Valentin’s Day 2010 – Sunday, 14.2.2010

Posted on 15 February 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 651 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 651

Year after year, it is interesting to observe that Valentine’s Day gets more public attention and controversy, especially in a number of Asian countries. A Cambodian blogger, Ms. Chak Sopheak, collected a number of different voices under the title Cambodia: Valentine’s Day Sparks Controversy. She refers also to a public appeal of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which “initiated five-minute spots educating the teenagers about the ‘meaning of the Valentine’s day’ in order that the young will be encouraged to expresses their love to family first, followed by teachers and then friends.”

Of course everybody is free to try to give their own interpretation of Valentine’s Day. But to say that it is about “to expresses their love to family first, followed by teachers and then friends” has no basis in the history of this celebration. Valentine’s Day – historically – celebrates the love between man and women, against the rules of the the society represented by the state. To declare Valentine’s Day not to be about lovers, man and women, but about some wider family and friends relations, is just another attempt of the nature against which the original Valentine is said to have fought.

There are hardly any explanations of Valentine’s day which clearly say: The original message is that Valentine was against the regulations of the authorities to prevent men and women to commit themselves to each other, against the law.

It is about this love. This is the message.

But as it is with old traditions, it is not always possible to verify them in detail. A holiday to remember a person of this name was established already in the year 496, more than 1500 years ago. But his story became more widely known only after the technology to print books by using movable individual letters – not only to copy books in handwriting – was invented around the year 1450 in Germany, and the Readings of the Saints (a Latin book Legenda Sanctorum) was reprinted often. I contained also the story of Valentine.

According to this, Valentine was a Christian monk who defended his belief even when he was made to appear before the emperor Marcus Aurelius Claudius who ruled only briefly in the years 268 to 270), but he was imprisoned as he was not prepared to compromise his positions, and was arrested and later executed.

Later reports say that he did not agree with the government’s rule to restrict solders to get married. The government thought that their romantic relationships would make them not good members of society as assigned by the government to be soldiers. But Valentine secretly organized their marriages, against this rule and breaking the law, as he considered it a basic right not to remain single. A case of an early human rights advocate.

The tradition says that while he was already in prison, he befriended the daughter of the prison guard, and on the day before his execution he is said to have written to her a note “From your Valentine.”

To reflect about Valentine’s Day is to reflect about this story. It is not “to be nice to everybody” but it is about a person who defended the right of men and women to be together, even defending and maintaining his position to the end of losing his life for not complying with the law, but supporting love.

It is obviously a complete misuse of the tradition of Valentine when this day is now used by boys to persuade and force their girlfriends to have sex as if this would be the meaning of Valentine’s Day, or even to rape one woman by a group of men. But it is also a misuse to this tradition to use it and to say it is a day of general friendship and love with family first, then teachers, and friends.

To do so is to close one’s eyes from the fact that – quite obviously in many countries – young people are not prepared to accept traditional restrictions imposed on their relations between men and women. And that such changes are not just the result of westernization we tried to show at last year’s Valentine Day with pictures from the People’s Republic of China and from North Korea – two countries really not know to be inclined to “Western” ideologies.

In a different cultural context – to give another example – also the society in Pakistan is without broad orientation in this context:

“Our homeland the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is also deeply influenced by events like Valentine’s Day which were unknown in the sub continent before but now after so many years of celebrating it, it seems like it has merged with our culture.

“In Pakistan the day is celebrated equally to many different countries of the world our youth celebrates it with more intensity and passion than our Independence Day, or any of our historic days which means so much for the whole Nation but our youth and our teenagers seems to have been so captivated by the Western ways and laws that they actually give more preference to celebrating these holidays then our own. Obviously it’s not just the youth which is to be blamed, but our society has created an image which is identical to the West.

“Every year in Pakistan people are getting more enthusiastic, energetic and more passionate to celebrate Valentine’s Day. If we talk about the outcome of celebrating this day we will get to know that there are two possible outcomes of this day, one is enjoyed by the participants while the other is enjoyed by the businesses and owner of different businesses.”

So what?

In spite of all the confusions which become obvious at this day, it is a challenge to face the question seriously: How are we, in our different societies, going to find solutions which the events and feelings and activities of each Valentine’s Day pose about the relations between women and men in our times and societies. Just to appeal to the traditions does not lead to solutions accepted by many people.

In Cambodia, there is the Chbab Srey, a traditional code of conduct for Cambodian women. The response I often receive: I am very much in favor of keeping our Khmer traditions, but I do not accept that the Chbab Srey says: “Don’t speak in a way as if you consider him as equal… My dear, no matter what your husband did wrong, I tell you: to be patient, don’t say anything without the husband being present.” Such partial, selective acceptance will hardly prevent that for many people Valentine’s Day may result in negative memories, because an open discourse on where to find new ways and new relationships is hardly happening.

Even so, Valentine’s Day provides every year a new impulse to think ahead. To boldly think, and to find way to live what is found to be right. Like Valentine, who was rather prepared to face death than to give up what he was sure was right.

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The Minister of Public Works and Transport Talks about Ports and Ships Using Cambodian Flags – Monday, 16.2.2009

Posted on 17 February 2009. Filed under: Week 600 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 600

“The Minister of Public Work and Transport presented some results related to important ports in Cambodia, and to problems of ships registered by Cambodia. Below is a recent interview between the Minister of Public Work and Transport, Mr. Tram Iv Tek, with National Television:

Question: How many ports are there in total in Cambodia? Where are they? What are their functions?

The Minister: Nowadays, Cambodia has two international ports, the Phnom Penh Port and the Sihanoukville Port, which are our contact point to foreign countries and to the world. These ports are controlled by public enterprises of the state under the administration of boards of directors, with members from relevant institutions, such as the Ministry of Public Work and Transport, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Council of Ministers etc… Besides, there are 29 different local ports (among which there are around 10 oil ports and around 19 retail-goods ports) being administered by different private companies.

“The general function of ports is to serve as docking stations, and to gather, transfer, and distribute goods and to transport travelers. Furthermore, the international ports are the points of access to the international high sea and to the world. The importance of ports, especially the international ports, is like the breath of the national economy, which contributes to develop international commerce, tourism etc…

“The Phnom Penh Port is located next to the south of the Chroy Chongva Bridge and is 3 to 4 km from the confluence between the Mekong River and the Tonle Sap River. This international port serves international ships traveling along the Mekong River to the sea through Vietnam, and is 110 km from the Cambodian-Vietnamese border at K’am Samnar. This port can load and unload ships up to 2,000 tonnes for the whole year, and during the rainy season this can be increased up to 5,000 tonnes (the depth of the water is 4.5 meter).

“According to results of work (in 2008), there were around 60,000 travelers, 47,000 TEU containers [TEU = the Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, a measure used in intermodal transport], 700,000 tonnes of oil, and goods of about 1.20 million tonnes.

“As for the Sihanoukville Port, it is the biggest port in Cambodia; it was constructed during the years 1956 to 1960, and it was put to use in 1961. At present, the concrete port is old, and it is only used to receive light things but will be changed to be the port for passenger ships. These days, a 400-meter container port, assisted in its construction by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation [JBIC], at a depth of 9 meter, can receive 1,000 ships per month. The quantity of handled goods was 2,057,967 tonnes (in 2008) and there were approximately 258,000 containers.

“A development project being processed (with assistance by the JBIC) comprises the construction of infrastructure to develop a special region (70 hectares). The construction of a multi-purpose port is to serve: oil exploration at the sea, and as a port for loose goods like grains (rice, corn, beans), asphalt, potatoes etc…

“As for private ports, they are general ports to transport goods from neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, etc… There are four ports active: at Keo Phos, Srae Ambel, Kamrak, and Tumnup Rolork And there are two ports being developed; they are the Stung Hav, and the Kambang Port of the Vinh Huong Company.

Question: It is obvious that land transportation is popular in Cambodia, then why it is necessary to build new ports?

The Minister: Actually, at present, Cambodian people prefer to use transport by land roads, because they think that it is quick, takes less time, and one reaches the goals one wants to go. But in generally, transport on water roads or by ships or water vehicles has very good qualities:

“1. Huge transport capacity, 2. Capital requirements are lower (spending less money than for transportation by cars/trucks), 3. It is safe and affects the environment not so much, 4. No traffic congestion, 5. It is an international route, since it can connect to far-away countries, 6. It reduces the use of land roads from being overloaded, 7. It affects the general environment less, because the quantity of carbon dioxide and the carbon dioxide released is around 42 gram per tonne/km, less than that released by land vehicles, which is around 407 gram per tonne/km.

“The advances of the economy and the growth in the number of people cause traffic jams. Trucks loaded with goods cannot move and land road traffic accidents increase. Ports cannot avoid all disturbances related to other forms of transportations including the different supporting services, such as delivering agencies of goods, fields to distribute goods and provisioning etc… This is a crucial incentive, which provides investors different good choices for investments, and Cambodia needs to develop also these sectors, including the development of ports and its own cargo ships, and particularly the establishment of special economic zones in port regions. Cambodia and Vietnam are considering the joint development of the river transportation sector, and to coordinate the border-crossing procedures for the transportations of goods, for travelers, tourists etc…

Question: If the constructions of new ports can affect maritime resources and the life of the people living at the seashore, how does the Ministry solve these problems?

The Minister: The constructions of new ports can have some effects on maritime resources and on the life of the people living at the sea. Generally, a construction project always affects the environment more or less. But in general, port constructions do not have the same big effects like that of hydro-electric dams. It can affect the natural environment somewhat, such as maritime diversity (fish refuges) and the ecological systems (bird refuges), there can be changes of currents or of the quality of water, dirt in the water, or oil spillings, or different waste, garbage gathering at the sea bottom etc… Projects are studied to find any additional impacts, through Environmental Impact Assessments, before their construction is licensed. Therefore, the impact on the life of people depends also on finding the required large sizes of land for the constructions of each port. Besides land for the docking port, land is also needed to build infrastructure, roads, warehouses, storage areas, service areas for the ports such as fuel stations, electricity power stations, different buildings etc… Therefore, problems may relate also to find solutions for existing houses. This is also a problem. Like other problems happening with investment projects, we cannot let citizens suffer from them, so that we would loose the benefit of their work on these jobs, so there must be solutions found.

Question: Some foreign ships use the Cambodian flag. Do they have the permission to use the Cambodian flag? If foreign ships that use the Cambodian flags commit any illegal activities, what does the Ministry do against those ships?

The Minister: The Royal Government of Cambodia permits registration of foreign ships since 1994. The number of ships registered to fly the Cambodian flag increased in 2001, and so far, there are around 800 ships registered under he Cambodian flag.

“Since February 2003, the management of the registration of Cambodian registered ships is administered by the committee of the Council of Ministers for controlling the registration of ships flying the Cambodian flag. The provision of a registry of ships with the permissions to fly the Cambodian flag means that foreign ships are allowed to travel legally under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, administered by the International Maritime Organization. There are two types of violations or wrongdoings: technical and commercial. Technical violations are violations committed by ships against different laws or regulations of countries, recognized in international law, such as environmental sea pollution (depositing of waste from ships, beyond set standards), incompetence of ship masters or officers (not holding proper, or even fake skill certificates, or invalid certificates), lack of security and safety (not meeting defined standards), or different illegal activities. As for commercial violations, some ships violate the rules by the transportation of banned goods or weapons, explosives, addictive drugs, weapons, weapons of mass destruction, slaves etc…), human trafficking or transportations of illegal refugees etc… Owners of ships or ship operators are held responsible for such activities themselves. In addition, Cambodia, as a country which operates an international ship registry, can take different actions necessary against the following crimes: 1. Impose fines through any administration and 2. Withdraw the right to fly the Cambodian flag and registration, or of other valid documents provided.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4822, 15-16.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 16 February 2009

Amnach Reas, Vol.2, #41, 16-22.2.2009

  • 421 Families [from Banteay Meanchey] Protest at the Residence of Samdech Dekchor [Hun Sen] over the Setting Houses of Citizens on Fire to Grab their Land

Cheat Khmer, Vol.1, #18, 16.2009

  • Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Ask Mr. Hun Sen to Clarify the [rumored] Presence of [Thai ousted prime minister] Thaksin in Cambodia

Deum Tnot.3, #57, 16.2.2009

  • The Former Director of the Appeals Court, H.E. Ly Vouch Leng, Is Appointed Advisor to the Cambodian Government and Deputy Director of a Council of Legal Professionals, with Equal Position to Minister, without Investigating Her Wrongdoings [regarding a bribery case, where Te Porly, the owner of the former Chhay Hua II Hotel, accused of human trafficking, was declared free from the accusations]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1874, 15-16.2.2009

  • Sihanoukville Residents Plan to Protest to Take the Prampi Chon Hotel [“7 stories hotel”] as Public Property of the State
  • Ou Chrov and Serey Sophoan Districts Are Declared Cities [Banteay Meanchey]

Koh Santepheap, Vol. 42, #6579, 16.2.2009

  • The Council of Ministers Announces a Denial [that there was a decision to open an investigation against former commander-in-chief Ke Kim Yan about the legality of land ownership of some companies having relations with him] and Announces to Investigate to Find th People Who Released Internal Minutes of the Royal Government [Note: Other media say that the content of the leaked document was not denied]
  • Data from 2008: Every Day US$100,000 Were Spent to Have Sex Outside the Home [according to the National AIDS Authority of Cambodia, 10% of the people between the age of 15 and 49 had sex outside the home, and 36% of the people between the age of 15 and 24 were men and only 1% were women. 14% of women working at Karaoke Parlors were students]
  • Armed Robbery along Roads Reoccurs [a high school student was hit on his back to rob his motorbike by two robbers who are not yet identified – Sen Sok, Phnom Penh]
  • Cambodian Public Bank [an allied bank of the Public Bank Berhad of Malaysia] Receives Award as Bank of the Year for 2008, for the Sixth Time, from the Chartered Institute of Bankers in London

Meatophum, Vol.53, #722, 16-21.2.2009

  • Gay Foreign Parents, Low-Income Parents, and Parents Having Two Children Already Cannot Ask to Adopt Children from Cambodia

Rasmei Angkor, Vol.16, #1412, 16.2.2009

  • On 14 February 2009 [the Valentine’s Day], [more than 100] Guesthouses Were Full of Youth Going to Stay and Have Sex to Show Their Love

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4822, 15-16.2.2009

  • The Minister of Public Works and Transport Talks about Ports and Ships Using Cambodian Flags
  • [The Minister of Defense] Tea Banh: Payments System to Military Officers According to Position Is Promised to Be Released in February 2009!

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

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The National Election Committee Announces Registration Information for the Council Elections – Saturday, 14.2.2009

Posted on 15 February 2009. Filed under: Week 599 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 599

“On 13 February 2009, the National Election Committee published, at the office of the National Election Committee, with representatives from some parties participating, the date for the process to register for the commune councils elections, to participate in the first term district and provincial/city elections, which will be held on 17 May 2009.

“An official of the National Election Committee presiding over the meeting, Mrs. Koy Vet, announced the information for different parties, non-government organizations, and commune councilors, who need to register to participate in the elections.

“Officials of the National Election Committee said that the number of members of the provincial and city councils is 374, there are 11,353 voters, and there are 1,939 districts and cities. According to the National Election Committee, for the provincial and city elections and the number of voters to elect the district and provincial/city councils for the first mandate, it is expected that more than US$1.5 million will be spent.

“The National Election Committee pointed out that there are 1,621 and 11,353 voters, and the commune councilors must register at each commune through officials of the K.Kh.Kh.B [?], with observers joining from political parties and different organizations.

“Mrs. Koy Vet went on to say that after sending the name lists of voters to the capital city and the provinces, and the National Election Committee has validated the lists, the National Election Committee will publish the name lists of voters first on 24 March 2009 at the K.Kh./Kh.B [?], at communes, and at offices at the capital city and at towns.

“Mrs. Koy Vet continued to say that the registration of commune councils will start on 16 and continue to 21 February 2009, and only members of commune councils who are fulfilling their work are allowed to register in voter lists.

“The National Election Committee added hat on 4 February 2008, it held a training course about the registration of district and provincial/city councils for representatives from political parties, non-government organization, directors, and deputy directors of K.Th./Kh.B. [?] with a total of 180 participants.

“It should be noted that 36 officials of the National Election Committee and 120 officials of the K.Th./Kh.B. attended the training. There were five political parties, the Cambodian People’s Party, the Sam Rainsy Party, the Human Rights Party, the Norodom Ranariddh Party, and the Khmer Democratic Party, and nine non-government organizations participating in the training.

“The secretary-general of the National Election Committee, Mr. Tep Nitha, said that the period of the registration for councils is 5 days, and it might take 10 more days then to send the lists to the districts, provinces, and K.Kh./Kh.B. 20 days after that, they will be sent to the National Election Committee.

“Mr. Tep Nitha added that after the lists will have been published, the National Election Committee will permit 5 days for protests and corrections to the K.Kh./Kh.B. and 5 days to the National Election Committee, to deal with different complaints.” Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6578, 14-15.2.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 14 February 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #116, 14.2.2009

  • Around 500 Virgins Will Loose Their Virginity during Valentine’s Day [according to a survey conducted by the Association for the Development of People’s Health (? not identified) by questioning youth between the age of 14 and 25 in Phnom Penh]
  • The Municipality Will Provide Money to Support to Eradicate Mosquitoes in the City [Phnom Penh]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1873, 14.2.2009

  • Prices of Fuel in Cambodia Go Up while the Crude Oil Price on International Markets Drops [one liter of fuel is approx US$0.80 in Cambodia, while the price of one barrel of crude drops to US$35]
  • Citizens Ask TV Stations Not to Publish ‘Valentine’s Day’ on Televisions [because it might encourage youth to take up a foreign culture]
  • The Creation of the Sen Sok District was Announced [by splitting it off from the Russey Keo district]; Mr. Khuong Sreng Is the District Governor
  • The People’s Assembly of China Donates 24 Computers and 10 Cameras to the National Assembly of Cambodia
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva Admits that Burmese [Rohingya] Refugees Were Put on Boats and Let Floating on the Sea [resulting in starvation and deaths]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #344, 14.2.2009

  • [The president of the Sam Rainsy Party] Sam Rainsy Asks Banks in Other Countries to Block Money from People Who Stole from the Nation and Sell the Country [as mentioned in the Global Witness report]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6578, 14-15.2.2009

  • The National Election Committee Announces Registration Information for the Council Elections

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3687, 14-15.2.2009

  • Russia Has Not Canceled Dept [of more than US$1.5 billion] That Cambodia Owes

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4821, 14.2.2009

  • Industrial Research Institute – IRI – Found that 80% of Citizens Think that the Government Is on the Right Track [at the time of this writing, no reference to Cambodia on their web site]
  • Cambodia and Korea Will Sign an Agreement Later this Month to Open a Stock Exchange Market in Cambodia
  • A Plane Crashed onto a House in New York Killing 49 People [one victim was on the ground]

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

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