Investments on Islands in the Cambodian Sea Are Full of Secrets and Corruption as They Are Not Put Up for Public Bidding – Friday, 13.8.2010

Posted on 14 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“A high ranking official of the Sam Rainsy Party demanded the government to clarify the investments by private companies on some islands in the Cambodian sea. People want to know which companies control those islands and the leasing prices, and for how long. A request was made after the Cambodian government handed over some islands to local and foreign companies for investment, but the investment opportunities were not put up to facilitate accurate and transparent public biddings.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, said that it is illegal that the government delivered these islands to private companies, and the income from these investments is not inserted into the national budget. The investment or concession arrangements for those islands are confidential and corrupt. Mr. Son Chhay, said, ‘Where will the income from the islands be taken? As a parliamentarian, we have to observe and monitor the national income, after the government had issued sub-decrees to hand those islands over to companies, but we have not seen any documents about the amount of income from these leasings and concessions.’

“Mr. Son Chhay added that islands in the sea have as high a potential for the Cambodian economy as the beaches near Kep, Koh Kong, and Sihanoukville, because they attract national and international tourists. However, the government does not put them up for public bidding; this also affects the environment, and the background of the companies is not known. He said, ‘We have received information that several Khmer islands have been handed over by the government to powerful people or to relatives of government officials, and they then leased some islands to some foreign companies, exploiting for themselves the interests of the Khmer people.’

“In his response, a Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarian and chairperson of the Commission of Economy, Finance Banking, and Audit, Mr. Cheam Yeap, acknowledged that the government did not put the investment on those islands for public auction, because the government does not have detailed plans, to show them to the clients for bidding. Since the government was not able to create detailed plans, putting them for public bidding is impossible. This recognition by such a high ranking official from the Cambodian People’s Party shows that the investment or leasing of the islands to some companies is mysterious and can be plagued by corruption.

“Mr. Son Chhay stressed that he requested the government in writing since 2006 to clarify investments and leasing of islands to some companies without transparent public bidding, but he has not received any response from the government. Now, he is collecting documents to be used as evidence about the impact and the corruption, in order to submit them to the government and ask for clarification again. The intention is to summon ministers or other government representatives to clarify these investment on some islands that are being developed – their shares were sold in Hong Kong – in order to know whether such activity is legal or not, and whether it conforms with basic procedures. If there is no clarification, it can be concluded that what was done before was the illegal sale of some islands of the country.

“In July 2010, the Ministry of Tourism cooperated with UNESCO towards the registration of some beaches of Cambodia among the world most beautiful beaches [Reference not clear, maybe the UNESCO Environment and development in coastal regions and in small islands program, concerned with ‘environmentally sustainable, socially equitable, culturally respectful and economically viable development’]. It is expected that there will be strong support from national and international tourism. Also, the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon, said that after Cambodian beaches will have been noted, the Ministry of Tourism is trying to make some Cambodian beaches to be fully listed among the world’s most beautiful beaches during the nomination next year.

“Nevertheless, non-government officials watching the environment in Cambodia noticed that some companies taking charge of island developments do not study the effects on the environment. Like on Puos Island, while there is yet no result from the developments by a Russian company, there is mysterious information and it might be related to corruption. Obviously, the Puos Island development plan has not been provided any benefit to the nation, besides environmental deterioration and impacts on the living conditions of citizens who used to do fishing near the island.

“According to expert officials, there are about 40 islands in the Khmer sea with investment potential where some have already been developed, while some others are being developed by companies such as Rong Island, P’Oun Island, Bang Island, and Puos Island. Recently, the Cambodian government provided licenses to private companies to invest on four more islands in Koh Kong, such as Sameth, Putsa, Chhan, and Toteung islands. Among those companies, there are also Yuon [Vietnamese] companies, and the development periods are up to 90 years. This might lead of the loss of Cambodian territory, as the Cambodian government does not present investment contract documents for those companies.

“A non-government organization official in Kampot said that some years ago, a Yuon company, Try Pheap, developed Tonsay Island in Kep and evicted the Khmer citizens living there from that island. At present, that Yuon company has not continued its developments. After it obtained the license, it stopped its activities. Such a problem emerged, as previously the government did not conduct public biddings and did not set clear conditions publicly before offering a license to that private company. Therefore, from now on, the government must conduct public biddings before providing licenses to companies to develop and operate on islands in the Cambodian sea, in order to avoid secret and strongly corrupt practices as in the past.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3957, 13.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 13August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2326, 13.8.2010

  • The Head of the Government [Prime Minister Hun Sen] Called for Participation [from all relevant institutions and authorities] to Save the Tonle Sap Lake That Is Suffering Various Dangers
  • The CamActive Company Was Checked [following a complaint from the Monument Books and The United Knowledge companies that have legal contracts with the Cambodian authorities with exclusive rights to import and distribute English books from the Oxford University Press – according to the police of the Ministry of the Interior], and [6,465 English] Books of the Oxford University Press Imported Illegally Were Seized [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7033, 13.8.2010

  • Hundreds of Pieces of Ebony Wood Were Found Hidden in a Site in Ang Snuol District [nobody responsible for the site has been arrested – Kratie]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3957, 13.8.2010

  • Investments on Islands in the Cambodian Sea Is Full of Secrets and Corruption as They Are Not Put UP for Public Bidding

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #29, 13.8.2010

  • [The Opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy Welcomed to Find Border Solutions [by the government that intends to bring the Cambodian-Thai border issues to the UN Security Council]
  • 100 Years Ago Misery for Korean People Started [resulting from the invasion by Japan] – It Has Just Received an Apology from Japan [through the Japanese Prime Minister]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #236, 13.8.2010

  • Taiwan Reacts against a Comment of Mr. Hun Sen [who recently stated Cambodian adherence to the One-China Policy, stating that Taiwan is just a province of China; Taiwan claims that it is an independent state]
  • The Government Will Raise Border Issues [with Thailand] when the UN Secretary General Comes to Cambodia [in October 2010 – according to the Prime Minister Hun Sen – a plan for such a visit has not been confirmed by the UN offices in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5275, 13.8.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen Asked Thailand Not to Be Afraid of the International Organizations [like ASEAN, UN, UN special representatives, or any dignitaries like the Indonesian president – if they participate in the negotiations with Cambodia and Thailand over border issues] China Will Provide US$8 Million to Construct a Road to the Preah Vihear Temple]
  • More Than 300 Hectares of Rubber Plantation Were Expropriated from the Tai Seng Company to Be Delivered to the Samaki Group [temporarily, who had controlled it since 1980s – Ratanakiri]
  • The United States of America Praised the Mine Clearance Skills of Cambodian Troops [based on the achievements of Cambodian deminers sent to Sudan under the framework of the United Nations]

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

Back to top

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

The Declaration of Asset Will Be Made before November – Thursday, 15.7.2010

Posted on 19 July 2010. Filed under: Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

Apologies again for the delay – I am back in Phnom Penh, but I returned with a defective computer. I hope within one day to be up to date again.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: The declaration of assets of officials of the Royal Government as well as of relevant civil society officials will be made before November 2010.

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Senior Minister Om Yentieng, said during a press conference in the morning of 14 July 2010 that the Anti-Corruption Unit will proceed with the procedure of the declaration of assets of relevant officials, including officials of the Royal Government appointed by sub-decrees and royal decrees, as well as other officials including those of civil society organizations, and the declaration will be conducted before November 2010, to facilitate a quick enforcement of the law. He added that there are about 100,000 persons in Cambodia who are required to declare their assets. The duty of the Anti-Corruption Unit is to keep all documents. Also, the Anti-Corruption Unit has the right to check those documents anytime.

“Relating to a question from journalists about how much money is to be considered as corruption, Mr. Om Yentieng said that an amount to be considered as corruption does not need to be up to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Riel 1,000 to Riel 2,000 [US$0.25 to US$0.50] can also be considered as corruption, and there are many types of corruption, like the provision of licenses and permissions, or the offering of sexual pleasure which can also be considered as corruption. He said that improper activities of traffic police who fine citizens without giving them a receipt for the fine paid can also be considered as corruption.

“Mr. Om Yengtieng added that the declarations will be made officially, and the procedure does not protect corrupt people as the opposition parties have said, because the procedures had granted full rights to the opposition parties to express their ideas during the discussions and adoptions of the law in the National Assembly, but the decision [to terminate the discussions] were within the rights of the president of the National Assembly. He believes that this law will proceed smoothly. He went on to say that as soon as this law had been released, some officials required to declare their asset felt afraid. Thus, it is not a simple matter.

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit stated during the press conference that the Anti-Corruption Unit has a fivefold mission:

  1. Lead the fight against any acts of corruption.
  2. Fight against corruption of all forms, in all sectors, and at all levels.
  3. Proceed following three legal procedures: to educate, to prevent, and to punish.
  4. Fight corruption with participation by the general public.
  5. Fight corruption with participation by international agencies.

“Also, the Anti-Corruption Unit is always aware of a recommendation by the president of the National Assembly to prevent its members from committing corruption, as they are more in danger to commit corruption than others. As there are difficulties to fight corruption, the Anti-Corruption Unit is provided with some special rights to act.

“Mr. Om Yentieng stressed that all personnel of the Anti-Corruption Unit, including the watchmen at the Anti-Corruption office, have to declare their assets. There are two types of penalties for corruptions: misdemeanors and felonies, which cover 7-days to life imprisonment.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2301, 15.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 15 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2301, 15.7.2010

  • The Declaration of Asset Will Be Made before November
  • The Sharing Experience for Adapted Development [SEAD] Delivers 40,000 Books of a Services Directory for Vulnerable People [the books, which list 280 organizations, 25 units, 85 hospitals, and 220 health centers will be provided to staff of the government and of non-government organizations that work with vulnerable children and families to be used as their reference in offering necessary services to those people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7008, 15.7.2010

  • More Than 100,000 Officials Will Have to Declare Their Assets and Debts Every Two Years
  • Cambodia and the United States of America Will Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations [from 18 to 24 July 2010 in Phnom Penh and in Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3932, 15.7.2010

  • More Than 100,000 Officials Are the Target to Declare Their Assets, according to a Report when Cambodia Hosted an Anti-Corruption Conference
  • Khmer Citizens Have Not Received the Right for Just Hearings, as Guaranteed by National and International Laws [according to observations by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights cooperating with the US Agency for International Development and the East-West Management Institute in 199 hearings at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #215, 15.7.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected UN Criticism [over the proceedings of the defamation case of the opposition politician, Ms. Mu Sochua, and Prime Minister Hun Sen, saying that this relates to internal affairs of Cambodia; recently the spokesperson of the United Nations, Mr. Rupert Colville, stated that Cambodian courts have been used as weapon to restrict the freedom of expression]
  • Vietnam Supplies Additional 20 Megawatt of Electricity to Cambodia [in response to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s request, amid the increasing demand for electricity in Cambodia; according to an agreement signed by both countries, Vietnam promised to supply 200 megawatt of electricity to Cambodia by 2009, but by now, Vietnam can supply only 120 megawatt due to a lack of electricity in its own country]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5250, 15.7.2010

  • Cambodia Earns Riel 6,000 Million to Riel 7,000 Million [US$1,380,000 to US$1,610,000] Each Year from Fishery Yield [each year 500,000 tonnes of fish are caught – according to the director general of the Department of Fisheries Administration, Mr. Nao Thuok]
  • Three Cars Loaded with Ebony Were Intercepted in the House of a Military Official in Stung Treng [but he has not been yet arrested]

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

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Private Mobile Phone Companies Asked Samdech Dekchor to Intervene to Make More Frequencies Available – Friday, 2.7.2010

Posted on 5 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“Phnom Penh: Private mobile phone companies are encountering a lack of frequencies and cannot provide their services to millions of mobile phone customers well, so they asked the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia to intervene to add more frequencies.

“According to a source familiar with the frequency issue, a licensed private company had asked the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, to intervene for the company to increase the frequencies available so that the companies can provide better services to their customers.

“The letter of request was also forwarded by Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen to the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, H.E. So Khun. But later, when the company asked to increase the number of frequencies, the Ministry said that there are no frequencies available. Actually, there are unused frequencies, but the Ministry does not make them available.

“Private companies asked the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen, to intervene supporting their request for the increase of available frequencies for licensed companies, so that they can provide good services to their clients.

“On 27 April 2010, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia stated during a meeting of the Public-Private Sector Forum that any requests for the increase of the number of frequencies for mobile phone companies, the Ministry has to send them to the Royal Government to decide. But according to a trustworthy source, previously, the Ministry had provided frequencies to some companies without including the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia in the decision. The Ministry did it on its own quietly. Some companies went directly to the Ministry, and the Ministry provided the frequencies to them immediately. However, some licensed companies, that had sent their requests to the head of the Royal Government for the increase of frequencies, had their requests rejected by the Ministry saying that there are no frequencies remaining.

“Some investors of private companies said that mobile phone companies operating at present are seeking ways to serve and to satisfy their clients who use their services, but the challenge is that some licensed companies are not provided with additional frequencies by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication to provide better services to their clients. Probably, some companies had colluded with the Ministry to receive more frequencies secretly, without involving the whole Royal Government.

“At present, millions of mobile phone clients are annoyed when calling from one phone to another, and some people had requested the companies to expand their service regions to ease communication. But some private companies said that the problem is not their capacity to expand their mobile networks, but the reason is that the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication does not provide them with more frequencies, as requested.

“Regarding this issue, Kampuchea Thmey tried to contact the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication for more information, but failed to receive such information.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 9, #2290, 2.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 2 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 9, #2290, 2.7.2010

  • Private Mobile Phone Companies Asked Samdech Dekchor to Intervene to Make More Frequencies Available
  • This Year the Number of Candidates to Take the Grade 9 Exam [lower secondary examination, usually at the age of 14 to 15, before entering higher secondary school] Is 159,724, Which is an Increase by 3,394 Candidates [the exam will be from 5 to 6 July 2010 countrywide]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6997, 2.7.2010

  • Deum Ampil Is Bankrupt; This Young News Center [a press center that had been created few years ago] Surprisingly Stopped Its Publications [newspapers and radio broadcasting; according to information by Deum Ampil to the Ministry of Information]
  • On 26 July 2010, The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Announce the Verdict to Sentence Brutal Former Tuol Sleng Prison Chief Duch [at 10:00 a.m.]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3921, 2.7.2010

  • The First Drop of Oil of Cambodia Will Be Produced by 12/12/2012 [but the government has not yet specified anything about the expected quantity]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #206, 2.7.2010

  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An: Cambodia Can Extract Its First Oil by December 2012 [after there had been positive results from the oil exploration in Block A in the gulf of Thailand, with joint investments by Chevron with 30%, Mitsui Oil Exploration with 30%, Kris Energy with 25%, and GS Caltex of South Korea with 15%]
  • The Court Set a Deadline for [opposition party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua to Pay Riel 8 million [approx. US$1,850] Compensation to the Prime Minister [for losing a defamation case; she is required to pay it within ten days after the announcement by the judge on 29 June 2010, otherwise legal measures will be taken against her]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5239, 2.7.2010

  • The National Assembly Adopted Two Draft Laws Relating to Economic Cooperation with ASEAN, China, and South Korea [to create an investment atmosphere which is free, coordinated, transparent, and competitive, in order to achieve a business environment based on friendship between ASEAN, China, and South Korea, offering protection to all investors. Also, the agreements will help to promote opportunities and increase the flow of investment capital from the private sector for the development of the economies of the ASEAN countries cooperating with China and South Korea]
  • [Former Phnom Penh police chief, now jailed in the Prey Sar prison] Heng Pov Was Brought [to court] for Questioning over the Murder of the Former President of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea [in 2004 – Phnom Penh]
  • The Number of Workers Legally Abroad [in Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand] Is Nearly 30,000 [workers in South Korea can get between US$800 to US$2,000 per month, in Malaysia from more than US$200 to nearly US$300, and in Thailand a bit less than in Malaysia]

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

Back to top

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

Sok An Clarified the US$28 Million Tea Money from the Total Company – Friday, 25.6.2010

Posted on 27 June 2010. Filed under: Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

Note:

Apologies – delays of the publication may occur until 17 July 2010 because of my international travel.

Norbert Klein
At present still in Brussels/Belgium at the meetings of ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, but soon again on the way – to Canada. I am not yet sure when I will be able to send the Saturday installment – maybe tomorrow, maybe only later.

“The Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, officially provided a written clarification regarding oil and gas issues, as well as the US$28 million paid by Total after a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Son Chhay, had asked seven questions.

“According to the letter of Mr. Sok An sent to the president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin, on 9 June 2010 and released on 24 June 2010 to respond to Mr. Son Chhay’s questions, it explains that the Royal Government never provided licenses to any oil company for exploitation, but signed oil deals to allow companies to study and explore oil and gas resources. Companies with which such oil deals have been made by the Royal Government are:

Campex,
Chevron,
CNOOC [China National Offshore Oil Corporation],
CPHL Petroleum,
Enterprise Oil,
GS-Caltex,
Idemitsu,
JCL Petroleum,
JOGMEC [Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation],
Kris Energy,
Kuwait Energy,
Lunin,
Medco,
Mitsui Oil Exploration Company,
Petrovietnam,
Polytec Petroleum Corporation,
Premier Oil,
PTTEP,
Resourceful Petroleum,
Singapore Petroleum Corporation,
Total,
Woodside.

Some of these companies had given up and left, because the oil and gas resources they were researching cannot be developed commercially.

“Responding to the questions that Mr. Son Chhay had asked, ‘What policies allow companies to gain profit before they get exploitation licenses?’ – Mr. Sok An said that these companies are qualified, they have sufficient techniques and resources to explore, they have proper programs responding to the needs for exploration, care about the environment, have the ability to enter into competition, they can provide appropriate benefits to Cambodia, and they meet other points stated in the regulations for oil exploration from 1991.

“Responding to the questions, ‘What payments do they have to make before they get a licenses? What payments have to be made into the state budget? If there are such payments, since when have such payments been implemented?’ – Mr. Sok An said that the companies do not have to pay all money before they receive oil deals. But when a company gets a deal, they might pay some money, like reward money for signing, and money for a social development foundation. But they are not obliged to pay it, and it depends on negotiations based on the expected oil potential. In the case that there is money paid, like reward money for signing, paid into the state budget, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the National Petroleum Authority deposits it into an account at the National Bank of Cambodia. The money is the income from oil for the Royal Government of Cambodia to be used, and the use of the money is not dependent on the companies signing the oil deals, like in the case of the social development foundation. The money for the social development foundation is also deposited into an account at the National Bank of Cambodia, but before the money can be taken out to be spent on any projects, there needs to be a discussion with company that signed the oil deal, as, in general, that money is used to serve the development in areas designated when the oil deal was signed.

“Another question is, ‘Where has the US$28 million payment of the Total company been used, and where has this been published? What policies were used to determine the amount of US$28 million?

“Mr. Sok An responded that the amount of money paid by Total is US$26 million (US$20 million as reward money for signing, and US$6 million was for the social development foundation). The rest of US$2 million is for processing the administrative work which the company volunteered to pay for the long term. No money has been paid to any individual who is an official of the Royal Government. The government manages and uses the income from the oil and gas resources through the same entrance and exit [that is the national budget]. As for the social development fund into which the oil companies paid, it is not so much and it depends on the potential of the resources; the foundation had been established in 1995.

“Mr. Sok An made these clarifications in response to the Sam Rainsy Part parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, who had sent a letter with questions on 7 May 2010, through the National Assembly.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #784, 25.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 25 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #513, 25.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Absolutely Firmly Ordered that No Primary Schools and Health Centers Should be Sold [especially those in Phnom Penh – previously, some primary school directors and heads of health centers had sold or relocated institutions for their own benefit]
  • The [SBJ] Bank of Vietnam Invests US$3 Million in Gold Minerals Development in Cambodia
  • More Than 6,000 Families at the Northeast Received Free Treatments from American Medics

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2284, 25.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Called On Citizens to Obey the Traffic Laws during the Inauguration of the Sky Road [in Phnom Penh]
  • Australia Has the First Female Prime Minister [Ms. Julia Gillard] after a Grim Party Revolt

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #784, 25.6.2010

  • Sok An Clarified the US$28 Million Tea Money of the Total Company

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #690, 25.6.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Must Cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] to Arrest the Persons Who Made the Grenade Attack in Front of the [former] National Assembly, to Be Convicted like [the Cambodian Freedom Fighters leader] Chhun Yasith [convicted to serve a life time prison term for attempting a coup d’etat in Cambodia in 2000]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6991, 25.6.2010

  • The 24th Synthesizing Report of the ILO Shows the Recovery of the Garment Sector [in Cambodia – the rate of export within five months of 2010 was more than that within the corresponding period last year; the rate of employment increased a little since 1 November 2009 and the rate of unemployment which results from the global financial crisis is stable – it is not deteriorating]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #690, 25.6.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Leader [Mr. Sam Rainsy] and Parliamentarian [Ms. Mu Sochua] Who Are Facing Arrest Will Attend the ASEAN Free Parties’ Forum in the Philippines as Honorary Speakers [from 27 to 29 June 2010]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #201, 25.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Said that the Sam Rainsy Party Was Also Involved in the Unsuccessful Coup [by the Cambodian Freedom Fighters – CFF]
  • Thai Soldiers Shot and Killed a Khmer Worker when He Was Returning from Work [accusing him of illegally trafficking motorbikes across the border – the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, condemned this fatal shooting and waits for an explanation from Thailand]
  • The Mong Riththy Group [Company] Invests US$10 Million to Plant Rubber Trees at a Seashore Region in Sihanoukville in 2010 [on 5,000 hectares of land]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5233, 25.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Asked the Ministry of Transport of China to Invest to Construct [many] Roads in Cambodia According to the Built-Operate-Transfer [BOT]

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

Back to top

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Cambodia Must Find Solutions to Encourage Faster Exports – Saturday, 5.6.2010

Posted on 6 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Phnom Penh: The encouragement for the faster export of Khmer products is still a big challenge, as the legal procedures to process export documentation are time consuming, as all documents have to go across too many desks in the administration, which results in delayed operations and high expenses, making Cambodia unable to compete on international markets with neighboring countries.

“A Royal Government advisor and a member of the Supreme National Economic Council, Mr. Sok Siphana, said early last week at the Phnom Penh Hotel, during a national workshop about the encouragement by the Rectangular Strategy for a better commercial operationalization, in order to improve business procedures for commerce, ‘We must find solutions that encourage faster commercial operations. This workshop will present many key measures, and we will discuss to find out how many stages there are to be passed, when rice is brought by farmers to be sold at a seaport, and then from the seaport to foreign countries, and what difficulties are encountered, so that they can be reduced, to improve and speed up commercial operations. We must know which steps should be eliminated or which steps could be adjusted.’

Note:

From The Mirror of Thursday, 29.4.2010: The 15th Royal Government-Private Sector Forum Was Held

“Before the private sectors can export anything, they have to ask for permissions from many places, wasting much money and time. To export more than 200 tonnes of rice is even more difficult and takes even longer time. The private sector needs to gain permissions from the Green Trade structure, that has the exclusive right to export rice. Then they need to ask for permission from many other ministries and institutions. Also, the working teams mentioned that for the transportation of livestock from Preah Vihear to Phnom Penh this process required to cross up to 37 check points, and companies have to pay both official and unofficial money at all those posts. Therefore, they asked the government to eliminate these activities.”

“Mr. Sok Siphana added that it was a technical workshop, attended mainly by senior customs officials and officials from the Ministry of Commerce, while the Supreme National Economic Council as a researcher, provided the necessary backup. The emphasis was on the export of rice, cashew nuts, soy beans, corn, and cassava; the import items considered were mostly medicines.

r

“Ms. Shamika Sirimanne, Chief, Socioeconomic Analysis Section at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), in Bangkok, said that the workshop will contribute to find key measures to encourage least developed countries to export products faster, in order to cut down time and expenses at different stages of the process. This problem affects exports abroad. She added, ‘According to our research, the export of products from Cambodia takes 50% more time than in other developing countries in this region. This shows that one cannot compete with other countries in the region in exports. Mr. Sok Siphana said, ‘Much rice is being exported. Also, our rice milling technology is advanced. The problem is that much of paddy rice produced by farmers is taken out to neighboring countries. This happens because we do not have trade credits to first buy much rice for storing and milling, and then to export it. As for the provision of credits, if the interest rates from banks are too high, farmers cannot ask for loans. Some banks boast that they have much money, but they do not dare to provide credits to farmers. Some banks do not have experts on agriculture working to provide loans to farmers. A large number of banks agree only to offer loans when clients have land or house titles for the bank’s security. This does not include big investors on agriculture, who can easily pay back the money they borrowed, or who can reduce their debt quickly.

“Mr. Sok Siphana said that about 20,000 tonnes of rice were exported in 2009. – This workshop was supported by UN ESCAP that had sent well-known experts from India and from the World Bank to share their experiences with Khmer officials.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5216, 6.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 5 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #496, 6.6.2010

  • The Royal Government Decides to Change the Cambodia Post Services into a Public Enterprise
  • The Minister of Finance of Japan [Mr. Kan Naoto – 菅直人] Becomes Prime Minister

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2267, 6.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Announced to Cancel the Collection of Market Fees by the Roth Sensopheap Company [except for parking and toilet fees, but not on their sales turnover – Phnom Penh]
  • Traders Are Actively Transporting Wood from the Animal Habitat Forest in Snuol District [according to local citizens – Kratie]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #674, 5.6.2010

  • [The acting president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm: We Asks the Government to Take 4 June as the Date to Commemorate the Loss of Khmer Kampuchea Krom Land [to Vietnam in 1994]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6974, 5-6.6.2010

  • The Cambodian Mine Action Center Shares Its Experience in Mine Clearance Internationally: with Colombia

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5216, 6.6.2010

  • Cambodia Must Find Solutions to Encourage Faster Exports
  • [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]
  • Only about 100,000 Motorbike Drivers among More Than 1,000,000 Have Driving Licenses
  • Two Lightnings Killed a Person and a Buffalo and Injured Another Person [Kompong Chhnang]

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

Back to top

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

Local Pig Raiser Association Demands Expert Officials to Take Action on Pigs Imported from Vietnam – Wednesday, 12.5.2010

Posted on 16 May 2010. Filed under: Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

Note:

After having been knocked out late on Monday, 10.5.2010, by a bad, but not clearly identified intestinal infection, I am sorry that I could not earlier, and cannot more speedily, catch up again, but maybe it will be done by Monday, 17.5.2010, noon.

Because of the King’s Birthday National Holiday on 13.5.2010, which was extended into further days, it is now intended to have publications, during the current week, only for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Norbert Klein
Editor of the Mirror

“In recent months, the import of live pigs from Vietnam into Cambodia on motorbikes – small scale trading, where a motorbike can transport two to four pigs – seems to increase from day to day, while veterinarians do not care to check the pig’s health before they are allowed to be brought in.

“The deputy head of the Cambodian Pig Raiser Association that protects the local pig raisers, Mr. Srun Pov, complained that the collusion to import live pigs from Vietnam to Cambodia through various border crossings, avoiding tax payments and appropriate health checks, is increasing recently.

“Mr. Srun Pov said that obviously, on 10 May 2010, representatives of the association went to check some border crossings in the Ponhea Kraek district, Kompong Cham, and found that hundreds of pigs were imported on that day by traders without proper health checks from expert officials. Just on that morning, the representatives of the associations could see more than 40 motorbikes carrying 3 to 4 pigs each and they gathered those pigs to be delivered into trucks to send them to Phnom Penh.

“He added that to allow the trafficking of live pigs into Cambodia without proper health checks affects the health of citizens who eat pork and harms local pig raisers, as at present, the association is trying to encourage more local citizens to raise pigs.

“On behalf of the Cambodian Pig Raiser Association, Mr. Srun Pov called on the authorities, especially Prime Minister Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, to take measures to prevent and to eliminate such anarchic import of pigs, because just at the boarder crossings in Kompong Cham, more than 100 pigs were imported each day. What about at other border crossings in Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kandal, and Takeo? How many thousands of pigs are being imported illegally?

“Citizens living along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border ask veterinarians to carefully check the pig’s health before allowing their import. If the present situation continues, local pig raisers will be affected more seriously.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6953, 12.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #475, 12.5.2010

  • The Ministry of Public Works and Transport Encourages Railroad Construction Companies to Repair the Damaged Railroad [the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr. Tram Iv Tek, recognized that some private companies repair the railroad with low quality or without proper technical standards, making it to become damaged again soon]
  • Diarrhea in Kratie Increases to 83 Cases [six cases are serious]
  • Within Two Months of 2010, There Were More Than 100,000 Cases of Pneumonia and Twenty Four People Died

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2246, 12.5.2010

  • Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh Denied the Information that He Enters Politics [recently, there had been rumors that he will return to lead FUNCINPEC]
  • Traffic Police Was Accused of Hitting a Man on His Head so that He Was Bleeding, as He Did Not Wear a Helmet [Siem Reap]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #652, 12.5.2010

  • The Dredging of Millions of Tonnes of Sand to Be Exported to Singapore Seriously Affects the Environment of Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6953, 12.5.2010

  • Local Pig Raiser Association Demands Expert Officials to Take Action on Pigs Imported from Vietnam

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3877, 12.5.2010

  • [Oknhas] Mong Riththy and Ly Yong Phat Confidentially Received Licenses to Export Sand, Resulting in the Loss of National Income [according to Global Witness] and This Is a Bad Model of Corruption Committed by People in Leadership in Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #169, 12.5.2010

  • The Khmer Prime Minister Will Visit Preah Vihear Today [to inaugurate a new school building and other achievements in this province – but he will not visit the temple area]
  • Sand War between Cambodia and Global Witness Continues, while Singapore Rejected the Report [saying that the sand dredging trade with Cambodia is operated without caring about the bad impacts on the society and the environment, as this has to be controlled by Cambodia]
  • Benigno Aquino Wins the Elections and Prepares to Become the New President of the Philippines

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5195, 12.5.2010

  • Officials of the Cambodian Government and Investors Reject a Report by Global Witness over the Dredging of Sand for Export Abroad
  • The Malaysian Prime Minister Is Grateful as the Investment in Cambodian Has Increased to US$1.8 Billion and He Promises to Encourage Investment in Rice Milling
  • France Plans to Provide Loans without Guarantee [by the Cambodian government] on Four Projects [for the rice milling associations to produce standard rice for export to Europe, for public lighting in Phnom Penh, for training for workers, and for the creation of a vocational training center on tourism and hotel services; but the amounts of the loans are not mentioned]

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

Back to top

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

To Intercept Forestry Crimes Is to Save Khmer Citizens from Dying in Thailand – Friday, 9.4.2010

Posted on 9 April 2010. Filed under: Week 659 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 659

“Phnom Penh: The campaign to intercept forestry crimes not only saves the forest in Cambodia from being destroyed, but it also saves the lives of Khmer citizens, as some had been killed by Siamese [Thai] soldiers along the border.

“General Chea Dara said so during a speech on 8 April 2010 at Phnom Penh City Hall.

“Mr. Chea Dara said that so far, there is no threat against the peace along the border like in previous times. “But as I had said earlier – the situation is good one day and bad another day, because the border situation is still irregular.”

“He added that the order of the head of the Royal Government for the troops to cooperate in fighting forestry crimes has been effectively carried out – the troops do not just defend the border. The interception of forestry crimes helps to prevent that more citizens will suffer from fatal shootings by Siamese soldiers who accused many citizens of entering Thai territory to cut trees illegally.

“Mr. Chea Dara recognized that some Khmer citizens had been attracted by the offers of big wood traders who hired them to cut trees. It was these wood traders who led Khmer workers to their death in order to fulfill the greed of these merchants making the workers to become victims.

“Mr. Chea Dara added that since the beginning of the campaign to crack down on forestry crimes nearly one month ago, all big wood traders along the border disappeared, and there are no more workers who cut trees across the border. Before, Khmer citizens from three provinces bordering Siam: Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, and Banteay Meanchey, had suffered a lot, as many had been arrested and shot dead by Siamese soldiers. Most of those who were fatally shot had been accused by Siam that they had entered to cut trees in their territory illegally. Some were arrested for crossing the border illegally, or for drug smuggling. But now, there are no more Khmer citizens who might be killed being shot by Siamese soldiers for forestry crimes.

“The head of the Oddar Meanchey police, Mr. Men Ly, told Kampuchea Thmey on 8 April 2010, that most Khmer citizens who had been killed came from his province, but now, this problem no longer exists.

“He added that the activities of big wood traders who used to do their trade actively both day and night, using workers to drag wood [out from Thailand] have now become quiet.

“Mr. Men Ly went on to say that to intercept these activities makes some citizens lose income from the wood traders who used to hire them, but this does not affect most citizens in Oddar Meanchey.

“He said they are not affected because all big wood traders who used to buy wood from them [which they had been sent to steal from Thailand] do not live in Oddar Meanchey, and the citizens whom they hired to cut wood are the same [they are not Oddar Meanchey residents].

“Previously, both wood traders and those who had been hired, had caused many troubles for the Oddar Meanchey authorities. The Oddar Meanchey residents thank Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen for this campaign.

“Mr. Men Ly added that there is nobody who enters Thailand to cut trees, and if somebody would cut trees, nobody buys them. Thus, whatever the reason, everything is finished.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2223, 9.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 9 April 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2223, 9.4.2010

  • To Intercept Forestry Crimes Is to Save Khmer Citizens from Dying in Thailand
  • More Than 6,000 Citizens Visited the Khmer Rouge Tribunal during the First Quarter [of 2010]
  • Japan Promised to Assist in Human Resource Development in Cambodia [according to the Japanese ambassador, Mr. Kuroki Masafumi – 黒木雅文]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Canceled His Participation in the ASEAN Summit in Vietnam [due to the turmoil in Thailand]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6930, 9.4.2010

  • Crude Oil in New York Rose to Almost US$87 [per barrel]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3854, 9.4.2010

  • [Fourteen] Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Asked the Constitutional Council to Order a Suspension of Putting Border Posts along the Cambodian-Vietnamese Border [as there are irregularities]
  • The 16th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi Focused on the Turmoil in Thailand and Criticized Burma [over its election restrictions]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.149, #1, 9.4.2010

  • The Number of Workers Migrating to Thailand and to Malaysia Increases [according to the Ministry of Labor, 701 workers left to work in Thailand and more than 3,000 workers to Malaysia in the first quarter; the total number of Cambodian workers in Malaysia reached 9,682 in 2009]
  • ASEAN Creates a Dispute Resolution Mechanism while Abhisit Vijjajiva Could Not Attend the Summit

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5172, 9.4.2010

  • A Truck Overturned and More Than 40 Cubic Meters of Ebony Fell on the Street, but the Head of the Forestry Department and Representatives of Other Authorities Did Not Dare to Touch It [an official who asked not to be named said that the wood belongs by an Oknha who has a license to transport it; the wood was to be transported from Pursat to Phnom Penh – Kompong Chhnang]
  • The Republic of Korea Announced to Continue to Support the National ICT Development Authority of Cambodia [NiDA]

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

Back to top

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

Chevron Said that the Extraction of Oil in Cambodia Depends on the Success of the Exploration – Thursday, 8.4.2010

Posted on 9 April 2010. Filed under: Week 659 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 659

“Phnom Penh: The head of the Cambodian government warned he might cancel the license of Chevron due to this company’s slowness in extracting oil, but the company said that the extraction project depends on the success of the exploration.

“The Prime Minister of the Cambodian government, Samdech Hun Sen, set a deadline for Chevron to produce oil in 2012, otherwise the license of this company will be revoked. This warning was made on 6 April 2010.

“Samdech Hun Sen warned that if this company cannot produce oil by the end of 2012, the contract will be canceled.

“Chevron is an oil exploring company that is licensed to explore the availability of oil in Block A [The green spot in the middle of the map under the previous link is Block A]. At present, this company is exploring oil in an area of about 4,709 square kilometers. In 2007, the company announced that it already made 15 test drillings. Besides exploring oil, the company is supplying fuel under the trademark Caltex, running 24 fuel stations countrywide.

Rasmei Kampuchea could not reach this company in Cambodia for comments, but according to the Associated Press which quoted a statement of this company on 7 April 2009, the goals of this company are in line with those of the Cambodian government: to see a quick start of oil production in Block A to satisfy economic demands. The company added that the start of oil production depends on the success of the exploration, and on some other key factors.

“So far, oil in Cambodia is being explored in six blocks offshore, ranging from Block A to Block F. Three companies are exploring oil in Block A: Chevron (USA – Cambodia operations) (55%), MOECO [Mitsui Oil Exploration – Japan ] (30%), and GS Caltex [Korean] (15%). Block B is being explored by four companies: PTTEP [Thailand] (30%), SPC [Singapore Petroleum Company – A Member of PetroChina] (30%), Resourceful Petroleum [Thailand] (30%), and Cooper Energy [Australia] (10%). Block C is being explored by Polytec and Block D by China Petrotech [China]. Block E is explored by three companies: Medco [Indonesia] (60%), Kuwait Energy (30%), and JHL [J H L Oil & Gas Ltd (USA)] (10%). Block F is controlled by CNOOC [CNOOC Limited, Hong Kong].

“Last year, the National Petroleum Authority of Cambodia predicted that Cambodia will be able to produce its own oil by 2011, while the oil resource of Cambodia are estimated to amount to as much as 2,000 million barrels.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5171, 8.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 8 April 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1435, 8-9.4.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen Travels to Attend the [16th] ASEAN Summit [in Hanoi] after Dealing with the Forestry Administration Heads

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2222, 8.4.2010

  • The Dangkao District Authorities Found a Wood Processing Workshop [run illegally] in the Piphup Thmey Block of Buildings in Dangkao district of Oknha Hong Piv [and discovered hundreds of cubic meters of luxury grade wood – Phnom Penh]
  • The Supreme Court Delayed the Hearing of Ms. Mu Sochua’s Case with Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen [who sued her for defaming him]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6929, 8.4.2010

  • End Child Prostitution, Abuse and Trafficking in Cambodia [ECPAT-Cambodia] Shows that Within Three Months of 2010, There Were 80 Cases of Rape [happening to 81 victims; there were 91 perpetrators where 75 of them were detained and 48 cases were sent to courts; 50 of the victims are under the age of 15 or 16]
  • Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Surrounded the Parliament and Parliamentarians Climbed Over the Wall to Flee [Bangkok]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3853, 8.4.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Plans to Visit North America after He Announced Success over the Removal of [temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese] Border Markers [Some reports say that representatives of the Cambodian government accepted his findings that some border markers were actually about 500 m inside Cambodian territory – this newspaper does not mention this]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #148, 8.4.2010

  • World Bank Forecasts that Cambodian GDP Will Grow by 4.4% This Year [2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5171, 8.4.2010

  • Chevron Said that the Extraction of Oil in Cambodia Depends on the Success of the Exploration
  • The Minister of Foreign Affairs [Mr. Hor Namhong]: When Thailand Sends Their Ambassador Back to Cambodia, then It Is the Time That Cambodia Sends Our Ambassador to Thailand
  • The Siem Reap Court Retried [military commander of Region 4] Chea Man’s Son [he was convicted to serve 5 years and 6 months in prison for robbing a telephone and one more year for illegal use of weapon [No reference in this article that his father and Prime Minister Hun Sen accused him of involvement in illegal logging.]

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

Back to top

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

“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.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Back to top

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

The Government Provides 950,000 Hectares of Concession Land to Companies – Friday, 2.4.2010

Posted on 3 April 2010. Filed under: Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“Phnom Penh: The Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction, Senior Minister Im Chhun Lim, announced that economic concession land of about 950,000 hectares countrywide has been provided to 85 companies.

“He said so during a parliament session in the morning of 1 April 2010 to respond to the questions and claims of an opposition party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, regarding the economic concession land that the government has provided to companies for investment.

“Senior Minister Im Chhun Lim said that the size of economic concession land that the government has provided to companies is not more than 2 million hectares, as had been claimed by Mr. Son Chhay. Recently, because some companies did not operate appropriately according to contracts, the government had decided to cancel the contracts of 41 companies, and the land involved was more than 300,000 hectares.

“This clarification was made after a parliamentarian from the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Son Chhay, had encouraged the government to immediately review the provision of concession land of more than 2 million hectares to check if they violate the land law.

“Mr. Son Chhay said in front of Senior Minister Im Chhun Lim during the parliament session that the powerful and the rich fence their concession land and keep it unused, but they cut the trees at those regions. Therefore, the government should force those companies to do farming soon, to create jobs for farmers who had lost their land, and to grow agro-industrial crops.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that if those companies do not grow anything, land taxes must be imposed on them in order to force these people who just keep their land to sell it later to foreigners [for profit] to do farming, or the land should be taken back from them to be distributed to our farmers among whom not less than 25% lost their land and have no land to do cultivation.

“The annual report from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] indicates that in 2009 there was no official report from the government showing the figures of land that the government had provided as economic concession land to private companies.

“But according to figures from partner organizations gathered by ADHOC, the government provided economic concession land of 1,208,185 hectares to private companies in 2009.

“The government can get income from the provision of economic concession land to private companies for national economic development through investment in agro-industry, and this helps to improve the living conditions of people who are employed for their labor.

“Nevertheless, ADHOC found that by 2009, no private companies that had received economic concession land operated justly, and they were involved in violent activities against citizens.

“Many negative impacts result from the licensing of economic concession land to private companies which heavily affect property, houses, cultivation land, and living conditions of the citizens at most of these economic concession areas countrywide.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5166, 2.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 2 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #450, 2.4.2010

  • Four Ebony Traders in Kompong Cham Were Arrested and Two Wood Storehouses in Meanchey District [Phnom Penh] Were Raided
  • International Telecommunication and Information Technology Exhibition Is Held at Koh Pich [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Amatak, Vol.11, #752, 2.4.2010

  • The Siem Reap Court Decided to Confiscate Mr. Son Chhay’s Land [about three hectares] and Deliver It to the Apsara Authority [Mr. Son Chhay said that he does not oppose the plan of the Apsara Authority to take the land for development, but he suggested that the government must give him a proper compensation – the offer is only US$0.50 per square meter]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2217, 2.4.2010

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #642, 2.4.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Official and Civil Society [the Union Federation, which consists of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association and the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Asked Car and Bus Owners Not to Increase Fares during the Khmer New Year

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6924, 2.4.2010

  • The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Grants US$2.5 Million to the Ministry of Rural Development for an Integration Project for Rural Development in Krouch Chhmar District [Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3848, 2.4.2010

  • The Cambodian Government Should Not Disregard the 91 Recommendations of the United Nations [Human Rights Council]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #144, 2.4.2010

  • The Government Provides Land [of 1,650 hectares] of the Ream National Park to a Company to Invest [to create an eco-tourism site – Sihanoukville]
  • China Said That It Should Not Be Blamed over Mekong River Problems [where the waterway becomes shallower because of Chinese hydro-electric dams – but there is a severe drought in South and Southwest China]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5166, 2.4.2010

  • The Government Provides 950,000 Hectares of Concession Land to Companies
  • [The Minister of Information] Mr. Khieu Kanharith: [Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An Is the Person Who Asked for an Amnesty for Mr. Hang Chakra [the editor-in-chief of the pro-opposition party newspaper Khmer Machas Srok; he will be released from prison before the Khmer New Year in April 2010]
  • The Siem Reap Authorities Intercepted Two More Sites Storing Luxury Wood and Found More Than 100 Cubic Meters of Wood [no information about any accusation or arrest of the owners of the illegal wood – the owners, one owns an hotel, the other a restaurant, are known]

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

Back to top

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

« Previous Entries

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