People Losing Land and Housing Plan to Protest in Front of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Monday, 14.6.2010

Posted on 15 June 2010. Filed under: Week 669 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 669

“Phnom Penh: Human Rights activists said that many citizens who have land disputes and suffer from evictions without proper compensation plan to come from provinces and cities to protest and to express their difficulties to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia, Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, on Monday, 14 June 2010.

“The UN Special Rapporteur, Mr. Surya Prasad Subedi, is on a 10 days mission in Cambodia, starting from 8 June 2010. Mr. Surya did not intend to take up land disputes and the evictions of citizens as important topics to discuss them with the head of the Cambodian government. He mentioned only the judicial reform as the subject to be discussed, to find solutions during his third visit to Cambodia.

“An official of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC], Mr. Uoch Leng, said that on 14 June 2010, many citizens who are victims of land disputes in several provinces and cities will come to protest in front of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia at House Number 4, Street 302, Boeng Keng Kang I commune, Chamkar Mon district, Phnom Penh.

“This activist said that the protest aims to express the difficulties of citizens losing land due to the activities of the rich and of the powerful, and due to the provision of economic concession land to private companies, which affect and make citizens lose the land on which they depend for their lives.

“Mr. Uoch Leng added that on 14 June 2010, there will be citizens from the Kompong Tralach district in Kompong Chhnang, the Kandal Stung district from Kandal, the Chi Kraeng district from Siem Reap, the Romeas Haek district from Svay Rieng, the Thpong and Oral districts from Kompong Speu, and the Srae Ambel district from Koh Kong, citizens from the Boeng Kak Lake area in Phnom Penh, and some other citizens involved in land disputes.

“According to ADHOC, since early 2010, 42 citizens were jailed over land disputes at different provinces and cities. 187 citizens were accused by courts relating to land disputes with private companies, officials, and the rich, such as in Svay Rieng, Takeo, Siem Reap, Kampot, Preah Vihear, Kompong Thom, Kompong Speu, Battambang, and Oddar Meanchey.

“About 150,000 citizens have been evicted from their homes on the basis of not transparent decisions by the courts.

“Regarding the plan of citizens from different areas to protest, an advisor of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, considers that officials of some non-government organizations which tend towards the opposition, take the opportunity to benefit from the visit of Mr. Surya.

“Mr. Tith Sothea, an adviser of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, added that those organizations encourage the UN human rights Special Rapporteur to solve land disputes so that they can apply for more international funds for their own organizations.

“Mr. Tith Sothea said the government is conducting reforms on land disputes, and the concessions of many companies had been withdrawn by the Royal Government after it became obvious that there was no development. He added that the plan of citizens from provinces and cities to protest on Monday, 14 June 2010, is within their rights, and their demonstration will not be prohibited by the authorities.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 18, #5223, 13-14.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 14 June 2010

Deum Tnot, Vol.3, #107, 14-15.6.2010

  • The Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers Called on Workers [in the whole country] to Suspend Their Work on 13, 14, and 15 July 2010 [to ask for an increase of their monthly salaries to at least US$70, and to demand that factory owners have to obey the labor law]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #503, 13-14.6.2010

  • The Authorities Allow 237 Families, Victimized by a Fire [at the railway block in Tuol Kork] to Settle on the Same Area [they will not be required to relocate to a new area – Phnom Penh]
  • About 100 Workers at the Seratic Garment Factory Fainted because of Inhaling Gas Leaking from some Pipes

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2274, 13-14.6.2010

  • The Supreme Court Ordered the [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Ms. Mu Sochua to Pay a Fine [roughly US$4,000 for losing a defamation case with Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • The Ministry of Information Ordered to Stop the Broadcasting of the Program of [the director of a development and training organization, providing education about democracy via radio at FM 90 in Phnom Penh, FM 90.25 in Battambang, FM 88.5 in Kompong Thom, and FM 90.25 in Oddar Meanchey, who is also the president the League for Democracy Party – “Think Together – Decide Together – Act Together” – who is a [dissident] former Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Mr. Khem Veasna [claiming that the programs did not follow the principles set by the ministry, as the programs were often used for political propaganda]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6981, 14.6.2010

  • Within Three Months of this Year, Thai Products Imported to Cambodia Amounted to US$700 Million [and Cambodian products exported to Thailand were only about US$24 million]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3905, 14.6.2010

  • The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association [ADHOC] Denied that It Encourages Citizens Losing Land to Meet with the UN Human Rights Special Representative This Morning [there had been such accusations against ADHOC, but the accuser is not mentioned]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #192, 14.6.2010

  • [With more than 60,000 thumbprints attached] Citizens Victimized by Land Disputes Plan to Send a Petition to the Prime Minister [to ask for his intervention]
  • Samdech Euv [the former King] Plans to Go to China at the End of June [for a medical checkup]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5223, 13-14.6.2010

  • People Losing Land and Housing Plan to Protest in Front of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • The Export of Cambodia to France Increased [to Euro 83 million or approx. US$100 million in 2009, compared to 2008, when it was Euro 82 million], while There Are More French Investments in Cambodia [amounting to more than Euro 90 million or approx. US$108 million – [no 2010 figures given here]]

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Changing Approaches to Old Problems – Sunday, 13.6.2010

Posted on 14 June 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 668 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 668

Though the development of labor unions has progressed over the years, there were always also tensions. First, it has to be acknowledged that there will always be tensions, that is: between labor unions on the one side, through which workers express their opinion and negotiate their claims and rights – and the owners of the enterprises where they work. Both sides need each other, and it is always necessary to work towards an equilibrium between both sides and their interests.

In many countries with a market economy system, it is the state that is watching over this balance of power so that it is fair and helps maintain social peace and, if possible, also economic progress in a society. But when one of these sides has the impression that the state does not take a neutral position, but is favoring one side over the other, relations get strained.

The recently passed legislation to restrict public demonstrations by limiting the number of participants to 200, and to designate a place for these people to meet, restricting their public display by marching together, followed by announcements that the Ministry of Labor is drafting a new law on Labor Unions. While there was no general opposition to regulate the role of labor unions by law, it was greeted by suspicion that it is another attempt to control the unions, for example be imposing some mechanisms how they have to report their finances transparently. – It is not publicly known that the government is planning to impose similar regulations on the other side. The Ministry of Labor has indicated that the draft of the law would be made available for discussion in time – again this is not yet seen to come, after the draft anti-corruption law had been kept confidential almost until the time when it was discussed and voted upon.

At the same time where such a move to more regulation by the state is perceived in Cambodia, there are unprecedented movements in China that workers of some international companies are breaking out of the system of the Chinese, state regulated labor unions, where workers have started to act independently – not 200, but close to 20,000 in one place – to claim public attention to their situation.

The Bangkok Post presented an interesting analysis and overview of these developments – and its problems – on 13 June 2010:

On Friday morning, about 17,000 workers at a Honda car parts plant in Zhongshan, China, held a protest march to the factory gates. They were demanding an almost doubling of their wages and the right to form their own labor unions, as opposed to the government controlled national federation of trade unions. This was the third Honda plant hit by a work stoppage in the last two weeks…

It is more that a little ironic that China, a country that in March announced a new certification system for reporters which requires training in Marxist theories, has been seeing increasing incidents of labor groups demonstrating for greater rights.

It is, of course, a basic premise of Marxism that capitalism exploits the working class, who are the true producers of wealth in society.

The events in Zhongshan follow close on the heels of the bad publicity surrounding a spate of suicides at the giant Foxconn Technology group… which employs more than 300,000 workers making iPhones and other electronic devices. Workers at the compound complained that they were driven like robots by the excessively fast assembly line…

The company agreed to a 65% pay increase for workers, which it says will be passed on to the buyers of its electronic goods.

It is encouraging that the company has taken steps to improve the lot of workers, but this coincides with the announcement that the company might move some of its production lines back to Taiwan, if the government there offers enough incentives, especially lowering the minimum wage for hiring foreign laborers.

The awakening of China’s labor force has to be considered a good thing, but striking a balance that allows a much better quality of life for workers, and enough profitability to keep the companies offering foreign direct investment interested will be a challenge for the workers, for the companies, and for the government.

The Mirror had reported recently about a protracted labor conflict – and that the plan of workers to suspend their work for three days, to demand an increase of salaries, and that the employer obey the labor law, is still not canceled.

Such developments may have an influence also on Cambodia. Not only in terms of labor-management relations in Cambodia, but it may also lead to new job opportunities for Cambodian workers abroad – an increasing number of people finding employment and economic returns in other countries: in Malaysia, in South Korea, and increasingly in some Arab countries.

And this at a time – though in a different context – when the Cambodian Watchdog Council is requesting that the number of foreigners living in Cambodia should be made more transparent, and probably more controlled.

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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]

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Vann Molyvann: Some Public Properties Are State Properties, but They Are under the Control of the Ruling Party – Saturday, 29.5.2010

Posted on 30 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“Mr. Vann Molyvann, the greatest Khmer architect since the 1960ies, recalls pleasant memories and achievements, having designed many public constructions, but it is now important in his mind that some of his greatest achievements have been changed, and the public can no longer have access to them; that means that the management and the exploitation of those achievements serve only a small group.

“Since Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953, Mr. Vann Molyvann invested all his efforts to work with Samdech Norodom Sihanouk to organize the muddy Phnom Penh city to become a modern city, but in the late 1960ies, Cambodia fell into war, and finally the country came under control of the Khmer Rouge genocidal regime, developments which had forced Mr. Vann Molyvann to flee Cambodia, leaving behind numerous works of New Khmer Architecture.

“After living abroad for more than 20 years, Mr. Vann Molyvann returned to Cambodia and continued to work as an architect, trying to organize the city of Phnom Penh with the intention to keep the Khmer architecture for a long time. Mr. Vann Molyvann had opposed some plans that destroyed the beauty of the city, like the construction of high-rise buildings near the Royal Palace, or in the historical and cultural areas in Siem Reap, which did not satisfy some officials, and they did not appreciate the idea to conserve Khmer architecture. That caused Mr. Vann Molyvann to resign from his position in the Cambodian government.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann told Mr. Tom Waiter of The Wall Street Journal that he met [when he was student of law in France] Mr. Henri Marchal, a French expert architect, working at the French School of the Far East [which was also involved in the study and restoration of Angkor Wat], and at that time he realized that he wanted to be an architect. Then Mr. Vann Molyvann was transferred to the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts – the highest institution for Arts studies, where he studied until 1950. Mr. Vann Molyvann came back to Cambodia in 1956.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann recalled that it was difficult work and a challenge the start to design some important buildings, like the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, the Independence Monument, the National Olympic Stadium, the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and especially the plan to organize Phnom Penh to become a modern city. To reorganize the city maintaining Khmer architecture was difficult, as the country had been under French colonial rule for almost 100 years, everything seemed to be full of French architecture.

“He recalls that he produced many plans for the Independence Monument and submitted them to the Head of State [Prince Sihanouk], and he was afraid to directly disagree with the Head of State about how to organize the city and other great public construction tasks in Phnom Penh. Mr. Vann Molyvann began dredging earth to fill up some areas to the south area of the Royal Palace and some other parts of Phnom Penh in order to create parks and to keep Phnom Penh clean.

“As for the National Olympic Stadium that can seat 60,000 people, it is great architecture, using Khmer style that further beautifies Phnom Penh. The Chaktomuk Conference Hall was his first plan, drafted so that it looks like an open palm leaf. The library in the Institute of Foreign Languages and the Royal University of Phnom Penh were built in Khmer style. By the early of the 1960ies, Cambodia had many great public works of constructions that were internationally admired.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann added that he had fled the country for some time when Cambodia started to have a civil war. He returned to Cambodia in 1993 and was assigned Secretary of State of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, in charge of land management, and his special work was to organize the World Heritage areas in Siem Reap cooperating with UNESCO. When Mr. Vann Molyvann opposed the constructions of some hotels and international entertainment places that affect the beauty and the Angkor scenery, some officials were not satisfied with him.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann went on to say that the government wanted him to use the resources of the Angkor area to develop Siem Reap without the participation from local citizens. In 1998, he was appointed as head of the Apsara Authority, and his role was to conserve ancient temples and the Angkor scenery. He said that three years later in 2001, there were disagreements among experts over the development and the use of ground water that can affect the stability of the base of ancient temples, and if there were no solutions, many ancient temples would collapse and could not last long. However, some powerful officials still kept to promote these developments against the ideas and the concepts of Mr. Vann Molyvann, which caused him to resign from his position.

“Now Mr. Vann Molyvann is old, and he returned recently to Cambodia and drove his own car to see the great works of architecture that he had built, like the Independence Monument, the Chaktomuk Conference Hall, the National Olympic Stadium, the National Library etc., and he found that they changed much. Real estate considered to be state property is not managed properly. It seems like the current rulers manage state properties just as they like, which does not serve the public interest.

Independence Monument and one-third built 42-stories Golden Double Tower

Independence Monument and one-third built 42-stories Golden Double Tower

“Actually, private companies built flats around the National Olympic Stadium, making it lose some areas formerly used for sports, and it affects the environment, as it blocks the free flow of air. Cambodia has not had a law regarding the turning of state property into private property, but so far, some state buildings have been transferred to private companies, but without transparent bidding processes. There was also collusion to exchange state buildings in the center of the city for places in the suburbs, based on private interests.

“With some sadness and anger, Mr. Vann Molyvann spoke out loudly that at present: the great architecture that he constructed with all his efforts for the public and for the interest of society no longer remains. Mr. Vann Molyvann said that those properties no longer belong to the state, as they are managed by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party instead.

“Mr. Vann Molyvann’s claim seems right, because nowadays, most state buildings are controlled by state institutions with officials from the ruling party in charge, like the Chaktomuk Conference Hall which is controlled by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, and the National Olympic Stadium which is controlled by the Ministry of Education, where even Khmer Kampuchea Krom people are not allowed to use those places to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the loss of Khmer Kampuchea Krom land [to Vietnam], being denied for some illogical reasons.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #38, 29-30.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 29 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #490, 29.5.2010

  • The Sam Rainsy Party Sent a Letter to the Ministry of Interior for the Second Time to Ask for Permission to Visit Two Prisoners [jailed for removing Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers in Svay Rieng]
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Lacks US$3.1 Million for the Process in 2010 [the Cambodian side of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal needed US$6.5 million; so far, US$3.4 million has been granted by Australia, the European Union, Germany, and Japan, so they still lack US$3.1 million]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2261, 29.5.2010

  • Two Groups of Citizens Continue to Accuse the Heng Development Company of Grabbing Their Land, now Asking for an Intervention from Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen and His Wife
  • Nine Teenage Boys [between 17 and 28 years old] Lured a [19 year old] Teenage Girl and Raped Her [three of them were arrested – Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6968, 29-30.5.2010

  • The Authorities Used Force to Disperse Protesters from the Area at the Independence Monument [close to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s city house]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #38, 29-30.5.2010

  • Vann Molyvann: Some Public Properties Are State Properties, but They Are under the Control of the Ruling Party
  • Creating a Law to Control Political Party Budgets Would Help to Reduce the Buying of Votes and of Paying Political Activists

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5210, 29.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Asked the World Tourism Organization to Continue to Help Conserve Porpoises in Cambodia
  • Electricité du Cambodge Can Supply Only 250 Megawatt of Electricity, while the Demand for Consumption Is Up to 290 Megawatts [therefore, electricity is cut off at irregular times in some areas]

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Cambodia Rejected Report of Amnesty International – Friday, 28.5.2010

Posted on 29 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“A government official rejected a report of Amnesty International on 27 May 2010. Amnesty International released its Amnesty International Report 2010 on human rights, saying that forced evictions affect the livelihood of thousands of families.

“The report mentions one case of the Group 78 in the Tonle Basak commune, Phnom Penh, and another case in the Chi Kraeng district, Siem Reap, where security forces used weapons to shoot at protesters injuring them. In conclusion, regarding forced evictions, Amnesty International wrote that there were at least 26 such cases, where 27,000 people, mostly the poor, were evicted.

“The report continues to say that police had arrested 149 people protesting against land grabbing. It says, ‘The rich and powerful continued to abuse the criminal justice system to silence people protesting against evictions and land grabs.’

“The spokesperson of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Tith Sothea, blamed the writers of the report that they did not study the actual situation in Cambodia before they started writing the report. Mr. Tith Sothea commented, ‘This group just want to control Cambodia, but does not help Cambodia with anything. They just attack the Cambodian government without any basis.’

“Amnesty International claims that they had sent their delegations to Cambodia several times; they wrote in this report that accusations against perpetrators raping women and girls were not always made, due to the weakness of the implementation of anti-corruption legislation by the courts and the frequent use of monetary arrangements outside of the court system [without criminal investigations and convictions]. The report adds that such solutions are normally made by negotiations between law enforcement officials and victims, to make the victims withdraw their complaints. Quoting different publication, the report noticed that the number of cases of rape of women and girls in general, as well as violence against women sex workers, keeps increasing. And these cases happen to victims who are younger and younger [many are below the age of 10].” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5209, 28.5.2010

Note:

In order to facilitate the evaluation of the controversial Amnesty International Report 2010, we select here the section of the Cambodia Country Report.

Amnesty International Report 2010

Amnesty International Report 2010

Forced evictions continued to affect thousands of families across the country, predominantly people living in poverty. Activists from communities affected by forced evictions and other land confiscations mobilized to join forces in protests and appeals to the authorities. A wave of legal actions against housing rights defenders, journalists and other critical voices stifled freedom of expression. The first trial to address past Khmer Rouge atrocities took place. The defendant, Duch, pleaded guilty, but later asked to be acquitted.

Background

At least 45,000 garment factory workers lost their jobs as a result of the global economic crisis and a number of companies reduced salaries. Surveys indicated growing mass youth unemployment as some 300,000 young people faced joblessness after completing their high school and bachelor degrees. For the first time, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered Cambodia’s state report, which the authorities had delayed submitting for 14 years. The Committee identified serious shortcomings in the implementation of a number of treaty obligations, including those relating to the judicial system, housing, and gender inequalities. Cambodia’s human rights record was reviewed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in December.

Forced evictions

Forced evictions continued to affect the lives of thousands of Cambodians. At least 26 forced evictions displaced around 27,000 people, the vast majority from communities living in poverty. In July, a number of international donors called for an end to forced evictions “until a fair and transparent mechanism for resolving land disputes is in place and a comprehensive resettlement policy” is established.

On 16/17 July 2009, security forces forcibly evicted Group 78, a community group in Phnom Penh, after a deeply flawed legal process. The last 60 families had no choice but to dismantle their houses and accept compensation that prevented them from living near their former homes and workplaces. Most of the families were relocated outside the city with few work prospects.

After civil society criticism, the World Bank attempted to strengthen safeguards in a multi-donor supported Land Management and Administration Project to protect security of tenure for people in urban slums and other vulnerable areas. In early September, the government responded by terminating its contract with the Bank.

Human rights defenders

The rich and powerful continued to abuse the criminal justice system to silence people protesting against evictions and land grabs. Police arrested at least 149 activists for their peaceful defense of the right to housing.

On 22 March 2009, security forces shot at unarmed villagers in Siem Reap province, injuring at least four people. The villagers, from Chikreng district, were protesting against the loss of farmland that had come under dispute. By the end of the year, no authority had investigated the shooting, but police had arrested at least 12 of the villagers, two of whom were subsequently convicted of robbery for attempting to harvest their rice on the disputed land. Seven were acquitted but remained in arbitrary detention pending a prosecutorial appeal.

Informal representatives from communities in most provinces increasingly formed grassroots networks,
jointly voicing concerns over forced evictions and intimidation.

International justice

In March, the historic first hearing of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC, Khmer Rouge Tribunal) took place with the trial of Kaing Guek Eav (known as Duch). Duch was commander of the notorious security prison S-21. During the 72-day hearing, survivors and victims of Khmer Rouge atrocities heard for the first time evidence against “those most responsible.” Duch admitted responsibility for crimes committed at S-21, including killing about 15,000 people.

The trial of four senior Khmer Rouge leaders was in preparation, and the International Co-Prosecutor submitted requests to open investigations into an additional five suspects. The Cambodian government spoke out against additional investigations saying they could lead to unrest, apparently in an attempt to exert influence over the tribunal.

In July, co-investigating judges decided to allow “confessions” obtained by torture as evidence in the case of Ieng Thirith. This breached the “exclusionary rule” in Article 15 of the UN Convention against Torture which binds the ECCC.

Freedom of expression –

A series of prosecutions of people who criticized government policies had a stifling effect on freedom of expression.

Courts sentenced newspaper editor Hang Chakra, and the director of an NGO, both affiliated to the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), to prison terms for peacefully expressing views.

The Phnom Penh Court convicted Mu Sochua, Secretary-General of the SRP, of defamation for filing a complaint – also for defamation – against the Prime Minister. She had no legal counsel because her lawyer had withdrawn from the case after receiving threats of legal action for speaking about the case at a press conference. Mu Sochua received a non-custodial sentence.

On 10 July 2009, one of the few remaining opposition-affiliated daily newspapers, Moneaksekar Khmer (Khmer Conscience), stopped publishing. The editor, Dam Sith, issued a public apology for articles, over which the government had requested a criminal investigation for “incitement.”

By the end of the year, police had made no progress on the investigation into the murder of Moneaksekar Khmer reporter Khim Sambor. He had been killed by unknown assailants during the July 2008 elections.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

On 12 October 2009, the National Assembly passed the new Penal Code. This retained defamation as a criminal offense. Opposition parliamentarians and civil society groups criticized a new Law on non-violent demonstrations, passed by the National Assembly in October. Authorities routinely denied permission for demonstrations and the law, if adopted, risked codifying such restrictions.

Violence against women and girls

Prosecution of rapists remained rare, due to poor law enforcement, corruption in the courts and widespread use of out-of-court financial settlements. Settlements were typically arranged by law enforcement officials and stipulated that the victim withdraw any criminal complaint. Reports indicated that rapes of women and girls, including sex workers, continued to increase, with the age of victims falling.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Cambodia in March/May, September and October/December.
  • Cambodia: Urban development or relocating slums? (ASA 23/002/2009)
  • Cambodia: After 30 years Khmer Rouge crimes on trial (ASA 23/003/2009)
  • Cambodia: Briefing for the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: 42nd session, May 2009 (ASA 23/004/2009)
  • Cambodia: Borei Keila – Lives at risk (ASA 23/008/2009)

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 28 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #489, 28.5.2010

  • The Government Rejected the Criticism [by the Sam Rainsy Party] over the Setting of Border Markers in Takeo [government official said that the claim by the Sam Rainsy Party that the Border Marker 270 was put in a rice field of a Cambodian farmer is only based on the farmer’s claim]
  • A Group of Ten Robbers Was Arrested [in Kompong Speu]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2260, 28.5.2010

  • UNDP: Cambodia Has the Opportunity to Reduce Poverty and to Boost Development through Income from the Mineral Sector

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #667, 28.5.2010

  • Parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party Voted to Add More Members to the Council of Ministers [“the cabinet”], Which Makes this Institution to Have Too Many Members

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6967, 28.5.2010

  • The Owner of the Phnom Yat Cloth Shop Was Threatened at Gun Point by a General [the victim’s family filed a complaint against the general – Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3819, 28.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: We Do Not Support the Nomination of More Government Members, Which Is Unnecessary, as Cambodia Is Poor

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #181, 28.5.2010

  • The National Assembly Voted to Nominate More Officials, as Requested by the Cambodian Government [one was appointed at the Prime Minister’s office, and ten others as secretaries of state at various ministries]
  • A New Elevated Road Will Be Constructed in the Disputed Boeng Kak Development Area

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5209, 28.5.2010

  • Cambodia Rejected Report of Amnesty International
  • The Opposition Party Asked for a Postponement of the Setting of Cambodian-Vietnamese Border Posts in Takeo [as Border Post 270 was put in a rice field of Khmer farmer]
  • Kangwon Province of the Republic of Korea Donated Four Firefighter Trucks and Twelve Ambulances to Siem Reap

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Cambodia Promises to Use the Money from Mineral Resources Transparently – Thursday, 27.5.2010

Posted on 28 May 2010. Filed under: Week 666 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 666

“International experts who attended the international conference about mineral exploration that was held for the first time in Cambodia on Wednesday, 26 May 2010, said that mineral exploration in Cambodia, which has not provided any yield so far, is like a blank project that can get benefits from the experience in other countries so as to avoid any possible mistakes.

“The conference was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh with 300 participants from all around the world to discuss transparency and development for the mineral exploration sector which has just started to be developed in Cambodia.

“This conference was organized also in view of the internal investigation about the accusation against the BHP Billiton company that is known in the public with the allegation that it had bribed [the government] to gain exploration rights in Mondolkiri.

“UNDP Resident Representative Douglas Broderick said during his speech that the start to develop the mineral exploration sector in Cambodia is part of the start to develop these resources. He said, ‘Minerals are under the ground. And it depends on our cooperation to ensure that the Cambodian people can get their benefits from the huge income from the exploitation of these natural resources.’

“Prime Minister Hun Sen considers the natural resources of the country as a new treasure that can contribute to the potential of the economy. He added that natural resources as well as agriculture, the garment and the construction sectors, and tourism can contribute to the development of the economy of the country.

“The Prime Minister stressed, ‘If Cambodia has the opportunity to explore its mineral treasures, Cambodia will use the income from it responsibly for the sake of the nation.’

“In his speech, that strongly criticized Global Witness, Mr. Hun Sen called on the participants to share their knowledge in order to help the government to maximize the financial benefits from this sector, to develop the country and to reduce poverty.

“A senior expert in mineral exploration of the World Bank, Mr. Craig Andrews, told the Phnom Penh Post that this sector will provide benefits to the country if related regulations and taxes are properly enforced, and correctly aimed at the important points, before the exploration begins.

“He suggested that Cambodia should not follow Australia regarding the collection of high taxes from the profits of the exploration, saying that the exploration in Australia and in Cambodia requires policies that are different.

“Mr. Craig Andrew said that a policy to collect low taxes from the exploration, and the stability of the country, will help Cambodia to attract foreign investors.

“According to the economic and mineral exploration expert Roderick Eggert, the developing exploration sector that can be taken as models of international success are that of Chile and of Botswana.

“He said, ‘Cambodian is starting as a blank project. The country has the chance to do the right things to get benefits from other countries. He added that mineral exploration companies are paying attention to transparency and openness.'” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #180, .275.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 27 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #488, 27.5.2010

  • Cambodia Does Not Depend on Mineral Resources Alone for Its National Economic Development
  • India Promised to Send Back Eight Khmer Citizens Who Were Trafficked to India [eight Khmer Citizens phoned their families in Cambodia to seek help from human rights organizations and from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2259, 27.5.2010

  • The Government Will Cancel the Exploration and Exploitation Rights of Any Company That Commits Crimes [said Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #666, 27.5.2010

  • [Phnom Penh Municipal Governor] Kep Chuktema Does Not Allow the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community to Organize a Commemoration of the Anniversary of the Loss of [Khmer Kampuchea Krom] Land [to Vietnam] in Front of Wat Botum [Phnom Penh]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6966, 27.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Strongly Reacted against Global Witness, Calling this Organization a Group of Thieves in London [over their criticism of the lack of transparency related to the management of payments received from natural resources exploration companies]
  • Each Year Ratanakiri Loses 2,000 Hectares of Forest Land [because of the clearance of land by forestry criminals to claim land for selling, and by ethnic minority people to claim farmland – according to the Ratanakiri governor]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3890, 27.5.2010

  • Civil Society Encourages Donors to Press the Government over Human Rights Issues and Democracy during a Meeting planned for 2 June 2010 [between Cambodia and development partners]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #180, .275.2010

  • [UN Meeting] in the United States of America: The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Receives US$16.9 Million New Funds for 2010 [promised by donors]
  • Cambodia Promises to Use the Money from Mineral Resources Transparently

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5208, 27.5.2010

  • The UN Secretary General Called for Funds for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal [funds needed in 2010 are more than US$21 million]
  • An Investigating Judge Issued a Warrant to Bring [opposition party president] Sam Rainsy to Court [for questioning over the accusation of having faked public documents, and having spread misinformation]
  • The Government Has a Plan to Give 133,145 Hectares of Social Concession Land for 4,000 Families of Soldiers and Members of the Police [in sixteen provinces]

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More Than 2,000 Ghost Names of Civil Servants Were Found – This Discovery Will Save the State More Than US$2 Million Each Year – Wednesday, 19.5.2010

Posted on 20 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: The third nationwide census on civil servants is scheduled to finish in late May 2010 in order to strengthen the management of civil servants more thoroughly, and to ensure work efficiency and transparency in the public administration; now it was found that the names of more than 2,000 civil servants are against the rules on the payroll on the national level, and this discovery will help save the state about US$2 million per year.

“According to reports and information from officials of the Council for Administrative Reform received in the morning of 18 May 2010, the census on civil servants conducted at the Council of Ministers discovered that this institution itself has up to 1,803 civil servants, which is a large figure.

“Officials said that the census will end in May, and it will be conducted also at six other ministries. After that, the census teams will continue their work at the provinces in mid June 2010. Officials claimed that more than 2,000 ghost names of civil servants found will save the government more than US$2 million each year. The salary of civil servant was, on average, US$81.40 per month by February. If it is multiplied by 12 months and then by 2,000, the amount is approximately US$2 million.

“Since the first term of the National Assembly until the present, in the framework of the implementation of public administration reforms, the Royal Government has conducted a census already twice, once in 1995, and once again between 1999 and 2001. The census found out that there were many civil servants who just had their names [‘ghost names’] on the salary lists, and the Royal Government decided to delete 17,685 names during the first census and 9,814 names during the second census, which helped prevent the government from wasting much money in each year.

“Based on the reports of the Council for Administrative Reform, by February 2010 the number of civil servants on the salary lists of the Council for Administrative Reform, receiving salaries in February 2010, were 176,829, 60,182 of them were women. They are classified into Group A with 28,547 civil servants; Group B with 52,706; Group C with 81,900; and Group D with 13,678 [no explanation how the Groups are defined given here].

“The average salary in February was US$81.40. The salaries are paid out in the following categories: base salaries 58.4%, special remunerations 33.1%, pedagogy funding [scholarships for trainees in teacher training] 1.8%, for child support [for children of civil servants] 1.4%, sponsoring the federation [unclear] 0.7%, support in case of accidents 0.4%, and special livelihood assistance 4.2% [no info available for the definition of the different salary sections].

“According to officials of the Council for Administrative Reform, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen will visit the census office on 28 May 2010.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5201, 19.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #481, 19.5.2010

  • The Number of People Using Mobile Phones Increases to More Than Seven Million [according to the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication]
  • A 71-Year-Old Man Raped His 11-Year-Old Step Daughter [he was arrested, Banteay Meanchey]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2252, 19.5.2010

  • Santuk District Forestry Administration Head Colludes with Traders to Actively Transport Wood without Caring about the Interdiction by the Royal Government [Kompong Thom]
  • Older Brother of the Head of the Health Department [Ms. Yim Sa’mean] Is Chief Drug Smuggler [he and his son were arrested, while his wife escaped – Sihanoukville]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #659, 19.5.2010

  • The Mondolkiri Authorities Press Thousands of Families to Deliver Their Land to the Mong Riththy Company

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6959, 19.5.2010

  • A Spy Aircraft of Siam [Thailand] Entered Khmer Airspace along the Border [according to the Sampov Loun district governor in Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3883, 19.5.2010

  • [Russey Keo district governor] Khleang Huot Will Not Likely Help Thirty Five Families That Have Been Informed by the Russey Keo Authorities to Remove Their House within Fourteen Days [Phnom Penh]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #174, 19.5.2010

  • The Director of the [Southeast Asian] Radio and Television Was Convicted to Be Imprisoned [for three years and a half] and to Pay Millions of Dollars [for breach of trust, regarding the accusation of siphoning away millions of dollars – Phnom Penh]
  • [More than 200] Villagers [from Koh Kong] Wearing Cambodian People’s Party Shirts Asked for Intervention from the Prime Minister [in Phnom Penh; over a land issue where the government provided concession land of 36,000 hectares to the Chinese company Union Development Group, that overlap their rice fields]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5201, 19.5.2010

  • More Than 2,000 Ghost Names of Civil Servants Were Found – This Discovery Will Save the State More Than US$2 Million Each Year
  • Several Trucks Loaded with Sand Were Driven on a Road Constructed by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency [JICA] in Kandal Stung District, Damaging the Road [Kandal]

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Voluntary and Charitable Donations – Sunday, 16.5.2010

Posted on 18 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

In many societies it is usual that corporations, and rich and not so rich individuals make donations for causes they consider important for the public good. During the past week it was reported that more than US$7 million was collected as donations during the celebration of the Cambodia Red Cross and Red Crescent Society’s anniversary on 8 May; it is the largest humanitarian organization in Cambodia, having also individual Members, and Volunteers. This is an impressive organization which has collected an impressive sum. To see whether or not this is the beginning of a spirit of voluntarism in society, it would be good to know how much the same charitable donors are making available to lift up the economic situation of orphanages, to create and maintain scholarships for needy students from the provinces, to support organizations engaged in the promotion of awareness of the endangered environment and its protection, and many similar endeavors.

In many countries, the Red Cross is one not-for-profit NGO like any other NGO – it receives private and corporate donations, like other NGOs receiving private and corporate donations; often these are encouraged by special tax reduction or tax exemption regulations for supporting such causes for the public good. Over the years I became aware that many persons in Cambodia, dealing with foreign NGOs working in the country, are not aware that these depend to a more or less strong degree on regular private donation, often from people in the middle and lower income brackets in their countries, and not only on public money. But it seems to be hardly a usual feature that Cambodian NGOs, working for the public good, receive similar donations from those who have money, in Cambodia. If there are worthwhile examples, it would be good to have them reported more prominently, and not only for the Cambodian Red Cross and Red Crescent Society.

But whatever the source of such funds – it is usual that that they are accounted for regularly and publicly. One argument of the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, why a special NGO law is necessary, was always that the finances of NGOs – as agencies handling social funds – have to be monitored publicly. Though NGOs have responded that they are subject to regular public audit already, and these audit reports have been available anyway, the request to make their financial records public was always among the main arguments to create such legislation.

Now it is all the more surprising, that the financial volume and the operating procedures of the Social Fund of the government, even it’s existence, referred to sometimes over the years, are not similarly transparent, and there are additional allegations that government representatives have received substantial monies, supposedly for a social fund, which cannot be found in any verifiable public financial record.

The present round of discussions was triggered by reports that an Australian mining company, which had operated for a limited period in Mondolkiri, is under corruption investigation at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, because it is also listed on stock exchanges in the USA. There are allegations that this may relate to payments to Cambodia. While the government was asked for precise, detailed information supported by documents, to be presented to the National Assembly, additional questions were added relating to payments from the French company Total. Some of the related, but not clarified pieces of information:

  • The Indonesian company Medco Energi said they paid US$4.5 million into a government social fund.
  • The Australian company BHP Billiton paid US$ 2.5 million as “tea money” – according to a statement by the Minister of the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology in the National Assembly.
  • Payments of US$20 million by the French oil company Total, paid as a “signature bonus,” are not publicly traceable.
  • In addition, some of the monies are said to have be designated to pay for specific activities in Mondolkiri or in Pursat etc., but different, related information, cannot be reconciled.

Now the Prime Minister gave the task to explain the situation to the National Assembly to two Deputy Prime Ministers, the Minister of the Council of Ministers Sok An, and the Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon. According to Mr. Phay Siphan, the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister “said that all revenues must go to the national budget.” Obviously that is not what happened so far.

Interesting explanations and revelations relating to the past can be expected – combined with the hope that the order of the Prime Minister will be molded into clear administrative procedures for the future.

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The Hotter Temperature Is Difficult to Stand – This Shows there Is Climate Change – Tuesday, 11.5.2010

Posted on 16 May 2010. Filed under: Week 664 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 664

Note:

After having been knocked out late on Monday, 10.5.2010, by a bad, but not clearly identified intestinal infection, I am sorry that I could not earlier, and cannot more speedily, catch up again, but maybe it will be done by Monday, 17.5.2010, noon.

Because of the King’s Birthday National Holiday on 13.5.2010, which was extended into further days, it is now intended to have publications, during the current week, only for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Norbert Klein
Editor of the Mirror

“Almost unbearable and hotter sunshine is getting public attention; this problem clearly shows that Cambodia is experiencing a change to a hotter climate as part of the global natural phenomena. The typhoon Ketsana indicated that Cambodia starts to face natural disaster, while the temperature is alarmingly getting hotter at present. In rural areas, the heat wave is affecting farmers, making it difficult for them to go out to their rice fields. The wind also brings the heat wave to wherever the people stay, even under the trees they still feel the hot wind.

“According to the weather forecast of 10 May 2010 of the Department of Meteorology, the temperature in low lying areas is 25 to 40 degrees Celsius, at the highlands 26 to 38, at the seashore 22 to 36. Based on the weather forecast of the website http://www.underground.com [not operational at time of editing], the temperature in Phnom Penh is 38 degrees, but the hottest temperature was up to 40 degrees, comparable to Ho Chi Minh City with 36 to 40. Bangkok has a higher temperature than Cambodia with 38 to 41 degrees. Besides, the temperature in Manila/Philippines is 36 to 44 degrees, in Jakarta/Indonesia 35 to 44, in Vientiane/Laos 37 to 43, and in Kuala Lumpur 31 to 42 etc.

“As it is almost the end of the Visakh Lunar Month, the weather should have turned from hot to cooler, but it is seen that in the Kingdom of Cambodia, there is rain in some areas, but in some others there is no rain at all, though the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology had forecast that there will be rain everywhere during the rainy season, and there will be no ‘small dry season’ during the rainy season. The hot temperature at present makes it difficult for people to endure it, as they never encountered something like this before.

“An official of the Department of Meteorology said that the temperature is hot because there is no rain. When the rain comes, the temperature will drop. The deputy head of the Department of Meteorology, Mr. Oum Rina, told Koh Santepheap on the phone that in April, in some areas like in Siem Reap and in the northwest, the temperature rose to 41 degrees Celsius. At other areas, the temperature was 38 to 40 degrees, but it declined when the rain came regularly. Mr. Oum Rina added that now, the temperature is still hot. In the northwest, it is 40 degrees and in Phnom Penh, Kandal, Svay Rieng, Kompong Cham, and other provinces and cities, the temperature is only between 37 and 39 degrees.

“He went on to say that the hot temperatures can last until 14 or 15 May 2010, and then they will drop as the rain will start. There will be raining for a few days later in Phnom Penh and in some other areas, and the temperature will go down. This is all part of the problem of climate change.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6952, 11.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #474, 11.5.2010

  • US$1 Billion Was Signed between the Private Sectors of Cambodia and of Malaysia
  • Military Police Intercepted a Car Loaded with Artifacts, but the Driver Escaped [Battambang]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2245, 11.5.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Told Malaysian Investors that Cambodia Opens Its Economy for All Investors
  • The US Embassy Prepares to Mark the 60th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties with Cambodia [by organizing a concert on 13 May 2010]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #6511, 11.5.2010

  • Twenty Five Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Ask the Svay Rieng Court to Allow Them to Visit Meas Srey and Prum Chea at the Svay Rieng Prison [on 18 May 2010; both of them are jailed for removing border markers]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6952, 11.5.2010

  • The Hotter Temperature Is Difficult to Stand – This Shows there Is Climate Change
  • [Four] Armed Robbers Robbed a Fuel Station and Shot and Injured a Major Who Is the Owner of the Station [taking away some money and property – Pursat]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3876, 11.5.2010

  • More Than 2,000 Families Face Eviction and Their Land Will Be Sized to Be Delivered to a Private Company [Mondolkiri]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #168, 11.5.2010

  • Global Witness Criticized Sand Dredging Operations in Cambodia [for exports to Singapore, saying that those operations seriously affect the beach and river eco-systems due to a lack of transparency and regulations of the government – it estimates that at present, up to more than 796,000 tonnes of sand are dredged every month]
  • [President of the Cambodian Independent Teacher Association] Rong Chhun: We Do Not Want Laws or the Authorities to Limit Our Freedom [he said so regarding the creation of a ‘democracy compound’ for not more than 200 people protesting]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5194, 11.5.2010

  • More Than US$36 Million of Cash Were Sent by Cambodian Workers [in Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand] to Their Families in Cambodia within One Year [in 2009]
  • The Former Head of the Vietnamese Communist Party [Mr. Lê Khả Phiêu – Le Kha Phieu] Visits Cambodia [to strengthen solidarity between both countries]
  • The Kunthak Bopha Hospital Spends US$30 Million Each Year [to provide health services; US$2.5 million from the government, US$2.7 million from the Swiss government, and the rest is from the foundation of Professor Beat Richner]
  • A Shrimp Company [Nautisco Seafood Manufacturing of Canada] Sells it’s 31.48% Stake [to Leopard, a company in Asia; each day, the company can produce more than 10 tonnes of shrimps – Sihanoukville]

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Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign – Thursday, 6.5.2010

Posted on 6 May 2010. Filed under: Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“High ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party had expressed their concerns before, that the non-transparent management of the rich natural resources of Cambodia, as well as corruption, make citizens – the owners of those important resources – become poor, so that they cannot receive the benefits from the present anarchic exploitations of natural resources.

“Officials from 16 countries met in Phnom Penh for two days, on 4 and 5 May 2010, to discuss about the control of forestry resources and the trade of forestry products. Cambodian high ranking officials welcomed and chaired the discussion meetings to step up effective controls on forest resources. Asian and European officials came from Burma, Cambodia, China, England, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Siam [Thailand], the United States of America, and Yuon [Vietnam], to discuss how to promote forestry exploitation that follows legal standards.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä, the Director of Directorate G – Sustainable Development and Integration – in the Environment Directorate-General of the European Commission, said that forestry trading is an important sector that boosts economic growth in Asian and European countries, and forestry products have significantly and enormously contributed to development of the economies of Asian and European countries. It is stressed that forestry products are essential for a national economy.

“Mr. Timo Mäkelä said that good management of forestry resource will help prevent forestry destructions in any country, though forests can provide substantial national income. Cambodia used to export forestry products to some countries such as the former Soviet Union. But since Cambodia introduced reforms in 2001, the export of [unprocessed] forestry products abroad was halted [but illegal export continued].

“The Minister of Agriculture of Cambodia, Mr. Chan Sarun, who was also present at the discussions, said that people from the countries that attend the meeting can jointly create plans to strengthen forestry management and legislation. ‘We can create joint planning to improve forestry control and to strength fundamental laws, as well as cut down illegal forestry productions.’

“Recently, Cambodia has started to crack down on luxury grade wood trading, and after activities for one month, the authorities confiscated 6,000 cubic meter of such wood that was to be transported to China and Yuon. Some was to be exported to the international market via Singapore.

“Ebony, Thnong, and Beng are most wanted luxury grade woods to produce furniture in some countries, and most illegal exports from Cambodia are of these kinds of wood. Most luxury grade wood confiscated was found in Preah Vihear, Oddar Meanchey, Kompong Cham, Stung Treng, and Kratie. The destinations for its export are known to be China and Yuon, where millions of cubic meters are needed.

“The illegal wood trading in Cambodia reduced the rich forestry resource during the 1960s of about 75% of the whole country to drop to only more than 30% at present, according to some environmental organizations. Forestry expert officials and some sectors of the authorities have been blamed for their collusion, committing illegal wood trading, but most of the actors are not brought to the courts.

“According to reports from forestry administration officials, 207 forestry crimes have been reported to the courts, but some traders with a title as an Oknha, or with close relations to high government officials, have not been charged, though they colluded to commit forestry crimes in Cambodia. Some forestry administration officials enjoy their lives with the wealth they gained from the illegal cutting down of trees.

Global Witness said in a statement early April 2010, ‘The idea that Ty Sokhun has been removed from his post because of a failure to crack down on illegal logging is laughable.’ The organization thinks that to tolerate Mr. Ty Sokun after 15 years of forestry crimes originating from his office shows that the past spreading of forestry crimes seems to be forgotten.

Note – From the text of the Global Witness statement:

Sacking of Cambodia’s forest chief unconvincing as move against illegal logging

Press Release – 7.4.2010

Global Witness today welcomed the removal from his post of the Director General of Cambodia’s Forest Administration, Ty Sokhun, but warned that much more needed to be done to guarantee the survival of the country’s remaining forests and the fair and sustainable exploitation of the country’s other natural resources for the benefit of the many not the few.

Global Witness’s 2007 report, Cambodia’s Family Trees, documented how Ty Sokhun and the Ministry of Agriculture Director, Chan Sarun, sold off 500 or more jobs in the Forest Administration. The report also revealed that Ty Sokhun’s father-in-law was a key member of Cambodia’s biggest illegal logging syndicate.

“Ty Sokhun’s reign as Cambodia’s forest chief was a disaster for Cambodia’s forests”, said Simon Taylor, Global Witness Director. “On his watch we saw Cambodia’s forests shrink dramatically, largely due to illegal or ill-managed logging operations. It is a good thing he is gone, but he shouldn’t be let off the hook for what happened while he was in charge.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen says he sacked Ty Sokhun because he had no confidence in his ability to crack down on illegal logging but Global Witness questions why it has taken so long to act…

Taylor: “Ty Sokhun was not the only one responsible for the destruction of Cambodia’s forests. Our investigations have proven the complicity of officials and elites at the highest levels, including members of the Prime Minister’s own family. If Hun Sen genuinely wants closure on the destruction of Cambodia’s forests, he should commission a full independent enquiry into what has happened, publish the findings and punish the perpetrators.”

“At the occasion of the change of head of the Forestry Administration and the appointment of Mr. Chheng Kimson it was seen that some high ranking officials such as [Minister of Agriculture] Mr. Chan Sarun were spared to be called to account for their wrongdoings by the head of the Cambodian government, while in fact Mr. Chan Sarun and Mr. Ty Sokun are the most important persons responsible for forestry crimes for years. This way of suppressing illegal wood trading makes international donors to think that Cambodia does it just to satisfy them to get aid, while the Cambodian government is not really willing to intercept illegal wood trading. [[see also The Mirror of 7.4.2010]]

Note – from a historical Global Witness statement from December 2004

Resign or be sacked

Press Release – 3.12.2004

With the advent of Cambodia’s Consultative Group (CG) donor meeting on 6 and 7 December combating corruption is once more at the top of the political agenda. In line with this renewed emphasis, Global Witness is calling on the Director of the Forest Administration to be made accountable for the rampant corruption within his own department.

“Ty Sokhun should do the honourable thing and resign. If not, the Prime Minister should sack him.” said Jon Buckrell of Global Witness.

Ty Sokhun was made Director of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife1 in 1998. Since then, corruption within the department has if anything got worse. The May 2000 Asia Development Bank [ADB] Forest Concession Review characterised the crisis situation in Cambodia’s forest as “…total system failure; resulting from greed, corruption, incompetence and illegal acts…” However, according to the ADB so many people, companies, institutions and countries were responsible for the fiasco that no one should be made accountable. Since that time not one forest department official has been charged with corruption, let alone convicted. Yet as recently as April 2004 the Independent Forest Sector Review referred to “high levels of institutionalised corruption.” Still, no one is being held to account.

“How can the new Forest Administration hope to address corruption if the people at the top remain the same?” said Buckrell. Ty Sokhun is hopelessly compromised by his familial links to the timber trade. His father-in-law, Khun Thong, is one of Cambodia’s most prolific illegal loggers. “Ty Sokhun’s failure to make public his familial links to the timber trade is a massive conflict of interest and is in itself reason enough to dismiss him.”

Good governance is at the core of the new “Rectangular Strategy,” of the third legislature of the National Assembly, but the government has been talking tough on corruption and doing nothing for years, as has the donor community. At the 1996 CG meeting, then First Prime Minister H.R.H. Norodom Ranariddh stated that the Royal Government of Cambodia was committed to “implement appropriate measures,” to amongst other things “effectively combat corruption.” More recently at the 2001 CG the ADB’s Urooj Malik “respectfully urged” the Royal Government “to move forward with the finalization of legislation on Anti-corruption…”. The donors then pledged US$ 615 million, US$ 115 million more than the Cambodian government had actually asked for. In 2002 “the adoption of a new Anti-Corruption Law” was, according to the World Bank, by now “of particular and most urgent importance.” The donors pledged US$ 635 million.

“The Cambodian government must find the whole CG process absolutely hilarious. Each year they fail to meet their benchmarks and each year the donors give them more money.” said Buckrell.

Global Witness agrees with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sentiments, of more than two years ago, that “while good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.” During Monday’s CG, the donors must hold the entire government to account for their failure to put anti-corruption rhetoric into practice. The donors should insist on rapid enactment of an effective Anti-Corruption law and a register of business interests for politicians, officers in the military, and senior officials.

“Dismissing the Director of the Forest Administration is an absolute minimum first step any donor really interested in Cambodia’s development should expect from a government committed to reform and addressing corruption,” said Global Witness Director, Simon Taylor. “Our recent report, Taking a Cut, provides a number of other key minimum steps we would expect the Cambodian Government to undertake to clean up its act. Some years ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen stated that his Premiership depended on his success in delivering improvements in the forestry sector. By any standards, he has thus far failed. The challenge is now to the donors and the Prime Minister to deliver.”

“According to a report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the trade in forestry products with markets in Asian countries, North America, and the European Union in 2001 amounted to about US$140 billion, while in 1999, it had been less than that. A report about the fight against illegal forestry crimes of the World Bank, from 2006, showed that the forest destructions in the world siphoned off more than US$10 billion each year.

“A well known opposition party leader in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, had said that corruption leads to the devastation of natural resources of Cambodia. He said that if there were a proper and transparent management of those resources, Cambodia were able to earn huge amounts of money for national construction and for some important infrastructure developments to serve the needs of the citizens.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy recalled that the exploitation of national resources does so far not contribute proper benefits for the nation and for poor citizens, due to corruption. If there were an accurate management, Cambodia could find sufficient income without depending on foreign aid or loans, as the government does at present.

“The Sam Rainsy Party spokesperson, Mr. Yim Sovann, said that the improper management of the national budget, especially the collection of income from the exploitations of natural resources without transparency and without following the laws of control, make Cambodia lose its benefits. Mr. Yim Sovann suggests that the government should create effective laws to control the natural resources and to ensure that income from the exploitation of natural resources is not lost to corruption.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 6 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.17, #1438, 6.5.2010

  • Sweden Plans to Establish an Embassy in Cambodia [no exact date specified]

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #470, 6.5.2010

  • A 30-Year-Old Woman Was Attacked with Acid over a Suspected Love Affair [the perpetrators are not yet arrested – Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2241, 6.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Met with the Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of Defense [Mr. Shimba Kazuya [防衛副大臣 榛葉賀津也], discussing about bilateral and regional cooperation]
  • Jointly Stepping Up the Fight against Human Trafficking
  • A Workshop about the Results from a Consultation to Cooperate Implementing the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women Was Held [Ms. Chim Manavy, the director of the Open Institute: priorities and strategies to achieve the same goals together cooperating between civil society organizations and institutions of the government, to effectively implement the action plan, had been discussed and set up, including Information and Communication Technology as a means to promote gender equality and to empower women, as stated in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #648, 6.5.2010

  • Journalists Publish a Declaration on Freedom of Information, Demanding that the Government Creates a Law about the Right to Know Soon [the government is drafting this law without open participation of journalists’ associations]
  • Samdech Euv [Father King] Norodom Sihanouk and Siamese [Thai] King Sent Each Other Good Wishes

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6948, 6.5.2010

  • Nearly 100,000 Hectares of Economic Concession Land in Kompong Thom Are Delivered to Twenty One Companies for Growing Agro-Industrial Crops
  • A Woman Was Raped and Killed and a Few Hours Later, the Perpetrator Was Arrested [Phnom Penh]
  • A Statement by Cambodian Journalists Published on the World Press Freedom Day Suggests that “The Right to Know Must Be Guaranteed for Cambodian Citizens by the Government”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

  • Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources, after an Unclear Suppression Campaign

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #165, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Claimed Again that the Keo Sekha Kiri Svarak Pagoda Is on Khmer Territory [while Thailand claimed it is on Thai territory. – Actually, it is on territory declared by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in a Joint Communique on 18 June 2008, signed together with UNESCO and the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, as a “buffer zone” not claimed by Cambodia in the context of the World Heritage Site designation plans]
  • [More than 100] Boeng Kak Lake Residents Protested in Front of the Council for the Development of Cambodia [CDC – to oppose the submission of a Master Plan for the development of the area from the Municipality to the CDC, but officials said that the Master Plan has not yet been delivered to the CDC – but people have already been evicted before the plan was accepted]
  • The Minister of Finance of Indonesia [Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati] Receives the Top Position in the World Bank [as its Managing Director]
  • Cambodia Railway Station Is Starting with New Life because of Continuing Investment [it is now controlled by the Toll Royal Railways; the whole Cambodian railway system is being repaired under US$141,1 million aid and credits from the Asian Development Bank, AusAID, and OPEC]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5190, 6.5.2010

  • Cambodia Imports Fuel Amounting to US$450 Million Each Year [according to a report from the Ministry of Commerce]
  • 199 Pieces of Ebony [loaded on a boat] Prepared to Be Imported to Vietnam, Were Seized on the High Sea [Kampot]

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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