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VOA Khmer reported on Debts Disaster Cambodia
The unrelenting negative economic effect of Covid-19 on businesses and banks’ stringent procedures have put Cambodians in a bind over term loans
In the mid-1970s, when the city crashed and burned in a warped socialist uprising led by Communist Party of Kampuchea leader Pol Pot, untold fear gripped the people.
Today, although less menacing, the fear is surreal as Covid-19 does a number on the economy.
It has resulted in thousands of documented job displacements in the garment sector, and wage cuts among white collar workers in Cambodia, although this has yet to be quantified.
The situation is graver because garment workers, as past studies show, stimulate the economy in the informal sector which is made up of street food vendors, hairdressers and transport providers.
A rough estimate shows that each wage earner in the garment sector supports five to six persons in the informal sector via local economic stimulation.
The government estimates that the temporary loss of some 150,000 jobs in the garment sector would indirectly affect some one million people in the informal sector.
David Van, senior associate of Platform Impact, a public-private partnership, said: “The government’s so-called Covid-19 stimulus plan is [also] not leading anywhere as small- and medium-sized enterprises are finding difficulty securing loans.
“If they close shop permanently, then there would be fewer jobs in the future. The picture is very grim.”
As if that was not bad enough, nearly 90,000 Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand who flooded back home amid the crisis will likely raise the unemployment rate in the Kingdom.
All these could veritably point to an expected growth in indebtedness among Cambodians. Up to 2018, the Credit Bureau of Cambodia recorded $20.9 billion in overall outstanding loan balances, representing 3.3 million active borrowers from 157 financial institutions.
Besides, an updated May report by NGOs Licadho and Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT) on the debt crisis faced by the lower strata of the society revealed that more than 2.6 million Cambodian borrowers held more than $10 billion in microfinance debt by the end of 2019.
The report “Driven Out – One village’s experience with microfinance institutions (MFIs) and cross-border migration” said the amount constituted an average loan size of $3,804.
This is supposedly the highest figure in the world, and an increase on an “already troubling” average of $3,370 as of December 31, 2018.
“This debt, the majority of which is collateralised by land titles, continues to pose a significant threat to land tenure security for indebted families and has led to other serious and systematic human rights abuses across the country, including debt-driven migration,” Licadho and STT said.
Based on the report, the situation had already seemed compounding before Covid-19. But the pandemic has sent the Cambodian economy into a tailspin.
What is this virus?
The virus has been identified as a new type of coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of pathogens, most of which cause mild respiratory infections such as the common cold.
But coronaviruses can also be deadly. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is caused by a coronavirus and killed hundreds of people in China and Hong Kong in the early 2000s.
Can it kill?
Yes. Over 2850 people have so far died after testing positive for the virus.
What are the symptoms?
Its symptoms are typically a fever, cough and trouble breathing, but some patients have developed pneumonia, a potentially life-threatening infection that causes inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs. People carrying the novel coronavirus may only have mild symptoms, such as a sore throat. They may assume they have a common cold and not seek medical attention, experts fear.
How is it detected?
The virus’s genetic sequencing was released by scientists in China to the rest of the world to enable other countries to quickly diagnose potential new cases. This helps other countries respond quickly to disease outbreaks.
To contain the virus, airports are detecting infected people with temperature checks. But as with every virus, it has an incubation period, meaning detection is not always possible because symptoms have not appeared yet.
How did it start and spread?
The first cases identified were among people connected to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.
Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission.
What are countries doing to prevent the spread?
Countries in Asia have stepped up airport surveillance. They include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines.
Australia and the US are also screening patients for a high temperature, and the UK announced it will screen passengers returning from Wuhan.
Is it similar to anything we’ve ever seen before?
Experts have compared it to the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The epidemic started in southern China and killed more than 2850 people in mainland China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
វីរុសនេះត្រូវបានគេកំណត់អត្តសញ្ញាណថាជាប្រភេទមេរោគឆ្លងថ្មី។ កូរ៉ូណាវីរុសគឺជាគ្រួសារវីរុសបង្កជំងឺដ៏ធំមួយដែលភាគច្រើនបណ្តាលឱ្យមានការឆ្លងមេរោគតាមផ្លូវដង្ហើមស្រាលៗ ដូចជាផ្តាសាយធម្មតា។
ប៉ុន្តែកូរ៉ូណាវីរុសឬវីរុសឆ្លងនេះក៏អាចមានគ្រោះថ្នាក់ផងដែរ។ ជំងឺ SARS ឬរោគសញ្ញាផ្លូវដង្ហើមធ្ងន់ធ្ងរបណ្តាលមកពីវីរុសឆ្លងនិងបានសម្លាប់មនុស្សរាប់រយនាក់នៅក្នុងប្រទេសចិននិងហុងកុងនៅដើមទសវត្សឆ្នាំ ២០០០ ។
ត្រូវហើយ។ មនុស្សជាង២៨៥០ នាក់បានស្លាប់បន្ទាប់ពីបានធ្វើតេស្តិ៍រកឃើញវីរុសនេះ។
តើរោគសញ្ញាអ្វីខ្លះ?Read More …
Australia and the world made a promise to the Cambodian people, to stand up for human rights, peace and democracy. But 28 years on, the world has failed to keep its promise. Instead, Hun Sen’s regime has attacked human rights; killed democracy; given away the Cambodian people’s sovereignty; accumulated secret wealth overseas; and undermined prosperity in our region.
ប្រទេសអូស្ត្រាលីនិងពិភពលោកបានសន្យាជាមួយប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរអោយក្រោកឈរឡើងដើម្បីការពារសិទ្ធិមនុស្ស សន្តិភាព និងប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ។ តែ២៨ឆ្នាំមកនេះ ពិភពលោកបរាជ័យក្នុងការរក្សាកិច្ចសន្យារបស់ខ្លួន។ ជាការជំនួសវិញ របបលោកហ៊ុន-សែន បានវាយប្រហារទៅលើសិទ្ធិមនុស្ស សំលាប់លទ្ធិប្រជាធិបតេយ្យ បោះបង់ចោលអធិបតេយ្យភាពដែនដីរបស់ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋខ្មែរ សន្សំទ្រព្យរាប់កោដិទុកនៅក្រៅប្រទេស និងបំផ្លិចបំផ្លាញសុខដុមរមនាក្នុងតំបន់។
‘Hun Sen is taking the piss’: Labor MP unloads on Cambodian dictator
WAtoday, By James Massola, October 22, 2019 — 4.30pm
Jakarta: Federal Labor MP Julian Hill has launched an extraordinary attack on Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen, declaring the dictator has sold out his country to China and warning the rising superpower is using the same tactics it used to militarise the South China Sea.
Mr Hill, whose seat of Bruce is home to one of the largest Cambodian-Australian populations, said that on the eve of the 28th anniversary of the Paris Peace Accords that ended Cambodia’s long and bloody civil war, democracy was dying.
Billions of dollars of Chinese investment have transformed the town of Sihanoukville in CambodiaThirty-nine found dead in truck in Essex, UK
The MP recently spent a week in Cambodia on a self-funded study tour where he met with civil rights groups, union activists and the remnants of the now-banned political opposition.
“Australia and the world made a promise to the Cambodian people, to stand up for human rights, peace and democracy. But 28 years on, the world has failed to keep its promise,” he told Parliament.
“Instead, Hun Sen’s regime has attacked human rights; killed democracy; given away the Cambodian people’s sovereignty; accumulated secret wealth overseas; and undermined prosperity in our region.”
In a speech that goes much further than the Labor leadership has been willing to in criticising the links between China and Cambodia, Mr Hill said “I don’t mean this as anti-China rhetoric … must be honest and say that I do not see what Hun Sen has let China do in Cambodia as positive”.
“It [Chinese investment] may be couched as BRI [Belt and Road Infrastructure investment], but it shows all the signs of Hun Sen allowing the development of naval and air facilities to facilitate Chinese military planning. The same salami slicing tactics that the world saw in the South China Sea are at work.”
Sihanoukville, which has seen a huge amount of Chinese investment, is “like the fantasies about the Wild West of old. Casinos. Booze. Guns. Riches. Women”.
Hun Sen won all 125 seats in the parliament in elections in July 2018 and has banned the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party. Former leader Kem Sokha is under house arrest in Phnom Penh, other leaders including Sam Rainsy and Mu Sochua are in exile while many activists and politicians have been jailed.
Rainsy has recently threatened to return to Cambodia on November 9 to lead a popular uprising, prompting threats of violence and military intervention from Hun Sen, who has ruled the country for 34 years.
Against this back drop, Hill said Australia’s current approach to “just keep talking” to the Hun Sen regime was insufficient.
Hill said Australia should ramp up sanctions against Cambodia, get back into the “information game” through Radio Australia and short wave radio and push back by using our considerable soft power resources.Read More …
Cambodia’s addiction to dependency: NGOs and BFG
សង្ខេប៖ អ្នកនិព្វន្ធអត្ថបទនេះព្យាយាមចង្អុលប្រាប់អោយយើងដឹងថាកម្ពុជាកំពុងប្រឈមមុខតថភាពសង្គមដោយពឹងពាក់លើអ្នកដទៃទាំងស្រុង(dependency) ហើយកត្តាលេចធ្លោរពីរយ៉ាងគឺកំសោយរបស់អង្គការក្រៅរដ្ឋាភិបាល(NGOs)និងការធ្លាក់ខ្លួនទៅក្នុងអន្លង់មិត្តយក្សល្អបំផុតប៊ីអេសជី(BFG)។ ជាការសង្កេត អង្គការNGOsមួយភាគធំប្រតិបត្តិការដោយពឹងលើជំនួយបរទេសទាំងស្រុង មិនបានគិតអំពីនិរន្តរភាពខ្លួនឯងនៅពេលណាដែលជំនួយត្រូវបានបញ្ឈប់ឬខ្លះទៀតបោកជំនួយបរទេសដោយមិនបានបំពេញតាមឆន្ទៈបំណងនៃជំនួយឡើយ។ សម្រាប់ប៊ីអេសជីBFGវិញ រដ្ឋាភិបាលហ៊ុនសែនលើកនិយាយពីអធិបតេយ្យភាពជាតិដោយមិនចុះញ៉មជាមួយអឺរ៉ុបនិងអាមេរិក ដោយយកចិនជាមិត្តធំសំខាន់សម្រាប់ប្រើប្រាស់លុយជំនួយឥតលក្ខណ្ឌ(aids without strings)មកប្រើប្រាស់បន្តរំលោភអំណាចនិងគាបសង្កត់អ្នកតស៊ូប្រជាធិបតេយ្យទាំងអស់។
In recent weeks, Khmer Times has published several opinion and editorial pieces on Cambodia’s present-day international relations challenges. Those authors were passionate in crying foul over the possible withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms preferential treatment.
They pointed out the EU’s double standards in comparison to Vietnam, Thailand, and Burma. They also claimed that the US was complicit in this act of “social injustice”, and that it is sowing distrust between Cambodia and other Asean countries.
They rejected any US or EU criticism of human rights violations as interference in its affairs and proclaim that sovereignty and independence are paramount over EU demands.
Yet, these authors have forgotten that since the EBA is a ‘gift’ from the EU to Cambodia, then they have the right to review, take it away or do anything they want with it. They are not obligated to ensure it is fair or not when compared to similar ‘gifts’ to other recipient countries. In business, each commercial contract with a client cannot be the same.
Also, Cambodia has the right to give up the EBA if it thinks the conditions are too difficult and unfair as stated in some of Khmer Times’ editorials. But it chooses to cry and throw a tantrum.
Now that EBA suspension process is official, there are calls for Cambodia to be less dependent on foreign aid and assistance, the reason is so that its sovereignty and independence will not be held hostage by just a few partners.
Unfortunately, it is worrying how these authors can continue to deny that Cambodia has already been baited – hook, line and sinker – and has developed an addiction to dependency. It is already over-dependent on two accomplices.
Firstly, non-government organisations in Cambodia. Many NGOs do good work in Cambodia –they provide much-needed services and expertise for Cambodia’s social and economic development, environment, water sanitisation and more. They fill the gaps in Cambodia’s still developing institutions and systems. But it is also true that just as many behave like parasites, using Cambodia as the excuse to prolong their existence. In fact, many are indirectly or directly responsible for breeding dependency in Cambodia.
Many do not bother to work together but end up duplicating similar projects or areas of help. It is criminal how some NGOs even encourage ignorant and uneducated villagers to join protests, illegally occupy land and be interviewed for TV documentaries that paint their own country negatively.
Unfounded allegations? I know of Cambodians who have bragged about it. So much donor funds have been wasted on short term projects, countless reports and studies, and so many different solutions offered for the country.
Each NGO ought to have an exit strategy (and timeline) from Cambodia and to pass on knowledge, skills and expertise. If there is any conspiracy against Cambodia, this is it – not by design but a tragic confluence of selfish agendas.
Secondly, Cambodia’s “most trustworthy friend” (or other similar accolades bestowed by the big, friendly giant or “BFG”.
BFG has invested massively in Cambodia, particularly in Sihanoukville and across the country. Cambodia has benefited in the form of much-needed infrastructure, better connectivity and higher land values.
For Cambodia, the BFG is also a ready and willing source of legitimacy, acceptance and recognition that it cannot get elsewhere. But one must be blind to ignore the negative social impact of BFG’s dominance in the Kingdom. Like this newspaper I suspect it is owned by BFG if this is not published (a challenge and test!).
Cambodia runs a huge trade deficit to BFG (Cambodia buys more from BFG than the other way around). Nearly all BFG projects have very little benefit to small business and ordinary Cambodians, and mainly well-connected landowners benefit.
The increasing number of BFG businesses and shops in Sihanoukville and the capital cater only to BFG people.
Nearly all construction workers in these projects come from BFG (quite a number bring their families, setting up local shops and even local markets), with a small proportion hired locally in low-skilled menial labour work.
Most of the supply and construction materials for these projects are imported from BFG. So these projects actually help BFG export their unemployment (sending its construction workers overseas, who would otherwise not be able to find jobs back home), and BFG suppliers and construction companies benefit more than local Cambodian ones.
So for BFG grants for projects, the money actually flows back to BFG companies and people.Read More …