The Senate and China Signed a Memorandum of Understanding about a Plan to Construct a Convention Hall for the Senate – Saturday, 31.7.2010

Posted on 2 August 2010. Filed under: Week 675 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

Note:

Apologies for delays over the past weekend. While I send the Saturday supplement only on Monday, I hope the Sunday and Monday sections will both follow during Monday. There is not much one can do when one is sick.
Norbet Klein

“Phnom Penh: A memorandum of understanding about a plan to construct a convention hall for the Senate was signed in the morning of 30 July 2010 at the special meeting hall of the Senate in the presence of the Secretary General of the Senate, Mr. Oum Sarith, and the director of the ‘Sixth Bureau Cambodian Company of China City Construction Holding (Group) Company’ [???], Mr. Zhang Jin Pheng.

“According to the memorandum of understanding, the Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia has planned to build a convention hall in the Senate compound in the Chamkar Mon district on an area of about 7,500 square meters. The conventional hall of the Senate, with 7 stories, will have small and big meeting rooms, a reception room, a dining room, car parks etc. The plan’s realization will cost about US$20 million, to be financed by a grant from the Chinese government, and the construction will take two years after the aid will have been provided by the Chinese government.

“Mr. Zhang Jin Pheng said, ‘In the near future, the Senate will have a new convention hall building set up with modern equipment in a nice style, and it will become part of the new architectural image of Phnom Penh and a symbol of the good ties between Cambodia and China.’

“Mr. Oum Sarith said, ‘Today, I am pleased that the Sixth Bureau Cambodian Company of China City Construction Holding Company cooperates to achieve this goal, and we will cooperate closely with the company to accomplish the task.’ He hopes, ‘The study of the company to develop the technical drawings will be finished within three months after this signature.’

“Mr. Zhang Jin Pheng said that he will try to finish the study soon so that the construction of the 7 story buildings can begin shortly.

“It should be noted that the Chinese government has provided aid to Cambodia in many sectors, especially also continually to the Senate. Recently, the Chinese government granted aid for a project to repair three office buildings of senators, a library, and the cabinet of the president of the Senate, and to improve some audio equipment in the main meeting hall of the Senate.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5264, 31.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 31 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2315, 31.7.2010

  • China Provides Scholarship to 54 Cambodian Students to Continue Their Studies [next year, China will increase the scholarship for more 200 Cambodian students]
  • US Officials Praised the Quality of the Exercise of the Multi-National Peace Keepers during the Angkor Sentinel 2010 Exercises Hosted by Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7022, 31-1.7.2010

  • The Canadian Lawyer of [the Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra [Mr. Robert Amsterdam] Attacked [Thai Prime Minister] Mr. Abhisit, Calling Him a Person Who Wants the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia [when Mr. Abhisit warned to walk out of the UNESCO meeting if it accepts the unilateral Cambodian development plan for the Preah Vihear Temple region]
  • The Siamese Plan Is Unsuccessful; the Conservation and Development of the Preah Vihear Temple Will Be Adopted Next Year [by the World Heritage Committee in Bahrain]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3946, 31-1.7.2010

  • Opposition Party Officials and Forest Protection Communities Criticized Measures of the Government [to intercept forestry crimes] as Ineffective [because there have been more and more reports about deforestation]
  • Cambodia Declared Success about Its Development Plan for the Preah Vihear Temple Region while Siam [Thailand] Said UNESCO Delayed Discussion to Next Year for the Meeting in Bahrain

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #18, 31.7.2010

  • A Gang Woman Was Sent to Court to Be Sentenced [after she caused a traffic accident and then used the name of the Phnom Penh Police chief, Mr. Touch Naruth, to warn the local police and journalists]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5264, 31.7.2010

  • The Senate and China Signed a Memorandum of Understanding about a Plan to Construct a Convention Hall for the Senate
  • The Minister [of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Chan Sarun]: 70% of the Cases of Offenses [related to agriculture, forestry, and fisheries] Sent to Courts Are Not Solved [in the first six months of 2010]
  • In a Case of Drug Production and Smuggling Worth Half a Million Dollar, Seven Accused Were Sentenced to Serve between 12 Years to Life in Prison
  • A Head Monk Was Defrocked for Secretly Having an Affairs with a Village Girl until She Has Seven Months Pregnant [Kompong Chhnang]

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Civil Society: The National Anti-Corruption Council Is Not an Independent Institution and the Nomination of Officials Is Politically Oriented – Wednesday, 16.6.2010

Posted on 17 June 2010. Filed under: Week 669 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 669

“Officials of some important civil society organizations in Cambodia do not trust that officials of the National Anti-Corruption Council, that held the first meeting at the Council of Ministers yesterday, can function properly, saying, ‘The National Anti-Corruption Council is not an independent institution, but it is politically oriented.

“The president of Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Thun Saray, said, ‘Civil society organizations do not think the institution is dependent, and as we had said before, this institution is composed of people appointed based on their political orientation.

“Also, the executive director of the Cambodia Defenders Project, Mr. Sok Sam Oeun, said that he could not say whether this newly created National Anti-Corruption Council can operate effectively to fight corruption.

“He noticed that the members of the council are persons with similar faces, adding, ‘It is just like the same car driven by the same drivers, but just it is painted with a new color to appear a bit nicer.’

“So far, both the Anti-Corruption Unit and the National Anti-Corruption Council do not seem to have earned the full support from the general public.

“Mr. Om Yentieng, becoming a member of the National Anti-Corruption Council automatically, as he has been nominated as head of the Anti-Corruption Unit last week, said that the eleven members of the National Anti-Corruption Council have now been appointed.

“A senior official of the Sam Rainsy Party thinks that Mr. Om Yentieng, nominated by the Prime Minister as the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, will not be able to work effectively.

“Answering journalists questions regarding the appointment of Mr. Om Yentieng as head of the new Anti-Corruption Unit by Mr. Hun Sen’s government, a Sam Rainsy party parliamentarian and spokesperson of the party, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that he does not believe there will be a change in the fight against corruption.

“Mr. Yim Sovann added, ‘I think that corruption will not decline when Mr. Om Yentieng is the head of the new Anti-Corruption Unit at the Council of Ministers.’

“Mr. Yim Sovann noticed that corruption has spread further, adding ‘I believe that there is no change in the fight against corruption.’

“It should be noted that, according to the anti-corruption law signed by the King of the Kingdom of Cambodia in March 2010, the National Anti-Corruption Council must have eleven members assigned by the National Assembly, the Senate, the King, the government, the National Audit Authority, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Inspection, and the Human Rights Committee of the government.

“That law states that other duties of the council are to check the operations of the Anti-Corruption Unit, the investigators, and to report to Prime Minister Hun Sen to make final decisions.

“The president of ADHOC, Mr. Thun Saray, told reporters on Monday that civil society organizations will closely observe the activities of this institution.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #682, 16.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #505, 16.6.2010

  • Cambodia for the First Time Will Have a National Arbitration Center to Solve Commercial Disputes [and to promote trust in the field of commerce – according to the Minister of Commerce, Mr. Cham Prasidh]
  • The Medical Ship USNS Mercy [of the United States of America navy] Comes to Provide Free Treatment to Khmer Citizens

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2276, 16.6.2010

  • The National Anti-Corruption Council Is Established
  • [The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation] His Excellency Hor Namhong Declared Victory in the Case with [the opposition party president] Mr. Sam Rainsy in France [who accused Mr. Hor Namhong as having been involved in killing people during Khmer Rouge regime while he was in Boeng Trabaek prison; Mr. Hor Namhong demanded only Euro 1 or approx.US$1.25 as a symbolic compensation from Mr. Sam Rainsy]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #780, 16.6.2010

  • The US Department of State Upgraded Cambodia to the Tier 2 in the Fight of Human Trafficking and Excluded Cambodia from the Tier 2 Watch List [on human trafficking]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #682, 16.6.2010

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6983, 16.6.2010

  • In a Horrific Tragedy, an Old Man and an Old Woman together with Their Son Were Murdered at Night [perpetrators are not yet identified – Kompong Speu]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #194, 16.6.2010

  • The Authorities Blocked Land Dispute Protesters [about 200 persons from different provinces and cities] to Hand Over a Petition to the Prime Minister [to ask for his intervention]
  • Samdech Euv [the former King]: My Visit [at the end of June] to Vietnam Is Private [he said so, as he retired and does not enter into politics and does not handle diplomatic affairs; earlier on, the Sam Rainsy Party had asked him to mention the irregularities over the putting of border markers with Vietnam during his visit]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5225, 16.6.2010

  • The Staff Member of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister Accepted a Petition that Police Prevented from Being Carried to Samdech Hun Sen’s Residence [the petition was brought by about 200 land dispute protesters from different provinces and cities]
  • Delegations of the Supreme Audit Institutions of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam Met to Promote Good Governance in Public Affairs [Phnom Penh]

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The Club of Cambodian Journalists and the European Union Cooperate to Encourage the Free Flow of Information in Cambodia – Tuesday, 1.6.2010

Posted on 2 June 2010. Filed under: Week 667 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

“Phnom Penh: The Club of Cambodian Journalists and the European Commission Delegation to Cambodia jointly organized a workshop about public relations with the aim to strengthen press relations with other institutions, to foster the free flow of information in Cambodia.

“There were more than 20 participants from organizations supported by the European Union and the Senate that attend this important workshop.

“The Charge d’Affairs of the European Commission Delegation to Cambodia, Mr. Rafael Dochao Morena, said during the workshop that ‘Public relations are very important in delivering information to the public and to strengthen relations between institutions and the public. The participants in this workshop will gain knowledge about basis concepts of public relations.’

“The Minister of Information, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, pointed out the importance of the workshop, saying that it is a field that the Royal Government of Cambodia supports, in order to ensure press freedom.

“This 5-day workshop, from 31 May to 4 June 2010, aims mainly at encouraging the free publication of information to serve the public interest. Participants will learn theory and actual experiences for effective press relations. Through the presentations of many speakers, experienced in both public relations and the press, participants will gain basic knowledge to help public relations officials or information officials from different organizations and institutions to fulfill their duties more effectively with the press in Cambodia.

“The president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, Mr. Pen Samitthy, said that some organizations and institutions complain about their difficulties in working with journalists. Some criticize that the press does not help publish information about their activities, while journalists complain that they lack access to information that they should cover, for their publications to the public. He said, ‘Because of such complaints, the Club of Cambodian Journalists sees that there is a gap of understanding between public relations officials of different organizations and institutions on one side, and journalists on the other.’ He added that everybody must know clearly that the priority mission of journalists is to publish information that serves the public interest, but journalists cannot be propagandists who serve the interests of specific organizations or institutions. It is the duty of public relations officials or information officers to encourage the publication of activities of their organizations or institutions. For the benefit of the press, the workshop aims at organizations and institutions to have their own information officers in order to effectively offer information to journalists. This is also the goal of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, always encouraging the appointment of spokespersons at many institutions to ensure public access to information.

“The Club of Cambodian Journalists is an independent organization, created to serve the interests of journalists and to protect them, as well as to promote press freedom and to strengthen journalism in Cambodia.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5212, 1.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #492, 1.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The Chinese Government Talks Less but Does Much
  • Two People Died and Five Were Wounded, and Many Houses Were Destroyed in Siem Reap [by a rainstorm]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2263, 1.6.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Inaugurated the Cambodian-Chinese Friendship Bridge at Prek Kdam [across the Tonle Sap river – Kandal]
  • A Family [husband, wife, and their son] Were Convicted to Serve 20 Years in Prison for Killing a Kompong Thom Fishery Official [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #670, 1.6.2010

  • [The acting president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm Said That China Provides Aid to Cambodia without Setting Any Conditions, but China Receives Concession Land to Exploit Mineral Resources from Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6970, 1.6.2010

  • Children Faced Violation in 2009: There Were 278 Cases of Human Rights Violations against Children, 209 Cases Were Rape [according to the Khmer Census League and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), announced during the International Children Day]
  • [About 300] Ou Russey Market Vendors Asked [the Prime Minister] to Restrain the Roth Sensopheap Company [as this company, the market administrator, requires them to pay many types of fees, affecting their livelihood]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3894, 1.6.2010

  • [The Sam Rainy party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann Said that the Government Should Provide Concession Land with Contracts from 40 to 50 Years Only [so far, contracts for concession land were mostly for up to 99 years], and He Does Not Want to See that Contracts Lead to the Mistreatments of Citizens and to Land Disputes

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #183, 1.6.2010

  • Cambodia Needs More Than US$6 Billion for a Five-Year National Development Plan [from 2009 to 2013; according to a decision of the National Assembly]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5212, 1.6.2010

  • The Prime Minister Wants to Hold Military Exercises to Show [257] Military Trucks Donated by China [worth Yuan 100 million [approx. US$15 million]; this aid will be delivered on 18 June 2010]
  • 155 Families Filed Lawsuits against the An Marady Rubber Plantation Company after They Received Notifications that the Company Will Evict Them from Their Village [Kompong Cham]
  • The Club of Cambodian Journalists and the European Union Cooperate to Encourage the Free Flow of Information in Cambodia

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A Too Quick Reaction from the Government – Thursday, 25.3.2010

Posted on 26 March 2010. Filed under: Week 657 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 657

“The anti-corruption law has already been adopted by the National Assembly and by the Senate of Cambodia. Therefore, after the King would have signed it, it will become valid. But what has to be remembered is that local civil society officials as well as officials of the United Nations had mentioned many shortages of the new law and criticized that the two institutions too quickly adopted the law. One problem they see is that the law requires high ranking officials of the government to declare their assets confidentially.

“UN officials in Cambodia criticized specifically the very quick adoption process of the crucial anti-corruption draft law. The government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen did not accept the recommendations suggested by UN officials, but warned to expel them from Cambodia. This results in a loss of trust in the general public whether the elimination of corruption in Cambodia can be achieved effectively.

“Officials of some non-government organizations said that UN officials just wanted the anti-corruption law of Cambodia to be more transparent, so that the Cambodian government can combat corruption successfully. Therefore, [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s government should not have expressed an angry reaction with the UN official’s criticism, but should take into account what they mentioned. In addition, the requirement for high ranking officials of the government to declare their assets confidentially seems to help hide the assets of corrupt officials rather than to uncover corruption.

“Officials of non-government organizations said that before, the Cambodian government had offered the opportunity for local civil society officials and for international organization officials to provide ideas toward the creation of the anti-corruption draft. But the anti-corruption draft, with 9 chapters and 57 articles, recently adopted by the National Assembly and by the Senate, does not include their recommendations. Moreover, both the National Assembly and the Senate used a very short time to adopt this important law, a process quite unlike the adoption of other laws which takes much time for reviewing and discussing.

“Cambodia had been ranked by Transparency International among the countries in the world where there exists very serious corruption [What is the Corruption Perceptions Index?Corruption Perceptions Index 2009 – Cambodia is on position 158 of 180 countries; this number is calculated based on 8 different suveys]. Even the US Ambassador to Cambodia had criticized that corruption leads to the loss hundreds of millions of dollars of national resources every year. That means corruption in Cambodia is a serious concern, starting from high levels to the lower, where even traffic police commit offensive acts. Thus, based on the content of the anti-corruption draft recently approved by the National Assembly and by the Senate, elimination of corruption seems impossible.

“Non-government organization officials observing corruption in Cambodia said that the 9-chapters-and-57-articles draft does not have explicit content as similar laws in Yuon [Vietnam] and in China have. Even the point about the declaration of assets of high ranking officials does not state the details clearly, and thereby does not explain how corrupt officials can be identified. The government led by Prime Hun Sen should reconsider the critical remarks by UN officials, but should not react against them too fast which does not help.

“It should be noted that the government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen had created an anti-corruption unit administered by Om Yentieng; soon it will create another anti-corruption committee. Creating two institutions that have similar roles does not explain what kind of power will be provided to which institution. With a vague anti-corruption law which does not comply with international standards, corruption might occur more seriously.

“All in all, the anti-corruption draft approved by the National Assembly, presided over by Mr. Heng Samrin, and by the Senate, headed by Mr. Chea Sim, is not praised by the general public, as the content of the law does not show its real value. Actually, the opposition party parliamentarians did not raise their hands to support its adoption. Only the parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party raised their hands to support it. Under such circumstances, the government, led by the Cambodian People’s Party, should consider the content of that law again, but should not react by warning to expel UN officials just because they pointed out deficiencies of that important law.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3841, 25.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 25 March 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1434, 25-26.3.2010

  • The Thai Parliament Began to Meet, though the Puea Thai Party Members Boycotted It

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #443, 25.3.2010

  • The Ministry of Health Launched a Campaign of A/H1N1 Vaccinations [for citizens in Phnom Penh; so far in Cambodia, there were 566 cases of infections, and six people died]
  • [About forty] War Journalists [from the 1970s] Will Have a Reunion in Cambodia Next Month [from 20 to 23 April 2010; according to the former Minister of Information of the Khmer Republic, Mr. Chhang Song]

Note:

Mr. Chhang Song had been the last Minister of Information of the Khmer Republic, which came to an end with the end of the Lon Nol government in 1975. Mr. Chhang Song went, like many others, as a refugee to the USA and became a US citizen. But in 1989, he returned to Cambodia and was among the few returnees who joined the Cambodian People’s Party [CPP] – offering his experience to act as a communicator between the political leadership of the CPP and the Western world.

During the time, when the majority of the governments of the world – and the whole “Western world” continued to consider the Khmer Rouge seat in the General Assembly of the United Nations legitimate, while not recognizing the Cambodian government in Phnom Penh during the 1980ies, he testified in the Congress of the USA, speaking against support for the fighting factions of FUNCINPEC, the Khmer Rouge, and the Khmer People’s Liberation Front against the State of Cambodia from their positions at the Cambodian-Thai border. And he helped to organize an interview for Prime Minister Hun Sen with the US National Public Radio, to provide an interpretation to the US public about the Cambodian situation from inside of Cambodia, and not from the prevalent news outlets on behalf of the border camps of the three resistance factions.

Later he became a member of the Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia – but in 2001, he – together with Mr. Phay Siphan and Mr. Pou Savath – was expelled from the CPP and also from his position as a senator. Details are in a document of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

After six years, Mr. Chhang Song was called back into public service, as an advisor of the Royal Government of Cambodia with the rank of a minister.

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2210, 25.3.2010

  • A Popular Member of the Amleang Commune Council [from the Cambodian People’s Party] and a Villager Were Detained [for burning down the on-site office of Oknha Ly Yong Phat’s sugar company, while about 500 villagers are protesting – Kompong Speu]
  • [Former Khmer Rouge leader] Khiev Samphan Has Been Transferred to [Calmette] Hospital since Ten Days [he receives medical treatment for hypertension]
  • Two Chinese and one Khmer Man Were Brought to a Court for Smuggling Drugs Worth US$10,000 [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #635, 25.3.2010

  • Two Villagers among Five Victimized by a Land Dispute Were Detained when They Had Been Summoned by a Court for Questioning [Kompong Speu]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6917, 25.3.2010

  • The Daun Penh Authorities Started a Big Operation to Crack Down on [ten] Massage Shops and Karaoke Parlors Offering Sex Services – among Them also the Yang Chou Massage Shop Was Closed [a Chinese man who administered the place and 37 sex workers were arrested – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3841, 25.3.2010

  • A Too Quick Reaction from the Government

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #138, 25.3.2010

  • Cambodia Said that 88 Thai Soldiers Died during Armed Clashes in 2008 and 2009 [and also two Khmer soldiers died; according to a Deputy Commander of the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces, General Chea Dara]
  • Cambodia Has Produced Enough Salt for the Local Demand for This Year [now 80,000 tonnes have been produced already within five months while the total demand is 90,000 tonnes]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5159, 25.3.2010

  • The Siem Reap Authorities Intercepted Two Wood Storehouses and Found Nearly 400 Cubic Meters of Wood [of Oknha Sok Kong and of Oknha Lao Meng Khin – Siem Reap]
  • A Son of Two-Star General Chea Mon [military commander of Region 4] Was Arrested over a [robbery] Case Five Years Ago [Siem Reap]

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China Provides Additional Aid and Loans of US$1.2 Billion to Develop the Cambodian Economy – Tuesday, 22.12.2009

Posted on 23 December 2009. Filed under: Week 644 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 644

“The government of the People’s Republic of China had decided to provide aid and loans of US$1.2 billion to Cambodia to foster economic and social development.

“The decision to provide aid and loans was made public in the evening of 21 December 2009, during a meeting between officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia led by Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen and the Chinese Vice President, Mr. Xi Jinping [习近平], during his three day visit to Cambodia.

“The spokesperson of the Royal Government, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, spoke to journalists during a press conference, after the signing ceremony on 14 agreements, saying, ‘During this discussion, the Chinese government made public to provide aid and loans of US$1.2 billion to Cambodia, in addition to the US$930 million in loans that China has provided since 1992.’

“In the meantime, 14 agreements were signed by officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia and by officials of the Chinese government, in the presence of the Cambodian Prime Minister and the Chinese Vice President:

  1. Exchange note on the construction of a new office building for the Senate
  2. Exchange note on the restoration and conservation of a temple in Takeo
  3. Agreement about economic and technical cooperation with a grant of Yuan 50 Million [approx. US$7.3 million]
  4. Agreement about economic and technical cooperation with a loan of Yuan 50 Million [approx. US$7.3 million]
  5. Framework agreement about a concession loan for the construction of National Road 57B
  6. Framework agreement about a concession loan for the construction of National Road 59
  7. Agreement about a concession loan for the construction of National Road 57B
  8. Agreement about a concession loan for the construction of National Road 59
  9. Agreement about a general loan for the use of favorable loans for buyers
  10. Framework agreement on the provision of communication equipment to the Ministry of Economy and Finance
  11. Agreement about favorable loans for buyers for infrastructure at the Kompong Trabaek River in Prey Veng
  12. Agreement about favorable loans for buyers at the project to construct the national road from Sen Monorum to Dac Dam in Mondolkiri
  13. Agreement about favorable loans for buyers at the project to construct power lines to distribute electricity to areas around Phnom Penh
  14. Agreement on transport and infrastructure cooperation

“Mr. Khieu Kanharith added that during that discussions the Chinese vice president raised some points, including the request to increase visits between leaders of the two countries, the promotion of the exchange of political experience, and cooperation to support more Chinese enterprises in Cambodia, and the request for cooperation in the region and internationally.

“Responding to the Chinese vice president, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said that Cambodia asked for the increase of visits at all institutional levels, like at city and at provincial levels, between both countries, and this request was agreed upon by China.

“Also, in the discussion, China promised to foster more tourism exchanges, and to continue to support Cambodia with funds, like though more loans for Cambodia. In the meantime, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen asked China to continue to create more exchange scholarships for Cambodian students to go to China.

“The Prime Minister also asked China to help to repair other temples in Cambodia, as there are many more needing preservation, and this request was welcomed by China. The head of the government stressed its position that Cambodia adheres to the One-China Policy, and the Royal Government expressed its gratitude towards China for continuing to support Cambodia, especially now China is also giving care and treating the illnesses of the former Khmer King Norodom Sihanouk.

“Also, China asked the Royal Government of Cambodia to clear unexploded ordnance in the areas where the railroad is to be constructed in Cambodia, and to provide warm cooperation for the Chinese officials in this work. Cambodia responded by agreeing and welcoming the requests of China.

“By now, China is the country that provides the most aid to Cambodia to developing the society and the economy, to reduce the poverty of Cambodian people, and Chinese aid has functioned successfully.” Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #367, 22.12.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #367, 22.12.2009

  • China Criticized America while America Criticized Cambodia over Deporting the Uighur People
  • China Provides Additional Aid and Loans of US$1.2 Billion to Develop the Cambodian Economy

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2130, 22.12.2009

  • [The Former Minister of Social Affairs of the Khmer Rouge Regime] Ieng Thirith Was Charged with Three Crimes [genocide, war crimes, and other crime, which consist of killings, torture, and harassment of religious persons]
  • The Cambodian-Russian Bilateral Trade Amounted to More Than US$30 Million within 9 Months for This Year
  • Cambodian Doctors Appeal to the People to Trust Cambodian Doctors [rather than traveling abroad to seek medical treatment that costs more money]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #701, 22.12.2009

  • The Authorities Must Identify the Wood Traders Who Hire Poor Citizens, to Enter Thai Territory [illegally] to Cut Trees and Are Victimized Continually [shot at by Thai soldiers]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #560, 22.12.2009

  • The US Department of State Condemned the Phnom Penh Government That Deported Uighur People to the Chinese Government
  • Two Thousands People Protested against Environment Officials Grabbing 5,000 Hectares of Land in Mondolkiri

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6837, 2.12.2009

  • A DK82 Shell Was Used as a School Bell, but It Exploded, Killing Three People and Injuring Three Others Seriously; It Was Fortunate that this Happened on a Sunday, when there Were no Students [Oddar Meanchey]

Krong Long Vek, Vol.7, #165, 21.12.2009

  • A Non-Government Organization [the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)], Asked the Government to Stop Providing Concession Land [saying that it affects thousands of families of villagers in Cambodia]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #72, 22.12.2009

  • China Thanked Cambodia for Deporting the Uighur People
  • A Daughter Asked [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to Help Intervene to Free Her Father, Mr. Hang Chakra [saying that he fell ill in the Prey Sar prison; the editor-in-chief of Khmer Machas Srok, Mr. Hang Chakra, was sentenced to serve 12 months in prison for disinformation over corruption of high ranking officials]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5079, 22.12.2009

  • Cambodia and China Signed 14 Exchange Notes and Agreements Covering US$1.2 Billion [no clarity about the relation of grant aid to repayable loans]; China Announced that Cambodia Is an Absolute Political Cooperation Partner of the Chinese Government
  • America Condemns Cambodia for Deporting Chinese Ethnic [Uighur] People [saying that it violates international law (the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, which Cambodia signed), warning that it might affect the ties between Cambodia and America]
  • [The Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva: [the Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Has to Come First to Serve His Time in Prison before Negotiating

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1838, 22.12.2009

  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Sok An Assigns [senior minister in charge of border affairs] Var Kimhong to Explain the Setting of Border Markers at the National Assembly on 24 December 2009

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When Is It Possible to Trust, or Not to Trust the Law? – Sunday, 20.12.2009

Posted on 21 December 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 643 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 643

Several events during the past week provide a lot of food for thought. Some cases have been extending over several weeks before they came to a surprising end, others started only recently – but in their mutual links, they leave the public with a lot of questions.

It is not the task of the media to respond to many of these question – but to collect information and to share it publicly. How the answers have to be found, for the whole society, is clear according to Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia: “The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people.” This is the starting point, so the people need to know what is going on.

The next point is (still according to the same Article 51): “The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, the Senate, the Royal Government and the Judiciary” – about which the constitution adds an important point of clarification: “The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate.”

The people elect the legislative, which appoints the executive, and the judicial power cares that new laws conform to the Constitution and are implemented properly.

The past week saw several events where the public cannot easily understand how public procedures work and laws and applied – and this is in some cases made more difficult because the press does not cover some areas in detail. The following is just a series of descriptions. How they are to be understood is not clear in all cases.

An employee handling air traffic control information at the airport shared information over the telephone about the Flight Plan of the private jet-plane of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra. This employee was convicted to seven years in prison for allegedly having engaged in an act of spying. But according to some public media reports, information about the flight plan was shared with the Thai embassy only 20 minutes after the plane had already landed. In addition, in many countries, flight plans are in principle public, not secret (except for military aircraft in combat or military training). Were flight plans not publicly available, in national and in international Flight Information Regions, there would be a lot of near or real accidents in flight. We tried to find any information in the press about the legal status of Flight Plan related information – we did not see any.

In this, and in some other of the cases, the Mirror does not claim to have all information publicly available, though we try. If there is important information publicly available but we missed it, we are always grateful to receive additional information in the form of Comments.

The legally convicted spy was freed by a Royal Pardon within less than a week – in response to requests by representatives of the opposition party of a neighboring country, and, as the Prime Minister said, also in view of the concerns and the love of the mother of the convict to her son. That the convicted spy was set free was welcomed widely, including by the Thai government.
As a general reaction, the Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian Mr. Son Chhay said that the Prime Minister had suggested a Royal Pardon to the King, though the court had claimed to have enough evidence for a legal conviction to serve seven years in prison, so the Prime Minister might also initiate the procedures to have the Khmer people set free, now in prison over land disputes, who were jailed when they just protested when the land they were living on for many years was taken away.

Surely there are many mothers caring for their sons in a similar way as the mother of the convicted Thai spy.

The former Thai prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, now often also identified as a billionaire because of the huge economic gains of his telecommunications companies during his time as prime minister, had been ousted from office by a bloodless military coup. But later, he was also convicted for corruption – related to the sale of public property to his wife, and three of his lawyers were arrested, arrested of leaving about US$60,000 to officials at the Thai high court, handling his case. During the appeal process, he asked for bail to leave the country for some business in China for some days – but he did not keep the conditions of the bail agreement and stays ever since in other countries.

When Mr. Thaksin, in legal terms a convicted fugitive, was invited to Cambodia as an adviser to the Prime Minister on economic affairs, the Thai government made an extradition request based on a Cambodian-Thai extradition agreement. The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was reported to have refused to even receive the documents from the Thai embassy, claiming the conviction by the Thai courts was politically motivated. Interpol sees this differently: Interpol is prepared to help locate Mr. Thaksin as a convicted fugitive.

On Saturday, 19 December 2009, the Cambodian authorities arrested and handed over 20 Uighur people to the Chinese authorities, that had asked for their extradition, claiming they are criminals (though two of them are said to be children). They applied for recognition as refugees with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees – UNHCR – in Phnom Penh, but the UN interviews with them had not yet been finished. They were not, in legal terms, convicted for anything in China, there had been no court hearings on them. “They were led to Cambodia by the leader of a terrorist group, but I do not want to mention the name,” Mr. Khieu Sopheak, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, is quoted. And the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, is quoted to have said that they were deported to China “because of Cambodia’s obligations as a sovereign state.” Obviously this would apply to both China and Thailand.

In addition, Cambodia has signed the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, adopted by the United Nations in 1951. The regional spokesperson of the UNHCR called the deportation, before the end of the interviews, a “grave breach of international refugee law” – to which Cambodia had actually subscribed.

The Thai government declared that a normalization of diplomatic relations with Cambodia would require that Cambodia terminates the agreement with Mr. Shinawatra as economic adviser, and not to continue to call a legal conviction for corruption as politically motivated. But the spokesperson of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said these conditions are “nonsense.” Prime Minister Hun Sen added that relations with the Thai government cannot be normalized, unless the present Thai government is replaced.

Such statements are of a dimension which has never existed before in ASEAN, with a tradition of not interfering into the internal affairs of another country, like calling for a change of government. Even in relation to the present military leadership of Myanmar, ASEAN states have only called for the institution of a democratic process in Myanmar.

The Nation of Bangkok wrote in an analysis:

“The dispute is one thing, but the most important thing is that the incident not pose a risk to Asean solidarity,” Tommy Koh, chairman of the grouping’s task force, was quoted as saying by [the Chinese] Xinhua News Agency. “I’ve asked my colleagues how they would have felt if [a neighboring country] had done to us what Hun Sen did to Thailand,” said one Asean diplomat even before the Thai-Cambodian conflict deteriorated into a spy farce and relations sank to new lows. An expert on Asean affairs said: “No other Asean leader in the grouping’s long history has ever called for the destruction of a neighboring government. This is beyond everything we have experienced.”

The present situation will probably be remembered in the history of ASEAN as a new turning point, testing the very fabric of the ASEAN community.

Finally, the meaning and the role of the law is extremely tested in another way in Cambodia itself: There are two cases, where the president of the largest opposition party, and leader of the government, are quoted to have said that they have no respect for the calling of a court:

  • The opposition party president, Mr. Sam Rainsy: I Do Not Care about the Court That Serves the Ruling Party Only [he was sued by the Svay Rieng Municipal Court for removing temporary Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers]
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that all recently summoned witnesses, who are presently holding high offices in the Royal Government – like the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Economy and Finance and he himself – do not need to cooperate with the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

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Thailand Decided to Cancel a Memorandum of Understanding, and Va Kimhong Said It Is an Action of People Who Do Not Know the Law – Wednesday, 11.11.2009

Posted on 12 November 2009. Filed under: Week 638 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 638

“Phnom Penh: A Source from the Thai News Agency (TNA) said on Tuesday that the Thai parliament decided to cancel a Cambodian-Thai memorandum of understanding, but senior officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia consider this as only a dream of people who do not know the law.

“According to a report from TNA published on Tuesday, 10 November 2009, the [Thai] parliament decided to terminate a Memorandum of Understanding between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand, signed in 2001. This decision was made after the Kingdom of Cambodia recently decided [by Prime Minister Hun Sen and a Royal decree] to appoint the former Thai prime minister, Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra, as an economic adviser of the Royal Government and of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen.

TNA said that the Thai parliament decided to officially cancel the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Thai former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Surakiart Sathirathai, and the Minister of the Council of Ministers, Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, on 14 June 2001, though there has be no improvement at all within the eight years since it became valid.

“The head of the National Border Committee, Senior Minister Va Kimhong, spoke during a press conference held in the morning of 10 November 2009 at the Council of Ministers, where he said that the Memorandum of Understanding was agreed upon between the Royal Governments of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Kingdom of Cambodia about the overlapping zones at the seabed of the two countries in 2001. He added that the aims of this 2001 Memorandum of Understanding are:

  1. To seek an agreement for a treaty about overlapping zones; and
  2. To explicitly demarcate the sea border between Cambodia and Thailand.

“The Senior Minister explained the cause how these overlapping emerged, saying that because Cambodia drew a line in 1972, while Thailand also designated its seabed in 1973, so this overlapping zones emerged. The government had sought to negotiate since 1970 and 1971 to find a solution at the region of the later overlapping zones. He went on to say, ‘In fact, we again started negotiations since 1995 with a Deputy Prime Minister as the head of the negotiations at that time, during the first term of the Royal Government, but the talks failed, and only in 1999, 2000, and 2001, there came a situation to sign that Memorandum of Understanding. Its major goal was to agree to develop those overlapping zones, as well as to clearly demarcate the sea border.’

“A Source from [the Thai well known newspaper] The Nation said that recently, yellow shirt demonstrators [supporters of the current Thai government] of the Thai People’s Alliance for Democracy had submitted 11 documents, detailing the agreement between the Kingdoms of Cambodia and of Thailand, asking their Royal Government to check, and to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding. On Tuesday, the parliament of the Kingdom of Thailand decided to send this request to cancel this Memorandum of Understanding into the parliament for discussion and approval.

“Responding to questions of journalists about the intention to cancel the Memorandum of Understanding between the Kingdoms of Cambodia and of Thailand, Senior Minister Va Kimhong said that this canceling is only a dream of a group of people who do not know the law, and if Thailand had people with knowledge about the law, it would have been impossible to decide as they did.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2095, 11.11.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #333, 11.11.2009

  • [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Arrived in Cambodia, and [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Welcomed Him with Most Friendly Greeting, as Gestures for an Eternal Friend
  • Samdech Euv [the former King] Sent [opposition party president] Sam Rainsy’s Letter to Three Samdechs [Samdech Hun Sen, Samdech Heng Samrin – the president of the National Assembly, and Samdech Chea Sim – the president of the Senate], related to the Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Markers [Mr. Sam Rainsy’s letter claimed there were irregularities when the border markers were set]
  • An Exclusive Rice Import Company from Singapore [“ALM”] Comes to Cooperate with the Golden Rice Association of Cambodia [to invest in rice cultivation in Cambodia for export to Singapore]
  • The Russian Government Is Considering to Cancel the US$1.5 Billion Debt That Cambodia Owes [according to high ranking officials of the National Assembly that have just returned from a visit to Russia which Mr. Heng Samrin led]
  • Typhoon Ketsana Caused a Loss of US$140 Million [there were 43 deaths, 67 serious injuries, and 22,800 families lost their homes – according to the National Disaster Management Committee]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2095, 11.11.2009

  • Thailand Decided to Cancel a Memorandum of Understanding, and Va Kimhong Said It Is an Action of People Who Do Not Know the Law
  • In one Week Indonesia Will Exhibit Its Products in Cambodia [at the Mondial Center in Phnom Penh]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #672, 11.11.2009

  • Nine Types of Special Food Was Prepared to Welcome Thaksin Shinawatra, [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Eternal Friend, when He Arrived in Cambodia

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #525, 11.11.2009

  • Only Now the Government Discovers that Many Appointments Did Not Create Any Tasks to Do, and Waste National Resources

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6802, 11.11.2009

  • The Thai Parliament Meeting Had Disputes and Disagreements during the Discussion about the Intention to Cancel the Memorandum of Understanding about [maritime] Borders
  • Cambodia Welcomes Thaksin Shinawatra, while the Thai Deputy Prime Minister Announced that There Is No Plan to Close the Cambodian-Thai Border Crossings
  • Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi [a Burmese elected democracy leader] Might Be Released for the 2010 Elections [according to the general director of the Ministry of Interior of Burma, Mr. Min Lwin]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #43, 11.11.2009

  • Cambodian-Thai Relations Became Tenser when Thaksin Shinawatra Arrived in Cambodia; Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra Said, “I Do Not Come Here to Help Cambodia against Thailand”
  • The Authorities Prevented [24] Students [from different universities in Phnom Penh and in Svay Rieng] to Visit the Border in Svay Rieng [at the point where Mr. Sam Rainsy was accused of removing border markers; they claimed they had received high-level officials’ order]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5044, 11.11.2009

  • Thaksin Shinawatra [and former Thai prime minister Somchai Wongsawat] Landed in Cambodia in His Own Plane, and He Will Stay in Cambodia Two to Three Days;
  • Reactions Were Expressed against the Presence of Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia [the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association and the Human Rights Party claimed that the presence of Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra in Cambodia does not help the government with anything, but it will step up further tension between the Cambodian and Thai governments; however, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed it will help Cambodia’s economy]
  • POSCO E&C [a leading construction company from South Korea] Inaugurated an Occupational Safety Section for the Construction of High Rise Buildings along the River [it plans to construct one 45-storey building and two 42-storey buildings behind the Russian Embassy along the Basak River, worth about US$300 million – Phnom Penh]

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Opposition Party Parliamentarians and Civil Society Officials Stated that the Government Does Not Implement the Constitution – Friday, 30.10.2009

Posted on 31 October 2009. Filed under: Week 636 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 636

“On the occasion of the 5th Coronation Day of Preah Karuna Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, high ranking officials from the opposition parties, who are parliamentarians, and national and international observers, pointed to the Cambodian government’s obligation and need to implement the supreme law of the country by creating and reforming at least two institutions of Cambodia.

“A parliamentarian from the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Son Chhay, agrees with the idea of an international observer, Mr. Lao Mong Hay, and of a civil society official of Cambodia as well of a parliamentarian [from the Human Rights Party], Mr. Kem Sokha over the duty that the King at present fulfills, especially the idea that the government must create and progress two supreme institutions led by the King.

From the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Article 23:
The King is the Supreme Commander of the Royal Khmer Armed Forces. A Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Khmer Armed Forces shall be appointed to command the Armed Forces.

Article 24:
The King shall serve as Chairman of the Supreme Council of National Defense to be established by law.

“Mr. Son Chhay, a leader of the Sam Rainsy parliamentarians, said, ‘I hope that Cambodia will in the future create a Supreme Council of National Defense which, according to the Constitution, must be under the presidency of the King with the role as Chairman of that Supreme Council of National Defense.’

“Mr. Son Chhay agreed with a statement of a senior researcher of the Asian Human Rights Commission based in Hong Kong, Mr. Lao Mong Hay, in this point.

“Dr. Lao Mong Hay sees an obligation of the government, as stipulated in the Constitution of Cambodia, to create a Supreme Council of National Defense with the King as Chairman. So far, according to a statement of Mr. Lao Mong Hay, the government formed by the Cambodian People’s Party, with Mr. Hun Sen as the Prime Minister, has not discussed the creation of a Supreme Council of National Defense under the oversight by the King.

“Everything in the defense sector is seen being organized and decided directly by Prime Minister Hun Sen. This leads to criticism that the defense system of Cambodia is not conform with the Constitution of the country, which states the need to establish a Supreme Council of National Defense led by the King.

“The founder of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) – a large human rights organization in Cambodia, Ms. Pong Chhiv Kek [also known as Dr. Kek Galabru], said that in the five years since the coronation of Preah Karuna Preah Bath Norodom Sihamoni, it is seen by the public that in general, he cares for humanitarian affairs for his citizens. She expressed her concern related to a point of the Constitution which says that the King takes the thrown, but does not take the power.

From the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Article 7:
The King of Cambodia shall reign but shall not govern.
The King shall be the Head of State for life. The King shall be inviolable.

Article 8:
The King of Cambodia shall be a symbol of unity and eternity of the nation.
The King shall be guarantor of the national independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the protector of rights and freedom for all citizens and the guarantor of international treaties.

“Ms. Pong Chhiv Kek said, ‘I regret that the Constitution states that the King reigns, but is not involved in political affairs, so that he could fulfill many other duties according to the constitution.’

“The Constitution of Cambodia stipulates that the King of Cambodia shall reign but shall not govern, though, according to another article, it makes the King responsible for the territorial integrity of Cambodia, for the protection of the rights and the freedom for all citizens, and for an independent court system, though he does not have the power to decide anything, and can only be burdened by the mistakes decided upon by the government.

“A parliamentarian and president of the Human Rights Party, Mr. Kem Sokha, noted also the point in the Constitution which states that the King must not be involved in politics, and that the King does not have power, as at present, the power is controlled by the government. According to his opinion, the King should be given the possibility to ensure the respect for human rights and the independence of the court system, as well as the right to pardon journalists and human rights activists who are jailed by government authorities. He stressed that at present, unless there is request from the government, the King does not decide to an amnesty, but Mr. Kem Sokha thinks that the government should not prevent the King from granting an amnesty.

From the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Article 27:
The King shall have the right to grant partial or complete amnesty.

“Senior politicians from the opposition parties and from civil society organization official expressed their ideas under the impression that the King seems to be restricted in fulfilling his duties which are stated as his rights, as stated in the Constitution, to help his people.

“Besides expressing good wishes to the King at the 5th Coronation Day after he succeeded his father, some scholars want to see the country’s Constitution implemented properly by the government, like by organizing the National Congress, which, as stated by the supreme law of Cambodia, is to be held annually under the chairmanship of the King. It is an event to remember the National Congress held by the current King’s father, Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, to provide an opportunity for the citizens to express their concerns, hopes, and wishes, as well as to question the prime minister about how the country is ruled, while now, the Cambodian People’s Party government, especially Prime Minister Hun Sen, said that it is not possible to hold such a congress.

From the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia

Article :
Article 147:
The National Congress shall enable the people to be directly informed on various matters of national interests and to raise issues and requests for the State authority to solve.
Khmer citizens of both sexes shall have the right to participate in the National Congress.
Article 148:
The National Congress shall meet once a year in early December at the convocation of the Prime Minister.
It shall proceed under the chairmanship of the King.
Article 149:
The National Congress adopts recommendations to the Senate and the National Assembly, and to the Executive branch for reflection.
The organization and operation of the National Congress should be determined by law.

“But according to the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Right Party, and to national and international observers, the government could do what is stated in the Constitution, if the government had a real intention to do it.” Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #520, 30.10.2009

.

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 30 October 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #323, 29.10.2009

  • About 20% of Cambodian Citizens Live under the Threat of Food Insecurity [because of the rising prices of food, the economic crisis, and natural disaster which bring more burden; according to an under-secretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries]
  • The Number of People Who Died from A/H1N1 Infection Increased to 4, and there Are 239 Infected People
  • This Year, 391 Boats and 25,501 Boat Racers Will Join for the Competitions [at the Water Festival]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2085, 29.10.2009

  • [The Thai ousted prime minister] Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra Plans to Come to Cambodia Soon to Thank Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [but a date has not yet been specified; according to the Bangkok Post]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.3, #668, 29.10.2009

  • [The Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua Continues to Seek Justice [over a defamation sentence] at the Supreme Court, before Paying a Fine [Riel 16.5 million, approx. US$4,100] to [Prime Minister] Hun Sen

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #520, 30.10.2009

  • Opposition Party Parliamentarians and Civil Society Officials Stated that the Government Does Not Implement the Constitution

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6792, 30.10.2009

  • Reaction from the Cambodian Embassy: The Nation Makes Nonsense and Makes Itself Disreputable [a response to an editorial of the Thai newspaper, The Nation, published on 25 October 2009, claiming that some words in that editorial insulted Prime Minister Hun Sen, by saying, ‘You can take a man out of the forest, but you cannot take the forest from that man…’]
  • A Man Who Threatened Mr. Soy Sopheap [a CTN television presenter and the director of Deum Ampil] via Phone Was Detained [Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #36-37, 29-30.10.2009

  • Orphanages Care for More Than 10,000 Children [at present there are 221 orphanages, 21 of them belong to the state]
  • The Government Will Provide Social Concession Land [more than 20,000 hectares] to Veterans and Families of Dead Militants
  • Among 100 Real Estate Companies, Only 38 Have Licenses [the unlicensed companies will be charged Riel 5 million, approx. US$1,250]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5033-5034, 29-30.10.2009

  • The Appeals Court Decided to Uphold the Conviction of the [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua for Defamation against the Prime Minister [though her defamation suit against the Prime Minister had not been dealt with by the court
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asked the United Nations to Assist in Overcoming the Impacts of the Typhoon Ketsana
  • A French Delegation Will Visit Cambodia at the End of This Month [to strengthen the Cambodian-French friendship]

.

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Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha Consider the New Demonstration Law as a Constraint on the Power of the People of Cambodia – Thursday, 22.10.2009

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

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 635

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note:

Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 22 October 2009

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1416, 22.10.2009

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

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #317, 22.10.2009

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

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2078, 22.10.2009

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

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

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #5027, 22.10.2009

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

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1813, 22.10.2009

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

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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Knowing – Using – or Disregarding the Law – Sunday, 18.10.2009

Posted on 20 October 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 634 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 634

Discussions about the law, or actions without much awareness or even disregard for the law, are reaching the media regularly, sometimes in increasing numbers – just like now. This reflects, of course, also a general awareness in certain sections of the public.

Whoever mentions the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia is mostly happy about it, and since the introduction of the Senate into to political structures of the country, there was hardly any suggestion that the Constitution should be changed – though there have been repeated pleas that its implementation should be improved. Though one member of the National Assembly is reported to have said recently he regrets that the death penalty is excluded by the Constitution – an opinion quite contrary to international developments during the last decade.

But that does not mean that it is always clear how certain basic statements in the Constitution are to be translated into practice. The conflicts between different mobile phone service providers, going on since a couple of weeks already, have shown this.

The Constitution simply says in Articles 56, 57, and 63:

  • “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall adopt the market economy system.
  • The preparation and process of this economic system shall be determined by the law.
  • Tax collection shall be in accordance with the law…
  • The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

But had it been “determined by law” what, for example, as we mirrored on 15 October 2009, that “Road Tax Checking for 2009 Will Begin on 16 October 2009 Countrywide.” Why only now in October, one might ask – does this boost tax income, or did it delay payments to the state by those who have enough resources to own motorized vehicles?

The charges and payment methods of several old and new mobile phone providers – all supposedly operating according to a market economy system – led not only to confrontative discussions among them, but also to a disruption of certain services: some systems were said to not have forwarded calls to some other systems – the users, the consumers, suffered from these conflicts, so that finally appeals to the government were made to find solutions.

What had happened? Some newer companies had started to offer new fee and payment systems, including free calls between users of the same system, but charging for calls to others networks. Competitive pricing seemed for those who offered it within the market economy system, as in many other countries – where it is left to the market to see which company survives with the response they get from their customers.

The Constitution, concerned with the most favorable results for the end consumer, seems to support this also:

  • “The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

Cheaper communication costs seem to fulfill this goal.

It is always a good practice so look at innovative approaches in other countries – not necessarily to follow everything, but to seriously consider solutions others found in their context:

Earlier this year, the Tata corporation of India, dealing with cars, telecommunications, and steel, is setting up with the Japanese DOCOMO company, a new cellular service in the Indian market, where there are already more than 350 million customers. So Tata DOCOMO had to find ways to compete. All very similar to Cambodia – but on a much smaller scale. Tata DOCOMO used special lower cost pricing – charging per second where others charge per minute, charging SMS by the number of of letters sent, and not per message.

But it seems that decisions have been taken in Cambodia not to allow a “free market management,” by not allowing some companies to offer their customers free services. And even a special private company will be introduced to do the work which in many other countries is one of the tasks of the regulators, not of another private company – doing public coordination – which was not formed as a not-for-profit, and not by public bidding.

Not according to existing laws, but by administrative intervention, a market problem is being solved.

During the week, another crucial problem of acting within and according to the framework of the law was raised: Who knows what the law says – how is this made know? Known to the citizens what rights they have, and know to the law enforcement agents throughout the country – the police and the courts – which rights of the citizens they have to protect.

We repeat some observations from Saturday, 19.10.2009 – more details and the source is there:

Civil Society Wants to See that the Government Publishes the Contents of Law as Broadly as It Does at the National Assembly

“Though Article 13 of the Law on the Organization and Functioning of the Council of Ministers (1994) provides that “all norms and standards with general effect must be published in the Official Gazette,” the publication of Cambodian laws is intermittent, incomplete and poorly distributed…

“On the basis of the Cambodian specific experience … there is an argument that the publication and distribution of law in electronic form is an appropriate tool to address the question of access to information in a legal system which has operated without adequate access to even the most basic legal information.

“Though there are issues to consider with regard to the development of a legal information system which will work in the Cambodian context, the country would appear to be at a juncture whereby there is sufficient political will to commence a dialogue with government, academia and civil society with a view to developing a model for the sustainable provision of legal information via the internet. Ideally, any movements in this direction would be accompanied by a regulation requiring all institutions of state to provide certain identified classes of documents for free electronic distribution…”

But there are different opinions about the sequence in which new legislation is needed in society: “The Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers Said that an Anti-Corruption Law Should Be Created before a Demonstration Law.” Why this sequence? “Because if corruption can be prevented, workers and citizens in general will not demonstrate or strike.”

Of course there are also those who just don’t seem to care, as long as the law enforcement leadership of the country does not care either, as we had mirrored:

“Koh Kong, Kompong Thom, and Prey Veng Governors Do not Care about Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Crack Down On Gambling”

.

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