To Trust the Law Means to Trust that the Law is not only Written, but that It Is Implemented – Sunday, 29.8.2010

Posted on 30 August 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 679 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

Important Announcement

Would you please mouse-click, further up on this page here, on About The Mirror to read information about changes planned to be implemented, starting from 1 September 2010.

Thanks,

Norbert Klein
Editor of The Mirror

Social stability depends on a situation where the citizens trust that the law is implemented. Not every time when somebody thinks to be treated unjustly this is also true. But the fact that every week there are several reports of demonstrations of groups of people, in different parts of the country, who feel they are suffering injustice – mostly related to land use and land rights – should be a sign of alarm. Social stability can be enforced for some time, but that is different from social stability based on peace and justice.

In 2002, the Prime Minister had said in his opening speech to the Consultative Group Meeting between representatives of the Cambodian Government and representatives of cooperating countries and international institutions:

“We are conscious that corruption in the public machinery, be it judiciary or administrative or any other, increases transaction costs for everyone and reduces predictability in law enforcement and implementation of government’s policies… The government believes that enactment of adequate laws and regulations to prevent and punish corruption is crucial for addressing this problem.”

And in December 2005 he warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution.

Are these words of the Prime Minister out of date?

Seeing that during many of present demonstrations people carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady shows that many people still have hope in interventions by the Prime Minister to provide justice – even when they have lost confidence that the normal process of the courts will achieve this goal.

Violations of the law happen regularly and massively, as claimed in the Cambodian press, and this is also confirmed by high ranking officials of the government. Just to quote some examples from the current week reported in The Mirror:

  • Contraband Is Massively Imported while Members of the Authorities Are Collecting Colossal Amounts of Money
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Had Often Warned against It, but Frequently Heads of Some Institutions and Units Continue to Nominate Their Children’s Spouses or Other Relatives to Take Their Positions When They Retire
  • Tax Officers Who Collect Excessive Amounts of Money from Road Tax Payments Face Dismissal [so this is happening]
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Order to Intercept Forestry Crimes Is No Longer Followed [recently, there is more illegal wood transported]
  • Disabled Veterans and Retiring Civil Servants Complained about Difficulties to Get Their Salaries [as they were told to wait from day to day]

Not all press reports are verified – but if there are repeatedly reports about the same kind of violations, one would expect concerned statements from the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, explaining to the public what the authorities are doing to check what is going on to rectify what is wrong.

It is surprising that, instead, the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, when requested to look into problems in the way society is operating in spite of the regulations of the Constitution of 1993, made appeasing statements. He said that the government always rules the country following the law, adding, “If the opposition party wants further reforms beyond this, it has to wait until it wins the elections.” Many people who are convinced they suffer injustice do not want to see a complete political change, they just want to see that the laws and the Constitution of 1993 are really implemented.

When the 2010 report of Amnesty International drew the attention to the plight of thousands of Cambodian citizens suffering from forced relocations – in case of Group 78 in the Tonle Basak commune and other cases – the same spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers accused Amnesty International not to have studied the actual situation. Even accusations were made that such reports about the plight of Cambodian people asking for justice are only written to gain money for the writers. One might expect that the spokesperson would rather elaborate what the government is doing to help the people who have lost their homes, where they had had their livelihood – though poor – established for many years.

Will the Minister of Justice also be accused of “not to have studied the actual situation” for blaming the court system of not functioning according to the law, and therefore not delivering justice:

  • The Ministry of Justice Released a Letter to Warn Judges and Prosecutors Who Read Newspapers during Hearings and Assign Clerks to Assume Their Responsibility Instead

When a Delegation of the European Parliament recently visited Cambodia to study the medical sector, they observed the gap between what the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says, and the realities they met. The Mirror carried repeatedly reports about sick people who could not get proper attention in hospitals if they were not able to pay first.

The public is not so much interested in claims by the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers that everything is all right. It would rather be interesting to read more about what measure are taken or planned to bridge the gap between the requirements of the Constitution – from which we quote here – than to be referred to a possible change by electoral vote, if the people want to see the Constitution implemented.

Some related quotes from the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – always interesting and important reading:

  • Article 72: The health of the people shall be guaranteed. The State shall give full consideration to disease prevention and medical treatment. Poor citizens shall receive free medical consultation in public hospitals, infirmaries and maternities.
  • Article 74: The State shall assist the disabled and the families of combatants who sacrificed their lives for the nation.

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The Samrith Law Group Offers Free Defense Services to Poor People and Reduces Dependence on External Aid – Tuesday, 24.8.2010

Posted on 25 August 2010. Filed under: Week 679 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

Important Announcement

Would you please mouse-click, further up on this page here, on About The Mirror to read information about changes planned to be implemented, starting from 1 September 2010.

Thanks,

Norbert Klein
Editor of The Mirror

“They provide legal assistance, but they are not a non-government organizations. They accept work for profit, but they are not working just for money. The Samrith Law Group, the first institution in Cambodia providing legal services to serve public interests, is opening a new page for profit-based lawyers’ groups, saying that the reliance on funding from donors [for free legal services to the poor] can be reduced.

[This long article has been abbreviated – abbreviated sections are marked by three dots …]

“The manager of this lawyers’ group, established in 2008, Mr. Ith Meakthura, said, ‘We want to show to other lawyers in Cambodia that even though we are private lawyers, we can help poor communities.’

“As the Cambodian government cannot offer legal assistance services, this role is normally left to a handful of non-government organizations that depend on international aid agencies, such as USAID and AusAid to support their operations.

“Until early this year, two major organizations of Cambodia offering legal aid, the Cambodian Defenders Project and the Legal Aid of Cambodia [the web site http://www.lac.org.kh did not work at the time of this writing] were forced to restrict their expenditures after donors reduced their funding support…

“A senior lawyer of the Samrith Lawyers’ Group, Mr. Ly Ping, said that his group is using a service pricing system with different levels, depending on the capacity of clients to pay. That means they can also offer services with no payment charged. While the Samrith Lawyers’ Group receives also some funding support which is gladly received, they can gain income from their own work as the basis for their operations, in case no aid is provided…

“Mr. Ly Ping stressed, ‘This is our commitment. We want to help. It is an obligation. It is a general feeling of human beings. And we make enough money.’ He added that as for public interest activities, the Samrith Law Group handles also big cases which take a long time, maybe one year, to deal with one or two cases. Such work brings income through services such as consulting, research, and training for some of these private cases, and sometimes donors provide funds for some cases…

“Part of the reason leading to the creation of the Samrith Lawyers’ Group were limitations they saw in the system that relies on the support for non-government organizations. The Cambodian Defenders Project and the Legal Aid of Cambodia were established specifically to offer legal aid and related services, but for some other non-government organizations, legal aid is just one part of what they do.

“But to establish the budget of the Samrith Lawyers’ Group faces also obstacles. A major problem of the lawyers’ group are disputes, that happen between personal interests, on which they depend, and public interests, that they want to serve. Since in big land dispute cases they may face the rich and the powerful, the lawyers’ group has to ensure that they proceed carefully, to guarantee the further flow of personal cases to deal with, on which they depend.

“Mr. Ly Ping said, ‘Therefore, our strategy which cases to select is very important. We try to accept moderate cases. Such cases are not too big.’ According to the head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Mr. Ou Vireak, though the Samrith Lawyers’ Group has accomplished some initial success, one needs to see whether they can use sustainable choices to replace existing, traditional practices or not.

“Mr. Ou Vireak said, ‘It is too quick to say. I think that legal aid can help to a certain level, but the Samrith Lawyers’ Group has not yet played an important role in legal aid. The real question is always the bigger picture: can they make a change to the court systems in Cambodia?'” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #243, 24.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2335, 24.8.2010

  • [The former and now fugitive Thai prime minister] Thaksin Resigned from the Position as an Advisor of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and Thailand Will Send Its Ambassador Back to Cambodia Today
  • More Than Ten Luxury Cars Transported Ebony Wood across the Svay Leu District; Forestry Administration Officers Said They Were Not Aware of That [Siem Reap]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7042, 24.8.2010

  • More Than 200 Kilogram of Wild Animals [snakes, turtles, porcupines, and civets] Were Intercepted in Suong District [five people were held – Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3966, 24.8.2010

  • The Authorities Must Care about the Construction of Roads in Phnom Penh That Do Not Have Proper Culvert Systems to Drain Out the Rain Water That Floods the City When There Are Heavy Rains

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #38, 24.8.2010

  • A Sihanoukville Court Released a [police] Officer Who Raped an 11 Years-Old Girl [court officials could not be reached for comment on 23 August 2010]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipal Court Began to Construct a Five Stories Court Building

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #243, 24.8.2010

  • Names of Officials to Declare Their Assets Will Be Published [according to the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng]
  • Members of the Authorities [police] Suppressed Citizens Who Protested over Flooding, Resulting from the Boeng Kak Lake [sand filling] Development [they used shields and electric batons to disperse about 200 protesters who gathered in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s residence in Phnom Penh]
  • [About 300] Amleang Commune Residents Blocked a Road to Protest over Land Disputes [with the sugar company owned by Oknha and Senator Ly Yong Phat – Kompong Speu]
  • [Prince] Ranariddh: To Merge FUNCINPEC and the Nationalist Party Will Result in the Loss of Positions [according to legislation about political parties, if two parties merge, the Ministry of Interior will delete the former parties’ name from the list of registered parties]
  • The Samrith Law Group Offers Free Defense Services to Poor People and Reduces Dependence on Aid

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5284, 24.8.2010

  • Tax Officers Who Collect Excessive Amounts of Money from Road Tax Payments Face Dismissal [warned the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng]
  • There Are Only About 50 Hectares for Coffee Growing Left in Cambodia, and Coffee Growers Are Competing with Coffee from Laos and from Vietnam [before there were more than 500 hectares with coffee grown in Ratanakiri]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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Contraband Is Massively Imported while Members of the Authorities Are Collecting Colossal Amounts of Money – Monday, 23.8.2010

Posted on 24 August 2010. Filed under: Week 679 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

“Phnom Penh: State income declines, because some members of the authorities and customs officers take monetary advantage from the import of contraband and they put the money into their own pockets. After they receive bribes, they allow merchants to import these goods smoothly.

“According to regular observations at the Tumnup Dach border crossing at the Ou Bei Choan point in Ou Chrov district in Banteay Meachey, merchants do not pay money to the state, but to a group of members from various authorities or to customs officers.

“It should be noted that many gas tubes of merchants, with no taxes paid to the state, are massively imported but those merchants pay money to illegal check points along the way where soldiers, police and customs officers collect money. Each truck loaded with gas tubes has to pay them from US$30 to US$50, depending on how big or small the trucks are, so that they are not held up by these officers.

“According to trustworthy information that Kampuchea Thmey received from the Tumnup Dach border crossing at the Ou Bei Choan point, many merchants pay money to officers along the way instead of paying taxes. Some gas companies complained that they cannot sell their gas gainfully, as other merchants import a lot of gas without paying taxes and sell it at cheaper prices. Therefore, it is really difficult at present for companies working legally to sell their goods.

“Regarding to the above cases, some legally operating gas companies ask the heads of custom offices to help crack down on such activities. Particularly, the Ministry of Commerce should help to normalize the problem, otherwise state income will certainly drop.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2334, 22-23.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 23 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2334, 22-23.8.2010

  • Contraband Is Massively Imported while Members of the Authorities Are Collecting Colossal Amounts of Money
  • [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-Moon Is Already Prepared to Solve the Border Disputes between Cambodia and Thailand [according to the spokesperson of the United Nations, Mr. Farhan Haq]

Note:

The Cambodian press report reads too much into the release by the Office of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General.

The HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING, FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL, U.N. HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK, Friday, August 20, 2010, carry at the end a brief note:

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL HOPES CAMBODIA AND THAILAND WILL RESOLVE BORDER DISPUTE THROUGH DIALOGUE: In response to a question, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General hopes that Cambodia and Thailand will resolve the dispute along their border amicably through dialogue. He stands ready to help the parties.

On 20 August 2010 a publication in the region had reported that “The deputy spokesperson for UN Secretary General, Farhan Haq, replied to an email from the Cambodian press on August 18 saying that, ‘The Secretary-General is willing to mediate situation when both sides request him to do so.’”

The added explanation, “when both sides request him to do so” is almost a standard response – it is a polite, clear expression that no action will be taken if such a request comes only from one of the two sides.

But even this press report way rejected by Mr. Farhan Haq: he said that the report that Mr. Ban Ki-Moon was “willing to mediate” was inaccurate. He said that all he sent out was that Mr. Ban Ki-Moon “stands ready to help.”

What counts until now is the brief final note at the end, after several elaborate reports about other world affairs, in the official release of the HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING of 20 August 2010.

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7041, 23.8.2010

  • There Are 454 Hotels with 23,349 Rooms in Cambodian, Where Eight Are Five-Star Hotels
  • Australia Provided aid [AUD 4 Million or approx. US$ 3.60 Million] for the Construction of Justice Police Buildings [in five provinces: Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kompong Cham, Kompong Thom, Prey Veng]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3965, 23.8.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Had Often Warned against It, but Frequently Heads of Some Institutions and Units Continue to Nominate Their Children’s Spouses or Other Relatives to Take Their Positions When They Retire

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #37, 22-23.8.2010

  • The Royal Group [of Oknha Khit Meng] Plans to Invest US$2 Billion on Rung Island [the investment project of the Royal Group was approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia in 2008, and the company is seeking additional investment capital. It aims at attracting high class tourists to visit the island. The first phase of the project will have been finished within five years from now, to create an international airport, port, hotels, a golf course, and other recreation facilities for tourism – according to a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mr. Hang Chuon Narong]
  • Police Intercepted [two] Robbers Allegedly Involved in Almost 20 Robberies in Phnom Penh
  • Two Male Construction Workers Were Attacked with Acid over an Alleged Love Affair [the second acid attach in Phnom Penh in four days]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #242, 23.8.2010

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Is Ready to Negotiate with [the Cambodian Prime Minister] Mr. Hun Sen over Border Disputes [during the Asia Europe Summit in Brussels in October 2010]
  • The Prime Minister Warned He Will Remove Officials Who Irregularly Intervene in the Process of Making Appointments and to Change Them
  • A Trade Union Criticized a Sub-Decree about the Employment for Handicapped People [the head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers, Mr. Chea Mony, said that the government creates this policy just to make it look good, though many disabled people are victims of land grabbing – according to the sub-decree all state institutions and ministries have to recruit 2% of their staff from disabled people, and the private sector has to employ at the rate of 1%]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5283, 22-23.8.2010

  • The European Union Provides Nearly US$9 Million for the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance Program [to help strengthen the capacity of the National Climate Control Committee and the Climate Change Department of the Ministry of Environment, to coordinate the formation of national policies and strategic plans about climate change]
  • 183 Kilogram of Snakes [for export to Vietnam] Were Seized from Merchants and Were Released into the Vaiko River [three suspects were arrested – Svay Rieng]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
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More Than 30% of the Size of Ratanakiri Is Contracted to Foreign Companies for Mineral Exploration, Affecting the Environment and the Living Conditions of the Poor Citizens – Thursday, 19.8.2010

Posted on 20 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“The rich natural resources in Cambodia, especially gold, gems, and diamonds, attract the attention from foreign investors to invest in mining in Cambodia, and the leading companies are the OZ Company and Southern Gold company of Australia. Also, some Yuon [Vietnamese] companies that do not make their identity known, operating illegally on gold exploitation, siphoning national resources out from Cambodia.

“The Yuon press quoted the director of the Saigon Jewelry Company, the biggest gold company in Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Long [Nguyễn Thành Long], as having said that the company had shown its plan to the Yuon government to ask for permission to invest in factories in Cambodia and Laos. If this company earns the approval from the Yuon government or from the governments where it plans to invest, this company will establish gold manufacturing factories abroad not later than in late 2010.

“Yuon officials said that this company will start its production with the trademark SJC in Laos this year, investing in Laos first, before seeking to create factories and branches in Cambodia. Some other Yuon companies investing in gold trade, such as the Sacom Bank, the Agri-Bank, and the Hun Huang [? – phonetic], and have opened representative offices in Cambodia and are strengthening and expanding their business operations.

“Yuon investors see huge benefits from investments in Cambodia and in gold exploration in the northeast of Cambodia; they have sent skilled workers to come to conduct illegal exploitation with the backing from military officials or civil authorities. Gold deposits in the northeast of Cambodia are being exploited illegally by traders, not leading to national income.

“Recently, Yuon traders had sent a barge on the Sekong river to Siem Pang district in Stung Treng, loaded with gold filtering machines, in an attempt to conduct illegal gold exploitation. The local authorities blocked the barge for some time to clarify questions about legal documents, but they will likely let it go after an intervention from the provincial level.

“Also, citizens in the Veun Sai district in Ratanakiri are worrying about the impact on water quality in the Sesan river, as Chinese gold miners are drilling to explore gold ore on Pang Island. They said that the Chinese company has been operating for two months, employing more than 10 Khmer workers, using two machines for drilling, and disposing waste water into the Sesan river, from which citizens consume water for their daily living.

“Citizens complained that at present, the water in the Sesan river was dirty and can no longer be used, but the local authorities do not intervene. Pang Island in the Sesan river has an area of 200 meter in length and 100 meter in width, and there live Krueng ethnic minority tribespeople, who have settled there since long. Now they are seriously affected by the gold exploitation by the Chinese company Indochine Resources [a holding company for the Indochine Group, ‘the largest mineral concession holder in The Royal Kingdom of Cambodia’ – including Indochine Mining].

“Officials of the Ministry of Industry. Ratanakiri Department, said that the Ministry of Industry provided a license to Indochine Resources in November 2009, to explore metal ore on an area of 200 square kilometers. So far, no companies have been registered also to exploit resources. All are just conducting explorations, and any exploitation in the past was illegal.

“The exploitation means that a company can gain benefits from the ore, whereas exploration means just to drill to find ore samples for experiments, but some companies colluded with expert officials and the authorities in charge to conduct exploitation while they only have exploration rights, so they gain benefits without paying tax to the state on their profits. Such anarchy occurs at the northeast of Cambodia, and some officials and members of the authorities are happy to collect personal benefits from it.

“According to expert officials, in Ratanakiri more than 3,000 square kilometers, or 30% of the size of the province, have been contracted to 19 companies to conduct explorations. Those companies deal with quarries, or they are construction companies, sand companies, gems companies, granite companies, and metal companies etc., and 10 companies have not received exploitation license. Citizens complained that some activities of those companies violate the land they own, and there is also deforestation.

“Civil society officials often voiced concern relating to the issues that some mineral exploration companies do not obey the laws, and that the requirements from relevant ministries and the exploitation by some companies affect the environment and the living condition of citizens. Expert officials never take restrictive actions against these companies doing exploitation, though citizens from the region had reported about improper activities of those companies.

“Since private companies started anarchic mine exploration in Cambodia without any interception by expert officials, they have extracted almost everywhere underground mineral deposits, but so far, no money has been paid into the national budget. Officials of civil and international organizations frequently warned that the improper management of mineral resources might seriously damage Cambodia. Therefore, the government must create laws to carefully control mineral resources and income.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3962, 19.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 19 August 2010

Areyathor, Vol.15, #1452, 19-20.8.2010

  • Two Persons Were Killed by Lightning while They Were Transplanting Rice Seedlings [Sihanoukville]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.1, #2331, 19.8.2010

  • Four Workers Were Attacked with Acid – They Sustained Serious Burn over Their Bodies [it is suspected this attack was related to rancor or a triangle love story; the two perpetrators have not yet been found – Phnom Penh]
  • Turtles and Many Other Types of Wild Animals Were Intercepted by Wild Aid [cooperating with the military police of Siem Reap to raid two sites selling animals – pangolins, soft shell turtles, and snakes]
  • A Plane Crash in Thailand Killed Five High Ranking Officials of the Ministry of Environment

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7038, 19.8.2010

  • Mobile Custom Officials Intercepted Two Trucks Loaded with Ebony [about 40 cubic meters illegally cut; the owner of the wood is known, but officials asked not to provide names [officials asked for understanding from journalists that they cannot provide the names while the investigations go on – Prey Veng]
  • The Gold Mining Area in Ratanakiri Cracked Down On Last Month Starts Operating [illegally] Again

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3962, 19.8.2010

  • More Than 30% of the Size of Ratanakiri Is Contracted to Foreign Companies for Mineral Exploration, Affecting the Environment and the Living Conditions of the Poor Citizens
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Criticized Corruption [over mining proceedings] of the Ministry of Industry, Which Led to the Canceling of the Kravanh Mountain Eco-Tourism Investment Project
  • At Least 145 Citizens Have Been Arrested [since 2008] over Land Disputes due to the Weak Court System [according to the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #34, 19.8.2010

  • An Armed Clash Broke Out at the Choam Sa Ngam Border Crossing Point while Troops [of Cambodia and of Thailand] Were Patrolling [there is no report of casualties – Oddar Meanchey]
  • Japan Grants Technical Aid worth More Than US$4 Million for Agricultural Development [to improve agricultural productivity and to promote markets for agricultural products at the west of the Tonle Sap lake through the technical support to the Departments of Agriculture of Battambang, Pursat, and Kompong Chhnang]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.9, #240, 19.8.2010

  • ASEAN Begins Discussing about the Cambodian Request for an Intervention over the Khmer-Thai Border Disputes
  • Vietnam Strengthens Military Cooperation with Cambodia [Prime Minister Hun Sen had asked Vietnam during a visit by the Vietnamese Senior General Le Van Dong to help consolidate the defense sector of Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5280, 19.8.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank Plans to Provide US$558 Million [cooperation financing] from 2011 and 2013 [to support poverty reduction, to promote rural development, to improve the economy and agriculture, to strengthen the capacity of human resources, and to develop the financial sector and the private sectors]
  • The DK Fund [established 1998 by a Korean who was orphaned and later received a scholarship to study in the USA] Chose Cambodia to Provide Scholarships for Poor Students for Ten Years [the DK Fund plans to create a vocational training center in Sihanoukville, and a health science university in Cambodia]

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A Civil Society Group for Social Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials – Tuesday, 17.8.2010

Posted on 18 August 2010. Filed under: Week 678 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

“Phnom Penh: A Civil society group for social accountability and transparency demanded the Anti-Corruption Unit to take action against a section of the tax collecting system for taking more money than what the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance state.

“In the morning 16 August 2010, a civil society group for social accountability and transparency organized a press conference at the Baitong Restaurant in Phnom Penh about their fight against corruption in the form of excessive tax collection for vehicles.

“The president of the Independent Democratic Association of Non-Formal Economy, Mr. Von Pov, said during the conference that every year from July to October, a tax collection is implemented countrywide by tax officials of the Tax Department of the Ministry of Economy and Finance of the Kingdom of Cambodia. The collection is carried out in order to build up the national budget for the restoration and maintenance of public infrastructure, and all Cambodian citizens are obliged to pay tax on their vehicles, such as cars and motorbikes, though they suffer from the global economic crisis.

“Mr. Von Pov added regarding the tax collected by tax officials, that civil society groups for social accountability and transparency noticed that most citizens, who own vehicles, were forced by tax officials to pay an excess amount over that stated on the invoices issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance. He added that at present, 1,391,565 cars and trucks, and 11,356,398 motorbikes [the number of motorbikes given is unrealistically high – that means that about 80% of all citizens, including babies and the whole rural population – own a registered motorcycle; we assume the number includes a mistype and may be 1,356,398 – Editor] have been registered and allowed to travel in Cambodia and they are required to pay tax. On average, if a vehicle is required to pay an additional amount of Riel 2,000 [approx. US$0.50] to tax officials, that means Cambodian citizens waste about US$1 million each year. This is corruption resulting from public officials using their positions as public officials to gain personal gain, so that corruption does not refer only to the stealing of money.

“Mr. Von Pov went on to say that to contribute to achieve the second stage of the Rectangular Strategy and to promote good governance, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, especially the Tax Department, must supervise tax officials so that they work following the official calculations for the collection of taxes. Also, the Tax Department must punish officials who commit offenses, or collect administrative fines from them, if they collect amounts beyond the tax invoices, and the Anti-Corruption Unit must take measures in such cases.

“A Coordinator of the East Asia and Pacific Social Accountability Network, Mr. San Chey, said that even though invoices are issued by the Tax Department, still excess tax collection happens, particularly in the Ponhea Leu district in Kandal and Prey Veng. He added, ‘We will submit reports within one week to the Tax Department to take action.’

“After there had been such criticism about excess tax collections by tax officials, the Tax Department released an announcement on 10 August 2010, where the third point reads, ‘Before paying tax, please read the tax tables posted publicly and pay accordingly the amount set in these tables. If tax officials demand more, please report their names and ID Card number to the Tax Department.’

“The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng, could not be reached for comments on Monday evening, but he used to say in a previous press conference that corruption relates not only to big money, but even 50 cents can also be considered as corruption.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2329, 17.8.2010

  • A Civil Society Group for Accountability and for Transparency Asked the Anti-Corruption Unit to Take Action on Tax Officials
  • The Minister of Agriculture Called On Citizens to Eat Pork Again [claiming that the ‘blue ear disease’ of pigs does not infect people]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7036, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia Adheres to Peaceful Positions; while in Cambodia, the Secretary General of ASEAN, Mr. Surin Pitsuwan, Asked Cambodia and Thailand to Be Patient [in solving their border disputes]

Meatophoum, Vol.54, #796, 16-21.8.2010

  • Cambodia Asked Vietnam to Help Solve the Border Dispute [with Thailand; according to a letter sent by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam – who is at present chairing ASEAN – to help either within the structure of ASEAN, or directly

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3960, 17.8.2010

  • Which Tax Officials are Punished for Forcing Citizens to Pay Excessive Taxes?

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #32, 17.8.2010

  • Cambodia and Iran Signed an Agreement to Create an Economic Committee in Order to Step Up Economic Cooperation [economic cooperation between Cambodia and Iran will focus on on tourism, the oil industry, investments, agriculture, industry, Iranian export of technical services and engineering, and the exchange of expert delegates]
  • Three People Were Killed and Three Others Were Injured by Lightning [Kompong Cham]
  • Police Burnt again Chicken Meat of No Quality, but Have Never Caught a Persons Who Owns It [Banteay Meanchey]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #238, 17.8.2010

  • Prosecutors [of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] Appealed against the sentence of Duch, [the former Tuol Sleng prison chief, who was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, but considering his past jail term and the reduction of punishment, he will have to serve only about 19 more years]
  • Thailand Arrested a Cambodian Man Accusing Him of Spying [as he walked near a Thai military base; according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, he might be released after there was investigation and a request for his release by Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5278, 17.8.2010

  • A Vietnamese General [Le Van Dung] Visits Cambodia to Consolidate the Military Cooperation between the Two Countries
  • Six People Were Killed and Ten Others Were Slightly Injured in Traffic Accidents [in Phnom Penh and Preah Vihear, on 15 August 2010]
  • The Club of Cambodia Journalists Reacted against the Detention of a Kampuchea Thmey Journalist [as he was detained just for a minor traffic accident; the Club of Cambodian Journalists expressed concern, and considers it as a violation of human rights, protected by the Constitution of Cambodia]

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If There Are No National Standards for Food Safety, the Export of Goods Will Be Impossible – Monday, 26.7.2010

Posted on 27 July 2010. Filed under: Week 675 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

“Officials of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy said that technical obstacles against the export of products from Cambodia are a very serious problem. ‘We do not have proper national standards, and we have not any in line with ASEAN. As a member of the World Trade Organization, we need to eliminate such commercial obstacles.’

“The head of the Department of Industrial Standards at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, Mr. Ping Siv Lay, said during a meeting of a technical committee on food and processed food, supported by the Asian Development Bank, held for two days on 22 and 23 July 2010 at the Hotel Cambodiana, that food safety is a sensitive topic, on focus in recent years, and it is a priority for the Royal Government of Cambodia to improve the safety of food and bewerages. Food in Cambodia is a high level problem in the region. Food manufacturers must promote the implementation of measures of general and of personal sanitation. But which standards do they have to take up? Are they recognized as internationally defined standardized in the country or not? At present, there is no answer, when food manufacturers produce food with can carry high hazards: such as chicken, sausages, milk, drinks, etc.

“Mr. Ping Siv Lay added that for private companies to have exports going on with food security, there need to be national standards for the export of products to international markets. The Asian Development Bank office in Cambodia vowed not only to support the development of standards, but also to help to promote food safety testing in the country, which will also facilitates commerce.

“This official went on to say, ‘We have created standards for ten types of products to ensure commerce in the country. But there are yet no quality standards for international markets.’

“According to an official of the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy, such technical obstacles make it impossible that a larger portion of agricultural products can be exported, even though our trading partners do not charge taxes. As Cambodia does not have standards, no special products have been exported to China. The other side in trade relations demands us to adhere to standards for our products, comparable to their standards, so that export can be carried out.

“During the meeting, many questions were discussed in order to create a draft about food standards to catch up with other countries.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5259, 25-26.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 26 July 2010

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7017, 26.7.2010

  • [About 500] Workers Marched to Demand an Increase of Their Salaries in Front of the National Assembly – They Do Not Accept the Increase Offered by the Labor Council [they demand a minimum salary of US$75 per month, while at present, they are offered US$61]
  • Officials of Seven Embassies [of Australia, Britain, Cuba, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam] Visited the Preah Vihear Temple of Cambodia

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3941, 26.7.2010

  • [The vice-president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Kong Korm Appealed to the US Administration to Intervene, so that Mr. Sam Rainsy Can Return to Cambodia [who has been convicted for the uprooting of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers]
  • The Women’s Movement for Democracy Has Collected Riel 10 Million [approx. US$2,370] to Be Paid as Compensation to [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Instead of [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mu Sochua [as she lost a defamation case against him; but the collected money needs first to be accepted by Ms. Mu Sochua.]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #12-13, 24-25.7.2010

  • Cambodia Supports (together with ASEAN countries) a Statement [of the UN Security Council] That Condemns North Korea [for sinking a South Korean navy ship, killing 46 navy soldiers]
  • The United Nations Continues to Seek Contributions to Fund the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [additional US$10 million are needed for 2010, and US$39 million for 2011]
  • North Korea Declared to Use Nuclear Threats to Respond to US Military Exercise [with South Korea]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #222, 26.7.2010

  • For the Crimes at the S-21 Center [known as the Tuol Sleng Prison, where more than 15,000 persons were sent to their death]: Will Kaing Kek Eav Get 40 Years Imprisonment or a Release? [the sentence of the former head of the Tuol Sleng Prison will be announced on 26 July 2010]
  • Two Companies [of Cambodia,: Seledamex and Rattana Corporation] Will Receive Land Concession of Nearly 20,000 Hectare for Rubber Plantation in Preah Vihear [with the consent of the Prime Minister, for 99 years]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5259, 25-26.7.2010

  • If There Are No National Standards for Food Safety, the Export of Goods Will Be Impossible
  • The Cambodian-Thai General Border Committee Promised to Guarantee Security along the Border [officials of both sides of the border committee met on 15 and 16 July 2010 in Bangkok]
  • A Government Ambulance Car Hit People, Resulting in Two Deaths and Three Injured [the driver escaped – Takeo]

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Court Reform Is Necessary – Saturday, 24.7.2010

Posted on 25 July 2010. Filed under: Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

“Recently, the Ministry of Justice issued a special letter to warn court officials not to do improper activities as this might invite public criticism. In a letter dated 16 July 2010, the Minister of Justice, Mr. Ang VongVathana, wrote that officials of the Ministry have received many complaints from the general public accusing court officials, especially, clerks, without giving their names. The Minister added in the letter that the role of clerks is to take notes, to keep the complaint documents, and to fulfill their role properly according to the legal procedures, neutral and non-biased.

“The Minister of Justice warns in the letter that clerks must not be biased towards any sides during the hearing process and they must follow the orders of judges and of prosecutors in order to gain trust in the judicial system from the public. Such a warning from the Minister of Justice towards clerks is new, but he seems not to consider the judges and prosecutors in the provinces and cities who also commit improper acts.

“Regarding the above issue, the chief of cabinet of the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Sam Prochea Meaneth, said that the letter was sent to all municipal courts in the Kingdom of Cambodia. The Ministry aims at all court officials, particularly at clerks who work with lawsuits of citizens. Clerks at the courts do not have the power to pass judgments in any cases. The decision by the Minister of Justice to issue this letter was not because of any special cases or accusations about wrongdoings, but it was issued as part of judicial reforms.

“Observers of the court system in Cambodia said that the letter of the Minister, dated 16 July 2010, deals only with one part of the problem; it warns only clerks who may be creating problems. But judges and prosecutors, who had committed corruption, like by changing a case from wrong to right, are not warned by the Ministry of Justice and admonished to implement their roles appropriately. Corruption in the court system can result from collusion among clerks, judges, and prosecutors. Therefore to put the burden only on clerks is not proper, because it disregards the irregularities committed by some corrupt judges and prosecutors towards poor citizens.

“Officials of non-government organizations said that they often heard of complaints from citizens expressing their disappointment about the courts and especially about clerks. Non-government organizations said that when citizens have money, clerks seem to care about their complaints, but if they do not have money, clerks discriminate against them and delay their cases for a long time before starting to work on them. The issue of the letter of the Minister is a positive sign, but it is still not covering the whole truth. The most important thing is that the Ministry of Justice makes the citizens trust in the court system of Cambodia.

“Many citizens have already been victimized by judges and prosecutors who colluded with powerful officials to grab their land. In some cases, the corruption of judges and prosecutors has been revealed publicly by citizens, like in land disputes in Ratanakiri. But in the end, the Ministry of Justice did not take any legal action against corrupt those judges and prosecutors, but just assigned them to work as judges and prosecutors in other provinces. Such dealings make citizens to distrust the court system, and they curse powerful officials who grab their land.

“At present, the court system of Cambodia is being criticized by national and international circles, accusing it to be a tool of the ruling party that serves only the rich and the powerful. But for poor victimized citizens as well as for politicians of the opposition, the courts do not seem to provide them justice according to the law. Thus, judicial reform is necessary to avoid that citizens lose trust in the institution of the courts. In the meantime, the international community and the donors must encourage the Cambodian government to speed up reforming the court system, as it had promised. Clerks, judges, and prosecutors, who commit corruption by using law for personal benefit, must be punished according to the law.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3940, 24-25.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 24 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2309, 24.7.2010

  • Three Men Were Arrested with 570 kg of Borax Powder Used for Applying on Food [to make it last longer] Affecting Human Health [Phnom Penh – Borax, a real multi-purpose chemical]
  • A Laotian Man Was Arrested together with More Than 3,000 Drug Tablets

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7016, 24-25.7.2010

  • Victims and Former Prisoners of the Tuol Sleng Prison Asked for a Life Sentence Imprisonment for Duch [his sentence will be announced on 26 July 2010]

  • Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3940, 24-25.7.2010

    • Court Reform Is Necessary
    • Cambodia Needs Investors and Tax Favors from the USA to Create a Good Atmosphere at the 60th Anniversary of Having Diplomatic Ties

    • The USA Announced to Provide US$187 Million in Aid for Three Years for the Countries of the Indochina Region [Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam] to Address Poverty and to Conserve the Lower Mekong River

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5258, 24.7.2010

    • The Cambodian Prime Minister: The Royal Government Will Make Cambodia [the third] Rice Exporting Country [after Thailand and Vietnam in Asia]

    • [Secretary of State of the USA] Clinton Criticized the Human Rights Situation in Vietnam [during the ASEAN-US meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers in Vietnam – but indirectly supported Vietnam in its claim on some Islands in the South China Sea contested by China]

    • The [Angkor Sentinel 2010] Military Exercise at the Command Post Level [for peace keeping] Was Finished Successfully [Phnom Penh]

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  • Borders Link and Borders Separate – Sunday, 4.7.2010

    Posted on 7 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

    The Mirror carries regularly reports about incidents considered to be border violations, but much more frequently information about smuggling. Some people are caught and sent to court; the border with Thailand has been beyond regular control, so that finally an attempt had to be made that even a large number of illegal border crossings had to be brought under control, as The Mirror had reported on 10 June 2010, from which we quote again:

    Illegal border entries closed in crackdown

    Between 30 and 40 illegal border crossings in Banteay Meanchey province have been closed in an attempt to curb the smuggling of pigs, gas, petrol, fruits and expired perishable foods from Thailand to Cambodia, provincial officials said Wednesday.

    “We have closed more than 30 illegal border crossing points along the border with Thailand to stop smuggling, and this closure is forever,” Banteay Meanchey deputy governor Im Phoansophal said…

    He declined to provide any figures supporting this claim, though he accused local businessmen of resorting to smuggling in order to evade taxes.

    “Businessmen have always used these illegal crossing points to smuggle their goods. They prefer to do things this way because they don’t want to pay tax on items, and they think it will cost less to just bribe local officials,” he said.

    Obviously, these 30 to 40 border crossings had been used regularly and formally – though illegally – for some time, before there was an effort made to put this chaotic situation to an end. This surely does not mean that there is no illegal border crossing going on any longer at the Cambodian-Thai border, which extends for about 800 kilometers, for long stretches through forested areas.

    When a Thai newspaper published a report, saying that Thai anti-government activists, suspected of having been involved in the bombing of a building in Thailand during the recent violent confrontations in Bangkok, had entered Cambodia, Cambodian government officials quickly denied this and accused the Thai government and the Thai media of making false accusations against Cambodia.

    The Phnom Penh Post reported on 29 and 30 June 2010:

    In a statement issued Monday, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers said there was no evidence the men had entered Cambodia. The statement also called on the Thai government to end what it described as a “malicious campaign to fault Cambodia…”

    Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Monday that the allegations were “stupid.”

    “Cambodia completely denies this kind of provocative information,” he said…

    In addition to arguing that there was no evidence that the two fugitives were in Cambodia, the Council of Ministers statement called on the Thai government to end its “malicious campaign to fault Cambodia,” and accused it of “fanning acts of provocation against the Kingdom of Cambodia.” …

    But Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs,… also said the names of the two fugitives cited in the report on Monday – Warisaya and Kobchai – had not appeared on registration lists at the border.

    “The border always registers people when they cross the border, and the two names mentioned as suspects were not on that list,” he said. “They raise incorrect information. When Thailand has problems, they blame Cambodia.”

    “If Thailand denies that they have accused Cambodia, then they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information,” he said.

    “I think this is a play from the Thai government officials, who speak out without taking responsibility for their comments.”

    These official and massive Cambodian denials – assuming that nobody could have crossed the border without having their names registered in an official border crossing list – were combined with accusations against the Thai government and media, requesting “they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information.”

    This war of words was accompanied by the forwarding of a document by the Spokesman and Deputy Director for Press Department of the Office of the Council of Ministers, the Press and Quick Reaction Unit – a document written by Pen Ngoeun, an Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers and member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers, representing “only the personal opinion of the writer, and does not reflect under any shape and form the opinion of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit nor that of the Office of the Council of Ministers.” In spite of this disclaimer, it is interesting that this long document was widely published at this time and with this background, asking: WILL THAILAND’S ENMITY TOWARDS CAMBODIA END.

    This long document is accusing that Thailand, since 150 years, has taken a negative attitude against Cambodia. “This writing is not a piece about history, but as far back as the eyes can see, the Kingdom of Thailand has kept its enmity towards Cambodia,” which is similar to “the current state of mind of the government of Abhisit Vijjajeva, with ‘former terrorist’ turned foreign minister Kasit Pyromya, and the malicious and machiavellic [deputy prime minister] Suthep Thaugsuban at his sides…” This negative attitude was also the cause which made Cambodia to entrust its destiny to French colonial rule. “Thailand always acts like a hungry mad dog that missed a good piece of meat and had never stopped dreaming about it, since.”

    “Finally, Thailand has made official, its territorial ambition on Cambodian territories in 2007 in Christchurch, New Zealand during the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee by presenting for the first time to such an important international gathering a map dressed up unilaterally and secretly by Thailand and thus laying claim on an area of 4.6 km sq. inside the Cambodian territory near the Temple of Preah Vihear, as an objection of various uncoordinated, confusing, illegitimate, and nonsense motives to the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear to the World Heritage List.

    Would Thailand wake up from the bad dream of a hungry mad dog? It had to be decided by Thailand. It had nothing to do with Cambodia.”

    It is appropriate to say that not only persons in positions of political leadership will have to find ways to help to establish good neighborly relations. This will also be necessary in Cambodia, not only by using a different type of language, but also by seeing some facts, not published in Cambodia and therefore hardly seen, and therefore also not considered in Cambodia.

    What this Advisor to the Office of the Council of Ministers and member of the Advisory Board of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers calls “various uncoordinated, confusing, illegitimate, and nonsense motives to the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear to the World Heritage List” related to the contested 4.6 square kilometers around the Temple of Preah Vihear, is described with quite different words in a document, based on a meeting at the headquarters of UNESCO in Paris, signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on 18 June 2008, inscribing the Temple “without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple” – “without prejudice to the rights of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand on the demarcation works of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary.” The related map, superseding the maps formerly presented in Cambodia’s nomination file, signed by the chairperson of the Border Committee of Cambodia Var Kim Hong at the same time, is here:

    Cambodian map around Preah Vihear Temple

    Cambodian map around Preah Vihear Temple

    Joint Communique

    The meeting was held in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.

    During the meeting both sides agreed as follows:

    1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Québec, Canada, July 2008), of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.
    2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.
    3. The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schéma Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;
    4. Pending the results of the work of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) concerning the northern and western areas surrounding the Temple of Preah Vihear, which are identified as N. 3 in the map mentioned in paragraph 1 above, the management plan of these areas will be prepared in a concerted manner between the Cambodian and Thai authorities in conformity with the international conservation standards with a view to maintain the outstanding universal value of the property. Such management plan will be included in the final management plan for the Temple and its surrounding areas to be submitted to the World Heritage Centre by 1st February 2010 for the consideration of the World Heritage Committee at its 34th session in 2010;
    5. The inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List shall be without prejudice to the rights of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand on the demarcation works of the Joint Commission for Land Boundary (JBC) of the two countries…

    Finally, after, and in spite of all the strong denials and accusations, the two Thai bombing suspects, Kobchai Boonplod and Varisareeya Boonsom, were arrested in Cambodia and handed over to Thai authorities.

    We recall:

    “If Thailand denies that they have accused Cambodia, then they should make corrections in all their media that have published such false information.”

    “I think this is a play from the Thai government officials, who speak out without taking responsibility for their comments.”

    Will this now – with reversed roles – be considered and implemented in Cambodia?

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    People in Rural Areas Are Entering into Other Sectors besides Agriculture – Thursday, 1.7.2010

    Posted on 5 July 2010. Filed under: Week 671 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 671

    “A report of the United Nations Capital Development Fund [UNCDF] released yesterday found that workers in rural areas in Cambodia are shifting to do different work besides agriculture, formerly the only source of their income. They are leading a change that can boost sustainable development in rural areas.

    “The UNCDF report says that while about 80% of Cambodian citizens are mostly living as farmers, the economy in rural areas has extensive potential that is not yet used through the diversification of the economy.

    “According to the above report, called Basic Development Outlook, that tries to support decentralization, two years ago, 91% of the poor people in Cambodia lived in rural areas.

    This report says that even though agricultural development is crucial for Cambodia, also the diversification of the economy in rural areas, and strategies to reorganize basic policies might encourage the growth of the economy in rural areas, to move Cambodians out of poverty.

    “The report says, ‘The current integrating policy strategy to develop rural areas in Cambodia focuses on agriculture and the provision of social and public services, and on the social safety network. These are necessary policies, but frequently they are not adequate for improving basic economic developments.’

    “The main author of the report and Chief Technical Advisor of UNCDF, Mr. Nicola Crosta, told the Phnom Penh Post on Wednesday, 30 June 2010, that workers in rural areas change to work in other sectors, like tourism, due to the increasing use of machinery in agriculture in Cambodia. Therefore, this sector needs less and less labor.

    “Mr. Crosta added, ‘Must importantly the Cambodian government must anticipate the future (of rural development) and must not fall into the trap to think only of agriculture (that means there must be other sectors for citizens in rural areas in addition to agriculture).’

    “A government official said to the Phnom Penh Post on Wednesday that the government has decided to concentrate on basic developments, stressing that the increase of the yield of rice is a measure to improve the livelihood of people living in rural areas.

    “A secretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Chan Iv Tong, welcomes ‘that machinery is used in cultivation, as it can increase productivity, and most importantly, improve the livelihood of farmers, and it contributes to economic growth in Cambodia.’

    “He added that rural infrastructure, such as irrigation systems, are a means to improve the living condition of farmers.

    “But the above report warns, ‘While infrastructure is crucial, it should not be considered as enough for the development of the economy.’

    “In the meantime, some economic advisors do not agree with the opinion that the improvement of agricultural techniques through the use of machinery leads to unemployment.

    “The general secretary of a Cambodian association for small and medium scale businesses, Mr. Ut Ren, said that many laborers lose their jobs because of the replacement of human power by machinery, but they then seek jobs in food manufacturing factories.

    “He added, ‘We should not be concerned that agricultural development would affect rural employment. What we have to be worried about is how much potential from this sector can be used more productively.’

    “Nevertheless, the president of the Cambodian Economic Association, Mr. Chan Sophal, believes that at present, there is too little industry in rural areas, so it cannot provide enough jobs for farmers.

    “He said, ‘Farmers would seek jobs in new areas in agriculture such as in former forest areas, and they will travel to Thailand to seek jobs.’

    “Without worrying too much about the challenges in rural areas in Cambodia, the UNCDF believes that the strengthening of decisions at the basic levels in Cambodia is an important way to boost economic growth.

    “He added that at present, Cambodia is improving a 10-year plan that shows policies relating to these views.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #205, 1.7.2010

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Thursday, 1 July 2010

    Areyathor, Vol.17, #446, 1-2.7.2010

    • Eight Relatives of [ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra Are Reported [by The Nation on 30 June 2010] to Be Entering Cambodia [bringing much money, millions of Baht, with them, but Cambodia denied it] (no more details are given)

    Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #518, 1.7.2010

    • Cholera Killed Six Prov Ethnic People [25 Others are hospitalized – Lum Phat district, Ratanakiri]

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2289, 1.7.2010

    • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [and five other officials] Recovered from A/H1N1 [Swine Flu]
    • Cambodia Sent a Diplomatic Note to Siam [Thailand] to Investigate the Fatal Shooting on a Khmer Citizen near a Border Crossing in Sampov Loun [Battambang, that had accused him of illegally trafficking a motorbike across the border]

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6996, 1.7.2010

    • The Transportation of Luxury Grade Wood Occurs Again in Siem Reap [two cars were intercepted with illegal wood, and four people were arrested]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3920, 1.7.2010

    • The Ministry of Economy Plans to Create a Real-Estate Assessment Committee in Order to Start to Collect Taxes at the End of This Year [it will help increase the national income from US$3 million to US$9 million, after Cambodia experienced a drop of income due to the global financial crisis]
    • An Australian Company [OZ Minerals] Wants that the Authorities Provide Appropriate Compensation to Poor Citizens before Evicting Them, when Claiming Land for Exploring Gold Minerals [in Mondol Seima district, Mondolkiri – both the company and the government share the income from the exploitation of gold]

    Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #205, 1.7.2010

    • People in Rural Areas Are Entering into Other Sectors besides Agriculture
    • [Eighty seven] TACFAT Factory Workers Protested in Front of the Ministry of Labor to Demand Their Salaries [from the owner of the factory]
    • Global Witness Welcomes the Clarification [by the Minister of the Council of Ministers] of Oil Issue [about the payment by the Total company to receive exploration right from the Cambodian government], Mr. Sok An, but suggested that the government should publish the full details of all agreements and of account balances, so that the Cambodian people can be confident that the deals are above board]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5238, 1.7.2010

    • Bank Systems in Cambodia Are Mostly Controlled by Foreigners [there are 27 commercial banks, where as many as 17 banks are completely controlled by foreigners, and among 6 specialized banks and 20 micro-finance institutions about 77% are controlled by foreigners]
    • The Users of the Banking System [those who deposit their money in banks] Increased to About One Million [in 2009; according to the National Bank of Cambodia]

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    The Conditions of the US$1.1 Billion Aid Require Hun Sen to Keep His Promise about Reforms and to Adhere to Policies of Transparency and Good Governance – Wednesday, 9.6.2010

    Posted on 10 June 2010. Filed under: Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

    The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

    “Donors and aid organizations provide development aid to Cambodia because they want the Cambodian government to create mechanisms to fight corruption, effectively implementing an anti-corruption law. In 2010, Cambodia received pledges of US$1.1 billion of aid from donors, where Japan provides US$131 million, comparable to China that provides more than US$100 million. The third big donor is the United States of America that provides US$68 million, Germany more than US$65 million, and Australia more than US$61 million. Besides, the Asia Development Bank, the World Bank, and many other global institutions provide most of the rest of the aid amounting to US$352 million.

    “Also, twelve organizations of the United Nations provide more than US$86 million, and European countries, including through the European Commission, provide more than US$255 million, among which Germany provides most with US$65 million.

    “Besides the intention to see the government organize anti-corruption mechanisms, the donors and aid organizations as well as international financial institutions focus on the plans to maintain macro-economic stability and to reduce the poverty of Khmer citizens, by suggesting that increased aid efficiency is essential, and they hope that the Cambodian government will use the aid efficiently and transparently, to encourage economic growth. If Cambodia cannot achieve economic growth, poverty alleviation will be difficult. Therefore, the donors and aid organizations will step up their mechanisms to carefully monitor the use of aid.

    “The country director of the World Bank in Cambodia called for concentration to strengthen the economic basis, like through the improvement of competitiveness and of the investment atmosphere, the provision of concession land that benefits the poor, solutions for citizens who lose their land, public administration reforms, and especially the improvement of transparent control and use of income from natural resources.

    “The International Monetary Fund, an institution that provides technical assistance on finance and banking, suggested that the Cambodian government has to cut down the national deficit that increased by 6% in 2009 down to 5% by eliminating tax exemptions, though they are important to attract investors.

    “Formerly, in order to attract investors to Cambodia, the government decided not to tax factories or enterprises newly opened during the first two or three years, depending on whether those factors or enterprises had gained profit or lost.

    “Also, the representative of the European Union demanded the improvement of education quality and the promotion of primary education, fields which are still weak. He said that the number of people who cannot attend school is still high. Thus, the government has to ensure that boys and girls have equal opportunities to go to school, so as to increase educational opportunities for girls. And the government has to decrease the number of students that drop out from school.

    “Not only in Cambodia, but also in other developing countries in the world, financial aid is crucial for the development of these countries.

    “Among the more than 14 million Khmer citizens, about 4 million live under the poverty line. In 2006, Cambodia received more than US$700 million financial aid, and the figures keep increasing from year to year, where in 2010 the aid pledges increased to US$1.1 billion. Nevertheless, expert officials estimated that in 2011, the aid will decline to US$958 million and in 2012 to US$750 million.

    “The opposition parties suggested to donors and aid organizations not to provide aid to the government, accusing the government of committing corruption, and the government does not use the aid properly. But the aid keeps rising anyway.

    “It is good that the government is successful in trusting donors and aid organizations in its ruling. But what the government had promised is not just to satisfy the donors. The government must work on its weak points and should not arbitrarily react against criticisms. Particularly, it should be able to carry out its commitment to conduct public administrative and judicial reforms, to strengthen the transparent management of income from oil and gas resources, and to strengthen the effective implementation of the anti-corruption law.

    “If the government can achieve success following its commitments, we believe that the aid to be provided in 2011 would be more than that in 2010.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #777, 9.6.2010

    Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
    Wednesday, 9 June 2010

    Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #499, 9.6.2010

    • Cambodian and Siamese [Thai] Soldiers Had an Armed Clash at Ou Cham Bak Point in the Trapeang Prasat District [in Oddar Meanchey; one Cambodian army commander said that Thai soldiers started shooting at Cambodian soldiers first, but the spokesperson of the Cambodian Ministry of Defense says that this is not clear – but nobody was wounded]
    • Spain Provides a Loan of US$5 million for Development over a Period of Three Years [2010 to 2012, to achieve the Millennium Development Goals]
    • [Mr. José Mujica, a former left wing guerilla fighter, elected president in 2009] The President of Uruguay Is the Poorest President in the World [he owns no house and drives a car that cost only US$1,900; he gets US$11,000 as his salary, but he donates one fifth to the funds of his party, and the rest of the salary to the state funds to construct infrastructure for people in poor areas]

    Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2270, 9.6.2010

    • The Forestry Head of the Sandan Commune Intercepted More Than 400 Cubic Meter of Wood Hidden by a Trader [so far nobody has been arrested – Kompong Thom]

    Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #777, 9.6.2010

    • The Conditions of the US$1.1 Billion Aid Require Hun Sen to Keep His Promise about Reforms and to Adhere to Policies of Transparency and Good Governance

    Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6977, 9.6.2010

    • The Appeals Court Maintains the Judgment of the Municipal Court That Rejects the Request [of opposition party president Sam Rainsy] to Create an Independent Border Committee [to check the putting of border markers in Svay Rieng]
    • Fake $100 Notes Worth US$10,000 Were Planned to Be Trafficked into Phnom Penh [but were intercepted; a man was arrested – the Banteay Meanchey police suspected a taxi that carried no passengers but drove very fast towards Phnom Penh – Kandal]

    Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3901, 9.6.2010

    • Corruption and Interference by Politicians into the Judicial System in Cambodia Must Be Reformed in Time

    Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #189, 9.6.2010

    • Four Companies [names not mentioned] Continue to Dredge Sand at the Koh Kong Beach [sand dredging is supposed to have been forbidden, and it affects the fish yield ]
    • Another Car Assembly Company Will Be Established [in Cambodia; the Khmer First Car Company, owned by a Chinese national, will be established in Phnom Penh to assemble trucks – brand name not mentioned]

    Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5219, 9.6.2010

    • The Senate and the National Assembly Appointed Members of the Anti-Corruption Council [Mr. Prak Sok, a former member of the Constitutional Council, is the representative of the Senate, and Mr. Tob Som is the representative of the National Assembly]
    • The Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Employment in Charge of Foreign Commerce of France [Ms. Anne-Marie Idrac] Visits Cambodia [from 9 to 11 June 2010, to boost Cambodian-French cooperation]
    • 11.54 Cubic Meter of Ebony Wood Was Intercepted [the car driver run away from the truck – Prey Veng]

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

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