Thirty Percent of Construction Workers Are Unemployed – Wednesday, 31.12.2008 – end of the year 2008

Posted on 31 December 2008. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

“The Cambodian economy, which should continue to grow now, seems to be like a jammed brake, because investment capital this year declined up to [the figures available for] November, where foreign investment capital for construction, which is an important sector, decreased by more than 12%. Tens of thousands of workers are laid off, and this affects one important part of industry and then also others.

“The financial crisis strongly affects the construction sector in Cambodia, because big investment capital is mainly coming from foreign countries; as for investors from South Korea, they are directly affected by the meltdown of the economy in the United States of America.

“The latest figure of the Royal Government published, said that during 11 months of 2008, investment in the construction sector and in related furniture development declined by 12.5%; compared to the same period of last year, it declined from US$3.2 billion to US$2,8 billion. This figure is from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction.

“The above problems result from the decline of construction, from the prices of furniture materials, and from the meltdown of the world economy as a whole, while the construction sector around the world encountered also the same problems during 11 months of this year.

“As for Cambodia, the labor unions say that 30% of the construction workers are laid off, and various projects are suspended. The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction said that Cambodia had between 45,000 and 50,000 workers employed, with salaries between US$60 and US$1,200.

“Senior Minister and Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction H.E. Im Chhun Lim said that such meltdown happened at the same time of foreign investment projects being under development, and it is forecast that in 2009 the decline will continue.

“The problems in the construction sector strongly affect the prices of construction materials… prices declined around 30% to 40%; but even so, such materials cannot be sold, and businesspeople who had invested in this sector mostly did it depending on bank loans.

“He went on to say that big construction projects, such as the construction projects of the CamKo City [Cambodian-Korean City], or the double Gold Tower 42 [42 stories], and of the International Finance Center Tower, are still in progress, but they are not stable.

“Between June and November, there were around 1,869 construction sites countrywide, while in 2007, there had been 1,942.

“It is the first time that figures are released, after press reports had said that big construction projects in our country – in Phnom Penh – have all closed down.

“The president of the Cambodian Economic Association, Mr. Chan Sophal, shared his opinion that the construction sector was seriously affected during the last six months of this year, and in early 2009 it will get worse…

“The Cambodian Economy grew 10% on average during previous years, with the garment industry, tourism, and the construction sector as energetic forces.” Mate Nak, Vol.1, #16, 31.12.2008-6.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1374, 31.12.2008

  • Nine Pawn Houses’ Illegalities [accepting stolen motorcycles etc.] Were Stopped [in Phnom Penh]

Deum Ampil, Vol.2, #102, 31.12.2008-1.1.2009

  • The Supreme Court Will Decide the Fates of Born Samnang and Sok Sam Oeun This Morning [appealing their conviction for killing the president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Vichea, in 2004 – Note: They have been released on bail!]
  • The National Assembly Decided to Allow Two Chinese Companies to Invest in the Electricity Supply System in Cambodia, Spending Around US$1 Billion [by constructing hydro-electricity dams on the Ta Tai River in Koh Kong, and the Russey Krom hydro-electricity dam near the Kravanh Mountains]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1834, 31.12.2008

  • The King Inaugurates a New Building of the Jayavarman VII Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap
  • The Ministry of Heath Prepares Six Health Hazard Warning Pictures to Be Put in Turn on Cigarette Packages
  • Israel Strongly Attacks the Hamas Group in Garza; 345 Palestinians and 4 Israelis Died [Note: After years of international criticism against the political system in the Palestinian territories, in early 2006 there were the first democratic elections – and Hamas won the majority in Gaza]
  • Sheikh Hasina Leads Election Results in Bangladesh [Note: Unofficial results say she won 255 seats, her rival only 32, out of 300]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #172, 31.12.2008

  • An Official of the Department of Education Voices Concern about the Future of Children and of Human Resources in Some Regions, where Children Drop Out of School to Become Merchandise Cart Draggers [at the Phnom Dey Cambodian-Thai border crossing point in Battambang]
  • Khmer Women Getting Married with Korean Men Wait Anxiously for Leaving [to Korea, after the ban of international marriages has been lifted]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6539, 31.12.2008

  • The Thai Parliament Met in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Continue to Block the Parliament House and Refuse to Withdraw

Mate Nak, Vol.1, #16, 31.12.2008-6.1.2009

  • 30% of Construction Workers Are Unemployed

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3653, 31.12.2008

  • [Minister of Interior] Sar Kheng Acknowledges that There Is Corruption among High Ranking Police Officers

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4782, 31.12.2008

  • The First Elevated Road in Cambodia, from Phnom Penh to Ta Khmao [in Kandal], Received Construction Permission [by the Phnom Penh Municipality]
  • Vietnam Said that Merchants Are Rushing to Smuggle Goods from the Khmer Border into Vietnam [in An Giang Province]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3467, 31.12.2008

  • Siamese [Thai] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Kasit Piromya] Greeted [Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Mr. Hor Namhong by Phone and Plans to Visit Cambodia Officially [but the date of his visit is not yet fixed]

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

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No Need to Wait for a Law on Access to Information: The Press in Cambodia Faces Rejection When Trying to Get Information – Monday, 29.12.2008

Posted on 30 December 2008. Filed under: Week 593 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

“Phnom Penh: In an attempt to play a better role as conveyor of messages from citizens to the Royal Government and from the Royal Government to citizens, the Club of Cambodian Journalists held the Fifth Editors’ Forum of Cambodia under the motto ‘Assessments by Editors of the Situation of Access to Information’ in the evening of 27 December 2008 at the Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh, with a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Information, Mr. Nov Sovatharo, chairing. This important forum was supported by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation like the previous forums.

“There was an active discussion after four speakers – Mr. Puy Kea, a reporter of the Kyodo News Agency of Japan, Mr. Pen Bona, co-editor of Cambodge Soir, Mr. Net Phatra, representing the Phnom Penh Post, and Mr. Chea Sayna, the editor of Koh Santepheap – expressed their opinions related to easiness and difficulties related to ‘Access to Information and Problems Faced.’ At the end, the editors’ forum decided to release the following joint declaration:

Joint Declaration of the Fifth Editors’ Forum of Cambodia ‘Access to Information without Waiting for a Law about Access to Information’
27 December 2008
Himawari Hotel
Phnom Penh, Cambodia

All of us, 35 people (as seen in the attached list with our signatures [not included here]) editors, publishing both through newspapers and through radio and TV in Cambodia, met during the Fifth Editors’ Forum in Phnom Penh on 27 December 2008 to discuss and to assess the situation of access to information which we face in our professional work during the year, and to find solutions. Under the theme of ‘Access to Information and Different Problems Faced speakers raised problems, expressed views, and provided recommendations related to:

  • The situation of access to information for foreign news agencies in Cambodia
    • Access to information related to the Preah Vihear border disputes
    • Access to information at different provinces countrywide
    • Access to information at central level (in Phnom Penh, at ministries, at private companies)

    Then, the Fifth Editor’s Forum of Cambodia discussed, in general, all points raised in the forum by the speakers and joined to assess the situation of access to information in Cambodia with high responsibility.

    Problems Identified Limiting Access to Information

    After discussions and assessments by the Fifth Editors’ Forum, the following problems are seen:

    1. Spokespersons or Public Relations Officials, or Information Officials: Many ministries and other state institutions, like the National Assembly, the Senate, as well as organizations and companies, do not have spokespersons or public relations officials, or information officials who professionally fulfill these tasks. This becomes a major obstacle against the flow of information for the general public, as guaranteed by the Constitution of 1993.
    2. Provision of Documents: In general, official documents are necessary, to be sure that a report and its information is made correctly, official documents are mostly not confidential documents, official documents have to be published by individual institutions and ministries that have to provide information to the public, and to publish about their own activities…, but often, such documents are not provided or prepared for publication and provided to journalists, not even their annual reports, and reports about the orientation of their work in the new year.
    3. Different Programs, Activities, and Meetings: Meetings that should be open are often declared to be internal and confidential affairs of the institutions, and journalists are asked to leave the meetings. At the same time, the work plans of the leaders of ministries and of other institutions are usually kept locked away in a drawer in the administration’s office, so that it sometimes seems that leaders of ministries are more secretive than the prime minister – and sometimes they do not seem to work.
    4. Announcements of Information: A small number of ministries announce information about some important events. But, regrettably, most ministries and institutions do not announce information, and some information is announced unexpectedly late.
    5. Regular Meetings and Press Conferences: In contrast to what is done in other modern countries, most ministries and institutions do not hold press conference or meet with journalists at all, although there were important and big problems to be explained and published. This makes the public to feel uninformed about the activities and the work of such ministries or institutions.
    6. Websites: Websites are one of the most important sources of information in this era of information technology. Most ministries and institutions have their own websites. This is an encouraging start. However, regrettably, most websites of ministries and of institutions are not kept updated with new information. Therefore, their websites cannot provide information and do not indicate where information can be found.

    Conclusion

    The weaknesses and gaps mentioned above are problems working against the access to information, and therefore the efficiency of different services, especially of public services, is questioned. Nevertheless, these problems can be addressed without waiting for a law about access to information. Corrections can be made through a change of behavior of some officials, and by a reorganization of the working structures at different institutions and ministries. The Royal Government has done a lot of work for people’s wellbeing and for national development, but the above shortages seems to swallow all achievements and accomplishments, when they are not shown to the public: to know, to hear, and to see. In the meantime, some facts in the social and economic life are ignored or are not solved in time, and consequently, everyone is a loser, both the Royal Government and the citizens.

    Appeal in a Situation that a Law about Access to Information Is Not Yet Adopted
    1. The Fifth Editor’s Forum of Cambodia would like to ask all ministries and institutions to appoint information officials or public relations officials, or spokespersons, and to organize their work so that they can work professionally and can fulfill their different tasks, such as to provide documents, to provide data about the work and about their activities, and especially to be able to respond to questions from journalists.
    2. All ministries and institutions should hold press conferences or meet with journalists regularly, to provide information about their activities and about the work of their ministries and institutions, and they must be conducted at least once per month.
    3. In cases of emergency, all ministries and institutions should release timely information for publication for the sake of the public. The publication of timely information can sometimes avoid danger and damage.
    4. All ministries and institutions should create their own websites to provide information to the public. As for some ministries and institutions that already have their own websites, they have to update information on their websites every day when there is new information.
    5. The Fifth Editors’ Forum of Cambodia will observe and assess the provision of information, and the Sixth Editors’ Forum, to be held again in 2009, will promote and strengthen the role of the Cambodian press in Cambodian society and in the international arena.

    Phnom Penh, 27 December 2008”
    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6537, 29.12.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 29 December 2008

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1832, 28-29.12.2008

    • Siem Reap Court Detains Three People, including a Journalist [of Sangkum Khmer], over a Land Dispute in Chi Kraeng District [for using violence against a real estate owner, and for provoking crimes, while residents said that they are arrested unjustly]
    • Pakistan and India Send Troops to their Border, Increasing Tension
    • China Sends Warships to the Gulf of Aden [to help fight Somali pirates]

    Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #314, 28-30.12.2008

    • Secretary of State of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology Tan Vanthara Appeared at a Gambling Site of the Phnom Penh Hotel
    • [Former military police officer] Chea Ratha Said Something about the Place Where She Is Hiding [she is living in a pagoda in a foreign country], Adding that She Is a Victim Regarding the Acid Attack [on the aunt of Ms. In Soklida, a well-known film star, with whom she had an affair]
    • [Former Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs] Noppadon Pattama Will Raise the Preah Vihear Temple Problem, to Attack [new Prime Minister] Abhisit Vejjajiva [during the meeting of the Thai parliament]

    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #170, 28-29.12.2008

    • Dey Krahom Community Residents Face Eviction on 30 December 2008 [after the Chamkar Mon district office issued the last notice for the rest of 91 families (of 1274 families) at the Building Block area to leave by 30 December 2008]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6537, 29.12.2008

    • No Need to Wait for a Law on Access to Information: The Press in Cambodia Faces Rejection When Trying to Get Information
    • Negotiation with Siam [Thailand] Is Still the Position for Border Issues and It Is the Most Appropriate Choice to Avoid War [said spokesperson of the government and Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith]
    • Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of the ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Start to Surround the Thai Parliament [to prevent the presentation of the policy statement by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva]
    • Israel Attacked Hamas in Gaza Causing Many Deaths [as revenge for Hamas rocket attacks on Israel – at least 271 people were killed and more than 620 others were injured. – Status on 29.12.2008: 1 soldier and 3 civilians were killed in Israel; more that 310 persons were killed in Gaza, and hundreds wounded]
    • More Than 98,000 Civilians Killed in Iraq [since 2003]

    Meatophum, Vol.52, #716, 29-31.12.2008

    • If [Minister of Foreign Affairs] Mr. Hor Namhong Does Not Assign His Son, Whom Should He Assign? [he will appoint his son, Hor Monyrath, to be ambassador in Japan from 2009]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3651, 29.12.2008

    • The Spokesperson of the Government [Mr. Khieu Kanharith] Said that If an Armed Clash Happens along the Khmer-Siamese [Thai] Border, Cambodia Would Need 20,000 Troops
    • Members of the European Parliament Prepare to Sue Yuon [Vietnamese] Airline [for preventing them, Mr. Marco Panella and Mr. Marco Perduca, to board a plane from Cambodia to Vietnam]
    • The Director of the Cambodia Mine Action Authority Was Removed from His Position Related to Corruption [over the collapse of financing for the mine-sniffing dog raising and breeding program – Mr. Sam Sotha was replaced by Mr. Chum Bunrong, an advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen]

    Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1336, 29.12.2008

    • The Public of the [Phnom Penh] City Welcomes that the Authorities Curb Down Illegal Motorbike Pawn Shops [because such places are said to increase robberies in the city – nearly 2,000 motorbikes were found, 70% do not have number plates or tax stickers]


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4780, 28-29.12.2008

    • The Ministry of Interior Starts to Release Money instead of Rice to Police in 2009 [because of quality problems, late delivery, and loss of rice – instead of 1 kilogram of rice Riel 2,800 is paid – approx. US$0.70 – no information given how many kg in total are provided per month]
    • The Setting of Cambodia-Vietnam Border Markers Is Delayed until 2012 [the Cambodian-Vietnamese border of 1,270 km needs to be marked with 370 markers, worth more than US$15 million, and Vietnam is responsible for the whole expenses]

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

    And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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