Fraud? International Cooperation for Transparency – Sunday, 25.4.2010

Posted on 26 April 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 661 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 661

Cambodia entered into many different international relations since the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia was promulgated in 1993 and a new phase of history for the country began. International integration was one of the main policy goals of the government – regaining the seat for Cambodia in the United Nations, which had been held by a representative of the Khmer Rouge until 1991, long after the Khmer Rouge had lost their grip on the country, establishing new diplomatic relations, gaining membership in ASEAN, in the World Trade Organization [WTO], etc., and entering into many bilateral agreements – with other governments, with international organizations like the Asia Development Bank, and with Non-Government Organizations through the Ministry of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Some of these agreements have consequences in detail, which were not all foreseen or discussed with those who are affected – for example: the membership in the WTO will require that copyrights of international companies for computer software will have to be enforced from 2013 onward, and the import of goods and services from other countries has to be liberalized. Though this may have difficult consequences for some sections of the Cambodian economy, other sectors welcome it.

During the past week, a five-year Accountability in Governance and Politics program, financed by the USA, was inaugurated by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and the US Ambassador Carol A. Rodley, according to which the Cambodian government will cooperate, implementing specific projects, with the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. According to the nature of this program, international transparency will be necessarily be enhanced, even when this may relate to difficult challenges to be faced internationally.

What this can mean can be deducted from a difficult processes developing at present in the USA. Goldman Sachs – a full-service global investment banking and securities firm – one of the top financial institutions of the USA, is facing at present charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission [“The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation”] of fraudulently having contributed to the wide breakdown of financial systems, by systematically entering into contract with people and companies who were supposed not to be able to pay back what they borrowed. To give a small-scale example: one internal e-mail, now leaked, says “I’ve managed to sell bonds to widows and orphans” making “some serious money” for the bank; one section manager made a profit of $1 billion for the bank – but then the whole system collapsed and needed much higher government assistance. The future will show how this will be handled.

Once international government agencies get involved, the chance of achieving real transparency is higher. Repeated corruption allegations raised, for example, by the non-government agency Global Witness in the UK were easily dismissed here as not coming from a government agency, without dealing with their specific documentations. They had also raised questions related to the role of the – then – head of the Forestry Department, Mr. Ty Sokun, which were quickly and strongly rejected as “nonsense” and “lies” at that time, but recently he was removed from his position. The situation will be different in a case which is receiving ever more prominence recently.

The Australian Company BHP Billiton – “the world’s largest diversified natural resources company” – entered into a mineral exploration agreement with the Cambodian government in 2006 to explore for bauxite in Mondolkiri – unprocessed aluminum ore; parts of the exploration site, a 996-hectare mining concession, were in protected natural forest areas. It had also been announced that this was just for exploration, a decision could be found only later, as the transport of bauxite, or the production of aluminum which requires huge amounts of electricity, need further studies. But this plan was abandoned in 2009 because the studies had shown that bauxite mining in Mondolkiri would not be cost-effective.

But recently, during this month of April 2010, BHP Billiton announced that United States Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating corruption allegations which may relate to Cambodia, though this is not yet sure.

According to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of the USA, a company which has made illegal payments, can be fined to pay “up to twice the benefit that it sought to obtain by making a corrupt payment,” and staff involved may have to serve five years in prison.

Neither the US Securities and Exchange Commission nor BHP Billiton has stated that there were actually illegal payments. But the present investigations are based on some reports dating back to 2007.

According to various sources on the Internet, the Minister of Water Resources Lim Kean Hor had reported in the National Assembly at that time that the Prime Minister had informed him from Australia that BHP had paid US$2.5 million as “tea money” for the concession. BHP said, however, that this money was designated for a “social development fund” for health and education projects in Mondolkiri. According to other sources, BHP confirmed to have paid US$1 million to the government in 2006 to secure the concession agreement.

Later inquiries produced various incongruous pieces of information: that the money was not used, as designated, for health and education in Mondolkiri, but for irrigation in Pursat, and the records of the the Ministry of Economy and Finance show for 2006 only US$443,866 as income from mining concessions.

By Saturday, not only the US Securities and Exchange Commission was dealing with the BHP case, but also the UK Serious Fraud Office [“an independent Government department that investigates and prosecutes serious or complex fraud, and corruption. We are part of the UK criminal justice system”].

A “social development fund” of the Cambodian government had also been mentioned before, in relation to substantial payments from Caltex, having obtained the right for off-shore oil exploration. While one government argument, why an NGO law is urgently needed, was the request to gain more transparency about social and development funds (which are, for NGOs, regularly audited by public auditing companies anyway), we have not seen any similar reporting so far about the government’s social development fund – its purpose, its administrative arrangements and it’s oversight bodies, and its assets and disbursements.

The Cambodia Daily carried on 24/25.4.2010 an article, “Precise Meaning of ‘Tea Money’ Up for Debate.” And Mr. Phay Siphan, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, is quoted to have pointed to the new anti-corruption legislation which shows that the government is committed to “highlight transparency.” – He will surely be able to shed more light onto this affair.

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Samdech Hun Sen Considers Forestry Crimes to Be Acts of National Betrayal – Saturday, 27.3.2010

Posted on 28 March 2010. Filed under: Week 657 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

“Phnom Penh: 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.

“Samdech Hun Sen regards the interception campaign against illegal wood trading as a thunderstorm campaign, not a pleasant light drizzle.

“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.

“Samdech Hun Sen seriously warned some high ranking officials to withdraw from this business, because now the thunderstorm comes.

“He gave similar orders regarding the campaign to crack down on gambling sites and on drugs. All authorities must remember also the order to persecute the car owners that stick light black plastic foils on the inside of their car windows to conceal [who, or what is going on inside].

“Therefore, 2010 is a bad year for forestry crimes, for all kinds of gambling, and for cars which blackened windows.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2212, 27.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 27 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #445, 27.3.2010

  • Six Died and 50 Others Are Being Hospitalized – It Is Alleged to Be the Result of Cholera [Kratie]
  • 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]
  • Citizens and Civil Society [ADHOC and the World Wildlife Fund] Welcome the Suppression of Forestry Crimes in the Northeast

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2212, 27.3.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen Considers Forestry Crimes to Be Acts of National Betrayal
  • The National Assembly Will Discuss an Anti-Terrorism Draft Law on 1 April 2010
  • 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

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #637, 27.3.2010

  • The Kompong Speu Court Promised to Release [Two] Representatives of the Amleang Commune Residents on Monday [29 March 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6919, 27-28.3.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Orders to Continue to Investigate Illegal Places [like gambling sites], Brothels, Cars with Light Black Plastic Foils Obscuring their Windows, and Forestry Criminals
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Issued an Arrest Warrant for the Owner of the White Club for Operating Nude Dancing Performances [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3843, 27-28.3.2010

  • After a Murder Thirteen Years Ago which Is Part of History, the Authorities Can Still Just Promise to Try to Arrest the Murderers for Conviction [this refers to the attack with four grenades on demonstrators in front of the former National Assembly on 30 March 1997, when 16 people were killed and over 100 others were injured]
  • Communities of Ethnic Minorities Asked the Government [during the presentation of books about measures supporting ethnic minorities, organized by UNDP at the Cambodiana Hotel] to Halt Providing Concession Land [to private companies] for Mine Explorations [which affect their land and their living environment]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5161, 27.3.2010

  • National Road 4 [connecting Phnom Penh and the major port city of Sihanoukville] Was Blocked Nearly Two Hours by Protesting Residents Who Asked for the Release [of two of their representatives who were detained for burning down the on-site office of Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company in a land dispute – Kompong Speu]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Ordered to Reduce the Number of Officials [who do not have duties, but are] Attending Cabinet Session [to prevent the leaking of confidential information from cabinet meetings to the public]

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Interview between Koh Santepheap and the Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, Regarding the International Women’s Day 8 March – Thursday, 5.3.2009

Posted on 9 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

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

Norbert Klein

“1. What is the meaning of 8 March?

“The International Women’s Day (8 March) is a day that women around the world celebrate to commemorate and welcome achievements obtained after struggling for the equality between men and women. These struggles took place during the 19th century in European countries [and the USA] while women in those countries were oppressed, exploited, and forced to be sex slaves. The United Nations celebrates this day and many counties mark it as a national holiday. As women in all continents, often separated by national borders, different races, and by different religions, cultures, economies, and political systems, gather to celebrate their day of commemoration, they can recall the traditions representing at least nine [reference not given for 90 year] decades of struggles for equality, justice, peace, and development.

Note:

It is remarkable how the present commemoration of this history, with early reference to the political struggle of women – initially women textile workers – for economic, political, and social emancipation of women, lost part of its memory, in some countries even turning into a Women’s Day celebration, where the political history is suppressed and replaced by a vague mixture of Mother’s Day and St Valentine’s Day.

The early history was clearly a history of political struggle [most data from the UN website mentioned above]:

  • 1909 – The Socialist Party of the USA organized the first National Woman’s Day which was observed across the United States on 28 February 1909.
  • 1910 – The Socialist International, meeting in Copenhagen, established a Women’s Day, international in character, to honor the movement for women’s rights and to assist in achieving universal voting rights for women.
  • 1913-1914 – As part of the peace movement around the beginning of World War One, 1914-1918, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on February 1913. Elsewhere in Europe, on or around 8 March of the following year, women held rallies to protest the war.
  • 1917: Aware of the sufferings of the war, women in Russia protested and organized strikes for “Bread and Peace” on 8 March – the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Four days later, the Russian head of stage, the Czar, abdicated, and the provisional government granted women the right to vote.
  • 1945 – The Charter of the United Nations, signed in 1945, was the first international agreement to affirm the principle of equality between women and men.
  • 1975 – International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women’s Day.
  • 1977 – Only then, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace, to be observed on any day of the year by member states, in accordance with their historical and national traditions.

Nowadays in Cambodia, the major part of the industrial work force, creating a considerable share of export earnings, are women textile workers. There is ample reason to remember a much earlier section of the social struggles of women. In 1836, the first big strike of women textile workers ever was organized in the USA – and this was in Lowell, Massachusetts. This is now a town of 105,000 people – about 40,000 of them being Cambodian immigrants. Lowell is the second largest “Cambodian” city in the USA, after Long Beach in California.

Are the Cambodian women in the textile industry, fighting for their rights, aware of this historical coincidence? Are the Cambodians in Lowell aware of the historical role of their city of Lowell in the struggle for equal rights for women and men, and of the situation of the women in the textile industry of Cambodia today?

This “Cambodian” US city was the place of the first massive strike of women in the world, The Lowell Mill Girls Go on Strike in 1836, when 1,200 to 1,500 girls walked in procession through the streets, singing their special song:

Oh! isn’t it a pity, such a pretty girl as I –
Should be sent to the factory to pine away and die?
Oh ! I cannot be a slave,
I will not be a slave,
For I’m so fond of liberty
That I cannot be a slave.

The reference to slavery was clearly a reference to their working condition – there is no reference in the records about the history of the International Women’s Day that the political struggles considered or included the situation of prostitution and the related sexual exploitation of women.

“2. How important is 8 March for Cambodian women?

“Cambodia marks the International Women’s Day of 8 March as a national holiday. To women, 8 March is very important. 8 March is the day when many women assemble to express their opinions, address issues, and discuss problems, in order to seek proper solutions. Also, accomplishments by women, and different achievements of work are presented.

“8 March is not the only day concerned with women’s rights, though some opinions refer to it as if it were the only day that women can address exercising their rights. This idea is wrong. Women’s rights are human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 1, ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…’ Thus, women’s rights and human rights have to be implemented every time, throughout the life of human beings. Like women worldwide do it, Cambodian women use 8 March as the day on which women struggle with the government to define the agenda of work and to raise questions about different policies to support the equality between men and women.

“3. Previously, what did you organization, the Open Institute, do, related to 8 March? What programs will the Open Institute organize this year for this day?

“In 2008, we organized discussions through electronic messages like Internet blogs, joint mailing list – like gender@lists.open.org.kh, a discussion forum via electronic messages – about women’s problems and gender awareness. We compiled a report “Observations on Women’s News Published,” it is accessible at http://women.open.org.kh/km/monitoring [only in Khmer], and this was done in cooperation with the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, government institutions, and local non-government organizations to celebrate the International Women’s Day.

“In 2009, the organization defined the topic ‘Women Involved in Developing the Economy and in Social Affairs’ and will organize some activities:

  1. Publish articles related to the International Women’s Day: The Women’s Program will cover news about activities of institutions and of organizations that do women-related work.
  2. Editorial: An editorial will be published focusing on the above topic.
  3. Cooperate with the Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women, government institutions, and local non-government organizations to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
  4. Discussions via communication refer to the Women’s Web Portal [only in Khmer] from 20 February to 13 March 2009 about the topic ‘Women Involved in Developing the Economy and in Social Affairs’ through Internet blogs, online forums, and joint mailing list, as well the issuing certificates of appreciation for certain participants. For detailed information please go to: http://women.open.org.kh/files/8%20March/Announcement [only in Khmer].
  5. Opinion poll on the Women’s Web Portal: ‘Did Women really involve themselves in developing the economy and in social affairs?’
  6. Sending messages by phone: ‘Promote Women by Using the Web Portal about Women’ http://women.open.org.kh

“4. Besides 8 March, what programs does the Open Institute have to help to promote women’s rights in Cambodian society?

“We organize:

Women’s Forum Meetings: They are conducted with the aim to coordinate discussions about different challenges of women regarding gender issues. The meetings provide opportunities for women to gather, and they promote cooperation among women’s institutions, the government, and relevant institutions, to find solutions for women’s issues, so that women’s conditions improve.

Workshops: Through these workshops, the findings and comments from the women’s forums will be published, and addressed to government institutions, women’s networks and organizations, the media, and the public, in order to look for joint solutions which support and encourage gender equality in Cambodia.

Discussions about communication means on the Women’s Web Portal: to encourage discussions about gender issues in Cambodia through:

  1. a joint Mailing List: gender@lists.open.org.kh [Khmer and English]
  2. blog: http://women.open.org.kh/km/blog [Khmer and English]
  3. online forum: http://women.open.org.kh/km/forum [mostly Khmer]

“These discussions offer opportunities to gender activists, experts in law, rights, and researchers, the media, and individuals, to meet via electronic means and to step up cooperation, and expand the culture of sharing information between institution and institution, and institutions and individuals.

“5. There is one point in the women’s program of the Open Institute focusing on the strengthening of the technological capacity of women in communication, and in information technology, for women. How important is this point?

“At present, technology, communication, and information technology advance dramatically in Cambodia, and news are crucial in strengthening women’s competence. Technology, communication, and information technology can be used for searching, receiving, and publishing news. Most women in the Southeast Asian countries, including Cambodia, are not encouraged to use present technology, communication, and information technology, making them not a major source of news and of knowledge.

“Technology, communication, and information technology are used to empower women, such as the provision of training and the enhancement of women’s competence to the challenges of the labor market. Through technology, communication, and information technology, they can form networks between women and men from community to community, and from person to person, engaging in communication without discriminating borders or between different races. Women can share their knowledge, their work experiences, successes, and problems with men, to prove that women are also involved in development tasks and in social development, and to make men understand more about the achievements and efforts of women, about different requirements between men and women due to their different sex which is defined biologically, and about challenges for women. This sharing contributes to reduce gender stereotypes, and to reduce discrimination against women gradually, so as to reach gender equality in all sectors.

“6. Regarding women’s work, how does the Open Institute cooperate with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and with civil society?

“Women and gender issues are international problems. Therefore, they need to be solved globally with the participation from all institutions and races. Likewise, the Open Institute has to cooperate also with other organizations and institutions to implement this task. Several organization have joined to build up women’s competence, encourage gender equality, bring together analysts and seek solutions for women’s issues, by cooperating with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Open Institute has participated as a member of the gender technical working team organized by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, with the participation by representatives from all ministries, from local and international organizations, and from United Nations Development Fund for Women.

“As a permanent member of the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women – Cambodia section, which is a network consisting of 70 organizations as members, the Open Institute plays an important role and fulfills important obligations, such as to publish news countrywide about the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In addition, we are also involved in contributing some points to the concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women – Cambodia.

“7. In its strategic and operational plans, what did the Open Institute define as the basis to motivate Cambodian women to join in developing the nation?

“The encouragement of more women to join in developing the nation is a strategic plan of the organization, as stated in the aims of the organization: ‘To promote gender equality by ensuring that all program areas equally benefit women and men.’ Therefore, we have a program Women Empowerment for Social Change, by which we created successful cooperation between organizations working related to women and their rights, through the provision of information about rights, the provision of training about technology, and about communication and information technology. These things are to help build up capacity and skills for women, help women’s work become more efficient and more challenging in the labor market.

“In the meantime, we organize women’s forums which are held every two months, so that women from different institutions and with different skills meet each other to discuss issues and find out joint solutions for their issues. We organize also workshops to produce publications addressed to the public and to relevant institutions about the results of discussions during the forums, such as different findings and comments provided during the discussions, in order to look for different policies supporting the equality between men and women. When women earn support and have sufficient capacity, women will be confident and dedicate themselves more to the development of the economy and of the society.

“8. Based on your point of view, what are major challenges and obstacles against the promotion of women’s rights in Cambodian society?

“The major obstacle against the promotion of women’s rights is a general opinion in society toward women, and the context of a (Khmer) social structure with men as controllers, which values men more than women, and even though we have the Constitution and different laws protecting women’s rights, and the Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government, which sets the strategic goal to encourage gender equality, there are many other obstacles, such as the weak implementation of laws.

Note:

The Rectangular Strategy of the Royal Government, a basic policy paper presented by the Prime Minster in 2004, refers to GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT under 2.5 Other Cross-Cutting Programs, subsection 6. GENDER AND DEVELOPMENT.

“Especially, Prime Minister Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen also called on all institutions of the ministries for gender mainstreaming in all policies and programs. Thus, we see that by law, Khmer women are protected and valued. But the practical implementation is not what the law states.

“In Cambodian social structures, men lead almost all sectors, including the family. Most men are breadwinners and are considered to be the head of the family. Therefore, all decisions are mostly made by men. Because of this culture and society, women are not encouraged to go to school or to continue their education to higher levels, and are seldom offered opportunities for training like men. This leads most women to have lower education than men, and it hinders women to hold high positions.

“Hence, at the workplace, it is seen that most work is organized and decided by men, and most men are in dominating positions; as for women, they do lower class work, which leads to the situation that up to 70% of the total labor force are women. Though Khmer women have been eligible to vote and to stand as candidates in elections since 1955, the number of women involved in politics and in leadership positions is still limited. Women hold only about 14% of seats resulting from elections; and only 7% of women lead any institutions of the ministries. This reflects the imbalance of power between men and women. Furthermore, for society to acknowledge women’s achievements, women have to do twice of the men’s work at the workplace or in society; women and women’s work are not valued, and women’s leadership is not trusted. This factor makes women reluctant, and to have less self-confidence.

“9. Are there solutions for those challenges or obstacles?

“We must have solution as a strategy and as a system, so that women can fully gain the benefits from laws and policies of the government, which contribute to change women’s conditions in Cambodia. To promote women’s rights, to encourage gender equality, and to encourage more participation by women in economy, politics, and society, the government – by cooperating with different partnership organizations and non-government organizations – must have, and strictly implement, the following policies:

  • Apply gender mainstreaming in all policies at national and sub-national levels
  • Strictly enforce different treaties and international covenants, for which Cambodia is also a signatory country, that are the basis to protect women’s rights
  • Provide opportunities for women to more regularly take part in discussions about drafts of different policies, about the division and management of resources, about projects in the national budget, and in different processes of decision making
  • Create systems for jobs and implement actual methods to encourage equal opportunities for men and women, and to encourage the provision of skills for women to work in enterprises by connecting different markets
  • Encourage insurance policies for safety at work, and establish a legal system which results in better salaries for women
    Encourage policies to fully empower women
  • Encourage girls to learn as much as possible and to study with the same high goals as boys. Doing so helps also to cut down migration, exploitation, and sexual slavery.”

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6593 on 4.3.2009, and #6594, on 5.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 5 March 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1889, 5.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: If the Cambodian People’s Party Loses the Elections, Thousands of Development Projects Might Be Halted
  • Owners of Micro-Finance Institutions Dismiss Sam Rainsy Party’s Parliamentarian [who had suggested to suspend or delay confiscating houses and land of farmers, while prices of agricultural products drop dramatically – they said that if they did, their institutions would not have money to repay foreign countries, and they claimed that 99% of citizens who had asked for loans can repay their debt]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.357, 5.3.2009

  • A Successor to Replace Mr. Yash Ghai [the former Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Human Rights in Cambodia], a Former Challenger of Strong Man Hun Sen, Is Found [Professor Surya Prasad Subedi, Nepali, is assigned as the new Special Representative in Cambodia]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6594, 5.3.2009

  • Interview between Koh Santepheap and the Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, Regarding the International Women’s Day 8 March
  • Four Political Parties [the Cambodian People’s Party, the Sam Rainsy Party, Funcinpec, and the Norodom Ranariddh Party] Register on the Election List [to join district and provincial/city elections planed to be held on 17 May 2009]
  • The Authorities Crack Down on Internet Shops [running online video games] Which Addict Students
  • Australian Embassy Provides 15,000 Australian Dollars to the Special Olympics in Cambodia

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3703, 5.3.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Leaves to Tell the Inter-Parliamentary Union that the Khmer National Assembly Does Not Obey the Law and the Constitution [since it has not restored his immunity although he had paid a fine to the National Election Committee that had already withdrawn the complaint against him]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4837, 5.3.2009

  • Prime Minister Initiates to Eliminate the National Congress from the Constitution
  • Note:
    The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia established an annual event, which was never held.

    THE NATIONAL CONGRESS

    Article 147:

    The National Congress shall enable the people to be directly informed on various matters of national interests and to raise issues and requests for the State authority to solve.

    Khmer citizens of both sexes shall have the right to participate in the National Congress.

    Article 148:

    The National Congress shall meet once a year in early December at the convocation of the Prime Minister.
    It shall proceed under the chairmanship of the King.

    Article 149

    The National Congress adopts recommendations to the Senate, the National Assembly, and to the Executive branch for reflection.
    The organization and operation of the National Congress shall be determined by law.

  • Because a Factory Owner Has Not Released Salaries for Five Months, Workers Ask for Help from Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen] and from Her Excellency [Bun Rany Hun Sen – Kandal]
  • Cambodian Prime Minister Asks ASEAN to Play an Important Role in Bilateral Disputes in the Region
  • Banks in Cambodia Have Total Worth of More Than US$4 Billion

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National Holiday – Wednesday, 7.1.2009

Posted on 8 January 2009. Filed under: Week 594 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 594

40 Years and 30 Years Later

Forty years after the defeat of the German state – the German Reich – at the end of the Second World War, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Richard von Weizsäcker, spoke on the anniversary, 8 May 1985. Many commentators said that this was probably the most important speech ever given in Germany on the topic.

Thirty years after the defeat of the Cambodian state – the Democratic Kampuchea, the Khmer Rouge – the President of the Cambodian People’s Party spoke on the anniversary, 7 January 2009.

In both countries there had been great disagreement over how to regard their historic dates, since it marked both the end of a terrible period of history and the beginning of a period in which other countries wielded power over key aspects of life and government.

We document here some abbreviated sections of statements about these two historic events.

From the 1985 speech of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany in the German Parliament:

It does not help to move into the future if we or others are too reluctant to hurt feelings. We need, and we have the self-confidence, to face the historical truth, without hiding the facts and without favoritism.

The day of 8 May is for us, above all, a day of remembrance of what people had to suffer. It is at the same time a day challenging us to openly think about the course of our history. The more honestly we are prepared to really acknowledge what happened, the more we may be open to face the consequences responsibly.

All who lived through the day of 8 May 1945 consciously have personal memories and thus quite different experiences. Some returned home, others became homeless.

It was difficult to orient oneself immediately and clearly. There was uncertainty in the country. The military defeat was complete. Our fate was in the hands of the enemies. The past had been terrible, also for many of those enemies. Wouldn’t they make us pay for what we had done to them?

Most Germans had believed that they were fighting and suffering for a good cause for their own country. And now it turned out: all that was not only futile and useless, but it had served the inhuman goals of a criminal leadership.

We had to think back to a dark abyss of the past, and to look ahead into an uncertain dark future. But it became clearer, day by day, what we all must say today: The day of 8 May was a day of liberation.
We all have good reasons to recognize the day of 8 May 1945 as the end of a period of German history when we went wrong.

[For the full text of the German original: WEIZSÄCKER-REDE 1985 – “8. Mai war ein Tag der Befreiung” click here.]


From the 2009 speech of the President Cambodian People’s Party during the 7th of January Celebration of the Victory Over Genocide Day

“The victory of 7th January saved the fatherland and the people of Cambodia from the harsh regime of genocide in a timely manner,” and the anniversary marked the end of “the dark chapter of Cambodian history” – he thanked Vietnam for “saving the country from genocide.”

While the former King Sihanouk had initially pleaded Cambodia’s case before the United Nations against the new Cambodian government installed by the Vietnamese in January 1979 after they had dismantled the Khmer Rouge regime, he later evaluated the Vietnamese invasion of 1979 differently and positively [quoting a translation from French]:

History
The January 7, 1979
By N. Sihanouk

Beijing, December 18, 2006

Some very senior (CPP) Officials recalled (with good reason) that “without the January 7, 1979,” I would – with (the future King) N. Sihamoni, Samdech N. Monique Sihanouk – be dead in the hands of Pol Potists (Khmer Rouge).

This is strictly conformed to the historical truth.

In this regards, I pay tribute and I express my deepest gratitude to H.E. Samdech Heng Samrin, H.E. Samdech Chea Sim, H.E. Samdech Hun Sen, to the Heng Samrin Khmer Armed Forces (Front), and to the DRV [Democratic Republic of Vietnam] and its armed forces.
It is certain that, without them, Pol Pot, and following my death, Pol Pot’s Angkar of the “Democratic Kampuchea” would have been still leading an ultra-infernal Cambodia.

(Signed) Norodom Sihanouk

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Saturday, 2.8.2008: An Open Letter from Professors in the Field of the Studies about Southeast Asia Expressed Concerns about the Preah Vihear Temple

Posted on 3 August 2008. Filed under: Week 571 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 571

“On 1 August 2008, Rasmei Kampuchea received an open letter signed by professors who are involved in studies and research about Southeast Asia, expressing concern about the Preah Vihear Temple. Nearly fifty professors signed it, the majority of them are Thai, teaching at well-known universities in the world, such as Thammasat University, Thailand, University of Oxford, UK, University of California, Los Angeles, USA, University of Toronto, Canada, National University of Singapore, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA, Cornell University, USA, Washington University [not clear, as there are several ones: University of Washington, George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, Washington State University – all USA], University of London, UK, Khon Kaen University, Thailand, Ohio University, USA, Mahidol University, Thailand, Rangsit University, Thailand, Berkeley, University of California, USA, Hamilton University [?], Chiang Mai University, Thailand, Silpakorn University (e-Learning), Thailand, University of Malaya, Malaysia, Royal Academy of Cambodia, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA, and the Oxfordshire University, UK.

“Among the signatures is also the signature of Mr. Chhang Song, former Minister of Information of Cambodia, a retiring member of the Senate.

“This letter says:

“To professors, parents, the press, students, Thais and Cambodians

“The recent border dispute regarding the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site causes strong continuing protests from some organizations and people in Thailand, which led to a confrontative situation between people of both countries.

“As professors involved in studies on Southeast Asia, we want to confirm that the source of this border dispute relates to the historical and cultural heritages of Thailand and of Cambodia. Truth can be found, if explanations of historical evidence are made by following the facts, and this should not be done to serve any political goals.

“According to this, we would like to suggest the following:

  1. “As for the Preah Vihear Temple, we absolutely support the verdict of the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the Netherlands of 15 May 1962, which confirmed that ‘the Temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia.’
  2. “We support and we publish intense discussions about related problems, and the provision of information should not be used to cause discrimination or to create enemies between the countries on both sides of the border, which might lead to war.
  3. “We acknowledge that also other countries in the region have the common cultures and common histories. These links should be used as the basis for international cooperation, to protect the honor of peoples, and for the union between country and country, especially for addressing universal problems happening similarly to all countries in the region.
  4. “We have advised that action should be taken to solve this dispute through coordination and mutual commitment. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations should take up this idea in order to reach a common goal.

“We would like to urge professors, parents, the press, students, and the Cambodian and Thai people to call for a peaceful solution of this dispute, by upholding the respect for the territory of all countries in Southeast Asia as the basis.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4657, 2.8.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 1 August 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1709, 2.7.2008

  • The King [Norodom Sihamoni] and [Father King] Samdech Euv and [former Queen] Samdech Mae Went to Visit China [to attend the Olympic Games and to have medical checkups – 1 August 2008]
  • [Former Khmer Rouge minister of foreign affairs] Ieng Sary [age 82] Was Sent to Hospital [after blood was discovered in his urine, 1 August 2008], and [former chief of the Tuol Sleng prison] Duch Will Be Sentenced in September [according to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia spokesperson Mr. Reach Sambath]
  • H.E. Bun Rany Hun Sen Prayed for the ancestral spirits to defend Preah Vihear at the Preah Vihear Temple [on 1 August 2008]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #213, 2.8.2008

  • A Government Can Be Dictatorial, but a National Assembly Cannot Become a Dictatorial National Assembly [said opposition party president Sam Rainsy on 1 August 2008]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #63, 2.8.2008

  • Samdech Hun Sen: If the Sam Rainsy Party Does Not Attend the [inaugural] Meeting of Parliament [on 24 September 2008], [the 26] Seats [of the Sam Rainsy Party] Will Be Distributed to Other Parties [the Prime Minster warned the Sam Rainsy Party not to use Article 76 of the Constitution which states that the Assembly consists of at least 120 members, for the new National Assembly to start its process]
  • Garment Products of Cambodia Will Be Difficult to Export [because orders for buying decline, capital necessary for production increases, and there is strong competition with other countries such as Vietnam, China, India, and Bangladesh – according to Ms. Kaing Monika, official in charge of the administration of external affairs of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia]
  • The Number of [Foreign] Tourists Still Continues to Rise [although Cambodia is having a dispute with Thailand – according to Mr. Kong Sophearak, head of the Department of Statistics and Tourist Information of the Ministry of Tourism; in the first six months of 2008, there were 1,098,236 tourists, which is a 12.6% increase compared with the same period of 2007, with only 975,349 tourists]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6413, 2-3.8.2008

  • The US Embassy Assessed that the Election in Cambodia Was Conducted Better than Previous Elections [although there were irregularities]
  • More Than 79,000 Student Candidates Will Take the High School Diploma Examinations Countrywide This Year [on 4 August 2008]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3528, 2-3.8.2008

  • Siam [Thailand] Still Continues to Deploy Troops along the Preah Vihear Temple Region Borders, and Two Cannons Still Point at the Preah Vihear Temple
  • After the Election, Land Disputes Occur Again and Citizens Wait for Hun Sen to Solve Them

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4657, 2.8.2008

  • An Open Letter from Professors in the Field of the Studies about Southeast Asia Expressed Concerns about the Preah Vihear Temple
  • The Government Spends Nearly US$30 per Student Who Takes the High School Diploma Examination [according to Mr. Chreng Limsry, Directorate of Secondary Education; the government spent approximately Riel 9,000 million (approx. US$2,250,000) in total]
  • The Ministry of Water Resource Has an Irrigation System That Can Deliver Water Directly [without using pumps – using the force of gravity] to More Than 40% of the 2.3 Million Hectares Cultivated [according to Mr. Chan Yutha, chief of cabinet of the Ministry of Water Resource and Meteorology]

Click here to have a look at the last Mirror editorial – where we provided detailed information about the 2003 election results, to compare them with the election results of 2008, as they become available.

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Thursday, 3.7.2008: Cambodian Official Asks Thai Politicians and Historians Not to Twist the Facts

Posted on 4 July 2008. Filed under: Week 567 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 567

“Phnom Penh: A Cambodian official urged Thai politicians and historians not to twist the facts about the history of the Preah Vihear Temple, which is being proposed to be officially listed as a World Heritage Site.

“In an interview with a Thai reporter from the Public Broadcasting Service TV [PBS] on the morning of 2 July 2008, Mr. Ho Vandy, the president of the Cambodian Association of Travel Agents, said that the Thai government must listen to the majority voices, but not to minority voices opposed to the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site; and Thai politicians and historians must accept the truth, but not to twist the history, because it is important to maintain the relations and the cooperation between both countries.

“He added, ‘If Thai politicians and historians do not accept the facts, it will break the relations between both countries. When talking honestly with one another and acknowledging the facts of history, being a good neighbors and having good human relations will be of benefit to everything – both in tourism and in the economy of the two countries.’ He continued, ‘If Thailand has a good, human mind by accepting the facts, both countries and people will be peaceful.’

“He went on to say, ‘If Thailand still tries to hide the real history and to twist it, there will be endless difficulties and disagreements for the next generation.’

“The Preah Vihear Temple was legally declared by the International Court of Justice in The Hague to be under the sovereignty of Cambodia on 15 June 1962, by ordering Thailand to deliver the Preah Vihear Temple to Cambodia, to withdraw its troops and people from the temple, and to give back to Cambodia all ancient artifacts taken from the temple.

“Mr. Ho Vandy asserted that the Preah Vihear Temple was already identified by the International Court of Justice in The Hague as belonging to Cambodia, based on its history. If Thailand helps to promote the temple to be listed as a World Heritage Site, there will be much benefit for both countries in developing tourism, because when the temple is listed, people around the world will be interested in visiting this temple, and they will spend money for Cambodians and for Thais living in the bordering provinces near Preah Vihear.

“Dr. Ros Chantraboth, a historian and vice-president of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that in Siem [Thailand], in text books from Grade 1 to Grade 9, there are only two sentences which speak about Cambodia, but those books speak a lot about the history and other things of Laos, of Burma, of Vietnam, and of Malaysia. He continued, ‘Siem seems to pretend that there was no presence of Cambodia in Indochina.’

“He added that this misunderstanding is because of Siem articles writing that the Preah Vihear Temple belongs to its country and it is because of the lack of Siam publication about the reality of the history, and Siamese researchers always think that “this temple belongs to Siem.”

“He went on to say that in Samut Prakan Province, southeast of Bangkok, the Siem government built a park named ‘Thai ancient monuments’ or ‘Muang Boran Thai’ where all temples existing in Thailand are built in copies, including the Preah Vihear Temple, for Siamese and for researchers [and tourists] to visit.

[Actually, doing some Internet research in Thai and in English, only the term ‘เมืองโบราณ – Muang Boran’ – could be seen an all sites I found (I may have missed some, though); none uses the term ‘เมืองโบราณไทย’ – ‘Thai Ancient City.’ This Ancient City is often considered to be the world’s biggest outdoor museum, covering about 80 hectares/320 acres of land in a shape similar to the country of Thailand, with more than 100 original size or scaled down models of historical monuments. It was designed and funded my the private funds of a rich Thai businessman, Lek Viriyapan (1914 – 2000). Before the Ancient City could be built, its founder and his research team traveled to all buildings to be included, and for many years these studies were published in the Muang Boran Journal. The park includes also a replica of the Preah Vihear temple, and the journal has photos, several of them showing the Cambodian flag, and the inscription over the entrance in big Khmer letters: ‘ប្រាសាទ​ព្រះវិហារ’ [Prasat Preah Vihear] and below, in smaller letters in English, ‘Preah Vihear Temple’ – and three Cambodian flags are clearly seen on the picture of the stairs leading up to the temple – there is no doubt that the Ancient City in clear pictures describes Preah Vihear as under Cambodian authority. The temple of Phimai in the province of Nakhon Ratchasima is another example of Khmer culture (and in some of the sites visited also described as such). The ‘Ancient City’ is in no way leaving any doubt that this is Cambodian culture and territory, but, like Phimai, there are many other historical sites in present Thailand, showing the former extension of Khmer culture. – Editor]

“Dr. Ros Chantraboth asserted, ‘The Ancient City was constructed in 1972, ten years after Siem lost the hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague that legally established that the Preah Vihear Temple was to be under Khmer sovereignty. He added, ‘In reality, Siem has never used this to explain it to its people.’

“He recalled that the International Court of Justice in The Hague decided to deliver the sovereignty of the Preah Vihear Temple to Cambodia, based on 1904 and 1907 maps that were drawn by France for Cambodia at that time, and those maps were not contested by the Thai government at that period. The 1962 verdict gave ten years to Siem to appeal, in case it found new evidence proving that the Preah Vihear Temple belongs to Thailand, but when the deadline was over on 15 June 1972, Thailand did not appeal against the verdict until today.

“According to Article 10 of the condition of the World Heritage Committee, world heritage listings only include cultural heritage, they do not include borders of countries; and both countries have still to negotiate about the [unsolved] border issues.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4631, 3.7.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 3 July 2008


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1683, 3.7.2008

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Mr. Samak Talked with Samdech Hun Sen More than Half an Hour via Telephone about the Preah Vihear Temple Issue [according to Mr. Khieu Kanharith, the Minister of Information and the government spokesperson, and he said that Mr. Samak asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to calm the Cambodian people]
  • The Royal Government [of Cambodia] Welcomes the Creation of an Investment Bank [by Tong Yang Investment] to Attract Capital from South Korea
  • Committee for Free and Fair Elections [COMFREL]: Security in the Election Campaign Is Better than in 2003


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #190, 3.7.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party deputy secretary-general] Ms. Mu Sochua Appealed to the Prime Minister’s Wife to Check Again the Dispute [that led to the destruction of houses and to the eviction of people from their land in Chhouk District, Kampot] between People and Military Officials


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #39, 3.7.2008

  • ILO: Working Conditions at Garment Factories Are Still Good


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6387, 3.7.2008

  • Dr. Keo Iev, Director of Oral Cleansing Water Company [producing for the Cambodian Red Cross], Was Shot by Robbers and a Gold Box Was Taken, when He Returned from the Olympic Market [he is in a very serious condition, because the bullet went into his left eye and broke through his head – 2 July 2008]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3502, 3.7.2008

  • Vietnamese Authorities Released Tim Sakhan Silently [on 30 June 2008, who had been defrocked on accusation of having perpetrated an offense against the Buddhist law, because he is accused to have destroyed the harmony between Vietnam and Cambodia, who was jailed in Vietnam], but They Have Not Sent Him Back to Cambodia [and when traveling during one month, he has to be accompanied by the Vietnamese authorities]
  • Hearing Verdict of Ieng Sary’s Appeal, where He Requested to Be Out of Detention, Will Be Announced by the ECCC on 3 July 2008


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4631, 3.7.2008

  • Cambodian Official Asks Thai Politicians and Historians Not to Twist the Facts
  • The National Cultural and Social Moral Center Plans to March [supporting the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple, with about 3,000 participants] to the Thai Embassy
  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections – COMFREL – Deploys Nearly 100,000 Election Observers to the Twenty Four Cities and Provinces
  • Agreement Protecting Cambodian-Japanese Investors Will Be Put in Practice in Late July
  • Prohibition of Marriages to Foreign Countries Will Be Lifted Soon [according to an official of the Ministry of Interior]
  • Seventy Cambodian Youth Delegates Will Visit Japan Next Week [as part of the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESEYS)]


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3349, 3.7.2008

  • Many Challenges for the Election Result because of Low Education and Illiteracy

Have a look at the last editorial – Preah Vihear still in the headlines – more information about Thailand’s and Cambodia’s documents.

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