28 October 2010

Phnom Penh CPO Postmarks (Part 1)

After the Khmer Rouge lost to the Vietnamese in Janurary 1979, the new Phnom Penh administration encouraged people to take up their former work again so to set things back on track as soon as possible. Unfortunately the Phnom Penh Central Post Office found only 1/4 of its former staff back to work (See ICP #41 "Cambodia").

Postal service resumed but initially only for official use, later it was made available to public. A lack of information leaves the type of postmarks
unconfirmed, if any were used in 1979. A reasonable guess is, the Lon Nol era (1970-1975) postmarks were the resort before a brand new "la République Populaire du Kampuchéa" (RPK) postmark appeared in 1980.

This "Phnom Penh CPO Postmarks" series is aimed to give a quick review on Phnom Penh Central Post Office postmarks on letters from 1980 to 2010.

Philatelist Graham Shaw has also written a series of articles on Phnom Penh postmarks. Please click here for his website.


The first RPK postmark appeared on the FDC of a 4v set issued on 10th April 1980. It is single ring edged, inscription reads "PHNOM PENH RP. KAMPUCHEA" in French on the lower half of the postmark inner edge. "RP" is the acronym of "Recette Principale", the main post office of a city or an area, in here refers to the Phnom Penh Central Post Office. In Khmer there is only the post office name on the upper half of the postmark inner edge.

This postmark type ruled from 1980 to 1994. It comes in a very big variety of sizes and fonts, in here I am not going into details.

Some postmarks are numbered. The most distinctive one is number 3 which was the first to put in service, and it has 2 versions. The first version has the number 3 in both Arabic and Khmer numerals (Khmer numeral after the Khmer words "Phnom Penh", Arabic numeral between the French words "PHNOM PENH" and "KAMPUCHEA), and the French acronym "RP" right after "Phnom Penh" in Khmer is left out. The other version is with the number 3 only in Arabic, "Phnom Penh Post Office" in Khmer appears under the upper ring edge of the postmark.

The number 3 Khmer numeral version first came in service in early 1980s, it is from the mail handling centre co-operated with the postal training centre. The one only in Arabic numeral, together with others such as 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, joined the family in around 1987 or later. It should be noted that the numbers are not in connective sequence.

The following illustrates "Phnom Penh 3" (top right) of 1982, and three other numbers (1, 6, 9) from late 1980s to first half of 1990s:

Here is number 3 - Arabic numeral only version, the wide Arabic numeral "3" after the Khmer words "Phnom Penh" is faint but eligible to read:

Lon Nol era postmarks were used alongside with the generation 1 postmarks until mid 1990s. Below shows a 1980 and a 1989 usage:

(to be continued)

Please click here for Phnom Penh CPO Postmark (Part 2)
Please click here for Phnom Penh CPO Postmark (Part 3)

20 October 2010

Maximum Cards of Cambodia

Maximaphily is not very popular among collectors of modern Cambodia as most collectors are actually outside the country who are unable to make their own maxicards.

The most common maxicards on the market are the WWF sets of 1986 wild cattles and 1997 Indian elephants. They are a dime a dozen. It should be noted that although they claim to be "official", they were arranged by Groth AG and COPREFIL, the official agencies of WWF and Cambodian stamps, Cambodian postal authority seems not informed. They have never been sold in Cambodia.

The following shows the WWF 1986 wild cattles and 1997 Indian elephants maxicard sets:

In 1999 Cambodia issued a sheetlet of 8 stamps and a label celebrating China'99 Stamp Expo. To spice things up, COPREFIL made a set of 8 postcards and 8 corresponding first-day pictorial postmarks available only at the Expo venue, collectors could make their own maxicards right the way. Some Chinese collectors took the chance to use their own postcards to compile distinct maxicards. The first maxicard shown below features the standard postcard, the second a private one:

These are the only 3 "official" maxicard sets ever available. If you want more maxicards, you have to compile your own.

Maximaphily is an advance hobby which demands great creativity and knowledge. There is no greater satisfaction than matching up the postcards, stamps and postmarks, I always prefer self compiled cards to official issues, what is your preference?

8 October 2010

Kingdom's Post to go Public

Phnom Penh Post, 7 June 2010 by Nguon Sovan

Phnom Penh's central post office is shown on Sunday. A new sub-decree by the Council of Ministers has approved a plan to privatise the Kingdom's postal service to improve efficiency and and transparency ahead of a potential listing on Cambodia's forthcoming stock exchange.

Officials say privatising Cambodia’s postal service will increase transparency

CAMBODIA’s postal system will be become a public enterprise early next year in a bid to prepare for eventually listing on the domestic stock exchange, officials said Sunday.

Moving control from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) to operations at arm’s length will increase transparency and grow revenues, MPTC secretary of state Sarak Khann said.

“The government has targeted listing it on the upcoming stock market, so it will become a public enterprise to increase transparency in account standards and financial statements,” he said. “When it is transparent enough and generates sufficient revenue, it may be listed on the bourse.”

The Council of Ministers approved a draft sub-decree establishing Cambodia’s postal office as a public enterprise, according to a press release issued Friday.

Prepared by the MPTC, the sub-decree moves the postal system to a public enterprise to reform the management system, the release said. It added that the system would take advantage of modern information technology to track postal consignments, along with expanding service in remote areas.

Cambodia’s postal services were poorly developed, said Sarak Khann, who also leads a joint committee composed of MPTC and Ministry of Finance officials in evaluating the properties and capital of the system.

“We want to generate revenue from this sector like developed countries, not just around US$2 million a year it earns nowadays,” he said.

Some 20 local and foreign companies are licenced to do business in postal services, but only half are presently in operation, he said.

Transport and logistics firm TNT Express Worldwide Cambodia and Laos general manager Sjaak de Klein said they welcome increased openness in the postal system.

“We always welcome fair competition in a level playing field in a liberal postal market. We believe that the ultimate user benefits from these developments,” he said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the move to a private enterprise would improve financial responsibility as well as increase effectiveness and provide more autonomy in technology and finance.

“With the switch, we hope Cambodia’s post offices will provide better service and compete fairly with private enterprise,” he said.

Cambodia’s postal system presently includes 700 employees working at 80 post offices in 24 cities. Employees working for both the postal system and government ministries will have to choose one employer when the move to a public enterprise takes place, Sarak Khann said.

After becoming a public enterprise, he said, the post service’s board will be composed of representatives from the MPTC, the Ministry of Finance, the Council of Ministers, a government appointed CEO, and a staff representative.

The Cambodian Securities Exchange is scheduled to launch by the end of the year, and any qualified private firm or public enterprise is eligible to list, Cambodia Securities and Exchange Commission (SECC) director general Ming Bankosal said.

“All companies, not only Cambodia’s postal service, will be considered for listing if their financial soundness and corporate governance meet the criteria set by the SECC.”

A firm interested in listing on the SECC must be transparent in its accounting and governance, according to the stock market’s rules. To issue an initial public offering (IPO), it is required to have minimum capital of 10 billion riels, or $2.35 million, an annual profit of 1.5 billion riels, or $352,941, and net profits for three years totaling 3 billion riel, or $705,882.

1 October 2010

Domestic Postal Rates for Letters

In 2008 Cambodia Post made a postage uprate. According to the new postage guidebook published by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, domestic letters up to 10g rose from 300r to 500r, 10g to 50g cost 800r. Then rates are calculated at 50g intervals:

050g to 100g - 1300r
100g to 150g - 1800r
150g to 200g - 2300r
200g to 250g - 2800r

The list goes on till 2kg. The charge is flat despite the dispatch distance. Illustrated below is a Phnom Penh postcard to Takhmau, the provincial capital of Kandal, bearing the basic 500r postage. Postcards and letters share the same postage rates.


This Phnom Penh intracity cover bears the 10g to 50g postage of 800r:

Registered service is available at 800r extra, it is only available at selected post offices, primarily the capital, provincial capitals and certain sub branches. Below features a registered cover from Takhmau to Phnom Penh with 1300r stamps for 500r under 10g domestic postage and 800r registration fee.

Below is another cover from the city of Battambang to Phnom Penh, 1350r paying the 500r domestic rate and 800r registered fee. Strange enough many post offices have stamp stock which fails to compile the exact postage for customers, the solution is just to get close to it, in this case there is a 50r surplus.

Unknown to most postal historians and philatelists, senders still pay 1300r to the postal clerk, not the face value of stamps. Sometimes post offices cheat customers but that is another story.

Some post offices do not have domestic registered ID labels (analog), the substitution is S10 code registration ID labels which are originally meant for international mail. This Stung Treng to Phnom Penh cover gives an example:

According to the face value of stamps, the letter has a postage surplus as well, but the actual payment can be a different case.

Cambodia Post also offers EMS service. EMS charges at very moderate rates: letters under 25g cost 6000r, 25g to 50g is 8700r, 0.5g to 1kg is 12000r. This is the reason why local businesses prefer EMS to usual delivery which is slow and unreliable.