Knowing – Using – or Disregarding the Law – Sunday, 18.10.2009

Posted on 20 October 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 634 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634

Discussions about the law, or actions without much awareness or even disregard for the law, are reaching the media regularly, sometimes in increasing numbers – just like now. This reflects, of course, also a general awareness in certain sections of the public.

Whoever mentions the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia is mostly happy about it, and since the introduction of the Senate into to political structures of the country, there was hardly any suggestion that the Constitution should be changed – though there have been repeated pleas that its implementation should be improved. Though one member of the National Assembly is reported to have said recently he regrets that the death penalty is excluded by the Constitution – an opinion quite contrary to international developments during the last decade.

But that does not mean that it is always clear how certain basic statements in the Constitution are to be translated into practice. The conflicts between different mobile phone service providers, going on since a couple of weeks already, have shown this.

The Constitution simply says in Articles 56, 57, and 63:

  • “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall adopt the market economy system.
  • The preparation and process of this economic system shall be determined by the law.
  • Tax collection shall be in accordance with the law…
  • The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

But had it been “determined by law” what, for example, as we mirrored on 15 October 2009, that “Road Tax Checking for 2009 Will Begin on 16 October 2009 Countrywide.” Why only now in October, one might ask – does this boost tax income, or did it delay payments to the state by those who have enough resources to own motorized vehicles?

The charges and payment methods of several old and new mobile phone providers – all supposedly operating according to a market economy system – led not only to confrontative discussions among them, but also to a disruption of certain services: some systems were said to not have forwarded calls to some other systems – the users, the consumers, suffered from these conflicts, so that finally appeals to the government were made to find solutions.

What had happened? Some newer companies had started to offer new fee and payment systems, including free calls between users of the same system, but charging for calls to others networks. Competitive pricing seemed for those who offered it within the market economy system, as in many other countries – where it is left to the market to see which company survives with the response they get from their customers.

The Constitution, concerned with the most favorable results for the end consumer, seems to support this also:

  • “The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

Cheaper communication costs seem to fulfill this goal.

It is always a good practice so look at innovative approaches in other countries – not necessarily to follow everything, but to seriously consider solutions others found in their context:

Earlier this year, the Tata corporation of India, dealing with cars, telecommunications, and steel, is setting up with the Japanese DOCOMO company, a new cellular service in the Indian market, where there are already more than 350 million customers. So Tata DOCOMO had to find ways to compete. All very similar to Cambodia – but on a much smaller scale. Tata DOCOMO used special lower cost pricing – charging per second where others charge per minute, charging SMS by the number of of letters sent, and not per message.

But it seems that decisions have been taken in Cambodia not to allow a “free market management,” by not allowing some companies to offer their customers free services. And even a special private company will be introduced to do the work which in many other countries is one of the tasks of the regulators, not of another private company – doing public coordination – which was not formed as a not-for-profit, and not by public bidding.

Not according to existing laws, but by administrative intervention, a market problem is being solved.

During the week, another crucial problem of acting within and according to the framework of the law was raised: Who knows what the law says – how is this made know? Known to the citizens what rights they have, and know to the law enforcement agents throughout the country – the police and the courts – which rights of the citizens they have to protect.

We repeat some observations from Saturday, 19.10.2009 – more details and the source is there:

Civil Society Wants to See that the Government Publishes the Contents of Law as Broadly as It Does at the National Assembly

“Though Article 13 of the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Council of Ministers (1994) provides that “all norms and standards with general effect must be published in the Official Gazette,” the publication of Cambodian laws is intermittent, incomplete and poorly distributed…

“On the basis of the Cambodian specific experience … there is an argument that the publication and distribution of law in electronic form is an appropriate tool to address the question of access to information in a legal system which has operated without adequate access to even the most basic legal information.

“Though there are issues to consider with regard to the development of a legal information system which will work in the Cambodian context, the country would appear to be at a juncture whereby there is sufficient political will to commence a dialogue with government, academia and civil society with a view to developing a model for the sustainable provision of legal information via the internet. Ideally, any movements in this direction would be accompanied by a regulation requiring all institutions of state to provide certain identified classes of documents for free electronic distribution…”

But there are different opinions about the sequence in which new legislation is needed in society: “The Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers Said that an Anti-Corruption Law Should Be Created before a Demonstration Law.” Why this sequence? “Because if corruption can be prevented, workers and citizens in general will not demonstrate or strike.”

Of course there are also those who just don’t seem to care, as long as the law enforcement leadership of the country does not care either, as we had mirrored:

“Koh Kong, Kompong Thom, and Prey Veng Governors Do not Care about Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Crack Down On Gambling”

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Cambodia Has No Insurance for the Durability of Buildings – Saturday, 17.10.2009

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

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634

“Phnom Penh: People are always excited when they travel along roads with new buildings and construction sites, but senior staff of insurance companies in Cambodia claimed that by now, there is still no insurance for building durability in Cambodia.

“In Phnom Penh, many high rise buildings are being constructed nowadays, especially along the Monivong Boulevard. Representatives of insurance companies in Cambodia said that Cambodia has no law requiring high rise building to pay for building durability insurance.

“A manager of an insurance company who asked not to be named said that so far, in Cambodia there is no law requiring to contract building durability insurance for high rise buildings. That is why construction quality is still a challenging issue, and clients have just to trust.

“He added, ‘So far, Cambodian law requires only to have third party liability insurance during the period of the construction, but there is still a gap to achieve insurance for building durability.’

“He went on to say that in other countries, almost all construction activity includes to contract durability insurance for buildings. Therefore, the quality of construction in those countries is guaranteed, and the durability of buildings can be predicted, while in Cambodia, there is no such thing.

“The director of the Caminco Insurance company, Mr. Duong Vibol, said on 15 October 2009 that also his insurance company offers insurance services related to the construction of buildings, but the agents of the company have not been able to attract clients constructing big and high rise buildings.

“He said, ‘I do not know what the requirements of the laws are, but we have assigned agents to talk to them, but so far, there is no response – or they said that they had already bought insurance from abroad.’

“Also the director of the Forte Insurance company, Mr. Yak Chamroenrith, said on the same day that most high rise buildings being constructed along the Monivong Boulevard belong to clients of his company, but they contracted only third party liability insurance, but there is no insurance yet for the durability of the buildings. He said, ‘In modern countries, there is such a service, but in Cambodia, there is none.’

“According to Mr. Chamroenrith, the third party liability insurance is a service that guarantees payments only for accidents that might happen during the construction, but it does not guarantee the quality or the durability of buildings.’

“He continued to say that for the insurance of building durability, many studies have to be made and conditions have to be fulfilled.

“While local insurance companies claimed that high rise buildings being constructed do not have insurance for the durability of the building, they said that those big constructions companies might have insurance service contracts with companies abroad.

“Mr. Chamroenrith added that in general, the construction of such high rise building is not conducted without proper thinking about the quality. Most conditions have to be met to have insurance, even during the stage of the construction. But what he is concerned about is the quality of buildings constructed by private developers.

“Though those high rise buildings may already have insurance, the above mentioned anonymous person suggested that the construction companies should pay for insurance from local companies.

“He added, ‘The construction is conducted in Cambodia, while the insurance is bought from foreign countries. This can be risky.’

“He went on to say that to promote the local insurance sector, all construction companies should contract such services from local insurance companies.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5023, 17.10.2009

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Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 17 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #313, 17.10.2009

  • The Chinese Prime Minister Promised to Jointly Address the Economic Crisis, Cooperating with Cambodia
  • Husband and Wife, Both Teachers, Detained Girls for Torture [they were arrested – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2074, 17.10.2009

  • [The president of the National Assembly] Samdech Heng Samrin Will Lead a Senior Delegation of the National Assembly to Russia in Early November 2009
  • The [Vietnamese] Branch Director of Cambodia Angkor Air Was Chased and Shot by [two] Gunmen in Front of His House [fortunately, he was not hit; the perpetrators escaped – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #511, 17.10.2009

  • Civil Society [the Cambodian Defenders’ Project] Wants to See that the Government Publishes the Contents of Law as Broadly as It Does at the National Assembly [after laws have been adopted and published in the Official Gazette which is not broadly distributed, the citizens and the law enforcement agents who have to implement the law need to be informed to avoid any wrong implementation of the law]

Note:

A description of related considerations can be found in the following article published on 30 January 2006 by the Journal of Information, Law and Technology:

Access to Legal Information in Cambodia: Initial Steps, Future Possibilities

Though Article 13 of the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Council of Ministers (1994) provides that “all norms and standards with general effect must be published in the Official Gazette,” the publication of Cambodian laws is intermittent, incomplete and poorly distributed. This problem is compounded by the fact that the 1993 Constitution expressly saves laws which were made under previous regimes, arguably including laws from the pre-Khmer Rouge period. For these reasons there is no definitive collection of Cambodian laws currently in force…

Next Steps

On the basis of the Cambodian specific experience … there is an argument that the publication and distribution of law in electronic form is an appropriate tool to address the question of access to information in a legal system which has operated without adequate access to even the most basic legal information.

Though there are issues to consider with regard to the development of a legal information system which will work in the Cambodian context, the country would appear to be at a juncture whereby there is sufficient political will to commence a dialogue with government, academia and civil society with a view to developing a model for the sustainable provision of legal information via the internet. Ideally, any movements in this direction would be accompanied by a regulation requiring all institutions of state to provide certain identified classes of documents for free electronic distribution…

Thus in Cambodia, as elsewhere in the world, we should anticipate that the development of the rule of law will be dependent not only on information sharing, but on the establishment of networks of people who are determined to use that information to promote a legal system which is independent, predicable and just.

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6781, 17-18.10.2009

  • The Ministry of Interior Announced Results: 8,500 Gangsters Were Intercepted [from 13 July to 13 October 2009 – arrests, some sent to the courts, some handed over to their parents or to social or rehabilitation centers]; Traffic Accidents in 2008 Wasted US$308 Million
  • In 2010 Khmer and Thai People Can Cross the Border without Applying for Visas [according to ASEAN and bilateral agreements]
  • The Cuban Ambassador to Cambodia Announced that the Cuban Government Demands that the United States of America Withdraw Their Economic [commercial, financial, and taxation] Sanction [against Cuba]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5023, 17.10.2009

  • Cambodia Has No Insurance for the Durability of Buildings
  • [The Chinese Prime Minister] Mr. Wen Jiabao [温家宝 – Pinyin: Wēn Jiābǎo] Told Samdech Euv [former King] that China Will Continue Its Cooperation with Cambodia
  • Typhoon Ketsana Killed 35 People and Destroyed Property Worth Approximately US$41 Million [according to the assessment of the National Committee for Disaster Management
  • Court Released Four Chinese Men on Bail [they assaulted and injured two police seriously in Kampot]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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