Thursday, October 2, 2014

Nauru staffer condemns Aus
Thu, 2 October 2014

A former mental health worker at Australia’s detention centre on the island nation of Nauru has condemned Canberra’s policies towards asylum seekers following allegations of sexual abuse and an outbreak of self-harm and attempted suicide at the facility since inmates there were told they would be resettled in Cambodia.
“There are lots of people who work in Nauru for the money, working with children, and [background] checks aren’t done,” the aid worker, who requested anonymity, said. “It’s terrible. It changes your life, [being] over there.
“The bullying is shocking by the security staff.… The conditions of the camp are unbelievable,” she said, going on to describe numerous instances of asylum seekers being deliberately denied medical care by Australia’s immigration department.
“There was a man flown to Darwin for treatment who was flown back [to Nauru] against medical advice. He was found in his tent covered in blood and excrement.… At the end of the day, it’s all because of immigration,” she said.
The comments follow a rash of attempted suicides and self-harm in the facility. This week Fairfax Media reported allegations of sexual abuse of women and children on Nauru, including a threat of rape and children being forced to perform sex acts in front of a guard.
An adult Iranian couple on Tuesday evening swallowed washing powder and pesticides, bringing the number of attempted suicides since Friday to at least four, while there have been at least 12 cases of self-harm. The two Iranians have not been heard from since being transferred to the medical centre.
According to a refugee on the island, the couple’s 4-year-old daughter is in a clinic and believed to be in a serious condition, with no appropriate medical treatment available on the island.
“This is all about pushing them to the brink, pushing them to the absolute edge. The arrogant Australian government wants them to go back [to their home countries]. I don’t get it; [the government] must be psychopaths,” the aid worker said.
“The immigration policy is that refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru are not entitled to any medical care above and beyond what locals on Nauru are allowed. But they send very, very sick people there.”
A female Iranian refugee living outside the detention centre – one of 250 people granted temporary residency on the island in recent weeks – yesterday said that it was common for security guards employed by Australian private security firm Wilson Security to commit sexual assault and threaten protesters.
“When I was in there, they just flirted, but now [it has gotten worse],” she said. “The security used bad behaviour I will never forget.”
“The asylum seekers had a peaceful protest.… But [Wilson Security] were trying to start a fight … the Nauruan [security guards] were coming to them with something sharp while women and children were at the front,” she said.
A worker at the Nauru detention centre told Fairfax on Tuesday that she often saw children sitting on guards’ laps.
“I was told by an Australian guard who was friends with the locals that there was an imminent danger when the asylum seekers were released in regards to violence and sexual abuse,” she said.
GT Media, a PR firm contracted by Wilson Security, yesterday referred questions to Transfield Services, a huge Australian company with close ties to the government and which holds a number of military procurement contracts.
A spokesman for Transfield referred questions to the office of Australian Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison, who signed the agreement to send the refugees to Cambodia over flutes of champagne on Friday in Phnom Penh.
A spokesman for Morrison did not respond to repeated requests for comment. However, Morrison yesterday told Fairfax that there was “little or no substantiation” to the allegations, adding that his department would conduct an investigation and that he would be “pretty damn cross” if evidence of abuse was uncovered.
In submissions to the ongoing Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into “offshore detention”, children in the camps also accuse staff hired by charitable organisations, such as Save the Children, of abuses.
A child protection worker writes in one submission: “Save the Children hires local Nauruan people who have very close contact with children.… Children have been sexually assaulted and threatened with sexual assault, and they are not allowed to leave the camp, even with family members able to care for them here.”
The former aid worker corroborated several of the allegations of abuse.
Sarah Hanson-Young, immigration spokeswoman for the Australian Greens, yesterday called for the Nauru detention centre to be closed after a motion passed in the Senate calling for the release of files related to abuses on the island.
“The Australian government is actively and intentionally destroying women and children on Nauru,” she said. “Despite the minister’s claims when it comes to sending people to Cambodia, it’s clear these people have no real option.”
“The Abbott government has them over a barrel, and the choice between one hell or another is clearly no choice at all.”
According to Australian media, Nauru’s minister for finance, David Adeang, told the New South Wales Supreme Court in Sydney that the country would be unable to operate by the end of the week as the politically connected Australian bank Westpac had frozen the government’s accounts.
New Zealand’s Foreign Ministry confirmed to a radio station there yesterday that it had frozen aid to Nauru, which owes more than $26 million to the US-based Firebird Global Master Fund, which bought the country’s debt from Japan.
In the middle of this political wrangling, the refugees have simple requests.
A Syrian child in Nauru, speaking through a translator, said that he would like to go back to school.
“I left my country because it has wars and is bad now. I want to go to school and be a doctor, but here there is no [good] school and I blame Australia.”

Contact author: Daniel Pye

Gov’t says no to calls to raise minimum income tax level
Thu, 2 October 2014

Despite calls from factory representatives and unions to review the minimum threshold for income tax, the General Department of Taxation (GDT) said yesterday it would stick to the $125 tax-free limit.
The Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) and the tax department held a workshop in Phnom Penh yesterday aimed at educating factory workers on their tax obligations. The workshop comes days before a new minimum wage rise is expected to be announced.
As wages rise, a growing number of factory workers are earning a taxable rate, but attendees at the workshop called for the threshold to be raised to accommodate modern living costs.
Speaking to about 300 representatives from various unions yesterday, GDT director Kong Vibol ruled out changes to a 1997 tax law that states incomes of $125 or more are subject to taxation.
“We cannot delay any longer because the government needs income to invest in public infrastructure to boost economic growth,” Vibol said.
“Tax collection has been increased over the last few years, but we still need more money to build infrastructure.”
Under the law, income between $125 and $250 will be taxed at a rate of 5 per cent. Income between $250 and $2,125 is taxed at 10 per cent and income between $2,125 and $3,125 is taxed at 15 per cent. Everything above $3,125 is taxed at 20 per cent.
Vibol said yesterday, however, that only workers’ base salaries and overtime wages would be considered taxable; additional benefits such as food and accommodation premiums will be excluded.
“The Ministry of Economic and Finance will promulgate this tax exemption on additional bonuses for garment workers very soon,” he said.
An announcement on a rise to the current minimum wage, now at $100, is due from the Ministry of Labour’s Labour Advisory Committee on October 10. Unions are calling for a raise to $177, while factory representatives say $110 is the highest the industry can sustain.
In anticipation of a wage rise to $125 or more, Rom Phary, one of the union representatives in attendance at yesterday’s workshop, asked the government to restrict tax treatments to the workers’ base salaries.
“Workers have not got a pay rise yet, but the cost of house rental, goods in the market, food and transportation fees has already increased and now we are obligated to pay tax,” she said.
“I wonder if the government has been paying attention to this issue,” she added.
Contacted yesterday, Ath Thon, head of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, called the tax law “out of date” and said lawmakers should raise the threshold to $250 to better reflect the current cost of living.
“The law was adopted when the minimum wage was still $30 and now the wage has increased to $100, but workers can hardly survive with the amount as the cost of living keeps getting higher,” he said.
Albert Tan, an executive committee member at GMAC, called on the government to review the 1997 tax law, which he said did not reflect the current economic situation.
“It should be the government’s decision to come up with a reasonable figure for taxation,” Tan said.
“This calculation should be made by the tax department and the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
“The government should see the situation in Cambodia of rising costs of living and a higher minimum wage. The tax obligation should be adjusted to meet current situation, not fixed to 15 years ago,” he added.

Areng on back burner?
Thu, 2 October 2014

Prime Minister Hun Sen has reportedly said the Chinese firm contracted to build the controversial Stung Cheay Areng hydropower dam will not be allowed to start construction in the near future.
Opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy yesterday said that Hun Sen had assured him, on the sidelines of a parliamentary session in which the dam was discussed, that the dam’s construction had not been definitively decided and that it may be left to future generations.
“Samdech Hun Sen confirmed to me there is no decision yet [to build the Areng dam], and [he] said it might not be done during this mandate. It may be postponed to the next term to let the next generation decide. Please do not worry. I was also happy when I heard this,” Rainsy told reporters after the session.
The prime minister’s alleged comments, which would appear to directly contradict numerous government statements prior, had activists puzzled.
“We still think there is some mystery behind the comments by the Ministry of Mines an Energy and Prime Minister Hun Sen,” Alex Gonzalez-Davidson, founder of NGO Mother Nature, told the Post.
“The ministry confirms that the project will be completed in 2020, but the premier says it will not be built.”
Eang Sophalleth, a spokesman for Hun Sen, declined to answer questions as he said that he had not heard Rainsy’s comments.
Um Serey Vuth of Sawac Consultants, which has been contracted to carry out the environmental impact assessment at the proposed dam site, said that as far as he knew, his team was waiting for authorisation to finish its work before construction could begin.
“The politics I don’t know. We’re concerned by the environmental aspects. If we can go to study the environmental impact, I will go,” he said. “Until now, we cannot risk [entering] the area. Now we’re waiting for approval.
“We have submitted a letter for approval to the Koh Kong governor. He said they [will] approve it, but … we are waiting for an answer. We call them every week.”
The comments follow a Tuesday press conference held by Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem, during which he said the project would cost $400 million and be finished by 2020.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Sinohydro Resources, which the Postreported took over the project early this year, had hired a subcontractor to carry out the work.
The new company’s involvement prompted concern from environmentalists and rights groups.
Two other Chinese companies – China Southern Power Grid and China Guodian – backed out of the project after completing environmental and social impact assessments.
Despite the apparent comments by Hun Sen, Minister of Environment Say Sam Al told the National Assembly yesterday that the dam had not been cancelled and nor had construction been postponed.
“The Ministry of Environment has to assess [the site], to collect information so we can debate seriously without hiding [the facts],” he said.
Sam Al’s comments came in response to calls from opposition lawmaker Yim Sovann for the project to be reassessed.
“I notice those reports are not yet perfect. I would like the government to be wary of the project implementation and to study the project once again,” he said.
The Areng dam would displace about 1,300 ethnic Chorng people, according to government figures released this week. The local affiliate of Sinohydro has two of the country’s most influential tycoons on its board of directors, including ruling Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin.

Contact authors: May Titthara and Daniel Pye

Tuesday, September 30, 2014


(អត្ថបទចុះ​ផ្សាយ​នៅ​ថ្ងៃ   29-09-2014, 7:45 pm) |  ដោយ ថ្មីៗ

ក្មេងស្រី ​អាយុ ១៥ ឆ្នាំ​ម្នាក់ ដែលជា​ជនភៀសខ្លួន​កំពុង​ស្វែងរក​សិទ្ធិ​ជ្រកកោន កំពុងស្ថិត​នៅក្នុង​មជ្ឈមណ្ឌល​រក្សាទុក​ជន​ភៀសខ្លួន Nauru បាន​ព្យាយាម​អារ​ដៃ​ខ្លួនឯង​កាលពី​ថ្ងៃ​សៅរ៍ បន្ទាប់ពី​រដ្ឋាភិបាល​ក​ម្ពុ​ជា និង​អូស្ត្រាលី​ចុះ​កិច្ចព្រមព្រៀង ទទួលយក​និង​ផ្ទេរ​ជនភៀសខ្លួន​ពី​ប្រទេស​Nauru មកកាន់​ប្រទេស​កម្ពុជា កាលពី​ថ្ងៃ​សុក្រ​កន្លង​ទៅនោះ។ នេះ​បើ​យោងតាម​កាសែត The Sydney Morning Herald

ប្រភព​ដដែល​នេះ​បាន​ដកស្រង់​សំដី​អ្នកនាំពាក្យ ក្រសួងអន្តោប្រវេសន៍​និង​ការការពារ​ព្រំដែន​ម្នា​ក់ថា ក្មេងស្រី​អ្នកស្វែងរក​សិទ្ធិ​ជ្រកកោន​អាយុ ១៥ ឆ្នាំ​រូបនោះ បានទទួល​ការព្យាបាល​នៅក្នុង​ប្រទេស​អូស្ត្រាលី ដោយសារតែ​នាង​ត្រូវបាន​សាច់ញាតិ​បញ្ជូន​ចេញពី Nauru ទៅកាន់​ប្រទេស​អូស្ត្រាលី។
មន្ត្រី​រូបនោះ​បាន​បដិសេធ​មិន​ធ្វើ​អត្ថាធិប្បាយ ចំពោះ​ករណីនេះ​នោះទេ ដោយសារតែ​លោក​បាន​និយាយថា វា​គ្រាន់តែ​ជា​រឿង​បុគ្គល​ម្នាក់​ដែល​ចង់​អារ​ដៃ​ខ្លួនឯង​តែប៉ុណ្ណោះ។ ប៉ុន្តែ​ក្រុម​សកម្មជន​តស៊ូ​មតិ​ពី​បញ្ហា​ជនភៀសខ្លួន ដែលមាន​ឈ្មោះថា Refugee Action Coalition បាន​ឲ្យ​ដឹងថា ធ្លាប់មាន​ការតវ៉ា​នៅក្នុង​ប្រទេស​ដែន​កោះ សម្រាប់​រក្សាទុក​ជនភៀសខ្លួន​Nauru នេះ​ច្រើនដង​មកហើយ។ ក្រុម​នេះ​បាន​អះអាងថា​មនុស្ស​ពីរ​នាក់​បាន​ដេរ​បបូរមាត់​របស់​ពួកគេ​ រួមគ្នា​និង​មាន​បុរស​ម្នាក់ទៀត​បាន​កាត់​បំពង់ក​របស់គាត់៕

ប្រែ​សម្រួល​ដោយ បាន សំអាង

Cambodia may miss AEC date
Tue, 30 September 2014

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has cast fresh doubt over the region’s ability to meet the ASEAN Economic Community’s (AEC) self-imposed 2015 deadline.
According to the ADB’s 2014 Economic Update, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand have all effectively reduced tariff rates to almost zero and are now poised to introduce a one-stop shop to expedite customs clearance within ASEAN – called the ASEAN Single Window – by 2015.
Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, however, are all lagging, the ADB’s September 25 update said.
“ASEAN members are progressing toward establishing an economic community. Yet many challenges must be overcome for the ASEAN Economic Community to become a reality as scheduled at the end of 2015,” the update said.
“While unlikely to meet the 2015 launch deadline, ASEAN will benefit from the steps taken.”
The ADB’s lead economist for the office of Regional Economic Integration, Jayant Menon, said that while Cambodia is lagging behind some of its more developed neighbours, it remains ahead of Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar in terms of overall preparedness.
“Cambodia needs to speed up its customs reform and to press ahead with automating processes in order to reduce trade costs and minimise the opportunities for corruption, and to be ready for live implementation of its National Single Window by 2015,” Menon told the Post.
“The other newer members are also lagging in this area, which is currently preventing the implementation of an ASEAN Single Window by the AEC deadline.”
The Single Window initiative aims to interconnect each country’s customs checkpoints and automatically share cargo-related data and information, including declarations and certificates of origin, in an effort to speed up cross-border trade.
The ADB’s scepticism at Cambodia meeting the December 2015 deadline comes after the National Assembly in May approved a draft law aimed at simplifying and modernising customs procedures in line with those of neighbouring nations. More recently, on September 9, the Ministry of Commerce announced that it would implement a simplified, automated Certificate of Origin service by March 2015.
Independent economist Srey Chanty echoed the ADB’s doubts, saying that Cambodia would need “at least” until 2017 to be fully prepared for AEC integration.
“I think they might be able to integrate only elements that are ready for integration at the 2015 deadline ... the ADB is right, Cambodia is not ready with regards to its customs processes,” Chanty said.
“They need to be focused on the customs procedures and making sure everything is automated and computerised, and also the development of infrastructure to boost logistics within Cambodia.”
Officials from the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Commerce declined to comment on the progress of implementing the draft law or Cambodia’s overall standing regarding the AEC 2015 deadline.
Meanwhile, global credit ratings agency Moody’s yesterday reaffirmed the Kingdom’s credit rating of B2. Moody’s said greater ASEAN integration in 2015 stands to be a major investment draw for Cambodia and could help sustain the country’s 7 per cent annual GDP growth rate.
The Moody’s report, however, stated that preparation measures allowing a freer flow of goods and services into the country and across the region, such as the Single Window initiative, remained incomplete in Cambodia.
“[The AEC’s] ongoing implementation would help diversify Cambodia’s export base and improve its business climate, encouraging investment. Cambodia stands to benefit from intra-ASEAN trade, which is much smaller than trade with countries outside the bloc,” the report said.
Moody’s also noted that increased foreign direct investment, particularly flows from China, would help support Cambodia’s development goals of increasing foreign investment to 25 per cent of GDP.
The rating agency cautioned that the rapid expansion of credit growth would need to be monitored and that an over-dollarised economy placed restrictions on the effective use of monetary policy to control inflation.

Contact author: Eddie Morton

សាច់សមសភ្លឹងដោយទឹកបរិសុទ្ធនៅប៉ារីស ពាក់វ៉ែនតាសមជាមនុស្សចេះដឹង!


មានធនធានធម្មជាតិព្រៃឈើបររបូណ៌ តែរកផ្ទះឲ្យប្រជាពលរដ្ឋនៅមិនបាន!
យើងជាខ្មែរ យើងត្រូវតែបំបាត់ចោលនូវជនក្បត់ជាតិ និងជនក្បត់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋទាំងអស់

ដើម្បីកសាងនូវសង្គមខ្មែរឲ្យបានថ្លៃថ្នូរ មានយុត្តិធម៌ និង សេរីភាព!

តើវា (ហ៊ុន-សែន-ស៊ីភីភី) យកមកសម្លាប់ខ្មែរ ឬ សម្លាប់យួន!
បើវា​(ហ៊ុន-សែន-ស៊ីភីភី) មិនក្បត់ជាតិខ្មែរ វាប្រាកដជាទុកបាញ់បណ្តេញយួនចេញពីស្រុកខ្មែរ!
តើបានលុយពីណា? ទៅបុលអ្នកណា? ចិន ឬ កូរេ ឬ យួន? ចំជាចោលម្សៀត! បានតែបង្ក្រាប គ្មានដម្នោះស្រាយ! គឺសុទ្ធតែជាពួកព្រៃ ឬ ប៉្រែត ដែលគ្រប់គ្រងប្រទេស! ព្រោះតែហេតុនេះហើយទើបស្រុករលាយ!


Wanted: big trucks for a big crowd
Tue, 30 September 2014

With the spectre of potential garment-sector unrest on the horizon and emboldened communities protesting land disputes, the National Police is buying what appear to be the authorities’ first water-cannon trucks designed specifically to control demonstrations.
And despite widespread concerns over the use of excessive force by security forces over the past year, they are making no effort to hide it.
In advertisements in yesterday’s Post and Post Khmer newspapers, the Ministry of Interior announced public bidding for two top-of-the-line Tata Daweoo water-cannon trucks “to be used against demonstration”.
The DWC model trucks can carry up to 10,000 litres of water and can shoot at a range of 50 metres.
“The said trucks are manufactured in Korea in 2014, with 100% quality, to be provided to national police forces for use in security, safety and social order protection operation,” the notice continues.
National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith and Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for further details despite repeated calls.
Authorities have used water cannons a handful of times over the past 18 months, but they have been mounted on traditional fire trucks.
In May last year, a woman was knocked unconscious after a water cannon was used on land-rights protesters who had blocked Monivong Boulevard.
It was also deployed when political demonstrators clashed with police along the riverside in September last year and during a garment worker riot in Stung Meanchey in November that saw one woman killed after police opened fire.
Other procurement notices put out from the MOI yesterday request 25 Nissan pickup trucks for the same “social order” purposes. The ministry is also procuring more shields, electric batons and protective clothing for police.
An official at the MOI’s procurement office who would not give his name said that the water cannon would be used “against demonstrators who have incited” others.
“It’s an issue for police to protect security and keep public order for the nation.”
Phnom Penh deputy police chief Chuon Narin said the capital’s police had not specifically requested the new gear.
“In Phnom Penh, as of now, we have enough [equipment],” he said, adding, however, that he supported their purchase.
“I think even in a developed country, their governments must have this equipment. So why must a developing country like us not have it? It’s for public order.”
But Ramana Sorn, freedom of expression project coordinator at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said the purchase of water cannon trucks represented a “concerning trend”.
Cambodia pledged before the UN Human Rights Council in January that it would “ensure that people could demonstrate safely without fear or intimidation” and accepted a number of recommendations on the right to freedom of assembly, she said in an email.
“This recent case is truly against the spirit of those recommendations,” she said. “Water cannons are dangerous and the authorities’ lack of control over the use of force by law enforcement makes water cannons even more dangerous.”
While CCHR believes water cannons should “never be used by law enforcement”, the group declined to discuss other methods of crowd control it would recommend in violent protest situations.
John Muller, managing director of Global Security Solutions, a Phnom Penh-based private security firm, said that despite their risks, water cannons were a far better option than firing even rubber bullets.
“Most other countries still feel water-cannon technology is most suitable in terms of achieving the desired results and minimising injury,” he said.
But Nay Vanda, deputy head of human rights and legal aid at watchdog Adhoc, said the purchase was “ridiculous”.
”It depends on how you use it, but I don’t think they demand two big cannons to spray the water weakly.”

Contact authors: Kevin Ponniah and Chhay Channyda

Councillor for CNRP arrested
Tue, 30 September 2014
An opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party district councillor in Phnom Penh was arrested yesterday in connection with a CNRP-led protest at Freedom Park on July 15 that turned violent.
At least 15 CNRP members or supporters have been charged in connection with the violence, which saw security guards attacked by mobs after they moved to crack down on previously peaceful protesters.
Chuon Narin, the Phnom Penh deputy police chief, said that Chbar Ampov district councillor Sum Puthy was arrested on a court warrant yesterday but did not specify the charges.
“He was sent to the police station and forwarded on to the court immediately since it was a court warrant,” he said.
According to Puthy’s wife, Mak Chan, he must have been arrested yesterday morning after dropping her off at a market and making his way to a council meeting. Colleagues sounded the alarm after he did not appear, she said.
A group of seven lawmakers and an activist were arrested in the immediate aftermath of the July protest.
They were hit with serious charges such as insurrection, but were set free after a political deal was reached between the CNRP and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on July 22 to end the nearly yearlong post-election political deadlock.
Three youth activists, including a fellow Chbar Ampov district councillor, were then arrested on similar charges but released on bail on August 22 after weeks behind bars.
A handful of other CNRP members have been summoned to court for questioning, but Narin, the deputy police chief, could not confirm yesterday whether any other arrest warrants had been issued.
Opposition spokesman Yim Sovann yesterday said the arrest was “political”.
“The 15 July event case is a political issue and both parties have to follow [the July 22 agreement] to end the bad political situation,” he said.

Contact author: Chhay Channyda