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Law on Food Safety and Quality Is Not Implemented, Making Cambodia a Trash Basket for Foreign Leftovers

By: Norbert Klein, editor, The Mirror Posted: August-20-2009 in
Norbert Klein, editor, The Mirror

“A food safety and quality law was adopted by the National Assembly in 1996, attempting to protect the health and wellbeing of the citizens, but it unfortunately this law has been ignored and is not implemented effectively.

“Cam-Control officials who have the obligation to check goods at distribution points and at markets do not apply the above law strictly. Vendors who respect the law and do not dare to sell no-quality or expired goods, said that Cam-Control officials never pay attention to check goods thoroughly, but they just go to check occasionally, but it is not for checking, but to collect money from the vendors and from businesspeople who do illegal business by distributing or selling no-quality or expired goods.

“They went on to say that Cam-Control officials inform illegal vendors and businesspeople in advance about the date they will go to check goods and instruct them to remove their no-quality and expired goods from the locations to be checked, and replace them with legal goods to deceive the public.

“Citizens who use no-quality or expired goods accused Cam-Control officials, especially also the Ministry of Commerce, of destroying their health and wellbeing. Citizens asked why Cam-Control officials earn state salaries from the taxes paid by citizens, but why do they work to serve the interests of illegal vendors and businesspeople.

“Vendors and businesspeople added that no-quality or expired goods are imported through international border crossings, especially from Vietnam. Some other types of goods have expired, because they were kept too long at the stores or could not be sold.

“Occasionally, the authorities had cracked down on no-quality goods, such as chicken meat and eggs imported from Siam [Thailand] and Yuon [Vietnam]. One real example is the no-quality chicken meat confiscated recently by the authorities in Sen Sok district, Phnom Penh.

“According to the above source, a businesswoman, whose husband is a military police official, took up the business of importing no-quality chicken meat from Siam [Thailand] for a long time, but the local authorities did not intervene, keeping it as their ‘rice-cooking pot.’ The reason of the recent crack-down is that the businesswoman had stopped paying bribes to the authorities, because that place is no longer in the area of Russey Keo district under those who formerly controlled it.

“Formerly, the storehouse for illegal goods was under the control of the Russey Keo district, but after the Royal Government decided to create the Sen Sok district in Phnom Penh, two districts of Russey Keo were cut off to be under the control of the Sen Sok district.

“People living at the above location said that there would not have been any crack-down, if there had been no conflict of interest between the new district authorities and the Russey Keo authorities. Citizens complained not only about no-quality or expired goods, but they also expressed deep concerns about the contamination of food with chemicals, such as in the case of all kinds of meat, so that it maintains a good appearance, to look like Prahok and Po’ok, so that flies do not gather around it, and vegetables and fruits looking fresh, with Kuy Teav [noodle soup], and Num Banhchok [Khmer traditional noodle] so that it appears fresh, with fish sauce, soy sauce, and chili sauce, so that it can be kept for a long time etc… Chemicals are used with many other kinds of food.

“A doctor who asked not to be named told Khmer Amatak that eating food containing chemicals can seriously affect the health, resulting in liver cirrhosis (?), or kidney stones, nerve problems, diabetes, and other diseases. He warned that adding chemicals to food will lead to long term health problems and reduces the life expectancy of citizens.

“The director of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, Dr. Yang Saing Koma, said that Khmer farmers are using chemical fertilizers to grow paddy rice, vegetable, and fruits, to produce high yields. He warned that using chemical fertilizers not only affects those who apply the chemicals, but also seriously affects those who eat the products.

“He called on the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries to take action to prevent the import of fertilizers with high chemical effects, and to announce their hazards. He recommends that the Ministry of Agriculture organize programs to train farmers to use organic fertilizers. Dr. Saing Koma said that his organizations has organized training courses to teach farmers how to produce using organic fertilizers.

“Khmer farmers blamed the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries for not taking strict action to prevent the import of chemical fertilizers by illegal dishonest businesspeople and for not making the hazards of using chemical fertilizers widely known, which allowings those businesspeople to continue cheating Khmer farmers to use chemical fertilizers, which seriously affect their heath and waste national resources.

“The World Health Organization had asked the Ministry of Health of Cambodia to crack down on the import of expired medicines and medicines produced with improper standards, especially from black markets. The World Health Organization had warned about the serious health hazards for Khmer citizens, specifically for farmers who live in remote areas where there are no proper health systems, and they frequently buy medicines from unlicensed pharmacies or from unprofessional medics.

“No-quality and expired medicines are trafficked countrywide without thorough checking by the Ministry of Health. Many pharmacies are run with no license, but the Ministry of Health does not penalize them according to the law. It is reported that some officials of the Ministry of Health commit corruption when they go to check private pharmacies and clinics.

“Also, the production of pure [bottled drinking] water in Cambodia is facing serious problems, because the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy does not check the production properly. Many types of pure water is being sold around Cambodia, and it is known that many brands do not have quality standards. Officials are accused of committing corruption when they go to check for pure water, fish sauce, soy sauce etc. by exchanging Khmer citizens’ health and wellbeing for their own benefit.

“Khmer citizens complained that at present, Cambodia is becoming a trash bin to accept goods that other countries throw away, while relevant officials become murderers who collude with wicked businesspeople and use the health and lives of citizens as their capital.

“Khmer citizens would like to call on the Royal Government, especially the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Commerce, to take thorough measures to prevent the import of no-quality or expired goods and the import of chemical fertilizers which is a way to guarantee health and wellbeing of the citizens, and particularly to save their money. The Royal Government must take action against Cam-Control officials who commit corruption, leading to damage to citizens’ health.” Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #639, 19.8.2009

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Deum Ampil, Vol.3, #266, 19.8.2009
* America Confirms to Help to Boost the Cambodian Economy by Keeping on Buying Goods
* Expert Official: [Kompong Speu Deputy Governor and Oknha] Tong Seng Constructed a 10-Floor Building [opposite the Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh], Violating a Ban by the Authorities [according to an expert official, buildings in the area around the Royal Palace must not be over 30 meters heigh]
* Cambodia: Manoeuvers and the Establishment of a Navy Base by Siam [Thailand] on Kut Island Does Not Affect [Cambodian] Sovereignty [according to Navy commander General Tea Vinh]
* The Number of Confirmed Cases of A/H1N1 Flue [in Cambodia] Rose to Twenty Six
* The National Assembly Ratified the ASEAN Investment Scheme

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #2026, 19.8.2009
* Siamese [Thai] Soldiers Arrested Eleven Cambodians and One Was Shot at and Was Seriously Wounded [a Thai army commander said that they were involved in illegal logging on Thai territory, while local official of Cambodia claimed that the 11 Cambodians were among 43 others who crossed into Thailand to work]
* Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung Died at 85
* Electricity Consumers Can Pay Fees through the ATMs of the ACLEDA Bank
* A Woman Died from a Lightning Bolt in Heavy Rain; another Young Woman Was Killed by a Lighting while She Was Transplanting Rice Seedlings [Koh Kong and Kampot]

Khmer Amatak, Vol.10, #639, 19.8.2009
* Law on Food Safety and Quality Is Not Implemented, Making Cambodia a Trash Basket for Foreign Leftovers

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #471, 19.8.2009
* [The director of the Khmer Civilization Foundation] Moeung Sonn Asked for a Royal Pardon [he was convicted to serve two years in prison for disinformation and incitement over his comments about the fixing of lighting at Angkor Wat]

Koh Santepheap, Vol.42, #6732, 19.8.2009
* Siamese [Thai] Soldiers Shot at 116 Khmer Citizens, Hired to Carry Wood on the [Thai region of the] Dangrek Mountains, Which Made Them Escape; One Was Seriously Injured and Seven Are Missing

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4976, 19.8.2009
* Samdech Dekchor: Cambodian-American Diplomatic Tied Reaches Their Top [through the establishment of the US Embassy in Cambodia, and the cooperation in fighting terrorism and in other sectors; Prime Minister Hun Sen said so during a meeting with US Senator Jim Webb, on 18 August 2009]
* Hundreds of Moto-Taxi Drivers in Sihanoukville Protest, Asking to Lower the Taxes [for motorbike imports], and against the Fines [for old motorbikes]
* Aung San Suu Kyi [the Burmese elected democracy leader in house arrest] Supports the Reduction of Sanctions against Her Country [according to US Senator Jim Webb, who had met with Burmese Junta leaders and was allowed to meet Ms. Aug San Suu Kyi. He said in a press conference in Thailand that Ms. Suu Kyi does not oppose the reduction of sanction against Burma]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.17, #1775, 19.8.2009
* [US Senator] Jim Webb: America Accepts the Concerns of the Opposition Parties for Consideration [about human rights violations, and the muzzling of the freedom of expression by the government]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend us also to your colleagues and friends.

Posted on 20 August 2009. Filed under: Week 626
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 626


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