Cambodia Will Hand Over Two Terrorist Suspects to Thai Embassy Officials on Monday – Monday, 5.7.2010

Posted on 8 July 2010. Filed under: Week 672 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

“On Saturday Cambodian police arrested two Thai citizens accused of being involved in planing a bomb attack in Bangkok last month. The two alleged terrorists will be handed over to Thai embassy officials today [5 July 2010].

“According to an announcement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation that the Phnom Penh Post received on Sunday, Siem Reap police on Saturday evening arrested suspects Kobchai Boonplod, born on 19 July 1967, and Varissareeya Boonsom, female, born on 30 September 1967, accused of having performed a terrorist bomb attack on 22 June 2010 in Bangkok.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Koy Kuong, said, ‘We had enough documents to confirm that they are bomb suspects before we arrested them.’ He added that the Cambodian authorities will hand over the two suspects to Thai embassy officials in Phnom Penh on Monday, 5 July 2010, at 9:30 at the Phnom Penh International Airport.

“He went on to say that Thai authorities spoke to the press last week, saying that the two suspects, who are masterminds of the bomb attack on the headquarters of the Bhumjaithai Party [a member of the present Thai government coalition] on 22 June 2010, escaped to Cambodia, but Thailand did not ask Cambodia to arrest them.

“Mr. Koy Kuong added, ‘The Cambodian government promised to extradite the two suspects to Thailand though there was no request from Thailand. This shows the willingness of the Cambodian Government to fight terrorism, as the Cambodian government always cooperates with other countries to combat terrorism. Monday last week, the Thai press had quoted Police Lieutenant Colonel Benjapol Rodsawas, deputy chief of the Sa Kaew immigration office, as saying that Varissareeya Boonsom and Kobchai Boonplod left Thailand separately on Wednesday last week and escaped to Cambodia a day after the bomb attack outside the headquarters of the Bhumjaithai Party at Phaholyothin Road in Bangkok. At that time, Cambodian officials rejected the information.

“Regarding this issue, the spokesperson of the Thai government, Mr. Panitan Wattanayagorn, stated yesterday that he could not comment on the situation until the perpetrators have been handed over to the Thai authorities today. But he welcomed the cooperation by Cambodia. He said, ‘In general, we welcome the cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia in all activities and we think that it encourages additional cooperation.’ Asked about the accusations by the Cambodian government, he said that he does not have a role to comment on the affairs or views of Cambodia.

“The executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, Mr. Chheang Vannarith, said that the arrest shows warming relations between both countries. He said, ‘I think that the Cambodian government takes a flexible position on bilateral ties with Thailand. I can see positive progress for bilateral ties.

“Both countries decided to withdraw their respective ambassadors in November last year, after Cambodia appointed former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra [convicted for corruption in a land deal] as an economic advisor of the Cambodian government.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #207, 5.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 5 July 2010

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #108, 5-6.7.2010

  • Mr. Chea Mony: My New Term [as president of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Is to Struggle to Demand a Salary Increase [to a minimum of US$93] and to Create a Labor Court

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2292, 4-5.7.2010

  • Illegal Check Points Are Increasing at Night in Phnom Penh [to extort money from citizens traveling on motorcycles], but Higher Level Officials Ignore This [they check whether people wear helmets, have back-view mirrors, number plates, and a motorbike license. Even if there is no problem, teenagers cannot negotiate what fine to pay to be free, even when they did not commit any wrongdoings]
  • [Ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Promises to Return to Thailand at the End of This Year [to unite the Thai nation]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6999, 5.7.2010

  • A Newly Created Site for Producing Mreah Prov Oil [an important ingredient for producing the drug Ecstasy – no information about who is involved – Veal Veng district, Pursat]
  • An Inhuman Drunken Man Fatally Shot a Person for Pleasure [the perpetrator is not yet identified – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3923, 5.7.2010

  • [Opposition party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua Will Return to Cambodia This Morning, While There Are Four Days Remaining for Her to Pay Her Fine [Riel 8 million or approx. US$1,860 for losing a defamation case with Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • Singapore Imports Sand to Enlarge Its Territory without Caring about the Destruction of the Cambodian Seashore Environment [according to Global Witness, this sea sand dredging threatens and affects fish as well as the bio-diversity of the sea]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #207, 5.7.2010

  • Cambodia Will Hand Over Two Terrorist Suspects to Thai Embassy Officials on Monday
  • Officials: The Number of Deaths from Lightning This Year Is Lower Than Last Year [63 people were killed during the first six months of 2010, in 2009, there were only 100 deaths]


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5241, 4-5.7.2010

  • 32% of the Total Size of Cambodia Are Bio-Diversity Protected and Conservation Areas
  • Food Prices Increased by 30% within the First Six Months of 2010

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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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The Prime Minister Ordered the Authorities to Collect and Report the Numbers of Disabled People – Tuesday, 22.6.2010

Posted on 24 June 2010. Filed under: Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

Note:

Apologies – delays of the publication may occur until 17 July 2010 because of my international travel.

Norbert Klein
At present in Brussels/Belgium at the meetings of ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

“Phnom Penh: In the morning of 21 June 2010, the head of the Royal Government of Cambodia called on the authorities countrywide of all levels to collect and report the accurate numbers of disabled people, in order to facilitate the creation of policies as well as of procedures to assist the disabled people.

“The speech of the head of the Royal Government was welcomed by officials from the opposition parties and from civil society organizations in Cambodia, but they appealed on the Prime Minister to monitor the implementation by himself – otherwise the implementation by local authorities may not be effective.

“Presiding over the closing convention at the National Institute of Education, and the third anniversary of the creation of the Cambodian Veterans Association, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, said, ‘I call on the municipal and district authorities and other related authorities to check how many veterans live in their localities, and among them, how many are poor so as to set up programs to assist them.’

“An opposition party parliamentarian, Mr. Chea Poch, spoke to Deum Ampil on Monday evening, saying that he strongly supports what the Prime Minister said, adding that Samdech Hun Sen really thinks about the benefits of Cambodia’s disabled people. But he asked Samdech Hun Sen to monitor the situation himself, as some officials do not take up his recommendations.

“Mr. Chea Poch added, ‘Since 1992, and later in 1998 when the war ended, the Prime Minister mentioned this issue, but local authorities do not listen. Therefore, I suggest that Samdech Hun Sen takes practical steps.’

“As an example for a similar situation Mr. Chea Poch pointed to the case of illegal logging, which had led to the removal of the Director of the Forestry Administration in the Ministry of Agriculture, Ty Sokun, but he was not arrested and jailed. On the contrary, he has been promoted.

“A senior investigation official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Chan Soveth, praised the concern of the Royal Government of Cambodia and of the Cambodian Veteran Association, so that there should be only few disabled people found begging or causing trouble in the society.

“However, Mr. Chan Soveth regretted that the government just creates awareness, but does not initiate programs to support the daily lives of disabled people – now they feel disappointed, though they had sacrificed themselves for the country, but assistance should not be provided based on nepotism.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen clearly said that the help for disabled people should be provided without nepotism; that means that all will get help without considering their political orientation.

“Regarding this point, the head of the Royal Government asked to check certain salary lists to prevent the selling or buying and the mortgaging of materials provided to disabled people.

“He said, ‘I ask that those who bought Provisions booklets [to administer the salaries and and material donations] for disabled people to return the booklets to them, either free of charge or by selling them back at appropriate prices.’

“The Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, Mr. Ith Samheng, said during the convention that all veterans receiving support from the state in 2010 are 90,605 families or 268,082 persons, and the monthly funds spent on them amount to Riel 6,419,834,848 [approx. US$1,503,000].

“Mr. Ith Samheng added that during the convention, additional members of the central committee of the Cambodian Veterans Association were nominated, where there are 66 members, among them additional 10 permanent members, two additional deputy heads, and three more deputy general secretaries. In total, there are 161 members and 17 permanent members in the central committee of the Cambodian Veterans Association.

“It should be noted that Prime Minister Hun Sen is the head of the Cambodian Veterans Association, together with three deputy heads: Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh, Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam On, and Minister Ith Samheng.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #510, 22.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #510, 22.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Ordered the Authorities to Collect and Report the Numbers of Disabled People
  • The Prime Minister: The Use of the Word “Disappointed” by [the UN Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia] Surya [because he could not meet the Prime Minister who was not well] Is a Big Insult [for the leader of Cambodia; he suggested Mr. Surya should have said instead he “regretted” this; Mr. Hun Sen personally regards this as a serious insult against him as a patient, so that he could not offer to meet with Mr. Surya]
  • Three Siblings Were Attacked by Acid by [two] Unknown Persons [they suffered minor injuries – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2281, 22.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Cambodia Was a Peaceful Island [country with peace and no war] before the Coup on of 18 March 1970 [by Field Marshal Lon Nol] [Though there was internal war with the Khmer Rouge movement, and part of the country was used by North Vietnamese troops which led to the bombing in these areas by the US air force]
  • A Man Who Trafficked [twelve] People to Be Sold in Siam [Thailand] Was Sent for Seven Years to Prison

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #687, 22.6.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Continues to Ask Samdech Euv [the former King] to Discuss Border Issues with Yuon [Vietnamese] Leaders [during his present visit to Vietnam]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6988, 22.6.2010

  • A Woman Was Killed and Her Body Was Cut to Pieces and Thrown Away at the Pich Nel Valley [perpetrators are not yet identified – Kompong Speu]
  • The Internet Service Provider EZECOM Provides Free Internet Access to Universities

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #198, 22.6.2010

  • The State Has Provided More Than 20,000 Hectares of Land to Veterans [countrywide so far]
  • Internet Game Centers Are Opened Again after They Were Considered to Be Legal [before the authorities had closed places operating computer games regarding it as gambling. After the Minister of Information explained the difference between games and gambling, game centers are now allowed to open gain]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5230, 22.6.2010]

  • 3rd July 2010 Is the Deadline for [opposition party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua to Pay Her Fine to the Treasury [for losing a defamation court case with Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • A Mother and Her Son Were Killed in a Store by Fire [allegedly from burning incense sticks]

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Civil Society: Public Leisure Time Activity Space for Youth Becomes Smaller but Commercial Entertainment Space Increases – Saturday, 20.2.2010

Posted on 21 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“Phnom Penh: Experts in youth problems said that according to their observation, public leisure time activity space for youth in the country is becoming smaller, but commercial entertainment space, such as night clubs and beer gardens, is increasing significantly.

“A civil society organization official, who asked not to be named, said early this week that youth at present lacks public space for leisure time, but they are enjoying the increasing number of night clubs, bars, Karaoke parlors, and beer gardens, where they can drink alcohol, use drugs, and find many other services.

“He emphasized, ‘When young people nowadays open their eyes, they see nothing but beer gardens and night clubs.’

“At present, Phnom Penh has 375 square kilometers, but besides around Wat Phnom, youth can hardly find other parks. Places where they can do some physical activities are the Olympic Stadium and some few small parks, but when it comes to beer gardens, night clubs, and other places providing terribly services, they can be found at every corner of the roads.

“Regarding this comment, an independent councilor and researcher of youth problems, Mr. Tong Soprach, said on 17 February 2010 that as he has noticed, the above comment seem to be true.

“According to him, present day youth problems, such as drug addiction, crimes, and sex trafficking, result from two factors: modernization and the surrounding environment. Modernization pushes youth to fall into bad habits due to the influx of other cultures, materialism, and peer pressure. That young people are easily impressed by their peers happens because of their environment. The environment for youth is formed, at present, by beer gardens, bars, and night clubs.

“He said, ‘They are easily attracted by their friends – when they open their eyes, they see such places.’

“There are hardly any places for playing sports, besides one or two, at universities and at the old stadium.

“He added, ‘There is not much public space for youth, but we see there are more beer gardens and night clubs.’

“Besides the two experts above, the coordinator of the Cambodian Youth Council, Ms. Mao Puthearoth, recognized that libraries, bookstores, places in the open air, and places for playing sports were not increased in recent years, but there are many places of entertainment attracting young people when they travel around town every day.

“She said, ‘I do not see that cinemas were changed into libraries, but several were changed into night clubs.’

“Responding to this issue, she said that the Cambodian Youth Council will ask the Ministry of Education to focus on this issue.

“She stressed, ‘We want the government to pay attention to these issues and establish a youth policy on the national level, which is now still in the status of being drafted.

“Ms. Puthearoth said that the Cambodian Youth Council is encouraging the government to create places of entertainment for youth and take youth problems into consideration, before it decides to provide licenses for any commercial entertainment places to be operated, especially night clubs and other strange places for youth.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5131, 20.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 20 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #415, 20.2.2010

  • Cambodia [the Cambodia Angkor Air company] Buys [two] Planes Worth US$40 Million [to boost the country’s tourism sector]
  • A Teacher Who Tortured Her Adopted Daughter Was Sentenced to Serve 20 Years in Prison and Her Husband to Serve 10 Years [Phnom Penh]
  • Three Nigerians Were Convicted to 16 Years Imprisonment for Drug Smuggling [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2182, 20.2.2010

  • Police Arrested 21 Black People and Seized One Kilogram of Drugs [Phnom Penh]
  • The United Nations Called on the World to Contribute US$1.44 Billion as Aid for Haiti

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #607, 20.2.2010

  • Yuon [Vietnamese] Gangs Jointly Beat Three Khmer Siblings, Killing One and Injuring Two Others Seriously [in Vietnam]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6889, 20-21.2.2010

  • Red-Shirt Demonstrators [supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Surround a Bank in Bangkok and Are Selecting an Uniformed Guards Troop to Oppose [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva’s Groups
  • Khmer Farmers Continue to Illegally Cross the Border to Enter Thailand [to seek jobs – Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3813, 20-21.2.2010

  • Charges [over defamation regarding a conflict in a Cambodian Muslim community] against a Radio Free Asia Reporter [Mr. Sok Serey – and others he had interviewed: two local human rights defenders, and one more person] Were Dropped [because there was no “malicious intent” in the reporting, and no reason to assume that the report would be “disturbing or likely disturbing the public peace” – but another person was jailed for five months for destruction of property – Takeo]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5131, 20.2.2010

  • Civil Society: Public Leisure Time Activity Space for Youth Becomes Smaller but Commercial Entertainment Space Increases
  • The Cambodian Mine Action Center Needs US$95 Million to Support Five Year Operations [from 2010 to 2014, to clear landmines from 20,000 hectares, and to clear 100,000 hectares suspected to have mines]

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Patterns to Guide Reforms – “Starfish” or “Spiders”? – Sunday, 17.1.2010

Posted on 18 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 647 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647

Any regular observer of the media in Cambodia knows that in spite of all the positive developments, since 7 January 1997 (the end of the Khmer Rouge regime), since the time of the UNTAC administration 1992/1993, and since the establishment of the Kingdom of Cambodia, there is a variety of different, sometimes opposing interpretations or observations of what has happened.

This is normal in any society. And for the political world of the Kingdom of Cambodia, this state of affairs is also confirmed to be appropriate by the Constitution which says in its Preamble:

“…to restore Cambodia into an ‘Island of Peace’ based on a multi-party liberal democratic regime guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law, and responsible for the destiny of the nation always evolving toward progress, development, prosperity, and glory…”

This describes a process: “to restore” means that the goal is not yet reached. But how to reach it, when even the understanding of what is going on at present is so divergent?

From the past week, we present an example of such conflicting views:

11.1.2010:
Chea Mony: That Demonstrations and Strikes Decreased Does Not Mean that there Are Proper Working Conditions
…the decline in numbers is not due to better working conditions, but due to restrictions imposed by the government on demonstrations and strikes, especially due to suppression of workers movements by the local authorities…

Deum Ampil contacted the secretary of state [of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training], Mr. Oum Mean, to comment on the claim of the free trade union leader, but he did not make any comment, saying that he was fulfilling his mission in a province, and then shut off his mobile phone.

And a response:

12.1.2010:

An Official of the Ministry of Labor Rejected the Claim of [the head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers], Chea Mony, about Working Condition [the deputy director of the Department of Labor Disputes of the Ministry of Labor said that this is because most strikes did not follow the procedures of the labor law, according to which demonstrations and strikes have to be announced to the authorities in advance]

To have different views is not a surprise. But this poses the question about the methods to reach solutions. There are different models: to impose an intended goal to be reached – or to try to work out a consensus among those involved and affected. The Constitution clearly favors the latter method:

Article 35:

  • Khmer citizens of either sex shall be given the right to participated actively in the political , economic, social and cultural life of the nation.
  • Any suggestions from the people shall be given full consideration by the organs of the State

Article 51:

  • The Kingdom of Cambodia adopts a policy of Liberal Democracy and Pluralism.
  • The Cambodian people are the masters of their country.
  • All powers belong to the people. The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, the Royal Government and the Judiciary.
  • The Legislative, Executive, and the Judicial powers shall be separated.

While it is clear who is the master of the country – the people – how this works out – through the National Assembly, the Royal Government, and the Judiciary – is an ongoing dynamic process which also includes differences and conflicts of opinion, as is normal in a pluralistic liberal democratic society.

It is interesting that more recent sociological research shows that in modern societies, there are more and more movements and events happening without central leadership at the top, but in a decentralized way, which makes it also more and more difficult to control them centrally.

A bestselling book in the USA analyzes such trends – co-authored by the former director of the National Cyber Security Center of the USA who is now president of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN – the organization that monitors and coordinates the highly decentralized operations of the Internet – under the title The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations (originally it had been planned to be published as “The Decentralized Revolution”):

 Starfish and the Spider

The Starfish and the Spider

IT’S A STARFISH WORLD AND MOST PEOPLE DON’T EVEN REALIZE IT

One thing that business, institutions, governments and key individuals will have to realize is spiders and starfish may look alike, but starfish have a miraculous quality to them. Cut off the leg of a spider, and you have a seven-legged creature on your hands; cut off its head and you have a dead spider. But cut off the arm of a starfish and it will grow a new one. Not only that, but the severed arm can grow an entirely new body. Starfish can achieve this feat because, unlike spiders, they are decentralized; every major organ is replicated across each arm.

But starfish don’t just exist in the animal kingdom. Starfish organizations are taking society and the business world by storm, and are changing the rules of strategy and competition. Like starfish in the sea, starfish organizations are organized on very different principles than we are used to seeing in traditional organizations. Spider organizations are centralized and have clear organs and structure. You know who is in charge. You see them coming.

Starfish organizations, on the other hand, are based on completely different principles. They tend to organize around a shared ideology or a simple platform for communication – around ideologies like Al Qaeda or Alcoholics Anonymous. They arise rapidly around the simplest ideas or platforms. Ideas or platforms that can be easily duplicated. Once they arrive they can be massively disruptive and are here to stay, for good or bad. And the Internet can help them flourish.

So in today’s world starfish are starting to gain the upper hand.

Source: The Starfish and the Spider, by Brafman and Beckstrom, Portfolio Hardcover (October 5, 2006), ISBN-10: 1591841437

Does this insight also have a meaning for the future of Cambodia? Will it move towards more and more centralized power – or will the decentralization and deconcentration process, operated as part of the administrative reforms, get more weight? A statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior from 2005 seems to aim at this for the structures of public administration, when he says:

“In this regard, the provincial/municipal governor is not the controller of commune/Sangkat. Rather, the provincial/municipal governor plays the role of a facilitator and coordinator to support communes/Sangkats.”

But the process, documented in the independent news website K7, is dragging on – naturally – very long, some say too slowly – though moving into the right direction.

The vision of the starfish, the aspirations of the organized civil society, and “the people” tend, of course, to move sometimes faster, and further, and into directions that cannot be foreseen.

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US Delegates Promised to Improve Ties between Cambodia and the United States – Friday, 8.1.2010

Posted on 9 January 2010. Filed under: Week 646 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 646

“Phnom Penh: An assistant of Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, Mr. Eang Sophalet, said after a discussion between the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, and the US congressmen, Mr. Eni Faleomavaega, Mr. Mike Honda, and Mr. Joseph Cao, in the morning of 7 January 2010 at the National Assembly – that it is the second time that Mr. Faleomavaega visits the Kingdom of Cambodia, and the three congressmen welcomed the 7 January memorial day of Cambodia, the second birthday of the Cambodian people.

“Mr. Eni Faleomavaega said that he is glad to express his appreciation towards all Cambodian citizens. He will take the recommendations of the Prime Minister to encourage better cooperation and improved ties between Cambodia and the United States. As the chairperson of the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment, he hopes that he can act as a bridge to enhance better relations between the two countries in order to contribute to make the world a better place for all people.

“As for Mr. Joseph Cao, he told Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen that after returning, he will make efforts to contribute to assist Cambodia in child health care and education problems.

“In response,the Prime Minister expressed his gratitude towards the US congress delegates led by Mr. Eni, and he expressed his great appreciation regarding Cambodia-US relations. Samdech Dekchor said that this is the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Cambodia and the United States, and a significant achievement is that recently, for the first time, the United States built an embassy complex in Cambodia, which shows how the relations have developed.

“Samdech Dekchor expressed his gratitude towards the United States for the cooperation with and assistance to Cambodia in HIV/AIDS education and children’s health care, for which American volunteers come to Cambodia, a bridge to strengthen the relations between both countries.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6852, 8.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 8 January 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #382, 8.1.2010

  • The Number of People Infected with A/H1N1 in Cambodia Increased to 550
  • US Congressman [Eni Faleomavaega] Will Appeal [to the US congress] for Cambodia’s Debt to Be Canceled

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2144, 7.1.2010

  • The Public Criticized the Forestry Administration of Only Being Able to Seize Motor Saws in the City, but Not Those in the Forest [about 700 motor saws were confiscated in Phnom Penh]
  • The Khmer King Built Houses for 80 Poor Families in Anlong K’gan [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #713, 8.1.2010

  • Prisoners in Cambodia [at all provinces and cities] Suffer from Lack of Water, and They Receive Insufficient Nutrition [reported a UN delegation after visiting detention centers for a week, according to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, ratified by Cambodia in 2007]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #574-575, 7-8.1.2010

  • [Opposition politician] Sam Rainsy Will Definitely Not Write a Letter of Apology to [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to Ask to Drop the Accusations [regarding the removal of border markers]
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Prey Veng] Chea Pouch Denied that there Was an Appeal for Political Coordination between Sam Rainsy and Hun Sen [over the border accusations]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6852, 8.1.2010

  • US Delegates Promised to Improve Ties between Cambodia and the United States
  • [Two] 5-Tonne Trucks Crashed into Each Other, Killing Three from One Truck and Injuring Two Seriously from the Other [Siem Reap]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #84-85, 7-8.1.2010

  • The Ruling Party [the Cambodian People’s Party] Rejects Attempts to Use the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to Undermine Peace in Cambodia [Cambodian and international co-prosecutors of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have conflicting opinions about summoning more suspects, while investigating judges have disagreements about summoning high ranking officials of the government to testify]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5093-5094, 7-8.1.2010

  • US Congress Member [Eni Faleomavaega] Agreed that 7 January is an Important Memorial Day
  • More Than 10,000 People Attended 7 January Meeting at the Headquarters of the Cambodian People’s Party
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Sent [3,000] Thumbprints to the King and to Samdech Euv [the Father King – asking to intervene to drop the accusation against Mr. Sam Rainsy over the removal of border markers]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1851, 8-10.1.2010

  • US Congressmen [who are visiting Cambodia] Asked the Opposition Parties to Unite

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The Prime Minister Said that to Summon More Khmer Rouge Leaders for Questioning Is Fatal – Friday, 4.12.2009

Posted on 5 December 2009. Filed under: Week 641 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 641

“The Prime Minister said, ‘Some do take the opportunity to use the Khmer Rouge court again and again… it is a fatal case. I do not interfere in the court affairs, but the court did not put off the war [with the Khmer Rouge]; and be careful, in case the court creates war and division in the society again…’

“This statement was made by Prime Minister Hun Sen again on 3 December 2009 during the 27th International Day of Disabled Persons in Phnom Penh, in relation to the intention of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to summon more people to testify.

“On 30 November 2009, the lawyer of a Khmer Rouge leader demanded that the investigating judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal question Prime Minister Hun Sen and some government officials, for having politically interfered in the affairs of this court. But yesterday, the head of the government, Mr. Hun Sen, stated that he does not interfere in the court affairs, but he just pointed to intentions to destroy the peace, which could hardly be recovered by summoning more former Khmer Rough leaders for questioning. This kind of an expression of concern is considered by a foreign defense lawyer of a former Khmer Rouge leader to be a criminal offense.

“Nuon Chea’s defense lawyer mentioned Prime Minister Hun Sen’s words, saying in September 2009, that the Prime Minister stated that he himself fled from the communist regime in 1977, adding that witnesses do not need to testify at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“Nuon Chea’s defense lawyer, Mr. Michael Pestman, said to the news agency AFP and was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post, for their publication on 30 November 2009, as saying, ‘Mr. Hun Sen really told all summoned witnesses that they do not need to cooperate with the tribunal. That means he committed a criminal offense and it seriously affects the legal investigations of this court.’

“A similar suggestion, which AFP had received, mentioned the words of government officials they had used in October 2009 that the six parliamentarians and high ranking officials of the government, summoned by this court, do not need to testify.

“Mr. Pestman added, ‘Mr. Hun Sen’s statement is affecting the hearings to seek justice for our clients, because those government officials are direct witnesses whom we need for this process.’ He added, ‘At least, these words can weaken the legitimacy of the court.’

‘Yesterday morning, Mr. Hun Sen did not exactly refer to any Khmer or foreign lawyers, prosecutors, or judges, but stressed that this measure intends just to provoke turmoil in Cambodia.

“Mr. Hun Sen said, ‘They try to create turmoil in order to exploit the benefits for themselves.’

“After the celebration of the International Day of Disabled Persons yesterday, Mr. Hun Sen said, ‘From 1993 till now, when Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea, and other leaders of the Khmer Rouge cabinet arrived back, we considered this as the stage where the political and military organizations of the Khmer Rouge had been dissolved.’

“Mr. Hun Sen added that he would rather let the Khmer Rouge Tribunal fail, than would he let it to create a new war in Cambodia. He stated, ‘A hearing is just a hearing, but the peace must be kept also, and national unity must be maintained. You must balance these. Do not play with them, it can be fatal; and 100,000 to 200,000 people would die if there would be war again; who will then call the Khmer Rouge, or go to call them back from the forest again? I am old now. When I went to call the brothers and sisters [the former Khmer Rouge people] back from the forest, I was not yet 50 years old… I would rather let the court fail, but I will not let war break out. I want to say this clearly to the people. If the court fails, let it be.’

“Mr. Hun Sen is the 7th person who was to be summoned to testify.

“Even though Mr. Hun Sen is worried about the breaking out of war again because of the summons for more former Khmer Rouge leaders, the former prime minister of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea in the 1980s, Mr. Pen Sovann, supports the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to summon more former Khmer Rouge leaders to testify, who are now high ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party.

“On 8 October 2009, Mr. Pen Sovann told Khmer Machas Srok related to this case that the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is an independent and professional court which can provide justice to Khmer citizens who are victims of the Khmer Rouge. He said, ‘Nobody who was involved in the past Khmer Rouge history, no politician, should interfere in this court, because this court is independent… I support this court as it has its rights, its independence, and its role.’

“Prime Minister Hun Sen frequently warned that there will be instability if this court continues to summon more former Khmer Rouge leaders for questioning. But Mr. Pen Sovann claimed that there will not be any instability. He went on to say, ‘I think that this could not happen. It is only the personal opinion of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen; he wants to protect persons of the former the Khmer Rouge Regime.’

“The four top former Khmer Rouge leaders, who are at present already being detained, are the former head of state, Mr. Khieu Samphan; the former president of the National Assembly, Mr. Nuon Chea; the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ieng Sary; and the former Minister of Social Affairs, Ms. Ieng Thirith; in addition, there is also the former S-21 (Tuol Sleng) prison chief Duch, who was a middle level leader, who was brought first to the hearings.

“On 7 October 2009, the French investigating judge, Mr. Marcel Lemonde, and also a co-judge of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, summoned six high ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party to give testimony. Those six officials are the president of the Senate and of the Cambodian People’s Party, Mr. Chea Sim; the honorary president of the Cambodian People’s Party and president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin; the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon; the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Hor Namhong; and two other senators, Mr. Sim Ka and Mr. Ouk Bunchhoeun. Mr. Hun Sen is the 7th person of the Cambodian People’s Party who was summoned for questioning and to testify.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #546, 4.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 4 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #353, 4.12.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor: I Would rather Let the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Fail Than Let the Country Fall into War Again
  • The Prime Minister Encourages the Provision of Job Opportunities to Disabled People [he said this during the celebration of the International Day of Disabled Persons; at present there are 19,232 disabled people in Cambodia; their rate declined from 2% in 1998 to 1.4% in 2008]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2115, 4.12.2009

  • The Number of People Infected with A/H1N1 Increased to 480 [and there were five deaths]
  • An American Official [Ms. Diane Whitten from the US embassy in Phnom Penh] Wants That More Khmer Students Study in the United States [and return to develop the country]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #689, 4.12.2009

  • The United States Helps to Prepare the Angkor Guard Military Exercises in 2010 in Cambodia, with 23 Countries Participating [US$1,800,000 was granted to prepare an area for the exercises]
  • The Ministry of Health Closed Three Clinics within One Week [the Beijing Clinic in Ratanakiri, and the Russey Keo, and the Bopha Meas Clinics in Phnom Penh, where recently patients died because of neglect, and for not following some principles of the Ministry of Health] while Some Big State Hospitals Are Privatized

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #546, 4.12.2009

  • The Prime Minister Said that to Summon More Khmer Rouge Leaders for Questioning Is Fatal

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6822, 4.12.2009

  • The Former Malaysian Prime Minister Brings Donations for Cambodian Muslim People Who Suffered from a Big Fire [in Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #60, 4.12.2009

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen: I Do Not Interfere in the Court [of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal]
  • Foreign Investment Dropped by Almost 100% in October this Year [the investment was only US$15.5 million while last year during the same month, it amounted to US$869.8 million; according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), it declined due to the collapse of banks where many investors had asked for loans for investment]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5064, 4.12.2009

  • Cambodia Denied that Deputy Prime Minister Sok An Went to Welcome the Mother of the Thai [alleged] Spy at the Airport [when she came to visit her son]
  • Cambodia Asked the Former Malaysian Prime Minister to Look at Cambodian Rice [for possible export to Malaysia]
  • A Man Rides a Bicycle across 12 Countries to Collect Donations for Cambodian Disabled Persons [Mr. Ben King, New Zealander; look at http://bikeben.com]
  • Cambodia Asked China [through a Chinese parliamentarian delegation] to Help Train Human Resources to Repair and Preserve Temples and to Find a Ship That Sank in Koh Kong [during the 14th or 15th century]
  • The First European Union – Asian Cultural Event Will Be Organized [on 4 December 2009 at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1826, 4-6.12.2009

  • The Diplomatic Dispute between Siam [Thailand] and Cambodia Is Destroying the Plan to Construct the ASEAN Railroad [to connect the ASEAN states to the South of China]

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Officials and Evil Merchants Collude to Open a Border Crossing to Transport Wood to Vietnam – Tuesday, 17.11.2009

Posted on 19 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

Apologies for the delays, which may continue for some days, as I am attending the UN Internet Governance Forum meetings in Sharm el Sheikh/Egypt with a busy schedule, in a different time zone, and then traveling back to Phnom Penh. I try to be timely as much as possible.

Norbert Klein

“According to a broadcast of a radio station based in Washington D.C. in the United States yesterday, about strong illegal logging of luxury wood in protected forested areas in a national park in Ratanakiri, bordering on Yuon [Vietnam], carried out by merchants colluding with some persons in the local authorities, an official, who asked not to be named, claimed there is collusion to open a Khmer-Yuon [Cambodian-Vietnamese] border crossing illegally to export luxury wood from Cambodia to be sold to Yuon merchants.

“According to this source, a Ratanakiri official, anonymly spoke about collusion to open an international crossing between the Ou Ya Dav district in Cambodia and a province’s district on the Yuon [Vietnamese] side of the border, during the first six months of 2009, leading to estimation that over 400 trucks transported trees, cut the Khmer natural forest, were transported by merchants and illegal business networks, to be sold to Yuon merchants who wait at the border.

“As an example of continuing loggings of luxury wood, a case was mentioned where merchants hired villagers to cut trees in Taveng district in Ratanakiri.

“The Phav village chief in Taveng Krom commune, Taveng district, Mr. Pel Hin, was quoted as saying that he noticed that merchants came to villages and hired poor villagers to cut valuable trees in the forest, and they then bought them from villagers. The village chief expressed concern about forest destruction, forests being resources of the state, and that the destruction might spread to the Vireakchey National Park, established by Royal Decree at the Kantuy Neak [dragon tail] region, bordering on Laos and on Yuon.

“The village chief said, ‘I am really concerned. When I attended some meetings, I told the meetings that there are companies buying and selling wood in my village.’

“The secretary of thhe Taveng Krom commune, Mr. Boeung, recognized that there are illegal loggings and then the transport of luxury wood, but he claimed that this had happened only during the last few months. He said, ‘I saw much luxury wood at Taveng Krom commune brought from Taveng Leu commune. Merchants brought it here to sell it.’

“The Taveng district’s military police chief, Mr. Keo Vichet, expressed regrets, as he has very few forces, and therefore he does not know such cases.

“However, according to direct monitoring by Radio Free Asia late last week in Phav village about illegal wood transactions, workers were seen transporting luxury wood; some had 10 cm by 15 cm width bars, 1 meter long, being transported from the village to the river, to be loaded in motor boats of merchants for exports.

“A worker said that he was hired by a local Chinese merchant in Vern Sai district, Nhok Thong, an illegal luxury wood merchant who hires poor villagers to enter to cut trees in the forest.

“The Taveng district governor, Mr. Kim Toeu, recognized that there are illegal wood businesses.

“Regarding this issue, Taveng Forestry Administration official in Ratanakiri recognized that there are such activities, involving merchants and some evil officials. He said about the loss of trees, ‘As for the activities and crimes in any specific district, those districts have to be responsible respectively.’

“Poor villagers from different villages, like Sieng Soy, Taveng Leu, Dambouk villages… have been contacted by merchants who have relations with some evil officials, using money to hire them to cut valuable trees in the forest and sell them to those merchants who go to buy trees in villages, such illegal activities happened repeatedly during recent months, as they are not afraid of the law.

“Those sources said also that many cubic meters of luxury wood were found, piled up at many places in areas near the Yuon border, in order to facilitate the transport in order to sell the wood to Yuon merchants who wait near the border crossing.

“The official of the province, who asked not to be named, was quoted as saying that the illegal transport of wood is most actively done during the night. According to his estimation since June 2009, the luxury wood cut by hired poor villagers was loaded onto more than 400 trucks, to be transported for sale to Yuon merchants.

“They cannot understand why forest crimes destroying state resources still exist, even though Prime Minister Hun Sen had promised in 2001, with words like swearing an oath, that he would give up leading the government, if his government was not able to crack down on illegal logging and illegal transport starting from 1 January 2002.

“This seems difficult to understand, and observers notice that even Oknha Try Pheap, an advisor of Prime Minister Hun Sen, had been frequently accused by people in communities at different provinces, such as Pursat, of hiring poor people to cut valuable trees to be transported and sold to merchants from outside of the country.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #531, 17.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #338, 17.11.2009

  • The Head of the Government Shook Hands for the First Time with President Obama in Singapore [both leaders agreed to intensify relations in order to promote economic and social development in Cambodia]
  • China Has Invested More Than US$6 Billion in Cambodia within 15 Years

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2100, 17.11.2009

  • Cambodian and Siamese [Thai] Troops at the Border Move towards Friendship [Thai army commanders had told the Khmer army commanders that they will be seek confrontation with the Cambodian troops]
  • Cambodia Has Received Investments Amounting to More Than US$1.5 Billion from Vietnam [in aviation, banking, oil, gas, agriculture, and tourism – according to the Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Tram Bac Ha]
  • UN Commissioner [Dr. Nafis Sadis]: Other Countries Should Learn from Cambodia about the Fight against AIDS [Cambodia reduced the occurence of AIDS from 2% in 1998 to 0.9% in 2006]
  • ASEAN-US Ties Become Closer with the Historic Summit [the USA promised to step up its cooperation with ASEAN, described as one of its important partners, to promote peace and security in the region]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #676, 17.11.2009

  • Thaksin Shinawatra Warned to Fly from India to Cambodia on 19 October 2009 Crossing Siamese [Thai] Airspace, while Bangkok Prepared to Arrest Him

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #531, 17.11.2009

  • Officials and Evil Merchants Collude to Open a Border Crossing to Transport Wood to Vietnam
  • Protesters against the Suspension of Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Immunity [by 24 Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians and supporters] Marched in Front of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Residence [in Phnom Penh]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Considers Dissolving the Parliament to Hold New Elections while Yellow Shirt Demonstrators Are Accusing Thaksin Shinawatra as a Traitor, Selling National Territory

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6807, 17.11.2009

  • The National Assembly Suspended Mr. Sam Rainsy Immunity over the Removal of Border Markers at Chantrea District [in Svay Rieng]
  • A M79 Shell Exploded among Yellow Shirt Demonstrators [government supporters], Injuring Twelve People [Thailand]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #47, 17.11.2009

  • Cambodia Allowed a Thai Official to Meet the [Thai] Man Accused of Spying [by copying documents about the flight schedules of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to be sent to Thailand] while There Is Still No Solution for the Diplomatic Disputes
  • Mr. Obama Stated that the United State and China Do Not Need to Be Adversaries [during their political history, they had been, but then got on with each other. They got on in some sectors, but not in all]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5049, 17.11.2009

  • Thailand Rejected Indonesia’s Role to Solve the Dispute with Cambodia
  • Cambodia Is Worried about Khmer Workers in Thailand, but the Thai Ambassador Said that There Is No Problem
  • Mr. Obama Encouraged Myanmar to Release Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [Burmese elected democracy leader]

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Perception and Reality – Again – Sunday, 18.1.2009

Posted on 19 January 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On Monday, 12 January 2009, we had the 100,000th visit to the Mirror – starting from January 2007.

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

In the Mirror, we have taken up the public importance of perceptions several times over the years.

Actually, we had raised this question at the beginning of the publication of The Mirror on the Internet in January 2007, with reference to Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah bin Haji Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia under the tile “Perception and Reality.” At his inauguration, he had pointed to the important role of perceptions held by the public – which may or may not conform to reality, but are nevertheless extremely important for the political situation of a country.

And Dato Seri Syed Hamid Albar, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, took up the concern for the role of perceptions, saying that “negative developments do not contribute to creating a climate of confidence in the world, which is vitally necessary for all of us, regardless of different faiths and beliefs, to live in peace and harmony.”

Not only the reality is important – but how it is understood and interpreted what is heard and seen – this too is extremely important. Some good things may be misunderstood as if they were bad. But if many things heard and seen result in negative perceptions, it can have deeply devastating consequences for a seemingly well functioning society.

This week, we list up some reports – really not knowing how the public can help to clarify what is confused, to avoid moving further down into the dark.

The international Human Rights Organization Human Rights Watch had, in its 2009 report covering the situation of many countries, also criticized Cambodia.

Human Rights Watch does not report only about notoriously criticized countries like Myanmar, but it deals also with the human rights situation – to name some more countries – in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and in the United States of America. Many of these countries take problems raised very seriously.

The brief Cambodia section of the Events of 2008 is followed by about 20 additional, detailed background documents

The content of all this is – unfortunately – not new: criticism of the criminal justice system, cases of intimidation, violence, imprisonments. Endemic impunity, rampant corruption, and illegal plundering of natural resources. And: Cambodia is due to be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Commission in December 2009.

Most cases had been reported in the Khmer press during the year, quite a number also we had mirrored.

The official Cambodian reaction was reported in the Cambodia Daily as follows:

“Om Yentieng, head of the government’s human rights committee, dismissed the report’s findings, saying Human Rights Watch was defaming the country with lies and, in the process, making themselves foolish.

‘I refuse all of the accusations,’ he said, ‘they are just trying to make up things, or they just want to spoil heir name. They are playing the role as a puppet in order to gain an advantage for themselves.’”

(Cambodia Daily, 16 January 2009)

As an illustration of the gap between this perception and the reality we point to some reports mirrored during the past week – small and big events:

  • When people need public certifications or documentation, there are often no publicly displayed fees, saying transparently what is to be paid – “The price of a certificate, to get employment, to register the place of residence, or to get married is US$5.00, but the price goes up with its urgency – US$5.00 for one month – US$45.00 for 15 days, US$100.00 for one week, and US$150.00 for one day.” Similar arrangements may be in place in other countries too. But the report claims what is said to be general knowledge: “…these extra charges do not go to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.”
  • When a family had lost their new born son in a hospital formerly supported by Japan, the following financial dealings were reported. They had been going on for some time, but nobody had dared to speak up. – “There are notices written on the walls of the Japanese hospital with big Khmer letters on blue background, saying please do not pay anything to the staff, but only to the cashiers. Patients who are not able to pay for the services are invited to contact a monitoring group, and if someone asks for money in addition to the prescribed fees, they should be reported to the monitoring group. The service charges are approx. US$3.50 for a woman delivering her first baby; the normal room charge is approx. US$2.50 per night. – However, everything is different from the above prohibition notice. Each patient pays extra money in addition to the services, such as approx. US$10.00 to US$30.00 for doctors, approx. USUS$2.50 to each medical staff who injects three syringes three times per day etc. A woman said that, when the head of her baby appeared half way, first the doctors asked her how much money she would offer them. That woman offered them approx. US$12.00, but the doctors demanded more. Because she begged that that was all the money she had, they agreed. This is an incredible story, but that was what that woman said herself. Another woman staying in the next bed offered the doctors US$5.00, but only when they arrived at the sum of US$30.00 they agreed.”
  • When defense lawyers at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal were unable to get information about alleged kickbacks of Khmer staff – to higher level persons, for having received their positions – which would have satisfied them that there will be no unfairness in the trials, they finally filed a request for clarification of these corruption allegation at the Phnom Penh court. Now they feel intimidated by judges who prepare to sue them for defamation – instead of being grateful that the allegations could be refuted by a court forever.
  • When a delegation from the Senate and from human rights groups tried to inspect and to check forest sites allegedly cleared for planting rubber trees in Ratanakiri, the DM Group, the company under suspicion, prevented them from fulfilling their task.
  • When a Danish Woman had bought several thousand over-the-counter painkiller tablets with codeine, that can be easily and legally bought at many pharmacies all over Phnom Penh, and she tried to mail them at the Post Office – they are cheap here, and she hoped to sell them abroad to make some small extra money to support her son – she was arrested. Now she was convicted to serve 15 years in prison and fined approx. US$7,500 for drug trafficking. None of the press report said anything about any involvement with illegal substances.
  • When 234 families felt threatened as owners of their land by the Heng Development Company, they were satisfied that the Kandal provincial court had confirmed their land rights on 26 February 2007. But now the company deployed machinery and started to clear their land. When the legal owners protested, the company told them that the Kandal court had made a wrong judgment. The Military Police in Kandal Stung, led by their commander – a nephew of the director of the Heng Development Company – deployed 20 to 30 armed military police who opened fire with their AK-47 rifles – at least three men were seriously injured.
  • When it was reported that the US company PHI Mining had bought the Indochina Mining Corporation, now a subsidiary of PHI Mining, and that it now cooperates with the Cambodian company Angkor Metal Corporation, it was not big news. But maybe it had been big news before, and we had missed to see it – or it should have been big news. As we have mirrored yesterday, his cooperation relates to Cambodian natural resources , where the initial valuation of this copper ore area is estimated at USUS$1 billion. And we also mirrored yesterday that the Angkor Metal Corporation does not disclose much about itself in the way other companies do, though the US partner company writes that the “Founders of Angkor Metal Corporation include a son and a son-in-law of Mr. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, thus ensuring political support to acquire and extend mining license.”
  • The Constitution of Cambodia says:

    The National Assembly shall approve the national budget, State planning, loans, financial contracts, and the creation, modification and annulment of tax. (Article 90)

    We do not have information about any public bidding for the financial contract for national mineral resources, which the Angkor Metal Corporation finally got, neither do we have information on the status of the National Assembly approval procedures for the project and loan agreements – in the range of US$500 million – which are, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, already signed by Cambodia and by Kuwait.

    As stated initially, in public politics the perception of what is going on is often more important for the public democratic process than the reality – so we raised all the issues above – all based on information which was either in Cambodian newspapers, or which is available publicly on the Internet. Prime Minister Badawi had accepted, therefore, the need for self-criticism in searching for the reasons for such perceptions. But at the same time he considered it necessary to engage in identifying what he saw as “wanton violations of human dignity, natural justice, human rights and international law.”

    A good example.

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    Wednesday, 15.10.2008: European Community Observers Said that There Were Deficiencies during the Fourth Term National Election Which Do Not Conform with International Standards

    Posted on 16 October 2008. Filed under: Week 582 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 582

    “On 14 October 2008, the European Community held a press conference at Le Royal Hotel to present the final observation report of the fourth term parliamentary elections on 27 July 2008, as well as to provide clear recommendations to guarantee that the election system in Cambodia will comply to international standards, following democratic policies.

    “Mr. Martin Callanan, the head of the European Community election observers group, made in the press conference some important recommendations of the European Community regarding requirements to guarantee an independent and unbiased state of the election authorities and the media in Cambodia. He added also that the European Community presents recommendations to improve the legal system and framework controlling the elections, a well as voter registration and the education for voters.

    “Mr. Martin Callanan, the head of European Community election observers group, presented some recommendations to reform the election process as follow:

    “The Cambodian government must take action to guarantee that the National Election Committee is a body that is fully independent, in order to promote trust and acceptance among all political parties and voters.

    “The legal system and the framework controlling the National Election Committee, especially the different pieces of legislations and procedures, should be made to be easier to understand, and they should be consolidated.

    “The Form 1018 [to be provided as identification to some voters at polling stations] should be abolished before any election in the future.

    “The Ministry of Interior should increase the distribution of election information cards and improve the monitoring process.

    “Village chiefs should not be allowed to play a major role to distribute election information cards.

    “The Cambodian government and the National Election Committee should start an open discussion to find choices to facilitate and to improve procedures for voter registration.

    “An atmosphere of free and unbiased publication must be created of independent institutions to monitor publications. Institutions of the government, including the National Election Committee, and civil society organizations, should give priority to participate and to broadly educate the citizens with specific goal sets.

    “Mr. Martin Callanan continued that the fourth term parliamentary elections were better and peaceful. However, the elections still had deficiencies and did not clearly follow international standards – which also resulted in a lack of trust from citizens and from election administrators.

    “Mr. Martin Callanan spoke also about human resources and measures of the state, using mostly officials of the ruling party, especially, it was reported that information, donations, and money were distributed to voters. He added that the Cambodian government must take action to guarantee that the National Election Committee is an independent body, in order to provide trust to political parties that participate in the elections, and to the Khmer citizens.

    “Mr. Martin Callanan went on to say that village chiefs should not be provided with a major role to distribute election information cards, and the government and the National Election Committee should organize discussion meetings, so that the elections are improved and become better acceptable.

    “Different relevant institutions must set clear resting time, related to election activities and the campaign.

    “Mr. Martin Callanan said that when there are complaints from political parties that participated in the elections, particularly related to the election results, there must be very just solutions. In the meantime, the National Election Committee must monitor the accounts of each political party and the money that each political party has.

    “Regarding the murder of a journalist of Moneaksekar Khmer on 11 July 2008 before the fourth term parliamentarian elections, Mr. Martin Callanan encouraged the Cambodian government to investigate and arrest the murderers to be punished according to the law, in order to provide clear information about the murder of this journalist.

    “As for the investigation to find the murderer who shot dead Mr. Khim Sambo, a Moneaksekar Khmer journalist and his son, Khat Sarinpheata, on 11 July 2008, when they came from their evening exercise at the Olympic Stadium, the [US] FBI and the Khmer authorities have finished drafting a wanted poster with a sketch of the faces of the murderers, using identification provided by witnesses who were at the site of the murder.

    “Also, civil society organizations demand that the authorities speed up the investigation to arrest the murderers who killed Mr. Khim Sombo and his son, to be prosecuted according to the law, after the FBI helped to draft a sketch with the faces of the murderers. Civil society organizations said also that the murders of journalists have started since 1992, and the authorities have never arrested the murderers and those who are behind them, to be convicted according to the law; therefore, when they write and criticize anything related to powerful, rich, and corrupt people, journalist always face threats and murder.

    “Observers of the fourth term national elections in Cambodia acknowledge that the assessments in the report of the European Community observers are in line with the real situation related to the irregularities during the elections. This means that the 27 July 2008 elections have not reached international standards, therefore it is necessary to reform the National Election Committee urgently, so that the next election will not suffer from irregularities.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3588, 15.10.2008

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Wednesday, 15 October 2008


    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1768, 15.10.2008

    • [Former] Khmer Rouge Who Killed [an English] Deminer [and his Khmer translator at Anlong Veng] Were Sentenced to Serve 20 Years in Prison
    • A Royal Family Member [Prince Sisowath Chakreynupol, a personal assistant to Prince Thomico] Announced to Volunteer to Serve the Army to Protect the Country
    • A Court Decided to Unjustly Arrest and to Jail a Rape Victim [a man who raped her promised to marry her, but finally, his parents arranged to marry him to a daughter of a village chief, and the raped woman was accused of attempting to kill that man – Kompong Chhnang]


    Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #117, 15.10.2008

    • Siam [Thailand] Increases Troops and Deploys Tanks and Cannons along the Border
    • The Authorities Constructed a Sewage System with the Wrong Technology and Now Demands US$3,000 from the Citizens [to repair the system – Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]


    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6473, 15.10.2008

    • There Is No Fighting at the Intry Field; Cambodia Announced that All Siamese [Thai] Withdrew before 12:00 a.m. [of 14 October 2008, the ultimatum set by the Cambodian Prime Minister – but the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs declares: “What we can confirm is we haven’t done any withdrawal… We think we are doing our duty on our land… If Cambodia does resort to the use of force in accordance with its so-called ultimatum, Thailand will have to exercise its right of self-defense.”]
    • The International Buyers’ Forum Still Buys Garments from Cambodia Which Is a Good Information for the Textile Industry which Is Worth US$2.6 Billion [according to the International Finance Corporation and ILO]
    • [Kampot] Residents Are Afraid of Flying Pieces of Stone and Do Not Dare to Go to Their Cultivation Fields, because a Company is Blasting in a Quarry to Get Gravel [for sale]
    • The Leader of the Philippines [President Arroyo] Asks ASEAN to Discuss the Financial Crisis


    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3588, 15.10.2008

    • European Community Observers Said that There Were Deficiencies during the Fourth Term National Election Which Do Not Conform with International Standards
    • Promise to Conduct Judicial Reform While this Field Is Notorious for Corruption Is Just a Promise Made to Get Aid [the promise was made by Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An during a meeting with the donor community]


    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4716, 15.10.2008

    • Samdech Hun Sen: “Chinese Economic Growth Does Not Threaten Asia” [but it is an opportunity for countries next to China and for ASEAN countries to benefit from investment, commerce, and other sectors from China, since it is an Asian country with the biggest reserve capital]
    • Drugs Spread to Everywhere in the Country [according to Mr. Lour Ramin, secretary-general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs. 35.1% of drug users in Phnom Penh contracted AIDS in 2007]


    Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3425, 15.10.2008

    • A Decision on the Bail Request of Ieng Sary [a former Khmer Rouge leader] Will Be Announced on 17 October 2008

    Click here to have a look at the last editorial: We all need peace, not war.

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