Using Computers: Upholding Rights and Freedoms while Fighting Crime – Sunday, 18.7.2010

Posted on 21 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

The Ministry of Defense hopes that the use of computers will help better to cut down the names of ‘ghost soldiers’ from the salary lists of the military. This was expressed by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat, who said that the present census of all soldiers will be more accurate and thorough this year than in previous years. “It is an annual census to find out the real number of soldiers and of the children of those soldiers, and to cut out the names of soldiers who have retired or who died, or are not present anymore.” There are some traditional elements in this process, even surprising ones – if one assumes that soldiers would be known, present, and listed at their command posts: “All soldiers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces are required to show up at their command posts. The soldiers will there be asked to identify themselves by showing themselves and their ID numbers, as well as to specify the number of children they have at present in the lists… the names of soldiers who do not show up will be deleted from the salary lists of the Ministry of Defense.”

Considering the results of a similar exercise in 2008, where – according to Mr. Cheam Yeap, a member of the National Assembly from the Cambodian People’s Party – the government found 10,000 ghost soldiers and 10,000 ghost police, for whom salaries were regularly paid out (to whom?), the new findings might again bring considerable savings to the national budget.
Lieutenant General Chhum Socheat added that there is confidence that this year, the data will be accurate, because of the use of a computer system to store all documents.

The newly created Anti-Corruption Unit of the government will start with to collect about 100,000 declarations of assets, and this process is to be implemented before November 2010, “to facilitate a quick enforcement of the law.” Though the Anti-Corruption Unit is to keep all these documents, it has not been announced how this is going to happen practically. Even trusting the capacities of computer systems, it will be difficult to receive and file more than 1,000 asset declarations per day during the remaining days before November.

But the past week brought also a different reminder about the power of computer systems: Cambodian authorities began creating legislation against cyber crimes. “A workshop about the creation of legislation against cyber crimes was held on 13 July 2010 at the Council of Ministers, and government officials, officials of national and international organizations, and representatives of Internet Service Providers, of telecom companies, of technology companies, of publication institutions, and of other relevant fields participated in the workshop… The advancement of technology is a double-edged sword. It can make many things easier and provides abundant benefits for quick development. But it also creates opportunities for criminals to use it to commit various offenses.” This double reality was pointed out: that by now communication technology plays an ever growing role in society – but on the other hand, Cambodia is also experiencing similar problems and threat as they happen in other countries also, which can be a threat for security, economy, and the general and political life of a society.

This Cambodian workshop was held also to consider how other countries are dealing with this new world wide problem. The head of the Economic Crime Division of the Council of Europe, Mr. Alexander Seger, referred to the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime of 2001, which had been developed during four years before it was presented to the member states of the Council of Europe, but which is also open for other states to sign and to access, so that among the 47 countries which signed it, there are also non-European countries: Canada, Japan, South Africa, and the United States of America.

These preparatory efforts in Cambodia are considering the same range of criminal activities which happen also in other countries around the globe. “Cambodia has already experienced many problems that allow cyber criminals to commit offenses using such technology. There are many cases where all must pay attention, to prevent cheating on the Internet, to receive the inheritance from someone illegally, not to respond to electronic messages asking for passwords, or messages threatening someone, stealing of passwords, and the distribution of child pornography into computer systems, or the sending of spam mails.”

What is remarkable is the fact that the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime does not only point to the threats which can come from criminal use of the Internet, and to the need to protect society from them. Included in this document of 28 pages is also a warning that the need for criminal prosecution shall not violate fundamental rights of the citizens to be protected:

The member States of the Council of Europe and the other States signatory hereto,… Convinced of the need to pursue, as a matter of priority, a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cyber crime, inter alia, by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international co-operation;…

Mindful of the need to ensure a proper balance between the interests of law enforcement and respect for fundamental human rights as enshrined in the 1950 Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the 1966 United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other applicable international human rights treaties, which reaffirm the right of everyone to hold opinions without interference, as well as the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and the rights concerning the respect for privacy;

Mindful also of the right to the protection of personal data, as conferred, for example, by the 1981 Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data;…

Have agreed as follows:

Each Party shall adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish as criminal offenses under its domestic law, when committed intentionally…

followed by chapters on Illegal access, Illegal interception, Data and System interference, Misuse of devices, Computer-related forgery and fraud, Offenses related to child pornography and to infringements of copyright, etc.

When representatives of governments, of the business community, and of civil society – according to the multi-stakeholder principle introduced by the United Nations for dealing with questions of the present Information Society – met in June for an Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum in Hong Kong, the issue of cyber security was also high on the agenda. While there was an emphasis on legal measures to assure the security and stability of the Internet, and on technical facilities to implement such controls, a group of civil society representatives from Southeast Asia made their common concern public in a 2010 Southeast Asia Civil Society Declaration on Internet Governance.

This Southeast Asian reflection starts with a references to the UN Summits for the Information Society of 2003 and 2005, especially with their Declaration of Principles, which the representatives of governments from around the globe had voted upon:

We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled in Geneva from 10-12 December 2003 for the first phase of the World Summit on the Information Society, declare our common desire and commitment to build a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society, where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respecting fully and upholding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Building on this guideline, which had led to the setting up of the Internet Governance Forums, this civil society declaration says among others in a longer text:

Key Observations of the Asia Pacific regional Internet Governance Forum

In response to the first Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum Roundtable in Hong Kong on 15-16 June 2010, we, netizens, journalists, bloggers, IT practitioners and nongovernmental representatives from across Southeast Asia, offer the following observations from the Roundtable:

Critical issues of Internet governance in Asia should guide future discussions on Internet governance policy:

Openness

Open access to information is the right of every individual, a right that serves as a fundamental venue for one’s knowledge- and capacity-building. Access to information ultimately helps foster creativity and innovation, thus promoting sustainable human and economic development. Openness is key to a democratic and open society. Restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression online, such as state censorship which blocks Internet intermediaries, is one of the threats to open societies. Intimidation and state censorship facilitate self-censorship, a hazardous social phenomenon that further undermines democracy and openness.

Access

The Internet is for everyone; it is a public good. Yet a Digital Divide between those countries and communities with Internet access and those without persists, and has not been sufficiently addressed in discussions on Internet governance. Proceedings at the Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Governance Forum indicated a higher priority must be placed on addressing not only the global digital divide, but also regional and national ones. While Singapore enjoys high Internet access rates (70% penetration), countries like Burma and Cambodia are at the other end of the spectrum (0.22% and 0.51% penetration, respectively), ranked the lowest of 200 countries studied in the World Bank.

Internet access is fundamental for progress. Various factors, such as political, economic and social development, poverty levels, and technological infrastructure affect whether and how often people can access the Internet. Internationally coordinated efforts must be made to address domestic policies that contribute to the digital divide in Southeast Asia and find solutions to bridge the gap.

Cyber Security

Definition of cyber security must include elements that address the right to privacy and to civil and political freedom.

An individual’s right over his/her own privacy, including personal data and information, must not be sacrificed…

Today’s information society connects personal IT devices directly to the outside world, no longer storing personal data on a single server. Given the involvement of the government and businesses (especially state-owned enterprises) in running such technologies, surveillance and identity theft remain a constant threat against Internet users.

In this regard, any national security policy must not deviate from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all international human rights covenants to which states are parties…

The references of the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime and of the Southeast Asia Civil Society Declaration on Internet Governance to human rights and freedoms, not only threatened by criminal action, but also by efforts to impose extensive control, are important reminders that security must be human security.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

The Minister of Information Claims that Internet Games Are Not Illegal – Tuesday, 25.5.2010

Posted on 26 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Disagreement emerged regarding places operating Internet games in Cambodia after there had been a report that the Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, stated that those places are not related to money betting, and they should not have been closed.

“According to the deputy director of the VTC Online Internet game company, Mr. Ha Manh Hung, about 300 such places were closed this year after Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered to crack down on gambling.

“Earlier this month, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, said that the authorities considered Internet games to be a type of betting, and therefore they are illegal in Cambodia.

“But according to a report on the Internet site of Deum Ampil, Mr. Khieu Kanharith said, ‘The Prime Minister did not give a wrong order, but the implementation goes beyond the order in some areas.’

“Mr. Khieu Kanharith said that the closure of such operations does not correspond to the recommendation of Samdech Hun Sen, because video games are not related to betting, but they have a role to develop modern technical skills for the youth, the next generation.

“But the Minister added that game shops operating near schools should be closed. He went on to say, ‘Game operators should have strategies and policies to prevent students from forgetting their studies, for example, by allowing them to play not more than three hours per day.’

“When the Phnom Penh Post contacted him by telephone on Monday, he said he could not comment on it, because he is in China.

“Some officials of the Ministry of Information also refused to comment, saying that they do not know about it.

“There is still a lack of clarity about the fate of Internet games in general.

“A police official of the Tuol Svay Prey I police post in Phnom Penh, Mr. Chin Sitha, said, ‘We continue to take action against coffee shops and Internet shops that operate computer games until we receive different orders from the head of the district police.’

“The Phnom Penh police chief, Mr. Touch Naroth, refused on Monday evening to give comments on this case.

“Information technology companies are also careful until they know the situation clearly.

“Mr. Ha Manh Hung from VTC Online Internet game company said on Monday, ‘We want to know the position of the government.’

“This Vietnam-based company had announced earlier this month that the company has delayed releasing Internet games in Cambodia, after some places operating Internet games had been intercepted, adding that the company had already spent US$80,000 on advertisement.

“Mr. Ha Manh Hung said, ‘If the situation becomes clear, we will start releasing games. But if the situation remains the same, we will not waste our money again.’

“He continued to say that before, the company had cooperated with Vietnamese authorities to implement some measures to control game players by encouraging to limit their playing time, for example by reducing their score points if somebody plays for three consecutive hours, or after 9:00 p.m.

“He suggested that a forum or a meeting with government officials would help to address this disagreement.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #178, 25.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #486, 25.5.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Will Open Four Roads from the Boeng Kak Area to Connect to the South [in order to reduce traffic congestion]
  • A Car Fatally Struck a Person and Moved On, Hitting Four Other Cars [the car driver is held by police – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2257, 25.5.2010

  • In 2009, the Bilateral Trade between Cambodia and Thailand Dropped by About 22% [the trade amounted to US$1,658 million]
  • Those Having Diarrhea Accused the Kratie Health Department of Not Caring to Save Them [so far, five people have died in the hospital. – Today, Dr. Beat Richner announced in a full page ad in The Cambodia Daily that the hospitals to which he relates have diagnosed 290 cases with the germ “Vibrio cholerae” – Cholera – among 1300 patients treated, and informed the Cambodian authorities since several months, but the Cambodian authorities continue to deny that it is Cholera and wrongly claim that the treatment for Cholera and for diarrhea is the same]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6964, 25.5.2010

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Announce the Verdict on Former Tuol Sleng Prison Chief ‘Duch’ on 26 July 2010

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3888, 25.5.2010b>

  • Cambodia Sees 30% Tax on Income from the Exploitation of Minerals Countrywide [the 30% shall bring income from mineral exploration into the state budget of Cambodia in order to avoid its loss into corruption]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #178, 25.5.2010

  • Khmer Embassy Officials Visited a Khmer Worker Arrested in Thailand [accused of having joined to burn down a bank in Bangkok]
  • [200] Romeas Haek District Residents Protested in Front of the Municipality [to demand the release of a man and the lifting of the accusations against fifteen others over a land dispute – Svay Rieng]
  • The Minister of Information Claims that Internet Games Are Not Illegal

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5206, 25.5.2010

  • Australian Minerals Company Finds 8.1 Tonnes of Gold
  • Chamkar Mon Police Arrested Seven Drug Smugglers and Users, Seizing 103 Small Packages of Ice Drugs [Phnom Penh]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Cambodia Will Be Able to Produce Oil in 2012, and Cambodia and Japan Jointly Study a Wetland Area near the Tonle Sap Lake – Wednesday, 5.5.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“The Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, stated that Cambodia will be able to produce oil in 2012. He said so during the signing ceremony of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) and the National Petroleum Authority of Cambodia in the morning of 4 May 2010 at the Council of Ministers.

“Deputy Prime Minister Sok An stated on the occasion that he strongly believes in the project signed that day, because it enables to study whether or not to explore for oil and gas resources, especially to explore for oil in Block 17, adding, ‘I welcome and wish this Japanese company well for having decided to invest in Cambodia.’

“The deputy director of JOGMEC said that he cannot foresee the amount of money to be invested in this project, as today’s signing allows the company only to study the field, but it has not reached a stage to discuss mining explorations. According to the plan, the study might take around two years, and then, the company might conduct explorations as soon as possible.

“A spokesperson of the Office of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Ek Tha, said at that occasion, ‘This is an agreement that encourages joint industrial studies between two Asian countries, Cambodia and Japan.’ He added, ‘The area to be studied covers 6,500 square kilometers, and it is to the northeast of the Tonle Sap Lake in Kompong Thom.’ According to officials, the JOGMEC had already conducted magnetic and pressure studies between 1997 and 1999.

“Mr. Ek Tha went on to say that there are concerns raised by environmentalists in Cambodia about this project. But he said that Cambodia and the Japanese oil company are studying also the possible bad impacts on the environment in Block 17, in order to reduce or to avoid those impacts, since Japan is a country that strongly cares about the environment. Cambodia is also keenly caring about the environment in order to maintain the sustainability of resources in this long term project. The environment is also an important issue for the Cambodians of future generations.

“It should be noted that the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on commercial cooperation on underground oil and gas resources was chaired by the Parliamentary Secretary for Economy, Trade and Industry Takahashi Chiaki [大臣政務官 高橋千秋], who said that his country is the second biggest donor to Cambodia, granting US$12 million each year.

“According to the Council of Ministers, commercial ties between Cambodia and Japan are progressing, amounting to US$105.18 million between 1994 and 2009. Cambodia exported products to Japan worth US$69.6 million in 2008, but only US$6.8 million within 8 months of 2009.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #468, 5.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #468, 5.5.2010

  • Cambodia Will Be Able to Produce Oil in 2012, and Cambodia and Japan Jointly Study a Wetland Area near the Tonle Sap Lake
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Will Set Up a Democracy Compound for Non-Violent Protesters [which is not far from the National Assembly – a law relating to this creation will become valid in June 2010]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2240, 5.5.2010

  • The Minister of Information [Mr. Khieu Kanharith] Wants All Journalists Associations to Unite into One [to facilitate the organization of training events and to strengthen international trust, and to better protect journalists’ rights; at present there are 23 different journalists’ associations]
  • The Malaysian Prime Minister [Tun Abdul Razak] Will Visit Cambodia Officially for Three Days [from 9 to 11 May 2010 in response to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s invitation]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #647, 5.5.2010

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6947, 5.5.2010

  • A Man Coming from Pailin to Buy a Car Bringing More Than US$15,000 with Him Was Robbed [by four robbers] and Wounded by One Shot [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3871, 5.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Parliamentarian] Son Chhay Demands the Government to Explain to the National Assembly about ‘Tea Money’ and Payments from the BHP Billiton and the Total Petroleum Companies, as Well as about Payments for the Provision of Mobile Phone Licenses

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #164, 5.5.2010

  • Official [Mr. Chheng Kimson, head of the Forestry Administration]: 6,000 Cubic Meters of Wood Were Seized and 100 Suspects Were Accused [during the present campaign]
  • The Ministry of Health Will Provide Logos to Be Displayed at Restaurants That Serve Food According to Good Sanitation Standards

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5189, 5.5.2010

  • Cambodia Tells Thailand that the Ta Krabei Temple and the Cable Lift to the Mountain Is On Khmer Territory [this response was made after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand had sent a diplomatic note to Cambodia, claiming that the temple and the construction site for a cable lift are on Thai territory]
  • A Trade Union and the Opposition Party Plan to Present the Documentary Film ‘Who Killed Chea Vichea’ [while the authorities had warned they would take legal action against this]
  • Court Detains Fourteen Villagers for Destroying State Forest [Banteay Srey, Siem Reap]
  • The National Television of Cambodia Spends US$600,000 to US$700,000 Each Year [for hiring a satellite link] to Send Television Programs to the United States of America [now, the Ministry of Information wants to send them through standard Internet procedures which is cheaper]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Passing of the Anti-Corruption Law, and Planned Changes in Telecommunications – Sunday, 14.3.2010

Posted on 15 March 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

As regular readers of The Mirror know, we often quote the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia to have a clear basis when trying to better understand certain actions and events. Today’s editorial is written hoping for discussions and explanations, and, if necessary, clarifications and corrections. Recently, there were actions and statements, which seem to call for explanations and clarifications, so that a common public understanding can be achieved. One issue is related to the Anti-Corruption Law, and the other to regulatory plans or decisions in the field of telecommunications.

As for the Anti-Corruption Law, this is not an attempt to analyze its content. It is only to share some observations, some of which seem to have implications related to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The first observation is related to formalities, as this is the Cambodian law which has been drafted for the longest time compared to other laws – since 1994, and with active support for this process by the United Nations since 2004. Then, in December 2009, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers announced that the draft is now ready, but he disclosed only one point: that also the heads of NGOs would have to declare their assets, adding that the text would be available for consideration as soon as it would be at the National Assembly. This too took a surprisingly long time; because of timing problems, the parliamentarians of the Human Rights Party declared not to take part in the parliamentary deliberations of this draft, as they did not have enough time to review this important text, which was actually distributed only on 5 March 2010, while a session of the National Assembly was scheduled to be held already on 10 March 2010. And then the draft, under deliberation since 1994, was adopted very fast, without any amendments, in just one and a half days.

An Anti-Corruption Law had been awaited eagerly since years, as Cambodia was ranked 158 out of 180 countries on the latest list of the corruption perception index of Transparency International, and it was ranked the second most corrupt Southeast Asian country after Indonesia, in an annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy.

The UN country team in Cambodia, made up of 23 specialized agencies, had expressed its concern that an extra-ordinary session was convened only days after the draft had been shared with the members of the National Assembly. But the Cambodian government considered the call by the UN country team for “a transparent and participatory” process to be “flagrantly interfering in the internal affairs of a UN member state,” and to be a statement outside of its mandate, though “good governance and the promotion and protection of human rights” is one of the four fields of the agreed UN Development Assistance Framework, on which the work of the UN country team is based.

But not only the timing gives cause to questions. The UN country team was also advised by the Cambodian government to “refrain from acting as if it were the spokesperson of the opposition parties.” We are not aware that this had been the case, but the press had also quoted the Prime Minister as saying, “if somebody wants this law to be amended, they have to wait until they win the elections.” We cannot verify that the Prime Minister said so, but these words seem to indicate that the constitutional principle, stated in Article 51, “The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate” is not considered to be applicable. In normal parliamentary proceedings under the separation of the three powers of the legislative, the executive, and the judicial, no executive can know – before the deliberations in the legislative – if a draft will be amended or not. This is not only something which may happen because of efforts of opposition party members, but also any active member of the parliamentary majority may scrutinize drafts and propose amendments, before voting on a draft.

Besides, the Senate, and the Constitutional Council, are additional important stages to consider legislation passed by the National Assembly – irrespective of party allegiances of their members – which may result in amendments, before a law is presented to the King. Such considerations may not only come from opposition parties, but they are foreseen as possible in the Constitution itself. The Senate and the Constitutional Council were not created just to rubber-stamp what the National Assembly has decided.

There is a second issue, which seems to be of a more technical nature – but it has fundamental implications for the free flow of information, and for the basic principles for the management of the economy of the country, as laid out in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The Articles 56 and 63 of the Constitution say: “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall adopt the market economy system” and “The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

Two weeks ago, under the 28.2.2010, The Mirror had presented, in more detail, considerations under the headline of “Internet Governance, Censorship, and the UN Multi-Stakeholder Approach” about plans to force all Internet communication between e-mail users of different Internet Service Providers in the country through only one Internet Exchange Point [IXP]. A deputy director of Telecom Cambodia – the organization to operate the IXP – had said that a Web site that attacks the government could then be blocked. As the Minister of Information said: there is no legal basis for this.

In the meantime additional information appeared and is discussed: Telecom Cambodia might get the right to operate a monopoly by becoming the only company in Cambodia with the right to internationally buy Internet connection, and all other Internet Service Providers would have to buy their international access from Telecom Cambodia, one of their competitors. Such interference into economic affairs is difficult to understand in view of the legal framework defined in the Constitution, where the state is ordered – rather than to interfere into the marked – to guarantee that the market can operate freely “in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people” according to the forces of competition in the market.

It should be remembered that Telecom Cambodia was created in order to disengage the regulatory and the operational functions which formerly had been both combined in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

The second term government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, starting from 1998, had adopted as its key orientation a “three pronged strategy” – the second prong was the re-integration of Cambodia into the international community – the UN, ASEAN, and the World Trade Organization. The other two elements were “establishing peace and security,” and “promoting administrative and judicial reforms.”

In a speech of the Prime Minister to welcome the Third Asian-German Editor’s Forum on 31 January 2000, he referred to this principle, “I think it is best to give everyone of you the role as an evaluator for your judgment to be made on the current situation of Cambodia. What I can share in this efforts is the three pronged strategy which I have put out… Essentially, one needs to have a clear and correct vision before one can develop Cambodia as a process.” This orientation led also to extensive consultations with advisors of the World Bank about the situation of the telecommunication sector in the country, which the Prime Minister had identified on several occasions as a crucial field for the future of Cambodia, in a situation, where the costs of using the telephone and the Internet was – and still is – high in Cambodia, compared to neighboring countries.

The International Telecommunication Union [ITU] is about 100 years older than the United Nations, but it is now part of the UN system. In the ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Report of 1998 it is stated that previously, investment in the “telecommunication services sector have been limited by the fact that most countries had state-owned monopoly carriers. This era is now coming to an end. Since 1984, 44 Public Telecommunication Operators have been privatized… telecommunications has a dual role as both a traded product and service, and as a facilitator of trade in other products and services… What are the benefits of trade liberalization? Freer trade in telecommunications promises to deliver at least three economic gains: new and improved products and services, lower prices, and additional investment. Open trade in telecommunication services should result in more competition, lowering prices for most businesses and for many consumers and providing both with a choice of different service providers.”

The World Bank advice, at that time, for Cambodia, showed the direction. The following direct quotes are from the final report and presentation of its “Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility.”

  • World Bank project to strengthening the Cambodian Telecommunications regulatory framework with rules for fair competition – interconnection regime
  • Aims at cost effective communications – Doing nothing in not an option, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication – MPTC – as it is cannot long survive
  • Mobile vs. Fixed Phones: THE BIG DIFFERENCE:
    • fixed: state sector, no money, no autonomy, slow progress
    • mobile: private money, growing fast, light handed regulation
    • competition in mobiles has produced, good services
    • state management has produced poor service, stagnation and lost opportunities
  • Principal Institutional Problem:
  • MPTC is an integrated, policy, regulatory, operational and asset management agency
  • Expert advice is unanimous that this leads to
    • conflicts of interest
    • poor asset management
    • business decisions suffer from political intervention
    • political priorities suffer from a preoccupation with business issues
  • All Advisers Recommend
  • MPTC should have its current functions located in separate agencies:
    • policy – the correct function for MPTC is regulation, an independent function
    • business operations – Telecom Cambodia a commercial entity with operational autonomy, eventually private

The present intentions, to re-establish, a monopolistic role for Telecom Cambodia, would revert what has been achieved under the Prime Minister’s guidance, related to the second of his three-pronged objectives: to place the policies of the Cambodian government, after decades of international isolation, into the present international context. Telecom Cambodia was created as an operator under the rules of the market, to have competition among other operators, and to establish the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications as a technical regulator. To give a mandatory monopolistic role to Telecom Cambodia is contrary to the efforts of a decade, and is contrary to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

I have observed these developments during the last two weeks form abroad, participating in the meetings of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN – the institution coordinating the assigning and the functioning of the Internet addresses, which was held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

In a reception by the Communications Commission of Kenya – the main telecommunications regulator of the country – we received the following bag to carry our documents. It is inscribed with the words which show that the monopolies have been abolished in the telecommunication sector, and the results ensure fairness for all – and much lower costs than in Cambodia:

Fairness

Fairness


Ensuring fair play

Kenyan Broadband Pricing

Kenyan Broadband Pricing

.

The public is invited to sign up for Internet connections in this developing country in East Africa at a fair, low price:

1499 Kenyan Shilling per month, that is US$20 for unlimited broadband Internet access at a speed of 256 Kilobit per Second – how long will this remain a distant dream in Cambodia?

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

The United States of America Granted US$13.4 Million for AIDS Action Programs – Wednesday, 24.2.2010

Posted on 25 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: According to an announcement by the US Embassy on 23 February 2010, the United States of America officially started a program with a contribution of US$13.4 million to improve the heath and the quality of life of Cambodian citizens, reducing the impact from HIV and AIDS, especially among vulnerable groups.

“The five year sustainable program against HIV and AIDS at the community level will provide health care to citizens suffering from AIDS, those having HIV, and orphans, and in the meantime, it will also help to prevent new infections among vulnerable groups. This program will be implemented by the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance [KHANA], a local non-government organization which has been funded by the United States of America since 1997.

“More than 700 people, including those having HIVS and children suffering from AIDS, government officials, civil society organizations, and development partners participated in the inauguration at Wat Ou Poath in Takeo. Wat Ou Poath will receive aid from the United States of America for this program in order to continue to run an orphanage for children suffering from the impact from AIDS, to offer living places for adults who have HIV, to create a place for HIV blood testing, and to provide other services.

“The US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol A. Rodley, praised the working strategies of this community level program. She said, ‘Working with leaders such as monks at Wat Ou Poath and with our development partner KHANA contributes a lot to combating AIDS countrywide. The United States of America will continue to support these activities.’ The program also aims also to improve the capacity of civil society to provide health care services and HIV prevention with quality and sustainability. To reach this aim, KHANA has trained more than 60 local non-government organizations and supported those taking care of people having HIV at more than half of the communities countrywide by offering caring services to 60% of the communities in Cambodia.

“The aid granted by the United States of America for HIV/AIDS programs in Cambodia in this year amounts to US$18.5 million. The aid is concentrated on the protection, the care, and the treatment for people having HIV and people facing the danger of HIS infection.

“The HIV/AIDS program will also strengthen the national health system, fight maternal mortality, and address also other present priority health issues.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6892, 24.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #418, 24.2.2010

  • Chinese Investors Are Seeking Concession Land of More Than 60,000 Hectares in Cambodia [to plant rubber trees; in 2009, Cambodia exported 42,000 tonnes of rubber, compared with Thailand, the biggest rubber exporting country, which exported 2.74 million tonnes]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2185, 24.2.2010

  • Booyong Company of Korea Donates 3,000 Digital Pianos Worth US$3.6 Million to the Ministry of Education

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #610, 24.2.2010

  • Samdech Euv Claimed that Ruom Rith [supposedly his pen pal from childhood times] Who Was Interviewed by the Internet Broadcaster World Khmer Radio [based in the USA] Is an Imposter

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6892, 24.2.2010

  • The Report of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association Says: The Shooting to Kill Khmer Citizens by Thai Soldiers Is a Serious Violation of Human Rights
  • The United States of America Granted US$13.4 Million for AIDS Action Programs

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3816, 24.2.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Will Hold a Press Conference [through video conferencing] This Evening in Response to a Warning by [the head of the Cambodian Border Committee] Var Kimhong [to sue him for using fake maps]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #118, 24.2.2010

  • In Early 2010, the Forestry Administration Suppressed 231 Forestry Crimes [seizing 510 cubic meters of wood]
  • Sixty Percent of the [116] Unlicensed Pharmacies Closed [after the authorities set a deadline to take action against them at the end of February – Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5134, 24.2.2010

  • A Younger Sister of the Korean President Lee Myung-Bak Wants to Establish Schools in Cambodia [according to a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen – Phnom Penh]
  • A Man Raped His Daughter for Three Years – When She Could No Bear It Any More, She Informed the Police to Arrest Him [Svay Rieng]
  • A Korean Drove a Lexus Car and Hit a Motorbike, Killing Three People [Kompong Thom]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

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]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

The Ministry of Defense Rejected a Parliamentarian’s Request to Remove Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Number Plates – Wednesday, 17.2.2010

Posted on 18 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“An opposition party parliamentarian asked the Prime Minister to take action to check and have Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) number plates removed from private vehicles, but the Ministry of Defense said that there will be no more removals of such number plates.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kompong Thom, Mr. Men Sothavarin, told Rasmei Kampuchea by phone on 16 February 2010, ‘I asked the Prime Minister to take action to have RCAF number plates removed from private vehicles, because there have been a lot of irregularities occurring related to RCAF or police number plates. After the Prime Minister had ordered to take measures in this case, such cases almost disappeared. But recently, there appear again several cars using RCAF number plates, and such number plates are used even on some foreigners’ cars and on private trucks for [private] businesses; this can be considered as an illegitimate use of state cars for business, and driving for personal pleasure.

“Mr. Men Sothavarin added that before, he had asked the Ministry of Defense, but the Ministry did not respond. Therefore, this time he decided to ask the Prime Minister, because previously, after the Prime Minister had given orders, such number plates were removed.

“Mr. Men Sothavrin’s letter to the Prime Minister, sent through the president of the National Assembly, says that after the land traffic law had became valid, together with a public statement by the Prime Minister regarding private vehicles using state, police, and RCAF number plates, related ministries had effectively taken action to stop these trespasses, but recently, many private vehicles are again found using such number plates, which seriously violates the law.

“His letter mentions also some RCAF number plates, such as 2.8168, 2.0098, and 2.4191. The letter says that most of those plates are used by officials from units of armed personnel. Some others are used by civil servants and civilians, and some even by foreigners. The spokesperson, an Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Defense, Mr. Chhum Socheat, spoke to Rasmei Kampuchea, saying that following the Prime Minister’s order, the Ministry of Defense had already taken action and there is no illegal use of number plates, as claimed by the opposition party parliamentarian. He added that the rest of cars with such number plates still being used are mostly contracted as state cars, or as cars volunteered to be used as state property, that have proper legal documents at the Department of Supplies [it is interesting that the Website of this one department of the Ministry of National Defense is registered under the general Internet domain .info and not under the Cambodian country domain .kh]

“Mr. Chhum Socheat went on to say that after there was an order from the Prime Minister, all persons applying for RCAF number plates to be used on private vehicles had to make contracts, putting those vehicles up as state vehicles, so that they can receive military number plates. He emphasized that he also sees many vehicles with RCAF number plates, but if one questions them, they all have proper legal documents.

“This spokesperson added that formerly, the Ministry of Defense had taken actions to remove many number plates and practically, there were really many vehicles affected. But at present, there is only a small number of vehicles using such number plates, and they all have proper legal documents – they do not use fake number plates or use them illegally as it was before. He claimed that all those cars have been taxed and are recognized as belonging to the state.

“Though there is such a claim from the Ministry of Defense, many citizens said that many cars of powerful officials are parked illegally and they do not obey the traffic law.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2179, 17.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2179, 17.2.2010

  • The Ministry of Defense Rejected a Parliamentarians’ Request to Remove Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Number Plates [from private vehicles]
  • [San Rainsy Party] Parliamentarians Asked the Government to Explain the Position for the Setting of Four Temporary Border Markers [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border – Mr. Sam Rainsy had published data, based on satellite based GPS verification, showing that the border markers are set inside of Cambodian territory]
  • Siamese [Thai] Army Commanders Told Khmer Army Commanders that Thai Politicians Are Attracting Troop Loyalties [to support them; according to the Cambodian General Srey Dek in the Preah Vihear region]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6886, 17.2.2010

  • In 2009, the Municipality Closed 1,152 Gambling Sites and Intercepted 243 Felonies
  • During a Travel to Visit Relatives during the Chinese New Year, a Boat Sank by Rough Waters in the Sea so that Seven People Died and Five Were Rescued [Koh Kong]
  • Thirty Five People Were Prevented [by the authorities] from Climbing the Dangrek Mountains [in Thai territory] to [illegally] Cut Kronhoung Trees [as they might be shot by Thai soldiers]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #113, 17.2.2010

  • 106 Garment and Shoes Factories Closed [making more than 45,000 workers unemployed in 2009 due to the global economic crisis; according to the Ministry of Labor]
  • More Than 700 Khmer Workers and Beggars Were Brought by Thailand to the Border [and sent back to Cambodia on Monday, 15.3.2010. A Thai government spokesperson said this was done implementing Thai immigration law; it is reported that in 2010, already 16,253 Cambodians had been repatriated, after returning 91,268 Cambodians in 2009]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5128, 17.2.2010

  • The Japanese Government Adds US$5.5 Million for the Cambodian Mine Action Center
  • [Six] Gunmen with Paramilitary Uniforms Robbed a Commune Chief and Took Away Nearly US$50,000, then Burnt Their Own Car [used for the robbery – Banteay Meanchey]
  • A Cambodian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce Is Established in Phnom Penh [according to an economic official of the Israeli Embassy, this shows the effort of the Israeli government to strengthen commercial, economic, and political ties with Cambodia]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The Government of Finland Promised to Grant More Than US$9 Million to Cambodia for 2009 and 2010 – Saturday, 6.2.2010

Posted on 7 February 2010. Filed under: Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

“Phnom Penh: During the Cambodian development cooperation forum in Phnom Penh from 4 to 5 December 2008, the Government of Finland promised to grant US$9,086,107 to Cambodia for 2009 and 2010.

“The president of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Ponhea Chakrey Heng Samrin, said so during a meeting with the new Ambassador of the Republic of Finland, Ms. Sirpa Maenpaa, on 5 February 2010 at the National Assembly.

“He added that from 1992 to 2008, Finland has granted more than US$25 million aid to Cambodia. As for the trade relations between both countries, Cambodia exports products to Finland amounting to more than US$1.2 million, and Finland exports products to Cambodia of more than US$1.6 million.

“During the audience with Samdech Heng Samrin after she had submitted her diplomatic credentials to the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia in the morning of 5 February 2010, the Ambassador of Finland said that as an ambassador, she will encourage closer ties and cooperation between Cambodia and Finland, and the Government of Finland promised to keep on cooperating with Cambodia. Previously, both countries had cooperated in the field of administration and in projects to alleviate poverty among people living around the Tonle Sap Lake. She promised to encourage the Government of Finland to step up aid for Cambodia.

“The new Ambassador of Finland told Samdech Heng Samrin that some members of parliament of Finland plan to visit Cambodia in the middle of March, and they hope to meet with Samdech Heng Samrin and to have working sessions with some of the special committees of the National Assembly of Cambodia.

“Samdech Heng Samrin agreed with these plans and welcomes the upcoming visit from the parliament of Finland.

“Samdech Heng Samrin expressed his gratitude towards Ms. Sirpa Maenpaa, the newly appointed ambassador of the Republic of Finland, for spending her busy time to meet and to greet him. Also, Samdech Heng Samrin explained her the situation of Cambodia and its parliamentary institutions and the legislative process. Summing this up, he said that the current situation in Cambodia is stable and peaceful, thus, favorable for developments in all sectors.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5119, 6.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 6 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #407, 6.2.2010

  • One Khmer-Canadian and Two Khmer Accomplices Were Sentenced to Serve Eight Years in Prison and in Addition They Were Fined Riel 8 Million [approx. US$1,900, for Drug Smuggling – Phnom Penn]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2170, 6.2.2010

  • Cambodian Officials Demanded Google to Remove an Illegal Map from Their Website [showing that Cambodia loses some territory at the border]

Note:

Secretary of State at the Cambodia’s Council of Ministers Svay Sitha is quoted to have written to the Internet company Google, which makes maps of the whole world accessible, free of charge, to all Internet users, “We… request that you withdraw the already disseminated, very wrong and not internationally recognized map and replace it.”He calls the map “radically misleading,” “devoid of truth and reality,” and “professionally irresponsible.”

Actually, Google does not claim that its free service represents internationally recognized borders; it specifically posts a disclaimer which says:

  • 6. (a) GOOGLE AND ITS LICENSORS… MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES REGARDING THE ACCURACY OR COMPLETENESS OF ANY CONTENT OR THE PRODUCTS.

To illustrate the problem further, we bring several maps or sections of maps, followed by brief explanations.

Google Map

Google Map

Cambodian Claim towards World Heritage Listing

Cambodian Claim towards World Heritage Listing

The section of the Internet Google map of the Preah Vihear area has a white border line between Cambodia and Thailand – though the real border is neither marked nor agreed upon between both countries. The contours of the Preah Vihear Temple can be seen not only on the Google map, but also – the small, narrow shape in light pale red in the middle of the picture on the right– on the map presented by the Cambodian delegation in June 2008, explaining that for the listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site, Cambodia claims only, at that time, the temple and an area of about 30 meter around the main temple complex, as shown in the map – in light red – signed by the chair of the Cambodia Border Commission.

According to the decisions of the World Heritage Committee of 2008, when the Preah Vihear Temple was listed, this was done together with the following conditions written down in the minutes of this UNESCO commission:

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

  • “a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone identified in the RGPP;
  • “b) updated Nomination dossier to reflect the changes made to the perimeter of the property;
  • “c) confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP;
  • “d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan; 16.Further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center by February 2010, for submission to the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010 a full Management Plan for the inscribed property, including a finalized map.”

We are not aware that anything has been published, when the Cambodian government has invited the participation of the Government of Thailand and others to examine the policy how to operate this World Heritage site, including the map delineating the [contested] buffer zone and the management zones previously identified in presentation of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear, and a progress report about a management plan, including a “finalized map.”

The strong criticism against the Google map is surprising when one compares the maps which the Cambodian government’s Department of Geography produced for years, until recently, and which can be seen in many offices: they do not mention Preah Vihear at all, and the borderline does not even show that the Temple of Preah Vihear lies on Cambodian territory – according to a ruling of the International Court of Justice in 1962. The Google map does reflect this – though without indicating that there are contested buffer zones. The map of the Cambodian government’s Geography Department, issued in 2000, does not reflect this, but shows a borderline just as some Thai nationalists who reject the ruling of 1992 claim it. The Google map is showing Cambodia’s national interests clearer than the maps of the Cambodian government’s Geography Department.

Description of the Map: printed in 2000

Description of the Map: printed in 2000

Preah Vihear not mentioned, border shown in favor of Thailand

Preah Vihear not mentioned, border shown in favor of Thailand



.

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #599, 6.2.2010

  • France Criticized the Suspension of the Immunity of Mr. Sam Rainsy and of Opposition Party Parliamentarians in Cambodia
  • [Thai Deputy Prime Minister] Suthep Thaungsuban Ordered the Sisaket Governor and Siamese [Thai] Soldiers to Welcome [Prime Minister] Hun Sen [during his visit at the border on 6 February 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6877, 6-7.2.2010

  • The Chinese Ambassador [Ms. Zhang Jinfeng 张金凤] Finished Her Term of Service in Cambodia and Met the Municipal Governor [Mr. Kep Chuktema] to Say Goodbye

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5119, 6.2.2010

  • Bangkok Is Nervous Ahead of the Visit of Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to the Border
  • The Government of Finland Promised to Grant More Than US$9 Million to Cambodia for 2009 and 2010
  • A Car Overturned Suddenly, Killing Two People and Injuring Eighteen [Siem Reap]
  • A Leader of the Red-Shirt Groups [supporters of ousted and fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Was Shot Dead after Demonstrating in Front of an Army Base

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

There Is Sex Trafficking via Internet Websites – Saturday, 16.1.2010

Posted on 25 January 2010. Filed under: Week 648 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 648


Note:

The delays in publishing because of my international travel should be over by Tuesday.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: According to a report to sum up the work done in 2009 by the Phnom Penh Municipal Police and to establish directions for the work in 2010, it was fond that, because of poverty and unemployment, human trafficking and sex exploitation continued to increase in Phnom Penh. Most sexual exploitations is done in hotels, guesthouses, massage shops, and Karaoke parlors, and now, there appears a new form of sexual exploitation using Internet based information technology, organizing trafficking through websites on the Internet, to contact and attract children for sex. However, as a result of counter-measure actions, police cracked down in 74 cases; compared to 2008, there was an increase by 29 cases in 2009, and 91 perpetrators were arrested and sent to be dealt with by the courts.

“This report was published during a meeting to sum up the results of security and social order protection operations in 2009, and to establish directions for the work in 2010, organized by the Phnom Penh Municipal Police under the leadership of the Director General of the National Police, Mr. Net Savoeun.

“The report adds that the general trend of criminal offenses still poses complex challenges. Though the authorities tried very hard to handle it, the results were not yet satisfying, especially to find persons being searched, and to investigate persons being searched for which an arrest warrant has been issued, and other search requests, because some criminals escaped and return to Phnom Penh to gather and create new groups and repeatedly commit offenses, before police could finally get hold of them. As for drug concerns, it is also still a challenge for Phnom Penh where many persons that are being searched abuse drugs, including teenage people who secretly use drugs at hotels, guest-houses, or houses for rent, entertainment clubs, and at public places, increasing the number of drug abusers and creating a markets for local distribution to which drugs are supplied by foreign criminals.

“According to this report, there were 392 criminal offenses in 2009; compared to 2008, the number increased by 42 cases. Evidence seized included 13 rifles, 35 pistols, 7 cars, 141 motorbikes, and 11 mobile phones.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6865, 23-24.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 23 January 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #394, 22.1.2010

  • Malaysia Invests US$107.6 Million in Electricity in Cambodia [110 km north of Phnom Penh]
  • The Phnom Penh Police Chief [Mr. Touch Naruth] Promised to Suppress Gambling [on a daily basis]
  • Supporters of Mr. Obama Drop [from 70%] to 57% one Year after He Took Office

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2158, 23.1.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen Ordered to Demolish the Chhne Prampi Chon Construction [owned by the wife of the Sihanoukville governor] in Sihanoukville [saying that it can affects the environment and disturbs the relaxation of tourists along the beach]
  • Police Arrested a Norwegian Man for Taking a [15-year-old] Girl to a Guesthouse [Siem Reap]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #587, 23.1.2010

  • The Authorities Do Not Dare to Disclose the Names of the Wood Traders Who Hire Citizens to Cut Trees, but Threaten Citizens That Tried to Prevent Forestry Crimes [like in the northeastern provinces bordering Vietnam]
  • Military Police Arrested Three Nigerian Men for using Fake Dollar Notes

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6865, 23-24.1.2010

  • There Is Sex Trafficking via Internet Websites

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5107, 23.1.2010

  • [A pro-Sam Rainsy Party newspaper] Moneaksekar Khmer Is Allowed to Continue Publishing Again [after it had been closed for one year, as the government had sued it for defamation and disinformation – according to the Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith]
  • Cambodia Asked South Korea to Help to Construct a Cambodian-Korean Friendship Bridge [across the Mekong River], but Korea Said They Need to Discuss Details First
  • Vietnam Offers Scholarships to 100 Cambodian Students for 2010

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

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.

Please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )

« Previous Entries

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...