for Protection of Journalists in response to press reports]
  • Two Young Men Took Turn Raping a [16-year-old] Girl until She Fainted; when Brought to Be Investigate, They Were Released [even though they confessed to the police that they did it, but they were released because one of them promised to marry the victim, and the other promised to help to pay for the victim’s family for her wedding – Svay Rieng]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3666, 15.1.2009

  • The United States of America Encourages the Cambodian Government to Adopt an Anti-Corruption Law Soon [according to a speech by the Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy, Ms. Piper Campbell]
  • Co-Prosecutors of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Send a Witnesses’ Name List to the Judges for the Trial of Duch
  • Siamese [Thai] Prime Minister [Abhisit Vejjajiva] Asks the Cambodian Government Not to Raise the Border Disputes for Discussion by the ASEAN Summit [while the spokesperson of the Cambodian government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, responded that Prime Minister Hun Sen will raise the border disputes for discussion with Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva at the ASEAN Summit]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4795, 15.1.2009

  • [Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An: It Is Not Necessary to Define when an Anti-Corruption Law Will Be Adopted [because the government is not apathetic about corruption and has taken action to crack down on both large and small scale, and all kinds of corruption – he said during a meeting to greet the new director of the World Bank for the Asia Pacific region, Ms. Annette Dixon]
  • The “DM Group” Prevented a Human Rights Group [of 20 people, including German legal people working at the Senate] to Check Forest Sites Cleared for Planting Rubber Trees in Ratanakiri
  • A UNDP Expert [Ms. Jaye Sitton]: Members of the National Elections Committee Have to Resign from Political Parties [so that the National Election Committee becomes neutral and independent]
  • The Asian Development Bank and Development Partners Provide US$80 Million Grant Aid to Cambodia [to improve good governance, commerce, and health services]
  • The US Government Grants Nearly US$2 Million for Conserving and Maintaining Temples and Ancient Artifacts in Cambodia

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3473, 15.1.2009

  • Civil Society [the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee] Asks the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia to Investigate More [former Khmer Rouge] Suspects

Samleng Yuweakwey, Vol.2, #5, 14-17.1.2009

  • A Journalist [of Meatophum] Was Stabbed to Death to Rob His Motorbike, One Robber Managed to Escape, the Other One Was Arrested and Almost Beaten Dead [by a crowd of people – Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]

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

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Positions of Judges, of Prosecutors, and of Clerks Are Reformed on a Large Scale – Wednesday, 14.1.2009

Posted on 15 January 2009. Filed under: Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On Monday, 12 January 2009, we had the 100,000th visit to the Mirror – starting from January 2007.

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

“Phnom Penh: The fourth term Royal Government starts to implement reform strategies for the court system as the first priority by beginning to change the positions of judges, of prosecutors, and of clerks countrywide on a large scale.

“The Minister of Justice, Mr. Ang Vong Vathana, told the Kampuchea Thmey that the Royal Government plans to reshuffle court leaders countrywide, but not depending on wrongdoing as the only reason.

“He said that the reform of the court system was made the first priority in order to be in line with the political mechanisms of the new term Royal Government in the second phase of the Rectangular Strategy.

“He went on to say that as the basis of good governance it is necessary to build the legal basis; if the resources of those who implement the law at the basis are not strong and fair, good governance will not function smoothly as it is needed.

“Mr. Ang Vong Vathana said also that reforms of court officials will be made by the Supreme Council of the Magistracy in this morning on 14 January 2009. Reshuffles of court officials are not made only with judges, with prosecutors, and with clerks, but also with court presidents. However, Mr. Ang Vong Vathana did not mention the names of those who will be reshuffled, but just told primarily that a prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Mr. Ouk Savuth, will be replaced by Mr. Yen Chakriya. Mr. Ouk Savuth will be appointed to work as deputy prosecutor of the Appeals Court.

Note: Article 21 of the Cambodian Constitution:

Upon proposals by the Council of Ministers, the King shall sign decrees (Kret) appointing, transferring or ending the mission of high civil and military officials, ambassadors and Envoys Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. Upon proposals by the Supreme Council of the Magistracy, the King shall sign decrees (Kret) appointing, transferring or removing judges.

“Mr. Ang Vong Vathana stressed that these reappointments are normal, but some court officials are replaced also due to wrongdoings, and some hold their positions already four years and must be reshuffled. Nevertheless, most of these reforms, as they relate to court officials, are only a change from one place to another place.

“Previously, the court system was strongly criticized for being corrupt, and most victims were poor people while most people who won court cases were the powerful.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1846, 14.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #3, 14.1.2009

  • The President of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights [Mr. Ou Virak]: Freedom of Expression and Press Freedom in Cambodia Are Limited [in 2008, because journalists were threatened to be sued at courts, jailed, and murdered, while the authorities have not found murderers or those who support them for prosecution]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #106, 14-15.1.2009

  • The Embassy of Nepal Asks to Build of Pagodas in the Nepalese Style in Cambodia

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #16, .1.2009

  • Positions of Judges, of Prosecutors, and of Clerks Are Reformed on a Large Scale
  • A Canadian Man Was Arrested for Debauchery [with four underage children, two boys and two girls – Kompong Cham]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #323, 14.1.2009

  • The United States of America Decides to Grant Military Aid of More Than US$600,000 [to Cambodia]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6551, 14.1.2009

  • In 2008, There Were 268 Crimes of Rape Committed [with 285 victims – among them 165 were underage – and 340 perpetrators were involved, compared to 2007, there were 301 cases]; This Inhuman Act Is Still an Extremely Serious Issue
  • Eclipse of the Sun Will Occur on 26 January 2009 and Cambodia Can See This Natural Phenomenon on Chinese New Year
  • [Around 300] Students and Villagers Block a Road to Stop the Transporting of [ about 50] Trucks Loaded with Stone [the transportation damages the road, causes dust, and creates disturbing noise – Siam Reap]
  • Nearly 200 Million People Start to Travel to Their Home Towns [to celebrate the Chinese New Year on 26 January 2009]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3665, 14.1.2009

  • Co-Defense Lawyers of Nuon Chea Said that They Are Being Intimidated by Judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [who prepare to sue them back for filling request for the clarification of corruption allegation, considered to be a defamation, and a disgrace for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1402, 14.1.2009

  • A Korean Man Shot by Another Korean Man Died at the Calmette Hospital [two other perpetrators are not yet found]
  • A Man Who had Killed a [three-year-old] Girl and Her Grandmother with Acid Was Arrested [in Kampot]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4794, 14.1.2009

  • The Cambodian Prime Minister Starts an Official Visit to Kuwait
  • Dey Krahom Dispute: The Municipality Offers US$20,000 [to 91 families still not prepared to move away], but he Residents Disagree
  • World Bank Grants a Loan of US$10 Million to Develop the Agriculture
  • The Royal Government Provides a Loan of US$15 Million to the Cambodian Rice Millers Association to Buy Paddy Rice for Stock
  • Ms. In Soklida Wants to Withdraw Nearly US$30,000 from the [Cambodian] Canadia Bank [from a joint bank account with Ms. Chea Ratha, with whom she had an affair and who is now hiding in a foreign country being accused of involvement in an acid attack against Ms. In Soklida’s aunt]
  • Siamese [Thai] Troops Prevented a Khmer Company to Continue Constructing Fences [for building a casino] at the Cham Border Crossing [Anlong Veng, Oddar Meanchey]

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Friday, 5.9.2008: Freedom of Press Increases, but Freedom of Expression in Public Declines

Posted on 6 September 2008. Filed under: Week 576 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 576

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – assessed that over the course of time, the freedom of the press has increased, but the freedom of expression in the public has declined.

“Mr. Thun Saray, the president of ADHOC, reported on 4 September 2008 to journalists in a meeting to sum up the results of the 2005 to 2009 strategic plans, that Cambodia goes through a high rate of economic growth and noticeable poverty reduction. As for the freedom of the press, ADHOC is not the evaluator, but different press organizations assessed that the situation is better than from 2005 to 2006. While the economy and the freedom of the press flourished, the freedom of expression in public went down.

“Mr. Thun Saray added that previously, the freedom of expression included the right to hold demonstrations in public, and so the poor were allowed to protest by marching in public places or in front of different embassies. But at present, their rights are almost completely eroded, while land disputes still exist without proper solutions; high ranking officials, the powerful, and the rich, still violate land rights of communities and of citizens.

“According to reports of ADHOC, observing the human rights situation in Cambodia, Cambodia gained a high rate of economic growth and achieved noticeable poverty alleviation during more than 15 years. However, the distribution of the benefits of the economic growth is not equal, which results in increasing inequality on the receiving side of the gains. One important reason for this inequality is that natural resources are not equally distributed, especially land. Based on reports of the United Nations Development Program – UNDP – in 2007, the rich, in total about 20% of the population, own between 59% to 70% of the land, while the land ownership of the poor, approximately 40% of the total populations, declined from 8.4% to 5,4% during 1999 to 2003 and 2004 (in a period of 4 to 5 years only). Inequality in owning important cultivation property, like land, leads to a major crisis, because it relates to the everyday living of almost 80% of the total populations who live in rural areas, and this will lead to continue to increase the inequality of production, of income seeking, and of land use in the future. Land grabbing and poor administration of natural resources (specifically, in the field of forestry and fisheries) are major factors for the increase of a status of having no land, of inequality of land ownership, and in the distribution of benefits from those resources.

“Land grabbing is mostly committed by the powerful and the rich, by using different tricks, and by private companies that had received economic land concessions from the government, but they do not properly implement what they contracted.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1738, 5.9.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 5 September 2008


Chakraval, Vol.16, #2808, 5.9.2008

  • Norodom Ranariddh Party Spokesperson [Suth Dina] Rejects Information about Intention to Join the Government


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1738, 5.9.2008

  • Freedom of Press Increases, but Freedom of Expression in Public Declines
  • Best-Selling Cambodian Dry Season Paddy Rice Is Transported to Siam [Thailand] Through Special Crossing Points [despite serious Cambodian-Thai border disputes]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Samak Vows to Stay in Power Although [Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs] Taj Bunnag Resigned [he is also an advisor to the Thai King]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #91, 5.9.2008

  • Municipality Rejects Demand for Market Prices; Boeng Kak Lake People Struggle [demanding solution for compensation at market prices]
  • Fisheries Official Expects that the Volume of Fish Raising Fish Will Increase This Year [in a workshop on 3 September 2008, Nao Thuok, the director of Fisheries Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, said that people in Cambodia and worldwide have high need of fish]
  • US to Provide $1 Billion [economic] Aid to Georgia


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6441, 4.9.2008

  • Khmer Vendors Enter to Sell Things as Normal in Rong Kloeu Market [in Thailand, near the Poipet border crossing]
  • Related to the Trial of the [former] Chief of the Tuol Sleng Prison, There Are More Than 1,800 Complaints, Among Them 28 Are Civil Complaints [according to Khmer Rouge Tribunal officials]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3557, 5.9.2008

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Authorities Issued a Letter to Release Tim Sakhan [who had been defrocked on accusation of having perpetrated an offense against the Buddhist law, because he was accused to have destroyed the harmony between Vietnam and Cambodia] from Prison but It Does Not Allow Him to Travel to Cambodia
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Writes to the King, Asking for Permission to Take the Oath [installing memberss of parliament] Separately [not on 24 September but on 25 September – because the Sam Rainsy Party is not satisfied with the results of the fourth term parliamentary election]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4686, 5.9.2008

  • Japanese Government Grants ¥369 Million [approx. US$3,415,000] to the Royal Government of Cambodia [to increase food production and to improve the National Television Programs]
  • Intel Plans to Invest in Information Technology in Cambodian Education

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – will the Prime Minister’s concern for the environment continue to be violated?

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Friday, 11.7.2008: Civil Society Worries about Freedom of Expression in Cambodia Which Is Becoming More Restricted for Both Journalists and for the People

Posted on 12 July 2008. Filed under: Week 568 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 568

“Officials of local human rights organizations said that Khmer people begin to dare to express their opinion regarding problems they deal with. However, the freedom of expression of citizens is limited and often not welcome by the authorities. ‘Nowadays, they threaten us to leave, and if we do not follow their orders, they will not agree. Now, they are observing us; people living to the West of our place seldom talk. Sorry! Now soldiers arrive, I would like to stop talking. They are following me.’

“The above words are the words of two women living in Kampot, who tried to tell journalists about being followed by local authorities, like also other people in the district who are being evicted from their land.

“Regarding the freedom of expression of these citizens, the president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO] Ms. Pong Chiv Kek [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru] stated that in the last few years, the authorities try to prohibit that people gather to express their opinion – but the authorities object by raising security concerns as their reasons.

“Ms. Pong Chiv Kek said, ‘Especially, when workers want to hold a demonstration for something, they hardly ever obtained a permission, though they apply. Our government restricts gathering and marches to express opinions. Sometimes, just expressing something about the borders, there will be problems – the government uses the court to punish those who have expressed their own opinions.’

“Ms. Pong Chiv Kek, observing the situation of the freedom of expression in Cambodia, added, ‘In a democratic regime, the government is created by the people, and such a government will work for the people; if it is a government created by the people, it must join with the people to develop the country. So the government must contribute by providing enough information that the government does this and does that, it provides forest concession to whom, it wants to build a dam there, or want to develop something here; the people must be provided with enough of this type of information. If the people have obtained such information, they have to gather and to talk; for this, they need freedom of expression.’

“Institutions to which the problem of freedom of expression in Cambodia relates, includes the law drafting institutions, the law implementing institutions, the courts, institutions which provide public information, non-government organizations, and also citizens in general.

“The Cambodian Center for Human Rights president, Mr. Ou Virak, who observes the situation of freedom of expression in Cambodia, stated that Khmer citizens nowadays dare to express their opinions regarding problems they are facing. However their free expression is hindered by the authorities.

Mr. Ou Virak added that Cambodia has laws as well as a Constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression. But on the other side, those laws are not fairly applied by the authorities. He continued, ‘If we look at the implementation, we have police, judicial officials including prosecutors, and the government – important agencies to implement the law, but nowadays, judicial officials, who have the duty to implement the law show much bias. They do not allow people to express their opposing opinions, and even people within a party can often talk only about their party, without being able to talk also about negative points.’

“Mr. Ou Virak went on to say, ‘‘As for the media, Cambodia has laws regulating the flow of information, but those laws have not been implemented efficiently to protect journalists. He added, ‘We see that recently, the courts have been used to restrict the freedom of expression by closing a radio station, and by arresting Dam Sith [the Editor-in-Chief of Moneaksekar Khmer], while there are cases where the government did not investigate the cases threatening and physically abusing journalists or activist who are not on the side of the Cambodian People’s Party. Therefore we say that the courts have not fulfilled their duties; contrarily, they are used by the government to restrict the freedom of expression.’

“Mr. Pen Samithi, the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, said that the freedom of expression and press freedom in Cambodia are on the way of improving during these last few years. He added, ‘If we want that people act like in a country where there is Internet in almost all houses, this is impossible. But in practice Cambodia has the ability for qualified action we can take well, but we have to try more, to catch up with other countries, because we are far behind, including in technology and in other fields.’

“However, Mr. Pen Samithi stated also that journalists still face many difficulties to find sources of information, especially information about the government relating to politics.

“Recently, besides the arrest of some journalists on the accusation of defamation and disinformation, according to an investigative report of LICADHO, at least three citizens have been shot dead by the authorities when protesting for land in Preah Vihear province.

“In 2008, Mr. Chan Savet, an investigative officer of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – said that because of the land protest, at least 36 citizens have been detained, and 6 citizens are under being searched.” Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3356, 11.7.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 11 July 2008


Chakraval, Vol.16, #2792, 11.7.2008

  • The Enthusiasm about the Preah Vihear Temple Makes the Election Propaganda Move to the Background; Not Many People Are Interested in It


Chouy Khmer, Vol.2, #131, 11.7.2008

  • Samdech Euv [Father King Norodom Sihanouk] Asks Khmer and Siem [Thai] Citizens to Maintain Good Relations by Not Considering the Preah Vihear Temple as a Dispute [according to his letter issued on 9 July 2008]


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1690, 11.7.2008

  • The Government Allows Citizens to Have Children as They Want, but They Must Take Care of Their Health [according to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s letter to welcome the World Population Day on 11 July 2008]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Order Private Companies to Create Bus Stations [for long distance buses coming to Phnom Penh] at Suburban Phnom Penh [to reduce traffic congestion in town – according to Mr. Chea Bunthoeun, director of the office of transportation of the Department of Public Works and Transport]
  • Sudan Militants Raided and Killed Seven UN Soldiers in Darfur [9 July 2008]
    G8 Leaders Promise to Solve Food and Oil Crisis


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #196, 11.7.2008

  • [Opposition Party president] San Rainsy: The Evidences We Have in Our Hands and the Witnesses Are Enough to Win against Hor Namhong by Law


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #46, 11.7.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh] Mr. Son Chhay Asks [Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng to Take Action against Cars That Have No Number Plates [but are used for the election campaign]
  • Cambodia Plans to Send Laborers to Work in Qatar [according to undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training Oum Mean]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6394, 11.7.2008

  • More than 10 Million Ballots and 32,000 Bottles of Non-Erasable Ink [to mark one finger of people who have cast their ballot] Are Prepared for the Election
  • Thai Foreign Affairs Minister [Noppadon Pattama] Resigned – 10 July 2008 – from His Position [after the Thai Constitutional Court decided that his 18 June 2008 signature on the Joint Communique with Cambodia about the Preah Vihear Temple violated the constitution as he did not ask for parliamentary approval]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4638, 11.7.2008

  • Prince Sisowath Thomico Is Not Happy with Sam Rainsy Who Uses His Parents’ Name Regarding the Lawsuit [by Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong]
  • Singapore Petroleum Company Started to Drill Oil in Block B [since 8 July 2009] [some ownership information: “SPC Cambodia Ltd (“SPC Cambodia”) holds a 33.33% participating interest in Block B. SPC Cambodia was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands as a wholly-owned subsidiary of SPC Production Company Ltd. which in turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of SPC.”]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3356, 11.7.2008

  • Civil Society Worries about Freedom of Expression in Cambodia Which Is Becoming More Restricted for Both Journalists and for the People
  • Do Authorities Close Ms. Chea Ratha’s Case by the Power of Money? [regarding an acid attack on TV presenter Ms. In Soklida’s aunt]

Have a look at the last editorial – Without freedom of information AND an active use of this freedom, emotions can easily lead to dangerous misunderstandings.

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