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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And a response:

12.1.2010:

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

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

Article 35:

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

Article 51:

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

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

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

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

 Starfish and the Spider

The Starfish and the Spider

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fake Medicines Are Invading Cambodia while the Ministry of Health Keeps Quiet – Tuesday 23.12.2008

Posted on 24 December 2008. Filed under: Week 592 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 592

“Medicines are double-edged weapons. During a meeting last week, officials found that fake medicines are strongly invading Cambodia. The Ministry of Health, the parent or the administrator of this sector,] has not any significant achievements responding to the size or the spread of fake medicine trafficking, or of unqualified medicines.

“The Cambodian government created central and provincial committees to eliminate fake medicines and illegal health services in 2005. So far, by late 2008, the highest health institution has changed ministers, from Minister Nuth Sokhom to Minister Mam Bunheng, but there is no positive change in the prevention of fake medicines’ trafficking. Moreover, the fact that there is not much debate about the problem, means that it is an opportunity for fake medicines to extend their influence.

“It is reported that not much is done to curb the use and the speculation with fake medicines in the provinces, while at the central level, it is completely quiet. During more than three years, the central committee met only once in 2006, after there had been some encouragement from non-government organizations.

“How many types of fake medicines has the Ministry of Heath found? Where do those types of fake medicines come from? What are they? Was information about them was published for the public? Were warnings published in time? Or are they first waiting until the merchants have sold all medicine, only then publish something in order to make a good impression in the public? Did the central committee create strategic plans to handle this problem? If it did, were evaluations conducted? How many times was information about the results given to the Royal Government?

“The import of fake medicines into the country causes countless losses. Fake medicines do not care whether they affect ministers, parliamentarians, doctors, customs officers, police, the rich, the poor, soldiers, teachers etc… Not only the users are affected, but also those who are not users may have problems.

“Health experts said that the Cambodian Mine Action Center tries to clear mines, traffic police try to enforce traffic laws, civil society organizations try to appeal to demand the protection through the resoect of human rights…, but fake medicines are more cruel than mines and more dangerous than traffic accidents along the roads; it is a serious abuse of human rights… But no one is interested in such danger, including the expert institution – the Ministry of Health. It is not because the expert institution does not know about it, but it is suspected that it is – because benefit sharing with medicine companies – the central committee now keeps silent. [Also, because the relevant ministries did not respond.]

“Unlike the quietness of the central committee, other institutions focus on this dangerous problem. Non-government organizations and international organizations, like INTERPOL, had encouraged the central committee to be active again, but it seems it has no effect.

“Besides fake medicines, a big danger are also the many illegal clinics [clinics operating without license];tese too harm citizens’ health. Illegal clinics are not just like persons who sell drugs secretly so that police cannot see it, but these are illegal clinics with big banners along main roads in cities and in various towns. Therefore, if the Ministry of Health has the intention to check these illegal clinics, it is not difficult. But it seems that the Ministry of Health has no intention to do so. It is said that expert officials of the Ministry of Health receive thousands of dollar monthly from those illegal clinics.

“Not just illegal clinics need to pay monthly bribe-fees to officials of the Ministry of Health, even for the imports of material it is necessary to pay to official of the Ministry of Health. To sum up, officials of the Ministry of Health know the evil merchants of fake medicines and those illegal clinics like their own palm.

“It is expected that the Minister of Health, Mr. Mam Bunheng, will be strong enough to solve the two important problems mentioned above, in order for Cambodia to join the efforts to alleviate poverty together with the Royal Government of Cambodia.” Chakraval, Vol.16, #2836, 23.12.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Chakraval, Vol.16, #2836, 23.12.2008

  • Fake Medicines Are Invading Cambodia while the Ministry of Health Keeps Quiet

 
Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1827, 23.12.2008

  • [41] Important Leaders of Funcinpec Rush to Join the Cambodian People’s Party like Water from a Broken Dam
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Nine Other Countries Should Have Proper Solutions so that ASEAN Meeting Is Not Delayed


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #165, 23.12.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asks Local Fuel Companies to Further Reduce Prices [at presents the gasoline price is around Riel 3,100, corresponding to approx. US$0.77 per liter]
  • Lawyer of Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] Demands Moneaksekar Khmer to Show Evidence, otherwise He Will Sue the Newspaper [his lawyer demands to show the name list of more than 200 officials, about which the pro-Sam Rainsy Party Moneaksekar Khmer had said that the list was suggested by the prince to the King, to assign them to the Royal palace]
  • A Security Guard of the Shukaku Company Hurt a Citizen with a Samurai Sword [because he got angry with Boeng Kak citizens who argued against the security guard who threatened them to leave the region of the Boeng Kak lake soon]
  • Mine Clearance in Cambodia Needs Ten Years More

 
Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3646, 23.12.2008

  • After Net Savoeun Took the Position of Director of the National Police, Security in the Society Is Still Worrying
  • Co-Lawyer [Ang Udom] of [former Khmer Rouge leader] Ieng Sary Threatens to Create His Own Website after the Tribunal Did Not Accept to Publish His Notes about the History

 fa
Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4775, 23.12.2008

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Cautions Those Who Talk about Military Secrets
  • New Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya – กษิต ภิรมย์] Considers the Solving of Border Disputes with Cambodia as a Priority
  • Mr. Keng Vannsak Died at the Age of 83 [in Paris, on 18 December 2008 – born in Kompong Chhnang, he is the Khmer linguist scholar who created the first university of Khmer Literature, and he designed the layout of the Khmer-language typewriter keyboard, and he suggested also a system to create modern Khmer-language words. His funeral will be held on 23 December 2008]
  • A Kompong Thom Fishery Administration Officer Is Killed by Breaking His Skull [perpetrators not identified]
    Samdech Prime Minister Appeals to Citizens to Wear Safety Helmets while Driving Motorbikes
  • The Number of Khmer Workers in Malaysia and Thailand Declined [from 3,219 in 2007 to 2,654 in 2008 for Malaysia, and from 5,670 to 4,000 for Thailand], but the Number going to Korea and to Japan Increased [from 95 in 2007 to more than 2,400 in 2008 to Korea, and from 3 to 39 going to Japan]

 
Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3461, 23.12.2008

  • A Victimized Family Prepares a Complaint over a Robbery Case, Which the Dangkao District’s Authorities Say to Be a Traffic Accident [seven perpetrators were involved in hitting the victim, who is a police officer, to death, and taking some of his property, including his hand gun, while the local authorities say that the victim fell from his motorbike. It is also said that one accused perpetrator is a son of the commune chief]
  • Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

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