Saturday, September 26, 2009

Heng Samrin Agrees with Son Chhay to Ask So Khun to Explain Telecommunications

Conflict – Friday, 25.9.2009
Posted on 26 September 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 631
(CAAI News Media)

“Uncertain management rules of the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Mr. So Khun, for mobile phone companies motivated a Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian to ask for explanations, a move which later on was also supported by the president of the National Assembly, Mr. Heng Samrin. Requested from the minister is only an explanation in writing, but not a direct verbal clarification at the National Assembly.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Son Chhay, wrote on 14 September 2009 to request the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Mr. So Khun, to clarify some conflicts in the telecommunications sector. Mr. Heng Samrin agreed to Mr. Son Chhay’s request on 23 September 2009, as two mobile phone companies are having a dispute with each other, while they now seek for a solution through the courts. Mr. Son Chhay’s request was made in accordance with Article 96 of the Constitutions [see The Mirror of yesterday], and also to take care of some difficulties that the people who are mobile phone users encounter.

“Mr. Son Chhay wrote, ‘Seeing severe confusion in telecommunications, while it is the obligation of the government to improve telecommunications, so that operations function with good and cheap services to earn much resources for the state – which is not implemented now, and in contrast, the accessibility of mobile phone systems in Cambodia became worse, when making a call to another system, communication is much more expensive than in neighboring countries, and the state cannot control the income from this sector.’

“Mr. Son Chhay added in his letter, ‘To provide more time for Your Excellency to present your clarifications to the National Assembly at a later time, I would like now to ask for a written clarification of the following questions:’

“’1. So far, how many companies has the Ministry licensed to invest in the mobile phone sector? How much has to be paid for each license? And how many companies are actually operating after having received a license?

“’2. How many VoIP [voice over Internet protocol] licenses has the Ministry provided or sold to individuals or to private companies? How much income can a license earn for the state? Does the ministry take any action against those who have received licenses, but do not operate the related services, and keep the licenses to sell them for gain?

“’3. Does the Ministry have the tools to properly manage the income earned from the telecommunications sector, while the Ministry does not have the technical possibility to clearly monitor the volume of service activities in this sector, because the Ministry has always to wait until the companies come with their own information about how much they have to pay to the state? This procedure is leading to a great loss of national income.’

“At the end of the letter, Mr. Son Chhay asked the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Mr. So Khun, to respond to all the above questions, as well as to provide other relevant documents to the National Assembly soon, according to Article 96 of the Constitution.

“Mr. Son Chhay’s letter was written while the Mobitel company of Oknha Kit Meng is having a sharp dispute with the Beeline company, which provides the services to its clients cheaply. The Mobitel company of Oknha Kit Meng, that has served its clients for many years, wants the Beeline company to charge – from its clients – its services also more expensively.

“The dispute leads to calls for intervention by Mr. So Khun, but some observers have the impression that Mr. So Khun has the intention to protect the benefits of the Mobitel company, which charges high fees for its services from its clients. It is the biggest mobile phone service provider, but it is also the company with the reputation to provide poorer inter-systems calls, compared to other mobile phone companies in Cambodia.

“However, it is not expected that Mr. So Khun will really explain some of the claimed irregularities, which Mr. Son Chhay called ‘anarchic.’

“It should be remembered that, at present, there are many mobile phone companies in Cambodia, including Mobitel, also known as ‘the 012 company,’ which has the most clients in the country, as it was the first company to operate mobile phones in Cambodia. It is reported that Mobitel provides services for some government officials without charging them.

“Analysts said that because this company allows some Khmer senior officials to call free of charge, Mobitel tries to earn income from many clients by charging them high fees, in order to continue the free use by high ranking officials.”

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.3, #494-495, 24-25.9.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 25 September 2009

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