The Export and Import of Cambodia Increased by 16% – Thursday, 22.7.2010

Posted on 23 July 2010. Filed under: Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

“According to figures from the Ministry of Commerce, the export and import of Cambodia increase by 16% in the first six months of this year, compared to last year.

Note:

We are unable to understand the meaning of the added up export and import figures, and the calculated combined percentage numbers for export and import together. The absolute figures, given separately for exports and for imports, are, of course, clear in their meaning, also the comparisons of present and of past years within exports and within imports, separately.
Any help to understand these combined “export and import sum and percentage” figures – via Comments – is appreciated.
Norbert Klein

“As said by experts, the commerce grows due to increasing global demand.

“Nevertheless, some experts warned that the economic recovery is in a delicate condition.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, Mr. Chan Nora, said, ‘Commerce should be growing during this period as the global economy is recovering, while also the consumption of products increases. Especially, the Ministry of Commerce is trying to coordinate exports.

“Reports for the first six months show that imports increased by more than 18% to US$2,183 million this year, compared to the corresponding period last year with US$1,844 million.

“The exports increased by 13.14% to US$1,498 million. Compared to the same period last year, exports amounted to US$1,324 million, where 70% was related to garment products.

“The figures demonstrate that exports and imports in the first six months of 2010 increase by 16.19% to US$3,168 million compared to the same period last year.

“However, some observers noticed that the Cambodian economy is still facing dangers, as overall economic activity still drops, though the figures show an increase.

“The director of the Khov Chuly Group importing construction materials, Mr. Khov Phalaboth, said that even though there is progress in the real estate, agricultural, and industrial sectors, it seems too quick to say that the Cambodian economy has completely recovered. He said, ‘The economic downturn has not completely come to an end. Hazards remain. Typically, it is like recovering from sickness, but things might still get worse.’

“Mr. Chan Nora went on to say the increase in imports by Cambodia encourages an increase in exports. He said, ‘The local garment and textile sectors are doing better, causing also an increase in the demand for raw materials.’ The head of the Cambodian Economic Association, Mr. Chan Sophal, said, ‘The growth in commerce is really vigorous.’ He added that the increase in exports and imports is a measure of the economic growth of Cambodia. According to the National Bank of Cambodia, exports and imports dropped by about 17% from US$10,633 million in 2008 to only US$8,827 million in 2009.

“At present, the government is also looking into the future. Mr. Chan Nora said that the Ministry of Commerce is actively negotiating about the export of agricultural products to China, but the quality of local products is still an obstacle.

“He said, ‘We had asked people to send experts here to improve the quality of our products. We want to export our own manufactured products so as to get higher prices.’ He added that agricultural products are becoming important local products for export.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #220, 22.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 22 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2307, 22.7.2010

  • The Government Dismissed the Report of Human Rights Watch [about rights abuses and mistreatment of sex workers]
  • The Ministry of Justice Warned Court Officials and Clerks to Punish Them if They Act against Their Professional Standards [for example if clerks work as if they were in the position of judges or prosecutors]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3938, 22.7.2010

  • Sam Rainsy’s and Mu Sochua’s Cases [about the uprooting of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers, and about defamation] Could Come to an End through Internal Political Arrangements via the International Community [officials of the Sam Rainsy Party hope so]
  • 114 Families in the District of Kien Svay Accuse Some Officials of Grabbing 46 Hectare of Rice Fields [Kandal]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #10, 22.7.2010

  • [The president of the Cambodian People’s Party] Samdech Chea Sim: Cambodia Develops Quickly because of Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen’s] Governing [he said so during the 35th meeting of the Central Committee of the Cambodian People’s Party]
  • The Government Hopes that the United State of America Will Cancel the Debt of More Than US$300 Million [owed by Cambodia since the time of the Lon Nol government, said the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Sok An, during the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Cambodian-US diplomatic ties in Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #220, 22.7.2010

  • The Export and Import of Cambodia Increased by 16%
  • Five Khmer Fishermen Returned from Indonesia [after they had been detained there for almost one year; before they had been forced to work like slaves for nearly two years on a Thai fishing vessel]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5256, 22.7.2010

  • Cambodia Prepares to Negotiate with Countries of the European Union to Lift Three Kinds of Visa Requirements [in diplomatic, official, and normal passports; the lift of visa requirements in diplomatic and official passports would help strengthen relations between the governments, and the lifting of visa requirements in normal passports would help to attract tourists between the countries]
  • The Meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union [held from 19 to 21 July 2010 in Geneva] Called on All Parliament Leaders to Help to Avert Further Global Crises
  • The Department of Labor Issued an Official Letter to Suspend the Operation of the Champa Manpower Company [that did send workers to Malaysia; after this company was found holding workers, including underage girls, in a bad living environment]

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The Royal Government Plans to Issue a Sub-Decree Determining the Rate of Disabled People to Be Employed at State and Private Institutions – Saturday, 12.6.2010

Posted on 12 June 2010. Filed under: Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

“The Royal Government of Cambodia plans to issue a sub-decree soon about the rate of disabled people that should be employed at state institutions, companies, factories, and enterprises.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, Mr. Sem Sokha, said in the evening of 11 June 2010 that the sub-decree had already been checked by the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council, and it will then be sent to relevant ministries, and finally to a cabinet meeting.

“Mr. Sem Sokha added that the sub-decree will be released soon, because also Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen wants it to be issued soon in order to help handicapped people to work at state and private institutions.

“Mr. Sem Sokha mentioned some contents of the sub-decree, which states that state institutions are required to employ at least 2% disabled people [among their total personnel] who have sufficient qualifications, while private companies, factories, and enterprises are required to recruit 1%.

“When he was asked what actions would be taken, if any state or private institutions do not adhere to the sub-decree, he explained that they will be fined to pay 50% of the salary of the civil servants they would have to hire. That means if a ministry is required to employ two or three disabled people but do not employ them, they have to pay 50% of their salaries as a fine. He added that for companies, factories, and enterprises, they will be charged 40% of the staff salary. According to a demographic study in 2004, 4% of the population are disabled.

“Mr. Sem Sokha said that when the sub-decree becomes valid, disabled people will receive full rights to live integrated in society and especially they can work at different state and private institutions like normal people.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2273, 12.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 12 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #502, 12.6.2010

  • A CRV [“compact recreational vehicle”] Car Struck a Motorbike, Killing Two people and Injuring Three Others Seriously and Lightly [Battambang]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2273, 12.6.2010

  • The Royal Government Plans to Issue a Sub-Decree Determining the Rate of Disabled People to Be Employed at State and Private Institutions
  • The USS Tortuga (LSD 46) Warship of the United State of America Began [for the first time also a] Cambodia Phase of CARAT Exercises [Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, begun in 1995, after Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand were involved already in the past]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #680, 12.6.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy Hopes that There Will Be a Political Solution for Him [he was convicted over the uprooting of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng; now he is abroad]
  • A Petition Was Sent to the US President to Ask Him to Condemn the Supreme Court of Cambodia and the Cambodian Government over the Prosecution of Ms. Mu Sochua [regarding the defamation case of Prime Minister Hun Sen which is a sign of the restriction of the freedom of expression. There is no information given which institution or group organized it – it is just stated that thumb prints and signature were collected by people supporting the petition]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6980, 12-13.6.2010

  • Japan Announced to Grant US$131 Million Development Aid to Cambodia Each Year for Three Years
  • A Twelve Seater Car Tire Burst and the Car Overturned, Resulting in Three Deaths and Six Injured People [Kompong Cham]
  • Lightnings Killed Three Persons and Injured Another in the Kong Meas and Dambae Districts after Two Days of Continuing Rain

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3904, 12-13.6.2010

  • Leaders from 46 Countries in Asia and Europe Will Meet in Brussels [on 14 July to prepare the upcoming 8th ASEM Summit in Brussels, Belgium, in October 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5222, 12.6.2010

  • The Forestry Heads of Three Provinces [Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, and Oddar Meanchey] Were Reshuffled while the Iron Fist Campaign Is Still Being Implemented Strictly
  • The Authorities Chased a Car Loaded with Ebony, Driven by a Kompong Thom Police Major; Because He Was Scared, He Ran into the Soth Nikum District Police Station [the car driver and his wife were arrested – Siem Reap]
  • Cambodia [through the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers] Rejected the Findings of the Corporate Council (?) based in England Which Indicate that Peace in Cambodia Is Deteriorating

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Officials: Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected – Thursday, 3.6.2010

Posted on 4 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Government officials and donors met on Wednesday in Phnom Penh for the [third] Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum. During the forum, the donors appealed to the government to speed up key reforms tied to the provision of aid. More than 100 representatives from donor countries and from international financial organizations attend the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum with plans to grant aid before the meeting ends on Thursday. Officials of the Cambodian government expect that the government will get the envisaged aid of US$1 billion.

“During the speech to open the forum, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will use the aid effectively, adding that the government will continue to solve major problems such as corruption, land ownership, and judicial reform. He said, ‘The Royal Government has made its utmost effort to firmly and deeply implement various reform programs and consider them a “life or death” issue for Cambodia.’

“The World Bank country director, Ms. Annette Dixon, said, representing the donors, that she lauded the development of Cambodia since the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum held in December 2008, but the progress of the government is still limited in terms of its work to improve strategic planing and to manage aid. She said, ‘It is important for the government to take the lead in aligning resources to development priorities,’

“During the closed-door meeting on Wednesday, the delegations discussed the National Strategic Development Plan Update for 2009-2013 of the government, as well as the policies to ensure the macroeconomic stability during this time of a global economic crisis. In December 2008, Cambodia received pledges of US$951.5 million, compared to US$650 million in June 2007.

“The spokesperson of the Royal Government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, said after the meeting on Wednesday that the meeting went smoothly and there were not any objections from donors. He said, ‘I don’t know how much money the government will receive from donor countries this year, but I estimate it will reach our expectations.’

“Also, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon, said that the aid tendency keeps increasing, and the requirement of the government will rise to as much as US$1 billion in 2010.

“The Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum has been analyzed carefully in the past few weeks, and local and international non-government organizations called on the donors to press the government to fulfill the agreed requirements carrying out major reforms in the country and to apply the Joint Monitoring Indicators. Fifteen local non-government organizations said in a document released on Tuesday, ‘It is not enough to throw money at problems and hope the ruling party will act in the interest of the people.’

“A report released on Monday by Global Witness suggested that the donors should take ‘a coordinated stand against the horribly subverted dynamic of aid in Cambodia in which their country’s money props up the basic functions of the state, leaving an elite free to exploit the state’s assets for personal profit.’

“An advisor of the government, Mr. Raoul Jennar, said during the forum that the government and the donors have been successful in cooperating to create new laws, and he hopes that the donors will provide strong support during the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum. He said, ‘The government has made many achievements in recent years where more than 260 laws have been adopted during the previous decade. The problem is that development needs highly skilled human resources; this is a problem that Cambodia is facing.’

“Other participants said that the government should care more about the involvement by civil society rather than focusing on foreign policy makers.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #185, 3.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 3 June 2010

Areyathor, Vol.17, #1442, 3-4.6.2010

  • 2,000 Workers Strike in Kompong Chhnang [against their shoe factory owner, who is forcing them to work overtime]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #494, 3.6.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Are Still Defiant and Want to Visit the Border Marker Number 270 [in Takeo though the president of the National Assembly did not give them a permission for this visit]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2265, 3.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Aid provided by Development Partners Is a Very Important Contribution for the Development of Cambodia
  • The Cambodian and the Indonesian Governments Signed an Agreement to Mutually Waive Visa Fees for Normal Passport

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #672, 3.6.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Yim Sovann: Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Will Visit the Border Marker Number 270 Today

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6972, 3.6.2010

  • Ms. Mu Sochua Said that She Will Not Pay the Fine of Riel 16.5 Million [approx. US$4,000] in the Case She Lost [against Prime Minister Hun Sen over defamation], but She Would Rather Go to Jail [the Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Appeals Court]
  • A Grenade Was Thrown at a Dancing Event, Resulting in One Death and Thirteen Injured People [perpetrators are not yet identified – Oddar Meanchey]
  • The Japanese Prime Minister [Mr. Hatoyama Yukio] Resigned from His Position after Staying in Office Less Than One Year

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3896, 3.6.2010

  • The National Bank of Cambodia Bought Riel Notes with US$3 Million to Support the Dwindling Value of the Riel [the present exchange rate is approx. US$1 to Riel 4,260]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #185, 3.6.2010

  • Officials: Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected
  • [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Hor Namhong: Cambodia Is too Lazy to Respond to Thailand over an Extradition Request for Mr. Thaksin [confirming that Cambodia will not honor an arrest warrant from Interpol to extradite Mr. Thaksin, though the Thai government plans to send it through Interpol to 187 countries]
  • Disabled People [through 150 representatives of 620 families of veterans from Kompong Cham] Protested in Front of the Prime Minister’s Residence [in Phnom Penh] over a Land Dispute [asking for intervention by Mr. Hun Sen to distribute 4,000 hectares of land to the ‘Association Cripple Development’ in Kratie, because on 24 April 2010, the provincial authorities claimed that the land belongs to private companies]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5224, 3.6.2010

  • Cambodia Denied It Has Provided Training Shelter in Cambodia for Thai Red-Shirt Armed Militants [a Thai military commander had commented that Thai red-shirt armed militants had been in Anlong Veng district, Oddar Meanchey]
  • The Asian Development Bank Grants US$2.2 Million for a Project to Assess the Impact of Legal Procedures of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council

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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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Voluntary and Charitable Donations – Sunday, 16.5.2010

Posted on 18 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

In many societies it is usual that corporations, and rich and not so rich individuals make donations for causes they consider important for the public good. During the past week it was reported that more than US$7 million was collected as donations during the celebration of the Cambodia Red Cross and Red Crescent Society’s anniversary on 8 May; it is the largest humanitarian organization in Cambodia, having also individual Members, and Volunteers. This is an impressive organization which has collected an impressive sum. To see whether or not this is the beginning of a spirit of voluntarism in society, it would be good to know how much the same charitable donors are making available to lift up the economic situation of orphanages, to create and maintain scholarships for needy students from the provinces, to support organizations engaged in the promotion of awareness of the endangered environment and its protection, and many similar endeavors.

In many countries, the Red Cross is one not-for-profit NGO like any other NGO – it receives private and corporate donations, like other NGOs receiving private and corporate donations; often these are encouraged by special tax reduction or tax exemption regulations for supporting such causes for the public good. Over the years I became aware that many persons in Cambodia, dealing with foreign NGOs working in the country, are not aware that these depend to a more or less strong degree on regular private donation, often from people in the middle and lower income brackets in their countries, and not only on public money. But it seems to be hardly a usual feature that Cambodian NGOs, working for the public good, receive similar donations from those who have money, in Cambodia. If there are worthwhile examples, it would be good to have them reported more prominently, and not only for the Cambodian Red Cross and Red Crescent Society.

But whatever the source of such funds – it is usual that that they are accounted for regularly and publicly. One argument of the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, why a special NGO law is necessary, was always that the finances of NGOs – as agencies handling social funds – have to be monitored publicly. Though NGOs have responded that they are subject to regular public audit already, and these audit reports have been available anyway, the request to make their financial records public was always among the main arguments to create such legislation.

Now it is all the more surprising, that the financial volume and the operating procedures of the Social Fund of the government, even it’s existence, referred to sometimes over the years, are not similarly transparent, and there are additional allegations that government representatives have received substantial monies, supposedly for a social fund, which cannot be found in any verifiable public financial record.

The present round of discussions was triggered by reports that an Australian mining company, which had operated for a limited period in Mondolkiri, is under corruption investigation at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, because it is also listed on stock exchanges in the USA. There are allegations that this may relate to payments to Cambodia. While the government was asked for precise, detailed information supported by documents, to be presented to the National Assembly, additional questions were added relating to payments from the French company Total. Some of the related, but not clarified pieces of information:

  • The Indonesian company Medco Energi said they paid US$4.5 million into a government social fund.
  • The Australian company BHP Billiton paid US$ 2.5 million as “tea money” – according to a statement by the Minister of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology in the National Assembly.
  • Payments of US$20 million by the French oil company Total, paid as a “signature bonus,” are not publicly traceable.
  • In addition, some of the monies are said to have be designated to pay for specific activities in Mondolkiri or in Pursat etc., but different, related information, cannot be reconciled.

Now the Prime Minister gave the task to explain the situation to the National Assembly to two Deputy Prime Ministers, the Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An, and the Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon. According to Mr. Phay Siphan, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister “said that all revenues must go to the national budget.” Obviously that is not what happened so far.

Interesting explanations and revelations relating to the past can be expected – combined with the hope that the order of the Prime Minister will be molded into clear administrative procedures for the future.

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The Hotter Temperature Is Difficult to Stand – This Shows there Is Climate Change – Tuesday, 11.5.2010

Posted on 16 May 2010. Filed under: Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

Note:

After having been knocked out late on Monday, 10.5.2010, by a bad, but not clearly identified intestinal infection, I am sorry that I could not earlier, and cannot more speedily, catch up again, but maybe it will be done by Monday, 17.5.2010, noon.

Because of the King’s Birthday National Holiday on 13.5.2010, which was extended into further days, it is now intended to have publications, during the current week, only for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Norbert Klein
Editor of the Mirror

“Almost unbearable and hotter sunshine is getting public attention; this problem clearly shows that Cambodia is experiencing a change to a hotter climate as part of the global natural phenomena. The typhoon Ketsana indicated that Cambodia starts to face natural disaster, while the temperature is alarmingly getting hotter at present. In rural areas, the heat wave is affecting farmers, making it difficult for them to go out to their rice fields. The wind also brings the heat wave to wherever the people stay, even under the trees they still feel the hot wind.

“According to the weather forecast of 10 May 2010 of the Department of Meteorology, the temperature in low lying areas is 25 to 40 degrees Celsius, at the highlands 26 to 38, at the seashore 22 to 36. Based on the weather forecast of the website http://www.underground.com [not operational at time of editing], the temperature in Phnom Penh is 38 degrees, but the hottest temperature was up to 40 degrees, comparable to Ho Chi Minh City with 36 to 40. Bangkok has a higher temperature than Cambodia with 38 to 41 degrees. Besides, the temperature in Manila/Philippines is 36 to 44 degrees, in Jakarta/Indonesia 35 to 44, in Vientiane/Laos 37 to 43, and in Kuala Lumpur 31 to 42 etc.

“As it is almost the end of the Visakh Lunar Month, the weather should have turned from hot to cooler, but it is seen that in the Kingdom of Cambodia, there is rain in some areas, but in some others there is no rain at all, though the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology had forecast that there will be rain everywhere during the rainy season, and there will be no ‘small dry season’ during the rainy season. The hot temperature at present makes it difficult for people to endure it, as they never encountered something like this before.

“An official of the Department of Meteorology said that the temperature is hot because there is no rain. When the rain comes, the temperature will drop. The deputy head of the Department of Meteorology, Mr. Oum Rina, told Koh Santepheap on the phone that in April, in some areas like in Siem Reap and in the northwest, the temperature rose to 41 degrees Celsius. At other areas, the temperature was 38 to 40 degrees, but it declined when the rain came regularly. Mr. Oum Rina added that now, the temperature is still hot. In the northwest, it is 40 degrees and in Phnom Penh, Kandal, Svay Rieng, Kompong Cham, and other provinces and cities, the temperature is only between 37 and 39 degrees.

“He went on to say that the hot temperatures can last until 14 or 15 May 2010, and then they will drop as the rain will start. There will be raining for a few days later in Phnom Penh and in some other areas, and the temperature will go down. This is all part of the problem of climate change.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6952, 11.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #474, 11.5.2010

  • US$1 Billion Was Signed between the Private Sectors of Cambodia and of Malaysia
  • Military Police Intercepted a Car Loaded with Artifacts, but the Driver Escaped [Battambang]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2245, 11.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Told Malaysian Investors that Cambodia Opens Its Economy for All Investors
  • The US Embassy Prepares to Mark the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties with Cambodia [by organizing a concert on 13 May 2010]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #6511, 11.5.2010

  • Twenty Five Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Ask the Svay Rieng Court to Allow Them to Visit Meas Srey and Prum Chea at the Svay Rieng Prison [on 18 May 2010; both of them are jailed for removing border markers]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6952, 11.5.2010

  • The Hotter Temperature Is Difficult to Stand – This Shows there Is Climate Change
  • [Four] Armed Robbers Robbed a Fuel Station and Shot and Injured a Major Who Is the Owner of the Station [taking away some money and property – Pursat]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3876, 11.5.2010

  • More Than 2,000 Families Face Eviction and Their Land Will Be Sized to Be Delivered to a Private Company [Mondolkiri]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #168, 11.5.2010

  • Global Witness Criticized Sand Dredging Operations in Cambodia [for exports to Singapore, saying that those operations seriously affect the beach and river eco-systems due to a lack of transparency and regulations of the government – it estimates that at present, up to more than 796,000 tonnes of sand are dredged every month]
  • [President of the Cambodian Independent Teacher Association] Rong Chhun: We Do Not Want Laws or the Authorities to Limit Our Freedom [he said so regarding the creation of a ‘democracy compound’ for not more than 200 people protesting]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5194, 11.5.2010

  • More Than US$36 Million of Cash Were Sent by Cambodian Workers [in Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand] to Their Families in Cambodia within One Year [in 2009]
  • The Former Head of the Vietnamese Communist Party [Mr. Lê Khả Phiêu – Le Kha Phieu] Visits Cambodia [to strengthen solidarity between both countries]
  • The Kunthak Bopha Hospital Spends US$30 Million Each Year [to provide health services; US$2.5 million from the government, US$2.7 million from the Swiss government, and the rest is from the foundation of Professor Beat Richner]
  • A Shrimp Company [Nautisco Seafood Manufacturing of Canada] Sells it’s 31.48% Stake [to Leopard, a company in Asia; each day, the company can produce more than 10 tonnes of shrimps – Sihanoukville]

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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note – From the text of the Global Witness statement:

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

Press Release – 7.4.2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note – from a historical Global Witness statement from December 2004

Resign or be sacked

Press Release – 3.12.2004

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 6 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.17, #1438, 6.5.2010

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

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #470, 6.5.2010

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

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2241, 6.5.2010

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

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

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6948, 6.5.2010

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

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5190, 6.5.2010

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

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ILO: More Than 1,500 Workers Die Every Year in Cambodia because of Occupational Accidents – Friday, 30.4.2010

Posted on 1 May 2010. Filed under: Week 662 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

“Phnom Penh: The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that in Cambodia more than 1,500 people were killed last year by occupational accidents. That means four persons die each day at their workplace.

“Regarding these occupational accidents, ILO announced that Cambodia will celebrate the World Day for Safety and Health at Work on 30 April 2010 by a march in Kampot City.

“The celebration on 30 April 2010 will be held under the topic ‘Understanding about Your Safety and Health Hazards and the Prevention of Occupational Accidents.’

“The head of the Department of Occupational Safety and Health of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, Mr. Leng Tong, said that in 2009, nearly 3,000 workers in Cambodia suffered from serious accidents relating to their work.

“The president of the Cambodian Labor Confederation, which has a membership in the fields of tourism, garment production, and construction, Mr. Ath Thun, considers the figures provided by ILO about deaths at work places as based on accurate monitoring.

“Mr. Ath Thun said that Cambodia is a developing country, and in general, investors in Cambodia do not care much about the health of workers, while also the government does not pay much attention to the health of workers. As health issues of employees and workers do not receive much attention, this results in accidents happening continually. In recent years, there is a fast growing number of high-rise buildings that do not have occupational safety systems, and there is no clear regulation about who has to take the responsibility when accidents happen, and when workers are killed, whether their families get proper compensation, or they are left with little money.

“Mr. Ath Thun added that most occupational accidents occur at construction sites and brick kilns, in fishery, as well as at other companies, institutions, and small enterprises that are not following standards and that do not have proper occupational protection systems. In the garment sector, workers often lost a hand or suffered from chemical substances that affect their health. Some others encountered traffic accidents when they went to or came out of their factories.

“The recent announcement by ILO, on 29 April 2010, says that the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training of Cambodia has broadened its publications about occupational safety and health to the provincial level, conducting a public demonstration in Kampot. More than 350 participants, representatives of the government and of employers and employees, will join to celebrate by marching from the Kampot Bridge along the river, carrying signs and banners with slogans on the way to the next celebration site at the Kampot Municipality to listen to speeches and to watch performances about safety.

“Along the roads in Kampot, banners with slogans are on display, and leaflets to promote public understanding about the importance of occupational safety and health are distributed.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training in charge of occupational safety and health, AIDS, and social security, Mr. Huy Hansong, who will chair the event in Kampot on 30 April 2010, said in the announcement that health and safety hazards – problems that have been occurring at present – cannot be identified only through normal ways assuming people’s general understanding. ‘We must have new ways to deal with these dangers and educate workers and employees about practical and new measures of prevention.

“On behalf of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, he said that the Royal Government of Cambodia highly prioritizes the improvement of the quality of life of the people. Ensuring a healthy, safe, and productive atmosphere are key factors to achieve this goal. Cambodia is implementing, at the national level, a system for stronger occupational safety and health, in order to offer sufficient protection for the occupational safety and health for all workers and employees.

“The announcement also quotes an ILO specialist on occupational safety and health for East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, Mr. Kawakami Tsuyoshi [川上 剛], as saying that ‘this is the fifth time that Cambodia celebrates this international day, and this shows the commitment of Cambodia to achieve occupational safety and health. But we must not be too proud. We should consolidate our effort to get closer to the employees at their workplaces and to provide them with practical support to prevent accidents.’

“It should be noticed that the celebration of the International World Day for Safety and Health at Work by a march in Kampot in the morning of 30 May 2010 is funded by the Korea Program of the ILO, the Better Factories Cambodia program of the ILO, and by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training of Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5162, 28-29.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 30 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #465, 30.4.2010

  • Cambodia Equips Troops with More Modern Weapons [saying that Cambodia will shoot back with DK 12.7-milimeter machine guns and B40 rockets if invaded]
  • The European Union Plans to Show Films Promoting Women in Society [from 3 to 9 May 2010 at the French Cultural Center – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2236, 30.4.2010

  • [The president of the Cambodian Confederation Union] Mr. Rong Chhun, Plans to Show the Film “Who Killed Chea Vichea” despite Not Having a Permission from the Authorities
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Left to Attend the Shanghai 2010 World-Expo [in China]
  • A 60-Year-Old Man Was Arrested for Raping a 14-Year-Old Boy [Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6943, 30.4.2010

  • Cambodia Wants Indonesia to Manufacture Agricultural Machinery in Cambodia [according to the report about a meeting between the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Sok An, and the Indonesian Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Ngurah Swajaya, at the end of his mission in Cambodia]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3867, 30.4.2010

  • Trade Unions Can March to Send a Petition to the National Assembly [on 1 May 2010], but the Authorities Prohibit to Show the Film “Who Killed Chea Vichea”
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Cambodia Has to Adhere to Its International Obligations and Only Communist Countries Use the Word “Interference in Internal Affairs” [recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia issued a diplomatic note to request foreign ambassadors not to interfere in Cambodian internal affairs – ((actually, the term “Interference in Internal Affairs” is regularly used as a traditional principle of ASEAN))]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #161, 30.4.2010

  • Documentary Film about [the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Vichea’s Murder Is Not Allowed to Be Shown in Public [as there is no permission from any minister]
  • Russia Wants to Buy More Rice but Is Negotiating the Price [Russia wants to buy 20,000 tonnes of rice in 2010]
  • Tropical Storm in Preah Vihear Destroyed Twenty Houses and Injured Three People

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5162, 28-29.4.2010

  • ILO: More Than 1,500 Workers Die Every Year in Cambodia because of Occupational Accidents
  • Cambodia Announced to Have Taken Full Control of the Ta Krabei Temple [at the Cambodian-Thai border]; Siamese [Thai] Citizens and Soldiers Can Go There as Visitors
  • More Than Five Tonnes of No-Quality Bra Fish [a fresh water fish] and Quails Imported from Vietnam Were Seized [Kandal – the may be detrimental to health if eaten]

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Thailand Decided to Cancel a Memorandum of Understanding, and Va Kimhong Said It Is an Action of People Who Do Not Know the Law – Wednesday, 11.11.2009

Posted on 12 November 2009. Filed under: Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 638

“Phnom Penh: A Source from the Thai News Agency (TNA) said on Tuesday that the Thai parliament decided to cancel a Cambodian-Thai memorandum of understanding, but senior officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia consider this as only a dream of people who do not know the law.

“According to a report from TNA published on Tuesday, 10 November 2009, the [Thai] parliament decided to terminate a Memorandum of Understanding between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand, signed in 2001. This decision was made after the Kingdom of Cambodia recently decided [by Prime Minister Hun Sen and a Royal decree] to appoint the former Thai prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, as an economic adviser of the Royal Government and of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen.

TNA said that the Thai parliament decided to officially cancel the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Thai former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Surakiart Sathirathai, and the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, on 14 June 2001, though there has be no improvement at all within the eight years since it became valid.

“The head of the National Border Committee, Senior Minister Va Kimhong, spoke during a press conference held in the morning of 10 November 2009 at the Council of Ministers, where he said that the Memorandum of Understanding was agreed upon between the Royal Governments of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Kingdom of Cambodia about the overlapping zones at the seabed of the two countries in 2001. He added that the aims of this 2001 Memorandum of Understanding are:

  1. To seek an agreement for a treaty about overlapping zones; and
  2. To explicitly demarcate the sea border between Cambodia and Thailand.

“The Senior Minister explained the cause how these overlapping emerged, saying that because Cambodia drew a line in 1972, while Thailand also designated its seabed in 1973, so this overlapping zones emerged. The government had sought to negotiate since 1970 and 1971 to find a solution at the region of the later overlapping zones. He went on to say, ‘In fact, we again started negotiations since 1995 with a Deputy Prime Minister as the head of the negotiations at that time, during the first term of the Royal Government, but the talks failed, and only in 1999, 2000, and 2001, there came a situation to sign that Memorandum of Understanding. Its major goal was to agree to develop those overlapping zones, as well as to clearly demarcate the sea border.’

“A Source from [the Thai well known newspaper] The Nation said that recently, yellow shirt demonstrators [supporters of the current Thai government] of the Thai People’s Alliance for Democracy had submitted 11 documents, detailing the agreement between the Kingdoms of Cambodia and of Thailand, asking their Royal Government to check, and to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding. On Tuesday, the parliament of the Kingdom of Thailand decided to send this request to cancel this Memorandum of Understanding into the parliament for discussion and approval.

“Responding to questions of journalists about the intention to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding between the Kingdoms of Cambodia and of Thailand, Senior Minister Va Kimhong said that this canceling is only a dream of a group of people who do not know the law, and if Thailand had people with knowledge about the law, it would have been impossible to decide as they did.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2095, 11.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #333, 11.11.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Arrived in Cambodia, and [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Welcomed Him with Most Friendly Greeting, as Gestures for an Eternal Friend
  • Samdech Euv [the former King] Sent [opposition party president] Sam Rainsy’s Letter to Three Samdechs [Samdech Hun Sen, Samdech Heng Samrin – the president of the National Assembly, and Samdech Chea Sim – the president of the Senate], related to the Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Markers [Mr. Sam Rainsy’s letter claimed there were irregularities when the border markers were set]
  • An Exclusive Rice Import Company from Singapore [“ALM”] Comes to Cooperate with the Golden Rice Association of Cambodia [to invest in rice cultivation in Cambodia for export to Singapore]
  • The Russian Government Is Considering to Cancel the US$1.5 Billion Debt That Cambodia Owes [according to high ranking officials of the National Assembly that have just returned from a visit to Russia which Mr. Heng Samrin led]
  • Typhoon Ketsana Caused a Loss of US$140 Million [there were 43 deaths, 67 serious injuries, and 22,800 families lost their homes – according to the National Disaster Management Committee]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2095, 11.11.2009

  • Thailand Decided to Cancel a Memorandum of Understanding, and Va Kimhong Said It Is an Action of People Who Do Not Know the Law
  • In one Week Indonesia Will Exhibit Its Products in Cambodia [at the Mondial Center in Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #672, 11.11.2009

  • Nine Types of Special Food Was Prepared to Welcome Thaksin Shinawatra, [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Eternal Friend, when He Arrived in Cambodia

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #525, 11.11.2009

  • Only Now the Government Discovers that Many Appointments Did Not Create Any Tasks to Do, and Waste National Resources

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6802, 11.11.2009

  • The Thai Parliament Meeting Had Disputes and Disagreements during the Discussion about the Intention to Cancel the Memorandum of Understanding about [maritime] Borders
  • Cambodia Welcomes Thaksin Shinawatra, while the Thai Deputy Prime Minister Announced that There Is No Plan to Close the Cambodian-Thai Border Crossings
  • Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [a Burmese elected democracy leader] Might Be Released for the 2010 Elections [according to the general director of the Ministry of Interior of Burma, Mr. Min Lwin]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #43, 11.11.2009

  • Cambodian-Thai Relations Became Tenser when Thaksin Shinawatra Arrived in Cambodia; Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra Said, “I Do Not Come Here to Help Cambodia against Thailand”
  • The Authorities Prevented [24] Students [from different universities in Phnom Penh and in Svay Rieng] to Visit the Border in Svay Rieng [at the point where Mr. Sam Rainsy was accused of removing border markers; they claimed they had received high-level officials’ order]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5044, 11.11.2009

  • Thaksin Shinawatra [and former Thai prime minister Somchai Wongsawat] Landed in Cambodia in His Own Plane, and He Will Stay in Cambodia Two to Three Days;
  • Reactions Were Expressed against the Presence of Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia [the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association and the Human Rights Party claimed that the presence of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia does not help the government with anything, but it will step up further tension between the Cambodian and Thai governments; however, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed it will help Cambodia’s economy]
  • POSCO E&C [a leading construction company from South Korea] Inaugurated an Occupational Safety Section for the Construction of High Rise Buildings along the River [it plans to construct one 45-storey building and two 42-storey buildings behind the Russian Embassy along the Basak River, worth about US$300 million – Phnom Penh]

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Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Consider the New Demonstration Law as a Constraint on the Power of the People of Cambodia – Thursday, 22.10.2009

Posted on 23 October 2009. Filed under: Week 635 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 635

“The National Assembly has adopted a demonstration law limiting demonstrations to not more than 200 people. This law is considered by the opposition parties as a restriction of the power of the people in Cambodia. However, government representative claimed that this new law helps maintain social stability.

“During the session of the National Assembly yesterday, 21 October 2009, 76 parliamentarians out of 101 raised their hands to adopt this demonstration law, while the parliamentarians from the Sam Rainsy Party and from the Human Rights Party did not.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy told reporters in the morning of 21 October 2009, ‘At present the government cares only about cracking down on demonstrations and wants to eliminate the right of citizens who have reasons to protest.’ The people will get angry and feel pain when they want to present what they demand, but cannot do it though their demands are right. The government does not solve the citizens needs, but wants to intercept their presention.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy stressed that the Sam Rainsy Party wants to organize the country rightly, to eliminate the root causes of demonstrations, but the government just eliminates the demonstrations. Regarding the law limiting the number of people to only 200 to participate in a demonstration, Mr. Sam Rainsy said that it is a ban anticipating the expression of the power of the people in Cambodia.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘They do not want that large scale demonstrations can be held. If large scale demonstrations are held, the state fears the power of the people. People take power to control the country to serve the real benefit of the people, but not to serve the benefit of any dictatorial party or any dictators or their groups.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy said that the Sam Rainsy Party does not support this law, as it has gaps which the state could use as a pretext to prevent people from demonstrating peacefully. It abolishes citizens’ right to express their opinions through peaceful demonstrations.

“The president of the Human Rights Party, Mr. Kem Sokha, spoke to journalists expressing the same view as Mr. Sam Rainsy: that this demonstration law banishes people’s power in Cambodia, especially when citizens want to demonstrate to demand that leaders resign from their positions. He said, ‘For example, citizens may want to demonstrate over politics… to demand that some leaders resign.’

“Mr. Kem Sokha added that in countries that practice democracy, people can hold demonstrations to demand that some leaders leave their positions – which is called people’s power. While in Cambodia, it is now to be assumed that the Ministry of Interior will not allow this kind of manifestation, using the reasoning that it might be against national security, or against safety and public order. These are pretexts that governments use to prevent the people from demonstrating. Mr. Kem Sokha said that also the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians do not support this law.

“When asked whether this law interdicts people’s power or not, Mr. Kem Sokha said, ‘Of course. We see the direction. After we heard the words of the parliamentarians of the ruling party, it seems that they are afraid of the power of the people.

“A democratic regime is a regime where power can be changed peacefully, and leaders are established through general elections. But if the elected leaders act against what they had promised, citizens can demonstrate for a change of power.

“An investigating official of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Mr. Oum Sam Ath, said that limiting the number of people who can participate in a demonstration is not right for a country that practices democracy.

“This demonstration law also requires demonstration leaders to inform the authorities in advance, and Mr. Oum Sam Ath explained that the need to request for a permission, and this 5-days in advance, requires then to wait to see whether the demonstration is permitted or not – which is a new restriction, including the limitation of the number of demonstrators. This law is not according to the concept of democracy.

“However, a representative from the Ministry of Interior claimed during the session of the National Assembly since a few days ago that this law ensures social stability.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Nuth Sa An, said that the Ministry will ask the government to develop a policy how to publicize this law among the citizens.

“Though this law limits the number of people to 200 who can join a demonstration, Mr. Sam Rainsy said that this is not acceptable, and the Sam Rainsy Party plans to hold big demonstrations in the future. Mr. Sam Rainsy said that a planned big demonstration – though a specific date has not yet been set – is a demonstration to assemble tens of thousands of citizens victimized by land disputes from the provinces and cities countrywide.

“It should be noted that people’s power exists in many countries in the world, like in the Philippines, in Siam [Thailand], and in Indonesia.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #514, 22.10.2009

Note:

Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Article 51:
The Kingdom of Cambodia adopts a policy of Liberal Democracy and Pluralism.
The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country.
All power belongs to the people. The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, The Senate, the Royal Government and the Judiciary.
The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate.

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 22 October 2009

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1416, 22.10.2009

  • Three Korean Men Raped a Karaoke Parlor Woman in a Room while She Was Drunk [they were arrested – Siem Reap]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #317, 22.10.2009

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Shows the Green Light to Receive [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra and He Prepared a Residence [in Cambodia] for Him as a Friend
  • The Number of People Confirmed with A/H1N1 Has Increased to 202 Cases, and the Number of Deaths Remain at Three
  • The Iranian Government Asked to Step Up Cooperation with Cambodia [especially between the parliaments of the two countries – according to the Iranian ambassador to Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2078, 22.10.2009

  • 143 Countries Promised to Support the Cambodian Candidacy as a Member of the World Heritage Committee
  • A House Was Burnt Down Completely because the Firefighter Trucks Did Not Come, though They Had Been Called [Siem Reap]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #514, 22.10.2009

  • Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Consider the New Demonstration Law as a Constraint on the Power of the People of Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer edition], Vol.1, #31, 22.10.2009

  • The Civil Aviation Authorities Will Write a Letter to the Government to Permit Siem Reap Airways to Fly Again
  • Cambodia Cannot Sell Rice to the Philippines this Year [because there is high local demand after typhoon Ketsana hit Cambodia]
  • Burma Rejects Request [of ASEAN] to Release Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [Burmese elected democracy leader]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5027, 22.10.2009

  • Prime Minister Samdech [Hun Sen]: Mr. Thaksin Can Come to Cambodia Anytime He wants and I Prepare a House to Welcome Him
  • Exclusive Interview of Rasmei Kampuchea with the South Korean President, Lee Myung-Bak [he said ‘Samdech Hun Sen cares very much about the development of the Cambodian economy, and both of us have similar views and intentions on many problems;’ the investment by Korea in Cambodia increased 75 times within 12 years from 1997 to 2009; Mr. Lee Myung-Bak is a close friend of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and he had been nominated as advisor to Mr. Hun Sen in 2000]
  • Cambodia Reacts against some Thai Members of Parliament for Suggesting to Prevent Cambodia from Becoming a Member of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1813, 22.10.2009

  • A Promise Was Made Again [by government officials from the Cambodian People’s Party] to Adopt an Anti-Corruption Law by the Middle of Next Year

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