The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667
The major event during the week was the meeting of the Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum, which brought more than 100 representatives from donor countries and from international financial organizations to Cambodia, to meet with representatives of the Cambodian government. One newspaper quoted a Cambodian official as saying, before the meeting: “Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected.” As expected! On the other hand, just days before this meeting, a group of local NGOs released a study with a critical call to the donor community, suggesting that donors should press the government to fulfill agreed requirements carrying out major reforms in the country and to apply Joint Monitoring Indicators defined in the past. Global Witness, the UK based monitoring agency supported by 17 trusts and foundations, 4 development organizations from different countries, and 7 governments, suggested that the donors should take “a coordinated stand against the horribly subverted dynamic of aid in Cambodia in which their country’s money props up the basic functions of the state, leaving an elite free to exploit the state’s assets for personal profit.”
There are voices saying that the pledge of about US$1 billion is a sign that the donors don’t care about critical statements – either deploring the fact of the pledges realize “as expected,” or taking the pledges as a sign of a flat endorsement of the Cambodian government’s policies. Both these opinions are wrong.
To publish critical evaluations of aid effectiveness some days before such a meeting helps to get broad attention. But to expect that it would greatly affect the meeting, assumes that the international donor delegates arrive to sit around the table and then decide on the spot how much to pledge. They all come with the results of a year’s deliberations at home, considering information and opinion gathered and discussed with others, and decisions prepared towards the meeting.
Both sides then, in the formal meeting, share their well considered long range statements:
“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The aid provided by development partners is a very important contribution for the development of Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will use the aid effectively, adding that the government will continue to solve major problems such as corruption, land ownership, and judicial reform.”
“The World Bank country director, Ms. Annette Dixon, said, representing the donors, that she lauded the development of Cambodia since the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum held in December 2008, but the progress of the government is still limited in terms of its work to improve strategic planing and to manage aid. She said, ‘It is important for the government to take the lead in aligning resources to development priorities.’”
That is more than a hint that the donors think that available resources are not aligned to development priorities.
What went on during the closed-door meetings may have been more mutually engaging – but the most important things will happen – or not happen – during the course of the year which starts now towards the next meeting. And it will depend on the monitoring of ongoing events and the related discussions – including the regular follow-up in the press and by government and non-government agencies’ observations.
This is a field of hard work: to observe, to analyze, to compare, to speak up, to share – regularly and consistently.
There will be questions requiring answers, and if the questions do not get answers easily, they have to be repeated and made more precise and receive follow-up, maybe again and again. This is the role of the public, and especially of the media. That is why the press is also called “the fourth power” in a state – independent also, like the three others: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, mutually separate, as Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia requires.
The Mirror tries to contribute to this important process.
One element of regular surprise is information like the following, which we carried during this week:
- Oknha Ly Say Kheang, a Big Trader Destroying the Forest, Appeared in Sihanoukville after Having Escaped from Arrest for a While [he was spotted driving a luxury car and relaxing in Sihanoukville]
A fugitive from prison. Was he arrested?
- More Than 60 Persons [police, military police, soldiers, as well as a prosecutor, a commune chief and a village chief] Surrounded a Site where a Military Captain is Storing Luxury Grade Wood [seizing 922 pieces of wood, but the owner of the wood has not been arrested]
Why 60 persons for one suspect? And he was not arrested?
- The Authorities Seek to Arrest Citizens over a Land Dispute [with the Heng Development Company; two persons were arrested for inciting villagers to go to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence]
“Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law” says Article 31 of the Constitution. But some get arrested and others not! So many cries for help trust in the highest authority of the government, carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady. When will this confidence wear out if there are too many disappointments?
- The Government Declared to Fight Corruption [Prime Minister Hun Sen said that there are only a handful of corrupt officials, and the government will encourage other officials to fight corruption together]
We will read it in the press.
And here is a variety of related observations:
An interesting source of income for the state reported:
- Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places
Not much, less than US$500. There is no report how much was collected from new, big cars driving around town without neither temporary nor permanent license plates. Almost every day when I am driven around town on a motorcycle-taxi, I see some. Probably there was nothing to report because nothing is being collected from them.
The President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin Does Not Allow Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit and Monitor the Putting of Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; the Sam Rainsy Party claims that the marker is planted on Khmer territory, while the government denies it]
Members of the National Assembly, elected by the people (The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people – says Article 51 of the Constitution), need a permission before they can travel inside of the country? Article 40 of the Constitution sound different: Citizens’ freedom to travel, far and near, and legal settlement shall be respected. We did not reed that the parliamentarians claimed this Constitutional right.
- Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Were Prevented from Visiting and Checking a Border Marker [in Takeo, as their visit was blocked by more than 30 armed forces and more than 50 local citizens]
And finally a dilemma:
- The Opposition Party President Sam Rainsy Plans to Go to the Philippines to Meet with Parliamentarians and Democrats in Asia [at the end of this month, to welcome the newly elected president of the Philippines when he takes office]
Probably there will be many international guests there, especially from the ASEAN region. Among them politicians from Cambodia. But Mr. Sam Rainsy is facing the court in Cambodia, though he is abroad to avoid arrest – but he is free in France, and he is free to travel.
Could another politician from the ASEAN region, the former Thai Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra, also go to the Philippines? Maybe not. There is a search warrant for him from Interpol, and the Thai government is now in the process to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin through Interpol to 187 countries, which makes it more and more difficult to travel anywhere. Except to Cambodia:
- Cambodia Expressed [through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] the Position Not to Extradite Thaksin to Thailand
He was convicted by a Thai court for corruption – for arranging the sale of valuable Bangkok land without bidding and at a low price, to his wife. But he left the country – “temporarily for about a week,” after paying bail – and did never return.
Everybody is equal before the law? Not quite.
Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.
Monday, 23.6.2008: Both the National Assembly and the Senate of Cambodia Consider how to Implement the Legislature Assistance Project Supported by the United Nations Development Program
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 566
“Phnom Penh: The Permanent Committees of the National Assembly and the Senate, and the Board of the Council of the Legislature Assistance Project supported by the United Nations Development Program [UNDP] held a meeting on 20 June 2008 at the Senate to consider the monitoring of the implementation of the Legislature Assistance Project supported by UNDP.
“Samdech Sisowath Chivanmonirak, the First Vice-Chairperson of the Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said that now, the Cambodian Senate starts to implement a three-year Legislature Assistance Project (2008 to 2010), which had been agreed upon officially by the Cambodian National Assembly and UNDP on 15 June 2007.
“He said that the Legislature Assistance Project was designed to support the strengthening and the increase of the capacity of nine departments in order to implement their duties more effectively: representation, legislation, and oversight. This project also focuses on strengthening the capacity of the General Secretariats of both parliaments to be able to provide their services more effectively to the members of the two parliamentary bodies.
“Mr. Um Sarith, the Secretary-General of the Senate and the Deputy Secretary-General of the Technical Coordinating Secretariat, said that for the Legislature Assistance Project, both parliaments have mutually agreed to create a Technical Coordinating Secretariat to coordinate the work between the project development partners and the legislative institutions. This secretariat has begun its activities already since January 2008, based on a joint decision of the National Assembly and the Senate, numbered 017 P.R, dated 22 January 2008, and the secretariat is located at the National Assembly.
“Also Mr. Leng Peng Long, the Secretary-General of the National Assembly and the Head of the Technical Coordinating Secretariat, presented an action plan that will be implemented from July to December 2008.
“Mr. Leng Peng Long presented the action plan of the Legislature Assistance Project supported by UNDP for the implementation in the second quarter of 2008, in which he stressed two potential goals which are planed to be implemented: 1. Strengthening and broadening expert committees to fulfill relevant work more efficiently (in drafting laws and in monitoring law enforcement, and the position of representatives), 2. Strengthening the Capacity of officials of the General Secretariats of the parliaments to provide effective services to the parliaments, as well as to develop the Technical Coordinating Program.
“Mr. Nguon Nhel, the First Deputy President of the National Assembly, stated that the National Assembly of Cambodia totally supports the strategic framework of the program and finds that this strategic framework requires support in the technical sector from potential development partners, targeting to promote the capability of drafting legislation, the monitoring of law enforcement by legislative institutions, and also of monitoring the position of representatives, as well as promoting the capability of officials of both General Secretariats through training.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4622, 22-23.6.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 23 June 2008
Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1674, 23.6.2008
- Cambodian Officials [of the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy] Hope that the Price of Electricity in Cambodia Might Decline [after two big hydro-electric plants in Koh Kong will have been constructed and start to operate in 2014]
- Youth Aged 20-24 Are Facing AIDS Infection [because of the increase of entertainment places making it easy for them to meet each other – according to Dr. Var Chivorn, acting executive director of the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC)]
- Robbers Shot Man and His Son [in-Law] into the Stomachs and Took US$20,000 and a Short Gun [21 June 2008 – Phnom Penh]
Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #183, 22-24.6.2008
- Siem [Thai] Senate Asked UNESCO to Delay the Listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site [according to a Thai newspaper – because the problem of the surrounding territory of 4.6 square kilometer of the contested land, which has not been given to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962, has not been solved, and the listing might affect the territorial integrity of Thailand, which requires an agreement by parliament. See also the related Editorial of The Mirror of 22.6.2008]
Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6378, 23.6.2008
- Thai Demonstrators Arrived at the Preah Vihear Temple; They Raised Banners and Shouted for Thirty Minutes while the Cambodian Side Was Quiet [22 June 2008]
- Temporary Result of the Distribution of Voter’s Information Cards Announced [on 20 June – from 5-19 June 2008, 5,789,807 voter’s information cards out of a total of 8,125,529 were distributed]
Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3493, 23.6.2008
- [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Asserted that the Cambodian People’s Party Has Lots of Money [because party officials are owners of hotels and companies]
Rasmei Angkor, Vol.11, #1326, 23.6.2008
- Two royal family members [Prince Norodom Sirivudh and Princess Norodom Vacheara] Announced Officially to No Longer Enter Politics
Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4622, 22-23.6.2008
- Both the National Assembly and the Senate of Cambodia Consider how to Implement the Legislature Assistance Project Supported by the United Nations Development Program
- Samdech Krom Preah Might Not Be Able to Return to Take Part in the Election Campaigning or to Stand as a Parliamentarian if His Guilt Is Confirmed
- Customs Officers of Cambodia and of Laos Sign Cooperation Agreement
- Thai Prime Minister Rejected [on 21 June 2008] to Resign, while the Chief of the Army Suggested to Dissolve the Assembly [and have new elections]
- Japanese Company [Genepax] Produces Cars Run by Water [last week, this company showed its car that can run by every kind of water – rain water, river water, or salt water – with the 80 km/h and this company has asked for cooperation agreements with other car producing companies – but it has not disclosed any substantive information about the energy creating process]
Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3340, 22-23.6.2008
- Officials of Khmer Rouge Tribunal Were Disappointed during the Meeting when Donor Countries Did Not Provide Sufficient Aid [21 June 2008 – according to the estimation, approximately US$10 million more is needed]
- Many Workers Might Give Up the Opportunity to Vote, because Traveling Costs [to their home places of registration] Are High