National Holidays: Labor Day – Sunday – Royal Ploughing Ceremony – Saturday/Sunday/Monday, 1.-3.5.2010

Posted on 3 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 662 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

While the time runs and runs evenly, the different calendars – related to the year of the sun, or related to the phases of the moon, or related to cultural history and social-political events – have their own ways. And sometimes they lead to interesting crossings.

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, roughly at the beginning of the rainy season, marks the start of the planting time. And royal astrologers will observe the preferences of the drought animals during the ceremony, which food they prefer – offered to them on seven trays, with beans, corn, grass, rice, sesame seeds, water, and wine – to predict the coming season’s harvest.

We do not keep a record for The Mirror to compare the predictions with the actual results of the harvest several months later. But we just assume that there is some margin of error in the predictions, according to the different animals involved.

During the week, the Prime Minister criticized the big Institutions of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asia Development Bank, for making different predictions for the performance of the Cambodian economy by the end of the year. While the different economic benchmarks monitor and evaluate probably hundreds of data – every institution working independently – is it not surprising that their predictions, depending on so many factors not under their control – are still fairly similar?

The international financial turmoil has brought also a lot of unforeseeable changes for the Cambodian workers in the export and tourism industries, who create a major share of international income for Cambodia. Their work in the textile and shoe factories, and their work to serve foreign tourists visiting the country, is commemorated during Labor Day.

While some international tourist advisories advertise the Royal Ploughing Ceremony as an event worthwhile to visit and observe, some embassies advise tourists to avoiding meetings and events of the organized workers unions, as these may be related to conflicts in society.

One important, positive statement had been reported during the week. The Prime Minister was reported to have said, “Trade Unions Are Not My Enemy, and to Demonstrate Is Their Right.” Though Article 36 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia clearly states that “Khmer citizens of either sex shall have the right to form and to be member of trade unions,” also the notion can be found often assuming that there is a fundamental conflict between the government and the labor unions. Industry and labor have, by their very nature, different interests. But the experience of economically strong democratic countries with a market economy system – like France or Germany of Japan – shows that their strength grew from a political system which allowed for both strong unions and strong associations of industrialists.

In spite of this statement by the Prime Minister, tensions between the authorities and organized labor were building up before the Labor Day, because of the unresolved murder of the former leader of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Chea Vichea, who was killed in January 2004. Two people were apprehended at that time; when they were presented to court with the claim that they had confessed to have committed the murder, they revoked, but though there were no witnesses testifying against them, and no evidence beyond their confessions in prison presented, they were sentenced to 20 years in prison. Because of these publicly discussed irregularities, also the former King Sihanouk expressed his doubt that the real murderers were in prison. In 2007, the Appeals Court upheld their conviction, in spite of several witnesses assuring that one of the accused was not in Phnom Penh on the day of the killing, but 60 km away. After nearly five years in prison, the Supreme Court cited unclear evidence and called for a new investigation in December 2008; since that time, the two accused are provisionally out of prison. By now, there is no public information about what happened since.

When Chea Vichea was killed, Bradley Cox, who had made a documentary “Cambodia: Anatomy of an Election,” happened to be not far away, and he arrived some minutes after the killing. He was able to document the murder scene, and later follow the story further – the funeral, and the subsequent police and court actions.

Now the brother of Chea Vichea, Chea Mony, is the president of the Free Trade Union, and they had the plan to publicly show this documentary, “Who Killed Chea Vichea” [a trailer is available here]. The Khmer media had reported during the week various reasons why the authorities will not allow this documentary to be shown – the film would have to be first presented to the Ministry of Culture with a request to get it approved, or: this documentary has been imported illegally – while the Union intended to show it anyway near the place where Chea Vichea has been gunned down, while he was reading a newspaper.

This is a report from 1 May 2010 on the Internet:

1 May 2010 –
Cambodia screening is stopped before it starts

Cambodian workers who hoped to see Who Killed Chea Vichea? on Saturday didn’t get so much as a bite of popcorn before police intervened and tore down the screen.

Here’s what we’ve got so far, from witnesses on the scene:

The workers’ march arrived at the screening site, in front of the newsstand where Vichea was killed, around 5:00 p.m.

They were met by a force of some 100 police, many in riot gear, as well as local officials and a large group of other men not in uniform, presumably plainclothes security forces.

The organizers went ahead and erected the screen, which was made out of sheets. The police immediately told the main organizer, Rong Chhun of the Union Confederation, to take it down as he did not have a permit. When he refused, they pushed in and pulled it down.

Mr. Chhun returned with a second screen, accompanied by opposition members of parliament, but that screen too was seized.

The workers resisted only briefly. “We did not want to have a big scene as we were outnumbered,” said one participant. “They were there to break down anything and for sure it would have been real force had we resisted and shown the movie.”

So far there are no reports of any arrests or injuries.

So the film was not shown publicly – in Cambodia. But the events of 1 May 2010 will probably contribute to get much more attention for it internationally, where it is scheduled to be shown at the following film festivals:

filmfestivals

filmfestivals

The demonstrations on 1 May 2010 of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia were not focused on the past. The ILO report in The Mirror from last Friday, 30.4.2010, “More Than 1,500 Workers Die Every Year in Cambodia because of Occupational Accidents” shows more problems ahead, in addition to the demands to raise the minimal wages – while facing the consequences of the international economic crisis, including an increasing competition for garment exports from other big exporters in the region – from China and from Vietnam.

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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Cambodia Has to Construct 700 More School Buildings while 5% of the Children Reaching Schooling Age Are Not in Schools – Tuesday, 27.4.2010

Posted on 28 April 2010. Filed under: Week 662 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

“Phnom Penh: While the number of primary schools increases to almost 6,500 countrywide, this still cannot respond to the rising number of students every year, 5% of the children who cannot go to school are excluded.

“Does Cambodia have strategies to deal with this shortage? The Minister of Education, Youth, and Sports, Mr. Im Sethy, said, releasing the publication of the report about Education for All on Monday morning, 26 April 2010, ‘The 6,500 primary schools are not enough. We have to construct 700 more school buildings to provide proper education and to increase the number of students registered in schools.’

“According to a report of the Department of Planning of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports in 2008 and 2009, there were 6,476 schools and 2,311,107 students in total in Cambodia.

“Mr. Im Sethy added that ‘Our rate of school registration covers only 95% of the respective age group. That means 5% of the children cannot go to school, as they live in remote areas, but we are planning to gather them to register to attend school.’

“He continued to say, ‘We plan to collect also those children, so that they can go to school.’ He added, ‘The Ministry of Education alone cannot succeed. It needs the involvement from other related institutions and development partners.’

“Nobody can achieve results by just talking, so Mr. Im Sethy asked the World Bank, that has provided already more than US$54 million, to extend its aid for the construction of educational infrastructure, because during the last two years, aid has not been used on time, as some areas in Cambodia had been affected by floods during the rainy season, making it impossible to construct schools.

“Mr. Im Sethy went on to speak about the strategic goals of Education for All. Cambodia created a National Committee for Education for All with a National Plan 2003-2015, considering the meeting in Dakar in Senegal in 2000, together with the involvement of related institutions; the achievements appearing today result from clear policies and strategic plans to achieve Education for All.

“He added, ‘The Education for All plan approved in Dakar focuses only on primary education, but Cambodia has bigger ambitions than this, that is to achieve secondary education so that all Cambodian youth can end in Grade 9 following Article 68 of the Constitution.”

Note:

Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – Article 68:

The State shall provide free primary and secondary education to all citizens in public schools. Citizens shall receive education for at least 9 years.

“He continued to say that following the first stage tree-prone and rectangular policy and the Second Stage Rectangular Strategy of the government, at present, there are 3.5 million Cambodian people learning, or one among four is in some learning processes.

“The Representative of UNESCO in Cambodia, Mr. Jinnai Teruo, said that Cambodia has made a lot of achievements in recent years in the equity of school registration, the quality and effectiveness of education, and the success in strengthening educational infrastructure, especially the registration in primary schools that increased from 93% in 2008 to 94% in 2009.

“He added that nevertheless there is still no equity in the registration between children in urban and in rural areas. This issue calls for increased attention towards those children, so that they too can go to school; infrastructure should be built for those without the opportunity to receive education who are at present not in schools, so that Cambodia can become successful in the Education for All plan.

“A Representative of the Global Campaign for Education, Ms. Leng Theavy, said, ‘This year, like in previous years, we have organized events to publicize the global campaign for Education for All in Cambodia in order to receive the announcement of results, and to determine follow-up goals of the global campaign for education following also other signatory countries of the Dakar declaration of 2000.’

“She added that the agreement aims at promoting the joint commitment of the government, of development partners, and of non-government organizations of each country, to ensure that the goals of the Education for All plan will be accomplished.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5182, 27.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2233, 27.4.2010

  • A Fierce Tropical Storm Destroyed 113 Houses and Killed a Young Girl [Banteay Meanchey]
  • An American Man Committed Suicide by Jumping from the Third Floor of a House [the reasons behind are not known – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6940, 27.4.2010

  • The US Embassy Celebrated the 40th Earth Day of Environmental Conservation [Phnom Penh]
  • Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the Thai government] Change Their Shirts while the Deadline for Them to Disperse Is Approaching

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3864, 27.4.2010

  • Mixed Authorities [border police and others] at the Poipet Border Crossing Continue to Extort Money from Cart Pullers Just as They Like

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #156, 27.4.2010

  • Draft Law on Compliant Procedures Involving Individuals Was Approved [this law offers courts the power to temporarily confiscate assets during divorce case proceedings to make sure that the property of each party is not sold before a verdict, and it provides to the courts the authority to decide on imprisonment to ensure child-support payments for children whose parents get divorced]
  • Cambodia Still Cannot Export Crocodile Leather because Crocodile Raising Has Not Met the Standards That Lead to Good Quality Leather [according to the head of the Fishery Administration Department, Mr. Nao Thuok]
  • China Is Provided with New Power as It Became the Third Major Member of the World Bank [after the United States of America and Japan]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5182, 27.4.2010

  • Cambodia Has to Construct 700 More School Buildings while 5% of the Children Reaching Schooling Age Are Not in Schools
  • Head of the Confederation Union [Mr. Rong Chhun] Plans to Play the Documentary Film “Who Killed Chea Vichea” on 1 May 2010 [but he waits for permission from the government; Mr. Chea Vichea was the head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers who was murdered in 2004; so far, the perpetrators have not been arrested]
  • The [Ratanakiri] Provincial Authorities Collected More Than 700 Cubic Meters of Wood Scattered Disorderly in the Forest

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

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Wednesday, 10.9.2008: The King Summons the 123 Parliamentarians for a Session on 24 September

Posted on 10 September 2008. Filed under: Week 577 | Tags: , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 577

“Phnom Penh: The King, Preah Boromaneath Norodom Sihamoni, summoned the 123 parliamentarians for the first session of the fourth term National Assembly on 24 September 2008.

“Mr. Yem Bonharith, the secretary general of the Human Rights Party, said in the evening of 9 September 2008 that the Human Rights Party had received three letters from the King, summoning the members of the National Assembly to attend the session on the coming 24 September 2008. He added that regarding the first session of the fourth term National Assembly, the Human Rights Party follows the order of the King. However, he said that the Human Rights Party is waiting for the King’s response regarding a letter of the party dated 4 September 2008 about a separate swearing-in ceremony and about irregularities of the elections. The Human Rights Party still maintains the position not to accept the irregularities during the elections. The party president, Mr. Kem Sokha, is in Europe to present evidence related to the irregularities during the elections.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap, a member of the Cambodian People’s Party, said that based on Article 76 of the Constitution, the King will summon the 123 members of the National Assembly for the first session of the fourth term National Assembly. If parliamentarians of the Sam Rainsy Party and of the Human Rights Party boycott to attend the first session of the fourth term National Assembly, it is their own responsibility. He continued that having received invitation letters from the King, the 90 members of the Cambodian People’s Party will attend this session.

“According to the Constitution, after the King has opened the session, the fourth term National Assembly will proceed under the presidency of the eldest parliamentarian, Mr. Chea Soth, 85, assisted by the five youngest members as secretaries of the National Assembly.

“Ms. Mu Sochua, the Sam Rainsy Party secretary general, affirmed the position of the Sam Rainsy Party in the evening of 9 September 2008, demanding a separate swearing-in ceremony, separate from the Cambodian People’s Party and from other parities that had recognized the election results. She went on to say that if the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians could not receive a separate swearing-in, they will not attend the first session of the National Assembly on 24 September 2008. She added that a separate swearing-in ceremony does not need to be a big event. A small one is also acceptable, and it can be celebrated anywhere. If the King would not be able to attend it, he can also assign a representative.

“The Sam Rainsy Party had written to the King requesting a swearing-in on 25 September 2008 in order to have it on a different day from the Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarians. Ms. Mu Sochua continued to say that the Sam Rainsy Party is waiting for the King’s response. Concerning the invitation letters by the King, she said, ‘We will write a letter in response to the King to affirm that our position remains unchanged.’

“The Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians do not want to swear together with the Cambodian People’s Party parliamentarians, accusing the Cambodian Peoples Party of stealing ballots during the elections on 27 July 2008. Nevertheless, every complaint by the Sam Rainsy Party and by the Human Rights Party had been rejected by the Constitutional Council, and the time for protests has been closed.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4690, 10.9.2008

Note:

The area where our colleague working on the headlines lives is suffereing from severe flooding – we are in a period of the Rainy Season with heavy rains in the Phom Penh region, while, for example, some regions in Kompong Speu and Takeo suffer from a lack of water, so that in some areas the rice seeds could not yet be planted.

We will supply today’s headlines a soon as our colleague is again free to work on them.

Norbert Klein
Editor

Note:

Headlines posted only at 23:15 Phnom Penh time on Thursday.

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #85, 10-16.9.2008

  • [Ambassador Julio A. Jeldres] The Official Biographer of Samdech Euv [the former King] Criticized the Thai Newspaper The Nation [regarding an opinion piece written by Bangkokian, saying that Cambodia has raised the Preah Vihear issue to be solved by the Non-Aligned Movement]


Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1742, 10.9.2008

  • A Delegation of the Mine Action Authority of Iraq Comes to Study the Mine Clearance Situation in Cambodia
  • Mr. Bush Orders to Recall 8,000 Soldiers from Iraq [leaving 138,000 soldiers, reassigning the replacement to go to Afghanistan instead]


Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #240, 10.9.2008

  • It Is Not Known When the Hun Sen Government Will Have Finished Solving the Dispute with Siam [Thailand]
  • James Bond [this person does not exist – it is the name of a role in a series of movies, played by different actors over the years – it is not clear who is actually involved in these Cambodia related plans] Plans to Develop 4,000 Hectares of Land in Siem Reap with Kol Sokhom [a businesswomen and head of LLK Company – projecting tall buildings as condos, resorts, hotels, casinos, and centers, all according to international standards]


Khmer Sthapana, Vol.1, #95, 10.9.2008


Meatophum, Vol.52, #704, 10-13.9.2008

  • The Government Has Prepared US$2.5 Million for Constructing Infrastructures in a Period of Three Years [2009-2011]
  • The Thai King Signed a Royal Decree to Appoint a New Minister of Foreign Affairs [Saroj Chavanavirat]


Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3561, 10.9.2008

  • Yuon [Vietnam] Allows Khmer Kampuchea Krom to Celebrate Phchum Ben Day to Hide Human Rights Abuses


Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4690, 10.9.2008

  • The King Summons the 123 Parliamentarians for a Session on 24 September
  • Two Criminals [after escaping from prison] Kidnapped a [5-year-old] Girl to Demand US$20,000 in Ponhea Kraek [Kompong Cham] but they Killed The Girl
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Samak Was Forced to Resign because of [having a commercial contracted relatinship for a] Cooking Program on Television [9 September 2008]

Click here to have a look at the last editorial – how to evaluate them: which realities do they really represent?

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