Samdech Dekchor: If They Want to Amend the Anti-Corruption Law, They Have to Wait until Their Election Victory – Thursday, 11.3.2010

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 655

“A session was held as planned on Wednesday morning of 10 March 2010 at the National Assembly to discuss and to approve an anti-corruption draft law, though the opposition parties and some civil society organizations had asked for a delay. There were 106 parliamentarians in the meeting [before the parliamentarians of the Sam Rainsy party walked out], but the Human Rights Party parliamentarians did not participate. Only parliamentarians from the Cambodian People’s Party and from the Sam Rainsy Party were present. The anti-corruption draft law, presented for approval to the National Assembly, was approved through a show of hands, with 87 votes in favor out of 106.

“Regarding the approval of this anti-corruption law, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said during the opening of a national conference at the occasion to publish the penal code, at the Intercontinental Hotel on Wednesday morning of 10 March 2010, that some people had asked for a delay for the approval [actually the request had been for an extended period of consideration and discussion] of the anti-corruption draft law, while previously, they had wanted it to be approved soon. But now, they do not want it soon. Anyway, this is impossible, because of the majority of votes in the National Assembly. Samdech Hun Sen added that when this law will have been approved, not only government officials, but also civil society organization officials will have to declare their asset, and they will get the same punishments if they violate the regulations. He continued to say that if somebody wants this law to be amended, they have to wait until they win the elections.

“It should be noted that an anti-corruption law was being drafted since 1994, but only in December 2009, this draft was approved by the Council of Ministers and made public in the National Assembly on 24 February 2010 [actually the draft reached the National Assembly already before 29.12.2009, according to a statement by a secretary of state of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, as quoted in The Mirror on 29.12.2009].

“The anti-corruption draft law, which had not been published publicly before last week, consists of 9 chapters and 57 articles that describe the punishment for persons who give bribes or take bribes, to serve between 7 days and 15 years in prison. Also, the law describes the creation of two anti-corruption institutions: a National Anti-Corruption Council with members from 11 institutions, and an Anti-Corruption Unit. They will be created by the Royal Government, and the duty of both institutions is to offer counseling, education, and publication, and to create plans to prevent and to suppress corruption. In addition, it establishes the procedure for the declaration of assets and debts, and describes who is required to make such declarations: senators, parliamentarians, and members of the Royal Government appointed by Royal Decrees or Sub-Decrees, and leaders of civil society organizations. Once this law is adopted, there will be an Anti-Corruption Unit under the administration of the Council of Ministers, and 11 members of a National Anti-Corruption Council will be selected by the King, the Senate, the National Assembly, and the Royal Government, with a term of five years.” Areyathor, Vol.16, #1433, 11-12.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 11 March 2010

Areyathor, Vol.16, #1433, 11-12.3.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor: If They Want to Amend the Anti-Corruption Law, They Have to Wait until Their Election Victory

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #431, 11.3.2010

  • Germany Signs an Agreement to Grant Euro 19 Million [for the alleviation of the consequences of the global economic crisis which are particularly affecting the poor segments of the population]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2198, 11.3.2010

  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal to Get More Than US$80 Million for Two Additional Years of the Process [donors, countries not yet known, promised to provide this aid]
  • The Municipal Governor Announced to Stop Providing Licenses for Entertainment Clubs and for Karaoke Parlors Temporarily [because of a campaign against drugs and gambling, to promote security]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #623, 11.3.2010

  • There Were Strong Argument during the Discussions of the Anti-Corruption Draft Law [between parliamentarians of the ruling party and of an opposition party]
  • [The head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Chea Mony Said That It Is a Shame for Cambodia as [80 tonnes of garments from China] Finished Products Were Imported to Be Labeled ‘Made in Cambodia’ for Re-Export

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6905, 11.3.2010

  • A Japanese International Trade Organization Office Was Opened in Cambodia [to boost bilateral trade]
  • [Two] Nigerian Men and Their Khmer Girlfriends Were Arrested for Cocaine Smuggling [Phnom Penh]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3829, 11.3.2010

  • Hun Sen Announced to Use the New Penal Code and to Cancel the Validity of All Articles of the Penal Code of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia [UNTAC – 1992/93]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5147, 11.3.2010

  • The National Assembly Discussed the Anti-Corruption Draft Law and Rejected an Opposition Party’s Request [to amend some articles]
  • The National Radio FM 96 Does Not Have Time Available for Broadcasting the Voice of Khmer Kampuchea Krom [Radio FM 96 does not have time to offer to Khmer Kampuchea Krom people to create their own programs to broadcast their voice, because all airtime is used for other programs]
  • Police Raided [two] Houses Copying VCDs [to protect copyrights, seizing many computers, thousands of VCDs, and other tools used for copying VCDs – Phnom Penh]

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Mr. Sam Rainsy Responded to Hun Sen, Saying the Cambodian Leader Himself Fakes Maps and Does Not Even Know Where the Country’s Border Is – Friday, 26.2.2010

Posted on 26 February 2010. Filed under: Week 653 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 653

“The war of words from the Cambodian Prime Minister, whose angry reaction is surprising, leads to questions among observers – when he blasted Mr. Sam Rainsy, his opponent and president of the biggest opposition party in Cambodia over border issues, it led to different reactions trying to clarify. Khmer people have questions, and national and international observers as well as diplomats want to know why the powerful Prime Minister of Cambodia cannot agree upon other ways to clarify things between Khmers and Khmers, but rather make accusations to have border documents faked.

“In a new interview with Radio Free Asia aired yesterday morning, Mr. Sam Rainsy, a parliamentarian from Cambodia and now in France to continue a mission struggling to protect the territorial integrity of Cambodia from loss, because of the improper setting of border markers, said he is doing it to respond to the Cambodian Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen, who accused him of faking map documents of Cambodia.

“During the interview with Radio Free Asia on 25 February 2010, Mr. Sam Rainsy stressed, ‘I know that I have a clear basis for my arguments, unlike the current leader of Cambodia. I stand on the Khmer side in these border issues. We must express that we saw them (the neighboring countries) trying to create a new border that is wrong, and they want to absorb Khmer territory. Therefore, I stand on the Khmer side as a Khmer national, and I protect the territory.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy added, ‘Those who accused me that I am wrong and said that it is on Yuon [Vietnamese] territory [where the border markers stood] do not serve Khmer interests. Those people stand on the side of the Yuon.’

“He went on to clarify that his political struggle follows a model of major leaders of the country for the nation, which does not specify any time or place for its activities. Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘…Where do we stand, and for what? Do not just say what the current leader said, accusing me that I, Sam Rainsy, fake mapping documents. He himself fakes maps. He himself does not even know where the maps and where the borders of the nation are.’

“Prime Minister Hun Sen reacted in anger, using serious words accusing Mr. Sam Rainsy, who had raised border issues at the East with Vietnam, to be a traitor. It is an accusation that observers from civil society and among diplomats described as ‘too extreme.’

“Mr. Hun Sen’s reaction in anger was described by observers and by Khmer citizens in general as a mood that cannot be controlled any longer, as he said, ‘Diplomats in Cambodia, please bring this map, supposedly published on the Internet, which the opposition party is referring to, to be reviewed and compared with the real map, then we will see what will happen.’ He also announced what can be understood as a preparation to take action to arrest Mr. Sam Rainsy, to be jailed – another surprising attitude, according to various observers.

“What the Prime Minister said, whether intentionally or unintentionally, intends to show the power he has over the legislative body of Cambodia, as he said, ‘The National Assembly needs not to be afraid, because we cannot answer unclear questions, because if the questions are unclear, the answers would be also unclear’ (Sic).

“That the Prime Minister gave a clarification instead of the National Assembly [to which Mr. Son Chhay had directed this questions], and ordered the National Assembly not to give any responses to the Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians, is against the law. Therefore, the fact that he said, ‘We cannot answer an unclear questions, because if the questions are unclear, the answers will also be unclear,’ makes the responses from the government representative, Mr. Var Kimhong, at the National Assembly also unclear, just as a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Mr. Son Chhay, who had asked the question, observed.

“Observers said that both Mr. Sam Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen had shown an intention to review maps. Thus, the solution that the leader should provide, should not be to arrest Mr. Sam Rainsy and jail him, but they should find a third party of international standing to review the maps to bring this problem to an end.

“Analysts said that intention to have Mr. Hun Sen review the maps by diplomats, proposed by Mr. Sam Rainsy, reflects the impression that the diplomats probably view the Cambodia Prime Minister as an involved party, and assumes that they believe Mr. Sam Rainsy’s claim. Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘Therefore, we take the documents and put them onto the only legal map of 1952, with a scale of 1:100,000, and it will be seen that in 1985, there was no invasion at the point where we visited.’

“He described the geography of the Khmer territory in the Samraung commune, Chantrea, Svay Rieng , saying that in 1985, there was no such loss, and what was set later as the border with Vietnam overlaps the demarcation in the map of 1952, which means that territory was lost later on, and Mr. Sam Rainsy claimed it resulted from the improper use of maps and the faking of mapping documents by the border committees of the two countries, Cambodia and Vietnam.

“Different from the accusation made by Prime Minister Hun Sen and by the head of the Cambodian Border Committee, Mr. Var Kimhong, saying that Mr. Sam Rainsy used faked maps, therefore the government will sue Mr. Sam Rainsy again, Mr. Sam Rainsy explained his position, that he works with the help of technical groups for mapping, and national and international experts, specialized computer experts using modern technical devices, including satellites, and his statement, that the review of the border area in Svay Rieng had shown a loss of Cambodian territory, is based on their findings.

“This reminded an observer to recall a notice by Dr. Mathews Verghese, a Singaporean scholar, who used to be the Singaporean Ambassador to Cambodia some years ago. Mr. Verghese wrote in The Straits Times of Singapore in 2004 that the border line of Cambodia with neighboring countries is moving into Cambodian territory.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy said that he will continue his struggle abroad, like what Samdech Norodom Sihanouk did during the period of his struggles, but he will not come to Cambodia to be jailed by Yuon [Vietnam]. If there would not have been a struggle, there would not have been the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia [UNTAC], nor elections. He will follow this model, saying, ‘I use my influence. What I can do is to help until justice is given to Cambodia and to the Khmer people who are victims.'” Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1882, 26-28.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 26 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #420, 26.2.2010

  • A New Initiative Was Announced to Tackle the Impact of Climate Change in Cambodia [Cambodia received US$8.9 million from the UN, the European Union, and Denmark, to launch the Cambodia Climate Change Alliance to fight global warming]
  • Samdech Hun Sen: Though Cambodia Faces Many Major Problems, Including Aggression by Siam [Thailand], Cambodia Is Still Stable
  • The European Union Granted US$25 Million for Agriculture and Food Security in Cambodia [according to the Chargé d’Affaires of the European Commission to Cambodia, Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2187, 26.2.2010

  • A French Electricity Engineer Was Convicted to Serve Seven Years in Prison and Then to Be Deported from Cambodia [for buying child prostitution – Phnom Penh]
  • [The United States of] America Issued New Forms for Visa Applications to [the United States of] America [for non-immigrant visas, using the newly developed DS-160 web based application forms, starting from 1 March 2010]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6894, 26.2.2010

  • Knot-Tieing Ceremony between Armed Forces and State Institutions and Civil Society Was Organized [state institutions, the authorities, and companies can voluntarily assist specific units of the Armed Forces with funds, food, or materials, to contribute to reducing difficulties of military units and to strengthening national unity. – But it was reported that there were also companies listed as supporters, where the leadership did not know how they got onto the list; having a policy not to support the military did also not prevent a company to be publicly listed as a supporter.]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Discipline Must Be Strictly Implemented [if police officials commit wrongdoings], and the Use of Positions and Power to Commit Wrong Act Is Completely Prohibited [he said during a convention of the Ministry of Interior]
  • [Former Phnom Penh police chief] Heng Pov, Convicted to Serve 94 Years in Prison, Was Brought to Court over a Bribery Case of US$40,000 relating to the Release of a Women Who Had Been Accused of Smuggling Drugs [he is accused to have been involved in a bribery case – he may have taken a bribe from the woman accused as a drug smuggler – for which he might receive an additional conviction if found guilty]
  • Japan Granted US$275,439 for Maternal and Infant Health Services

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.4, #3818, 26.2.2010

  • [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy Appeals [against the conviction by the Svay Rieng court to jail him two years for removing border markers] as the Government Prepares to Sue Him in Two More Cases This Morning [for faking public documents and for disinformation over border issues]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #120, 26.2.2010

  • Cambodia and Vietnam Step Up Setting Border Markers amid Strong Criticism [eight border markers will be posted along the border in Ratanakiri]
  • More Prisons Are Established while the Number of Prisoners Keeps Increasing [the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Khieu Sopheak, said that the prisons countrywide can house 8,000 prisoners only, but by 2009, there had already been 13,325 prisoners]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5136, 26.2.2010

  • “Tivea 06” [nickname of a police official] Was Sent to Court after He Was Found Putting Drugs into Beer [poisoning five police, where one of them died – Phnom Penh]
  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen Suggested to introduce Direct Flights from Indonesia to Cambodia [to boost tourism]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1882, 26-28.2.2010

  • Mr. Sam Rainsy Responded to Hun Sen, Saying the Cambodian Leader Himself Fakes Maps and Does Not Even Know Where the Country’s Border Is

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Cambodia Wants the USA to Support Cambodia’s Candidacy as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council – Wednesday, 10.2.2010

Posted on 11 February 2010. Filed under: Week 651 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 651

“Cambodia has requested the United States of America to support the candidacy of Cambodia to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

“During a meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Hor Namhong, and [the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Ambassador to ASEAN] Mr. Scot Marciel at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the morning of 9 February 2010, Mr. Hor Namhong requested the USA, through Mr. Scot Marciel, to support Cambodia’s candidacy as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2013 and 2014.

“Since Cambodia has become a member of the United Nations, it has never participated working in the framework of the UN Security Council.

“Mr. Hor Namhong pointed out to Cambodia’s qualifications to serve as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, saying that Cambodia, with the help from the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), in 1993 organized free and fair elections for the first time in Cambodia after it had been freed from the Pol Pot genocidal regime.

“The next non-permanent Security Council Members of the United Nations will be elected in 2012.

“It should be noted that in recent years, Cambodia has sent its troops within the UN framework to help many developing countries and countries that have just recovered from war, such as Chad.

“During the meeting, Cambodia also requested America to cancel the debt that Cambodia owes America since the time of the Lon Nol regime time [the Khmer Republic, 1970 to 1975].

“Cambodia owes America more than US$300 million since the Lon Nol regime from 1970 to 1975.

Note:

The Cambodian Daily of 10.2.2010 explains details of the loan with normal repayment obligations:

“Between 1972 and 1974, the US Department of Agriculture financed $274 million in purchases of US cotton, rice, and flour for Cambodia… with interest, the total had risen to $339 million by 2007.”

The Cambodian Daily further reports: “Mr. Maciel also said that the had reiterated in the meetings that the US was ‘very disappointed’ with Cambodia’s decision in December 2010 to deport 20 ethnic Uighur asylum seekers back to China over the objections of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees” [contrary to the Cambodian commitment to the relevant UN conventions].

“Cambodia suggested two ways the USA could cancel the debt. In the first choice, Mr. Hor Namhong suggested the USA could just cancel all the debt, but as an alternative choice, he asked the USA via Mr. Scot Marciel to cancel 70% of the debt of more than US$300 million in order to allow Cambodia to develop the country. Cambodia would pay back the rest of 30% to the USA later.

“Though he listened that there are these two modalities proposed by Cambodia, Mr. Scot Marciel could only say that he will bring Cambodia’s request about the canceling of debt to the US government when he returns back.

Note:

The Cambodian Daily of 10.2.2010 adds the following further information:

Contrary to the explanation by Mr. Maciel, the spokesperson of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kuong, claimed that the money was paid for the slaughter of Cambodians – “The debt was used for weaponry and the weaponry was used to destroy all things including the life in the country.”

“Mr. Scot Marciel stressed that in the USA there is no legal basis regarding the canceling of debts.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #410, 10.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #410, 10.2.2010

  • Cambodia Will Appeal to the Court in The Hague and to the UN Security Council [to solve the border dispute with Thailand; according to Prime Minister Hun Sen]
  • US Wants Cambodia and Thailand to Peacefully Solve Border Disputes [according to the US Ambassador to ASEAN, Mr. Scot Marciel]
  • Cambodia Wants the USA to Support Cambodia’s Candidacy as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2173, 10.2.2010

  • Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: Siamese [Thai] Troops Can No Longer Remain at the Ta Moan Temple [claiming that it is in Khmer territory]
  • Thailand Increases Security Efforts before the Court Makes a Judgment over the Property of [Thai ousted and fugitive prime minister] Thaksin Shinawatra
  • Cambodia and Italy Signed the First Agreement on Culture [about cooperation on development projects at the Angkor area, as well as about training for young experts in cultural preservation work at the Angkor area]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #733, 10.2.2010

  • The Cambodian Government Rejected Information that It Had Provided Khmer Citizenship to Thaksin Shinawatra

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #602, 10.2.2010

  • The Khmer King Is Listed as a Member of the Community of French Scholars [of the “Academie Française”; based on his contributions to pre-historical research in Cambodia, where he is appreciated for his efforts to maintain the Khmer cultural heritage, and especially, his support for a French training program for people in restoration techniques for the Khmer Angkor Wat Temples]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6880, 10.2.2010

  • A French Drug Addict Robbed the [Cambodia Asia] Bank; It Was the First Time that a Foreigner Committed Armed Robbery [he was arrested – Phnom Penh]
  • The Anti-Corruption Draft Reached the National Assembly [but the content is not yet made known]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #108, 10.2.2010

  • America Does Not Plan to Cancel the Debt [of about US$300 million; according to the US Ambassador to ASEAN, Mr. Scot Marciel]
  • [The North Korean President] Mr. Kim Jong Il Told the Chinese Ambassador that the Korean Peninsula Should Be Free from Nuclear Weapons

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5122, 10.2.2010

  • [Four] Robbers Went into a House, Shot One Person to Death and Seriously and Lightly Injured Three Others, and Took Away US$15,000 [Pailin]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1873, 10.2.2010

  • Hun Sen Warned that If Negotiations [with Thailand] Do Not Bring Solutions, Armed Force Will Be Used

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Patterns to Guide Reforms – “Starfish” or “Spiders”? – Sunday, 17.1.2010

Posted on 18 January 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 647 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647

Any regular observer of the media in Cambodia knows that in spite of all the positive developments, since 7 January 1997 (the end of the Khmer Rouge regime), since the time of the UNTAC administration 1992/1993, and since the establishment of the Kingdom of Cambodia, there is a variety of different, sometimes opposing interpretations or observations of what has happened.

This is normal in any society. And for the political world of the Kingdom of Cambodia, this state of affairs is also confirmed to be appropriate by the Constitution which says in its Preamble:

“…to restore Cambodia into an ‘Island of Peace’ based on a multi-party liberal democratic regime guaranteeing human rights and the respect of law, and responsible for the destiny of the nation always evolving toward progress, development, prosperity, and glory…”

This describes a process: “to restore” means that the goal is not yet reached. But how to reach it, when even the understanding of what is going on at present is so divergent?

From the past week, we present an example of such conflicting views:

11.1.2010:
Chea Mony: That Demonstrations and Strikes Decreased Does Not Mean that there Are Proper Working Conditions
…the decline in numbers is not due to better working conditions, but due to restrictions imposed by the government on demonstrations and strikes, especially due to suppression of workers movements by the local authorities…

Deum Ampil contacted the secretary of state [of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training], Mr. Oum Mean, to comment on the claim of the free trade union leader, but he did not make any comment, saying that he was fulfilling his mission in a province, and then shut off his mobile phone.

And a response:

12.1.2010:

An Official of the Ministry of Labor Rejected the Claim of [the head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers], Chea Mony, about Working Condition [the deputy director of the Department of Labor Disputes of the Ministry of Labor said that this is because most strikes did not follow the procedures of the labor law, according to which demonstrations and strikes have to be announced to the authorities in advance]

To have different views is not a surprise. But this poses the question about the methods to reach solutions. There are different models: to impose an intended goal to be reached – or to try to work out a consensus among those involved and affected. The Constitution clearly favors the latter method:

Article 35:

  • Khmer citizens of either sex shall be given the right to participated actively in the political , economic, social and cultural life of the nation.
  • Any suggestions from the people shall be given full consideration by the organs of the State

Article 51:

  • The Kingdom of Cambodia adopts a policy of Liberal Democracy and Pluralism.
  • The Cambodian people are the masters of their country.
  • All powers belong to the people. The people exercise these powers through the National Assembly, the Royal Government and the Judiciary.
  • The Legislative, Executive, and the Judicial powers shall be separated.

While it is clear who is the master of the country – the people – how this works out – through the National Assembly, the Royal Government, and the Judiciary – is an ongoing dynamic process which also includes differences and conflicts of opinion, as is normal in a pluralistic liberal democratic society.

It is interesting that more recent sociological research shows that in modern societies, there are more and more movements and events happening without central leadership at the top, but in a decentralized way, which makes it also more and more difficult to control them centrally.

A bestselling book in the USA analyzes such trends – co-authored by the former director of the National Cyber Security Center of the USA who is now president of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers – ICANN – the organization that monitors and coordinates the highly decentralized operations of the Internet – under the title The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations (originally it had been planned to be published as “The Decentralized Revolution”):

 Starfish and the Spider

The Starfish and the Spider

IT’S A STARFISH WORLD AND MOST PEOPLE DON’T EVEN REALIZE IT

One thing that business, institutions, governments and key individuals will have to realize is spiders and starfish may look alike, but starfish have a miraculous quality to them. Cut off the leg of a spider, and you have a seven-legged creature on your hands; cut off its head and you have a dead spider. But cut off the arm of a starfish and it will grow a new one. Not only that, but the severed arm can grow an entirely new body. Starfish can achieve this feat because, unlike spiders, they are decentralized; every major organ is replicated across each arm.

But starfish don’t just exist in the animal kingdom. Starfish organizations are taking society and the business world by storm, and are changing the rules of strategy and competition. Like starfish in the sea, starfish organizations are organized on very different principles than we are used to seeing in traditional organizations. Spider organizations are centralized and have clear organs and structure. You know who is in charge. You see them coming.

Starfish organizations, on the other hand, are based on completely different principles. They tend to organize around a shared ideology or a simple platform for communication – around ideologies like Al Qaeda or Alcoholics Anonymous. They arise rapidly around the simplest ideas or platforms. Ideas or platforms that can be easily duplicated. Once they arrive they can be massively disruptive and are here to stay, for good or bad. And the Internet can help them flourish.

So in today’s world starfish are starting to gain the upper hand.

Source: The Starfish and the Spider, by Brafman and Beckstrom, Portfolio Hardcover (October 5, 2006), ISBN-10: 1591841437

Does this insight also have a meaning for the future of Cambodia? Will it move towards more and more centralized power – or will the decentralization and deconcentration process, operated as part of the administrative reforms, get more weight? A statement by the spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior from 2005 seems to aim at this for the structures of public administration, when he says:

“In this regard, the provincial/municipal governor is not the controller of commune/Sangkat. Rather, the provincial/municipal governor plays the role of a facilitator and coordinator to support communes/Sangkats.”

But the process, documented in the independent news website K7, is dragging on – naturally – very long, some say too slowly – though moving into the right direction.

The vision of the starfish, the aspirations of the organized civil society, and “the people” tend, of course, to move sometimes faster, and further, and into directions that cannot be foreseen.

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Cambodian News Seen from Abroad – Sunday, 1.3.2009

Posted on 2 March 2009. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 601 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 601

This week’s reflection is written in Mexico at a meeting of ICANN. The fact that I had started the first Internet service in Cambodia in 1994 and created the country name for Internet addresses .kh led, after many steps in between, to my appointment to the Nominating Committee of the international Internet coordination – “ICANN” for short, for a somewhat technical name “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” – where we are now tasked to find, recruit, and appointing new members of the Board of Directors for ICANN, and for several other positions of leadership in ICANN. On the way to Mexico I had a chance to meet persons of Internet leadership in an Asia Pacific Internet conference of several hundred people in the Philippines.

Attending such conferences exposes me always to questions about Cambodia by people from different countries, who ask for comments and explanations about what they see on TV and hear on the radio, read in newspapers, or follow up further on the Internet. Those who ask have some level of information, based on their active interest. And they ask, because they want to understand better what they know.

This is often difficult – I cannot answer on behalf of any other person or institution. But I think it is still important that the public opinion in a country is aware of the public opinion outside of the country, that is why I share this experience.

This time, attending Internet related conferences, the question of recent restrictions of Internet access was of course addressed. It has been known that some countries, for political or other reasons, are restricting the free flow of information on the Internet. But as the censorship of the Internet is considered to be in contradiction, or maybe even in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which many countries including Cambodia have subscribed, such events are being observed internationally.

Paragraph 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The following different cases are known:

  • The site http://reahu.net of a Cambodian artist cannot be accessed from Cambodia.
  • The site of the human rights organization LICADHO http://www.licadho.org is no longer accessible, since it published a report about the violent evictions in the Dey Krahom area of Phnom Penh.
  • The site of Global Witness http://www.globalwitness.org was not accessible for about two days after they had published a documentation about Cambodia under the title A Country for Sale. That the Cambodian Embassy in London called this documentation, the result of detailed research by the internationally respected organization Global Witness a Collection of Rubbish without taking up specific items in the documentation is considered as an evasive response to very specific problems documented.

While I could share information about the context of these three cases, I was not able to refer to texts of Cambodian law, which state the reasons for the interruptions of Internet access – obviously in three quite different cases. The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says in Article 31:

The Kingdom of Cambodia shall recognize and respect human rights as stipulated in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human rights, the covenants and conventions related to human rights, women’s and children’s rights.

Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law, enjoying the same rights, freedom and fulfilling the same obligations regardless of race, color, sex, language, religious belief, political tendency, birth origin, social status, wealth or other status. The exercise of personal rights and freedom by any individual shall not adversely affect the rights and freedom of others. The exercise of such rights and freedom shall be in accordance with the law.

Apart from these questions related to the field of communications, I was made aware how much the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia – the Khmer Rouge Trials – get international attention. This is a kind of next step beyond the usual connection of the name of the country Cambodia with Killing Fields and genocide. Reports about corruption and kickback allegations at the court, and the related inconclusive discussions, because United Nations investigative reports have not been published, have been in the media in many countries. And it is observed that the legal arrangements had required many years of negotiations, leading to results for the court set up which are very different from other international courts which deal with past events in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, or the former Yugoslavia.

Finally, I was at a loss to find an answer when faced with the question why Cambodia joined with the military dictatorship in Burma – which had taken power years ago, rejecting the legitimately elected representatives of the people – when the Cambodian Prime Minister threatened to disassociate himself from the majority of ASEAN leaders, by not accepting the civil society participation from Cambodia in the ASEAN discussion on how to create an ASEAN human rights body. I did not want to accept the interpretation and opinion that this seems to be the beginning of a new period of Cambodian international self-isolation.

But when I share these encounters, I do so in the hope that there will be more awareness of how Cambodia is seen from abroad – from the international community of nations. During the years after the UNTAC administration 1992/93, it had been a major goal of the Cambodian governments to regain a place in the fellowship of the countries in the region – especially in ASEAN – and to regain the seat in the United Nations, becoming again a normal member of the counties of the world, after the decades of internal conflicts and external interventions.

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Foreign Co-Defense Lawyers of Nuon Chea File a Complaint about Corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – Friday, 9.1.2009

Posted on 10 January 2009. Filed under: Week 594 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 594

“Phnom Penh: A foreign co-defense lawyer of [former Khmer Rough leader] Nuon Chea demanded the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to open an investigation regarding corruption allegations at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. This demand was made through a complaint to the Royal Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday on 8 January 2009. The Royal Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Count has not yet accepted this criminal complaint [on 8 January – Note: But on 9 January he did]

“Representing a group of three foreign co-defense lawyers of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Michiel Pestman presented this complaint to the Royal Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. The plaintiffs declared to be victims of a violation of the criminal law of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia [UNTAC] of 1992, the plaintiffs especially raised the allegation of corruption in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which can lead to destroy the basic right to receive just hearings.

“Through the complaint, the three foreign co-lawyers, Mr. Michiel Pestman, Mr. Victor Koppe, and Mr. Andrew Lanuzzi, as plaintiffs, base their complaint on a statement of the Open Society Justice Initiative [OSJI] of February 2007, a report by UNDP, and some local press articles. These documents alleged that the general staff as well as some judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal paid a portion of their salaries to higher officials of the Cambodian government, in response to having received their positions at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“The foreign co-defense lawyers mentioned also the history of facts related to previous corruption allegations related to the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“The foreign co-defense lawyers of Mr. Nuon Chea asked the Royal Prosecutor of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to open an investigation about corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“They said they make this demand, because their efforts to receive information from the Cambodian side and from Deputy Prime Minister Sok An regarding the accusations about corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal had not been successful, because no information was provided. That is why the foreign co-defense lawyers concluded that the people mentioned above and others acting similarly might violate the UNTAC criminal law of 1992, or other similar rules of prosecution by directly coordinating to help each other and to encourage corruption relating to the assignments at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal during the continuing investigation.

“Coming once in the morning and once again in the afternoon to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, on 8 January 2009, Mr. Michiel Pestman told reporters that the clerks did not accept his complaint, even though he had tried to deliver documents of complaint to the Royal Prosecutor’s clerks, and he had indicated that foreign lawyers would come again to meet them at 3:00 p.m. on 8 January 2009. But the clerks still did not accept the complaint and required them to come to the court again on Friday, 9 January 2009.

“Mr. Pestman added that the clerks had said that the complaint lodged by the foreign co-defense lawyers was a special one so they need to first talk to their superiors.

“Mr. Pestman went on to say that the corruption allegation, related to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, is a serious problem, and it can negatively impact on rights of the accused so that they not receive just hearings; it is a major concern of everyone involved in the process of these procedures.

“He went on to question with great concern how the Khmer Rouge Tribunal could provide justice to his defendants without clarification? Paying a portion of the salaries of officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to high ranking officials of the government makes these officials of the court unable to work independently.

“Mr. Pestman clearly indicated that staff of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal did cut a portion of their salaries as a kick-back to high ranking officials of the government, depending on reports published by the United Nations, but he did not know who those Khmer staff were, and to whom they had paid their money.

“Nevertheless, the spokesperson of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Reach Sambath, did not make any comment on the complaint of the foreign co-lawyers, filed at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. Mr. Reach Sambath considers the corruption case at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal to be a past problem, for which no facts had been found to support it. But he emphasized that the Cambodian side in the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is highly committed to fight inequities. The court created a mechanism with a code-of-ethics councils and with mail boxes for staff to lodge complaints regarding corruption.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4790, 9.1.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 9 January 2009

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1842, 9.1.2009

  • Samdech Hun Sen Told Thailand to Re-Consider the Timing and place of the ASIAN Summit [now planned for 27 February to 1 March 2009, in Chiang Mai]
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia Reacts against the Thai Authorities for Not Allowing Cambodian Tourists to Enter Thailand [from a tourist cruise ship on 25 December 2008 – although they held Thai visa – saying that they did so, because they were concerned about security problems]
  • Owner of a Shoe Factory Leaves More Than 100 Workers on the Day when the Salaries Were Due [the owner of the factory, a colonel, ordered his bodyguards to intimidate the workers not to protest, while workers, mostly underage girls, shouted that they have no money to buy rice and to pay to travel back to their home villages and towns]
  • Rate of Patients and People Who Died from Malaria Declined in 2008 [the number of patients was 46,931, and the number of deaths was 155, while in 2007 there were 59,848 patients and 219 deaths]
  • The Thai Central Bank: The Occupation of the Airports [in 2008] Caused Siam [Thailand] to Loose US$8.3 Billion

Khmer Aphivoath Sethakech, Vol.7, #320, 9-10.1.2009

  • Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Kasit Piromya Will Meet Samdech Hun Sen on 25 and 26 January 2009 to Solve Border Disputes [according to the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Koy Kong]
  • Terrorist Leaders Who Planted Explosive Devices [in Phnom Penh] Are Arrested [in Poipet, police said that the suspects were involved also in the setting of explosive devices at the Cambodian-Vietnamese Monument on 29 July 2007 in Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #322, 9.1.2009

  • If People Reaching Retiring Age Still Collude to Delay Retirement, Why not Scrap Every Retirement Law All Together???

Khmer Sthapana, Vol.2, #178, 8.1.2009

  • The Announcement of a Hearing of a Danish Woman and Her Son Accused of Dealing with Drugs Is Delayed [to 15 January 2009]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6547, 9.1.2009

  • Car Loaded with Corn Hit Anti-Tank Mine, Killing Three and Injuring Six Lightly and Severely on National Road 57 [Ratanak Mondol, Battambang]
  • Explosion Echoed behind the Office of the Prime Minister [Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, of Thailand – no one was injured]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3661, 9.1.2009

  • [International co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal] Robert Petit Has Not Given Up the Demand to Investigate Six New Suspects [although the Khmer co-prosecutor of the tribunal, Ms. Chea Leang, released a statement opposing his demand]; Hearing of [the former Tuol Sleng Prison chief] Duch Will Start in March

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4790, 9.1.2009

  • Foreign Co-Defense Lawyers of Nuon Chea File a Complaint about Corruption at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal
  • Customs Income in 2008 Was More Than US$290 Million, Which Was 30% Over the Expectation [it declined by 7.5% compared to 2007 – according the Customs Department director, Mr. Pen Siman]
  • A Dead Female Dolphin Floated Down in Front of Wat Chrouy Thma in Kompong Cham

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.16, #3471, 9.1.2009

  • World Bank Increases Access to Telecommunication Services for Poor Citizens in Five Provinces [Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear, and Pursat]

Wat Phnom, Vol.16, #8002, 9-11.1.2009

  • [Phnom Penh governor] Mr. Kep Chuktema Plans to Spend US$10 Million [foreign money] on Public Lighting in Phnom Penh

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.

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Links and Lessons from Far Away Africa – Sunday, 28.12.2008

Posted on 30 December 2008. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 592 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 592

When we mirrored, on 26 December 2008, that Captain Moussa Dadis Camara had declared himself president of Guinea, after a coup following the death of President Lansana Conte, 74, I first did not think that this deserved much attention in the Mirror.

Then I remembered some connections: on 19 June 2008 we had mirrored that the Cambodian Prime Minister had decided to sell 120,000 tonnes of rice and to send agricultural experts to Guinea, responding to a request by the prime minister of Guinea. At that time I had wondered what kind of link might exist to this small country in Africa – hardly anybody knows where it is located.

But already in 2001 an ambassador of Guinea had presented his credentials and diplomatic relations were established – though Cambodia does not have an embassy anywhere in Africa, while having diplomatic relations with 17 countries in Africa.

In March 2008, 15 artists from the circus school in Guinea “Centre d’Art Acrobatique Keïta Fodéba” were in Cambodia for 3 months.

In November 2008, during the opening of the Least Developed Countries Ministerial Conference in Siem Reap, the Prime Minister spoke about new possibilities of cooperation at a time of rising prices for rice: “I have looked at the list of participants and it reminds me of a number of countries in Africa that I visited in the times when I was Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs [1979 to 1990]. Recently Guinea contacted Cambodia to purchase some agricultural products. This has made me think that in time of crisis there are always opportunities as at the time of fuel and food crisis, Cambodia could see the opportunity of expanding production to provide food for both local and the world.”

Research brought to light more and more facts that seem worthwhile to consider in relation to Cambodia. Guinea is obviously a country which has had a lot of problems. The death of the president was considered by a group of younger military leaders as a chance to act They seem to have seen no other possibility to rectify the situation but a coup d’etat – against the constitution and the laws of their country, though completely without bloodshed or using force.

What had happened?

Guinea is in West Africa, about one third bigger than Cambodia, but with only 10 million people compared to Cambodia’s 14 million. It is rich in minerals and has the world’s biggest reserves of bauxite, which is the basis to create aluminum. At present it is fourth in the world in bauxite production, after Australia, Brazil and China. It has also diamonds, gold, iron, nickel, and uranium.

Since its independence from France in 1958 – five years after Cambodia – it has had only two presidents: Sékou Touré until 1984, and General Lansana Conte, who seized power after the death of his predecessor; the support of the armed forces was essential for his power throughout the years. During these years, multi-party elections were held for the first time in 1993 when General Conte, as head of the military government, was elected president of a civilian government – this was the same year that the elections organized by UNTAC were held in Cambodia. Conte was reelected in 1998 and in 2003, but all three elections were said to have had irregularities. In the meantime, an electoral term was extended from 5 to 7 years, after the president’s party had won 91 of the 114 seats. It is said that “he ruled the country with an iron fist for 24 years.”

Guinea’s immense riches have attracted the major mining companies from different countries: AngloGold Ashanti (from South Africa), Billiton (the world’s largest mining company, from Australia – since 2006, Billiton is also conducting bauxite exploration in Mondolkiri, with “the exclusive rights to negotiate a mining agreement with the government” at the end of their study, and there is also a Billiton Petroleum office in Phnom Penh), Global Alumina (from the USA), Rio Tinto (UK and Australia), and RusAl (from Russia). Some pictures show how the bauxite is collected by big machines, and then transported to be shipped out of the country. A major contractor on the Guinean side says:

“In collaboration with the Government and people of Guinea, Guinea Alumina Corporation will develop a world class alumina business that provides value to shareholders, sustained economic and social benefits to the people of Guinea, and a quality supply of alumina to the world.”

But in spite of such lofty declarations and the riches of the country, Guinea is listed in position 202 when comparing the per capita income in different countries – lower than Cambodia. Cambodia is in position 180 on the same list of 225 countries.

A lack of transparency about how “the people of Guinea” benefit from these riches, compared to the share taken by the international companies, led to dissatisfaction, accusations of high level corruption, and strikes in 2006 and 2007, and violent protests.

When Captain Moussa Dadis Camara declared himself president and suspended the constitution, he stated as the justification the mismanagement and corruption of the former government. He created a 32-member National Council for Democracy and Development – replacing the ministers with 26 military officers and 6 civilians – and promised to hold elections in two years. There had been tensions in the military since several months, when younger officers had expressed their opposition to the corrupt practices of some of the higher level officers.

During the coup nobody was arrested, but the members of government were dismissed, as well as 22 generals close to the former political powers. It is reported that Captain Moussa Dadis Camara met with politicians, religious leaders, trade union representatives, and members of civil society, declaring that the main motive for taking power is to fight corruption and to secure the interests of the country: all contracts with international companies, which had invested billions of dollars, will be canceled for review, to root out corruption; whoever has misappropriated state assets or personally benefited from public resources will be punished.

The international reaction? A voice representing the international companies said: “It is very likely that the new regime may seek to extort monies from current operators and prospectors and that a new democratic regime may try to impose heavier royalties and taxes,” even calling it “extortionary pressure” if the new government would try to negotiate more balanced agreements about their own resources being sold abroad.

It is interesting that voices from the international community, which had not questioned the corruption involved in the arrangements of “exporting” the mineral wealth of the country without transparency and without benefits for the people, is now raising mainly the concern about having violated the results of the electoral system of the country.

It is remarkable, however, that President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, one of the neighboring countries, is calling to recognize and to support the new government, because of its positive goals.



Considering this history of Guinea – allegations of corruption based on bad governance and misuse of resources, which finally led to an effort for a radical new beginning – it is appropriate to remember that Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly spoken about his concerns of a similar situation for Cambodia: growing dissatisfaction by people who do not see that the society provides them justice, who might resort to attempts to bring about a radical change. On the other hand, he has also raised concerns that people who see their chances of illegal enrichment too much controlled by the government might attempt to grab power in order to exercise their greed without restraint. These statements shall not be forgotten.

In 1999, the Prime Minister had said: “Should we not manage the land issue in a good manner, we might have to face a farmers’ revolution.” He mentioned this again in 2004, addressing the National Forum on Land Management in the presence of national and international representatives.

In 2002, opening the Consultative Group Meeting between representatives of the Cambodian Government and representatives of cooperating countries and international institutions, he said:

“We are conscious that corruption in the public machinery, be it judiciary or administrative or any other, increases transaction costs for everyone and reduces predictability in law enforcement and implementation of the government’s policies… The government believes that enactment of adequate laws and regulations to prevent and punish corruption is crucial for addressing this problem. In this spirit, the Royal Government is committed to finalize the draft of the Anti -Corruption Law before the end of June 2003.”

In February 2007, the Chinese People’s Daily Online quoted the Cambodian Prime Minister:

“The land grabbers dare to get a lot of land illegally while we have always appealed again and again to stop… The land grabbers are not simple people, they must be powerful people in the government. I asked the question, do they dare to conduct a coup d’etat in the future?” And he is quoted to have replied himself that they really dare to do so. “So before they conduct a coup d’etat, we need to take action against them.”

What happened in Guinea should not happen in Cambodia. The political action necessary has been pointed out by the Prime Minister clearly enough.

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