Students' Movement for Democracy, Cambodia

Location: Cambodia

Students┬┤Movement for Democracy (SMD) is a non-political and most active youth organization in Cambodia. It was established in 1998 after the unfair and unjust election result released manipulated by the CPP.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006



The high price of gasoline in Cambodia does affect extremely the daily economic practice of the Cambodian people who live with their lowest salary- US$ 25 per month. This will weaken the government policy in improving economics without denial and will go on to suffer about 40 percent of Cambodians to live in poverty. Having seen this econimc injustice, SMD has launced its protest which heartedly supported mostly by Cambodian people and all opposition lawmakers.

Hun Sen Policemen that launched outside SMD Office to crack down and arrest SMD's leaders and supporters. SMD leaders -Mr. Um Sam An, Mr. Pang Sokheoun, Mr. Sar Longdet, Mr. Sorn Dara, Mr. Ken Sara, Mr. Ir. Channa, Mr. Nouhem Prumvireak and other activists were violently cracked down and arrested three times regarding to these protests and they were illegally detained at leat 4 hours in each arrest.

Besides demostration and strike against the high price of gasoline, SMD has sent many petitions to National Assembly and the Government as a protest against the high price of gasoline and to give resolutions on how to reduce gas price in the country as low as bordering countries from 3900 Riels per litre to 2400 or 2500 Riels.

The resolutions recomended by SMD for gasoline price reduction:

1. Abolish illegal gasoline smuggle
2. Fight against corruption
3. Determine the market price of gasoline
4. Subsidize the gasoline price [How to subsidize gas price was mentioned by a diplomat of a donor counry as suggested by SMD]
5. Tax and increase taxes on lands, alcoholics, cigarrette, and comestics

However, these resolutions are never taken into account by the government, yet SMD has been threatened again and again. Below is the resource from VOA interview with Kiet Chhon, the Minister of Ministry of Economy and Finance. SMD also has appealed to Kiet Chhon to resign three times regarding to his incompetence to reduce gas price which affects too much the daily economic life of Cambodians.

The Cambodian government is looking for measures to bring down skyrocketing gas price by trying to cut down 10% of the fuel used by the government institutions.
In Cambodia, the average price per liter is 3,900 riels ($US1=4200 riels), compared to 2,500 riels per liter in neighboring countries. Among 14 millions people, the average 40% Cambodians earn less than one dollar per day.
Speaking at the tree planting ceremony in Svay Rieng Province, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that he plans to use the money saved from cutting down 10% of the gasoline used by the government institutions, to help the farmers in tilling their farms, and pumping the water for the people.
In this picture showed one of the demon- strations against the high price of gasoline held by SMD in June 1, 2004 when it reached Phsar Oulampich and then five of SMD's Leaders were arrested and illegally detained for hours by Hun Sen's dictated government.

The government takes this measure at the time when the National Assembly summoned State Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Mr. Kiet Chhon, to explain the situation. He said that the government cannot stop the high price immediately.
He also said that the government will try to use the budget of more than $US 600,000,000 to help stop the rising price of gasoline. He said further that the price is high because of the tax evasion on gasoline brought inside Cambodia from neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. He added that recently the government is able to crack down on 1,500,000 litres of gasoline which were not taxed.
Opposition Sam Rainsy Party member of parliament, Mr. Son Chhay, said that gasoline in Cambodia is more expensive than in the neighboring countries. He criticizes the government for the price hike.
The opposition lawmaker said the Ministry of Economy and Finance has no will to help the poor people of Cambodia, and that it only adopts policies that hurt the people. He said that the meeting between Mr. Kiet Chhon and the members of parliament at the National Assembly will not result in anything today. Mr. Son Chhay said that he would like for the government to understand the means that will benefit the people.
An official from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications who speaks on condition of anonymity, said that he does not support the government's action, because the price cut in government institutions might apply only to low level institutions and not higher ones.

Note: Even Kiet Chhon claimed that government is resolving the high price of gasoline by subsiding gas price but up to now nothing is happened... yet recently in late December 2005, he reclaimed that government can't reduce gasoline price because of the price in OPEC is still high.


SMD Reacted to Chinese Leader -CNN.Com