The Arrest of Journalists Is Worrying – Saturday, 14.8.2010

Posted on 16 August 2010. Filed under: Week 677 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 677

“Phnom Penh: Recently, several journalists have been detained by the authorities while they were fulfilling their duties as journalists and following the ethics of journalists, but some others had them arrested because dishonest merchants and related authorities exaggerated some stories changing them from right to wrong.

“According to a statement from the League of Democratic Journalists, several journalists had been arrested recently, which is really worrying. For instance, on 20 July 2010, the editor-in-chief of Chhanteak Koun Khmer was arrested in Kompong Thom, and on 21 July 2010 the editor-in-chief of Rasmei Eysan was arrested in Prek Prosob district in Kratie. On 2 August 2010, the head of a Cambodia watchdog office in Memut district in Kompong Cham was also detained.

Note:

Some information about the work of Cambodian Journalists on professional ethics:

“Those journalists were arrested, because merchants involved in illegal business colluded with dishonest officials and tried to find pretexts to put blame on journalists who were performing their work, and some wicked officials who act against their duties and the regulations sought ways to arrest the journalists in order to hide these scandals. The distortion of stories by dishonest authorities leads to internal frictions. They turn their rancor against journalists, and this becomes a concern for the function of journalism.

“The rancor by the authorities towards journalists frequently victimizes journalists. Actually, at 20:30 on 12 August 2010, also a journalist of Kampuchea Thmey was detained for a night by Dankao district police over a minor traffic accident. This resulted from discrimination by police and their rancor against journalists.

“Journalists expressed dismay over such an action from police who acted against the law. All offenses must be dealt with according to the law but not just how some people think in their mind.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2327, 14.8.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 14 August 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2327, 14.8.2010

  • The Arrest of Journalists Is Worrying
  • Two Construction Workers Were Killed after a Dilapidated Building [left from the French colonial time, in Kampot] Collapsed on Them

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7034, 14-15.8.2010

  • The European Union Provides Scholarships to 33 Khmer Students and Lecturers [to further their education and to give lectures in Europe; through the Erasmus Mundus Program for 2010 and 2011]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3958, 14-15.8.2010

  • An International Organization [Wildlife Alliance, based in Washington D.C] Voiced Concern over the Destruction of Natural Resources due to Mining at the Kravanh Mountain Area

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #30, 14.8.2010

  • Telecommunication in Cambodia Advances Strongly, but Prices of Mobile Phone Services Are Still High [by now, the number mobile phone users increased to 6,300,000 and the telecommunication sector contributes about US$40 million to the state budget each year]
  • The Worldwide Spreading of Swine Flu A/H1N1 Ends [claimed a representative of the World Health Organization]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5276, 14.8.2010

  • Cambodia Sent a Letter to ASEAN to Ask for Intervention over the Border Disputes with Thailand
  • Malaysia Wants to Import Rice from Cambodia [according to the Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia, Datuk Pengiran Mohd Hussein Mohd Tahir Nasruddin]

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Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency: The Exports from Cambodia Increased by 258.7% – Thursday, 29.7.2010

Posted on 30 July 2010. Filed under: Week 675 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 675

“Phnom Penh: The director of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency said that Cambodian exports to South Korea increased up to 258.7%.

“The director of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency to Cambodia, Mr. Lee Gwang-Ho, said on 28 July 2010 that investment and trade between Cambodia and Korea increased remarkably within the first six months of 2010.

“He added that the amount of exports from South Korea to Cambodia increased only by 22% while the exports from Cambodia to Korea rose by as much by 258.7% in the first six months of 2010, compared with the corresponding period last year.

“According to figures provided by Mr. Lee Gwang-Ho, though the export of Cambodia to South Korea went up, the total value of export is still low.

“He said, ‘The export from Korea to Cambodia was US$153,462,000, while the export from Cambodia amounted to only US$22,635,000.’

“The products from South Korea exported to Cambodia are mostly textile products in the form of raw materials needed by the garment factories, cars and trucks, garments, food, pesticide, medicines and other substances, tires and spare parts, whereas the products exported from Cambodia to South Korea include garments, forestry products, aluminum, food, machines used in construction, minerals, and shoes.

“According to Mr. Lee Gwang-Ho, by March 2010, Korean investments were still the biggest in Cambodia. The total investments by Korean companies registered is about US$2.7 billion.

“He went on to say that the fields of investment of Korean investors in Cambodia are the following: 52% in real estate, 21% in construction, 7% in the production sector [South Korea establishes production facilities in Cambodia to create products], 3% in the mineral sector, 3% in tourism, 3% in banking, 3% in services, 3% in agriculture, 2% in technical services, and 1% in telecommunication.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5262, 29.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 29 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2313, 29.7.2010

  • Almost Ten Persons Armed with Weapons Robbed Documents of Oknha Ly Say Kheang [at his company – Phnom Penh]
  • More Than 3000 Workers of the PCCS Garment Factory Continue to Strike [to demand that the factory re-employ one representative of them; ten of them sustained injuries after a clash with police – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7020, 29.7.2010

  • [About 100] Citizens [representing 225 families] from the San Kor Commune in Kompong Svay District Asked for an Intervention by Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen [near his residence in Phnom Penh; their rice fields of about 821 hectares are to be delivered to a private company by order of a court – Kompong Thom]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3944, 29.7.2010

  • Google Corrected a Section of Googlemaps [on the Internet] for the Preah Vihear Temple Region after Cambodia had Protested in February [before, half of the temple had been shown to be in Thai territory]
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Condemned that Armed Forces Had Suppressed Workers of the PCCS Garment Factory, Injuring 15 Workers [Phnom Penh]

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #16, 29.7.2010

  • Siam [Thailand] Warned to Walk Out from the UNESCO Meeting [of the World Heritage Committee if it supports the unilateral Cambodian development plan for the Preah Vihear Temple – the World Heritage Committee had requested that Cambodia should develop a management plan together with Thailand and up to six other countries]
  • Cambodia Has One Million Hectares of Land for Rubber Plantations [according to the head of the Rubber Plantation Department, Mr. Ly Phalla]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #225, 29.7.2010

  • Vietnamese Rubber Plantation Companies Step Up Investments in Cambodia to US$1 Billion [to plant rubber trees on 100,000 hectares]
  • [President of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association] Rong Chhun: The Answers to Test Items [of mathematics of the Grade 12 exam] Leaked on Tuesday Night [in Phnom Penh, Kompong Cham, Svay Rieng, and Sihanoukville; the exam finished on Wednesday 28 July 2010; he planned to send a report to the Ministry of Education]
  • A Plane Crash in Pakistan Killed 150 People

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5262, 29.7.2010

  • Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency: The Exports from Cambodia Increased by 258.7%
  • Cambodia Does Not Care about the Decision of the Thai Cabinet That Opposes the Preah Vihear Temple Development Plan
  • Two Big Casinos [Holiday and Kompong Som City] Allow Khmer Citizens to Do Football Betting [while it is prohibited – Sihanoukville]

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Cambodia Begins Creating Legislation against Cyber Crimes – Wednesday, 14.7.2010

Posted on 15 July 2010. Filed under: Week 673 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 673

Note:

As I will be traveling in, and then from the USA back to Cambodia from Thursday to Saturday, there will be delays – the next publications should be up during Sunday, 18.7.2010 – unless I can do something on the way.

Norbert Klein

“Phnom Penh: Cambodia starts to create legislation against cyber crimes as legal mechanisms for the country to help to deal with cyber crimes and other negative impacts relating to technology, that are happening in Cambodia, in the region, and around the world.

“A workshop about the creation of legislation against cyber crimes was held in the morning of 13 July 2010 at the Council of Ministers, and government officials, officials of national and international organizations, and representatives of Internet Service Providers, of telecom companies, of technology companies, of publication institutions, and of other relevant fields participated in the workshop.

“The head of the working group for the creation of legislation against cyber crimes, Mr. Nhek Kosal Vithyea said, ‘The advancement of technology is a double-edged sword. It can make many things easier and provides abundant benefits for quick development. But it also creates opportunities for criminals to use it to commit various offenses. In the present era of information technology, criminals try to get access to information stored on computers. The quality of information stolen, or the size of destruction caused by this problem, depends on the speed of the networks and on the tools that criminals use, and such activities can be done easily without limits. It is known that the first computer virus was created by a student of computer science of Cornell University on 2 November 1988 [by now he is a professor at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology]. This virus was called ‘Morris Worm’ which affected more than 6,000 servers, wasting approximately US$98 million.

“He added that, in the Kingdom of Cambodia, information technology, such as telecoms, the Internet, electric banking systems, and electric commerce, has improved very quickly. Moreover, regarding national political and security affairs, technology plays a crucial role in maintaining security and stability in the country. He went on to say that taking the opportunity from the fast advancement of technology, terrorists might use Cambodian technology systems to attack the systems in other countries, or to distribute documents for terrorists, to create and recruit terrorist groups, and to communicate with other terrorism networks around the world. This shows that the Kingdom of Cambodia might encounter the above problems which are a big threat for politics, security, economy, society, and culture.

“It should be noted that, previously, there were some cases in Cambodia, like problems with a website of the Ministry of Interior in 2008, and with a website of the Council of Ministers in 2009, where data are kept on a server in the United States, into which bad computer programs had been embedded, infecting the computers of visitors to the website. The website of the Ministry of Environment, for which the data are kept on a server in Japan, was attacked by hackers changing the stored information. Internet Service Providers in Cambodia suffer from interference from abroad every day, often stopping their Operating System and creating a lot of trouble for users, including on the networks of the government etc.

“The head of Economic Crime Division of the Council of Europe, Mr. Alexander Seger, said that cyber crimes have strong negative impacts on all countries of our globe. Therefore, major international organizations, such as the United Nations, the International Telecommunication Union, the European Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nation [ASEAN] created protection and fighting back mechanisms, implementing different strategies, strengthening their capacities and technologies, establishing global cooperation, creating legal procedures, sharing information about technology, and establishing institutions to fight against cyber crimes.

“He added that in the Council of Europe, there is a pact on cyber crimes called the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime (of 23.11.2001: ‘Treaty open for signature by the member States and the non-member States which have participated in its elaboration, and for accession by other non-member States’), which had been developed by the Council of Europe, signed by 47 countries, including some countries not in Europe, including Canada, Japan, South Africa, and the United States of America [but ratified and in force only in 18 countries]. He added that in the ASEAN region, some countries have already created laws against cyber crimes, but so far, Cambodia has not had a law and related procedures against it.

“The deputy head of the work team for the creation of a law against cyber crime, Mr. Nuon Sopharoth, said that Cambodia has already experienced many problems that allow cyber criminal activities to commit offenses using such technology. There are many cases where all must pay attention, to prevent cheating on the Internet to receive the inheritance from someone illegally, not to respond to electronic messages asking for passwords, or messages threatening someone, stealing of passwords, and the distribution of child pornography into computer systems, or the sending of spam mails.

“He added that the Royal Government pays much attention to different negative problems relating to technology that are happening in Cambodia, in the region, and around the world. In response, the Royal Government has created permanent measures, and this workshop showed the government’s efforts and the new achievements of the Royal Government to spread more understanding about the problem to the general public.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5249, 14.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2300, 14.7.2010

  • If There Are No Timely Actions, Flooded Forests [shelters for fish to lay eggs] around the Tonle Sap Lake Will Disappear within Three Years at the Latest [because of destructive actions by some people]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #789, 14.7.2010

  • Cambodia Has Its Independence and Integrity, but Human Rights are an Universal Issue so that International Organizations Have the Right to Express Their Concerns [like related to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7007, 14.7.2010

  • The Preah Vihear Governor [Mr. Oum Mara] Fell Ill after Visiting Laos [with vomiting and stomach ache; now he is being hospitalized in the Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh]
  • Because of Love Sickness Two Men Committed Suicide: One Was Pained because His Wife Committed Adultery, and Another because of Jealousy [both of them died – Battambang and Sihanoukville]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3931, 14.7.2010

  • The Ministry of Education Asked to Stop the Publication and Distribution of Some Books That Affect the Government [such as “Special General Knowledge Test Collection” and “General Knowledge Test” written by Mr. Pen Puthsaphea [one question, as an example: “The freedoms of citizens is already guaranteed by the Constitution, but what do you think about the use of the freedoms in Cambodia at present?” The suggested answer is that “some points are open, while some others are not”]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #214, 14.7.2010

  • The Authorities Asked the Relevant Ministries to Investigate Companies Sending Workers Abroad [after a company was found and accused of forcing more than 200 workers, prepared to be sent abroad, to live in unhygienic conditions in a house in Russey Keo, Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodia Prepares to Argue with Thailand Again over the Preah Vihear Temple during a Meeting of UNESCO [after Thai Prime Minister Abhisit announced that the position of Thailand about the Cambodian border issue is that he respects the 1962 judgment of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, but he retains the right to appeal, and he does not recognize the map in 1904 created by France and Siam, and the Memorandum of Understanding of 2000 between Cambodia and Thailand; the latter will be brought for discussion to the Thai Constitutional Court, and the result will be sent to the parliament to ask for adoption]
  • Human Rights Officials Are Concerned about Ms. Mu Sochua’s Case [the spokesperson of the United Nations, Mr. Rupert Colville, said that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations is seriously concerned about the way in which the defamation proceedings against the opposition politician Ms. Mu Sochua were handled, saying that it shows “an alarming erosion of both freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary in Cambodia”]
  • The Authorities Arrested [five] Representatives [among a group of 160] of Disabled People Who Came for a Land Protest [in front of the residence of Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, while the cabinet of the Prime Minister had promised to solve their case on 14 July 2010; they demanded the land of 4,000 hectares in Kratie which had been promised to be distributed to them]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5249, 14.7.2010

  • Cambodia Begins Creating Legislation against Cyber Crimes
  • Japan Granted More Than US$920,000 for Mine Clearance in Battambang
  • The United States of America Announced to Strengthen Commercial Ties with Cambodia [according to the US Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Carol A. Rodley; the export, mostly garment products, of Cambodia to the United States of America amounts to about US$2 billion, while the import from the United States to Cambodia is only more than US$100 million]
  • The Ministry of Information Called for a Halt in the Transmission, and for the Deletion of Video Clips of Women Who Were Secretly Filmed by the Former Monk Neth Khai [while the women were nude, showering with holy water]

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Cambodia Prepares Commercial Law to Resolve Disputes Relating to Foreign Dumping Sales – Thursday, 20.5.2010

Posted on 21 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: The Cambodian government, through it’s Ministry of Commerce, in collaboration with USAID, organized to draft legislation to resolve disputes relating to foreign dumping sales of products imported from neighboring countries.

“The anti-dumping draft consists of 6 chapters and 124 articles that have been written since 15 October 2009. This draft covers all requirements of the World Trade Organizations for carrying out measures against dumping, like measures to impose special tax compensations on dumping products, and other measures to protect local investors and products. The draft law designs all procedures and measures to enforce commercial resolutions to address the bad impact on the local industry that can result from dishonest trades and massive imports. This new law aims to support the development of competition and productivity.

“The head of the Department of International Commerce of the Ministry of Commerce, who participated in the discussions to create that law, Mr. Sok Sopheak, told reporters that this new law is drafted to protect the local industry and productivity, adding, ‘When foreign products are imported to Cambodia and are sold at dumping price levels (cheaper than local products), for example, if the [original] price of a product is US$5, but it is sold for US$4, local industry will collapse, and the importer can supply their products without end. Thus, to deal with such activity, we take counter-measures by prohibiting the import or we investigate and demand compensation.’

“Mr. Sok Sopheak went on to say, ‘So far, cement, pigs, and other products were affected by dumping sales from neighboring countries, and we have not had laws to open investigations or to take measures in response. We have not had accurate figures about dumping. We just received protests from pig raisers and producers of cement and of other products who claimed that they were affected.’

“Officials of the Ministry of Commerce said that the anti-dumping draft will be discussed and finalized at relevant ministries and then sent to be approved at the Council of Ministers in late 2010. This law might then reach the National Assembly in mid 2011, and the teams responsible for drafting this law will try to finish it soon for the sake of the local community and of local producers.

“The head of the Cambodian Macro, Small, Medium Enterprise Project [MSME] of USAID that supported the creation of the draft about anti-dumping commercial resolutions, Mr. Curtis Hundley, said that in Cambodia, dumping of Vietnamese and Thai products has happened, bankrupting local producers. Vietnam and Thailand financially support their farmers, and they produce and export products in large quantities to Cambodia by using dumping prices that destroy the local industry and local products in Cambodia.

“Mr. Curtis added that Thailand and Vietnam exported products, such as pigs, fish, bricks, kiln products, cement, and coffee to Cambodia and sold them at dumping price levels. In 2007, Vietnam exported pigs to Cambodia that led to protests. At that time, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen ordered a halt of the import of pigs from Vietnam for eight months, until the problem had been addressed. In 2008, Thailand had local market problem and exported pigs to Laos and Cambodia, making Cambodian farmers abandon their pig raising because of the dumping imports – Thai pigs were sold at cheaper prices than Cambodian pigs. Therefore, this law will lead to commerce with equity, fairness, and honest competition in Cambodia so as to prevent the import of illegal products.

“The commercial anti-dumping draft law was the topic for discussions on 19 May 2010 between the team that drafted it, officials of the Ministry of Commerce, and foreign experts, to adjust the wording in some points.

“Thirty to forty local businesspeople will attend a one-day meeting to check and discuss the draft with scholars, experts, and legal people on 20 May 2010 at the Hotel Intercontinental.

“The discussion will invite active talks between the participants and small teams with members of the drafting team. That draft will play an important role in setting, analyzing, assessing, and reporting about problematic imports, raised by businesspeople working with experts.

“The meeting will also focus on considerations about different ways to adjust the language and wording of the draft to make it easy, considering which institutions should be in charge of commercial resolutions among the Cambodian authorities. The investigating authorities under the Ministry of Commerce can conduct inquiries on technicalities and recommend solutions through the setting of taxes or quota of the import of products from abroad.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5202, 20.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Agence Française de Développement [AFD] Wants to Stop Providing Aid, Changing to Provide Loans for Development [according to a meeting between the Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon, and the AFD’s Director of the Asian Department, Ms. Martha Stein Sochas

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #482, 20.5.2010

  • An Inhuman Man Raped His Three Daughters [ages between 6 and 11 years old] Fifteen Times [he was arrested – Siem Reap]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2253, 20.5.2010

  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Rejected the Request to Create a Border Demarcation Committee, presented by Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer [in order to check the setting of the Cambodian-Vietnamese border in Svay Rieng; the court claimed that the government already has a committee to conduct such affairs]
  • A Colonel Was Killed and Two Other Soldiers Were Seriously Injured in a Traffic Accident [Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6960, 20.5.2010

  • The Persons Who Looked Down on the Angkor Wat Temple [by putting Angkor Wat place mats on the floor in front of toilets in a hotel] Made a Public Apology [one is from the Philippines, the other from Malaysia – Siem Reap]
  • The 145th World Telecommunication and Information Society Day Was Celebrated [displaying banners and letting fly balloons to promote the understanding about Internet access and other information and ICT technologies, contributing to social and economic development, and to reduce the gender gap – on 18 May 2010 in Phnom Penh] [Probably not mentioning why Cambodia is among the countries with the highest prices in the region]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3884, 20.5.2010

  • Sam Rainsy’s Lawyer Will Appeal Later This Week against the Rejection by the Municipal Court of the Request to Create a [additional] Border Demarcation Committee

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #175, 20.5.2010

  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Suppressed [anti-government] Red Shirt Demonstrators Successfully but Left behind Turmoil in Bangkok [four other demonstrators and an Italian reporter were killed and 50 others were injured – and Red Shirt activists are supposed to be the arsonists of 35 major fires in Bangkok]
  • Villagers Having Land Disputes, Warn They Will Block a Portion of National Road 5 Today [to demand the provincial governor to solve the land dispute over 145 hectares with the KDC International company – Kompong Chhnang]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5202, 20.5.2010

  • Cambodia Prepares Commercial Law to Resolve Disputes Relating to Foreign Dumping Sales
  • Lightning Fatally Struck a Six-Months Pregnant Woman, and a Tropical Storm Destroyed 27 Houses and Killed Cattle in Svay Rieng

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The 15th Royal Government-Private Sector Forum Was Held – Thursday, 29.4.2010

Posted on 30 April 2010. Filed under: Week 662 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

“Phnom Penh: The 15th Royal Government-Private Sector Forum was held in the morning of 27 April 2010 at the seat of the Council of Ministers. The forum was chaired by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen; other leaders of the Royal Government, from the private sector, and many other development partners, and diplomats attended the forum.

“Like at the previous time, the aim of the meeting, considered to be a kind of open ministerial session, is to jointly monitor the practical progress and improvements achieved, to see how problems, which were raised during the 14th Royal Government-Private Sector Forum had been addressed, and to know what other problems investors face in Cambodia.

“The Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Keat Chhon, said during his speech opening the Royal Government-Private Sector Forum that the Royal Government had led the Cambodian economy to get across a most difficult stage of the economic crisis, where the Royal Government managed to ensure financial stability as well as macro-economic and social stability, established a more favorable environment for economic and business activities, and strengthened social safety for the citizens.

“He added that encountering the global economic crisis, the Royal Government had continually intervened in the taxation system for garment and shoe factories as well as for other industries supporting these fields. Reduced tax payments on income of the garment and shoe factories was extended until the end of 2012, resulting in monthly losses for the state of about Riel 4,000,000,000 [approx. US$940,000]. To reduce the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate to 0% during that time resulted in additional losses for the state of about Riel 4,300,000,000 [approx US$1 million] per month in 2008 and it increased to as much as approx. Riel 9,300,000,000 [approx. US$2.2 million] in 2010.

“The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen, chaired the event and waited to address all problems after they had been raised by the eight private sector groups. Then he dealt with the problems of the working teams for agriculture and for industry, relating to the export of agricultural products, even though it is recognized that there has been improvement in the commercial sector. Before the private sectors can export anything, they have to ask for permissions from many places, wasting much money and time. To export more than 200 tonnes of rice is even more difficult and takes even longer time. The private sectors needs to gain permissions from the Green Trade structure, that has the exclusive right to export rice. Then they need to ask for permission from many other ministries and institutions. Also, the working teams mentioned that for the transportation of livestock from Preah Vihear to Phnom Penh this process required to cross up to 37 check points, and companies have to pay both official and unofficial money at all those posts. Therefore, they asked the government to eliminate these activities.

“Regarding these issues, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said that such type of unimportant checkpoints should be abolished at all levels, especially when such activities are carried out by institutions which are not authorized for this, and he called to abolish such licenses required by unnecessary institutions, so that export business becomes more competitive exporting agricultural products of Cambodia.

“As for the tourism working team, Mr. Ho Vandy asked the government to reduce the price of plane tickets of Cambodia Angkor Air from Phnom Penh to Bangkok, to allow flights from Bangkok to Siem Reap, and to add another flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, and to begin local flights between Siem Reap and to Sihanoukville.

“In response, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said that Cambodia adheres to a free market economy. Thus, the government cannot set prices of flights as it is done in a planned economy. In relation to the request to begin flights between Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, he said that the government does not provide exclusive rights to Cambodia Angkor Air, and other companies can operate direct flights. He encouraged Mr. Ho Vandy – if he could make any airline to start direct flights to Sihanoukville he will request that Mr. Vandy should get a medal for this incentive.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen also addressed issues in other sectors, mostly concentrating on the lowering of tax for the import of raw materials and for means of transport, and the lowering of VAT. At the same time, he addressed also problems relating to trade unions and workers. In addition, he clarified some cases, where the private sector had called to strengthen the competition of the garment sector by considering that the expensive prices of telecommunication, transportation, and electricity are a burden.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5183-5184, 28-29.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 29 April 2010

Areyathor, Vol.17, #1437, 29.4.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Was Nominated as a Member of the Royal Academy of Cambodia

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #463-464, 28-29.4.2010

  • The Government Encourages the Private Sector to Export Agricultural Products
  • Two Murderers Were Arrested for Killing a Woman to Rob Her Lexus Car to Sell it in Vietnam [Phnom Penh]
  • The Prime Minister Reminded the Authorities to Crack Down on Illegal Check Points

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #22-342235, 28-29.4.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The BHP Billiton Mining Company Did Not Give Illegal Money to Cambodia [to get a mining exploration concession from the government]
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Warned Ambassadors in Cambodia Not to Interfere in the Internal Affairs of Cambodia

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6942, 29.4.2010

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Will Decide on Bail Requests of [former Khmer Rouge leaders] Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, and Khiev Samphan on 30 April 2010
  • Samdech Hun Sen: Trade Unions Are Not My Enemy, and To Demonstrate [on 1 May 2010, the International Labor Day] Is Their Right
  • The Australian Embassy Provides Scholarships to 40 Cambodian Students Every Year
  • The National Children’s Hospital Receives Medical Equipment Donated by the Korea International Cooperation Agency [KOICA, worth about US$200,000]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3866, 29.4.2010

  • The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia [COMFREL]: The Power of the National Assembly Is in the Hands of Only One Party, and Complaints against Mr. Sam Rainsy [filed by the government] Are Dangerous for Democracy
  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Son Chhay Asked the Minister of Justice to Confirm the Conditions Under Which Courts Can Detain Citizens

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #159-160, 28-29.4.2010

  • [Prime Minister] Hun Sen: The Money from the [Australian] BHP Company Is Not Corrupt Money [he confirmed that the government was not involved in corruption with the BHP company in providing mining exploitation rights in Cambodia, but he said that this company did provide more than US$2 million for social development projects]
  • Tourists Arrivals Increased by Almost 10% in the First Quarter of 2010 [there were more than 680,000 tourists, mostly from Korea, China, and Japan]
  • Visakh Bochea Was Internationally Celebrated in the Angkor Area in Siem Reap [with an international “Trail of Civilization and Performance” with participation from Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam]
  • Cambodia Lifts the Ban on Marriages between Khmer Women and South Korean Men
  • The International Monetary Fund: Cambodia Should Improve Investment Atmosphere [in order to attract big investors: maintaining the macro-economic environment stable, improving the physical infrastructure such as roads, ports, and electricity supply, ensure a high level judicial system that is independent, and keep a well educated labor force]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5183-5184, 28-29.4.2010

  • The 15th Royal Government-Private Sector Forum Was Held
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Criticized Big Institutions of the World [the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Asia Development Bank, for making different [independent] forecasts about the Cambodian economy]
  • 88% of Garment Factories Were Affected by the Economic Crisis while 12% Were Not [according to the International Labor Organization]

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The Government Provides 950,000 Hectares of Concession Land to Companies – Friday, 2.4.2010

Posted on 3 April 2010. Filed under: Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“Phnom Penh: The Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning, and Construction, Senior Minister Im Chhun Lim, announced that economic concession land of about 950,000 hectares countrywide has been provided to 85 companies.

“He said so during a parliament session in the morning of 1 April 2010 to respond to the questions and claims of an opposition party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, regarding the economic concession land that the government has provided to companies for investment.

“Senior Minister Im Chhun Lim said that the size of economic concession land that the government has provided to companies is not more than 2 million hectares, as had been claimed by Mr. Son Chhay. Recently, because some companies did not operate appropriately according to contracts, the government had decided to cancel the contracts of 41 companies, and the land involved was more than 300,000 hectares.

“This clarification was made after a parliamentarian from the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Son Chhay, had encouraged the government to immediately review the provision of concession land of more than 2 million hectares to check if they violate the land law.

“Mr. Son Chhay said in front of Senior Minister Im Chhun Lim during the parliament session that the powerful and the rich fence their concession land and keep it unused, but they cut the trees at those regions. Therefore, the government should force those companies to do farming soon, to create jobs for farmers who had lost their land, and to grow agro-industrial crops.

“Mr. Son Chhay added that if those companies do not grow anything, land taxes must be imposed on them in order to force these people who just keep their land to sell it later to foreigners [for profit] to do farming, or the land should be taken back from them to be distributed to our farmers among whom not less than 25% lost their land and have no land to do cultivation.

“The annual report from the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] indicates that in 2009 there was no official report from the government showing the figures of land that the government had provided as economic concession land to private companies.

“But according to figures from partner organizations gathered by ADHOC, the government provided economic concession land of 1,208,185 hectares to private companies in 2009.

“The government can get income from the provision of economic concession land to private companies for national economic development through investment in agro-industry, and this helps to improve the living conditions of people who are employed for their labor.

“Nevertheless, ADHOC found that by 2009, no private companies that had received economic concession land operated justly, and they were involved in violent activities against citizens.

“Many negative impacts result from the licensing of economic concession land to private companies which heavily affect property, houses, cultivation land, and living conditions of the citizens at most of these economic concession areas countrywide.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5166, 2.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 2 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #450, 2.4.2010

  • Four Ebony Traders in Kompong Cham Were Arrested and Two Wood Storehouses in Meanchey District [Phnom Penh] Were Raided
  • International Telecommunication and Information Technology Exhibition Is Held at Koh Pich [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Amatak, Vol.11, #752, 2.4.2010

  • The Siem Reap Court Decided to Confiscate Mr. Son Chhay’s Land [about three hectares] and Deliver It to the Apsara Authority [Mr. Son Chhay said that he does not oppose the plan of the Apsara Authority to take the land for development, but he suggested that the government must give him a proper compensation – the offer is only US$0.50 per square meter]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2217, 2.4.2010

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #642, 2.4.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Official and Civil Society [the Union Federation, which consists of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association and the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Asked Car and Bus Owners Not to Increase Fares during the Khmer New Year

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6924, 2.4.2010

  • The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Grants US$2.5 Million to the Ministry of Rural Development for an Integration Project for Rural Development in Krouch Chhmar District [Kompong Cham]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3848, 2.4.2010

  • The Cambodian Government Should Not Disregard the 91 Recommendations of the United Nations [Human Rights Council]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #144, 2.4.2010

  • The Government Provides Land [of 1,650 hectares] of the Ream National Park to a Company to Invest [to create an eco-tourism site – Sihanoukville]
  • China Said That It Should Not Be Blamed over Mekong River Problems [where the waterway becomes shallower because of Chinese hydro-electric dams – but there is a severe drought in South and Southwest China]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5166, 2.4.2010

  • The Government Provides 950,000 Hectares of Concession Land to Companies
  • [The Minister of Information] Mr. Khieu Kanharith: [Minister of the Council of Ministers] Mr. Sok An Is the Person Who Asked for an Amnesty for Mr. Hang Chakra [the editor-in-chief of the pro-opposition party newspaper Khmer Machas Srok; he will be released from prison before the Khmer New Year in April 2010]
  • The Siem Reap Authorities Intercepted Two More Sites Storing Luxury Wood and Found More Than 100 Cubic Meters of Wood [no information about any accusation or arrest of the owners of the illegal wood – the owners, one owns an hotel, the other a restaurant, are known]

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China Signed Three Commercial Agreements with Cambodia – Friday, 19.3.2010

Posted on 20 March 2010. Filed under: Week 656 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 656

“The spokesperson of the Royal Government told Deum Ampil on 17 March 2010 that a visit by a Chinese delegation to Cambodia concentrates on stepping up commercial ties between both countries, and three memorandums of understanding were to be signed.

“The spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Phay Siphan, said that a Chinese Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Hui Liangyu [ 回良玉 ], visits Cambodia for three days from 17 to 19 March 2010. And the visit is not just to improve the already-good relationship with Cambodia, but also to expand commercial ties.

“Mr. Liangyu presided over the signing ceremony of agreements on agriculture, a sector that accounts for almost 27% of the country’s GDP. According to the announcement, another agreement to be signed is in the field of post and telecommunications between the Huawei Technologies of China and the Cambodian telecommunication system of CamGSM.

“It is seen that Cambodia has been successful in agricultural production in the last decade. Also, it is expected that the rice production of Cambodia for 2009-2010 will yield 7.286 million tonnes where 3.1 million tonnes are planned to be exported.

“In February 2010, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Hun Sen, stated that Cambodia plans to invest US$310 million, including a loan of US$240 million from China, to develop the irrigation systems in the country, a key factor to increase rice production for export.

“Many analysts said that paddy rice is a potential for Cambodian investment, but the opportunity to boost export remains weak, as Cambodia has not had sufficient irrigation systems for rice production.

“The Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Chan Sarun, said that the paddy rice cultivation might increase to 3.5 million hectares, while previously, rice was grown on just 2.6 million hectares. And this might yield 12.25 million tonnes.

“In 2008, the total market value of the Cambodian post and telecommunications sector remains unchanged at US$429 million in 2008. According to a report of the Cambodian government, for six years, the average growth of the Cambodian post and telecommunications sector was 31%. There are eight mobile phone companies in Cambodia, except for the Mobitel company that is co-owned by Luxembourg-registered Millicom International Cellular [Note: Interesting in the environment of present discussions of planned increased regulations for the telecommunications sector in Cambodia: Millicom International Cellular’s declared Mission is Freedom to access today’s world for people in emerging markets].

Mobitel, also under the name of Cellcard, http://www.mobitel.com.kh/ offers up to 66% of all services countrywide, followed by Camshin under the name of MFone http://www.mfone.com.kh/ with 12%. It is estimated that Cambodia might have more than 4 million mobile phone users among the population of 14 millions, where 90% of the population lives in rural areas. In addition, Cambodia has a potential for rice investment. Besides China, there are other big donors supporting Cambodia such as Japan and South Korea.

“Besides of the loans provided by the Chinese government to Cambodia, also the Kuwait government agreed to provide a loan of US$546 million to Cambodia, where US$486 million will be used to build up irrigation systems and US$60 million to construct roads in northeastern Cambodia, including in Battambang province, the biggest source of paddy rice. Moreover, Kuwait planned to invest US$200 million on rice production in Cambodia.

“Mr. Chan Sarun said, ‘We have money and we have land. They would not have come to invest if we would not have the potential to expand our agricultural systems.’

“It should be noted that the Chinese government had promised to provide more loans for investments for irrigation such as in Pursat, Prey Veng, and Oddar Meanchey.

“Responding to requests by the head of the Cambodia government to the Chinese government to invest more in Cambodia, the Chinese government eased Cambodian exports to China, allowing Cambodia to export up to 418 items of goods. In 2008, investment from China in Cambodia amounted to US$4.48 billion. But in 2009, the investment dropped to US$349.15 million due to the global financial crisis.

“Last December, the Chinese Vice President, Mr. Xi Jingping [ 习近平 ], visited Cambodia, and he encouraged more investments to be made in Cambodia. At that time, the Chinese government promised to provide US$1.2 billion in grant aid and loans for Cambodia to restore infrastructures which were devastated by two decades of civil war in the 1970s.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #438, 19.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 19 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #438, 19.3.2010

  • China Signed Three Commercial Agreements with Cambodia
  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Talked about the Loss of Territory to Vietnam Again, but Government Officials Rejected It
  • While a Family Was Eating Dinner Together, They Were Attacked by a Grenade, Killing Two Children and Injuring Eleven Other Persons [a suspect, who had a conflict with the family, was arrested – Kompong Cham]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2205, 19.3.2010

  • Sam Rainsy Told the Great King [Norodom Sihanouk] that His Map [that he had used earlier] Is Right
  • The Construction Site of the Phnom Penh Sugar Cane Factory Was Burnt Down by [nearly 600] Residents of the Amleang Commune [accusing the company of violating their land – Kompong Speu]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #630, 19.3.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: We Want the European Community to Provide More Aid to Cambodia, but We Also Want the National Assembly to Play an Important Role [to review the implementation of laws by the government – he said so after a meeting with a delegation from the European Union]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6912, 19.3.2010

  • The Authorities Announced that Karaoke Parlors and Nightclubs Have to Shut by Midnight [Sihanoukville]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #134, 19.3.2010

  • The Prime Minister Condemned the Coup of 18 March 1970 by [field marshal] Lon Nol [saying that if there had been no such a coup, there would have been no destruction of Cambodia – Note: It was on 18 March 1970 that the National Assembly instituted the National Assembly President Cheng Heng as acting chief of state by a vote of 89 to 3, while Prince Sihanouk was in Moscow; on 24 March he called, now in China, for armed resistance against the new government arrangements in Phnom Penh]
  • Two Separate Land Conflicts in Kompong Speu Led to Violence Which Resulted in 14 Police Officers and 12 Other Citizens Being Injured [in one case, the authorities tried to evict citizens who lost a complaint against the Meng Keth company, and in another, citizens clashed with the Phnom Penh Sugar company of Oknha Ly Yong Phat]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5154, 19.3.2010

  • [70 km of] National Road 78 from Ban Lung to Ou Ya Dav at the Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Was Inaugurated [Ratanakiri]
  • Chevron Contributed Almost US$200,000 to Help Educate Poor Fishery Communities about Health and Micro Finance
  • Germany Donated [20] Computers Worth More Than US$30,000 to the National Assembly of Cambodia

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The Passing of the Anti-Corruption Law, and Planned Changes in Telecommunications – Sunday, 14.3.2010

Posted on 15 March 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

As regular readers of The Mirror know, we often quote the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia to have a clear basis when trying to better understand certain actions and events. Today’s editorial is written hoping for discussions and explanations, and, if necessary, clarifications and corrections. Recently, there were actions and statements, which seem to call for explanations and clarifications, so that a common public understanding can be achieved. One issue is related to the Anti-Corruption Law, and the other to regulatory plans or decisions in the field of telecommunications.

As for the Anti-Corruption Law, this is not an attempt to analyze its content. It is only to share some observations, some of which seem to have implications related to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The first observation is related to formalities, as this is the Cambodian law which has been drafted for the longest time compared to other laws – since 1994, and with active support for this process by the United Nations since 2004. Then, in December 2009, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers announced that the draft is now ready, but he disclosed only one point: that also the heads of NGOs would have to declare their assets, adding that the text would be available for consideration as soon as it would be at the National Assembly. This too took a surprisingly long time; because of timing problems, the parliamentarians of the Human Rights Party declared not to take part in the parliamentary deliberations of this draft, as they did not have enough time to review this important text, which was actually distributed only on 5 March 2010, while a session of the National Assembly was scheduled to be held already on 10 March 2010. And then the draft, under deliberation since 1994, was adopted very fast, without any amendments, in just one and a half days.

An Anti-Corruption Law had been awaited eagerly since years, as Cambodia was ranked 158 out of 180 countries on the latest list of the corruption perception index of Transparency International, and it was ranked the second most corrupt Southeast Asian country after Indonesia, in an annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy.

The UN country team in Cambodia, made up of 23 specialized agencies, had expressed its concern that an extra-ordinary session was convened only days after the draft had been shared with the members of the National Assembly. But the Cambodian government considered the call by the UN country team for “a transparent and participatory” process to be “flagrantly interfering in the internal affairs of a UN member state,” and to be a statement outside of its mandate, though “good governance and the promotion and protection of human rights” is one of the four fields of the agreed UN Development Assistance Framework, on which the work of the UN country team is based.

But not only the timing gives cause to questions. The UN country team was also advised by the Cambodian government to “refrain from acting as if it were the spokesperson of the opposition parties.” We are not aware that this had been the case, but the press had also quoted the Prime Minister as saying, “if somebody wants this law to be amended, they have to wait until they win the elections.” We cannot verify that the Prime Minister said so, but these words seem to indicate that the constitutional principle, stated in Article 51, “The legislative, executive, and judicial powers shall be separate” is not considered to be applicable. In normal parliamentary proceedings under the separation of the three powers of the legislative, the executive, and the judicial, no executive can know – before the deliberations in the legislative – if a draft will be amended or not. This is not only something which may happen because of efforts of opposition party members, but also any active member of the parliamentary majority may scrutinize drafts and propose amendments, before voting on a draft.

Besides, the Senate, and the Constitutional Council, are additional important stages to consider legislation passed by the National Assembly – irrespective of party allegiances of their members – which may result in amendments, before a law is presented to the King. Such considerations may not only come from opposition parties, but they are foreseen as possible in the Constitution itself. The Senate and the Constitutional Council were not created just to rubber-stamp what the National Assembly has decided.

There is a second issue, which seems to be of a more technical nature – but it has fundamental implications for the free flow of information, and for the basic principles for the management of the economy of the country, as laid out in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The Articles 56 and 63 of the Constitution say: “The Kingdom of Cambodia shall adopt the market economy system” and “The State shall respect market management in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people.”

Two weeks ago, under the 28.2.2010, The Mirror had presented, in more detail, considerations under the headline of “Internet Governance, Censorship, and the UN Multi-Stakeholder Approach” about plans to force all Internet communication between e-mail users of different Internet Service Providers in the country through only one Internet Exchange Point [IXP]. A deputy director of Telecom Cambodia – the organization to operate the IXP – had said that a Web site that attacks the government could then be blocked. As the Minister of Information said: there is no legal basis for this.

In the meantime additional information appeared and is discussed: Telecom Cambodia might get the right to operate a monopoly by becoming the only company in Cambodia with the right to internationally buy Internet connection, and all other Internet Service Providers would have to buy their international access from Telecom Cambodia, one of their competitors. Such interference into economic affairs is difficult to understand in view of the legal framework defined in the Constitution, where the state is ordered – rather than to interfere into the marked – to guarantee that the market can operate freely “in order to guarantee a better standard of living for the people” according to the forces of competition in the market.

It should be remembered that Telecom Cambodia was created in order to disengage the regulatory and the operational functions which formerly had been both combined in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

The second term government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, starting from 1998, had adopted as its key orientation a “three pronged strategy” – the second prong was the re-integration of Cambodia into the international community – the UN, ASEAN, and the World Trade Organization. The other two elements were “establishing peace and security,” and “promoting administrative and judicial reforms.”

In a speech of the Prime Minister to welcome the Third Asian-German Editor’s Forum on 31 January 2000, he referred to this principle, “I think it is best to give everyone of you the role as an evaluator for your judgment to be made on the current situation of Cambodia. What I can share in this efforts is the three pronged strategy which I have put out… Essentially, one needs to have a clear and correct vision before one can develop Cambodia as a process.” This orientation led also to extensive consultations with advisors of the World Bank about the situation of the telecommunication sector in the country, which the Prime Minister had identified on several occasions as a crucial field for the future of Cambodia, in a situation, where the costs of using the telephone and the Internet was – and still is – high in Cambodia, compared to neighboring countries.

The International Telecommunication Union [ITU] is about 100 years older than the United Nations, but it is now part of the UN system. In the ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Report of 1998 it is stated that previously, investment in the “telecommunication services sector have been limited by the fact that most countries had state-owned monopoly carriers. This era is now coming to an end. Since 1984, 44 Public Telecommunication Operators have been privatized… telecommunications has a dual role as both a traded product and service, and as a facilitator of trade in other products and services… What are the benefits of trade liberalization? Freer trade in telecommunications promises to deliver at least three economic gains: new and improved products and services, lower prices, and additional investment. Open trade in telecommunication services should result in more competition, lowering prices for most businesses and for many consumers and providing both with a choice of different service providers.”

The World Bank advice, at that time, for Cambodia, showed the direction. The following direct quotes are from the final report and presentation of its “Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility.”

  • World Bank project to strengthening the Cambodian Telecommunications regulatory framework with rules for fair competition – interconnection regime
  • Aims at cost effective communications – Doing nothing in not an option, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication – MPTC – as it is cannot long survive
  • Mobile vs. Fixed Phones: THE BIG DIFFERENCE:
    • fixed: state sector, no money, no autonomy, slow progress
    • mobile: private money, growing fast, light handed regulation
    • competition in mobiles has produced, good services
    • state management has produced poor service, stagnation and lost opportunities
  • Principal Institutional Problem:
  • MPTC is an integrated, policy, regulatory, operational and asset management agency
  • Expert advice is unanimous that this leads to
    • conflicts of interest
    • poor asset management
    • business decisions suffer from political intervention
    • political priorities suffer from a preoccupation with business issues
  • All Advisers Recommend
  • MPTC should have its current functions located in separate agencies:
    • policy – the correct function for MPTC is regulation, an independent function
    • business operations – Telecom Cambodia a commercial entity with operational autonomy, eventually private

The present intentions, to re-establish, a monopolistic role for Telecom Cambodia, would revert what has been achieved under the Prime Minister’s guidance, related to the second of his three-pronged objectives: to place the policies of the Cambodian government, after decades of international isolation, into the present international context. Telecom Cambodia was created as an operator under the rules of the market, to have competition among other operators, and to establish the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications as a technical regulator. To give a mandatory monopolistic role to Telecom Cambodia is contrary to the efforts of a decade, and is contrary to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

I have observed these developments during the last two weeks form abroad, participating in the meetings of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN – the institution coordinating the assigning and the functioning of the Internet addresses, which was held in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

In a reception by the Communications Commission of Kenya – the main telecommunications regulator of the country – we received the following bag to carry our documents. It is inscribed with the words which show that the monopolies have been abolished in the telecommunication sector, and the results ensure fairness for all – and much lower costs than in Cambodia:

Fairness

Fairness


Ensuring fair play

Kenyan Broadband Pricing

Kenyan Broadband Pricing

.

The public is invited to sign up for Internet connections in this developing country in East Africa at a fair, low price:

1499 Kenyan Shilling per month, that is US$20 for unlimited broadband Internet access at a speed of 256 Kilobit per Second – how long will this remain a distant dream in Cambodia?

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Violence against Women Becomes More Cruel – Saturday, 13.3.2010

Posted on 13 March 2010. Filed under: Week 655 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

“Reports presented by women’s organizations show that violence against women appears more cruel, where even fathers rape their daughters.

“In the morning of 12 March 2010, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, in collaboration with the Open Institute, organized a consultative meeting about wider participation to develop the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women, and many women’s organizations attended the meeting, presided over by a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Sy Define.

“According to the representatives of the organizations that participated in the discussions, violence against women, especially rape, domestic violence, and the trafficking of women and children, continue. Worst of all, even fathers rape their daughters. This shows that violence against women appears in more and more cruel forms.

“The executive director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, said that this important meeting was organized with the aim to reflect about violence against women, to show how to use Information and Telecommunication Technology (ICT) in relation to violence against women, and to discuss the roles and strategies of women’s organizations, and the ways how to cooperate with the Royal Government, to implement the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women in cooperation together.

“During a former, the first, meeting, there had been discussions about violence against women and the intersection between violence against women and ICT, so as to encourage the publication of information about violence against women through the media.

“Ms. Sy Define said during the meeting that the strategies promoting a wider participation between state institutions and civil society organizations to collaboratively implement the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women needs further deliberations, while the importance and the efficiency of the use of ICT to prevent violence against women and children is recognized.

“Ms. Sy Define added that this conference is to open the view of different actors with the same goal of cooperation and of proper strategies, so that separate strategies of civil society organizations become cross-field participation, especially in the review of the usefulness and the potential of the use of technological information infrastructure.” Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2200, 13.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 13 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #433, 13.3.2010

  • The Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany [Mr. Dirk Niebel] Asked the President of the National Assembly of Cambodia Why There Are No Members from the Sam Rainsy Party in the Nine Commissions [Mr. Heng Samrin responded that this is because the Sam Rainsy Party did not send their candidates during the elections to choose members for the commissions; also, Mr. Dirk Niebel suggested that Cambodia should not solve some criminal cases out of the court system, like rape and child labor abuse]
  • Military Officials in Kratie Continue to Do Wood Trading, Not Afraid of the Recommendation of the Head of the Royal Government [ordering them to stop being involved in such activities]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2200, 13.3.2010

  • Violence against Women Becomes More Cruel
  • Mr. Serey Kosal [a former FUNCINPEC soldier, now a member of the Royal Government with a position equal to a Senior Minister] Was Promoted to the Rank of a Four Star General

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #625, 13.3.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party, Donors, the United Nations, and Civil Society Organizations Are Concerned that the Anti-Corruption Law May Become a Law That Hides Corruption

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6907, 13-14.3.2010

  • The Spokesperson of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Released a Statement Rejecting the Interference of the UN Country Team [as it officially requested the National Assembly of Cambodia to delay the adoption, permitting to discuss the anti-corruption draft law, so that it could be reviewed by the opposition parties and civil society organizations]
  • The United States Granted US$10 Million for Education Programs [to improve the quality of education and to increase school attendance for all children, especially for those from families that lack access, like ethnic minority people, as well as girls, and children from very impoverished families]
  • More Than 200 Citizens Gathered [at the office of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association – ADHOC] to Report Their Lost Land in Thpong, Oral, and Odongk Districts [taken over by some companies – Kompong Speu]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5149, 13.3.2010

  • Human Rights Report of the US Department of State [for 2009]: Cambodia Progresses in the Rights of the Disabled, but Restricts Freedom of Expression [according to the report released on 11 March 2010]
  • There Are 643 US Companies Listed in Cambodia [with a total capital of US$71 million] but Only 71 Are Investment Companies
  • Thailand Pretended that Thaksin Arrived in Siem Reap while Bangkok Starts to Be in Turmoil because of Demonstrations [Cambodia denied that Mr. Thaksin arrived in Cambodia]
  • Laos Asked Cambodia to Assist with Sending Teachers for Monks [as there is a lack in Laos]

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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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