Cambodian Girl died of H5N1

By Sun Narin

Cambodia’s Minister of Health Mr Mam Bunheng said on Friday that a 4-year old girl from northwestern province of the country Banteay Meanchey died of avian influenza H5N1 after being sick and treated by the local medical.

He said that she was the 17th person in Cambodia who was infected with the H5N1 virus and the fifteenth to die from complications of the bird flu.

“Avian influenza is still dangerous to Cambodian people’s health. Children appear to be most susceptible,” said Minister of Health Mam Bunheng.  All seven of Cambodia’s bird flu cases since January have been fatal. Six of the victims were children.


He suggested the parents should keep the children away from the sick or dead poultry and be clean with the hands and they should take their children to the hospital urgently after realizing the disease.

The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has killed 330 people worldwide since 2003, the statement said.

H5N1 and H1N1 virus or sometimes-called swine flu is the threat in Cambodia. Last year, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and other five government officials have fallen with H1N1 virus.


Traffic Police in Cambodia: risky job?

Traffic police’s duty is to facilitate the traveling and to guarantee the respect of the travelers. It is said that a number of police do not have ethics in their job. They are corrupt. They are waiting to nab and fine people. Now Cambodia’s travelers are shocked when seeing the police because they are afraid of being nabbed though they have rear-view mirror, plate, and driving license or respecting the sign.

I am wondering some police when nabbing people, they always ask for the motor license. Most of the drivers do not keep it with them. This case happened when police demand for more money and when the travelers asked for the receipt of fine. I mostly see that when police fine someone, they do not give the receipt. I am sceptical whether this money will go to police’s hands or go to the state. Below is the article published in the Phnom Penh Post regarding the risky job as the traffic police.

I bought the law

Friday, 29 July 2011 15:01
Kenneth Ingram

TANDING in the shade along a busy intersection in Phnom Penh, a traffic police officer takes a moment to answer his mobile phone amid the sounds of horn blasts and chatter from his Motorola hand-held radio. On the other end of the line his children eagerly await his voice.

“My family worries about my daily activities, especially because they know I stand in the middle of the street and can get hit,” the officer explains, adding that his kids typically phone twice a day. He cites three police officers from his department who have broken their legs or had their toes crushed after being struck by vehicles, highlighting the inherent danger of enforcing traffic laws in the city. He says the job is becoming more difficult because of the increasing volume of traffic on the streets which, according to The Ministry of Public Works and Transport, grows each year by upwards of 20 percent.

“Some drivers don’t respect the traffic laws. They don’t stop or try to obey checkpoints, particularly one-way roads where people go against the flow. Some drivers hurt us but I try to tell my family not to worry about me,” he says. “If I tell my wife it is a dangerous or risky job she’ll only worry more.”

The officer watches over the congested noon-hour traffic as it passes through the streets. The impeccable ironed creases through his uniform offer a stark contrast to the fraying collar around his neck, complemented by sun-bleached trousers and a rusting belt buckle. “My wife and children iron this uniform for me after every wash,” he says with a smile before walking back into traffic to halt a motorbike.

According to senior officials at the General Commissariat of National Police, Ministry of Interior, 460 policemen are currently enforcing traffic laws in Phnom Penh. Officers at various levels of the National Police hierarchy have agreed to share their personal experiences on the basis of anonymity, particularly on sensitive topics such as police policy and corruption.

“I’m new to the police and my base salary [paid once a month] is 200,000 riel [about $50],” explains one of the youngest members of the squad, who says he joined the police after reading a job announcement from the Ministry of Interior. The officers say it is common for police to also work as motodops or taxi drivers because their salaries are low and the second job helps to support their families.

“It’s getting a bit better,” one policeman says, citing a policy that began in 2008 where the wage doubles after the first year of service. But a meagre monthly wage is far from the only dilemma facing these policemen and their line of work.

“We get three uniforms a year but it’s not enough,” another member says. “Some trousers and shirts don’t fit properly [when issued to us] so we often exchange them with other police officers.” He points to his pants. “These are only three months old,” he exclaims, shaking his head as he pulls at the faded fabric. “They are easily damaged by the sun and rain.”

Further up in the hierarchy of the National Police, officials say a plan is in the works to secure more uniforms for police. “It’s not a good image for tourists to see,” explains one senior administrator, who says that five or six uniforms a year would be ideal. In the meantime, traffic police say they are eager for the Bon Om Tuk water festival, scheduled for mid-November, because they are provided new uniforms each year in time for the annual event.

Traffic police in Cambodia have a dual function, according to officials of the National Police, who say their role is to educate the public and enforce the Law on Land Traffic, a 38-page official document that was adopted by the National Assembly near the end of 2006. Cambodia’s motor-vehicle traffic laws are available in both English and Khmer on the Ministry of Interior website, representing a milestone for Cambodia, according to officials within the Orders Department of the National Police, who say the laws are “eight to nine years”
in the making.

“Before 2007, traffic laws in the Kingdom were by decree only. It was just a piece of paper before,” explains one officer. “The decrees said ‘you should do this’ and ‘you should do that’, but they were not law.”

Making a strong case for improvements in road safety and enforcement, Handicap International has compiled staggering statistics on the number of collisions and fatalities in Cambodia. The NGO found that road accidents disable more people under the age of 17 than any other cause in the country. Estimates show that four people die and nearly 80 are injured on roadways in the Kingdom every day, largely due to the higher number of road users, improved infrastructure that enables drivers to speed, and a lack of safety devices such as helmets and seat belts. Reports from Handicap International suggest that 90 percent of crashes involve motorbikes, bicyclists and pedestrians. Only eight percent of those involved were wearing helmets.

“If you are riding a motorbike without a helmet you will be pulled over and fined by traffic police, 100 percent,” explains a senior officer at the Order Department, who adds that the new helmet law was not enforced in Cambodia until January 2009. He explains the lag between policy and practice was because officials agreed to wait two years as public education campaigns took shape, headed by the National Road Safety Committee and also, to a large extent, by traffic police who issue warnings to offenders. A major limitation of the helmet law, however, is that it applies only to drivers, and not passengers.

Official documents show that 352,287 motorbike drivers were fined across the country for not wearing a helmet between August 1, 2009 [when data collection is said to have begun] and July 21, 2011. The fine, according to the Law on Land Traffic, is 3000 riel (75 cents) per offence, amounting to more than $250,000 in official fines collected over the 720-day period.

Revealing where that money goes, ministry officials say that a new incentive policy was introduced last year that allows traffic police to keep 50 percent of the fines they collect. “They are allowed to take half [sharing it with their team] and the other half is placed into the national revenue.”

Officials at the Order Department of the General Commissariat explain that this measure, in combination with the use of official receipt books for traffic violations, were implemented in an effort to reduce corruption, which remains a very sensitive topic among officials at all levels of the National Police.

“It is against the law for officers not to issue a ticket for violations,” says a senior official within the ministry, who adds that the penalty for an offending officer is left to the commander of the police detachment. “There are generally three steps of discipline. The first is a warning. Then the officer will receive another warning. A third offence and he can be fired,” he says, explaining that pay can also be withheld for a period of time and, depending on the severity of the offence, some officers have been prohibited from working for up to a year.

Officials also say that the 50/50 split, which was implemented as a means to encourage transparency and the use of written receipts, is viewed as a short-term solution. Some believe it is “unsustainable” over time as more citizens obeying traffic laws means less of a return for the average traffic officer. For that reason, an additional policy was recently put in place.

“We have begun allocating 1500 riel [in extra pay] to roadside traffic police and it is calculated at a daily rate and paid each month. It goes directly to the officers standing at the road, not the ones in the office,” an administrator explains.

Despite the various methods that the Ministry of Interior has introduced to motivate honest record keeping among traffic police, there are obvious limitations as the traffic police force is largely autonomous during their daily activities. According to Transparency International, an NGO that monitors various forms of corruption worldwide, Cambodia ranked 154 out of 178 countries on the basis of corruption last year, with the police force considered one of the most vulnerable sectors based on reports of extortion and bribery.

Four-member traffic police squads, observed at various intersections in Phnom Penh for a one-hour period each day of last week, varied significantly with regard to the amount of money they were collecting under the table, suggesting that no two intersections are the same. For example, at a vehicle checkpoint near Central Market, none of the fines that were taken by police had been recorded within the receipt book that was present. In comparison, one official receipt book from a checkpoint on Norodom Boulevard showed less than three tickets were written each day over a 20-day period, though in reality, police had stopped far more than that amount in just one hour. Most drivers were given a verbal warning, though a small amount of money did exchange hands occasionally in the absence of an official receipt. Dozens of drivers, both Khmer and foreign, didn’t ask for a receipt and appeared more willing to simply throw money at the police officers.

“I don’t know why people don’t ask for receipts,” says one officer. “Maybe it’s because there is a lot of space on the paper and it takes time to fill out the information. Some people are busy and it takes time.”

Some drivers say that they prefer not to ask for a receipt because they fear traffic police will fine them for more violations if they request one, adding that they can’t afford to maintain basic road safety requirements such as valid plates, vehicle registry, working lights or a driver’s license.

“It’s not corruption [in order] to be wealthy,” explains one officer. “It’s to survive. Just to survive. Especially as gas and food prices continue to increase but salaries do not.” One member asked not to have a photo taken of his baton because it was not considered legitimate, constructed with orange and white tape. “Only senior officers get radios,” another officer adds. “We use the money we collect to buy basic things that help us to do our job.”

More senior officers at the ministry are vocal about stemming corruption but say police officers are not the only ones to blame.

“Most police don’t ask for money but people offer it to them. If you’re broke and you had a low salary like this, would you really say no? I think some people want the police to be corrupt,” remarks one official, who says that people are encouraged to complain to local police detachments if they are victims of such corruption. Within the Orders Department, where ticket books are issued to police and later collected, there was a brief laugh as staff members waited for a senior official to answer whether there are different fines for Cambodian nationals and international drivers.

“Regardless if you are a foreigner or Khmer, the same fines apply,” he said, composing himself and acknowledging he is aware that some police do ask foreigners to pay higher sums than they are permitted to by law.

“If you’re smart, demand a receipt.”

It is clear that some policemen are doing a better job than others at making traffic laws more transparent and the roads safer in Phnom Penh, though officers make the point that traffic enforcement is not a highly sought-after profession in Cambodia.

“No one wants to do this because it’s outdoors, typically eight hours a day, seven days a week. It’s very hot outside. Other times they are standing in the rain. There’s bad pollution in the streets and constant complaints from road users when they ticket them,” explains another officer. When asked what he would rather be doing, the officer takes a moment to collect his thoughts as his peers lean forward, anticipating the response.

“I wouldn’t want to do anything else,” he says. “In the near future I will retire. I want to just let go and relax.”

Foreign Culture?

The world is shrinking due to the advanced technology updated from day to day. People can communicate with each other though they are distant. They are able to be aware of everything around the globe through media including television and online. Over the last decade, Cambodia has started to be globalized with other countries which forge relationship with Cambodia in terms of diplomatic ties, business and investment. Besides coming directly to Cambodia, the globalization has been prevailing in Cambodia through the media including movies, songs, lifestyle, fashion, religion and so on. In addition, we can see clearly that a number of foreigners come to Cambodia for visiting and working, which leads to a global platform and cultural exchange.

With the dramatic flow of the other countries ‘culture into Cambodia through the previously-mentioned means and the absorption from Cambodia’s people, especially youths, the country’s culture and youths have become susceptible to the adverse influence of those countries’ culture. Before 2003, the neighboring country Thailand is very influential to Cambodia in terms of movie and songs. All television stations in the Kingdom broadcast Thai movies, which made Cambodia’s film industry climb down and not be able to recover. We can see that Cambodians started being obsessed with Thai movies and admire Thai films, by forgetting Khmer films. At that time, few or no filmmakers produced films since they know that Cambodia likes Thai films and they will never watch Khmer movies. This leads to the decline and non-recovery of the film industry which is also part of the culture. Cambodia’s people have no chance to see Khmer movies and they do not value their own films.

After the riot in Phnom Penh in 2003 over the confusing saying of Thai film star regarding Angkor Wat temple, damaging the Thai embassy, the relationship between the two countries has become rocky and the government declared to close down Thai movies screened on every televisions in Cambodia. Since then, Khmer movies have started to recover and a lot of Khmer films have been produced so far for the television stations. If there are a variety of Khmer films on televisions, our film industry will be good since people will watch and they start to compliment and admire Khmer films. Unluckily, after the shutdown to Thai movies, there are a lot of screenings of Korean and Chinese movies on Cambodia’s television nowadays. If the influence of those movies is deteriorating in the long term, Cambodians especially youths will forget our their own culture of films and our film will disappear one day.

Moreover, besides the influence of movies affecting Cambodia’s culture of film, Cambodia’s people have adjusted to the lifestyle of those cultures by following the styles of characters in the film and pick up the subcultures of foreigners who are opposed to Cambodia’s culture and some of the those cultures cannot be applied to Cambodia. For example, the culture of girls of living independently from their parents which cannot be practiced in Cambodia since women’s value is very important. They cannot do anything without the control of parents. Otherwise they will become bad women in the society. One more example, the culture of girls who are able to live with her boyfriend without consent from parents or they can live without marriage. There is no that culture in Cambodia’s context.

Though, I think, people think that it is the rights of people to do like that, Cambodia’s women should not do like that since we have a good culture already that girls should marry before they go to live with each other. During the time of Thai movies in Cambodia, the people liked Thai characters very much. They post Thai star’s pictures on the wall and at their business places. A number of people followed the style of dressing, making up, beautifying body and many other things else from Thai. This results in the decline of Cambodia’s culture since Cambodia’s people have left their own culture behind.

Can’t Hide from One’s Shadow.  After the closing down of Thai movies on Television, the existence of Korean and Chinese movies has rapidly increased and dominant over Cambodia’s culture. Korean movies and songs are screened on all Cambodia’s television stations. For example, MYTV stations which people say that it shows the culture of Korea. Now youths have adapted to Korean styles and lifestyle. They wear Korean dress and use Korean products. It is very dominant among the youths. Youths listen to Korean songs and dress like Korean to school. They talk about Korean every time. Now it is said that “You look like Korean stars. Every time, they make their body as Korean style. If Cambodia’s youths still follow it and they forgot Khmer culture, our culture will decline from day to day.

A number of youths dissocialize its own culture and lifestyle to the new-influenced culture from other countries. They change to wear Korean dress, eat Korean food, listen and watch Korean movies, which makes them forget their identity as a Cambodian.

Watching movies, youths adjust to various cultures of those countries including culture of living independently without being looked after from parents, culture of having boyfriends and girlfriends, culture of having sex or living with each others before marriage, and many others like marriage with cutting cake in their birthday and wedding party which are not the tradition of Khmer. For example, before Cambodia had no cake cutting in the wedding party, but now they have cake cutting. Khmer culture has only fruit instead of cake. Some youths think that they are living in a globalized world, so they change to follow the current of the world, by doing like the other people in the other countries since they find it good for them. It is true but those actions will make Cambodia’s youths leave Cambodian culture aside and time passes they will practice other foreign culture as their own ones.

Apart from this, globalization makes Cambodia become a variety of markets which consist of businesses from other countries. A lot of foreign business, especially food and drink exist in Cambodia’s supermarkets and ubiquitous in Phnom Penh. Fast-food restaurants are everywhere in Phnom Penh, for example, Lucky Seven, BB World and so on. Before, Cambodians are not aware of fast food such as frying chicken, pizza, and modern ice-cream, but now they go to eat and they feel like it very much. Cambodians will forget what is Khmer food and snake. This brings about the deterioration of culture.

Tourists bring a diversity of cultures to Cambodia because they come from various countries. A lot of cultures have been practiced in Cambodia. For instance, Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day which are now very famous in Cambodia, especially youths. These cultures negatively impact Cambodia tremendously since some youths take this time to have sex with each other as their habits. It was reported in the press that the guesthouses are full of youths going to have sex. This affects Cambodia perfect culture. Now Cambodian people celebrate it every year and it becomes prevailing and influential throughout the country. People follow it subconsciously though they know it is not the culture and tradition of Cambodia. What will happen in the future if the practice of it passed over generation to generation? Some of our own culture will not exist anymore.

In conclusion, globalization has impacted on every part of Cambodian life by making people change their behavior and thinking. The new culture brings to Cambodia, which make Cambodians celebrate it and consider it as our own culture, which is called resocialization.  Accepting and being aware of other culture does not mean bad. People can take advantages from that by adopting good points of the culture and make it to our own use, but make sure it does not affect our own culture. Culture is always good for persons. We cannot judge this culture is bad by using our own culture.

Youths who are the next generation to preserve Cambodia’s culture and tradition, have to consider the issue. They have to follow and remember our good culture which left by the ancestors thousands years ago. Youths should not follow it without thinking. If they can make use of it in wise way, it is good.


The World Health Organization pledged to focus on nine countries in the Western Pacific Region including Cambodia, Kiribati, Lao, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Vietnam facing significant challenges in meeting the 2012 target to reduce hepatitis B inflection rates among children.

Ramon Magsaysay Award

FIVE people were announced as the winners of the Asia’s prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2011.  Two winners are from India, who help harness technologies to empower their countrymen and create waves of progressive change across Asia. Filipino guy helps set up an Islamic school for girls in Indonesia and one more Filipino woman who promote micro hydropower technology. A Cambodian guy helps to restore democracy in Cambodia.

Thailand’s Fishing Boat Concerned for neighboring countries of Human Trafficking

By Sun Narin

Can’t hide from one’s shadow and the sadness have come across a Cambodian man’s life called Mr Sim Ek, who is one among hundreds of Cambodia’s men experienced working on the enslaved fishing boat in Thailand.

Mr Sim Ek is 24 years old and he’s born in Banteay Meanchey province, which is near the crossing border. Due to the deficiency in living condition and the difficulties facing his family, he decided to leave his hometown in June 2009 to work at Thailand’s border as the construction worker, earning some 100 Baht per day, which he said he could not help his family.

He said: “I was asked by a girl who is my relative to work on the boat at Paknam sea (Thailand). She told me that I would earn 15000 baht (450 dollars) per month. That was a large amount of money for me comparing to 100 baht.”

What he had expected was contradict and he, in return, did not get any money and he was forced to work without stopping and rest and was warned not to land forever. He said that the life on boat was very difficult and life threatening.

He recalled: “I had to work day and night in the rain and wind, although I was sick. I worked like the slave. If we did not work for them, they would kill us and drop from the boat. I was very terrified.” Not only him, but also his uncle and friend were in the same boat who were cheated to work on the boat. He said that there were other foreigners besides Cambodians.

Mr Sim Ek is just on of the example of the people who experienced being trafficked to work on the boat. There are other people of the Thailand-border sharing countries who share the same situation as his.

Asia Human rights website reported a story of a Lao boy (17) named Somphone and his friends was trafficked to work on the boat in Thailand. On the boat Somphone worked with a team of eighteen other Lao men. They worked very hard catching fish to fill the boxes on board. Sometimes they had no time to eat, bathe or sleep. Often they rested on the deck where they were working. Somphone was beaten by the guard if he was not seen to be working hard enough. Only when enough fish had been caught to fill all the boxes on board would they return to shore.

BBC reported in April 2011 about a 26-year-old man Zaw Zaw from Burma who was enslaved on Thai fishing boat. He is one of thousands of young men trafficked abroad Thai vessels.

According to the International Organization for Migration’s report issued on the January 14, 2011, the trafficking of men to Thai fishing boats started in earnest after the ravages of Typhoon Gay in 1989, which resulted in the sinking of over 200 fishing boats and caused at least 458 deaths (an additional 600 persons are missing and presumed dead), mostly among Thai fishing crews from the poor Northeast region of Thailand.

The report says that twenty years later, Thai fishing vessels ply the territorial waters of dozens of

nations, especially Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and travel as far as Somalia and other parts of the coast of East Africa. Yet, for an increasingly sophisticated industry, Thailand’s recruitment for workers in the fishing sector remains largely based on informal recruiting processes which often lead to abuse and foster human trafficking.

Working conditions on fishing boats are extremely arduous. Fishermen are expected to work 18 to 20 hours of back-breaking manual labour per day, seven days per week. Sleeping and eating is possible only when the nets are down and recently caught fish have been sorted. Fishermen live in terribly cramped quarters, face shortages of fresh water and must work even when fatigued or ill, thereby risking injury to themselves or others. Fishermen who do not perform according to the expectations of the boat captain may face severe beatings or other forms of physical maltreatment, denial of medical care and, in the worst cases, maiming or killing.

Local Human Rights in Cambodia, Licadho has interviewed more than 60 men who were trafficked onto Thai fishing boats since 2007. Their stories typically begin in the same way.Local newspaper Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia  reported in June 2011 that seven fishing boat workers in Thailand were rescued and sent back to Cambodia. One in five of the men in the Asia Foundation survey said they had worked in slave-like conditions on Thai and Malaysian fishing boats.

Due to the hardship the Mr Sim Ek and other Lao people that they could not face, they decided to escape from the boat by jumping from the boat.

“It was very dangerous and difficult. I thought I would die in the jungle. We walked in the forests three days and nights without anything to eat. I told police to arrest me and send me back to my hometown, but the police did not,” he said.

He said that before the police arrested him and repatriated him, he had been sold to other places and imprisoned again and again in Malaysia.

The Thai fishing industry is a large supplier of fish to Britain and other European countries. The poverty, low education and the lack of job opportunity lead these men to be deceived and trafficked to work on the fishing boat.

Cambodia Allied with US’s hatred Nations

By Sun Narin

North Korea, which is considered as the enemy of the United, but the ally of China, has recently pushed the robust trade with Cambodia particularly in agriculture after North Korean Deputy Trade Minister Ri Myong San met with Cambodian Foreign Minster Hor Namhong.

Can Cambodia be in the middle?

The Cambodia’s government has now the tendency to China, always following China. China has become the largest investors and international aid to Cambodia. China has been considered as the old friend and the sibling with Cambodia.

Former King Norodom is now staying in China and he also maintained a close personal relationship with North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung and often travelled to North Korea for stays at a palace in the capital, Pyongyang.

In August, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Cambodia in order to improve the relations with the small country like Cambodia.

In response, Cambodia has supported Iran and Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told the reporters that “To impose sanctions against Iran is not a solution,” and he advised “negotiations and engagement” instead.

“There is no doubt that Iran’s growing isolation, resulting from the force of UN sanctions, is behind Iran’s push to improve relations with Cambodia and other willing states,” says Alon Ben-Meir of the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. In June 2010, the United Nations, European Union, and United States all passed sanctions in an effort to target Iran’s uranium-enrichment program.

China’s rapidly increasing investment in Cambodian industry has led to closer ties between the two countries; while relations with the US have been frustrated by America’s refusal to erase the “dirty debt” that Cambodia incurred during Lon Nol’s regime. While the future is uncertain, there is no doubt that both countries will continue to promote their own brand of progress in the Kingdom and around the world.

Since the famed Chinese diplomat Zhou Daguan made his well-documented trips to Cambodia late in the 13th century, Cambodia and China have maintained bittersweet relations, with China often taking the upper hand. Continued…….