The Prime Minister Encourages Officials to Care about the National Interest – Tuesday, 10.8.2010

Posted on 10 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“Prime Minister Hun Sen advised high ranking officials yesterday [9 August 2010] that their positions cannot be passed on to their family members of the next generation, but he suggested to focus on creating contributions in the national interest rather than to maintain their positions.

“In a speech during a forum on questions of national development held by the government in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that government officials should respect and act according to their roles to serve the public.

“He added, ‘Do not forget that the positions of minister, deputy prime minister, secretary of state, and under-secretary of state in all institutions are not permanent ones or can be passed on to your children.’ He went on to say, ‘It is the same for the provincial governors. You cannot keep your positions forever or pass them on to your children. What we do is for the future of the whole nation.’

“A son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Mr. Hun Manet, 32, is a general of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces; he has earned a degree from the US West Point Military Academy and a senior degree in economics from Bristol University of England. However, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that he does not want Mr. Hun Manet to enter politics.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #233, 10.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2323, 10.8.2010

  • A Person Died after Being Run over by a Truck on National Road 1 [in a traffic accident – Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7030, 10.8.2010

  • The Head of the Cambodian Government Called for an International Conference on the Cambodian-Thai Border Dispute at the Preah Vihear Temple
  • More Than 19 Tonnes of Medicines of No Quality Were Burnt by the Authorities at a Medical Waste Area [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3954, 10.8.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Appealed to Foreign Countries to Organize an International Conference to Solve the Cambodian-Siam [Thai] Border Issues Where Tension Cannot Be Solved

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #26, 10.8.2010

  • The Prime Minister Warned Officials Who Are Hungry for Power [trying to pass their power over to their children, but they should rather think about national interest]
  • [Thai Deputy Prime Minister] Suthep Thaugsuban Denied that Thai Troops Are Intruding into Cambodian Territory [as accused by the Phnom Penh government, the Thai side claims that Thai troops are just deployed to protect Thai territory along the border]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #233, 10.8.2010

  • The Prime Minister Encourages Officials to Care about the National Interest
  • The Cambodian Government Encourages Development on the Islands [to attract tourists]
  • Hearing [of opposition party president, Mr. Sam Rainsy, and two imprisoned villagers] over the Uprooting of [Cambodian-Vietnamese] Border Markers Was Delayed [until 30 August 2010, as the two villagers do not have defense lawyer]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5272, 10.8.2010

  • Cambodia Confirmed Adherence to the One-China Policy [by not allowing any Taiwanese representative offices to be opened in Cambodia; according to a speech by Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • Indian Troops Help Train UN Peace-Keeping Skills and Advanced Mine Clearance Techniques for Cambodia Troops
  • The 2010 Khmer Youth Art Event Began with a Big Supporting Audience [at the Chaktomuk hall in Phnom Penh]

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Within Five Months of 2010, Tourist Arrivals to Cambodia Were More Than One Million – Wednesday, 7.7.2010

Posted on 9 July 2010. Filed under: Week 672 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“Phnom Penh: A report of tourist statics shows that within five months of 2010, there were 1,054,821 international tourist arrivals in Cambodia, an increase by 11.53% compared to the corresponding period in 2009, and the arrivals from Vietnam had the highest number.

“The report was released by the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon, for Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen on 29 June 2010, and it was then made available to journalists on 5 July 2010.

“The report says that, among the international tourist arrivals to Cambodia of more than one million, 552,523 tourists came to Cambodia by air (243,907 through the Phnom Penh International airport, and 308,616 through the Siem Reap airport), 409,349 tourists arrived on land, and 34,349 by ship. 58,743 tourists made one-day-return visits.

“Minister Thong Khon said that the 10 major tourism markets of origin for Cambodia within the first five months were:

  1. Vietnam: 175,937 tourists, an increase by 43.76%
  2. Korea: 125,455 tourists, an increase by 33.53%
  3. China: 74,558 tourists, an increase by 32.07%
  4. Japan: 67,658 tourists, an increase by 4.80%
  5. America: 65,472 tourists, a decrease by 5.43%
  6. England: 47,635 tourists, a decrease by 4.86%
  7. France: 46,600 tourists, a decrease by 0.51%
  8. Taiwan: 41,707 tourists, an increase by 41.82%
  9. Australia: 38,118 tourists, an increase by 11.05%
  10. Thailand: 36,995 tourists, a decrease by 13.83%

“Mr. Thong Khon said that the number of international tourists visiting the four priority tourism sites of Cambodia within these five months were:

  1. Siem Reap-Angkor: 565,803 tourists or 45.87% of the total tourist arrivals, increased by 26.63% compared to the same period in 2009.
  2. Phnom Penh: 489,018 or 39.65% of the total arrivals, increased by 11.9%
  3. Seashore regions: 81,459 tourists or 6.60% of the total arrivals decreased by 7.65%
  4. Eco-Tourism regions at the Northeast: 39,791 tourists or 3.23% increased by 91.28%

“Minister Thong Khon said that the number of national tourists visiting tourism resorts and regions countrywide within five months of 2010 were about 3.5 million, increased by 17% compared to the same period in 2009.

“Minister Thong Khon added that the number Cambodian tourists going abroad within five months of 2010 were 194,473, an increase by 14.86% compared to the corresponding period in 2009, where there were 339,698 Cambodian tourists going abroad, a decrease by 56.79% compared to 2008.

Note:
The numbers in the previous sentence do not tally – and this text does not provide any clue how to interpret the figures – giving percentages up to two digits behind the decimal point, so that any effort to speculate what the figures mean could, at the best, lead to some general statements, without pretending precision up to some hundredths of one per cent.
But we still try to mirror in The Mirror what is in the originals.

“The president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, Mr. Ang Kim Ieng, welcomed the increase of international tourist arrivals to Cambodia and said this is because the world is recovering from the economic crisis.

“Mr. Ang Kim Ieng added that even though Asian tourists to Cambodia, especially from Vietnam that stand on top of the list, who spend a short period of three days on average, spending less money than European tourists, it is still a positive sign for the tourism to Cambodia. Also, the current political stability and the good infrastructure of Cambodia, as well as the expansion of flights, help to attract tourists.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5243, 7.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2294, 7.7.2010

  • Municipal Court Ordered [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua to Pay Her Fine within Ten Days [for losing a defamation case against Prime Minister Hun Sen], otherwise she will be detained according to the law; Ms. Mu Sochua rejects to pay[as she considers the court decision not to have been just]
  • A Group of Japanese Investors Asked for Support from the Senate for Agricultural Investments in Cambodia [they began a pilot step by doing rice cultivation on 200 hectares in Battambang for rice export]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #787, 7.7.2010

  • Can the Decision of Ms. Mu Sochua to Allow Herself to Be Imprisoned Change the Judicial System in Cambodia, and Bring Help from the International Community?

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7001, 7.7.2010

  • The Appeals Court Delayed Sam Rainsy’s Hearing [over the removal of border markers at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; it was postponed as two prisoners involved in the case were not present]
  • Cambodia and Laos Connect a Fiber Cable Network [to expand highly effective communications]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3925, 7.7.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: The Sam Rainsy Party Does Not Recognize Any Border Demarcation That Leads to the Loss of [Cambodian] Territory to neighboring countries [especially to Vietnam, where recently some farmers lost their land because of the new settings]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #209, 7.7.2010

  • Cambodia Celebrated the Second Anniversary of the Listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site [on 7 July 2010]
  • Four Forestry Department Higher Level Staff [accused of being involving in forestry crimes] in Koh Kong Were Released Temporarily [but they are still under court investigation; Prime Minister Hun Sen signed off on a letter sent by the Minister of Agriculture to the Koh Kong Court, requesting the temporary release of those forestry officials]
  • [The manager of a company said:] A South Korean Company, Korean Overseas Grains Investment and Development Corporation – KOGID – Plans to Spend US$7.35 Million to Buy Red Corn [from Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5243, 7.7.2010

  • Within Five Months of 2010, Tourist Arrivals to Cambodia Were More Than One Million
  • The Minister of Agriculture of Cambodia Asked Vietnam to Invest in Agriculture [to produce more rice and become a major rice export country like Vietnam]
  • Eight Khmer Citizens Liberated from India Arrived in Cambodia [they had been trafficked to India]
  • [Minister of the Council of Ministers] Sok An: The Cambodian-Laotian Border Is No Longer a Problem [so far 88% of the border markers are set, along the border line of about 600 km]

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About the Clear Separation of Functions and Responsibilities – Sunday, 30.5.2010

Posted on 1 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

According to the Preamble of the Constitution, the Kingdom of Cambodia is a multi-party liberal democracy. That different people make different observations and have different information and different opinions is natural – that these can also be expressed and discussed openly is legal under such a constitution, unless there is any criminal intent involved.

When putting the pieces for the Mirror together day by day, we encounter often confrontative news items which could be resolved easily by an open, mutual, clarifying consultation about facts and structural arrangements, which might overcome personal positions and feelings.

During the past week, we carried a report about a tragic event in India: “160 People Were Killed in a Plane Crash in India.” But this is not just a tragedy – it is necessary to investigate what led to this problem, in order to avoid similar events to happen in future. Naturally, questions about safety procedures have to be clarified – and there were some press reports claiming that the accident was the result of a soft handling of air safety regulations. When this discussion started, the management of Air India claimed to make a thorough investigation by themselves – and prohibited its employees to discuss related questions with the press. This resulted in further protests: “The striking employees were upset over the management’s gag order prohibiting some of its leaders to speak out in public on the Mangalore crash.”

In the meantime, the Indian government has set up a Court of Inquiry headed by a former high court judge, and a Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council with persons with a background in aviation, and experts in engineering and operations. They will conduct the inquiry, not Air India. And the strike was called off.

Does this mean that the Indian government does not trust the management of Air India? Maybe or maybe not – the fundamentally important point is that Operations and Safety are to be handled by two separate, independent bodies, which have to cooperate mutually.

Some months ago, I had an experience in Malaysia where this separation obviously works. – We were about 250 passengers, waiting to board a long distance night flight. But instead of calling us to board the plane, we were told that the flight is canceled, buses would transport us to different hotels and collect us again in the morning. So it happened – connections lost and schedules not met. The explanation: When the plane was prepared for departure, the air safety controller discovered that the pilot had landed only 11 hours ago – but no pilot is allowed to fly again, if not 12 hours passed between two flights. Malaysia Airlines had to accept this ruling from the air safety institution, though it meant a disruption of many schedules and a considerable economic loss. The airline had assigned the pilot – “just one hour too short should be OK” – but the independent safety supervisor rejected this.

Not good personal relations of different actors, and group or institutional loyalties assure smooth an safe procedures, but clearly defined, different institutions – which all have to refer to objectively defined rules. And these rules have to be kept and followed.

When Mr. Om Yentieng was recently appointed as head of the newly created Anti-Corruption Unit, it was reported that some persons from the opposition parties raised critical questions about him – this is a case where different people may have different opinions. But we did not see any critical questions raised against the fact the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit is also automatically a member of the Anti-Corruption Council, the body that is supervising the Anti-Corruption Unit. This is an objectively serious problem, whoever the person is. Everybody has to act responsibly in public offices – but this does not mean to be just responsible to oneself. Responsibility implies that one has to answer what is right and what is wrong to another institution. Where this is not structurally institutionalized, there is the danger that a conflict of interest may lead to wrong results.

Malaysian Airlines had the well founded interest not to disrupt its intercontinental schedule, and not to organize and pay for 250 hotel guests. But the air safety agency hand a different, also well founded interest: that the strict working schedules of pilots have to be kept.

When the US Securities and Exchange Commission [“The mission of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is to protect investors, maintain fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitate capital formation”] started to investigate the Australian mining company BHP Billiton, and links to the US$2.5 million which had been paid as tea money to “Cambodia,” this naturally triggered a public interest where and under whose authorities and according to which rules this money was used. Then an amount of US$20 million from the French oil company Total was added to the surprises, and additional millions from an Indonesian company.

Then allegations surfaced that the ban on sand export, imposed by the government, was not applied, and sand exports to Singapore continued.

Around the time when different partial answers related to payments were reported in the press (which could not be reconciled with each other) the Prime Minister tasked the Senior Ministers Sok An and Keat Chhon to present a consolidated answer to the National Assembly; then also the Ambassador of Cambodia in London offered to publicly discuss and refute such allegations, raised by the British NGO Global Witness.

But on 21 May 2010, the Cambodian Embassy in London withdrew the offer in a letter from which we quote:

On the issue you raised, I am pleased to advise that His Excellency Hor Nambora is no longer prepared
to enter into a public debate with Global Witness.

First, we believe it would be inappropriate to share a platform with representatives of your organisation
since it would appear you have a politically-motivated and hidden agenda to discredit the legitimately-
elected Government of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Second, it seems clear that your group is starting to lose credibility and respect within the international
community, not least for the irresponsible and devious way in which you operate…

In short, as your group, leadership and campaigners certainly suffered from epilepsy and other mental disabilities, it would be more prudent for any Cambodian representatives or officials, not to take part in the debate.

Epilepsy is disease defined in medical terms as “a disorder of the central nervous system characterized by loss of consciousness and convulsions” – it is surprising that the Cambodian embassy claims to have such medical data on the staff of Global Witness, quite apart form the whole style of this official letter.

We do also not have any information that Global Witness “is starting to lose credibility and respect within the international community.” – Global Witness shares the list of their supporters publicly:

Trusts and foundations

  • Adessium Foundation
  • The Blue Moon Fund
  • The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • The DOEN Foundation
  • The Fledgling Fund
  • The Ford Foundation
  • The Jocarno Fund
  • The Joffe Charitable Trust
  • Foundation Open Society Institute (Zug)
  • The David and Elaine Potter Foundation
  • The RH Southern Trust
  • The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
  • The Roddick Foundation
  • The Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation
  • The Sigrid Rausing Trust
  • The Staples Trust
  • The Wallace Global Fund

Development organisations

  • Concern Worldwide
  • Humanist Institute for Co-operation with Developing Countries (Hivos)
  • Oxfam Novib
  • Trocaire

Governments

  • Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  • DFID – Department for International Development (UK)
  • The European Commission
  • Irish Aid – Irish Department of Foreign Affairs
  • Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida)
  • Norad

To accuse Global Witness leadership of “epilepsy and other mental disabilities” is probably not making an impression on the supporters of the world wide activities of Global Witness. It will rather bring embarrassing questions, asking to explain how an embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia can act in such a non-professional way.

In Cambodia today, to make such a public statement, might this lead to a court case for disinformation and defamation.

Again: this is not first of all a question about the person who wrote this letter. It is a question in which way, in the diplomatic service where such a letter was written, responsibility is exercised – not only personally by oneself and for oneself – but in a way that one institution, or one part of the institution, has to submit itself to another institution, to clarify what is acceptable, and what is not, for the Kingdom of Cambodia.

During the week, the question has also been raised, whether somebody from outside tries “to teach” something to Cambodia. This may happen occasionally, but it is not as important as that the field, as described by the Constitution, is kept open to exercise the freedoms of expression and opinion. The article about Mr. Vann Molyvann, who has shaped the image of Phnom Penh and some other places in the contry, is such an example. In spite of his historical role and his achievements, he felt compelled to resign, when his professional judgment as an architect and as a long term protector of Khmer traditional culture was overruled for shot term economic gain. To listen to him is worth while. Not only because this previous warnings about the over-use of ground water in the Angkor area have now – finally – been seen as a real problem which may lead to the collapse of some of the old temples – similar to the destruction of more modern, but historical buildings in Phnom Penh and other cities, that are being destroyed and replaced by modern business buildings, for economic gain.

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Mam Sonando Creates Democrats’ Club to Monitor the Process of Unification between the Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Parties – Monday, 26.4.2010

Posted on 27 April 2010. Filed under: Week 662 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

“Phnom Penh: Recently, Mr. Mam Sonando announced to create a new club – called ‘Democrats’ Club’ – to monitor the negotiations towards unification between the Human Rights and Sam Rainsy parties. This is the goal of the club, according to the president of the Human Rights Party.

“The president of the Human Rights Party, Mr. Kem Sokha, continued to express the intention to unite with the Sam Rainsy Party in order to be victorious in the upcoming elections, though the Sam Rainsy has not responded. Recently, Mr. Kem Sokha said that Mr. Mam Sonando has created a ‘Democrats’ Club’ to monitor the negations between representatives of the Human Rights Party and of the Sam Rainsy Party, to see which party is willing to unite, or if nobody intends to unite.

“During a recent talk with activists of his party in Prey Veng, Mr. Kem Sokha stated that there had been negotiations between officials of the Human Rights and Sam Rainsy parties, but they did not lead to any agreement, as Sam Rainsy officials suspect that the Human Rights Party is demanding too many conditions that the Sam Rainsy Party could not accept, so that the process towards unification got stuck. Therefore, another group, called the Democrats’ Club, was now created to monitor the negotiations. This group aims to find out which party intends to unite, and which does not.

“Mr. Kem Sokha added that Mr. Mam Sonando created this group in order to monitor the process towards unification between the two parties. He said that he does not have any problems – if Sam Rainsy agrees, he will unite immediately. He stressed that his party wants to unite not because his party is weak, but to move together towards victory in the forthcoming elections.

“Mr. Kem Sokha went on to say that this move towards unity is not only for the parties that have seats in the National Assembly, but for all parties, even if they do not have any seats at present, as long as they want to unite with the Human Rights Party.

“Regarding Mr. Kem Sokha’s claim that Mr. Mam Sonando has created this Democrats’ Club to monitor the process towards unity between the Human Rights and the Sam Rainsy parties, Kampuchea Thmey could not reach [the Director of Sombok Khmum Radio] Mr. Mam Sonando for comments, as his phone could not be reached on Saturday afternoon of 24 April 2010. Previously, Mr. Mam Sonando had announced that he would send a request to the Ministry of Interior to ask for the creation of a ‘Democrats’ Club for Uniting Democrats.’ Now it is not yet known how far these plans have been progressing, but according to a source, Mr. Mam Sonando has fulfilled all conditions to request the Ministry of Interior to recognize this organization.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2232, 25-26.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 26 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #462, 25-26.4.2010

  • The United States of America [through the US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol Rodley] Praised that Forestry Crimes Are Intercepted and the Remaining Resources in Cambodia Will Be Preserved
  • Rain, Wind, and Lightning Killed Two Boys and Made Three Houses to Collapse in Kompong Cham

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #102, 26-27.4.2010

  • The Cambodian Confederation Union Calls for Participation [from the general public, civil servants, teachers, and workers] to March to Celebrate the International Labor Day on 1 May 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2232, 25-26.4.2010

    Mam Sonando Creates Democrats’ Club to Monitor the Process of Unification between the Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Parties
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Begins Enlarging National Road 6A [leading from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap] to Reduce Traffic Congestion
  • Three Hundred People Protest as Police Does Not Arrest a Perpetrator, but Held a Man Who Tried to Help [sending an assault victim to hospital, but that assaulted man died on the way, and the helper was arrested by police – Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6939, 26.4.2010

  • Police Raided a Drug Abusing Place and Arrested 38 Young People – Children of the Rich [Phnom Penh]
  • Siam [Thailand] Released Seven Khmers to Cambodia through the Choam Sragam Border Crossing after Holding Them Two Years in Jail [for entering Thai territory to illegally cut trees]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3863, 26.4.2010

  • The Opposition Party Wants to See that the World Bank Investigation Is Successful [about the development of the Boeng Kak lake area] so as to Provide Justice to Residents of the Boeng Kak Lake Community

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #155, 26.4.2010

  • Boeng Kak Residents Call for the Provision of Land Titles as the Master Plan [for the development of the area] Has Been Approved [by the Phnom Penh municipal governor – but not been published; it will be sent for approval by the Council for the Development of Cambodia]
  • Three People Died in Svay Rieng [because of diarrhea; the local authorities blamed them for eating unhygienic food]
  • A Suspect Was Arrested for Carrying a 6-Year-Old Girl to a Rice Field while She Was Asleep, and then He Raped Her [Takeo]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5181, 26.4.2010

  • China, Japan, Korea, India, and the ASEAN Countries Will Join to Perform Shows of the Buddha’s Life in Siem Reap [from 25 to 29 April 2010 to celebrate Visakh Bochea]
  • Laotian Soldiers Killed a Khmer Citizen and Arrested Two Others [accusing them of entering their territory illegally to cut trees]
  • Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the Thai government] Asked for the Dissolution of the Parliament within 30 Days, while the Government Ordered the Military to Crack Down on Them [no ultimatum date given]

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Civil Society Encourages a Solution to Be Found in Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Case – Tuesday, 2.3.2010

Posted on 3 March 2010. Filed under: Week 654 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 654

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee published a statement, calling for a political solution for the president of the biggest opposition party of Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy.

“The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, a coalition of 23 non-government organizations, issued the statement late last week.

“The committee regrets that a lawyer of the government filed a lawsuit against Mr. Sam Rainsy, in addition to the complaint which had been handled by the Svay Rieng court. Civil society organizations wrote that the new complaint will pose more concerns among national and international opinion about the recent political situation in Cambodia, especially relating to the space for democracy and the role of parliamentarians; opposition party parliamentarians were frequently sued, while important issues in the country need the involvement by all political parties. In this sense, the committee thinks that party leaders should focus more on the national interest and unite through negotiations to peacefully settle national issues.

“The committee stated, ‘We would like to encourage our political leaders to respect each other and to negotiate patiently, discussing national problems so that Cambodian citizens can live in peace and in a democratic society.’

“The executive director of the Cambodian Defenders’ Project – a member of the committee, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun – explained that the statement is aimed not only at the government, but at both parties. Mr. Sok Sam Oeun said, ‘Also Mr. Sam Rainsy should soften his position.’

“However, there seems to be less hope that there can be political coordination like in 2005, as Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen stated that he will not ask for an amnesty for Mr. Sam Rainsy again. Last week Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said, ‘I can say now that in the next elections, there will be opposition parties, but not such a person (like Sam Rainsy).’

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen even considered Mr. Sam Rainsy’s activities as traitorous.

“The lawyer Sok Sam Oeun said that it is difficult to follow the way of politicians.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5139, 2.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #423, 2.3.2010

  • India Provided a Loan of US$15 Million for the Construction of Electricity Lines from Kratie to Stung Treng
  • Citizens Accused Banteay Meanchey Custom Officers of Extorting Money, though They Transport Goods Legally [more than 30 homebuilt small tractors loaded with goods were blocked, extorting Riel 50,000 each, approx. US$12, to let them pass]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2190, 2.3.2010

  • It Is Estimated that in 2010 in Cambodia, There Will be 56,200 People Having AIDS [29,500 women and 16,700 men – according to the Ministry of Health]
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Adds a Thai Language Section to Its Website [a government official said that doing so amid border conflicts with Thailand seems to express support towards foreign aggression]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6897, 2.3.2010

  • Thirty Six Hectares of Rubber Trees [of six families] Are in a Conflict [a company that wants to buy the land, while the owners do not want to sell it], Where by Now Thirty Hectares Have Been Burnt Down [by unknown persons – Kompong Cham]
  • More Cambodian Students Learn French [the number increased from 45,000 students in 2005 to more than 110,000 in 2009 [announced at the occasion of a meeting between the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French embassy]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3821, 2.3.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Welcomes the New Lawsuit by the Government, as Those Loving Justice around the World Sympathize with Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #121, 2.3.2010

  • The Opposition Party and Civil Society [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] Are Concerned about the Knot Tied between the Private Sectors and the Troops [saying that private companies might use the military power of those supported to support their illegal businesses], but this Was Rejected [by the government]
  • Cholera Is Affecting Five Provinces and one City [Kandal, Kompong Speu, Prey Veng, Takeo, and Phnom Penh; 223 cases of diarrhea are suspected to be Cholera – according to the Ministry of Health]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5139, 2.3.2010

  • Civil Society Encourages a Solution to Be Found in Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Case
  • Cambodia and America Cooperate to Fight Cross-Border Crimes and Sex Tourism [so far, 14 American tourists were arrested by the Cambodian authorities and sent to America to be convicted for child sex tourism; at present, Cambodia and the United States of America are cooperating on 30 cases of sex tourism]
  • [Two] Robbers Robbed a Gold Seller, Taking 300 Chi of Gold [worth approx. US$40,200], and in Cash Riel 4 Million [approx. US$950], and US$100 [Phnom Penh]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1884, 2.3.2010

  • Thai Security Is Tightened after Bomb Explosions [in Bangkok]

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From 2009 to 2010 – Where Are We Heading? – New Year, 1-3.1.2010

Posted on 2 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 645 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 645

According to different criteria, there are various ways to find measures to evaluate processes and situations. There are absolute measurements with fixed figures, and there are relative considerations – comparing different figures, or situations, and how they relate to each other.

An interesting example for the latter approach is in a report, quoting a high ranking member of the National Assembly, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Commission for Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit, who is also chairperson of the Permanent Committee of the Central Committee of the Cambodian People’s Party; he admitted “that some government officials from the Cambodian People’s Party are corrupt” – qualifying the statement with two additions: Not all are corrupt, and: There are also opposition party officials who commit corruption.

To put corruption in this way into a wider context seems to indicate that, after all, it is not a major problem. But it does not change the fact that corruption is corruption.

But this is now going to change – an anti-corruption law, existing in different stages of being prepared since the mid 1990ies, several times promised to be adopted at specific points in time, had recently been announced to move to reality in 2009. At least the draft has been sent from the Council of Ministers to the National Assembly, but it is still being kept secret. Except for one or two point, according to the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers:

“The only details of the anti-corruption law that have been made public on Friday is the fact that the staff of NGOs are required to disclose their personal assets. Under the law, NGO workers are defined as public servants, and side-by-side with officials who are paid by the government, they must disclose their assets. ‘It is an obligation to do so, if you don’t do it, you are jailed,’ Mr. Phay Siphan is quoted to have said.

Though the text of the draft law has not been published, is is just assumed that the same disclosure requirements and threats of punishment will also refer to non-NGO public servants.

Phnom Penh Buildings

Phnom Penh Buildings

Some friends wonder how such gorgeous buildings – for personal use on the right, or for rent to many, on the left – could be built by public servants with their known small public remunerations. Can it be assumed that the ownership of such buildings will also have to be disclosed according to the not yet published law?

But why this secrecy about the draft? The spokesperson of the Council of Minister claims that “the draft law cannot be made public, because it has yet to arrive at the National Assembly. Once it arrives there, it can then be released to the public.” But is it not a contradiction that he himself discussed part of it already publicly: the regulations about NGO staff? The shutting out of the people to accompany the process of the drafting of a law over more that a decade is difficult to understand; after all, as Article 51 of the Cambodian Constitution describes the public holding high authority: “The Cambodian people are the masters of their country.”

It is interesting to see that the attitude of high level government officials to keep information and differing opinions away from the public is at present being challenged in India.

The Indian Junior Foreign Minister [a Secretary of State] Mr. Shashi Tharoor questioned – publicly and on the Internet – the usefulness of new rules to tighten the visa processes for long term foreign tourists as a measure to control terrorism. “Issue is not security vs. tourism, but whether visa restrictions protect our security. [The city of Mumbai] killers had no visas,” [which had left 166 people dead] he wrote on Twitter. After he had been reprimanded and ordered to keep discussions out of the public, and to understand the “political culture,” he defended himself in a press conference, pointing out that he tried to put the debate on security into the wider context of different aspects of reality. And on the Internet he wrote: “But thanks for all the kind words over the last 24 hrs. Appreciate the support!”

Observing the Khmer press, there are many instances where some cause is mentioned – but not some second cause, which, according to other sources, definitely relate to the first one. In this way, a well advised further look and discussion is not facilitated, or it is even avoided intentionally.

As the Mirror tries to look whenever possible into the wider context – that is: other news available in the Khmer press, sometimes only days, or weeks, or even months or years in the past, but also information publicly available on the Internet, sometimes also adding some questions. We will try to put more of such Links into the regular production from now on, hoping that this may foster reflection, debate, and sometimes action.

The following are examples to show what this may mean, in relation to some specific, recent items:

We had these headlines:

  • A Cambodian Official [the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong]: Cambodia Will Not Be Affected, though the Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Preah Vihear Temple Support Agreement
  • A Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Joint Statements of Cambodia and Thailand during the Administration of [the former Thai prime minister] Mr. Samak’s Government [to support Cambodia to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site]

Link:

We missed – since the beginning until now – any report in any media in Cambodia, showing what the Cambodian delegation had agreed to in July 2008 to the following, neither have we read about the preparation for the next meetin of the World Heritage Committee next month:

Explanation of the term “RGPP” under the following Point 6.:

  • 6. Noting that the State Party of Cambodia submitted to the World Heritage Center the revised graphic plan of the property (RGPP) included in WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add2 (hereinafter called ” RGPP”) indicating a revised perimeter of the area proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List.

From the text of the decisions and conditions listing the Temple of Preah Viher as a UNESCO World Heritge Site:

  • 14. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners, to examine general policy matters relating to the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards;
  • 15. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents:

    a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone identified in the RGPP;

    b) updated Nomination dossier to reflect the changes made to the perimeter of the property;

    c) confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP;

    d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan;

  • 16. Further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center by February 2010, for submission to the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010 a full Management Plan for the inscribed property, including a finalized map.

We are not aware that this “revised graphic plan” was anywhere made public in Cambodia. The original graphic plan, which had been presented by the Cambodian delegation, described only a very narrow strip of about 30 meter around the main Preah Vihear Temple as the requested area for the World Heritage Site listing.

We had these news items:

  • The Authorities Armed with Electric Batons and Shields Blocked [nearly 100] Sereypheap Market Vendors from Protesting in Front of the Residence of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen [in Phnom Penh]
  • The Sereypheap Market Is Totally Demolished to Take the Land to Construct Flats for Sale; Market Vendors Can Just Cry

Link:

Other reports refer to a decision of the Prime Minister in June 2009, on a the policy for markets. After the Council of Ministers had released it on 16 June 2009, the vendors thanked the Prime Minister in writing. But now the Prime Minister’s deputy cabinet chief said that the case is not under the control of the Prime Minister.

But they have 25 years contracts, out of which only 13 are spent. Others have demolition equipment and electric batons. Who has the final say? What, then, is the value of a contract and of a promise?

We had this headline:

  • [The Thai Foreign Minister] Kasit Piromya Asked Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Stop Supporting Thaksin Shinawatra [in order to restore diplomatic ties]

Link:

Previously published Thai statements have always clearly based their requests to Cambodia on the fact that the former Thai prime minister has been convicted by Thai courts for a specific case of corruption, involving the sale of valuable public property to the – then – wife of Mr. Thaksin, and that, in addition, he has violated his bail conditions by not returning to the country, so that he is considered a fugitive criminal by Interpol.

But the spokesperson of the Cambodian Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia rejects the suggestions by the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs as a violation of sovereignty rights of Cambodia. “He should learn to respect a nation as a sovereign state. And recently we heard that Thaksin was appointed to another state” [Sri Lanka], as the Cambodia Daily reported about the statements by the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers.

It is reported that the Sri Lankan government firmly denied this.

But does it mean that a fugitive criminal – under an Interpol search warrant – can be considered to be welcome under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia?

We had this headline:

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Congratulated [19] Khmer Students for Winning Prizes from the Isles International University in Europe

Link:

In the Mirror, in a note to a Kampuchea Thmey headline, we had expressed some doubts about the event, about which the Cambodia Daily of 9 December 2009 had said that 19 “senior officials, lawmakers and businessmen were awarded doctoral degrees yesterday morning by the Isles International University, an organization that appears to be an international diploma mill with strong links to the discredited Irish International University… which was exposed as having no links to Ireland’s educational system in 2006, after having awarded honorary degrees to a number of politicians, including to the premier himself….”

Now, the Isles International University claimed to have been “‘approved by the Minister of Education in the Brithsh Isles of Grea Brivtain’ [spelling errors in the original] in an apparent reference to Great Britain. However, IIU’s name does not appear on a list of accredited, degree-awarding universities provided yesterday by the British Embassy in Phnom Penh.”

Advertisements, for example in the Cambodia Daily on 22.12.2009, with the names of the new Doctors and their pictures in academic gear, were placed by the Cambodian business conglomerate SKL Group Holding.

The group picture was prefaced by the text:

  • “Congratulations to all Graduates of Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Degree from Isles International University of European Union last 8th December 2009. The ceremony was held at the Hun Sen Cultural Center and being presided by Samdech HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • “To all Graduates who received the Grand Commander Order of the Noble World Order and Commander Order and Cavalier Order of the Noble World Order from King Albert II of Belgium.”

On 30.12.2009, the Cambodia Daily reported in a lengthy, detailed article under the headline Belgian Foreign Ministry Stumped by King Albert II Honors: “The Belgian government and royal palace have said they have no knowledge of the provenance of honors named after Belgian’s reigning monarch, King Albert II, that were recently awarded in Cambodia.”

One might expect that the story comes to an end here: an unfortunate fraud. But the revelations from the Belgian authorities did not result in embarrassment in Cambodia. The Cambodia Daily reports:

The office of one recipient said: “Generally, whenever they give him a medal, he must be happy. The university must have a network in Belgium.”

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who was awarded the Grand Commander Order of the Noble World Order of King Albert II, is quoted to have said: “I do not have any information about this award, but the Belgian government gave it to me…”

Actually, it did not.

The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers is quoted to say that “Isles plans to open its Cambodian branch after carrying out a six-month feasibility study that will begin in January… Sooner or later, Cambodia will have an IIU campus… We must study the market first.” He added that “the Isles’ Cambodian campus will be the organization’s first anywhere in the world…”

It has no accreditation in any country to give supposedly high academic degrees in any country, it has fraudulently given doctoral degrees and Royal Orders which are of no academic or royal dignity – but it is obviously still welcome to apply for accreditation in Cambodia; only “We must study the market first.” Is this the main criterion for the future of the country?

Where are we heading?

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The Financial Sector in Cambodia Employs 14,698 People – Tuesday, 27.10.2009

Posted on 28 October 2009. Filed under: Week 636 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 636

“Phnom Penh: All banks and micro-credit institutions in Cambodia employ 14,698 Cambodian persons, according to a report from the National Bank of Cambodia.

“The report of the National Bank issued recently said that banks and micro-credit institutions provide jobs for 14,698 people.

“The report shows that all commercial and other special banks create jobs for 9,550 citizens in total, while micro-finance institutions employ 5,148 people.

“According to this report, all banks in Cambodia recognized by the National Bank provide a variety of numbers of jobs. The banks employ between 13 to 6,128 persons, while the micro-finance institutions employ freom 6 to 1,024 persons.

“Based on the report, the job market in the banking and micro-finance sectors has achieved a moderate growth rate. In 2007, all commercial and other special banks provided 6,869 jobs, while in 2006, they could employ only 4,624 persons. Micro-finance institutions employed just 3,511 persons in 2007, and only 2,503 persons in 2006.

“By now, there are 24 commercial banks, 6 specialized banks, 18 micro-finance institutions, 26 rural credit operators, and about 60 organizations handling credits.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5031, 27.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #321, 27.10.2009

  • India Promised to Provide US$15 Million in Loans to Cambodia [for economic and social development]
  • The Ministry of Health Warned Clinics That Offer A/H1N1 Vaccine [saying that the vaccine has to be approved by the Ministry of Health]
  • [Anonymous] Robber Stabbed a Man [to death] to Rob His Motorbike – He Escaped Safely [Siem Reap]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2082, 27.10.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor’s Statement [about Thaksin] Does Not Affect the Cambodian-Thai Relationship [according to Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva]
  • A Philippine Man Was Convicted to Serve 25 Years in Prison, and Fined to Pay Riel 80 Million [US$20,000] for Cross Border Drug Smuggling [Phnom Penh]
  • Samdech Euv [the former King] Does Not Want to Celebrate His Birth Day [on 31 October 2009, but he does not provide any reason]
  • Bombs Exploded against the Government in Baghdad, Killing 147 People

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6789, 27.10.2009

  • The Phnom Penh Authorities Prepare 6,530 Uniformed Forces to Maintain Order during the Water Festival [from 2 to 4 November 2009]
  • Six Communes in Russey Keo District Are Flooded by Rain [Phnom Penh – the Russey Keo Deputy governor, Mr. Kob Sles, blames climate change – but according to other sources, residents blame the unchecked filling of natural ponds and lakes by property developers for the disaster]
  • A Monk Beat a Nun to Death, then Took Off His Robe and Hid in a Temple [he was arrested – Banteay Meanchey]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5031, 27.10.2009

  • The Financial Sector in Cambodia Employs 14,698 People
  • Cambodian Troops Increase Alert at the Border after the War of Words between Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit
  • Sam Rainsy Led Villagers to Remove Border Markers [set by the Cambodian and Vietnamese border committees] and the Government Accused Him of Destroying State Property

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1816, 27.10.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy parliamentarian] Son Chhay: The Prime Minister Has Never Appeared in the National Assembly to Question Him According to the Law Since 1993

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Knowing – Using – or Disregarding the Law – Sunday, 18.10.2009

Posted on 20 October 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 634 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634

Discussions about the law, or actions without much awareness or even disregard for the law, are reaching the media regularly, sometimes in increasing numbers – just like now. This reflects, of course, also a general awareness in certain sections of the public.

Whoever mentions the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia is mostly happy about it, and since the introduction of the Senate into to political structures of the country, there was hardly any suggestion that the Constitution should be changed – though there have been repeated pleas that its implementation should be improved. Though one member of the National Assembly is reported to have said recently he regrets that the death penalty is excluded by the Constitution – an opinion quite contrary to international developments during the last decade.

But that does not mean that it is always clear how certain basic statements in the Constitution are to be translated into practice. The conflicts between different mobile phone service providers, going on since a couple of weeks already, have shown this.

The Constitution simply says in Articles 56, 57, and 63:

  • “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall adopt the market economy system.
  • The preparation and process of this economic system shall be determined by the law.
  • Tax collection shall be in accordance with the law…
  • The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

But had it been “determined by law” what, for example, as we mirrored on 15 October 2009, that “Road Tax Checking for 2009 Will Begin on 16 October 2009 Countrywide.” Why only now in October, one might ask – does this boost tax income, or did it delay payments to the state by those who have enough resources to own motorized vehicles?

The charges and payment methods of several old and new mobile phone providers – all supposedly operating according to a market economy system – led not only to confrontative discussions among them, but also to a disruption of certain services: some systems were said to not have forwarded calls to some other systems – the users, the consumers, suffered from these conflicts, so that finally appeals to the government were made to find solutions.

What had happened? Some newer companies had started to offer new fee and payment systems, including free calls between users of the same system, but charging for calls to others networks. Competitive pricing seemed for those who offered it within the market economy system, as in many other countries – where it is left to the market to see which company survives with the response they get from their customers.

The Constitution, concerned with the most favorable results for the end consumer, seems to support this also:

  • “The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

Cheaper communication costs seem to fulfill this goal.

It is always a good practice so look at innovative approaches in other countries – not necessarily to follow everything, but to seriously consider solutions others found in their context:

Earlier this year, the Tata corporation of India, dealing with cars, telecommunications, and steel, is setting up with the Japanese DOCOMO company, a new cellular service in the Indian market, where there are already more than 350 million customers. So Tata DOCOMO had to find ways to compete. All very similar to Cambodia – but on a much smaller scale. Tata DOCOMO used special lower cost pricing – charging per second where others charge per minute, charging SMS by the number of of letters sent, and not per message.

But it seems that decisions have been taken in Cambodia not to allow a “free market management,” by not allowing some companies to offer their customers free services. And even a special private company will be introduced to do the work which in many other countries is one of the tasks of the regulators, not of another private company – doing public coordination – which was not formed as a not-for-profit, and not by public bidding.

Not according to existing laws, but by administrative intervention, a market problem is being solved.

During the week, another crucial problem of acting within and according to the framework of the law was raised: Who knows what the law says – how is this made know? Known to the citizens what rights they have, and know to the law enforcement agents throughout the country – the police and the courts – which rights of the citizens they have to protect.

We repeat some observations from Saturday, 19.10.2009 – more details and the source is there:

Civil Society Wants to See that the Government Publishes the Contents of Law as Broadly as It Does at the National Assembly

“Though Article 13 of the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Council of Ministers (1994) provides that “all norms and standards with general effect must be published in the Official Gazette,” the publication of Cambodian laws is intermittent, incomplete and poorly distributed…

“On the basis of the Cambodian specific experience … there is an argument that the publication and distribution of law in electronic form is an appropriate tool to address the question of access to information in a legal system which has operated without adequate access to even the most basic legal information.

“Though there are issues to consider with regard to the development of a legal information system which will work in the Cambodian context, the country would appear to be at a juncture whereby there is sufficient political will to commence a dialogue with government, academia and civil society with a view to developing a model for the sustainable provision of legal information via the internet. Ideally, any movements in this direction would be accompanied by a regulation requiring all institutions of state to provide certain identified classes of documents for free electronic distribution…”

But there are different opinions about the sequence in which new legislation is needed in society: “The Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers Said that an Anti-Corruption Law Should Be Created before a Demonstration Law.” Why this sequence? “Because if corruption can be prevented, workers and citizens in general will not demonstrate or strike.”

Of course there are also those who just don’t seem to care, as long as the law enforcement leadership of the country does not care either, as we had mirrored:

“Koh Kong, Kompong Thom, and Prey Veng Governors Do not Care about Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Crack Down On Gambling”

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One Million Cambodians Have Diabetes and Hypertension – Monday,30.3.2009

Posted on 31 March 2009. Filed under: Week 605, Week 606 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 606

“Phnom Penh: As living becomes more modern and nourishing food increases, Cambodian people are facing two types of diseases that up to one million people have: diabetes and hypertension.

“The director of the Disease Information Center which is treating, counseling, and observing 1,300 people having diabetes in Phnom Penh and in Takeo, Mr. Maurits van Pelt, said, ‘At present, in Cambodia there are one million people having diabetes and hypertension.

“According to observations by the World Health Organization and of the Ministry of Health, 12% of people in Siem Reap and 20% in Kompong Cham have hypertension. Also, a similar observation which was conducted from 2004 to 2005 found that 5% of people in Siem Reap and 11% in Kompong Cham have diabetes.

“What is the cause of the high prevalence hypertension? Mr. Maurits van Pelt explained that it is because not many Cambodian people do exercise, and many eat much, making them fat and pot-bellied. Furthermore, it is also a result of genetic factors, since in China and in India, many people have such diseases, and Khmers have much genetic material in common with the two people.

“He added, ‘Laziness not to do exercise, no roads for walking, and some other factors resulting from different diseases, make people have hypertension. Also some urinary diseases may lead to hypertension and other diseases.’

“The president of the Disease Information Center questioned why leaders of rich countries are often slim and leaders of poor countries are fat and pot-bellied. He went on, ‘Khmer leaders do not act as models of the people, because they are too fat. Khmers like pot-bellies showing that that they are wealthy.’

“He continued to say that slim people have about 50 % of all diseases that exist, but fat people have more diseases, and overweight people are found to live seven years less than others. Urban people have twice as often hypertension, compared to those living in the countryside.

“He added, ‘Normally, we need to sweat half an hour per day, but many people say that the weather is too hot and they do not want to sweat; this is not right. To avoid overweight, we need to do physical work at least 30 minutes per day, and should not eat too much.’

“What should we eat to prevent hypertension and diabetes? Mr. Maurits van Pelt said that we should eat much vegetable, and eat some fish; Khmers should rather eat unpolished rice, for it contains Vitamin B, but Khmers like eating white rice for its taste, yet it contains much sugar and lacks vitamins.

“He said also, ‘If people are overweight, they must do exercise to put off their weight. Their health will be better. When they can put off a lot of weight to be in the right proportion with their height, they will no longer have hypertension.’

“Mr. Maurits warns, ‘The spreading of these diseases will increase, because there are more overweight people than before, more vehicles, more American food imported to Cambodia, which contains a lot of cholesterol, and such long-processed food is not good.’

“Regarding people having diabetes, Mr. Maurits said that diabetes patients have to be careful not to have hypertension. He added that if they have diabetes for five years, they may get urinary diseases and continue to have hypertension. Therefore, people who have diabetes have to do exercises, eat food that is not salty, and take care not to get overweight.

“He added that besides providing education through a Friends-Educate-Friends Program for people with diabetes in a district in Takeo and at poor regions in Phnom Penh, he is asking for funds from the European Unions to expand the program at Thma Puok district in Banteay Meanchey. But, there is no response from donors yet.

“He criticized donors, “I asked them once, but they did not agree to provide funds, saying that it is not important. They tell me to work with AIDS, but there are only more than 60,000 AIDS patients, while there are one million people having hypertension and diabetes.’

“He added that donors provide 60% of their funds for AIDS and less than 1% for non-infectious diseases. He said, ‘There are many AIDS and tuberculosis experts, but why aren’t there non-infectious disease experts?’

“Mr. Maurits continues to say, ‘I think Khmers dare not to ask for aid for this field. I think that is wrong.’

“The director of the World Health Organization in Cambodia, Mr. Michael O’Leary, said during the closure of the health convention last week that the high prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, and the changes of the pattern of living is a clear sign of the spreading of interaction between these in Cambodia.

“He added that a study shows that about half of the Cambodian men smoke cigarettes, and this number is still increasing. With these interrelated problems, progress must be made to deal with health care needs, for which the government has to find responses.

“However, [the Minister of Health] Dr. Mam Bunheng said, ‘The rate of smokers among men and women declines, but the indicators of the program have not yet achieved their goal in 2008. That is diabetes, hypertension, and the identification of people suffering on their heads in traffic accidents are difficult to measure. Therefore rechecking is necessary.”Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4858, 30.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Amnach Reas, Vol.2, #45, 30-5.3.2009

  • Rate of Students Dropping Out of School Is Still High
  • The Number of Rapes of Underage Persons Is Higher Than the Rapes of Adults [according to a report of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC, there were 419 rapes of women and children in 2008, out of which 280 cases were against underage persons]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #150, 29-30.3.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Calls on Red Shirt Group to Demonstrate against [Prime Minister] Abhisit until He Resigns
  • England Asks G-20 Economic Summit Session to Increase Fund to Assist Impoverished Countries by Around US$100 Billion

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1910, 29-30.3.2009

  • Phnom Penh Governor Allows the Opposition Party to Hold a Buddhist Commemoration Ceremony in Front of the Former National Assembly [for those who were killed by the grenade attack on 30 March 1997]
  • A Dam Broke in Jakarta and Killed 60

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6615, 30.3.2009

  • Siamese [Thai] Merchants Come to Buy Dry Cassava Like Normal

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4858, 30.3.2009

  • The Government Will Not Set the Start of the Trial of Khmer Rouge Leaders on 30 March as a National Holiday
  • One Million Cambodians Have Diabetes and Hypertension
  • The United Nations Highly Assesses the Royal Government for Combating AIDS and Human Trafficking

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1684-685, 29-30.3.2009

  • [The director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia] Mr. Chhang Youk Questions Why Duch Alone Is Heard in Court, but Not Also Nearly 200 Other Prison Chiefs
  • Khmer Side Demands Siamese [Thai] Troops to Withdraw Mine Danger Signs Put [along the Border in Samlot, Battambang]
  • [The chairperson of the Cambodian Committee for Solving Border Disputes] Va Kimhong Acknowledges that Solving Border Disputes Bilaterally Is Useless [he had said so nearly one year ago already, negotiations were useless]
  • [The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Rong Chhun: The Prime Minister Acknowledged that the Quality of Education in Cambodia Is Low [recently in a public speech], while [the Minister of Education] Im Sethy Is Very Angry [about a survey by the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association – allegedly not carried out carefully, and producing some wrong data, especially about high dropout rate]

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The Use of Agricultural Chemical Pesticides Is Still Popular despite Knowing that They Are Dangerous – Friday, 13.2.2009

Posted on 14 February 2009. Filed under: Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror

“Phnom Penh: Even though there are reminders from officials of the Ministry of Agriculture to be careful when using agricultural chemical pesticides, at present, many farmers at different places said that they still cannot give it up. Farmers in Kandal said that the use of agricultural chemical pesticides is still a crucial method that cannot be given up so that their crops provide good yields to meet the markets and their needs. In the meantime, experts found that there are up to 147 types of agricultural chemical pesticides sold on markets, and among them between 40 and 50 types strongly harm the health of consumers.

“Mr. Nob (name provided by the writer), 48, a farmer in a commune of Kandal S’ang district, said that so far, he still uses agricultural chemical pesticides, although he knows that they can affect his health and that of the consumers, because there is no choice.

“Kandal borders on Phnom Penh, and it is a province which supplies agricultural products, such as vegetables and fruits to the markets in Phnom Penh and in other provinces. Some districts along the lower Mekong and Basak rivers are also sources of vegetables.

“Mr. Nob is a farmer growing many kinds of crops, such as cabbage, salad, and [edible] Khatna flowers in his village, in order to supply them to the markets in Phnom Penh. The method he uses to take care of his crops until they provide yields is to use agricultural chemical pesticides that he can buy easily from different places in his locality.

“He said, ‘I must use them so that my crops grow well, and if I do not use them, worms will eat all the crops.’ According to his description, he and his villagers have so far not seen any official experts in agriculture coming to instruct them and to explain the impact of the use of agricultural chemical pesticides, and to start to produce natural poison or natural fertilizer, although nowadays, the Minister of Agriculture and some organizations are encouraging citizens to cut down on the use of agricultural poison or chemical fertilizers, saying one can change to natural fertilizer and natural methods of pest control.

“Responding to this problem, the Svay Prateal commune chief in S’ang, Kandal, Mr. Nuon Soeun, said that agricultural officials did never come to explain the impact of the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer, but previously, there were organizations coming to help educate farmers some time, but the farmers seemed not interested in it. He added that natural pesticides are likely more difficult to produce and more tiring than to use chemical pesticides.

“He went on to say, ‘I also used to produce poison to prevent insects from destroying some types of crops, it takes half a month at least to find the resources and to mix them. As for chemical pesticides, I just go to the market to buy them, mix them with water, and apply it on crops; that’s all.’

“According to his experience, to produce natural poison to prevent insects, farmers need to find many different resources such as the bark of the Sdao tree, the poisonous fruit of the Sleng tree, and the poisonous bark of the Kantuot tree, and soak them in water that is then used to apply to the crops. He said that doing so is complicated and can make farmers get tired of it. According to information from him, among more than 3,000 families, most of them take up cropping, and up to 90% of them use agricultural chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizer.

“At present, the Ministry of Agriculture, especially the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Chan Sarun, who always goes directly to different localities countrywide, appeals to farmers to change their habits from using agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer to using natural poison and natural fertilizer. The change, that the Ministry of Agriculture wants, is to ensure the health of the farmers themselves and also of the consumers; that is to care for the quality of soil and water – without any poison. Many hazards might happen because farmers use chemical pesticides without proper instruction from experts. Also, the ministry encourages its officials to go to educate farmers at their localities about these problems.

“The S’ang district governor, Mr. Khim Chankiri, and the director of the Kandal Agricultural Department, Mr. Bun Tuon Simona, denied what residents had mentioned: that expert officials never reach out to them to instruct them about the impact of chemical pesticides, and they said that these problems are what they actually are focusing on.

“Mr. Chankiri added that before, district officials went to instruct them about these problems, and moreover, the department had sent officials. He continued to say, ‘Most of them thought it was wasting their time, instead of working on cropping, but they did take part. This is why they said that there was never any official going to educate them regularly.’ As for Mr. Tuon Simona, he said that so far, the agricultural department went to educate them regularly about how to create natural fertilizer and many different measures to protect crops and prevent impacts of the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer.

“However, according to another farmer in another province and some other people, they said the same about the presence of agricultural officials. They said that they rarely saw agricultural officials going to meet farmers, except when there were ceremonies to accompany their higher officials. Actually, relating to this problem, obviously there should be more active outreach by experts than before, rather than pointing to the statements of higher officials. They often assume that lower officials are inactive for different reasons, or they create just project expenses about non existing tasks. Therefore, farmers cannot receive what the Minister wants.

“Regarding this problem, the director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture [CEDAC], Dr. Yang Saing Koma, said that generally, the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer has become already a habit of the farmers. Thus, to change them, takes time and needs participation.

“He added, ‘If the use of chemical products has already become their habit, it is most difficult to change.’

“By now, there are hundreds of types of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer on the local markets – according to a study by the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture .

“The project coordinator of CEDAC, Mr. Keam Makarady said that in 2008, the center found there were up to 147 types of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer at the markets all over Cambodia, among which 53% were imported from Vietnam and 37% from Thailand. Among them, from 40 to 50 types can enter into vegetables and fruit, when pesticides are administered on them.

“He emphasized, ‘Talking about chemical substances, we found 147 types, but talking about commercial names of pesticides, there are up to 606 types.’

“According to the findings of the center in 2007, there were only 132 agricultural chemical pesticides on the market, and 472 commercial names. Therefore, within one year, all his increased greatly.

“He said that that those kinds of pesticides are harmful to the health of users, particularly farmers, who use and touch them directly.

“Based on Mr. Makarady words, those pesticides can directly affect farmers, for example they cause getting dizzy and having to vomit, they can damage the stomach and the bladder, cause skin diseases, and weaken the health. They indirectly affect also consumers who eat their products, especially chemical pesticides that can enter into vegetables and fruit.

“Relating to the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer, a farmer in Kandal, who grows banana, said (by not mentioning his name), that – in order to meet their demands – farmers use those chemical pesticides. He added that if they grow and their products depend only on the nature, farmers cannot harvest enough to meet the demands of the market.

“He emphasized, ‘After a banana tree loses its flowers, it takes three months for bananas to ripe. But if chemicals are applied, they can make it ripe within two months. Just apply chemicals one or two times, and small bananas grow really big, and they look as if they had been pumped up like a balloon.”Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4820, 13.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 13 February 2009

Cheat Khmer. Vol.1, #17, 13-15.2.2009

  • The International Monetary Fund – IMF – Warns about Serious Effects on the Cambodian Economy [if the government does not have proper measures to prevent the effects of the global economic slowdown]
  • The United Nations and the Ministry of Interior Join to Fight Torture

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1872, 13.2.2009

  • [The president of the Cambodian People’s Party and president of the Senate] Samdech Chea Sim Still Supports [the vice-president of the Cambodian People’s Party and prime minister] Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [he said that the Cambodian People’s Party is still strong and has no internal splits, and that he still supports Mr. Hun Sen to be the prime ministerial candidate of the party]
  • More Than 40 Families Protest in Front of the Municipality with Accusations that Their Land Is Violated [Oddar Meanchey]

Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #341, 13.2.2009

  • The Opposition Parties Asks Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Explain the Global Witness Report and to Arrest the Perpetrators to Be Convicted

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #343, 13.2.2009

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Orders the Council of Ministers, Administered by Sok An, to Take Action against [the former commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces recently removed] Ke Kim Yan according to the System of Laws [seizing all his machineries, and recalling all soldiers defending his land, to return to their barracks]
  • The Organization World Education Reminds [Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport] Im Sethy to Reinstate Mr. Sun Thun at His Previous Place [Mr. Sun Thun was removed from a high-school to teach at a lower-secondary school, accused of defaming government leaders during his teaching]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #202, 13.2.2009

  • Plan to Collect Taxes in 2009 Might Yield Up to US$500 Million [no figures for 2008 provided for comparison]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #63, .2.2009

  • Minister of Information [Khieu Kanharith] Asks the Region Marketing Director of the Voice of America [Mr. Neal Lavon] to Help Officials of the National Television [by sending them to receive training in the United States of America]
  • The Ministry of Interior Does Not Allow to Hold an Extraordinary Congress of the Norodom Ranariddh Party on 15 February 2009 [because the acting president of the Norodom Ranariddh Party did not legally give the right to Mr. Em Sitha, with his signature, indicating that he is the representative of the party]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3686, 13.2.2009

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Authorities Still Ban Khmers to Build a Pagoda Fence Near the Border in Kompong Cham’s Memut District [even though it is not in Vietnamese territory; the district governor, Mr. Chek Sa On, the person who signed the permission for the construction is also the person who came to prohibit it, said that it is a problem on the national level]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4820, 13.2.2009

  • The Use of Agricultural Chemical Pesticides Is Still Popular despite Knowing that They Are Dangerous
  • In Ten More Years the Cambodian Economy May Have a Stronger Competitive Position [according to a leading institution in organizing conferences]
  • Note (from the announcement):

    Economist Conferences

    Siem Reap, 16 February 2009

    Fees: US$990 Earlybird fee (register by 9 January 2009) – US$1,250 Standard fee

    Business Roundtable with the government of Cambodia – On the verge of a breakthrough?

    “His Excellency Prime Minister Hun Sen has confirmed his support and will deliver the opening keynote address at the event.

    …Cambodia’s prospects as both a tourist destination and a center for enterprise and investment – on paper at least – appear bright.

    …Cambodia will continue to struggle to reassure the international community that the political system itself is sound and fair… How the new government responds to stabilize the economy, and address pressing issues such as poverty and public-sector corruption, will have a significant bearing on the country’s attractiveness to foreign direct investment.

    Key issues to be discussed include:

    • In light of recent oil and gas discoveries in the Gulf of Thailand, what is the government doing to settle border claims with its neighbors?
    • With predictions that oil could start flowing by as early as 2011, how will the government manage Cambodia’s newfound wealth?
    • In evaluating the investment climate, are private equity firms being overly optimistic?
    • What new business opportunities are there for investment in Cambodia’s much needed infrastructure?
    • Given the recent boom in property development and construction, is greater regulation of the industry necessary and if so, what impact will this have on property investors?
    • How will Cambodia’s garment industry deal with greater competition from China and Vietnam? What is being done to boost efficiency in this important industry?
    • With a recession hitting the US, what is Cambodia doing to diversify its export markets?
    • How will the government offset growing inflation and an increase in commodity prices, particularly of oil?
    • Is Cambodia’s economy ready to move away from de facto ‘dollarization’ to the riel and what will this mean for business?”
  • The UN World Food Program Will Grant US$25 Million for Project Implementations in Cambodia
  • The Economic Policy Committee Asks the Government Four Points in order to Reduce Taxes to Help the Garment Sector [the four measures are: 1. Reducing burdens of taxes, and other expenses. 2. Improving commerce, especially garment export. 3.Commercial financing, and 4. Improving professional relations and responsibility by all sides in the frame of law]
  • Leaders of Different Religions from 16 Countries Meet in Cambodia [they are from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, England, India, Italy, Japan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, Uganda, United State of America, and Vietnam]
  • The Financial Crisis Makes Cambodia to Loose US$676 Million, and 44,600 Workers to Loose Employment

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3484, 13.2.2009

  • Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Prohibits Rohingya Refugees to Enter Siam [Thailand]

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

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