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

Posted on 6 May 2010. Filed under: Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“High ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party had expressed their concerns before, that the non-transparent management of the rich natural resources of Cambodia, as well as corruption, make citizens – the owners of those important resources – become poor, so that they cannot receive the benefits from the present anarchic exploitations of natural resources.

“Officials from 16 countries met in Phnom Penh for two days, on 4 and 5 May 2010, to discuss about the control of forestry resources and the trade of forestry products. Cambodian high ranking officials welcomed and chaired the discussion meetings to step up effective controls on forest resources. Asian and European officials came from Burma, Cambodia, China, England, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Siam [Thailand], the United States of America, and Yuon [Vietnam], to discuss how to promote forestry exploitation that follows legal standards.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä, the Director of Directorate G – Sustainable Development and Integration – in the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission, said that forestry trading is an important sector that boosts economic growth in Asian and European countries, and forestry products have significantly and enormously contributed to development of the economies of Asian and European countries. It is stressed that forestry products are essential for a national economy.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä said that good management of forestry resource will help prevent forestry destructions in any country, though forests can provide substantial national income. Cambodia used to export forestry products to some countries such as the former Soviet Union. But since Cambodia introduced reforms in 2001, the export of [unprocessed] forestry products abroad was halted [but illegal export continued].

“The Minister of Agriculture of Cambodia, Mr. Chan Sarun, who was also present at the discussions, said that people from the countries that attend the meeting can jointly create plans to strengthen forestry management and legislation. ‘We can create joint planning to improve forestry control and to strength fundamental laws, as well as cut down illegal forestry productions.’

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

“Ebony, Thnong, and Beng are most wanted luxury grade woods to produce furniture in some countries, and most illegal exports from Cambodia are of these kinds of wood. Most luxury grade wood confiscated was found in Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Kompong Cham, Stung Treng, and Kratie. The destinations for its export are known to be China and Yuon, where millions of cubic meters are needed.

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

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

Global Witness said in a statement early April 2010, ‘The idea that Ty Sokhun has been removed from his post because of a failure to crack down on illegal logging is laughable.’ The organization thinks that to tolerate Mr. Ty Sokun after 15 years of forestry crimes originating from his office shows that the past spreading of forestry crimes seems to be forgotten.

Note – From the text of the Global Witness statement:

Sacking of Cambodia’s forest chief unconvincing as move against illegal logging

Press Release – 7.4.2010

Global Witness today welcomed the removal from his post of the Director General of Cambodia’s Forest Administration, Ty Sokhun, but warned that much more needed to be done to guarantee the survival of the country’s remaining forests and the fair and sustainable exploitation of the country’s other natural resources for the benefit of the many not the few.

Global Witness’s 2007 report, Cambodia’s Family Trees, documented how Ty Sokhun and the Ministry of Agriculture Director, Chan Sarun, sold off 500 or more jobs in the Forest Administration. The report also revealed that Ty Sokhun’s father-in-law was a key member of Cambodia’s biggest illegal logging syndicate.

“Ty Sokhun’s reign as Cambodia’s forest chief was a disaster for Cambodia’s forests”, said Simon Taylor, Global Witness Director. “On his watch we saw Cambodia’s forests shrink dramatically, largely due to illegal or ill-managed logging operations. It is a good thing he is gone, but he shouldn’t be let off the hook for what happened while he was in charge.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen says he sacked Ty Sokhun because he had no confidence in his ability to crack down on illegal logging but Global Witness questions why it has taken so long to act…

Taylor: “Ty Sokhun was not the only one responsible for the destruction of Cambodia’s forests. Our investigations have proven the complicity of officials and elites at the highest levels, including members of the Prime Minister’s own family. If Hun Sen genuinely wants closure on the destruction of Cambodia’s forests, he should commission a full independent enquiry into what has happened, publish the findings and punish the perpetrators.”

“At the occasion of the change of head of the Forestry Administration and the appointment of Mr. Chheng Kimson it was seen that some high ranking officials such as [Minister of Agriculture] Mr. Chan Sarun were spared to be called to account for their wrongdoings by the head of the Cambodian government, while in fact Mr. Chan Sarun and Mr. Ty Sokun are the most important persons responsible for forestry crimes for years. This way of suppressing illegal wood trading makes international donors to think that Cambodia does it just to satisfy them to get aid, while the Cambodian government is not really willing to intercept illegal wood trading. [[see also The Mirror of 7.4.2010]]

Note – from a historical Global Witness statement from December 2004

Resign or be sacked

Press Release – 3.12.2004

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

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

Ty Sokhun was made Director of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife1 in 1998. Since then, corruption within the department has if anything got worse. The May 2000 Asia Development Bank [ADB] Forest Concession Review characterised the crisis situation in Cambodia’s forest as “…total system failure; resulting from greed, corruption, incompetence and illegal acts…” However, according to the ADB so many people, companies, institutions and countries were responsible for the fiasco that no one should be made accountable. Since that time not one forest department official has been charged with corruption, let alone convicted. Yet as recently as April 2004 the Independent Forest Sector Review referred to “high levels of institutionalised corruption.” Still, no one is being held to account.

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

Good governance is at the core of the new “Rectangular Strategy,” of the third legislature of the National Assembly, but the government has been talking tough on corruption and doing nothing for years, as has the donor community. At the 1996 CG meeting, then First Prime Minister H.R.H. Norodom Ranariddh stated that the Royal Government of Cambodia was committed to “implement appropriate measures,” to amongst other things “effectively combat corruption.” More recently at the 2001 CG the ADB’s Urooj Malik “respectfully urged” the Royal Government “to move forward with the finalization of legislation on Anti-corruption…”. The donors then pledged US$ 615 million, US$ 115 million more than the Cambodian government had actually asked for. In 2002 “the adoption of a new Anti-Corruption Law” was, according to the World Bank, by now “of particular and most urgent importance.” The donors pledged US$ 635 million.

“The Cambodian government must find the whole CG process absolutely hilarious. Each year they fail to meet their benchmarks and each year the donors give them more money.” said Buckrell.

Global Witness agrees with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sentiments, of more than two years ago, that “while good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.” During Monday’s CG, the donors must hold the entire government to account for their failure to put anti-corruption rhetoric into practice. The donors should insist on rapid enactment of an effective Anti-Corruption law and a register of business interests for politicians, officers in the military, and senior officials.

“Dismissing the Director of the Forest Administration is an absolute minimum first step any donor really interested in Cambodia’s development should expect from a government committed to reform and addressing corruption,” said Global Witness Director, Simon Taylor. “Our recent report, Taking a Cut, provides a number of other key minimum steps we would expect the Cambodian Government to undertake to clean up its act. Some years ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that his Premiership depended on his success in delivering improvements in the forestry sector. By any standards, he has thus far failed. The challenge is now to the donors and the Prime Minister to deliver.”

“According to a report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the trade in forestry products with markets in Asian countries, North America, and the European Union in 2001 amounted to about US$140 billion, while in 1999, it had been less than that. A report about the fight against illegal forestry crimes of the World Bank, from 2006, showed that the forest destructions in the world siphoned off more than US$10 billion each year.

“A well known opposition party leader in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, had said that corruption leads to the devastation of natural resources of Cambodia. He said that if there were a proper and transparent management of those resources, Cambodia were able to earn huge amounts of money for national construction and for some important infrastructure developments to serve the needs of the citizens.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy recalled that the exploitation of national resources does so far not contribute proper benefits for the nation and for poor citizens, due to corruption. If there were an accurate management, Cambodia could find sufficient income without depending on foreign aid or loans, as the government does at present.

“The Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that the improper management of the national budget, especially the collection of income from the exploitations of natural resources without transparency and without following the laws of control, make Cambodia lose its benefits. Mr. Yim Sovann suggests that the government should create effective laws to control the natural resources and to ensure that income from the exploitation of natural resources is not lost to corruption.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 6 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.17, #1438, 6.5.2010

  • Sweden Plans to Establish an Embassy in Cambodia [no exact date specified]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #470, 6.5.2010

  • A 30-Year-Old Woman Was Attacked with Acid over a Suspected Love Affair [the perpetrators are not yet arrested – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2241, 6.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Met with the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of Defense [Mr. Shimba Kazuya [防衛副大臣 榛葉賀津也], discussing about bilateral and regional cooperation]
  • Jointly Stepping Up the Fight against Human Trafficking
  • A Workshop about the Results from a Consultation to Cooperate Implementing the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women Was Held [Ms. Chim Manavy, the director of the Open Institute: priorities and strategies to achieve the same goals together cooperating between civil society organizations and institutions of the government, to effectively implement the action plan, had been discussed and set up, including Information and Communication Technology as a means to promote gender equality and to empower women, as stated in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #648, 6.5.2010

  • Journalists Publish a Declaration on Freedom of Information, Demanding that the Government Creates a Law about the Right to Know Soon [the government is drafting this law without open participation of journalists’ associations]
  • Samdech Euv [Father King] Norodom Sihanouk and Siamese [Thai] King Sent Each Other Good Wishes

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6948, 6.5.2010

  • Nearly 100,000 Hectares of Economic Concession Land in Kompong Thom Are Delivered to Twenty One Companies for Growing Agro-Industrial Crops
  • A Woman Was Raped and Killed and a Few Hours Later, the Perpetrator Was Arrested [Phnom Penh]
  • A Statement by Cambodian Journalists Published on the World Press Freedom Day Suggests that “The Right to Know Must Be Guaranteed for Cambodian Citizens by the Government”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

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

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #165, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Claimed Again that the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda Is on Khmer Territory [while Thailand claimed it is on Thai territory. – Actually, it is on territory declared by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in a Joint Communique on 18 June 2008, signed together with UNESCO and the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a “buffer zone” not claimed by Cambodia in the context of the World Heritage Site designation plans]
  • [More than 100] Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protested in Front of the Council for the Development of Cambodia [CDC – to oppose the submission of a Master Plan for the development of the area from the Municipality to the CDC, but officials said that the Master Plan has not yet been delivered to the CDC – but people have already been evicted before the plan was accepted]
  • The Minister of Finance of Indonesia [Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati] Receives the Top Position in the World Bank [as its Managing Director]
  • Cambodia Railway Station Is Starting with New Life because of Continuing Investment [it is now controlled by the Toll Royal Railways; the whole Cambodian railway system is being repaired under US$141,1 million aid and credits from the Asian Development Bank, AusAID, and OPEC]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5190, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Imports Fuel Amounting to US$450 Million Each Year [according to a report from the Ministry of Commerce]
  • 199 Pieces of Ebony [loaded on a boat] Prepared to Be Imported to Vietnam, Were Seized on the High Sea [Kampot]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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“Forestry Crimes Are Activities of National Betrayal” – Sunday, 11.4.2010

Posted on 12 April 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 659 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 659

When Prime Minister Hun Sen spoke out against forestry crimes with extremely strong words – though forestry crimes used to go on regularly and since a long time, as the frequent descriptions in the Khmer press showed – it was understood by sectors of the police and of the military that he really expected change. Illegally cut wood used to be transported illegally – and some journalists who had tried to denounce some of these activities had been hindered or even harassed. And when the UK based organization Global Witness had published a documentation about illegal deforestation going on in Cambodia, the former head of the Forestry Department, Mr. Ty Sokun, had said that this documentation writes lies on every page.

We repeat here from The Mirror of 27.3.2010:

“During a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen affirmed the position of the government regarding the campaign to strongly intercept forestry crimes, and not to give up. Although there may be barriers against it made of rock or of iron, any obstacles must be broken down.

“During the cabinet meeting yesterday, which took from morning to noon, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen spoke to all members of the Royal Government, saying that all related institutions, whether on the national or on regional levels, have to cooperate to intercept forestry crimes, and to reach the ringleaders. All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships, because the suppression of forestry crimes is the suppression of criminal groups – their activities have to be considered as activities of national betrayal.

“Also, Samdech Hun Sen knows that those who use to do such wood trading are backed by high ranking officials, but this time, no matter how high their positions are, they will be jailed.”

As a result, there was a constant stream of related articles during the past week in the Khmer press which show that the Prime Minister’s words had initiated many activities and reactions. The Mirror carried some of them as examples; especially the situation of Mr. Ty Sokun received many comments:

  • A Wood Storehouse of the Canadia Bank in the Cultural Village [of Siem Reap] Was Raided, and Hundreds of Cubic Meters of Wood Were Found
  • As a Result of the Hot Campaign to Combat Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Was Removed and Chheng Kim Song Was Appointed to Replace Him
  • After Mr. Ty Sokun Was Removed from His Position, Documents Relating to Irregular Measures Were Disclosed
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Removes Ty Sokun and Warned Other Officials
  • A 45-Seater Bus Was Illegally Loaded with 68 Pieces of Ebony [the driver was arrested – Siem Reap]
  • Considering Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Should Not Be Allowed to Hold a Position, but Should Be Punished according to the Law
  • Ty Sokun Was Removed from His Position and the Newly Appointed Forestry Chief Was Warned [by Prime Minister Hun Sen] that He Would Be Jailed if He Cannot Intercept Forestry Crimes [Mr. Ty Sokun said that his ability was limited and most perpetrators have relations with high ranking officials and with the rich, and they often warned forestry officials]
  • The Prime Minister Openly Announced to Remove Mr. Ty Sokun from the Position of Director General of the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries
  • The Wood Stored by the Owner of the [Siem Reap] Cultural Village Was Not 200 Cubic Meters, but More Than 600 Cubic Meters
  • The Dangkao District Authorities Found a Wood Processing Workshop [run illegally] in the Piphup Thmey Block of Buildings in Dangkao district of Oknha Hong Piv [and discovered hundreds of cubic meters of luxury grade wood – Phnom Penh]
  • A Truck Overturned and More Than 40 Cubic Meters of Ebony Fell on the Street, but the Head of the Forestry Department and Representatives of Other Authorities Did Not Dare to Touch It [an official who asked not to be named said that the wood belongs by an Oknha who has a license to transport it; the wood was to be transported from Pursat to Phnom Penh – Kompong Chhnang]
  • Civil Society Supports the Crackdown on Forestry Crimes by the Prime Minister [“and some associations suggested that former Director General of the Forestry Administration Ty Sokun must be bought to a court to be convicted according to the law”]

The last two headlines point to some concerns, which start to be raised again more, as time passes.

Obviously, some lower level servants of the state are not so sure if the words of the Prime Minister will really protect them, if the do what he said they should do. We remember his words: “All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships.”

But there is not only the fear of some people who actively implement the new directives. There is also starting some questioning how seriously the Prime Minsters words can be taken for what they say – on the one hand. But on the other, he is also quoted to have said to Mr. Ty Sokun and to his successor Mr. Chheng Kim Son, that Mr. Ty Sokun failed in his duties, so he is removed, but he is now appointed as an under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture; but, he is quoted to have added to Mr. Chheng Kim Son, if he too would fail: “Jail.”

So the question in The Mirror of 28.3.2020 cannot yet be put to rest: “Another Thunderstorm – or the Start of a Climate Change?”

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Another Thunderstorm – or the Start of a Climate Change – Sunday, 28.3.2010

Posted on 29 March 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 657 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

When we wrote, one week ago, about the raid on the Tuek Thla market, where military uniforms, but also many kinds of handguns and ammunition are sold, we mentioned also a cynical voice – “everyone knows this problem” as one paper wrote – as this was not the first such raid. And in the past, after a short time, the illegal trade used to come back. It had been reported that “the authorities confiscated hundreds of military uniforms and other materials from ten stalls, and arrested some sellers of those materials to educate them.” There were no reports that persons in the military, who had supplied these materials illegally, were punished.

The Prime Minister had warned, in a different context, “Police and military chiefs had better leave their positions if they do not dare to crack down on brothels and gambling sites, being afraid of interventions.” He was aware that persons ‘higher up’ scare lower level officials so that they do not do their duty. But these ‘higher up’ were hardly touched. The ambiguities were addressed in a headline, “The Authorities Intercept Wood Every Day, but Never Arrest the Wood Traders – The persons who were arrested are mostly workers handling the wood on the trucks and the truck drivers.” So the old discrepancy between the law, and its enforcement, seemed to continue.

But the past week brought changes.

There had been reports of convoys transporting illegally cut wood, being shielded by cars of high ranking military officers. Now it was reported from Oddar Meanchey that high level military leaders had not only found illegally cut wood, but had confiscated thirteen cars – obviously a massive operation.

The Prime Minister is reported to have said, in a meeting of the cabinet, that forestry crimes have to be considered as acts of national betrayal, an opinion, which – though with other words – is very similar to the concerns expressed in former studies on deforestation in Cambodia by Global Witness and others.

In one paper we read, “All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships, because the suppression of forestry crimes is the suppression of criminal groups – their activities have to be considered as activities of national betrayal.”

In the meantime, such statements were followed by a series of reports from different provinces, that more and more storehouses for wood were found.

  • On 22 March 2010, authorities in Kompong Cham checked seven different storehouses for wood. It is reported that the seven storehouses store more than 2,000 pieces of luxury wood, and the traders had prepared it to be transported to Vietnam. “During checking everything, all the owners were able to flee.”
  • The Russey Keo District Authorities Cracked Down On a Big Storehouse of Luxury Wood in Chrouy Chongva [Phnom Penh] That Stores Various Goods, and They Seized 427 Pieces of Wood
  • A Strong Campaign Continues after an Illegal Storehouse for Wood of Oknha Ang Try, the [Owner-]Director of the Tiger Beer Company, Was Intercepted [almost 1,000 cubic meters of wood were found – Siem Reap]
  • The Siem Reap Authorities Intercepted Two Wood Storehouses and Found Nearly 400 Cubic Meters of Wood [of Oknha Sok Kong and of Oknha Lao Meng Khin – Siem Reap]
  • The Siem Reap Authorities Intercepted a Third Wood Storehouse, Seizing 523 Pieces of Wood [about 15 cubic meters] and 66 Round Poles

There are different opinions, why all these warehouses with huge amounts of cut wood pieces awaiting export had not been found earlier on. But the more important question is, what will happen next: will all the suspects – including the Oknhas Sok Kong (the head of the Sokimex conglomerate) and Oknha Lao Meng Khin (a director of the Pheapimex Group, involved in the filling of the Beong Kak Lake, and also involved in the taking over of the historical Renakse Hotel and now most recently also of the building of the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals) – be investigated in a transparent way?

It will not be only interesting, but it may be a decisive new start to see, if those persons, being suspected to have betrayed the nation, will be cleared from the suspicion, or will again only be “educated” – as if they would not have known that there was illegal deforestation and illegal trade – or if there will be any real punishment meted out by the courts for those who were involved in massive illegal operations, which the Prime Minister denounced strongly.

This will show if the present thunderstorm, which the Prime Minister’s words has created at a strength never seen before, will have introduced a climate change, or, after the storm has calmed down, things will continue as they used to, like after every storm at the Tuek Thla market.

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Amnesty International: Cases of Rape in Cambodia Increasing – Tuesday, 9.3.2010

Posted on 10 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

“Amnesty International said that cases of rape in Cambodia increased, and what is worse is that rape victims do not have sufficient access to receive justice, medical care and treatment, and consulting services. Amnesty International released a report on 8 March on the occasion of the International Women’s Rights Day.

“In the 60-pages report, 30 victims between the ages of 10 and 40 years old recounted their experience of corruption and the discrimination suffered from the police and the courts, which prevent them from getting necessary services; and on the other hand, most perpetrators are not arrested and convicted by the courts.

“Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, Ms. Donna Guest, stated that there is a lack of support for the victims, and the government must publicly take action against sexual violence, to show that there is no tolerance for such crimes, and to recognize the victims’ suffering. Amnesty International encouraged the government to promote education and to offer materials to police officials and especially policewomen, and to provide the necessary resources for them to professionally conduct timely investigations whenever there is an accusations.

“The Minister of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi, could not comment on the report of Amnesty International, saying that she had not yet seen the report. But she stressed that the government is also focusing on the prevention of violence against women. Regarding legal assistance for rape victims, Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi said that the government granted Riel 100 million [approx. US$24,000] for such legal services. She acknowledged that the number of rape cases increased. But the figure may not correctly reflect the reality of what happened. It can be said that the police works more effectively than before, and that the increasing number of reported rape cases reflects alsothat the police is more active than before.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5144-5145, 7-9.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #428-429, 7-9.3.2010

  • The Prime Minister Requests the Promotion of Four Generals to Become Four Star Generals [requesting the King to enact the promotions; they are the generals Sao Sokha, Chea Dara, Hing Bun Heang, and Nhek Huon]
  • A Woman Died from the Use of Skin Cream [Banteay Meanchey; recently, the Prime Minister had just warned about dangerous cosmetic products]
  • A/H1N1 Increased to 562 Cases by March 2010 [in Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2196, 9.3.2010

  • A Fire Destroyed Hundreds of Houses in the Railway Block Region [Phnom Penh]
  • A One Star [navy] General Was Accused by the Family of a [10-year-old] Boy, Denouncing Him to Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [for beating the boy cruelly – Sihanoukville – the reason for the beating is not mentioned, he just went to the boy’s school, called him out by his name, and beat him up]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #741, 8.3.2010

  • Global Witness Criticized that the Government Sells Some Military Units to Private Companies [Prime Minister Hun Sen had announced that 42 private commercial companies in Cambodia tied the knot with some Cambodian military units]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #620-621, 7-9.3.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer Asked for a Delay for Him Not to Appear at the Court on 9 March 2010 [over a new complaint of the government relating to the allegation to have faked maps; as his client is not in the country]
  • [The president of the National Assembly of Vietnam] Nguyễn Minh Triết [Nguyen Minh Triet] Invited Samdech Euv [the former King] and Samdech Mae [the former Queen] to Visit Yuon [Vietnam]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6902-6903, 8-9.3.2010

  • [Prime Minister Hun Sen’s] Reaction in Response to the ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan, Saying that It Is the Interference into Cambodian Internal Affairs [the ASEAN Secretary General had said the the military exercise test-firing some 200 Russian-made Katyusha rockets 100 kilometers from the disputed border area of Preah Vihear; he said that this might cause instability in the region. But Prime Minister Hun Sen responded that the Secretary General’s comment is an interference into Cambodian internal affairs]
  • Anti-Corruption Draft Law: An Asset Declaration Is Obligatory for Officials Starting and Up from Those Nominated by a Sub-Decrees
  • An Old, Fatal Well, 10 Meters Deep, Took the Lives of Six Villagers [in one day, because they worked in it and did not have sufficient oxygen – Kompong Cham]

Note:

TodayOnline reports about the same affair as Koh Santepheap:

Hun Sen slams Asean Sec-Gen

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday hit out at the Asean Secretary-General, accusing him of “crazy work” for questioning a recent rocket drill.

“I think that his excellency Surin Pitsuwan is not suitable as ASEAN Secretary-General,” Mr Hun Sen said during a speech, adding: “If you are stupid, don’t do it.”

He pointed out that other ASEAN leaders, including Thailand – with whom Cambodia has an ongoing border dispute – showed no concerns about the test.

Calling on Mr Surin, who is a Thai citizen, to retract his statement or face a confrontation when Asean leaders meet next month in Hanoi, he said: “You must make a correction … The rockets did not hit your head.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3826-3827, 8-9.3.2010

  • More Than 50,000 Tonnes of Remains of Bombs Dropped by B52s Are a New Instrument to Put Pressure on the United States of America to Consider Canceling the Debt of US$315 Million [that Cambodia owes the USA]
  • The Opposition [Sam Rainsy] Party Demands a Delay for the Discussion of the Anti-Corruption Draft Law, but Will Not Walk Out of the Parliament Meeting

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #125, 8.3.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected the Concern Expressed by the ASEAN Secretary General Regarding the Launching of BM21 Rockets
  • Income from Tourism in 2009 Dropped by 2%, from an Amount of US$1.5 Billion [though tourist arrivals increased by 1.7% – according to the Ministry of Tourism]
  • Cambodia Will Send More Than 200 Troops of a Construction Unit to Chad [in April 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5144-5145, 7-9.3.2010

  • Amnesty International: Cases of Rape in Cambodia Increasing
  • The Human Rights Party Announced to Boycott a Meeting [of the National Assembly] to Approve an Anti-Corruption Draft Law [saying that parliamentarians do not have enough time to review the draft documents distributed on 5 March 2010, while the meeting will be held on 10 March 2010]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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The Asian Development Bank: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is in Danger – Friday, 19.2.2010

Posted on 20 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“While within five years the global Millennium Development Goals should be reached, the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank said in a report on Thursday, 18 February 2010, that the global economic crisis had made Cambodia to walk ‘off track,’ and the government policies must focus on social welfare.

“Placing Cambodia together with Nepal and Laos, this report says that these countries are very much in danger due to a slow development process, which does not contribute to preventing poverty and child malnutrition.

“Cambodia walks ‘off track,’ not fulfilling more than half of the benchmark points listed in the global development goals, not fulfilling these Goals in seven of the eight Goals, which include to eradicate extreme poverty and the reduction of child mortality rates, to drop by two thirds of the 2009 rate by 2015.

“In 2003, Cambodia added one more Goal to the eight Millennium Development Goals, increasing their number to nine: the clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance and the aid for the victims.

“This report shows that only 20% of the Cambodia population were covered by any social protection projects. Only more than 1% of the GDP of Cambodia is spent on social protection measures, less than the
expenses in other countries such as Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan.

“The vice president of the Asian Development Bank, Ms. Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, said on 18 February 2010 in a statement that most stimulating measures focus on other fields rather than on social protection. ‘If we want to solve impacts of the economic downturn and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, necessary expenses on social protection must be increased substantially.’

“Relating to these comments, the Director of the UN Development Program’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Ajay Chhibber, warned that if there is no better social protection, people will fall back into poverty again.

“Among the 21 development indicators in this report, Cambodia is making slow progress in 9 indicators, including registration at primary schools, completing school education, child mortality, malnutrition, and maternal health care during pregnancy.

“Based on this report, there is no progress regarding the accomplishment of environmental sustainability in forestry cover and carbon emissions absorption.

“Anyway, this report says that Cambodia had achieved some specific Millennium Development Goals, such as combating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and supplying clean water. Also, the gender equity goals at most schools will be accomplished.

“A parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, the chairperson of the Commission on Economy, Banking, and Audits of the National Assembly, Mr. Cheam Yeap, said that the government made plans in the national budget to help people who have difficulties.

“He added that the government had asked the National Assembly to provide US$18 million in addition to help people in agriculture.

“He went on to say that Prime Minister Hun Sen had asked bank officials to increase loans with low interest rates for the public. The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, referred questions to the Council for the Development of Cambodia, but Secretary-General Sok Chenda could not be reached for comment.

“In an interview with the country representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Mr. Ajay Markanday, he said that it is necessary to concentrate on investments in agriculture.

“He added that to address food security problems and starvation in developing countries, it is really important to focus on the amount of investment to strengthen agriculture. And a sustainable solutions for food security must be found.

“He continued to say that public funds have to be provided to create jobs for members of the poorest in the society, mostly of those are living in remote areas.

“Mr. Markanday added that when the economy starts to recover, food prices will likely rise. He added that the impact of this problem on the levels of poverty and malnutrition depend on the capacity of a country to counter it, based on the achievement of economic growth through investments.” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1877, 19.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 19 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #414, 19.2.2010

  • The Government Allowed Siamese [Thai] Embassy Officials to Meet Their Prisoner [sentenced to serve twenty years in prison for planting landmines in Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2181, 19.2.2010

  • The Ministry of Information Advised Radio and Television Stations to Stop Reading Texts from Newspapers and Making Additional Comments
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Received a Medal for “Most Innovative Use of Technology During a Trial” [by the Law Technology News Awards magazine, based in the United States]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #606, 19.2.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Said to Arrest the Chief Drug Smugglers Is Better Than to Create Rehabilitation Centers [for drug addicts]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6888, 19.2.2010

  • The UN Human Rights Council Rejected the Global Witness Report about Illegal Logging [accusing that families of some Cambodian leaders to cut trees – according to an announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3812, 19.2.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank Warned that If Cambodia Does Not Make More Efforts, It Will Fall Into Serious Poverty

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #115, 19.2.2010

  • The Authorities Set a Deadline for Illegal Pharmacies to Ask for Licenses [according to the Ministry of Health, there are more than 2,000 pharmacies operating countrywide where more than 1,000 have no licenses]
  • Construction Projects Approved in 2009 Declined by More Than 47% [amounting to only over US$200 million, while in 2008, they amounted up to US$381 million]
  • The Anti-Acid Crime Draft Law Will Reach the Government after the Khmer New Year [for adoption and to be sent further to the National Assembly]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5120, 19.2.2010

  • Japan Promised to Provide Aid [of about US$20 million] for the Development of the Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos Triangle Zone
  • After a Woman Was Gang Raped, Her Hands and Legs Were Tied and She Was Then Drowned in a Sewage Ditch in the CAMKO City Construction Area [the perpetrators are not yet identified – Phnom Penh]
  • [The president of the Human Rights Party] Mr. Kim Sokha Guaranteed that He Will Provide Financial Support for [two] Villagers Imprisoned for Removing Temporary Border Markers [offering them money and rice amounting to about US$100 per month for each family]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1877, 19.2.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is in Danger
  • [The President of the National Assembly] Heng Samrin Sent an Opposition Parliamentarians’ Questions over Border Issues with Vietnam to [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to Respond

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The World Food Program Plans to Provide Food to 108 Million People in 74 Countries Including Nearly One Million Cambodian People – Tuesday, 20.10.2009

Posted on 21 October 2009. Filed under: Week 635 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 635 – Tuesday, 20.10.2009

“Rome: Because the number of starving people increases beyond the number in previous reports, today (World Food Day – 16 October 2009), the World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations calls on the world to remember that more than one billion people do not have enough food to eat.

“The executive director of the World Food Program, Ms. Josette Sheeran, said, ‘Actually, the “World Food Day” is also “No Food Day” for 1 among 6,000 persons [Late addition: Apologies for a grave error during the process of preparing the manuscript: it is “1 among 6 persons” – a much more serious situation. And, according to the original English version we now replaced the former rendering “Word Without Food Day” with “No Food Day.”] in the world in this year. It should be remembered that more than one billion people will not have enough food to eat this year. We cannot change this problem. Therefore, our challenge is to make “No Food Day” become “World Food Day” for hundreds of millions of people who do not have sufficient food to eat.

“The flow of food aid is at the lowest level within the last 20 years, while there are more starving people due to the impacts from rising food prices, from the global financial crisis, and from more climate change.

“This year, the World Food Program plans to provide food to 108 million people in 74 countries in the world, including nearly one million Cambodians. But serious shortage of fund leads to the reduction of food to be distributed to some countries, and to temporary suspension of aid in some other countries. So far, donor countries have granted approx. US$2.9 billion in aid to the World Food Program which plans to spend US$6.7 billion in total for 2009.

“Ms. Sheeran added that during these decades, the World Food Program can supply food to about 10% of the men, women, and children who are starving in the world. But this year is the first year that the agents of the World Food Program seem not to be able to achieve its goal. As an agency to respond to emergency needs, the World Food Program has encountered many unexpected demands in 2009, like the response to the recent flood in the Philippines.

“As for Cambodia, the World Food Program said that even given the development that has been achieved in recent years, Cambodia is still considered as a country with starvation placed at high emergency levels, and it is among 36 countries in the world where there is a very high number of children suffering from malnutrition. Since 1979, the World Food Program has closely cooperated with the Royal Government of Cambodia, with other agencies of the United Nations, and with non-government organizations to alleviate starvation and malnutrition in Cambodia. The overall aim of the World Food Program in Cambodia is to improve food security among starving people through many programs related to education, health, and nutrition, to rise the living standard, and to sustainably build up against natural disasters and against other shocks. In 2008, the World Food Program supported nearly one million of the poorest people and of people with food insecurity.

“To celebrate the ‘World Food Day’, an event was jointly organized under the concerns of achieving food security during the crisis’ by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the World Food Program in Takeo. The World Food Program Representative to Cambodia, Mr. Jean Pierre De Margerie, said that achieving food security is still a challenge for thousand of poor and vulnerable people of Cambodia. The follow-up impacts from the rising food prices and the global economic crisis worsen the level of vulnerability in Cambodia, especially in regions hit by the typhoon Ketsana. He added, ‘Efforts to work collaboratively and the good coordination from all relevant partners are the best way to accomplish a regular and sustainable food security in Cambodia.'” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6783, 20.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2076, 20.10.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Told Citizens that the State Will Not Collect Fees for Listening to Radio and for Watching TV [after there was a request by the chairperson of the Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation Propaganda and Information of the National Assembly to collect such fees]
  • Four Robbers Robbed the Srae Prang Village Chief’s House, Taking Kathen [a Buddhist ceremony] Money [approx. US$5,000], and Shot His Son to Death [Kompong Cham]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6783, 20.10.2009

  • The World Food Program Plans to Provide Food to 108 Million People in 74 Countries, Including to Nearly One Million Cambodian People
  • More Than 300 Fishermen Protested in Front of the Municipality as Fishing Yields Drop to Almost Zero because of [sea] Sand Dredging [Koh Kong]
  • The Head of the Eye Department [of a Korean university] of [South] Korea Promised to Continue to Provide Eye Treatments and to Train Cambodian Ophthalmologists [by sending Korean volunteers, as they did since 2007]

Phnom Penh Post, Vol.1, #29, 20.10.2009

  • The Khmer Prime Minister Asked Global Witness to Stop Criticizing the Cambodian Government of Cutting Trees [the Prime Minister said during the First National Forum on Climate Change that global warming is first of all the result of economic activities in rich countries – the cutting of trees in a small country will now have global consequences]
  • Husband and Wife Who Tortured a Girl Are Detained at Prey Sar Prison [Phnom Penh]
  • The Ministry of Interior Announced to Fine Overloaded Trucks Seriously [as they create traffic hazards]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5025, 20.10.2009

  • The National Assembly Continues to Discuss the Demonstration Law
  • A 64-Year-Old Man Raped Two Young Girls [8 and 9 years old – he was arrested – Pursat]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1811, 20.10.2009

  • [The president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Mr. Sam Rainsy: We Do Not Want Peace like Peace for Slaves [he said so while the National Assembly was discussing the defamation law

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2010 Will Be the Year That Vietnamese Products Flow in Heavily – Up to US$2 Billion – Monday, 12.10.2009

Posted on 13 October 2009. Filed under: Week 634 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634 – Monday, 12.10.2009

“Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam will increase dramatically in 2010, if the Cambodian economy recovers again from the global economic crisis.

“According to a report by a Vietnamese radio station on 9 October 2009, commerce between both countries will rise to as much as US$2 billion in 2010. In 2008, commerce between Vietnam and Cambodia surpassed the commerce between Cambodia and Thailand.

“According to the Ministry of Commerce of Vietnam and an industry report, the commerce between both countries declined by 29.2% to only US$858 million within the nine months in 2009 (by September). Vietnamese exports to Cambodia amounted to more than US$726 million. Vietnam is the fourth biggest importer of agricultural products from Cambodia, like rubber and wood and wood products.

“What is also noticeable is that within nine months, more than 40 Vietnamese companies were registered in Cambodia, a higher number than for other countries. In 2008, 52 Vietnamese companies were registered in Cambodia, the third position after China with 82, and Malaysia with 56 companies.

“According to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), investment from Vietnam increased up to US$114 million within nine months. This is more than the total amount within the 12 months of 2008. The Bank of Investment and Development of Vietnam in Saigon opened a branch in Cambodia.

“While China is the biggest investor in Cambodia, Vietnam is becoming the biggest supplier of imports into Cambodia. Vietnam takes a bigger market share in Cambodia, while the imports from Thailand to Cambodia are affected by the border disputes between both countries.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5018, 11-12.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 12 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #308, 11-12.10.2009

  • The Ministry of Health Steps Up Activities to Control A/H1N1 Infections during the Water Festival [where a large number of people will come from the provinces to celebrate the event in Phnom Penh – the Ministry is preparing to broaden awareness about A/H1N1 in the public]
  • South Korea Will Expand Flights to Cambodia [adding flights also from Busan to Siem Reap, after tourist arrivals to Cambodia from South Korea had dropped due to the global financial crisis]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2069, 11-12.10.2009

  • A Southeast Asian Television Network [supported by a foundation for art and culture of Japan] Will Be Inaugurated in December 2009 [in Cambodia]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Returned from France with More Than Euro 200,000 of Aid for Poor Communities [from the Association Internationale des Maires Francophones, mainly for the improvement of clean water supply]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #659, 12.10.2009

  • 320 Police Officials of the Department of Public Order Reacted when New Uniforms Had Not Been Offered since Three Years [sending an anonymous letter to Khmer Amatak to make their problems known

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6776, 12.10.2009

  • More Than 1,000 Houses and the Doung International Border Crossing Point in Kamrieng District Are Flooded by Rain [Battambang]
  • An Adult Man Used Money to Lure a Girl for Sexual Relationship until His Wife Found Out [and then he was arrested – Kompong Speu]

Phnom Penh Post, Vol.1, #23, 12.10.2009

  • Seventeen People Died and Ten Are Missing after a Boat [that was overloaded] Sunk in Kratie
  • Nearly 100 Houses Were Burnt by the Oddar Meanchey Authorities [to evict citizens from disputed land, disputed with the Angkor Sugar Company, known to be owned by a Senator from the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Ly Yong Phat]
  • [The Minister of Economy and Finance] Mr. Keat Chhon: The Cambodian Economy Unexpectedly Encounters Many Problems
  • The Defense Lawyers of a Former Khmer Rouge Leader [Ieng Sary] Prepare to Sue the Investigating Judge Marcel Lemonde for Bias [as he summoned six high ranking government officials who overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime to testify]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5018, 11-12.10.2009

  • 2010 Will Be the Year That Vietnamese Products Flow in Heavily – Up to US$2 Billion
  • The Millennium Development Goals of Cambodia: The Child Mortality Rate Will Remain a Concern [even though there had been declining figures, if health services are not improved]
  • France Helps Train Cambodian Troops [in preparing materials and in the French language] before They Are Sent to Chad and to the Central African Republic

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3499, 11.10.2009

  • The Ministry of Health Warns about a Pandemic of Swine Flu [the Minister of Health, Mr. Mam Bunheng, told private hospitals to refer patients to state hospitals immediately if they are suspected to be infected with the A/H1N1 flu]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1805, 12.10.2009

  • An Opposition Party: The Government Should Take Its Wrongdoings into Account [repeating old Global Witness reports]

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Denials, Insults, and Rational Arguments – Sunday, 15.3.2009

Posted on 17 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

It seems that some issues, which need to be clarified, do not find any solution – not only because they are controversial, but because it seem to happen frequently that issues raised are not discussed – the detailed facts and concerns they raised are disregarded, they are put aside by flat denial, not touching at the presented facts at all. Or instead of dealing with controversial facts, the “other party” is served with an insult – and it is up to the reader to consider whether the insult carries enough conviction to override the arguments, or whether an insult, instead of an argument, backfires on the party which refuses to engage in a rational discussion.

We will bring here some reminders, where it seems that facts and opinions had been presented, and the public received responses. Some seem to have intended to close further discussion – though the discussion continues anyway. In some cases we hope to lead to further open discussion – inviting to consider some aspects which are not widely shared, but may merit more attention. We let “both parties” speak.

=

On 5 February 2009, the UK based organization Global Witness published a report entitled Country for Sale. The organization describes its general, global outreach, in the following way:

“Global Witness exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses. Global Witness was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its leading work on ‘conflict diamonds’ and awarded the 2007 Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award, sponsored jointly by Washington DC based Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine.”

The content of the study, presented on 72 pages with detailed references, is described by Global Witness as follows:

“Cambodia – one of the world’s poorest countries – could eventually earn enough from its oil, gas and minerals to become independent of foreign development aid. The report, Country for Sale, exposes for the first time how this future is being jeopardized by high-level corruption, nepotism and patronage in the allocation and management of these critical public assets.

Country for Sale details how rights to exploit oil and mineral resources have been allocated behind closed doors by a small number of powerbrokers surrounding the prime minister and other senior officials. The beneficiaries of many of these deals are members of the ruling elite or their family members. Meanwhile, the findings suggest that millions of dollars paid by oil and mining companies to secure access to these resources may be missing from the national accounts.”

Among the details, Global witness says:

“Global Witness wrote to both Chevron and BHP Billiton in October 2008 to ask them to reveal any payments made to the Cambodian government or government officials. At the time of publication, Chevron had not responded. BHP Billiton however, did reply to say that BHP Billiton, Mitsubishi and the Cambodian Government have established a joint social development fund. The total contribution of BHP and Mitsubishi is to be US$2.5 million. BHP’s response stated: ‘BHP Billiton has never made a payment to a Cambodian Government official or representative and we reject any assertion that the payment under the minerals exploration agreement is, or the amounts contributed to the Social Development Projects Fund are, “tea money”.’ BHP also shared how much had been paid to the Cambodian government, adding: ‘In accordance with the terms of a minerals exploration agreement with the Cambodian government which granted BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi the right to explore for bauxite an amount of US$1 million was formally paid to the Cambodian government in September 2006.’”

The Cambodian Embassy in London responded to the publication of Country for Sale with a press release with a color graphic page, saying global witness – A Collection of Rubbish

“Reacting angrily to the report, the Ambassador of Cambodia in the UK, H.E. Nambora Hor, accused Global Witness of being poorly-managed and indulging in hugely-damaging smear campaigns. He called on the wide variety of international bodies which help fund Global Witness to demand an urgent review of its policies and activities. ‘It is naïve for Global Witness to imagine that Cambodia’s international donors are not fully aware of the way the Royal Cambodian Government’s conducts its affairs and its commitment to demonstrating the highest possible standards.’”

Details about this Social Development Projects Fund – who administers these huge amounts of money paid by some foreign companies, and for which purposes, and under whose public monitoring – are not known to the public.

=

On 25 February 2009, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State published a 2008 Human Rights Report: Cambodia, part of the 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The 16,000 words report on Cambodia states initially:

“The government’s human rights record remained poor. Security forces committed extrajudicial killings and acted with impunity. Detainees were abused, often to extract confessions, and prison conditions were harsh. Human rights monitors reported arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention, underscoring a weak judiciary and denial of the right to a fair trial. Land disputes and forced evictions were a continuing problem. The government restricted freedom of speech and the press and at times interfered with freedom of assembly. Corruption was endemic. Domestic violence and child abuse occurred, education of children was inadequate, and trafficking in women and children persisted. The government offered little assistance to persons with disabilities. Anti-union activity by employers and weak enforcement of labor laws continued, and child labor in the informal sector remained a problem.

On February 15, the government passed and promulgated a comprehensive Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation containing provisions criminalizing all forms of human trafficking. By year’s end the Cambodian National Police had arrested perpetrators in 48 trafficking-in-persons and related cases, and the courts had convicted at least 12 persons on trafficking-related charges.”

The Mirror had carried a related report from a Khmer language newspaper on 27 February 2009. On 14 March 2009, we carried a report from another Khmer newspaper, saying:

“The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dismisses the US Department of State’s Report [on the human rights situation in Cambodia] on behalf the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia.”

But later, another Khmer newspaper reported in its 15/16 March 2009 edition: “The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – said that tens of thousands of families of Khmer citizens suffer human rights violations.” And reports in the Phnom Penh Post of 16 March 2009 show a 9 year old boy standing in the wreckage of his house – sixteen houses in the Rik Reay Community – “Happy Community” – were torn down, and the area is being fenced in. A teacher, living there, said he had received a death threat. “This mistreatment is to force us to agree to their compensation package,” he said. “I am now worried for my personal security because I heard a company staffer on the walkie-talkie saying they would kill me because I am a community leader. I want to tell you that if I die, it was not at the hands of anyone else but because I was murdered by the staff of Bassac Garden City.”

=

On 12 March 2009, we carried the headline from a Khmer newspaper, reporting Dalai Lama: Tibet under Chinese Control Is Like Hell on the Earth. And in order to elaborate, we added a link to the original text of the March 10th Statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama, where he says:

“Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan people’s peaceful uprising against Communist China’s repression in Tibet. Since last March widespread peaceful protests have erupted across the whole of Tibet. Most of the participants were youths born and brought up after 1959, who have not seen or experienced a free Tibet. However, the fact that they were driven by a firm conviction to serve the cause of Tibet that has continued from generation to generation is indeed a matter of pride… We pay tribute and offer our prayers for all those who died, were tortured and suffered tremendous hardships, including during the crisis last year, for the cause of Tibet since our struggle began.

“Around 1949, Communist forces began to enter north-eastern and eastern Tibet (Kham and Amdo) and by 1950, more than 5000 Tibetan soldiers had been killed…

“Since the re-establishment of contacts in 2002, we have followed a policy of one official channel and one agenda and have held eight rounds of talks with the Chinese authorities. As a consequence, we presented a Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, explaining how the conditions for national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution would be met by the full implementation of its laws on autonomy…

“We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people will enable China to achieve stability and unity. From our side, we are not making any demands based on history. Looking back at history, there is no country in the world today, including China, whose territorial status has remained forever unchanged, nor can it remain unchanged.”

But while the voice of the Dalai Lama receives wide attention in the international press, there is also another aspect of the history of Tibet, which is not addressed, but to which the People’s Daily Online refers: Dalai Lama’s utter distortion of Tibet history:

“The Dalai Lama also alleged at a gathering in India’s Dharamsala to mark his 50 years in exile that “these 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet.

“Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama has not only been on the wrong side of history, but also has got the history upside down. Miseries of ‘hell on earth’ and ‘untold suffering’ occurred nowhere but in the slavery Tibet symbolized by the Dalai Lama.

“Even from historical books written by Western scholars, people can draw the conclusion that Tibet under the rule of the Dalai Lama clique was a society of feudal serfdom that trampled human rights and easily reminded visitors of the dark age of medieval Europe.

“The feudal serfdom had truly brought ‘untold suffering and destruction’ to the serfs and slaves who accounted for 90 percent of the then population.

“The slavery in Tibet was just ‘hell on earth’ as Charles Bell, who lived in Lhasa as a British trade representative in the 1920s, observed that the Dalai Lama’s theocratic position enabled him to administer rewards and punishments as he wished. That was because he held absolute sway over both this life and the next of the serfs and coerced them with that power.

“In 1959, after the failed rebellion by the Dalai Lama and his followers, the central government of China carried out the long-delayed emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves in Tibet…

“But just as the rebellion by the Dalai Lama clique failed disgracefully 50 years ago, its fantasy of ‘Tibetan Independence’ is also doomed to failure, because of the firm opposition from the Chinese people, including the Tibetans in Tibet.”

But the Dalai Lama does not speak of Tibet’s independence, but of national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution, and this within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Both sides do not hear each other in detail to reach mutual understanding. It is easier to maintain an old antagonism than to find ways to a common understanding – a much more difficult task.

=

On 13 March 2009, the Mirror carried an article “IMF: Cambodia Cannot Avoid the Consequences of the Global Economic Crisis!” (with reference back to similar IMF statements which we had mirrored on 13 February 2009):

“The Cambodian economy is in a negative status… We are talking about a period of dramatic decline in economic activities. So far, what we have seen is that the depth of the downturn is worse than expected.”

Since many weeks, there were many voices echoing the IMF concerns, even more so, since the Prime Minister had publicly questioned that the international economic downturn – in the so called economically rich countries – has the same social effects in a country like Cambodia. His comparison of rich and poorer countries with elephants and sheep may turn out to be a clue not only to understand the differences, but also to find ways to mitigate the economic problems in Cambodia, in a way industrialized countries cannot do:

“Growth in agriculture can surely prevent Cambodia from falling into an economic crisis, even though some major sectors of the Cambodian economy encounter a downturn.”

A foreign businessman, living in Cambodia, shared his appraisal on 12 March 2009, Putting It in Perspective:

“Now that the U. S. has shed 4.5 million jobs in the past 18 months alone and unemployment stands at 8.1 %, the conventional wisdom is that garment exports will go down substantially as the U. S. is the main market for Cambodia. The current figures appear to prove it, with a 27% decrease in exports for the month of February alone. Last December it was 30%…

“Likewise, tourist arrivals show a 2.9% reduction over the same month last year…

“According to the latest statistics the construction sector is holding sort of firm, although it was reported that some 3,000 to 5,000 jobs were lost there too.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen finds fault with all those predictions, saying that all those number are altogether not that important. What’s important is that people won’t go hungry in Cambodia. All those factory workers that lost their job can go back to their native village where they will find a rice paddy to cultivate, and a family that will take care of them…

“So the garment factory girls come back and find their wooden houses, a functioning family structure, and food to eat. They don’t have problems with heating or air conditioning… They wear simple clothes. There is one communal cell-phone which provides contact to the outside world. Yes, this is a simple life, and Westerners can only look on with widened eyes wondering how people can live like this. But let’s face it – this is reality, not only in Cambodia, but in most of South East Asia. And rural areas are exactly where the majority of the factory workers come from.

“So the fact that people can go back to their village is actually a boon for them. Yes, they are poor but they have to eat. And in this context let’s not look at the social problems, e.g. lack of health care and fundamental education. This is for another, hopefully not too far off, time.

“The Western alternative is no laughing matter. People losing their jobs, lose their homes, their savings along the line, their health care, practically their freedom. In my view it’s much more dire in the West. Recession hits people in the industrialized world much harder.”

Not all readers shared his appreciation of the Prime Minister’s perspective. He responded, “I like a good discussion with contrarian viewpoints, but they need to make sense.”

It is in this same spirit that this issue of the Mirror presents contrary and controversial views. We hope also for a good discussion – but the points put forward need to make sense. And this requires to research complex facts, and to engage in open, rational thinking.

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The United Nations and the Government Will Break the Stalemate about Corruption at the Tribunal – Wednesday, 25.2.2009

Posted on 26 February 2009. Filed under: Week 601 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 601

“Announcing to overcome a stalemate, after there had been discussions about how to prevent corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, officials of the United Nations and of Cambodia announced, on Monday [23 February 2009], a complicated program to solve complaints about irregularities which will provide equal responsibility for the international and for the Cambodian sides at this tribunal.

“Speaking to journalists at the Council of Ministers on Monday evening, the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Sok An, and the Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs of the United Nations, Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen, believe that this new system will motivate donors to continue to provide funds to the Cambodian side of this tribunal, which will face a new financial crisis in a few months. Mr. Sok An told reporters, ‘I think that mutual understanding is the best basis for the administration of this tribunal to move ahead, and also the court will move ahead.’ He added that mutual understanding is important for a successful work of this joint process… Working together in this joint process will clear up all problems. Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen told reporters that he believed that this agreement will, finally, bring the discussion about corruption allegations over kickbacks to an end, which had emerged from the tribunal since it was about to begin, and which has caused some donors to halt funds. Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen continued to say that it is an important step in our joint efforts to deal with corruption problems, adding, ‘I think that the agreement that we have will be accepted positively by donor countries.’

“However, the new anti-corruption program suggested seems to be less than what UN officials sought during an unsuccessful discussion with the government in January. Early this month, Cambodian administrators said that during a private discussion in January, the UN officials suggested the creation of a large anti-corruption program for both sides at this tribunal, and for international independent code-of-conduct observers, to be placed into the existing Code-of-Conduct Committee and into the Extraordinary Chambers at this tribunal. Anyway, the program announced in the joint statement on Monday will include anti-corruption measures that cannot affect procedures that have already become valid at the Cambodian side in this tribunal, and it relates to the UN side, which had created its related mechanism, where there is only one person to receive complaints. After that, complaints from the Cambodian side or from the international side at this tribunal will be sent to a committee with an equal number of members of Cambodian and UN officials, which require to be composed of several members, or at least some agreement between both sides is necessary to take any action.

“The joint statement released on Monday did not clearly show how this new system can prevent similar events like during the previous years, when a number of Cambodian officials disagreed with the arrangements in the administration of this tribunal and informed UN officials about kickback corruption, which was then rechecked in New York by the Office of Internal Oversight Services. The findings of this inspection conducted by the United Nations were not made public, but it had been reported that there was a request to investigate corruption related to the payment of kickbacks to get employment at the tribunal.

“An observer of the Open Justice Initiative, Ms. Heather Ryan, said on Monday that her organization was disappointed with the results of Monday, adding that the Open Justice Initiative believes that the agreement mentioned does not talk about corruption allegations, and it is a step back in that whole effort. She went on to say, ‘We are concerned that the United Nations might make a very low level definition because of obstacles raised by Cambodia for the future joint efforts of an independent court.’

“The legal assistant of the defense lawyers of former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea, Mr. Andrew Ianuzzi, who has asked Cambodian court authorities to investigation allegations about kickbacks received at this tribunal, said that he met with Mr. Peter Taksøe-Jensen, but they rejected to comment about what they discussed.

“According to the statement of Monday, the United Nations and the government both have to release letters in the coming weeks to legalize the agreement, even though details are still being negotiated.” Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1415, 25.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #25, 25.2.2009

  • Mr. Hun Sen Warns He Might Dismiss [eight] District Governors and Revoke the License of Cambosix [a betting company, if they are found colluding to allow Khmer people to gamble]
  • Hun Sen: Global Witness Has No Authority to Ask Him Anything – He Is Not a Prisoner

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1882, 25.2.2009

  • To Revoke Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [regarding a violation of election campaigning rules, and charged by the National Election Committee] Is Not Difficult [said Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • Demonstrations Happens Again in Siam [Thailand – between 8,000 and 10,000 anti-government demonstrators support ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra]
  • Tamil Tiger Rebels Announces They Are Prepared to Accept a Ceasefire if It Can Be Coordinated by the International Community [Sri Lanka]

Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol.7, #349, 25.2.2009

  • Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen Reacts Saying that the Global Witness Is a Global Cheating [without responding to any details or refuting the published specific allegations]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6587, 25.2.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Announces a Hearing of “Duch” to Be Held on 20 March 2009
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Held a Hearing of [the former minister of Social Affairs] Ieng Thirith while [former deputy prime minister of the Khmer Rouge regime] Ieng Sary Was Referred to Hospital
  • [Around 10,000] Red-Shirt Demonstrators Surround the Government House [in Thailand]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3696, 25.2.2009

  • Development Projects in Cambodia Affect the Interests of Thousands of Khmer Families During the Last Three Years

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1415, 25.2.2009

  • The United Nations and the Government Will Break the Stalemate about Corruption at the Tribunal
  • The Number of Advisors of the President of the National Assembly [Mr. Heng Samrin] Is More Than 100 in Total [after 28 new advisors were appointed]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4830, 25.2.2009

  • The Permanent Committee of the National Assembly Will Summon a Meeting Regarding the Request to Revoke the Immunity of Mr. Sam Rainsy [on 26 February 2009]
  • Samdech Dekchor Calls on Workers Not to Strike Disorderly [not to strike for not important reasons] Which May Lead to Unemployment
  • The Cambodian National Council for Women Shows that There Were Many Cases of Human Trafficking [in 2008], but There Was Little Punishment
  • The Ministry of Defense Creates a Department of Politics and Foreign Affairs

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3489, 25.2.2009

  • 10,000 Soldiers [deployed doing non-military duties] Are Summoned Back to Barracks [by order from the Prime Minister to the commander-in-chief, Mr. Pol Saroeun, removing them from areas of land disputes where they were involved to protect certain economic interests]

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

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The National Election Committee Announces Registration Information for the Council Elections – Saturday, 14.2.2009

Posted on 15 February 2009. Filed under: Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 599

“On 13 February 2009, the National Election Committee published, at the office of the National Election Committee, with representatives from some parties participating, the date for the process to register for the commune councils elections, to participate in the first term district and provincial/city elections, which will be held on 17 May 2009.

“An official of the National Election Committee presiding over the meeting, Mrs. Koy Vet, announced the information for different parties, non-government organizations, and commune councilors, who need to register to participate in the elections.

“Officials of the National Election Committee said that the number of members of the provincial and city councils is 374, there are 11,353 voters, and there are 1,939 districts and cities. According to the National Election Committee, for the provincial and city elections and the number of voters to elect the district and provincial/city councils for the first mandate, it is expected that more than US$1.5 million will be spent.

“The National Election Committee pointed out that there are 1,621 and 11,353 voters, and the commune councilors must register at each commune through officials of the K.Kh.Kh.B [?], with observers joining from political parties and different organizations.

“Mrs. Koy Vet went on to say that after sending the name lists of voters to the capital city and the provinces, and the National Election Committee has validated the lists, the National Election Committee will publish the name lists of voters first on 24 March 2009 at the K.Kh./Kh.B [?], at communes, and at offices at the capital city and at towns.

“Mrs. Koy Vet continued to say that the registration of commune councils will start on 16 and continue to 21 February 2009, and only members of commune councils who are fulfilling their work are allowed to register in voter lists.

“The National Election Committee added hat on 4 February 2008, it held a training course about the registration of district and provincial/city councils for representatives from political parties, non-government organization, directors, and deputy directors of K.Th./Kh.B. [?] with a total of 180 participants.

“It should be noted that 36 officials of the National Election Committee and 120 officials of the K.Th./Kh.B. attended the training. There were five political parties, the Cambodian People’s Party, the Sam Rainsy Party, the Human Rights Party, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, and the Khmer Democratic Party, and nine non-government organizations participating in the training.

“The secretary-general of the National Election Committee, Mr. Tep Nitha, said that the period of the registration for councils is 5 days, and it might take 10 more days then to send the lists to the districts, provinces, and K.Kh./Kh.B. 20 days after that, they will be sent to the National Election Committee.

“Mr. Tep Nitha added that after the lists will have been published, the National Election Committee will permit 5 days for protests and corrections to the K.Kh./Kh.B. and 5 days to the National Election Committee, to deal with different complaints.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6578, 14-15.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 14 February 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #116, 14.2.2009

  • Around 500 Virgins Will Loose Their Virginity during Valentine’s Day [according to a survey conducted by the Association for the Development of People’s Health (? not identified) by questioning youth between the age of 14 and 25 in Phnom Penh]
  • The Municipality Will Provide Money to Support to Eradicate Mosquitoes in the City [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1873, 14.2.2009

  • Prices of Fuel in Cambodia Go Up while the Crude Oil Price on International Markets Drops [one liter of fuel is approx US$0.80 in Cambodia, while the price of one barrel of crude drops to US$35]
  • Citizens Ask TV Stations Not to Publish ‘Valentine’s Day’ on Televisions [because it might encourage youth to take up a foreign culture]
  • The Creation of the Sen Sok District was Announced [by splitting it off from the Russey Keo district]; Mr. Khuong Sreng Is the District Governor
  • The People’s Assembly of China Donates 24 Computers and 10 Cameras to the National Assembly of Cambodia
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva Admits that Burmese [Rohingya] Refugees Were Put on Boats and Let Floating on the Sea [resulting in starvation and deaths]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #344, 14.2.2009

  • [The president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Sam Rainsy Asks Banks in Other Countries to Block Money from People Who Stole from the Nation and Sell the Country [as mentioned in the Global Witness report]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6578, 14-15.2.2009

  • The National Election Committee Announces Registration Information for the Council Elections

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3687, 14-15.2.2009

  • Russia Has Not Canceled Dept [of more than US$1.5 billion] That Cambodia Owes

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4821, 14.2.2009

  • Industrial Research Institute – IRI – Found that 80% of Citizens Think that the Government Is on the Right Track [at the time of this writing, no reference to Cambodia on their web site]
  • Cambodia and Korea Will Sign an Agreement Later this Month to Open a Stock Exchange Market in Cambodia
  • A Plane Crashed onto a House in New York Killing 49 People [one victim was on the ground]

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

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