Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tourism surges in Cambodia

The number of international tourists in Cambodia increased by 24.4 per cent from 2.88 million in 2011 to 3.58 million in 2012, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism.

The most significant increases came from the Kingdom’s closest neighbours.

Laos nearly doubled in visitor numbers to over 250,000 and Thailand, which had declined year on year in 2011 by 21.7 per cent, increased in 2012 by 72.5 per cent to over 200,000 visitors.
Visitors from Vietnam account for the largest group coming to Cambodia, making up 21 per cent of total visitors in 2012.

Tith Chantha, director general of the Ministry of Tourism, said improved transport and rising incomes across ASEAN are increasing travel options for Cambodia and its neighbours.

“Vietnam is number one, but Laos and Thailand are also now increasing because of ease of travel and low visa [restrictions], so neighbouring countries can come any time,” he said.

“Cambodians also go to those countries. Many tourists go to Thailand and to Laos. This intra-regional travel is [happening] more and more.”

This represents a trend across ASEAN, with an increase of 37.5 per cent from 2011 to 2012 of over 1.51 million tourists.

Sinan Thourn, chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, said improved political relations and lighter travel restrictions inter-regionally have had a large impact.

“In the past before 2008, arrivals from Thailand were quite good, but then we had the problems along the borders and it decreased. But after the Pheu Thai win in the general election in Thailand, you have seen the numbers increasing,” he said.

“Due to the policies opening up ASEAN countries, all the ASEAN countries [enable] moving in and out more easily. This will be a key in increasing tourism from ASEAN countries,” he added.

Cambodia continues to be very popular with Chinese tourists, with nearly 334,000 visitors arriving in 2012, an increase of 35.1 per cent from the previous year.

While Europe made just up just17.1 per cent of total visitors in 2012, the rate of increase was up slightly from 10.9 per cent in 2011 to 12.6 per cent in 2012.

Chantha said, “Numbers of Europeans have increased, if you take Russia, for example, it increased around 50 per cent. France, Germany and UK have [also] increased, but the share [of European visitors] is down because the share of the Asia-Pacific is up.”

Letter to editor: Melissa Cockroft

Dear editor,

Valentine’s Day 2013 again saw debate rage in the media about the negative influence of “Western culture”, the importance of Cambodian women maintaining their virginity and the subsequent actions by local authorities.

In regard to the issue of culture, when asked what their plans were to celebrate the day, young people seemed quick to comment: “It’s not our tradition”; “It’s not related to Cambodian culture at all” (Lift, February 13).

But whether Cambodians like it or not, Valentine’s Day is becoming a part of Cambodian culture, and the way it is currently interpreted – as the day to lose your virginity - is a uniquely Cambodian cultural creation.

A simple internet search will show that the origins of Valentine’s Day, although European, were not specifically related to sex or losing one’s virginity.

In “Western” culture, which is typically blamed for Valentine’s Day’s “scourge” on Cambodian society, the day has largely been taken over by marketing and advertising agencies as a day for sharing “romance” with your loved one(s) through hallmark cards, chocolates, flowers and candle-lit dinners for two that, in turn, may lead to sex, but is not the essence of the day as it seems to be re-interpreted in Cambodia.

While the almost universal disregard for the possibility that Valentine’s Day, as currently celebrated in Cambodia, could be anything but “Cambodian” is frustrating, what is more worrying is the response by local authorities.

Reports of municipal police and local authorities staking out guesthouses and patrolling the streets for “young lovers” is an infringement of individual rights to mobility and sexual autonomy.

​As experience with groups such as sex workers in Cambodia has shown, policing and “crackdowns” on perceived anti-social behaviour merely pushes the behaviour underground, creating an environment in which risky sexual behaviour, exposure to sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancy, abortion and exposure to violence are more likely to occur.

As a result of these lessons learned, the Cambodian Ministry of Health and local authorities have adopted a harm-reduction approach through education and health-care provision, which has been more effective in halting the spread of HIV/AIDS than arrests and harassment.

A similar harm-reduction approach whereby providing young people with access to information, contraception and youth-friendly healthcare services would be far more effective at minimising potentially risky behaviour than stationing commune officials outside guesthouses.

Finally, as Keo Kounila’s excellent article “How the Kingdom could show more love” (Phnom Penh Post 7Days, February 15) accurately pointed out, young people are engaging in sex, not only on Valentine’s Day but on every other day of the year too.

Although the Ministry of Education and others encouraged  women to “not give away their virginity”, young men’s involvement was almost completely ignored.

The few times men did appear, it was usually as a warning for young women through simplistic examples such as  “Dara”, whose voice alone causes women to give in to his sexual advances (“Dara and his many girlfriends”, Lift, February13) .

While not denying that cases such as these exist, focusing on the worst characters of society denies the existence of more positive role models and examples of loving, healthy sexual relationships.
Although the role of young men in Cambodian society needs to be further highlighted, the role of young women’s agency, rather than vulnerability, also needs to be emphasized.
It needs to be acknowledged that the decision to have sex doesn’t just occur because it’s Valentine’s Day, but is a part of often-complex human relationships.

It’s important that we empower young women and men with the tools and knowledge to protect themselves from both potentially harmful sexually transmitted diseases and the effects of unintended pregnancy, but also with the emotional maturity to know when they’re ready to have sex and be able to refuse sex when they feel they’re not.

It’s also time to acknowledge that young Cambodian men and women are having sex, and that this is a normal, healthy expression of female and male sexuality, not an imposed Western construct.
Instead of encouraging young women to remain chaste, the Ministry of Education would be better off focusing their efforts on developing a curriculum that provides comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information and to establish the foundation for building caring sexual relationships.

As for the Phnom Penh municipal police and local authorities, they would be better placed focusing their efforts on patrolling the streets for real acts of crime, not the act of sex.

Melissa Cockroft

Free IELTS Masterclass for IELTS Candidates in Cambodia

English has more and more become a language that provides an avenue for overseas scholarships, work, business and other opportunities internationally.

The vast majority of scholarships available to Cambodians have English language proficiency as an eligibility requirement - quite often demonstrated through the IELTS test.

Universities in Australia, Canada, the UK, the USA or New Zealand usually require their students to have an IELTS score of 6.5 or above.

Therefore scholarships to these countries available to Cambodians every year require the same band score for direct entry into universities or an IELTS score of at least 5.0 with further English language training provided.

IELTS is the world’s leading English language test for higher education and migration. More than 7,000 universities, government bodies and professional organisations in over 135 countries accept IELTS scores. IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations.

IELTS tests all four language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking. IELTS is available in two test formats: Academic and General Training. The Academic format is, broadly speaking, for those who want to study or train in an English-speaking university or institutions of higher and further education. Admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses is based on the results of the Academic test.

The General Training format focuses on basic survival skills in broad social and workplace contexts. It is typically for those who are going to English-speaking countries to do secondary education, work experience or training programs. People migrating to Australia, Canada and New Zealand must sit the General Training test.

The IELTS has a nine band score system and the test score is valid for two years.
For those who want to understand more about IELTS in order to apply for scholarships or to study overseas, they are welcome to come to the IELTS Masterclass which will be conducted by the Cambodia IELTS test centre.

These classes are open to the public at no cost to participants.
For more information on IELTS or about the IELTS Masterclass visit the Cambodia IDP website.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

GERMANY: New education and research minister sworn in after Schavan resigns

UNITED STATES: A decade of publishing: PLOS is stronger than ever

UNITED STATES: Why graduates are underemployed and overeducated

MYANMAR: Students find hope in university revival

Friday, 15 February 2013

Malaysia: Najib treading on thin ice

By Roger Mitton

Although it should be a cinch to guess the name of the politician who did the following things, several perceptive observers were flummoxed when tested over the weekend.

The politician in question visited the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave of Gaza last month, and then went to Davos, Switzerland, to attend the World Economic Forum.

There, he told investors the threat of Islamic militancy in Southeast Asia had been nullified; yet upon returning home, he promptly had three alleged terrorists detained for subversive activities.
Soon afterwards, he was mortified to hear that Singapore’s long-ruling People’s Action Party had lost a by-election in a formerly safe seat after an anti-government swing of 13.5 per cent.

Today, he plans to attend a vote-getting Chinese New Year bash at whiche South Korean superstar Psy will perform his famous Gangnam Style dance.

No, it’s not Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose party does face elections soon and who did visit Egypt and Saudi Arabia last week and who attended Davos in 2011, but not this year.

No, it is Malaysia’s rather vulnerable Prime Minister Najib Razak, who must hold a general election by June 27, and who, as the above actions indicate, is now in full campaign mode.
His trip to Gaza, the first by a non-Arab Muslim leader since 2007, was provocative, dangerous, crudely geared to impress his Malay-Muslim constituents — and highly laudable.

After all, the Hamas-led government in Gaza has been in power since it was democratically elected in 2006 and has more legitimacy than some of Cambodia’s neighbours.

Predictably, the rival Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank condemned Najib’s visit, as did Western nations that noticed it; less predictably, Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim did the same.

Anwar is a rather mercurial fellow. In his younger days, he was a fervent Islamist with revolutionary tendences; today his attitudes, especially his foreign policy, align more with those of the United States.

It is understandable. During his long years of detention and subsequent harassment by former PM Mahathir Mohamad’s authoritarian government, no one supported Anwar as much as the US.
But his echo of Washington’s censure of Najib’s visit to Gaza could be a major misstep.
Najib has cannily defended it as a humanitarian mission and took the opportunity to chastise Israeli belligerence and to offer scholarships to needy Palestinian students.

For a notoriously indecisive politician, it was a bold move that might, on its own, help Najib’s National Front government retain Malay heartland states like Kedah, Perak and Terengganu.
What it will not do is win over non-Malay votes.

Recent soundings are ominous for Najib for they indicate the Chinese and Indian communities will support the Anwar-led opposition.
The PM’s National Front can live with this in peninsular Malaysia where a large majority of the population is Muslim, but if it occurs in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, then Najib will be toast.

And it could happen, for his overtures to East Malaysians have been hurt by last month’s revelations of a “citizenship-for-votes” scheme whereby hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants were given identity cards.

Last month, a commission of inquiry was told by one former official that he accepted more than $25,000 to grant citizenship to illegal Filipino, Indonesian and Pakistani Muslims who promised to vote for the National Front.

The numbers certainly support the allegation. In 1960, less than 40 per cent of Sabah’s population was Muslim; today, it is nearly 70 per cent.

How native-born Malaysians react to this vast fraud in the coming election is hard to gauge, but it is possible that the shock results in Singapore will pale beside what happens soon in Malaysia.

Private schools on the rise in Cambodia

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

AUSTRALIA: Foreign graduates push locals out of jobs

UNITED STATES: Why higher education must be part of immigration reform

AUSTRALIA: University 2060 – Brave new world of higher education

GERMANY: Education minister stripped of doctoral title

Lawyers Instructed to Seek Approval Before Speaking to Media

By - February 11, 2013

Lawyers must now obtain permission from the Cambodian Bar Association before speaking to television and radio media in order to ensure that they do not speak out of turn, the association’s president said in a meeting on Friday.

“First, we want to ensure a high quality of law dissemination. Second, to ensure that explanations of the law to the public are correct, and third to ensure that lawyers adhere to high professional standards,” said Bun Honn, the association’s president.

The new rule does not mean that lawyers would not be allowed to speak to the press, nor is it an attempt to stifle media freedom, Mr. Honn maintained, addressing Bar Association members at the organization’s Phnom Penh headquarters.

“Lawyers can talk to the media, for example, about where a case is going but they can’t criticize a court’s judgment or say the verdict of the court is unfair,” he said when contacted by telephone later.
Penalties for violating the new rule would range from a formal warning to disbarment, he said.
At the association’s request, the Ministry of Information on January 31 also issued a statement advising all television and radio media organizations that wish to interview lawyers to go through the Bar Association first.

At the moment, the only lawyer entirely banned from giving media interviews is Kouy Thunna, who Mr. Honn explained had violated Article 15 in the Lawyer’s Code of Ethics. He declined to say exactly how Mr. Thunna had violated the code, but Article 15 stipulates that lawyers must not give false or deceitful information or engage in self-promotion.

Mr. Thunna declined to comment on the Bar Association’s ban.
Sok Sam Oeun, a lawyer and executive director of legal aid group the Cambodian Defenders Project, said lawyers should be able to serve their clients without being held back by such a rule and that the Constitution protected the right to express one’s opinion.

“Each lawyer is a professional and they know the law and they are also responsible for their clients. For example, if the client agrees for him to say it, he can say it,” Mr. Sam Oeun said, adding that he has never heard of such a rule in other democratic countries.

“If the Bar is concerned that maybe some lawyers do not know how to deal with this, I think it is better for the Bar to train lawyers to deal with journalists,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Dene-Hern Chen)

Bombing of Cambodia Cited to Defend US Drone Strikes

By - February 10, 2013

A U.S. Justice Department document that says America can le­gally order the killing of its citizens if they are believed to be al-Qaida leaders uses the devastating and illegal bombing of Cam­bo­dia in the 1960s and ’70s to help make its case. 

American broadcaster NBC News first reported on the “white pa­per”—a summary of classified mem­os by the U.S. Justice Depart­ment’s Of­fice of Legal Council—on Monday.
The 16-page paper makes a legal case for the U.S. government’s highly controversial use of un­manned drones to kill suspected terrorists, including some U.S. citizens. In making its argument, the docu­ment brings up the U.S.’ bombing of Cam­bodia—which claimed thousands of innocent lives in the pursuit of North Vietnamese forces—to ar­gue for the right to go after its enemies in neutral countries.

“The Department has not found any authority for the proposition that when one of the parties to an armed conflict plans and executes operations from a base in a new na­tion, an operation to engage the enemy in that location cannot be part of the original armed conflict,” the paper reads. “That does not appear to be the rule of the historical practice, for instance, even in a traditional international conflict.”

To help make its case, the Jus­tice Depart­ment cites an address then-U.S. State Depart­ment legal adviser John Stevenson delivered to the New York Bar Association in 1970 regarding the U.S.’ ongoing military activity in Cambodia.

Mr. Stevenson, the white paper summarizes, argued “that in an international armed conflict, if a neutral state has been unable for any reason to prevent violations of its neutrality by the troops of one belligerent using its territory as a base of operations, the other belligerent has historically been justified in attacking those enemy forces in that state.”

In other words, Mr. Stevenson, speaking on the U.S. bombing of Cambodia, said history gave the U.S. the right to bomb a country that could not keep the U.S.’ enemies out.
The Justice Department is now us­ing that argument to help make its case for killing suspected al-Qaida leaders of U.S. citizenship abroad.
The U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh declined to comment.

Beginning in 1965, the U.S. bombed North Vietnamese forces taking refuge in eastern Cambodia for years without congressional approval. By the time Congress put an end to the bombings in 1973, more than 230,000 sorties over the country had dropped some 2.75 million tons of ordnance on more than 113,000 sites, many of them inaccurate. Casualty estimates of that time range from 5,000 Cambo­dians to half a million, while bombs that failed to explode on impact continue to kill unwitting farmers and children today.

Some historians have also credited the U.S. bombing for driving large numbers of rural Cambo­dians into the arms of then-insurgent Khmer Rouge, whose brutal regime went on to claim another 1.7 million lives.

Council of Ministers spokes­man Phay Siphan main­tained the government’s position that the U.S. bombing of Cambo­dia was illegal.

“If you kill someone in another country, it’s illegal, unless you have their [the country’s] permission, that’s my opinion,” said Mr. Siphan.

But the U.S. military’s overwhelming force left Cambodia helpless to do anything about it, he added.
“They could do anything they like, legal or illegal; it is their interest,” Mr. Siphan said. “We [had] no ability to keep North Vietnamese out from the country because we were weak.”
He regretted the Justice De­part­ment’s decision to use the experience in its defense of U.S. drone strikes.

“I feel sorry that they use that argument,” he said.
Historian and Cambodia expert David Chandler questioned the Justice Department’s choice of years in the U.S.’ yearslong bomb­ing campaign.

“Interesting that the 1970 bombing approved by [the late king and then-head of state Norodom] Si­hanouk, and therefore perhaps ‘legal,’ are cited now rather than the hugely destructive 1973 bombings ceased by Congress, which were directed not against Vietnamese but against the Khmer Rouge with whom the U.S. was not at war,” he said by email.

“The point about the 1973 bombings is that they were what a U.S. gen­eral called the only war in town, as bombings of Vietnam had stopped following the agreement be­tween the U.S. and Vietnam,” he said. “They were horrible and inexcusable, or excusable only in the sense that they postponed the [Khmer Rouge] victory by at least a year.”

The Khmer Rouge finally overran the U.S.-backed Lon Nol re­gime in 1975.
Historian Ben Kiernan and others have partly blamed U.S. bomb­ings for what followed.
“Civilian casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had en­joyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in motion the expansion of the Viet­nam War deeper into Cambo­dia, a coup d’etat in 1970, the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian genocide,” he wrote in a 2006 article for Toronto-based The Walrus magazine.

At his confirmation hearing for Sec­retary of State last month, John Kerry reconfirmed his opinion that the U.S.’ bombing of Cam­bodia was illegal.
Cambodia has also brought up the bombing in lobbying the U.S. to forgive $274 million in debt—since grown to $445 million with interest—wracked up by the Lon Nol regime, but yet to no avail.

Soon after NBC News released the white paper citing the bombing of Cambodia, the White House re­versed course by announcing that it would brief members of Con­gress on the classified memos.

Senator’s Wife Showers Police With New Year Cash

 By and - February 12, 2013

At 9 a.m. on Sunday, more than 200 soldiers, police and military police officers were gathered outside a large mansion on Street 55 in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district. By 10 a.m., their numbers had swelled to about a thousand, now including members of the national bodyguard unit, turning the street into a sea of government uniforms. 

Hundreds of police, military police and RCAF soldiers on Sunday wait outside the Phnom Penh mansion of Choeung Sopheap, the owner of Pheapimex company and wife of CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin, to receive envelopes of money for the Chinese New Year. (Ben Woods/The Cambodia Daily)
Hundreds of police, military police and RCAF soldiers on Sunday wait outside the Phnom Penh mansion of Choeung Sopheap, the owner of Pheapimex company and wife of CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin, to receive envelopes of money for the Chinese New Year. (Ben Woods/The Cambodia Daily)

All were waiting for their prom­ised “ang pao”—red enve­lopes containing cash usually handed out during Chinese New Year—from Choeung Sopheap, the powerful owner of controversial land development firm Pheapimex and the wife of CPP Senator Lao Meng Khin.

Pheapimex holds a number of economic land concessions around the country, most notably a 316,000-hectare site in Pursat province’s Krakor district where villagers have staged several protests alleging that their land was illegally cleared. Armed military police officers have been deployed to guard the concession.

Ms. Sopheap’s husband, Mr. Meng Khin, is also the owner of Shukaku Inc., which has used armed government security forc­es against protesters at its real estate project in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Kak neighborhood.

Rights groups have long ac­cused government security forc­es, especially the Royal Cambo­dian Armed Forces, of protecting the private land concessions of well-connected families in a clear conflict of interest.

But the grateful officers clogging the streets around the house of “Yeay Phou,” or Grandma Phou, on Sunday—picking up between 30,000 riel ($7.50) and 50,000 riel ($12.50) each—readily admitted to the special relationship.

“We help her when problems arise, not only in Phnom Penh but also in the provinces,” military police officer Sieng Radin said while waiting outside the gates. “She loves the armed forc­es because she knows we protect her and she is a high-ranking official. She may be a business wom­an, but she also works with the Cambodian Red Cross.”

“And it’s not only the Gen­dar­mer­ie [national military police], it’s also other joint forces that help her with strikes, and if the strikes affect her projects, like Boeng Kak,” Mr. Radin added.
Chan Dora, a military police officer who said his unit worked directly for the family, attributed Ms. Sopheap’s generosity to her gratitude for their services.

“I’m part of the unit that protects her family, so she gives us ang paos to thank us. I really appreciate it,” Mr. Dora said. “We are military forces and we are also assistants to her. We always help with whatever she needs help with.”

More than 5,000 ang paos were finally handed out, said Lao Van, Mr. Meng Khin’s son, though he did not know how much money it all added up to.

“This is our kindness, to distribute the ang paos to the armed forces because they work very hard. All of them, like the traffic police and other police, they not only work for my family but also for everyone’s families,” Mr. Van said, adding that his family had been making the annual mass donations for nearly a decade.

Chea Vannath, an independent political analyst, said this practice of private business owners providing money to state employees would inevitably raise questions.
“What you see now is the re­sult of the [informal] policy for the higher-ranking [officials],” she said. “So if there is any change, there needs to be a policy from the top that the military and the police have to be independent and not have…financial transaction whatsoever from the business or private sectors.”

Council of Ministers spokes­man Phay Siphan said the country’s armed forces exist for the benefit of the public, not private enterprises, adding that he could not comment on whether Ms. So­pheap’s tradition of giving the armed forc­es ang paos was appropriate.
“It’s hard for me to say if it’s proper or not proper because we don’t have any such law or regulations on what we call a conflict of interest,” he said.

Either way, Lon Saran, a military police officer who has re­ceived the ang paos five years in a row, summed up the deal with Khmer proverb.

“Mean tou mean mork,” Mr. Saran said, meaning roughly that when one provides a gift to another, help will come to the benefactor.


មេធាវី​មួយ​ចំនួន​មាន​ប្រតិកម្ម​តប​ចំពោះ​ការ​ទាមទារ​ឲ្យ​អនុវត្ត​ តាម​មាត្រា ១៥ របស់​ក្រម​សីលធម៌​មេធាវី ដែល​និយាយ​អំពី​ចំណុច​អន្តរាគមន៍​តាម​ប្រព័ន្ធ​ផ្សព្វផ្សាយ​ជា​សាធារណៈ​នៃ​ មេធាវី។

ខ្លឹមសារ​សំខាន់​នៃ​ក្រម​សីលធម៌​នោះ គឺ​មិន​បាន​ហាម​មេធាវី​ក្នុង​ការ​និយាយ​ជាមួយ​ប្រព័ន្ធ​ឃោសនា មាន​វិទ្យុ កាសែត ទូរទស្សន៍ ទេ តែ​ត្រូវ​ជូន​ដំណឹង​ដល់​ប្រធាន​គណៈ​មេធាវី​ជា​មុន កាល​ណា​និយាយ​ជាមួយ​ប្រព័ន្ធ​ឃោសនា។

ការ​រឹតត្បិត​សេរីភាព​មេធាវី​ក្នុង​ការ​ធ្វើ​បទ​អន្តរាគមន៍ និយាយ​សម្ភាសន៍​ជាមួយ​ប្រព័ន្ធ​ផ្សព្វផ្សាយ គឺ​ជា​ការ​ខាត​បង់​មួយ​នៅ​ក្នុង​ពេល​ដែល​ប្រទេស​កម្ពុជា មិន​សូវ​មាន​អ្នក​ចេះ​ដឹង​ច្បាប់ និង​សៀវភៅ​ឯកសារ​ផ្សព្វផ្សាយ​ច្បាប់​នៅ​មាន​ចំនួន​តិច មិន​បាន​ចែក​ទូលំ​ទូលាយ​ទៅ​ដល់​ជនបទ​ដាច់​ស្រយាល។

មេធាវី​មួយ​ចំនួន​បាន​ឲ្យ​ដឹង​ថា មេធាវី​គឺ​ជា​អ្នក​ចេះ​ច្បាប់ និង​រស់​នៅ​រក​ស៊ី​ដោយ​ប្រើ​សមត្ថភាព​ចំណេះ​ដឹង​ខាង​ច្បាប់។ ដូច្នេះ​បើ​មេធាវី​រូប​ណា​និយាយ​ខុស គឺ​រូប​គេ​ជា​អ្នក​ទទួល​ខុស​ត្រូវ​តាម​ផ្លូវ​ច្បាប់​ដែល​កំពុង​អនុវត្ត​នៅ​ ក្នុង​ប្រទេស។

ការ​ទាមទារ​ឲ្យ​ប្រធាន​ស្ថាប័ន​ឃោសនា​នានា ត្រូវ​សុំ​ទៅ​គណៈ​មេធាវី​មុន​ពេល​អញ្ជើញ​មេធាវី​មក​ជា​វាគ្មិន វា​ជា​របៀប​របប​រដ្ឋបាល​បែប​ការិយាល័យ​និយម​ផង​ដែរ។

លោក​មេធាវី សុក សំអឿន នាយក​អង្គការ​ក្រុម​អ្នក​ច្បាប់​ការពារ​សិទ្ធិ​កម្ពុជា មាន​ប្រសាសន៍​នៅ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​១១ កុម្ភៈ ថា មាត្រា ១៥ នៃ​ក្រម​សីលធម៌​មេធាវី​នេះ​មាន​ជា​យូរ​មក​ហើយ តែ​ប្រធាន​គណៈ​មេធាវី​មុនៗ មិន​បាន​លើក​យក​ចំណុច​នេះ​មក​អនុវត្ត​ទេ ទើប​តែ​ជំនាន់​លោក ប៊ុន ហុន ឡើង​ធ្វើ​ជា​ប្រធាន​គណៈ​មេធាវី បាន​ទាមទារ​ឲ្យ​អនុវត្ត​ចំណុច​នេះ។

លោក​មេធាវី សុក សំអឿន៖ «ប្រហែល​ជា​លោក​ប្រធាន​ទាំង​អស់​នោះ លោក​គិត​ថា ការ​អនុវត្ត​វា​ពិបាក​ធ្វើ។ ដូច្នេះ​ហើយ​ពួក​គាត់​អត់​បាន​មាត្រា​នោះ​មក​អនុវត្ត ហើយ​មួយ​ទៀត វា​មិន​មែន​ជា​ច្បាប់​ទេ ហើយ​ក្រម​សីលធម៌​នេះ​វា​អនុម័ត​ដោយ​ក្រុម​ប្រឹក្សា​គណៈ​មេធាវី​តែ​ប៉ុណ្ណោះ។ ដូច្នេះ​គណៈ​មេធាវី​អាណត្តិ​ក្រោយៗ អាច​លើក​យក​ពិនិត្យ និង​កែ​វា​បាន»

លោក​មេធាវី សុក សំអឿន មាន​ប្រសាសន៍​បន្ថែម​ថា ក្រម​សីលធម៌​មេធាវី​នេះ​រៀប​ចំ​តាក់តែង​ឡើង​កាល​ពី​ឆ្នាំ​១៩៩៥ តាំង​ពី​ចំនួន​មេធាវី​មាន​ប្រមាណ ៧០​នាក់​ប៉ុណ្ណោះ។ ដូច្នេះ​ការ​សុំ​ជួប​មេធាវី​ឆ្លង​កាត់​គណៈ​មេធាវី វា​ជា​ការងារ​តិចតួច​មួយ តែ​បច្ចុប្បន្ន​ចំនួន​មេធាវី​មាន​ចំនួន​ច្រើន​ជាង ៨០០​នាក់​ទៅ​ហើយ បើ​គេ​ចង់​អនុវត្ត​ក្រម​សីលធម៌​នេះ​ឲ្យ​បាន​ត្រឹមត្រូវ គេ​គួរ​ពិនិត្យ និង​កែប្រែ​ក្រម​នោះ​ឲ្យ​ទាន់​សម័យ​តាម​ស្ថានភាព​រីក​ចំរើន​ជាក់​ស្ដែង។

លោក​មេធាវី សុក សំអឿន៖ «និយាយ​ទៅ កាល​នោះ​មាន​លោក សាយ បូរី ជា​ប្រធាន ហើយ​នៅ​ពេល​នោះ គណៈ​មេធាវី​ទើប​បង្កើត​ថ្មី។ អ៊ីចឹង​ប្រធាន​គណៈ​មេធាវី​លោក​បារម្ភ​ថា មេធាវី​ចេញ​ថ្មី​និយាយ​ខុស»

លោក​មេធាវី សុក សំអឿន មាន​ប្រសាសន៍​ថា បើ​សិន​ជា​មាន​ការ​តឹងតែង​លើ​ការ​អនុញ្ញាត​ឲ្យ​មេធាវី​សម្ភាសន៍ និង​និយាយ​អំពី​រឿង​ច្បាប់​តាម​ប្រព័ន្ធ​ឃោសនា​នោះ វា​ជា​ការ​ខាត​បង់​ធនធាន​មនុស្ស​មួយ​ធំ​ណាស់ ក្នុង​ការ​ចូល​រួម​អប់រំ​ច្បាប់​ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋ​នៅ​ក្នុង​ស្ថានភាព​ដែល​ប្រទេស​ កម្ពុជា នៅ​មាន​ចំនួន​អ្នក​ចេះ​ច្បាប់​តិច​តួច​នៅ​ឡើយ​នោះ។

លោក សុក សំអឿន៖ «មិន​បាន​ចូល​រួម​តែម្ដង គឺ​បាន​ធ្វើ​តែ​រឿង​ក្ដី​នៅ​តុលាការ​តែ​មួយ​មុខ។ តែ​នេះ​វា​ជា​ក្រម​សីលធម៌ វា​អាស្រ័យ​ទៅ​លើ​គណៈ​មេធាវី​តែប៉ុណ្ណោះ។ ធម្មតា​វា​គ្រាន់​តែ​ជា​ក្រម​សីលធម៌​តែប៉ុណ្ណោះ»

ចំណែក​លោក​មេធាវី ជូង ជូងី មេធាវី​ការិយាល័យ​សិលា មាន​ប្រសាសន៍​ថា បើ​ចង់​និយាយ​ជាមួយ​ប្រព័ន្ធ​ឃោសនា ដូចជា កាសែត វិទ្យុ ទូរទស្សន៍ ទាល់​តែ​សុំ​ការ​អនុញ្ញាត​ពី​គណៈ​មេធាវី​នោះ វា​ធ្វើ​ឲ្យ​ការងារ​ផ្សព្វផ្សាយ​ច្បាប់​ជា​សាធារណៈ លែង​ទូលំទូលាយ​ហើយ។

លោក​មេធាវី ជូង ជូងី មាន​យោបល់​ថា ការ​រឹតត្បិត​លើ​មេធាវី​ក្នុង​ការ​និយាយ​ស្តី​ជាមួយ​អ្នក​កាសែត​នោះ វា​មិន​បាន​ចូល​រួម​ពង្រឹង​ការងារ​ធ្វើ​ឲ្យ​តុលាការ​មាន​យុត្តិធម៌​នោះ​ឡើយ ពីព្រោះ​អ្នក​សម្រេច​ដាក់​ទោស ឬ​លើក​លែង​ទោស​នោះ គឺ​ចៅក្រម និង​ព្រះរាជអាជ្ញា​ទៅ​វិញ​ទេ​ដែល​មាន​សិទ្ធិ​មាន​ឆន្ទានុសិទ្ធិ​ក្នុង​ការ​ សម្រេច។ ម៉្យាង​ទៀត មេធាវី​មួយ​រូបៗ សុទ្ធតែ​ជា​អ្នក​ចេះ​ដឹង​ច្បាប់​ច្រើន​ជាង​ពលរដ្ឋ​ផ្សេង​ទៀត បើ​កាល​ណា​និយាយ​មិន​ត្រឹម​ត្រូវ​ខុស​ច្បាប់ គណៈ​មេធាវី​អាច​កោះ​ហៅ​មក​ព្រមាន ស្តី​បន្ទោស និង​បើ​ទោស​កើត​ឡើង​ពី​ការ​និយាយ​នោះ វា​រំលោភ​ច្បាប់​ធ្ងន់ធ្ងរ ទុក​ឲ្យ​ច្បាប់​កាត់​ទោស​ទៅ។

លោក​មេធាវី ជូង ជូងី មាន​យោបល់​ថា ដោយសារ​រូប​លោក​ជា​សមាជិក​ក្រុមប្រឹក្សា​គណៈ​មេធាវី​ផង​នោះ លោក​មាន​គម្រោង​សុំ​ឲ្យ​លុប​ចោល​មាត្រា ១៥ នៃ​ក្រមសីលធម៌​របស់​គណៈ​មេធាវី​នោះ​ចេញ ដើម្បី​ឲ្យ​សមាជិក​គណៈ​មេធាវី​មាន​សេរីភាព​ពេញ​លេញ​ក្នុង​ការ​បញ្ចេញ​មតិ ស្រប​ទៅ​តាម​ការ​អនុញ្ញាត​របស់​រដ្ឋធម្មនុញ្ញ​កម្ពុជា។៖ «ប៉ុន្តែ​ក្នុង​ ការ​អនុវត្ត វា​អាស្រ័យ​ទៅ​លើ​ភាព​ធ្ងន់​ស្រាល​នៃ​អំពើ​តែប៉ុណ្ណោះ ហើយ​បើ​ស្អី​បន្តិច​ក៏​ជូន​ដំណឹង​ដែរ​នោះ​វា​ធ្វើ​ឲ្យ​អកម្ម»

មាត្រា ១៥ នៃ​ក្រម​សីលធម៌​គណៈ​មេធាវី​ចែង​អំពី​អន្តរាគមន៍​តាម​ប្រព័ន្ធ​ផ្សព្វផ្សាយ​ ព័ត៌មាន​ជា​សាធារណៈ​នៃ​មេធាវី។ គ្រប់​អន្តរាគមន៍​សាធារណៈ ឬ​តាម​ប្រព័ន្ធ​ផ្សាយ​ព័ត៌មាន​ជា​សាធារណៈ​របស់​មេធាវី​ក្នុង​ឋានៈ​ខ្លួន​ជា​ មេធាវី និង​អាច​អនុញ្ញាត​ឲ្យ​ធ្វើ​បាន​តែ​ក្នុង​ក្របខ័ណ្ឌ​នៃ​ការ​គោរព​ដោយ​ ម៉ឺងម៉ាត់​នូវ​កាតព្វកិច្ច​នៃ​វិជ្ជាជីវៈ។ អន្តរាគមន៍​បែប​នេះ ទាមទារ​ឲ្យ​មាន​ការ​ប្រុង​ប្រយ័ត្ន​ជា​ទី​បំផុត។ ប្រធាន​គណៈ​មេធាវី​ត្រូវ​តែ​បាន​ទទួល​ដំណឹង​ពិគ្រោះ​យោបល់​ជា​មុន​ក្នុង​រឿង ​នេះ លើក​លែង​តែ​ពុំ​មាន​លទ្ធភាព។

កាល​ពី​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​៨ កុម្ភៈ រដ្ឋមន្ត្រី​ក្រសួង​ព័ត៌មាន លោក ខៀវ កាញារីទ្ធ បាន​ផ្សព្វផ្សាយ​សេចក្តី​ជូន​ដំណឹង​មួយ​ដល់​អ្នក​កាសែត ជាពិសេស​នាយក​ស្ថានីយ​វិទ្យុ ទូរទស្សន៍ ដែល​មាន​កម្មវិធី​ផ្សព្វផ្សាយ​ច្បាប់ និង​បក​ស្រាយ​ច្បាប់ ឲ្យ​ដាក់​ពាក្យ​អញ្ជើញ​អ្នក​ច្បាប់ មេធាវី ដើម្បី​ធ្វើ​ជា​វាគ្មិន ត្រូវ​ឆ្លង​កាត់​ការ​សុំ​អញ្ជើញ​នោះ តាម​គណៈ​មេធាវី។ ការ​ផ្សព្វផ្សាយ​នេះ ធ្វើ​ឡើង​ក្រោយ​ពេល​គណៈ​មេធាវី​បាន​ធ្វើ​លិខិត​ណែនាំ​មួយ​ទាក់ទង​រឿង​ សម្ភាសន៍​មេធាវី​នេះ កាល​ពី​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​២២ មករា។

លោក យឹម សារី ជា​មេធាវី និង​ជា​អ្នក​នាំ​ពាក្យ​គណៈ​មេធាវី​កម្ពុជា មាន​ប្រសាសន៍​នៅ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​១១ កុម្ភៈ ថា ការ​ណែនាំ​ឲ្យ​ពង្រឹង​វិន័យ​មេធាវី​ក្នុង​ការ​និយាយ​ជាមួយ​ប្រព័ន្ធ​ ផ្សព្វផ្សាយ​នេះ ដើម្បី​ឲ្យ​ការ​បកស្រាយ​បំភ្លឺ​ច្បាប់​នានា បាន​ត្រឹមត្រូវ។

លោក យឹម សារី៖ «ដោយសារ​មេធាវី​ដែល​និយាយ​តាម​វិទ្យុ និង​ទូរទស្សន៍​មួយ​ចំនួន​នេះ គឺ​និយាយ​អត់​បាន​ព្រាង​ទុក។ អ៊ីចឹង​កាល​ណា​និយាយ​អត់​បាន​ព្រាង​ទុក គឺ​វា​មាន​ផល​វិបាក​ទៅ​ដល់​អ្នក​ស្ដាប់ អ្នក​មើល។ ទី​២ វា​ប៉ះពាល់​ទៅ​ដល់​អ្នក​ច្បាប់ ដែល​គេ​ដឹង​ដែរ ហើយ​គេ​ថា ការ​បក​ស្រាយ​ច្បាប់​នេះ​មិន​ត្រឹមត្រូវ។ ទី​៣ វិទ្យុ ទូរទស្សន៍ ហៅ ដោយ​អត់​បាន​ព្រាង​ទុក។ ការ​អត់​បាន​ព្រាង​ទុក​នេះ ធ្វើ​ឲ្យ​ប្រជាពលរដ្ឋ​មួយ​ចំនួន​យល់​ថា យើង​ដឹង​យើង​ផ្ដល់​ព័ត៌មាន​អត់​បាន​ត្រឹមត្រូវ»

លោក​មេធាវី យឹម សារី បាន​ច្រាន​ចោល​ចំពោះ​អ្នក​ខ្លះ​ចោទ​ប្រកាន់​ថា ការ​សុំ​ជួប​មេធាវី​តាម​រយៈ​គណៈ​មេធាវី វា​ជា​បែប​បទ​ការិយាធិបតេយ្យ ថា​ជា​ការ​យល់​ខុស។

លោក​មេធាវី យឹម សារី ជា​អ្នក​នាំ​ពាក្យ​គណៈ​មេធាវី​បាន​ឲ្យ​ដឹង​ថា បើ​សិន​ជា​មេធាវី​រូប​ណា​មិន​គោរព​តាម​ការ​ណែនាំ​របស់​គណៈ​មេធាវី អ្នក​នោះ​ត្រូវ​ប្រឈម​ជាមួយ​ការ​ដាក់​វិន័យ​ជា​មិន​ខាន។
កាល​ពី​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​៣១ មករា កន្លង​ទៅ គណៈ​មេធាវី​បាន​ចេញ​ផ្សាយ​លិខិត​ព្រមាន​មួយ​ច្បាប់​ទៅ​លើ​លោក​មេធាវី គួយ ធុនណា ចំពោះ​សកម្មភាព​ផ្ដល់​បទសម្ភាសន៍ និង​ចុះ​ផ្សាយ​ព័ត៌មាន​ផ្សេងៗ នៅ​តាម​ទំព័រ​សារព័ត៌មាន ដែល​បាន​រំលោភ​លើ​មាត្រា ១៥ នៃ​ក្រមសីលធម៌​មេធាវី។

លិខិត​ដែល​ចុះ​ហត្ថលេខា​ដោយ​លោក ប៊ុន ហុន ប្រធាន​គណៈ​មេធាវី បាន​សង្កត់​ធ្ងន់​ថា ចាប់​ពី​ពេល​នេះ​ទៅ លោក​មេធាវី​មិន​ត្រូវ​ផ្ដល់​បទសម្ភាសន៍ និង​ចុះ​ផ្សាយ​ព័ត៌មាន​ផ្សេងៗ​ពាក់ព័ន្ធ​នឹង​វិជ្ជាជីវៈ​មេធាវី​នៅ​តាម​ បណ្ដាញ​សារព័ត៌មាន​នានា ដោយ​គ្មាន​ការ​អនុញ្ញាត​ពី​គណៈ​មេធាវី​ឡើយ។

គណៈ ​មេធាវី​គឺ​ជា​ស្ថាប័ន​គ្រប់គ្រង​អ្នក​ប្រកប​វិជ្ជាជីវៈ​មេធាវី​នៅ​ប្រទេស​ កម្ពុជា។ មេធាវី​ដែល​អាច​បំពេញ​មុខ​ងារ​ក្នុង​ការ​ងារ​ការពារ​កូន​ក្ដី​ស្រប​ច្បាប់​ បាន ទាល់តែ​ជា​សមាជិក​គណៈ​មេធាវី៕


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Cambodia: Last days of a valley damned

130208 01b
Yong Yim’s voice rises to a high-pitched quiver when she talks about a planned dam in the Areng Valley that would inundate land her family has inhabited for hundreds of years to form what amounts to a giant battery.
“Sometimes I am crying, because I will miss my homeland and my ancestors’ farmland,” she says, spitting out chunks of betel nut.
The trees and shrubs that flourish in this haven between peaks of the Cardamom Mountains now bear an ominous token: red demarcation ribbons posted by Chinese engineers a few weeks ago.
Yim, 65, was born here among a cluster of villages populated by 380 families. Most say they are Chong and Phor ethnic minorities, who fall under the umbrella identity of the Khmer Daeum — literally “original Khmers”.
The Khmer Daeum are so isolated they still speak a dialect believed to have derived from ancient Khmer that has been preserved since their ancestors fled from Thai invaders to the isolated Cardamoms hundreds of years ago.
Now they are staring at forced relocation again, their ancestral homelands all but doomed to become yet another area on the fringes of the Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF) to be devastated by the effects of hydropower dams. To date, there are three dam projects, some with multiple stations, under way on the boundaries of the CCPF.
Lee, an engineer working on one of those projects, the Stung Tatai, told the Post late last month plans to begin construction of the bitterly op­posed Cheay Areng dam were moving ahead rapidly.
“I spoke with the project leader of the Cheay Areng dam recently, and he said that next month [February] representatives from the company will meet with the Cambodian government to discuss the project,” Lee, who spoke on the condition his full name would not be printed, said.
“If all goes well, construction could start as soon as July.”
Lee said a feasibility study for the once-abandoned Cheay Areng dam had recently been completed by China Guodian Corporation, the huge, state-owned firm that took over the project after China Southern Power Grid pulled out of the project in 2010.
The details of that study, Lee said, were scarce, and he had not investigated too much because matters here with the government could be “complicated”.
Repeated requests for comment from China Guodian Corporation went unanswered and the company hung up on reporters when reached by phone.
Previous studies conducted for the firm China Southern Power Grid, which dumped the project because they deemed it unfeasible, suggest that a 109-megawatt dam would be fed by a 20,000-hectare reservoir.
Roughly 10,000 hectares of this reservoir would cover forest directly within the CCPF, the largest single encroachment to date on what is one of Cambodia’s last remaining well-protected conservation zones. The remaining 10,000 hectares of the reservoir would inundate the forest homelands of the Khmer Daeum.
But despite the massive impact, the energy output would be strikingly small.
Tracey Farrell, senior technical director for Conservation International-Cambodia, which supports conservation programs in the CCPF, said in an email that a previous environmental impact assessment had found that the dam “failed to meet the minimum power density ratio of more than 100 watts/m2 of surface area of the reservoir”.
This has led conservation groups to question why the government would allow the destruction of such precious remaining forest for a dam that the latest publicly available information suggests will not really work. There has been no answer.
Using satellite imagery analysis, Conservation International has found that only about two per cent of the 402,000-hectare CCPF lost vegetation between 2006 and 2012.
But with each new dam project – the Stung Atai, Stung Tatai and Stung Russey Chrum – comes a wave of opportunistic migrant loggers commissioned by powerful syndicates, as well as violence and corruption.
A land unparalleled
The loss of the Areng Valley would be particularly devastating. In its upper reaches, the 150-kilometre Areng River resembles that of a large low-land river despite being far from the ocean. The unique morphology likely explains why it boasts an extraordinary diversity of species, most of which are endangered.
Populations of clouded leopards, Asian elephants, Siamese crocodiles, dragon fish, Asiatic black bears and a raft of other reptiles, birds, fish and mammals thrive here.
Rare fish species flourish in the valley’s oxbow lakes – U-shaped stretches of water that have become detached from the river.
In his own visits to the Areng, the Chinese engineer Lee has borne witness to the rich diversity of wildlife that feed off of and seek shelter in the valley’s thriving flora.
“I’ve seen crocodiles, elephants and other animals in the area, but if you want to build a dam, you have to cut the trees down. Then the animals that live there will move away. It’s unavoidable,” he said.
The elephant population in particular is so robust that toward the end of every annual harvest, petrified migrant villagers find themselves with little choice but to shoot off fireworks at hungry elephants to save their crops from the marauding herds.
Just days before Post reporters arrived, almost three weeks ago, the elephants had been on a fresh gastronomic offensive, indulging on bananas, peanuts – anything ready for harvest.
The nearly 1,000 people who will be forcibly relocated if the dam is built have been offered six-by-eight-metre houses with zinc roofs on two-hectare plots of land smack dab in the middle of what conservationists loosely term an “elephant corridor”.
But that’s not their only concern with the relocation site.
Prom Rin, 43, believes he will be relocated to land that is just 100 metres from where the dam would discharge. He fears disaster would ensue if something went wrong with construction.
Thma Daun Pov commune is just one of many relocation sites that have been floated; and though no official word has been issued, villagers are convinced this is the likely option.
“I am worried that we will lose everything,” says Rin.
His fears are not unfounded. In December, an outlet pipe burst at the Stung Atai dam, which, like Areng, discharges just outside the perimeter of the CCPF.
The torrent that was unleashed swept away at least three men, possibly four, who are now presumed dead.
Of greatest importance to those facing forced eviction is that they will lose lands that are home to ancestral spirits and which they have harmoniously cultivated for generations. Some villagers are desperately suggesting eco-tourism could instead be developed as an alternative to the dam, drawing in tourists to experience the wonderful diversity of species in the area.
But no one is helping them to develop this foreign, relatively complex industry, and there is one rare species in Areng that actually threatens to entice the destruction of the forest rather than its protection – luxury rosewood.
If the experience of other dam projects on the boundaries of the CCPF is anything to go by, the peoples of the Areng Valley can expect huge social and environmental problems related to the clandestine trade in luxury timber that is likely to stretch far beyond the boundaries of the dam and its reservoir.
Lessons of the past
About 16 kilometres away in the town of Thma Bang, military police and soldiers infest the streets, patrolling the area like a small, privately owned fiefdom.
They are known to use intimidation and violence against anyone potentially jeopardising the interests of the corrupt businessmen and officials profiting from the illegal rosewood trade in nearby Tatai Leu commune – for whom they routinely moonlight. Repeatedly, this intimidation has been directed at reporters from the Post, who have been detained, threatened and forced to flee from military police.
In Areng, rosewood is still so abundant that on one farm the Post visited, the owner had simply tossed highly valuable small pieces of timber to the ground, only bothering to collect the more lucrative larger logs.
Tatai Leu was once home to abundant rosewood stocks, but in late 2011, after the Stung Tatai dam was approved in January of the same year, a wave of migrants arrived and began selectively logging the trees to sell on to powerful syndicates.
Today, the migrants collect only stumps left over from the more profitable days, and even these are becoming scare.
With a less reliable income stream from illegal logging, migrants are now seeking to clear land for farming so they can support their families.
Though rosewood can fetch more than a million dollars as finished pieces of luxury furniture sold in China, those who do the hard work of logging make just a few dollars per log.
There is no separating logging from land grabbing – the two issues are linked in a chain that starts with the selective logging of luxury timber (often, in the case of the CCPF, after a company is legally granted the right to clear a dam reservoir). It ends with migrants who are enticed to the area as manual labour vying with companies and powerful individuals to clear fell the remaining trees − the former seeking a livelihood, the latter seeking huge profits from large-scale agriculture.
The worst example is in Pursat’s O’Som commune in the northern CCPF, where vast tracks of once-pristine land are left looking like a bombsite after tycoon Try Pheap’s MDS Import & Export came in to clear the reservoir for the Stung Atai dam in 2009.
So it is becoming the case in Tatai Leu, where large tracts of clear-felled land lay still smouldering on either side of the road that intersects this once untouched stretch of evergreen forest three weeks ago.
Villagers told the Post they were clear felling the forest because Prime Minister Hun Sen’s volunteer land surveyors have been deployed directly inside the CCPF, and they need to prove they are cultivating the land to have any hope of receiving a title.
But the opportunistic logging rush extends to higher officials, and to have any hope of receiving a title, you have to be connected, they said.
Kim Ra, 36, and his family moved to Tatai Leu commune about  six months ago, after they heard about the national land-titling scheme.
“I think if the student did not measure the land for me, that’s fine. But I’ll still live here,” he told the Post.
Like all the villagers the Post spoke to in Tatai Leu, Ra said that the commune chief and district chief had been seeking to secure much larger plots of land under the national land-titling scheme, including one hill that has now been almost completely deforested on one side.
When contacted by the Post, Meas Chan, chief of Tatai Leu commune, refused to comment, saying only that he did not know about such rumours and had no involvement, while Tou Savuth, governor of Thma Bang district, could not be reached.
The issue of migrants clearing land in the CCPF to claim titles was “particularly problematic”, wrote Conservation International-Cambodia’s Tracy Farrell.
“Any land clearing that is taking place, whether it is inside or outside the CCPF in the buffer zone, is a major threat to biodiversity and the ecosystems that provide essential services that people depend upon,” she wrote.
As a result of this threat, documentation on eight cases of illegal land-clearing since 2012 involving 60 hectares of cleared forest were being investigated by the provincial court, Farrell wrote. In at least one case, a primary suspect had been named by the court.
Nevertheless, there is clearly friction between different government authorities and officials over whether or not to crack down on the illegal logging.
Even a military police officer in Tatai Leu, who declined to give his name, was clearly frustrated by what he said was clear-felling backed by corrupt local officials.
“If I was a volunteer student, I would not measure land for them, and I would file a complaint against those people to the court because they cut trees,” he said, going on to allege that senior local government officials were buying the land up off them.
Koh Kong provincial forestry administration chief Oum Makary acknowledged that illegal clearing had taken place inside the CCPF but said all he could do was send his report to the provincial governor and high-level officials.
“I have no duty to do [pursue] it besides [filing] the report,” he said.
A three-star general who tried to take action to stop the illegal logging had recently been fired, he said.
Just under two weeks ago, a large government entourage, including the prime minister and his entire politburo, took a trip to isolated Thma Bang town, arriving in a convoy of black SUVs.
As the premier lauded the final chapter in his national land-titling scheme, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Chan Sarun drove on to Tatai Leu, straight past the clear-felled smouldering tracks of what was meant to be a protected forest.
If Sarun was shocked by the destruction he witnessed on either side of the road, he uttered not a word publicly.