Phnom Penh Post

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Posted by: | Posted on: November 1, 2017

Migrant workers struggling to sign up to vote

Op-Ed: Phnom Penh Post

Migrant workers struggling to sign up to vote

Thu, 26 October 2017

There are few things more important to 29-year-old Yan Muon than voting.

An official processes an identification card at a voter registration office in Phnom Penh in September. Pha Lina

An official processes an identification card at a voter registration office in Phnom Penh in September. Pha Lina

Even though the maths student traded his studies in Cambodia for an electronics factory in Malaysia three years ago in hopes of earning more money, he always planned to return to vote.

Unfortunately, it has been “difficult for me”, Muon said in an interview two weeks ago. “My company always rejects my request [for time off] from one week to another.”

Muon is one of an estimated 1.5 million migrant workers living and working outside Cambodia who must return to the Kingdom to register to vote in next year’s crucial national election. Yet with two weeks left in the registration period, nearly three-quarters of the eligible voters that the National Election Commission was hoping to register have yet to sign up, according to numbers released by the body yesterday.

In interviews with five migrant workers over the past two weeks, none said they were able to return to Cambodia to register.

Many said the biggest challenge is getting time off work. Others said they could not afford the trip. Some cited political apathy.

Chem Phany, a 24-year-old Cambodian working at a factory in Thailand that produces windows and doors, said he wants to vote, but needs at least one week to travel to his hometown in Takeo province.

“My employers will not allow me to get a week’s leave,” he said. “At the same time, I need to spend $130 round trip and to have food to eat. So I can’t afford that.”

So Phany, a garment worker who has been living in Malaysia for 10 years, said her employer also refused to give her time off.

“I wish the government can offer another option, perhaps for us to organise a voting pool at the embassy, so I don’t need to take much time to vote and I can choose a leader for my country,” she said.

Others, like Sim Sarunn, a 26-year-old migrant working at a fruit-processing factory in Japan, were discouraged by the imminent dissolution of the opposition CNRP.

“I would feel regret for [missing] the next election if the opposition party was still there and different parties were competing with each other, but the ruling party now competes alone,” Sarunn said. “So I’m not interested in coming to vote. Even if I do, there’s nothing I can change.”

For local election monitor Comfrel, this is the outcome they feared.

“This is a real difficulty, a real challenge,” said Yoeurng Sotheara, Comfrel’s legal and monitoring officer.

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Posted by: | Posted on: July 29, 2012

Cambodia continues to see slow price increase

Reading this article widened my thought to the reality happening among Cambodian consumers. The low price increase of inflation observed by May Kunmakara of the Phnom Penh Post couldn’t change the status quo of poor Cambodians who are incapable to beat with the price of inflation. While the Cambodian poors cannot afford one dollar a day, according to statistic, one bowl of rice with few pieces of grilled pork for a meal is one dollar and up. The same data of statistic, 90 per cent of Cambodian farmers are poor and they cannot afford one dollar a day in an average of annual income. But the contradict sight of Cambodian commuters on the street, the amount of expensive luxurious cars such as Lexus are higher than any other countries in the region and in the world. There are many food parlors along the street and to what I have personally observed, the variety of products displayed for sales or the suppliers are more than demands. So, this scene shows that Cambodian people are not lazy but less consumers or demands have made them poorer and poorer. There are causes and effects of this in-equilibrium of supply and demand in Cambodia. More than this, the general price of Cambodian products are not tagged by label but they are tagged by lipbel.

Cambodia continues to see slow price increase

Thursday, 26 July 2012, May Kunmakara
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A vendor sells pork at a market in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Photograph: Vireak Mai/Phnom Penh Post

Food prices drove moderate inflation in June, with experts calling the 1.8 per cent year-on-year increase acceptable.

Month on month, inflation rose at about 0.1 per cent, data from the National Institute of Statistics showed.

Khin Song, deputy director general at NIS, said the slow rise in prices was largely due to the slow growth of the world economy, which have affected prices on international market and in the region.

Prices in China, Thailand and especially Vietnam – which experienced inflation above 20 per cent only months earlier – have also cooled.

“If we take a look at some of our neighbours, inflation has also gone down. Thailand saw around 2 per cent inflation and China saw about 5 or 6 per cent inflation,” he said.

“We have stabilised some food prices and there is a slowdown in the price of gasoline and some kinds of foods. In addition, we also have a very stable exchange rate and [gross domestic product] growth is good. This made the inflationary rate slow. Our import tax is low, so if we compare to other country, our tax is still lower. Products should be cheap”

The price of food and non-alcoholic beverages increased by 2.3 per cent year on year, the data showed. Meat prices increased 2.5 per cent while the price of vegetables jumped 11.8 per cent.

Vegetable prices were expected to rise further in the coming months as the rainy season deepens and foods are expected, Khin Song said.

The cost of electricity, gas and other fuels increased by only 0.6 per cent.

In May, Cambodia saw its first-ever drop in the consumer price index since data had been taken by NIS, the Post reported last month.

At the same time, the price of pork jumped 18 per cent that month.

Hiroshi Suzuki, chief of economists and CEO at Business Research Institute of Cambodia said the inflation rate was healthy and would not lead to negative results if kept at this level.

In late January, gas prices in Cambodia hit an all-time high at US$1.40 per litre. The rise prompted worry over the Kingdom’s limited fuel reserves.


To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara atkunmakara.may@phnompenhpost.com

Posted by: | Posted on: January 8, 2012

Lawyer now a ‘monk’

Cambodian Bar Association is also under pressure or not, but whenever the lawyer or the Bar Association is not independent, how can this legal carrier can independently bring justice to Cambodians? Of course, according to our observation, many lawyers who have worked for the minors and opposition party members, have stopped their duty from those minors and opposition party members in order to obtain their Bar Association license. Mr.Choung Choungy’s decision to shave his head and practicing meditation this time is a puzzling question for all of us. He has been aware since the beginning that he will face with terrific obstacle ahead especially the discarding of his license from Bar Association.

Phnom Penh Post

  • Meas Sokchea
  • Friday, 06 January 2012
120106_02

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

Choung Choungy, a lawyer for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, has his head shaved at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh yesterday.

A lawyer for the Sam Rainsy Party yesterday began his meditation for justice campaign at the opposition party’s headquarters in the capital’s Meanchey district, after a Buddhist layman shaved his head and blessed him.

Dressed in white, the lawyer began meditating in the morning between placards calling on the Justice Ministry, prosecutors, lawyers and the Bar Association to defend justice.

“Lawyer Choung Choungy is focusing on clear sightedness, keeping silent and seeking tolerance and truth through meditation to liberate people from danger and obstacles,” layman Hing Phirom said.

“He is doing it for the nation.”

Late last month, Choung Choungy was charged with helping a prisoner escape jail. SRP lawmaker Chan Cheng was also stripped of his parliamentary immunity over the same case, after the Kandal provincial court charged the pair with helping Bantey Dek commune deputy chief Meas Peng escape jail in September.

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Posted by: | Posted on: November 5, 2011

The long tragedy of Cham history

The early history of the Cham in Cambodia is far from being clear. To begin with, were the Cham Muslims at the time of their emigration to Cambodia? Scholars have pointed out evidence that Champa had contacts with the Muslim world as early as the 9th century. A group of Muslim Chams are still living in Central Vietnam although they are a minority; the majority still goes on worshipping Hindu religion. It is then plausible that prior to take refuge in Cambodia a part of the Cham population had already converted to Islam. The fact that today all the Cambodian Chams are Muslims led most of scholars to the conclusion that the conversion of the majority of Chams actually took place in Cambodia. The Chvea (litterally Javanese), a large Muslim population, were already living in Cambodia in the 15th century; their origin is unclear as nowadays they all speak Khmer and don’t have a language of their own. It is probably to their contact that the Chams converted to Islam.
By Phnom Penh Post

Jean-Michel Filippi

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Cham people photographed during the period of the French Protectorate.

The traditional warfare pattern in South East Asia generally aimed at conquering and dominating sparse populations


The Khmer empire, from the ninth to the 15th century, obviously didn’t develop in isolation. But, looking at the map of Southeast Asia from a historical point of view, it’s nevertheless clear  that this political construction benefited from an unprecedented geopolitical quietness, at least until the 13th century.

The Vietnamese hadn’t even begun their march to the south, and the Thai state was  made up of embryonic chieftainships.

Yet the exception that proved the rule occurred. In the year 1177, guided by a Chinese deserter, the Cham fleet sailed the Mekong river upstream and from Phnom Penh, the Tonle Sap. They took Angkor by urprise, plundering and destroying the town.

They quickly withdrew and, from 1181, under the leadership of the future Jayavarman VII, the Khmers led the war against the kingdom of Champa, which was soon reduced to a vassal state of the Khmer empire.

Military recovery was one thing; spiritual recovery was something else. If the very heart of the empire could be so easily struck, there were spiritual causes that couldn’t be ignored.

Under the rule of Jayavarman VII, the Khmer empire was the theatre of the most dramatic religious shift in Khmer history as the new rel-igion became Mahayana Buddhism. It replaced the Hindu religion, which had proved unable to protect the empire.

Hindu gods still existed, but were submitted to the Mahayana Buddha. The temple of Angkor Wat was still there, but was no longer the axis of the world; that was now the Bayon.

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Posted by: | Posted on: January 8, 2010

A Plea from Afar

Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:02 Sophan Seng

Dear Editor,

Reading your article “Three more sought in removal of post at Svay Rieng border” (January 4) broke my heart.

The villagers should be congratulated and taken care of by the government for their courage in publicly claiming their ownership of the rice paddies and denouncing the violation of their territory by Vietnamese authorities who have mismanaged the process of demarcating the border. Instead, as unbelievable as it may sound, these five farmers face a terrifying fate and the loss of their status as “good” citizens.

There have been different interpretations of this story within the media, but at the end of the day, no one can deny the truth: Cambodian people living along the borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam no longer dare voice their concerns about neighbouring countries encroaching on their territory and stealing their land for fear of reprisals.

On one hand, the government may have good reason to accuse opposition leader Sam Rainsy of acting as a provocateur in bringing news of Vietnam’s mismanagement of border posts to the public. But on the other hand, the government is following a course of action that could rob Cambodia of its strength as a nation and destroy the immunity of every parliamentarian.

At the grassroots level, Cambodian people living along the border will no longer dare to stand up and protest against the theft of their land by neighbouring countries. At the national level, parliamentarians – both government and opposition – will lose confidence in their abilities to serve the genuine interests of the people.

The government must evaluate the situation fairly if it is to effectively represent the nation’s interests. I would like to appeal to the government to restore the prowess of elected parliamentarians and allow them to fulfil their duties, which are more important than those of the lower court of Svay Rieng. I would also like to appeal to the government to drop all charges against the five farmers – Prak Chea, Neang Phally, Prak Koeun, Meas Srey and Prom Chea – and release them without condition.

Sophan Seng
University of Hawaii

Original reference: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/index.php/2010010630653/National-news/a-plea-from-afar.html

Posted by: | Posted on: January 7, 2009

Letter to Editor: The Phnom Penh Post

The January 7 celebrations in context

Written by Sophan Seng

Wednesday, 07 January 2009

Dear Editor,

It is a great privilege for me to write something about how the day of January 7 simply reflects the thought of a Cambodian. Of course, January 7 is still an ongoing controversial day. Some people see it as the day of foreign occupation over Cambodian sovereignty, but others see this day as their second life when Vietnamese troops toppled the Khmer Rouge regime.

However, to celebrate this day is not significantly representing Cambodians as the whole nation. It is only celebrated by the Cambodian People’s Party, which has been in power since the day of January 7, 1979.

In the past, the celebration of January 7 was likely to honour the victory over the Khmer Rouge regime and aimed to condemn, to ban the Khmer Rouge and make it impossible for them to control the country again, and, legally, to sentence them to death in absentia.

But in this year, the theme of the celebration after its 30 years in power, according to the news, is that the CPP will focus on increasing the awareness of sovereignty protection, economic development and leading Cambodia to enjoy a further level of advancement.
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