When Are Laws to Be Observed? Which Level of Rationality Can Be Expected from Regulations? – Sunday, 20.3.2011

The Mirror, Vol. 15, No. 708

Another problem is on the way to be solved. Not a completely new problem actually – the Prime Minister had warned a big trucking company towards the end of January 2011 that it could be shut down if it did not improve its performance, “There will be only one reason to shut the company down, if they do not straighten out the transportation situation. – I said this because I want to wake up the company … as I have woken them up two times already.”

There was no report then that anything happened in response. Until, on 16 March 2011, the Prime Minister appealed to authorities to take strict action against overloaded vehicles to prevent damage to municipal roads. This appeal to the police to do what they have to do anyway triggered action. “They have damaged roads and created many problems as well as traffic jams in the city,” said Heng Chantheary, the chief of Phnom Penh traffic police: now 25 trucks had been detained. Also the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation got involved.

It seems that only the Prime Minister’s special appeal to the police, military police, and the courts, to take drastic action against transportation companies that violate traffic laws, made them act – not the traffic laws they know, and not their normal duty to enforce them.

Another challenge, to consider the state of law in the country.

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National and international media reported during the week about a new initiative by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to put up new barriers against international marriages.

Male foreigners who earn less than $2,500 per month and are over 50 years old will not get the permission to marry a Cambodian women in Cambodia. These new rules are to crack down on sham marriages and human trafficking. If the wedding takes place outside of the country, these rules do not apply, said the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Koy Kuong. The foreign man must have this salary to make sure that “Cambodian women can live a decent life” – and if a foreign man of over 50 years of age would marry a young woman this would be “inappropriate” (but where are the limits and who decides according to which criteria what is appropriate and what is not appropriate?).

“We are preventing fake marriages and human trafficking,” he said, adding that the government was aware of cases, documented by rights groups, where Cambodian women were sent into prostitution or “used as slaves” in their husband’s home country.

The Cambodian foreign ministry has sent a diplomatic note to all the embassies and consulates in the country informing them of the new regulations, which came into effect on 1 March 2011.

Kek Galabru, president of local human rights group LICADHO, praised the government’s intention to protect Cambodian brides. But she said the new guidelines “go against Cambodian marriage law and international law” – specifically the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

“This is discrimination against women because they will not be allowed to marry men who are over 50 … while Cambodian men can marry any foreign woman they choose,” she said.

Another challenge to consider the state of law in the country – though this rule by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sent to all embassies in the country, is not a law passed by the National Assembly, the Senate, and signed by the King.

This rule is formulated in a way that gives rise to a series of questions, where fairness and practicality have to be questioned – in addition to the serious legal questions mentioned already above:

  • What about when the man is 51 and the woman 49 – and he earns a lot more than $2500 per months?
  • What about when the man is under 50, but earns only $2400 per months?
  • Foreign men from which countries will be eligible at all if they are to have a monthly salary of more than $2500 and are to be under 50 years old? It would be interesting to know what kind of economic data from which countries were used, and how it was established what “living a decent life” means – in Japan, or in India – in a big city, or in the countryside?

“We are preventing fake marriages and human trafficking” is given as the reason for this new regulation without legal basis.

  • How will this help to protect Cambodian women from later being abused abroad, as the “50 years and $2500 rules” – imposed only for marriages in country – may lead to arranged marriage business brokers organizing marriages outside of the country?
  • How will this help to protect Cambodian women from being forced into prostitution or used as slaves in their husband’s home country? – Are only men older than 50 prone to commit such criminal acts? Are there any data that mainly men of this age group over 50 are involved in fake marriage schemes misleading and misusing Cambodian women abroad? Should all men over 50 be considered with suspicion?

What has to happen so that the compliance with laws – relating to road traffic in country, but also laws in general – will be monitored and enforced also without a special appeal by the Prime Minister?

What can be expected related to the new regulations on international marriages, so that they will be brought into line with existing laws and re-formulated so that they does not lead to strange situations of perceived unfairness, or produce counter-productive results, as mentioned above?

And finally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is concerned: “The foreign man must have this salary to make sure that ‘Cambodian women can live a decent life’.” Which other Ministry is concerned and makes rules so that Cambodian men and Cambodian women, married to each other, in Cambodia, will live in an environment where all can have a decent life?

Norbert KLEIN

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  1. Ty Leng says:

    Cambodia sets age limit for foreign husbands:
    Male foreigners over the age of 50 have been outlawed from marrying Cambodian women.
    I personally support this law because it does help the old men whom they do not understand themselves what would be the consequential damage and pain being experienced. On the other hand, when they get legal papers to be in the USA, 98% of young Cambodian women committed adultery and say “bye, bye codger or grandfather”. Eventually, thanks Cambodian government that helps old Cambodian men who live abroad.

  2. Ty Leng says:

    How many men get trouble and pain feeling when their women get into the USA? Countless!!!!
    Howerver, I would to say thanks Cambodian government that helps old men, stupid men, who want to get marriaged Cambodian women.

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