Cambodian Workers Lose Up to US$40 Million Due to the Economic Crisis – Thursday, 26.11.2009

Posted on 27 November 2009. Filed under: Week 640 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 640

“Phnom Penh: Cambodian families lose between US$35 and US$40 million because of the global economic crisis, resulting in unemployment for 20% to 30% of the workers in the garment and construction sectors, and in tourism. As it is mainly the poor who are facing the impact, the United Nations released a report offering suggestions that can help reduce those impacts.

“In the statement, the UN said that what Cambodia can do to reduce the impacts of the global economic downturn becomes more an emergency topic, as the basis of fast economic growth in the past in the garment industry and in tourism is suffering from the recession of the global economy. 20% to 30% of the workers in the garment and construction sectors and in the tourism industry lost their jobs since late 2008, making them lose between US$35 and US$40 million to be sent to their homes. Impoverished people, mostly women in the garment sector, suffer from the declining economy.

“From a small village in Kompong Cham, 30% to 40% of the people had left their village to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to find jobs, but now they gradually return home. After two years in Phnom Penh, Mr. Chun Phon and Rany, his wife, lost their jobs at a construction site. They had earned about US$150 per month and could send about US$100 back home to support their children in the village. Rany said, ‘The money that we can now find is just enough only to survive.’

“Such cases are occurring all over the country, while foreign investment for construction projects is decreasing, buying orders for garment products drop, and the number of tourists is declining also. This downturn is not only a challenge for individuals, but also for the growth of Cambodia to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

“The most serious impact from the economic downturn is happening to poor people and to people living near the poverty line, especially those having debts to repay face more difficulties. Such cases happen mostly in rural areas, from where many vulnerable people migrate to the cities to seek employment. Women are among the most vulnerable people, suffering from the impact of this crisis. After they lose their jobs in garment factories or in the construction sector, because of the lack of other professional skills, most women who continue to live in the city have no choice but to work in the entertainment service industry. The report pointed out that also the children of those women suffer under the burden of the impact of the economic downturn.

“The UN had conducted a study to learn more about the impact of the global economic downturn in Cambodia, as well as to identify different measures to reduce the impact on human development already achieved, and to restart development to alleviate poverty, and to be prepared for the future. This report estimated the impact caused by this crisis at the national level as well as the impact on individual Cambodians. The report mentioned policy choices that can help to minimize the impact, including equal rights to receive incentives through lower taxes, structural reforms to improve the competitiveness of the country in the world, and reforms to develop mixed systems for national social protection, to lessen the impact of the economic downturn in the short term, and to bring sustainable and equitable growth back in the long term.

“The UN Resident Representative for Cambodia, Mr Douglas Broderick, noticed, ‘A social safety network is no longer considered as a luxury, as before, where only rich countries had the ability to maintain such networks. Such networks are also related to the success of not-so developed countries.’ However, he remarked, ‘On average, the expenses for safety networks in developing countries are from 1% to 2% of the GDP, but the resources allocated at present in Cambodia are less than 1%.’

“The global economic downturn creates also opportunities to accelerate reforms to prepare for the future, and to improve the competitiveness of Cambodia in the world. Recent events encourage such reforms. The UN vows to cooperate with the Royal Government of Cambodia to accomplish the country’s development goals. The global economic downturn poses new obstacles and political challenges, but provides also opportunities that cannot be overlooked.

“Phon and Rany are so worried about what to do in the future. Rany said, ‘We do not have rice fields, and now we only have little money… we need it for everyday expenses and for our children.'” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5057, 26.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 26 November 2009

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1420, 26-27.11.2009

  • Cambodia and Laos Signed a Border Agreement [during the visit of the Laotian Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, both sides decided to consider many temporary border markers as final border markers]

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #346, 26.11.2009

  • [Twenty one] Japanese Investors Visit Cambodia [to study the potential of the economy and of investments in Cambodia]
  • Corruption of Tens of Thousands of Dollars Disclosed at the Chamkar Doung Royal University of Agriculture [lecturers, civil servants, and staff of this university had came to the headquarter of Deum Ampil to discribe the corruption of the rector, Mr. Chan Nareth, accusing him of being involved in corruption, taking US$300,000 to US$400,000 each year]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2108, 26.11.2009

  • [Former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch’s Lawyers Suggested to Include Armed Conflict [between Cambodia and Vietnam] into the Case 002 [but not in Duch’s case, claiming that Duch was not involved in war crimes]
  • [Philippine President] Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Promised to Find Justice for the Victims of the Massacre of 52 People [related to elections]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #1820, 26.11.2009

  • [Chairperson of the Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit of the National Assembly] Cheam Yeap: The Government Is Preparing a Law to Collect House and Land Taxes
  • The Government Should Reduce Advisers, but Should Keep Contracted Teachers [according to the Sam Rainsy Party and the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association – the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports ordered to reduce the number of contracted teachers by 50%, more than 10,000 teachers, in 2009 and 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6815, 26.11.2009

  • The Court Hearing of the Tiger Head Group That Planted a Bomb in Front of the Ministry of Defense Is Delayed until 3 December 2009
  • During a Two-Days Crackdown on Hectic Wood Transports, Three Cubic Meters of Wood and an Old Car Were Seized [Kompong Chhnang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #54, 26.11.2009

  • Prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Asked to Jail [former Tuol Sleng prison chief] Duch for 40 Years for His Serious Crimes [where 15,000 people were killed]
  • The Kompong Thom Authorities Delay Using Force to Evict Disabled People from the Kraya Commune [to take the land for a Vietnamese company]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5057, 26.11.2009

  • Cambodian Workers Lose Up to US$40 Million Due to the Economic Crisis
  • Five Foreigners [three Thais and two Chinese] Are in Debt because of Losing while Gambling in a Casino – They Were Detained in a House in Poipet [three suspects were apprehended and two others escaped]
  • The President of the National Assembly, Samdech Heng Samrin, Asked Luxembourg to Expand Investments in Cambodia [the export of Cambodia to Luxembourg amounted to more than US$10 million in 2008 while the import was only about US$7 million]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1820, 26.11.2009

  • A Committee Demands the Release of [11] Villagers [arrested in a land dispute in Kraya commune in Kompong Thom; while local authorities plan to arrest 20 more villagers]

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

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


The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 593

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Problems Identified Limiting Access to Information

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

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

    Conclusion

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

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

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

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Monday, 29 December 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6537, 29.12.2008

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

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

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

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3651, 29.12.2008

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

    Rasmei Angkor, Vol.15, #1336, 29.12.2008

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


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

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

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

    And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

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