Vietnam Tightens Military Ties with the United States of America while It Has Border Tensions with China – Wednesday, 11.8.2010

Posted on 12 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“Vietnam shows new military relations with the United States of America this month amid more tensions with China, as both countries claim some territory in the South China sea as belonging to their respective countries.

“The USS John S. McCain warship [a guided-missile destroyer], that docked in the Danang city port, departed on Tuesday for a four days joint exercise with the Vietnamese navy.

“On Sunday, the USS Gorge Washington aircraft carrier, that had just attended an exercise with South Korea recently in South Korean sea territory, which had led to condemnations from the Beijing government, received a Vietnamese delegation.

“The visit by the US navy invites strong attention due to regional tensions lately.

“A Vietnam expert at the Australian Defense Force Academy, Mr. Carl Taylor, said, ‘The tensions between China and Vietnam grew worse since over a year ago. The USA is showing its military presence and Vietnam is taking the opportunity to show itself.’

“Normally, the Hanoi government has very careful relations with its ideological ally China, but the regional ambition of its bigger neighbor raised tensions in Vietnam to a certain level.

“The ties between Hanoi and Washington have come across a long way since the end of the Vietnam war in 1975; both countries’ diplomatic ties were normalized 20 years later.

“The USA became an important partner of Vietnam, not just in trade.

“According to a recent source from the Ministry of Defense of Vietnam, the Hanoi government grew more uneasy with the ambition of China. The presences of the US navy at a Vietnamese port is very important strategically for Vietnam to demonstrate regional balance in military issues.

“Mr. Taylor said, ‘I think that the USA can play a more important role in the region.’

“The South China Sea has been the reason for territorial disputes for a long time, especially regarding the Spratly and Paracel islands that Vietnam claims to be its territory. China also claims the Spratly islands like Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam do also.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, Ms. Nguyen Phuong Nga [Nguyễn Phương Nga], last week condemned China for sending a ship to conduct seismic surveys in the Paracel region, violating Vietnam’s territorial integrity.

“Senior US commanders said that they are keeping a close eye over the stepping up of Chinese military presence there, particularly the presence of the navy in the South China Sea.

“Last week, China conducted a navy and airforce exercise in the South China Sea, a week after the Secretary of State of the US Department of State, Ms. Hilary Clinton, said solutions of territorial disputes are the core for regional stability.

“During a Southeast Asian regional security forum Ms. Hilary Clinton said that the Washington government is ready to cooperate in multilateral discussions over the islands and added that this is in the national interest of the USA, considering the respect for international law in the region.

“The Beijing government immediately condemned this intention to internationalize the dispute, saying that such an action could worsen the situation.

“That US warships often dock at Vietnamese ports irritates China. Mr. Taylor said, ‘Vietnam becomes more sensitive to the Chinese reactions. The docking of the US navy in Danang shows that Vietnam is prepared to confront the displeasure of China.'” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5273, 11.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2324, 11.8.2010

  • Traders Are Transporting Wood into the Srae Noy Settlement Area Day and Night
  • Police Helped a Female Worker Returning from Malaysia [after she worked there for two years] Who Almost Lost Her Memory and Cannot Find the Way to Her Home [Siem Reap]
  • The Murderer Who Raped and Killed a Female Security Guard Was Sentenced to 20 Years Imprisonment [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7031, 11.8.2010

  • A Man Was Attacked with Acid, Poured on His Head around Midnight by Two Perpetrators [who escaped; the victim was seriously wounded – Phnom Penh]
  • There Will Be More Than 2,400,000 Foreign Tourists in 2010 [according to a prediction by the Ministry of Tourism; in the first six months of 2010, there were 1,221,156 tourist arrivals, an increase by 12.39% compared with the corresponding period in 2009]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3955, 11.8.2010

  • Lawyers of [former Khmer Rouge leader] Ieng Sary Stated Their Confidence in Their Ability in Defending Their Client [by strongly opposing the use of the Joint Criminal Enterprise principle at the trial chamber of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #27, 11.8.2010

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Put Blame on Journalists [for misquoting his words about the use of military means to solve border disputes with Cambodia]
  • A Medical Association from South Korea [with 50 staff members] Helps to Treat Khmer Patients in Kompong Speu

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #234, 11.8.2010

  • Hundreds of Families in the Russey Keo District [near the Cambodian Japanese Friendship or Chroy Chongva bridge] Will Be Asked to Remove Their Houses for the Claiming of Land to Create a Public Park [Phnom Penh]
  • The Deposit for the Production of [estimated] More Than 100 Million Tonnes of Titanium Discovered in Koh Kong – Its Exploitation Will Start Next Year [Titanium ore can be manufactured to 45% as Titanium slag, that can be sold for US$700 to US$2,500 per tonne based on market prices – other estimates for the price of slag is $400 per tonne]
  • Mr. Leonard Cohen [a famous singer throughout the world – “Hallelujah” became the fastest-selling digital single in European history] Will Organize a Humanitarian Concert for Cambodia [at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on 27 November 2010; the concert tickets are available in this website: http://www.themekongsessions.com%5D
Leonard Cohen’s most famous song

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5273, 11.8.2010

  • Hearing of [opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy’s Case over the [alleged] Faking of Public Documents and Disinformation Will Be Held on 8 September 2010
  • The Anniversary of the 2008 Registration of the Tuol Sleng [genocidal] Museum under the Memory of the World of UNESCO Was Organized [Phnom Penh]
  • Vietnam Tightens Military Ties with the United States of America while It Has Border Tension with China

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If There Are No National Standards for Food Safety, the Export of Goods Will Be Impossible – Monday, 26.7.2010

Posted on 27 July 2010. Filed under: Week 675 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

“Officials of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy said that technical obstacles against the export of products from Cambodia are a very serious problem. ‘We do not have proper national standards, and we have not any in line with ASEAN. As a member of the World Trade Organization, we need to eliminate such commercial obstacles.’

“The head of the Department of Industrial Standards at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, Mr. Ping Siv Lay, said during a meeting of a technical committee on food and processed food, supported by the Asian Development Bank, held for two days on 22 and 23 July 2010 at the Hotel Cambodiana, that food safety is a sensitive topic, on focus in recent years, and it is a priority for the Royal Government of Cambodia to improve the safety of food and bewerages. Food in Cambodia is a high level problem in the region. Food manufacturers must promote the implementation of measures of general and of personal sanitation. But which standards do they have to take up? Are they recognized as internationally defined standardized in the country or not? At present, there is no answer, when food manufacturers produce food with can carry high hazards: such as chicken, sausages, milk, drinks, etc.

“Mr. Ping Siv Lay added that for private companies to have exports going on with food security, there need to be national standards for the export of products to international markets. The Asian Development Bank office in Cambodia vowed not only to support the development of standards, but also to help to promote food safety testing in the country, which will also facilitates commerce.

“This official went on to say, ‘We have created standards for ten types of products to ensure commerce in the country. But there are yet no quality standards for international markets.’

“According to an official of the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, such technical obstacles make it impossible that a larger portion of agricultural products can be exported, even though our trading partners do not charge taxes. As Cambodia does not have standards, no special products have been exported to China. The other side in trade relations demands us to adhere to standards for our products, comparable to their standards, so that export can be carried out.

“During the meeting, many questions were discussed in order to create a draft about food standards to catch up with other countries.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5259, 25-26.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 26 July 2010

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7017, 26.7.2010

  • [About 500] Workers Marched to Demand an Increase of Their Salaries in Front of the National Assembly – They Do Not Accept the Increase Offered by the Labor Council [they demand a minimum salary of US$75 per month, while at present, they are offered US$61]
  • Officials of Seven Embassies [of Australia, Britain, Cuba, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam] Visited the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3941, 26.7.2010

  • [The vice-president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm Appealed to the US Administration to Intervene, so that Mr. Sam Rainsy Can Return to Cambodia [who has been convicted for the uprooting of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers]
  • The Women’s Movement for Democracy Has Collected Riel 10 Million [approx. US$2,370] to Be Paid as Compensation to [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Instead of [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua [as she lost a defamation case against him; but the collected money needs first to be accepted by Ms. Mu Sochua.]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #12-13, 24-25.7.2010

  • Cambodia Supports (together with ASEAN countries) a Statement [of the UN Security Council] That Condemns North Korea [for sinking a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 navy soldiers]
  • The United Nations Continues to Seek Contributions to Fund the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [additional US$10 million are needed for 2010, and US$39 million for 2011]
  • North Korea Declared to Use Nuclear Threats to Respond to US Military Exercise [with South Korea]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #222, 26.7.2010

  • For the Crimes at the S-21 Center [known as the Tuol Sleng Prison, where more than 15,000 persons were sent to their death]: Will Kaing Kek Eav Get 40 Years Imprisonment or a Release? [the sentence of the former head of the Tuol Sleng Prison will be announced on 26 July 2010]
  • Two Companies [of Cambodia,: Seledamex and Rattana Corporation] Will Receive Land Concession of Nearly 20,000 Hectare for Rubber Plantation in Preah Vihear [with the consent of the Prime Minister, for 99 years]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5259, 25-26.7.2010

  • If There Are No National Standards for Food Safety, the Export of Goods Will Be Impossible
  • The Cambodian-Thai General Border Committee Promised to Guarantee Security along the Border [officials of both sides of the border committee met on 15 and 16 July 2010 in Bangkok]
  • A Government Ambulance Car Hit People, Resulting in Two Deaths and Three Injured [the driver escaped – Takeo]

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The ADB Wants Cambodia to Step Up Investments in Agriculture – Monday, 12.7.2010

Posted on 14 July 2010. Filed under: Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

Sorry for the new delays – computer problems.

I hope to be back in Phnom Penh by the coming weekend.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: The president of the Asian Development Bank, Mr. Kuroda Haruhiko [ADB総裁黒田東彦], stated during a food safety forum in Manila in the Philippines on 7 July 2010, that with the signs of economic recovery in Asia, the area has to achieve regional food security, where also Cambodia has to step up investments in agriculture.

“The Asian Development Bank stated on 8 July 2010 that it wants the Cambodian government to find more investors in agriculture, while the economy in Asia is recovering from the global economic crisis. Therefore, investments in agriculture must be stepped up in order to protect poor people from the bad impacts of rising food prices.

“The president of the Asian Development Bank, Mr. Kuroda Haruhiko, said that to achieve regional, national, and family food security are long term challenges for Asia, even though the economy is getting better at present. In 2008, the food crisis was taken by the Asian Development Bank as an example of a difficult experience. Mr. Kuroda added that in mid 2008, food prices around the world increased to the highest rate in 30 years, and many people among the poor in Cambodia had difficulties in managing their money to buy their daily food.

“The intention of the Asian Development Bank is in line with strategies of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and especially also of the Royal Government of Cambodia as a whole, as Cambodia is trying to recover from the economic crisis and is heading toward success. Cambodia is accomplishing development in agriculture and is strengthening strategic plans in this field countrywide, since Cambodia is a country that depends mainly on agriculture; many national and international investors are cooperating with the Royal Government of Cambodia to serve agriculture.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2298, 11-12.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 12 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2298, 11-12.7.2010

  • The ADB Wants Cambodia to Step Up Investments in Agriculture
  • Nine Stone Grinding Machines Used for Exploring Gold Were Intercepted and Six People Were Arrested [all Vietnamese – they had established the sites illegally – Ratanakiri]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7005, 12.7.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Issued a Verdict, Ordering a Gunman to Come to the Court to Receive His Punishment [while drunk, the gunman, a police official of the Ministry of Interior, drew his pistol and fatally shot a man in Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Did Not Permit Marching [by the Cambodian Confederation Union on 15 July 2010] to Mark the Second Anniversary of the Siamese [Thai] Invasion in the Regions of the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia
  • More Than 100 Tuol Kork Market Vendors Protested against the Increase of Stall Prices [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3929, 12.7.2010

  • The Cambodia Representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [Mr. Christophe Peschoux], Who Has Been Warned [by the Cambodian government] He Might Be Expelled, Plans to Write an Explanation of the Legal Issues and the International Obligations of Cambodia [recently, he criticized that the deportation of two Thais over a bomb attack accusation in Bangkok was a ‘political decisions’ which lacked appropriate procedure]
  • More Than 10,000 Khmer Workers [among 4,000] Can Have the Opportunity to Work Legally in Siam [Thailand] after a Campaign to Clear Illegal Workers [by the Thai authorities; the Khmer Embassy is providing forms for clarifying their nationality so that they can continue to work in Thailand]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5247, 11-12.7.2010

  • The Head Monk of a Pagoda Took Off His Robe to Commit a Robbery – He Was Arrested with Three Other Members [Kompong Chhnang]
  • Twenty Two Reservoirs and a 19 Kilometers Long Canal [in the area of the Tonle Sap lake] Have Been Completely Filled in and Destroyed [there are 249 reservoirs in total; those reservoirs can affect bio-diversity and the eco-system of the Tonle Sap lake]

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Sok An Clarified the US$28 Million Tea Money from the Total Company – Friday, 25.6.2010

Posted on 27 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 still in Brussels/Belgium at the meetings of ICANN – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, but soon again on the way – to Canada. I am not yet sure when I will be able to send the Saturday installment – maybe tomorrow, maybe only later.

“The Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, officially provided a written clarification regarding oil and gas issues, as well as the US$28 million paid by Total after a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Son Chhay, had asked seven questions.

“According to the letter of Mr. Sok An sent to the president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin, on 9 June 2010 and released on 24 June 2010 to respond to Mr. Son Chhay’s questions, it explains that the Royal Government never provided licenses to any oil company for exploitation, but signed oil deals to allow companies to study and explore oil and gas resources. Companies with which such oil deals have been made by the Royal Government are:

Campex,
Chevron,
CNOOC [China National Offshore Oil Corporation],
CPHL Petroleum,
Enterprise Oil,
GS-Caltex,
Idemitsu,
JCL Petroleum,
JOGMEC [Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation],
Kris Energy,
Kuwait Energy,
Lunin,
Medco,
Mitsui Oil Exploration Company,
Petrovietnam,
Polytec Petroleum Corporation,
Premier Oil,
PTTEP,
Resourceful Petroleum,
Singapore Petroleum Corporation,
Total,
Woodside.

Some of these companies had given up and left, because the oil and gas resources they were researching cannot be developed commercially.

“Responding to the questions that Mr. Son Chhay had asked, ‘What policies allow companies to gain profit before they get exploitation licenses?’ – Mr. Sok An said that these companies are qualified, they have sufficient techniques and resources to explore, they have proper programs responding to the needs for exploration, care about the environment, have the ability to enter into competition, they can provide appropriate benefits to Cambodia, and they meet other points stated in the regulations for oil exploration from 1991.

“Responding to the questions, ‘What payments do they have to make before they get a licenses? What payments have to be made into the state budget? If there are such payments, since when have such payments been implemented?’ – Mr. Sok An said that the companies do not have to pay all money before they receive oil deals. But when a company gets a deal, they might pay some money, like reward money for signing, and money for a social development foundation. But they are not obliged to pay it, and it depends on negotiations based on the expected oil potential. In the case that there is money paid, like reward money for signing, paid into the state budget, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the National Petroleum Authority deposits it into an account at the National Bank of Cambodia. The money is the income from oil for the Royal Government of Cambodia to be used, and the use of the money is not dependent on the companies signing the oil deals, like in the case of the social development foundation. The money for the social development foundation is also deposited into an account at the National Bank of Cambodia, but before the money can be taken out to be spent on any projects, there needs to be a discussion with company that signed the oil deal, as, in general, that money is used to serve the development in areas designated when the oil deal was signed.

“Another question is, ‘Where has the US$28 million payment of the Total company been used, and where has this been published? What policies were used to determine the amount of US$28 million?

“Mr. Sok An responded that the amount of money paid by Total is US$26 million (US$20 million as reward money for signing, and US$6 million was for the social development foundation). The rest of US$2 million is for processing the administrative work which the company volunteered to pay for the long term. No money has been paid to any individual who is an official of the Royal Government. The government manages and uses the income from the oil and gas resources through the same entrance and exit [that is the national budget]. As for the social development fund into which the oil companies paid, it is not so much and it depends on the potential of the resources; the foundation had been established in 1995.

“Mr. Sok An made these clarifications in response to the Sam Rainsy Part parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, who had sent a letter with questions on 7 May 2010, through the National Assembly.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #784, 25.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 25 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #513, 25.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Absolutely Firmly Ordered that No Primary Schools and Health Centers Should be Sold [especially those in Phnom Penh – previously, some primary school directors and heads of health centers had sold or relocated institutions for their own benefit]
  • The [SBJ] Bank of Vietnam Invests US$3 Million in Gold Minerals Development in Cambodia
  • More Than 6,000 Families at the Northeast Received Free Treatments from American Medics

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2284, 25.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Called On Citizens to Obey the Traffic Laws during the Inauguration of the Sky Road [in Phnom Penh]
  • Australia Has the First Female Prime Minister [Ms. Julia Gillard] after a Grim Party Revolt

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #784, 25.6.2010

  • Sok An Clarified the US$28 Million Tea Money of the Total Company

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #690, 25.6.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Must Cooperate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] to Arrest the Persons Who Made the Grenade Attack in Front of the [former] National Assembly, to Be Convicted like [the Cambodian Freedom Fighters leader] Chhun Yasith [convicted to serve a life time prison term for attempting a coup d’etat in Cambodia in 2000]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6991, 25.6.2010

  • The 24th Synthesizing Report of the ILO Shows the Recovery of the Garment Sector [in Cambodia – the rate of export within five months of 2010 was more than that within the corresponding period last year; the rate of employment increased a little since 1 November 2009 and the rate of unemployment which results from the global financial crisis is stable – it is not deteriorating]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #690, 25.6.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Party Leader [Mr. Sam Rainsy] and Parliamentarian [Ms. Mu Sochua] Who Are Facing Arrest Will Attend the ASEAN Free Parties’ Forum in the Philippines as Honorary Speakers [from 27 to 29 June 2010]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #201, 25.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Said that the Sam Rainsy Party Was Also Involved in the Unsuccessful Coup [by the Cambodian Freedom Fighters – CFF]
  • Thai Soldiers Shot and Killed a Khmer Worker when He Was Returning from Work [accusing him of illegally trafficking motorbikes across the border – the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, condemned this fatal shooting and waits for an explanation from Thailand]
  • The Mong Riththy Group [Company] Invests US$10 Million to Plant Rubber Trees at a Seashore Region in Sihanoukville in 2010 [on 5,000 hectares of land]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5233, 25.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Asked the Ministry of Transport of China to Invest to Construct [many] Roads in Cambodia According to the Built-Operate-Transfer [BOT]

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The Royal Government Plans to Issue a Sub-Decree Determining the Rate of Disabled People to Be Employed at State and Private Institutions – Saturday, 12.6.2010

Posted on 12 June 2010. Filed under: Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

“The Royal Government of Cambodia plans to issue a sub-decree soon about the rate of disabled people that should be employed at state institutions, companies, factories, and enterprises.

“A Secretary of State of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation, Mr. Sem Sokha, said in the evening of 11 June 2010 that the sub-decree had already been checked by the Economic, Social, and Cultural Council, and it will then be sent to relevant ministries, and finally to a cabinet meeting.

“Mr. Sem Sokha added that the sub-decree will be released soon, because also Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen wants it to be issued soon in order to help handicapped people to work at state and private institutions.

“Mr. Sem Sokha mentioned some contents of the sub-decree, which states that state institutions are required to employ at least 2% disabled people [among their total personnel] who have sufficient qualifications, while private companies, factories, and enterprises are required to recruit 1%.

“When he was asked what actions would be taken, if any state or private institutions do not adhere to the sub-decree, he explained that they will be fined to pay 50% of the salary of the civil servants they would have to hire. That means if a ministry is required to employ two or three disabled people but do not employ them, they have to pay 50% of their salaries as a fine. He added that for companies, factories, and enterprises, they will be charged 40% of the staff salary. According to a demographic study in 2004, 4% of the population are disabled.

“Mr. Sem Sokha said that when the sub-decree becomes valid, disabled people will receive full rights to live integrated in society and especially they can work at different state and private institutions like normal people.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2273, 12.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 12 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #502, 12.6.2010

  • A CRV [“compact recreational vehicle”] Car Struck a Motorbike, Killing Two people and Injuring Three Others Seriously and Lightly [Battambang]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2273, 12.6.2010

  • The Royal Government Plans to Issue a Sub-Decree Determining the Rate of Disabled People to Be Employed at State and Private Institutions
  • The USS Tortuga (LSD 46) Warship of the United State of America Began [for the first time also a] Cambodia Phase of CARAT Exercises [Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training, begun in 1995, after Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand were involved already in the past]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #680, 12.6.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy Hopes that There Will Be a Political Solution for Him [he was convicted over the uprooting of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng; now he is abroad]
  • A Petition Was Sent to the US President to Ask Him to Condemn the Supreme Court of Cambodia and the Cambodian Government over the Prosecution of Ms. Mu Sochua [regarding the defamation case of Prime Minister Hun Sen which is a sign of the restriction of the freedom of expression. There is no information given which institution or group organized it – it is just stated that thumb prints and signature were collected by people supporting the petition]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6980, 12-13.6.2010

  • Japan Announced to Grant US$131 Million Development Aid to Cambodia Each Year for Three Years
  • A Twelve Seater Car Tire Burst and the Car Overturned, Resulting in Three Deaths and Six Injured People [Kompong Cham]
  • Lightnings Killed Three Persons and Injured Another in the Kong Meas and Dambae Districts after Two Days of Continuing Rain

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3904, 12-13.6.2010

  • Leaders from 46 Countries in Asia and Europe Will Meet in Brussels [on 14 July to prepare the upcoming 8th ASEM Summit in Brussels, Belgium, in October 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5222, 12.6.2010

  • The Forestry Heads of Three Provinces [Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, and Oddar Meanchey] Were Reshuffled while the Iron Fist Campaign Is Still Being Implemented Strictly
  • The Authorities Chased a Car Loaded with Ebony, Driven by a Kompong Thom Police Major; Because He Was Scared, He Ran into the Soth Nikum District Police Station [the car driver and his wife were arrested – Siem Reap]
  • Cambodia [through the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers] Rejected the Findings of the Corporate Council (?) based in England Which Indicate that Peace in Cambodia Is Deteriorating

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Improving Communication by Communicating – Sunday, 6.6.2010

Posted on 7 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

The major event during the week was the meeting of the Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum, which brought more than 100 representatives from donor countries and from international financial organizations to Cambodia, to meet with representatives of the Cambodian government. One newspaper quoted a Cambodian official as saying, before the meeting: “Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected.” As expected! On the other hand, just days before this meeting, a group of local NGOs released a study with a critical call to the donor community, suggesting that donors should press the government to fulfill agreed requirements carrying out major reforms in the country and to apply Joint Monitoring Indicators defined in the past. Global Witness, the UK based monitoring agency supported by 17 trusts and foundations, 4 development organizations from different countries, and 7 governments, suggested that the donors should take “a coordinated stand against the horribly subverted dynamic of aid in Cambodia in which their country’s money props up the basic functions of the state, leaving an elite free to exploit the state’s assets for personal profit.”

There are voices saying that the pledge of about US$1 billion is a sign that the donors don’t care about critical statements – either deploring the fact of the pledges realize “as expected,” or taking the pledges as a sign of a flat endorsement of the Cambodian government’s policies. Both these opinions are wrong.

To publish critical evaluations of aid effectiveness some days before such a meeting helps to get broad attention. But to expect that it would greatly affect the meeting, assumes that the international donor delegates arrive to sit around the table and then decide on the spot how much to pledge. They all come with the results of a year’s deliberations at home, considering information and opinion gathered and discussed with others, and decisions prepared towards the meeting.

Both sides then, in the formal meeting, share their well considered long range statements:

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The aid provided by development partners is a very important contribution for the development of Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will use the aid effectively, adding that the government will continue to solve major problems such as corruption, land ownership, and judicial reform.”

“The World Bank country director, Ms. Annette Dixon, said, representing the donors, that she lauded the development of Cambodia since the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum held in December 2008, but the progress of the government is still limited in terms of its work to improve strategic planing and to manage aid. She said, ‘It is important for the government to take the lead in aligning resources to development priorities.’”

That is more than a hint that the donors think that available resources are not aligned to development priorities.

What went on during the closed-door meetings may have been more mutually engaging – but the most important things will happen – or not happen – during the course of the year which starts now towards the next meeting. And it will depend on the monitoring of ongoing events and the related discussions – including the regular follow-up in the press and by government and non-government agencies’ observations.

This is a field of hard work: to observe, to analyze, to compare, to speak up, to share – regularly and consistently.

There will be questions requiring answers, and if the questions do not get answers easily, they have to be repeated and made more precise and receive follow-up, maybe again and again. This is the role of the public, and especially of the media. That is why the press is also called “the fourth power” in a state – independent also, like the three others: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, mutually separate, as Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia requires.

The Mirror tries to contribute to this important process.

One element of regular surprise is information like the following, which we carried during this week:

  • Oknha Ly Say Kheang, a Big Trader Destroying the Forest, Appeared in Sihanoukville after Having Escaped from Arrest for a While [he was spotted driving a luxury car and relaxing in Sihanoukville]

A fugitive from prison. Was he arrested?

  • More Than 60 Persons [police, military police, soldiers, as well as a prosecutor, a commune chief and a village chief] Surrounded a Site where a Military Captain is Storing Luxury Grade Wood [seizing 922 pieces of wood, but the owner of the wood has not been arrested]

Why 60 persons for one suspect? And he was not arrested?

  • The Authorities Seek to Arrest Citizens over a Land Dispute [with the Heng Development Company; two persons were arrested for inciting villagers to go to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence]

“Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law” says Article 31 of the Constitution. But some get arrested and others not! So many cries for help trust in the highest authority of the government, carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady. When will this confidence wear out if there are too many disappointments?

  • The Government Declared to Fight Corruption [Prime Minister Hun Sen said that there are only a handful of corrupt officials, and the government will encourage other officials to fight corruption together]

We will read it in the press.

And here is a variety of related observations:

An interesting source of income for the state reported:

  • Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places

Not much, less than US$500. There is no report how much was collected from new, big cars driving around town without neither temporary nor permanent license plates. Almost every day when I am driven around town on a motorcycle-taxi, I see some. Probably there was nothing to report because nothing is being collected from them.

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

Members of the National Assembly, elected by the people (The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people – says Article 51 of the Constitution), need a permission before they can travel inside of the country? Article 40 of the Constitution sound different: Citizens’ freedom to travel, far and near, and legal settlement shall be respected. We did not reed that the parliamentarians claimed this Constitutional right.

The result:

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Were Prevented from Visiting and Checking a Border Marker [in Takeo, as their visit was blocked by more than 30 armed forces and more than 50 local citizens]

And finally a dilemma:

  • The Opposition Party President Sam Rainsy Plans to Go to the Philippines to Meet with Parliamentarians and Democrats in Asia [at the end of this month, to welcome the newly elected president of the Philippines when he takes office]

Probably there will be many international guests there, especially from the ASEAN region. Among them politicians from Cambodia. But Mr. Sam Rainsy is facing the court in Cambodia, though he is abroad to avoid arrest – but he is free in France, and he is free to travel.

Could another politician from the ASEAN region, the former Thai Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra, also go to the Philippines? Maybe not. There is a search warrant for him from Interpol, and the Thai government is now in the process to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin through Interpol to 187 countries, which makes it more and more difficult to travel anywhere. Except to Cambodia:

  • Cambodia Expressed [through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] the Position Not to Extradite Thaksin to Thailand

He was convicted by a Thai court for corruption – for arranging the sale of valuable Bangkok land without bidding and at a low price, to his wife. But he left the country – “temporarily for about a week,” after paying bail – and did never return.

Everybody is equal before the law? Not quite.

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Local Pig Raiser Association Demands Expert Officials to Take Action on Pigs Imported from Vietnam – Wednesday, 12.5.2010

Posted on 16 May 2010. Filed under: Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

Note:

After having been knocked out late on Monday, 10.5.2010, by a bad, but not clearly identified intestinal infection, I am sorry that I could not earlier, and cannot more speedily, catch up again, but maybe it will be done by Monday, 17.5.2010, noon.

Because of the King’s Birthday National Holiday on 13.5.2010, which was extended into further days, it is now intended to have publications, during the current week, only for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Norbert Klein
Editor of the Mirror

“In recent months, the import of live pigs from Vietnam into Cambodia on motorbikes – small scale trading, where a motorbike can transport two to four pigs – seems to increase from day to day, while veterinarians do not care to check the pig’s health before they are allowed to be brought in.

“The deputy head of the Cambodian Pig Raiser Association that protects the local pig raisers, Mr. Srun Pov, complained that the collusion to import live pigs from Vietnam to Cambodia through various border crossings, avoiding tax payments and appropriate health checks, is increasing recently.

“Mr. Srun Pov said that obviously, on 10 May 2010, representatives of the association went to check some border crossings in the Ponhea Kraek district, Kompong Cham, and found that hundreds of pigs were imported on that day by traders without proper health checks from expert officials. Just on that morning, the representatives of the associations could see more than 40 motorbikes carrying 3 to 4 pigs each and they gathered those pigs to be delivered into trucks to send them to Phnom Penh.

“He added that to allow the trafficking of live pigs into Cambodia without proper health checks affects the health of citizens who eat pork and harms local pig raisers, as at present, the association is trying to encourage more local citizens to raise pigs.

“On behalf of the Cambodian Pig Raiser Association, Mr. Srun Pov called on the authorities, especially Prime Minister Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, to take measures to prevent and to eliminate such anarchic import of pigs, because just at the boarder crossings in Kompong Cham, more than 100 pigs were imported each day. What about at other border crossings in Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kandal, and Takeo? How many thousands of pigs are being imported illegally?

“Citizens living along the Cambodian-Vietnamese border ask veterinarians to carefully check the pig’s health before allowing their import. If the present situation continues, local pig raisers will be affected more seriously.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6953, 12.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #475, 12.5.2010

  • The Ministry of Public Works and Transport Encourages Railroad Construction Companies to Repair the Damaged Railroad [the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Mr. Tram Iv Tek, recognized that some private companies repair the railroad with low quality or without proper technical standards, making it to become damaged again soon]
  • Diarrhea in Kratie Increases to 83 Cases [six cases are serious]
  • Within Two Months of 2010, There Were More Than 100,000 Cases of Pneumonia and Twenty Four People Died

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2246, 12.5.2010

  • Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh Denied the Information that He Enters Politics [recently, there had been rumors that he will return to lead FUNCINPEC]
  • Traffic Police Was Accused of Hitting a Man on His Head so that He Was Bleeding, as He Did Not Wear a Helmet [Siem Reap]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #652, 12.5.2010

  • The Dredging of Millions of Tonnes of Sand to Be Exported to Singapore Seriously Affects the Environment of Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6953, 12.5.2010

  • Local Pig Raiser Association Demands Expert Officials to Take Action on Pigs Imported from Vietnam

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3877, 12.5.2010

  • [Oknhas] Mong Riththy and Ly Yong Phat Confidentially Received Licenses to Export Sand, Resulting in the Loss of National Income [according to Global Witness] and This Is a Bad Model of Corruption Committed by People in Leadership in Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #169, 12.5.2010

  • The Khmer Prime Minister Will Visit Preah Vihear Today [to inaugurate a new school building and other achievements in this province – but he will not visit the temple area]
  • Sand War between Cambodia and Global Witness Continues, while Singapore Rejected the Report [saying that the sand dredging trade with Cambodia is operated without caring about the bad impacts on the society and the environment, as this has to be controlled by Cambodia]
  • Benigno Aquino Wins the Elections and Prepares to Become the New President of the Philippines

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5195, 12.5.2010

  • Officials of the Cambodian Government and Investors Reject a Report by Global Witness over the Dredging of Sand for Export Abroad
  • The Malaysian Prime Minister Is Grateful as the Investment in Cambodian Has Increased to US$1.8 Billion and He Promises to Encourage Investment in Rice Milling
  • France Plans to Provide Loans without Guarantee [by the Cambodian government] on Four Projects [for the rice milling associations to produce standard rice for export to Europe, for public lighting in Phnom Penh, for training for workers, and for the creation of a vocational training center on tourism and hotel services; but the amounts of the loans are not mentioned]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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The Hotter Temperature Is Difficult to Stand – This Shows there Is Climate Change – Tuesday, 11.5.2010

Posted on 16 May 2010. Filed under: Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

Note:

After having been knocked out late on Monday, 10.5.2010, by a bad, but not clearly identified intestinal infection, I am sorry that I could not earlier, and cannot more speedily, catch up again, but maybe it will be done by Monday, 17.5.2010, noon.

Because of the King’s Birthday National Holiday on 13.5.2010, which was extended into further days, it is now intended to have publications, during the current week, only for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Norbert Klein
Editor of the Mirror

“Almost unbearable and hotter sunshine is getting public attention; this problem clearly shows that Cambodia is experiencing a change to a hotter climate as part of the global natural phenomena. The typhoon Ketsana indicated that Cambodia starts to face natural disaster, while the temperature is alarmingly getting hotter at present. In rural areas, the heat wave is affecting farmers, making it difficult for them to go out to their rice fields. The wind also brings the heat wave to wherever the people stay, even under the trees they still feel the hot wind.

“According to the weather forecast of 10 May 2010 of the Department of Meteorology, the temperature in low lying areas is 25 to 40 degrees Celsius, at the highlands 26 to 38, at the seashore 22 to 36. Based on the weather forecast of the website http://www.underground.com [not operational at time of editing], the temperature in Phnom Penh is 38 degrees, but the hottest temperature was up to 40 degrees, comparable to Ho Chi Minh City with 36 to 40. Bangkok has a higher temperature than Cambodia with 38 to 41 degrees. Besides, the temperature in Manila/Philippines is 36 to 44 degrees, in Jakarta/Indonesia 35 to 44, in Vientiane/Laos 37 to 43, and in Kuala Lumpur 31 to 42 etc.

“As it is almost the end of the Visakh Lunar Month, the weather should have turned from hot to cooler, but it is seen that in the Kingdom of Cambodia, there is rain in some areas, but in some others there is no rain at all, though the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology had forecast that there will be rain everywhere during the rainy season, and there will be no ‘small dry season’ during the rainy season. The hot temperature at present makes it difficult for people to endure it, as they never encountered something like this before.

“An official of the Department of Meteorology said that the temperature is hot because there is no rain. When the rain comes, the temperature will drop. The deputy head of the Department of Meteorology, Mr. Oum Rina, told Koh Santepheap on the phone that in April, in some areas like in Siem Reap and in the northwest, the temperature rose to 41 degrees Celsius. At other areas, the temperature was 38 to 40 degrees, but it declined when the rain came regularly. Mr. Oum Rina added that now, the temperature is still hot. In the northwest, it is 40 degrees and in Phnom Penh, Kandal, Svay Rieng, Kompong Cham, and other provinces and cities, the temperature is only between 37 and 39 degrees.

“He went on to say that the hot temperatures can last until 14 or 15 May 2010, and then they will drop as the rain will start. There will be raining for a few days later in Phnom Penh and in some other areas, and the temperature will go down. This is all part of the problem of climate change.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6952, 11.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #474, 11.5.2010

  • US$1 Billion Was Signed between the Private Sectors of Cambodia and of Malaysia
  • Military Police Intercepted a Car Loaded with Artifacts, but the Driver Escaped [Battambang]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2245, 11.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Told Malaysian Investors that Cambodia Opens Its Economy for All Investors
  • The US Embassy Prepares to Mark the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties with Cambodia [by organizing a concert on 13 May 2010]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #6511, 11.5.2010

  • Twenty Five Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Ask the Svay Rieng Court to Allow Them to Visit Meas Srey and Prum Chea at the Svay Rieng Prison [on 18 May 2010; both of them are jailed for removing border markers]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6952, 11.5.2010

  • The Hotter Temperature Is Difficult to Stand – This Shows there Is Climate Change
  • [Four] Armed Robbers Robbed a Fuel Station and Shot and Injured a Major Who Is the Owner of the Station [taking away some money and property – Pursat]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3876, 11.5.2010

  • More Than 2,000 Families Face Eviction and Their Land Will Be Sized to Be Delivered to a Private Company [Mondolkiri]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #168, 11.5.2010

  • Global Witness Criticized Sand Dredging Operations in Cambodia [for exports to Singapore, saying that those operations seriously affect the beach and river eco-systems due to a lack of transparency and regulations of the government – it estimates that at present, up to more than 796,000 tonnes of sand are dredged every month]
  • [President of the Cambodian Independent Teacher Association] Rong Chhun: We Do Not Want Laws or the Authorities to Limit Our Freedom [he said so regarding the creation of a ‘democracy compound’ for not more than 200 people protesting]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5194, 11.5.2010

  • More Than US$36 Million of Cash Were Sent by Cambodian Workers [in Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand] to Their Families in Cambodia within One Year [in 2009]
  • The Former Head of the Vietnamese Communist Party [Mr. Lê Khả Phiêu – Le Kha Phieu] Visits Cambodia [to strengthen solidarity between both countries]
  • The Kunthak Bopha Hospital Spends US$30 Million Each Year [to provide health services; US$2.5 million from the government, US$2.7 million from the Swiss government, and the rest is from the foundation of Professor Beat Richner]
  • A Shrimp Company [Nautisco Seafood Manufacturing of Canada] Sells it’s 31.48% Stake [to Leopard, a company in Asia; each day, the company can produce more than 10 tonnes of shrimps – Sihanoukville]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign – Thursday, 6.5.2010

Posted on 6 May 2010. Filed under: Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“High ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party had expressed their concerns before, that the non-transparent management of the rich natural resources of Cambodia, as well as corruption, make citizens – the owners of those important resources – become poor, so that they cannot receive the benefits from the present anarchic exploitations of natural resources.

“Officials from 16 countries met in Phnom Penh for two days, on 4 and 5 May 2010, to discuss about the control of forestry resources and the trade of forestry products. Cambodian high ranking officials welcomed and chaired the discussion meetings to step up effective controls on forest resources. Asian and European officials came from Burma, Cambodia, China, England, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Siam [Thailand], the United States of America, and Yuon [Vietnam], to discuss how to promote forestry exploitation that follows legal standards.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä, the Director of Directorate G – Sustainable Development and Integration – in the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission, said that forestry trading is an important sector that boosts economic growth in Asian and European countries, and forestry products have significantly and enormously contributed to development of the economies of Asian and European countries. It is stressed that forestry products are essential for a national economy.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä said that good management of forestry resource will help prevent forestry destructions in any country, though forests can provide substantial national income. Cambodia used to export forestry products to some countries such as the former Soviet Union. But since Cambodia introduced reforms in 2001, the export of [unprocessed] forestry products abroad was halted [but illegal export continued].

“The Minister of Agriculture of Cambodia, Mr. Chan Sarun, who was also present at the discussions, said that people from the countries that attend the meeting can jointly create plans to strengthen forestry management and legislation. ‘We can create joint planning to improve forestry control and to strength fundamental laws, as well as cut down illegal forestry productions.’

“Recently, Cambodia has started to crack down on luxury grade wood trading, and after activities for one month, the authorities confiscated 6,000 cubic meter of such wood that was to be transported to China and Yuon. Some was to be exported to the international market via Singapore.

“Ebony, Thnong, and Beng are most wanted luxury grade woods to produce furniture in some countries, and most illegal exports from Cambodia are of these kinds of wood. Most luxury grade wood confiscated was found in Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Kompong Cham, Stung Treng, and Kratie. The destinations for its export are known to be China and Yuon, where millions of cubic meters are needed.

“The illegal wood trading in Cambodia reduced the rich forestry resource during the 1960s of about 75% of the whole country to drop to only more than 30% at present, according to some environmental organizations. Forestry expert officials and some sectors of the authorities have been blamed for their collusion, committing illegal wood trading, but most of the actors are not brought to the courts.

“According to reports from forestry administration officials, 207 forestry crimes have been reported to the courts, but some traders with a title as an Oknha, or with close relations to high government officials, have not been charged, though they colluded to commit forestry crimes in Cambodia. Some forestry administration officials enjoy their lives with the wealth they gained from the illegal cutting down of trees.

Global Witness said in a statement early April 2010, ‘The idea that Ty Sokhun has been removed from his post because of a failure to crack down on illegal logging is laughable.’ The organization thinks that to tolerate Mr. Ty Sokun after 15 years of forestry crimes originating from his office shows that the past spreading of forestry crimes seems to be forgotten.

Note – From the text of the Global Witness statement:

Sacking of Cambodia’s forest chief unconvincing as move against illegal logging

Press Release – 7.4.2010

Global Witness today welcomed the removal from his post of the Director General of Cambodia’s Forest Administration, Ty Sokhun, but warned that much more needed to be done to guarantee the survival of the country’s remaining forests and the fair and sustainable exploitation of the country’s other natural resources for the benefit of the many not the few.

Global Witness’s 2007 report, Cambodia’s Family Trees, documented how Ty Sokhun and the Ministry of Agriculture Director, Chan Sarun, sold off 500 or more jobs in the Forest Administration. The report also revealed that Ty Sokhun’s father-in-law was a key member of Cambodia’s biggest illegal logging syndicate.

“Ty Sokhun’s reign as Cambodia’s forest chief was a disaster for Cambodia’s forests”, said Simon Taylor, Global Witness Director. “On his watch we saw Cambodia’s forests shrink dramatically, largely due to illegal or ill-managed logging operations. It is a good thing he is gone, but he shouldn’t be let off the hook for what happened while he was in charge.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen says he sacked Ty Sokhun because he had no confidence in his ability to crack down on illegal logging but Global Witness questions why it has taken so long to act…

Taylor: “Ty Sokhun was not the only one responsible for the destruction of Cambodia’s forests. Our investigations have proven the complicity of officials and elites at the highest levels, including members of the Prime Minister’s own family. If Hun Sen genuinely wants closure on the destruction of Cambodia’s forests, he should commission a full independent enquiry into what has happened, publish the findings and punish the perpetrators.”

“At the occasion of the change of head of the Forestry Administration and the appointment of Mr. Chheng Kimson it was seen that some high ranking officials such as [Minister of Agriculture] Mr. Chan Sarun were spared to be called to account for their wrongdoings by the head of the Cambodian government, while in fact Mr. Chan Sarun and Mr. Ty Sokun are the most important persons responsible for forestry crimes for years. This way of suppressing illegal wood trading makes international donors to think that Cambodia does it just to satisfy them to get aid, while the Cambodian government is not really willing to intercept illegal wood trading. [[see also The Mirror of 7.4.2010]]

Note – from a historical Global Witness statement from December 2004

Resign or be sacked

Press Release – 3.12.2004

With the advent of Cambodia’s Consultative Group (CG) donor meeting on 6 and 7 December combating corruption is once more at the top of the political agenda. In line with this renewed emphasis, Global Witness is calling on the Director of the Forest Administration to be made accountable for the rampant corruption within his own department.

“Ty Sokhun should do the honourable thing and resign. If not, the Prime Minister should sack him.” said Jon Buckrell of Global Witness.

Ty Sokhun was made Director of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife1 in 1998. Since then, corruption within the department has if anything got worse. The May 2000 Asia Development Bank [ADB] Forest Concession Review characterised the crisis situation in Cambodia’s forest as “…total system failure; resulting from greed, corruption, incompetence and illegal acts…” However, according to the ADB so many people, companies, institutions and countries were responsible for the fiasco that no one should be made accountable. Since that time not one forest department official has been charged with corruption, let alone convicted. Yet as recently as April 2004 the Independent Forest Sector Review referred to “high levels of institutionalised corruption.” Still, no one is being held to account.

“How can the new Forest Administration hope to address corruption if the people at the top remain the same?” said Buckrell. Ty Sokhun is hopelessly compromised by his familial links to the timber trade. His father-in-law, Khun Thong, is one of Cambodia’s most prolific illegal loggers. “Ty Sokhun’s failure to make public his familial links to the timber trade is a massive conflict of interest and is in itself reason enough to dismiss him.”

Good governance is at the core of the new “Rectangular Strategy,” of the third legislature of the National Assembly, but the government has been talking tough on corruption and doing nothing for years, as has the donor community. At the 1996 CG meeting, then First Prime Minister H.R.H. Norodom Ranariddh stated that the Royal Government of Cambodia was committed to “implement appropriate measures,” to amongst other things “effectively combat corruption.” More recently at the 2001 CG the ADB’s Urooj Malik “respectfully urged” the Royal Government “to move forward with the finalization of legislation on Anti-corruption…”. The donors then pledged US$ 615 million, US$ 115 million more than the Cambodian government had actually asked for. In 2002 “the adoption of a new Anti-Corruption Law” was, according to the World Bank, by now “of particular and most urgent importance.” The donors pledged US$ 635 million.

“The Cambodian government must find the whole CG process absolutely hilarious. Each year they fail to meet their benchmarks and each year the donors give them more money.” said Buckrell.

Global Witness agrees with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sentiments, of more than two years ago, that “while good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.” During Monday’s CG, the donors must hold the entire government to account for their failure to put anti-corruption rhetoric into practice. The donors should insist on rapid enactment of an effective Anti-Corruption law and a register of business interests for politicians, officers in the military, and senior officials.

“Dismissing the Director of the Forest Administration is an absolute minimum first step any donor really interested in Cambodia’s development should expect from a government committed to reform and addressing corruption,” said Global Witness Director, Simon Taylor. “Our recent report, Taking a Cut, provides a number of other key minimum steps we would expect the Cambodian Government to undertake to clean up its act. Some years ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that his Premiership depended on his success in delivering improvements in the forestry sector. By any standards, he has thus far failed. The challenge is now to the donors and the Prime Minister to deliver.”

“According to a report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the trade in forestry products with markets in Asian countries, North America, and the European Union in 2001 amounted to about US$140 billion, while in 1999, it had been less than that. A report about the fight against illegal forestry crimes of the World Bank, from 2006, showed that the forest destructions in the world siphoned off more than US$10 billion each year.

“A well known opposition party leader in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, had said that corruption leads to the devastation of natural resources of Cambodia. He said that if there were a proper and transparent management of those resources, Cambodia were able to earn huge amounts of money for national construction and for some important infrastructure developments to serve the needs of the citizens.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy recalled that the exploitation of national resources does so far not contribute proper benefits for the nation and for poor citizens, due to corruption. If there were an accurate management, Cambodia could find sufficient income without depending on foreign aid or loans, as the government does at present.

“The Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that the improper management of the national budget, especially the collection of income from the exploitations of natural resources without transparency and without following the laws of control, make Cambodia lose its benefits. Mr. Yim Sovann suggests that the government should create effective laws to control the natural resources and to ensure that income from the exploitation of natural resources is not lost to corruption.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 6 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.17, #1438, 6.5.2010

  • Sweden Plans to Establish an Embassy in Cambodia [no exact date specified]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #470, 6.5.2010

  • A 30-Year-Old Woman Was Attacked with Acid over a Suspected Love Affair [the perpetrators are not yet arrested – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2241, 6.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Met with the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of Defense [Mr. Shimba Kazuya [防衛副大臣 榛葉賀津也], discussing about bilateral and regional cooperation]
  • Jointly Stepping Up the Fight against Human Trafficking
  • A Workshop about the Results from a Consultation to Cooperate Implementing the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women Was Held [Ms. Chim Manavy, the director of the Open Institute: priorities and strategies to achieve the same goals together cooperating between civil society organizations and institutions of the government, to effectively implement the action plan, had been discussed and set up, including Information and Communication Technology as a means to promote gender equality and to empower women, as stated in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #648, 6.5.2010

  • Journalists Publish a Declaration on Freedom of Information, Demanding that the Government Creates a Law about the Right to Know Soon [the government is drafting this law without open participation of journalists’ associations]
  • Samdech Euv [Father King] Norodom Sihanouk and Siamese [Thai] King Sent Each Other Good Wishes

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6948, 6.5.2010

  • Nearly 100,000 Hectares of Economic Concession Land in Kompong Thom Are Delivered to Twenty One Companies for Growing Agro-Industrial Crops
  • A Woman Was Raped and Killed and a Few Hours Later, the Perpetrator Was Arrested [Phnom Penh]
  • A Statement by Cambodian Journalists Published on the World Press Freedom Day Suggests that “The Right to Know Must Be Guaranteed for Cambodian Citizens by the Government”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

  • Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #165, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Claimed Again that the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda Is on Khmer Territory [while Thailand claimed it is on Thai territory. – Actually, it is on territory declared by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in a Joint Communique on 18 June 2008, signed together with UNESCO and the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a “buffer zone” not claimed by Cambodia in the context of the World Heritage Site designation plans]
  • [More than 100] Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protested in Front of the Council for the Development of Cambodia [CDC – to oppose the submission of a Master Plan for the development of the area from the Municipality to the CDC, but officials said that the Master Plan has not yet been delivered to the CDC – but people have already been evicted before the plan was accepted]
  • The Minister of Finance of Indonesia [Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati] Receives the Top Position in the World Bank [as its Managing Director]
  • Cambodia Railway Station Is Starting with New Life because of Continuing Investment [it is now controlled by the Toll Royal Railways; the whole Cambodian railway system is being repaired under US$141,1 million aid and credits from the Asian Development Bank, AusAID, and OPEC]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5190, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Imports Fuel Amounting to US$450 Million Each Year [according to a report from the Ministry of Commerce]
  • 199 Pieces of Ebony [loaded on a boat] Prepared to Be Imported to Vietnam, Were Seized on the High Sea [Kampot]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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The First Meeting about the Implementation of the National Strategic Plan to Stop Violence against Women – Thursday, 18.2.2010

Posted on 19 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“Phnom Penh: The Open Institute, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, held the first consultative meeting on the topic ‘Participating in the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women, and the Importance of Using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Combat Violence against Women.’

“Opening the meeting in the morning of 17 February 2010, a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Sy Define, said that the meeting was the first one held by a government institution with a civil society organizations on this issue, and it was organized after the government had published the ‘National Action Plan about the Prevention of Violence against Women’ last year. She stressed that even without reference to specific figures, rape and violence against women appear in new ways, and all forms appear more frequently and more cruelly. This is a concern for the government as well as for non-government organizations.

“She added that a major challenge for the prevention of violence against women, which needs to be addressed immediately, is the victims’ fear and shame. She emphasized that the victims often try to hide what happened, and even as there are more rapes happening, there is also the increased tendency to hide them. This is because women feel ashamed and they are afraid of being treated with contempt by the society, and also the knowledge of citizens in many communities is limited, including the knowledge about the legal procedures to appeal to the courts which require the victims, mostly the poor, to pay money.

“Based on the above issues, Ms. Sy Define called for more publications of laws about rights and other measures that are important for preventing and reducing violence against women, where Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays an important role.

“ICT provides a modern and fast way of communication using computers or mobile phones; it can reach us wherever we are, as far as the communications network extends. It provides easy and quick access to a collection of all kinds of information.

“Regarding this issue, the Executive Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, said that this meeting is really important for reflecting about violence against women and the intersection between this problem and Information and Communication Technology. In many countries around the world, women’s networks and organizations use the Internet and communicate, using these technologies, to share their experiences and to gather resources and support for their activities, and organize for the creation of global strategic actions. She said that in Cambodia, however, most women have not developed the habit and the ability to use the Internet and to communicate through it to support their activities like it happens in other countries.

“She added, ‘Recently, there is more recognition of the intersection between violence against women and the instruments for electronic communication [with computers and mobile phones]. Violence against women and ICT have an impact on establishing fundamental freedoms and human rights.’

“But Ms. Manavy raised also other examples, saying, ‘While mobile phones and websites can benefit women who suffer violence, seeking information and assistance, some wicked persons use the same technology for exploitation, sending images violating women’s rights, which are human rights.’

“Relating to the negative use of ICT, Ms. Sy Define called on women to be aware of this problem and to join together to control it and to use ICT to combat such wrongdoings.

“She emphasized that the government alone cannot achieve the Millennium Development Goals for 2010, which state [as Goal 3] ‘Promote gender equality and empower women,’ without cooperation in many fields with non-government organizations and development partners to promote the capacity, knowledge, strength, and courage of women.

“She also asked all women’s and other institutions to join to encourage the use of ICT to help prevent violence against women as well as domestic violence, following the National Action Plan about the Prevention of Violence against Women.

“During the meeting held at the Hotel Cambodiana, participants from more than 40 institutions working on women and rights presented their results from separate observations about violence against women and domestic violence, and discussed to share their experiences, knowledge, lessons learned, other strategies, and the use of ICT to prevent violence against women and domestic violence.

“In the three hours meeting, participants offered recommendations and sought to identify key priorities for cooperation between civil society organizations and government institutions to develop joint strategies to effectively prevent violence against women, to encourage gender equality, and to empower women. Ten other organizations cooperated and attended the meeting: Cambodian Women for Peace and Development, the Cambodian Defenders’ Project, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (NGO-CEDAW), the Project Against Domestic Violence, Legal Aid of Cambodia, the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, the Women’s Media Center, Positive Change for Cambodia, Pharmaciens Sans Frontières, and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO).” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5129, 18.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 18 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #413, 18.2.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen: Cambodia Never Plants New Mines along the Border [he said so in response to some accusations, especially by Thailand]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Create Senior Citizens Associations Soon in the Eight Districts
  • Seventy One Journalists Were Killed in 2009 Worldwide [including 33 in the Philippines; according to the Committee to Protect Journalists]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2180, 18.2.2010

  • More Than 100 Cleaners at the Angkor Resort [of the Apsara Authority] Protested over the Late Payment of Their Salaries [Siem Reap]
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Signed an Agreement to Create a Digital Tribunal [with the Stanford University and the Berkeley War Crimes Study Center of the University of California]
  • Report: America and Pakistan Arrested the Head of the [military wing of the] Taliban

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #605, 18.2.2010

  • A Casino of Oknha Ket Theang Worth US$100 Million Will Open Next Week [in Bavet, Svay Rieng, at the border to Vietnam – he said that his casino can offer jobs to about 6,000 Khmer citizens]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3811, 18.2.2010

  • Avoiding to Respond to Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians’ Questions [over border issues] Shows the Irresponsibility of the Government

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #114, 18.2.2010

  • Thirty One People Died in Traffic Accidents within the Three Days of the Chinese New Year [in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5129, 18.2.2010

  • The First Meeting about the Implementation of the National Strategic Plan to Stop Violence against Women
  • The Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Education Plan to Create a Navigation School to Improve Waterway Traffic Safety [this navigation school is for youth of the next generation to get training, based on proper educational standards to obtain a license. Before, the provision of shipping licenses depended on the testing and questioning previous experience of piloting ships or motor boats, but there was no training offered. Two or three years ago the Phnom Penh port started training for its personnel, but it was not open for the public]
  • The Transport of Luxury Wood in Thala Barivat District Continues without Any Disturbance [by the authorities – Stung Treng]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1876, 18.2.2010

  • [A Sam Rainsy parliamentarian] Mr. Son Chhay Asked [the Minister of Interior] Mr. Sar Kheng to Check Road Traffic Police Activities that Establish Illegal Check Points to Extort Money from Citizens [he raised a case near the Chroy Changva bridge where police stop cars or trucks to make them pay money unofficially which they keep for themselves or share some with their next higher level officials]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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