Cambodia Begins Creating Legislation against Cyber Crimes – Wednesday, 14.7.2010

Posted on 15 July 2010. Filed under: Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

As I will be traveling in, and then from the USA back to Cambodia from Thursday to Saturday, there will be delays – the next publications should be up during Sunday, 18.7.2010 – unless I can do something on the way.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: Cambodia starts to create legislation against cyber crimes as legal mechanisms for the country to help to deal with cyber crimes and other negative impacts relating to technology, that are happening in Cambodia, in the region, and around the world.

“A workshop about the creation of legislation against cyber crimes was held in the morning of 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 head of the working group for the creation of legislation against cyber crimes, Mr. Nhek Kosal Vithyea said, ‘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. In the present era of information technology, criminals try to get access to information stored on computers. The quality of information stolen, or the size of destruction caused by this problem, depends on the speed of the networks and on the tools that criminals use, and such activities can be done easily without limits. It is known that the first computer virus was created by a student of computer science of Cornell University on 2 November 1988 [by now he is a professor at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. This virus was called ‘Morris Worm’ which affected more than 6,000 servers, wasting approximately US$98 million.

“He added that, in the Kingdom of Cambodia, information technology, such as telecoms, the Internet, electric banking systems, and electric commerce, has improved very quickly. Moreover, regarding national political and security affairs, technology plays a crucial role in maintaining security and stability in the country. He went on to say that taking the opportunity from the fast advancement of technology, terrorists might use Cambodian technology systems to attack the systems in other countries, or to distribute documents for terrorists, to create and recruit terrorist groups, and to communicate with other terrorism networks around the world. This shows that the Kingdom of Cambodia might encounter the above problems which are a big threat for politics, security, economy, society, and culture.

“It should be noted that, previously, there were some cases in Cambodia, like problems with a website of the Ministry of Interior in 2008, and with a website of the Council of Ministers in 2009, where data are kept on a server in the United States, into which bad computer programs had been embedded, infecting the computers of visitors to the website. The website of the Ministry of Environment, for which the data are kept on a server in Japan, was attacked by hackers changing the stored information. Internet Service Providers in Cambodia suffer from interference from abroad every day, often stopping their Operating System and creating a lot of trouble for users, including on the networks of the government etc.

“The head of Economic Crime Division of the Council of Europe, Mr. Alexander Seger, said that cyber crimes have strong negative impacts on all countries of our globe. Therefore, major international organizations, such as the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union, the European Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nation [ASEAN] created protection and fighting back mechanisms, implementing different strategies, strengthening their capacities and technologies, establishing global cooperation, creating legal procedures, sharing information about technology, and establishing institutions to fight against cyber crimes.

“He added that in the Council of Europe, there is a pact on cyber crimes called the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime (of 23.11.2001: ‘Treaty open for signature by the member States and the non-member States which have participated in its elaboration, and for accession by other non-member States’), which had been developed by the Council of Europe, signed by 47 countries, including some countries not in Europe, including Canada, Japan, South Africa, and the United States of America [but ratified and in force only in 18 countries]. He added that in the ASEAN region, some countries have already created laws against cyber crimes, but so far, Cambodia has not had a law and related procedures against it.

“The deputy head of the work team for the creation of a law against cyber crime, Mr. Nuon Sopharoth, said that Cambodia has already experienced many problems that allow cyber criminal activities 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.

“He added that the Royal Government pays much attention to different negative problems relating to technology that are happening in Cambodia, in the region, and around the world. In response, the Royal Government has created permanent measures, and this workshop showed the government’s efforts and the new achievements of the Royal Government to spread more understanding about the problem to the general public.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5249, 14.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2300, 14.7.2010

  • If There Are No Timely Actions, Flooded Forests [shelters for fish to lay eggs] around the Tonle Sap Lake Will Disappear within Three Years at the Latest [because of destructive actions by some people]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #789, 14.7.2010

  • Cambodia Has Its Independence and Integrity, but Human Rights are an Universal Issue so that International Organizations Have the Right to Express Their Concerns [like related to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7007, 14.7.2010

  • The Preah Vihear Governor [Mr. Oum Mara] Fell Ill after Visiting Laos [with vomiting and stomach ache; now he is being hospitalized in the Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh]
  • Because of Love Sickness Two Men Committed Suicide: One Was Pained because His Wife Committed Adultery, and Another because of Jealousy [both of them died – Battambang and Sihanoukville]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3931, 14.7.2010

  • The Ministry of Education Asked to Stop the Publication and Distribution of Some Books That Affect the Government [such as “Special General Knowledge Test Collection” and “General Knowledge Test” written by Mr. Pen Puthsaphea [one question, as an example: “The freedoms of citizens is already guaranteed by the Constitution, but what do you think about the use of the freedoms in Cambodia at present?” The suggested answer is that “some points are open, while some others are not”]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #214, 14.7.2010

  • The Authorities Asked the Relevant Ministries to Investigate Companies Sending Workers Abroad [after a company was found and accused of forcing more than 200 workers, prepared to be sent abroad, to live in unhygienic conditions in a house in Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodia Prepares to Argue with Thailand Again over the Preah Vihear Temple during a Meeting of UNESCO [after Thai Prime Minister Abhisit announced that the position of Thailand about the Cambodian border issue is that he respects the 1962 judgment of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, but he retains the right to appeal, and he does not recognize the map in 1904 created by France and Siam, and the Memorandum of Understanding of 2000 between Cambodia and Thailand; the latter will be brought for discussion to the Thai Constitutional Court, and the result will be sent to the parliament to ask for adoption]
  • Human Rights Officials Are Concerned about Ms. Mu Sochua’s Case [the spokesperson of the United Nations, Mr. Rupert Colville, said that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations is seriously concerned about the way in which the defamation proceedings against the opposition politician Ms. Mu Sochua were handled, saying that it shows “an alarming erosion of both freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary in Cambodia”]
  • The Authorities Arrested [five] Representatives [among a group of 160] of Disabled People Who Came for a Land Protest [in front of the residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, while the cabinet of the Prime Minister had promised to solve their case on 14 July 2010; they demanded the land of 4,000 hectares in Kratie which had been promised to be distributed to them]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5249, 14.7.2010

  • Cambodia Begins Creating Legislation against Cyber Crimes
  • Japan Granted More Than US$920,000 for Mine Clearance in Battambang
  • The United States of America Announced to Strengthen Commercial Ties with Cambodia [according to the US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol A. Rodley; the export, mostly garment products, of Cambodia to the United States of America amounts to about US$2 billion, while the import from the United States to Cambodia is only more than US$100 million]
  • The Ministry of Information Called for a Halt in the Transmission, and for the Deletion of Video Clips of Women Who Were Secretly Filmed by the Former Monk Neth Khai [while the women were nude, showering with holy water]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Changing Approaches to Old Problems – Sunday, 13.6.2010

Posted on 14 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

Though the development of labor unions has progressed over the years, there were always also tensions. First, it has to be acknowledged that there will always be tensions, that is: between labor unions on the one side, through which workers express their opinion and negotiate their claims and rights – and the owners of the enterprises where they work. Both sides need each other, and it is always necessary to work towards an equilibrium between both sides and their interests.

In many countries with a market economy system, it is the state that is watching over this balance of power so that it is fair and helps maintain social peace and, if possible, also economic progress in a society. But when one of these sides has the impression that the state does not take a neutral position, but is favoring one side over the other, relations get strained.

The recently passed legislation to restrict public demonstrations by limiting the number of participants to 200, and to designate a place for these people to meet, restricting their public display by marching together, followed by announcements that the Ministry of Labor is drafting a new law on Labor Unions. While there was no general opposition to regulate the role of labor unions by law, it was greeted by suspicion that it is another attempt to control the unions, for example be imposing some mechanisms how they have to report their finances transparently. – It is not publicly known that the government is planning to impose similar regulations on the other side. The Ministry of Labor has indicated that the draft of the law would be made available for discussion in time – again this is not yet seen to come, after the draft anti-corruption law had been kept confidential almost until the time when it was discussed and voted upon.

At the same time where such a move to more regulation by the state is perceived in Cambodia, there are unprecedented movements in China that workers of some international companies are breaking out of the system of the Chinese, state regulated labor unions, where workers have started to act independently – not 200, but close to 20,000 in one place – to claim public attention to their situation.

The Bangkok Post presented an interesting analysis and overview of these developments – and its problems – on 13 June 2010:

On Friday morning, about 17,000 workers at a Honda car parts plant in Zhongshan, China, held a protest march to the factory gates. They were demanding an almost doubling of their wages and the right to form their own labor unions, as opposed to the government controlled national federation of trade unions. This was the third Honda plant hit by a work stoppage in the last two weeks…

It is more that a little ironic that China, a country that in March announced a new certification system for reporters which requires training in Marxist theories, has been seeing increasing incidents of labor groups demonstrating for greater rights.

It is, of course, a basic premise of Marxism that capitalism exploits the working class, who are the true producers of wealth in society.

The events in Zhongshan follow close on the heels of the bad publicity surrounding a spate of suicides at the giant Foxconn Technology group… which employs more than 300,000 workers making iPhones and other electronic devices. Workers at the compound complained that they were driven like robots by the excessively fast assembly line…

The company agreed to a 65% pay increase for workers, which it says will be passed on to the buyers of its electronic goods.

It is encouraging that the company has taken steps to improve the lot of workers, but this coincides with the announcement that the company might move some of its production lines back to Taiwan, if the government there offers enough incentives, especially lowering the minimum wage for hiring foreign laborers.

The awakening of China’s labor force has to be considered a good thing, but striking a balance that allows a much better quality of life for workers, and enough profitability to keep the companies offering foreign direct investment interested will be a challenge for the workers, for the companies, and for the government.

The Mirror had reported recently about a protracted labor conflict – and that the plan of workers to suspend their work for three days, to demand an increase of salaries, and that the employer obey the labor law, is still not canceled.

Such developments may have an influence also on Cambodia. Not only in terms of labor-management relations in Cambodia, but it may also lead to new job opportunities for Cambodian workers abroad – an increasing number of people finding employment and economic returns in other countries: in Malaysia, in South Korea, and increasingly in some Arab countries.

And this at a time – though in a different context – when the Cambodian Watchdog Council is requesting that the number of foreigners living in Cambodia should be made more transparent, and probably more controlled.

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Cambodia Rejected Report of Amnesty International – Friday, 28.5.2010

Posted on 29 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“A government official rejected a report of Amnesty International on 27 May 2010. Amnesty International released its Amnesty International Report 2010 on human rights, saying that forced evictions affect the livelihood of thousands of families.

“The report mentions one case of the Group 78 in the Tonle Basak commune, Phnom Penh, and another case in the Chi Kraeng district, Siem Reap, where security forces used weapons to shoot at protesters injuring them. In conclusion, regarding forced evictions, Amnesty International wrote that there were at least 26 such cases, where 27,000 people, mostly the poor, were evicted.

“The report continues to say that police had arrested 149 people protesting against land grabbing. It says, ‘The rich and powerful continued to abuse the criminal justice system to silence people protesting against evictions and land grabs.’

“The spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, blamed the writers of the report that they did not study the actual situation in Cambodia before they started writing the report. Mr. Tith Sothea commented, ‘This group just want to control Cambodia, but does not help Cambodia with anything. They just attack the Cambodian government without any basis.’

“Amnesty International claims that they had sent their delegations to Cambodia several times; they wrote in this report that accusations against perpetrators raping women and girls were not always made, due to the weakness of the implementation of anti-corruption legislation by the courts and the frequent use of monetary arrangements outside of the court system [without criminal investigations and convictions]. The report adds that such solutions are normally made by negotiations between law enforcement officials and victims, to make the victims withdraw their complaints. Quoting different publication, the report noticed that the number of cases of rape of women and girls in general, as well as violence against women sex workers, keeps increasing. And these cases happen to victims who are younger and younger [many are below the age of 10].” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5209, 28.5.2010

Note:

In order to facilitate the evaluation of the controversial Amnesty International Report 2010, we select here the section of the Cambodia Country Report.

Amnesty International Report 2010

Amnesty International Report 2010

Forced evictions continued to affect thousands of families across the country, predominantly people living in poverty. Activists from communities affected by forced evictions and other land confiscations mobilized to join forces in protests and appeals to the authorities. A wave of legal actions against housing rights defenders, journalists and other critical voices stifled freedom of expression. The first trial to address past Khmer Rouge atrocities took place. The defendant, Duch, pleaded guilty, but later asked to be acquitted.

Background

At least 45,000 garment factory workers lost their jobs as a result of the global economic crisis and a number of companies reduced salaries. Surveys indicated growing mass youth unemployment as some 300,000 young people faced joblessness after completing their high school and bachelor degrees. For the first time, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered Cambodia’s state report, which the authorities had delayed submitting for 14 years. The Committee identified serious shortcomings in the implementation of a number of treaty obligations, including those relating to the judicial system, housing, and gender inequalities. Cambodia’s human rights record was reviewed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in December.

Forced evictions

Forced evictions continued to affect the lives of thousands of Cambodians. At least 26 forced evictions displaced around 27,000 people, the vast majority from communities living in poverty. In July, a number of international donors called for an end to forced evictions “until a fair and transparent mechanism for resolving land disputes is in place and a comprehensive resettlement policy” is established.

On 16/17 July 2009, security forces forcibly evicted Group 78, a community group in Phnom Penh, after a deeply flawed legal process. The last 60 families had no choice but to dismantle their houses and accept compensation that prevented them from living near their former homes and workplaces. Most of the families were relocated outside the city with few work prospects.

After civil society criticism, the World Bank attempted to strengthen safeguards in a multi-donor supported Land Management and Administration Project to protect security of tenure for people in urban slums and other vulnerable areas. In early September, the government responded by terminating its contract with the Bank.

Human rights defenders

The rich and powerful continued to abuse the criminal justice system to silence people protesting against evictions and land grabs. Police arrested at least 149 activists for their peaceful defense of the right to housing.

On 22 March 2009, security forces shot at unarmed villagers in Siem Reap province, injuring at least four people. The villagers, from Chikreng district, were protesting against the loss of farmland that had come under dispute. By the end of the year, no authority had investigated the shooting, but police had arrested at least 12 of the villagers, two of whom were subsequently convicted of robbery for attempting to harvest their rice on the disputed land. Seven were acquitted but remained in arbitrary detention pending a prosecutorial appeal.

Informal representatives from communities in most provinces increasingly formed grassroots networks,
jointly voicing concerns over forced evictions and intimidation.

International justice

In March, the historic first hearing of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC, Khmer Rouge Tribunal) took place with the trial of Kaing Guek Eav (known as Duch). Duch was commander of the notorious security prison S-21. During the 72-day hearing, survivors and victims of Khmer Rouge atrocities heard for the first time evidence against “those most responsible.” Duch admitted responsibility for crimes committed at S-21, including killing about 15,000 people.

The trial of four senior Khmer Rouge leaders was in preparation, and the International Co-Prosecutor submitted requests to open investigations into an additional five suspects. The Cambodian government spoke out against additional investigations saying they could lead to unrest, apparently in an attempt to exert influence over the tribunal.

In July, co-investigating judges decided to allow “confessions” obtained by torture as evidence in the case of Ieng Thirith. This breached the “exclusionary rule” in Article 15 of the UN Convention against Torture which binds the ECCC.

Freedom of expression –

A series of prosecutions of people who criticized government policies had a stifling effect on freedom of expression.

Courts sentenced newspaper editor Hang Chakra, and the director of an NGO, both affiliated to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), to prison terms for peacefully expressing views.

The Phnom Penh Court convicted Mu Sochua, Secretary-General of the SRP, of defamation for filing a complaint – also for defamation – against the Prime Minister. She had no legal counsel because her lawyer had withdrawn from the case after receiving threats of legal action for speaking about the case at a press conference. Mu Sochua received a non-custodial sentence.

On 10 July 2009, one of the few remaining opposition-affiliated daily newspapers, Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience), stopped publishing. The editor, Dam Sith, issued a public apology for articles, over which the government had requested a criminal investigation for “incitement.”

By the end of the year, police had made no progress on the investigation into the murder of Moneaksekar Khmer reporter Khim Sambor. He had been killed by unknown assailants during the July 2008 elections.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

On 12 October 2009, the National Assembly passed the new Penal Code. This retained defamation as a criminal offense. Opposition parliamentarians and civil society groups criticized a new Law on non-violent demonstrations, passed by the National Assembly in October. Authorities routinely denied permission for demonstrations and the law, if adopted, risked codifying such restrictions.

Violence against women and girls

Prosecution of rapists remained rare, due to poor law enforcement, corruption in the courts and widespread use of out-of-court financial settlements. Settlements were typically arranged by law enforcement officials and stipulated that the victim withdraw any criminal complaint. Reports indicated that rapes of women and girls, including sex workers, continued to increase, with the age of victims falling.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Cambodia in March/May, September and October/December.
  • Cambodia: Urban development or relocating slums? (ASA 23/002/2009)
  • Cambodia: After 30 years Khmer Rouge crimes on trial (ASA 23/003/2009)
  • Cambodia: Briefing for the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: 42nd session, May 2009 (ASA 23/004/2009)
  • Cambodia: Borei Keila – Lives at risk (ASA 23/008/2009)

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 28 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #489, 28.5.2010

  • The Government Rejected the Criticism [by the Sam Rainsy Party] over the Setting of Border Markers in Takeo [government official said that the claim by the Sam Rainsy Party that the Border Marker 270 was put in a rice field of a Cambodian farmer is only based on the farmer’s claim]
  • A Group of Ten Robbers Was Arrested [in Kompong Speu]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2260, 28.5.2010

  • UNDP: Cambodia Has the Opportunity to Reduce Poverty and to Boost Development through Income from the Mineral Sector

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #667, 28.5.2010

  • Parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party Voted to Add More Members to the Council of Ministers [“the cabinet”], Which Makes this Institution to Have Too Many Members

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6967, 28.5.2010

  • The Owner of the Phnom Yat Cloth Shop Was Threatened at Gun Point by a General [the victim’s family filed a complaint against the general – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3819, 28.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: We Do Not Support the Nomination of More Government Members, Which Is Unnecessary, as Cambodia Is Poor

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #181, 28.5.2010

  • The National Assembly Voted to Nominate More Officials, as Requested by the Cambodian Government [one was appointed at the Prime Minister’s office, and ten others as secretaries of state at various ministries]
  • A New Elevated Road Will Be Constructed in the Disputed Boeng Kak Development Area

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5209, 28.5.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected Report of Amnesty International
  • The Opposition Party Asked for a Postponement of the Setting of Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Posts in Takeo [as Border Post 270 was put in a rice field of Khmer farmer]
  • Kangwon Province of the Republic of Korea Donated Four Firefighter Trucks and Twelve Ambulances to Siem Reap

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Cambodia Prepares Commercial Law to Resolve Disputes Relating to Foreign Dumping Sales – Thursday, 20.5.2010

Posted on 21 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian government, through it’s Ministry of Commerce, in collaboration with USAID, organized to draft legislation to resolve disputes relating to foreign dumping sales of products imported from neighboring countries.

“The anti-dumping draft consists of 6 chapters and 124 articles that have been written since 15 October 2009. This draft covers all requirements of the World Trade Organizations for carrying out measures against dumping, like measures to impose special tax compensations on dumping products, and other measures to protect local investors and products. The draft law designs all procedures and measures to enforce commercial resolutions to address the bad impact on the local industry that can result from dishonest trades and massive imports. This new law aims to support the development of competition and productivity.

“The head of the Department of International Commerce of the Ministry of Commerce, who participated in the discussions to create that law, Mr. Sok Sopheak, told reporters that this new law is drafted to protect the local industry and productivity, adding, ‘When foreign products are imported to Cambodia and are sold at dumping price levels (cheaper than local products), for example, if the [original] price of a product is US$5, but it is sold for US$4, local industry will collapse, and the importer can supply their products without end. Thus, to deal with such activity, we take counter-measures by prohibiting the import or we investigate and demand compensation.’

“Mr. Sok Sopheak went on to say, ‘So far, cement, pigs, and other products were affected by dumping sales from neighboring countries, and we have not had laws to open investigations or to take measures in response. We have not had accurate figures about dumping. We just received protests from pig raisers and producers of cement and of other products who claimed that they were affected.’

“Officials of the Ministry of Commerce said that the anti-dumping draft will be discussed and finalized at relevant ministries and then sent to be approved at the Council of Ministers in late 2010. This law might then reach the National Assembly in mid 2011, and the teams responsible for drafting this law will try to finish it soon for the sake of the local community and of local producers.

“The head of the Cambodian Macro, Small, Medium Enterprise Project [MSME] of USAID that supported the creation of the draft about anti-dumping commercial resolutions, Mr. Curtis Hundley, said that in Cambodia, dumping of Vietnamese and Thai products has happened, bankrupting local producers. Vietnam and Thailand financially support their farmers, and they produce and export products in large quantities to Cambodia by using dumping prices that destroy the local industry and local products in Cambodia.

“Mr. Curtis added that Thailand and Vietnam exported products, such as pigs, fish, bricks, kiln products, cement, and coffee to Cambodia and sold them at dumping price levels. In 2007, Vietnam exported pigs to Cambodia that led to protests. At that time, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen ordered a halt of the import of pigs from Vietnam for eight months, until the problem had been addressed. In 2008, Thailand had local market problem and exported pigs to Laos and Cambodia, making Cambodian farmers abandon their pig raising because of the dumping imports – Thai pigs were sold at cheaper prices than Cambodian pigs. Therefore, this law will lead to commerce with equity, fairness, and honest competition in Cambodia so as to prevent the import of illegal products.

“The commercial anti-dumping draft law was the topic for discussions on 19 May 2010 between the team that drafted it, officials of the Ministry of Commerce, and foreign experts, to adjust the wording in some points.

“Thirty to forty local businesspeople will attend a one-day meeting to check and discuss the draft with scholars, experts, and legal people on 20 May 2010 at the Hotel Intercontinental.

“The discussion will invite active talks between the participants and small teams with members of the drafting team. That draft will play an important role in setting, analyzing, assessing, and reporting about problematic imports, raised by businesspeople working with experts.

“The meeting will also focus on considerations about different ways to adjust the language and wording of the draft to make it easy, considering which institutions should be in charge of commercial resolutions among the Cambodian authorities. The investigating authorities under the Ministry of Commerce can conduct inquiries on technicalities and recommend solutions through the setting of taxes or quota of the import of products from abroad.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5202, 20.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Agence Française de Développement [AFD] Wants to Stop Providing Aid, Changing to Provide Loans for Development [according to a meeting between the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon, and the AFD’s Director of the Asian Department, Ms. Martha Stein Sochas

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #482, 20.5.2010

  • An Inhuman Man Raped His Three Daughters [ages between 6 and 11 years old] Fifteen Times [he was arrested – Siem Reap]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2253, 20.5.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Rejected the Request to Create a Border Demarcation Committee, presented by Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer [in order to check the setting of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border in Svay Rieng; the court claimed that the government already has a committee to conduct such affairs]
  • A Colonel Was Killed and Two Other Soldiers Were Seriously Injured in a Traffic Accident [Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6960, 20.5.2010

  • The Persons Who Looked Down on the Angkor Wat Temple [by putting Angkor Wat place mats on the floor in front of toilets in a hotel] Made a Public Apology [one is from the Philippines, the other from Malaysia – Siem Reap]
  • The 145th World Telecommunication and Information Society Day Was Celebrated [displaying banners and letting fly balloons to promote the understanding about Internet access and other information and ICT technologies, contributing to social and economic development, and to reduce the gender gap – on 18 May 2010 in Phnom Penh] [Probably not mentioning why Cambodia is among the countries with the highest prices in the region]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3884, 20.5.2010

  • Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer Will Appeal Later This Week against the Rejection by the Municipal Court of the Request to Create a [additional] Border Demarcation Committee

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #175, 20.5.2010

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Suppressed [anti-government] Red Shirt Demonstrators Successfully but Left behind Turmoil in Bangkok [four other demonstrators and an Italian reporter were killed and 50 others were injured – and Red Shirt activists are supposed to be the arsonists of 35 major fires in Bangkok]
  • Villagers Having Land Disputes, Warn They Will Block a Portion of National Road 5 Today [to demand the provincial governor to solve the land dispute over 145 hectares with the KDC International company – Kompong Chhnang]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5202, 20.5.2010

  • Cambodia Prepares Commercial Law to Resolve Disputes Relating to Foreign Dumping Sales
  • Lightning Fatally Struck a Six-Months Pregnant Woman, and a Tropical Storm Destroyed 27 Houses and Killed Cattle in Svay Rieng

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Voluntary and Charitable Donations – Sunday, 16.5.2010

Posted on 18 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

In many societies it is usual that corporations, and rich and not so rich individuals make donations for causes they consider important for the public good. During the past week it was reported that more than US$7 million was collected as donations during the celebration of the Cambodia Red Cross and Red Crescent Society’s anniversary on 8 May; it is the largest humanitarian organization in Cambodia, having also individual Members, and Volunteers. This is an impressive organization which has collected an impressive sum. To see whether or not this is the beginning of a spirit of voluntarism in society, it would be good to know how much the same charitable donors are making available to lift up the economic situation of orphanages, to create and maintain scholarships for needy students from the provinces, to support organizations engaged in the promotion of awareness of the endangered environment and its protection, and many similar endeavors.

In many countries, the Red Cross is one not-for-profit NGO like any other NGO – it receives private and corporate donations, like other NGOs receiving private and corporate donations; often these are encouraged by special tax reduction or tax exemption regulations for supporting such causes for the public good. Over the years I became aware that many persons in Cambodia, dealing with foreign NGOs working in the country, are not aware that these depend to a more or less strong degree on regular private donation, often from people in the middle and lower income brackets in their countries, and not only on public money. But it seems to be hardly a usual feature that Cambodian NGOs, working for the public good, receive similar donations from those who have money, in Cambodia. If there are worthwhile examples, it would be good to have them reported more prominently, and not only for the Cambodian Red Cross and Red Crescent Society.

But whatever the source of such funds – it is usual that that they are accounted for regularly and publicly. One argument of the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, why a special NGO law is necessary, was always that the finances of NGOs – as agencies handling social funds – have to be monitored publicly. Though NGOs have responded that they are subject to regular public audit already, and these audit reports have been available anyway, the request to make their financial records public was always among the main arguments to create such legislation.

Now it is all the more surprising, that the financial volume and the operating procedures of the Social Fund of the government, even it’s existence, referred to sometimes over the years, are not similarly transparent, and there are additional allegations that government representatives have received substantial monies, supposedly for a social fund, which cannot be found in any verifiable public financial record.

The present round of discussions was triggered by reports that an Australian mining company, which had operated for a limited period in Mondolkiri, is under corruption investigation at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, because it is also listed on stock exchanges in the USA. There are allegations that this may relate to payments to Cambodia. While the government was asked for precise, detailed information supported by documents, to be presented to the National Assembly, additional questions were added relating to payments from the French company Total. Some of the related, but not clarified pieces of information:

  • The Indonesian company Medco Energi said they paid US$4.5 million into a government social fund.
  • The Australian company BHP Billiton paid US$ 2.5 million as “tea money” – according to a statement by the Minister of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology in the National Assembly.
  • Payments of US$20 million by the French oil company Total, paid as a “signature bonus,” are not publicly traceable.
  • In addition, some of the monies are said to have be designated to pay for specific activities in Mondolkiri or in Pursat etc., but different, related information, cannot be reconciled.

Now the Prime Minister gave the task to explain the situation to the National Assembly to two Deputy Prime Ministers, the Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An, and the Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon. According to Mr. Phay Siphan, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister “said that all revenues must go to the national budget.” Obviously that is not what happened so far.

Interesting explanations and revelations relating to the past can be expected – combined with the hope that the order of the Prime Minister will be molded into clear administrative procedures for the future.

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Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign – Thursday, 6.5.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“High ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party had expressed their concerns before, that the non-transparent management of the rich natural resources of Cambodia, as well as corruption, make citizens – the owners of those important resources – become poor, so that they cannot receive the benefits from the present anarchic exploitations of natural resources.

“Officials from 16 countries met in Phnom Penh for two days, on 4 and 5 May 2010, to discuss about the control of forestry resources and the trade of forestry products. Cambodian high ranking officials welcomed and chaired the discussion meetings to step up effective controls on forest resources. Asian and European officials came from Burma, Cambodia, China, England, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Siam [Thailand], the United States of America, and Yuon [Vietnam], to discuss how to promote forestry exploitation that follows legal standards.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä, the Director of Directorate G – Sustainable Development and Integration – in the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission, said that forestry trading is an important sector that boosts economic growth in Asian and European countries, and forestry products have significantly and enormously contributed to development of the economies of Asian and European countries. It is stressed that forestry products are essential for a national economy.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä said that good management of forestry resource will help prevent forestry destructions in any country, though forests can provide substantial national income. Cambodia used to export forestry products to some countries such as the former Soviet Union. But since Cambodia introduced reforms in 2001, the export of [unprocessed] forestry products abroad was halted [but illegal export continued].

“The Minister of Agriculture of Cambodia, Mr. Chan Sarun, who was also present at the discussions, said that people from the countries that attend the meeting can jointly create plans to strengthen forestry management and legislation. ‘We can create joint planning to improve forestry control and to strength fundamental laws, as well as cut down illegal forestry productions.’

“Recently, Cambodia has started to crack down on luxury grade wood trading, and after activities for one month, the authorities confiscated 6,000 cubic meter of such wood that was to be transported to China and Yuon. Some was to be exported to the international market via Singapore.

“Ebony, Thnong, and Beng are most wanted luxury grade woods to produce furniture in some countries, and most illegal exports from Cambodia are of these kinds of wood. Most luxury grade wood confiscated was found in Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Kompong Cham, Stung Treng, and Kratie. The destinations for its export are known to be China and Yuon, where millions of cubic meters are needed.

“The illegal wood trading in Cambodia reduced the rich forestry resource during the 1960s of about 75% of the whole country to drop to only more than 30% at present, according to some environmental organizations. Forestry expert officials and some sectors of the authorities have been blamed for their collusion, committing illegal wood trading, but most of the actors are not brought to the courts.

“According to reports from forestry administration officials, 207 forestry crimes have been reported to the courts, but some traders with a title as an Oknha, or with close relations to high government officials, have not been charged, though they colluded to commit forestry crimes in Cambodia. Some forestry administration officials enjoy their lives with the wealth they gained from the illegal cutting down of trees.

Global Witness said in a statement early April 2010, ‘The idea that Ty Sokhun has been removed from his post because of a failure to crack down on illegal logging is laughable.’ The organization thinks that to tolerate Mr. Ty Sokun after 15 years of forestry crimes originating from his office shows that the past spreading of forestry crimes seems to be forgotten.

Note – From the text of the Global Witness statement:

Sacking of Cambodia’s forest chief unconvincing as move against illegal logging

Press Release – 7.4.2010

Global Witness today welcomed the removal from his post of the Director General of Cambodia’s Forest Administration, Ty Sokhun, but warned that much more needed to be done to guarantee the survival of the country’s remaining forests and the fair and sustainable exploitation of the country’s other natural resources for the benefit of the many not the few.

Global Witness’s 2007 report, Cambodia’s Family Trees, documented how Ty Sokhun and the Ministry of Agriculture Director, Chan Sarun, sold off 500 or more jobs in the Forest Administration. The report also revealed that Ty Sokhun’s father-in-law was a key member of Cambodia’s biggest illegal logging syndicate.

“Ty Sokhun’s reign as Cambodia’s forest chief was a disaster for Cambodia’s forests”, said Simon Taylor, Global Witness Director. “On his watch we saw Cambodia’s forests shrink dramatically, largely due to illegal or ill-managed logging operations. It is a good thing he is gone, but he shouldn’t be let off the hook for what happened while he was in charge.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen says he sacked Ty Sokhun because he had no confidence in his ability to crack down on illegal logging but Global Witness questions why it has taken so long to act…

Taylor: “Ty Sokhun was not the only one responsible for the destruction of Cambodia’s forests. Our investigations have proven the complicity of officials and elites at the highest levels, including members of the Prime Minister’s own family. If Hun Sen genuinely wants closure on the destruction of Cambodia’s forests, he should commission a full independent enquiry into what has happened, publish the findings and punish the perpetrators.”

“At the occasion of the change of head of the Forestry Administration and the appointment of Mr. Chheng Kimson it was seen that some high ranking officials such as [Minister of Agriculture] Mr. Chan Sarun were spared to be called to account for their wrongdoings by the head of the Cambodian government, while in fact Mr. Chan Sarun and Mr. Ty Sokun are the most important persons responsible for forestry crimes for years. This way of suppressing illegal wood trading makes international donors to think that Cambodia does it just to satisfy them to get aid, while the Cambodian government is not really willing to intercept illegal wood trading. [[see also The Mirror of 7.4.2010]]

Note – from a historical Global Witness statement from December 2004

Resign or be sacked

Press Release – 3.12.2004

With the advent of Cambodia’s Consultative Group (CG) donor meeting on 6 and 7 December combating corruption is once more at the top of the political agenda. In line with this renewed emphasis, Global Witness is calling on the Director of the Forest Administration to be made accountable for the rampant corruption within his own department.

“Ty Sokhun should do the honourable thing and resign. If not, the Prime Minister should sack him.” said Jon Buckrell of Global Witness.

Ty Sokhun was made Director of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife1 in 1998. Since then, corruption within the department has if anything got worse. The May 2000 Asia Development Bank [ADB] Forest Concession Review characterised the crisis situation in Cambodia’s forest as “…total system failure; resulting from greed, corruption, incompetence and illegal acts…” However, according to the ADB so many people, companies, institutions and countries were responsible for the fiasco that no one should be made accountable. Since that time not one forest department official has been charged with corruption, let alone convicted. Yet as recently as April 2004 the Independent Forest Sector Review referred to “high levels of institutionalised corruption.” Still, no one is being held to account.

“How can the new Forest Administration hope to address corruption if the people at the top remain the same?” said Buckrell. Ty Sokhun is hopelessly compromised by his familial links to the timber trade. His father-in-law, Khun Thong, is one of Cambodia’s most prolific illegal loggers. “Ty Sokhun’s failure to make public his familial links to the timber trade is a massive conflict of interest and is in itself reason enough to dismiss him.”

Good governance is at the core of the new “Rectangular Strategy,” of the third legislature of the National Assembly, but the government has been talking tough on corruption and doing nothing for years, as has the donor community. At the 1996 CG meeting, then First Prime Minister H.R.H. Norodom Ranariddh stated that the Royal Government of Cambodia was committed to “implement appropriate measures,” to amongst other things “effectively combat corruption.” More recently at the 2001 CG the ADB’s Urooj Malik “respectfully urged” the Royal Government “to move forward with the finalization of legislation on Anti-corruption…”. The donors then pledged US$ 615 million, US$ 115 million more than the Cambodian government had actually asked for. In 2002 “the adoption of a new Anti-Corruption Law” was, according to the World Bank, by now “of particular and most urgent importance.” The donors pledged US$ 635 million.

“The Cambodian government must find the whole CG process absolutely hilarious. Each year they fail to meet their benchmarks and each year the donors give them more money.” said Buckrell.

Global Witness agrees with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sentiments, of more than two years ago, that “while good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.” During Monday’s CG, the donors must hold the entire government to account for their failure to put anti-corruption rhetoric into practice. The donors should insist on rapid enactment of an effective Anti-Corruption law and a register of business interests for politicians, officers in the military, and senior officials.

“Dismissing the Director of the Forest Administration is an absolute minimum first step any donor really interested in Cambodia’s development should expect from a government committed to reform and addressing corruption,” said Global Witness Director, Simon Taylor. “Our recent report, Taking a Cut, provides a number of other key minimum steps we would expect the Cambodian Government to undertake to clean up its act. Some years ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that his Premiership depended on his success in delivering improvements in the forestry sector. By any standards, he has thus far failed. The challenge is now to the donors and the Prime Minister to deliver.”

“According to a report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the trade in forestry products with markets in Asian countries, North America, and the European Union in 2001 amounted to about US$140 billion, while in 1999, it had been less than that. A report about the fight against illegal forestry crimes of the World Bank, from 2006, showed that the forest destructions in the world siphoned off more than US$10 billion each year.

“A well known opposition party leader in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, had said that corruption leads to the devastation of natural resources of Cambodia. He said that if there were a proper and transparent management of those resources, Cambodia were able to earn huge amounts of money for national construction and for some important infrastructure developments to serve the needs of the citizens.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy recalled that the exploitation of national resources does so far not contribute proper benefits for the nation and for poor citizens, due to corruption. If there were an accurate management, Cambodia could find sufficient income without depending on foreign aid or loans, as the government does at present.

“The Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that the improper management of the national budget, especially the collection of income from the exploitations of natural resources without transparency and without following the laws of control, make Cambodia lose its benefits. Mr. Yim Sovann suggests that the government should create effective laws to control the natural resources and to ensure that income from the exploitation of natural resources is not lost to corruption.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 6 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.17, #1438, 6.5.2010

  • Sweden Plans to Establish an Embassy in Cambodia [no exact date specified]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #470, 6.5.2010

  • A 30-Year-Old Woman Was Attacked with Acid over a Suspected Love Affair [the perpetrators are not yet arrested – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2241, 6.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Met with the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of Defense [Mr. Shimba Kazuya [防衛副大臣 榛葉賀津也], discussing about bilateral and regional cooperation]
  • Jointly Stepping Up the Fight against Human Trafficking
  • A Workshop about the Results from a Consultation to Cooperate Implementing the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women Was Held [Ms. Chim Manavy, the director of the Open Institute: priorities and strategies to achieve the same goals together cooperating between civil society organizations and institutions of the government, to effectively implement the action plan, had been discussed and set up, including Information and Communication Technology as a means to promote gender equality and to empower women, as stated in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #648, 6.5.2010

  • Journalists Publish a Declaration on Freedom of Information, Demanding that the Government Creates a Law about the Right to Know Soon [the government is drafting this law without open participation of journalists’ associations]
  • Samdech Euv [Father King] Norodom Sihanouk and Siamese [Thai] King Sent Each Other Good Wishes

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6948, 6.5.2010

  • Nearly 100,000 Hectares of Economic Concession Land in Kompong Thom Are Delivered to Twenty One Companies for Growing Agro-Industrial Crops
  • A Woman Was Raped and Killed and a Few Hours Later, the Perpetrator Was Arrested [Phnom Penh]
  • A Statement by Cambodian Journalists Published on the World Press Freedom Day Suggests that “The Right to Know Must Be Guaranteed for Cambodian Citizens by the Government”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

  • Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #165, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Claimed Again that the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda Is on Khmer Territory [while Thailand claimed it is on Thai territory. – Actually, it is on territory declared by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in a Joint Communique on 18 June 2008, signed together with UNESCO and the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a “buffer zone” not claimed by Cambodia in the context of the World Heritage Site designation plans]
  • [More than 100] Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protested in Front of the Council for the Development of Cambodia [CDC – to oppose the submission of a Master Plan for the development of the area from the Municipality to the CDC, but officials said that the Master Plan has not yet been delivered to the CDC – but people have already been evicted before the plan was accepted]
  • The Minister of Finance of Indonesia [Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati] Receives the Top Position in the World Bank [as its Managing Director]
  • Cambodia Railway Station Is Starting with New Life because of Continuing Investment [it is now controlled by the Toll Royal Railways; the whole Cambodian railway system is being repaired under US$141,1 million aid and credits from the Asian Development Bank, AusAID, and OPEC]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5190, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Imports Fuel Amounting to US$450 Million Each Year [according to a report from the Ministry of Commerce]
  • 199 Pieces of Ebony [loaded on a boat] Prepared to Be Imported to Vietnam, Were Seized on the High Sea [Kampot]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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“Copyright Enforcement Will Cost Jobs and Prevent Access to Education and Entertainment” – Sunday, 4.4.2010

Posted on 5 April 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

The past week brought quite a number of reports on the follow-up to the Prime Minister’s order to crack down on rampant illegal activities – especially deforestation – and on the sudden results of activities by the authorities, who before did not seem to know much about the warehouses of stored luxury grade wood, probably cut illegally. But now, in a couple of days, thousands of cubic meters of such wood is found. And there are questions considering the Prime Minister’s speech: “Are Oknhas Who Own and Operate Wood Storehouses in Siem Reap [also] Considered Betraying the Nation?” And: “Why Do the Authorities Not Arrest the Owner of the Tiger Beer Company Like They Arrested Yeay Mab for Illegal Wood Trading?” The next days and weeks and months will show more clearly if the present campaign is only a short-lived campaign, or if it is the beginning of some real change, that laws will be applied clearly, publicly, and strongly in future.

The Mirror carried a small headline on 1 April 2010 which also threatened stern legal action: “The Ministry of Information Released a Circular Prohibiting the Copying of Works of Authors Who Have the Copyright for Documents Being Copied” – the license of copy-shops which do this will be canceled, the Circular said, and they will be dealt with according to the law.

When this regulation is implemented, it will affect many hundreds of businesses which are operating publicly all over town in Phnom Penh, and surely also in many other provincial centers. But not only these businesses and their employees will be affected – it will have a very deep, and negative, impact on many sectors of society: first of all on education.

We repeat here a part of a study which has been published on the website of the World Trade Organization – WTO – which predicts grave negative social consequences.

“The implementation of copyright law will affect education and other fields relating to human resource development. In a poor country such as Cambodia, books, CDs and VCDs with copyright simply cannot be afforded because they would be too expensive for the average citizen. Pirated CDs, VCDs, and DVDs as well as copied books, unlicensed films and even imitations of circus performances and pantomimes may soon cease to exist in Cambodia. With the majority of the population earning less than one dollar per day, the enforcement of copyright law would take away the livelihood of thousands, and cut off many from educational and entertainment materials.

[Boldface added by The Mirror]

Source

When Cambodia was accepted into the membership of the WTO in 2004, the enforcement of copyrights – after a period of transition – was part of the deal. Cambodia had applied for membership mainly to get easier access to the markets of other WTO member countries; there had been not so much public debate about what other changes would come. Now, many documents related to Cambodia are on the WTO website – with many points to be considered and to be arranged and applied.

A visit to any of the many copy-shops shows that a large section of their business probably falls under the newly announced prohibition. They will either have to stop producing a lot of educational and study materials – or see their business licenses being revoked and their shops closed. But, as the WTO study says: not only thousands of employees of copy-shops will lose their employment – the whole population will be affected, as the study says: it will cut off many from educational and entertainment materials, as the originals of what is being copied are all much more expensive than the copies available until now.

The protection of intellectual property is nowadays a very high priority of the USA and of other economically strong countries. Any new trade agreement – bilateral or multilateral – has to accommodate these interests. And this does not only relate to books, but – as pointed out in the study above – also to information on CDs and DVDs, for entertainment and for education, and for production by computers: computer software.

Many people and the media have been moved to accept the term “piracy” for copying books or computer programs without the agreement of the original authors. But this term is wrong: “Pirates” take something away, so that the original owner does not have it any more, and they do it violently – if there is resistance, they often kill. By accusing people who share copies to be “pirates,” the argument becomes an ethical one between legal owners – mostly strong – and underpaid teachers in a poor educational system who copy educational material for students who do not have the money to buy original books.

What is hardly known is an aspect of US history: in the 19th century, the USA copied British books and argued that the USA, as a developing country at that time, could not accept the British reservations against copying of material which the USA needed for its development.

With the consent of the author, Roberto Verzola, a researcher in the Philippines, a section of his study is shared here:

Towards a Political Economy of Information – Studies on the Information Economy

Part I. Information and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Chapter 3: U.S. Piracy in the 19th Century

Nineteenth century America was a major center of piracy. The principal target of U.S. pirates was the rich variety of British books and periodicals. The U.S. was a perennial headache among British authors and publishers, because foreign authors had no rights in America. American publishers and printers, led by Harpers of New York and Careys of Philadelphia, routinely violated British copyright and ‘reprinted a very wide range of British publications.’

James Barnes, who wrote an excellent book on this subject, said that the Americans were ‘suspicious about international copyright,’ and were afraid that recognizing international copyright meant ‘exploitation and domination of their book trade.’ Barnes noted that ‘as a young nation, the United States wanted the freedom to borrow literature as well as technology from any quarter of the globe, and it was not until 1891 that Congress finally recognized America’s literary independence by authorizing reciprocal copyright agreements with foreign powers.’

Barnes continued: ‘In 1831, an Act to Amend the Several Acts Respecting Copyrights was signed. It extended the copyright term from fourteen to twenty-eight years, with the option of renewal for an additional fourteen. If an author died, his widow or children could apply for the extension. For the first time, the law allowed musical compositions to be copyrighted. But not a word on international copyright. In fact, foreign authors were explicitly barred from protection, which in essence safeguarded reprints.’

Even the U.S. president at that time, John Quincy Adams, was himself ‘strongly opposed to international copyright.’em>

In 1837, Senator Henry Clay introduced a copyright bill before the U.S. Senate. Within days, ‘a flood of negative memorials reached Washington,’ and objections deluged both houses of Congress. The U.S. Senate’s Patent Committee rejected ‘the intention of the measure,’ its reasons sounding very much like the justification today of Third World countries for their liberal attitude towards intellectual property. The Committee’s reasons were:

  • A copyright agreement would promote higher book prices and smaller editions. The point was driven home by comparing the retail prices of new books in England and America, for it was universally acknowledged that English books were disproportionately more expensive.
  • A large portion of the U.S. publishers’ business ‘would be reduced perhaps as much as nine-tenths, certainly as much as three-fourths, if copyright be granted to foreign books.’
  • Copyright has never been regarded among nations as ‘property standing on the footing of wares or merchandise, or as a proper subject for national protection against foreign spoliation.’ Every government has always been left to make such regulations as it thinks proper, ‘with no right of complaint or interference by any other government.’
  • The U.S. reprinters advanced their own arguments for reprinting British publications without regard for international copyrights
  • They were making available to the American people cheap books which would otherwise be very costly if they had to compensate foreign authors. It was generally acknowledged that the low prices of American books would inevitably rise after the passage of a copyright treaty.
  • Access by the American printing industry to British works provided Americans with thousands of jobs.
  • Books are ‘unlike other commodities’; whereas it took the same amount of labor to create each new hat or boot, ‘the multiplication of copies of a book meant a saving on each additional facsimile.’

Several bills were introduced in 1870, 1871 and again in 1872, but they were all opposed by American publishers and the printing unions. And so it went. In the early 1880’s, the copyrights movement gained more strength, but not quite enough to overcome the more powerful forces that benefited from free and unrestricted access to foreign publications.

In July 1891, the U.S. Congress adopted the Chace International Copyright Act of 1891, establishing a framework for bilateral copyright agreements based on reciprocity. While the act granted copyright to resident and nonresident authors for a period of 28 years, renewable for another 14.

In 1952, the U.S. joined the Universal Copyright Convention [and also, for reference: Universal Copyright Convention, as revised in 1971], but not the Berne Convention, which was considered the ‘premier instrument of international copyright.’ Under the Universal Copyright Convention, the U.S. retained such protectionist measures as the requirement of manufacture in the United States.

In the meantime, the U.S. had been exerting tremendous pressures against Third World governments to adopt strict intellectual property laws and to strengthen their enforcement. By the late 1980’s, a number of governments, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea in Asia, had finally succumbed to U.S. pressure.

And so in 1989, the U.S. finally and belatedly acceded to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

All the former arguments of the USA and the actions of their government and parliamentary bodies sounds very familiar: these are the arguments from many developing countries today. It took the USA decades, until 1952 and 1989, to accept the conditions, which they now declare to be essential for international trade relations. Some social action groups, and some parliaments and governments try to stand up in the same way as the USA did in the 19th century.

But, as the study published on the WTO website says, there is ample fear that the results of copyright enforcement for Cambodian society at large may be very negative. Who is to blame, and who will have to bear the consequences? There are, of course, also efforts under way to have the whole concept and structures of copyright legislation fundamentally reconsidered, as it was developed under very different international conditions and mostly before modern information technology radically changed the possibilities of access to and sharing of information. It is up to society, and up to the governments caring for their societies, to get this process moving ahead.

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The Law and the Environment of the Law – Sunday, 21.2.2010

Posted on 22 February 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

Very often, when some international media, or some voices in Cambodia deplore what is seen as violations of human rights or just other forms of suffering of some people when their living space – they land on which they lived and the small shelter they built on it – is taken away, the justification is often to say: But it is done according to the law!

While this is sometimes open for controversial interpretations, in other cases it may be perfectly true. But this still does not mean that those who are at the weaker end of the conflict do not suffer, whether they know the law or not.

But there are obviously also cases where it is surely quite difficult for the public to understand the complexity of some legislation – and if it is not easy to understand the rules, there is a lower motivation to follow them – though this is normally wrong not to follow the law.

During the municipal annual reflection meeting looking back at 2009, the Governor of Phnom Penh proudly mentioned that as part of clean-up operations in crime prone environments, also gambling was targeted – all together 1,152 gambling sites had been intercepted. – And in the same week we report that a new casino starts to operate: US$100 million have been invested to create 6,000 jobs.

Surely both elements of this report are based on some laws. Whether the difference is easy to understand or not, is a different question.

About the same meeting of the Phnom Penh municipality it is reported: “The firm position of the Phnom Penh Municipality in 2010 is not like that in 2009; it will not allow dishonest officials to keep on committing bad activities towards the people… previously, some officials used the opportunity of their positions to extort money from the people. But now, [Mr. Kep Chuktema, the Phnom Penh Governor,] warned, saying that officials doing such bad activities will no longer be tolerated.”

During last year the law was not kept by all, as the Governor says, but nothing happened – during this year, however, the law has to be kept. What is the difference? It is the same laws – so will those who did not keep it last year be convinced to now keep it? It is not reported that those, whose money had been extorted, did get it back, nor that whose, who had used the opportunity to misuse their positions for their personal gain were punished. What is changed?

The authorities set again a deadline for illegal pharmacies to apply for licenses – that about half of the more than 2,000 pharmacies operate without a licenses, is known, exposing the public to dangers.

There were also reports about special initiatives by the Prime Minister, either to clarify some gray areas related to the use and registration of cars, or, more seriously, that past and present violations of the law by military personal, which went so far unpunished, should stop.

Some time ago, the Prime Minister had ordered to remove RCAF license plates from private cars to avoid irregularities. A member of the National Assembly from an opposition party found out: “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.” This impression cannot be avoided when one sees who is using some cars with RCAF license plates, and where, and when. But – says the Ministry of Defense – all is now legal. Where private cars are used with military license plates, they have been “contracted” to the state. Does this lead to clarity? Why would anybody contract one’s private care to the state? Why not the other way round: If a state owned vehicle is used also for private purposes, why is it not leased to the private user for an appropriate fee, with a private license plate?

That the new emphasis on the enforcement of the new traffic law is not only leading to a better compliance with the law, becomes clear from the following report – again by a parliamentarian of an opposition party (the much larger number of parliamentarians from the government party were not reported to take such personal initiatives to strengthen the rule of law): Traffic police established check points to extort money from citizens near the Chroy Changva bridge, where police stop and “check” cars and trucks to make them pay money without giving our receipts – keeping some money for themselves, and sharing some with their next higher level superiors.

And the new, strong statements against forest crimes? “The transport of luxury wood in the Thala Barivat district of Stung Treng continues without any disturbance by the authorities.”

The UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, reported after his second visit to the country on 26 January 2010, that he is encouraged from his positive meetings with Cambodian highest level political leader, as he saw especially progress in the strengthening of legal frameworks: “The Government has been receptive to some of the suggestions, including developing binding national guidelines on land evictions, making the law-making process more transparent by sharing draft legislation which has an impact on human rights issues with the wider community, and creating a Government and civil society forum in order to foster an environment of cooperation to strengthen democracy and human rights in the country.”

As so often in the past, it has to be repeated again and again: Not only the quality of laws, but their implementation is decisive.

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Cambodia Will Have a Law to Control Battery Acid in the Future – Monday, 15.2.2010

Posted on 15 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Cambodia is discussing to find ways to establish a law to control battery acid, as many victims are suffering from having been attacked by acid, using acid as a weapon.

“According to a source from the Ministry of Interior, the Acid Control Committee of the Ministry of Interior organized a meeting on 12 February 2010, to discuss some resource documents to create a law for the control of battery acid, after many citizens had been victimized by acid, while some perpetrators have not been convicted for their offenses. This happens because acid is being sold openly without any proper control.

“This source added that the discussion was held with a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Teng Savong, in the chair. Mr. Teng Savong said during the discussion that the Ministry has just received documents from various countries to be used as a basis for the discussion how to create an explicit acid control law. Meanwhile, he called on experts on the issue of acid to join in the preparation of a draft to create a law.

“Mr. Teng Savong said that the acid control law to be created relates to the checking, the uses, the distributions at markets as well as at other places, the storing, and the import and export of acid. Based on that source, that draft law follows a law from Bangladesh as the basis for further discussions.

“The Acid Control Committee discussions do not plan to deal with violence in the planned acid control law, and it is not intended to deal with criminal legislation in this draft.

“According to officials of the Ministry of Interior, the Acid Control Committee was formed by a decision of the Ministry of Interior dated 28 January 2010 and signed by the Minister of Interior, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, and there are 11 members from 11 ministries in the committee.

“The initiative to form an acid control law started after it was found that acid was available freely and openly, and that it had been used as a weapon for attacks, which resulted in many victims.

“It should be noted that there had been big cases of acid attacks, like those against Ms. Tat Marina, Ms. Ya Sok Nim, Ms. In Soklida’s aunt, and a CTN presenter, Mr. Tet Polen. Besides these major cases, there are many others. Generally, the lives of the victims of acid attacks were completely ruined, as they cannot work or come out to live in public like other common people.

“In the meantime, many citizens asked the authorities to prosecute acid attackers seriously so that such cases stop.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2177, 14-15.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 15 February 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2177, 14-15.2.2010

  • Cambodia Will Have a Law to Control Battery Acid in the Future
  • Three Former Khmer Rouge Leaders [Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, and Khiev Samphan] Are Requesting Bail

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6884, 15.2.2010

  • There Are 300 to 400 People Visiting the Preah Vihear Temple Each Day during the Chinese New Year

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #111, 15.2.2010

  • An UNESCO Official [Mr. Jinnai Teruo] Said that the Documents Relating to the Listing of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site [presented by the Cambodian government] Are Sufficient [he said so after the Cambodian government rejected a claim from Thailand that the documentation for the Preah Vihear Temple is not complete]
  • The Ministry of Tourism Is Seeking to Start Flight Connections with India, Russia, and some Arab Countries
  • An American Man Was Sentenced to Serve Two Years in Prison for Child Molestation [Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5126, 14-15.2.2010

  • A River in the Northeast of Cambodia [the Sesan river] Is Drying Out [due to the damming of the flow of water by a hydro-electricity dam in Vietnam; some portions of the river can now be crossed walking]
  • Khmers in Kampuchea Krom [from Kampuchea Krom, now in the southern area of Vietnam] Can Air Their Voice through the National Radio of Cambodia [the Ministry of Information now allows the Khmer Kampuchea Krom community to broadcast educational programs and programs related to their culture through radio in Cambodia]
  • The Youngest Brother of Pol Pot [the head of the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime, Salot Nhep] Died [at the age of 84 from high blood pressure]
  • More Than Riel 1,000 Million [approx. US$240,000] Was Given to [40 Cambodian] Medal Winners [after the South East Asia Games in Laos]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Mondolkiri: The Creation of Tourism Communities Is Slow Due to Some Problems – Monday, 8.2.2010

Posted on 9 February 2010. Filed under: Week 651 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 651

“Phnom Penh: Mondolkiri is a province with potential for eco-tourism everywhere. Its natural environment is better than in other northeastern provinces. But a tourism official of this province said in a recent meeting that this province has not yet created tourism communities following legislation related to tourism to comply with proper tourism community standards like those in Koh Kong or in other provinces.

“The head of the Department of Tourism of Mondolkiri, Mr. Ngin Sovimean, said, ‘We cannot establish tourism communities, because the provincial forestry administration opposes it, and thus, we need to wait until forestry communities have been created.’ The Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon, commented, ‘If we wait until the forestry administration has formed its communities first so that tourism communities can be created, that will be very slow.’

“An official of the Ministry of Tourism in charge of tourism communities, Mr. Thok Sokhom, said that previously, the creation of forestry and fishery communities did not work. But tourism communities could operate at other provinces as the provincial authorities cooperate and especially, local people voluntarily and willingly participate.

“Mr. Thong Khon said that the creation of tourism communities cannot be made successful by the tourism sector alone, but it needs cooperation from private partners. If there are no transportation agencies to carry tourists to various sites, tourism communities cannot get active.

“In the meantime, if transportation agencies do not help to advertise tourism communities, those communities will not function.

“Relating to the Bu Sra waterfall resort, the best tourism site of the province, Mr. Ngin Sovimean said that by 2010, after it had been handed over to a private company for investment already more than one year ago, the company did nothing, but just improved only the road from the provincial capital to the site and collects money from tourists every day [but does not do anything for the community].

“Mr. Thong Khon said that the report about Bu Sra resort sent to the Ministry seems accurate. Now, he assigned a secretary of state to take charge of this case, because the related investment plan is among Samdech Hun Sen’s recommendations.

“By now, there are 29 eco-tourism communities countrywide.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5120, 7-8.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 8 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #408, 8.2.2010

  • The Prime Minister Advised Troops and Police to Use the 097 Mobile Phone System [of the Vietnamese Metfone company to ease communication]
  • Cambodia Can Import Garments to the European Union without Paying Taxes [according to the Chargé d’Affaires of the European Commission, Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2171, 7-8.2.2010

  • Three People Were Arrested for Being Involved in Weapons Trafficking [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #600, 7-8.2.2010

  • Opposition Party and Civil Society [the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Support the Prime Minister’s Commitment to Protect the Territorial Integrity

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6878, 8.2.2010

  • National Military Police Cooperated to Seize Nearly 10 Cubic Meters of Wood Suspected to Belong to a Military Police Official [Kratie]
  • Diarrhea Spreads in Samraong Tong and Basedth Districts [in Kompong Speu, killing three people and infecting many others]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3806, 8.2.2010

  • The Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union to Cambodia Wants Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Case [over the removal of border markers] to Be Solved outside the Court System [as a political issue]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #106, 8.2.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen: Tanks, Rifles, and Artillery Are to Be Used to Withstand Those Who Invade Khmer Territory
  • The Prime Minister Warned Soldiers at the Border Not to Use Their Positions to Cut Trees
  • Cambodia to Establish Flight Connections with Indonesia and Brunei [to facilitate and attract tourists from these countries – according of an official of the Ministry of Tourism]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5120, 7-8.2.2010

  • Mondolkiri: The Creation of Tourism Communities Is Slow Due to Some Problems
  • Representatives of Fishermen [of 102 families] Protested at the Fishery Administration Office as the Complaint They Lodged Is Not Solved [requesting for suppression on fishery crimes – Siem Reap]

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