Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Samak wants casinos legalised to fight gambling

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej

04 March 2008

(BangkokPost.com) - Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej has underlined his intention to legalise casinos as part of the government's strategy to crack own on illegal casinos.

"If this government gets to complete its four-year term, people will definitely get to see legalised casinos," he said.

Speakig following his return from Cambodia where he was on a two day visit, Mr Samak said he and his Cambodian counterpart had briefly discussed plans to propose that Phra Vihear temple be named a Unesco World Heritage site.

He then went on to defend the recent transfers of four senior government offiicials saying they were done appropriately.

"There have only been four transfers. I'm not worried at all that this would have a negative impact on the government's reputation," he said. He also stressed that the government will not be involved with future changes expected at the Foreign Ministry.

Mercedes becomes driving force of ASEAN Tour

By Ossian Shine

SINGAPORE, March 4 (Reuters) - German automaker Mercedes-Benz has thrown its considerable financial muscle behind a fledgling regional golf tour aimed at developing talent in Southeast Asia.

Mercedes were on Tuesday unveiled as tour title sponsor of the ASEAN Golf Tour and, although neither the sponsor nor the tour would reveal the exact sum of sponsorship, an insider told Reuters it was a "seven-figure U.S. dollar deal".

The tour will feature 10 events in this its first full year, and they will be played in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

"There is a possibility that we will add several more this year," chairman of the tour, AC Wong, told reporters at a news conference. "We are in the process of engaging Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Brunei. It is my hope that we will soon host a tournament in each one of the 10 ASEAN nations.

ASEAN -- the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- is a geo-political and economic organisation of 10 nations: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The first event of the 2008 tour will take place in Malaysia from May 15-18.

The season-ending Tour Championship will be played in Bangkok from Nov. 27-30.

News of the tour's launch was welcomed by professionals across the region.

"This is a very significant development for golf in Asia and it will definitely make the golfing world sit up and take notice," Malaysia's top golfer Danny Chia said.

"The circuit is an ideal breeding ground for young players."

Only golfers resident in an ASEAN country will be eligible for the tour, Wong said, and there is no plan to offer places to golfers from outside the region.

"Our priority is to develop the talent in the region," he smiled.

(Editing by Martin Petty)

Cambodia's revenge fiasco

Tuesday, March 4, 2008
By GLYN FORD
Special to The Japan Times

BRUSSELS — Cambodia is currently witnessing the commencement of what is likely to become a grotesque farce. In July, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia will try four Khmer Rouge leaders, as well as the commandant of the infamous S21 Tuol Sleng prison, for crimes committed more than 30 years ago. The trials are expected to cost more than 150 million euro, a sixth of the country's annual GDP.

The ECCC has already started taking testimony from witnesses. The former leaders on trial will be Pol Pot's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, his wife Ieng Thirith (social affairs minister), Deputy Secretary Nuon Chea and President Khieu Samphan. The other man in the dock is Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Comrade Duch from the notorious S21.

We've been here before. Eight months after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, the new government tried Pol Pot and Ieng Sary in absentia, sentencing both to death. The trial's pointed references to a Chinese master plan of genocide, however, injected an unpalatable political flavor that Washington found unacceptable, given the Cold War configurations at the time. Retribution was left in limbo until today.

Cambodia's tragic history of more than 60 years culminated in the horrors of the Khmer Rouge's reign from 1975-79, when Pol Pot tried to wipe history and society clean in the ultimate revolution. For him, Kim Il Sung and Mao Zedong might have "socialism as a base but they were not clear of the capitalist framework."

The result was many hundreds of thousands starved, and tens of thousands casually killed by cadres of Angkar (Pol Pot's decision-making organization) in the countryside. This was matched by the torture and killing of a comparable number of cadres in the purges that swept Angkar as failure, incompetence and lying were read as sabotage.

Pol Pot ordered a series of bloody incursions into Vietnam. The Vietnamese counterattacked, invading in December 1978 alongside former Khmer Rouge soldiers who had fled the purges. Phnom Penh was captured in early January. Instead of welcoming the overthrow of the truly awful by those considered merely undesirable, the United States, China, Thailand and Britain all aligned themselves with Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.

Clinging to control in the far western fringes of Cambodia, they continued to hold the country's seat at the United Nations with annual arm-twisting in New York from Washington and Beijing until 1990. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher even sent in the SAS to train, as she put it, the "good" Khmer Rouge. How she distinguished who they were was never entirely clear.

Now almost two generations on, a final accounting is to be enacted. It's as if the Nuremberg Trial of World War II Nazi leaders were being held in 1975. No one has thought to ask the people of Cambodia what they want.

With no secondary mechanism for low-level offenders, there will inevitably be scapegoating of these five survivors at the top. With the exception of Duch, they are old and ill. It is likely that one or more will die before the trial ends.

The ECCC's terms of reference exclude from consideration all crimes against humanity outside of the Khmer Rouge period of power in Phnom Penh. So, former U.S. State Secretary Henry Kissinger won't be on the stand waving his Nobel Peace Prize while defending the illegal and secret U.S. bombing of Cambodia (and Laos) when more tons of high explosives were dropped than during World War II. Nor will other political figures attempt to justify the post-1979 collaboration with this murderous regime.

Asia's equivalent of Nuremberg was the less gentlemanly and more political International War Crimes Tribunal of the Far East. Here the unspoken issue was whether Japan's Emperor Hirohito should be indicted. The decision was made to spare him so that he could act as a conservative rallying point against the threat of communism.

The ECCC faced a similar decision. Khieu Samphan was head of state only from 1976, so if he's to be tried, why not "King-Father" Norodom Sihanouk who preceded him? The process is expected to last until 2012 at least.

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, 400 defendants were tried over three years at a total cost of 20 million euro. In Cambodia, it's working out to be 600 times more expensive per defendant.

One of Ieng Sary's lawyers is Jacques Verges, famous for defending Gestapo member Klaus Barbie ("Butcher of Lyon"). In a quixotic twist of fate, Verges was the man who signed up his client, along with Pol Pot, to the French Communist Party in the early 1950s. His grandstanding and histrionics will make the trial entertaining if not elucidating.

In a rethreading of the 1979 "trial," some defense lawyers will argue that Japan's heavy funding of the costs of the ECCC — 17 million euro so far, compared to 750,000 euro from the European Union — is not unconnected to a desire to see Beijing's support of Pol Pot put in the dock.

After decades of refusing to properly apologize (from a Chinese perspective) for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people at Nanking in the 1930s, Japan's neoconservatives could use a Chinese atrocity as a counterweight. The saddest thing about this whole unfolding fiasco is that this might be the best and worst we can hope for.

Member of the European Parliament Glyn Ford has just returned from a visit to Cambodia.

Sacravatoons : " Anti Corruption Law "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon : http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

Sacravatoons : " 2 Trees "

Courtesy of Sacravatoon : http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

S,Nguy's Poem from Battambang

Courtesy of Sacravatoon : http://sacrava.blogspot.com/

US national charged with coat-hanger strangling of girl in Cambodia

The Earth Times
Tue, 04 Mar 2008
DPA

Phnom Penh - A US national was charged with murder after police were called when he jumped from his burning apartment and they discovered the body of a young Vietnamese woman, a court official said Tuesday. Grant Kim Helling, 46, was charged with the murder of the unidentified woman Monday, Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor Ouk Savuth said by telephone.

The alleged crime took place two weeks previously and investigations were continuing, Savuth said.

The motive was unclear but methamphetamines were believed to be involved, police said. They said Helling had admitted to strangling the woman but said he had not realized he had killed her.
Police were still investigating how the apartment had caught fire and whether it was an attempt by Helling to destroy evidence.

Under Cambodian law, Helling can be held for six months in pre-trial detention. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

The local English-language Cambodia Daily interviewed Helling in hospital where he is being treated for injuries sustained from his leap from the window.

"It was an accident ... one of those things you can't avoid - like a mosquito," the paper quoted him as saying.

Thailand Conducts Preah Vihear Temple Campaign Before Thai Premier’s Visit to Cambodia

4 March 2008.
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 550

“Phnom Penh: When Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej arrived in Cambodia on Monday of 3 March 2008, the issue of Preah Vihear Temple seemed to come along with him to discuss it with Samdech Dechor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of Cambodia.

“Even though Thailand officially declared that it supports Cambodia’s efforts to list Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], Thailand, in fact, does not have the willingness to do so, as we have looked into the news events released by Thai newspapers prior to the official visit of Mr. Samak Sundaravej to Cambodia.

[In view of the importance of good mutual understanding, we refer in this issue also to some documents of international organizations, and others from the Thai side, so that our readers can get a broader picture.]

“The Thai campaign against listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site is seen through monitoring of reports by large Thai newspapers prior to Mr. Samak Sundaravej’s official visit to Cambodia, after he became Prime Minister of Thailand. For a period of one month, starting from early January to late February, major Thai English language newspapers, including The Nation and the Bangkok Post, have published at least four sensitive articles concerning listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site. To conclude, the publications of the newspapers reflectis the stance of Thailand, which uses the border issue to obstruct the process of putting Preah Vihear Temple on the World Heritage Site list of UNESCO.

“The Bangkok Post, on 26 February 2008, reported that, ‘Mr. Samak told General Anupong Paojinda and General Boonsrang Niempradit on Monday that his government still has its firm position to expect to see the demarcation of the border in advance.’ As for an issue released one week ago - on 19 February 2008 - the English language Bangkok Post said, “A shared cultural heritage is again at the center of a tug of war.” According to the analysis, in seven other articles of The Nation and the Bangkok Post, Thailand has the intention to have the border issue solved first, by giving the reason that Thailand is losing land, and its sovereignty is violated, for deciding to wait with listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.

“But as for Cambodia, the listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site is considered not to be a border issue. Mr. Hor Namhong, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, was quoted by The Nation on 22 February as saying that the Phnom Penh government was ready to declare that the process of listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site would not affect the border demarcation [which has still to be negotiated later], so as to put [later] markers on the Cambodian-Thai border.

“Under the pressure of the Thai military, it was expected that Mr. Samak would take up the issue of Preah Vihear Temple to talk with Cambodian leaders [actually, the Thai side had publicly declared that Preah Vihear is not on their agenda, though they expected it would be raised by the Cambodian side], even though his visit is paid in a diplomatic manner, in order to introduce himself to other South-East Asian leaders, as he has recently became prime minister.

He has his reasons to talk about this issue, in order to make the Thai military, which had ousted Thaksin Shinawatra from the position of prime minister through a military coup d’├ętat, happy and hopeful of reducing tensions in Thailand’s internal politics. But the Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama was quoted by the Bangkok Post as saying that the issue [of the Cambodian-Thai border demarcation in the Preah Vihear area] has still to be negotiated, and it will be solved through diplomatic channels when he meets with Mr. Sok An, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers, in Bangkok [actually, the Bangkok Post of 22 February quoted Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama as saying the issue would be discussed between Mr. Var Kim Hong, the head of the Cambodian Border Committee, and the Thai Foreign Ministry’s Legal Affairs Department chief, Mr. Weerachai Pladisai]
“It is known that Mr. Sok An is the leader of the Cambodian mission to list Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site. But according to the plan of the two-day visit on 3-4 March, Mr. Samak does not have a meeting with Mr. Sok An in person in his program, even though he meets with Samdech Dechor Hun Sen, and King Norodom Sihamoni grants him an audience. In preparation, before visiting Cambodia, Mr. Samak had asked the Thai military to give him detailed information about Preah Vihear.

“Is Thailand successful in opposing the listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee?

“According to the Decision: 31 COM 8B.24 of the above committee, the committee approved that the Preah Vihear Temple will be officially listed as a World Heritage Site at the 32nd session in 2008. But the Thai campaign against listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site can cause trouble, and can make a number of countries, which receive economic benefits from Thailand, hesitate in supporting Cambodia, as they are afraid of disappointing their economic partner, namely Thailand.

“Analysts said that the border issue and listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site are two totally different problems which demand separate solutions. Therefore, the border issue should be solved together by the border committees of both countries on the basis of friendship.

The border issue is not the responsibility of UNESCO, which is a purely cultural organization. If UNESCO makes any decision in relation to the border issue, it can make people misunderstand that the organization has a political rather than cultural character, unlike what is stated in its charter. Moreover, it is contrary or not respectful of the decision of the International Court of Justice. It should be remembered that the International Court of Justice in The Hague decided, on 15 March 1962, with the support of a 9-to-5 vote, that the Preah Vihear Temple is within the sovereignty of Cambodia. Therefore, Thailand has the obligation to withdraw troops, police, or guards or sentries who are stationed at Preah Vihear Temple or the nearby regions on the [not yet demarcated] Cambodian soil.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol. 16, #4530, 2-3.3.2008
[We make the full text of the relevant UNESCO decision avaliable at the end of this article for the reference of our readers – it shows in detail the different steps mutually agreed upon by the delegations of both countries, including the need of certain measures of preservation by international cooperation, for which Thailand had offered its support. - We do not have information about the Progress Report, which Cambodia had to present to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2008.]

UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION, CONVENTION CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF THE WORLD CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE

Thirty-first session, Christchurch, New Zealand
DECISIONS ADOPTED: - full text of 207 pages

Here only pages 153 and 154, related to Preah Vihear:
Decision: 31 COM 8B.24 of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, taken at Christchurch, New Zealand
23 June – 2 July 2007

The World Heritage Committee,

1- Having examined Documents WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/INF.8B.1,

2- Having taken note of the following statement by the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee which has been agreed to by the Delegation of Cambodia and the Delegationof Thailand:The State Party of Cambodia and the State Party of Thailand are in full agreement that the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear has Outstanding Universal Value and must be inscribed on the World Heritage List as soon as possible. Accordingly, Cambodia and Thailand agree that Cambodia will propose the site for formal inscription on the World Heritage List at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2008 with the active support of Thailand.They also agree that the site is in need of urgent attention and requires international financial and technical assistance and close cooperation between them.They further agree that it is essential to strengthen conservation and management at the site including by the development of an appropriate management plan, as required under paragraph 108 of the Operational Guidelines, that will ensure the future protection of this property.They understand, following consultation with the World Heritage Centre, that financial and technical assistance for the development of a management plan will be available through the World Heritage Centre’s International Assistance programme.

3- Recognizes that the Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear is of great international significance and has Outstanding Universal Value on the basis of criteria(i), (ii) and (iv), agrees in principle that it should be inscribed on the World Heritage List and notes that the process for inscription is in progress;

4- Requests the State Party of Cambodia to strengthen conservation and management at the site by making progress in developing an appropriate management plan, which progress will enable its formal inscription by the Committee at its 32nd session in 2008;

5- Further requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit a progress report to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2008.

The following is a reference to the Judgement of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, 15 June 1962, relating to the soverignty of Cambodia over the Preah Vihear Temple - full text of 69 pages. The preface to the judgment – following here - shows, however, that the court was aware of the “Uncertain character of resulting delimitation in disputed area” - it is not know to us which of the necessary measures have been, or have not been, taken in the meantime since 1962.

Territorial sovereignty.-Title deriving from treaty.-Treaty clauses establishing frontier along watershed line as delimited by Mixed Commission of Parties.-Uncertain character of resulting delimitation in disputed area.-Eventual production by experts of one Party, at the request of the other, of a map.-Non-binding character of map at moment of its production.-Subsequent acceptance by conduct of map and frontier line by other Party.-Legal effect of silence as implying consent.-Alleged non-correspondence of map line with true watershed 1ine.-Acceptance of risk of errors.-Subsequent conduct confirming original acceptance and precluding a denial of it.-Effect of subsequent treaties confirming existing frontiers and as evidence of Parties’ desire for frontier stability and finality.-InterPretation of treaty settlement considered as a whole, including map.

Thailand not oppose Cambodian's bid for listing Preah Vihear World Heritage

chinaview.cn
2008-03-04

PHNOM PENH, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Thailand has no objections to Cambodia's listing Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage site, Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith was quoted as saying by Tuesday's national newspapers.

The Thai prime minister has reaffirmed their stands when talked with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen for around an hour, reported English-Khmer language daily newspaper the Mekong Times.

"We have not yet to register the whole resort (as the world heritage site) because Preah Vihear temple is located on the three peaks and there remains controversy over border issue in some places. So, we list only the temple which is used for worship," Hun Sen explained to Samak Sundaravej during their meeting, said Cambodian language daily newspaper the Rasmei Kampuchea.

Khieu Kanharith told another Cambodian newspaper the Kampuchea Thmey that he hoped that the Thai leader's reiteration would pave the way for Cambodia to seek registration of Preah Vihear temple as UNESCO World Heritage site in a meeting to be held in Canada in six months.

Cambodia was granted ownership of the temple by the International Court of Justice in 1962.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia

Hun Sen farewells Samak on homeward trip

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej (R) greets Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) during a meeting in Phnom Penh on March 3, 2008 . Samak Sundaravej began a series of visits to introduce himself and his government's policies to ASEAN member countries with a trip to the neighbouring countries of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) and the Kingdom of Cambodia from February 29 through March 4.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej (R) walks in after greeting Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) during a meeting in Phnom Penh on March 3, 2008 . Samak Sundaravej began a series of visits to introduce himself and his government's policies to ASEAN member countries with a trip to the neighbouring countries of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) and the Kingdom of Cambodia from February 29 through March 4.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)
Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej listens during a meeting with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh on March 3, 2008 . Samak Sundaravej began a series of visits to introduce himself and his government's policies to ASEAN member countries with a trip to the neighbouring countries of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) and the Kingdom of Cambodia from February 29 through March 4.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA)

Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh (dpa) - Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej flew out of Cambodia Tuesday, seen off by his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen after a two-day visit that touched upon sea borders and a disputed border temple.

Newly-elected Samak sought to strengthen bilateral ties with neighbouring Cambodia during his visit, but instead found talks on growing anger over allegations that Thai border patrols use undue force in controlling Cambodian immigrant workers to Thailand, resulting in at least a dozen shooting deaths a year.

Cambodia is looking to make its claims on disputed sea borders legal before expected rich offshore oil reserves are tapped within two years. Hun Sen urged Thailand to be more flexible, allowing a "win-win situation between our two nations."

The disputed Preah Vihear border temple and Cambodia's move to have it listed as a Unesco World Heritage site will be discussed in more detail when Deputy Prime Minister Sok An visits Thailand later this year.

Visits to neighbouring nations have become a tradition for new leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which both countries are members.

Interior Minister backs legalised casinos

(BangkokPost.com) - Interior Minister Chalerm Yubamrung expressed his support for Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's idea of legalising casinos in Thailand.

Mr Chalerm used neighbouring countries including Singapore, Malaysia and Cambodia as examples, saying that they all benefit greatly in tourism.

However, he said it is highly likely that only foreigners are allowed to gamble.

"In principle, Thais should not be allowed to gamble," he told reporters prior to joining weekly cabinet meeting. "We will study this matter from other countries."

Prime Minister's Office Minister Jakrapob Penkair, meanwhile, downplayed the issue.

He said this is an important matter and the government will listen to opinions from all parties before reaching any decisions.

"We would like to hear views of different parties first," he said. "We cannot think only of the economic. We have to think also in term of culture. And we will not proceed with this unless people agree with us."

Juniors go to Phuket

Bangkok Post

EDWARD THANGARAJAH

Junior athletes from 11 nations in Southeast Asia will assemble in Phuket, May 22-23 at the Surakul Stadium to compete in the third Junior Amateur Athletic Association Championships.

The countries billed to take part are Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Burma, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.

The event is organised by Phuket governor Niran Kalayanamitr and the Phuket Provincial Administration.

The Junior AAA meet was launched three years ago to raise the standard of athletics in the region, pointed out the vice-president and secretary-general of the Amateur Athletic Association of Thailand, Pol Maj Gen Surapong Ariyamongkol yesterday.

The meet is open to boys and girls under 19 years.

QSR in joint venture to open KFC Cambodia

Tuesday March 4, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: QSR Brands Bhd has signed an agreement with Royal Group of Companies Ltd (RGC) and Rightlink Corp Ltd Hong Kong (RCL) to form a joint venture company to operate the Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant (KFC Cambodia) business in Cambodia.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, QSR said the new joint venture company, Kampuchea Food Corp Ltd (KFCL) would be responsible for the operations of KFC Cambodia.

It said the new company would have an initial paid-up capital of RM5.25mil with QSR holding 55% equity, RGC 35% and RCL the remaining 10%. - Bernama

Border demarcation between Cambodia, Vietnam to be completed by 2012

chinaview.cn
2008-03-04

PHNOM PENH, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia and Vietnam have affirmed their determination to speed up the demarcation of the land border between the two nations, local media reported Tuesday.

The work will be completed by 2012, the Mekong Times newspaper said, citing Var Kim Hong, Cambodian Senior Minister in charge of border affairs and Chairman of the Cambodian-Vietnam Joint Border Commission.

The contentious Cambodia-Vietnam border demarcation began in 2005 and was supposed to be finished in 2007, the newspaper said.

"We planned to finish the border demarcation between Cambodia and Vietnam at the end of last year, but due to technical issues, such as unclear maps made during French colonial times and flooding, so far the project is about 30 percent completed," Var Kim Hong said, adding that about 30 of the total 340 markers have been installed.

Both sides agreed to identify all remaining positions on the map and install the most important border markers by the end of the year, Var Kim Hong said.

Editor: Jiang Yuxia

Cambodia-Thai meeting focuses on border killings

Asia-Pacific News
Mar 3, 2008

Phnom Penh - It was expected to be a showdown about a disputed border temple, but the meeting between new Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej instead focused on growing anger over killings of Cambodian immigrant workers, a spokesman said Monday.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith told reporters at a press conference that Samak's two-day visit at Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's invitation had been cordial - but issues of disputed sea borders and border killings of itinerant Cambodians had come up.

So too had the Preah Vihear temple problem, he said, but Thailand and Cambodia had spoken reasonably on the controversial move to make the temple perched on the two nations' border a UNESCO World Heritage site for Cambodia - a proposal Thailand has objected to.

As a newly-elected leader, Samak's visit to neighbouring nations has become a tradition for new leaders of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations, of which both countries are members.

Kanharith said talks focused on the disputed sea borders between both nations instead, with Cambodia looking to make its claims to territory legal before expected rich offshore oil reserves are tapped within two years.

Also on the table were Cambodian allegations that Thailand uses undue force in controlling Cambodian immigrant workers to Thailand, which results in at least a dozen shooting deaths at the hands of Thai border patrols per year, according to border police.

'Please, do not use unnecessary violence (on the borders) because it could disturb the Cambodian people,' Kanharith warned. 'Thailand has full rights to control illegal immigrants, but Thailand should also respect human rights.'

He said although the Preah Vihear temple had been discussed, Cambodia stood firm that the northern border temple belonged to it and it was Cambodia's right to ask for World Heritage rights.

The issue is a controversial one in both nations. On Monday, the nationalistic Student Movement for Democracy issued a statement demanding Hun Sen refuse to speak with Samak regarding Preah Vihear, citing the 1962 ruling by the International Court of Justice in the Hague that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia.

That movement's leader, Kein Sara, was briefly imprisoned in 2003 for his alleged role in the anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh. Angry mobs had burned the Thai embassy and Thai businesses after a Thai actress was said to have claimed another cultural icon, the Angkor Wat temple complex, was Thai. Sara was quickly released.

Although allies, tensions between the neighbouring nations go back centuries. However issues including cultural ownership, Cambodia's possible impending new oil wealth and other border issues have strained relations.

On Monday Kanharith said the oil field border dispute had been discussed extensively by Hun Sen and Samat, and Thailand had been urged to be less inflexible, allowing a 'win-win situation between our two nations'.

PM visits local market in Cambodia

(BangkokPost.com) - Prime minister Samak Sundaravej asked for some time alone this morning, on his second and final day of an official visit to Cambodia.

Mr Samak,a keen chef and culinary expert, reportedly nipped off to a local market in Phnom Penh to observe the atmosphere there. According to a local paper, the Thai premier spend over an hour at the market before returning to his hotel.

On Monday, he met with Cambodian leader Hun Sen to discuss bilateral issues, including Thai assistance to Cambodia in the constructin of transportation routes in the future.

Mr Samak is due back in Thailand on Thai Airways International flight TG 697 expected to land at Suvarnabhumi airport at 11a.m.

Farm loan waiver unlikely to affect banks' profits: BoI

economictimes.indiatimes.com
4 Mar, 2008

MUMBAI: Bank of India (BoI) has said that it has around Rs 400-crore agri loans which come under the purview of the debt-waiver scheme announced by the finance minister.

According to BoI chairman and managing director TS Narayanasami, the bank has made provisions for Rs 75 crore of these non-performing loans. He added the finance minister’s decision to waive off debt to farmers would not adversely affect the profitability of public sector banks (PSBs). Mr Narayanasami said, “The government has a substantial stake in terms of equity in all PSBs and they will not compromise on this while working out the methodology of the debt-waiver scheme.”

Government-owned banks are the main providers of credit to these farmers and were perceived to be affected by the Rs 60,000-crore debt-waiver plan that the government announced in the Budget. BoI, on its part, has Rs 400-crore loans that come under the purview of the debt-waiver scheme.

“We are confident there will not be any negative impact that the settlement modalities will have when they are finally structured. We believe that the government will not lose sight of PSBs,” he added. It is not yet clear how the government will go about settling the issue with banks. According to Mr Narayanasami, the mandate for the settlement will be given to the Reserve Bank of India or Nabard.

Incidentally, BoI’s domestic business crossed Rs 2 lakh crore on February 29. It witnessed a 23% growth in domestic credit to Rs 15,700 crore for the current financial year so far. It also recovered Rs 280 crore of previously written-off loans and upgraded bad loans worth Rs 200 crore. The bank is also in negotiations with Arcil and other asset-reconstruction companies (ARCs) to sell up to Rs 250 of NPAs.

The bank’s profitability in nine months has already crossed the last year’s figure. Mr Narayanasami attributed the rise in profits to a robust credit growth, non-interest income other than treasury income and good NPA-management. “We have been more intense in distribution of third-party products this year which resulted in fee income adding to our profitability,” he added.

BoI has recently received licences to open branches in Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Glasgow (Scotland). It will also operationalise subsidiaries in Tanzania and Canada and is looking at opening branches in Auckland (New Zealand) and Cairo (Egypt) soon, according to BoI general manager (international operations) BS Seshadri.

Thai premier backs inclusion of Cambodian temple in UNESCO list

2008-03-03

PHNOM PENH, March 3 (Kyodo) - Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej told Cambodia on Monday his government does not object to its move to have the border temple of Preah Vihear, which has long been involved in a territorial dispute between the two countries, included on the World Heritage List, a Cambodian government spokesman said.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith told reporters the visiting Thai premier, who arrived Monday for a two-day visit, offered the assurances in a meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

It comes in the wake of reports that Thailand was objecting to Cambodia's move to have the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization inscribe Preah Vihear temple on the World Heritage List because the two countries have not yet arrived at a demarcation agreement on land around the ruins.

The Thai News Agency quoted Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama as saying Monday that while the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled in 1962 that Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia, "the move by Cambodia to push the temple on the UNESCO World Heritage List should neither affect Thailand's rights in the overlapping zone nor at the border."

The temple, built between mid-10th and early 12th centuries, is located in Cambodia's northern province of Preah Vihear, just opposite Thailand's Sisaket Province.

Khieu Kanharith said UNESCO is expected to accept Cambodia's application, originally made in October 2001, when its World Heritage Committee meets in Quebec, Canada, in July this year.

CNVLD Announces Annual National Disability Awards

Rolling Rains Report:
March 03, 2008

The Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled) (CNVLD) has caught the spirit of the Recommendations of the Second International Conference on Accessible Tourism with its new National Disability Awards program.

As part of its ongoing commitment to promoting the Rights of Persons with a Disability, the CNVLD is proud to announce the inaugural CNVLD Annual National Disability Awards recognising commitment to accessibility and support in the Cambodian corporate sector.

After signing the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability in October 2007, the Cambodian Government recently passed its domestic disability law.

Rising investment in Cambodia has also led to rapid urban development in the capital Phnom Penh. In response to Cambodia’s changing landscape, the CNVLD National Disability Awards aim to encourage local corporate sector social responsibility in Disability Rights and Access.

The 2008 CNVLD National Disability Awards will be presented for:

• Best Access: Hotel /Hospitality
• Best Access: Retail
• Best Access: Educational Institute
• Best Access: Restaurant• Best Employer
• Best Corporate Support for Disability Rights

The CNVLD will assess the disability friendliness of some of Cambodia’s leading businesses based on a number of criteria including accessibility (entrances, steps, ramps, lifts, helpfulness / understanding of staff, use of facilities), positive employment and support for disability issues.

The inaugural 2008 CNVLD National Disability Awards winners will be announced on 1st September 2008. Category winners will be presented their awards along with the year’s best athletes by H.E Ith Sam Heng Minister of Social Affairs, Youth and Veteran’s Rehabilitation at the 2008 National Volleyball League Finals at the Olympic Stadium at the end of September 2008.

Award winners will receive unique a Cambodian trophy produced from destroyed AK-47s by Armed Art and a framed certificate. Award winners will also be provided stickers to promote their Accessibility Friendly’ status in their premises. Each winner will also be specially profiled on the CNVLD website.

Spotlight Puppet Parade - February 23 2008


A Guide to Property Investment Cambodia


Photo courtesy of AdamCathro

nubricks.com
by C Mahida on February 23, 2008

While a property investment in Cambodia would not necessarily be top of the list for many property investors, there have been a number of major changes over the last few years with regard to internal difficulties within the country, and it looks as though Cambodia could become one of the new property investment boom areas for 2008 and beyond.

We hereby list a number of reasons as to why you should be monitoring the situation in Cambodia and why it may well be an interesting area for property investment for the future.

1. Political Stability Is Attracting Property Investor Interest in Cambodia

For many years Cambodia has seen brutal internal fighting between the government and factions looking to over throw the current regime. We have seen the likes of China supporting the rebels as well as Vietnam flexing it muscles in the region, seeing both parties at loggerheads and unwilling to step down. However, there have been a number of around the table discussions by the parties involved and it looks as though China is intent on a peaceful settlement, with signs that the current Cambodian government are finally willing to give up some of their powers.

2. A Growing Economy in Cambodia Bodes Well For the Future

While there have been internal problems in Cambodia on and off for many years, the economy has remained surprisingly resilient with GDP growing by some 10.8% in 2006 and expected to show a rise of around 8.5% for 2007. While these figures are unsustainable in the longer term, there is every chance that we should see significant increases in the short to medium term with the economy starting from a very low base. Inflation was around the 2.6% level in 2007, and while the level has crept up to 6% of late there are no real causes for concern. A little inflation is often a great way to kick start a property market.

3. Overseas Investors Are Starting To Notice the Long Term Potential of Cambodia

Even though the building blocks for a long term success story have been evident in Cambodia for some time, the internal fighting between the warring factions has held back many overseas investors from entering the market. As the chances of peace in the country increase, so the risk reward ratio is now more in favour of the investor, with many overseas companies looking to enter what is being seen as one of the rising so called “Tiger Economies”.

4. Prospects for the Cambodian Tourist Market Have Never Been Better

The Cambodian tourist industry has always been central to the growth of the economy, and from being virtually dead just 10 years ago we are now seeing over 2 million people a year visiting the country. This influx of foreign interest has increased the demand for property (with prices starting at a very low base) and local services. While confined to a number of tourist hot spots, it is inevitable that interest will spread throughout the country and offer a number of interesting property investment opportunities.

5. The History and Culture of Cambodia Is Proving a Great Attraction

For any years Cambodia has been off the tourist map which is a great shame when you consider the culture and history of this great country. Historic records show the emergence of what is now Cambodia as far back as the 1st millennium, with the control of the country changing hands on many occasions over the years. This changing control ensured a constant flow of new and different cultures, a large span of religious beliefs with the French connection apparent since the mid 1800s, when the country sought the protection of France. Beautiful countryside, a mass of architectural influences as well as a climate which is attracting many tourists are just some of the factors assisting the growth in the country’s economy.

6. Favourable Government Policies Towards Overseas Investors in Cambodia

While the Cambodian government have signed up to a raft of trade and economic agreements with many of their neighbours in the region, they have also instigated a wide ranging tax regime which is attractive to many overseas investors. In affect we are seeing a trade off between taxation in the country and overseas investment, with both parties very happy with the current situation which is encouraging further investment.

7. The Cambodian Government Have Instigated Massive Investment into the Infrastructure

After many years of internal conflict the infrastructure of Cambodia has for some time been a major problem for investment in some areas of the country. However, as investment grows in the hot spots of places like the capital Phnom Penh we are seeing significant investment in improving the infrastructure of the whole country. While this will take some time to complete and be fairly expensive, it will ensure a regular drip feed of investment opportunities into the Cambodian property market.

Activists throw acid at Japanese whalers

Taipei Times
AFP, TOKYO
Tuesday, Mar 04, 2008

Militant environmentalists hurled stinging acid for more than an hour onto a Japanese whaling ship off Antarctica yesterday, hurting three crew members, Japanese government officials said.

Japan strongly condemned the latest attack by the Sea Shepherd group, which has vowed to stop the whaling expedition by force if necessary.

Members of Sea Shepherd threw more than 100 brown envelopes containing a white powder and bottles of butyric acid from their own vessel onto the Japanese whaler Nisshin Maru, government officials said.

Butyric acid is liquid or a white powder that stings the eyes.

"The butyric acid powder hit two crew members and two Japanese coast guard officers, who complained of pain," Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera said.

Three of the four were treated at sea by washing out their eyes, the Fisheries Agency said.
Officials said the attack continued for about an hour.

"Japan strongly condemns the act," said Nobutaka Machimura, government spokesman and chief cabinet secretary. "That was an inexcusable act to inflict unjustifiable damage to Japan's ship and to harm the safety of the crew who are operating legally in the public sea."

He said Tokyo would file protests with Australia, where the Sea Shepherd vessel last called into port, and the Netherlands, where the boat is registered.

Activists from the US-based Sea Shepherd had also hurled bottles onto the Japanese whaler in January. Two activists, a Briton and an Australian, hopped onto the vessel, setting off a two-day standoff.

Onodera revealed the latest incident as he addressed a seminar with officials from 11 developing states that have recently joined or plan to join the deadlocked International Whaling Commission.

Japan is holding the meeting to win support for its position that the international body should allow "sustainable whaling."

In front of the Tokyo conference building, Greenpeace environmental activists held a board designed to look like a Japanese yen note with the face of Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, charging that the meeting wasted tax money.

"The government invited delegations from 12 countries, but most of them have nothing to do with whaling," Junichi Sato of Greenpeace Japan said.

Western nations, led by Australia, are strongly opposed to Japan's whaling.

The countries taking part in the seminar are Angola, Cambodia, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ghana, Laos, Malawi, Palau, Tanzania and Vanuatu, the foreign ministry said.

Micronesia was invited but did not attend, officials said.

Japan, which kills up to 1,000 whales a year, says whaling is part of its culture and accuses anti-whaling countries of insensitivity.

"We will discuss more here than just the supply of whale meat," said Joji Morishita, Japan's chief whaling negotiator.

"Whaling is a symbolic matter when you discuss the larger issue" of each nation seeking food security, he said.

Japan harpoons whales using a loophole in a 1986 global moratorium on whaling that allows "lethal research" on the giant mammals, although the meat ends up on Japanese dinner plates.

The number of members of the International Whaling Commission has mushroomed to 78, many with little or no history of whaling.

Asia Gets It's First Star Wars Progressive Slot Machine

March 3, 2008
From the press release at Businesswire.com :

"IGT-Asia has announced the launch of Asia’s first Star Wars™ progressive slot at the Almond Slot Club in Manila. The launch, which took place February 12, coincided with a VIP opening of the property. The arrival of Star Wars characters created excitement outside the property in the middle of Chinatown.

The 240-machine Almond Slot Club features other popular IGT linked games such as Party Time!® and classic games like Great Escapes™. The Slot Club also offers a large variety of IGT’s Trimline™ Video Slots, a selection of IGT spinning-reel slots, and IGT’s Game King® Pokergames.

Joe Pisano, Executive Director and Senior Vice President of Elixir Gaming Technologies, commented, “Our success in offering turnkey solutions lies not only in our experience, but also in choosing the best IGT and some of their competitors have to offer. IGT’s variety of product is second to none, and we have recently also placed orders for their MP-Series™ roulette game, as well as the popular electronic DigiDeal™ tables.”

John Gomes, Managing Director of IGT-Asia, was present at the launch and stated, “Star Wars video slots have been a solid performer across Europe, Africa and the Americas, and we are excited to launch them in Asia with Elixir Gaming Technologies. Joe and his team are quickly taking a lead in slot operations in Asia. Their understanding of the markets and focus on quality products are setting the standard in many new territories. We look forward to helping them expand their business in the future.”

Insurers tapping growth opportunities abroad


The edge Daily
03-03-2008

by Chong Jin Hun

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian insurers are making their presence felt in the region, capitalising on untapped markets in emerging economies to offset effects of a crowded and competitive market at home.

Geographical diversification enables local players to widen their revenue base, and spread their risks amid a larger global clientele.

While these foreign initiatives involve the injection of more capital, immediate returns on investments should not be anticipated, according to industry experts.

According to the 18-member Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM), insurers are likely to experience “new business strain” in their initial years abroad due to the capital and solvency requirements of the respective foreign markets.

“Going abroad is part of the strategies for companies to grow, especially when the market abroad shows significant potential. Some of the local players have gone to countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand as the insurance markets there are still relatively untapped.

“The bottomline is usually negatively affected in the early years and assuming the business is written on a sound basis, profits will emerge in the later policy years,” LIAM president Ng Lian Lu told The Edge Financial Daily via email recently.

Notable overseas ventures by home players include general insurers LPI Capital Bhd which have set up base in Cambodia, its second foreign unit after Singapore, and Kurnia Asia Bhd’s operations in Indonesia and Thailand.

LPI, for example, adopted an early bird strategy when it established its 45%-owned CampuBank Lonpac Insurance Plc in Cambodia last August, leveraging on Malaysia’s third-largest lender Public Bank Bhd’s branch network, and existing clintele in the Indochina nation.

The Malaysian insurer joined the ranks of other early movers in Cambodia. These include Cambodian Reinsurance Company, Cambodian National Insurance Company, Forte Insurance Company (Cambodia) PLC, and Asia Insurance Company (Cambodia) Ltd.

“Unlike Vietnam, Cambodia is a better market because there are fewer insurers there,” LPI chief executive officer and executive director Tee Choon Yeow said after LPI’s recent AGM.

According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance, the nation whose economy is projected to expand by more than 8% this year, had 27 insurance companies in 2005.

Insurance premium grew by an annual average of some 30% between 1993 and 2004. Ratio of insurance premium to gross domestic product which rose from 0.37% in 1993 to 1.86% in 2004, is forecast to hit 4.2% in 2010.

Kurnia is, meanwhile, represented in Thailand and Indonesia by Kurnia Insurance (Thailand) Co Ltd, and PT Asuransi Aegis Indonesia, respectively.

At the same time, foreign rivals like Singapore’s Great Eastern Holdings Ltd are also scrambling for a slice of the emerging insurance pie in the region.

Great Eastern said in its fiscal 2007 financial filings that it was preparing to start operations in Vietnam to complement existing undertakings in Singapore, Malaysia, China and Indonesia.
“It is projected that it would take a few years before operations in China, Indonesia and Vietnam break even,” the company said.

Meanwhile, OSK Investment Bank analyst Chan Ken Yew said: “Emerging markets like Indochina countries have less competition but a larger population. The bigger the pool, the probability of claims should come down.”

Another analyst said the Malaysian general insurance landscape is very competitive, resulting in limited growth potential for players in the local market segment .

He added that although the penetration rate for life insurance here was still low, the segment was still a tough market due to the domination of foreign heavyweights like ING Insurance Bhd and Prudential Assurance Malaysia Bhd besides local bank-backed units like Mayban Life Assurance Bhd and Hong Leong Assurance Bhd.

Malaysia’s general insurance sector, dominated by motor policies, posted gross premium growth of 3.2% to RM11.03 billion in 2006. There were 39 licensed general insurers in the country as at April 1, 2007, according to the General Insurance Association of Malaysia’s annual report.

It is estimated that about half of the Malaysian population does not have a life coverage. The nation’s life insurance sector saw its new business premium rising 9.1% to RM7.2 billion in 2006 from the year before, LIAM’s annual report shows.

European Commission pledges observers for Cambodian elections

Thye Earth Times
Mon, 03 Mar 2008
DPA

Phnom Penh - The European Commission (EC) announced the EU will send up to 200 observers to assist in Cambodian national elections scheduled for July, local media reported Monday. The English and Khmer-language Mekong Times daily said the pledge was made at a press conference held by Cambodia's EC Director-General of External Relations, Eneko Landaburu, Friday.

"The EC wishes to support an improvement in the quality of this nation's democracy and so are sending an EU observance mission to aid the electoral process," the paper quoted Landaburu as saying.

The EU has maintained a strong interest in critical areas in Cambodia including human rights, anti-corruption legislation and developing democracy in the South-east Asian nation and is a major donor.

Cambodian opposition parties have repeatedly alleged a range of electoral improprieties since the first multi-party elections in more than 30 years were held under UN auspices in 1993. National elections are held every five years.

The ruling Cambodian People's Party has strongly denied the claims and said they are politically motivated.

It is expected to easily win the upcoming elections and significantly increase its already strong margin over other parties but has said it will maintain a coalition with the royalist Funcinpec Party regardless.

Speeding border marking with Cambodia

Vietnam News
03-03-2008

PHNOM PENH — Viet Nam and Cambodia have affirmed their determination to speed up the land border demarcation and landmark planting to finish the work by 2012.

The two sides expressed their determination at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Land Border Demarcation and Landmark Planting which took place in Phnom Penh from February 29 to March 1.
The two sides agreed to identify all remaining positions on the map and build border landmarks at all major positions, considering these to be their key tasks in 2008.

The Vietnamese delegation to the meeting was led by Vu Dung, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, head of the National Border Committee and Chairman of the Viet Nam-Cambodia Joint Border Commission.
The Cambodian delegation was headed by Var Kim Hong, senior minister in charge of border affairs and Chairman of the Cambodia-Viet Nam Joint Border Commission.

Japanese destroyer hits Cambodian ship

Press TV
Mon, 03 Mar 2008

A Japanese destroyer has collided with a Cambodian-registered cargo ship at a Vietnamese port in the latest mishap for Japan's navy.

The destroyer Hamayuki was trying to dock at the Ho Chi Minh port in southern Vietnam under the guidance of a pilot boat when the collision took place, Defense Ministry Spokeswoman Mika Soma said Monday.

"No one was injured in the accident. Hamayuki destroyer suffered damage to the flagpole while paint was scraped off the Cambodian cargo ship," Soma said.

The Hamayuki was on a month-long training expedition with two other Japanese destroyers.

The incident came days after another Japanese destroyer collided with a Japanese fishing boat near Tokyo, leaving two fishermen missing and causing a national uproar.

QSR Seals Deal To Operate KFC Restaurants In Cambodia

Bernama.com
March 03, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 (Bernama) -- QSR Brands Bhd has signed an agreement with Royal Group of Companies Ltd (RGC) and Rightlink Corporation Ltd Hong Kong (RCL) to form a joint venture company to operate the Kentucky Fried Chicken Restaurant (KFC Cambodia) business in Cambodia.

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia Monday, QSR said the new joint venture company, Kampuchea Food Corporation Ltd (KFCL) will be responsible for the operations of KFC Cambodia.

It said the new company will have an initial paid-up capital of RM5.25 million with QSR holding 55 percent equity, RGC 35 percent and RCL the remaining 10 percent.

"The rationale is to set up opportunity to QSR to be the market leader and established fast food restaurant operator in Cambodia as the presence of other big players are still in the infancy stage," it said.

QSR added that the business partners will combine QSR financial and operational strength with their strong local knowledge and contact to create synergistic benefits as well as the opportunity to explore other markets in the Indochina region.

Small loans make a BIG difference

South Medford freshmen use idea from Nobel Prize winner to make Third World entrepreneurial dreams a reality

Above: South Medford High School freshman Carrie Frost uses the classroom’s whiteboard computer to help her world studies class pick the next recipient of a microloan. Below: Ricardo Rivera, center, along with his South Medford High School world studies class pick their next Third World entrepreneur for a loan. pennell photo pennell photo. Bob Pennell

By Paris Achen
Mail Tribune
March 03, 2008


Lim Um, 55, wanted to buy a motorbike to help her and four of her seven children transport cookies and vegetables from their home 10 miles outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to sell at the market in the capital city.

Some students at South Medford High School recently loaned her about $25 to help her do so as part of a freshman world studies activity making microloans, small loans to poor entrepreneurs in developing countries with no collateral.

"It's awesome to be able to donate what is spare money to us, and to people there it makes a huge difference in their life," said freshman Kimberly Brown.

For the past month, the students in teacher Dave Lefkowitz's social studies classes have been making the loans online through Kiva, a nonprofit group in San Francisco.

Kiva participants loan some or all of the requested amount, and the borrower makes payments like any traditional loan.

Lefkowitz thought the concept devised by Bangladesh Professor Muhammad Yunus would be a good learning tool to connect students to other parts of the world, some of which they already study.

Yunus won the Noble Peace Prize in 2006 for the role microfinance has played in helping to lift people out of poverty and provide their children with a better future.

"I'm a believer that teaching people facts is boring," Lefkowitz said. "For most of us, if we're not getting involved in society, we are only going halfway. I think you've got to get involved, and if we haven't taught students how to get involved we haven't done our job as teachers."

Lefkowitz's five world studies classes have loaned a total of about $425 to 17 people in Central America, South America, Africa and Asia. Another $170 raised by two students at a dance two weeks ago is waiting for distribution.

The students collect no interest on the loans. Instead, Kiva's field partners, usually small banks in the 41 countries, collect the interest on the loans in exchange for their services.

Kiva has facilitated more than 35,300 loans equaling more than $23.6 million in the past two years since its Web site was launched two years ago.

The average loan request is about $550.

As students scrolled through loan candidates on the Kiva Web site on a Thursday morning, the excitement was palpable.

The class selected Lim Um based on the number of children she has.

"Pay it," one student shouted, as if he were urging on his home football team to score a touchdown.
The class cheered as Lefkowitz clicked on Lim Um's name and typed in a credit card number to make the loan.

He also took the opportunity to review the characteristics of Cambodia, as the class has recently been studying the monsoon weather phenomenon in Asia. He quickly quizzed them on their knowledge of Buddhism, a dominant religion in the country, before moving on.

"I think doing this helps us learn where people are coming from and what other countries are like and teaches us to be more grateful for what we have," said freshman Kris Leitz.

About one-third to one-half of the world's population earns $2 day. That equals the price of a large cup of soda, noted freshman Jed Hamilton.

Teacher Joshua Wallace's Spanish class also has joined in after two of his students who are in Lefkowitz's class made a presentation about microloans. Wallace's class will translate letters between some of the Central and South American loan recipients and Lefkowitz's classes.

"That will take us one step further to see how the money is being used," Lefkowitz said.

Students said they were amazed to learn that poor people in developing countries have a better rate of loan repayment than middle-class Americans. Kiva loan recipients have a repayment rate of more than 99 percent.

"It kind of blows my mind because people in Third World countries have to struggle to pay these loans back," said freshman Corie Davis. "Those who don't have to struggle aren't as likely to pay it back. I don't know why that is, but maybe it's because people in Third World countries know what it's like to live without things."

Sacked police chief awaiting PM

MCOT English News
Thai News Agency

BANGKOK, March 3 (TNA) - Thailand's ex-police chief Pol.Gen. Sereepisut Taemeeyaves reported to deputy prime minister Somchai Wongsawat at Government House, saying he had not as yet planned to sue anyone in court following his transfer to an inactive post. Pol. Gen.

Sereepisut said he had received no assignment fom the deputy prime minister Monday and was waiting to meet with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, currently on an official tour in Cambodia, in order to clear himself of all charges.

The prime minister had set up a committee to investigate the transferred police chief on disciplinary charges which involved his alleged use of inappropriate language when speaking to his subordinates. Gen. Sereepisut, who was alleged to have been involved in a van rental scandal at National Police headquarters, admitted having called one of his officers a ''buffalo'' and said Mr. Samak had as well expressed swear words while dealing with reporters.

The police general said he had resigned as member of a committee assigned to investigate Mr. Samak during his tenure as governor of Bangkok several years ago. He declined to comment whether or not he felt he was being unjustly persecuted or transferred to the inactive post at Government House.

The former national police chief said he was not overly worried and that he had a lot of supporters.

Gen. Sereepisut was replaced by deputy police chief Pol. Gen. Patcharawas Wongsuwan. (TNA)

Thailand to assist Cambodia with bilateral development projects

MCOT English News
Thai News Agency

BANGKOK, March 3 (TNA) - Thailand's Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said on Monday his visit to Cambodia had achieved productive bilateral cooperations including projects on energy, infrastructure and business. After having met with Cambodian Leader Hun Sen, Mr. Samak said Thailand’s assistance to Cambodia would be beneficial to both countries, especially the highway 68 construction project with an additional budget on top of the 1.4 billion baht (US$43.7 million) already allocated.

The road will connect Thailand’s Surin province to Cambodia’s Siem Riep, and seen as an opportunity to boost the tourism industry in the region.

Prime Minister Samak also said Thailand would build a coal-fired power plant on Cambodia's Koh Kong.

The Thai premier also said he had discussed with his Cambodian counterpart border demarcation on overlapping zones which he described as a “win-win situation” if the zones could be developed as tourist attractions.

Both leaders also discussed criminal extradition and Cambodia’s proposal to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization or UNESCO to list the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage site.

Mr. Samak reiterated such a listing would not affect Thailand since it would include only the temple, not its complex. Therefore, the premier believed, it would not affect the demarcation of Thailand and Cambodia.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague in June 1962 judged that Preah Vihear belonged to Cambodia, but Thailand and Cambodia have not yet settled a demarcation agreement on land around the ruins. The temple is approached from the Thai border district of Kantharalak in Si Sa Ket province. (TNA)

Thai PM Makes First Cambodia Visit

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 March 2008

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej arrived in Phnom Penh for a two-day visit Monday, to strengthen the relationship and bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Senior government officials and staff, diplomats and high school students greeted the newly elected prime minister.

More than 1,000 people pressed around Phnom Penh International Airport early Monday morning to greet Samak, who met with King Norodom Sihamoni, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin, and Prime Minister Hun Sen later in the day.

"This visit is a good opportunity for the two prime ministers to exchange their opinions on strengthening the cooperation between the two countries," Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters at the airport.

Samak and other leaders were expected to discuss the construction of National Road 48, from Koh Kong to National Road 4, National Road 67, from Anglong Veng to Siem Reap province, and National Road 68, from Chaom Ksan, in Preah Vihear province, to Aranyaprateth, Thailand, Hor Namhong said.

Hun Sen would not discuss a dispute over Preah Vihear temple, "because Preah Vihear temple belongs to the Cambodians, so there's no problem to talk about," Hor Namhong said.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An will visit Thailand to hold talks with the Thai side on Preah Vihear soon, he said.

Military Police Draw Ire for Dozing Land

By Chiep Mony, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
03 March 2008

More than 100 people representing 300 families demonstrated in Kampong Thom province Monday, to oppose the alleged bulldozing of land by military police, officials said.

Military police razed about 200 hectares to make room for the development of an official site, a rights worker said.

Military Police Chief Lt. Gen. Sao Sokha said Monday that the land needed to be developed for growing rice during the dry season for military police who will be demobilized in the future.

Election Group: Victory Speech Premature

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
03 March 2008

A democracy group said Friday a speech made by Prime Minister Hun Sen announcing ruling party victories in July's national polls marked typical electioneering and should not deter Cambodians from voting their conscience.

Hun Sen said Thursday the Cambodian People's Party was bound to win this year's national elections.

The outcome is ultimately up to voters, said Lee Sothearayuth, a program officer for the National Democratic Institute.

"It's not any individual, activist or politician who can define their fate, but only voters who can," he said.

At least one election monitor said the speeches could lead to suspicion of vote-tampering during the parliamentary polls.

Long Beach Library Makes Khmer Book Haul

By Sivon Brahm, VOA Khmer
Original report from Washington
03 March 2008

The Mark Twain Library, in Long Beach, recently brought in more than 1,000 books from Cambodia and has been working feverishly to have them catalogued and ready to check out by Cambodian New Year, in April.

"We have about around 50,000 Cambodian people in our area," said librarian Susan Taylor.

"And we need to serve them like we serve all the other population with the reading materials. And we are here as a public library to please, and offer information to the community, whether they are English speaking, or Spanish speaking, or Vietnamese speaking or whatever."

The library bought the books after two librarians made a foray into Cambodia.

Sam Sothea, a community leader in Long Beach and president of the neighborhood's "Cambodia Town," said the library would work to make the books available by Khmer New Year, in April.
"So the Cambodians can borrow them and read at home," he said.