The Number of Cambodian Migrant Workers Is Increasing – Monday, 21.6.2010

Posted on 23 June 2010. Filed under: Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

“Observers said that the sharp increase in the number of Cambodian migrant workers creates more problems for officials fighting against human trafficking. According to the report of the US Department of State released last week, Cambodia carried out positive measures last year to fight human trafficking, but some people called for attention to the fact that workers migrating to foreign countries for better job opportunities are also facing more problems.

“A legal advisor of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – Mr. Manfred Hornung, said that his team has worked with about 60 migrant workers who had been trafficked and then sent back to Cambodia during the last 18 months. He said, ‘They experienced dangerous situations after they had fallen into trafficking.’

“He added that they tell similar stories. Because there are less job opportunities in the country, many workers were lured by local merchants with the promise to find them well-paid jobs in Thailand. They were then trafficked across the border. Before they were sold to work on fishing boats, they were locked up in guesthouses. When they started to understand what had happened, it was already too late.

“Mr. Hornung said, ‘Those workers were almost like slaves. Many of them said that they worked under difficult working condition, where some were even beaten and killed.’ He added, ‘In many cases, they experienced the bad fate of trafficked male migrant people, whose labor is being exploited.’

“An obvious difficulty is not to have an accurate number of people who fell into such exploitation. The World Bank estimates that there are about 350,000 Cambodian migrant workers abroad. Observers who work with the problems of migrant workers said that there is also a large number of unreported workers working abroad.

“Mr. Hornung added that the International Labor Organizations [ILO] estimates that between 250,000 to 300,000 young citizens of Cambodia want to enter the job market every year. If there is a shortage of jobs in the country, some of these young citizens are forced to seek jobs in foreign countries.

“The head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Department of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Bit Kimhong, recognized that many citizens are being trafficked into forced labor in different countries. But he said that the authorities are stepping up legal measures. He said, ‘The government created its strategies for 2010 to investigate border crossing crimes.’

“The human trafficking report of the US Department of State released last week shows that the number of prosecutions against perpetrators of human trafficking increased compared to before, so that Cambodia was removed from the Tier 2 Watch List of countries that are being assessed in their combat against human trafficking, which is not yet sufficient. From thirty six reported convictions, only one was not for sexual trafficking, which shows that there was not much done against labor related trafficking.

“The report says, ‘The trafficking of Cambodian citizens abroad increases and it needs to receive more attention from the authorities during the next years.’ It adds, ‘While there are more reports about Cambodian migrant workers who become victims due to trafficking, resulting from the exploitation of their labor in different countries, the government hardly prosecutes criminals and those companies which select workers involved in the trafficking of laborers.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #197, 197.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 21 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #509, 20-21.6.2010

  • Ethnic Minority People in Ratanakiri Criticized the Authorities for Unfairly Distributing Donations [like money, paddy rice seeds, rice, fertilizer, or vegetables; the poor people did not receive donations, but only families with medium livelihood conditions received donations]
  • President Obama Asked Burma to Release [Burmese elected leader] Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2280, 20-21.6.2010

  • Within Half an Hour, There Were Two Traffic Accidents in the Meanchey District, Killing Two People and Injuring Three Others [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #686, 20-21.6.2010

  • Khmer Journalists Need More Training to Write Investigating Information [to write such information, journalists have to investigate to collect strong evidence to support their conclusions]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6987, 21.6.2010

  • Diarrhea Raged in the Northeast: During Three Months, 902 People Were Treated Timely and 23 Others Died in Ratanakiri

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3911, 21.6.2010

  • Does [Phnom Penh Municipal Governor] Kep Chuktema Not Dare to Use Violence to Evict Yuons [Vietnamese] Living along the River in the Niroth Commune [Meanchey district, Phnom Penh] as He Did to Khmer Citizens Living in Temporary Shelters? [no details about the evicted Cambodians given, but in this case, the authorities ordered 70 Vietnamese fisher families living along the riverbank to move; now observers wait to see how the authorities will enforce it]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #197, 197.6.2010

  • The Number of Cambodian Migrant Workers Is Increasing
  • Fifty Two Cambodian Deminers Left to Sudan Last Night [20 June 2010] [under the auspices of the United Nations]
  • More Than 400 [illegal] Khmer Workers Were Arrested by the Thai Authorities [late last week]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5229, 20-21.6.2010

  • The Khmer Authorities Prohibit Farmers from Doing Cultivation on the Fields Next to the Temporary Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [while experts are doing the demarcation]
  • There Will Be a Military Exercise with More Than 1,000 Soldiers from [23] Different Countries in Cambodia in July 2010

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

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

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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 30 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #465, 30.4.2010

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

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2236, 30.4.2010

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6943, 30.4.2010

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

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3867, 30.4.2010

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

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

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

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

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

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 )

Mam Sonando Creates Democrats’ Club to Monitor the Process of Unification between the Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Parties – Monday, 26.4.2010

Posted on 27 April 2010. Filed under: Week 662 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

“Phnom Penh: Recently, Mr. Mam Sonando announced to create a new club – called ‘Democrats’ Club’ – to monitor the negotiations towards unification between the Human Rights and Sam Rainsy parties. This is the goal of the club, according to the president of the Human Rights Party.

“The president of the Human Rights Party, Mr. Kem Sokha, continued to express the intention to unite with the Sam Rainsy Party in order to be victorious in the upcoming elections, though the Sam Rainsy has not responded. Recently, Mr. Kem Sokha said that Mr. Mam Sonando has created a ‘Democrats’ Club’ to monitor the negations between representatives of the Human Rights Party and of the Sam Rainsy Party, to see which party is willing to unite, or if nobody intends to unite.

“During a recent talk with activists of his party in Prey Veng, Mr. Kem Sokha stated that there had been negotiations between officials of the Human Rights and Sam Rainsy parties, but they did not lead to any agreement, as Sam Rainsy officials suspect that the Human Rights Party is demanding too many conditions that the Sam Rainsy Party could not accept, so that the process towards unification got stuck. Therefore, another group, called the Democrats’ Club, was now created to monitor the negotiations. This group aims to find out which party intends to unite, and which does not.

“Mr. Kem Sokha added that Mr. Mam Sonando created this group in order to monitor the process towards unification between the two parties. He said that he does not have any problems – if Sam Rainsy agrees, he will unite immediately. He stressed that his party wants to unite not because his party is weak, but to move together towards victory in the forthcoming elections.

“Mr. Kem Sokha went on to say that this move towards unity is not only for the parties that have seats in the National Assembly, but for all parties, even if they do not have any seats at present, as long as they want to unite with the Human Rights Party.

“Regarding Mr. Kem Sokha’s claim that Mr. Mam Sonando has created this Democrats’ Club to monitor the process towards unity between the Human Rights and the Sam Rainsy parties, Kampuchea Thmey could not reach [the Director of Sombok Khmum Radio] Mr. Mam Sonando for comments, as his phone could not be reached on Saturday afternoon of 24 April 2010. Previously, Mr. Mam Sonando had announced that he would send a request to the Ministry of Interior to ask for the creation of a ‘Democrats’ Club for Uniting Democrats.’ Now it is not yet known how far these plans have been progressing, but according to a source, Mr. Mam Sonando has fulfilled all conditions to request the Ministry of Interior to recognize this organization.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2232, 25-26.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 26 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #462, 25-26.4.2010

  • The United States of America [through the US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol Rodley] Praised that Forestry Crimes Are Intercepted and the Remaining Resources in Cambodia Will Be Preserved
  • Rain, Wind, and Lightning Killed Two Boys and Made Three Houses to Collapse in Kompong Cham

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #102, 26-27.4.2010

  • The Cambodian Confederation Union Calls for Participation [from the general public, civil servants, teachers, and workers] to March to Celebrate the International Labor Day on 1 May 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2232, 25-26.4.2010

    Mam Sonando Creates Democrats’ Club to Monitor the Process of Unification between the Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Parties
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Begins Enlarging National Road 6A [leading from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap] to Reduce Traffic Congestion
  • Three Hundred People Protest as Police Does Not Arrest a Perpetrator, but Held a Man Who Tried to Help [sending an assault victim to hospital, but that assaulted man died on the way, and the helper was arrested by police – Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6939, 26.4.2010

  • Police Raided a Drug Abusing Place and Arrested 38 Young People – Children of the Rich [Phnom Penh]
  • Siam [Thailand] Released Seven Khmers to Cambodia through the Choam Sragam Border Crossing after Holding Them Two Years in Jail [for entering Thai territory to illegally cut trees]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3863, 26.4.2010

  • The Opposition Party Wants to See that the World Bank Investigation Is Successful [about the development of the Boeng Kak lake area] so as to Provide Justice to Residents of the Boeng Kak Lake Community

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #155, 26.4.2010

  • Boeng Kak Residents Call for the Provision of Land Titles as the Master Plan [for the development of the area] Has Been Approved [by the Phnom Penh municipal governor – but not been published; it will be sent for approval by the Council for the Development of Cambodia]
  • Three People Died in Svay Rieng [because of diarrhea; the local authorities blamed them for eating unhygienic food]
  • A Suspect Was Arrested for Carrying a 6-Year-Old Girl to a Rice Field while She Was Asleep, and then He Raped Her [Takeo]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5181, 26.4.2010

  • China, Japan, Korea, India, and the ASEAN Countries Will Join to Perform Shows of the Buddha’s Life in Siem Reap [from 25 to 29 April 2010 to celebrate Visakh Bochea]
  • Laotian Soldiers Killed a Khmer Citizen and Arrested Two Others [accusing them of entering their territory illegally to cut trees]
  • Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the Thai government] Asked for the Dissolution of the Parliament within 30 Days, while the Government Ordered the Military to Crack Down on Them [no ultimatum date given]

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 )

Samdech Dekchor Told a Story about Two Buddhist Elders Who Were Friends – Thursday, 4.2.2010

Posted on 4 February 2010. Filed under: Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian Prime Minister, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, told a story as a reminder for greedy persons. He told this story while presiding over the graduation ceremony of 1,266 master degree, bachelor degree, or associate degree graduates of the Vanda Institute in the morning of 3 February 2010 at the National Institute of Education [associate degrees are for people who do not have a high school certificates; they cannot earn a bachelor degree, unless they first spend one year to earn an associate degree].

“Samdech Hun Sen told a story about two Buddhist elders who were friends. One was a good person and the other was a bad person who did only evil things. When they died, the good Buddhist elder was born as Indra [the head of angels] and another became a leper. One day, Indra saw his friend, the former evil Buddhist elder, begging. He decided to help him by using his magic powers to make him again a normal person, as requested by his Buddhist elder friend. After he became a normal person, he got angry with a commune chief, for whom he worked, and he asked Indra to make him a commune chief. Then, he got angry with the district governor, and he asked Indra to make him a district governor… until he became a king. One day, Indra invited his friend to visit him at his place. There, he saw that Indra’s place was beautiful, and Indra had many beautiful girls serving him. The former Buddhist elder, who was now already a king, asked Indra to share half of his place with him. Seeing that his friend was greedy, Indra decided to make him again a leper what he had previously been.

“Samdech Hun Sen considered the idea of this story as a symbol of the endless desires of human beings, but he linked it also to those who become officials through the help of their partisans, but not through testing their own ability, and this is a problem about which also the Royal Government must be careful. He added that officials who are endlessly greedy will be demoted to return to their previous positions, or they will even be imprisoned.

“Samdech Hun Sen considered this graduation ceremony as a success of higher education institutions, such as they exist both as state and as private institutions. Such institutions can measure the capacity and the quality of the students’ knowledge and of the institutional education, based on the large number of students who graduated and get jobs in society. This can be considered a success in education, especially for those graduates who can create their own jobs; moreover, they have the ability to create jobs also for other citizens.

“The director of the Vanda Institute, Mr. Heng Vanda, said that besides the graduates here, 8,122 students are earning accounting and audit degrees. By now, there have been 3,845 students who have graduated [from his institute]. He added that by 2010, the institute has already constructed five buildings with 5 stories and 79 rooms on a piece of land of 3,000 square meters, and they plan to build a 7-story building with 77 rooms on another piece of land of 1,200 square meters next to the old main building.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5117, 4.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 4 February 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1430, 4-5.2.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Starts Collecting Land and House Taxes in 2010, though the Ownership of some Land Is Contested or the Land is Left Unused

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #404, 4.2.2010

  • Officials Said that Income from Tourism in 2009 Amounted US$1,560 Million [it declined by 1% compared to 2008]
  • The European Union Gives Euro 2 Million More for Cambodian Food Security [by 2010, the total fund is Euro 5.3 Million, approx. US$7.4 million]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2168, 4.2.2010

  • A Former American Teacher Was Sentenced to Serve Six Months in Prison and then Willa Be Expelled from Cambodia [for debauchery with three underage girls – Phnom Penh]
  • Obama Maintains a Firm Position to Meet with the Dalai Lama though China Warned against such a Meeting

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6875, 4.2.2010

  • Bird Flu [H5N1] Is Spreading and Killed Tens of Thousands of Ducks in Koh Andaet District [in Takeo]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #104, 4.2.2010

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Warned that Nobody Should Nominate Relatives and Partisans as Officials
  • 250,000 Children [between the ages of 12 and 17] Are Suffering from Labor Exploitation [in agricultural and industrial sectors, and in other sectors; according to an estimate by the Ministry of Interior]
  • Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Began to Demonstrate against the Thai Government.

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5117, 4.2.2010

  • While Parents Were Busy Helping to Take a Woman to Hospital, Their Three Children Drowned and Died [Pursat]
  • Samdech Dekchor Told a Story about Two Buddhist Elders Who Were Friends

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1869, 4.2.2010

  • Hun Sen Warned that if Siam Dares to Invade, Cambodia Will Fight Back

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 ( 2 so far )

Denials, Insults, and Rational Arguments – Sunday, 15.3.2009

Posted on 17 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

Apologies for the delays in publishing – due to my international travel. I try to catch up as soon as possible.

Norbert Klein

It seems that some issues, which need to be clarified, do not find any solution – not only because they are controversial, but because it seem to happen frequently that issues raised are not discussed – the detailed facts and concerns they raised are disregarded, they are put aside by flat denial, not touching at the presented facts at all. Or instead of dealing with controversial facts, the “other party” is served with an insult – and it is up to the reader to consider whether the insult carries enough conviction to override the arguments, or whether an insult, instead of an argument, backfires on the party which refuses to engage in a rational discussion.

We will bring here some reminders, where it seems that facts and opinions had been presented, and the public received responses. Some seem to have intended to close further discussion – though the discussion continues anyway. In some cases we hope to lead to further open discussion – inviting to consider some aspects which are not widely shared, but may merit more attention. We let “both parties” speak.

=

On 5 February 2009, the UK based organization Global Witness published a report entitled Country for Sale. The organization describes its general, global outreach, in the following way:

“Global Witness exposes the corrupt exploitation of natural resources and international trade systems to drive campaigns that end impunity, resource-linked conflict, and human rights and environmental abuses. Global Witness was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its leading work on ‘conflict diamonds’ and awarded the 2007 Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award, sponsored jointly by Washington DC based Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine.”

The content of the study, presented on 72 pages with detailed references, is described by Global Witness as follows:

“Cambodia – one of the world’s poorest countries – could eventually earn enough from its oil, gas and minerals to become independent of foreign development aid. The report, Country for Sale, exposes for the first time how this future is being jeopardized by high-level corruption, nepotism and patronage in the allocation and management of these critical public assets.

Country for Sale details how rights to exploit oil and mineral resources have been allocated behind closed doors by a small number of powerbrokers surrounding the prime minister and other senior officials. The beneficiaries of many of these deals are members of the ruling elite or their family members. Meanwhile, the findings suggest that millions of dollars paid by oil and mining companies to secure access to these resources may be missing from the national accounts.”

Among the details, Global witness says:

“Global Witness wrote to both Chevron and BHP Billiton in October 2008 to ask them to reveal any payments made to the Cambodian government or government officials. At the time of publication, Chevron had not responded. BHP Billiton however, did reply to say that BHP Billiton, Mitsubishi and the Cambodian Government have established a joint social development fund. The total contribution of BHP and Mitsubishi is to be US$2.5 million. BHP’s response stated: ‘BHP Billiton has never made a payment to a Cambodian Government official or representative and we reject any assertion that the payment under the minerals exploration agreement is, or the amounts contributed to the Social Development Projects Fund are, “tea money”.’ BHP also shared how much had been paid to the Cambodian government, adding: ‘In accordance with the terms of a minerals exploration agreement with the Cambodian government which granted BHP Billiton and Mitsubishi the right to explore for bauxite an amount of US$1 million was formally paid to the Cambodian government in September 2006.’”

The Cambodian Embassy in London responded to the publication of Country for Sale with a press release with a color graphic page, saying global witness – A Collection of Rubbish

“Reacting angrily to the report, the Ambassador of Cambodia in the UK, H.E. Nambora Hor, accused Global Witness of being poorly-managed and indulging in hugely-damaging smear campaigns. He called on the wide variety of international bodies which help fund Global Witness to demand an urgent review of its policies and activities. ‘It is naïve for Global Witness to imagine that Cambodia’s international donors are not fully aware of the way the Royal Cambodian Government’s conducts its affairs and its commitment to demonstrating the highest possible standards.’”

Details about this Social Development Projects Fund – who administers these huge amounts of money paid by some foreign companies, and for which purposes, and under whose public monitoring – are not known to the public.

=

On 25 February 2009, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the US Department of State published a 2008 Human Rights Report: Cambodia, part of the 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The 16,000 words report on Cambodia states initially:

“The government’s human rights record remained poor. Security forces committed extrajudicial killings and acted with impunity. Detainees were abused, often to extract confessions, and prison conditions were harsh. Human rights monitors reported arbitrary arrests and prolonged pretrial detention, underscoring a weak judiciary and denial of the right to a fair trial. Land disputes and forced evictions were a continuing problem. The government restricted freedom of speech and the press and at times interfered with freedom of assembly. Corruption was endemic. Domestic violence and child abuse occurred, education of children was inadequate, and trafficking in women and children persisted. The government offered little assistance to persons with disabilities. Anti-union activity by employers and weak enforcement of labor laws continued, and child labor in the informal sector remained a problem.

On February 15, the government passed and promulgated a comprehensive Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation containing provisions criminalizing all forms of human trafficking. By year’s end the Cambodian National Police had arrested perpetrators in 48 trafficking-in-persons and related cases, and the courts had convicted at least 12 persons on trafficking-related charges.”

The Mirror had carried a related report from a Khmer language newspaper on 27 February 2009. On 14 March 2009, we carried a report from another Khmer newspaper, saying:

“The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dismisses the US Department of State’s Report [on the human rights situation in Cambodia] on behalf the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia.”

But later, another Khmer newspaper reported in its 15/16 March 2009 edition: “The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC – said that tens of thousands of families of Khmer citizens suffer human rights violations.” And reports in the Phnom Penh Post of 16 March 2009 show a 9 year old boy standing in the wreckage of his house – sixteen houses in the Rik Reay Community – “Happy Community” – were torn down, and the area is being fenced in. A teacher, living there, said he had received a death threat. “This mistreatment is to force us to agree to their compensation package,” he said. “I am now worried for my personal security because I heard a company staffer on the walkie-talkie saying they would kill me because I am a community leader. I want to tell you that if I die, it was not at the hands of anyone else but because I was murdered by the staff of Bassac Garden City.”

=

On 12 March 2009, we carried the headline from a Khmer newspaper, reporting Dalai Lama: Tibet under Chinese Control Is Like Hell on the Earth. And in order to elaborate, we added a link to the original text of the March 10th Statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama, where he says:

“Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tibetan people’s peaceful uprising against Communist China’s repression in Tibet. Since last March widespread peaceful protests have erupted across the whole of Tibet. Most of the participants were youths born and brought up after 1959, who have not seen or experienced a free Tibet. However, the fact that they were driven by a firm conviction to serve the cause of Tibet that has continued from generation to generation is indeed a matter of pride… We pay tribute and offer our prayers for all those who died, were tortured and suffered tremendous hardships, including during the crisis last year, for the cause of Tibet since our struggle began.

“Around 1949, Communist forces began to enter north-eastern and eastern Tibet (Kham and Amdo) and by 1950, more than 5000 Tibetan soldiers had been killed…

“Since the re-establishment of contacts in 2002, we have followed a policy of one official channel and one agenda and have held eight rounds of talks with the Chinese authorities. As a consequence, we presented a Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People, explaining how the conditions for national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution would be met by the full implementation of its laws on autonomy…

“We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Fulfilling the aspirations of the Tibetan people will enable China to achieve stability and unity. From our side, we are not making any demands based on history. Looking back at history, there is no country in the world today, including China, whose territorial status has remained forever unchanged, nor can it remain unchanged.”

But while the voice of the Dalai Lama receives wide attention in the international press, there is also another aspect of the history of Tibet, which is not addressed, but to which the People’s Daily Online refers: Dalai Lama’s utter distortion of Tibet history:

“The Dalai Lama also alleged at a gathering in India’s Dharamsala to mark his 50 years in exile that “these 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet.

“Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama has not only been on the wrong side of history, but also has got the history upside down. Miseries of ‘hell on earth’ and ‘untold suffering’ occurred nowhere but in the slavery Tibet symbolized by the Dalai Lama.

“Even from historical books written by Western scholars, people can draw the conclusion that Tibet under the rule of the Dalai Lama clique was a society of feudal serfdom that trampled human rights and easily reminded visitors of the dark age of medieval Europe.

“The feudal serfdom had truly brought ‘untold suffering and destruction’ to the serfs and slaves who accounted for 90 percent of the then population.

“The slavery in Tibet was just ‘hell on earth’ as Charles Bell, who lived in Lhasa as a British trade representative in the 1920s, observed that the Dalai Lama’s theocratic position enabled him to administer rewards and punishments as he wished. That was because he held absolute sway over both this life and the next of the serfs and coerced them with that power.

“In 1959, after the failed rebellion by the Dalai Lama and his followers, the central government of China carried out the long-delayed emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves in Tibet…

“But just as the rebellion by the Dalai Lama clique failed disgracefully 50 years ago, its fantasy of ‘Tibetan Independence’ is also doomed to failure, because of the firm opposition from the Chinese people, including the Tibetans in Tibet.”

But the Dalai Lama does not speak of Tibet’s independence, but of national regional autonomy as set forth in the Chinese constitution, and this within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. Both sides do not hear each other in detail to reach mutual understanding. It is easier to maintain an old antagonism than to find ways to a common understanding – a much more difficult task.

=

On 13 March 2009, the Mirror carried an article “IMF: Cambodia Cannot Avoid the Consequences of the Global Economic Crisis!” (with reference back to similar IMF statements which we had mirrored on 13 February 2009):

“The Cambodian economy is in a negative status… We are talking about a period of dramatic decline in economic activities. So far, what we have seen is that the depth of the downturn is worse than expected.”

Since many weeks, there were many voices echoing the IMF concerns, even more so, since the Prime Minister had publicly questioned that the international economic downturn – in the so called economically rich countries – has the same social effects in a country like Cambodia. His comparison of rich and poorer countries with elephants and sheep may turn out to be a clue not only to understand the differences, but also to find ways to mitigate the economic problems in Cambodia, in a way industrialized countries cannot do:

“Growth in agriculture can surely prevent Cambodia from falling into an economic crisis, even though some major sectors of the Cambodian economy encounter a downturn.”

A foreign businessman, living in Cambodia, shared his appraisal on 12 March 2009, Putting It in Perspective:

“Now that the U. S. has shed 4.5 million jobs in the past 18 months alone and unemployment stands at 8.1 %, the conventional wisdom is that garment exports will go down substantially as the U. S. is the main market for Cambodia. The current figures appear to prove it, with a 27% decrease in exports for the month of February alone. Last December it was 30%…

“Likewise, tourist arrivals show a 2.9% reduction over the same month last year…

“According to the latest statistics the construction sector is holding sort of firm, although it was reported that some 3,000 to 5,000 jobs were lost there too.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen finds fault with all those predictions, saying that all those number are altogether not that important. What’s important is that people won’t go hungry in Cambodia. All those factory workers that lost their job can go back to their native village where they will find a rice paddy to cultivate, and a family that will take care of them…

“So the garment factory girls come back and find their wooden houses, a functioning family structure, and food to eat. They don’t have problems with heating or air conditioning… They wear simple clothes. There is one communal cell-phone which provides contact to the outside world. Yes, this is a simple life, and Westerners can only look on with widened eyes wondering how people can live like this. But let’s face it – this is reality, not only in Cambodia, but in most of South East Asia. And rural areas are exactly where the majority of the factory workers come from.

“So the fact that people can go back to their village is actually a boon for them. Yes, they are poor but they have to eat. And in this context let’s not look at the social problems, e.g. lack of health care and fundamental education. This is for another, hopefully not too far off, time.

“The Western alternative is no laughing matter. People losing their jobs, lose their homes, their savings along the line, their health care, practically their freedom. In my view it’s much more dire in the West. Recession hits people in the industrialized world much harder.”

Not all readers shared his appreciation of the Prime Minister’s perspective. He responded, “I like a good discussion with contrarian viewpoints, but they need to make sense.”

It is in this same spirit that this issue of the Mirror presents contrary and controversial views. We hope also for a good discussion – but the points put forward need to make sense. And this requires to research complex facts, and to engage in open, rational thinking.

Please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

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

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