If There Are No National Standards for Food Safety, the Export of Goods Will Be Impossible – Monday, 26.7.2010

Posted on 27 July 2010. Filed under: Week 675 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

“Officials of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy said that technical obstacles against the export of products from Cambodia are a very serious problem. ‘We do not have proper national standards, and we have not any in line with ASEAN. As a member of the World Trade Organization, we need to eliminate such commercial obstacles.’

“The head of the Department of Industrial Standards at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, Mr. Ping Siv Lay, said during a meeting of a technical committee on food and processed food, supported by the Asian Development Bank, held for two days on 22 and 23 July 2010 at the Hotel Cambodiana, that food safety is a sensitive topic, on focus in recent years, and it is a priority for the Royal Government of Cambodia to improve the safety of food and bewerages. Food in Cambodia is a high level problem in the region. Food manufacturers must promote the implementation of measures of general and of personal sanitation. But which standards do they have to take up? Are they recognized as internationally defined standardized in the country or not? At present, there is no answer, when food manufacturers produce food with can carry high hazards: such as chicken, sausages, milk, drinks, etc.

“Mr. Ping Siv Lay added that for private companies to have exports going on with food security, there need to be national standards for the export of products to international markets. The Asian Development Bank office in Cambodia vowed not only to support the development of standards, but also to help to promote food safety testing in the country, which will also facilitates commerce.

“This official went on to say, ‘We have created standards for ten types of products to ensure commerce in the country. But there are yet no quality standards for international markets.’

“According to an official of the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, such technical obstacles make it impossible that a larger portion of agricultural products can be exported, even though our trading partners do not charge taxes. As Cambodia does not have standards, no special products have been exported to China. The other side in trade relations demands us to adhere to standards for our products, comparable to their standards, so that export can be carried out.

“During the meeting, many questions were discussed in order to create a draft about food standards to catch up with other countries.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5259, 25-26.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 26 July 2010

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7017, 26.7.2010

  • [About 500] Workers Marched to Demand an Increase of Their Salaries in Front of the National Assembly – They Do Not Accept the Increase Offered by the Labor Council [they demand a minimum salary of US$75 per month, while at present, they are offered US$61]
  • Officials of Seven Embassies [of Australia, Britain, Cuba, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam] Visited the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3941, 26.7.2010

  • [The vice-president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm Appealed to the US Administration to Intervene, so that Mr. Sam Rainsy Can Return to Cambodia [who has been convicted for the uprooting of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers]
  • The Women’s Movement for Democracy Has Collected Riel 10 Million [approx. US$2,370] to Be Paid as Compensation to [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Instead of [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua [as she lost a defamation case against him; but the collected money needs first to be accepted by Ms. Mu Sochua.]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #12-13, 24-25.7.2010

  • Cambodia Supports (together with ASEAN countries) a Statement [of the UN Security Council] That Condemns North Korea [for sinking a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 navy soldiers]
  • The United Nations Continues to Seek Contributions to Fund the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [additional US$10 million are needed for 2010, and US$39 million for 2011]
  • North Korea Declared to Use Nuclear Threats to Respond to US Military Exercise [with South Korea]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #222, 26.7.2010

  • For the Crimes at the S-21 Center [known as the Tuol Sleng Prison, where more than 15,000 persons were sent to their death]: Will Kaing Kek Eav Get 40 Years Imprisonment or a Release? [the sentence of the former head of the Tuol Sleng Prison will be announced on 26 July 2010]
  • Two Companies [of Cambodia,: Seledamex and Rattana Corporation] Will Receive Land Concession of Nearly 20,000 Hectare for Rubber Plantation in Preah Vihear [with the consent of the Prime Minister, for 99 years]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5259, 25-26.7.2010

  • If There Are No National Standards for Food Safety, the Export of Goods Will Be Impossible
  • The Cambodian-Thai General Border Committee Promised to Guarantee Security along the Border [officials of both sides of the border committee met on 15 and 16 July 2010 in Bangkok]
  • A Government Ambulance Car Hit People, Resulting in Two Deaths and Three Injured [the driver escaped – Takeo]

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China Continues to Refuse to Become a Member of the Mekong River Commission – Tuesday, 6.4.2010

Posted on 7 April 2010. Filed under: Week 659 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 659

“Phnom Penh: China continues to refuse to become a member of the Mekong River Commission, but said that it will continue good cooperation with the Commission.

“The Minister of Meteorology and Water Resources, Mr. Lim Kean Hor, said so in the afternoon of 5 April 2010 at the Phnom Penh International Airport, after accompanying Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen to attend the first Mekong River Commission summit from 4 to 5 April 2010 in Thailand.

“Mr. Lim Kean Hor said, ‘All member countries of the Mekong River Commission try their utmost to encourage China and Myanmar to become members of the Commission. We have been doing this work for many years. But recently, the Undersecretary of State of Foreign Affairs of China announced that China will keep on cooperating with the Mekong River Commission to exchange information when the water gates are opened or closed during the rainy and the dry seasons etc…’

“Previously, there had been criticism about the bad impact of the construction of hydro-electric dams at the upper regions of the Mekong River in China, making the level of the downstream water shallower.

“Mr. Lim Kean Hor added that the level of the water becomes shallower because of climate change. Recently, there have been droughts at the upstream countries, like in China, Laos, and Thailand. The level of rain dropped and thus, the level of the water of the river dropped also. Therefore, the construction of the hydro-electric dams must not be considered as the root problem. He went on to say that for the construction of each dam, there had been very careful studies. Independent assessors were selected to assess the environmental impact of the construction of hydro-electric dams in the upper regions.

“Also, Mr. Lim Kean Hor talked about the participation in the International Mekong River Commission summit held in Hua Hin in Thailand, saying that the prime ministers of four member countries, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the Vice Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar and of China were present at the meeting. It was the first summit since the Commission was created 15 years ago. The summit focused on how to sustainably develop the Mekong River Basin in the four countries.

“Mr. Lim Kean Hor went on to say that during the summit, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen met with the Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and China supports and encourages cooperation with Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5169, 6.4.2010

Note – Additional Information

The Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin states:

To promote, support, cooperate and coordinate in the development of the full potential of sustainable benefits to all riparian States and the prevention of wasteful use of Mekong River Basin waters, with emphasis and preference on joint and/or basin-wide development projects and basin programs through the formulation of a basin development plan, that would be used to identify, categorize and prioritize the projects and programs to seek assistance for and to implement at the basin level.

This declaration of principles is supported by practical requirements, by which all Member States committed themselves not to act independently, but in mutual consultation; the Dialogue Partners China and Myanmar did not make these commitments. The result is that the Member States can only administer together, what comes flowing down the Mekong River – after the upstream countries have decided themselves how much water may be used for hydro-electricity or for agricultural irrigation – that is not under a similar commitment for rules based cooperation.

Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement

Notification: Timely providing information by a riparian to the Joint Committee on its proposed use of water according to the format, content and procedures set forth in the Rules for Water Utilization and Inter-Basin Diversions.

Prior consultation: Timely notification plus additional data and information to the Joint Committee as provided in the Rules for Water Utilization and Inter-Basin Diversion, that would allow the other member riparians to discuss and evaluate the impact of the proposed use upon their uses of water and any other affects, which is the basis for arriving at an agreement. Prior consultation is neither a right to veto the use nor unilateral right to use water by any riparian without taking into account other riparians’ rights.

Proposed use: Any proposal for a definite use of the waters of the Mekong River system by any riparian, excluding domestic and minor uses of water not having a significant impact on mainstream flows.

In addition to the data and information required for Notification, the notifying State shall timely provide the Mekong River Commission Joint Committee with available and additional technical data and information on its proposed use of waters for an evaluation of impacts by the other riparian States.

The Malaysian News Agency Bernama reported

Climate Change To Blame For Mekong Droughts: Cambodian PM

PHNOM PENH, 6 April 2010 (Bernama) – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Tuesday that blames on China over droughts of the Mekong River is baseless and the global climate change is to blame instead.

Hun Sen, who attended last week’s Mekong Summit in Hua Hin of Thailand along with other leaders and scientists, said: “They (some countries) are blaming China while China itself is being victimized by droughts.

“.. China’s Lancang River has no water, either,” the Xinhua news agency cited Hun Sen as saying here. “The upper part of China’s Yunnan province is also facing severe droughts, worse than Cambodia,” he said. “The level of water in the Mekong River totally depends on rain and the level of water fluctuates with the climate change,” said Hun Sen.

“I am not defending China, but I am saying this only to provide justice for China,” Hun Sen said, adding that he had a separate talk with China and Laos on the sidelines of the Mekong Summit in Thailand.

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #453, 6.4.2010

  • A Wood Storehouse of the Canadia Bank in the Cultural Village [of Siem Reap] Was Raided, and Hundreds of Cubic Meters of Wood Were Found
  • The King Will Visit Japan in May 2010 [to strengthen bilateral ties]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2220, 6.4.2010

  • A Short Armed Clash Broke Out on the Trop Mountain, but No Soldiers Were Wounded [Cambodian military official said that Thai soldiers began shooting at Cambodia trenches first]
  • Battambang Forestry Chief Arbitrarily Locked up Two Newspaper Agents [of Kampuchea Thmey and Koh Santepheap as they tried to question him about a car loaded with charcoal that was blocked to extort money]
  • Brigadier General Tep Phirum Was Accused of Unintentionally Causing Injury [to an English woman by his gunfire – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6927, 6.4.2010

  • The National Assembly Adopted the Draft Law about Co-Ownership of Buildings by Foreigners
  • Regarding Forestry Officials Trading [918 pieces of] Ebony, a Court Decided to Detain Mr. Ouk Kimsan, while Mr. Vann Sophanna Was Not Detained [Koh Kong]
  • More Than 26 Tonnes of Fish Died of Poison, a Second Time Case in 2010, and the Fish Breeders Blame an Ethanol Company [Kandal]

Meatophum, Vol.54, #766, 5-10.4.2010

  • A Countrywide Census to Find Ghost Names of Civil Servants Will Start on 6 April 2010

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3851, 6.4.2010

  • Surprisingly [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Prohibits [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra from Entering Cambodia while Red-Shirt Groups [his supporters] Are Demonstrating in Bangkok

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #146, 6.4.2010

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Praised [Cambodian Prime Minister] Hun Sen after the Surprising Position Taken on [Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra [Prime Minister Hun Sen said that he will not allow Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra to use Cambodia as a political basis against the Thai government]
  • Eleven Citizens Who Were Arrested for Blocking National Road 2 Were Released [they continue to protest over a land dispute with a company – Kandal]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5169, 6.4.2010

  • The Leaders of the Member Countries of the Mekong River Commission Recognized Climate Change Problems as Priority
  • China Continues to Refuse to Become a Member of the Mekong River Commission
  • A Remorque Moto Turned over and Killed Two Men, where One of Them Held Four Yama [Ecstasy] Tablets in His Palm [Phnom Penh]

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The Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Declaration – Sunday, 7.2.2010

Posted on 8 February 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

The Mirror carried already last week a report about the extraordinary speech of the Prime Minister: “It Is Time to Stop; Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces” – where he directly named several generals present, criticizing their unacceptable, corrupt behavior. During the present week, there were still positive responses in the press, including from sources not so close to the government. Human Rights Watch, a US based organization, often very critical of the political climate in Cambodia, also supported the Prime Minister’s warning to commanders over their corrupt, illegal actions. And the Prime Minister himself continued to speak according to the same line, when he attacked nepotism, warning that nobody should nominate relatives and partisans for public office.

But we got also another response: “Words are cheap, nothing will change.”

And another, also anonymous voice, calls it to be my idea – while I actually quoted Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – that the Cambodian people are the masters of their country, because they can vote, saying, “Having rights is not enough. You’ve got to have the power to exercise those rights, so that they can be useful. That can also explain why the civil society has always failed in demanding for respect for human rights.”

These are pessimistic views, assuming and expecting that rights can be enjoyed automatically, while history shows in many different cultures that rights have to be fought for, even if they are written in the law, when other powers violate them.

The Prime Minister has spoken clearly.

According to a report in the Phnom Penh Post of 4 February 2010, “Farmers set to call soldiers to Kampot court,” saying

“A group of people in Chumkiri, Kampot, filed a complaint in the provincial court against members of an army unit they say are encroaching on their land and cutting down their fruit trees, escalating a standoff that began in 2001… The court complaint comes less than one week after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned top military officials to refrain from participating in illegal land-grabbing operations.

‘It is time to stop every activity involving illegal business or the support of illegal business. I don’t care how many stars or moons you have – I will fire you, and nobody will keep corrupt commanders in their seats,’ the Prime Minister had said at the end of a conference on military reform at the Ministry of Defense last week.”

So we will see.

But did civil society always fail in demanding respect for human rights? It is not clear on which basis this is said, and which understanding or misunderstanding of the term ‘civil society’ is used when saying so. First, there is no general, clear definition of this term. But it refers to all movements, associations, or individual citizens, independent from the state, whose aim is to improve policies, standards, or social structures, through common efforts. Civil society – that are organizations formed for these purposes – civil society organizations, non-government organizations, citizens action groups – but civil society is also all individual citizens in a social unit – be it a residential region, or a common interest group (for example enjoying sports or music, and caring together to see that the proper space is set aside for these purposes). Civil society is citizens who organize themselves to care for the quality of life where they live.

Civil society is also the majority of the citizens of Phnom Penh, who, in their majority, do not care that the Boeung Kak lake in this city is being destroyed, being filled up with sand for the benefit of some business interests to construct a commercial and housing center – though the plans have not even been made transparent and publicly know, leaving all the struggle for rights to the several thousand people who are directly affected, because they lose their traditional environment and with it also their means of living.

On 31 August 2008 The Mirror had reported the following: “Later in January 2008, Areyathor reported that Samdech Heng Samrin, the President of the National Assembly – and also a Honorary President of the Cambodian People’s Party – had signed a letter for the suspension of pumping of soil to fill Boeng Kak lake, and the paper reported also that the Phnom Penh governor and vice-governor allegedly disagree with each other about filling Boeng Kak lake.” We are not aware that the press has done any follow up on these reports. But the public is aware that the lake is gradually disappearing, that many residents had tried to organize themselves to jointly represent their concerns and demands, and that some of the remaining residents around the lake are at present living on top of rising dirty water, as the promised pumping for stagnant dirty water – as a result of the filing in of sand – was installed too late and is not strong enough.

Recently I had the opportunity to be in Myanmar, and to have dinner one evening at the Kan Taw Gyi lakeside – a wide park where hundreds of people enjoy walking around or sitting together, with a music stage, very many small restaurants, and a wonderful view. Phnom Penh is destroying such a possibility for its future.

The lake before being filled

The lake before being filled

The lake being filled

The lake being filled



.

At the Kan Taw Gyi Lake in Yangon/Myanmar.

At the Kan Taw Gyi Lake in Yangon/Myanmar.



.

Does civil society – the people in general in Phnom Penh – care? Or why not?

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Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia – Sunday, 15.11.2009

Posted on 18 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

Several mails I had received during the week requested what this week’s editorial should be about. Agreed. The visit of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra to Cambodia has more than any other recent event received wide international attention – at the same time it resulted in bringing a range of different and opposing issues to the surface, beyond the straightforward political tensions.

The disparities start with the wording, how the visitor is called in national and international media: the possibilities extend from the fond description of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as an “eternal friend” by Prime Minister Hun Sen, to the more neutral description when referring to the “former Thai prime minister ousted by a military coup,” to the references – and this not only in part of the Thai press – to the “convicted fugitive, because of corruption, and who finally violated the bail requirements and fled the country to avoid going to prison.”

This is the first controversy.

The Cambodian government did not only refuse to live up to the Cambodian-Thai extradition agreement, “considering the prosecution and legal process against Thaksin Shinawatra as a politically motivated proceeding,” and therefore even handed back the Thai documents submitted to seek Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s extradition. On the other hand, the Thai government and part of the Thai media felt that already that extending an invitation and offering the function to be an adviser to the Cambodian government were an insult to the legal system of Thailand.

As a public reaction in Thailand, the popularity of the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, almost tripled, with appruval rates of 24% in September to 69% recently, according to a poll.

The interpretation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, that the present Cambodian-Thai dispute is basically a personal dispute between the two prime ministers, was not shared in the international press. More fundamental problems were touched upon: What does it mean for the international standing of a country when a search warrant by Interpol can be dismissed, after the fugitive, who is being sought under a “red alert” warrant, after a bail violation, and after a criminal conviction for corruption in dealing with the sale of valuable public property to a family member, up to the grotesque $60,000 event of the mysteriously mistaken box of chocolate.

How would such events be dealt with under a Cambodian anti-corruption law, due to be adopted by the National Assembly since a decade ago? If actions of corruption are committed in combination with political ones, are they then no longer subject to criminal prosecution?

There were several rumors and denials – that Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra would fly together with the Cambodian Prime Minister to the APEC meetings in Singapore.

Surprising also, that the Cambodian Prime Minister compared him to Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. In an interview with Times Online, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra said: “There are some similarities there, but not really everything. The similarity is we won elections, we rule the countries. We’ve been ousted by the coup d’etat and we come from the people. We are democratically elected leaders and we come from the majority of the people – a big majority, not just a small majority. She’s under house arrest, I’ve been kicked out of the country.”

The Cambodian government has never found such strong critical words against the ruling military in Myanmar. Will the Cambodian government also accept such advice and change its position? The statement “I’ve been kicked out of the country” contrasts with the fact that the self imposed exile abroad started with breaking bail arrangements with the Thai law enforcement authorities, traveling abroad without the promised return.

But the invitation to Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser may lead to a second kind of controversies.

Press reports in Cambodia were not enthusiastic about his speech in front of 300 selected economists. The Cambodian Daily said that his address “primarily dealt in generalities and contained little that Cambodian economists will not already know.” Not only that: Some of his advice runs contrary to some of the traditional approaches of Cambodian economic practice.

Thakshin Sinawatra became the favorite politician among a majority of the rural population in Thailand because of his new policy of favoring them directly, with debt relief and village loan funds administered by the local communities themselves. The revenue of the public and the private sector should, first of all, be directed towards the poorest sector of society, is his advice. Large scale land leasings to big companies in favorable relation with the government, leading to considerable groups of the rural population losing their land, coming to demonstrate in Phnom Penh, asking for justice, as happens so frequently in Cambodia, are not compatible which the vision of Thaksin Shinawatra’s economic policies.

Surprising is also his emphasis on the need of reconciliation and good neighborliness between Cambodia and Thailand, in order to foster Cambodia’s economic development, including the promotion of Thailand and Cambodia together for international tourism, presenting themselves as a “joint destination.” This runs against many recent antagonistic trends: the Thai government had proposed to submit Preah Vihear together with the Cambodian government to the World Heritage Committee, which was flatly rejected by the Cambodian side. During the last year there were even plans discussed in Cambodia to create an international airport 500 meters below the mountain range where Preah Vihear is situated, which is conveniently accessible from the north, from Thailand. This plan, to exclude the natural access to Preah Vihear – and therefore tourism via Thailand, was soon given up again as economically completely unreal. The public outcry some years ago, when Bangkok Airways had named one of its airplanes Angkor Wat – while other planes are named according to other international destinations, promoting tourism to these places – has no place in this context. The Cambodian Daily reported his emphasis on the need for cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia, as the two countries’ economic fortunes are inextricably linked – adding: “Of course, not all my compatriots see it that way right now.” Those who see it differently in Thailand are assumed to suffer from being shortsighted, driven by false patriotism.

One may ask whether the anti-Thai actions of 2003, when the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was ransacked because of a baseless rumor, resulting in further arson so that the hardware damage alone of that night was estimated at US$56 million, and the tensions before and after the designation of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, would also fall under a similar verdict by Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, that a false patriotism is in the way also in some of the Cambodian attitudes and actions.

It is surprising to consider how future suggestions of the new economic adviser of the Cambodian government will be handled, while land conflicts in rural areas continue, further large scale leasings of land are under consideration inviting countries from the Middle East to start agro-business ventures, and Japanese companies are considering to create new large tree planting schemes in Cambodia.

Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s suggestions may not only be unwelcome in his own country. They run counter to major trends of present day Cambodian big business.

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Meeting between Samdech Hun Sen and Mr. Abhisit in Hua Hin – Monday, 2.3.2009

Posted on 3 March 2009. Filed under: Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 602

“On Friday evening, 27 February 2009, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, and the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, met outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN – Summit at the Cha Am coast of Hua Hin in Thailand, and both sides agreed to fully support the Joint Border Committee to try to mark the border.

The Nation reported that the Cambodian-Thai border committee has achieved only very small progress early February to find border solutions near the Preah Vihear Temple. Both sides had a disagreement about the demand by Thailand to use the word Phra Viharn [in Thai] and the word Preah Vihear [in Khmer].

“Mr. Abhisit told journalists after his meeting with Samdech Hun Sen, ‘Actually, there are some disagreements, but we have a mechanism to handle this work which will lead to important results.’ He added, ‘We will not let such disagreements block other cooperation.’

“Besides land border disputes, the prime ministers of both countries discussed cooperation at the sea-border overlapping zones, where both countries claim the same areas as belonging to their respective integral regions, where it is believed that abundant oil and natural gas resources are situated. Mr. Abhisit said also that both countries will seek joint development projects on energy at those overlapping zones.

“Reuters news agency reported that both countries agreed to organize a technical expert group to fulfill the task to mark the border at zones rich of oil and gas. Mr. Abhisit told reporters, ‘Our mutual understanding recently progressed much, and we are looking for possibilities to begin cooperation on energy. ‘

“Cambodia has a 37,000 km2 zone to be explored, and another 27,000 km2 are regions disputed with Thailand, known as an overlapping zone.

“Prime Minister Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen used to say early in February that the Cambodian government is organizing projects to exploit oil and gas in the sea in 2010. A big US oil company, Chevron, is exploring oil in the Cambodian sea.

“It should be noted that border disputes between Cambodian and Thailand led to clashes in mid 2008, when Thailand deployed troops in the Preah Vihear region, after the Preah Vihear Temple was listed as a world heritage site. This dispute led to a small battle at the Preah Vihear region, while in October, both sides agreed to raise this problem at negotiations.

“During the meeting between both prime ministers, both countries agreed to continue cooperation to develop infrastructure and the Emerald Triangle Project, which is a region where the Cambodian, Thai, and Laotian borders meet.


The ASEAN Summit Started

“Leaders of the 10 member countries of ASEAN attended the opening of the 14th ASEAN Summit at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday in Cha Am, a coastal town in Phetchaburi Province.

“The Bangkok Post reported that the inauguration of the ASEAN summit started, with Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva as the president of ASEAN, calling for all ASEAN leaders to cooperate to help the region to overcome the economic crisis.

“An ASEAN anthem with the title ‘ASEAN Way’ was played, starting the occasion. That anthem was written by Thai musicians.


Cambodia and Burma Boycott ASEAN Human Rights Discussion

“Cambodia and Burma threatened to boycott joining the discussion with civil society organizations yesterday Sunday, a discussion to create an ASEAN human rights institution.

“The Bangkok Post went on to say that the effort to establish an ASEAN human rights organization started to become difficult on Saturday morning, when Cambodia and Burma prevented civil society organizations’ representatives from Cambodia and from Burma to take part in the discussions with ASEAN leaders.

“The decisions of Cambodia and of Burma were directed against civil society representatives from Cambodia, Pen Somony, and from Burma, Khin Omar, not to attend the discussion.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen not only rejected civil society representative Pen Somony, but he also said that the candidate chosen to attend the human rights discussion was just a person from a political league.

“Laos and Vietnam expressed the same idea as Cambodia and Burma, because leaders of both countries did not want to discuss with civil society representatives that are not close to the government.

“On Friday, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and senior human rights officials of ASEAN did not agree about the nomination of an ASEAN human rights commissioner. It is not yet known whether the ASEAN human rights organization can be formed or not.


ASEAN Signs Free Trade Deal with Australia an New Zealand

“All ministers of economy of ASEAN signed a free trade deal with Australia and New Zealand. The 10 members of the ASEAN countries signed the deal on the first day of the summit in Thailand, which suffers from the economic slowdown.

“It is expected that this whole deal can support the economy of ASEAN with up to US$48 billion by 2020, but little will be achieved to help solve the present crisis. Negotiations to create a 12-country free trade zone began in 2004.

“The new deal means that the ASEAN block has encouraged free trade relations with the economies of all of its important neighboring countries. Earlier on, ASEAN had signed similar deals with China, Japan, and South Korea.

“Also, ASEAN plans to organize a unified market by 2015, with the intention to compete with India and China.

“The Minister of Trade of Australia, Mr. Simon Crean, said that this deal is an essential event to join the economies of the countries of the region. The New Zealand Minister of Trade, Mr. Tim Grosser, said that it was a huge deal and also a politically necessary deal.

“Mr. Grosser went on to say, ‘Formerly we had considered Southeast Asia to be a source of threat, instability, and a hazard. Changing this view, an agreement was signed, considering Southeast Asian countries as a huge economic opportunity. This is a very welcome change within 30 years.’

“The summit in Cha Am, a resort in Thailand, witnessed two agreements of ASEAN being concluded: one on commerce, and one on investments. The member countries of ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“The 14th ASEAN Summit was to focus on human rights, but the global financial crisis took the top of the agenda this year.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1886, 1-2.3.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 2 March 2009

Bakong, Vol.10, #255, 2-3.3.2009

  • Cambodia Obtains Little Aid from Canada [Canadian officials said that Canada will narrow its bilateral aid focusing on 20 countries and Cambodia will not be included]

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #28, 2.3.2009

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Demands that the National Assembly Restore His Immunity [after he paid a fine to the National Election Committee]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #128, 1-2.3.2009

  • [Former Khmer Rouge leader] Ieng Thirith Cursed Those Who Accused Her of Killing People to Fall into the Seventh Level Hell
  • Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior Asks Prison Administrators to Respect Human Rights Policies of Prisoners
  • Police Do Not Take Action Against a Policeman Who Raped a 13-Year-Old Girl when Her Mother Filed a Complaint [Kompong Thom]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1886, 1-2.3.2009

  • Meeting between Samdech Hun Sen and Mr. Abhisit in Hua Hin
  • Egypt Asks to Establish School of Navigation in Cambodia and a Honorary Consulate [so that Cambodians gain skills and have the possibility to go to work in Egypt]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #355, 1-3.3.2009

  • The International Community Still Encourages the Hun Sen Government Not to Use Any Pretext to Delay Adopting an Anti-Corruption Law

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6591, 2.3.2009

  • Thailand Announced Not to Charge Visa Fees from Tourists while Eight ASEAN Countries Had Already Abolished It

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4834, 2.3.2009

  • Heads of Governments of Cambodia and of Thailand Agree to Solve Border Disputes through the Memorandum of Understanding from 2000
  • The British Ambassador [Mr. Andrew Mace]: The Government Has to Create a Social Safety Network [so that all can live happily in the society]
  • Five AK-47 Rifles Are Used [by eight robbers] to Shoot at Gold Sellers and Kill One [police have not identified the robbers – Koh Thom, Kandal]
  • The Number of Khmer Vendors in the Thai Rung Kloeu Market Declined by 50% [after Poipet or the Ou Chrov district was changed to be Poipet City: according to Thai Rak Thai]

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Cambodian News Seen from Abroad – Sunday, 1.3.2009

Posted on 2 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 601 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 601

This week’s reflection is written in Mexico at a meeting of ICANN. The fact that I had started the first Internet service in Cambodia in 1994 and created the country name for Internet addresses .kh led, after many steps in between, to my appointment to the Nominating Committee of the international Internet coordination – “ICANN” for short, for a somewhat technical name “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” – where we are now tasked to find, recruit, and appointing new members of the Board of Directors for ICANN, and for several other positions of leadership in ICANN. On the way to Mexico I had a chance to meet persons of Internet leadership in an Asia Pacific Internet conference of several hundred people in the Philippines.

Attending such conferences exposes me always to questions about Cambodia by people from different countries, who ask for comments and explanations about what they see on TV and hear on the radio, read in newspapers, or follow up further on the Internet. Those who ask have some level of information, based on their active interest. And they ask, because they want to understand better what they know.

This is often difficult – I cannot answer on behalf of any other person or institution. But I think it is still important that the public opinion in a country is aware of the public opinion outside of the country, that is why I share this experience.

This time, attending Internet related conferences, the question of recent restrictions of Internet access was of course addressed. It has been known that some countries, for political or other reasons, are restricting the free flow of information on the Internet. But as the censorship of the Internet is considered to be in contradiction, or maybe even in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which many countries including Cambodia have subscribed, such events are being observed internationally.

Paragraph 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The following different cases are known:

  • The site http://reahu.net of a Cambodian artist cannot be accessed from Cambodia.
  • The site of the human rights organization LICADHO http://www.licadho.org is no longer accessible, since it published a report about the violent evictions in the Dey Krahom area of Phnom Penh.
  • The site of Global Witness http://www.globalwitness.org was not accessible for about two days after they had published a documentation about Cambodia under the title A Country for Sale. That the Cambodian Embassy in London called this documentation, the result of detailed research by the internationally respected organization Global Witness a Collection of Rubbish without taking up specific items in the documentation is considered as an evasive response to very specific problems documented.

While I could share information about the context of these three cases, I was not able to refer to texts of Cambodian law, which state the reasons for the interruptions of Internet access – obviously in three quite different cases. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says in Article 31:

The Kingdom of Cambodia shall recognize and respect human rights as stipulated in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the covenants and conventions related to human rights, women’s and children’s rights.

Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law, enjoying the same rights, freedom and fulfilling the same obligations regardless of race, color, sex, language, religious belief, political tendency, birth origin, social status, wealth or other status. The exercise of personal rights and freedom by any individual shall not adversely affect the rights and freedom of others. The exercise of such rights and freedom shall be in accordance with the law.

Apart from these questions related to the field of communications, I was made aware how much the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia – the Khmer Rouge Trials – get international attention. This is a kind of next step beyond the usual connection of the name of the country Cambodia with Killing Fields and genocide. Reports about corruption and kickback allegations at the court, and the related inconclusive discussions, because United Nations investigative reports have not been published, have been in the media in many countries. And it is observed that the legal arrangements had required many years of negotiations, leading to results for the court set up which are very different from other international courts which deal with past events in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, or the former Yugoslavia.

Finally, I was at a loss to find an answer when faced with the question why Cambodia joined with the military dictatorship in Burma – which had taken power years ago, rejecting the legitimately elected representatives of the people – when the Cambodian Prime Minister threatened to disassociate himself from the majority of ASEAN leaders, by not accepting the civil society participation from Cambodia in the ASEAN discussion on how to create an ASEAN human rights body. I did not want to accept the interpretation and opinion that this seems to be the beginning of a new period of Cambodian international self-isolation.

But when I share these encounters, I do so in the hope that there will be more awareness of how Cambodia is seen from abroad – from the international community of nations. During the years after the UNTAC administration 1992/93, it had been a major goal of the Cambodian governments to regain a place in the fellowship of the countries in the region – especially in ASEAN – and to regain the seat in the United Nations, becoming again a normal member of the counties of the world, after the decades of internal conflicts and external interventions.

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The Use of Agricultural Chemical Pesticides Is Still Popular despite Knowing that They Are Dangerous – Friday, 13.2.2009

Posted on 14 February 2009. Filed under: Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror

“Phnom Penh: Even though there are reminders from officials of the Ministry of Agriculture to be careful when using agricultural chemical pesticides, at present, many farmers at different places said that they still cannot give it up. Farmers in Kandal said that the use of agricultural chemical pesticides is still a crucial method that cannot be given up so that their crops provide good yields to meet the markets and their needs. In the meantime, experts found that there are up to 147 types of agricultural chemical pesticides sold on markets, and among them between 40 and 50 types strongly harm the health of consumers.

“Mr. Nob (name provided by the writer), 48, a farmer in a commune of Kandal S’ang district, said that so far, he still uses agricultural chemical pesticides, although he knows that they can affect his health and that of the consumers, because there is no choice.

“Kandal borders on Phnom Penh, and it is a province which supplies agricultural products, such as vegetables and fruits to the markets in Phnom Penh and in other provinces. Some districts along the lower Mekong and Basak rivers are also sources of vegetables.

“Mr. Nob is a farmer growing many kinds of crops, such as cabbage, salad, and [edible] Khatna flowers in his village, in order to supply them to the markets in Phnom Penh. The method he uses to take care of his crops until they provide yields is to use agricultural chemical pesticides that he can buy easily from different places in his locality.

“He said, ‘I must use them so that my crops grow well, and if I do not use them, worms will eat all the crops.’ According to his description, he and his villagers have so far not seen any official experts in agriculture coming to instruct them and to explain the impact of the use of agricultural chemical pesticides, and to start to produce natural poison or natural fertilizer, although nowadays, the Minister of Agriculture and some organizations are encouraging citizens to cut down on the use of agricultural poison or chemical fertilizers, saying one can change to natural fertilizer and natural methods of pest control.

“Responding to this problem, the Svay Prateal commune chief in S’ang, Kandal, Mr. Nuon Soeun, said that agricultural officials did never come to explain the impact of the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer, but previously, there were organizations coming to help educate farmers some time, but the farmers seemed not interested in it. He added that natural pesticides are likely more difficult to produce and more tiring than to use chemical pesticides.

“He went on to say, ‘I also used to produce poison to prevent insects from destroying some types of crops, it takes half a month at least to find the resources and to mix them. As for chemical pesticides, I just go to the market to buy them, mix them with water, and apply it on crops; that’s all.’

“According to his experience, to produce natural poison to prevent insects, farmers need to find many different resources such as the bark of the Sdao tree, the poisonous fruit of the Sleng tree, and the poisonous bark of the Kantuot tree, and soak them in water that is then used to apply to the crops. He said that doing so is complicated and can make farmers get tired of it. According to information from him, among more than 3,000 families, most of them take up cropping, and up to 90% of them use agricultural chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizer.

“At present, the Ministry of Agriculture, especially the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Chan Sarun, who always goes directly to different localities countrywide, appeals to farmers to change their habits from using agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer to using natural poison and natural fertilizer. The change, that the Ministry of Agriculture wants, is to ensure the health of the farmers themselves and also of the consumers; that is to care for the quality of soil and water – without any poison. Many hazards might happen because farmers use chemical pesticides without proper instruction from experts. Also, the ministry encourages its officials to go to educate farmers at their localities about these problems.

“The S’ang district governor, Mr. Khim Chankiri, and the director of the Kandal Agricultural Department, Mr. Bun Tuon Simona, denied what residents had mentioned: that expert officials never reach out to them to instruct them about the impact of chemical pesticides, and they said that these problems are what they actually are focusing on.

“Mr. Chankiri added that before, district officials went to instruct them about these problems, and moreover, the department had sent officials. He continued to say, ‘Most of them thought it was wasting their time, instead of working on cropping, but they did take part. This is why they said that there was never any official going to educate them regularly.’ As for Mr. Tuon Simona, he said that so far, the agricultural department went to educate them regularly about how to create natural fertilizer and many different measures to protect crops and prevent impacts of the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer.

“However, according to another farmer in another province and some other people, they said the same about the presence of agricultural officials. They said that they rarely saw agricultural officials going to meet farmers, except when there were ceremonies to accompany their higher officials. Actually, relating to this problem, obviously there should be more active outreach by experts than before, rather than pointing to the statements of higher officials. They often assume that lower officials are inactive for different reasons, or they create just project expenses about non existing tasks. Therefore, farmers cannot receive what the Minister wants.

“Regarding this problem, the director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture [CEDAC], Dr. Yang Saing Koma, said that generally, the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer has become already a habit of the farmers. Thus, to change them, takes time and needs participation.

“He added, ‘If the use of chemical products has already become their habit, it is most difficult to change.’

“By now, there are hundreds of types of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer on the local markets – according to a study by the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture .

“The project coordinator of CEDAC, Mr. Keam Makarady said that in 2008, the center found there were up to 147 types of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer at the markets all over Cambodia, among which 53% were imported from Vietnam and 37% from Thailand. Among them, from 40 to 50 types can enter into vegetables and fruit, when pesticides are administered on them.

“He emphasized, ‘Talking about chemical substances, we found 147 types, but talking about commercial names of pesticides, there are up to 606 types.’

“According to the findings of the center in 2007, there were only 132 agricultural chemical pesticides on the market, and 472 commercial names. Therefore, within one year, all his increased greatly.

“He said that that those kinds of pesticides are harmful to the health of users, particularly farmers, who use and touch them directly.

“Based on Mr. Makarady words, those pesticides can directly affect farmers, for example they cause getting dizzy and having to vomit, they can damage the stomach and the bladder, cause skin diseases, and weaken the health. They indirectly affect also consumers who eat their products, especially chemical pesticides that can enter into vegetables and fruit.

“Relating to the use of agricultural chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizer, a farmer in Kandal, who grows banana, said (by not mentioning his name), that – in order to meet their demands – farmers use those chemical pesticides. He added that if they grow and their products depend only on the nature, farmers cannot harvest enough to meet the demands of the market.

“He emphasized, ‘After a banana tree loses its flowers, it takes three months for bananas to ripe. But if chemicals are applied, they can make it ripe within two months. Just apply chemicals one or two times, and small bananas grow really big, and they look as if they had been pumped up like a balloon.”Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4820, 13.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 13 February 2009

Cheat Khmer. Vol.1, #17, 13-15.2.2009

  • The International Monetary Fund – IMF – Warns about Serious Effects on the Cambodian Economy [if the government does not have proper measures to prevent the effects of the global economic slowdown]
  • The United Nations and the Ministry of Interior Join to Fight Torture

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1872, 13.2.2009

  • [The president of the Cambodian People’s Party and president of the Senate] Samdech Chea Sim Still Supports [the vice-president of the Cambodian People’s Party and prime minister] Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [he said that the Cambodian People’s Party is still strong and has no internal splits, and that he still supports Mr. Hun Sen to be the prime ministerial candidate of the party]
  • More Than 40 Families Protest in Front of the Municipality with Accusations that Their Land Is Violated [Oddar Meanchey]

Khmer Aphivaot Sethakech, Vol. 7, #341, 13.2.2009

  • The Opposition Parties Asks Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Explain the Global Witness Report and to Arrest the Perpetrators to Be Convicted

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #343, 13.2.2009

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Orders the Council of Ministers, Administered by Sok An, to Take Action against [the former commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces recently removed] Ke Kim Yan according to the System of Laws [seizing all his machineries, and recalling all soldiers defending his land, to return to their barracks]
  • The Organization World Education Reminds [Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport] Im Sethy to Reinstate Mr. Sun Thun at His Previous Place [Mr. Sun Thun was removed from a high-school to teach at a lower-secondary school, accused of defaming government leaders during his teaching]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #202, 13.2.2009

  • Plan to Collect Taxes in 2009 Might Yield Up to US$500 Million [no figures for 2008 provided for comparison]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #63, .2.2009

  • Minister of Information [Khieu Kanharith] Asks the Region Marketing Director of the Voice of America [Mr. Neal Lavon] to Help Officials of the National Television [by sending them to receive training in the United States of America]
  • The Ministry of Interior Does Not Allow to Hold an Extraordinary Congress of the Norodom Ranariddh Party on 15 February 2009 [because the acting president of the Norodom Ranariddh Party did not legally give the right to Mr. Em Sitha, with his signature, indicating that he is the representative of the party]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3686, 13.2.2009

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Authorities Still Ban Khmers to Build a Pagoda Fence Near the Border in Kompong Cham’s Memut District [even though it is not in Vietnamese territory; the district governor, Mr. Chek Sa On, the person who signed the permission for the construction is also the person who came to prohibit it, said that it is a problem on the national level]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4820, 13.2.2009

  • The Use of Agricultural Chemical Pesticides Is Still Popular despite Knowing that They Are Dangerous
  • In Ten More Years the Cambodian Economy May Have a Stronger Competitive Position [according to a leading institution in organizing conferences]
  • Note (from the announcement):

    Economist Conferences

    Siem Reap, 16 February 2009

    Fees: US$990 Earlybird fee (register by 9 January 2009) – US$1,250 Standard fee

    Business Roundtable with the government of Cambodia – On the verge of a breakthrough?

    “His Excellency Prime Minister Hun Sen has confirmed his support and will deliver the opening keynote address at the event.

    …Cambodia’s prospects as both a tourist destination and a center for enterprise and investment – on paper at least – appear bright.

    …Cambodia will continue to struggle to reassure the international community that the political system itself is sound and fair… How the new government responds to stabilize the economy, and address pressing issues such as poverty and public-sector corruption, will have a significant bearing on the country’s attractiveness to foreign direct investment.

    Key issues to be discussed include:

    • 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?”
  • The UN World Food Program Will Grant US$25 Million for Project Implementations in Cambodia
  • The Economic Policy Committee Asks the Government Four Points in order to Reduce Taxes to Help the Garment Sector [the four measures are: 1. Reducing burdens of taxes, and other expenses. 2. Improving commerce, especially garment export. 3.Commercial financing, and 4. Improving professional relations and responsibility by all sides in the frame of law]
  • Leaders of Different Religions from 16 Countries Meet in Cambodia [they are from Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, England, India, Italy, Japan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, Uganda, United State of America, and Vietnam]
  • The Financial Crisis Makes Cambodia to Loose US$676 Million, and 44,600 Workers to Loose Employment

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3484, 13.2.2009

  • Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva Prohibits Rohingya Refugees to Enter Siam [Thailand]

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The German Government Announces to Suspend Aid for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Wednesday, 4.2.2009

Posted on 5 February 2009. Filed under: Week 598 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 598

“A delegation from Germany announced on Monday, 2 February 2009, that the government of Germany suspends all its aid for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal until corruption allegations at the international tribunal are solved, and the Berlin government encourages the fourth-term government of power holder Prime Minister Hun Sen, established by a combined vote, to provide a role also to oppositions parties in Cambodia, following democratic principles.

“Mr. Wolfgang Thierse, the vice-president of the German parliament, visiting Cambodia, said on Monday that the government of Germany halts funding for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal as long as the corruption allegations at this tribunal are not solved. Wolfgang Thierse said, ‘We will continue supporting the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, provided corruption allegations are cleared up, but all funding to be provided is now suspended.’

“On Monday morning, the delegation from Germany met with parliamentarians of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party [CPP], its partner Funcinpec, and the Norodom Ranariddh Party which is facing an internal fractional split. As for the alliance of the Democratic Movement for Change, comprising the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, they refused to join the meeting with the three parties mentioned above at the National Assembly, claiming that the oppositions parties do not hold positions in the nine commissions of the fourth-term National Assembly. However, on Monday evening, the opposition parties met with the delegation from Germany at a place outside of the National Assembly; to meet outside like this was regarded by the vice-president of the parliament of Germany as ‘correct,’ because the ruling party controls all positions of chairing all commissions of the National Assembly.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kampot, Ms. Mu Sochua, said that the National Assembly is not a proper meeting place for the Sam Rainsy Party with Mr. Wolfgang Thierse. She went on to say, ‘We are not part of the commissions of the National Assembly. Therefore, we will not attend this meeting.’

“The Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, which form an alliance, announced that the CPP had invited also the opposition parties to attend the meeting at the National Assembly, but the opposition parties held a meeting with the delegation from Germany separately from the ruling party, which controls both the government and the National Assembly, which is in contrast to democratic principles, and the CPP wants to eliminate the voice of the opposition parties, both in the government and in the National Assembly. Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘There is nothing to discuss. The government and the opposition parties should have separate meetings.’

“Mr. Wolfgang Thierse raised, during his meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, the importance of opposition parties in democracy, especially the role of opposition parties in the National Assembly, referring to an example in the parliament of Germany, where opposition parties control important commissions of the parliament, and all political parties having seats in the parliament have to cooperate in this legislative institution.

“The delegation from Germany will stay in Cambodia five days, and yesterday, Tuesday, the delegation from Germany boarded an airplane to Siem Reap, to meet members of the German Angkor Conservation Project, who are doing restoration work at the Angkor Wat temples.

“According to information from a group joining the visit of the delegation from Germany to Cambodia, this visit is also a response to concerns raised by the opposition parties, demanding that the European Parliament of the European Union intervenes, related to the control of all commissions of the National Assembly by the ruling CPP of Prime Minister Hun Sen, without involving the main opposition party which has 26 seats in the National Assembly.

“During a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, Mr. Wolfgang Thierse encouraged strongman Hun Sen to clearly accept the opposition party’s role, both in the National Assembly and in the government, following democratic policies, if Hun Sen really accepts the free multi-party politics according to the Paris Peace Agreements of 1991. He emphasized that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party controls the government and the National Assembly, which makes democracy in Cambodia moving backwards, as it shuts up the voice of opposition parties [in parliamentary activities] in Cambodia.

“Regarding corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Wolfgang Thierse clearly specified that the government of Germany has to stop all aid to this hybrid tribunal, suffering allegations of serious corruption. Because officials and judges of this tribunal are said to have paid kickbacks every month to three officials of the administration: to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An, to the director of the Office of Administration of the tribunal Sean Visoth, and to the tribunal’s personnel section director Keo Thyvuth, for letting them work at this international tribunal.

“Mr. Wolfgang encouraged also to conduct a clear investigation about the complaint of [former Khmer Rouge leader] Nuon Chea’s defense lawyers, filed at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, requesting this civil court to take action by investigating allegations of a corruption scandal, rumored since a long time at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. If an investigation is not conducted properly, and the corruption allegation at this tribunal is not solved, the government of Germany will stop providing aid to this tribunal forever.

“According to information from the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, the director of administration of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Sean Visoth, accused of having received kickbacks from tribunal officials, has not shown up for work for nearly one month, since international lawyers defending Nuon Chea lodged a complaint against him and against two other persons at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on 9 January 2009. The Municipal Court is investigating this lawsuit, but the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, notorious for corruption, probably cannot discover corruption in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“Legal observers in Cambodia said that they have little trust in the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to probe and bring officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, involved in corruption, for prosecution according to the law, because some officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal are also working at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, such as Yet Chakriya, who is the deputy co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, and he is also the newly nominated chief prosecutor of the Municipal Court. Therefore, Yet Chakriya cannot do anything against orders of higher officials, because he is afraid of being removed from his positions either at the Municipal Court or at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.” Moneaksekar or Khmer, Vol.16, #3678, 4.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Kampuchea Thngai Nis, Vol.3, #398, 4-12.2.2009

  • The Club of Cambodian Journalists Becomes a Place to Create Spokespersons [a first five-weeks training is provided to 18 officials from state institutions and non-government organizations]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1864, 4.2.2009

  • [Phnom Penh Municipal] Court Summons Mr. Sam Rainsy for the Second Time [over a complaint lodged against him by the National Assembly, as he has not paid Riel 10 million [approx. US$2,500] for a defamation charge about a speech during his election campaign in 2008]
  • Lawyers and [PJ] Prison Officials Deny that Two [Thai] Jemaah Islamiya Convicts Are Released and Sent to Thailand [Phnom Penh]
  • The Philippines Government Has the Intention to Accept Cambodian Rice to Be Sold in the Philippines
  • 26 Million Migrant Workers [among 130 million] in China’s Countryside Are Unemployed [according to an announcement of the Chinese government]
  • [Democratically elected political leader] Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi Told the UN Envoy that She Was Disappointed [that the United Nations that cannot persuade the junta leaders of Myanmar holding strict position to end their dictatorship]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #334, 4.2.2009

  • The King Goes to Beijing [to meet his parents and to have a medical checkup]
  • There Is No Ministry Responsible for the Stagnation of Agricultural Products of Khmer Farmers

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #196, 4.2.2009

  • The National Election Committee Announces to Political Parties to Prepare to Participate in the New [district and provincial-city] Councils Elections [which will be held on 17 May 2009 – the registration of political parties will be held from 26 February to 2 March 2009]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6569, 4.2.2009

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sent a Diplomatic Note to the Embassies, related to Foreigners Marrying Cambodians
    [informing them that foreigners applying for marriage registrations are not obliged to become member of any organization in order to get marriage rights with Cambodian citizens, and they should also be instructed not to use any marriage broker agencies, as this is against the laws of Cambodia]
  • A Man Raped His Step Daughter since She Was Eleven Years Old Until She Is Now Sixteen – When His Wife Found It out [he was arrested, Kompong Cham]
  • Iran Launches Its First [self-made] Satellite

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3678, 4.2.2009

  • The German Government Announces to Suspend Aid for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Khmer and Siamese [Thai] Ministers of Defense Will Meet to Discuss the Border Disputes on 6 February 2009

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4812, 4.2.2009

  • Human Rights Report: Land Disputes Are some of the Most Serious Human Rights Violations in 2008
  • Note:

    Some more details are here on the Internet in Ka-set:

    Concern is the order of the day, ADHOC president Thun Saray indicates. In 2008, Human rights defenders, “providing advice to victims of land and resource seizures on seeking redress with the courts or authorities, or the release from detention of their community representatives” have been the particular target of threats and accusations of incitement to protest. “Such accusations from government officials were designed to intimidate workers and activists”, from providing legal advice and assistance to victims in land disputes with private companies and powerful people, ADHOC denounces in its report. In 2008, according to the Human rights NGO, at least 164 Human rights defenders were subjected to such threats in 63 separate cases.

    And:

    Similar tone of speech at the headquarters of the LICADHO, another Cambodian organization for the defense of Human rights. Its president, Kek Galabru, observes with the same concern the increase in the number of threats towards activists, whether they be attached to NGOs or not. “We have already pointed this out in several reports. I will give you a recent example: one of our employees was hit at Dey Krahom as he was only explaining their rights to residents! Our staff also received unsigned mail containing the drawing of a skull and crossbones… Saying that we are the ones behind the demonstrations is only an excuse used by the government to avoid solving problems. We never acted like that!”, LICADHO president says.

  • Siam [Thailand] Changes Its Intention, to Send Only Seven of Eighteen Smuggled Artifacts Back to Cambodia
  • Fifteen Cambodian Officials [independent experts and civil society officials] Will Have a [one-week] Study Tour to Europe [provided by the Delegation of the European Commission in Cambodia, to share and to encourage knowledge among trainees about measures of the European Union for solving some key problems, such as legal and court reforms, good governance, human rights, and promotion of democracy]
  • [Ousted former prime minister] Thaksin Told Puea Thai Party that He Will Return to Be Prime Minister One Day

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A Report Shows that Cambodian Youth Still Encounter Difficulties to Find Jobs – Saturday, 24.1.2009

Posted on 25 January 2009. Filed under: Week 596 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 596

“Phnom Penh: A new report shows that Cambodian youth encounter many difficulties when seeking jobs, and also employers find it difficult to recruit qualified youth with skills. On 22 January 2009, the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Center – CJCC – and an employer association, the Cambodian Federation of Employers & Business Associations – CAMFEBA – which is recognized by the Royal Government of Cambodia and by many international organizations, representing employers in the Kingdom of Cambodia, especially on work problems – organized a national workshop for youth on the topic ‘Youth and Employment,’ to publish an important survey report about youth employment in Cambodia, in cooperation with the Ministry of Labor and Vocation Training.

“This workshop was presided over by a secretary of state of the Ministry of Labor and Vocation Training, Mr. Pich Sophoan; around 400 students from different universities and youth associations participated in the event.

“The report was based on a survey which had been sponsored by the UN International Labor Organization – ILO. It represents a first crucial step to promote understanding and social dialogue about some of the most important issues for the future of Cambodia: that is the mismatch between supplies and requirements on the labor market.

“CAMFEBA had hired BDLink to conduct a large survey of youth and employers, about their difficulties and expectations regarding skills and youth employment. This survey is part of a project for youth and social dialogue of the employer federation CAMFEBA which is still in progress. This project was initiated by CAMFEBA and the Employment Sector Office of ILO in Geneva, under a project of the Social Dialogue Sector, funded by the Norwegian government. Starting its implementation from June 2007, this project aims to create proper employment and promote youth opportunities to seek income by matching the supply and the requirements of skills on the labor market, and to create relations between relevant agencies to present development policies for youth. More importantly, this project is focused on the creation and coordination of social dialogue among trade unions, the Royal Government, and employers, by dealing with difficulties and concerns, in which these three fields have similar interests, and for which they have to find solutions.

“The survey was conducted with around 2,200 youth and 220 employers from five provinces and cities, such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kompong Cham, and Svay Rieng. They were asked about their views regarding some problems such as access to education, to training for quality in education, and about work requirements, experiences in job seeking, and about the kinds of skills demanded on the labor market.

“Youth is facing difficult decisions about important problems in their lives, such as family responsibilities, studies, choosing a job, study tours, and employment opportunities. One important point among many key points found during the survey is that youth encountered difficulties in making decisions, because they did not have sufficient access to the right information.

“For instance, when they had to decide what they would do when they finished high school, more than two thirds of the students just depended on their parents. Information provided by schools or by teachers or self collected information about the labor market were not influential factors for their decision making. Likewise, only 33% of the students at universities and at other educational institutions made their decision which skills to study on their perception about demands for those skills on the labor market.

“This discovery shows how important it is that agencies of the government, educational institutions, employers associations, trade unions, and different non-government organizations work out measures to provide useful information about the different fields of study, and to give guidance for selecting their future work.

“What makes the survey different is that it looked at work problems from the point of view of the employers. High-ranking officials operating for the development of the different sectors of the economy must survey these opinions about skills needed among the Khmer youth.

“Talking about educational requirements, about 96% of the employers demanded youth with broad education when they need staff, and 72% demanded even bachelor or master degrees. These requirements were in high demand by non-government institutions, in business, and in various careers, but they were hardly demanded for work in hotels and in factories.

“In the area of business, many employers expressed their concerns about the lack of skills needed on the labor market. Employers need workers with skills who have the ability to do productive work, in order to be encouraged to improve their commitment to move ahead, but such skills were always missing. Only 13% of the employers believed that the graduates had enough, or almost all qualifications needed for their work.

“As shown below, more than half of the employers said that it was true that they seek expert staff with decision making skills based on correct analyses. The results of this survey show clearly in which ways the students need to be educated in schools and up to universities in Cambodia.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6560, 24-25.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 24 January 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1855, 24.1.2009

  • The Thai Minister of Foreign Affair [Mr. Kasit Piromya] Invited Khmer Embassy Officials in Bangkok to Have Lunch Together before Visiting Cambodia [to discuss the solution of border disputes]
  • There Were 51 Crimes, Killing 63 People in Phnom Penh in 2008 [1,012 perpetrators were prosecuted]
  • Workers of the Yongwa Factories Still Protest, but There Is No Violence [Kandal]
  • Traffic Police Have Hope Again, after the Municipality Keeps on Providing Money for Their Encouragement, like Previously [each Phnom Penh traffic police official receives Riel 10,000 per month, corresponding to approx. US$2.50]
  • The 22-Day War in Gaza Killed 1,330 Arab People and Injured 5,450 [while Israel lost 3 civilians and 10 soldiers]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #330, 24-29.1.2009

  • Government Officials Deny the Allegations of the International Organization Human Rights Watch
  • The Owner of the Yongwa Factory Agrees to Pay a US$50 Bonus to Each Worker, but Asks Them to Wait [until February – according to the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Chea Mony]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6560, 24-25.1.2009

  • A Report Shows that Cambodian Youth Still Encounter Difficulties to Find Jobs
  • [Two] Robbers Wearing Soldier Uniforms Pointed Guns at Gold Seller and Robbed Gold Worth Nearly US$30,000 [they are not yet found – Siem Reap]
  • On His First Day at the White House, Mr. Obama Focused on Economic Issues and the Middle East, and the Guantánamo Prison [in Cuba]
  • In 2008, Nearly 4,000 Civilians Were Killed in Afghanistan
  • Natural Catastrophes Killed 235,816 People in 2008 [among them, 138,366 people were killed by the cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, 87,476 people were killed by the earthquakes in China, and the rest were killed in other countries]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4803, 24.1.2009

  • Black Money of Tens of Thousands of Dollars Was Found Related to Officials’ Collusion about Illegal Fishing at the Tonle Sap Lake
  • Prime Minister [Hun Sen] Considers the Position of Thailand to Be Soft for the Border Disputes
  • The Minister of Public Works and Transport [Mr. Tram Iv Tek] Asks Japan to Support the Construction of the Neak Loeang Bridge [over the Mekong on the way to Vietnam]
  • Korea Provides High Life Insurance to Workers [around US$20,000, compared to Thailand, which provides only around US$1,000 – no information given what kind of life insurance Cambodian companies provide for their workers]
  • Investors from the US State of Ohio Come to Study Possibilities for Agricultural Investment in Cambodia
    Red-Shirt [anti-government] Demonstrators Announced to Hold a Big Demonstration on 31 January 2009 [Thailand]

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Tuesday, 22.7.2008: In the First Six Months of 2008, There Were 3511 Traffic Accidents and 903 People Died

Posted on 23 July 2008. Filed under: week 570 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 570

“Phnom Penh: From year to year, there are more and more traffic accidents which led to an emergency alert about this catastrophe that is more devastating than AIDS and mines’ accidents. During the first six months of 2008, the total number of traffic accidents was 3,511 which killed 903 people; it increased 17%, compared to the same period of the first six month of 2007.

“According to a report from Lieutenant-Colonel Luy Chhin, who heads a road traffic office – General Trey Pho Khan of the Department of Public Order of the Ministry of Interior confirmed this report – which also Khmer Sthapana received on 21 July 2008, the number of traffic accidents of all the 24 provinces and towns increased markedly.

“The report shows that during the first six months of 2008, there were 3,511 traffic accidents countrywide, which killed 903 people – 705 male and 198 female; the number of accidents increased by 519, equal to 17% more, compared to the same period of 2007, when there were 2,992 accidents and only 724 people died. The 3,511 traffic accidents resulted in 903 deaths, 2,856 seriously injured people, 3,390 lightly injured people, the destruction of 306 heavy vehicles, among them 1,154 cars, 3,646 motorcycles, 305 other vehicles; 397 pedestrians were also affected.

“Major Suos Sokha, deputy director of the vehicle registration management office, and of the department for the registration of boats and ships of the Ministry of Interior, reported to Khmer Sthapana on 21 July 2008 the reasons that lead to the increase of traffic accidents in the first six months of 2008: these are driving in violation of traffic laws with 1,560 cases, riding motorcycles without helmets with 778 cases, not obeying priority traffic rights with 502 cases, driving while being drunk with 439 cases, speed racing with each other with 349 cases, and 261 cases of careless driving etc…

“It should be noted that the statistics of road traffic accidents in 2007 countrywide, report 5,870 cases which caused 1,434 deaths, 1,121 males and 313 females were killed; 4,860 people were seriously injured, 5,540 people were lightly injured, 528 heavy vehicles, 1,871 cars, 5,607 motorcycles, and 444 different vehicles were destroyed, and US$2,699,784 was wasted.” Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #55, 22.7.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Chakraval, Vol.16, #2795, 22.7.2008

  • As the First Step of Negotiations, Thailand Requested Cambodia to Withdraw the Troops from the Land They Presently Control; the ASEAN President [Mr. George Yeo – simplified Chinese: 杨荣文; traditional Chinese: 楊榮文; pinyin: Yáng Róngwén – Singaporean Foreign Minister and at present ASEAN Chair*] Asked Both Sides to Be Patient and Solve the Dispute Based on Good Relations; the Situation of Having Deployed Troops on Both Sides of the Border at the Preah Vihear Temple Is Still Tense

* “The ASEAN Standing Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Foreign Minister of the country-in-chair, is mandated to coordinate the work of the Association in between the annual ASEAN Ministerial Meetings.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1699, 22.7.2008

  • The 41st ASEAN Ministerial Meeting Was Held in Singapore [discussing the border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, evaluating the destruction by the Nargis tropical cyclone in Burma, and talking about the integration of ASEAN constitutions, and about regional security – 21 July 2008]
  • Three People Were Arrested by Military Police after Chopping a Leader of Workers to Death [after losing money to the victim while gambling – Ratanakiri]
  • Ms. Su Kyi Will Be Released Soon [Military Junta of Myanmar informed the ASEAN members that the opposition leader, Ms. Aung San Su Kyi, might be released in about six months]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #55, 22.7.2008

  • In the First Six Months of 2008, There Were 3511 Traffic Accidents and 903 People Died
  • The Thai Side Requests Cambodia to Accept Three Principles [during the negotiations on 21 July 2008: 1. Thailand requested Cambodia to withdraw its troops, and Thailand will also withdraw its troops to avoid an armed confrontation. 2. The benefits from the Preah Vihear Temple should be handled as a joint operation, from which Cambodia gets 60% and Thailand gets 40% 3. Cambodia and Thailand should cooperate with each other to clear mines from the Preah Vihear Temple region and from other surrounding areas together]
  • US$2,000 Announced Reward to Be Given to Anyone Who Provides Information That Leads to the Arrest of the Criminal Who Abducted a [Swedish] Girl from Her Mother [the six-year-old girl, Alicia, has been abducted by her father, Torgeir Nordbø, from Sweden, when he visited her; he is believed to be hiding in Cambodia]
  • [Fishery] Crimes During Prohibited No-Fishing Season Increase [Siem Reap]


Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #66403, 22.7.2008

  • Obama Promises to Withdraw Army from Iraq If He Wins the Election [but he will send 10,000 more troops to Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3518, 22.7.2008

  • [Former Khmer Rough Leader] Khiev Samphan Still Has No New Defense Lawyer


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4647, 22.7.2008

  • Police Are Deployed at Gold and Money Exchange Shops because of Security Concerns [Banteay Meanchey]
  • Five Outstanding Cambodian Students Went to Take Part in the International Mathematical Olympiad in Vietnam


Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3365, 22.7.2008

  • Japan Sends 23 Election Observers for Sunday 27 July 2008
  • Neak Loeang Electricity Company Still Charges Riel 3,200 [approx. US$0.80] per Kilowatt [in Phnom Penh the price is Riel 610, approx. US$0.15 per kw]

Click here – and have a look at the last editorial – The Cambodian-Thai border crisis develops while the Khmer public is not aware what the Cambodian government representatives had agreed upon, to get the Preah Vihear Temple listed as a World Heritage Site, on a most narrowly defined piece of land.

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