Civil Society Calls for a Halt for the Provision of Economic Concession Land to Private Companies – Monday, 17.5.2010

Posted on 18 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: Civil society organizations working in Cambodia asked the Royal Government of Cambodia to temporarily stop providing economic concession land to private companies, because these provisions affect the life of many citizens.

“The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, the NGO Forum on Cambodia and a special Housing Rights Task Force said in their statement that by now, the Royal Government of Cambodia has offered concession land to many local and foreign private companies. It is noticed that the provisions are not in line with the Land Law, Article 59, which states, ‘Concession land can be allocated only up to a maximum of 10,000 hectares per case.’ However, there are cases that many areas of concession land with more than 10,000 hectares were delivered to different companies that are owned by only one person.

“The statement of these civil society organizations mentioned also irregularities relating to the provision of economic concession land and suggested to the government to temporarily halt providing concession land to private companies until the government can guarantee the protection and respect of legal provisions, and they asked the government to check the existing concession land arrangements, and to cancel illegal concession land contracts if found.

“In the meantime, civil society organizations asked the government to publicize and to update information about the provisions of economic concession land on the website of the Royal Government.

“The head of the Investigating Unit of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Ny Chakriya, said during the press conference held in the morning of 12 May 2010 at the Sunway Hotel, that according to observations, the provision of economic concession land has affected the life of many citizens, especially when companies started to use machinery to clear land before they get economic concession licenses from the Royal Government. He added that what is also noticeable is that some companies have the right to order armed forces to protect their land, and most such forces protect the benefits of those companies rather than protecting the benefits of the citizens.

“Also the Executive Director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, said during the conference that the provision of economic concession land cannot be over 10,000 hectares according to the land law, and so far, ‘we have seen that those who had been provided with concession land, whatever mistakes they may have committed, they did not get punished.’ Those who sign to provide concession land continue to do things just as they like, as they know that they will not be punished. To change this, the Royal Government must determine penalties for institutions having the authority to provide concession land.

“In the evening of 12 May 2010, Kampuchea Thmey could not reach representatives of the Royal Government and of the Ministry of Agriculture for comments regarding the suggestions of those civil society organizations.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2247-2250, 13-17.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 17 May 2010

Areyathor, Vol.17, #1439, 13-14.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Called on Troops to Protect the Forest and Land in the Area of Their Bases

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #476-479, 13-17.5.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected the Concern Raised by Siam [Thailand] Saying that Cambodia Does Not Respect the Memorandum in 2000 Much [it was signed by the two governments to recognize the integrity and the territory of both countries, based by treaties and pacts recognized internationally – a source where to find the text of the 2000 Memorandum was not given]
  • The Lawyer of Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Will Stand with [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua at the Supreme Court on 2 June 2010 [over the defamation case filed by the Prime Minister]
  • Diarrhea in Kompong Cham Increased to 251 Cases
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Canceled the Plan for Elections on 14 November 2010 and Ordered 80 Tanks to Suppress Red-Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the government – after the demonstrators had rejected the condition for the elections: that the protesters have to start to end their blockades]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2247-2250, 13-17.5.2010

  • Civil Society Calls for a Halt for the Provision of Economic Concession Land to Private Companies
  • The Prime Minister Called on Citizens to Be Careful while the Weather Is Abnormally Hot [especially sanitation is important, as recently there are cases of diarrhea happening in some provinces]
  • Nearly of the 40,000 AIDS Patients [92%] Received ARV Medicines from the Ministry of Health
  • The Prime Minister Warned Army Commanders to Report in Detail about the Border Situation, neither to Exaggerate, nor to Understate the Reality
  • The Royal Government Decided to Take 640,000 Hectares of the Flooded Forest Area around the Tonle Sap Lake for Conservation
  • An 8-Year-Old Dutch Boy Survived, while 103 People Were Killed in Libyan Plane Crash

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #655, 15.5.2010

  • Global Witness Asked International Donors to Press [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Government [to ensure that all money collected from the selling of natural resources’ exploration rights will be recorded in the national budget, and be allocated in a way beneficial to the Khmer citizens]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6954-6957, 13-17.5.2010

  • The Construction of the Phnom Penh-Cho Ray Hospital (Bệnh viện Chợ Rẫy) Worth About US$40 Million Was Started [with investments by the Ho Chi Minh City Medical Investment Joint Stock company and the Sok Kong Import Expert company]
  • Villagers Get Sick and Died and Barriers Were Put to Ban Outsiders to Go in; Since April Seventeen People Died in Siem Pang District [Stung Treng – vomiting and “diarrhea” denying it is Cholera]
  • The King Plans to Visit Japan for Five Days [from 16 to 20 May 2010]
  • Traveling Was Banned in Bangkok; Clashes between Soldiers and Protesters Resulted in 25 Deaths and 200 Injured People
  • [Conservative leader] Mr. David Cameron Becomes the New Prime Minister of England

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3881, 17.5.2010

  • Land Concessions Are a Concern of Citizens Who Own No Land for Cultivation

Phendei Khmer, Vol.8, #36, 19-25.5.2010

  • A Horrific Accident: A Bus Struck a Korean Made Truck, Killing Four People and Injuring Thirty Three Others [Siem Reap]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #170-172, 13-17.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Supports the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to Bring Justice for Khmer Citizens
  • Diarrhea Continues to Rage in Four Provinces [Kompong Cham, Kratie, Ratanakiri, and Stung Treng; so far, 34 people died – health officials continue to claim it is not Cholera]
  • The Kompong Thom Authorities Wait for a Decision from the Ministry of Agriculture to Provide Rice Fields to Former Kroya Villagers [who were evicted since 2009 – Kompong Thom]
  • Khmer Krom Citizens Asked for Permission [from the Phnom Penh Municipality] to Celebrate the [61st] Anniversary of the Loss of Land [to Vietnam; at the park in front of Wat Botum on 4 June 2010]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Construct 12 Roads in the Boeng Kak Area

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5196-5199, 13-17.5.2010

  • The United Nations Sees that the Economic Situation of Cambodia Is Better Than 2009 [the economic growth of Cambodia is predicted to be 4%]
  • A Bus of the Cambodia Angkor Express Carrying Tourists Hit a Motorbike, Killing Two People and Seriously Injuring Two Others [Phnom Penh]
  • Lightning Hit a Villa and Tropical Storm Destroyed More Than 40 Houses in Siem Reap

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Civil Society Supports the Crackdown on Forestry Crimes by the Prime Minister – Saturday, 10.4.2010

Posted on 11 April 2010. Filed under: Week 659 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 659

“Phnom Penh: 118 organizations and associations expressed their support for the crackdown on forestry crimes by Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, and some associations suggested that former Director General of the Forestry Administration Ty Sokun must be bought to a court to be convicted according to the law.

“During the press conference in the morning of 9 April 2010 at the Sunway Hotel in Phnom Penh, representatives of 118 organizations and associations stated that as civil society organizations working in the Kingdom of Cambodia, they support the cracking down on forestry crimes ordered by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, where now, as a consequence, some officials have to face legal action, and some others are already being jailed. But in the meantime, all civil society organizations asked the Royal Government to continue to intercept such crimes as an on-going concern in order to protect the forest for the next generations.

“The executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia, Mr. Chhith Sam Ath, and the chair of the Human Rights Action Committee and executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, Mr. Hang Chhaya, expressed similar ideas, saying that civil society organizations support the Royal Government intercepting forestry crimes, and they asked the government to continue this crackdown.

“Representatives of various associations also present in the event, including Ms. Chen Thol, association representative from Kompong Speu, Mr. In Ham, association representative from Kompong Thom, Mr. Seng Sokheng, association representative from Oddar Meanchey, and Mr. Nov Vuth, association representative from Preah Vihear, asked the Royal Government to regularly suppress forest crimes and suggested that the Royal Government should directly check forests at community level that is being destructed by logging by merchants, by the powerful, and by the rich.

“Also, the joint statement of 118 organizations and associations voices support for the recent strict measures of the Royal Government to eliminate forestry crimes in Cambodia. The statement adds that for decades, the forest in Cambodia has been cut illegally and continually, even though the Royal Government stopped providing forestry concession land, and it is reported that most perpetrators are powerful and rich. The lack of measures against forestry crimes leads to heavy logging activities, and also some community forests are threatened.

“The statement asks the Royal Government to keep on publishing forestry crimes widely and to take legal action against perpetrators regardless of their political orientation, and to support forest protection communities in order to prevent illegal logging. Also, they called for the involvement by relevant bodies, like by involved civil society organizations. They asked the Royal Government to halt providing concession land that can affect the forest and suggested that the forestry administration strengthen their resolve to effectively implement the law to guarantee and protect the forest for the next generations.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2224, 10.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 10 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #455, 10.4.2010

  • Cambodia Denies the Information [from Thailand] Which Says that Cambodia Provides a Satellite Chanel for Television Transmissions of the Red-Shirt Groups [supporters of ousted and fugitive Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra]
  • Clashes in Bangkok Resulted in Eleven Soldiers and Fifteen Demonstrators Being Injured

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2224, 10.4.2010

  • Civil Society Support the Crackdown on Forestry Crimes by the Prime Minister
  • The ASEAN Summit Focuses on the Connection between Infrastructure and Climate Change

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6931, 10.4.2010

  • 37 Cubic Meters of Luxury Grade Wood and Additional Wood in Four Containers of Oknha [Ly Say Kheang] Hidden at a Riverside Was Found [Kandal]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3819, 10-11.4.2010

  • The Warning Message by the Yuon [Vietnamese] Prime Minister against Burma Might Encourage [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to Reconsider [opposition party president] Sam Rainsy’s Case [to allow him to return to the country and join in the elections – the Vietnamese Prime Minister called on the Burmese government to ensure that all political parties, including the leaders of the Burmese opposition party, should have the freedom to compete in the coming elections]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5173, 10.4.2010

  • The Editor-In-Chief of the Opposition Newspaper Khmer Machas Srok, Mr. Hang Chakra, Will Be Released from Prison during the Khmer New Year [on 14 April 2010]
  • The Laotian Authorities Released Seventeen Cambodians ahead of the Khmer New Year [after both sides had talked to each other recently]
  • Tax Income in March 2010 Amounted to US$61 Million [an increase by 19% compared to the corresponding period in 2009]

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Cambodia Announced that the United States of America Suspends Military Aid, but Said the Uighurs’ Case Should Not Be Taken as Excuse – Saturday, 3.4.2010

Posted on 4 April 2010. Filed under: Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“Phnom Penh: Cambodia is not surprised about the announcement of the US Department of State to suspend military aid for Cambodia. In the afternoon of 1 April 2010, during the daily press conference of the US Department of State in Washington, the spokesperson, Mr. Philip Crowley, announced the decision of the United States of America to suspend donating about 200 military trucks and trailers. According to Mr. Philip Crowley, the suspension was decided because Cambodia deported Uighurs, who had sought asylum in Cambodia, to the Beijing authorities in December 2009.

“The Spokesperson of the Cambodian government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, said, ‘This aid suspension is not a problem. If they grant it, we say thanks for it. Anyway, the trucks are not new. They are used vehicles to be provided to others, to clean out their storage. But the United States of America should not take the case of the Uighurs as an excuse to put blame on Cambodia.’ He said so to journalists in the afternoon of 2 April 2010.

“The spokesperson of the government blamed the United States of America and the UNHCR for their slow work which had not led to any results to take the Uighurs out of Cambodia to a third country – and now they put the blame on the Cambodian government! Mr. Khieu Kanharith recalled, ‘When the Uighurs were hiding in Cambodia for over one month, the Cambodian authorities did not know this. The Chinese government did not know it either. But during this period, even the UN human rights office and some US organizations could not determine whether those Uighurs were political refugees or who they were. When they saw they could not handle this, they decided to announce it to journalists.

“The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, considered the US statement as their own decision, and an affair of the United States of America. Mr. Koy Kuong added, ‘Cambodia worked based on its rights and integrity.’

“During a previous meeting between Mr. Scott Marciel, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Ambassador for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, Mr. Hor Namhong, the Minister had explained to him that the expulsion of 20 Uighurs from Cambodia was just implemented according to Cambodian immigration law.

Note:

“A State Department official tells The Cable that just before the Cambodian government sent the ethnic Uighurs back to China, where they face imprisonment or worse, there were a flurry of diplomatic efforts to try to convince the Cambodians to hold off. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton even phoned Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong to urge him to rethink the decision, the official said, but to no avail.”

[source]

“The deportation of 20 Uighurs from Cambodia in December 2009 is a sensitive case for the US administration. The US Department of State reacted since the beginning and used serious words. Washington even said that the decision of Cambodia to deport the Uighurs to the Beijing authorities will affect the relations between the United States of America and Cambodia.

“The spokesperson of the Cambodian government claimed that there is still no visible effect on the Cambodian-US ties due to the suspension of military aid.

“The spokesperson of the US Embassy in Cambodia, Mr. John Johnson, said that the latest announcement by the US Department of States is only related to military assistance. It is a suspension without a specific time-line. He said, ‘This is a special and worrying case. But the United States of America will continue to cooperate with Cambodia in other fields.’ According to this spokesperson, the US military aid provided to Cambodia since 2006 amounted to about US$6 million.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5167, 3.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 3 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #451, 3.4.2010

  • About US$248 Million Were Wasted due to Traffic Accidents in 2009 [according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport]
  • 309 Families from Chhlong District Protested against Land Grabbing by the Kastim Company [for prohibiting them to do farming on the land that they have been cultivating for a long time – Kratie]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2218, 3.4.2010

  • The United States of America Suspends the Donation of 200 Military Trucks to Cambodia
  • In 2009 1,717 Citizens Died from Land Traffic Accidents in Cambodia [7,022 were seriously injured; there were 12,535 accidents – according to Handicap International Belgium]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.17, #3849, 3-4.4.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Summoned Mr. Sam Rainsy for the Second Time for Questioning [over the accusation of using fake maps to document border cases, and for disinformation – he is required to appear at the court on 20 April 2010]
  • [A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Yim Sovann Expressed Regrets that the United States of America Cut Military Aid to Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6925, 3-4.4.2010

  • More Than 100 Persons Are under Arrest for Forestry Crimes [including powerful persons and wood traders – according to Mr. Ty Sokun, Director, Department of Forestry and Wildlife, Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries]
  • [Pailin Governor] Ea Chhean Sued the Pailin Forestry Chief for Colluding with Wood Traders Who Organized to Cut Trees of Some Mountains from Top to Foot
  • Four Forestry Officials Were Removed form Their Positions, and the Municipal Court Issued Arrest Warrants for Four Other Wood Traders [over illegal wood trading – Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3849, 3-4.4.2010

  • The United States of America Temporarily Suspends Military Assistance, Straining the Military Ties between Both Countries Again

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5167, 3.4.2010

  • Cambodia Announced that the United States of America Suspends Military Aid, but Said the Uighurs’ Case Should Not Be Taken as Excuse
  • Phnom Penh: Laying Culverts Is More Important Than Constructing Roads [because the culvert system left from the past is almost totally ruined, which results in floods in the city]

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Son Chhay Said that the Draft Anti-Corruption Law of the Government Seems to Protect Corrupt People – Saturday, 6.3.2010

Posted on 7 March 2010. Filed under: Week 654 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 654

“The government already sent an anti-corruption draft law to the National Assembly, after Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians had sent a request to the National Assembly to establish an Anti-Corruption Board – a proposal which was rejected by the president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin, saying that the Permanent Committee of the National Assembly had decided to accept the anti-corruption draft law of the government for discussion.

“Copies of the government draft were distributed to all parliamentarians, and the National Assembly plans to hold a meeting on 10 March 2010, where it is assumed that to discuss the anti-corruption draft law will be on the agenda.

“The leader of the group of Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, Mr. Son Chhay, who had requested the creation of an Anti-Corruption Board, said on 5 March 2010 in a press conference at the Sam Rainsy Party headquarters in Phnom Penh, that the draft of the government does not have clear goals to prevent corruption or to prosecute those who commit corruption.

“He said that 16 years ago, as a parliamentarian of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party of Mr. Son San, he once had requested an anti-corruption law, and then, under the next governments, he requested it again and again that the National Assembly should create such a law.

“The draft of the government limits membership in anti-corruption institutions to persons, to any individual, from various institutions who will be suggested by Prime Minister Hun Sen to the King, to be appointed.

“Regarding the suggested candidates from various institutions to be appointed, Mr. Son Chhay said that it is difficult that those officials to be investigated are in the same institution that suggest candidates, and he claimed that candidates appointed by the Prime Minister cannot be considered to be independent.

“The draft speaks also about the declaration of assets, saying that it has to be made confidentially, requiring that those who declare their assets have to keep one document for themselves, and another document has to be kept at a secret place by the anti-corruption institution, and if they will be prosecuted within five years, the confidentiality is lifted.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that the draft of the government does not clearly define the punishment for persons who commit corruption, and the punishment is based on different types of corruption, like minor corruption just for small thefts to eat [‘for the stomach’], and big corruption.

“Mr. Son Chhay raised the example that some custom officers get a salary of only about US$100 per month, an amount that cannot meet their daily needs. Therefore they make their fellow officials collect money for them every month, and they may get about US$20,000. Mr. Son Chhay asked, ‘Is this kind of corruption “just for the stomach” a minor, or is it big corruption?’

“Mr. Son Chhay said that if the draft law of the government is approved by the National Assembly without making some changes, it will not serve the national interest and the citizens, as this draft does not explicitly determine punishment for ‘corruption.’

“He added that this law seems to serve those who commit corruption.

“The Sam Rainsy Party, civil society, and donors have encouraged to approve an anti-corruption law, and finally a draft was sent by the government to the National Assembly, after it had been approved by the Council of Ministers in early December of 2009. This draft has been kept confidential and was delayed until now, and if Mr. Son Chhay had not sent in another draft request to the National Assembly, the government would likely not have released their draft now to the National Assembly. Anyway, regarding the rejection of the draft [presented by the Sam Rains Party] by Mr. Heng Samrin, Mr. Son Chhay considers it to be his success, because if he had not sent it to the National Assembly, the government would not have released the draft to the National Assembly.

“When journalists asked, ‘On 10 March 2010, during the meeting of the National Assembly, will the National Assembly approve the draft?’ – Mr. Son Chhay said that if the National Assembly does not discuss it in detail, it will be strange, and he will be more suspicious that this law does not serve the national interest and the citizens, but it will serve corrupt people, partisans, and powerful people.

“There are different opinions about a final rush to approve an anti-corruption law, as donor countries stay quiet and have not set a date for its discussions, unlike in previous years, where discussions started early in the years.

“Corruption in Cambodia is strongly criticized locally and internationally. Corruption exists from lower levels to the top, making Cambodia lose about US$500 million each year. This is figure was used by the US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol Rodley.

“Nevertheless, there is also praise from various sides that the government wants this law to be approved by the National Assembly, as it can create some obstacles for corrupt people to continue to commit corruption.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #619, 6.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 6 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #427, 6.3.2010

  • The National Assembly Reinstated the Immunity of the Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian Ho Vann [suspended over a defamation allegation by military officials]
  • ASEAN Expresses Concern over the Cambodian Military Exercises [the ASEAN secretary general said that Cambodia might convey the wrong signals to the world regarding these exercises], while Bangkok Leaders Did Not Express any Concern

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2194, 6.3.2010

  • An Anti-Corruption Draft Law Will Be Discussed on 10 March 2010
  • Civil Society [the Cambodia Labor Union Federation and the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)] Fully Support the Elimination of Brothels and Gambling Sites

Note:

It is not clear so far how the ban of gambling sites will affect the big gambling institutions close to the borders with Thailand and with Vietnam, and if it will also relate to big gambling institutions in Phnom Penh, like the Naga World Casino and others.

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #619, 6.3.2010

  • Son Chhay Said that the Draft Anti-Corruption Law of the Government Seems to Protect Corrupt People

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6901, 6-7.3.2010

  • The White Club, a Night Club where there Was Nude Dancing, Has Been Closed Down, and 120 Men and Women Were Arrested [Phnom Penh]
  • While Iron Frames Were Transported on a Car, They Hit an Electric Power Line, Electrocuting Two Persons Fatally, Wounding Two Others, and Burning Down the Car [Kandal]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5143, 6.3.2010

  • The Government Approved a Conservation Project in the Anlong Veng Historical Tourism Region [which was the last holdout of the Khmer Rouge leadership]
  • Three Persons Died and Two Were Seriously Injured in Two Separate Traffic Accidents [Takeo]

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ADHOC Encourages the Siamese Authorities to Investigate Shootings against Khmer Citizens Who Crossed the Border Illegally – Thursday, 4.3.2010

Posted on 4 March 2010. Filed under: Week 654 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 654

“The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] again appealed to the authorities of the Siamese [Thai] government to investigate cruel shootings by Siamese solders against Khmer citizens who just crossed the border illegally to find jobs to earn their daily living.

“The chief investigator of ADHOC, Mr. Ny Chakriya, said in a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in the morning of 3 March 2010, ‘We ask the [Cambodian] authorities to please put pressure on the Thai authorities and soldiers who fatally shot innocent Cambodians.’

“The appeal was made towards the international community, especially all signatory countries respecting human rights, to look at the cruelties of Siamese soldiers against Cambodian civilians, because since 2008, it has been observed that more than 20 Khmer citizens had been shot dead or wounded.

“Mr. Ny Chakriya said that such cases were seen happening from 2008 to early 2010, but the Thai authorities have not conducted any investigations. According to Mr. Ny Chakriya, this call being made during a press conference is another invitation to the Siamese authorities and government to take urgent actions to investigate the crimes, according to the laws, in order to show that Siam [Thailand] is a country that respects the law.

“To reflect the atrocities of Siamese authorities and soldiers against Khmer citizens, during the Wednesday conference, ADHOC invited victims who had been able to escape from shootings by Thai soldiers, and victim’s families, to tell journalists about their sufferings.

“Ms. Boun Tha, 43, living in Sla Kram commune, Siem Reap, whose children were shot dead, recalled that Siamese authorities had called her to take the bodies of her children, but along the way, she saw that some Thai persons dragged her children’s bodies and kicked them like animals.

“She added, ‘It was very cruel; they had covered and bound my children’s eyes and they kicked my children with their boots, disfiguring their faces. They were very bad. They mistreated innocent Khmer citizens.’

“In addition, she stressed that according to those who witnessed the event directly, her 18-year-old son cried for help from his father many times until he fainted. After that, they hit his face with their boots and shot him.

“According to ADHOC, by now it has been already 20 months during which 20 Cambodians suffered from shooting, torture, and killing by Thai soldiers along the Cambodian-Thai border. But so far, the Thai authorities have not shown a real intention to investigate, accuse, and prosecute the perpetrators, in order to provide justice to the Cambodian victims.

“Therefore, ADHOC criticized that the Siamese authorities do not show respect for human rights. Quite in contrast, there are no actions taken against perpetrators, which seems to mean that the Siamese authorities are allowing such bad violence to happen.

“According to ADHOC, the victims and their families who encounter such atrocities from Siamese solders, together with other witnesses, will file lawsuits related to these crimes committed by the Thai authorities. It is time that the Siamese authorities take notice of these complaints, and they have to respond to what happened.

“In the meantime, the human rights organization ADHOC warned that there must be no more such serious human rights violations without punishment according to the laws. ADHOC stressed that the political tension between Cambodia and Siam is not the reason that the military of their country shows their anger in this way against innocent people. ADHOC said the military tension between Cambodia and Thailand is not an appropriate reason for fatal shootings of weak and innocent people.

“However, regarding serious human rights violations by Siamese solders and their authorities, both civil society and Cambodian citizens demand the government to increase honest investments in Cambodia and to halt grabbing land of farmers for wicked investors.

“This is the only way to reduce the risky migration of Khmer citizens [abroad looking for employment]. Also, this will help to keep the government’s face from being embarrassed, as it happened recently, when it was reported that Siam and Yuon [Vietnam] sent Khmer beggars back to Cambodia. Otherwise, that Khmer officials are rich, only around 18% of the millions of Khmer citizens, as found by the Asian Development Bank, is just the richness of millionaires on a garbage dump.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3823, 4.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 4 March 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1432, 4-5.3.2010

  • A Woman Was Attacked with Acid, Burning Her Body while She Was Riding on a Motorbike with Her Boyfriend from a Restaurant [the two perpetrators are not yet identified – Phnom Penh]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #425, 4.3.2010

  • Cambodia Needs US$800 Million for the Development of Renewable Energy [according to the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2192, 4.3.2010

  • Two Chinese Men Were Convicted to Serve Twenty 29 in Prison and Three Khmers [15 years] for Drug Production and Smuggling [Phnom Penh]
  • [Vietnamese] Migrants Doing Day-Businesses [like selling fuel and charging batteries] Discharge Waste into the Rivers [but the authorities do not care about it – Kompong Chhnang]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #617, 4.3.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Summons Mr. Sam Rainsy [now in France], to Appear on 9 March 2010 [regarding a government lawsuit over border issues]
  • [A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Son Chhay: Cambodia Needs Much More Time so that the Power of the Courts Become Stronger Than Individual Power [of some powerful people – therefore the courts are not yet independent]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6899, 4.3.2010

  • The United States of America Plans to Deliver Statues of the Buddha and Khmer Artifacts to Cambodia in July 2010 [those artifacts were trafficked to America and identified them as belonging to Cambodia – so they are to be returned]
  • [More than 300] Citizens from Eleven Villages Protest over Land Clearance Activities by a Company [the Kompong Speu Sugar Company, which affects their farmland; the company invests to plant sugarcane on 9,000 hectares of land – Kompong Speu]
  • [Twenty four] Korean Volunteer Doctors Provide Free Treatment for Khmer Citizens, Especially Teachers and Students [in Sihanoukville]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3823, 4.3.2010

  • ADHOC Encourages the Siamese Authorities to Investigate Shootings against Khmer Citizens Who Crossed the Border Illegally

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #123, 4.3.2010

  • Cambodia Will Do Military Exercises by Shooting [200] BM21 Rockets [in Kompong Chhnang]; It Is Not a Show of Muscle, but to Strengthening the National Defense Capacity
  • [Minister of Industry, Mines, and Energy] Suy Sem: Electricity Supply Will Rise by 25% in 2010 [as Cambodia gets additional power from Vietnam]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5141, 4.3.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Cambodia Has Already Prepared a Draft to Sue Thailand at the UN Security Council for the Aggression Committed [at the Preah Vihear region]
  • Samdech Dekchor Encourages All Television Stations to Produce and Broadcast National and Cultural Arts

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Land Issues of Ethnic Minority People Were Raised during a Meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – Thursday, 25.2.2010

Posted on 25 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: The loss of forest land as ancentral burying areas and of farming land of ethnic minority people in Cambodia was presented to a committee in Geneva in Switzerland, at the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, meeting last week.

“Three ethnic minority representatives and two non-government organization representatives attended the meeting. They returned to Cambodia on 23 February 2010.

“During a press conference at the NGO Forum on Cambodia in the morning of 24 February 2010, the representatives of ethnic minority people in Cambodia and of non-government organizations shared their reports on the situation of ethnic people in Cambodia, which they had made to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [based on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

“The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held its 76th meeting from 14 to 23 February 2010. Also, the Cambodian Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Sun Suon, attended the meeting, which is held every four years, to respond to questions of the UN committee in relation to the situation of ethnic minority people in Cambodia.

“In the report about the situation of ethnic minority people in Cambodia submitted to the UN committee, non-government officials and ethnic minority representatives stated that recently, there have been some improvements of the situation regarding education, infrastructure, and heath for ethnic minority people. But many serious issues related to natural resources, especially land violations against ethnic minority people in Cambodia, had happened.

“The report pointed to obvious forest violations, such as cases in Kangyu in Ratanakiri, in Bu Sra in Mondolkiri, in Snuol in Kratie, in Rovieng in Preah Vihear, in Oral in Kompong Speu, and at the Yeak Lom lake area in Ratanakiri.

“Forest and farming land, on which the life of ethnic minority people depends, was contracted by the government to private companies as economic concession land for rubber plantations or for mining.

“Ethnic minority people representatives stated during the press conference at the NGO Forum on Cambodia that frequently, their land was grabbed and resources from the forest, on which they rely, were seized. As for the sources of water near their places of living, they were changed by building dams across the river and the water is now contaminated.

“The Cambodian Ambassador to the United Nations was questioned by the UN committee over these serious human rights violations, especially the grabbing of land affecting 179,000 ethnic minority people living in 15 provinces of Cambodia.

“All questions and claims by representatives of the ethnic minority people above were rejected by Mr. Sun Suon, and he said that there are no such hot issues relating to the human rights situation and ethnic minority people’s rights. Regarding the provision of economic concession land to private companies, the government made it based on the law, and he said that forest land belongs to the state, but not to ethnic minority people’s communities.

“Nevertheless, the ethnic minority and non-government organization representatives, who listened to the responses of the Cambodian Ambassador to the UN during the meeting on Sunday, said that they cannot accept such answers that are irresponsible and contradict the real issues. Ethnic minority and non-government organization representatives want the Cambodian government to send a representative from Phnom Penh who knows the actual situation to argue and to respond to the questions of the United Nations at the next meetings.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5135, 25.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 25 February 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1431, 25-26.2.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sun Called Mr. Sam Rainsy a Traitor [for creating trouble at the Eastern border with Vietnam, while Cambodia is having border issues at the Western border with Thailand]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #419, 25.2.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen: There Can Be Opposition Parties Participating in the Next Elections, but There Should Be No Sam Rainsy [as he is convicted and is now facing an additional conviction over border issues]
  • During a Party to Welcome the Return to the Office of Tivea 06 [ “Mr. Anniversary 06,” a nickname of a police official], One Policeman Died and Four Others Were Affected by Poisoning [“Tivea 06” is held again for questioning over this case; before, he had been suspended from his duties in relation to a case of violence against a car mechanic – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2186, 25.2.2010

  • The Prime Minister Encourages Careful Recruitment for Outstanding Students to Work in Education Administration and Teaching [while it is known that often jobs are also given for favors, and not only based on qualifications]
  • In 2009 There Were More Criminal Offenses Than in 2008 [there were 3,456 cases, an increas by 575 cases; 353 people were killed and 1,574 were injured – according to the Ministry of Interior]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #611, 25.2.2010

  • People in a Forest Protection Community Received Death Threats from Forestry Criminals Backed by Powerful People [Lumphat district, Ratanakiri]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6893, 25.2.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Government Does Not Have the Right to Cut off Land for Other Countries
  • A Malaysian Man, the Director of a Company, and His Cook, Were Stabbed to Death; this Case Is Suspected to Be a Robbery [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.4, #3817, 25.2.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy: The Sam Rainsy Party Is Concerned about the Loss of the Territory Both at the West and at the East – Who Is A Traitor and Who Is Protecting the Territory Will Be Revealed Soon
  • Vietnam Plans to Plant Rubber Trees in Cambodia, Laos, and Burma, Spending More Than US$500 Million

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #119, 25.2.2010

  • Mr. Hun Sen Will Visit the Troops Again [stationed in Battambang Province, close to the northern border, on 27 February 2010]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5135, 25.2.2010

  • Land Issues of Ethnic Minority People Were Raised during a Meeting of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Warned Bangkok Not to Make Any Comments on His Second Visit to the Cambodian-Thai Border
  • Vietnam Assists in Information Technology at the National Assembly of Cambodia [donating printers, computers, and servers worth US$300,000]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1881, 25.2.2010

  • The Ruling Party Has Endless Excuses to Delay Approving an Anti-Corruption Law [Mr. Cheam Yeap, a parliamentarian from the Cambodian People’s Party, the chairperson of the Commission on Economy, Banking, and Audits of the National Assembly, said that we have to wait further, as the draft needs further review. ]

    It is not clear how some of these pieces of information fit together. The Mirror had published a press report on 29.12.2009, which said:

  1. “The draft of an anti-corruption law has not yet been publicly released, though one part of this draft law was disclosed last week by the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers. When this part of the draft became widely known, it was either welcomed or mocked, as this law will require also staff of non-government organizations, who earn little, to declare their property…
  2. “The Council of Ministers spokesperson Phay Siphan reiterated day-before-yesterday that the draft law cannot be made public, because it has yet to arrive at the National Assembly. Once it arrives there, it can then be released to the public…
  3. “However, a secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, who asked not to be named, said that the draft has already reached the secretary-general of the National Assembly.”

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The United States of America Granted US$13.4 Million for AIDS Action Programs – Wednesday, 24.2.2010

Posted on 25 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“Phnom Penh: According to an announcement by the US Embassy on 23 February 2010, the United States of America officially started a program with a contribution of US$13.4 million to improve the heath and the quality of life of Cambodian citizens, reducing the impact from HIV and AIDS, especially among vulnerable groups.

“The five year sustainable program against HIV and AIDS at the community level will provide health care to citizens suffering from AIDS, those having HIV, and orphans, and in the meantime, it will also help to prevent new infections among vulnerable groups. This program will be implemented by the Khmer HIV/AIDS NGO Alliance [KHANA], a local non-government organization which has been funded by the United States of America since 1997.

“More than 700 people, including those having HIVS and children suffering from AIDS, government officials, civil society organizations, and development partners participated in the inauguration at Wat Ou Poath in Takeo. Wat Ou Poath will receive aid from the United States of America for this program in order to continue to run an orphanage for children suffering from the impact from AIDS, to offer living places for adults who have HIV, to create a place for HIV blood testing, and to provide other services.

“The US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol A. Rodley, praised the working strategies of this community level program. She said, ‘Working with leaders such as monks at Wat Ou Poath and with our development partner KHANA contributes a lot to combating AIDS countrywide. The United States of America will continue to support these activities.’ The program also aims also to improve the capacity of civil society to provide health care services and HIV prevention with quality and sustainability. To reach this aim, KHANA has trained more than 60 local non-government organizations and supported those taking care of people having HIV at more than half of the communities countrywide by offering caring services to 60% of the communities in Cambodia.

“The aid granted by the United States of America for HIV/AIDS programs in Cambodia in this year amounts to US$18.5 million. The aid is concentrated on the protection, the care, and the treatment for people having HIV and people facing the danger of HIS infection.

“The HIV/AIDS program will also strengthen the national health system, fight maternal mortality, and address also other present priority health issues.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6892, 24.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #418, 24.2.2010

  • Chinese Investors Are Seeking Concession Land of More Than 60,000 Hectares in Cambodia [to plant rubber trees; in 2009, Cambodia exported 42,000 tonnes of rubber, compared with Thailand, the biggest rubber exporting country, which exported 2.74 million tonnes]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2185, 24.2.2010

  • Booyong Company of Korea Donates 3,000 Digital Pianos Worth US$3.6 Million to the Ministry of Education

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #610, 24.2.2010

  • Samdech Euv Claimed that Ruom Rith [supposedly his pen pal from childhood times] Who Was Interviewed by the Internet Broadcaster World Khmer Radio [based in the USA] Is an Imposter

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6892, 24.2.2010

  • The Report of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association Says: The Shooting to Kill Khmer Citizens by Thai Soldiers Is a Serious Violation of Human Rights
  • The United States of America Granted US$13.4 Million for AIDS Action Programs

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3816, 24.2.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Will Hold a Press Conference [through video conferencing] This Evening in Response to a Warning by [the head of the Cambodian Border Committee] Var Kimhong [to sue him for using fake maps]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #118, 24.2.2010

  • In Early 2010, the Forestry Administration Suppressed 231 Forestry Crimes [seizing 510 cubic meters of wood]
  • Sixty Percent of the [116] Unlicensed Pharmacies Closed [after the authorities set a deadline to take action against them at the end of February – Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5134, 24.2.2010

  • A Younger Sister of the Korean President Lee Myung-Bak Wants to Establish Schools in Cambodia [according to a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen – Phnom Penh]
  • A Man Raped His Daughter for Three Years – When She Could No Bear It Any More, She Informed the Police to Arrest Him [Svay Rieng]
  • A Korean Drove a Lexus Car and Hit a Motorbike, Killing Three People [Kompong Thom]

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Justice in the Midst of Conflicts – Sunday, 24.1.2010

Posted on 26 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 648 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 648

The report on the increasing number of rapes, especially also of young girls less then 10 year old, in some cases ending with the killing of the victim, carried a terrifying comment: “Law enforcement by the relevant authorities, especially the courts, remained limited, as giving impunity to perpetrators continued,” continuing: “The number of cases brought to be heard at the courts was not so high, simply because of out of court arrangements.” Money is used instead of justice.

In another context, the Ratanakiri authorities are reported to have seized a truck with illegally logged wood after a Cambodian NGO and local citizens informed the authorities – but this is worse: Citizens who tried to report and to prevent forestry crimes were threatened by armed personnel, and the authorities do not dare to disclose the names of the powerful wood traders who hire citizens to commit these crimes. Power is used instead of justice.

In view of these and many other, specifically identified cases, there is not much value in discussing, in the abstract, whether Cambodia is a country to be described as under a state of law – because the Constitution says so – or not; the call to strengthen and to ensure effective law enforcement is also not very useful, unless it is accompanied by analyzing why law enforcement is so weak, and therefore: how this might change.

When I am traveling in Phnom Penh – that is normally on the back seat of a motorcycle-taxi – and I question the drivers why they breaks traffic rules, there is almost always a similar answer, with references that “everybody does it, especially the big cars: some without license plates, speeding on the middle of the road or on the wrong side, driving on, even if the traffic light is red, etc. etc.” If the law is not seen to be enforced equally on all, irrespective of money or power, it is very difficult to see how a state of law can be achieved. It can be achieved only when the very same authorities enforcing it are also following the law themselves.

Scanning regularly through news media from other countries, there is one item which is mentioned more and more: How do the Cambodian authorities consider the role of law in their relations with the neighboring country of Thailand? The armed clash yesterday at the border invited again regional concerns. And one concern discussed in other ASEAN countries, which have a tradition of not interfering into internal affairs of other members, is the fact that this seems to be happening now with the appointment of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, convicted for corruption but fugitive from Thailand, with an Interpol warrant, as an official adviser to the Cambodian government – disregarding the legal system of Thailand, and declaring a verdict for substantial financial corruption to be political. And by doing so importing – in spite of denials that this is not the intention – the political tensions of Thailand into Cambodia.

Several news items followed each other:

  • 14 January 2010: International media reported that Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra will visit Cambodia again, even “Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Mr. Thaksin will visit Cambodia later this month.”
  • 15 January 2010: Mr. Noppadon Pattama, a legal adviser to Mr. Thaksin, said the plan for a visit had been canceled, but Mr. Thaksin would instead visit another country in Asia.
  • 17 January 2010: The Puea Thai Party chairperson Mr. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth meets Mr. Thaksin in Brunei, it is said that Mr. Thaksin would return to Cambodia late in January, staying several days.
  • 19 January 2010: Mr. Thaksin canceled his visit to Cambodia – according to a Khmer newspaper.
  • 21 January 2010: Mr. Thaksin arrived in Cambodia for a brief visit – no press conference, no lecture as economic advisor – only a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen is reported.
  • 22 January 2010: Mr. Thaksin demanded to close the legal case to expropriate his property.
  • 25 January 2010: Mr. Thaksin is reported to have declared already on 18 January 2010 he may set up a government in exile depending on political developments.

Of course the main stage for all this is in Thailand themselves, where extremely difficult problems are being faced: a mix of politics and the law, and the question is still open what will be the outcome of the conflicting dynamics between the two.

After Mr. Thaksin was ousted by a bloodless military coup in 2006, his in-country assets were frozen; the Thai supreme court is scheduled to decide on 26 February 2010, whether these US$2.3 billion – 2,300,000,000 US dollar! – were gained by the misuse of power and corruption as prime minister and will go to the state, or whether they were gained from his salary as a police officer and later businessman and will be returned to him. In addition, Mr. Thaksin said that he still has about US$100 million available abroad.

The attorney-general of Thailand, Mr. Julasing Wasantasing, shared the dilemma and his approach in an interview yesterday, Saturday, in The Nation, where he said that it is increasingly difficult for Thailand’s justice system to function, as there are two powerful pressure groups – the Yellow Shirts and the Red Shirts – trying to enforce their will: “I have been told I have to listen to the people. But when the people are divided into two camps, which side should I listen to?” When the course of the law is not followed, but instead the actions of the police or of prosecutors and judges are defined not by the law, he said: “We should stop and start anew. If every case is influenced by the yellow or red colors, Thailand’s problem is never going to end.”

The attorney-general has also been criticized, from both camps, when they were not happy with decisions based on the law, and he expressed his concern that “legal cases here are being judged by the public not on their legal merit, but on perceived political significance.” He summed up his own position in these conflicts by quoting John Quincy Adams, a US lawyer, diplomat, and politician, and finally the 6th president of the USA from 1825 to 1829. This was at a time when the USA were still a weak country – a “developing country” as we might say today.

“I can never join with my voice in the toast which I see in the papers attributed to one of our gallant naval heroes. I cannot ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where our country might be in the wrong: ‘Let justice be done even if heaven should fall.’ My toast would be, may our country always be successful, but whether successful or otherwise, always right.”

If this position would be taken also in view of the tensions between Cambodia and Thailand – not success for oneself is the goal, but justice even if it is for the other side – what a good future could be developed soon together!

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Three US Parliamentarians Come to Cambodia to Talk about Debt and Commercial Ties – Wednesday, 6.1.2010

Posted on 6 January 2010. Filed under: Week 646 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 646

“Three US congressmen plan to visit Cambodia for three days, according to a Voice of America (VOA) broadcast in the morning of 5 January 2010, based on information from the Khmer ambassador to the United States, Mr. Hem Heng.

“But officials of the US Embassy in Phnom Penh told Khmer Machas Srok in the evening of 5 January 2010 that the three US congressmen will arrive in Cambodian in the evening of 5 January 2010, landing in Siem Reap first, before coming to Phnom Penh.

“The visit to Cambodia is to discuss about the debt of more than US$300 million that Cambodia owes, and about commercial ties between the two countries.

“Mr. Hem Heng added, ‘The intention of the visit to Cambodia is first, they want to discuss with Khmer leaders to solve the debt owed by Cambodia to the United States since the Lon Nol regime; second, the delegation wants to discuss about clearing unexploded bombs that America dropped during the war in the 1970ies; and third, the delegation aims to promote and to encourage trade between Cambodia and the United States.’

“The visit to Cambodia is led by Democrat Mr. Eni Faleomavaega, who represents the territory of American Samoa and is chairperson of the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment; Mr. Mike Honda, Democrat of California; and, Mr. Joseph Cao, Republican of Virginia [born in Vietnam and immigrated to the USA as a child].

“The three delegates will meet with high-ranking officials of Cambodia, including Prime Minister Hun Sen. However, two officials who work for two of the US congressmen who plan to visit Cambodia asked not to comment to VOA about the visit due to safety concerns.

“When the visit will have been finished in three days, the three US delegates will hold a joint press conference about their visits to Cambodia, Laos, Japan, and Vietnam.

“Previously, Cambodia had asked the United States to cancel the debt of more than US$300 million that Cambodia owes since the Khmer Republic led by Field Marshal Lon Nol during the 1970ies, and recently Cambodia asked the USA not to charge taxes on products exported from Cambodia to the United States. But there is no response from the United States.

“Officials of the two countries used to say that the canceling of the debt depends on decisions by the parliaments of both countries.

“It should be noted that the deputy spokesperson of the US Department of State immediately released a statement condemning Cambodia for deporting Uighurs to the Chinese authorities, when China had granted aid and loans of about US$1.2 billion to Cambodia during a visit by the Chinese vice president.

“The statement of condemnation was issued on 21 December 2009, after the Khmer authorities deported the Uighurs back to China, following a request from the long-term communist government.

“The spokesperson of the US Department of State, Mr. Gordon Duguid, said in a statement on 19 December 2009 that the Cambodian government, following a Chinese request, forced 20 Uighur asylum seekers back to China, in what is seen as a violation of international obligations by Cambodia. The United States is concerned about the wellbeing of those people who sought asylum and protection under international law. The United States is concerned also because the Cambodian government decided to deport those people without properly checking their refugee status, and without the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees participation.

“The United States strongly opposed the deportation of the asylum seekers by Cambodia without listening to the people’s reasons. This will affect the relations between Cambodia and the United States and the reputation of Cambodia on the international arena.

“As those people were already sent back to China, the US government asks China to conform to international standards, to ensure transparency according to the law, and to properly treat those people. The US government continues to call on all relevant parties to pay attention on the importance of the respect for human rights and of the obligations under international law.

“Anyway, officials of the Cambodian government immediately issued a statement to calm the US Department of State, saying that Cambodia will continue to maintain good relations with the United States. It is likely that this problem led the three US congressmen to pay a visit to Cambodia.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #573, 6.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #380, 6.1.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Warned the Groups of People That Plan to Distribute Leaflets against the 7 January Celebrations [commemorating when the Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown in 1979]
  • The USA Scrapped the Regulation Which Prohibited People with AIDS to Enter the USA

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2143, 6.1.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor: The Removal of Temporary Border Markers [by opposition party president, Mr. Sam Rainsy] Reached a Point That Cannot Be Tolerated

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #573, 6.1.2010

  • Three US Parliamentarians Come to Cambodia to Talk about Debt and Commercial Ties

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6850, 6.1.2010

  • Nearly 300,000 Copied Porn [and illegally copied music] Discs Were Crushed to Destroy Them [Phnom Penh]
  • [Opposition Party president] Sam Rainsy Admitted from Abroad that He Removed the Temporary Border Markers [in Svay Rieng]
  • A Small Bus Overtook a Camry but Hit a Motorbike on National Road 11, Killing Two People and Injuring One Seriously [Prey Veng]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #83, 6.1.2010

  • The Prime Minister Rejected the Possibility to Tolerate the Opposition Party President’s Action over the Border Markers Case
  • Famous Hol and Phamuong [Khmer traditional] Hand-Woven Cloth Made from Silk on Koh Dach Island in Kandal Is Finished [80% of the producers in this community stopped their traditional silk weaving, as the price of silk imported from China and from Vietnam more than doubled within one year from previously US$10 per kilogram to US$40 to US$80 at present]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5092, 6.1.2010

  • [Four] Men [an Indonesian, a Malaysian, and Two Khmers] Illegally Detained Others in a Casino, Interrogated and Hit Them – Finally They Were All Arrested to Be Sent to Court [Svay Rieng]
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva’s Government Approved More Than US$7 Million for Buying Materials to Handle Demonstrations by the Red-Shirt Group [supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra – the materials include plastic bullets, smoke grenades, shields, electric batons, and bullet proof vests]

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From 2009 to 2010 – Where Are We Heading? – New Year, 1-3.1.2010

Posted on 2 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 645 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 645

According to different criteria, there are various ways to find measures to evaluate processes and situations. There are absolute measurements with fixed figures, and there are relative considerations – comparing different figures, or situations, and how they relate to each other.

An interesting example for the latter approach is in a report, quoting a high ranking member of the National Assembly, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Commission for Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit, who is also chairperson of the Permanent Committee of the Central Committee of the Cambodian People’s Party; he admitted “that some government officials from the Cambodian People’s Party are corrupt” – qualifying the statement with two additions: Not all are corrupt, and: There are also opposition party officials who commit corruption.

To put corruption in this way into a wider context seems to indicate that, after all, it is not a major problem. But it does not change the fact that corruption is corruption.

But this is now going to change – an anti-corruption law, existing in different stages of being prepared since the mid 1990ies, several times promised to be adopted at specific points in time, had recently been announced to move to reality in 2009. At least the draft has been sent from the Council of Ministers to the National Assembly, but it is still being kept secret. Except for one or two point, according to the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers:

“The only details of the anti-corruption law that have been made public on Friday is the fact that the staff of NGOs are required to disclose their personal assets. Under the law, NGO workers are defined as public servants, and side-by-side with officials who are paid by the government, they must disclose their assets. ‘It is an obligation to do so, if you don’t do it, you are jailed,’ Mr. Phay Siphan is quoted to have said.

Though the text of the draft law has not been published, is is just assumed that the same disclosure requirements and threats of punishment will also refer to non-NGO public servants.

Phnom Penh Buildings

Phnom Penh Buildings

Some friends wonder how such gorgeous buildings – for personal use on the right, or for rent to many, on the left – could be built by public servants with their known small public remunerations. Can it be assumed that the ownership of such buildings will also have to be disclosed according to the not yet published law?

But why this secrecy about the draft? The spokesperson of the Council of Minister claims that “the draft law cannot be made public, because it has yet to arrive at the National Assembly. Once it arrives there, it can then be released to the public.” But is it not a contradiction that he himself discussed part of it already publicly: the regulations about NGO staff? The shutting out of the people to accompany the process of the drafting of a law over more that a decade is difficult to understand; after all, as Article 51 of the Cambodian Constitution describes the public holding high authority: “The Cambodian people are the masters of their country.”

It is interesting to see that the attitude of high level government officials to keep information and differing opinions away from the public is at present being challenged in India.

The Indian Junior Foreign Minister [a Secretary of State] Mr. Shashi Tharoor questioned – publicly and on the Internet – the usefulness of new rules to tighten the visa processes for long term foreign tourists as a measure to control terrorism. “Issue is not security vs. tourism, but whether visa restrictions protect our security. [The city of Mumbai] killers had no visas,” [which had left 166 people dead] he wrote on Twitter. After he had been reprimanded and ordered to keep discussions out of the public, and to understand the “political culture,” he defended himself in a press conference, pointing out that he tried to put the debate on security into the wider context of different aspects of reality. And on the Internet he wrote: “But thanks for all the kind words over the last 24 hrs. Appreciate the support!”

Observing the Khmer press, there are many instances where some cause is mentioned – but not some second cause, which, according to other sources, definitely relate to the first one. In this way, a well advised further look and discussion is not facilitated, or it is even avoided intentionally.

As the Mirror tries to look whenever possible into the wider context – that is: other news available in the Khmer press, sometimes only days, or weeks, or even months or years in the past, but also information publicly available on the Internet, sometimes also adding some questions. We will try to put more of such Links into the regular production from now on, hoping that this may foster reflection, debate, and sometimes action.

The following are examples to show what this may mean, in relation to some specific, recent items:

We had these headlines:

  • A Cambodian Official [the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong]: Cambodia Will Not Be Affected, though the Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Preah Vihear Temple Support Agreement
  • A Siamese [Thai] Court Canceled the Joint Statements of Cambodia and Thailand during the Administration of [the former Thai prime minister] Mr. Samak’s Government [to support Cambodia to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a world heritage site]

Link:

We missed – since the beginning until now – any report in any media in Cambodia, showing what the Cambodian delegation had agreed to in July 2008 to the following, neither have we read about the preparation for the next meetin of the World Heritage Committee next month:

Explanation of the term “RGPP” under the following Point 6.:

  • 6. Noting that the State Party of Cambodia submitted to the World Heritage Center the revised graphic plan of the property (RGPP) included in WHC-08/32.COM/INF.8B1.Add2 (hereinafter called ” RGPP”) indicating a revised perimeter of the area proposed for inscription on the World Heritage List.

From the text of the decisions and conditions listing the Temple of Preah Viher as a UNESCO World Heritge Site:

  • 14. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners, to examine general policy matters relating to the safeguarding of the Outstanding Universal Value of the property in conformity with international conservation standards;
  • 15. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents:

    a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone identified in the RGPP;

    b) updated Nomination dossier to reflect the changes made to the perimeter of the property;

    c) confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP;

    d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan;

  • 16. Further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center by February 2010, for submission to the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010 a full Management Plan for the inscribed property, including a finalized map.

We are not aware that this “revised graphic plan” was anywhere made public in Cambodia. The original graphic plan, which had been presented by the Cambodian delegation, described only a very narrow strip of about 30 meter around the main Preah Vihear Temple as the requested area for the World Heritage Site listing.

We had these news items:

  • The Authorities Armed with Electric Batons and Shields Blocked [nearly 100] Sereypheap Market Vendors from Protesting in Front of the Residence of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen [in Phnom Penh]
  • The Sereypheap Market Is Totally Demolished to Take the Land to Construct Flats for Sale; Market Vendors Can Just Cry

Link:

Other reports refer to a decision of the Prime Minister in June 2009, on a the policy for markets. After the Council of Ministers had released it on 16 June 2009, the vendors thanked the Prime Minister in writing. But now the Prime Minister’s deputy cabinet chief said that the case is not under the control of the Prime Minister.

But they have 25 years contracts, out of which only 13 are spent. Others have demolition equipment and electric batons. Who has the final say? What, then, is the value of a contract and of a promise?

We had this headline:

  • [The Thai Foreign Minister] Kasit Piromya Asked Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen to Stop Supporting Thaksin Shinawatra [in order to restore diplomatic ties]

Link:

Previously published Thai statements have always clearly based their requests to Cambodia on the fact that the former Thai prime minister has been convicted by Thai courts for a specific case of corruption, involving the sale of valuable public property to the – then – wife of Mr. Thaksin, and that, in addition, he has violated his bail conditions by not returning to the country, so that he is considered a fugitive criminal by Interpol.

But the spokesperson of the Cambodian Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia rejects the suggestions by the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs as a violation of sovereignty rights of Cambodia. “He should learn to respect a nation as a sovereign state. And recently we heard that Thaksin was appointed to another state” [Sri Lanka], as the Cambodia Daily reported about the statements by the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers.

It is reported that the Sri Lankan government firmly denied this.

But does it mean that a fugitive criminal – under an Interpol search warrant – can be considered to be welcome under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Cambodia?

We had this headline:

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Congratulated [19] Khmer Students for Winning Prizes from the Isles International University in Europe

Link:

In the Mirror, in a note to a Kampuchea Thmey headline, we had expressed some doubts about the event, about which the Cambodia Daily of 9 December 2009 had said that 19 “senior officials, lawmakers and businessmen were awarded doctoral degrees yesterday morning by the Isles International University, an organization that appears to be an international diploma mill with strong links to the discredited Irish International University… which was exposed as having no links to Ireland’s educational system in 2006, after having awarded honorary degrees to a number of politicians, including to the premier himself….”

Now, the Isles International University claimed to have been “‘approved by the Minister of Education in the Brithsh Isles of Grea Brivtain’ [spelling errors in the original] in an apparent reference to Great Britain. However, IIU’s name does not appear on a list of accredited, degree-awarding universities provided yesterday by the British Embassy in Phnom Penh.”

Advertisements, for example in the Cambodia Daily on 22.12.2009, with the names of the new Doctors and their pictures in academic gear, were placed by the Cambodian business conglomerate SKL Group Holding.

The group picture was prefaced by the text:

  • “Congratulations to all Graduates of Doctoral and Post-Doctoral Degree from Isles International University of European Union last 8th December 2009. The ceremony was held at the Hun Sen Cultural Center and being presided by Samdech HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • “To all Graduates who received the Grand Commander Order of the Noble World Order and Commander Order and Cavalier Order of the Noble World Order from King Albert II of Belgium.”

On 30.12.2009, the Cambodia Daily reported in a lengthy, detailed article under the headline Belgian Foreign Ministry Stumped by King Albert II Honors: “The Belgian government and royal palace have said they have no knowledge of the provenance of honors named after Belgian’s reigning monarch, King Albert II, that were recently awarded in Cambodia.”

One might expect that the story comes to an end here: an unfortunate fraud. But the revelations from the Belgian authorities did not result in embarrassment in Cambodia. The Cambodia Daily reports:

The office of one recipient said: “Generally, whenever they give him a medal, he must be happy. The university must have a network in Belgium.”

CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, who was awarded the Grand Commander Order of the Noble World Order of King Albert II, is quoted to have said: “I do not have any information about this award, but the Belgian government gave it to me…”

Actually, it did not.

The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers is quoted to say that “Isles plans to open its Cambodian branch after carrying out a six-month feasibility study that will begin in January… Sooner or later, Cambodia will have an IIU campus… We must study the market first.” He added that “the Isles’ Cambodian campus will be the organization’s first anywhere in the world…”

It has no accreditation in any country to give supposedly high academic degrees in any country, it has fraudulently given doctoral degrees and Royal Orders which are of no academic or royal dignity – but it is obviously still welcome to apply for accreditation in Cambodia; only “We must study the market first.” Is this the main criterion for the future of the country?

Where are we heading?

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