Monthly Archives: July 2010
Rountable Discussion about “The Destiny of the Cambodian Women’s Movement”
A discussion about the destiny of The Cambodian Women’s Movement, which is an association established immediately after the criminal charges upheld against Member of Parliament H.E. Ms. Mu Sochua, was held at Baitong Restaurant this morning in the presence of Ms. Mu Sochua, sex workers, garment workers, Motor-taxi driver, students, teachers, and journalists from some media organizations.
Some quotations & interesting points from the meeting:
Agriculture contributed around a third of Cambodia’s national GDP in 2009, according to Council for the Development of Cambodia statistics. But to maximise the fruits of this sector, the Kingdom’s government is working on commercialising agriculture to increase national income and create more jobs for Cambodians.
San Vanty, undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said while Cambodia exports many agricultural products, rice is the highest priority. It has been acknowledged by many, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, as Cambodia’s “white gold.”
Before 2007, Cambodia exported unprocessed paddy rice to Thailand and Vietnam for processing, following which those countries exported the finished product overseas. According to San Vanty, this is all changing with the entry of processing machine into the Kingdom. Now Cambodia can export milled rice overseas. Recent deals discussed in June with the Philippines to export 200,000 tonnes of rice and orders worth nearly US$1 million with four European nations later this month are showing the rise of the sector’s commercialisation.
“Importing rice processing machines has been very beneficial because now we have both the rice and rice husks in Cambodia, so that besides gaining more income from exporting higher-quality processed rice, we can use the rice husk as fertiliser for the rice field,” he said.
He added that as a result of the rise in the processing industry Cambodians will get more jobs because of a need for machine operators.
San Vanty, however, also dismissed fears that the small and medium companies would suffer without the modern processing machine.
“It’s impossible that they will go bankrupt because these companies can continue selling their product in the local market, while the product from modern machines will be used for exporting to foreign countries, since these products meet the international standard.”
With the new machines allowing Cambodian rice to now meet international standards, the government is actively involved in finding places where Cambodian rice product can be exported.
“Business agreements between countries are very important,” said Kong Putheara, director of the Department of Trade Statistics and Information at the Ministry of Commerce. “We can negotiate with our partner countries to reduce the cost of the import tax imposed.”
Kong Putheara explained that though countries can export products to other countries without signing business agreements, they usually cannot negotiate the import tax. “If the tax price is high, then this added to the transportation costs, meaning we cannot compete with the local products.”
The other main benefit of developing agro-business is technical support. “If we aren’t able to produce a qualified product, we can ask country in the business agreement to send technical experts to help us in production,” said Kong Putheara.
As the government invests in agriculture, particularly in infrastructures such as watering and irrigation systems, reservoirs and dams, the knock on effect is felt in the rural banks, which have the confidence to distribute more loans to rural farmers helping development.
ACLEDA Bank Plc, with over 1,695 branches and offices throughout Cambodia, particularly targets rural industry and has seen a boom in agricultural loans.
“I note that the agricultural loans used to be less than 4 percent in the banking sector in 2007, and in 2009 it has increased to 6.7 percent,” said In Channy, president and CEO of ACLEDA.
He said that ACLEDA had seen its agriculture and agricultural-related loans surge from US$14.76 million in 2005 to US$92.17 million by June 2010.
“Look at 2009 figures, Garment export was down by 27 percent and the tourism sector was also down by 3 percent. However, the surplus of rice was more than 3 million tonnes – that’s a huge surplus,” In Channy said. “I think without the input from the growth of agriculture and its exports, the GDP of 2009 would be in the red already.”
As the agricultural sector is being developed, people working in recruitment agencies are optimistic about job opportunities in agro-business in the future.
“There will be more jobs for Cambodians,” said Vat Sreyvoat, a senior recruitment consultant at Great Alliances employment agency.
“More and more foreign investors will come to invest in Cambodia when the agricultural sector is being developed, and the job opportunities will come to Cambodians, as foreign companies will want to hire Cambodians,” she added.
Sandra D’Amico, managing director at HR Inc Cambodia, another recruitment agency, agreed that agricultural commercialisation will no doubt create numerous jobs across the country as investors look to localise foreign management as soon as possible to be competitive. She also predicted that the rise in agro-business would create opportunities for young Cambodians, those in the provinces, and help the growth of certain skills markets.
“Young entrepreneurs wanting to capture a part of the local market are likely to pop up and bring a new face to agro-business in Cambodia,” she said. “The need for standards, health and hygiene measures, good business management and planning, financing, as well as information dissemination from government and interested stakeholders, is going to be key to making the small- and medium-enterprise sector successful in their quest to share in this dynamic market.”
D’Amico added that the agricultural industry would bring jobs to provinces, as rise of agro-business would mean an emphasis on the countryside and that the young would not have to migrate to the cities.
by: Dara Saoyuth and Daniel Pordes
This article was published on Lift, Issue 28, July 21, 2010
What’s gonna happen in Cambodian National Exam this year?
This year National Examination will start from 26th-28th July with about 100,000 students and about 191 places will be used as exam centers across the countries, according to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport report.
To prevent irregularities during the exam, Touch Naroth, the Phnom Penh Municipal police chief, said this year will be the same as previous years that he will put his police force to guard exam centers depend on the request of the Ministry of Education.
Despite having police officers guard all the exam centers, every year, many people especially those from non-governmental organizations and students always talked and shared their concerns about irregularities happening during the exam.
Rong Chhun, the president of the Cambodia Independent Teachers Association (CITA), claimed to see students bribed inspectors to let them open documents and use telephone during the exam last year.
He said if they allow this situation to be continued in Cambodia, it will affect to the educational quality and they cannot produce the real human resource. “Weakness in Educational System cannot help developing our country,” he said.
Rong Chhun said he forecasted that this year examination is neither different nor better than the previous year exam since he has received information from some provinces and some parts in the city saying that teachers are planning to collect money at about 10000Riels (about $2.5) per subject while the exam doesn’t start yet.
Rong Chhun explained the reason for the irregularities resulted from the practices of the ministry is still weak and the head of the Ministry receive benefit from this exam.
A grade-12 student from Chea Sim Samarki High School and also a candidate for the upcoming exam, agreed that cheating happens.
He said none of student knows everything; at least they are still lacking some points, so they have to fulfill these parts by cheating. He continued that there are 10 subjects for him to focus on and it’s difficult to be good at all of them.
The student said he is not the best student but he always gets good grades in class, so he has enough ability for the exam. “If it is strict during the exam, it will be easy for me,” he said. “When it is not strict in class, it always affects me because other friends around me drag my paper untidily,” he continued.
Rong Chhun urged students to trust in themselves for the forthcoming exam. “We will have enough abilities to compete for the job opportunities providing that we pass because of our own capacities,” he said. He continued that parents must trust in their children, and the Ministry of Education must determine to make the exam process better so that we can get better quality for the country.
Note: Result for National Examination for Grade 12 will be announced on 20 August 2010 at noon for Phnom Penh, Kandal province and will be on 21 August 2010 for other provinces.
Written by: Dara Saoyuth
Observations from the Field
Four students from RUA (the Royal University of Agriculture) tell Lift why they chose to study agriculture and give us their thoughts on what needs to be done to improve the sector.
Why did you choose to study agriculture? What do you plan to do when you get out?
Dara: I decided to study agriculture because I saw the possibilities within the job market in Cambodia’s agriculture sector. Because of the size of the industry, agriculture offers more opportunities than majors like accounting, business and economics.
Seyha: I chose to study agriculture because my parents are farmers. I can apply what I’ve learned in school to the real world by working with farmers through companies or organisations that focus on agriculture. I can introduce new techniques to the farmers living in rural areas, who are still using traditional techniques, and help them improve their lives by producing a higher-quality grain. If agriculture doesn’t develop, the county won’t develop either.
Do you think that you can get a good job with good pay when you graduate? What sort of job do you want to get?
Seyha: Most students graduating from RUA, especially in rural development, are working for NGOs. Students who study agronomy can work for companies such as those owned by Mong Reththy and Ly Yong Phat.
Nika: We can also work in the government or, for those who like teaching, they can work in the University of Agriculture.
Dara: If students have relatives or friends who can help them find jobs with the government, they will be able to get the high pay and a high position. However, when working with the government, we don’t work directly with the people like we would with an NGO.
What changes need to be made within Cambodia’s agriculture sector to improve it?
Dara: The first change should start with the farmers themselves. It’s their responsibility to improve themselves. They should not just wait for another person to help them. They need to learn the techniques from the good farmers around them.
Seyha: Firstly, we have to improve equipment like irrigation systems. Then farmers won’t have to spend money on pumping water into their fields. Secondly, farmers often don’t know how to find a market for their goods because there is a middleman who buys their products and sells them at the market. The farmers gets a bad price while the middleman takes a hefty portion of the profits. I want people to form communities, and when they buy something, buy it together. For example, if a village wants to buy 50 bags of fertiliser, they can do it together and save time and money. They can also sell their products together so the buyers cannot pay them a low price. The third thing we need is more processing companies in our country. That way we can transform our goods from raw materials to finished products, which we can export to foreign countries for more money.
Many organisations say farmers are resistant to changing their methods. What are the difficulties and what did you do to convince these people that the new practice is the best?
Dara: If we just go to the farmers and tell them to change they have no reason to believe us. We need to set up a demonstration plot to show farmers or choose a model farmer who wants to improve his or her techniques. When it proves that it is the best technique and beneficial to their production, other farmers will start to follow.
Do you think that cash crops such as rubber and cassava are a good choice for the use of Cambodian land?
Dara: I think for businesspeople, they don’t think about how to use soil sustainably. They think that rubber is planted for business and sale, but they don’t think of how the soil will be ruined. When we plant only one kind of crop, it will take out all of the nutrients.
Nika: Many companies are growing cassava, which takes a lot of nutrients from the land and doesn’t give any back so the soil will be destroyed one day.
Do you think that there will be problems with many people growing commercial crops and not enough food crops?
Dara: I think there will be problems with more people growing commercial crops to get power.
Nika: Commercial crops are usually grown on concession land in places like Kratie, Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri, while food crops are mostly grown in Battambang, Pursat and Takeo. Therefore, I don’t think it causes problems.
Dara: However, now that rubber from Vietnam has been introduced and can be grown in any kinds of soil it will likely impact the food security in Cambodia.
Do you know what the value chain is? Do you know that many times rice has been sent to Vietnam and Thailand, who return it to Cambodia for sale after it has been processed? I want to know what you think of processing in Cambodia.
Dara: I think the government is paying more attention to investment. I believe that in the future Cambodia will improve since there are more and more investments in the Kingdom. Moreover, many students have had a chance to study abroad, so that they can bring knowledge of processing to Cambodia. With this, Cambodia will be able to process more of its agriculture products on its own.
by: Dara Saoyuth and Koam Tivea
This article was published on Lift, Issue 28, July 21, 2010
Ceremony before Duch Verdict Release
A lot of Cambodians and foreigners whose parents or relatives were killed at Toul Sleng (S-21) gathered to celebrate a ceremony welcoming for the upcoming verdict which will be released on Monday, 26 July,2010.
Chum Sirath, First Deputy President of Ksem Ksan, a Victims Association of Democratic Kampucheea, read a letter dedicated to people who died at Toul Sleng. Bellow is the meaning from that letter:
Tomorrow, 26 July, 2010, the extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia will announce the verdict of Kaing Guek Eav alias Duch who was in charge of the notorious national torture center S-21. We call on the soul of our beloved brothers and sisters who have died in Toul Sleng and Cherng Ek after enduring unspeakable opportunities and who are now in after world to please come back and listen to the verdict in the hope that you, beloved brothers and sisters will finally receive justice. When you have heard the verdict, we pray for your soul to enjoy peace and happiness which was denied to you during your time on this earth.
By: Dara Saoyuth
Public Forum on the advent of Duch verdict
Duch verdict release is on the way to come while Cambodian victims are waiting for justice.
This morning meeting, Transforming the Killing Fields into Healding, Living Fields, at Pannasastra University of Cambodia (PUC) is one among plenty of events celebrate for the purpose of meeting and knowing the victim feeling toward the upcoming verdict.
11 speakers from various institution joint this event to answer audience questions.
I will provide more detail tonight…
by: Dara Saoyuth
A visit to S-21 prison (Toul Sleng Genocide Museum)
Enemies of the People
Enemies of the People, a documentary film by Thet Sambath, was screen at Meta House tonight…
If you want to know more about the film, Click Here
by: Dara Saoyuth
Academic Symposium Session3
Quest Speakers Photos