Cambodian parties draw to determine order on ballot papers

Cambodia’s National Election Committee (NEC) on May 29 held a public draw to determine the order of political parties on ballot papers for the upcoming national election slated for July.

The public draw took place at the NEC’s headquarters in Phnom Penh in the presence of Prach Chan, NEC Chairman, and Supreme Patriarchs of the two Buddhist denominations in Cambodia.

According to local media, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was drawn to the 18th position.

NEC has officially recognised more than 15,000 domestic observers and special guests who will monitor the election.

Among the observers from five local civil society organisations, 9,977 are from the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia, 3,211 from the Cambodian Women for Peace and Development, and 1,679 from the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia.

Observer applications began on April 1, with domestic observers having to apply before the deadline of July 12 and international ones before July 19.

NEC is considering applications from 1,157 additional observers and two special guests, it noted.

Meanwhile, it has also granted cards to 190 reporters from domestic and foreign press agencies who will cover the election.

The 7th National Assembly election is slated for July 23. Cambodia holds the general election every five years, with the most recent on July 29, 2018./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Singaporean President not to stand for re-election

Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob will not be running for a second term as head of state in the upcoming election this year.

The President said after very careful consideration, she has decided not to stand for re-election, expressing her great honour and privilege to serve as the eighth President of Singapore for the past six years.

Her term will expire on September 13 and the presidential election, which is held on a regular six-year cycle, has to be called by then.

Singapore’s 2023 presidential election will be open to candidates of all races./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency

Ex-Surigao Sur mayor acquitted in 30-year malversation case

The Sandiganbayan has cleared a former Surigao del Sur town mayor of technical malversation, following an acquittal last year on graft charges, as no further evidence was presented to prove ill will on his part, other than discrepancies on computation. The anti-graft court Third Division acquitted Rufo Pabelonia, a former mayor of Tagbinga town, of alleged technical malversation involving PHP300,000 in municipal funds. ‘Reviewing closely the evidence introduced by both parties, this Court is convinced beyond a moral certainty that accused Mayor Pabelonia did not act with evident bad faith in the construction of the gymnasium to the detriment of the government,’ stated the Sandigan ruling dated May 26 and made public Monday. Pabelonia, now 70, was mayor from 1986 to 1995. The three charges involved Pabelonia’s part in allegedly diverting PHP63,000 from local funds appropriated for the construction of the Tagbina Municipal Building to pay for the cash gift of municipal officials and employees, including casual workers, in 1990. The second charge also involved the diversion of PHP151,642 from funds intended for the Tagongon Barangay Gymnasium to pay the claim of another municipal building contractor, while the third charge was for unexplained expenses worth PHP54,849 for the same gymnasium. Pabelonia was cleared in other graft raps arising from other projects in 1987, for which he was arrested in Davao City in 2018 for failing to appear in his arraignments. The Sandiganbayan said then that “the prosecution was not able to present proof other than the documents signed by Pabelonia.”

Source: Philippines News Agency

PNP mobilizes 27K cops for Betty response efforts

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. on Monday ordered the mobilization of more than 27,000 of its personnel to assist the local government units (LGUs) in responding to the threat of Typhoon Betty which is now bringing heavy rains, especially in Northern Luzon. Acorda said police forces were instructed to coordinate with local officials for possible preemptive evacuation, rescue and relief operations in areas that are now experiencing bad weather conditions, as well as those which would likely be hit by the cyclone. Betty entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility over the weekend and is now moving closer to the tip of Northern Luzon, particularly in the Cagayan Valley Region. Acorda earlier ordered police commanders in Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley Region, Central Luzon and the Cordillera Administrative Region to mobilize all Regional Mobile Force Battalions, including the Provincial Mobile Force Companies as part of the government’s response. ‘The PNP National Headquarters Critical Incident Management Committee, of which I am the chairman, has been activated to monitor, coordinate, and direct all disaster response efforts of PNP Units,’ said Acorda. ‘PNP units at the municipal, city, and provincial levels are under specific instructions to keep all national highways and thoroughfares clear of road debris and obstruction to ensure unhampered passage of emergency vehicles, rescue equipment, and relief aid convoys to disaster-affected areas,’ he added. Acorda said they are now also coordinating with local disaster risk reduction and management officials and the Department of Social Welfare and Development for the prepositioning of food packs and other forms of assistance. He said the warehouses and distribution hubs of food packs and relief goods are now secured by local police forces. Currently, the PNP has 4,650 trained personnel for Water Search and Rescue (WASAR), 7,371 trained personnel for Search and Rescue (SAR), 8,806 Life Vest, 77 SAR Boats, and 1,730 units of search and rescue equipment vehicles consisting of 1,496 personnel carriers, and 234 units of Troop Carrier, including 625 portable electric generator sets. Accomplishments The PNP chief also reported that police officers seized PHP6.05 billion worth of illegal drugs in the first five months of 2023, the country’s top cop said Monday. ‘On the campaign against illegal drugs,18,317 anti-drug police operations nationwide on January 1 to May 27, 2023, resulted in the confiscation of illegal drugs estimated to be worth PHP6.05-billion, and the arrest of 24,197 drug offenders,’ Acorda said in a press briefing in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Acorda also lauded the National Capital Region Police Office for its accomplishment over the weekend, where police officers arrested two high-value individuals in a drug buy-bust operation that resulted in the confiscation of approximately 3,800 grams of shabu with an estimated standard drug price of PHP25.8 million in Caloocan City. He also said that from Jan. 1 to May 26, 2023, the PNP confiscated 11,417 loose firearms from 3,599 persons arrested for possession of these illegal firearms. During the same period, police units received 6,513 firearms for safekeeping and filed 1,783 cases in court. He added that a total of 29,383 persons wanted by the law were arrested by PNP units in police operations in the same period, while 176 surrendered to the authorities.

Source: Philippines News Agency

Bulacan warehouse inspections yield P900-M cigarettes, fake goods

An inspection of warehouses in Plaridel, Bulacan has yielded around PHP900 million worth of smuggled imported cigarettes and other general merchandise, including counterfeit goods, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) reported on Monday. In a statement, Customs Commissioner Bien Rubio said the operation was conducted after he issued a Letter of Authority (LOA) and Mission Order (MO), by the team composed of Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service-Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP), Enforcement and Security Service (ESS) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on May 26. He added that a quick inventory of the goods showed that the illicit cigarettes found already amounted to PHP50 million. ‘The team inspected the warehouses and found to contain imported illicit cigarettes, and other imported general merchandise, housewares, kitchenwares, and IPR (Intellectual Property Rights)-infringing goods,’ the BOC chief said. Rubio added that the approximate value of the goods found is more or less PHP900 million which came from China. According to CIIS-MICP chief Alvin Enciso, who led the operation, the warehouses have been temporarily padlocked and sealed. ‘Our team showed the LOA to the warehouse representatives and they proceeded with the inspection after it was acknowledged,’ he said. The owners of the goods would be asked to present importation documents or proof of payment by Customs authorities. If found without proper documents, the corresponding seizure and forfeiture proceedings will be conducted against the subject shipments for violation of Sec. 1400 (misdeclaration in goods declaration) in relation to Sec. 1113 (property subject to seizure and forfeiture) of Republic Act 10863 known as the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA). For his part, Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence Group Juvymax Uy acknowledged the proper coordination from respective government agencies for successful operation. ‘This operation shows what we can achieve with proper coordination between BOC and key government agencies. More than anything else, this shows what we’ve been saying all along, that the bureau will not stop its anti-smuggling drive against agricultural products and illicit cigarettes,’ Uy added.

Source: Philippines News Agency

London – a key destination in President Ho Chi Minh’s 30-year journey abroad

President Ho Chi Minh’s stay in London was the very outset of his revolutionary career, which had a profound effect on him, especially the development of his own thinking, British historian John Callow told the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s correspondents in the UK on the occasion of the late leader’s 133th birth anniversary (May 19,1890 – 2023).

According to the historian, as part of his great journey, in May 1914, President Ho Chi Minh, called Nguyen Tat Thanh at that time, came to London – the power centre of imperialism, the financial centre of capitalism and the capital of a system that stretched to India through Africa. The UK, at that time, was still the workshop of the world, with enormous fleets and armies.

President Ho Chi Minh wanted to learn about secrets of imperialism, and to have a sense of the developed industrial world. There had been risings against imperialists, colonists and capitalism, but these had all failed. President Ho Chi Minh wanted to understand reasons behind those failures and find out different patterns to development for Vietnamese people as a nation.

He arrived in London at time of great industrial unrest with a lot of strikes, such as the one in Liverpool and the Irish people’s rising in 1916 to fight for their own independence. According to Callow, this was a crucial period that affected President Ho Chi Minh enormously.

When in London, the President first took a job shovelling snow in a school playground in the incredibly cold. He then moved to Drayton Court Hotel on the railway line, further to the east, before working at the Carlton Hotel, where the President washed dishes, and later became a skilled worker under the wing of the great pastry chefs. Here he saw the gulf that separated the rich from the poor.

He was shocked at the waste that the rich who ate here, throwing out whole chickens or whole sides of steak. He collected these together, and every night dispersed them to the poor who waited at the back of the building here for something to eat. While being here, President Ho Chi Minh joined an organised labour association that brought together Chinese, Lao and Vietnamese workers.

The British historian said much of what we know about President Ho Chi Minh in this period comes from the postcards he sent to his friends and comrades in Paris, three of which had got intercepted.

The French police’s records also showed reports on a Vietnamese worker in London joining the movement of trade unionists. According to Callow, President Ho Chi Minh probably lived in a little flat just at the back of Tottenham Court Road as the French police intercepted some of his writings and had the English police raid the address. But he was long gone by then.

At that time, the British labour movement was very well developed with a lot of socialist writings. President Ho Chi Minh got a lot of social socialism journals, so it was probably the first time he encountered the work of Karl Marx in London.

Callow pointed out that President Ho Chi Minh was walking in the footsteps of the father of modern socialism.

What he got from Marx would be an explanation for all the things he saw in this period, the historian said, adding this was the bedrock of the President’s political economy and thought.

But at the very same time, President Ho Chi Minh left Britain just after the 1917 revolution in Russia and was also incredibly influenced by Lenin’s work on the colonial peoples.

Callow said the brilliance of President Ho Chi Minh was looking at the founders of scientific socialism, of Marx and Angles, but then updating what they were saying and combining with the new thoughts of Lenin that spoke directly to the peasant workers and peoples of the world and directly had an impact on a country like Vietnam which was colonised, brutalised under the thumb of the great trading companies.

The historian said the greatness of Ho Chi Minh was his ability not to follow ideas for their own sake, but to take ideas, to create and develop them, and to never lose sight of the need for the national liberation of the Vietnamese people to make their lives better, healthier, happier, more decent.

Speaking of President Ho Chi Minh’s thought, Callow said its greatness lied with its adaptability, its refusal to turn Marxism into a dogma, into something to be worshipped, to be nodded at, but to make it applicable in Vietnam, to never lose sight of the revolutionary conditions.

The President thought every day and every night about achieving his goal of revolution, and to have a revolution that would be really worthwhile to sweep away the empires that dominated the fates and the life chances of the Vietnamese people and to put something better and brighter in their place.

Callow noted that President Ho Chi Minh took the best traditions of Vietnamese culture, of it’s amazing ancient society that existed long before the City of London, but put it within new times.

His thought gave the Communist Party of Vietnam the adaptability that led them to Doi Moi (Reform).

Speaking of personal qualities of President Ho Chi Minh that made him an outstanding leader, Callow said alongside his enormous political qualities for organisation and inspirational leadership, there was also the essential simplicity of the President.

“He had an amazing intellect but he had never lost his contact with the people, whether it was the people of London or small farmers of Vietnam that he spoke to directly. He never lost sight of the people themselves and did not let power go to his head. He did not set himself apart from the people. He understood the people and was a part of the people, but was a leader of the world in the true sense,” the historian said.

“He was humble, quiet and unassuming, and brave and had enormous dignity at the same time. His poetic Prison Diary gave a sense of the man himself. His humanity, his calmness under great stress, his creativity that he used in jail turned out a work of art, a work of poetry and a work to fire the imagination of his comrades in the underground movement.”

The historian concluded that President Ho Chi Minh was a great world figure who could combine intellect with passion, with decency, with the sense of a man who was absolutely incorruptible and put the people of his own nation before everything else in his life. And his work, while it is art or politics, was always there first and foremost at the service of the people./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency