The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication Will Set up an Equal Phone Cost System at the End of This Month – Friday, 20.11.2009

Posted on 20 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue until next Monday, as I was attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and i am now traveling back to Cambodia. I try to be timely as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: According to the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, Mr. So Khun, who spoke to journalists in the morning of 19 November 2009 at the Phnom Penh Hotel, where he presided over a workshop about the joint use of mobile phone relay and transmission towers, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication of the Kingdom of Cambodia will set equal phone service costs at the end of this month.

“The minister said that so far, the post and telecommunication sector has advanced dramatically, and it is a pride of the ministry as well as of the Cambodian government under the wise leadership of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen. However, together with this progress, the ministry noticed that mobile phone companies in Cambodia compete with each other over phone call costs. This is not yet considered as a conflict, but just as a sign of disagreements. Therefore, the ministry prepares to set a general cost system. The minister added that the cost that the ministry plans to set is not yet known, but the ministry is discussing to set a cost system that all mobile phone companies in Cambodia can accept.

“Regarding the workshop about the joint use of mobile phone relay and transmission towers, Mr. So Khun said that this is a good way to promote the telecommunications sector in Cambodia, because at present, this sector is being served by nine mobile phone companies and many ISP/VOIP systems. About 4,500 mobile phone towers have been set up both on the ground and on the roof of houses, in order to compete in attracting about 5.3 million clients, who need mobile phone towers so that they can use their mobile phones. ‘It is a great pride and we acknowledge that the telecommunications sector does grow, but meanwhile, we must think also about the environment, the stable health of citizens, and public order in the society and in the nation.’

“The general manager of the Tower Master Cambodia Co Ltd (TMCC), Mr. Ung Veasna said, the company had received concession rights to operate for 35 years to set up and to maintain mobile phone towers.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2103, 20.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 20 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #341, 20.11.2009

  • Cambodia Vows to Try to Find Solutions on Climate Change [by supporting publications and offering training to citizens about this problem]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2103, 20.11.2009

  • The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication Will Set up an Equal Phone Cost System at the End of This Month
  • The Government Issued an Instruction about Places where Smoking Is Banned [it is not allowed in buildings and offices of officials at different ministries, at municipalities, at district and commune offices, at meeting halls, at toilets, and in the entry and exit ways to official buildings]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #679, 20.11.2009

  • Development of Koh Kong [by Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra] to Become a Second Hong Kong Is Delayed for Two to Three Years until Cambodia and Siam [Thailand] Have Ended Their Diplomatic Disputes

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #534, 20.11.2009

  • A US Parliamentarian [Mr. Edward Roy] and the European Union Condemn the Suspension of the Immunity of Mr. Sam Rainsy, Following a Request from Yuon [Vietnam, over his participation to remove Cambodian-Vietnamese temporary border markers; they consider this as a restriction of the voice of the opposition party]
  • Nine [Thai] Persons Working with the [alleged] Siamese [Thai] Spy [at the Cambodia Air Traffic Service] Were Expelled from Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6810, 20.11.2009

  • A Bilateral Meeting of Cambodia and the Inter-Government Committee of the Russian Federation Decided to Continue the Discussion in Moscow in 2010 about the Debt That Cambodia Owes [the debts that Cambodia owed since the Soviet era. Cambodia asked Russia to cancel it. But now, both sides agreed to further discuss it, later on in 2010 in Moscow]
  • America Grants More Than US$10 Million to the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (KHANA) [it is recognized by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, based in Britain, as a local non-government organization that conforms to international standards in working on HIV/AIDS]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #50, 20.11.2009

  • Thaksin Shinawatra Has the Intention to Help the Alleged Spy [now detained at the Prey Sar prison], but He Waits until Cambodia Finishes [court] Procedures

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5052, 20.11.2009

  • More Than Three-Hour Fire Destroyed 229 Houses at Chrang Chamres 2 Commune [because of a gas explosion from a house; there were no deaths – Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh]
  • Thaksin Wants to Live in the Northeast Border Area of Thailand [according to his website]

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

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Censorship: Thousands of Crude Porn Sites Accessible on Internet – One Khmer Artist Blocked – Sunday, 1.2.2009

Posted on 2 February 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 597 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

When the Cambodian government held a three day consultation in September 2001, the Prime Minister opened it with a speech on Public Awareness about Information Technology. Charting the future, he said:

“The government’s top priority is to use Information Technology – IT – to serve and to meet the day-to-day needs of the people. IT should become as an efficient means for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government and the conduct of government business in accordance with the principles of transparency and good governance…

“IT will help strengthen democracy, ensure transparency, promote good governance in government and community businesses. With regard to the economic and social aspect, IT will improve major public service delivery to the local people and allow them to monitor and receive regularly and timely all kinds of information.”

In February last year, the Prime Minister emphasized the importance of transparency again, more specifically in relation to economic development as a means of poverty reduction, in his keynote address 2008 Cambodia Outlook Conference: Mobilizing Cambodia’s Resources – Human, Natural, Financial – for Quality Development, Growth and Prosperity, when he said:

“A healthy private sector is the key to robust economic development and thus the government should ensure the legal framework for fair competition, transparency, accountability and productive relations with the public sector. The overall environment for enterprise will be strengthened through broadened good governance and human resources development. The public sector should also be strong in order to correct the market failures, essentially to reach the poor and disadvantaged.”

Recent days and weeks would have provided ample opportunity to demonstrate the promised open and transparent communication – using information technology, the telephone, and direct talk.

Unfortunately, in spite of repeated pledges to install official spokespersons in the different ministries and other government agencies, and even having trained 18 persons for this task and given them certificates, there is obviously a problem that the basic commitment to transparency – “for the public to exercise their rights to get information related to the decisions made by the government,” as the Prime Minister said – is disregarded.

Related to the Dey Krahom evictions, which continue to cause deep problems for the men, women, and children involved, we collected the following items from the Cambodia Daily in a single day – Friday, 30 January 2009:

  • “Shukaku representatives could not be reached for comment and CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin [the husband of the owner of the Shukaku company] turned off his phone when a reporter contacted him.”
  • At the office of the Boeng Kak Development committee, an employee declined to provide his name, but suggested, “I think you have to ask Phnom Penh Municipality.”
  • “Municipal Governor Kep Chuktema and his deputies Mann Chhoeun and Pa Socheatvong could not be reached for comment.”
  • After contacting the 7NG company, “a company representative said he would meet Thursday with the residents.” – However, when contacted Thursday, the meeting was canceled.
  • “Chhay Rithisen, director of the municipal land management department, could not be reached for comment. Deputy directors Sek Yorn and Sar Bamnang both directed questions… to Chhay Rithisen.”

Many people do not seem to care about the importance the Prime Minister has accorded to transparency and “to reach the poor and disadvantaged” when there are “market failures” which derail the ultimate goal of development.

Over the weekend there was another blow to transparency in Cambodia. It is widely acknowledged that, in addition to huge resources for knowledge, connectivity, and entertainment, the Internet provides access to pornography – according to experts, there are tens of thousands of pornographic websites. There is no technical Internet blocking of access to these sites in Cambodia, which, as Internet experts recommend that criminal violations of pornography abuse laws should be best handled through legal prosecution, not through arbitrary and ineffective blocking of Internet sites.

Now, however, though not blocking any real pornography sites, some Internet Service Providers in Cambodia have started to block access to the website of a Cambodian artist based in the USA:

When the web site of this Khmer artist became known through the press, he was strongly attacked, accused of destroying Khmer culture because he did not only paint pictures of Angkor Wat stone apsaras, but also of lifelike apsara dancers whose bodies were, like the stone carvings, not completely clothed.

He offers on his website professional hints in painting techniques, and he wrote also:

“I’m trying to build an online Khmer Arts community for novice artists, advance artists, graphic artists, tattoo artists, or anyone for that matter who is interested in Khmer Arts. We can share ideas, discuss about your designs, and network with other Khmer artists from across the United States and around the world.

“The meaning of life is an elusive concept that has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific and theological speculation. For thousands of years, men and women of every age, race, and culture have sought to understand the meaning of life. Throughout history, scientists and philosophers, theologians and artists, politicians and social activists, monks and sages, and men and women from all walks of life have discussed and debated many questions in the quest to discover the meaning of life.

“One of the central views in Buddhism is a non-dual worldview, in which subject and object are the same, and the sense of doer-ship is illusionary. On this account, the meaning of life is to become enlightened as to the nature and oneness of the universe. According to the scriptures, the Buddha taught that in life there exists Dukkha, which is in essence sorrow/suffering, that is caused by desire and it can be brought to cessation by following the Noble Eightfold Path.

“It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing oneself from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. From this, one can attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana and that will be the meaning of my life.

“I believe in constructive criticisms! But lately, I’ve received many unwanted complaints regarding that some of my works disgraced the Khmer culture. Judging from the complaints, I wonder how we as Khmer will be able to make it in the 21st century.”

A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information announced the intention to “publish services through electronic systems under the control of a law which is being drafted.” This announcement causes great alarm – not only because history has shown that the introduction of censorship of art has often been the entry point to suppress other freedoms, but because the Cambodian Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and publication, and the state has to uphold impartiality and protect the rights and freedoms of citizens (Articles 41 and 109).

The wide intent of the draft of this legislation became clear when it was stated:

“All Internet Service Providers which ask for licenses from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication must, in advance, also ask for a second license from the Ministry of Information if this law is adopted, because these companies allow Internet users to connect networks and to use data in different networks.”

Does this mean, for example, that the Ministry of Information might refuse to license the apsara pictures on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, which all foreigners see when they apply there for a visa?

Official Visa Application Site

Who in the Ministry of Information will be the authority on expressions of art, or decide – to quote the same Secretary of State – if “pictures can evoke sexual feelings” and should be prohibited? Is the work of art of one person a greater assault on the cultural traditions and remnants of the country than the destruction of the historic Bassac Theater, and now the threatened destruction of the landmark Renakse Hotel, which is the former Ministry of Justice and part of the architectural environment of the Royal Palace?

In the early years of the Internet, when the present Minister of Information was a secretary of state at the same ministry, he wrote an e-mail in 1999 to Bill Herod, one of the Internet pioneers in Cambodia, which was published internationally in the UNDP supported Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2003/2004, when the South China Morning Post in Hongkong had written there would be Internet censorship in Cambodia:

“Dear Sir,

“I do not know where SCMP got this news (“Planned Net law ‘threat to democracy,’” May 31, 1999) , but I can assure you that I am the one who has been fighting and continues to fight for the freedom of Internet access and the free flow of information in general. Everyday I find in my e-mail all kinds of information including some mail insulting me.

“This is a fact of life. When we never attempt to control the import of books and magazines into Cambodia why would we want to block the Internet?…

“Please be assured that I am very supportive of this form of communication and I will spare no effort in defending it. I hope you can help communicate this assurance to all of your subscribers and, if you have any problem concerning this issue, please feel free to contact me.

“Your sincerely,

“Khieu Kanharith”

It is important to recognize that questions of “Cambodian culture” are raised regularly by many different kinds of news. For example, the almost weekly news about the brutal rape and murder of Cambodian children raises questions about how this destruction of human culture is being handled, and no efforts to block the Internet in Cambodia could ever prevent that.

Furthermore, the blocking of the Reahu site will be reported around the world and will attract much more attention than the site would ever have received without such action. That is what also had happened when the introduction of 3G mobile phones was delayed – for fear they could deliver pornography to those who can afford the high cost of this new 3G technology, while crude pornography continues to be cheaply available all over the country where CDs are being sold.

What a pity, that there will again be a flood of negative attention on Cambodia, just as it happened when the prohibition of the Global Witness book on deforestation problems Cambodia’s Family Trees stimulated worldwide attention, which it never could have gained without the prohibition.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

The wide international interest The Mirror finds is reflected in the fact that during the last two days only, people in 45 countries read The Mirror.

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The Ministry of Information Has the Intention to Regulate Publications on the Internet – Thursday, 8.1.2009

Posted on 9 January 2009. Filed under: Week 594 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 594

“Since the Internet arrived in Cambodia in 1997 (when Cambodia officially had 24h Internet network for the first time), communication and publishing through this means became more popular in the Kingdom of Cambodia. In the meantime, the publishing through radio and cable TV and through satellite increased also. More than one decade of progress makes the Ministry of Information concerned about eventual effects of these new technologies on Khmer society. Therefore the Ministry of Information has the intention to put ‘publishing services through electronic systems’ under the control of a law which is being drafted. The Ministry of Information said that electronic news (such as newspapers) will not be affected by this new law, because the major intention of this law is to control the publishing of audio-visual data, of games, and of entertainment programs and advertisements through the Internet, to ensure moral respect.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information in charge of drafting this law, Mr. Nov Sovathero, explained that because of the advances of new technologies, the Ministry of Information found that its responsibility has increased remarkably during these years. In addition to the control of the old audio-visual field which consisted of recording tapes – the burden of the Ministry of Information has become bigger with the control of 25 radio channels and 7 television channels broadcasting in Phnom Penh and in the provinces – leading now also to the control of the publishing through satellites and through the Internet. There will be 12 chapters and 67 articles in that draft law.

“Mr. Nov Sovathero said that radio and television influences listeners and watchers. Therefore, this law intends to control all publishing through electronic systems as well as the publication of performances for public viewing.

“This law will therefore also relate to audio-visual publishing through the Internet and through mobile phones. Over the course of the years, mobile phones are being used in general and at present, users can listen to radio, watch television, and send voice and picture messages through mobile phones.

“Though the responsibility of the Ministry of Information is now bigger, he said that the Ministry of Information does not have different intentions, besides protecting the respect of tradition and morality. He referred to an example that if we know that some Internet games have a bad impact on children, youth, or the Khmer society as a whole, the Ministry of Information will provide warnings about publishing licenses or revoke licenses by cooperating with relevant authorities.

“Also, we have to check the quality of advertisements so that there is no advertisement published with wrong information about the quality of the product advertised. This draft law will provide a legal framework both for content censors of electronic audio-visual documents and for Internet Service Providers who have an important responsibility in the technical field.

“Therefore, all Internet Service Providers which ask for licenses from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication must, in advance, also ask for a second license from the Ministry of Information if this law is adopted, because these companies allow Internet users to connect networks and to use data in different networks.

“Mr. Nov Sovathero referred to another example that pictures were published by individual Internet users showing Apsaras with naked breasts with sexual postures.

“For him, such pictures can evoke sexual feelings of viewers.

“Thus, he believed that this law can control the publishing of such pictures. He mentioned another example, ‘If a website publishes the beautiful face of a Khmer actress by cutting her face out of another picture and put it onto the naked body of another woman, it is not clear at present which ministry will be responsible for it? The Ministry of Information, or the Ministry of Interior? According to this new draft law, the Ministry of Information is the first to be responsible for it, because it will control all publishing of audio-visual material.’” Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #318, 7.1.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 8 January 2009

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1375, 7-8.1.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: Position of Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh as chief advisors of the King] Is a Position Only to Receive a Salary

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #104, 7-8.1.2009

  • The Prime Minister Warns about the Selling and the Exchange of [State] Kindergartens / Preschools
  • More Than 1,500 People Died from Traffic Accidents in 2008 [5,049 were seriously injured]
  • Siamese [Thai] Authorities Closed 2,300 Websites Defaming the King [Note: Other media and civil society in Thailand request clearer definitions what a ‘defamation of the king’ really is, and say that a broad blocking of sites deprives the people from the access to information which is guaranteed by law]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1840-#1841,7- 8.1.2009

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Cancels the Lease Contract for the Renakse Hotel of Ms. Kem Chantha and Gives the Hotel to the Municipality [before the Minister of Religions and Cults, Mr. Min Khin, had signed a contract to lease this hotel to Ms. Kem Chantha for 48 years – Phnom Penh]
  • Two Girls [11 and 14 years old] Were Raped and then Hanged [on a tree] at a Mountaintop [perpetrators are not yet identified – Pursat]
  • CR-V [car] Driving from a Wedding Party Hit Cars and Motorcycles at Five Different Places, Killing 3 and Injuring 8 People [after hitting one car he tried to escape but caused more accidents]
  • German Billionaire [Adolf Merckle, 74] Committed Suicide because of [being affected by] the Global Financial Crisis

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #318, 7.1.2008

  • The Ministry of Information Has the Intention to Regulate Publications on the Internet

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #320, 7.1.2009

  • The Police Waits for the Green Light from the Court to Reinvestigate the Murder of [the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Vichea [according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #177, 7.1.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asks All Fuel Companies to Cooperate to Further Reduce the Fuel Prices
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Those Who Do Not Accept the Truth [of the 7 January 1979 victory day over the Khmer Rouge] Are Not People, but Animals [some people oppose to celebrate 7 January as it is the day that Vietnam invaded Cambodia and toppled the Khmer Rouge – see the National Holiday 7 January 2009 Mirror page]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6545-#6546, 7-8.1.2009

  • Report about Victims and Traffic Accidents Shows that from July to August 2008 [countrywide], Almost 100% of Victims Had Head Injuries

 
Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3660, 8.1.2009

  • The Number of Foreign Tourists Is Less Than Expected due to the Global Economic Crisis [according the Ministry of Tourism, the number of foreign tourists in 2008 was more than 2,100,000, and it only increased by 6% compared to the number in 2007]

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1400, 8.1.2009

  • Samdech Hun Sen: I Looked along the Roads, About 50% [of the motorcycle drivers] Wore Helmets

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4788-#4789, 7-8.1.2009

  • The Prime Minister Announced that from January 2009, the Salaries of Civil Servants Will Be Increased by 20% and the Salaries of the Police and of the Military Will Be Increased More
  • The Cambodian People’s Party Celebrated the 30th Victory Anniversary of 7 January 1979 with a Huge Meeting [with around 50,000 people participating]
  • The Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Will Come to Cambodia to Discuss the Border Disputes in Late January
  • Japan Will Provide More Aid to Cambodia During the Visit of the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs [Mr. Nakasone Hirofumi – 中曽根弘文] to Cambodia [from 10 to 11 January 2009]
  • The US Government Provided Cambodia More Than US$60 Million in 2008
  • A Girl Received Electricity Shocks and Was Put into a Coffin to Let Ants Bite Her, in Order to Force Her to Have Sex [this experience of a now 24-year-old Vietnamese woman in Cambodia was published on 1 January 2009 in The New York Times]

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

And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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