Disregarding or Facing Agreements in the Press? – Sunday, 22.8.2010

Posted on 23 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

The Mirror was created to mirror the Khmer language press – that is to focus on important dynamics in society, as they are reflected in the press. That includes also to observe when there seem to be discrepancies between different streams of reporting. And it includes also to observe what seems not to be reported in the Khmer language press, though one would expect it.

Monitoring what is going on includes also to observe the reaction to one’s own publication. The main website of The Mirror by now gets up to 10,000 visits per month (it started in January 2007 with zero – replacing the former edition printed on paper).

While observing this wide interest with satisfaction, it is also disappointing to see that some important pieces of information, related to the conflicts with Thailand, are regularly not reported in the Khmer press. If this impression is wrong, we would appreciate to be informed which publications and public documents in the Khmer press we missed. The Mirror does not have access to confidential information; what we use and quote is publicly available, especially on the Internet.

In response to careful, detailed documentations, where we asked for specific responses, if our documentation is deficient, so that we can correct and improve it, there was either no response – and the public debate continues as if it were not missing some important points – or I get mail saying just “You are completely wrong!” I do not mind to get such mail, if it points to where I am wrong – I appreciate corrections.

Therefore I am repeating here some essential points, and I will do so until they are receiving proper attention in the present situation of tensions.

I was utterly surprised, talking recently to a friend who is a regular reader: when I mentioned some of the facts which had been on The Mirror repeatedly, he had obviously missed them. He thought the controversies about the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage list were related to Thailand referring to maps drawn by Thailand, and therefore Thailand was denying that the whole area around the Temple of Preah Vihear was designated a World Heritage Site.

The contrary is true, according to the documents. Emphasis in the following sections is added during editing.

For Preah Vihear

From the Cambodian 2008 submission document, THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR – Proposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List (UNESCO), Edited by the Council of Ministers, PHNOM PENH, JUNE 2008:

On 6 May 2008 His Excellency Mr. SOK An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, welcomed his Excellency Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand… The meeting was conducted in a fruitful and constructive atmosphere to discuss ways and means of strengthening the neighborly cooperation for a further reach for long lasting cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand… The Kingdom of Cambodia strongly stresses that the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear is without prejudice to the demarcation work of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) between Cambodia and Thailand; and the zoning (“Zonage” in French) stipulated in the document submitted by Cambodia to UNESCO shall not be considered as boundary line.

And finally, during a meeting in Paris (France) on 22 May 2008 between a Cambodian delegation led by His Excellency Mr. SOK An,…The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support for the Heritage Committee to be held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For its part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple.

On 18 June 2008, a Joint Communique was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, including a map presented and signed by Mr. Var Kim Hong, the Head of the Cambodian Border Committee, which was – as far as we know – never presented in the media in Cambodia (again – any correction of this information is welcome), but it was repeatedly in The Mirror, including the Cambodian proposed map for the listing, the last time here. The text says the following:

1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Québec, Canada, July 2008), of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.

2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.

3. The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schéma Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;..”

This is the last public map, a Cambodian map, which was to “supersede” – that is: to replace – the formerly used Cambodian maps.

As a consequence, this was decided:

The World Heritage Committee,

9. Notes that the property proposed for inscription is reduced and comprises only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves;…

14. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners,…

15. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents: c) Confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP [“revised graphic plan of the property”]; d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan)

All these points were to be implemented after convening this international coordinating committee, inviting the Government of Thailand and others, to work together and to present their results.

Questions:

– Why is the discussion in the Khmer media not referring to the official documents about the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear, clearly limited in nature: “only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves.” This is not based on a map unilaterally drawn by Thailand, but it relates to what the Cambodian side had officially brought to the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There is nothing to be discussed with Thailand.”

– Why are the Khmer media disregarding that there were – from the beginning – the following requests by the World Heritage Committee: “to convene an international coordinating committee… inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand… [to provide the expected results] – a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone…” It has never been reported in the press that the Cambodian Government did invite the Thai Government according to this request by the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There are no buffer zones.”

Reading the documents, it seems that Thailand is not insisting on some unilaterally drawn Thai maps, but looks forward that the documented decisions of the World Heritage Committee be implemented.

For the Border

This is a different legal issue from the World Heritage Listing (though, of course, related).

In order to demarcate the border between the two countries, a Memorandum of Understanding “on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary” was concluded between the two countries in June 2000, long before the Preah Vihear World Heritage Listing was on the agenda of the relevant UNESCO committee. This Memorandum is related to the whole stretch of the border. That the whole length of the approximately 800 km border is to be demarcated shows that both sides agreed that this is not yet done – there is not yet mutually agreed border. Both sides agreed on this – otherwise they would not have signed this joint agreement.

While there is frequent reference to this Memorandum of Understanding from 2000 in the Khmer press, it was quite difficult to find it in Cambodia, also consulting with several persons from the media did not help. One e-mail request to a friend in Thailand immediately provided a source on the Internet.

But there is a noteworthy difference in the handling of the related task: While in Thailand, related government officials and agencies are accountable to the Thai National Assembly about what they do related to the border – the executive is monitored by the legislative – we are not aware that either the Cambodian National Assembly nor the Khmer press have requested similar information to monitor the activities of the Cambodian government officials and agencies involved. The different legal arrangements under the different constitutions of both countries result in different procedures.

Shortly after Prime Minister Hun Sen had made his conciliatory declaration about a win-win solution by mutual dialogue without a winner and a loser, several statements from various other sectors of the government were released, strongly blaming Thailand and calling for multilateral negotiations. The Prime Minister added his voice – but more recent news say that there still may be a bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers soon in Brussels at an ASEN meeting.

Whatever the future will bring in terms of bilateral or multilateral meetings – the written submissions and the documented decisions will have to be faced. To continue to disregard them can hardly bring the solution where both sides win, the goal that Prime Minister Hun Sen has seen as important for all.

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Parliamentarians: Within Seventeen Years, Only Six Ministers Appeared to Make Clarifications in the Parliament – Saturday, 21.8.2010

Posted on 22 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: According to the first study by Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, since the general elections in 1993, or within 17 years, only six ministers appeared at the parliament to clarify questions. But government officials explained that, based on the regulations, there clarifications can be given both directly and verbally, or through letters.

“Findings from the study were shown publicly in a press conference on 20 August 2010. The team leader of the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, Mr. Son Chhay, said that since 1993, probably only six ministers showed up to respond to questions of parliamentarians in the parliament. That means also that within one 3 years period there was only one minister making clarifications. Until now, the Prime Minister has never come to answer to questions from parliamentarians following Article 96 of the Constitution. It is different from other democratic countries where prime ministers and government members regularly appear to give clarifications in parliament.

Article 96:

The deputies have the right to put a motion against the Royal Government. The motion shall be submitted in writing through the Chairman of the National Assembly.
The replies shall be given by one or several ministers depending on the matters related to the accountability of one or several ministers. If the case concerns the overall policy of the Royal Government, the Prime Minister shall reply in person.

The explanations by the ministers or by the Prime Minister shall be given verbally or in writing.

The explanations shall be provided within 7 days after the day when the question is received.

In case of verbal reply, the Chairman of the National Assembly shall decide whether to hold an open debate or not. If there is no debate, the answer of the minister or the Prime Minister shall be considered final. If there is a debate, the questioner, other speakers, the ministers, or the Prime Minister may exchange views within the time-frame not exceeding one session.

The National Assembly shall establish one day each week for questions and answers. There shall be no vote during any session reserved for this purpose.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that the procedures for questioning and for inviting ministers to appear are difficult. Sometimes, only two months after a request letter was sent there is a response, and sometimes it takes even up to one year. Some ministers do not care about answering questions from parliamentarians.

“A parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, presented a study about government members who did not properly adhere to the principles of the Constitution, which set the rules for questioning and answering to questions of parliamentarians through letters, or straight and verbally.

“Mr. Son Chhay said that 132 letters with questions were sent to members of the government in 2009, but they responded to only 23%, or 39 letters, from Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians. Within eight months of 2010, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians submitted 47 letters to the government, but only 15 letters received a response.

“Mr. Son Chhay added, ‘In 2009, we sent 24 letters to Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, and he responded to 13 letters. The Prime Minister answered more questions than others among the members of the government. The Minister of Interior, Mr. Sar Kheng, received 21 letters from parliamentarians in 2009 and he replied to 9 letters, and in 2010, he received 8 letters and he responded to 2.’

“Mr. Son Chhay went on to say that Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians sent 10 letters in 2009 and 2 more letters in 2010 to the Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Mr. Kim Kean Hor, but he did not respond at all. Also, the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Cham Prasidh, did not respond to questions from parliamentarians.

“Mr. Son Chhay stressed that submitting letters to request clarifications and to invite members of the governments, including the head of the government, to appear to clarify questions from parliamentarians in the parliament itself allow the government time to defend itself and to present its achievements in the past. This also helps to encourages the government to work with responsibility. ‘We aim to strengthen the implementation of democracy and to consolidate national institutions.’

“Also, another statement was released by Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians over the loss of their roles in the parliament of Cambodia. Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians voiced strong concern about the possible disappearance of democracy in Cambodia, which is affecting national development and social tranquility more seriously.

“Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians appeal to the ruling party to immediately check to fix all the limitations in order to appropriately implement the principles of multi-party democracy, as stated in the Constitution of 1993.

“Responding to the above mentioned concerns, a spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, said that to respond, there are two ways: responding by letter, or directly and verbally. So far, government officials frequently sent official letters, and sometimes they appeared directly in parliament to respond. He added that the government is formed by elections, and the Cambodian People’s Party, that won a massive support in the parliament, always rules the country following democracy and respecting the rights of the citizens, who are the voters. The government is not dictatorial or lawless. The government is on the right tract based on democracy. If the opposition party wants further reforms beyond this, it has to wait until it wins the elections.

“A senior member of the Cambodian People’s Party and a long standing member of the National Assembly, Mr. Cheam Yeap, said that the Cambodian People’s Party always obeys the laws and the Constitution since 1993. Also, [the president of the National Assembly] Samdech Heng Samrin, often allows more Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians than those from the Cambodian People’s Party to express their opinions along with the participation of national and international organizations that carefully observe the proceedings.

“In addition, during the press conference in the morning of 20 August 2010, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians announced that they have sent a letter to the US parliament and Senate to express their support for the United States of America adopting an amendment to financial legislation that requires US listed oil exploration companies operating in Cambodia to publicly disclose their expenditures and income. Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians consider that this law helps to promote transparency in the investment and in the management of income from mines, and in the oil and gas sectors in Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5282, 21.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 21 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2333, 21.8.2010

  • Thailand Sent Letters to the Ten Members of ASEAN to Suggest How to Solve the Disputes with Cambodia Bilaterally
  • After an Electric Fault Occurred [producing toxic smoke] in the M.V Factory, 120 Workers Fainted [Kompong Chhnang]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7040, 21-22.8.2010

  • A Railroad Construction Company Asked the Authorities to Crack Down on the Stealing of Concrete Supports and of Iron Bars [Kampot]
  • The Ministry of Labor Warned It Will Take Legal Action against Companies with Irregularities in Sending Workers to Malaysia [according to a meeting between the Ministry of Labor and 31 companies sending workers abroad]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3964, 21-22.8.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party] Parliamentarians and a Human Rights Organization [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] Expressed Regret over the Verdict against Chi Kraeng District Residents [nine citizens were sentenced to 3 years imprisonment over a land dispute, but they will serve only 17 months and the rest will be suspended – Siem Reap]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #36, 21.8.2010

  • The Vietnamese President [Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet [Nguyễn Minh Triết]] Will Visit Cambodia [from 26 to 28 August 2010 in response to an invitation by the Khmer King]
  • Cambodia Does Not Accept a Bilateral Solution with Thailand [according the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Koy Kuong]
  • Only One of the Students [countrywide] Gets an A Level, and 81.90% Passed [or 87,561 students among the 106,908 candidates passed the Grade 12 examinations]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5282, 21.8.2010

  • Parliamentarians: Within Seventeen Years, Only Six Ministers Appeared to Make Clarifications in the Parliament
  • Ebony [2.377 cubic meters] and Wild Animals [about 166 kg, including snakes, big lizards, and turtles] Were Intercepted at the Chrey Thom Border Crossing [for export to Vietnam; no persons are yet caught – Kandal]
  • Scientific Evidence Shows that Chemicals Are Still Found in Food Sold at the Markets [affecting the health of the consumers – studies conducted by the Royal Academy]

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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

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

Norbert Klein

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 15 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2301, 15.7.2010

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7008, 15.7.2010

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

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3932, 15.7.2010

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5250, 15.7.2010

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

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The Ministry of Interior Asked for the Establishment of Public Expression Compounds at Cities and Provinces – Saturday, 3.7.2010

Posted on 6 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

“Phnom Penh: The Ministry of Interior of the Kingdom of Cambodia asked all municipal governors to establish locations for public expression, following the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations.

“According to a letter from the Ministry of Interior to the district and municipal councils and municipal governors that Kampuchea Thmey received on 2 July 2010, signed by the Minister of Interior, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations had been announced by Royal Decree 1209/025, dated 5 December 2009, to replace the demonstration law of 1991 of the State of Cambodia. According to Article 14 and 25 of the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations which becomes valid after six months, each province and city must create public expression sites, choosing appropriate compounds or centers in the areas under their authority which people can easily know and find to conduct peaceful demonstrations or to express their ideas publicly; the maximum number of participants is 200 people.

“The letter from the Ministry of Interior adds that in order to have agreements about the creation of public expression sites in provinces and cities, the Ministry of Interior called for meetings for internal discussion between district councils and governors to create public expression sites with a minimum size of 600 square meter (15 meter by 40 meter).

“Regarding the creation of public expression sites by the Ministry of Interior, the president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, who had led several demonstrations, Mr. Rong Chhun, spoke to Kampuchea Thmey in the evening of 2 July 2010, saying that it is not necessary for the authorities to create public expression sites, as this is a restriction of the freedom of expression, but the Ministry should allow the people to demonstrate at the places they want.

“Mr. Rong Chhun added, relating to the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations, he had often defended the opinion that citizens can protest at the places or institutions they prefer. He said that the creation of public expression sites is not necessary, as most citizens want to protest in front of the institutions where they want their protest to be heard. Therefore, when public expression sites are established far from such related institutions, their expression or protest will not be cared for.

“Mr. Rong Chhun went on to say that according to this Law on Peaceful Demonstrations, if any citizens does not protest at the places designated, they violate the law.

“In Phnom Penh, the authorities had checked a location at a park at the west of the Dragon Bridge [near Wat Phnom] to establish a public expression site in accordance with the Law on Peaceful Demonstrations.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #22, 3.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 3 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol. 9, #2291, 3.7.2010

  • The Ministry of Interior Asked for the Establishment of Public Expression Compounds at Cities and Provinces
  • More Than 700 Cartons of Ecstasy [about one million tablets] Recently Imported Were Intercepted [five people including a Chinese man were arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • Traders Illegally Export River Sand Abroad by Using Old Licenses [previously, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that river sand must not be exported, but it is for local use only]
  • Samdech Euv [the former King] and Samdech Mae [the former Queen] Go to Beijing [for medical checkups]
  • Within Five Months of 2010, there were More Than One Million International Tourist Arrivals in Cambodia [an increase by 11% compared to the corresponding period in 2009 – according to the Ministry of Tourism]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6998, 3-4.7.2010

  • Japan Granted US$2.26 Million as Salaries for National Staff at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [from April to September 2010]
  • The Head of the Royal Government [Prime Minister Hun Sen] Ordered the Demolition of Reservoirs in the Regions 2 and 3 [in provinces around the Tonle Sap lake] in Order to Save the Tonle Sap Lake [as such reservoirs affect bio-diversity and the eco-system – the order did not say anything about the reservoirs in a third region]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3922, 3-4.7.2010

  • When Will Relevant Officials Declare Their Property as Required by the Anti-Corruption Law?
  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy: That Yuon [Vietnam] Removed Its Border Marker [Number 184 in Svay Rieng] Invading [Cambodian territory] Indicates Success in Protecting the Eastern Territory
  • The Ministry of Interior Requires All Municipal Authorities to Create Public Expression Compounds with a Minimum Size of 600 Square Meters

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5240, 3.7.2010

  • The Authorities Asked 70 Monks of the Srah Chak Pagoda to Leave the Pagoda Temporarily for Reorganization [after a monk secretly filmed nude girls bathing with holy water – Phnom Penh]
  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An Asked Italy to Help Repair and Conserve the Preah Vihear Temple [according to his meeting with the Italian Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Michelangelo Pipan]
  • 449 People Having Cholera and Other 4,000 Alleged Cases Were Found [in Kampot, Koh Kong, Kompong Chhnang, Kompong Thom, Kratie, Pailin, Phnom Penh, Prey Veng, Pursat, Ratanakiri, and Sihanoukville, resulting from the use of unhygienic water, as there is a lack of water in the dry season; 60 people died already, according to officials of the Ministry of Health]

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Let’s See whether the Commitment of Hun Sen Is Real or Just to Satisfy the Donors – Monday, 7.6.2010

Posted on 8 June 2010. Filed under: Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

“According to assessments of some international organizations, each year as much as US$500 million of the state’s resources is lost to corruption in Cambodia, which seriously affects the interest of the country and of Cambodian citizens.

“At present, corruption is deeply rooted in Khmer society, and there is no hope that anybody could eliminate it, though an anti-corruption law will come into force. However, national and international circles were surprised when Prime Minister Hun Sen stated recently, at the occasion of granting certificates at the Royal University of Administration, that corrupt officials at different institutions, ministries, departments, as well as civil police, and military units should know to be warned that the government will enforce the anti-corruption law against those officials, and will encourage non-corrupt officials to help report cases of corruption to the Anti-Corruption Unit, which is just being established after an anti-corruption law has been voted upon.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen enthusiastically stated that the government will be able to eliminate corruption by using the anti-corruption law. He said that now, the government has enough legal mechanisms to bring corrupt officials to court to be punished, and most officials who do not commit corruption at each institution, ministry, and department will report the persons that commit corruption to the Anti-Corruption Unit.

“Mr. Hun Sen added that he trusts the fight against corruption will work, because at each unit, among 100 officials there might be only two or three who commit corruption, and there are many other non-corrupt officials who will report to the Anti-Corruption Unit. They will join to eradicate corruption, since it siphons off also the interest of the units.

“This is a rare and interesting public commitment of Mr. Hun Sen to fight corruption. Therefore, high ranking officials at different institutions, ministries, departments, and at civil, police, and military units, they should listen to Mr. Hun Sen’s clear words and should not be confused that Mr. Hun Sen said it just to satisfy the donors to grant aid, because when he announced it publicly like this, if not all, at least some corruption can be suppressed in this way, so his words should not be criticized. Thus, officials who have been committing corruption for years have now the opportunity to clean themselves from their previous corruption, to become clean officials respecting the nation.

“Even though there have been some political views that what Mr. Hun Sen had said is just to calm the donors and national and international opinion, as the person who was appointed to be the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit is not a person with proper and independent qualifications, but he is just an official who is close to Mr. Hun Sen. But we do not have the same impression like those politicians. Such an impression is not important regarding the appointment of the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit. What is more important is the commitment of the government, and especially of Mr. Hun Sen, the top leader. If he has real commitment, the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit will have to implement the anti-corruption law properly.

“The Anti-Corruption law had been delayed for several years before it was sent to the National Assembly to be discussed and adopted in March 2010, and then Mr. Om Yentieng was named as head of the Anti-Corruption Unit. If Mr. Hun Sen, the head of the government, is willing to eliminate corruption as he claimed, the Anti-Corruption Unit will act to crack down effectively on corruption at different institutions, ministries, departments, and units according to the law, and also the participation from non-corrupt officials to uncover corrupt officials will to some degree assist to prevent the spreading of corruption.

“Some criticized that Mr. Om Yentieng is a person close to Mr. Hun Sen, so he cannot fight corruption. Such a view seems to be wrong, because the fact that Mr. Om Yentieng is a person close to Mr. Hun Sen will encourage him to be more effective intercepting corruption when Mr. Hun Sen, the top leader, is committed to fight corruption in the government from the top to the bottom. Mr. Om Yentieng must take up the Prime Minister’s order to fight corruption. But one may be afraid that this is easier said than done.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.4, #776, 7.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 7 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #497, 6-7.6.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen Leads a Delegation to Attend the World Economic Forum on East Asia [in Vietnam]
  • The Number of People Killed by Lightnings Increases to 35 in 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2268, 6-7.6.2010

  • The Cambodian Prime Minister Sent a Message to Welcome the New Japanese Prime Minister [Mr. Kan Naoto] at the Occasion of Taking Office
  • At Present, Cambodia Grows Tobacco on Only 0.2% of the Agricultural Land Countrywide [over the past ten years, farmers have changed to grow other crops like rubber trees, cassava, and soy beans]
  • The Ministry of Health Plans to Establish Up to 250 Blood Test Centers by 2012 [nowadays, there are 235 around the country]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.4, #776, 7.6.2010

  • Let’s See whether the Commitment of Hun Sen Is Real or Just to Satisfy the Donors

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #675, 6-7.6.2010

  • The Plan of Workers to Suspend Work for Three Days [to demand an increase of salaries, and that employers obey the labor law] Is Still Not Canceled

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3899, 7.6.2010

  • The King Asked [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to Intervene, to Connect State Electricity for Poor Citizens at Suburbs Who Are Using Electricity of Private Companies and Are Required to Pay the Bills in Dollars [their electricity costs approx. US$0.50 per kilowatt hour – Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #187, 7.6.2010

  • The UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur for Cambodia [Mr. Surya Subedi] Comes to Cambodia to Monitor the Court System
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Encourages Support for the Private Sector in Order to Promote Economic Growth

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #51, 6-7.6.2010

  • [A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian,] Ms. Mu Sochua Faces Imprisonment if She Does Not Pay the Fine [Riel 16 million or approx. US$3,810 in a defamation case with the Prime Minister]
  • The Commune Fund Has in 2010 Countrywide Nearly US$30 Million [the funds are used to develop and carry out investment projects at all communes – The commune fund is provided by the Royal Government]

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The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee Appealed to the Armed Forces to Protect the Interest of Citizens More Than That of Traders – Wednesday, 2.6.2010

Posted on 3 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Through a press conference on Tuesday, 2 June 2010, groups of civil society organizations in Cambodia, including the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, the NGO Forum on Cambodia, and the Cambodian Housing Rights Task Force, appealed to the armed forces to protect the interest of citizens, and not that of private companies and traders.

“In the press conference also communities that are affected by land grabbing by companies participated. Also citizens of the Boeng Kak lake community that are facing land grabbing and eviction by the Shukaku company of Senator and Oknha Lao Meng Khin from the ruling party, citizens of the Amleang commune in the Thpong district, Kompong Speu, who are vigorously protesting against land grabbing by the Kompong Speu Sugar and the Phnom Penh Sugar companies of Senator and Oknha Ly Yong Phat from the ruling party, and citizens from Romeas Haek district in Svay Rieng, who suffer from land grabbing by the Peam Cheang Rubber Plantation company, participated.

“A representative of the Boeng Kak lake community in Phnom Penh, Ms. Huot Mony, told the story that has led to violations and intimidations, to grab their land and houses by the Shukaku Inc. company, where many citizens are staff of the Prime Minister’s advisory committees that came to settle there since 1980. In 1993, the number of citizens in the area increased. On 6 April 2006, the Phnom Penh Municipality summoned citizens to meet at the Srah Chok pagoda, informing them that all the citizens in the Boeng Kak lake area would receive land titles – but it then became quiet.

“What makes the Boeng Kak lake residents feel very disappointed and hurt is that the notification of the Phnom Penh Municipality, dated 6 February 2006, said that the Boeng Kak lake area is leased for 99 years for US$79.2 million, with the rate of US$0.60 per square meter, to the Shukaku Inc. company, to develop the area of 133 hectares, where 40 hectares are lake surface.

“Through this agreement, 4,252 families in the Boeng Kak lake area in the Srah Chok commune, Daun Penh district, have been seriously affected by the dredging of sand by the company to fill in the lake. This Boeng Kak lake representative added that the company had laid sand dredging pipes that cause the posts of their houses to become unstable, and they had ordered the authorities to threaten and to prevent citizens from repairing their houses. Some families took out their belongings and the inhabitants moved away, as they were afraid of the danger that their houses might collapse.

“Many problems had happened to the Boeng Kak lake residents – some are concerned that their houses might be burnt down, people might get electric shocks, or their houses might collapse. Sobbing while she was speaking, this representative called on the international community to think about the poor citizens who face evictions, before they decide to grant aid to the Cambodian government.

“Also, a representatives of citizens from the Kompong Speu community in the Amleang commune said that their condition is not much different from what the representative of the Boeng Kak lake area had mentioned.

“This representative said that the Amleang commune residents had worked on their rice fields since before the Khmer Rouge regime, except during the Khmer Rouge regime, and then after 1979, they continued to live on their land, doing farming. Just early this year, Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s company had ordered machinery to clear their farmland and to ban them from farming on their land.

“Facing such a situation leads to serious disappointments, and the activities of the government and of these companies are not a sign of poverty alleviation, but they add a heavier burden on the citizens. In the meantime, it was noticed that when protests against land grabbing took place, private companies often used armed forces to intimidate the victimized citizens. Some cases led to shootings at the citizens, but the perpetrators were not brought to be punished.

“Non-government organizations raised six important demands to the government:

  1. The citizens must be involved in all developments.
  2. There must be proper compensation and agreements when dealing with land disputes.
  3. There must be more effective land dispute mechanisms.
  4. Arrests of citizens over land disputes must be stopped.
  5. The government should be involved in solving land disputes, based on proper procedures.
  6. Armed forces should protect the interests of citizens, and not that of powerful traders.

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3895, 2.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #493, 2.5.2010

  • Land Disputes Increased in 2010, though Land Prices Dropped [according to the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee – more than 80 organizations were involved in 236 cases in 2009, compared to the corresponding period in 2010, there is an increase by 34.3%]
  • More Than 200,000 [Cambodian] Workers Are Working Illegally in Thailand [and seriously suffer from the exploitation of their labor – according to the Ministry of Interior]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2264, 2.5.2010

  • The United States of America Increases the Visa Fees to the USA from 4 June 2010 [from US$131 to US$140 for non-immigrant visas]
  • The King Issued a Royal Decree to Finalize the Appointments of Four Officials, and to Nominate Five Others [as advisors and under-secretaries of state; all of them are officials from the quota of FUNCINPEC]
  • The Number of Traffic Accidents within Five Months of 2010 Decreased, but the Number of Deaths Rose [there were 2,626 cases in 2010 which dropped by 145, but 804 people were killed, an increase by 11 deaths]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #671, 2.5.2010

  • [President of the National Assembly] Heng Samrin Does Not Allow Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit and Monitor the Putting of Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; the Sam Rainsy Party claims that the marker is planted on Khmer territory, while the government denies it]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6971, 2.5.2010

  • Traffic Accidents in 2009 Made the Government Waste US$248 Million in 2009 [1,717 people were killed and 7,022 others suffered from serious injuries]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3895, 2.5.2010

  • The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee Appealed to the Armed Forces to Protect the Interest of Citizens More Than That of Traders

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #184, 2.5.2010

  • Land Disputes Might Be a Hot Agenda in the Meeting between Cambodia and Donors Today
  • Cambodia Expressed the Position Not to Extradite [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin to Thailand [while the Thai government plans to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin to 187 countries]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5213, 2.5.2010

  • The Forests in Oddar Meanchey Might Bring in US$30 Million from the Voluntary Carbon Market
  • A Tropical Strom Hit Two Districts in Siem Reap and Destroyed 373 Houses
  • Samdech Hun Sen Called on All National Institutions to Strongly Pay Attention to Children [he said so during the 61th anniversary of the International Children’s Day]
  • The National Assemblies of Cambodia and of Iran Encourage the Governments of Both Countries to Establish Embassies
  • Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places

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The Club of Cambodian Journalists and the European Union Cooperate to Encourage the Free Flow of Information in Cambodia – Tuesday, 1.6.2010

Posted on 2 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Phnom Penh: The Club of Cambodian Journalists and the European Commission Delegation to Cambodia jointly organized a workshop about public relations with the aim to strengthen press relations with other institutions, to foster the free flow of information in Cambodia.

“There were more than 20 participants from organizations supported by the European Union and the Senate that attend this important workshop.

“The Charge d’Affairs of the European Commission Delegation to Cambodia, Mr. Rafael Dochao Morena, said during the workshop that ‘Public relations are very important in delivering information to the public and to strengthen relations between institutions and the public. The participants in this workshop will gain knowledge about basis concepts of public relations.’

“The Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, pointed out the importance of the workshop, saying that it is a field that the Royal Government of Cambodia supports, in order to ensure press freedom.

“This 5-day workshop, from 31 May to 4 June 2010, aims mainly at encouraging the free publication of information to serve the public interest. Participants will learn theory and actual experiences for effective press relations. Through the presentations of many speakers, experienced in both public relations and the press, participants will gain basic knowledge to help public relations officials or information officials from different organizations and institutions to fulfill their duties more effectively with the press in Cambodia.

“The president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Mr. Pen Samitthy, said that some organizations and institutions complain about their difficulties in working with journalists. Some criticize that the press does not help publish information about their activities, while journalists complain that they lack access to information that they should cover, for their publications to the public. He said, ‘Because of such complaints, the Club of Cambodian Journalists sees that there is a gap of understanding between public relations officials of different organizations and institutions on one side, and journalists on the other.’ He added that everybody must know clearly that the priority mission of journalists is to publish information that serves the public interest, but journalists cannot be propagandists who serve the interests of specific organizations or institutions. It is the duty of public relations officials or information officers to encourage the publication of activities of their organizations or institutions. For the benefit of the press, the workshop aims at organizations and institutions to have their own information officers in order to effectively offer information to journalists. This is also the goal of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, always encouraging the appointment of spokespersons at many institutions to ensure public access to information.

“The Club of Cambodian Journalists is an independent organization, created to serve the interests of journalists and to protect them, as well as to promote press freedom and to strengthen journalism in Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5212, 1.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #492, 1.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Chinese Government Talks Less but Does Much
  • Two People Died and Five Were Wounded, and Many Houses Were Destroyed in Siem Reap [by a rainstorm]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2263, 1.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Inaugurated the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Prek Kdam [across the Tonle Sap river – Kandal]
  • A Family [husband, wife, and their son] Were Convicted to Serve 20 Years in Prison for Killing a Kompong Thom Fishery Official [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #670, 1.6.2010

  • [The acting president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm Said That China Provides Aid to Cambodia without Setting Any Conditions, but China Receives Concession Land to Exploit Mineral Resources from Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6970, 1.6.2010

  • Children Faced Violation in 2009: There Were 278 Cases of Human Rights Violations against Children, 209 Cases Were Rape [according to the Khmer Census League and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), announced during the International Children Day]
  • [About 300] Ou Russey Market Vendors Asked [the Prime Minister] to Restrain the Roth Sensopheap Company [as this company, the market administrator, requires them to pay many types of fees, affecting their livelihood]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3894, 1.6.2010

  • [The Sam Rainy party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann Said that the Government Should Provide Concession Land with Contracts from 40 to 50 Years Only [so far, contracts for concession land were mostly for up to 99 years], and He Does Not Want to See that Contracts Lead to the Mistreatments of Citizens and to Land Disputes

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #183, 1.6.2010

  • Cambodia Needs More Than US$6 Billion for a Five-Year National Development Plan [from 2009 to 2013; according to a decision of the National Assembly]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5212, 1.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Wants to Hold Military Exercises to Show [257] Military Trucks Donated by China [worth Yuan 100 million [approx. US$15 million]; this aid will be delivered on 18 June 2010]
  • 155 Families Filed Lawsuits against the An Marady Rubber Plantation Company after They Received Notifications that the Company Will Evict Them from Their Village [Kompong Cham]
  • The Club of Cambodian Journalists and the European Union Cooperate to Encourage the Free Flow of Information in Cambodia

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Eliminating Illegal Settlements – Monday, 31.5.2010

Posted on 1 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“On Friday the Council of Ministers approved a circular for dealing with illegal settlements on state land.

“The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, said on Sunday, ‘The circular will help citizens and the government to eliminate anarchic settlements on state land in populated areas, in cities, and at public places [like parks, pedestrian lanes, etc.]. In the future we will eradicate illegal settlements at public places.’

“The circular aims at resolving problems at temporary settlements, also called anarchic constructions, that are built on state land, which results in the loss of road space for traveling, or there is no sanitation. The circular advises the local authorities to provide data about the actual number of such illegal settlements and the number of families, producing plans of these anarchic constructions in order to find solutions, to organize infrastructure and public services to support the life of the people.

“A legal expert of the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions [which works in 20 different countries around the world], Mr. Pen Sithorn, said that the new circular is not bad, but it depends on whether or not the implementation will involve also non-government organizations and the affected communities. He said, ‘The circular says it depends on the government what kind of participation from different sides they will allow.’

Note:

Additional information from the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions:

“A senior official of the Cambodia Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Mr. Chan Soveth, said on Sunday that the circular is good, but its enforcement is not as good as the contents stated in the circular, which makes people live in ever worse conditions. He added, ‘The government evicts people and accepts coordination from the authorities. They confiscate people’s land and deliver it to the rich and to companies, providing little compensation to people. Thousands of citizens have been affected by the policy of the government to force citizens to move to remote areas.’ He went on to say that even though citizens are living on state land, they have been living there for years before the land law was approved. Therefore, they should be offered solutions through the provision of new areas with proper living conditions.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #142, 31.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 31 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #4, 30-31.5.2010

  • A Car Loaded with Paddy Rice Was Intercepted – there Were More Than 800 Kilogram of Turtles Hidden in It, to Be Exported to Vietnam [Kandal]
  • Disputes [through the exchange of statements quoted in the press] between [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit and [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Creates Political Tension in Siam [Thailand]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2262, 30-31.5.2010

  • The Thai Authorities Released [207] Khmer Citizens Who Had Been Accused of Possessing Explosive Materials
  • Construction Workers on the Bokor Mountain Had a Car Accident while Getting Ahead of another Car – Two Died and Twenty Eight Others Were Injured

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #773, 31.5.2010

  • Oknha Ly Say Kheang, a Big Trader Destroying the Forest, Appeared in Sihanoukville after Having Escaped from Arrest for a While [he was arrested in late March 2010 over illegal wood trading and keeping some in storage. He was spotted driving a luxury car and relaxing in Sihanoukville]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #669, 30-31.5.2010

  • The Ministry of Interior Allows a Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian to Visit Ms. Meas Srey and Mr. Prum Chea [jailed for uprooting Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6969, 31.5.2010

  • More Than 60 Persons [police, military police, soldiers, as well as a prosecutor, a commune chief and a village chief] Surrounded a Site where a Military Captain is Storing Luxury Grade Wood [seizing 922 pieces of wood, but the owner of the wood has not been arrested – Svay Rieng]
  • Cambodia Condemned the Persons Who Planted a Sea Mine [attacking a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 sailors] – They Cause Instability on the Korean Peninsular

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3893, 31.5.2010

  • Forced Evictions are against the Constitution and Cannot Be Legalized – Those Who Criticize This Should Not Be Stopped

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #142, 31.5.2010

  • Eliminating Illegal Settlements
  • The Authorities Seek to Arrest Citizens over a Land Dispute [with the Heng Development Company; two persons were arrested for inciting villagers go to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s resident]
  • A US Company [Elixir Gaming Technologies] Received a License to Open a Casino in Takeo [this company plans to start constructing a casino late next year, spending US$8 to 10 million]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #51, 30-31.5.2010

  • An Environmental Officials: The Sesan Hydro Electric Dam II [planned to be constructed late next year] Will Not Flood Ratanakiri [but it might affect only four communes in Stung Treng]
  • Police Arrested a Man Who Raped His Three Step Daughters over a long Time [aged from 12 to 17 – Siem Reap]

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Cambodia Promises to Use the Money from Mineral Resources Transparently – Thursday, 27.5.2010

Posted on 28 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“International experts who attended the international conference about mineral exploration that was held for the first time in Cambodia on Wednesday, 26 May 2010, said that mineral exploration in Cambodia, which has not provided any yield so far, is like a blank project that can get benefits from the experience in other countries so as to avoid any possible mistakes.

“The conference was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh with 300 participants from all around the world to discuss transparency and development for the mineral exploration sector which has just started to be developed in Cambodia.

“This conference was organized also in view of the internal investigation about the accusation against the BHP Billiton company that is known in the public with the allegation that it had bribed [the government] to gain exploration rights in Mondolkiri.

“UNDP Resident Representative Douglas Broderick said during his speech that the start to develop the mineral exploration sector in Cambodia is part of the start to develop these resources. He said, ‘Minerals are under the ground. And it depends on our cooperation to ensure that the Cambodian people can get their benefits from the huge income from the exploitation of these natural resources.’

“Prime Minister Hun Sen considers the natural resources of the country as a new treasure that can contribute to the potential of the economy. He added that natural resources as well as agriculture, the garment and the construction sectors, and tourism can contribute to the development of the economy of the country.

“The Prime Minister stressed, ‘If Cambodia has the opportunity to explore its mineral treasures, Cambodia will use the income from it responsibly for the sake of the nation.’

“In his speech, that strongly criticized Global Witness, Mr. Hun Sen called on the participants to share their knowledge in order to help the government to maximize the financial benefits from this sector, to develop the country and to reduce poverty.

“A senior expert in mineral exploration of the World Bank, Mr. Craig Andrews, told the Phnom Penh Post that this sector will provide benefits to the country if related regulations and taxes are properly enforced, and correctly aimed at the important points, before the exploration begins.

“He suggested that Cambodia should not follow Australia regarding the collection of high taxes from the profits of the exploration, saying that the exploration in Australia and in Cambodia requires policies that are different.

“Mr. Craig Andrew said that a policy to collect low taxes from the exploration, and the stability of the country, will help Cambodia to attract foreign investors.

“According to the economic and mineral exploration expert Roderick Eggert, the developing exploration sector that can be taken as models of international success are that of Chile and of Botswana.

“He said, ‘Cambodian is starting as a blank project. The country has the chance to do the right things to get benefits from other countries. He added that mineral exploration companies are paying attention to transparency and openness.'” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #180, .275.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 27 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #488, 27.5.2010

  • Cambodia Does Not Depend on Mineral Resources Alone for Its National Economic Development
  • India Promised to Send Back Eight Khmer Citizens Who Were Trafficked to India [eight Khmer Citizens phoned their families in Cambodia to seek help from human rights organizations and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2259, 27.5.2010

  • The Government Will Cancel the Exploration and Exploitation Rights of Any Company That Commits Crimes [said Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #666, 27.5.2010

  • [Phnom Penh Municipal Governor] Kep Chuktema Does Not Allow the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community to Organize a Commemoration of the Anniversary of the Loss of [Khmer Kampuchea Krom] Land [to Vietnam] in Front of Wat Botum [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6966, 27.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Strongly Reacted against Global Witness, Calling this Organization a Group of Thieves in London [over their criticism of the lack of transparency related to the management of payments received from natural resources exploration companies]
  • Each Year Ratanakiri Loses 2,000 Hectares of Forest Land [because of the clearance of land by forestry criminals to claim land for selling, and by ethnic minority people to claim farmland – according to the Ratanakiri governor]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3890, 27.5.2010

  • Civil Society Encourages Donors to Press the Government over Human Rights Issues and Democracy during a Meeting planned for 2 June 2010 [between Cambodia and development partners]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #180, .275.2010

  • [UN Meeting] in the United States of America: The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Receives US$16.9 Million New Funds for 2010 [promised by donors]
  • Cambodia Promises to Use the Money from Mineral Resources Transparently

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5208, 27.5.2010

  • The UN Secretary General Called for Funds for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [funds needed in 2010 are more than US$21 million]
  • An Investigating Judge Issued a Warrant to Bring [opposition party president] Sam Rainsy to Court [for questioning over the accusation of having faked public documents, and having spread misinformation]
  • The Government Has a Plan to Give 133,145 Hectares of Social Concession Land for 4,000 Families of Soldiers and Members of the Police [in sixteen provinces]

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“The Right to Know” and to Participate – Sunday, 23.5.2010

Posted on 24 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

The Mirror frequently reports about the difficulty of journalists to get information about public concerns when they contact officials at different ministries, even when there are spokespersons appointed. It happens from time to time that these officials refer to others, and the referred persons again to others – and a question remains unanswered, or with different conflicting responses. The most recent such case relates to the more than US$25 million, paid by foreign companies – and it is difficult to know where and according to which procedures they were used or are still kept.

Now it is reported that also the Prime Minister has such problems: it is reported that he warned army commanders to report in detail about the border situation, neither to exaggerate, nor to understate the reality. The media can only welcome such a statement by the Prime Minister, as it may help to clarify the need to have reliable information provided by those who have it – in this case those in charge of leadership of the military at the border.

There were other – related and unrelated problems – in the reports during the last months. On the one hand there is support for the soldiers who are charged with keeping a dangerous situation of border tensions under control – while higher level political discussions between Cambodia and Thailand, which could lead to a final solution of the border problems, do not progress. So there is emotional support for the troops. On the other hand there were many more reports of illegal logging also from the northern border region, since there is more military stationed there.

That the Prime Minister called on the troops to protect the forest and the land in the areas of their bases may be understood in this context – but it does not relate only to the northern border region. Since larger private enterprises started to sponsor and financially support specific military units, there were also reports in the media that up to 150 soldiers have been deployed to protect the preparations for a sugar production entity against the people who claim that this happens on their land. What is the meaning of the Prime Minister’s words – “the troops should protect the forest and the land in the areas of their bases” – in such a situation?

International and national news during the week covered extensively the escalating tensions in Thailand, and the final, violent confrontations between the – initially – peaceful protesters and the military, which led, at the end, to the loss of the life of many people. More than 35 buildings were set on fire after the leadership of the Red Shirts had declared an end of the confrontation; in one building alone, the dead bodies of 10 persons were now found, who had been killed by the fire.

The discussions to come to a common understanding about what happened is controversial – when a solution was closer as ever during these weeks, and then everything turned around negatively. The following is a quote from a Most Viewed report and analysis in the Bangkok Post from three days before the final violence, from 16.5.2010, moved by the concern that the situation was heading toward a bloody conflict. Such reports stands also under the warning of the Prime Minister: to try to find the reality – “neither to exaggerate, nor to understate” – however difficult this is, step by step.

…The military coup in 2006 wrongly overthrew the then democratically elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. That was no democracy.

The coup council handed the power back to the people in 2007. The People Power Party (PPP) won the following election. That was democracy.

The PPP was banned by the Constitution Court for electoral irregularities and the parliament the democratically elected representatives of Thailand voted the Democrats into power. That was democracy.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) argue against the Democrat-led coalition government’s legitimacy and protest for the government to step down and call a general election.

That was democracy.

And the UDD had won.

The goals of the UDD from the very start: They wanted a House dissolution. They will have one in September. They wanted a general election. They will have one on Nov 14. All within seven months and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s term actually ends in January 2012, a year and a half from now.

They should be dancing in the streets, celebrating victory. Then we can all go to the voting booth in November. Peace and democracy. But no.

The truth has revealed itself. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship is simply using democracy as a front in the interests of dictatorship. Refusing the peaceful compromise, forsaking the democratic process, continuing to harm the country for the interests of one man, Thaksin Shinawatra, fighting against security forces of the rightful democratic government of Thailand – that’s an uprising, it’s a rebellion.

It’s criminal. That is not democracy.

If you disagree with me and think the UDD is in the right, then let me simplify it: The next time you’re pulled over by the law in a traffic stop, you should just burn tires, shoot slingshots at the cop and call him a dictator…

Here’s Thaksin’s dilemma. Peace and the democratic process don’t guarantee his return to power…

Accepting the compromise is a loss of face and may even make Prime Minister Abhisit look good in the eyes of the people, for biting the bullet and extending his hand. Thaksin Shinawatra can no longer rely on the voting booths. He can no longer rely on the democratic process. The UDD has used democracy as a tool – manipulated and exploited it to return Thaksin to power. Now that they are no longer confident that the democratic process will serve their interests, the UDD has transformed itself from a democratic movement into an uprising, a rebellion, a criminal organization.

It’s worth repeating: They wanted a House dissolution. They have one in September. They wanted a general election. They have one on Nov 14. That’s democracy. Instead, they flushed democracy down the toilet…

The UDD is screaming: ”Now! Now! Now! Prime Minister resign now!” Thaksin Shinawatra is crying: ”Me! Me! Me! I want my power back!” That’s not democracy…

And when there’s a rebellion, the government must put down the rebellion. Otherwise, we have anarchy. The law must be swift, severe and certain – any student of criminology can tell you that.

It didn’t have to come to this. It shouldn’t have come to this. But here we are on the brink of anarchy because of the pride, greed and vengefulness of one man, and of the indecisiveness, uncertainty and lack of leadership of another.

One day later, on 17.5.2010, the Bangkok Post wrote that Red leaders all miscalculated and are losing. Instead of accepting the proposals of the government,

“they promptly replied with more demands to the government…

The hardliners in the UDD wanted to corner Mr. Abhisit with more conditions, while the moderate camp led by Mr. Veera Musikhapong tried in vain to convince the others to stop the rally by accepting the prime minister’s proposal…

If only they had agreed to disperse the protest after Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban reported to the Department of Special Investigation last week, they would have emerged as the winner of the political standoff. The leaders could have told the demonstrators that they successfully forced the prime minister to call an early poll.
In fact, the offer by Mr Abhisit was the best ever since the red shirts converged on the capital in mid-March…

The hard core members miscalculated that they could press for more from the prime minister after seeing him show signs of compromise…

The UDD has come up with new calls for Mr Abhisit to immediately quit and not lead the interim government while waiting for the new elections to take place…

The only condition for the prime minister is to immediately end the rally with no more bargains. It would not have turned out this way had the UDD leaders not made the wrong move.

In December 2005, Prime Minister Hun Sen had warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution. Nobody can hope that the continuing confrontations related to land conflicts remain mostly solved against the people who have lived and worked on the land for years. This is not only a political concern which the Prime Minister raised in 2005; also many agro-economists consider big agro-business less productive economically – and socially.

The public, the citizens, need to know and be involved, when basic future policy is developed. Obviously, part of the rural population in Thailand felt that they were kept out, and not listened to. Their peaceful protest was not listened to in time, and got finally beyond control.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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