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]

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The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication Will Set up an Equal Phone Cost System at the End of This Month – Friday, 20.11.2009

Posted on 20 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue until next Monday, as I was attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and i am now traveling back to Cambodia. I try to be timely as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: According to the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, Mr. So Khun, who spoke to journalists in the morning of 19 November 2009 at the Phnom Penh Hotel, where he presided over a workshop about the joint use of mobile phone relay and transmission towers, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication of the Kingdom of Cambodia will set equal phone service costs at the end of this month.

“The minister said that so far, the post and telecommunication sector has advanced dramatically, and it is a pride of the ministry as well as of the Cambodian government under the wise leadership of the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen. However, together with this progress, the ministry noticed that mobile phone companies in Cambodia compete with each other over phone call costs. This is not yet considered as a conflict, but just as a sign of disagreements. Therefore, the ministry prepares to set a general cost system. The minister added that the cost that the ministry plans to set is not yet known, but the ministry is discussing to set a cost system that all mobile phone companies in Cambodia can accept.

“Regarding the workshop about the joint use of mobile phone relay and transmission towers, Mr. So Khun said that this is a good way to promote the telecommunications sector in Cambodia, because at present, this sector is being served by nine mobile phone companies and many ISP/VOIP systems. About 4,500 mobile phone towers have been set up both on the ground and on the roof of houses, in order to compete in attracting about 5.3 million clients, who need mobile phone towers so that they can use their mobile phones. ‘It is a great pride and we acknowledge that the telecommunications sector does grow, but meanwhile, we must think also about the environment, the stable health of citizens, and public order in the society and in the nation.’

“The general manager of the Tower Master Cambodia Co Ltd (TMCC), Mr. Ung Veasna said, the company had received concession rights to operate for 35 years to set up and to maintain mobile phone towers.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2103, 20.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 20 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #341, 20.11.2009

  • Cambodia Vows to Try to Find Solutions on Climate Change [by supporting publications and offering training to citizens about this problem]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2103, 20.11.2009

  • The Ministry of Post and Telecommunication Will Set up an Equal Phone Cost System at the End of This Month
  • The Government Issued an Instruction about Places where Smoking Is Banned [it is not allowed in buildings and offices of officials at different ministries, at municipalities, at district and commune offices, at meeting halls, at toilets, and in the entry and exit ways to official buildings]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #679, 20.11.2009

  • Development of Koh Kong [by Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra] to Become a Second Hong Kong Is Delayed for Two to Three Years until Cambodia and Siam [Thailand] Have Ended Their Diplomatic Disputes

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #534, 20.11.2009

  • A US Parliamentarian [Mr. Edward Roy] and the European Union Condemn the Suspension of the Immunity of Mr. Sam Rainsy, Following a Request from Yuon [Vietnam, over his participation to remove Cambodian-Vietnamese temporary border markers; they consider this as a restriction of the voice of the opposition party]
  • Nine [Thai] Persons Working with the [alleged] Siamese [Thai] Spy [at the Cambodia Air Traffic Service] Were Expelled from Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6810, 20.11.2009

  • A Bilateral Meeting of Cambodia and the Inter-Government Committee of the Russian Federation Decided to Continue the Discussion in Moscow in 2010 about the Debt That Cambodia Owes [the debts that Cambodia owed since the Soviet era. Cambodia asked Russia to cancel it. But now, both sides agreed to further discuss it, later on in 2010 in Moscow]
  • America Grants More Than US$10 Million to the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance (KHANA) [it is recognized by the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, based in Britain, as a local non-government organization that conforms to international standards in working on HIV/AIDS]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #50, 20.11.2009

  • Thaksin Shinawatra Has the Intention to Help the Alleged Spy [now detained at the Prey Sar prison], but He Waits until Cambodia Finishes [court] Procedures

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5052, 20.11.2009

  • More Than Three-Hour Fire Destroyed 229 Houses at Chrang Chamres 2 Commune [because of a gas explosion from a house; there were no deaths – Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh]
  • Thaksin Wants to Live in the Northeast Border Area of Thailand [according to his website]

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The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications Are Seeking Solutions in the Mobile Phone Business Conflict – Friday, 16.10.2009

Posted on 18 October 2009. Filed under: Week 634 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634

“Mobile phone businesses in Cambodia, working under unclear regulations, seem to encounter unexpectedly a stormy and disorderly time. For the morning of 16 October 2009, the Minister of Post and Telecommunications plans to organize a special meeting with representatives of mobile phone companies to intervene in the existing conflict, but it is expected that proper results cannot be found from just one coordination meeting.

“Mobile phone service providers said that the circular of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, administered by Minister Keat Chhon, from 29 September 2009, says to require all mobile phone companies to pay taxes for all types of calls by their clients [calls-in and calls-out]. But it is said that tax officials do not join now to work on taxes, which must always be settled at the end of every year.

“Mobile phone service providers note that the circular of Mr. Keat Chhon seems to bring a new restriction for mobile phone companies, as calls within the same system, which at some companies cost zero cents, will have to change soon. The free calls within the Beeline and the Smart Mobile systems will no longer be allowed to continue, while the Ministry of Economy starts to collect taxes from these call by their clients.

“It is noted that the initiative for a clear set of taxes on call led to this intervention, requiring all mobile phone companies to limit all call to be cost charged, in order to eliminate dishonest competition at the market, for which the Beeline company had been accused by the Mobitel company.

“The Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications agreed to issue a license for a data management center to control the data of telecommunication and of information technology services, based on Decree 135, dated 15 September 2008. Through the plan to create a center to control data of telecommunication and information technology services, the government, represented by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, will cooperate with the private data management center as stated in the cooperation deal.

“This center for the control of data of telecommunication and of information technology services will be responsible for:

  1. Directly control all data of telecommunication and information technology services, and update them, based on the advance of technology in this sector;
  2. Control and monitor all activities of the center;
  3. Regularly report about the traffic and the figures of income, in order to facilitate the calculation of taxes, and the distribution of income between the state. and the telecommunication and information technology service providers and operators, who are partners;
  4. Provide accurate data for income forecasts, to analyze the economic potential, and for development projects in telecommunication and information technology.
  5. Broaden and control the inter-network connections, in order to ensure calls between different system to work smoothly to avoid traffic congestion between all operating networks;
  6. Support small operators to operate through the opening of special networks outside of the system;
  7. Disconnect illegal traffic exchanges, following the authorities’ orders and the telecommunication regulations;
  8. Regularly review the system at set times for all operating networks.

“Some mobile phone operators are not satisfied with this, because probably the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication lacks the capital and the technicians, and therefore will cooperate with private companies to control telecommunication and information technology services, leading to conflicts of interest among mobile phone companies. Actually, the state already has the a structure within Post and Telecommunications that can control telecommunication data, and it is not necessary to cooperate with a private data management center, a private company.

“Also the circular that restricts certain system call of the clients, according to mobile phone service providers, will create work for the private data management center and encourage this company to begin collecting call taxes. This might ease the tax collection of the Ministry of Economy, but it leads to conflicts of interest, as the state does not have the ability to work on this by itself, but offers this opportunity to a private company to easily take benefits.

“[The Minister for Post and Telecommunications] Mr. So Khun had tried to intervene to solve the conflicts between mobile phone companies which are competing with each other dishonestly, including the fact that some stopped to connect inter-system traffic, but it seemed to create problems between mobile phone businesspeople in Cambodia. These might be the result of uncertain laws and regulations for the operation of mobile phone businesses in Cambodia.

“There is one proper solution to end the conflicts among mobile phone operators, that is the suggestion to the government, especially to Prime Ministry Hun Sen, to cancel the license for a data management cente with full rights to control the telecommunication and the information technology data in Cambodia, and to encourage the state to administer this itself, because by doing so, at least some of the profits do not fall into the hands of a private company.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #661, 16.10.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 16 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #312, 16.10.2009

  • Gold Sellers and Currency Exchangers Were Robed Again, Taking Away More Than US$50,000 [Phnom Penh]
  • Cotton Will Have Markets Again after There Is Investment for Export to International Markets
  • There Are Positive Signs of Recovering at Micro-Finance Institutions [Sthapana Limited, Amarith, and Prasak micro-credit-institutions claim that they are again giving out more loans]
  • Cambodia Asked for Financial Support from the United Arab Emirates to Develop Some Projects [in infrastructure and agriculture – no information stated if these were requests for loans or for grants]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2073, 16.10.2009

  • Cambodia Might Not Bring the Border Dispute to the ASEAN Summit [after the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs sent an official response, to deny the intention to create a neutral unit in ASEAN to solve border disputes, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia – according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong]
  • Three Chinese Men Were Arrested for Questioning after Assaulting and Injuring Two Police Seriously [Kampot]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #661, 16.10.2009

  • The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications Are Seeking Solutions in the Mobile Phone Business Conflict
  • Russia Will Intensify Cultural Ties with Cambodia to Open a New Historical Page [by showing Russian films about the victory of Russia in World War II, from 20 to 24 October 2009, at the Russian Center of Science and Culture along the Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh; and Cambodia and Russia will cooperate in film production in 2010]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #510, 16.10.2009

  • Within the Last Four Months More Than 400 Trucks Loaded Wood from Ratanakiri to Carry to Yuon [Vietnam – according to a Ratanakiri official who reported it anonymously]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6780, 16.10.2009

  • Houses [of 28 families] Constructed on a Pedestrian Area at the Roundabout of the Chroy Chongva Bridge Were Removed [and destroyed, to widen the road – Phnom Penh]
  • [The head of the Directorate of Cinema and Cultural Diffusion of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts] Mr. Sin Chanchhaya [son of the well-known signer Sin Sisamut]: The Reason Why Khmer Films Cannot Progress, Is that Film Productions Are Made by Non-Professional People
  • Because of Losing Riel 60,000 [approx. US$15], a Cruel Man Got Angry with His Wife and Hit Her to Death [he was arrested – Kratie]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5022, 16.10.2009

  • [Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian] Mu Sochua Decided to End the [defamation] Case against the Prime Minister [saying that she will not appeal to the Supreme Court]
  • Queensland Police [of Australia] Donates [five] Speed Checking Devices and [thirty] Alcohol Checking Devices to the Cambodian Police

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1809, 16-18.10.2009

  • The Opposition Parties and a Civil Society Organization [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] Said that if a New Demonstration Law [limiting the number of people to less than 200 to assemble at a public place with permission from the authorities, to be applied for at least 12 hours before] Is Not Corrected, It Would Be Just a Tool to Cheat about the Implementation of Democracy in Cambodia

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Different Challenges to Act? Different Conceptions of Communication? – Sunday, 29.3.2009

Posted on 30 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 605 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

Looking back at the end of a week to the past information carried, it is often difficult to understand easily what happened – or what not happened.

On Friday, we mirrored a report that in January 2009, there were 40 children under the age of six living with their parents in prisons. “The Prison Department of the Ministry of Interior is asking the Ministry of Economy and Finance to increase the monetary allowances for prisoners from Riel 1,500 [approx US$0.37] to Riel 2,800 [approx. US$0.69] per day, so that they can eat enough food.” And: “It should be remembered that children living with their parents in prison are not prisoners, and they must not receive any punishment…”

An increase from US$0.37 to US$0.69 per day is an increase of US$0.32 per day per person, that is $12.80 for all 40 children per day; that is $384 per month. For all 40 children for one whole year, this upgrade would cost $4,604.

Here are some other figures to which we referred during the week, as they had appeared in The Mirror:

  • US$200,000 were donated by the Japanese Government to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • US$18 Million had been loaned to the Government, but the World Bank might withdraw them
  • US$7.07 million were spent for the Senate in 2008
  • US$12.6 million are provided to Cambodia by the World Bank to expand international trade
  • US$100 Million is a loan from the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group to expand a mobile phone network
  • US$35 million on loan from Japan for the construction of clean water production

And US$4,604? Of course all these other moneys were not designated to feed 40 children under six in prison, and the paperwork on the way from the Prison Department of the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and then the search where, in the national budget to find US$4,604, also takes its time, while sorting out regulations.

But: “It should be remembered that children living with their parents in prison are not prisoners, and they must not receive any punishment…” Who is in charge? Who cares? Who could even care to get things moving, without being in charge?

= = =

But there were other problems to be faced, and not only by 40 children, but by the whole nation.

Not many publications have a prestigious history like The Economist from London. It began publishing in 1843 and has continued as a weekly magazine until the present. In 2007, it had a world wide circulation of more than 1.3 million.

In addition to its publications, The Economist has also a research arm, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and it is regularly organizing Economist Conferences around the world. Such a conference was held early this year also in Cambodia, on 16 February 2009 in Siem Reap, under the heading: Business Roundtable with the Government of Cambodia – On the verge of a breakthrough? [see The Mirror report in Rasmei Kampuchea of 13.2.2009] The Prime Minister was a keynote speaker at this conference. It was considered a special event that an Economist Conferences had been organized and was held in Cambodia. This had been announced:

Key issues to be discussed included:

  • In light of recent oil and gas discoveries in the Gulf of Thailand, what is the government doing to settle border claims with its neighbors?
  • With predictions that oil could start flowing by as early as 2011, how will the government manage Cambodia’s newfound wealth?
  • In evaluating the investment climate, are private equity firms being overly optimistic?
  • What new business opportunities are there for investment in Cambodia’s much needed infrastructure?
  • Given the recent boom in property development and construction, is greater regulation of the industry necessary and if so, what impact will this have on property investors?
  • How will Cambodia’s garment industry deal with greater competition from China and Vietnam? What is being done to boost efficiency in this important industry?
  • With a recession hitting the US, what is Cambodia doing to diversify its export markets?
  • How will the government offset growing inflation and an increase in commodity prices, particularly of oil?
  • Is Cambodia’s economy ready to move away from de facto “dollarization” to the Riel and what will this mean for business?

That this event was planned – as the many other Economist Conferences around the world – for high level business leaders, was obvious from the admission prices to participate in his one-day-only event:

US$ 990 Early Registration Fee (by 9 January 2009)
US$1,250 Standard Registration Fee
US$1,000 Corporate Network Members’ Fee

These high level conferences are prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which is described on their own Internet website with the following ambitious words:

The Economist Intelligence Unit is the world’s foremost provider of country, industry, and management analysis. Founded in 1946 when a director of intelligence was appointed to serve The Economist, the Economist Intelligence Unit is now a leading research and advisory firm with more than 40 offices worldwide. For over 60 years, the Economist Intelligence Unit has delivered vital business intelligence to influential decision-makers around the world. Our extensive international reach and unfettered independence make us the most trusted and valuable resource for international companies, financial institutions, universities, and government agencies.

The appreciation for the fact that Cambodia had been the site of an Economist Conference turned into hostility, after – on 19 March 2009, the Economist Intelligence Unit published a 34 pages document: Manning the barricades – Who’s at risk as deepening economic distress foments social unrest?

In this document, the basic methodology of compiling the document is laid open, for three possibilities, asking If things feel bad now, how much worse could they get? – and it describes the third and worst possibility with the following words:

Failing confidence in the Dollar leads to its collapse, and the search for alternative safe-havens proves fruitless.
Economic upheaval sharply raises the risk of social unrest and violent protest. A Political Instability Index covering 165 countries, developed for this report, highlights the countries particularly vulnerable to political instability as a result of economic distress…

The political implications of the economic downturn, informed by the results of the Social and Political Unrest Index, are discussed at length in the second half of the report.

The full report, in both PDF and HTML format, is available online at http://www.eiu.com/special.

Putting a lot of detailed data from many countries through these procedures, which contain among others also terms developed by the Political Instability Task Force at the George Mason University in the USA, which elaborate also about further terms which we quote here:

Economic distress appears to be almost a necessary condition for serious instability, but it is not a sufficient one. There are many instances of declines in GDP per head that have not been followed by political instability. It is only when economic distress is accompanied by other, underlying or structural features of vulnerability that there is a high vulnerability to or risk of serious outbreaks of political and social unrest.

Defining political unrest

We define social and political unrest or upheaval as those events or developments that pose a serious extra-parliamentary or extra-institutional threat to governments or the existing political order. The events will almost invariably be accompanied by some violence as well as public disorder. These need not necessarily be successful in the sense that they end up toppling a government or regime. Even unsuccessful episodes result in turmoil and serious disruption. The assessment of what constitutes a “serious threat” still requires judgment and can be arbitrary, but this is a step forward from having no definition at all.

Political Instability Index

The overall index on a scale of 0 (no vulnerability) to 10 (highest vulnerability) has two component indexes—an index of underlying vulnerability and an economic distress index. The overall index is a simple average of the two component indexes. There are 15 indicators in all—12 for the underlying and 3 for the economic distress index.

As a result, a table is automatically calculated from the hundreds of data collected. We quote only the beginning of the resulting Political Instability Index of Rank, Country, and Score:













1

Zimbabwe8.8
2Chad8.5
3Congo Kinshasa8.2
4Cambodia8.0
4Sudan8.0
6Iraq7.9
7Cote d’Ivoire7.8
7Haiti7.8
7Pakistan7.8
7Zambia7.8
7Afghanistan7.8

Naturally, this ranking for Cambodia on Position 4 (from 165, with some countries sharing the same ranking number) was received with surprise, and even rejection. Considering the final results, it was quickly dismissed as a report supposedly produced with a hidden agenda against Cambodia. – More surprising is how the Cambodian embassy in England reacted against the Economist Intelligence Unit’s report, which misunderstands the report as made up of arbitrary statements targeting Cambodia – and therefore asking the Economist Intelligence Unit to “issue a retraction.” This is misunderstanding is obvious from the following excerpts of the letter of the Cambodian ambassador to the Economist Intelligence Unit:

Dear Sir,

On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I am writing to express my deep concern and disappointment with your latest report, “Manning the Barricades” in which you highlight Cambodia as one of the countries most at risk of suffering serious social unrest as a consequence of the on-going global financial crisis.

Your scaremongering allegations are highly dangerous as they could be construed as actively inciting unrest. They also happen to be a gross distortion and misrepresentation of Cambodia’s true position and there can be no justification for these claims.

May I suggest that it is insulting for you to claim that Cambodia is more politically unstable than the war-torn nations of Iraq and Afghanistan…

You also appear to have rather arrogantly dismissed any serious evidence which contradicts your own claims; not least that provided by the Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, who only in February 2009 addressed a Business Round Table event co-hosted by your own organisation.

You may recall that the Prime Minister used that occasion to record that Cambodia had just enjoyed a decade of blistering growth, more than doubling its per capita GDP between 1998 and 2007. He attributed this great success to political stability, forging deeper integration with the global trade and investment communities; and improved macro-economic management.

You also seem to have ignored Cambodia’s sizable oil and gas deposits, its wealth of natural resources as well as its growing reputation as a “must visit” tourist destination and as a center of enterprise and investment….”

It is extremely unfortunate that the result of an analysis of hundreds and hundreds of international data, which fully agree with the assessment of Cambodia’s economic growth during the last years, is not seen for what it says: that countries which had a high growth rate based on factors now being eroded by the international economic crisis, are facing a more serious danger of disrupting instability than countries which have been anyway politically instable, and economically at a low level. The Economist Intelligence Unit is not questioning past achievements – but it is sounding a warning that these achievements are now facing a most serious challenge, and therefore the new situation merits utmost attention.

This week’s reflection is much longer than usual.

It was written with the hope to improve communication between Cambodian and international voices, which is often mis-communication: while facts are presented with an invitation to rationally discuss them, they are emotionally dismissed. This is not useful, and ways have to be found to communicate better.

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Civil Society Recognizes that There Are Many Trade Unions of Workers, but They Are Weak – Friday, 13.3.2009

Posted on 16 March 2009. Filed under: Week 603 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 603

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

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: According to a report of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], there are at present more than 1,000 trade unions of workers, including factory trade unions, tourism industry trade unions, construction workers trade unions, and informal economic sector trade unions. However, even though there are many trade unions, their freedom is still limited, they face discrimination from union to union, like threats and restrictions of their freedom of expression.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, said, ‘There are surely many trade unions, but many of them do not have members at garment factories. Nevertheless, the Cambodian Federation of Trade Unions with the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers as a member has done a lot of work to demand different, improved working conditions for garment workers, especially also demands for salaries.’

“Mr. Rong Chhun added ‘If all trade unions unite into one, demands by workers of trade unions will be stronger. As for now, there are two kinds of unions, among them only a small number of trade unions work for garment workers, while a large number of trade unions are created just to have names, but there are no members from the factories in those trade unions.’

“A high ranking official of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, Mr. Cheat Khemara, said that most disputes in factories happen, because demands of some trade unions are against the labor law, like the rate of major salary changes of garment workers, or disputes erupt when factory owners could not solve problems since the demands are against the law. If garment workers till trust those who provoke them without checking the labor law, both garment workers and owners, their employers, will lose benefits and the production of the garment industry, known to be a major force that made it possible for the Cambodian economy to grow so far, drops also.

“Mr. Khemara went on to say, ‘Activities which are against the law, do not strengthen law enforcement, and are burdened with individual interests that are against the development of the national economy.’

“The president of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights [LICADHO], Ms. Pong Chhiv Kek [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru], said, ‘At present, there are many trade unions of workers, but they do not have much substance.’ She explained that trade unions are not strong, because most of them are not independent, and they are under political influence.

“It should be noted that trade unions are weak because they do not yet have developed mutual solidarity, and sometimes, there is infiltration and fractionalism imported from outside. Also, all demands by trade unions seem not to be strongly focused by factory owners and by the government. As for the freedom of expression as well as to march and to demonstrate on a large scale, these activities are barred.”Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #138, 13.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 13 March 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #138, 13.3.2009

  • Civil Society Recognizes that There Are Many Trade Unions of Workers, but They Are Weak
  • [Former commander-in-chief] Ke Kim Yan Becomes [the tenth] Deputy Prime Minister, and [deputy national military police commander] Chhin Chanpor Becomes Deputy Commander of the Army [after the National Assembly provided a vote of confidence]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay: An Advisor to [President of National Assembly and Honorary President of the Cambodian People’s Party] Samdech Heng Samrin Used a Weapon to Warn US Embassy Officials [the Phnom Penh police chief, Mr. Touch Naruth, said that this person is identified, he works in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this case was already been reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, because the US Embassy lodged already a complaint]
  • The South Korean President [Mr. Lee Myung-Bak] Plans to Visit Cambodia in 2009
  • Pyongyang Will Launch a Satellite on 8 April 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1896, 13.3.2009

  • An Additional Punishment of 16 Years Imprisonment Was Added to Heng Pov, so that His Imprisonment Is Increased to 74 Years and 6 Months; His [five] Accomplices Received Additional 15 Years Imprisonment Each [for conspiracy to murder the commander of the National Military Police, Mr. Sao Sokha – based on an anonymous death threat letter]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #363, 13.3.2009

  • Documentary Movie about the Acid Attack on Ms. Tat Marina [known to have had an affair with a high ranking official] Was Shown in Geneva
  • [The big soccer betting company] CamboSix Demands US$12 Million from the Hole-in-Basket Government for Contract Violation [because their contract, valid until 2011, was canceled]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3710, 13.3.2009

  • Income from Garment Industry Declined by US$180 Million Compared to [January] 2008

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4844, 13.3.2009

  • The National Assembly Provided a Vote of Confidence for Ten New Members of the Royal Government [with 86 votes in favor among 87, and the opposition parties absent]
  • The National Election Committee Affirms Again that Only Four Parties Will Participate in the [District and Provincial/City] Council Elections [the Cambodian People’s Party, Funcinpec, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, and the Sam Rainsy Party]
  • There Are About 10 Mobile Phone Companies and More Than 4 Million Mobile Phones [according the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.16, #1671, 13-14.3.2009

  • Opposition Parties Boycott the Meeting of the National Assembly to Conduct a Vote of Confidence to Assign New Members of the Government

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