Just Deny… or Investigate and Clarify? – Sunday, 25.7.2010

Posted on 26 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

After the acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch had presented a report Off the Streets: Arbitrary Detention and Other Abuses against Sex Workers in Cambodia to the press, and this was reported on 21.7.2010, on the following day of 22.7.2010 there was already another press report: “The Government Dismissed the Report of Human Rights Watch.”

As this 76-pages report is based, as it states, on more than 90 interviews and group discussions with sex workers in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and Siem Reap, one wonders how a government spokesperson could dismiss such a report on the day after its public presentation – a report that contains Testimonies from sex workers from around the country. The denial cannot be based on an investigation of the details and facts claimed to be real, with names and locations of witnesses, unless there is no respect for the persons quoted, not assuming that some of the terrible experiences they describe are correct and deserve legal clarification.

The press reported from the presentation that some of these cases were claimed to have happened: “Some members of the police abuse sex workers without ever receiving any punishment, and police punch them, beat them with rattan sticks, batons, and electric shock batons. In some cases, sex workers have been raped by police while they were in detention, and all sex workers have to pay bribes, or their money was simply stolen by police.”

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia says in Article 31:

“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.”

What are the implications – under the Constitution – when statements by Cambodian citizens who claim to have been victimized and abused by police, including the allegation of regular impunity, are dismissed and not taken up by agencies which should rather care for equal justice.

Human Rights Watch did not only report their observations, they also made practical proposals, as reported in the Khmer press:

“…the report of Human Rights Watch suggests the creation of a special committee to thoroughly and independently conduct investigations on violence and the extortion of money by law enforcement officials, by security guards working in the parks, and by staff or volunteers of municipal social rehabilitation centers; this committee should have representatives from the government who are capable and respectful, as well as from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Department of Social Affairs, UN agencies, non-government organizations, and representatives of sex workers.”

It seems that all this has now been dismissed – and the alleged impunity may continue without being investigated? – No investigation and clarified about what was wrong, and what was true and has to be punished according to the laws of the country?

On 26.7.2010 the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia – the Khmer Rouge Tribunal – will announce its first verdict, on the former head of the Tuol Sleng prison. He is the only one of the five persons facing the court who has not denied the accusations against him.

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Female Sex Workers in Cambodia Suffer from Members of the Authorities Who Use the Opportunity of Illegal Arrests to Abuse Them – Wednesday, 21.7.2010

Posted on 22 July 2010. Filed under: Week 674 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 674

“The acting Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, Ms. Elaine Pearson, said at the release of a 76-page Human Rights Watch report to the national and international press on 20 July 2010, ‘It is known since a long that some police and other authorities of Cambodia detain sex workers illegally, beat them and rape them, and steal money and other property they have with them.’

“Ms. Elaine Pearson added, ‘Police arrests sex workers as part of their regular raids in streets and parks in Phnom Penh. Using these opportunities, there is active violence, and other kinds of abuses happened during such actions to arrest and collect sex workers by members of the district police and by other authorities at specific times, sometimes targeting only sex workers to arrest them, and at other occasions arresting sex workers together with other groups of citizens that are considered as “garbage of society” found living on the streets.’ Ms. Elaine Person added, ‘Some members of the police abuse sex workers without ever receiving any punishment, and police punch them, beat them with rattan sticks, batons, and electric shock batons. In some cases, sex workers have been raped by police while they were in detention, and all sex workers have to pay bribes, or their money was simply stolen by police.’

“She went on to say, ‘In an atmosphere, where police who committed abuses do not receive any punishments, the Cambodian government has to recognize that not to initiate any criminal procedures against such activities is to allow human rights abuses to continue.’ She added that the Cambodian government should close social rehabilitation centers where sex workers are illegally detained, and to completely close the drug rehabilitation centers soon [which are the subject of similar allegations], as well as to stop all violence against sex workers.

“In addition, the 76-page report of Human Rights Watch titled ‘Off the Streets: Arbitrary Detention and Other Abuses against Sex Workers in Cambodia’ released to journalists on 20 July 2010, says that in Phnom Penh, police had sent sex workers to a Phnom Penh social rehabilitation center and then to non-government organizations or to a social rehabilitation center of the Prey Speu authorities. The conditions at Prey Speu are like hell, as sex workers who had been sent there told Human Rights Watch that they were allowed to get out of their rooms only twice a day to bath, using water from a dirty pond or to go to the toilet, followed by a guard.

“In addition, sex workers, beggars, drug abusers, street children, and homeless people also sent to the Prey Speu center have suffered from beatings, rape, and other mistreatments. The report adds that at least three persons had been beaten to death at the Prey Speu center between 2006 and 2008.

“Along with the demand and request to the Cambodian government to stop all violence against sex workers and to completely close any center that detains sex workers illegally and is using violence. Human Rights Watch asked the donors of Cambodia that support the efforts against human trafficking and training for police, especially the USA, Australia, Japan, the European Union, and the United Nations, to reconsider their funding to police institution and to the Ministry of Social Affairs, until an independent investigation about the alleged abuses is conducted, until the persons responsible for the abuses are brought to justice, and until the Prey Speu social rehabilitation center is completely shut down.

“Ms. Elaine said that the donors should not spend their money to train abusive officials, but should rather take steps to promote responsible actions from the Cambodian government. Also, the report of Human Rights Watch suggests the creation of a special committee to thoroughly and independently conduct investigations on violence and the extortion of money by law enforcement officials, by security guards working in the parks, and by staff or volunteers of municipal social rehabilitation centers; this committee should have representatives from the government who are capable and respectful, as well as from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Department of Social Affairs, UN agencies, non-government organizations, and representatives of sex workers. This committee should be created soon and should have the authority to summon witnesses and to produce public reports.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3937, 21.7.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2306, 21.7.2010

  • Twenty Four Female Workers between the Ages of 15 and 17 Were Found in the VC Manpower Company That Plans to Send Them to Malaysia [the Ministry of Interior is collecting information from them to take legal action against the company]
  • Takhmao Forestry Officials Intercepted [53 pieces of] Ebony Wood Loaded in a Twelve-Seater Car, Prepared to Be Transported to Vietnam [Kandal]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #7013, 21.7.2010

  • The Asian Development Bank Assessed the Cambodian Economy: Through [increased] Tourist Arrivals and Textile Exports, Economic Growth Is Estimated to Be 4.5% [in 2010]
  • The Construction of the Prek Pnov Bridge [across the Tonle Sap river] Is Almost Completed [after spending about US$43 million] and It Is Scheduled to Be Inaugurated in September 2010

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3937, 21.7.2010

  • Female Sex Workers in Cambodia Suffer from Members of the Authorities Who Use the Opportunity of Illegal Arrests to Abuse Them

Nokor Wat, Vol.1, #9, 21.7.2010

  • [The Minister of the Council of Ministers] Deputy Prime Minister Sok An Leads a Delegation to Attend a World Heritage Committee Meeting [in Brazil from 25 July to 3 September 2010]
  • Human Rights Watch Asked the Government to Halt Abuses against Women Sex Workers [when they are intercepted, they suffer beatings, rape, extortion of money, sexual harassment, detention, and other bad actions from the authorities]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #219, 21.7.2010

  • The Cambodian Stock Exchange Will Be Opened in July 2011 [according to a new delay announced by the Ministry of Economy and Finance]
  • There Are Many Plaintiffs in Case 002 [of former Khmer Rouge leaders, Khiev Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, and Nuon Chea; as many as 3,993 candidates applied to be plaintiffs of the case, and the judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal are considering whether to accept their applications]
  • An opposition Party Official Showed a New Position, Requesting a Political Coordination [between the president of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Sam Rainsy, and the government, relating to the removal of Cambodian-Vietnamese border markers, for which Mr. Sam Rainsy was convicted by a court]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5255, 21.7.2010

  • The Total Investment Capital during the First Six Months of 2010 Drops by About US$138 Million [to US$917.4 million, where US$161.4 million were invested by local investors – according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia]
  • Because of a Dispute [between families], a Policeman Fatally Shot Two Persons and Injured Three Others [he was arrested – Phnom Penh]

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Free access to free flowing information – Sunday, 27.6.2010

Posted on 3 July 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

The Constitution of a country is its basic law – all other laws and regulations have to follow the guidelines of the Constitution. The Constitution is also a basic guideline for the citizens of a country, especially in a country where the Constitution declares (inscribed in the name of the people: “WE, THE PEOPLE OF CAMBODIA” as its Preamble states): “Cambodian people are the masters of their own country,” living in the Kingdom of Cambodia that has adopted “a policy of Liberal Democracy and Pluralism” as stated in its Article 51. The Constitution, written in 1993 by the elected representatives forming the first National Assembly of the newly established Kingdom of Cambodia, established a high and clear vision for the future after the troubled and violent decades of the past: “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.”

The Constitution lays out also clearly where the responsibility for the destiny of the nation is located: “All power belongs to the people.”

To fulfill the goals laid out is a daily challenge – not just to be celebrated on Constitution Day on 24 September every year, remembering the signing of the new Constitution on 24 September 1993 by King Sihanouk, and not only on the days every five years, when the members of the National Assembly are elected as the legislative power, with the authority over the creation of a new government, through which the people exercise their power.

To fulfill this challenge requires, among others, that the people can know what is going on in the country over which they are the masters: access to correct and transparent information is a fundamental condition for the Constitution to be alive.

The media play an important role in facilitating the access to information. We had the headline this week “Khmer Journalists Need More Training to Write Investigating Information [to write such information, journalists have to investigate to collect strong evidence to support their conclusions]” – an indication that there is still work to be done. Some time ago it was also decided that all Ministries shall have an official spokesperson, and there had also been special training events for persons taking on these new roles.

Unfortunately, the situation is often far away from the goal to be achieved. There are regular reports in the press, almost every week, that a reporter calling a Ministry to get some information is directed to a different person, and from there to a third person, and finally the answer is “no information available.” Or after being re-directed to several other sources, the caller ends up with the original contact. Or the called party hangs up as soon as they understand the call is from a journalist.

There are other cases where the information is clear – but it is difficult to understand it, as it is only a partial answer to a public question.

A case of this type of a response is the elaborate response given in the National Assembly by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An to an opposition request for clarification about “tea money” paid by foreign oil and mineral exploring companies, about which The Mirror carried a report in the Friday edition. There was, in response to the information given, some praise in the national and international press – but there was also frustration.

“In the case that there is money paid, like reward money for signing, paid into the state budget, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the National Petroleum Authority deposits it into an account at the National Bank of Cambodia. The money is the income from oil for the Royal Government of Cambodia to be used, and the use of the money is not dependent on the companies signing the oil deals, like in the case of the social development foundation. The money for the social development foundation is also deposited into an account at the National Bank of Cambodia, but before the money can be taken out to be spent on any projects, there needs to be a discussion with company that signed the oil deal, as, in general, that money is used to serve the development in areas designated when the oil deal was signed.”

But there were no total figures given, no explanation why such payments were not reflected in past accounts of the national budget, and no information about the administration of the Social Fund – who is responsible, and according to which criteria; no NGO could get away with such vague information.

And there are cases where the information is clear – but it is difficult to understand the arguments used and not used.

The demarcation of national borders is an important affair, often loaded not only with practical, but also with emotional elements. Clear, transparent information can always help to defuse a tense situation. Why are then the Khmer authorities prohibiting farmers from doing cultivation on the fields next to the temporary Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo, and people trying to visit the site to verify what is really going on were are prohibited from visiting? We did not find that the media were given the precise geographical coordinates, and detailed mapping reference – why only general reference to some border agreements?

Similarly, but even less transparent, is the argumentation in the following press report:

“An Expert Official [the head of the Border Committee of Cambodia, Mr. Var Kim Hong]: [Opposition party president] Sam Rainsy’s Map Is Fake [he claimed that the 1:100,000 map deposited at the United Nations in 1964 does not have grids, while the map that Mr. Sam Rainsy published on the Internet has grids; the Phnom Penh municipal court issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Sam Rainsy for faking public documents and spreading disinformation].”

If the original map deposited at the United Nations does not have a grid, showing the geographical coordinates of Latitudes and Longitudes of the depicted locations – how is it possible to determine where the contested border posts are actually located? It is faking the map, if the claim is made that the original maps did contain the grid of geographical coordinates but it actually did not – but it is helping to clarify the situation, if the geographical coordinates of Northern Latitude and Eastern Longitude are later provided so that the place of the border line can be clearly shown. – The legal struggle against the grid on the map seems to criticize that clarifying information is provided, while not saying that the information provided is wrong – nor providing alternative information with the assertion what is right.

That the public handling of information and the access to it is crucial has been underlined again by the top UN officials on 3 May 2010 – marking the annual World Press Freedom Day – calling for the promoting of the universal right to publicly-held information as well as ensuring the safety of all those who work in the media, adding that “some journalists risk intimidation, detention and even their lives, simply for exercising their right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, through any media, and regardless of frontiers.” That is what UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a message for the World Press Freedom Day. It is a continuing challenge and a task not yet fulfilled.

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The Number of Cambodian Migrant Workers Is Increasing – Monday, 21.6.2010

Posted on 23 June 2010. Filed under: Week 670 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 670

“Observers said that the sharp increase in the number of Cambodian migrant workers creates more problems for officials fighting against human trafficking. According to the report of the US Department of State released last week, Cambodia carried out positive measures last year to fight human trafficking, but some people called for attention to the fact that workers migrating to foreign countries for better job opportunities are also facing more problems.

“A legal advisor of the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – Mr. Manfred Hornung, said that his team has worked with about 60 migrant workers who had been trafficked and then sent back to Cambodia during the last 18 months. He said, ‘They experienced dangerous situations after they had fallen into trafficking.’

“He added that they tell similar stories. Because there are less job opportunities in the country, many workers were lured by local merchants with the promise to find them well-paid jobs in Thailand. They were then trafficked across the border. Before they were sold to work on fishing boats, they were locked up in guesthouses. When they started to understand what had happened, it was already too late.

“Mr. Hornung said, ‘Those workers were almost like slaves. Many of them said that they worked under difficult working condition, where some were even beaten and killed.’ He added, ‘In many cases, they experienced the bad fate of trafficked male migrant people, whose labor is being exploited.’

“An obvious difficulty is not to have an accurate number of people who fell into such exploitation. The World Bank estimates that there are about 350,000 Cambodian migrant workers abroad. Observers who work with the problems of migrant workers said that there is also a large number of unreported workers working abroad.

“Mr. Hornung added that the International Labor Organizations [ILO] estimates that between 250,000 to 300,000 young citizens of Cambodia want to enter the job market every year. If there is a shortage of jobs in the country, some of these young citizens are forced to seek jobs in foreign countries.

“The head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Department of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Bit Kimhong, recognized that many citizens are being trafficked into forced labor in different countries. But he said that the authorities are stepping up legal measures. He said, ‘The government created its strategies for 2010 to investigate border crossing crimes.’

“The human trafficking report of the US Department of State released last week shows that the number of prosecutions against perpetrators of human trafficking increased compared to before, so that Cambodia was removed from the Tier 2 Watch List of countries that are being assessed in their combat against human trafficking, which is not yet sufficient. From thirty six reported convictions, only one was not for sexual trafficking, which shows that there was not much done against labor related trafficking.

“The report says, ‘The trafficking of Cambodian citizens abroad increases and it needs to receive more attention from the authorities during the next years.’ It adds, ‘While there are more reports about Cambodian migrant workers who become victims due to trafficking, resulting from the exploitation of their labor in different countries, the government hardly prosecutes criminals and those companies which select workers involved in the trafficking of laborers.” Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #197, 197.6.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 21 June 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #509, 20-21.6.2010

  • Ethnic Minority People in Ratanakiri Criticized the Authorities for Unfairly Distributing Donations [like money, paddy rice seeds, rice, fertilizer, or vegetables; the poor people did not receive donations, but only families with medium livelihood conditions received donations]
  • President Obama Asked Burma to Release [Burmese elected leader] Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2280, 20-21.6.2010

  • Within Half an Hour, There Were Two Traffic Accidents in the Meanchey District, Killing Two People and Injuring Three Others [Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #686, 20-21.6.2010

  • Khmer Journalists Need More Training to Write Investigating Information [to write such information, journalists have to investigate to collect strong evidence to support their conclusions]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6987, 21.6.2010

  • Diarrhea Raged in the Northeast: During Three Months, 902 People Were Treated Timely and 23 Others Died in Ratanakiri

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3911, 21.6.2010

  • Does [Phnom Penh Municipal Governor] Kep Chuktema Not Dare to Use Violence to Evict Yuons [Vietnamese] Living along the River in the Niroth Commune [Meanchey district, Phnom Penh] as He Did to Khmer Citizens Living in Temporary Shelters? [no details about the evicted Cambodians given, but in this case, the authorities ordered 70 Vietnamese fisher families living along the riverbank to move; now observers wait to see how the authorities will enforce it]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #197, 197.6.2010

  • The Number of Cambodian Migrant Workers Is Increasing
  • Fifty Two Cambodian Deminers Left to Sudan Last Night [20 June 2010] [under the auspices of the United Nations]
  • More Than 400 [illegal] Khmer Workers Were Arrested by the Thai Authorities [late last week]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5229, 20-21.6.2010

  • The Khmer Authorities Prohibit Farmers from Doing Cultivation on the Fields Next to the Temporary Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [while experts are doing the demarcation]
  • There Will Be a Military Exercise with More Than 1,000 Soldiers from [23] Different Countries in Cambodia in July 2010

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“The Right to Know” and to Participate – Sunday, 23.5.2010

Posted on 24 May 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

The Mirror frequently reports about the difficulty of journalists to get information about public concerns when they contact officials at different ministries, even when there are spokespersons appointed. It happens from time to time that these officials refer to others, and the referred persons again to others – and a question remains unanswered, or with different conflicting responses. The most recent such case relates to the more than US$25 million, paid by foreign companies – and it is difficult to know where and according to which procedures they were used or are still kept.

Now it is reported that also the Prime Minister has such problems: it is reported that he warned army commanders to report in detail about the border situation, neither to exaggerate, nor to understate the reality. The media can only welcome such a statement by the Prime Minister, as it may help to clarify the need to have reliable information provided by those who have it – in this case those in charge of leadership of the military at the border.

There were other – related and unrelated problems – in the reports during the last months. On the one hand there is support for the soldiers who are charged with keeping a dangerous situation of border tensions under control – while higher level political discussions between Cambodia and Thailand, which could lead to a final solution of the border problems, do not progress. So there is emotional support for the troops. On the other hand there were many more reports of illegal logging also from the northern border region, since there is more military stationed there.

That the Prime Minister called on the troops to protect the forest and the land in the areas of their bases may be understood in this context – but it does not relate only to the northern border region. Since larger private enterprises started to sponsor and financially support specific military units, there were also reports in the media that up to 150 soldiers have been deployed to protect the preparations for a sugar production entity against the people who claim that this happens on their land. What is the meaning of the Prime Minister’s words – “the troops should protect the forest and the land in the areas of their bases” – in such a situation?

International and national news during the week covered extensively the escalating tensions in Thailand, and the final, violent confrontations between the – initially – peaceful protesters and the military, which led, at the end, to the loss of the life of many people. More than 35 buildings were set on fire after the leadership of the Red Shirts had declared an end of the confrontation; in one building alone, the dead bodies of 10 persons were now found, who had been killed by the fire.

The discussions to come to a common understanding about what happened is controversial – when a solution was closer as ever during these weeks, and then everything turned around negatively. The following is a quote from a Most Viewed report and analysis in the Bangkok Post from three days before the final violence, from 16.5.2010, moved by the concern that the situation was heading toward a bloody conflict. Such reports stands also under the warning of the Prime Minister: to try to find the reality – “neither to exaggerate, nor to understate” – however difficult this is, step by step.

…The military coup in 2006 wrongly overthrew the then democratically elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. That was no democracy.

The coup council handed the power back to the people in 2007. The People Power Party (PPP) won the following election. That was democracy.

The PPP was banned by the Constitution Court for electoral irregularities and the parliament the democratically elected representatives of Thailand voted the Democrats into power. That was democracy.

The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) argue against the Democrat-led coalition government’s legitimacy and protest for the government to step down and call a general election.

That was democracy.

And the UDD had won.

The goals of the UDD from the very start: They wanted a House dissolution. They will have one in September. They wanted a general election. They will have one on Nov 14. All within seven months and Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s term actually ends in January 2012, a year and a half from now.

They should be dancing in the streets, celebrating victory. Then we can all go to the voting booth in November. Peace and democracy. But no.

The truth has revealed itself. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship is simply using democracy as a front in the interests of dictatorship. Refusing the peaceful compromise, forsaking the democratic process, continuing to harm the country for the interests of one man, Thaksin Shinawatra, fighting against security forces of the rightful democratic government of Thailand – that’s an uprising, it’s a rebellion.

It’s criminal. That is not democracy.

If you disagree with me and think the UDD is in the right, then let me simplify it: The next time you’re pulled over by the law in a traffic stop, you should just burn tires, shoot slingshots at the cop and call him a dictator…

Here’s Thaksin’s dilemma. Peace and the democratic process don’t guarantee his return to power…

Accepting the compromise is a loss of face and may even make Prime Minister Abhisit look good in the eyes of the people, for biting the bullet and extending his hand. Thaksin Shinawatra can no longer rely on the voting booths. He can no longer rely on the democratic process. The UDD has used democracy as a tool – manipulated and exploited it to return Thaksin to power. Now that they are no longer confident that the democratic process will serve their interests, the UDD has transformed itself from a democratic movement into an uprising, a rebellion, a criminal organization.

It’s worth repeating: They wanted a House dissolution. They have one in September. They wanted a general election. They have one on Nov 14. That’s democracy. Instead, they flushed democracy down the toilet…

The UDD is screaming: ”Now! Now! Now! Prime Minister resign now!” Thaksin Shinawatra is crying: ”Me! Me! Me! I want my power back!” That’s not democracy…

And when there’s a rebellion, the government must put down the rebellion. Otherwise, we have anarchy. The law must be swift, severe and certain – any student of criminology can tell you that.

It didn’t have to come to this. It shouldn’t have come to this. But here we are on the brink of anarchy because of the pride, greed and vengefulness of one man, and of the indecisiveness, uncertainty and lack of leadership of another.

One day later, on 17.5.2010, the Bangkok Post wrote that Red leaders all miscalculated and are losing. Instead of accepting the proposals of the government,

“they promptly replied with more demands to the government…

The hardliners in the UDD wanted to corner Mr. Abhisit with more conditions, while the moderate camp led by Mr. Veera Musikhapong tried in vain to convince the others to stop the rally by accepting the prime minister’s proposal…

If only they had agreed to disperse the protest after Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban reported to the Department of Special Investigation last week, they would have emerged as the winner of the political standoff. The leaders could have told the demonstrators that they successfully forced the prime minister to call an early poll.
In fact, the offer by Mr Abhisit was the best ever since the red shirts converged on the capital in mid-March…

The hard core members miscalculated that they could press for more from the prime minister after seeing him show signs of compromise…

The UDD has come up with new calls for Mr Abhisit to immediately quit and not lead the interim government while waiting for the new elections to take place…

The only condition for the prime minister is to immediately end the rally with no more bargains. It would not have turned out this way had the UDD leaders not made the wrong move.

In December 2005, Prime Minister Hun Sen had warned that if illegal land seizures were not brought under control, they could lead to a farmers’ revolution. Nobody can hope that the continuing confrontations related to land conflicts remain mostly solved against the people who have lived and worked on the land for years. This is not only a political concern which the Prime Minister raised in 2005; also many agro-economists consider big agro-business less productive economically – and socially.

The public, the citizens, need to know and be involved, when basic future policy is developed. Obviously, part of the rural population in Thailand felt that they were kept out, and not listened to. Their peaceful protest was not listened to in time, and got finally beyond control.

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Officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Travel to New York to Verify Funding – Tuesday, 18.5.2010

Posted on 19 May 2010. Filed under: Week 665 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 665

“Phnom Penh: A delegation of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal will travel to the headquarters of the United Nations in New York in the United States of America late this week again, to verify the funding for the mixed tribunal – according to officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

“There was a visit to the UN headquarters after the United Nations and donors agreed in February 2010 to grant US$43 million for the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders, where US$10.7 million is for the Cambodian side in 2010. But so far, the money has not been transferred into the account of the Cambodian side.

“The head of the Public Affairs Office of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Mr. Reach Sambath, said with hope that the delegation of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, both from the Cambodian and international sides, that will travel to New York late this week, might get positive results relating to the funding for the salaries. The funds for salaries had been promised to be provided to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, but the money for the Cambodian side has not yet been transferred, while there is no such problem for the international side.

“The Khmer Rouge Tribunal has to spend approximately US$485,000 as salaries for the 294 members of the Cambodian staff. But in April, they received only half of their salaries, as funds for the Cambodian side were not adequate.

“Mr. Reach Sambath added, ‘There are still no salaries for the Cambodian side for May 2010. In April, we could only get half of the normal amounts. There are no salaries for May, but the staff is working as normal, as they had experienced this before.’

“In the meantime, Mr. Reach Sambath added that the judges of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal have not provided the exact date when they will announce the verdict for the Case 001, for the former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Kek Eav, alias Duch.

“Mr. Reach Sambath said, ‘We cannot predict the date when the verdict will be announced for the Case 001, as the judges have not informed us. The date of the announcement of the verdict of the former Tuol Sleng prison chief has been postponed due to problems with the translation of the verdict into three languages (Khmer, English, and French), as this must be written out in detail.

“Anyway, Mr. Reach Sambath said that the verdict will be announced before the co-prosecutors will send Case 002 to the trial chamber, which is planned for September 2010.

“It should be noted that the hearings of Case 01 of the former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Kek Eav, alias Duch, started on 30 March 2009 and finished on 25 November 2009. After the hearing of Duch had been finished, the court had announced that the verdict will be released in the first semester of 2010.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5200, 18.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #480, 18.5.2010

  • The Prime Minister Supports that More Women Should Have Positions in the National Police [at present, there are only few women serving in the police]
  • Samdech Dekchor: Security in Villages and Communes Is a Hot Issues for the Police [he asked the police to suppress gangs and robberies to ensure the security of the citizens]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2251, 18.5.2010

  • Cambodia Suggests the Thai [conflicting] Sides Should Conduct Peaceful Negotiations to End Violence
  • The Cambodian Beaches Are Selected and Recognized as Among Most Beautiful Beaches in the World [according to the Cambodian Minister of Tourism, Mr. Thong Khon]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #657, 18.5.2010

  • [Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarian] Son Chhay Said There Should be Investigations [by the government] over the Dredging of Sand which Is Sold to Singapore, though There Had Been Denials [from Oknha Mong Riththy and from the Cambodian Ambassador in the United Kingdom, rejecting the allegations of the Global Witness report]
  • The Sam Rainsy Party Has Not Received a Permission to Visit Mr. Prum Chea and Ms. Meas Srey [who are being jailed for removing border markers in Svay Rieng]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6958, 18.5.2010

  • The Authorities Are Investigating the Sofitel Royal Angkor Hotel for Having Angkor Wat Placemats on the Floor in Front of Toilets
  • A Mute and Deaf Girl Was Raped and Then Killed while She Was Washing Clothes in a River [perpetrators are not yet identified; Pursat]
  • Within Twenty Minutes, a Tropical Storm Destroyed 253 Houses – 22 Were Totally Destroyed, and Three People Were Injured [Battambang]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3882, 18.5.2010

  • [About 180 citizens representing] More Than 2,000 Families in Kratie Protested over Land Grabs against the ECY Cassava Company [they gathered in front of Wat Botum in Phnom Penh to ask for an intervention by Prime Minister Hun Sen]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #113, 18.5.2010

  • In the United States of America Three Khmers Were Arrested for Falsifying Marriage Documents
  • [A former general, a military leader of the anti-government Red Shirt groups] Seh Daeng Died [after he was shot in the head during the demonstrations five days ago]; the Red Shirt Groups Will Not Withdraw while [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vejjajiva Announced that the Demonstrators Have to Withdraw

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5200, 18.5.2010

  • Officials of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal Travel to New York to Verify Funding
  • The Number of Deaths in the Bloodshed in Bangkok Increased to 36
  • A City in Japan Donated Twenty Firefighter Trucks to the Phnom Penh Municipality

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On World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, an Appeal Was Made Not to Restrict the Freedom of Expression of Cambodian Journalists – Tuesday, 4.5.2010

Posted on 5 May 2010. Filed under: Week 663 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 663

“At least 11 journalists are reported to have been killed unjustly [since 1992 in Cambodia], and the perpetrators who killed them were not convicted according to the law. On the World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2010, journalists and civil society organizations in Cambodia appealed for the elimination of restrictions on the freedom of expression of Cambodian journalists, which until now result in suffering just because they write and express their opinions.

“Cambodian Journalists met to celebrate the World Press Freedom Day on 3 May 2010 to assess the situation of journalists in the previous year, and to point to various difficulties they are encountering in Cambodia. The most noticeable issue is the creation of new Penal Code, where observers and especially legal experts consider that it contains several points which may newly define crimes of journalists.

“The president of the Press Council of Cambodia, which has 15 major press associations as members, Mr. Sok Sovann, said that the World Press Freedom Day is an occasion where Cambodian journalists can gather to commemorate national and international journalists who lost their lives, were arrested, or are jailed because of their work as journalists. Mr. Sok Sovann added that the Press Council of Cambodia used 3 May 2010 as the date to inaugurate its headquarters, and there will be a commemoration for the Japanese journalist who recently was killed in Siam [Thailand]. Also, there will be a celebration for the creation of a memorial monument to commemorate former leading journalists.

“The Director of the Cambodian Institute for Media Research, Mr. Moeun Chhean Narith, monitored the progress of the press in Cambodia and noticed that the freedom of expression in Cambodia in 2009 dropped, compared to 2008. He added that some journalists were arrested and some were intimidated while they were covering events.

“Also, Reporters without Borders issued a report in February 2010, saying that freedom of expression in Cambodia remains difficult, as many journalists had to face accusations at courts, and some others are in detention or in prison. Fulfilling the work of a journalist in Cambodia is difficult due to the restrictions on press freedom.

“High ranking officials of the Sam Rainsy Party noticed that the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression in Cambodia were restricted, narrowing the space of democracy. It is recalled that journalists with a tendency towards the opposition party had frequently received threats. Even the parliamentarian Sam Rainsy had the expression of his ideas restricted during the sessions of the National Assembly, making some parliamentarians to wear masks as a sign of the restriction of the freedom of expression.

“Also the Cambodian Center for Human Rights released a statement for immediate publication, saying that the International Press Freedom Day is celebrated this year to mark the downturn of press freedom in Cambodia. Since Cambodia has practiced democracy since 1992, at least 11 journalists and those working related to journalism who criticized the Cambodian government are reported to have been murdered.

“The statement continues to say that at present, journalists and those working related to journalism are challenged with mistreatments through accusations embedded with politics and criticism. This violates the fundamental rights for expressing ideas as guaranteed in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are included in and protected by Article 31 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“The statement adds that the overuse of laws to intimidate and to suppress the media through torture, criminal charges, and mistreatment, blocks the open development of journalism in Cambodia and forces journalists to use self-censorship when expressing their opinions, so that they do not irritate the rich and the powerful. The Cambodian Center for Human Rights asked the government to promote and to protect press freedom and the freedom of expression in Cambodia.

“The Cambodian Center for Human Rights supports journalists, as some have faced mistreatment, violence, and intimidation when they received complaints for trying to report truth, justice, and responsibility, and the report praised journalists who had sacrificed their lives, struggling to promote the basic principles of the freedom of expression and of democracy.

“The names of the 11 murdered journalists are given by the Cambodian Center for Human Rights as

  1. Mr. Thou Thormongkol murdered on 11 June 1994
  2. Mr. Non Chan murdered on 7 September 1994
  3. Mr. Chan Dara on 8 December 1994
  4. Mr. Thun Bunly on 18 May 1996
  5. Mr. Chet Duongdara on 30 March 1997
  6. Mr. Pich Em on 4 May 1997
  7. Mr. Michael Sokhan Sinea on 7 July 1997
  8. Mr. Ou Saroeun on 15 October 1997
  9. Mr. Chour Chetharith on 18 October 2003
  10. Mr. Pov Sam Ath on 26 April 2007
  11. Mr. Khim Sambou on 11 July 2008

“The Ministry of Information of Cambodia published in its 2009 report that in Cambodia there are 385 newspapers, 50 newsletters, 172 magazines, 21 journalists associations, and several radio and television stations. Frequently, the Minister of Information called on journalists to closely adhere to their journalistic and moral codes, so that they can avoid complaints and mistreatment.” Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3868-3969, 3-4.5.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #466-468, 1-4.5.2010

  • The Attempt to Present the Film “Who Killed Chea Vichea” [killed in 2004 – the head of the Cambodian Free Trade Union of Workers] Failed [as the police took the projection screen away – as there was no permission given by the Phnom Penh municipality]
  • China Announced to Provide Aid of Yuan 100 Million [approx. US$15 Million; plus 257 new military trucks and 50,000 soldiers’ uniforms] to Cambodia, and Continues to Support Cambodia
  • The Resulting Omen from the Royal Ploughing Ceremony: Corn Will Provide Good Yields, and Beans Offer Fairly Good Yields [there is no prediction about paddy rice yield, as the royal oxen ate little paddy rice]
  • One Day Before the International Labor Day, the Director and Staff of the Deum Ampil News Center Received a Letter with Death Threats from an Anonymous Sender

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2237-2239, 1-4.5.2010

  • Within One Year [from 3 April 2009 to 3 April 2010], Twenty Four Journalists Were Arrested [compared to the corresponding period in the previous year, when there were only two] and There Were Ten Complaints against Journalists [according to the Club of Cambodian Journalists]
  • Every Year Cambodia Imports Fruits from Thailand Amounting to About Baht 1 Billion [approx. US$31 Million]
  • [Minister of Information] Khieu Kanharith: The Opposition Party Still Uses Chea Vichea for Political Gain [as it implies that the government was behind his murder]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.11, #271, 3.5.2010

  • Most Wood Traders Are Oknhas – Is It Therefore that [Prime Minister] Hun Sen Does Not Dare to Bring Them to Court?

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #644-646, 1-4.5.2010

  • The Right to Know Remains a Problem, if the Government Is Not Open to Support Press Freedom [according to the Club of Cambodian Journalists]
  • Chea Vichea’s Daughter, Chea Vichita, Asked Her Mom, ‘Why Was Dad Murdered while He Did Such Good Things?’

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6944-6946, 1-4.5.2010

  • The Government Starts to Conduct a New Census on Civil Servants to Control Their Real Number
  • An Anti-Drug Police Colonel Is under Arrest for Drug Smuggling [Phnom Penh]
  • While Gold Sellers Were Preparing Themselves in the Morning to Travel from Their Home to the Market, They Were Robed by [three] Robbers Who Took Away Jewelry Worth More Than US$100,000 [Battambang]
  • [The Mega] Night Club Was Raided by Police at Midnight, Arresting 109 Men and Women [Phnom Penh]
  • Seven Died and Thirteen Others Were Injured in a Traffic Accident When a Car Hit Cows Crossing the Road [Sihanoukville]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3868-3969, 3-4.5.2010

  • On World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, an Appeal Was Made Not to Restrict the Freedom of Expression of Cambodian Journalists

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #162-163, 3-4.5.2010

  • China Promised to Support Cambodia in the Fields of Military, Investments, and the Economy
  • Cambodia and Japan Will Sign an Oil Exploration Agreement Today [for the Tonle Sap area]
  • [Former Phnom Penh police chief] Heng Pov Claims that there Is Torture in the Prisons
  • [Thai Prime Minister] Abhisit Vijjajiva: New Elections Can Be Held on 14 November 2010

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5186-5188, 1-4.5.2010

  • On the International Labor Day on 1 May Trade Unions Demanded that their Salaries Should Be Increased, and the Rules for Their Work Conditions Should Be Respected
  • The Prime Minister Called on Institutions Involved to Strengthen the Observation of the Labor Law
  • 10 Out of 1,000 Children in Cambodia Have Heart Diseases [according to Dr. Hav Rathneary, a Cambodia child heart disease expert]
  • The Preah Vihear Court Led Armed Forces to Confiscate More Than 100 Cubic Meters of [illegally cut] Wood
  • The Biggest Fertilizer Companies in Vietnam [PetroVietnam Fertilizer and Chemicals Joint Stock Company] Enter into the Cambodian Market [by establishing an office in Cambodia]

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Japan Grants Aid for the Establishment of a Marine Aquaculture Development Center in Cambodia – Saturday, 24.4.2010

Posted on 25 April 2010. Filed under: Week 661 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 661

“Phnom Penh: The Imperial Government of Japan grants Yen 624 million, approx. US$6.5 million, for the establishment of a Marine Aquaculture Development Center in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“The groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the center will be held in the morning of 26 April 2010 in Tumnub Rolok commune, Sihanoukville, and will be chaired by the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, Mr. Chan Sarun, and by the Japanese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia, Mr. Kuroki Masafumi.

“An announcement of the Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] dated 23 April 2010 says that the plan to construct a Marine Aquaculture Development Center in the Kingdom of Cambodia was initiated with the goal to promote maritime aquaculture in order to respond to the demands for sea-food from a growing number of fishermen, and to reduce the pressure on fishery, as well as to curtail the import of not healthy fish from abroad.

“The announcement adds that the new plan, funded by the Japanese government, will also provide equipment and material for research, and support also the construction of an administration building, a building to store fish eggs before they are hatched, a building for hatching, a breeding building, as well as materials for aquaculture research.

“In addition to research and the development of marine aquaculture, the plan also focuses on building up the capacity of the center to produce 400,000 young fish per year.

“There are three fresh water aquaculture development centers in Cambodia: in Bati district in Takeo, in Prey Veng, and in the Chrang Chamres commune in the Russey district, Phnom Penh.

“It should be remembered that aid from the Japanese government to support agriculture in Cambodia amounted to about US$10 million by 2008, and the total amount of aid from the Japanese government from 1992 to 2009 was US$1.8 billion.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5180, 24.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 24 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #461, 24.4.2010

  • In 2010, More Than 64 Million People Live Under the Poverty Line, Encountering the Global Economic Crisis [according to the World Bank]

Note:

We were not able to verify these numbers, but share instead the following information, also based on World Bank data:

Poverty Around The World

by Anup Shah (This Page Was Last Updated Monday, 1 March 2010)

At a poverty line of $1.25 a day, the revised estimates find:

  • 1.4 billion people live at this poverty line or below.
  • This is more than the previous estimate of 984 million with the older measure of a $1 a day in 2004.
  • In 1981, the estimated number of poor was also revised upward, from 1.5 billion to 1.9 billion.

The World Bank notes that “the incidence of poverty in the world is higher than past estimates have suggested. The main reason is that [previous data] had implicitly underestimated the cost of living in most developing countries.”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2231, 24.4.2010

  • [Fifty eight] Non-Government Organizations and Associations Condemn the Intention [of some Thai extremists] to Remove Border Posts
  • A School Building Was Destroyed by a Tropical Storm, and a Lightning Killed a Person in Ek Phnom District [Battambang]
  • Within One Month [from 23 March to 23 April 2010], Thirteen People Were Killed and Forty Others Were Injured by traffic accidents in Phnom Penh

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6938, 24.4.2010

  • Some Countries [England, France, and Australia] Alert Their Citizens in Thailand to Stay Away from Bangkok [as violence might break out]

Note:

While finalizing this edition of The Mirror, there is a constant streem of news coming in from Bangkok over the Internet:

Late in the evening, some of the red-shirt leaders called on their followers to take off their red shirts (so that they cannot be identified by the authorities) and mix into the population as guerrilla, and “to finish the whole game” before the Thai King will speak on 26 April at 17:00 to 101 newly appointed judges – an event which had been announced today, for the first public statement of the King.

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3862, 24-25.4.2010

  • The Eviction of Citizens and Land Disputes Lead to Food Insecurity and Poverty – the European Union Announced Food Aid [of US$2.6 million for Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5180, 24.4.2010

  • Japan Grants Aid for the Establishment of a Marine Aquaculture Development Center in Cambodia
  • [Prek Kompeus] Commune Chief and Residents Appeal to the Public, Describing their Land Dispute with the Heng Development Company [Kandal]
  • [Takeyama Osamu – 竹山修] The Mayor of Sakai City [堺市市長] and His Delegation Comes from Japan to Study Tourism in Cambodia [very informative website Sakai City: For Foreign Residents and Visitors (in English, Chinese, and Korean)
  • A Tropical Storm Caused 17 Houses to Collapse and Inured Two People in Siem Reap

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The Cambodian Prime Minister Is Concerned about the Loss of Ground Water in Siem Reap – Friday, 23.4.2010

Posted on 24 April 2010. Filed under: Week 661 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 661

“Siem Reap: Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen expressed concern about the loss of ground water in Siem Reap that could lead to earth quakes that can damage the Angkor Wat Temple, for which safety cannot be guaranteed.

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen said so in the morning of 22 April 2010 in Svay Dangkum district, Siem Reap, during the inauguration of a Wastewater Management and Culvert System.

“He said that to further beautify Siem Reap City as the center of the province to attract a large number of tourists, the goal of Cambodia is not only to attract more than 2 million tourists, but our goal is to see as many as 5 million tourist arrivals. Therefore, we have to think about the creation of a larger airport. But our major problem now is to focus on the problem of the ground water used by big hotels. Now we are encouraging investment in bringing water from external water reservoirs to Siem Reap City. We cannot keep on using ever more ground water, because some big hotels consume too much of it, and this leads to the loss of balance between the earth layers and aquifers, which then may result in quakes that might seriously affect our rich cultural heritage. Thus, care has to be taken seriously.

“Samdech Hun Sen asked for a thorough check on big hotels that are drawing ground water, because the amount consumed per day cannot be just estimated, otherwise damage will occur in Siem Reap. Therefore, a good way out is to encourage companies to invest to develop water supply to be drawn from external reservoirs to replace the use of ground water in Siem Reap City.

“Regarding the beauty of the city, he spoke to the Siem Reap Governor, Mr. So Phearin, asking him to clean the Water Convolvulus [a semi-aquatic tropical plant grown as a leaf vegetable, known also as Water Spinach, Water Morning Glory, Chinese Spinach, and Swamp Cabbage] along the road from the airport to the city. He added, ‘You officials, you travel back and forth every day. You see it, but you do not care about it and let the weeds – Water Convolvulus and Water Hyacinths – grow along the road. It is not that you could not do anything. But you do not care about it!’ Last year, he had mentioned this already once, but nothing has changed. Early in the new year, he had reminded them once again, but still it is the same. He went on to say that the flood in Siem Reap results from disorderly constructions which block the flow of water. He continued to say that to develop Siem Reap City is not as difficult as Phnom Penh, which is 500 times more difficult, but still it can be developed. But here, just along the road, it does not happen. ‘Just pave the pedestrian walkways and put concrete slabs on the channel to cover for flowing water will beautify the city, providing an attractive view for the tourists, which is better than letting weeds and Water Convolvulus grow in the channels.

“He added, ‘I would just like to remind you again in case you forget. When one becomes governor of Siem Reap, it is better to have fixed these things before leaving Siem Reap again, because it does not cost much to do it. Roads in front of the houses of citizens and of hotels were already paved according to a regulation introduced. Some roads may be impossible to construct according to that regulation, so a fifty-fifty formula should be introduced [where the state pays half and citizens pay the other half of the cost]. Where the state can construct the roads, do it, because there are supporting funds available from the province and from the Apsara Authority. The real problem is that you did not care to do it.’

“In the meantime, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen praised the governor of Poipet for encouraging and coopering with the citizens to work on improvements. The good leadership there makes Poipet City have nice roads, attracting tourists, while Siem Reap City attracts weeds, Water Convolvulus, and Water Hyacinths.

“Siem Reap residents criticize the Siem Reap governor for not producing any noticeable development in the city. For example, the Siem Reap River is much smaller than the Sankae River in Battambang, but the Battambang authorities were able to pave the river banks with concrete slabs, while the Siem Reap River is like a channel, but the Siem Reap governor was not able to do the same. The pedestrian walkways in Siem Reap are bumpy. Some are paved with concrete slabs. Some are just the plain soil and muddy. Some are full of weeds, making it difficult to walk for the traveling tourists; instead, they have to walk on the road. The Siem Reap city does not offer attractive views for tourists at night, because of public order and sanitation problems.” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5179, 23.4.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 23 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #460, 23.4.2010

  • A Car Hit Four People Including an Unborn Baby and Killed Them, but the Takeo Police Released the Car Driver [in exchange for US$2,000]
  • The Asian Development Bank Provides a Loan of US$10.93 Million to Cambodia to Strengthen Infrastructure in Siem Reap [to implement construction projects and to deploy a culvert system]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2213, 28-29.4.2010

  • The Prime Minister Asked Citizens to Be Careful to Protect Themselves from Lightnings [recently, six people were killed by lightnings in one day in Pursat. He suggested that citizens should not hold any metal objects, like knives or axes, and turn off their mobile phones, radios, and TV sets]

The Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6937, 23.4.2010

  • The Russey Keo District Authorities Announced to Close Guesthouses along National Road 6A [from Phnom Penh to the north, as it is obvious that they do not serve tourists, but are “Love Hotels” offering places for people to have sex – Phnom Penh]
  • Laos Has Collected More Than US$80 Million from Gold Ore while More Ore Is Being Extracted

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3861, 23.4.2010

  • The Debts of Some Countries Are Increasing, and the International Monetary Fund Is Worried that Another, More Serious Economic Crisis May Break Out [also Cambodia is mentioned – when the debt increases, loans for the private sector are cut, so that big and small private enterprises encounter difficulties when they seek loans for their operations; as a result, workers of those enterprises lose their employment]
  • Red Shirt Demonstrators [opposing the Thai government] Asked the United Nations to Deploy Peace Keeping Forces in Siam [Thailand] to Prevent Civil War and Violence

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.140, #155, 23.4.2010

  • The Producer [Mr. Bradley Cox] of the Documentary Film “Who Killed Chea Vichea” Wants to Present the Film in Cambodia [Mr. Chea Vichea was the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of Cambodia who was shot dead in 2004 – The film is to share info that the producer has recovered about persons who are supposed to have been behind the murder of Mr. Chea Vichea]
  • BHB Investigates Corruption Allegations in Cambodia [BHP Billiton is conducting an internal investigation over a corruption accusations related to getting a concession for Bauxite exploration in Mondolkiri in 2007 – BHP Billiton withdrew from Cambodia 2009]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5179, 23.4.2010

  • The Cambodian Prime Minister Is Concerned about the Loss of Ground Water in Siem Reap
  • The East Timor President [Mr. José Ramos-Horta] Asked Cambodia to Support His Country’s Candidacy to Become a New Member of ASEAN

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

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

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 2 April 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #450, 2.4.2010

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

Kampuchea Amatak, Vol.11, #752, 2.4.2010

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

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2217, 2.4.2010

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

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

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6924, 2.4.2010

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

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3848, 2.4.2010

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

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

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

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5166, 2.4.2010

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

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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