The Son of a Four-Star-General Said Corruption Occurs at Present from Top to Bottom – Monday, 4.1.2010

Posted on 5 January 2010. Filed under: Week 646 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 646

“A son of a high ranking military officer of the Cambodian government told a foreign newspaper that corruption in Cambodia occurs at present at every section of the society from top to bottom. An Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald, interviewed a youth whose name is Meas Sophearith, a son of Four-Star-General Meas Sophea, a deputy Commander-In-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and the Commander of the Army of Cambodia, regarding his view about corruption in the Cambodian society.

“According to an article in this newspaper, written by Mr. Andrew Marshall, the young Meas Sophearith, who is studying political science at the University in Alabama in the United States, who has also a place for military studies at the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, the French military academy, a son of Mr. Meas Sophea, was quoted as criticizing the present corruption in Cambodian society, saying that corruption exists from top to bottom.

“According to the same source, Meas Sophearith described the situation of corruption in the Cambodian society nowadays, saying that most leaders are corrupt.

“Also, a nephew of a most powerful person in Cambodia was quoted, to have said for publication in the paper, that a nephew of a most powerful person in Cambodia owns a most expensive car priced at US$500,000 a Mercedes McLaren SLR.

“Besides the publication about the description of corruption by the young Meas Sophearith, another young man, Ouch Vichet, called Richard, 28, who used to study in New Zealand, spoke in the Australian newspaper about the present show-off culture among the children of the powerful and of the rich in Cambodia.

“The young Vichet was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying that if anybody want that the others pay respect, they have to own luxuries and expensive cars, big diamonds, and expensive mobile phones. This young man added that his parents provided him with a residence of US$500,000 and a rubber plantation of 400 hectares as his inheritance, while his parents-in-law gave him US$100,000 and another residence of US$200,000.

“The abundant wealth of high ranking officials, noticed by foreign observers as well as international journalists, where they compete with each other, showing off their luxury cars worth tens of thousands of dollars, helps to form the stereotypes of rich and high ranking officials of present day Cambodia.

“Mr. Andrew Marshall wrote in that Australian newspaper about Ouch Vichet, who said that people of his parents’ generation always kept money under their mattresses, but the children of the next generation keep money in safes in their houses.

“He said they usually keep a lot of money in safes at home, because they do not trust the banks, believing that if they keep their money in the banks, it will be known how much money their families have.

[…]

“The Tuol Kork area of Phnom Penh is compared to the Beverly Hills area of Hollywood in the United States, where there are, in Phnom Penh, many modern residences of high ranking officials, including of children of the prime minister, surrounded by high and sharp razor wire fencing.

“The same paper wrote that the residence of young Meas Sophearith, a son of General Meas Sophea, is carefully guarded by special forces soldiers.

“The young Meas Sophearith as well as Ouch Vichet, a businessman, who haves relations with the powerful and the rich of the country, are among the three sources that Mr. Andrew Marshall relied on for the article ‘Khmer Riche.’ The third person, Sophy, a child of a Deputy Prime Minister of the government of Mr. Hun Sen, is another source that Mr. Andrew Marshall depended upon to write about the showing off of luxury livelihood of children of high ranking officials and of the rich in Cambodia, while millions of Khmer common citizens live under the poverty line, though hundreds of millions of dollars of aid have been provided each year.

“The young Meas Sophearith told the Australian newspaper that he has a plan to create a foundation to help children of the poor to have a chance to study abroad, like the children of the powerful and of the rich. However, he stressed that they have to wait until their parents grow old.

[…]

“The young Meas Sophearith is not the only person who wants to see changes from what happens at present, but needs to wait until their parents grow old, or people from the old generation retire. Whether he can fulfill his intention to create a foundation to help the poor or not is another problem. [The original source is quoted here.]

[…]

“The account by a son of a high ranking official about corruption, which occurs from top to bottom, and by Mr. Ouch Vichet about how money is normally kept by high ranking officials and by the rich, is another source of information related to the question why the government is very late in adopting an anti-corruption law.

“Corruption is recognized, and the wealth of the high ranking officials and of the rich in Cambodia are kept in the safes at their houses, rather than at local and foreign banks. Therefore, can an anti-corruption law be adopted and can it be efficient to uncover the faces of corrupt officials, or expropriate wealth stolen from the nation, to become money to benefits the nation?”
[…]Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #569-571, 1-4.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 4 January 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #376-278, 1-4.1.2010

  • [The Cambodian] Ambassador in Thailand Called the Editor of the The Nation Stupid [after the newspaper’s editor criticized the Cambodian Prime Minister in an article Hun Sen’s Vanity is a Danger to Regional Solidarity published on 29 December 2009, which said, “Hun Sen should know for a fact that the person who is really capable of toppling him is his recently appointed economic adviser – Thaksin Shinawatra. In the early 1990s, everybody knew that Thaksin, as a business tycoon, was involved in a short-lived plot to dislodge Hun Sen because of a conflict of interest over mobile telephone contracts.”]
  • During the Whole Year [of 2009] Cambodia Implemented 1,191 Projects to Develop the Country [reference is to cooperation with development partners like the UN, the EU, Japan, etc.]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2139-2141, 1-4.1.2010

  • The National Election Committee Published the Results of the Election Name List Checking in 2009 [there were 8,331,906 voters listed]
  • Samdech Hun Sen Vowed to Vigorously Protect the Throne [after the King promoted him to the rank of a five-star-general]
  • A Thai Army Commander Confirmed in Front of the Cambodian Army Commander to Let the Border Issues Be Solved by Both Countries’ Governments

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #569-571, 1-4.1.2010

  • The Son of a Four-Star-General Said Corruption Occurs at Present from Top to Bottom
  • [The Opposition Party parliamentarian] Mr. Sam Rainsy: Those Who Were Behind the Grenade Attack on 30 March 1999 Are Those Who Are at Present Controlling the Power

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6846-6848, 1-4.1.2010

  • The Welcome for the Universal New Year 2010 in Cambodia This Year Was Different from the Previous Year as It Was Celebrated by More People in More Places [in Cambodia]
  • The [Svay Rieng] Municipal Court Dropped Questioning Three Suspects over the Removal of Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Markers [they are no longer under arrest]
  • In 2009 There Were 44 Fires in Phnom Penh Which Killed 2 People
  • Seventy Six Journalists Were Murdered in 2009 [compared to 2008, when 60 were murdered worldwide, according to the Reporters without Borders]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #80-81, 1-4.1.2010

  • A Military Chief Who Was Involved in Illegal Wood Transport Was Released [by just paying a fine of US$1,500; he had been arrested for blocking the way of the authorities who went to crack down on illegal wood transports – Battambang]
  • The China-ASEAN Free Trade Area Starts Operations Today [1 January 2010] – What Will Cambodia Get?
  • The Court Ordered the Arrest of Three More Citizens over the Removal of Temporary Border Markers in Svay Rieng
  • Tourist Arrivals in Cambodia Increased by 2% in 2009 [to 2.18 million, while in 2008, there were 2.12 million]

Note:

The China-ASEAN FTA covers a population of 1 billion and involves about $450 million of trade volume.

“The average tariff on goods from the ASEAN countries is cut down to 0.1 percent from 9.8 percent. The six original ASEAN members, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, will slash the average tariff on Chinese goods from 12.8 percent to 0.6 percent.

“By 2015, the policy of zero-tariff rate for 90 percent of traded goods is expected to extend between China and four new ASEAN members, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.” [Source]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5088-5090, 1-4.1.2010

  • Samdech Krom Preah [Norodom Ranariddh] Rejected to Enter Politics but Wants to Serve the Nation More [he said he could serve as a diplomat, as an adviser to the prime minister, as a lecturer on law, or related to cultural affairs]
  • An Old Man [69 years old] Raped Three Girls [10, 11, and 14 years old sisters] – He Was Arrested by Military Police to Be Sent to Court [Battambang]
  • Forty Two Packages of Heroin Worth Half a Million Dollar Were Seized [in Phnom Penh, but the ring leader of the smugglers is not yet found; Cambodia was removed from a drug black list of the international community]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1846, 1.2.1.2010

  • Mr. Rong Chhun Was Elected [again] as President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association

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Khmers from Kampuchea Krom in Vietnam and Uighurs from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China – Sunday, 27.12.2009

Posted on 28 December 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 644 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 644

The following information is not saying that the situation of the Khmer people in Kampuchea Krom – now a part of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – and the situation of the Uighur people in the People’s Republic of China is the same. There are a lot of reasons to point to the differences – but still, there are similarities in spite of the many differences in history, culture, and politics.

A brief survey of both situations is presented her, because people from both regions have been in the press during the last week. But while people in Cambodia have general information about the history why Kampuchea Krom is not part of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which leads to an understandable immediate emotional relation – from Khmers to Khmers – there were hardly any reports in the Khmer press about the asylum seekers’ background. In one report they were even called “Chinese ethnic Uighurs” – on the other hand, it is not usual in the Khmer press to speak about “Vietnamese ethnic Khmers” when referring to Khmer people from Kampuchea Krom.

The following brief information is also not claiming to be a comprehensive description of the two complex fields under discussion. Information is collected in good faith – but where there may be important omissions or mistakes, we invite our readers always to come forward with their Comments in order to present a better picture – not only in this case, but in general.

The Khmer Kampuchea Krom in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

The area of the lower Mekong Delta was inhabited by Khmers long before the arrival of the Vietnamese. In the 17th century, more and more Vietnamese people moved South, so that the Khmers in the Mekong Delta became a minority in their original environment. In 1623, King Chey Chettha II of Cambodia (1618-1628) allowed Vietnamese refugees fleeing the Trịnh-Nguyễn War [Trinh-Nguyen War] in Vietnam to settle in the area of Prey Nokor. In 1698, Nguyễn Hữu Cảnh [Nguyen Huu Canh] was sent by the Nguyen rulers of Huế [Hue] to set up Vietnamese administrative structures, separating the Mekong Delta from the rest of Cambodia. Cambodia had no energy to resist this gradual Vietnamization, because it used more of its energy for a conflicts with Thailand. By 1698, the area had a Vietnamese administration.

Before that, Prey Nokor had been the most important access to the sea for Cambodia. Under the name of Sài Gòn [Saigon], it became the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina.

In 1939, Jules Brevié as head of the French administration, draw a line on the map basically do delineate the maritime borders between Cochinchina and Cambodia, but this “Brevié Line” was also used, when Cambodia gained independence from France, to set the border between South Vietnam and Cambodia. Saigon became the capital of South Vietnam from 1954 to 1975, and in 1976, it was named Hồ Chí Minh City [Ho Chi Minh City]. And with it, the originally Khmer inhabited Mekong Delta became Vietnam.

According to Vietnamese statistics, now there are more than 1 million Khmer Krom in Vietnam.

The Uighurs [also Uygurs or Uigurs] in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region [新疆维吾尔自治区] “spans over 1.6 million sq. km and borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China’s largest natural gas-producing region. It administers most of Aksai Chin, a territory formally part of Kashmir’s Ladakh region over which India claims sovereignty since 1962.

“‘Xinjiang’ literally means ‘New Frontier,’ a name given [only as late as 1884] during the Qing Dynasty [清朝 – 1644 to 1912]. It is home to a number of different ethnic groups and major ethnic groups include Uyghur, Han, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz and Mongol [in the extreme North-West of present day China]. Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan, Sinkiang and East Turkestan…

“With a documented history of at least 2,500 years, and a succession of different peoples and empires vying for control over the territory, Xinjiang has been, and continues to be, a focal point of ethnic tensions well into the beginning of the 21st century.” [Main source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang]

The 13th century European-Venetian traveler to China, Marco Polo, described the region as Turkistan. One part of the vast “region became part of the Russian Empire in 1860, as Russian Turkestan [Туркестанский Край], later as the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, then split into the Kazakh SSR (Kazakhstan), Kyrgyz SSR (Kyrgyzstan), Tajik SSR (Tajikistan), Turkmen SSR (Turkmenistan) and Uzbek SSR (Uzbekistan). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these republics gained their independence.” [Main source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkestan]

The eastern section of the area, inhabited by Uighur speaking people – a Turkic language, related to the Turkish language and completely unrelated to Chinese – did not gain political independence, as it had become part of China in 1884, after China had conquered the region, established it as Xinjiang (“new frontier”) as a province; as the name shows, it was clearly identified as a newly acquired border region.

A rebellion in 1933 tried to gain independence by establishing the First East Turkistan Republic – only for a brief time.

Another rebellion in 1943 established the Second East Turkistan Republic, from 1944 to 1949. During this uprising, a brother of Mao Tse-Tung, Mao Ze-min, was killed. The Second East Turkistan Republic came to an end when the Chinese People’s Liberation Army entered the region, and it was renamed in 1955 as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. (As it was now part of the People’s Republic of China, it could also be used in 1964 to test the first Chinese nuclear explosion.)

Having been made a part of the People’s Republic of China, this opened also a steady stream of Han-Chinese immigrants into the Uighur region.

The fear of Uighurs to lose their social and economic role in their own region, including their cultural and religious identities – the Uighurs are traditionally Muslim – led to a series of violent clashes. In 1962, 60,000 people fled to the Soviet Union and were accepted as refugees, there were student demonstrations in the 1980ies, in 1990 there was an uprising that resulted in 50 people being killed. In 1997, 30 Uighurs were executed as suspected separatists.

The ethnic tensions, which also let to the establishment of an East Turkestan Independence Movement, saw a newly element added recently, relating to some international Islamist-fundamentalist terrorist movements. As the long history of the Uighur struggle to have their own identity respected shows, present day terrorist elements cannot be called to be the main problem of ethnic self determination – which does not necessarily mean political separation. But the problems became more complicated during the last conflicts in 2009: some Han Chinese voices in the Uighur region are reported to reject the policy of the state to accept a certain autonomy of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region as discriminatory against non-Uighur – Chinese – immigrants.

Some officials of the Cambodian government claimed that the 20 Uighurs, who were forced to be sent to China were treated like this, because they were illegal immigrants who had not entered the country with proper documents. That is what hundreds of thousands of Cambodians did, who fled the country to Thailand during and after the Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia.

Now there are 24 Khmer people from Kampuchea Krom who were deported from Thailand as illegal immigrants – but as a first step, the Poipet authorities rejected to provide shelter for them, as some seem originate from within the country. But not all. Six of them arrived now in Phnom Penh to seek assistance from the government and the UNHCR to receive Khmer nationality. In whatever way they came to Thailand and were sent to Cambodia – if they came from Kampuchea Krom, they are Vietnamese citizens (whether they carry identity papers or passports from where they came from or not). As they are Khmer, the Thai authorities could send these “illegals” to Cambodia, hoping they will get Cambodian citizenship and will not be repatriated to Vietnam.

The twenty Uighurs did not have such a place of origin to go to, they had fled their place of origin. There were no reports that they had been personally identified as having committed crimes – there were two children among them! – but they were sent to China.

But they were not “Chinese ethnic Uighurs” – unless we also call the six Khmer people asking for Cambodian nationality “Vietnamese.” And in both cases it is similarly difficult to see why one should – as some commentators say – “Just leave them to their government.” In both cases, the history, which they carry in their lives, is more complex than to be appropriately dealt with, using such simpleminded advice.

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Cambodia Was Criticized from Different Sides over Human Rights Issues – Wednesday, 2.12.2009

Posted on 3 December 2009. Filed under: Week 641 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 641

“At the beginning of the UN Human Rights Council meeting on Monday, 1 December 2009, Cambodia was criticized from different sides over human rights issues, including housing rights, attacks on its citizens, and injustice at the courts.

“Created in 2006, the Universal Periodic Reviews by this council checks the human rights practices of the 192 members states of the United Nations every four years in order to solve problems of human rights violations and to promote the respect of international human rights.

“A researcher of Amnesty International, Ms. Brittis Edman, said on Monday that she hopes that land ownership rights and housing issues will be the most important agenda items of the meeting in Switzerland.

“Ms. Edman wrote in her email, ‘It is the very important that forced evictions and housing rights are brought to be discussed and reflected in the report on the findings. It is also important that all the monitoring states call on their governments to approve and to strengthen laws that clearly ban forced evictions.’

“Most non-government organizations working on human rights, that were invited to express suggestions regarding human rights problems on the record of the government, presented notes to the UN Human Rights Council, using serious words against Cambodia.

“A submission by Human Rights Watch, an international organization, says, ‘While Cambodia had experienced strong economic growth since the UN-brokered elections in 1993, the government has treated respect for human rights as an obstacle, rather than an aid, to development.’

“This submission specifically addressed concerns about the lack of independence at the courts, intimidation against freedom of expression, forced evictions, and violence against women, among other problems.

“In contrast, the document submitted by the government to the council says, ‘The Royal Government guarantees rights and freedoms, and continues with its commitment to achieve the best human rights for Cambodian citizens.’ But it has provided little documented evidence about the achievements of those rights.

“Responding to criticism from international human rights organizations, the government frequently called to review any problems in the context of the history of the country that has just recovered from the Khmer Rouge regime and from civil war.

“The government documentation continues to say, ‘Any human rights assessment in Cambodia should be based on considerations about the previous situation, on the efforts made during the first stage following the Paris Peace Agreements [of 1991].’

“The deputy head of the Human Rights Committee of the Cambodia government, Mr. Mak Sambath, said on Monday that Cambodia will be presented during the Universal Periodic Review by members of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee Mr. Touch Khemarin and Mr. Ith Rady, who is an undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Justice.

“Mr. Mak Sambath said, ‘They have the ability to work on the task because they have worked a lot with the government and with civil society.

“He added that the independence of the courts, the freedom of expression, and violence against women, are issues expected to be presented during the review.

“Both the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) and Amnesty International said on Monday that they have representatives to present their cases.

“Not only the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Surya Subedi, who had reported to see serious human rights violations in Cambodia, but also several other countries consider that Cambodia is under oppressive rule, though this country has international agreements about the respect of democracy, which includes the respect for human rights as a major point of policy.” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1824, 2.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #351, 2.12.2009

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Expressed the Accusation That There Is a [not named] Third Person Who Creates Trouble between the Leaders in Phnom Penh and in Bangkok [according to the Bangkok Post]
  • Cambodia Sends Representatives to Present the [Cambodian] Human Rights Situation to the United Nations
  • Two Cars Collided with One Another, Hitting Two Motor-taxi Drivers to Death, while They Were Sitting and Waiting for Clients [Phnom Penh]
  • Lecturers of the Royal University of Agriculture Strike [by not teaching the students who have paid tuition fees] because of not Transparent Actions of the Leadership [under corruption allegations; about 500 students protested]
  • Over 600 People [including government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and non-government organizations] Gathered to Mark the World AIDS Day [in Cambodia, there are 44,371 people infected with AIDS, and 92% of them receive medical treatment; 70% are orphaned children]
  • Cambodia and South Korea Signed an Agreement to Build a Building for the Cambodian Stock Market Worth US$6 Million

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2113, 2.12.2009

  • Four Khmer Citizens Carrying Drugs into Thai Territory Were Arrested by Thai Police and Sent to Court
  • Officials of the Ministry of Health Said Pregnant Women and Children Receive the A/H1N1 Vaccines First [Cambodia has received 300,000 doses of A/H1N1 vaccines from the World Health Organization]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6820, 2.12.2009

  • In One Year [from early 2009 to November] Siamese [Thai] Black Clad Soldiers [of the special border protection unit], Shot and Killed 4 Khmer Citizens, Injured 3, and Jailed 96 at Oddar Meanchey Border Area
  • Two American Men Had Different Problems: One Was Arrested in Siem Reap for Shooting, and the Other Fainted and Died during the Night in Phnom Penh
  • [The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong Encouraged the Asian Development Bank to Look at Cambodia’s Railway Problems
  • In 2008, Two Million People Died of AIDS [70% in the sub-Sahara region], and 2.7 Million Were Infected with HIV [according to UNAIDS and WHO]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #58, 2.12.2009

  • [The Australian company] OZ Minerals Hopes to Extract 2 Million Ounces of Gold by 2010 [in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5062, 2.12.2009

  • A Thai General: Phanlub Pinmani – phonetic -, a member of the Puea Thai Party, said the diplomatic] Dispute Might Lead to War
  • More Than 80 Pieces of Luxury Wood Had Been Hidden by Merchants in Kounmom District, but Were Intercepted [Ratanakiri]
  • Two Sand Dredging Workers Died because of Inhaling Chemicals and Lacking Oxygen [Koh Kong]
  • America Announces to Continue to Help Cambodia to Combat AIDS

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1824, 2.12.2009

  • Cambodia Was Criticized from Different Sides over Human Rights Issues

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The Government Suspends All Promotions for Government Positions in 2010 – Saturday, 21.11.2009

Posted on 22 November 2009. Filed under: Week 639 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 639

“According to a recent notification from the Council of Ministers, the Royal Government decided to suspend all promotions for government positions in 2010. If a promotion in any position is planned, it has to wait until 2011.

“Formerly the Royal Government, in addition to having already a heavy overhead apparatus with many officials, had nominated countless advisors at ministries and at other institutions, and ministers and heads of institutions had appointed their officials to hold many positions. In any ministry, there are many directors and deputy directors. In a department, there are at least 10 deputy directors, while in the police, the military, and the military police, there are also many who are nominated as deputy directors… This makes the government to carry a burden of ever increasing expenses.

“According to the notification signed by a secretary of state of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Prak Sokhon, on 21 October 2009 and sent to the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and to the Council of Administrative Reform, the Royal Government decided to delay all promotions for positions of government positions, and all promotions of ranks [for police and the military], and it will not increase any allowances [like retirement benefits] etc. for the one year of 2010, and it will reconsider these cases again in 2011. According to the same notification, the Royal Government ordered also to stop the implementation of decisions for the ‘priority cluster’ [formerly identified as important areas in the administration to receive special financial support], and additional incentives based on work achievements for 2010.

“The notification added that the above plan is a measure to implement the budget implementation draft for the management of financial resources in 2010, aiming to save state resources in 2010.

“It should be noted that the Royal Government decided recently also to cut and to reduce the salaries of many advisers who had been appointed in a continuing process. and who had received high salaries [in addition to their normal salaries], to get again only their normal salaries based on their current positions, in order to save resources for 2010.

“A government official said on Friday that the decision of the Royal Government to suspend promotions for government positions, and the promotions in rank, is a proper measure, because previously, the Royal Government, different ministers, and heads of institutions, had appointed too many officials. At some institutions, there are 10 to 20 deputy directors, until there is no room and space for them to sit. Such nominations only added more expenses for the state, both for salaries and for other materials.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5053, 21.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 21 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #342, 21.11.2009

  • [Senior Minister and adviser to the Prime Minister] Om Yentieng: [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Becomes Spokesperson of [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit [Mr. Sam Rainsy said that Prime Minister Hun Sen is playing a dangerous game for Cambodia, as the biased foreign politics of Prime Minister Hun Sen makes Cambodia lose territory to Vietnam and lose good relations with Thailand]
  • [More than 30 officers of] Mixed Forces Were Sent to Destroy Drugs [ecstasy] Worth More Than US$100 Million on the Kravanh Mountain [more information about the crack-down will be released two to three days later – Pursat]
  • [Thai Deputy Prime Minister] Sutheb: If [fugitive former Thai prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Wants to End Problems [of the dispute between Cambodia and Thailand], He Must Resign from the Position of Economic Advisor to Cambodia

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2104, 21.11.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Open Hearing to Sentence [former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch on 23 November 2009
  • A Drunken Woman and Gang Member Drove a Car and Hit a Policeman so that He Almost Died [she was arrested – Battambang]
  • Kandal Police Got Hold of a Group of People Who Had Used Death Threats via Telephone to Extort Money from Leaders and from Businesspeople [a suspect was arrested]
  • Within One Week, There Were 50 New People Confirmed with A/H1N1 Flu [increasing the number to 444 in total – Cambodia]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #535, 21.11.2009

  • The Khmer Authorities Have Already Arrested Seven Villagers Who Resisted a Yuon [Vietnamese] Company from Grabbing Their Land [Kompong Thom]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6811, 21-22.11.2009

  • Result from the Council of Ministers’ Meeting: Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Decided to Approve the Anti-Corruption Draft on 11 December 2009

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5053, 21.11.2009

  • The Government Suspends All Promotions for Government Positions in 2010
  • The Cambodian and Thai Defense Ministers Plan to Meet to Negotiate about the Border in Pattaya [on 27 November 2009]
  • Cambodia Controls the Cambodia Air Traffic Services – CATS – Company Temporarily, and Thai Personnel Is Required to Work from Outside Their Offices [Cambodia just does not allow them to go near the radar system room, but they are not dismissed – according to the Council of Ministers]
  • Cambodia Is Preparing a Petroleum Law [including regulations for petroleum exploring, and a decree for petroleum related contracts] while the First Drop of Oil Will Be Extracted in 2013 [according to government officials]
  • The Cambodian Banking System Is Recognized on the International Arena and in the ASEAN Framework [because of its stability and noticeable improvements – according to the 39th ASEAN banking council, meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh]

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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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Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia – Sunday, 15.11.2009

Posted on 18 November 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

Several mails I had received during the week requested what this week’s editorial should be about. Agreed. The visit of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra to Cambodia has more than any other recent event received wide international attention – at the same time it resulted in bringing a range of different and opposing issues to the surface, beyond the straightforward political tensions.

The disparities start with the wording, how the visitor is called in national and international media: the possibilities extend from the fond description of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as an “eternal friend” by Prime Minister Hun Sen, to the more neutral description when referring to the “former Thai prime minister ousted by a military coup,” to the references – and this not only in part of the Thai press – to the “convicted fugitive, because of corruption, and who finally violated the bail requirements and fled the country to avoid going to prison.”

This is the first controversy.

The Cambodian government did not only refuse to live up to the Cambodian-Thai extradition agreement, “considering the prosecution and legal process against Thaksin Shinawatra as a politically motivated proceeding,” and therefore even handed back the Thai documents submitted to seek Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s extradition. On the other hand, the Thai government and part of the Thai media felt that already that extending an invitation and offering the function to be an adviser to the Cambodian government were an insult to the legal system of Thailand.

As a public reaction in Thailand, the popularity of the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, almost tripled, with appruval rates of 24% in September to 69% recently, according to a poll.

The interpretation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, that the present Cambodian-Thai dispute is basically a personal dispute between the two prime ministers, was not shared in the international press. More fundamental problems were touched upon: What does it mean for the international standing of a country when a search warrant by Interpol can be dismissed, after the fugitive, who is being sought under a “red alert” warrant, after a bail violation, and after a criminal conviction for corruption in dealing with the sale of valuable public property to a family member, up to the grotesque $60,000 event of the mysteriously mistaken box of chocolate.

How would such events be dealt with under a Cambodian anti-corruption law, due to be adopted by the National Assembly since a decade ago? If actions of corruption are committed in combination with political ones, are they then no longer subject to criminal prosecution?

There were several rumors and denials – that Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra would fly together with the Cambodian Prime Minister to the APEC meetings in Singapore.

Surprising also, that the Cambodian Prime Minister compared him to Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. In an interview with Times Online, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra said: “There are some similarities there, but not really everything. The similarity is we won elections, we rule the countries. We’ve been ousted by the coup d’etat and we come from the people. We are democratically elected leaders and we come from the majority of the people – a big majority, not just a small majority. She’s under house arrest, I’ve been kicked out of the country.”

The Cambodian government has never found such strong critical words against the ruling military in Myanmar. Will the Cambodian government also accept such advice and change its position? The statement “I’ve been kicked out of the country” contrasts with the fact that the self imposed exile abroad started with breaking bail arrangements with the Thai law enforcement authorities, traveling abroad without the promised return.

But the invitation to Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser may lead to a second kind of controversies.

Press reports in Cambodia were not enthusiastic about his speech in front of 300 selected economists. The Cambodian Daily said that his address “primarily dealt in generalities and contained little that Cambodian economists will not already know.” Not only that: Some of his advice runs contrary to some of the traditional approaches of Cambodian economic practice.

Thakshin Sinawatra became the favorite politician among a majority of the rural population in Thailand because of his new policy of favoring them directly, with debt relief and village loan funds administered by the local communities themselves. The revenue of the public and the private sector should, first of all, be directed towards the poorest sector of society, is his advice. Large scale land leasings to big companies in favorable relation with the government, leading to considerable groups of the rural population losing their land, coming to demonstrate in Phnom Penh, asking for justice, as happens so frequently in Cambodia, are not compatible which the vision of Thaksin Shinawatra’s economic policies.

Surprising is also his emphasis on the need of reconciliation and good neighborliness between Cambodia and Thailand, in order to foster Cambodia’s economic development, including the promotion of Thailand and Cambodia together for international tourism, presenting themselves as a “joint destination.” This runs against many recent antagonistic trends: the Thai government had proposed to submit Preah Vihear together with the Cambodian government to the World Heritage Committee, which was flatly rejected by the Cambodian side. During the last year there were even plans discussed in Cambodia to create an international airport 500 meters below the mountain range where Preah Vihear is situated, which is conveniently accessible from the north, from Thailand. This plan, to exclude the natural access to Preah Vihear – and therefore tourism via Thailand, was soon given up again as economically completely unreal. The public outcry some years ago, when Bangkok Airways had named one of its airplanes Angkor Wat – while other planes are named according to other international destinations, promoting tourism to these places – has no place in this context. The Cambodian Daily reported his emphasis on the need for cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia, as the two countries’ economic fortunes are inextricably linked – adding: “Of course, not all my compatriots see it that way right now.” Those who see it differently in Thailand are assumed to suffer from being shortsighted, driven by false patriotism.

One may ask whether the anti-Thai actions of 2003, when the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was ransacked because of a baseless rumor, resulting in further arson so that the hardware damage alone of that night was estimated at US$56 million, and the tensions before and after the designation of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, would also fall under a similar verdict by Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, that a false patriotism is in the way also in some of the Cambodian attitudes and actions.

It is surprising to consider how future suggestions of the new economic adviser of the Cambodian government will be handled, while land conflicts in rural areas continue, further large scale leasings of land are under consideration inviting countries from the Middle East to start agro-business ventures, and Japanese companies are considering to create new large tree planting schemes in Cambodia.

Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra’s suggestions may not only be unwelcome in his own country. They run counter to major trends of present day Cambodian big business.

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Cambodia and India Organize a Commercial Exhibition for the First Time – Thursday, 12.11.2009

Posted on 13 November 2009. Filed under: Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 638 – Thursday, 12.11.2009

“Phnom Penh: The first Cambodian-Indian commercial and investment exhibition in Phnom Penh is being organized with the participation of 20 Indian companies.

“The Minister of Commerce, Senior Minister Cham Prasidh, stated during the launching of the exhibition on 11 November 2009 that it is the first time that both countries organize an exhibition to help investors and businesspeople from both countries to understand each other better.

“He said, ‘This is the greatest opportunity for Indian investors and businesspeople to seek investment opportunities and markets in Cambodia.’

“According to Mr. Cham Prasidh, the trade between Cambodia and India amounts to about US$56.32 million, where Indian imports of products from Cambodia is only US$2.87 million, while the exports of India to Cambodia are US$56.32 million.

“Based on these figures, Mr. Cham Prasidh said that the amount of this commercial relation is still low, and he encouraged both countries to try to study further market exchange possibilities, in order to strengthen and improve the commercial ties.

“The Indian Ambassador to Cambodia said that Indian investors from 21 companies attend this exhibition. Most companies are companies from the fields of information technology, medicine, industry and mines, machinery, agriculture, engineering, and infrastructure.

“He added that this exhibition will be held for two days from 11 to 12 November 2009.

“By now, the products Cambodia imports from India are agricultural products, medicines, and some raw chemicals, and Cambodia exports also some raw materials.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5045, 12.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 12 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #334, 12.11.2009

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen and [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra [newly named personal adviser of Prime Minister Hun Sen] Will Attend the ASEAN-US Summit in Singapore [with the participation of US President Obama on 15 November 2009]
  • The Downgrading of the Cambodian-Siamese [Thai] Diplomatic Relations Does Not Affect Cambodian Tourism
  • Jackie Chan [The Chinese and Hollywood superstar] Will Return to Cambodia for Filming [he arrived at Cambodia as a UNICEF/UNAIDS goodwill ambassador on 10 November 2009, and promised he will come back again]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2096, 12.11.2009

  • The Thai Embassy Sent a Letter to Request for Extradition of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, and Khmer Officials Sent the Diplomatic Note Back to Reject This [the Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva, reacted to this by ordering a review of all agreements with Cambodia]
  • Cambodia Welcomes Negotiations with Thailand [to solve border and other diplomatic disputes], but Thaksin Shinawatra’s Case Should Not Be on the Agenda [said Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • A 60-Year-Old Man Raped a Woman Who Suffers from Mental Disorder [he was arrested – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #673, 12.11.2009

  • The Permanent Committee of the National Assembly Will Hold a Meeting Immediately and Confidentially This Morning about the Suspension of the Immunity of Sam Rainsy [the president of the Sam Rainsy Party; as the Svay Rieng Municipal Court filed a complaint against him because of his participation in the removal of six temporary wooden border markers on the Cambodian-Vietnamese Border]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #527, 12.11.2009

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva Asked Cambodia to Arrest Thaksin Shinawatra Temporarily, but [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Rejected It

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6803, 12.11.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: From Now on Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra Can Come to Cambodia Anytime Openly
  • Extradition Rejection: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Rejected the Request from the Thai Embassy to Arrest Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra [considering Mr. Thaksin’s case to be political
  • The Municipal Court Decided to Detain a Jordanian Woman and Two Turkish Women for Stealing and Collusion [in a restaurant in Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5045, 12.11.2009

  • Cambodia and India Organize a Commercial Exhibition for the First Time
  • There Might Not Be an Opportunity of a Meeting between Hun Sen and Abhisit Vijjajiva during the ASEAN-US Summit in Singapore [Prime Minister Hun Sen said he will go there only to attend the summit]
  • The Situation at the Cambodian-Thai Border Is Quiet
  • The Acid Attack on [the former actress] In Soklida’s Aunt [where the Municipal Court had ruled to dropt the charges against the former national military police officer, Ms. Chea Ratha and her accomplices] Will Be Brought for another Hearing to the Court of Appeals Again on 27 November 2009
  • A Motorbike Hit a Truck Transporting Cows, Resulting in Two Deaths and One Injury under the Prek Tnot Bridge [Phnom Penh]

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Independence Day – Monday, 9.11.2009

Posted on 10 November 2009. Filed under: Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 638

National holidays are not all the same. We are just behind the Water Festival which brings big crowds from the provinces to the capital city for several days. This year, 391 boats had been registered to participate in the boat racing, and 6,500 police were prepared to keep things organized and safe.

And there were special health concerns – more than in other years, because of the danger of A/H1N1 virus infections, and the Communicable Disease Control Department of Ministry of Health had prepared 500,000 leaflets with information and advice how to protect oneself from this disease – “covering up cough and wash hands among others” – as well as, as every year, from HIV/AIDS, for which the Population Service International’s 1,000 volunteers were to distribute 250,000 condoms during the three days of the Water Festival.

A big, traditional event where up to a million people from all provinces participate.

Quite different: Independence Day. Everybody knows the Independence Monument, the landmark at the crossing or the Norodom and the Sihanouk Boulevards. But Independence Day? Talking to people, one gets the understandable impression that this is an “official” holiday for people in public office and politics, but as for real life, it is something from the distant past.

“Cambodian Independence day today? That is just another holiday. Not bad.”

But it is interesting that Cambodians abroad also celebrate it – like the Cambodian community in Lowell in the USA, and a group of Cambodian students in Japan:

“Gathering the Cambodian community at our university for an Independence Day Celebration! Cheers to all Cambodians! Cheers for the independence of Cambodia from French colonization!”

Distance changes the perspective with which one sees things, and even fosters closeness.

We close with the text from a foreign newspaper – the Manila Bulletin from the Philippines – sending not only formal congratulations for the day, but being interested in and recapitulating Cambodian relations in a friendly way:

Kingdom of Cambodia National Day

The Kingdom of Cambodia celebrates its National Day on 9 November, Monday. On this day in 1953, King Norodom Sihanouk declared the country’s independence from French colonial rule.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Cambodia were formally established in 1957.

Although our relations were affected by the Khmer rouge regime in 1975, the Philippines and Cambodia have maintained cordial ties since the resumption of diplomatic relations in 1995 and the reopening of the Cambodian Embassy in Manila in 1999. The two countries have concluded agreements on economic and trade relations, agricultural and agribusiness collaboration, and tourism cooperation.

Cambodia is a member of the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). It joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2004 and attended the inaugural East Asia Summit in 2005.

Cambodia has established diplomatic relations with numerous countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, Japan, and Russia. As a result of its international relations, various charitable organizations have assisted with both social and civil infrastructure needs.

We congratulate the people and government of the Kingdom of Cambodia headed by His Majesty, King Norodom Sihamoni, and H. E. Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, and its Embassy in the Philippines led by Ambassador In May, on the occasion of their National Day.

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Bangkok Got Angry and Downgraded the Cambodian-Thai Diplomatic Relations to the Lowest Level – Friday, 6.11.2009

Posted on 7 November 2009. Filed under: Week 637 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 637

“Immediately after the Cambodian government appointed Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra as Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen’s and the government’s adviser, Bangkok was angry and summoned its ambassador back to Thailand as a so-called diplomatic retaliation. The Thai ambassador left Cambodia in the night of 5 November 2009. In response, the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, summoned the Cambodian ambassador to return to Phnom Penh. He considers that this is a normal reciprocity measure between government and government. Regarding this diplomatic dispute, there has not been any new report about border tensions between the two countries.

“Relating to Thailand recalling its ambassador, Mr. Sok An said that this is not the cutting off of diplomatic ties. When Thailand sends its ambassador to Cambodia again, we will send our ambassador to Thailand. He explained that there is no problem in the relations between both countries’ citizens and in commerce.

“He noted that Thailand did so, following a demand from the yellow-shirt group [of government supporters].

“He explained also that it is an internal affairs of Cambodia to nominate Thaksin Shinawatra, and Cambodia had appointed foreigners as advisers before, for example the current president of South Korea. He had also been an adviser of Samdech Dekchor.

“He criticized that Thailand has hurt Cambodia by sending troops to invade the Preah Vihear border areas in Cambodian territory. The second point is that when Cambodia proposed to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site, Thailand had sent partisans to disturb it.

“Contrastingly, [Thai] Deputy Prime Minister Sutheb Thaugsuban asked, ‘What would Cambodia think if Thailand nominated [the opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy as adviser?’ Mr. Sok An answered, ‘Cambodia would welcome such a nomination, because Cambodia has a citizen appointed by foreign country. Therefore, Thai people should be happy as one of their citizens is named adviser.’

“The decision of the Bangkok government to summon their diplomatic official like this, pushed the diplomatic ties between both countries to fall to a terrible level, threatening even political, economic, and cultural relation between both countries, as well as the solidarity in ASEAN.

“Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva said that Thailand summoned their ambassador back to Bangkok as a sign of first diplomatic retaliation toward Cambodia for appointing Thaksin Shinawara as adviser, and for rejecting to extradite him. He said that Thailand wants Cambodia to know the dissatisfaction of the Thai people.

“Immigration officials at the Phnom Penh International Airport said that the Thai ambassador boarded the plane at around 9:00 p.m. to travel back to Bangkok.

“Political analysts said that the decision of the Bangkok government will make ASEAN to be viewed as a quite fractioned institution, making the initative to establish the ASEAN community by 2015 to be in hazard, and it is necessary that there is a regional mechanism to restore the situation.

Cambodian Troops Are Prepared to Defend the Country from an Invasion

“At the border, the commander of special Intervention Unit 3, Mr. Srey Dek, said that the Cambodian troops are always on alert. He added, ‘If they dare to enter only half a millimeter, we will attack (open fire) immediately. But he said that so far, there is nothing abnormal.

“The Banteay Meanchey governor, Mr. Ung Oeung, said that the border situation remains normal. But there might be some psychological war coming relating to border closings. But there is nothing visible yet.

Thaksin Is Happy while Abhisit Is Pale

“The Thai former prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, said on Thursday that he accepted the position as economic adviser of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and he expressed appreciation toward Prime Minister Hun Sen for offering this honorable position. He said on his website, ‘I can refresh my brain while I am not yet able to serve the Thai people. I will ask for the permission from Thai people to provide economic advice to the Cambodian government, based on the appointment by King Sihamoni, until I can go back to my country. In fact, I have already become adviser of a government. I accept this position in order to keep my brain to remain fresh, otherwise it would become lame if I don’t keep it up to obtain new ideas and new developments. I want to work with the Thai people, but I cannot. The Thai government does not even allow me to carry a Thai passport.’

“Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra added, ‘Our neighbor is not an enemy. We must be close to each other forever. It is good that we are friends.’

“In the mean time, a legal adviser of Mr. Thaksin, [the former minister of foreign affairs who resigned after the high court found he had violated the Thai constitution] Mr. Noppadon Pattama, spoke to the former prime minister, regarding the issue that Thaksin Shinawatra feels that he has received a great honor, and he will provide advice on how to solve Cambodia’s economic problems and overcome poverty.

“Mr. Noppadon Pattama added that it is not necessary that Mr. Thaksin comes to live in Cambodia, because he can give advice through the telephone or the Internet. He said, ‘Thaksin Shinawatra has no plan to go to Cambodia at this time. Therefore, the government needs not worry or feel afraid, because it is not a political affair or seeking asylum. Mr. Hun Sen decided to appoint Thaksin, because he sees his value and ability.’

“Nevertheless, Thailand does not understand it as Mr. Noppadon does. On 5 November 2009, Thailand summoned their ambassador back to their country immediately as a move of disapproval of Cambodia for offering a position to Thaksin.

“The Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva said to journalist, ‘We have summoned our ambassador as the first diplomatic retaliation toward the Cambodian government so as to let the Thai people’s dissatisfaction known. The announcement of the Cambodian governments disrespects the legal system, and does influence the feeling of the Thai public.

“Abhisit said also that [Thai] aid for Cambodia will be suspended also, but the border between both countries are still open, and the relations between the people will not be affected.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5040, 6.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 6 November 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2091, 6.11.2009

  • Cambodia and Thailand Decided to Downgrade Their Diplomatic Ties; [the Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Thanks Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen after He Was Nominated Adviser
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Will Attract More Japanese Investors to Cambodia [during his visit to attend the Mekong-Japan summit in Tokyo on 6 and 7 November 2009]
  • Sihanoukville Governor, Mr. Sbang Sarath Was Accused because of Illegal Constructions

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #523, 6.11.2009

  • The Khmer Government Rejected the Demand of Siam [Thailand] to Control Two Thirds of Seabed Mineral Resources
  • The Sam Rainsy Party: The Prime Minister Does Not Deal with the Existing Internal Affairs of Cambodia, but Thinks about Siamese [Thai] Issues

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6798, 6.11.2009

  • The Thai Prime Minister [Mr. Abhisit Vijjajiva] Summoned the [Thai] Ambassador Back, to Leave Cambodia, and He Opposes Thaksin Shinawatra’s Nomination [as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s and the governments economic adviser]
  • The Appeal Court Will Hold a Hearing This Morning over the Acid Attack Case [where the actress In Soklida’s aunt was attacked]
  • [More than 200] Romorque Motos [and Tuk-Tuk] Drivers Protested in Front of the Municipality to Demand a Delay to Make Number Plates and to Fine Them
  • A Man like an Animal Raped Three Daughters Two Times Each [he was arrested – Sihanoukville]
  • Within More Than One Week, Four People Were Killed by Murderers [four perpetrators were arrested – Battambang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #40, 6.11.2009

  • The Diplomatic War between Cambodia and Thailand Regarding Thaksin Shinawatra’s Case Leads to the Withdrawal of the Respective Ambassadors
  • The Government Explained the Increase of the Military Budget [from US$223 million in 2009 to US$277 million in 2010 to civil society organizations, saying that the budget will be used to strengthen the national defense capacity in order to improve the military sector in Cambodia; however, civil society representatives said that the government should address root problems in the military sector, rather than increase the budget]
  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Announced to Lodge Complaints [at international institutions, against neighboring countries] over the Loss of Territory

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5040, 6.11.2009

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Announced Places in 19 Cities and Provinces for Investigations over the Case 002 [involving five Khmer Rouge leaders: Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, Khieu Samphan, and Nuon Chea]
  • More Than 300 ATM Machines of Different Banks Have Been Set Up in Cambodia
  • Guards of Fishing Lot Number 10 Shot a Man to Death [two perpetrators were arrested and police is seeking to arrest another guard – Kampong Chhnang]
  • Wild Animals [67 turtles and 22 pythons] Loaded in a Car from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh Were Seized by Moung Russey District Police [the car driver was arrested – Battambang]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Consider the New Demonstration Law as a Constraint on the Power of the People of Cambodia – Thursday, 22.10.2009

Posted on 23 October 2009. Filed under: Week 635 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 635

“The National Assembly has adopted a demonstration law limiting demonstrations to not more than 200 people. This law is considered by the opposition parties as a restriction of the power of the people in Cambodia. However, government representative claimed that this new law helps maintain social stability.

“During the session of the National Assembly yesterday, 21 October 2009, 76 parliamentarians out of 101 raised their hands to adopt this demonstration law, while the parliamentarians from the Sam Rainsy Party and from the Human Rights Party did not.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy told reporters in the morning of 21 October 2009, ‘At present the government cares only about cracking down on demonstrations and wants to eliminate the right of citizens who have reasons to protest.’ The people will get angry and feel pain when they want to present what they demand, but cannot do it though their demands are right. The government does not solve the citizens needs, but wants to intercept their presention.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy stressed that the Sam Rainsy Party wants to organize the country rightly, to eliminate the root causes of demonstrations, but the government just eliminates the demonstrations. Regarding the law limiting the number of people to only 200 to participate in a demonstration, Mr. Sam Rainsy said that it is a ban anticipating the expression of the power of the people in Cambodia.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘They do not want that large scale demonstrations can be held. If large scale demonstrations are held, the state fears the power of the people. People take power to control the country to serve the real benefit of the people, but not to serve the benefit of any dictatorial party or any dictators or their groups.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy said that the Sam Rainsy Party does not support this law, as it has gaps which the state could use as a pretext to prevent people from demonstrating peacefully. It abolishes citizens’ right to express their opinions through peaceful demonstrations.

“The president of the Human Rights Party, Mr. Kem Sokha, spoke to journalists expressing the same view as Mr. Sam Rainsy: that this demonstration law banishes people’s power in Cambodia, especially when citizens want to demonstrate to demand that leaders resign from their positions. He said, ‘For example, citizens may want to demonstrate over politics… to demand that some leaders resign.’

“Mr. Kem Sokha added that in countries that practice democracy, people can hold demonstrations to demand that some leaders leave their positions – which is called people’s power. While in Cambodia, it is now to be assumed that the Ministry of Interior will not allow this kind of manifestation, using the reasoning that it might be against national security, or against safety and public order. These are pretexts that governments use to prevent the people from demonstrating. Mr. Kem Sokha said that also the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians do not support this law.

“When asked whether this law interdicts people’s power or not, Mr. Kem Sokha said, ‘Of course. We see the direction. After we heard the words of the parliamentarians of the ruling party, it seems that they are afraid of the power of the people.

“A democratic regime is a regime where power can be changed peacefully, and leaders are established through general elections. But if the elected leaders act against what they had promised, citizens can demonstrate for a change of power.

“An investigating official of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Mr. Oum Sam Ath, said that limiting the number of people who can participate in a demonstration is not right for a country that practices democracy.

“This demonstration law also requires demonstration leaders to inform the authorities in advance, and Mr. Oum Sam Ath explained that the need to request for a permission, and this 5-days in advance, requires then to wait to see whether the demonstration is permitted or not – which is a new restriction, including the limitation of the number of demonstrators. This law is not according to the concept of democracy.

“However, a representative from the Ministry of Interior claimed during the session of the National Assembly since a few days ago that this law ensures social stability.

“A secretary of state of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Nuth Sa An, said that the Ministry will ask the government to develop a policy how to publicize this law among the citizens.

“Though this law limits the number of people to 200 who can join a demonstration, Mr. Sam Rainsy said that this is not acceptable, and the Sam Rainsy Party plans to hold big demonstrations in the future. Mr. Sam Rainsy said that a planned big demonstration – though a specific date has not yet been set – is a demonstration to assemble tens of thousands of citizens victimized by land disputes from the provinces and cities countrywide.

“It should be noted that people’s power exists in many countries in the world, like in the Philippines, in Siam [Thailand], and in Indonesia.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #514, 22.10.2009

Note:

Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Article 51:
The Kingdom of Cambodia adopts a policy of Liberal Democracy and Pluralism.
The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country.
All power belongs to the people. The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, The Senate, the Royal Government and the Judiciary.
The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate.

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 22 October 2009

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1416, 22.10.2009

  • Three Korean Men Raped a Karaoke Parlor Woman in a Room while She Was Drunk [they were arrested – Siem Reap]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #317, 22.10.2009

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Shows the Green Light to Receive [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra and He Prepared a Residence [in Cambodia] for Him as a Friend
  • The Number of People Confirmed with A/H1N1 Has Increased to 202 Cases, and the Number of Deaths Remain at Three
  • The Iranian Government Asked to Step Up Cooperation with Cambodia [especially between the parliaments of the two countries – according to the Iranian ambassador to Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2078, 22.10.2009

  • 143 Countries Promised to Support the Cambodian Candidacy as a Member of the World Heritage Committee
  • A House Was Burnt Down Completely because the Firefighter Trucks Did Not Come, though They Had Been Called [Siem Reap]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #514, 22.10.2009

  • Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Consider the New Demonstration Law as a Constraint on the Power of the People of Cambodia

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer edition], Vol.1, #31, 22.10.2009

  • The Civil Aviation Authorities Will Write a Letter to the Government to Permit Siem Reap Airways to Fly Again
  • Cambodia Cannot Sell Rice to the Philippines this Year [because there is high local demand after typhoon Ketsana hit Cambodia]
  • Burma Rejects Request [of ASEAN] to Release Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [Burmese elected democracy leader]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5027, 22.10.2009

  • Prime Minister Samdech [Hun Sen]: Mr. Thaksin Can Come to Cambodia Anytime He wants and I Prepare a House to Welcome Him
  • Exclusive Interview of Rasmei Kampuchea with the South Korean President, Lee Myung-Bak [he said ‘Samdech Hun Sen cares very much about the development of the Cambodian economy, and both of us have similar views and intentions on many problems;’ the investment by Korea in Cambodia increased 75 times within 12 years from 1997 to 2009; Mr. Lee Myung-Bak is a close friend of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and he had been nominated as advisor to Mr. Hun Sen in 2000]
  • Cambodia Reacts against some Thai Members of Parliament for Suggesting to Prevent Cambodia from Becoming a Member of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1813, 22.10.2009

  • A Promise Was Made Again [by government officials from the Cambodian People’s Party] to Adopt an Anti-Corruption Law by the Middle of Next Year

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