Cambodia as a Member of the International Community of States – Sunday, 11.10.2009

Posted on 12 October 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 633 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 633

Serious questions surfaced during the week about the meaning of the consequences when a state has resolved to sign international covenants, and has entered into certain agreements of international cooperation.

The discussion of the draft Penal Code in the National Assembly, during several days on the way towards its adoption, revealed some surprising elements – some of a formalistic nature, others relating to substantive understandings.

Article 88 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia states clearly and simply: “The National Assembly sessions shall be held in public.”

When, on 6 October 2009, crucial draft articles were to be discussed, two members of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia were asked to leave the observation gallery. This was later explained to be a measure related to security concerns – but the same persons had attended the meeting unencumbered during previous days. – And it is remembered that ambassadors and several embassy staff members from different countries were prevented on 23 June 2009 to enter and to observe the session, when the immunity of a member of an opposition party was to be discussed.

The present debate took place several days after Dr. Surya Subedi, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, an intergovernmental UN body where 47 member states are represented, shared his first report to the Council on 1 October 2009. When Mr. Yim Sovann, a member of the National Assembly from the Sam Rainsy Party, referred to Dr. Subedi’s concern about legal provisions for the freedom of expression, Mr. Ai Khan, a member of the National Assembly from the Cambodian People’s Party, is reported to have said: “I do not know who Subedi is… he does not understand about the words criticizing, scorning, and defaming… I want to notify H.E. Yim Sovann: Do not raise a foreigner’s ideas for discussion here.” Mr. Cheam Yeap, a member of the National Assembly also from the Cambodian People’s Party, had also been reported to respond to a reference to Dr. Subedi as “a foreigner’s request concerning this.” And Mr. Chheang Vun, the chairperson of the Assembly’s Commission on Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Media and Information, rejected Dr. Subedi’s statements as a violation of Cambodia’s sovereignty.

Dr. Subedi had not been speaking just “as a foreigner,” in fulfilling a mandate given to him by the UN Human Rights Council. In response to having been told that all Cambodian court actions had been conducted in accordance with Cambodian laws, he had not spoken to violate Cambodia’s sovereignty, but stated that he was “concerned that the laws in question themselves fell short of the standards required by international human rights treaties and practice, and that Cambodia’s judiciary was taking a restrictive approach in interpreting these laws, ultimately leading to excessive restrictions on freedom of expression.” Dr. Subedi is just expressing what is assumed internationally and in general: when a state accedes to international human rights treaties, it is assumed that they will be adhered to – they are not “a foreigner’s opinion.” They are part of multilateral intergovernmental agreements being clarified.

The discussion of the draft Penal Code in the National Assembly showed that by Saturday, 10 October 2009, 525 of the 672 articles had been approved – without a single change, in spite of the many questions for clarification, or suggestions for changes by Assembly members of the opposition parties. This absolute unity of opinion of the deputies of the Cambodian People’s Party is at least surprising in view of Article 77 of the Constitution: “The deputies in the National Assembly shall represent the entire Khmer people, not only Khmers from their constituencies. Any imperative mandate shall be nullified.” Not one of them seems to have thought to pronounce a different position from the majority. And this while they are – by the Constitution! – not bound by any “imperative mandate” ordering them what position to take. It is no surprise that Ms. Mu Sochua, a member of an opposition party, asked in view of the way the debate did not lead to the slightest change of the draft, why to spend more time in such kind of discussion: “I think we should just put a stamp on it.”

Another serious conflict of understanding, difficult to solve, is the warning by the Prime Minister, “that the government will not accept, or even stop receiving foreign aid, if aid is linked with conditions. Recently, the government has canceled the assistance of the World Bank for a land registration program.”

This is obviously a double threat: not only a warning towards the members of parliament in the countries which have to discuss and to negotiate how much money from the taxpayers of their country they will make available for which purposes and under which conditions. As a person from ADHOC pointed out, it is a threat also against those people of Cambodia who might benefit from such international aid.

In the case of the World Bank, their conditions were actually what both sides – the World Bank and the Cambodian government – had agreed upon together, about a Land Management and Administration Program: under which conditions Cambodians living on a certain piece of land for a certain period of time could get an ownership title for this land. But when the World Bank discovered and raised their observation, that the agreement is not applied evenly, the Prime Minister canceled the cooperation. The Program was applied mostly in rural areas, but people in certain settlements in the city do not get land titles, but are “evicted” or, to use the new wording of the government, are “temporarily relocated” (which often involved massive violence).

The aid, of which the Prime Minister is reported to be tired, relate to “linking it with conditions about the respect of human rights, the solution of land disputes, resettlement of the poor, and especially the creation of an anti-corruption law, an old intent of Cambodia,” as a newspaper explained.

Various pronouncements of the Prime Minister over the years had stated clearly that these are also his own political goals, when he said that a new farmers’ revolution might happen if land grabbing continues, and it is the Prime Minister himself who had announced, over the years, the planned creation of an anti-corruption law.

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The Head of the Royal Government Warned Donor Countries – Friday, 9.10.2009

Posted on 10 October 2009. Filed under: Week 633 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 633

“Phnom Penh: Ahead of a meeting about the provision of development aid for Cambodia, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, warned donor countries not to link conditions with development aid for Cambodia.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen considers the linking of conditions with aid as being under more pressure than during the presence of Vietnamese experts in Cambodia after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.

“During the 30th anniversary celebration of the creation of the National Bank of Cambodia on Thursday, 8 October 2009, at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia warned that the government will not accept, or even stop receiving foreign aid, if aid is linked with conditions. Recently, the government has canceled the assistance of the World Bank for a land registration program.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen told donors that the government welcomes the involvement to develop Cambodia, but donors should not interfere and link conditions with aid.

“Getting tired of conditions set by donors at present, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen added that, after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, though Vietnamese troops and experts came to Cambodia, Vietnam respected the independence of Cambodia. Decisions in politics and economy were under the authority of Cambodia, different from nowadays.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen stressed that at present, the development aid from the World Bank, from the International Monetary Fund, and from other donors forces the government to listen to their orders.

“In the meantime, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen appealed to donors and friends that assist Cambodia, to understand and respect the independence of Cambodia.

“Donors will meet the Cambodian government later in this year to announce development aid for Cambodia in 2010. After the international meeting in 2009, international development partners decided to provide about US$1 billion to Cambodia, linking it with conditions about the respect of human rights, the solution of land disputes, resettlement of the poor, and especially the creation of an anti-corruption law, an old intention of Cambodia.

“Human rights activists of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) pointed out that some conditions of donors aim, for example, at encouraging the Cambodian government to respect human rights or to address corruption, but not to apply pressure on the government. In this way conditions direct the implementation of laws and fill gaps of the government, so that the aid can reach the poor, and Cambodia becomes a state of law.

“ADHOC activists asked the government to soften their position and to accept aid to assist Cambodia’s poor people, rather than to reject international support, as the country needs aid.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5016, 9.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 9 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #306, 9.10.2009

  • Health Agents Seized 327 Types of Expired Medicines [Phnom Penh]
  • German Government Provides Aid for Ketsana Victims [the assistance of US$37,000 through the World Food Program, supporting to secure the survival of more than 30,000 people affected in Cambodia]
  • Natural Disaster Impacts Tourism in Cambodia

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2067, 9.10.2009

  • Capital of International Reserves of Cambodia Increased to US$2,522 Million [by 21% by August 2009 despite the global economic crisis; said Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • 733 Families in Khvav Commune Eat Manioc Instead of Rice and Call for Aid [Siem Reap]
  • A Notorious Robber and His Son Were Gunned Down by Police when They Shot Back

Khmer Amatak, Vol.3, #658, 9.10.2009

  • Phnom Penh Becomes More Flooded after the Shukaku Development Company Fills the Boeng Kak Lake [with sand]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #505, 9.10.2009

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6774, 9.10.2009

  • Japan Grants More Than US$1.4 Million for Mine Clearance [in Cambodia]
  • The 30th Anniversary of the Creation of the National Bank of Cambodia Was Celebrated
  • A 11-Year-Old Girl Was Lost for a Night and Was Found Dead with Both Eyes Gouged Out [Kampot]

Phnom Penh Post, Vol.1, #22, 9.10.2009

  • Mr. Hun Sen Said that if High Ranking Officials of Cambodia Go to Testify [at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal], It Is Like Killing the Suspects [since they are the ones who overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime; he said so after the foreign co-investigating judge summoned six high ranking officials of the government to testify]
  • [Twenty one] Civil Society Organizations [that work on human rights and provide legal assistance] Asked the National Assembly to Exclude Defamation from the Penal Code
  • More Than 2,000 Workers of the Tac Fat Factory Protested after the Factory Closed [Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5016, 9.10.2009

  • The Head of the Royal Government Warned Donor Countries
  • There Is Much Aid from Japan [US$1.7 billion since 1993], but There Is Very Little [Japanese] Private Investment [only US$129.9 million or 0.6% of the total foreign investment to Cambodia]
  • Vietnam Announced to Support the Candidacy of Cambodia as a Member of the World Heritage Committee

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1804, 9-11.10.2009

  • The World Bank Said that More Than 60,000 Workers Lost Their Jobs Creating Hazard for the Cambodian Economy

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Violence over Land Dispute in Siem Reap: Human Rights Organization ‘Criticizes’ while the Ministry of Interior Asks Citizens to Stop Arguing with Each Other – Saturday, 28.3.2009

Posted on 29 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – calls urgently on the Cambodian government to hold those police and military police in Siem Reap’s Chi Kraeng district responsible for violence on Sunday 22 March 2009.

“During a dispute about a rice field between two different groups of villagers in the Chi Kraeng and Anlong Samnor communes in Chi Kraeng district, police and military police shot and injured four people, and arrested nine.

“On Friday, 27 March 2009, the president of LICADHO, Ms. Kek Galabru, demanded the prosecution of those persons of the authorities who shot and injured farmers, and to find just solutions over the rice field dispute of 275 hectares which started in 2004.

“According to a three-day investigation by LICADHO, about 100 police and military police shot at around 300 farmers unreasonably and illegally.

“During a conference on Friday, LICADHO also showed a short video, showing that police were carrying AK-47 rifles, and shooting to threaten farmers regarding a land dispute between two groups of villagers in Chi Kraeng district in Siem Reap, on Sunday, 22 March 2009.

“The head of the investigation section of LICADHO, Mr. Oum Sam Ath, blamed the authorities and demanded a proper investigations about the armed clash, which the authorities claim to have been an act of self-defense.

“About 40 farmers who are seeking for a solutions from Phnom Penh [they are now in Phnom Penh] said during a conference at LICADHO expressing their fear and that they do not dare to return to their homes.

“Farmers demand the government to release nine villagers arrested on Sunday, and they ask for proper solutions for them so that they can again go to their dry season rice fields.

“It should be noted that after this event, the Ministry of Interior had sent a group of officials to investigate this land dispute in Siem Reap.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Interior, in charge of investigating the land dispute in Chi Kraeng , Mr. Pol Lim, said in the evening of 27 March 2009 that a working team of the Ministry of Interior led by the deputy police chief of the Ministry of Interior, H.E. Chhim Sarak, went to the site of the event in Chi Kraeng and met with the authorities on one side, and with citizens disputing the situation on the other. Also, the working team went to see the injured people at the provincial hospital. The working team pleaded with residents to stop arguing with each other and to let the authorities sort it out.

“Relating to the armed clash, which injured four people, Mr. Pol Lim stated that the working team is investigating in a confidential way. But for a first step, the working team discovered that the local authorities shot in self-defense, while the disputing people tried to hit the police who had gone to stop the arguments between the two groups of people, who competed for harvesting rice on the disputed land. Now, the court is dealing with nine people, who began the hitting, and if no one is found to be guilty, the court will release them.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, said that the government would like to absolutely reject LICADHO’s demand for government agencies to take responsibility for the above case.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4857, 28.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 28 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #151, 28.3.2009

  • Cambodia Warns Siam [Thailand] Not To Mix the Preah Vihear Issue with Its Political Crisis
  • Cambodia Welcomes New UN Envoy [Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, Nepali], but Asks Him to Act Faultlessly
  • A Chinese Man Was Sent to Serve 28 Years in Prison and Was Ordered to Pay Riel 70 Million [approx. US$17,300] for Drug Trafficking [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1909, 28.3.2009

  • Japan Prepares to Shoot Down Debris of North Korean Rocket [if anything might fall down towards Japanese territory]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #374, 28.3.2009

  • The Government Admits to the King that Cambodia Is Facing a Financial Crisis

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6614, 28-29.3.2009

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3723, 28-29.3.2009

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Commemorates the 12th Anniversary of the Grenade Attack in Front of the [former] National Assembly Building [on 30 March 1997, which killed 16 people and wounded more than 100] and Encourages the Government to Continue to Seek the Perpetrators to Be Prosecuted

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4857, 28.3.2009

  • Violence over Land Dispute in Siem Reap: Human Rights Organization ‘Criticizes’ while the Ministry of Interior Asks Citizens to Stop Arguing with Each Other
  • The Fourth Term Government Plans to Spend More Than US$377 Million on Irrigation Systems [where US$77 million come from different development partners]
  • Cambodian Products Are Exported to 130 Countries, but Export Prices Are Too Cheap

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An Official of the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, Is Also Irritated with the Svay Rieng and Prey Veng Governors for Leasing Land to Vietnam – Wednesday, 18.3.2009

Posted on 20 March 2009. Filed under: Week 604 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 604

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.
But I am now starting my return trip to Cambodia. According to schedule, I should be working again from Phonom Penh on Monday – first catching up with the delays, and then working again regularly.

Norbert Klein

“While Khmer citizens as well as some handicapped soldiers do not have rice fields for cultivation, the government, in contrast, provides tens of thousands of hectares of land as concessions to Yuon [Vietnamese] troops and companies to come to clear forest and rice fields of Khmer citizens to grow agro-industrial crops along the Khmer-Yuon border and in some provinces.

“Thousands of hectares of citizen’s land lying along the Yuon border of An Giang Province, bordering Svay Rieng and Prey Veng, are being leased to Yuon companies by Khmer authorities along the Yuon border to grow agro-industry crops. The Phnom Penh Post published an article on 26 February 2009, quoting the Svay Rieng governor, Mr. Cheang Am, that 10,000 hectares of land in Svay Rieng are prepared to be leased to Yuon companies along the border and also, the Prey Veng governor, Mr. Ung Samy, told the Phnom Penh Post that he will discuss with Yuon officials in Yuon [Vietnam] about the leasing of rice fields along the border to Yuon companies to come to do rice cultivation in Khmer territory.

“A high ranking official of the Cambodian People’s Party and a former Prey Veng governor, Mr. Cheam Yeap, reacted that Cambodia must not lease land to neighboring countries, but it can lease it to far-off countries. He added, ‘If it would be leasing to America or Australia, it can be done, but if it is to Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos, it is impossible, because they are neighboring countries and they can take our Khmer land easily as in previous times.’

“A Khmer-American, originally from Svay Rieng, Mr. Prum Soanara, expressed his view that the government should lease land to the same Khmers, because it would be a solution for Khmer citizens who are jobless, while factories are closing, and many big construction projects have halted their activities due to the global economic crisis.

“Mr. Prum Soanara, a renewable energy engineer with a background in the US Navy, said that in our country, some citizens lack land to do rice cultivation, especially citizens in Svay Rieng, Prey Veng, and Takeo. If the government has land for leasing, why not leasing it to Khmer citizens? He referred to an example in Malaysia where their country provides all support to their farmers to benefit from the land. Therefore, the Cambodian government should distribute land to retired and handicapped soldiers to do farming to earn their living.

“Mr. Prum Soanara raised another example from Israel where land along the border is delivered to soldiers to do farming and also to defend their territorial integrity. He went on to say that the government must provide land to Khmer soldiers to do farming along the border and to protect the border since soldiers have guns, but should not leave the land unused.

“Also, Khmer citizens react against the leasing of tens of thousands of land along the eastern border to Yuon companies by the Svay Rieng governor, Mr. Cheang Am, and by the Prey Veng governor, Mr. Ung Samy, who are all high ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party. Citizens wonder whether the land is inherited from both provincial governors’ ancestors that they dare to do so. It is because of the hunger for ‘tea-money’ without caring about the loss of Khmer territory along the border, because after the land is leased from Cambodia of Yuon to do farming, Yuon can claim that it is legal land of Yuon in the future.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Son Chhay, reacted against the leasing of land along the border to Yuon companies and to Siamese [Thai] companies, because these are neighboring countries, and this will make Cambodia to lose territory along the borders in the future, because Yuons who come to live in the land leased, hardly return to their country, because they consider the land to belong to Yuon, and this creates future problems.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that he had once reacted against the leasing of land to nationals from neighboring countries in 2007, when he led a delegation of the National Assembly to Laos. He continued to say that when the government provides concession land along the border to Yuon companies, contracted for 99 years, Yuon will bring their workers to live in Khmer land, and this cannot guarantee the Khmer territorial integrity, and different countries in the world never do what Cambodia does nowadays.

“Mr. Son Chhay voiced concern about the loss of Khmer territory along the border when the Khmer government permits the leasing of rice fields along the Khmer-Yuon border in Svay Rieng and Prey Veng; the government must check these cases again and should not allow to lease the land, and those who have the land rights to lease and use the land along the border should be only Khmers.

“Mr. Son Chhay demands that the government cancels different contracts for leasing land along the border to foreign companies.

“The president of the Cambodian Watchdog Council [?] and president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, reacted that the government must not lease land to foreigners, and the leasing of land to neighboring countries is not good for Cambodia. He added that to persuade Khmer citizens to lease their fields to foreigners is to cut down paddy rice exports from Cambodia, this is not reasonable and if the Khmer government encourages Khmer citizens to produce lots of paddy rice, normally, the government has to find markets for citizens in this time of a global economic crisis.

“Mr. Rong Chhun went on to say that when leasing land to foreigners to do farming in Khmer territory while leaving its citizens unemployed, can the benefits from it support the everyday livelihood of citizens? He continued that Cambodia will earn no benefit from leasing land to neighboring countries, and the government must not lease land to Yuon and Siam, because one day, they will let their citizens come to live in Cambodia, and this will make Cambodia to lose territory, if the government does not take measures to avoid the loss of land in the future.” Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #40, 18.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #40, 18.3.2009

  • An Official of the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Cheam Yeap, Is Also Irritated with the Svay Rieng and Prey Veng Governors for Leasing Land to Vietnam
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Which Is Running Out of Funds, Announces Recruiting [30] Staff Members

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #142, 18.3.2009

  • Between 2015 and 2020 the Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam Will Increase to US$5 Billion [according to a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Vietnamese Minister of Industry, Mr. Vũ Huy Hoàng]
  • The Head of the Government Does Not Believe There Will Be Good Reports about Human Rights in Cambodia [because he assumes that people concerned for human rights will get paid their salaries only if they produce reports describing bad situations]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1900, 18.3.2009

  • The Opposition Party Asks to Check the Possibility of Creating New Investment Laws for Special Economic Zones near the Borders
  • Five Khmer Law Students Go to Participate in a Mock Trial with About 500 Groups of Students from 80 Countries around the World [in Washington]
  • Sudan Expels Thirteen Foreign Aid Agencies from Darfur [after the International Criminal Court had issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir, with accusations of crimes against humanity and of genocide in Darfur]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3714, 18.3.2009

  • The Construction of Hanoi Boulevard Leads to the Destruction of Citizens’ Houses in Sen Sok District [Phnom Penh]
  • Mr. Yim Sovann Welcomes a Report [of the Cambodian Institute for Development Studies] Which Assessed that in 2009 Cambodia Will Loose US$676 Million [in four sectors: agriculture, tourism, construction, and garment production]
  • Civil Society Dismisses Hun Sen’s Wish to See Human Rights Reports Supporting the Government [he criticized on 17 March 2009 local human rights organizations and human rights representatives of the United Nations in Cambodia, alleging that they work only for salaries, and their work is only to criticize the government and to ignore positive points achieved by the government]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6605, 18.3.2009

  • The Family of a Fatal Victim Accuses a Doctor, because She Did Not Have Riel 100,000, a Pregnant Woman Was Left Lying in Labor Pain until She Died [Pailin]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1422, 18.3.2009

  • Investment by South Korea Declined by 25% in 2008 and Will Continue to Fall in 2009 [according an official of the Korean Embassy in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4848, 18.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: “Bird Flu Is Still an International Plague and Must Be Carefully Observed”
  • A Car Hit Two Motorbikes at the Same Time Resulting in Three Deaths and Five Injured People [the car driver escaped – Kompong Cham]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1675, 18.3.2009

  • A Parliamentarian from the Opposition Party [Mr. Son Chhay] Asks the Government to Sue the CamboSix [soccer betting] Company [for corruption and for not paying taxes]

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Concerns about the Future of Phnom Penh Continue – Monday, 16.3.2009

Posted on 18 March 2009. Filed under: Week 604 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 604

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

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: After the leaders of the Phnom Penh Municipality were awarded a World Leadership Award in London in 2005, Phnom Penh continues to encounter many problems like in 2008, when the [north] western area of the city was flooded for several months. So far, the Boeng Kak Lake filling still continues, and therefore various concerns continue.

Note:

Different from – for example – the awarding of a World Heritage Site status by an official institution like UNESCO, there is a variety of different “World Awards” which are awarded by private business enterprises, where certain direct fees or indirect fees are involved. The following information is how the Word Leadership Award is celebrated: with an expensive Gala Dinner. The price to participate in the World Leadership Award Gala Dinner, and for having the name of the winners announced to the public, from the podium, and in a printed announcement – “full-page ad” and “prominent listing” – in the journal of the World Leadership Award, are given as follows:

World Leadership Awards Gala

Tables (Includes 10 tickets)

$25,000 Platinum Leadership Table

  • Premium placement and recognition from the podium
  • Prominent listing in Journal and a full-page ad
  • Signage at the event
  • Featured article in Counterpart newsletter and website

$15,000 Benefactor Table

  • First-class placement
    1. Prominent listing in Journal and a full-page ad
  • Signage at the event

$10,000 Patron Table

  • Fine placement
  • Prominent listing in Journal and a full-page ad

$5,000 Friends Table

  • Prominent listing in Journal and a full-page ad

Tickets

  • $500 Individual ($335 tax deductible)
  • $1,000 Couple ($670 tax deductible)

“According to a report organized by an independent research group, the continuous filling of the natural Boeng Kak lake in the center of the city will continually cause serious flooding at the suburbs and also, there is strong disagreement with this plan, since such filling will lead to deeper and more frequent flooding.

“According to The Cambodia Daily published on 12 March 2009, the director of a Cambodian country program for housing rights, Mr. David Pred [director of Bridges Across Borders Southeast Asia, a small non-profit group, committed to social justice and defending the rights of the poor], said that the study was conducted by Australian independent researchers who were asked by a number of organizations in Cambodia to investigate the effects of the filling of the lake.

“Mr. Pred wrote in his email on Wednesday 11 March 2009, ‘The report confirms what many people have long suspected – that the filling of Phnom Penh’s largest natural lake will worsen the city flooding problem that has already become intolerable during the rainy season.’

“Mr. David Pred added, ‘The filling of the lake should be halted until those plans are made public and the people living north of the lake are reasonably assured that this project will not leave them under water every rainy season.’

“However, a deputy municipal governor, Mr. Pa Socheatevong, said that the City Hall had worked with French experts, addressing the issues related to filling the lake, adding, ‘We have already compiled the master plan correctly.’ [The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), required by law, has not been published in full; it was made without public bidding.]

“The director of the hydrology resources and meteorology department, Mr. Mao Hak, [Director of the Department of Hydrology and Water Works, or Director of Hydrology and River Works, or Director of the Hydrology Department, according to different sources on the Internet] said that the Ministry [Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology – the website announced on the government website for this Ministry – http://www.mowram.gov.kh – did not work at the time of this writing] had recommended to the municipality to build a 10-square-meter pipe to remove excess water. Now the municipality is working to solve the issue, and to prepare a water drainage system.

“Previously, the governor of the Russey Keo district, Mr. Kleang Huot, had said that the municipality has also restored the master channel at the Kob Srov dam. The Minister of Environment, Dr. Mok Mareth, said that flooding in Phnom Penh cannot be prevented unless pumping machines with a 25-cubic-meter per second capacity are set up, and an open master channel is constructed like in Boeng Trabaek, so that water can be brought to the Kob Srov dam, as the present long channel cannot remove the water in time, and there are not enough pumping machines at the Svay Pak dam.

“On 2 March 2009, the Phnom Penh municipal governor, Mr. Kep Chuktema, vowed to solve five major problems, and he also recognized that rain flooding in the north, which had caused serious destruction on public infrastructure and citizens’ houses, has not yet been solved.

“Residents in Russey Keo’s Tuol Sangkae commune blame the Shukaku company, which is dredging sand to fill the Boeng Kak lake and is pumping water to the Tuol Sangkae commune, as the cause of previous flooding. Therefore they are concerned. Also, residents of the Kiloumaetr Lekh Prammuoy Muoy and of the Khmuonh Communes ask the Phnom Penh municipal governor to plan carefully, so that they will not suffer from long lasting flooding like in the previous year.” Amnach Reas, Vol.2, #44, 16-22.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 16 March 2009

Amnach Reas, Vol.2, #44, 16-22.3.2009

  • Concerns about the Future of Phnom Penh Continue

Bakong, Vol.10, #256, 16-17.3.2009

  • 50,000 Garment Workers [among 300,000 garment workers in total] Lost Their Employment in the Past Six Months in Cambodia [since September 2008 – according to Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh]

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #38, 16.3.2009

  • Parliamentarians of the Sam Rainsy Party Ask Mr. Hun Sen to Clarify the Efficiency of the Enforcement of Financial Legislation in 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #140, 15-16.3.2009

  • The President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers: Most Factory Owners Do Not Deposit Money at the National Bank
  • The Asian Human Rights Commission Appeals to Cambodia to Continue Holding the National Congress
  • A Grenade Was Thrown at the Cars of a Siamese [Thai] Deputy Prime Minister and His Entourage, and It Wounded One Person, while Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the government] Threw Eggs

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1898, 15-16.2009

  • Samdech Heng Samrin Calls on Local, Provincial, and District Authorities to Crack Down On Gangsters
  • [District and provincial/city] Election Campaign Will Start be from 1 to 15 May 2009
  • More Than 50,000 Poor Students Receive Scholarships from the Government and from the World Bank [in 2009]
  • A Man Jumped into the River to Commit Suicide, as His Father Was Giving Him a Ride, when They Reached the Middle of the Chroy Chongva Bridge [he died – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3712, 16.3.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Salaries Should Be Increased to at least between US$100 to US$150 so that Civil Servants Have Economic Stability to Work
  • Yuon [Vietnam] Announces that It Will Exploit 50,000 Hectares of Forest Land in Cambodia [provided as concession land by the government with a 70 years contract, to cut trees in the forests in Mondolkiri and Ratanakiri]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1421, 16.3.2009

  • A Road [built in 1986 which is an important road connecting the Tuol Kork and Sen Sok districts in Phnom Penh] Will Be Named “Hok Lundy Road” [remembering the former director-general of the National Police who died in a helicopter crash last year]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4845, 15-16.3.2009

  • The Sambour Prey Kuk Temple Is Being Prepared for Listing as a World Heritage Site [Kompong Thom]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1672-1673, 15-16.3.2009

  • The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – Said that Tens of Thousands of Families of Khmer Citizens Suffer Human Rights Violations [this was said after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia dismissed the report on human rights by the U.S. Department of State]
  • The President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers [Chea Mony] Is Disappointed about the Refusal of the Ministry of Interior, Not Allowing Him to Visit Heng Pov [the former Phnom Penh police chief who is alleged to have been involved in murdering his older brother Chea Vichea, the former president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers]

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

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Denials, Insults, and Rational Arguments – Sunday, 15.3.2009

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

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

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

Norbert Klein

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

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

=

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

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

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

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

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

Among the details, Global witness says:

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

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

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

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

=

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

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

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

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

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

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

=

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

=

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Can Changing Priorities Change the Law? – Sunday, 8.3.2009

Posted on 13 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 601

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

Norbert Klein

The life of a society is not like a mechanism which works according to preset laws of physics or chemistry. The different agents in a society – all the people, and some people with special functions – may see different things getting more important, and they change their mind. But not every change of mind can lead to a change of the rules according to which a society works.

Some of such changes are surprising. We take some examples from quite different fields, just to show that a direction was taken, or a result was reached, which had not been expected at all.

On 22 January 2009, General Ke Kim Yan was removed from his position of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander-in-chief by Prime Minister Hun Sen. This had triggered concerns among some generals at military garrisons and at divisions, being afraid that they too might be removed, but Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh had affirmed that there are no such shifts to come -m but they came. Later, on 7 February 2009, we mirrored a report that the Prime Minister had explained that the removal of the commander-in-chief was part of the ongoing military reform. The rumors that there might be more involved showed up in the press on 13 February 2009, claiming that the Prime Minister had ordered to take legal action against Mr. Ke Kim Yan. More detailed information reached the public, when the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported three days later that the government criticized the press for publishing leaked information (without denying its content). According to the minutes, “the Council of Ministers has been informed and commented on the termination of the position of commander-in-chief of HE Ke Kim Yan based on two reasons: First, reforming the RCAF rank and file by adhering to work effectiveness in the military rank and file. Second, involvement with land issues by a top and powerful person in the military rank and file and doing business by using the name of military for personal gain.” The minutes went on to describe a resolution by the Council of Ministers to have both military and government bodies investigate Ke Kim Yan’s land dealings.

And the end? This week came the final clarification: The Prime Minister announced that Mr. Ke Kim Yan will be the 10th Deputy Prime Minister, heading the drug control administration.

The 14th ASEAN Summit was held from 27 February to 1 March 2009, in Hua Hin, Thailand. After the ASEAN Charter had come into force in December 2008, the summit was under the heading ‘ASEAN Charter for ASEAN Peoples,’ to start a new era of ASEAN with people at the heart of cooperation. It had therefore been expected that the summit would focus on human rights, but the global financial crisis moved up to the top of the agenda.

Nevertheless, it had been foreseen because of this orientation of ASEAN – being for the ASEAN people – some people not from the governments, but from civil society, would also have a chance to meet and to discuss with government leaders. But as it was reported, the government representatives of Cambodia and Myanmar threatened rather to boycott this meeting than to discussion the creation of an ASEAN human rights institution with civil society persons. So the persons from Myanmar and from Cambodia withdrew, in order not to be an obstacle to this important discussion.

Even so, by the end of the summit, it had not been possible to find an agreement about the nomination of an ASEAN human rights commissioner, also the creation of the ASEAN human rights organization did not progress well. The plan originally announced was not achieved.

But the final declaration of the summit continues to uphold the vision of ASEAN as “a rules-based community of shared values and norms, a cohesive peaceful, stable and resilient region with shared responsibility for comprehensive security, as well as a dynamic and outward-looking region in an increasingly integrated and interdependent world.”

The confidence, that events and decision will be proceeding according to set rules, is basic for the stable development not only for an international community like ASEAN, but for every society. That is why the events described above are confusing for the public – for “the people” – because the rules according which events proceeded, and the values and norms applied, are not transparent to the public.

Now there is another field where it is not clear how rules-based proceedings – a state of law, as another terms says – were applied in the closure of the gambling chain CamboSix, which was announced by the Prime Minister on 24 February 2009 during a graduation ceremony, explaining the negative social consequences of gambling. But CamboSix had, after all, a license to operate, issued by the competent authorities of the government, valid until the year 2011. Now, about an estimated number of 6,000 to 8,000 workers lost their jobs, and the Minister of Finance was quoted that though the government had issued a license, there are “no particular contract links between both parties.” But the international partial co-owners see this differently: CamboSix, partly owned by foreign companies, claims to have lost more than US$12 million in investments made before the withdrawal of their license, and they will ask for compensation according to the legal protection provided to investors in general.

Raising this question is not giving an endorsement for gambling. But how is the public to understand this action? Just five days prior to this suspensions, the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance Chea Meng Chhieng had stated the 2009 goals of the state to collect a 12.5% tax, to produce more tax income over the 2008 figures: US$20 million, tax income from all kinds of gambling.

As we had reported on 24 February, the Prime Minister had ordered the Ministry of Economy and Finance to observe all hotels that have entertainment clubs and all types of electronic entertainment centers, as they are required to prohibit Khmer citizens to enter for gambling. “If there is any violation of the rules, like permitting Khmer citizens to enter, the Ministry of Economy and Finance must revoke their licenses and immediately stop their operation within 24 hours.”

Police in Phnom Penh, who do not understand the difference between computer based gambling and computer games, have closed also about 20 of the 160 shops hosting the role-playing game Justice X-War 2, though this is a game where the participants do not bet and cannot win any money. Even the Secretary-General of the government’s National Information Technology Development Authority, Dr. Phu Leewood, was quoted in the Cambodia Daily to regret this confusion: “Gambling is betting, while gaming is not. I used to play games a lot when I was at university.” But shops stay closed, and many people who wanted to register for the upcoming game tournament at the Cambodia ICT World Expo, scheduled for 3 to 5 April 2009, do not dare to come forwards, as they are afraid to be mistaken to be gamblers.

So far, there are many reports how the soccer-betting company CamboSix is affected. Is this regulation also be enforced where a hotel has a gambling room with slot machines? According to recent observations, there does not seem to be such checking in force at the Naga Casino – the biggest such establishment in Phnom Penh.

On 4 September 2007, we had mirrored a Khmer newspaper report that a door was opened too late for a Cambodian 4-Star General to enter the casino, so he called four police vans and had three Malaysian Naga Casino foremen handcuffed – followed by a report one day later that $150,000 were spent for the release of these three Malaysian employees of Naga Casino.

On Friday, we carried a headline that the Prime Minister apologized to the public for the late action of closing gambling institutions. There are also reports that there is an understandable wide public support for this action. It might falter again, if the public will see – as in the past – that the enforcement of sudden government decrees, and the enforcement even of laws, continues to be selective.

In spite of the failure of the recent ASEAN summit to nominate an ASEAN human rights commissioner for the ASEAN human rights organization to be created, the vision of ASEAN as “a rules-based community of shared values and norms” remains as a hope that all member countries will make progress, if this vision is upheld, and will be “peaceful, stable and resilient, as well as dynamic and outward-looking” as the final ASEAN summit document says for the whole community.

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More Than 35% of Citizens Use Loans from Microfinance Institutions – Friday, 6.3.2009

Posted on 10 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

“Phnom Penh: Cambodian microfinance officials said that the number of citizens getting loans from microfinance institution in Cambodia belong to over one million families among the more than three million families in the country.

“The director and general manager of the Microfinance Institution Sthapana Limited, Mr. Bun Mony [also a member of the board of the Cambodian Microfinance Association], told journalists at the Hotel Cambodiana on Thursday morning that in 2007, there were 18 microfinance institutions with a total capital of US$271 million, providing small-scale capital for Cambodian citizens. In 2008, capital to lend to citizens rose up to US$437 million, which was an increase by 61%. He added that this growth had increased for several years between 60% and 80%.

“He went on to say that at present, more than one million Cambodian families have received loans from different microfinance institutions – counted in December 2008. Among one million families, he assumes that in every family involved, each one receives capital for family supplies; recent figures shows that there are more than three million families in Cambodia. He continued to say, “According to my own calculations, 35% of Cambodian families gain benefits from microfinance.’

“Regarding the global economic crisis, Mr. Bun Mony said, ‘In 2009, we face a somewhat tense situation when we try to expand our loan programs. We cannot expect to achieve 50% to 60% growth like in previous years, but the expansion will decline to only between 10% to 20%.’ He explained that this problem relates to the sources of capital, because we do not yet have enough capital ourselves, while big countries are facing a crisis. It leads also to a slowdown for our country.

“Mr. Bun Mony explained the extent to which the financial crisis affects loan distributions, saying that this crisis affects every country and it affects also Cambodia. As for the microfinance sector, it is heavily affected, because around 80% of the present capital sources from which loans are received for citizens to develop the economy come from foreign countries. While even economically rich countries have a crisis, we are affected. That means we will face difficulties to seek additional sources of capital to strengthen our microfinance activities.

“He went on to say, ‘The difficulties that we are facing is to find sources of capital. Therefore, we have to do something to maintain the sustainability of capital sources, to support sustainable economic development. We all saw that we must strengthen our management to promote trust from the community of international investors, so that they trust the market in Cambodia.’

“Mr. Bun Mony said also, ‘All are challenged by this tense situation. Not only the citizens, also the microfinance institutions and the providers of capital.’ He added that before the financial crisis, 50 banks came to seek opportunities for investment in Cambodia – that is, they provided us loans, since they trust our microfinance systems: there are only 18 licensed institutions, but we have more than 50 capital providers.

“Mr. Bun Mony described what happened to this sector after Cambodia had new financial regulations [requiring a higher cash retention rate]: ‘After we had this new financial regulation, there was no operator saying that they have loans for us.’

“Regarding what the government did to help this sector, Mr. Bun Mony said that previously, he had asked the government to ease restrictions on the local sources of capital, but the government found it difficult to help us. He added that microfinance institutions are absolutely private sector institutions.

“Relating to aid from the government, he said that he received no response from the government, because he had never raised it to the government.

“The chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Cambodian Microfinance Association, Mr. Huot Eng Tong, said that in the present global financial situation, the microfinance sector is suffering serious impacts. ‘Anyway, I strongly hope that the finance sector will receive support from all sides to encourage microfinance institutions to achieve further development and success.’

“Mr. Huot Eng Tong added that this sector plays a crucial role to develop the country, to help Khmer citizens to create, expand, and improve their economic activities, in agriculture, and in population centers and in rural areas, to offer citizens job opportunities, to alleviate poverty, and to provide cheaper financial resources at rural areas than the bigger private sectors do, the institutions with higher interest rates.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4838, 6.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 6 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #131-132, 5-6.3.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Apologizes [to the public] for the Late Closure of Gambling
  • Samdech Prime Minister: [former Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander-in-chief] Ke Kim Yan Will Be the 10th Deputy Prime Minister [heading drug control administration]
  • Asian Human Rights Committee [based in Hong Kong]: Cambodia Should Have an Organization’s Law
  • Cambodia Will Create the Position of a Military Attaché at the [Cambodian] Embassy in the United States of America [according the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong]
  • Two Men Raped a 13-Year-Old Girl and Left Her Get Lost in the Forest [police have not yet arrested the two men although there are indications from the victim’s family – Kompong Thom]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1890, 6.3.2009

  • The European Community Announces New Aid to a Food-for-Work Program in Cambodia [worth approx. US$17 million]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6595, 6.3.2009

  • USAID Provides US$21 Million to Promote Economic Growth
  • Preah Vihear Authorities Start Building Steps to the Preah Vihear Temple
  • In the Northeast of Thailand Is Khmer Surin

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4838, 6.3.2009

  • More Than 35% of Citizens Use Loans from Microfinance Institutions
  • The National Assembly Will Restore Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity
  • Two Months in Early 2009: 16 Factories Closed, 11 Factories Opened, and 16 Factories Suspended Their Work
  • The Korean Ambassador [Mr. Shin Hyun-Suk – 신현석, 申 鉉 錫] Said that despite the Global Economic Crisis, Korea Still Helps Cambodia
  • Ten US Private Companies Come to Check Potential for Future Investment in Cambodia
  • A Man Killed His Colleague and Wrote a Note before Escaping [saying that he killed in self defense, and that he will commit suicide – police are seeking him – Phnom Penh]
  • The United States of America Criticizes Israeli Plan to Demolish Many Houses of Palestinian Citizens

Wat Phnom, Vol.16, #8009, 6-8.3.2009

  • [The Director General of the National Police] General Net Savoeun Digs Out Big Criminal Cases Again [it is not mentioned which ones]; Samdech Hun Sen Sets Two Important Strategies to Reform the National Police Institution [1. Reduce crimes to control social security, and 2. Reduce inactivity of police which makes people not to trust police competence]

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

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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

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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Co-Judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Release Search Warrant after Confidential Information Leaked – Wednesday, 4.3.2009

Posted on 5 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

“The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia – ECCC – released an announcement yesterday, 3 March 2009, about a violation of the confidentiality of investigations, after there was information about confidential documents published by defense lawyers on their website.

“The announcement said that responding to clear and repeated violations against the instruction of the co-investigating judges, the co-investigating judges ordered defense lawyers to stop immediately their publication of documents related to investigations, except for documents that had been published already on the website of the ECCC, and take off those documents from the website of the defense lawyers, otherwise they will be punished for a new offense.

“In the meantime, the co-investigating judges sent copies of the documents of the warrant to the Professional Unit, which relates also to the Defense Protection Unit, to consider measures to be implemented.

“The announcement added that this decision was made based on Regulation 56.1 of the internal regulations of the ECCC, which states, ‘To protect all sides’ rights and interests, investigations must not be made public. All individuals taking part in investigations have to keep confidentiality.’ This regulation must by applied to all individuals joining investigations, especially to lawyers of all sides, and to all types of evidence. The internal Regulation (56.1) adds that only co-investigating judges have the authority to decide to publish information regarding investigations being conducted, or permit any media or any third parties to receive information about investigations.

“In the case that they do not abide by the different conditions defined by judges, Regulations 35 to 38 will be implemented. The co-investigating judges would like to explain the different reasons leading to this decision.

“Before there are public hearings, all procedures of the court always start with short or long investigations, depending on the extent of work. The confidential characteristic of this stage is crucial for the quality of the court process, especially to guarantee the protection of privacy of individuals, whose names are included in case documents, and to guarantee the presumption of innocence, and also the investigative efficiency.

“Co-investigating judges know that the stages of confidential investigations will not allow observers outside of the court to know much of the the process of that procedure. Thus, co-investigating judges try to limit the duration of investigations to make them as short as possible. The co-investigating judges recalled that in Duch’s case, the duration of the investigation was less than one year (the concluding warrant, sending the case for a hearing, with detailed clarifications about the different accusations, was published on 8 August 2008), which cannot be considered to be too long, looking at the complexities of the case. Likewise, the co-investigating judges try as much as possible to work speedily, so that the present investigation of a second case will proceed without delay.

“In order to promote public awareness as much as possible, the co-investigation judges reminded the public that every month, they produce bulletins, briefly describing the activities of different units of the ECCC . In addition, to guarantee the efficiency of all policies above, the co-investigating judges will make more publications than before about their different activities and publish more documents related to the investigations.

“The co-investigating judges would like to remind the public that though all decisions of the court might be opposed by appeals complaints, the respect for decisions has to be upheld.” Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #30, 4.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1382, 4-5.3.2009

  • An American Man Was Found Dead on the Floor [in his house – police concluded his head was hit, but they do not know whether he hit himself or someone hit him – Phnom Penh]

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #30, 4.3.2009

  • Co-Judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Release Search Warrant after Confidential Information Leaked
  • Civil Society Wants that ASEAN Human Rights Committee Has Power
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua Asks Micro-Finance Institutions to Suspend or Delay Seizing Houses and Land of Farmers [while they cannot pay interest to those institutions regularly, because they are affected by the dropping prices of agricultural products]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #130, 4.3.2009

  • [The former commander-in-chief] General Ke Kim Yan Will Become a Deputy Prime Minister
  • It Was Discovered That Electricity Was Stolen at the Residence of His Excellency Oknha Sat Nary [by setting the electricity meters to run slowly; it is estimated that the state lost approx. US$250 per month, but the authorities have not accused anybody]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1887, 3.3.2009

  • Those Who Earn Their Living by Transporting Tourists and the Boat Tourism Association Demonstrate against the Sou Ching Company [which sells tickets to tourists, and after tourists buy tickets from them, they will not allow them to visit the Tonle Sap Lake]
  • Sweden Promises to Support Cambodia [in development and in other sectors – according to the visiting secretary-general of the Swedish Parliament, Mr. Anders Forseberge]
  • The Thai Government Admits that to Arrest [ousted prime minister] Thaksin and Bring Him Back to the Country Is Difficult

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #356, 4.3.2009

  • Kompong Som Residents Were Surprised Seeing Thousands of Body Guards Protecting the Prime Minister and His Family while Swimming at the Sea [on 13 and 14 February 2009]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6593, 4.3.2009

  • Five Civil Society Organizations [the Human Rights and Complaints Reception Committees, the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, the NGO Forum, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers’ Democratic Union and CEDAW] Published a Statement about the ASEAN Human Rights: “Wanting to See This Committee to Have Full Power”

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1418, 4.3.2009

  • The Elimination of Some Obligations for Foreigners to Buy Tickets to Visit the Visit Angkor Region Is Welcomed [before foreign tourists were required to buy three follow-up day tickets by which they had to visit three fixed follow-up days, but now they can choose any three days among the week and as for those who buy one week tickets, they can choose any week of the month]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4836, 4.3.2009

  • US Ambassador for ASEAN Praises the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [Scot Marciel, Ambassador to ASEAN and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs]
  • 77 Enterprises Are Accused at the Court for Not Respecting the Labor Law [by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training and 201 enterprises were fined]
  • Cambodia Prepares to Transport 25 Tonnes of Battery Wastes to Belgium
  • Goods Crossing the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port Drops by 40% during the Global Financial Crisis
  • Rebels Killed Guinea Bissau President
  • Donor Countries Promise to Provide US$5 Billion to Gaza [Saudi Arabia provides US$1 billion, the United State of America US$900 million, and the European Union US$436 million]

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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