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My First Column in LIFT Magazine – Traffic in the City


Road blocks aren’t just an annoyance, they are also standing in the way of developing a safer and more modern city.

The traffic in Phnom Penh city is getting heavier every day because of the growth in the population and the fact that more people now own vehicles. Traffic jams usually happen when people leave their houses for their workplace in the morning and when they return home in the evening.

You might be late for class or work and fail to withstand the stress of getting stuck on the road. Even emergency vehicles like ambulances and fire trucks, when every second counts, are sometimes caught in bad traffic because people cannot move aside easily to free up some space for these vehicles. Imagine if a seriously injured person was in an ambulance waiting to get to hospital or people were waiting for the fire brigade to help them put out a fire. There are a lot of factors that contribute to traffic congestion.

One thing that is usually unreported is roads being blocked when there is a celebration like a wedding. Sometimes they block only half the road and leave some spaces for vehicles, but there are also times when they block the whole road. Even though it’s not a main road, every road is linked. For example, when there are a lot of vehicles on a main road, people can turn off and use a smaller road, but what happen if these roads are blocked for a party? I have seen two wedding parties being celebrated on the opposite sides of a road which was completely blocked. People get struck in a traffic jam because they cannot turn to right or left.

Wedding ceremonies usually take place in front of the bride’s house. They turn the road into a dinning and cooking area. In the countryside where it is not so crowded and there are not so many vehicles this is not a problem.

Nowadays city people not only ask permission to celebrate a party, but they also ask permission to block the road. I think this should be reconsidered in a city where millions of people are living and the numbers of vehicles keep increasing. I think if people want to throw a party and there is no free space inside their house, they should consider celebrating at a restaurant or rent a building.

Putting small business of parking vehicles on the footpaths also contributes to congestion in the city. According to the law on land traffic adopted by the National Assembly on December 20, 2006, Article 5 of the law states that “sidewalks are not allowed for vehicles to park.”

However, the sidewalks are still being used as parking places when customers want to go in and buy goods from stores along a road. So far there has been some action taken by Phnom Penh police against people doing business on the sidewalks, but it has not been very effective.

In an article published on The Phnom Penh Post on January 14, 2010, police fanned out across Phsar Kandal I commune to inform shopkeepers and street venders that they could no longer block the area’s pavements and roadways with their displays, and threatened to confiscate the goods of offending merchants.

In an interview Hem Him, Phsar Kandal I commune’s chief of police, said “the commune’s new policy on sidewalks and road use is part of the Phnom Penh municipality’s plan to widen the city’s streets and avoid the congestion caused by venders using streets as their own land”.

In addition, some people who usually travel with their carts selling goods along the roads just park when they find customers and they also make the traffic worse.

There is also the issue of people using their mobile phones while driving. For motorcycle riders, they sometimes place the phone next to their ear inside their helmet so they can hide from traffic wardens, while car owners usually drive with one hand on the wheel and a phone in the other hand. Even though their activities can sometimes be hidden from the traffic police, they cause trouble to other people.

When people focus on talking on their phone, they drive their vehicles carelessly, sometimes fast and sometimes slow. This not only can cause traffic jams, but can also cause accidents and as a result, some innocent people might be injured by them.

As noted by government, NGOs and other relevant agencies, casualties from road accidents are now the second leading cause of death in Cambodia. Among the leading causes of traffic accidents, the first is human error followed by bad roads, vehicle defects and weather conditions.

Some factors mentioned above are manmade, meaning that the authorities and citizens can help eliminate these things, so why we don’t try together to improve the traffic in the city we live in.

By: Dara Saoyuth
This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 62 published on March 16, 2011
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CAMBODIA – Kingdom of Wondering about how new laws will change our lives


Born in Kandal’s Ponhea Leu district, this young man decided to leave home for Phnom Penh in 2009 to get a better education. Chan Sokneang, 22, is now a sophomore in English literature at the National University of Management.

Staying independently in Neakvon Pagoda, Chan Sokneang is struggling to make a living as an intern at an organisation in the city, hoping to gain some experience for his future goal as an NGO staff member after graduation. He hopes to land his dream job so he will not have to follow in his parents’ footsteps and become a farmer.

“I am very concerned about job opportunities that NGOs provide since the draft of the NGO law might affect their recruitment,” said Chan Sokneang.

Released on December 15, 2010, the draft law on Associations and Non-governmental Organisations aims to “set out formalities and conditions for forming, registering and operating associations, domestic non-governmental organisations and foreign non-governmental organisations in the Kingdom of Cambodia”.

Chan Sokneang said he was worried that the law would decrease the number of NGOs, which could cut down his opportunities to work for an NGO in the future.

In Samrithy, the Executive Director of NGO Education Partnership, said the new law constrained the cooperation between national and international NGOs, but it will not lessen NGOs’ careers. Instead, the law would make the recruitment process more complicated.

He added that this law did not attract donors to provide funds to Cambodia. He said: “If the donors stop funding Cambodian organisations, many NGOs staff will be laid off,” he said, adding that the law should be made to attract donors rather than to discourage them from helping Cambodia.

However, the concern of not having many NGO job opportunities is not the real issue in Cambodia’s job market. Sandra Damico, the Managing Director of HR Inc Cambodia, said NGOs do not provide the overwhelming majority of jobs in the market. It was the small and medium enterprises sector that employed the most people with sectors such as garments, tourism, finances, telecoms etc providing the most formal and documented employment.

She said: “I don’t think that the law will have a significant impact on creating employment opportunities – the private sector is the sector that will and does generate the most employment.”

Although the law does not greatly affect the job opportunities of young Cambodians, it may act as a barrier in framing NGOs’ activities.

Associations and NGOs draft law sample

Associations and NGOs draft law sample

There are 11 chapters with 58 articles in the draft law. Sok Samoeun, an executive director at Cambodian Defenders Project, said the government tends to control and limit NGOs and association’s activities by using the law.

“At the start of each month, they have to draft and send their activities to the government and also at the end of the month they have to do activities and financial reports to the government, which seems like they have to report everything,” Sok Samoeun explained.

According to Article 6 of the law, an association and non-governmental organisation or alliance of associations or local non-governmental organisations which are not registered or do not have a memorandum signed in accordance with this law shall not be allowed to operate any activity in the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Sok Samoeun said the registration should be the right for NGOs and associations.

On January 21 this year, there was a meeting to discuss the draft law at the Ministry of Interior between the government and NGOs representatives including Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, NGO Forum, Medicam, Adhoc and Oxfam.

People who attended the meeting said the new law is going through a process and it is very important to understand each side so the law will work for all after being implemented. They said the law was not being made to violate anyone’s rights.

“If any NGO or association feels that any point in the law is violating their rights, please raise the specific article so that we can discuss it with each other,” said Try Sokheng, who was at the meeting.

Try Sokheng said the law was not being made to close any NGOs or associations down, but the government just wanted all NGOs and associations to register at the ministry of interior within 180 days of the law pass being passed.

“It depends on them. If they don’t want to continue, they can close and if they want to continue, they have to register,” said Try Sokheng, adding that some NGOs and associations that don’t have clear goals might not be able to exist anymore.

By: Dara Saoyuth & Tang Khyhay
This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 55 published on January 26, 2010
You can download this draft law in English by CLICKING HERE

The Reflection of Wealth and Poverty into Our Society


Rich and Poor

A rich man is donating money to some beggars along riverside / by: Dara Saoyuth

Wealth and poverty represent two things that are completely opposite to each other. Wealth is the state that everyone likes and wishes to get. In contrast, poverty is the nightmare everyone rejects. But both of them are commonly seen in every society. There is no society, no matter which political ideology it adheres, that its people live in the same position and with the same property. The wealthy and the poor have a close relationship. They can be the help-providers to each other. The wealthy can use their money to build the social infrastructures such as schools, roads, orphanages, or they can make investment to provide the job to the poor. In return, the poor can provide them the labors, securities, reputations or even the power. However, poverty also results in many problems. Some poor people, because they can not support their living, involve in illegal activities. They can robe or even kill someone in favor of getting money or some properties. Sometimes, they also involve in some illegal business such as drug trafficking or weapon smuggling. In some cases, because their self-esteem fall down, they think their society does not care of them and reject them. So, they happen to do something to harm their own society; they become gangsters and provoke many fights. Because poverty is an obstacle to developing our society, some vital strategies should be set up. The question is how can we reduce the poverty and try to eliminate such inactions in our society. It is hard to solve this problem, and especially it needs a strong commitment from both the government and the rich or the wealthy. In our society as the example, some of the wealthy are behind those social inactions. No doubt, they have no willing to eliminate the poverty because it is the poor who are the dynamic forces to help them to get success in their illegal business. If they eliminate poverty, who can work for them? In addition, such inactions in our society can not be completely rooted out, for most of the criminal are poor and are prevented by the wealthy. Those criminals can not be arrested, for they are the significant witnesses of many crimes and illegal businesses. Moreover, some of the wealthy are ones who cause the poverty. They invest in casinos or lottery corporations. Thus, some people, because addicted, sell out their poverty to take risk with gambling. Sooner or later, they fall deeply into poverty. Again, to reduce the poverty, it needs a strong commitment from the government and the contribution from the wealthy. Government must enforce the implementation of the law to ensure that all criminals and their bakers, no matter who they are, are arrested and sentenced. Anyway, government should ensure that the poor can also get profits from the economic growth. Along with this, the wealthy also play an important role. They can use their money to make investment and provide many kinds of legal jobs to the poor or establish vocational training schools to provide the poor the exact skills. In sum, the wealthy and the poor are the two important elements in a social process.
Written by: Ty Phearom, a senior student of English Literature at Institute of Foreign Languages (IFL)
Email: ty_phearom@yahoo.com

Can Cambodian TV news be trusted?


Cover of LIFT Issue 53

Cover of LIFT Issue 53

According to a census taken of Cambodia’s population in 2008, 58.41 percent of households own at least one television set. News programmes are what every station cannot do without. Cambodia’s television stations present a variety of both national and international news to their audiences and also produce some other programmes including live reports and news analysis.

Huot Kheangveng, the deputy general director of the Bayon station which is owned by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s daughter, said his station tries to cater to its audience’s needs, adding that the audience likes news which impacts their lives and is a bridge between the government and the people.

Pen Samithy, the president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists and editor of the Raksmey Kampuchea newspaper, said that developing a variety of news for television was good for the people and the country as a whole since people can learn what’s happening around them. He said, however, there were not very many local television programmes and they were not updated.

Information Minister and Government Spokesman Khieu Kanharith said making shows for TV is a big expense, and added that just to get a good camera like the ones being used at TVK costs about $30,000 to $40,000.

He said that privately-owned television stations have to make money, so they are not able to have lots of people capturing the news from all over the country.

“Most of the news focuses on the government’s achievements and is positive,” said Pen Samithy. “I just want all the news that impacts the people.”

Lift conducted a survey of 100 university students in Phnom Penh and the results showed that 65 percent said the news is biased towards the government.

However, Huot Kheangveng said his television station carried both the positive and negative points of the government to let people know about its achievements and also to constructively criticise government.

“We have references, real sources and our reporters do it professionally. We disseminate the truth only,” he said.

Launched in March 2003, the Cambodian Television Network, or CTN, is the most popular station in Cambodia and is now broadcasting news for seven hours each day. Its programmes include the morning news, which has been running for the past year.

“Any bad news has already been reported by some radio stations and newspapers, so we don’t have to follow because it’s not good,” said Som Chhaya, CTN’s deputy director general and news editor, explaining that the market for news is very small and they cannot survive on news shows alone.

“As you can see, some newspapers are still printed in black and white and have not changed to colour printing like the others.”

Som Chhaya also said there are some obstacles he and his crews face in getting news. Getting information is sometimes difficult for him because some departments and ministries don’t have any spokesperson, so he has to try to contact other relevant sources who sometimes cannot be reached.

Now most television stations produce news programmes and analysis, which Som Chhaya
compares with having a meal that is delicious after adding the seasoning, more meat and more vegetables, meaning that news analysis provides more detail for the audience to better understand a situation.

Soy Sopheap, a news analyst at Bayon TV, said he always recaps and analyses the important news of the week, but acknowledged that “it’s not correct all the time, but we say what is true and adhere to our profession as journalists”.

However, Khieu Kanharith stressed that news analysis is not news but opinion.

“They have the freedom to express their opinions,” he said, adding that some people are not very professional in their analysis, but the majority of them are.

By: Dara Saoyuth & Sun Narin
This article was publish on LIFT, Issue 53 published on January 12, 2010

Nokia X2-01 launching in Cambodia


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It’s Tuesday afternoon that we don’t have class and want to relax after a big quiz at school in the morning, so luckily I was invited to join a party at the Cambodian Country Club (CCC), about 15 minutes away from Phnom Penh.

At 5pm, I arrived the place looking around to see a lot of journalists except me and my other 4 friends who are all bloggers that only use their hands and keyboards to spread out information to the world.

That is the third time I have joined party organized by Nokia company for its new product launching and it is as good as always since each party were made in different places. I felt warmly welcome by everybody especially a music band which play very wonderful songs in both English and Khmer.

The entire event is made to welcome an arrival of Nokia X2-01, a phone that makes mobile messaging simpler, easier and more affordable. It will be available in Cambodian phone shop from tomorrow on and its price is $99.

A presentation by Mr. Mohammed (Md.) Mesbahuddin, Business Development Manager for Nokia Cambodia and Laos, started around 6pm when everybody arrived. I was really impressed with lots of features including 1-click access to email and chat via Nokia Messaging, 1-click access to social networking directly from homescreen, and 1-click access to music provided by this new mobile device.

A happy game to win Nokia X2-01 came after the presentation and followed by a nice buffet dinner. The program went on and on until 3 different kinds of Nokia cellphones were given to one winner in the game and two lucky people from lucky draw. You know what? Two bloggers among the five who join this afternoon party win 1 cellphone each. (Don’t be confused! I didn’t win!)

Music band was still playing, but for me, it was end at 8pm when it’s time I had to leave that place to prepared myself for tomorrow mid-term exam.

by: Dara Saoyuth
04/01/2011

57th anniversary of Cambodian Independence


It’s another holiday for us! Does anyone know the reason why today is the day-off?

Yes, we know!

Today is the 57th anniversary of Cambodian independence and it’s the special day that all Cambodians will never forget.

Independent Monument during daytime

Independent Monument during daytime / by: Dara Saoyuth

Cambodia was under protectorate of France from 1863 to 1953 and King Norodom Sihanouk, father of the nation, played an important role in gaining independent for Cambodia. On this day in 1953, he declared the country has independent from French colonial.

In 1958, the Independence Monument, a 20-meter tall, red-stone structure standing in the city center at the intersection of Norodom and Sihanouk Blvd., was inaugurated to commemorate the declaration of Cambodia’s independent from French colonial. It’s shaped is like a lotus and it was built in the Angkorian style. It consists of five levels with a hundred snake heads.

Independent Monument during daytime

Independent Monument during daytime / by: Dara Saoyuth

Independent monument in nighttime

Independent monument in nighttime / by: Dara Saoyuth

Source: 1. Microsoft Student 2009 DVD

2. Cambodia Picture House Website


by: Dara Saoyuth
09/11/2010

Seminar on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)


The Centre Kram Ngoy (CKN) is a technical and vocational training center in the field of electricity, electronics, industrial maintenance, rural electricity, renewable Energy, and so on. It has been operating in Cambodia since 1998. A three-day seminar on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) will be held at the center on 25-27 October 2010.

You may interested in the workshop, so I’d like to post the original press release from the CKN below:

 

Seminar on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Cambodia:

Access and Relevance

On 25-27 October 2010, at the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Phnom Penh (Norodom Blvd, corner Street Suramarit)

The “Centre Kram Ngoy” (CKN), with the support of UNESCO and of ILO, and in close cooperation of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training organizes a seminar-exhibition 25-27 October 2010, Phnom Penh. The seminar-exhibition will gather representatives from the government ministries, schools, International Organizations, NGOs, local associations, and private enterprises, to share information and experience, aiming at raising the awareness of the general public, to promote access and relevance in TVET among the youth.

It is widely recognized that the TVET in Cambodia is still not connecting with and meeting the demands of the labor market needed for a competitive economy.

This seminar aims at providing a platform for sharing good practices, information and experiences in order to motivate the youth and other members of Cambodian society for TVET as well as lay the foundations for better coordination between stakeholders.

We are convinced that TVET can demonstrate its value for the development of Cambodia if a student who is well prepared for the world of work, both in terms of general knowledge and at least one skill from a technical and vocational training program, can find a proper job or has the ability for self employment.

Centre Kram Ngoy*

#58, 318th street, Sankat Tuol Svay Prey II

(Olympic quarter) Phnom Penh

Phone: 023 987 843

Email: ptm.ckn@online.com.kh


Photo Exhibition on “LIFE ALONG THE RAILS”


Showing his interest, a visitor is looking closely at the photo / by: Dara Saoyuth

Showing his interest, a visitor is looking closely at the photo / by: Dara Saoyuth

Spending almost a whole day in front of my computer screen made me headache, so this evening, I hurried to go out after I was invited by my friends to join a photo exhibition under the theme LIFE ALONG THE RAILS.

As soon as I arrived the place, I saw photos by a 31-year-old Conor Wall from Ireland was printed in large size and stuck to the walls of the room, and many people mostly are foreigners gathered around to see the photos.

Visitors gathering around to see the photos and some are communicating with people who have the same interest / By: Dara Saoyuth

Visitors gathering around to see the photos and some are communicating with people who have the same interest / By: Dara Saoyuth

In the exhibition, there were around 20 photos to be displayed and all of them showed the daily lives of people living along the tracks.

“I first became interested in the lives of people living along the railway tracks two years ago when I used to walk along the rails in Boeung Kok. I took photos of locals there, going back again and again to shoot more and return prints to those in the pictures. I never really had a plan to publish or exhibit those shots. I was just doing it because I enjoyed it,” said Cornor Wall, who first came to Cambodia in 2004.

Who know the purpose of showing these photos?

Actually, I don’t have answer to the question, but I think that he wants us, especially human right activists to pay more attention on people over there since the government is working on the reconstruction of the railway tracks. More people might face eviction from their home, so on the railway, we won’t be able to see vendors selling or children playing on it anymore…

To know more about Conor Wall and his Photography and Story Portfolio, check his website by CLICKING HERE
by: Dara Saoyuth
16/09/2010

Thaksin Resignation as Cambodian Government Advisor


Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra / Source: Wikipedia

Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra / Source: Wikipedia

Thailand former prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, quit his job as an advisor to the Cambodian government on Monday, 9 month after he was appointed on 5th November last year. 

A royal decree signed by King Norodom Sihanmoni said Thaksin resigned from his positions as personal adviser to Prime Minsiter Hun Sen and economic adviser to the Cambodian governement. 

Accoding to a government statement, Thaksin requested for his resignation because of difficulties in fulfilling his duty.

by: Dara Saoyuth
24/08/2010
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