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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 659

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 9 April 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2223, 9.4.2010

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6930, 9.4.2010

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

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3854, 9.4.2010

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5172, 9.4.2010

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

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First Senior Citizens’ Association Created in Phnom Penh – Thursday, 28.1.2010

Posted on 29 January 2010. Filed under: Week 649 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 649

“In the morning of 27 January 2010, there was an announcement about the creation of the first senior citizens’ association in Phnom Penh. A permanent deputy director and the director of the Department of Social Affairs, Mr. Son Sophal, the Chamkar Mon district governor, Mr. Lo Yuy, and other fellow officials attended the ceremony. The establishment of the Senior Citizens’ Association by the Department of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation in Phsar Daeum Thkov commune suggests that the 8 districts and 76 communes in Phnom Penh should consider establishing senior citizens’ associations, because elderly people have very little opportunity to seek income as they are weak, especially elderly women .

“The director of the Phnom Penh Department of Social Affairs, Mr. Son Sophal, said that among the population [of about 14 million], elderly people 60 years and above, increased from 4.4% in 2000 to 6% in 2004, with a total number of about 852,000. For 2025, it is forecast that the number will double to as many as 1.5 million. He went on to say that at present there are more than 30,000 people who are retired civil servants, and more than 5,000 people are disabled and jobless and are receiving financial support from the government. He emphasized that the creation of the first Senior Citizens’ Association in Phsar Daeum Thkov commune is a model for the 8 districts and 76 communes to follow.

“The Chamkar Mon district governor, Mr. Lo Yuy, who also attended the event, asked all grandfathers and grandmothers [= all elderly people] from the age of 55 and above to consider becoming members of the Senior Citizens’ Association, because it will provide them with benefits and promote their dignity. He added that he will encourage elderly people to help each other, especially when facing difficulties that can harm their lives. Also, the Phnom Penh municipal governor, Mr. Kep Chuktema, donated Riel 2 million [approx. US$500] to support this newly created association.

“Besides the donation of Riel 2 million, he granted one Sarong [a traditional piece of cloth] to the 145 elderly people who attended the founding ceremony. It should be noted that the Senior Citizens’ Association that has just been established has 11 members: 1 director, 1 deputy director, and 9 members.” Areyathor, Vol.16, #1429, 28-29.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 28 January 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1429, 28-29.1.2010

  • First Senior Citizens’ Association Created in Phnom Penh

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #399, 28.1.2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2162, 28.1.2010

  • Car Sellers from 10 Local Companies Asked for the Intervention from Samdech Hun Sen [as they are no longer allowed to import Toyota cars, and only one company, TTHK, has an exclusive contract to import Toyota cars, reducing the profit of other companies significantly]
  • Samdech Hun Sen: The Minister of Public Works and Transport [Mr. Tram Iv Tek] Is a Minister Not Showing Respect [as he changed the number of a road without an approval from the Prime Minister, who therefore called him a “gang minister” behaving like a gangster, acting recklessly, according to the Phnom Penh Post]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #591, 28.1.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson] Mr. Yim Sovann: The Sam Rainsy Party Opposes the Government Plan to Increase Electricity Prices

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6869, 28.1.2010

  • Some Foreign Requests Are Rejected: Cambodia Will Absolutely Not Send Deminers to Afghanistan and Iraq [as it is dangerous for Cambodian deminers, said Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections Released Research Findings Showing that only 10% of the Eligible Citizens Know the Parliamentarians Who Represent Them [this research was conducted with 8,678 Cambodian people responding]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #99, 28.1.2010

  • Citizens Called on Government Officials to Intervene to Release Six Village Chiefs Who Were Detained because They Protected Their Village Land [of 60 hectares from being grabbed by a Chinese company; Phnom Sruoch, Kompong Speu]
  • The National Information Communications Technology Development Authority (NiDA) Announced to Hold the Sixth Information Technology Exhibition on 1 to 3 April 2010 [in Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5111, 28.1.2010

  • Intensive Wood Trading Continues at the [Cambodian-Thai] Border while the Border Disputes Remain Unsolved

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1865, 28.1.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Was Convicted to be Jailed for Two Years [in absentia] and Each [of two] Citizens Was Jailed One Year, and They Were Ordered to Pay Riel 50 Million [approx. US$12,500] in Fines to the Border Committee [for removing temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers – in a closed-door session of the Svay Rieng court]

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Can Changing Priorities Change the Law? – Sunday, 8.3.2009

Posted on 13 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 602 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 601

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

Norbert Klein

The life of a society is not like a mechanism which works according to preset laws of physics or chemistry. The different agents in a society – all the people, and some people with special functions – may see different things getting more important, and they change their mind. But not every change of mind can lead to a change of the rules according to which a society works.

Some of such changes are surprising. We take some examples from quite different fields, just to show that a direction was taken, or a result was reached, which had not been expected at all.

On 22 January 2009, General Ke Kim Yan was removed from his position of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces commander-in-chief by Prime Minister Hun Sen. This had triggered concerns among some generals at military garrisons and at divisions, being afraid that they too might be removed, but Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh had affirmed that there are no such shifts to come -m but they came. Later, on 7 February 2009, we mirrored a report that the Prime Minister had explained that the removal of the commander-in-chief was part of the ongoing military reform. The rumors that there might be more involved showed up in the press on 13 February 2009, claiming that the Prime Minister had ordered to take legal action against Mr. Ke Kim Yan. More detailed information reached the public, when the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported three days later that the government criticized the press for publishing leaked information (without denying its content). According to the minutes, “the Council of Ministers has been informed and commented on the termination of the position of commander-in-chief of HE Ke Kim Yan based on two reasons: First, reforming the RCAF rank and file by adhering to work effectiveness in the military rank and file. Second, involvement with land issues by a top and powerful person in the military rank and file and doing business by using the name of military for personal gain.” The minutes went on to describe a resolution by the Council of Ministers to have both military and government bodies investigate Ke Kim Yan’s land dealings.

And the end? This week came the final clarification: The Prime Minister announced that Mr. Ke Kim Yan will be the 10th Deputy Prime Minister, heading the drug control administration.

The 14th ASEAN Summit was held from 27 February to 1 March 2009, in Hua Hin, Thailand. After the ASEAN Charter had come into force in December 2008, the summit was under the heading ‘ASEAN Charter for ASEAN Peoples,’ to start a new era of ASEAN with people at the heart of cooperation. It had therefore been expected that the summit would focus on human rights, but the global financial crisis moved up to the top of the agenda.

Nevertheless, it had been foreseen because of this orientation of ASEAN – being for the ASEAN people – some people not from the governments, but from civil society, would also have a chance to meet and to discuss with government leaders. But as it was reported, the government representatives of Cambodia and Myanmar threatened rather to boycott this meeting than to discussion the creation of an ASEAN human rights institution with civil society persons. So the persons from Myanmar and from Cambodia withdrew, in order not to be an obstacle to this important discussion.

Even so, by the end of the summit, it had not been possible to find an agreement about the nomination of an ASEAN human rights commissioner, also the creation of the ASEAN human rights organization did not progress well. The plan originally announced was not achieved.

But the final declaration of the summit continues to uphold the vision of ASEAN as “a rules-based community of shared values and norms, a cohesive peaceful, stable and resilient region with shared responsibility for comprehensive security, as well as a dynamic and outward-looking region in an increasingly integrated and interdependent world.”

The confidence, that events and decision will be proceeding according to set rules, is basic for the stable development not only for an international community like ASEAN, but for every society. That is why the events described above are confusing for the public – for “the people” – because the rules according which events proceeded, and the values and norms applied, are not transparent to the public.

Now there is another field where it is not clear how rules-based proceedings – a state of law, as another terms says – were applied in the closure of the gambling chain CamboSix, which was announced by the Prime Minister on 24 February 2009 during a graduation ceremony, explaining the negative social consequences of gambling. But CamboSix had, after all, a license to operate, issued by the competent authorities of the government, valid until the year 2011. Now, about an estimated number of 6,000 to 8,000 workers lost their jobs, and the Minister of Finance was quoted that though the government had issued a license, there are “no particular contract links between both parties.” But the international partial co-owners see this differently: CamboSix, partly owned by foreign companies, claims to have lost more than US$12 million in investments made before the withdrawal of their license, and they will ask for compensation according to the legal protection provided to investors in general.

Raising this question is not giving an endorsement for gambling. But how is the public to understand this action? Just five days prior to this suspensions, the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance Chea Meng Chhieng had stated the 2009 goals of the state to collect a 12.5% tax, to produce more tax income over the 2008 figures: US$20 million, tax income from all kinds of gambling.

As we had reported on 24 February, the Prime Minister had ordered the Ministry of Economy and Finance to observe all hotels that have entertainment clubs and all types of electronic entertainment centers, as they are required to prohibit Khmer citizens to enter for gambling. “If there is any violation of the rules, like permitting Khmer citizens to enter, the Ministry of Economy and Finance must revoke their licenses and immediately stop their operation within 24 hours.”

Police in Phnom Penh, who do not understand the difference between computer based gambling and computer games, have closed also about 20 of the 160 shops hosting the role-playing game Justice X-War 2, though this is a game where the participants do not bet and cannot win any money. Even the Secretary-General of the government’s National Information Technology Development Authority, Dr. Phu Leewood, was quoted in the Cambodia Daily to regret this confusion: “Gambling is betting, while gaming is not. I used to play games a lot when I was at university.” But shops stay closed, and many people who wanted to register for the upcoming game tournament at the Cambodia ICT World Expo, scheduled for 3 to 5 April 2009, do not dare to come forwards, as they are afraid to be mistaken to be gamblers.

So far, there are many reports how the soccer-betting company CamboSix is affected. Is this regulation also be enforced where a hotel has a gambling room with slot machines? According to recent observations, there does not seem to be such checking in force at the Naga Casino – the biggest such establishment in Phnom Penh.

On 4 September 2007, we had mirrored a Khmer newspaper report that a door was opened too late for a Cambodian 4-Star General to enter the casino, so he called four police vans and had three Malaysian Naga Casino foremen handcuffed – followed by a report one day later that $150,000 were spent for the release of these three Malaysian employees of Naga Casino.

On Friday, we carried a headline that the Prime Minister apologized to the public for the late action of closing gambling institutions. There are also reports that there is an understandable wide public support for this action. It might falter again, if the public will see – as in the past – that the enforcement of sudden government decrees, and the enforcement even of laws, continues to be selective.

In spite of the failure of the recent ASEAN summit to nominate an ASEAN human rights commissioner for the ASEAN human rights organization to be created, the vision of ASEAN as “a rules-based community of shared values and norms” remains as a hope that all member countries will make progress, if this vision is upheld, and will be “peaceful, stable and resilient, as well as dynamic and outward-looking” as the final ASEAN summit document says for the whole community.

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