Tears and Ashes Remain and the Future Is Not Not Clear after the Fire behind Wat Neak Voan – Wednesday, 10.3.2010

Posted on 11 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

Note:

Apologies for the delay – I am still at an ICANN conference – Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the global coordination for the Internet name space – in Nairobi/Kenya. I hope to be back in Phnom Penh next Monday. I try to avoid delays – but I am kept busy at the conference and do not always have Internet access when I would like to have it.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: One of the hundreds of victims of the terrible fire which destroyed more than 200 houses on 8 March 2010 said, between sobs and with tears, ‘My house was totally burnt down. I am seeking if anything remained which I could sell to get some money to buy food.’

“On 9 March 2010, the victims of the fire continue exploring to see if there is any property left in the ashes from the fire whose cause is still not known. Some surrounded their land by markers, some dug in the ashes, and some went to the water blackened by the fire to see if there is anything from their lost property.

“A victim with six children, Ms. Sum Srey, said in between sob, when she was asked about the fire, pointing to the deadly smoke, ‘That fire burnt very fast. I have nothing left. I am looking for anything remaining that can be sold for money to buy food.’

“According to the local authorities, no lives were lost in the fire next to Wat Neak Voan in the night of 8 March 2010. But 178 big and small houses constructed next to each other in the area, 10 rooms of monks in the Wat, and 21 rooms of students were totally burnt down. This destruction made 257 families, 90 monks, and 181 students lose their shelter.

“This big fire broke out at 18:40 p.m. southwest of Wat Neak Voan in the Boeng Kak II commune, in Tuol Kork district.

“According to investigations by the police, the fire was caused by an electric fault in a house owned by a Mr. Phoeun Pho, a construction worker.

“About 60 firefighter cars rushed to the site to intervene but encountered problem with the narrow roads to reach the site to put out the fire. Some families could take few belongings in time, and some families’ property was all stolen or snatched away by thieves.

“Sister Kong Satha, whose husband is a motor-taxi driver – they have nine children to care for – who rented a house in the area, said with tears that she could only take the television set and a bike. Everything else was burnt. And she did not receive any donation, as the village chief said that her family’s name is not on the list.

“The Tuol Kork district governor, Mr. Seng Ratanak, said that in the first stage, donations were distributed to only 257 families that owned real houses, and the authorities will assist those who rented houses later.

“The district governor said that to reorganize the area, the Phnom Penh Municipality provides two options. First, each family will be offered a 6 by 12 meter plot of land in Ponhea Leu District, Kandal if they agree to leave, and second, if they still want to settle on the same area, the authorities will organize it technically by constructing wider roads.

“The victims of the fire, besides losing their property and their houses, now have also to struggle for their daily lives after this dreadful event. Some fear that they will no longer be allowed to reconstruct their houses on their previous sites, and they will be forced to settle in other areas which are remote, and where it is difficult to earn a living. They just hope that they will not be victimized twice, once by the fire, and then by a forced eviction to live in a remote area where it will be difficult to live.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5146, 10.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #430, 10.3.2010

  • The UN Encourages Cambodia to Strengthen Information and Communication Technology [to boost economic development]
  • 74,000 Hectares of Land [in 22 provinces] Are Prepared to Be Allocated for Decommissioned Soldiers [according to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2197, 10.3.2010

  • The Prosecutor Rejected the Request of Mr. Sam Rainsy to Postpone His Appearing at the Municipal Court [over the accusation to have faked maps, and a defamation case initiated by the government – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #622, 10.3.2010

  • [The President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Rong Chhun Called Not to Threaten Teacher Association Officials at Provinces and Cities in the Whole Country [when they make negative comments to journalists about the education system]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6904, 10.3.2010

  • Today the National Assembly Will Discuss the Anti-Corruption Draft Law Which Has Been Long Awaited by the Public
  • 178 Houses, 10 Rooms of Monks, and 21 Rooms of Students [who lived in the pagoda] Became Ashes after a Fire Broke out [in the “Railway Block,” Phnom Penh]
  • The Production of Fake Medicines Was Intercepted by a Raid of the Economic Police, and Twenty Six Types of Drugs, Weighing 19.28 Tonnes All Together, Were Seized [a Chinese man was arrested – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3828, 10.3.2010

  • The Siamese [Thai] Government Declared a State of Emergency from 11 to 23 March 2010, under the Internal Security Law [as big demonstrations by red shirt demonstrators were planned in Bangkok and in seven provinces]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #127, 10.3.2010

  • Besides a Lack of Food and Shelter, the Victims of the Fire in Boeng Kak II [257 families in the “Railway Block”] Are Worried about Being Evicted [Phnom Penh]
  • [The ASEAN Secretary-General] Surin Pitsuwan: The Media Quoted His Words Incorrectly [by publishing that he was strongly concerned about a recent military exercise in Cambodia; actually, he said that he is concerned about the continuing border tension between Cambodia and Thailand]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5146, 10.3.2010

  • Tears and Ashes Remain and the Future Is Not Not Clear after the Fire behind Wat Neak Voan
  • The National Assembly Rejected the Request [of the Sam Rainsy Party and civil society] to Delay Discussing the Anti-Corruption Draft Law

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Small and Medium Scale Industry in Cambodia Will Be Strengthened for ASEANization – Tuesday, 23.2.2010

Posted on 24 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: Starting from 2015, member countries of ASEAN will exchange goods freely. Cambodia is among them, a country that is preparing to develop itself, while small and medium scale industry remains not so strong and needs further development so that it can compete with other ASEAN countries.

“Relating to the development of small and medium scale industry, the secretary of a Cambodian macro-micro industry community, Mr. Ouk Ren, spoke yesterday to Deum Ampil, saying, ‘The development of small and medium scale industry in Cambodia is speeding up, and its capacity has to be further strengthened for its ASEANization in 6 points: 1. Organization of leadership institutions, 2. Financial supporting systems, 3. Marketing networks, 4. Extensive communication, 5. Information and communication technology, and 6. Promotion of leadership ability in all sectors.’

“He added, ‘Most small and medium scale enterprises are operated as family businesses. Therefore, if we do not organize them, it will be difficult for them to relate to, and to integrate into foreign trade. It requires that public services are coordinated and that improvements happen so that developments are in line with the global commercial situation.’

“He emphasized, ‘Nowadays, there are more than 100 small and medium scale industrial enterprises operating in Cambodia. At present, they are facing a financial crisis, and everyone is trying to improving their operations in order to recover; but they have not prepared themselves to integrate with other ASEAN countries. Anyway, we have this policy direction, but we do not yet have explicit strategies. In the meantime, we need leadership from the Ministries of Industry, of Economy, and of Commerce, as the private sector cannot function without passing through these government institutions.’

“As for Siam [Thailand], the General Director of the Industrial Extension Department of Siam, Mr. Atith Vuthikaro [phonetic], said, ‘A few small and medium scale enterprises have established branches to cooperate in trade with other ASEAN countries.’

“He added, ‘In Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos labor is cheap, and those countries provide good opportunities for Thai investment abroad, when Thai companies establish trade relations.’

“Mr. Atith went on to say, ‘Ten percent of the leading enterprises, or around 90,000, will concentrate on the expansion into ASEAN countries. Thirty percent of the Thai enterprises have been well developed. And many of those enterprises focus on food processing and the production of beverages.’

“The director general of a Thai industrial development structure, Mr. Manob Chaiwatana Suthorn [phonetic], said, ‘While seeking trading cooperation, we initially concentrate on Cambodia, Burma, Laos, and Vietnam, because these countries have cheap labor and a lot of raw materials for the development of small and medium scale enterprises.'” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #417, 23.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #417, 23.2.2010

  • Small and Medium Scale Industry in Cambodia Will Be Strengthened for ASEANization
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Introduce Uniforms for Moto-Taxi Drivers [and Tuk-Tuk drivers, to protect the safety of tourists, as some persons pretended to be moto-taxi drivers and caused many problems]
  • Cambodia Reconsiders Providing Family Books and Khmer Identification Cards to 24 Khmer Kampuchea Krom People [that the Thai authorities had arrested and sent to Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2184, 23.2.2010

  • The Minister of Information Rejected the Information that Khmer Kampuchea Krom People [in Vietnam] Are Not Allowed to Watch Television Broadcasted from Cambodia
  • A Man Killed Two Nieces and Then Raped Them [they are four and twelve years old – Kampot]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #609, 23.2.2010

  • [The vice president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm Welcomes Democrats and Those Loving the Nation to Join [with the Sam Rainsy Party; this is seen as a response to the Human Rights Party that had called for unity]
  • Prince Norodom Sirivudh Will Be Appointed as a Member of the Constitutional Council, to Replace Son Soubert [whose term will terminate in two weeks]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6891, 23.2.2010

  • A Government Official Announced to Sue Mr. Sam Rainsy; [the head of the Cambodian Border Committee] Va Kimhong: Maps Accusing the Government [over the setting of border markers with Vietnam, used by Mr. Sam Rainsy] Are Fake

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3815, 23.2.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Submitted a Draft [to the National Assembly] Requesting the Creation of a National Independent Board against Corruption

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #118, 23.2.2010

  • Cambodia Appeals to Citizens to Be Careful when Traveling to Thailand [as there will be a big demonstration held by the red-shirt demonstrators, supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on 26 February 2010]
  • Investment Projects Approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia in January This Year Dropped by 25% Compared to the Corresponding Period Last Year [the amount dropped from US$100 million to US$75 million]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5133, 23.2.2010

  • China Invested from 1994 to 2009 US$7,025 Million in Cambodia

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The First Meeting about the Implementation of the National Strategic Plan to Stop Violence against Women – Thursday, 18.2.2010

Posted on 19 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“Phnom Penh: The Open Institute, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, held the first consultative meeting on the topic ‘Participating in the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women, and the Importance of Using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Combat Violence against Women.’

“Opening the meeting in the morning of 17 February 2010, a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Sy Define, said that the meeting was the first one held by a government institution with a civil society organizations on this issue, and it was organized after the government had published the ‘National Action Plan about the Prevention of Violence against Women’ last year. She stressed that even without reference to specific figures, rape and violence against women appear in new ways, and all forms appear more frequently and more cruelly. This is a concern for the government as well as for non-government organizations.

“She added that a major challenge for the prevention of violence against women, which needs to be addressed immediately, is the victims’ fear and shame. She emphasized that the victims often try to hide what happened, and even as there are more rapes happening, there is also the increased tendency to hide them. This is because women feel ashamed and they are afraid of being treated with contempt by the society, and also the knowledge of citizens in many communities is limited, including the knowledge about the legal procedures to appeal to the courts which require the victims, mostly the poor, to pay money.

“Based on the above issues, Ms. Sy Define called for more publications of laws about rights and other measures that are important for preventing and reducing violence against women, where Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays an important role.

“ICT provides a modern and fast way of communication using computers or mobile phones; it can reach us wherever we are, as far as the communications network extends. It provides easy and quick access to a collection of all kinds of information.

“Regarding this issue, the Executive Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, said that this meeting is really important for reflecting about violence against women and the intersection between this problem and Information and Communication Technology. In many countries around the world, women’s networks and organizations use the Internet and communicate, using these technologies, to share their experiences and to gather resources and support for their activities, and organize for the creation of global strategic actions. She said that in Cambodia, however, most women have not developed the habit and the ability to use the Internet and to communicate through it to support their activities like it happens in other countries.

“She added, ‘Recently, there is more recognition of the intersection between violence against women and the instruments for electronic communication [with computers and mobile phones]. Violence against women and ICT have an impact on establishing fundamental freedoms and human rights.’

“But Ms. Manavy raised also other examples, saying, ‘While mobile phones and websites can benefit women who suffer violence, seeking information and assistance, some wicked persons use the same technology for exploitation, sending images violating women’s rights, which are human rights.’

“Relating to the negative use of ICT, Ms. Sy Define called on women to be aware of this problem and to join together to control it and to use ICT to combat such wrongdoings.

“She emphasized that the government alone cannot achieve the Millennium Development Goals for 2010, which state [as Goal 3] ‘Promote gender equality and empower women,’ without cooperation in many fields with non-government organizations and development partners to promote the capacity, knowledge, strength, and courage of women.

“She also asked all women’s and other institutions to join to encourage the use of ICT to help prevent violence against women as well as domestic violence, following the National Action Plan about the Prevention of Violence against Women.

“During the meeting held at the Hotel Cambodiana, participants from more than 40 institutions working on women and rights presented their results from separate observations about violence against women and domestic violence, and discussed to share their experiences, knowledge, lessons learned, other strategies, and the use of ICT to prevent violence against women and domestic violence.

“In the three hours meeting, participants offered recommendations and sought to identify key priorities for cooperation between civil society organizations and government institutions to develop joint strategies to effectively prevent violence against women, to encourage gender equality, and to empower women. Ten other organizations cooperated and attended the meeting: Cambodian Women for Peace and Development, the Cambodian Defenders’ Project, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (NGO-CEDAW), the Project Against Domestic Violence, Legal Aid of Cambodia, the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, the Women’s Media Center, Positive Change for Cambodia, Pharmaciens Sans Frontières, and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO).” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5129, 18.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 18 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #413, 18.2.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen: Cambodia Never Plants New Mines along the Border [he said so in response to some accusations, especially by Thailand]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Create Senior Citizens Associations Soon in the Eight Districts
  • Seventy One Journalists Were Killed in 2009 Worldwide [including 33 in the Philippines; according to the Committee to Protect Journalists]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2180, 18.2.2010

  • More Than 100 Cleaners at the Angkor Resort [of the Apsara Authority] Protested over the Late Payment of Their Salaries [Siem Reap]
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Signed an Agreement to Create a Digital Tribunal [with the Stanford University and the Berkeley War Crimes Study Center of the University of California]
  • Report: America and Pakistan Arrested the Head of the [military wing of the] Taliban

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #605, 18.2.2010

  • A Casino of Oknha Ket Theang Worth US$100 Million Will Open Next Week [in Bavet, Svay Rieng, at the border to Vietnam – he said that his casino can offer jobs to about 6,000 Khmer citizens]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3811, 18.2.2010

  • Avoiding to Respond to Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians’ Questions [over border issues] Shows the Irresponsibility of the Government

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #114, 18.2.2010

  • Thirty One People Died in Traffic Accidents within the Three Days of the Chinese New Year [in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5129, 18.2.2010

  • The First Meeting about the Implementation of the National Strategic Plan to Stop Violence against Women
  • The Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Education Plan to Create a Navigation School to Improve Waterway Traffic Safety [this navigation school is for youth of the next generation to get training, based on proper educational standards to obtain a license. Before, the provision of shipping licenses depended on the testing and questioning previous experience of piloting ships or motor boats, but there was no training offered. Two or three years ago the Phnom Penh port started training for its personnel, but it was not open for the public]
  • The Transport of Luxury Wood in Thala Barivat District Continues without Any Disturbance [by the authorities – Stung Treng]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1876, 18.2.2010

  • [A Sam Rainsy parliamentarian] Mr. Son Chhay Asked [the Minister of Interior] Mr. Sar Kheng to Check Road Traffic Police Activities that Establish Illegal Check Points to Extort Money from Citizens [he raised a case near the Chroy Changva bridge where police stop cars or trucks to make them pay money unofficially which they keep for themselves or share some with their next higher level officials]

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First Senior Citizens’ Association Created in Phnom Penh – Thursday, 28.1.2010

Posted on 29 January 2010. Filed under: Week 649 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 649

“In the morning of 27 January 2010, there was an announcement about the creation of the first senior citizens’ association in Phnom Penh. A permanent deputy director and the director of the Department of Social Affairs, Mr. Son Sophal, the Chamkar Mon district governor, Mr. Lo Yuy, and other fellow officials attended the ceremony. The establishment of the Senior Citizens’ Association by the Department of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation in Phsar Daeum Thkov commune suggests that the 8 districts and 76 communes in Phnom Penh should consider establishing senior citizens’ associations, because elderly people have very little opportunity to seek income as they are weak, especially elderly women .

“The director of the Phnom Penh Department of Social Affairs, Mr. Son Sophal, said that among the population [of about 14 million], elderly people 60 years and above, increased from 4.4% in 2000 to 6% in 2004, with a total number of about 852,000. For 2025, it is forecast that the number will double to as many as 1.5 million. He went on to say that at present there are more than 30,000 people who are retired civil servants, and more than 5,000 people are disabled and jobless and are receiving financial support from the government. He emphasized that the creation of the first Senior Citizens’ Association in Phsar Daeum Thkov commune is a model for the 8 districts and 76 communes to follow.

“The Chamkar Mon district governor, Mr. Lo Yuy, who also attended the event, asked all grandfathers and grandmothers [= all elderly people] from the age of 55 and above to consider becoming members of the Senior Citizens’ Association, because it will provide them with benefits and promote their dignity. He added that he will encourage elderly people to help each other, especially when facing difficulties that can harm their lives. Also, the Phnom Penh municipal governor, Mr. Kep Chuktema, donated Riel 2 million [approx. US$500] to support this newly created association.

“Besides the donation of Riel 2 million, he granted one Sarong [a traditional piece of cloth] to the 145 elderly people who attended the founding ceremony. It should be noted that the Senior Citizens’ Association that has just been established has 11 members: 1 director, 1 deputy director, and 9 members.” Areyathor, Vol.16, #1429, 28-29.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 28 January 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1429, 28-29.1.2010

  • First Senior Citizens’ Association Created in Phnom Penh

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #399, 28.1.2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2162, 28.1.2010

  • Car Sellers from 10 Local Companies Asked for the Intervention from Samdech Hun Sen [as they are no longer allowed to import Toyota cars, and only one company, TTHK, has an exclusive contract to import Toyota cars, reducing the profit of other companies significantly]
  • Samdech Hun Sen: The Minister of Public Works and Transport [Mr. Tram Iv Tek] Is a Minister Not Showing Respect [as he changed the number of a road without an approval from the Prime Minister, who therefore called him a “gang minister” behaving like a gangster, acting recklessly, according to the Phnom Penh Post]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #591, 28.1.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Mr. Yim Sovann: The Sam Rainsy Party Opposes the Government Plan to Increase Electricity Prices

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6869, 28.1.2010

  • Some Foreign Requests Are Rejected: Cambodia Will Absolutely Not Send Deminers to Afghanistan and Iraq [as it is dangerous for Cambodian deminers, said Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections Released Research Findings Showing that only 10% of the Eligible Citizens Know the Parliamentarians Who Represent Them [this research was conducted with 8,678 Cambodian people responding]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #99, 28.1.2010

  • Citizens Called on Government Officials to Intervene to Release Six Village Chiefs Who Were Detained because They Protected Their Village Land [of 60 hectares from being grabbed by a Chinese company; Phnom Sruoch, Kompong Speu]
  • The National Information Communications Technology Development Authority (NiDA) Announced to Hold the Sixth Information Technology Exhibition on 1 to 3 April 2010 [in Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5111, 28.1.2010

  • Intensive Wood Trading Continues at the [Cambodian-Thai] Border while the Border Disputes Remain Unsolved

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1865, 28.1.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Was Convicted to be Jailed for Two Years [in absentia] and Each [of two] Citizens Was Jailed One Year, and They Were Ordered to Pay Riel 50 Million [approx. US$12,500] in Fines to the Border Committee [for removing temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers – in a closed-door session of the Svay Rieng court]

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Patterns to Guide Reforms – “Starfish” or “Spiders”? – Sunday, 17.1.2010

Posted on 18 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 647 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647

Any regular observer of the media in Cambodia knows that in spite of all the positive developments, since 7 January 1997 (the end of the Khmer Rouge regime), since the time of the UNTAC administration 1992/1993, and since the establishment of the Kingdom of Cambodia, there is a variety of different, sometimes opposing interpretations or observations of what has happened.

This is normal in any society. And for the political world of the Kingdom of Cambodia, this state of affairs is also confirmed to be appropriate by the Constitution which says in its Preamble:

“…to restore Cambodia into an ‘Island of Peace’ based on a multi-party liberal democratic regime guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law, and responsible for the destiny of the nation always evolving toward progress, development, prosperity, and glory…”

This describes a process: “to restore” means that the goal is not yet reached. But how to reach it, when even the understanding of what is going on at present is so divergent?

From the past week, we present an example of such conflicting views:

11.1.2010:
Chea Mony: That Demonstrations and Strikes Decreased Does Not Mean that there Are Proper Working Conditions
…the decline in numbers is not due to better working conditions, but due to restrictions imposed by the government on demonstrations and strikes, especially due to suppression of workers movements by the local authorities…

Deum Ampil contacted the secretary of state [of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training], Mr. Oum Mean, to comment on the claim of the free trade union leader, but he did not make any comment, saying that he was fulfilling his mission in a province, and then shut off his mobile phone.

And a response:

12.1.2010:

An Official of the Ministry of Labor Rejected the Claim of [the head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers], Chea Mony, about Working Condition [the deputy director of the Department of Labor Disputes of the Ministry of Labor said that this is because most strikes did not follow the procedures of the labor law, according to which demonstrations and strikes have to be announced to the authorities in advance]

To have different views is not a surprise. But this poses the question about the methods to reach solutions. There are different models: to impose an intended goal to be reached – or to try to work out a consensus among those involved and affected. The Constitution clearly favors the latter method:

Article 35:

  • Khmer citizens of either sex shall be given the right to participated actively in the political , economic, social and cultural life of the nation.
  • Any suggestions from the people shall be given full consideration by the organs of the State

Article 51:

  • The Kingdom of Cambodia adopts a policy of Liberal Democracy and Pluralism.
  • The Cambodian people are the masters of their country.
  • All powers belong to the people. The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, the Royal Government and the Judiciary.
  • The Legislative, Executive, and the Judicial powers shall be separated.

While it is clear who is the master of the country – the people – how this works out – through the National Assembly, the Royal Government, and the Judiciary – is an ongoing dynamic process which also includes differences and conflicts of opinion, as is normal in a pluralistic liberal democratic society.

It is interesting that more recent sociological research shows that in modern societies, there are more and more movements and events happening without central leadership at the top, but in a decentralized way, which makes it also more and more difficult to control them centrally.

A bestselling book in the USA analyzes such trends – co-authored by the former director of the National Cyber Security Center of the USA who is now president of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN – the organization that monitors and coordinates the highly decentralized operations of the Internet – under the title The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations (originally it had been planned to be published as “The Decentralized Revolution”):

 Starfish and the Spider

The Starfish and the Spider

IT’S A STARFISH WORLD AND MOST PEOPLE DON’T EVEN REALIZE IT

One thing that business, institutions, governments and key individuals will have to realize is spiders and starfish may look alike, but starfish have a miraculous quality to them. Cut off the leg of a spider, and you have a seven-legged creature on your hands; cut off its head and you have a dead spider. But cut off the arm of a starfish and it will grow a new one. Not only that, but the severed arm can grow an entirely new body. Starfish can achieve this feat because, unlike spiders, they are decentralized; every major organ is replicated across each arm.

But starfish don’t just exist in the animal kingdom. Starfish organizations are taking society and the business world by storm, and are changing the rules of strategy and competition. Like starfish in the sea, starfish organizations are organized on very different principles than we are used to seeing in traditional organizations. Spider organizations are centralized and have clear organs and structure. You know who is in charge. You see them coming.

Starfish organizations, on the other hand, are based on completely different principles. They tend to organize around a shared ideology or a simple platform for communication – around ideologies like Al Qaeda or Alcoholics Anonymous. They arise rapidly around the simplest ideas or platforms. Ideas or platforms that can be easily duplicated. Once they arrive they can be massively disruptive and are here to stay, for good or bad. And the Internet can help them flourish.

So in today’s world starfish are starting to gain the upper hand.

Source: The Starfish and the Spider, by Brafman and Beckstrom, Portfolio Hardcover (October 5, 2006), ISBN-10: 1591841437

Does this insight also have a meaning for the future of Cambodia? Will it move towards more and more centralized power – or will the decentralization and deconcentration process, operated as part of the administrative reforms, get more weight? A statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior from 2005 seems to aim at this for the structures of public administration, when he says:

“In this regard, the provincial/municipal governor is not the controller of commune/Sangkat. Rather, the provincial/municipal governor plays the role of a facilitator and coordinator to support communes/Sangkats.”

But the process, documented in the independent news website K7, is dragging on – naturally – very long, some say too slowly – though moving into the right direction.

The vision of the starfish, the aspirations of the organized civil society, and “the people” tend, of course, to move sometimes faster, and further, and into directions that cannot be foreseen.

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16-Day Campaign to Promote Gender Equality to Combat Violence against Women and Children – Tuesday, 24.11.2009

Posted on 25 November 2009. Filed under: Week 640 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 640

“In order to promote gender equity and the empowerment of women, and to reduce all forms of violence against women and against children, and to increase the percentage of citizens with a clearer awareness about violence, the Open Institute held a women’s forum under the topic: ‘Best Practice of ICT Use to Combat Violence against Women and Children.’

25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the Open Institute will participate in an international campaign ‘Reclaiming Information and Communication Technology to End Violence against Women’ focusing on all activities considered as violence against women and children which come from a wrong attitude and lead to crimes. This campaign will take place until 10 December 2009, which is the International Human Rights Day.

“The executive director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, told Deum Ampil that the Open Institute is an organization working on the use of Information and Communication Technology to contribute to development of equality between men and women. She added that the Women’s Program of the Open Institute, in cooperation with the Association for Progressive Communication, will organize some activities to participate in the 16 days campaign under the topic: ‘Take Control of Technology to End Violence against Women’ [a collaborative campaign to use Information and Communication Technology like mobile phones, instant messengers, blogs, websites, digital cameras, e-mail, and pod casts to promote the end of violence against women]. She went on to say that this campaign is going to be organized with the goal to publish the campaign to contribute to ending violence through the use of Information and Communication Technology in women’s organizations, by users of Information and Communication Technology, and the public in Cambodia, to raise awareness about the different forms of violence against women, as well as to address how important the use of Information and Communication Technology can be [to combat violence against women]. She went on to say that to learn about a rich collection of information about laws, rights, gender, and other documents regarding development, on can visit the Women’s Web Portal at the following Internet address: http://women.open.org.kh/; also articles and short texts related to women’s affairs can be sent to a discussion list at the following address: gender@lists.open.org.kh .

“It should be noted that the history of the campaign to use Information and Communication Technology to end violence against women dates back in the Association for Progressive Communication since 2006, and it is used as base material in many countries of the world.”Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #344, 24.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #344, 24.11.2009

  • 16-Day Campaign to Promote Gender Equality to Combat Violence against Women and Children
  • [The Minister of Economy and Finance] Mr. Keat Chhon Asked America to Cancel the Debt Cambodia Owes [of more than US$300 million since the time of the Khmer Republic regime – 1970-1975]
  • [Three] Robbers Robbed a Gold Seller Couple in Lvea Em District, Took 5 Chi of Gold Away [approx. US$690], and Assaulted the Husband Seriously [with a hammer on his head; then they escaped – Kandal]
  • Russian Investors and the Odessa Bank of the Ukraine Are Interested in Investment in Cambodia [in mineral resources, energy, agriculture, and tourism]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2106, 24.11.2009

  • Lawyers and Government Officials: The Cambodian-Thai Relation Broke Down due to [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva’s Government [that used the Khmer Preah Vihear Temple for its policy – according to a forum held on 23 November 2009 in Phnom Penh]
  • A Christian Church’s Teacher Was Detained for Raping a 9-Year-Old Female Pupil Three Times in a Toilet [Phnom Penh]
  • Three More Houses Were Destroyed by Fire in Svay Pak Commune because of Electric Faults [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.3, #537, 24.11.2009

  • A Siamese [Thai] High Ranking Official from the Ministry of Defense [who came to Cambodia] Requested Bail for the Siamese Man [accused of spying] or to Extradite Him to His Home Country

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #537, 24.11.2009

  • The Information that Cambodia Will Have an Anti-Corruption Law Soon Is Welcomed [by the Sam Rainsy Party and by the political observer, Ms. Chea Vannath]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Son Chhay: The Management of Natural Resources in Cambodia Is Not Good, because the Parliament Dominated by the Ruling Party Is Poor in Checking and Monitoring

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6813, 24.11.2009

  • Japan Grants US$12 Million to Cambodia to Clear Mines and to Assist Mine Victims
  • The Government Rejected a Thai Spokesperson’s Accusation that Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s Daughter Plans to Control Stocks of the Cambodia Air Traffic Service
  • A Terrible Man Raped His Sister-in-Law and Stabbed Her to Death, then He Was Arrested [Koh Kong]

Meatophoum, Vol.53, #752, 27-28.11.2009

  • Former US President [Mr. Jimmy Carter] Announced to Build 6,000 Houses for Khmer Citizens

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #52, 24.11.2009

  • The Authorities Destroyed [18] Sites Producing Mreah Prov Oil [from a large softwood tree, used as an ingredient to produce ecstasy] at the Kravanh Mountain Range Area in Pursat [the sites are controlled by Vietnamese experts who moved to Cambodia after Vietnam banned such products in 1999; however, it is not known how many people are responsible for those sites]
  • 180 [Cambodian] Delegates and Athletes Will Attend the [25th] South East Asian Games in Laos

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5055, 24.11.2009

  • The Hearings of [the former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch Arrive at the Last Stage [lawyers from both sides were offered time to give their final conclusion about the case, and the judgment is expected to be made early next year]
  • The Seoul Women’s University of Korea Grants 20 Scholarship to 20 Cambodian Female Students Each Year [to study there]
  • The Son of the Owner of the Fishing Lot 18 Shot a Worker Fishing there to Death [the perpetrator escaped – Kandal]

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