The Ministry of Defense Rejected a Parliamentarian’s Request to Remove Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Number Plates – Wednesday, 17.2.2010

Posted on 18 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“An opposition party parliamentarian asked the Prime Minister to take action to check and have Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) number plates removed from private vehicles, but the Ministry of Defense said that there will be no more removals of such number plates.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Kompong Thom, Mr. Men Sothavarin, told Rasmei Kampuchea by phone on 16 February 2010, ‘I asked the Prime Minister to take action to have RCAF number plates removed from private vehicles, because there have been a lot of irregularities occurring related to RCAF or police number plates. After the Prime Minister had ordered to take measures in this case, such cases almost disappeared. But recently, there appear again several cars using RCAF number plates, and such number plates are used even on some foreigners’ cars and on private trucks for [private] businesses; this can be considered as an illegitimate use of state cars for business, and driving for personal pleasure.

“Mr. Men Sothavarin added that before, he had asked the Ministry of Defense, but the Ministry did not respond. Therefore, this time he decided to ask the Prime Minister, because previously, after the Prime Minister had given orders, such number plates were removed.

“Mr. Men Sothavrin’s letter to the Prime Minister, sent through the president of the National Assembly, says that after the land traffic law had became valid, together with a public statement by the Prime Minister regarding private vehicles using state, police, and RCAF number plates, related ministries had effectively taken action to stop these trespasses, but recently, many private vehicles are again found using such number plates, which seriously violates the law.

“His letter mentions also some RCAF number plates, such as 2.8168, 2.0098, and 2.4191. The letter says that most of those plates are used by officials from units of armed personnel. Some others are used by civil servants and civilians, and some even by foreigners. The spokesperson, an Undersecretary of State of the Ministry of Defense, Mr. Chhum Socheat, spoke to Rasmei Kampuchea, saying that following the Prime Minister’s order, the Ministry of Defense had already taken action and there is no illegal use of number plates, as claimed by the opposition party parliamentarian. He added that the rest of cars with such number plates still being used are mostly contracted as state cars, or as cars volunteered to be used as state property, that have proper legal documents at the Department of Supplies [it is interesting that the Website of this one department of the Ministry of National Defense is registered under the general Internet domain .info and not under the Cambodian country domain .kh]

“Mr. Chhum Socheat went on to say that after there was an order from the Prime Minister, all persons applying for RCAF number plates to be used on private vehicles had to make contracts, putting those vehicles up as state vehicles, so that they can receive military number plates. He emphasized that he also sees many vehicles with RCAF number plates, but if one questions them, they all have proper legal documents.

“This spokesperson added that formerly, the Ministry of Defense had taken actions to remove many number plates and practically, there were really many vehicles affected. But at present, there is only a small number of vehicles using such number plates, and they all have proper legal documents – they do not use fake number plates or use them illegally as it was before. He claimed that all those cars have been taxed and are recognized as belonging to the state.

“Though there is such a claim from the Ministry of Defense, many citizens said that many cars of powerful officials are parked illegally and they do not obey the traffic law.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2179, 17.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2179, 17.2.2010

  • The Ministry of Defense Rejected a Parliamentarians’ Request to Remove Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Number Plates [from private vehicles]
  • [San Rainsy Party] Parliamentarians Asked the Government to Explain the Position for the Setting of Four Temporary Border Markers [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border – Mr. Sam Rainsy had published data, based on satellite based GPS verification, showing that the border markers are set inside of Cambodian territory]
  • Siamese [Thai] Army Commanders Told Khmer Army Commanders that Thai Politicians Are Attracting Troop Loyalties [to support them; according to the Cambodian General Srey Dek in the Preah Vihear region]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6886, 17.2.2010

  • In 2009, the Municipality Closed 1,152 Gambling Sites and Intercepted 243 Felonies
  • During a Travel to Visit Relatives during the Chinese New Year, a Boat Sank by Rough Waters in the Sea so that Seven People Died and Five Were Rescued [Koh Kong]
  • Thirty Five People Were Prevented [by the authorities] from Climbing the Dangrek Mountains [in Thai territory] to [illegally] Cut Kronhoung Trees [as they might be shot by Thai soldiers]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #113, 17.2.2010

  • 106 Garment and Shoes Factories Closed [making more than 45,000 workers unemployed in 2009 due to the global economic crisis; according to the Ministry of Labor]
  • More Than 700 Khmer Workers and Beggars Were Brought by Thailand to the Border [and sent back to Cambodia on Monday, 15.3.2010. A Thai government spokesperson said this was done implementing Thai immigration law; it is reported that in 2010, already 16,253 Cambodians had been repatriated, after returning 91,268 Cambodians in 2009]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5128, 17.2.2010

  • The Japanese Government Adds US$5.5 Million for the Cambodian Mine Action Center
  • [Six] Gunmen with Paramilitary Uniforms Robbed a Commune Chief and Took Away Nearly US$50,000, then Burnt Their Own Car [used for the robbery – Banteay Meanchey]
  • A Cambodian-Israeli Chamber of Commerce Is Established in Phnom Penh [according to an economic official of the Israeli Embassy, this shows the effort of the Israeli government to strengthen commercial, economic, and political ties with Cambodia]

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The Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption Declaration – Sunday, 7.2.2010

Posted on 8 February 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 650 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 650

The Mirror carried already last week a report about the extraordinary speech of the Prime Minister: “It Is Time to Stop; Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces” – where he directly named several generals present, criticizing their unacceptable, corrupt behavior. During the present week, there were still positive responses in the press, including from sources not so close to the government. Human Rights Watch, a US based organization, often very critical of the political climate in Cambodia, also supported the Prime Minister’s warning to commanders over their corrupt, illegal actions. And the Prime Minister himself continued to speak according to the same line, when he attacked nepotism, warning that nobody should nominate relatives and partisans for public office.

But we got also another response: “Words are cheap, nothing will change.”

And another, also anonymous voice, calls it to be my idea – while I actually quoted Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – that the Cambodian people are the masters of their country, because they can vote, saying, “Having rights is not enough. You’ve got to have the power to exercise those rights, so that they can be useful. That can also explain why the civil society has always failed in demanding for respect for human rights.”

These are pessimistic views, assuming and expecting that rights can be enjoyed automatically, while history shows in many different cultures that rights have to be fought for, even if they are written in the law, when other powers violate them.

The Prime Minister has spoken clearly.

According to a report in the Phnom Penh Post of 4 February 2010, “Farmers set to call soldiers to Kampot court,” saying

“A group of people in Chumkiri, Kampot, filed a complaint in the provincial court against members of an army unit they say are encroaching on their land and cutting down their fruit trees, escalating a standoff that began in 2001… The court complaint comes less than one week after Prime Minister Hun Sen warned top military officials to refrain from participating in illegal land-grabbing operations.

‘It is time to stop every activity involving illegal business or the support of illegal business. I don’t care how many stars or moons you have – I will fire you, and nobody will keep corrupt commanders in their seats,’ the Prime Minister had said at the end of a conference on military reform at the Ministry of Defense last week.”

So we will see.

But did civil society always fail in demanding respect for human rights? It is not clear on which basis this is said, and which understanding or misunderstanding of the term ‘civil society’ is used when saying so. First, there is no general, clear definition of this term. But it refers to all movements, associations, or individual citizens, independent from the state, whose aim is to improve policies, standards, or social structures, through common efforts. Civil society – that are organizations formed for these purposes – civil society organizations, non-government organizations, citizens action groups – but civil society is also all individual citizens in a social unit – be it a residential region, or a common interest group (for example enjoying sports or music, and caring together to see that the proper space is set aside for these purposes). Civil society is citizens who organize themselves to care for the quality of life where they live.

Civil society is also the majority of the citizens of Phnom Penh, who, in their majority, do not care that the Boeung Kak lake in this city is being destroyed, being filled up with sand for the benefit of some business interests to construct a commercial and housing center – though the plans have not even been made transparent and publicly know, leaving all the struggle for rights to the several thousand people who are directly affected, because they lose their traditional environment and with it also their means of living.

On 31 August 2008 The Mirror had reported the following: “Later in January 2008, Areyathor reported that Samdech Heng Samrin, the President of the National Assembly – and also a Honorary President of the Cambodian People’s Party – had signed a letter for the suspension of pumping of soil to fill Boeng Kak lake, and the paper reported also that the Phnom Penh governor and vice-governor allegedly disagree with each other about filling Boeng Kak lake.” We are not aware that the press has done any follow up on these reports. But the public is aware that the lake is gradually disappearing, that many residents had tried to organize themselves to jointly represent their concerns and demands, and that some of the remaining residents around the lake are at present living on top of rising dirty water, as the promised pumping for stagnant dirty water – as a result of the filing in of sand – was installed too late and is not strong enough.

Recently I had the opportunity to be in Myanmar, and to have dinner one evening at the Kan Taw Gyi lakeside – a wide park where hundreds of people enjoy walking around or sitting together, with a music stage, very many small restaurants, and a wonderful view. Phnom Penh is destroying such a possibility for its future.

The lake before being filled

The lake before being filled

The lake being filled

The lake being filled



.

At the Kan Taw Gyi Lake in Yangon/Myanmar.

At the Kan Taw Gyi Lake in Yangon/Myanmar.



.

Does civil society – the people in general in Phnom Penh – care? Or why not?

.

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It Is Time to Stop; Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces – Friday, 29.1.2010

Posted on 30 January 2010. Filed under: Week 649 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 649

“Phnom Penh: The top Five-Star General, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, announced that from now on, military officials who are involved in illegal activities are not fit to work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, because they destroy the reputation of the armed forces, the reputation of the soldiers.

“He announced this in the evening of 28 January 2010 when he presided over a workshop at the Ministry of Defense to reflect on the reform of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces during the last five years (2005-2009) and to set the direction for the activities for the next five years (2010-2014).

“Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen went on to say that the Royal Government is reforming in all sectors, including reforms in the armed forces. The armed forces must serve as a strong basis for the authorities, to support the authorities to crack down on illegal activities, trafficking of products, illegal logging, illegal land grabbing… He said that now, in order to have the ability to support this, first, the military should not commit wrongdoings, and second, it should not support wrongdoers. ‘It is time to end that some work in the military in order to use this as a shield to run their own businesses. If you wear ranking stars and cut trees, fellow soldiers will point at your face.’

“He continued to say, ‘If you wear ranking stars and you yourself grab hundreds of hectares of land, can you prohibit others? No! Therefore, all involved in the military must distance themselves from all illegal activities. The authorities need to suppress illegalities, including with the armed forces, soldiers, police, and military police… if armed forces do illegal activities, who can suppress illegalities?’

“He emphasized that some perpetrators are not real soldiers, but some are real soldiers and do illegal logging or violate forest land. Some generals really do illicit activities. It is time to find land for veterans who cannot perform military duties any longer, and for families of soldiers who sacrificed their lives. It is the time to find land for those people, not to find land for high level military persons.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen warned, ‘Do not be commanders that are only good at wood trading, illegal logging, land grabbing, and illegal fishery. But we must support the authorities who go to arrest the perpetrators. We [the military] cannot arrest ourselves [military cannot arrest the military perpetrators], only the military police has the right to act as police in such cases to establish justice, but sometimes, forestry administration officials, custom officials, and tax officials need immediate intervention involving soldiers.’

“He added, ‘Reforms are essential for the government. Why can’t we suppress illegal logging while we can suppress drug smuggling? Why?’ Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen stressed, ‘If anyone uses the name of the Hun family to influence others, both their children and their children-in-law must be the first persons to be arrested, as it happened previously, when there were persons who run sand dredging operations and were illegally using the name of the Hun family to protect themselves. They must be dealt with seriously. Anyone who uses my influence and my wife’s influence, serious action must be taken against them. Previously, there were also many cases where my cabinet’s letterhead paper was faked. The military personnel that do illicit activities are about 1% or 2% of the whole military, others are honorable persons. All military commanders, please remember that you have no authority to order soldiers to guard your mangroves. I tell you this for the future, because previously this happened.’

“The role of the military is to fulfill obligations for the nation, not to guard your mangroves, please check this again! Please do not use soldiers and the military’s machinery to serve individual interests. If it still continues, do not say that I have not told you; how many stars showing your military rank you wear, though I wear only five stars, I will dismiss you even if you are wearing the big moon as the sign of your rank, I will dismiss you!'” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6870, 29.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 29 January 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #400, 29.1.2010

  • During an Anti-Drug Smuggling Operation, One Policeman Died and Two Perpetrators Were Injured [and arrested – at the Cambodian-Laotian border, Stung Treng]
  • The US Ambassador [Ms. Carol Rodley]: Cambodian Textile Export Challenges Strong Competition

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2163, 29.1.2010

  • [Opposition politician] Sam Rainsy Plans to Appeal to the International Community [after he was sentenced to serve a two-year prison term for removing temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers]
  • A Taiwanese Man Who Smuggled Drugs to Repay His Debt Was Convicted to Serve 26 Years in Prison and Ordered to Pay a Fine of Riel 80 Million [approx. US$20,000 – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #728, 29.1.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Agrees to Let Himself Be Arrested by the Government but only if Two Villagers now in Prison Are Released

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #592, 29.1.2010

  • [The Sam Rainsy spokesperson and parliamentarian] Mr. Yim Sovann: Cambodia Does Not Have [own] Planes to Transport Tourists while a Vietnamese Company Controls More Than Half of the Domestic Tourist Travel

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6870, 29.1.2010

  • It Is Time to Stop; Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces
  • 700 Cubic Meter of Logs Are to Be Loaded onto Trucks to Vietnam [Ratanakiri]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #100, 29.1.2010

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Ordered the Military to Distance Themselves from All Illegal Activities or They Will Be Dismissed
  • The Opposition Party President [Mr. Sam Rainsy]: The Vietnamese Prime Minister Is behind the Case Related to the Temporary Border Markers Removal
  • Many Chinese Companies Are Involved in the Boeng Kak Lake Filling [according to the NGO Forum]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5112, 29.1.2010

  • Three Military Generals [Mr. Sum Samnang, Mr. Chao Phirun, and Mr. Chhoeun Chanthan] Were [publicly named and] Blamed and Warned by the Prime Minister [over corruption, the waste of weapons, and the unacceptable use of soldiers for private business]
  • Japan Granted US$356,923 for the Improvement of Water Resources, Irrigation Systems, and Health Services

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1866, 29-31.1.2010

  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia Ordered the Khmer Consulate in Siam [Thailand] to Find Defense Lawyers for Six Khmer Citizens [who were recently arrested by Thai soldiers, accusing them of illegally entering Thai territory]

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Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Vowed to Support Development and Modernization of the Defense Sector – Tuesday, 19.1.2010

Posted on 19 January 2010. Filed under: Week 648 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 648

“Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen said on 18 January 2010 that the Royal Government firmly vowed to continue any necessary support to develop and to modernize the national defense sector of Cambodia, so that it has the sufficient, full, and appropriate capacity to comply with the progress and development of the country and the world, in order to promote our Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to be able to fulfill their role and obligation effectively.

“During his speech at the inauguration of the naval base in the Chroy Chongva commune, Russey Keo, Phnom Penh, he said that the Royal Government has carried out reforms which are considered as life-and-death tasks of Cambodia, and it has strengthened the capacity of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to fulfill their duties more effectively as fully professional and expert forces, so that it can participate in various missions.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said that the implementation of these reforms aims at making the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to have real skills and full capacity to continue to actively cooperate with the international community to prevent and combat terrorisms and other turmoil in the country and abroad, by being committed to implement all necessary measures to effectively prevent and suppress all types of crimes, such as drug smuggling and drug abuse, the trafficking of women and children, robbery, rape, and other offenses that trigger fear in the society and that create instability in Cambodia.

“Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen added that the Royal Government continues to encourage the thorough implementation of various reforms that have been planned so that they become more intensive and fundamental, including the careful and accurate checking of the number of soldiers, and the promotion of their capacity and solidarity, aiming to strengthen the quality and loyalty towards the nation, and to ensure that discipline and clean ethics are respected, with professionalism, and in order to fulfill their duties to protect the territorial integrity of land, sea, and air space, to guarantee national security, national independence, and sovereignty, so as to maintain public order and to protect all achievements of the nation under whatever the circumstances may be.

“As part of caring for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, the Royal Government of Cambodia has set up various policies to strengthen a sustainable social safety net, attempting to improve the livelihood of the military personnel and to help them to live happily as civil servants with their families and in their communities. Those measures include vocational training, addressing the problems of the livelihood for discharged soldiers, retired soldiers, soldiers who are not able to continue to work, or handicapped soldiers, and the families of soldiers who offered to sacrifice their lives, now offering them social concession land so that those veterans as well as their families have land to build houses, to create other jobs, and to do land cultivation to support their families and to be able to contribute to national productivity, to promote a stable basis for their lives.

[…]

“Samdech Hun Sen said that in the meantime, the Royal Government always adheres to the policy to consolidate security, stability, and public order for the country in a sustainable way.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2154, 19.1.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #391, 19.1.2010

  • The UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur [Mr. Surya Subedi] Said that He Does Not Intend to Criticize Cambodia but He Just Wants to Contribute to Cambodia’s Development
  • The Human Rights Party Parliamentarians Asked Thailand Not to Shoot and Kill Khmer Citizens [who illegally enter Thai territory]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2154, 19.1.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Vowed to Support the Development and Modernization of the Defense Sector
  • [Director of Sambok Khmum Radio] Mam Sonando: The 26 Seats of the Sam Rainsy Party Might Melt Away if It Does Not Unite [with other democrats]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #720, 19.1.2010

  • Siam [Thailand] Sends All Kinds of Weapons, Food, and Five Regiments to Prepare for Fighting at the Border

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #583, 19.1.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Wore His Five Stars in Public for the First Time while the Border Situation Is Tense

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6861, 19.1.2010

  • [Two] Murderers Who Shot Dead an Anti-Drug Official in Kompong Cham Were Arrested [one of them admitted that it was due to rancor, because the victim had looked down on his family – Kompong Cham]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #92, 19.1.2010

  • Viettel Tests Using 3G Service before Providing Them Next Year

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5103, 19.1.2010

  • The Svay Rieng Authorities Warned They Will Take Action [according to the law] against the Sam Rainsy Party [if its officials maintain their intention to visit two villagers held over the removal of border markers]
  • 66-Year-Old Man Lured Two Girls and Raped Them; One of Them Is His 12-Year-Old Granddaughter [he was arrested – Kandal]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1858, 19.1.2010

  • The Svay Rieng Court Allows Three Representatives of the Opposition Party Delegates to Visit [two] Citizens Detained over Border Issues
  • [Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Canceled His Visit to Cambodia [reason is not given; according to his advisor]

    Note:

    See “Link:” in the Mirror of last Saturday, 16.1.2010.

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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 646

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

[…]

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

[…]

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 4 January 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note:

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

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

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

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

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

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1846, 1.2.1.2010

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

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Many More High-Ranking Officials Close to Ke Kim Yan Face Removal from their Positions, and Generals at Military Garrisons and at Divisions Are in Panic – Saturday, 31.1.2009

Posted on 2 February 2009. Filed under: Week 597 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 597

“Recently, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh confirmed that the Cambodian military is as stable as normal, after the change of the commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces – RCAF – on 22 January 2009. Tea Ban’s claim was made after General Ke Kim Yan was removed from his position of RCAF commander-in-chief by Prime Minister Hun Sen on 22 January 2009, while the Khmer-Siamese [Thai] border disputes have not yet been solved and Khmer and Siamese troops are still in a tense mutual confrontation.

“The former RCAF deputy-commander-in-chief, General Pol Saroeun, was appointed RCAF commander-in-chief instead of General Ke Kim Yan quickly and unexpectedly on 22 January 2009. The shift of the RCAF commander-in-chief triggered concerns among some generals at military garrisons and at divisions, being afraid that they too might be removed from their positions eventually. Especially those who were close to General Ke Kim Yan are worrying that they might loose their positions.

“Regarding the above concerns of military officers with the rank of general, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh affirmed that there are no such shifts to come. Also, another high-ranking official of the Ministry of Defense, who asked not to be named, said that so far, the government has no plan to change more military commanders, and a recent meeting and agenda for the next military meetings do not mention the shakeup. But, according to some unofficial sources, there will be more changes affecting many other generals in the future, particularly those who were close to General Ke Kim Yan.

“Nevertheless, some senior-officials of the Ministry of Defense said that the vice-president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Prime Minister Hun Sen, appointed many more Generals and high-ranking military officers as his advisors, besides their current positions, after stripping General Ke Kim Yan of his rank. Some observers assessed that that Prime Minister Hun Sen appointed many Generals and high-ranking military officers as his advisors in an effort to assemble a strong military power, but it wastes many national resources. Therefore, generals and high-ranking military officers at garrisons and at divisions are very concerned, after Hun Sen quickly and unexpectedly removed Ke Kim Yan from the position of RCAF commander-in-chief.

“According to a source from the Ministry of Defense, when General Ke Kim Yan was removed from his position on 22 January 2009, 507 other military officers were also removed from the bodyguard unit of the president of the Senate, who is also the president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Chea Sim, and were sent back to their barracks. Among them, two brigadiers; the number of the bodyguard unit’s forces of Chea Sim were cut down to only around 100. This receives much attention by national and international observers, because they think that it is Hun Sen’s maneuver to reduce the bodyguard force of Chea Sim below what he had planned.

“Reacting to the above case, the recently promoted RCAF commander-in-chief, General Pol Saroeun, said on Thursday, 29 January 2009, that the redeployment of bodyguards is not a revocation, as those soldiers will not be shifted from their places forever. General Pol Saroeun told reporters, ‘We just bring them back to undergo more [military] training.’ The RCAF commander-in-chief added that there are still 100 soldiers to protect Chea Sim, because he is a top leader. Separately, on Wednesday, 28 January 2009, General Pol Saroeun also tried to halt rumors among some units of the armed forces about the removal of some more senior military officers, after the very quick removal of General Ke Kim Yan.

“On Thursday, reporters could not reach Chea Sim’s bodyguard chief, General Chhoeun Chanthan, for comments. However, the RCAF commander-in-chief General Pol Saroeun said that General Chhoen Chantan is not ranked down or removed. General Hem Savy, an officer of Chea Sim’s bodyguard unit, said that the order for 507 soldiers to go back to their military bases at Battalion 70 was made on Sunday, 25 January 2009, and there will be more removals. General Hem Savy told reporters, ‘We were removed following orders of the government.’

“An officer close to General Pol Saroeun, who asked not to give his name, hinted that around 10 more military commanders close to Ke Kim Yan and to Chea Sim might be removed, if they do not turn to support the powerful vice-president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Prime Minister Hun Sen. In the meantime, Hun Sen might organize a strategy to remove also Chea Sim from the position of president of the Cambodian People’s Party, because at present, Hun Sen holds the whole military power.

“Observers of the Cambodian People’s Party’s internal affairs noticed that before Ke Kim Yan’s removal, Hun Sen held only about 60% of the power. But after the changes, Hun Sen controls 100% of the power, even though Sar Kheng is holding the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior. Obviously, the positions of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, held by Sar Kheng, are also considered to be of concern, because Hun Sen can demote him any time.

“Observers of the Cambodian People’s Party’s internal affairs went on to say that after Hun Sen has already cleared out military commanders and police chiefs close to Sar Kheng and to Chea Sim, he may organize new internal arrangements of the party, and force Chea Sim to leave the position of the president of the Cambodian People’s Party, so that he can take up that position himself. Furthermore, he might reduce the power of the current secretary-general of the Cambodian People’s Party, Say Chhum, by putting his in-law, Sok An, into this position. As for the position of Sar Kheng, Hun Sen can remove him whenever he wants, but after having removed Ke Kim Yan, if he would also remove Sar Kheng, it might affect the Cambodian People’s Party internally and cause turmoil.

“High-ranking officials of the Cambodian People’s Party said that now, the internal power of the Cambodian People’s Party is totally controlled by Hun Sen, and if Hun Sen really has the ambition to become president of the Cambodian People’s Party, it is very easy, because when Ke Kim Yan was removed as RCAF commander-in-chief and Pol Saroeun was assigned to replace him, there was no reaction from Chea Sim’s and Sar Kheng’s factions, but they just kept silent and let Hun Sen create storm and rain as he liked.

“Observers said that even though Tea Ban had said that there is no more change to come for internal military affairs, information about the removal of more military officers close to General Ke Kim Yan was eventually disclosed. These disclosures worry generals and other high-ranking military officers at different garrisons and divisions very much, because they are afraid that also their positions can be affected. That means the removal of Ke Kim Yan is causing serious internal problems in the Cambodian People’s party, especially it is strongly and uncontrollably shaking the military situation.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #34, 31-1.1-2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 31 January 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1861, 31.1.2009

  • The Authorities of the Russey Keo District Office Ordered to Remove [around 20] Floating Houses along the Tonle Sap Riverbank [to maintain social order]
  • Somali Pirates Hijacked German Ship Loaded with [liquefied petroleum] Gas and Arrested Thirteen Sailors
  • UN Officials Met with [Rohingya] People Who Are Held in Detention in Thailand [after having been sent on boats floating on he sea]

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #332, 31-2.1-2.2009

  • Human Rights Abuses in 2008 Increased [by 25% compared to 2007; according to the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO, there were 381 cases in 17 provinces and cities in 2008 – 212 cases related to land disputes – and there were 16,725 victims involved by 2,669 abusers, where 9.19% were abused by military personnel, 4.25% by military police, 17.59% by police, 16.80% by civil officials, 3.41% by court officials, 6.82% by business companies, 12.07% by civilian people, 8.92% by unidentified people, 1.05% by mobs, and 18.90% by different groups]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #334, 31.1.2009

  • Four-Star General Moeung Samphan Is Stripped of His Rank and More Than 3,000 Weapons of [RCAF Commander-in-Chief] Ke Kim Yan’s Supporters Are Taken Away
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Holds an Extraordinary Congress Today

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #194, 31.1.2009

  • The Norodom Ranariddh Party Will Be Changed into the Khmer Front Party, if there Is No Solution [for the dismissal of a high-ranking member of the party]
  • [Three] Citizens Who Had Been Detained regarding a Land Dispute Are Released [after several-days protests by around 140 families to release them – Siem Reap]
  • Cambodia Hopes that the New Envoy of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Cooperates with the Government Well

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6566, 31.1.2009

  • [Anti-government] Red-Shirt Demonstrators Gather in Front of the Cambodian Embassy [in Bangkok] to send a letter saying that the Thai government and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Kasit Piromya are not just, and are not real representatives of the people; then they moved on to the Laotian and Vietnamese embassies]
  • Fire Destroyed More Than 50 Houses of People Doing Fishing at the Tumnup Rolork Region [Sihanoukville]
  • The National Bank of Cambodia Signed an Agreement with the National Bank of Laos [to strengthen bilateral cooperation in banking]
    US$1.5 Million [granted by World Bank, controlled by the Emerging Markets Consulting Program] to Help Exporting Companies to Open Export Market Access, for a Program of the Ministry of Commerce [this program will assist financial and technical sectors in order to help to increase their exports to new markets]
  • North Korea Cancels All Agreements with South Korea

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #34, 31-1.1-2.2009

  • Many More High-Ranking Officials Close to Ke Kim Yan Face Removal from their Positions, and Generals at Military Garrisons and at Divisions Are in Panic

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4809, 31.1.2009

  • The Municipality Issues a Statement Denying Allegations [by non-government organizations, some international organizations, and opposition parties] to Have Used Force to Evict People from the Dey Krahom Area [some further information by pictures is here]
  • 2009: FAO Grants US$2.25 Million for Strengthening Agriculture
  • Community Health Insurance Program Is Another Choice for Poor People
  • Cambodia Continues to Encourage Thailand to Return Khmer Artifacts Soon [that Thai authorities caught from illegal smugglings from Cambodia]
  • More Than One Million People Demonstrated against French President Nicolas Sarkozy [regarding his economic policies to reduce the number of permanent staff of state institutions, especially in schools, which disappoints and makes French people angry – France]

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Promoting 70 More Military Officers Leads to More Serious Inflation – Friday, 16.1.2009

Posted on 16 January 2009. Filed under: Week 595 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 595

“On Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minster of Defense Tea Banh said that there are 70 military officers among a group of generals of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces who were promoted to the rank of one-star general in 2008, in a ceremony on 31 December 2008. Tea Banh, mentioning the six-month confrontation at the border region during disputes with Siam [Thailand], said that generals from all provinces were promoted according their accomplishments and successes in defending the nation.

“Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Tea Banh – suspected by some people not to be of Khmer descent – said, ‘We have laws for the appointment of officers in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, from low to high levels, and appointments are based on the special positions in the military and in any specific region where troops are deployed.’

“It should be noted that in March 2006, Minister of Defense Tea Banh said that there were 613 generals ranking from one star to four stars in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. However, on Wednesday, Tea Banh did not mention how many generals from one star to four stars exist at present. This creates a strong interest among observers of the field of national defense in Cambodia, while this field loses its importance to a considerable extent.

“According to a figure in 2006, it was estimated that each one-star general could only have 179 soldiers under his command among the 110,000 soldiers in Cambodia at that time. Figures from 2004, released on the website of a World Security Organization, allow to compare figures with the US armed forces, where there were 876 generals, and for each general there were 1,347 soldiers, both male and female. A journalist in Thailand, an expert in security affairs, said in an email on Wednesday that the newly promoted 70 generals of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces seem to be too many, but the awarding of such ranks is frequently based on political reasons.

“Nevertheless, Deputy Prime Minister and Minster of Defense Tea Banh said that the promotions giving higher ranks is completely based on qualifications, but not on political considerations. Also the Preah Vihear RCAF commander Sam Bopharath said that he is one of the military officers promoted, and he was given the rank of a brigadier, having been a captain before. This Preah Vihear military commander said, ‘I was promoted to be a one star-general, after I have worked for 30 years in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

“He went on to say that this promotion is part of the administrative reform of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, requiring all regional commanders to hold the rank of one-star general. As for Neak Vong, the chief of the General Staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces of the Fourth Region, assigned to be positioned at the Ta Moan temple region along the Cambodia-Siam [Thai] border, he said that the ranking is based on active work and long term experiences in military affairs. He added, ‘I have worked for the Ministry of Defense nearly ten years, but I am not yet appointed to be a general; I am still a major.’

“It should be noted that among the expenses in the 2009 national budget of up to US$1,8 billion, the Hun Sen government increased the expenses for the national defense, in order to improve this field to be stronger. In the meantime, observers of the national defense in Cambodia said that in order to strengthen the national defense, corruption in the Ministry of National Defense and in the Military General Headquarters must be eliminated urgently, otherwise the effort to strengthen the military will not receive good results, because corruption in the Ministry of National Defense and in the Military General Headquarters has previously even taken away hats, shoes, and clothes of military officers and of soldiers countrywide. Therefore, the elimination of corruption in the field of national defense is crucial, so that it can be compared to neighboring countries.

“Some experienced military officers said that even though at present, Cambodia has many generals, their abilities are still limited, because their promotions do not depend on real skills and work experiences, and on the struggle to serve the nation. In contrast, they receive their ranks for political reasons, which leads to a serious inflation of ranks, making their positions less valuable, and the stars on their shoulders are just worn for decoration.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3667, 16.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 16 January 2009

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #5, 16-18.1.2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #107, 16-20.1.2009

  • Israel Is Seeking Cooperation in Economy and Investment in Cambodia [according to a diplomatic visit by the first secretary of the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok, Mr. Tzahi Selzer, in Cambodia]
  • The 7NG Company Will Wait for Three More Days, Offering US$20,000 [for residents] in Exchange for Leaving [the Dey Krahom region]
  • Cambodia Plans to Create [Cambodian National] Television Representative Office in Beijing [according the Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith]
  • A Danish Woman Is Convicted to Serve 15 Years in Prison and Fined Riel 30 Million [approx. US$7,500 for drug trafficking. Actually, she bought several thousand of over-the-counter painkillers with codeine that can be easily and legally bought at street-side pharmacies throughout Phnom Penh; she was arrested in Phnom Penh when she tried to mail them abroad]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1848, 16.1.2009

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Presented the Potential of Natural Resources of Cambodia to Kuwait Investors [during his visit to Kuwait]
  • To Let Their [10-year-old] Daughter Work for Other People in Phnom Penh for Pay Is Like to Let Them Mistreat Her; When a Girl Could Not Bear It Any Longer, She Escaped from a House and Asked for Help from the Police [she could no longer bear the work and the mistreatment, and could not go to school as had been promised to her parents; she escaped and she wants to return to her parents in Battambang]
  • The Chinese Economy Reaches the Third Rank in the World [after the United States of America and Japan – the Chinese government estimates that the economic growth of 11.9% in 2007 can grow up to 13%]

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #184, 16.1.2009

  • The Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party Create an Alliance to Form a Democratic Political Movement

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6553, 16.1.2009

  • The Co-Judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Decided to Set the Date for the Hearing of Former Tuol Sleng Prison Chief ‘Duch’ in March
  • A Detestable Man Who Raped His [12-year-old] Daughter while His Wife Was at the End of Her Pregnancy Was Arrested and Brought to the [Preah Vihear] Court

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3667, 16.1.2009

  • Promoting 70 More Military Officers Leads to More Serious Inflation
  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Summons Khmer Rouge Tribunal Officials to Question Them about Corruption

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1403, 16.1.2009

  • The Ministry of Health Seeks Self-Governing for State Hospitals [in Phnom Penh, in order to make them autonomous in finance, hoping that this will lead to better health care for patients]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4796, 16.1.2009

  • India Asks Cambodia to Produce Grains That Can Be Exported to India [according to a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Sok An and the new Indian ambassador to Cambodia, Mr. Rajesh Kumar Sachdeva]
  • In 2008, Khmer Tourists Traveling Abroad Decline by 200,000 [with a total number of 760,000, if compared to 2007, because plane tickets were too expensive while the fuel price skyrocketed]
  • More Than 1,000 [Palestinian] People Died in Gaza [since the war started 19 days ago – among them, more than 300 were children and 76 were women – during the same time 13 citizens of Israel died – 4 in Israel, and 9 while invading Gaza]

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