Perception and Reality – Again – Sunday, 18.1.2009

Posted on 19 January 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

In the Mirror, we have taken up the public importance of perceptions several times over the years.

Actually, we had raised this question at the beginning of the publication of The Mirror on the Internet in January 2007, with reference to Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia under the tile “Perception and Reality.” At his inauguration, he had pointed to the important role of perceptions held by the public – which may or may not conform to reality, but are nevertheless extremely important for the political situation of a country.

And Dato Seri Syed Hamid Albar, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, took up the concern for the role of perceptions, saying that “negative developments do not contribute to creating a climate of confidence in the world, which is vitally necessary for all of us, regardless of different faiths and beliefs, to live in peace and harmony.”

Not only the reality is important – but how it is understood and interpreted what is heard and seen – this too is extremely important. Some good things may be misunderstood as if they were bad. But if many things heard and seen result in negative perceptions, it can have deeply devastating consequences for a seemingly well functioning society.

This week, we list up some reports – really not knowing how the public can help to clarify what is confused, to avoid moving further down into the dark.

The international Human Rights Organization Human Rights Watch had, in its 2009 report covering the situation of many countries, also criticized Cambodia.

Human Rights Watch does not report only about notoriously criticized countries like Myanmar, but it deals also with the human rights situation – to name some more countries – in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and in the United States of America. Many of these countries take problems raised very seriously.

The brief Cambodia section of the Events of 2008 is followed by about 20 additional, detailed background documents

The content of all this is – unfortunately – not new: criticism of the criminal justice system, cases of intimidation, violence, imprisonments. Endemic impunity, rampant corruption, and illegal plundering of natural resources. And: Cambodia is due to be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Commission in December 2009.

Most cases had been reported in the Khmer press during the year, quite a number also we had mirrored.

The official Cambodian reaction was reported in the Cambodia Daily as follows:

“Om Yentieng, head of the government’s human rights committee, dismissed the report’s findings, saying Human Rights Watch was defaming the country with lies and, in the process, making themselves foolish.

‘I refuse all of the accusations,’ he said, ‘they are just trying to make up things, or they just want to spoil heir name. They are playing the role as a puppet in order to gain an advantage for themselves.’”

(Cambodia Daily, 16 January 2009)

As an illustration of the gap between this perception and the reality we point to some reports mirrored during the past week – small and big events:

  • When people need public certifications or documentation, there are often no publicly displayed fees, saying transparently what is to be paid – “The price of a certificate, to get employment, to register the place of residence, or to get married is US$5.00, but the price goes up with its urgency – US$5.00 for one month – US$45.00 for 15 days, US$100.00 for one week, and US$150.00 for one day.” Similar arrangements may be in place in other countries too. But the report claims what is said to be general knowledge: “…these extra charges do not go to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.”
  • When a family had lost their new born son in a hospital formerly supported by Japan, the following financial dealings were reported. They had been going on for some time, but nobody had dared to speak up. – “There are notices written on the walls of the Japanese hospital with big Khmer letters on blue background, saying please do not pay anything to the staff, but only to the cashiers. Patients who are not able to pay for the services are invited to contact a monitoring group, and if someone asks for money in addition to the prescribed fees, they should be reported to the monitoring group. The service charges are approx. US$3.50 for a woman delivering her first baby; the normal room charge is approx. US$2.50 per night. – However, everything is different from the above prohibition notice. Each patient pays extra money in addition to the services, such as approx. US$10.00 to US$30.00 for doctors, approx. USUS$2.50 to each medical staff who injects three syringes three times per day etc. A woman said that, when the head of her baby appeared half way, first the doctors asked her how much money she would offer them. That woman offered them approx. US$12.00, but the doctors demanded more. Because she begged that that was all the money she had, they agreed. This is an incredible story, but that was what that woman said herself. Another woman staying in the next bed offered the doctors US$5.00, but only when they arrived at the sum of US$30.00 they agreed.”
  • When defense lawyers at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal were unable to get information about alleged kickbacks of Khmer staff – to higher level persons, for having received their positions – which would have satisfied them that there will be no unfairness in the trials, they finally filed a request for clarification of these corruption allegation at the Phnom Penh court. Now they feel intimidated by judges who prepare to sue them for defamation – instead of being grateful that the allegations could be refuted by a court forever.
  • When a delegation from the Senate and from human rights groups tried to inspect and to check forest sites allegedly cleared for planting rubber trees in Ratanakiri, the DM Group, the company under suspicion, prevented them from fulfilling their task.
  • When a Danish Woman had bought several thousand over-the-counter painkiller tablets with codeine, that can be easily and legally bought at many pharmacies all over Phnom Penh, and she tried to mail them at the Post Office – they are cheap here, and she hoped to sell them abroad to make some small extra money to support her son – she was arrested. Now she was convicted to serve 15 years in prison and fined approx. US$7,500 for drug trafficking. None of the press report said anything about any involvement with illegal substances.
  • When 234 families felt threatened as owners of their land by the Heng Development Company, they were satisfied that the Kandal provincial court had confirmed their land rights on 26 February 2007. But now the company deployed machinery and started to clear their land. When the legal owners protested, the company told them that the Kandal court had made a wrong judgment. The Military Police in Kandal Stung, led by their commander – a nephew of the director of the Heng Development Company – deployed 20 to 30 armed military police who opened fire with their AK-47 rifles – at least three men were seriously injured.
  • When it was reported that the US company PHI Mining had bought the Indochina Mining Corporation, now a subsidiary of PHI Mining, and that it now cooperates with the Cambodian company Angkor Metal Corporation, it was not big news. But maybe it had been big news before, and we had missed to see it – or it should have been big news. As we have mirrored yesterday, his cooperation relates to Cambodian natural resources , where the initial valuation of this copper ore area is estimated at USUS$1 billion. And we also mirrored yesterday that the Angkor Metal Corporation does not disclose much about itself in the way other companies do, though the US partner company writes that the “Founders of Angkor Metal Corporation include a son and a son-in-law of Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, thus ensuring political support to acquire and extend mining license.”
  • The Constitution of Cambodia says:

    The National Assembly shall approve the national budget, State planning, loans, financial contracts, and the creation, modification and annulment of tax. (Article 90)

    We do not have information about any public bidding for the financial contract for national mineral resources, which the Angkor Metal Corporation finally got, neither do we have information on the status of the National Assembly approval procedures for the project and loan agreements – in the range of US$500 million – which are, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, already signed by Cambodia and by Kuwait.

    As stated initially, in public politics the perception of what is going on is often more important for the public democratic process than the reality – so we raised all the issues above – all based on information which was either in Cambodian newspapers, or which is available publicly on the Internet. Prime Minister Badawi had accepted, therefore, the need for self-criticism in searching for the reasons for such perceptions. But at the same time he considered it necessary to engage in identifying what he saw as “wanton violations of human dignity, natural justice, human rights and international law.”

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    To Persuade the United States of America to Reduce Import Taxes of Garment Products Might Face Difficulties – Tuesday 13.1.2009

    Posted on 14 January 2009. Filed under: Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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

    Thanks for your interest.

    Would you like easy access to the editions of The Mirror directly by e-mail? You can ’subscribe’ for free!

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    The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

    “In a meeting about textile problems among ASEAN member countries, organized in Phnom Penh last week, the Ministry of Commerce of Cambodia encouraged all garment exporting countries in the Southeast Asian region to join to persuade the United States of America to reduce import taxes. This encouragement was made because the garment industries of many exporting countries, including Cambodia, are being affected by the meltdown of the global economy.

    “The Minister of Commerce of Cambodia, Mister Cham Prasidh, notorious for corruption, said that persuading the USA is crucial for exporting markets, and it might help to face the economic crisis. Mister Cham Prasidh added, ‘When there is such a global financial crisis, what you see is the decline of demands. How long can our garment sectors stand with this crisis? As we know, we all, more or less, depend on the market of the USA, and this is the reason why we have to continue to try to persuade the USA to be interested to provide us import facilities with reduced taxes or with no tax.’

    “Moreover, Cham Prasidh, an in-law of [the Minister of the Council of Ministers] Sok An, went on to say that the garment sector can continue progressing as long as all ASEAN member countries cooperate to expand markets in the region, before receiving better conditions from the USA. Also the deputy director of the Indonesian Textile Association expressed support with what was mentioned above, saying that this was probably a difficult time which needs an immediate solution among ASEAN member countries. Particularly, there must be an encouragement to cooperate in order to compete on the world markets while all countries are facing this financial crisis.

    “It should be noted that from 1999 to 2004, the USA provided garment importing quotas to Cambodia without charging import tax. After the Multi-Fibre Arrangement [also known as the international Agreement on Textile and Clothing, 1974 to 2004] system ended, Cambodia has to pay 12.5% tax on average, making prices of garment products from Cambodia becoming more expensive, and it is difficult to compete with products from many other countries in Asia, such as China, Siam [Thailand], Yuon [Vietnam], Indonesia, and Bangladesh; most of these countries also depend on markets in the USA and in Europe.

    “However, since many years, the garment sector became the biggest source of income for Cambodia, and it provides employment to more than 350,000 workers in around 400 factories countrywide. Since 2004, garment exports to world markets increased between 20% and 25% every year. Among the income from the export of garment products of US$2.7 billion in total in 2007, the USA absorbed products from Cambodia – especially garments – and the highest level was more than US$1.9 billion, compared to US$600 million for the export to markets in Europe, and US$146 million for the export to Canada.

    “Nevertheless, the garment sector in Cambodia is being affected by the decline of garment demand on the US market, after this country, the most powerful country, faced a serious economic meltdown since 2008. The Minister of Commerce of Cambodia said that the garment export from Cambodia to international markets declined by 2% in 2008, so that the government expects that the USA will have policies to promote this sector again. But economists and other experts said that this expectation seems to be baseless.

    “The president of a garment factory association in Cambodia recently said that when the economy falls down like this, the USA also needs to help itself. Now, Cambodia is worrying, because so far, around 60 factories have gradually closed and approximately 25,000 workers lost their employment. From April 2009 on, there are little buying orders, and prices have to be lower than before, making many factories to face serious losses.

    “Civil society officials observing the garment sector in Cambodia assessed that in mid 2009, 20 more factories will finally close, because they cannot cover losses by bank loans which are also strongly restricted. In the meantime, a foreign economist said that the situation of the Cambodian garment sector might be out of trouble in at most one or two years, when the economy of the USA is expected to grow stronger again. This means that the decline of the garment sector in Cambodia has to wait until the economy of the USA grows strong again, while tens of thousands of Khmer workers of this sector loose their employment and incomes.

    “Analysts criticized that corruption in the Ministry of Commerce, managed by Cham Prasidh, and in the Ministry of Labor, administered by Vong Soth, is also a reason making the garment sector in Cambodia face serious decline, because corruption in these two ministries encourages garment factory owners to pay much kickback while their businesses do not earn much profit. Therefore, in order to prevent that the garment sector continues to decline sharply, the Hun Sen government must take action to eliminate corruption urgently, so that factories owners do not decide to close their factories and one after the other leave Cambodia.”Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3664, 13.1.2009

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:

    Tuesday, 13 January 2009

    Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #2, 13.1.2009

    • The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO] Published 84 Cases of Human Rights Violations in the Fourth Quarter of 2008

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1845, 13.1.2009

    • The Plan to Expand the Capacity of the VietTel Company Is Supported by Prime Minister Hun Sen [VietTel is a telecommunications company from Vietnam, and this company aims to help promote development in Cambodia, especially in education by providing Internet access to schools and by creating a foundation to help the government to alleviate poverty]

    Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #322, 13.1.2009

    • The Leader and His Terrorism Partisans [of four people who were involved in the setting of explosive devices in Phnom Penh recently] Were Accused by the Court of Creating Illegal Armed Forces, and of Terrorism
    • Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng Said that Cambodia Is Not a Drug Producing Country
    • The Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party Negotiate to Create an Alliance

    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #181, 13.1.2009

    • More Than 60 People Protest in Front of the Provincial Primary Court to Ask for the Release of Mr. Hun Sengly from Jail [he was a representative of 415 families in Kos Krolor district in Battambang and was arrested in August 2008 regarding a land dispute]
    • The Indian Embassy Reacts to the Deaths of Three Indians [in a car accident in Dangkao district in Phnom Penh, and demands the government to take action against the driver who caused the accident – one day after the accident, he escaped from a private hospital and from his house in Phnom Penh]
    • [Thai Prime Minister] Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva Received the Majority of Votes in By-Elections [his party and their allies won 20 of the 29 seats]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6550, 13.1.2009

    • A Farmer Couple Brought Their Children back from a Hospital [in Phnom Penh]; the Husband Died along the Road because of Pain [when he complained about strong pain , the taxi driver dropped him and his family along the road where he died – Kien Svay, Kandal]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3664, 13.1.2009

    • To Persuade the United States of America to Reduce Import Taxes of Garment Products Might Face Difficulties
    • Khmer and Siamese [Thai] Prime Ministers Will Discuss Border Disputes in Hua Hin [in Thailand during the ASEAN Summit from 27 February to 1 March 2009 – according to the Bangkok Post]
    • Can the Japanese Aid [of around US$21 million, promised by Japan on 11 January 2009] Make the Hearings of Former Khmer Rouge Leaders Proceed Soon?
    • Result of the Investigation about Illegal Logging in the Kantuy Neak [Ratanakiri] Region Is Not Yet Revealed [four park rangers who were reported to be missing during a mission returned to the Vireakchey National Park, they were not missing, they were on a 15-day patrol in the park]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4793, 13.1.2009

    • Producers of the Opera “Where Elephants Weep” Apologize, as It Was Prevented to Be Shown in All Television Channels, Offensive Scenes Will Be Changed [after complaints by the Buddhist orders]
    • Motorbike Competing with a Truck Collided with Another Truck Coming from the Opposite Direction, Causing Three Deaths [Kompong Speu]

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    “After My Son Was Born, He Died; His Weight Was 3.5 kg” – Monday, 12.1.2009

    Posted on 13 January 2009. Filed under: Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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

    Thanks for your interest.

    Would you like easy access to the editions of The Mirror directly by e-mail? You can ’subscribe’ for free!

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    Monday, 12.1.2009

    The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

    “Phnom Penh: Ms. Socheata (name changed to maintain her safety) who was at the end of her pregnancy, she started having labor pains, had hot and cold flushes, and she was starting to lose amniotic fluid. That happened in the night of 1 January 2009. She was brought by her family to the National Maternal Child Health Center – which many people still call the ‘Japanese Hospital’ – because she regularly went there for prenatal examinations.

    “Mr. Sambath, her husband (also name changed to maintain his safety), said that he brought his wife to the emergency room, and his first task was to pay money. Then they checked the dilatation of the uterine cervix, and the doctors said that during that night her uterine cervix had not opened, and they told them to go back home.

    “The Japanese Hospital, the National Maternal Child Health Center, is located in Srah Chak, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh. This hospital is at the west of Wat Srah Chak. Japan had assisted this hospital, and even though Japan had stopped assisting this hospital two or three years ago, it is still called the Japanese Hospital by the people. The director of this hospital is Dr. Kum Kanal.

    “On 4 January 2009, at 1:30 p.m., Socheata started again having strong labor pains; so she came to let doctors check for the second time. Mr. Sambath said that in more than 16 hours, since 1:30 p.m. of 4 January 2009 to 4:20 a.m. of 5 January 2009, the baby was still alive, but due to carelessness, the baby finally died.

    “Mr. Sambath complained, ‘Because we are poor, they left my wife unattended; the baby boy died before he knew anything and had not yet seen the sunlight.’ Also, he asked Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the Minister of Health, Mr. Mam Bunheng, to help seek justice, or to provide a proper solution, and especially not to let this bad model continue, endangering more lives of lovely babies and wives.

    “In the afternoon of 5 January 2009, Mr. Sambath phoned Mr. Mam Bunheng and told him the story, and 15 minutes later, the director of the National Maternal Child Health Center, Mr. Kum Kanal, was made to be very busy. In the evening of 6 January 2009, there was a meeting about the death of Mr. Sambath’s son, led by Mr. Kum Kanal. That was what was known.

    “Some staff of the Japanese Hospital who love justice told Rasmei Kampuchea in the afternoon of 7 January 2009 that there is systematic corruption, and that there are persons who cover this, who are not afraid of anyone, except the director. They went on to say that at the National Maternal Child Health Center, the number of patients declined to almost half of what it had been before. Patients go to the Calmette Hospital, and furthermore, some staff left to work there. In January 2009, there was information that there will be an investigations about irregularities at the National Maternal Child Health Center by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Inspection. The staff of the National Maternal Child Health Center want to perform good work, but some of them are committing crimes by using babies as hostage to press their parents for money.

    “A former undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, who experienced the same as Mr. Sambath with his son, expressed deep regret, and he said that some doctors do not have mercy and sympathy for human lives.

    “There are notices written on the walls of the Japanese hospital with big Khmer letters on blue background, saying please do not pay anything to the staff, but only to the cashiers. Patients who are not able to pay for the services are invited to contact a monitoring group, and if someone asks for money in addition to the prescribed service fees, they should be reported to the monitoring group. The service charges at the National Maternal Child Health Center are Riel 14,300 [approx. US$3.50] for a woman delivering her first baby, and Riel 73,000 [approx. US$18] for a woman delivering her second or third baby; the normal room charge is Riel 10,000 [approx. US$2.50] per night.

    “However, everything is different from the above prohibition notice. Each patient pays extra money in addition to the services, such as: Riel 40,000 [approx. US$10] or 50,000 [approx. US$12.30] or US$30 for doctors, Riel 10,000 [approx. US$2.50] to each medical staff who injects, outside of the working hours, three syringes three times per day (it is not known whether they use government provided or private medicine), Riel 2,000 [approx. US$0.50] for bathing a baby, Riel 2,000 for cleaning the wounds of a woman, and there are other cases where patients are treated for money outside the government services [using this public hospital to treat patients privately and earn money from private persons] during the mornings; each medical staff earns at least Riel 100,000 [approx. US$25] for services outside the public system.

    “A woman staying at Room 215 on the first floor said that, when the head of her baby appeared half way, first the doctors asked her how much money she would offer them. That woman offered them Riel 50,000 [approx. US$12.30], but the doctors demanded Riel 70,000 [approx. US$17] from her. Because she begged that that was all the money she had, they agreed. This is an incredible story, but that was what that woman said herself. Another woman staying in the next bed offered the doctors US$5.00, but only when they arrived at the sum of US$30.00 they agreed.

    “Regarding these wrong and unauthorized expenses, the director of the hospital, Mr. Kum Kanal, and the Minister of Health, Mr. Mam Bunheng, could not be reached for comment.

    “Mr. Sambath brought his wife back from the hospital, and could only tell this story to other people. ‘He said that his dead baby was a son. They told me that he was not born prematurely, and that he weighed 3.5 kg, but he died.’

    “They did not agree to deliver the body of his baby to him to celebrate a proper funeral for him.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4792, 11-12.1.2009

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 12 January 2009

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1844, 11-12.1.2009

    • [The president of the National Assembly and honorary president of the Cambodian People’s Party] Samdech Heng Samrin Leads a Delegation of the National Assembly to Visit Laos and Vietnam
    • Primary Schools in Suburbs Lack 50 Buildings Corresponding to 1,000 Rooms [each room can accept between 60 and 70 students – Phnom Penh]
    • A Man Was Arrested by Police for Raping a Six-Year-Old Girl [Kampot]
    • Cholera Killed 500 Buffaloes in Krakor District [Pursat]
    • In 2008 Unemployment in the United States Reached a New Record [there were 2.6 million unemployed people]

    Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #321, 12.1.2009

    • Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen Decides to Attend the 14th ASEAN Summit in Thailand [held from 27 February 2009 to 1 March 2009]
    • The Documentation Center of Cambodia provides Khmer Rouge History into the Curriculum [of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport]

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #324, 11-13.1.2009

    • Prince Ranariddh Responds to Insult by Hun Sen [that there are people preparing documents to ask for positions from him; Prince Ranariddh asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to release the names of those people]

    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #180, 11-12.1.2009

    • Fishery Official: During this Moon-Month of Khneot 10,000 Tonnes of Fish Could be Caught to Make Prahok for the Citizens
      Japan Donates Machines to Help with Mine Clearance in Cambodia [of more than US$4 million]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6549, 12.1.2009

    • Japan Promises to Encourage a Project to Construct a Neak Loeang Bridge Soon [in Prey Veng – according to the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs , Mr. Nakasone Hirofumi]
    • There Were 34 Crime Cases Less in 2008 Than in 2007 [there had been 224 cases in 2007]

    Meatophum, Vol.53, #718, 12-17.1.2009

    • The Price of One Certificate [for Khmer citizens, to get employment, to register their place of residence, or to get married in a foreign country] Is US$5, but the Price Goes Up and Down Whether It Is Urgent or Not! [US$5 for 1 month – it takes one month to receive a certificate, US$45 for 15 days, US$100 for one week, and US$150 for one day; but these extra charges do not go to the Ministry of Economy and Finance…]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3663, 12.1.2009

    • [The president of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party] Sam Rainsy: If There Is No Decentralization, There Is No Democracy [on 31 January 2009, the Sam Rainsy Party will hold a decentralization congress, summoning all its 2,660 commune council members countrywide]
    • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Will Take Action according to the Complaint of Corruption Allegations at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [filed by foreign co-defense lawyers of former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea – according to the president of the Municipal Court, Mr. Chiv Keng]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4792, 11-12.1.2009

    • ”After My Son Was Born, He Died; His Weight Was 3.5 kg”
    • The Group Who Planted Explosive Devices Belongs to a “Front for Uniting the Nation” [four suspects are arrested]

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    The Municipal Court, Notorious for Corruption, Describes the Shortage of Judges for Hearings – Saturday, 3.1.2009

    Posted on 4 January 2009. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 593

    “The Phnom Penh Municipal Court, ranking first in committing corruption among the courts countrywide, described on Monday that it lacked judges for hearing 6,500 cases in 2008. Being unable to solve many cases like that, makes that hundreds of accused persons are detained beyond the legal limit, which states that the detention of an accused or of a suspect can be up to a maximum of six months. Then they have to be brought to court for a hearing, and if the court cannot find them to be guilty, they must be released immediately. However, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court and Khmer courts in different provinces do not abide by this legal procedure, and continue to detain thousands of people for many years without conviction, which is against legal procedure and seriously violates the rights of the accused.

    “The president of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, Chiv Keng, notorious for being biased toward the rich and frequently causing poor people to loose their cases, said that in 2008 the Phnom Penh Municipal Court did not solve around 6,500 cases, while by the end of 2007, there had been 9,200 unsolved cases. If one compares the two years, in 2008 there were more of the normal complaints filed at the municipal court solved than in 2007, because in 2008, there were only 6,500 complaints not solved in time, while in 2007, there had been 9,200 left unsolved.

    “Chiv Keng said, ‘This does not mean that we received fewer complaints than last year. We received a similar number of complaints like last year, but this year, we worked more effectively, and the number of judges has also increased.’

    “Chiv Keng, who was just promoted as an excellency in 2008, added that the Phnom Penh Municipal Court received between 3,000 and 5,000 complaints on average per year. He said that in 2008, also more complaints than in 2007 were addressed.

    “Chiv Keng went on to say that at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, the number of judges was increased in 2008 from 9 to 16, and it is planned to increase the number up to 45 judges in a few more months in 2009; it will also be requested to increase the number of prosecutors to 25, while at present, there are only 8 prosecutors.

    “Chiv Keng continued to say that the space available for work is also a problem for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court; therefore the municipal court plans to construct a building with six floors in the compound of the present Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

    “According to the last Court Watch Bulletin [Volume 5, #23, October 2008], published by the Center for Social Development, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court had only two hearing rooms in September 2007 in which the municipal court conducted hearings for more than 884 criminal cases between October 2006 and September 2007.

    “The same report added that the municipal court conducted hearings for three criminal cases every day, and half of those hearings lasted only not more than 20 minutes. So the period for hearing each case was very short, just enough to read the verdicts by which the court defined punishments, or defined who were the losers and the winners in a conflict. The result is that each case is not clearly analyzed according to the procedures of the law, and according to the facts. Therefore it is seen that frequently the rich and high ranking officials won cases against poor people, and against people who are not powerful in society.

    “The executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, said that he saw some progress in the Khmer court system, but there is a lot more work that the court has to do.

    “He said, ‘Courts should make their judges more independent than they are at present, so that the judges can decide about the various complaints by themselves.’

    “Chiv Keng acknowledged that Khmer courts are not yet quite in good order; therefore all Khmer courts need many more years to improve. Chiv King pointed out, ‘Now we are not 100% in good order, but we have made many reforms, and now, we do not hear as much criticism about corrupt courts as three or four years ago.’

    “Chiv Keng added that at present, courts have ways by which citizens can report about inactivities of courts, or about different rule violations by courts. Chiv Keng continued to say that Cambodia needs more than 300 judgesT and prosecutors in addition countrywide. At present, Cambodia has only around 200 judges and prosecutors.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3656, 3.1.2009

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Saturday, 3 January 2009

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1837, 3.1.2009

    • The Department of Information Denies Radio Free Asia Broadcast that Citizens Are Forced to Set Flags [in front of their houses to welcome the upcoming 7 January [1979] victory festival]
    • Former Thai Prime Minister [Somchai Wongsawat] Joins Samdech Hun Sen’s Daughter’s Wedding [Phnom Penh]
    • There Were More Than 8 Million Voters in the Voter Lists of the National Election Committee in 2008
    • Thieves Entered to Break a Safe in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Taking Riel 20 Million [approx. US$5,000]
    • The Number of Beggars at the Beaches in Sihanoukville Increase
    • A Senior Leader of Hamas Killed by an Air Strike Attack by Israel on Gaza
    • Cuba Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the Revolution

    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #174, 3.1.2009

    • A Korean Man Committed Suicide by Hanging without Any Known Reason [Phnom Penh]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6542, 3-4.1.2009

    • Three Explosive Devices Were Destroyed [by the Cambodian Mine Action Center – CMAC] – Police Conclude as a First Assumption that the Aim Was that the Sound of Explosions Should Trigger Disturbance [one hand made explosive device was set in front of the Ministry of Defense and two others were found west of the TV3 station – Prampi Makara, Phnom Penh]
    • A Girl in a Sugar Cane Plantation Was Raped by Three Wild Workers; One of Them Raped Her and the Ears of the Two Others Were Bitten [all of them were arrested – Koh Kong]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3656, 3.1.2009

    • The Municipal Court, Notorious for Corruption, Describes the Shortage of Judges for Hearings
    • [The president of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party] Sam Rainsy: Because of the Events of 17 April 1975 [when the Khmer Rouge regime took full control of Cambodia], There Were the Events of 7 January 1979 [which led to the invasion by Vietnam – critical appraisal of the 30th victory anniversary over the Khmer Rouge]
    • [Former Khmer Rouge leader] Ieng Sary Sent to and from the Calmette Hospital More Frequently because of Serious Illness
    • Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya] Is Pressed to Resign after He Phoned to Ask for Negotiations about Border Disputes with [the Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Hor Namhong [according to the Bangkok Post, he is pressed to resign by officials from the ruling Democratic Party of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4785, 3.1.2009

    • The Acid Attack on In Soklida’s Aunt Is Sent to Court to Be Sentenced; this Is ‘Special,’ Compared to the Cases of Tat Marina, Touch Sunich, and Pov Panhapich [who also suffered acid attqcks, because police take quick [[???]] action for what happened on 8 May 2008, while for the three other women, so far no perpetrators have been found and convicted; it is seen that Ms. In Soklida, a film star, is richer, because now, she owns a car taken away from Ms. Chea Ratha by police, and she has her own bodyguards]
    • Defense Lawyers of Victims Warn They Will Resign from Work in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [if there is no money for them]
    • The Royal Government Creates a Committee for the Management of Concessions and for the Rehabilitation of the Cambodian Railway [financed by the Asian Development Bank]
    • Siamese [Thai] Prime Minister Orders Investigations of Phone Call Threats against Him

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

    And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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    Thirty Percent of Construction Workers Are Unemployed – Wednesday, 31.12.2008 – end of the year 2008

    Posted on 31 December 2008. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

    “The Cambodian economy, which should continue to grow now, seems to be like a jammed brake, because investment capital this year declined up to [the figures available for] November, where foreign investment capital for construction, which is an important sector, decreased by more than 12%. Tens of thousands of workers are laid off, and this affects one important part of industry and then also others.

    “The financial crisis strongly affects the construction sector in Cambodia, because big investment capital is mainly coming from foreign countries; as for investors from South Korea, they are directly affected by the meltdown of the economy in the United States of America.

    “The latest figure of the Royal Government published, said that during 11 months of 2008, investment in the construction sector and in related furniture development declined by 12.5%; compared to the same period of last year, it declined from US$3.2 billion to US$2,8 billion. This figure is from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

    “The above problems result from the decline of construction, from the prices of furniture materials, and from the meltdown of the world economy as a whole, while the construction sector around the world encountered also the same problems during 11 months of this year.

    “As for Cambodia, the labor unions say that 30% of the construction workers are laid off, and various projects are suspended. The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction said that Cambodia had between 45,000 and 50,000 workers employed, with salaries between US$60 and US$1,200.

    “Senior Minister and Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction H.E. Im Chhun Lim said that such meltdown happened at the same time of foreign investment projects being under development, and it is forecast that in 2009 the decline will continue.

    “The problems in the construction sector strongly affect the prices of construction materials… prices declined around 30% to 40%; but even so, such materials cannot be sold, and businesspeople who had invested in this sector mostly did it depending on bank loans.

    “He went on to say that big construction projects, such as the construction projects of the CamKo City [Cambodian-Korean City], or the double Gold Tower 42 [42 stories], and of the International Finance Center Tower, are still in progress, but they are not stable.

    “Between June and November, there were around 1,869 construction sites countrywide, while in 2007, there had been 1,942.

    “It is the first time that figures are released, after press reports had said that big construction projects in our country – in Phnom Penh – have all closed down.

    “The president of the Cambodian Economic Association, Mr. Chan Sophal, shared his opinion that the construction sector was seriously affected during the last six months of this year, and in early 2009 it will get worse…

    “The Cambodian Economy grew 10% on average during previous years, with the garment industry, tourism, and the construction sector as energetic forces.” Mate Nak, Vol.1, #16, 31.12.2008-6.1.2009

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Wednesday, 31 December 2008

    Areyathor, Vol.15, #1374, 31.12.2008

    • Nine Pawn Houses’ Illegalities [accepting stolen motorcycles etc.] Were Stopped [in Phnom Penh]

    Deum Ampil, Vol.2, #102, 31.12.2008-1.1.2009

    • The Supreme Court Will Decide the Fates of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun This Morning [appealing their conviction for killing the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea, in 2004 – Note: They have been released on bail!]
    • The National Assembly Decided to Allow Two Chinese Companies to Invest in the Electricity Supply System in Cambodia, Spending Around US$1 Billion [by constructing hydro-electricity dams on the Ta Tai River in Koh Kong, and the Russey Krom hydro-electricity dam near the Kravanh Mountains]

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1834, 31.12.2008

    • The King Inaugurates a New Building of the Jayavarman VII Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap
    • The Ministry of Heath Prepares Six Health Hazard Warning Pictures to Be Put in Turn on Cigarette Packages
    • Israel Strongly Attacks the Hamas Group in Garza; 345 Palestinians and 4 Israelis Died [Note: After years of international criticism against the political system in the Palestinian territories, in early 2006 there were the first democratic elections – and Hamas won the majority in Gaza]
    • Sheikh Hasina Leads Election Results in Bangladesh [Note: Unofficial results say she won 255 seats, her rival only 32, out of 300]

    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #172, 31.12.2008

    • An Official of the Department of Education Voices Concern about the Future of Children and of Human Resources in Some Regions, where Children Drop Out of School to Become Merchandise Cart Draggers [at the Phnom Dey Cambodian-Thai border crossing point in Battambang]
    • Khmer Women Getting Married with Korean Men Wait Anxiously for Leaving [to Korea, after the ban of international marriages has been lifted]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6539, 31.12.2008

    • The Thai Parliament Met in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Continue to Block the Parliament House and Refuse to Withdraw

    Mate Nak, Vol.1, #16, 31.12.2008-6.1.2009

    • 30% of Construction Workers Are Unemployed

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3653, 31.12.2008

    • [Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng Acknowledges that There Is Corruption among High Ranking Police Officers

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4782, 31.12.2008

    • The First Elevated Road in Cambodia, from Phnom Penh to Ta Khmao [in Kandal], Received Construction Permission [by the Phnom Penh Municipality]
    • Vietnam Said that Merchants Are Rushing to Smuggle Goods from the Khmer Border into Vietnam [in An Giang Province]

    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3467, 31.12.2008

    • Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya] Greeted [Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Mr. Hor Namhong by Phone and Plans to Visit Cambodia Officially [but the date of his visit is not yet fixed]

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

    And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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    Monday, 14.7.2008: A Journalist and His Son Murdered

    Posted on 15 July 2008. Filed under: Week 569 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 5689

    By sharing the Declaration of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, we show our shock and our solidarity.

    Club of Cambodian Journalists

    Members of the Club of Cambodian journalists express their deep concern about press freedom and the security of journalists in Cambodia, after unknown people shot dead Mr. Khim Sambo – 45, a journalist with Moneaksekar Khmer – and his son, at 6:30 p.m. on 11 July 2008 in the center of Phnom Penh.

    The Club of Cambodian Journalists is aware that this shooting occurred at a time of heightened security during the election campaign for the fourth term parliamentary election, which will be held on 27 July 2008.

    The Club of Cambodian Journalists is shocked hearing about this lamentable murder. The Club of Cambodian Journalists would like to share our sorrow and condolences about the deaths of Mr. Khim Sambo and of his son with the family of the deceased. At the same time, the Club of Cambodian Journalists, which is an independent organization with nearly 200 members countrywide, condemns this murder and calls on the authorities to investigate this event and to arrest the murderers and those who are involved with them, so that they will be sent to court to be prosecuted, based on the law. There is no reason which can justify this murder.

    Phnom Penh, 12 July 2008

    Club of Cambodian Journalist

    = = = = =

    Germany Pledged Euro 1.5 Million to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal

    “The German Government has pledged to provide Euro 1.5 million, equal to approx. US$2.4 million, for the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

    “According to an announcement on 11 July 2008, these funds will be provided to the section of the tribunal supporting the victims’ participation in the tribunal, which was created to find justice for people victimized during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia.

    “Since 2005, Germany has already provided US$5.5 million to support the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. As for the funds pledged now, they are a part of funds to extend the process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, after it has been decided that this tribunal will continue until 2010, and therefore more funds to cover the expenses are now needed than projected before.

    “Before the proceedings started, US$56.3 million were approved for the tribunal; then, after plans were changed, up to US$143 million were calculated, but only US$86.7 million were approved.

    “So far, five [former] Khmer Rouge Leaders have been arrested: the former head of state, Khiev Samphan, the former president of the assembly, Nuon Chea, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ieng Sary, and his wife Ieng Thirith, and Duch, a former chief of the Tuol Sleng Prison of the Khmer Rouge regime.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4640, 13-14.7.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 14 July 2008


    Chouy Khmer, Vol.2, #133, 14.7.2008

    • Ngor Srun, Secretary of State of the Council of Ministers and Son-in-Law of Chea Sim [President of the Senate and of the Cambodian People’s Party] Was Attacked with Acid [and injured seriously – 13 July 2008]


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1692, 13-14.7.2008

    • Different Circles Condemn the Shooting of Moneaksekar Khmer Journalist [Mr. Khim Sambou and his son. Both died]
    • A Cambodian Was Elected to Be Chairperson of the International Drug Enforcement Conference from the East Asia Region [comprising 15 countries – Mayor-General Moek Dara, head of the anti-drug office for the Ministry of Interior and secretary of sate of the National Anti-Drug Committee]


    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #198, 14-15.7.2008

    • [Former Khmer Rouge Leader] Khiev Samphan Chose New Lawyer, but He Has Not Yet Received a Response [from the lawyers contacted – according to a source closed to the ECCC, he is considering two lawyers, Mr. Heng Ty – former president of the Appeals Court during the Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime, and Mr. Sar Sovann, a lawyer with a doctorate from France]
    • The Preah Vihear Temple Is an Achievement of the Khmer Great Heroic King [Norodom Sihanouk]; the Cambodian People’s Party Should Not Take the Opportunity to Cheat the People


    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #48, 13-14.7.2008

    • The Great Heroic King [Norodom Sihanouk] Is Satisfied with a Plan to Construct a Hospital in the Preah Vihear Region
    • Civil Society Organizations Are Concerned about Political Security [for voters]
    • Expert Officials Call All Citizens to Be Careful with Dengue Fever
    • Next Year, Cambodia Will Export 50,000 Tonnes of Raw Rubber [according to Mr. Ly Phala, director of the Department of Rubber Plantations]
  • Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6396, 14.7.2008
  • [Former] King Norodom Sihanouk Released a Statement that the Preah Vihear Temple and Its Mountain Belongs to Khmer 100% [8 July 2008]

  • Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4640, 13-14.7.2008

    • Germany Pledged Euro 1.5 Million to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
    • Rate of Victims by Mines and Unexploded Ordnance in the Country Is Declining [Cambodian Red Cross: from January to June 2008, there were only 170 victims, compared to the same period in 2007, when there were 210]
    • [Mr. Pongphon Adireksan] The Chairperson of the National Committee on Thailand’s Convention for World Heritage Protection Advised the President of the Opposition Party and the Demonstrators that Thailand Has Not Lost Land; Army Commander [Anupong Paochinda]: People Should Not Be Too Nationalistic
    • Sokun Nisa [famous Khmer singer] Drove a Lexus and Hit a Truck, Breaking the Front Part of Her Car; She Apologized to the Truck Driver [Battambang]
    • Oil Rises to US$147 per Barrel because of the Iran Issue

    Have a look at the last editorial – The struggle towards openness and access to information happens in many places – and it may help to mutually learn from other experiences.

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