Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Garment workers want CPP to keep campaign promises

AFP; Garment workers in Phnom Penh are expecting the government to make good on pre-election promises now that the ballots are counted.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The Cambodian People’s Party courted the labour vote by vowing higher wages and better conditions. But will they deliver now that election victory is assured?

G ARMENT workers say they are eagerly awaiting higher wages and better factory conditions promised to them by political parties before last month's general election. But many fear the promised improvements are nothing more than pre-poll hype from politicians hoping to tap into the Kingdom's sizable labour vote.

"I voted for CPP to lead my country because they promised to help the factory workers," said Soun Sokuntheary, 33, the vice-union leader of ASD factory.

"I want the government to keep their promises and I want them to make a labour court, increase factory worker's salaries and enforce the labour law which is currently not respected by employers," she said. "If the CPP doesn't do what they promised I will not vote for them during the next elections."

The ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) looks set to clinch a landslide victory, taking 90 of the National Assembly's 123 seats. But Sourn Sokuntheary is now worried they will forget their promise to help workers.

"We are angry at factory owners lack of respect for the Kingdom's labour law and we want the government to help us," she said.

Mam Chanthorn, 28, at Hata factory, is also hoping that the government makes good on its pre-election promises and increases workers' salaries because, like many factory labourers, he finds life difficult on his low wage. "I need US$75 per month because my current salary, $55, is not enough to support my family," he said.

"I have never listened to the government's promises as a promise is only words and I think actions are more important," he added.

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers, said that promises made by parties during election campaigns are often not acted upon after the polls.

"The parties just make promises but in reality the new government is the same, and I think that they will take a long time to solve the problems faced by factory workers," Ath Thorn said.

" I voted for the cpp ... because they promised to help the factory workers. "

"The factory workers will probably have to strike or demonstrate before the government makes any of the promised changes."

Others also do not believe that the government will implement any changes, and have decided to quit their jobs and return home to the provinces.

"The leaders have already promised that they would increase our wages many times but they never have," said Han Thanna, 26, who recently left Hantech factory.

"So I have decided to go back to Kampong Cham province to help at my parents' farm."

Cambodia's garment industry employs some 360,000 people, many of whom support extended families in the countryside.

New subdecree to target counterfeit, harmful cosmetics

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chanyda Chhay
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A new government quality-control initiative takes aim at illegal whitening creams and other potentially dangerous make-up

THE Council of Ministers has approved a sub decree on product quality control that will prevent the importation of potentially harmful cosmetics.

The sub decree was created by the Ministry of Health and aims to control all cosmetic products, including illegal beauty creams.

"The sub decree aims at preventing the import of deteriorated products and illegal cosmetics in order to guarantee quality and safety for users and creating good trade in cosmetics," the council said in a statement Friday.

Veng Thai, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Health Department, said Monday that the government wants to ensure that products which can harm people's health are no longer imported.

"[Either] there will be more control of cosmetics or there will be more harm to people's health," he said.

The main target of the sub-decree is believed to be powders and lotions that promote skin whitening, which are popular in Cambodia.

"Using [these] cosmetics incorrectly will cause health problems," Veng Thai said. "We have to control it."

Although commercial whitening products are widely available in Cambodia, their large presence in the black market means that most products sold are often incorrectly labeled or not labeled at all.

Srey Pisey, the owner of Samphose Neary beauty salon shop in Phnom Penh, said that she sold cream powder for skin whitening purposes that she had mixed herself.

"I did not know it affected people's health," she explained.

Funcinpec veterans not expected to hold positions in next govt

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Nhek Bun Chhay to lead fresh group of royalists to fill limited, junior positions as party leaders get squeezed out of holding any senior spots

FOUR of Funcinpec's top officials are not expected to hold positions in Prime Minister Hun Sen's next government, ruling and royalist party officials said Monday.

"There are probably no positions for Funcinpec's president Keo Puth Rasmey; parliamentary candidate Prince Norodom Arun Rasmey; second deputy president Prince Sisowath Sirirath; and first deputy president Lu Laysreng, said CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith. Instead, he said, Funcinpec secretary general Nhek Bun Chhay and his close colleagues will be given positions.

Keo Puth Rasmey and his colleagues have been warned by Hun Sen not to expect any role in the new government after he accused them of supporting an opposition party rejection of the July 27 poll results.

Instead, a Funcinpec faction led by party secretary general Nhek Bun Chhay is expected to enter into a coalition deal with the CPP.

But Prince Sisowath Sirirath said Monday that Funcinpec is still led by Keo Puth Rasmey, clarifying that Nhek Bun Chhay is not leading a splinter group inside Funcinpec.

"Whoever said that Funcinpec was led by Nhek Bun Chhay is wrong, Funcinpec is only one not separated as two," Sisowath Sirirath said.

He added, "We have nothing to say about joining the government, but we congratulate our friends."

Lu Laysreng said it wasn't important for him to hold a post in the new government. "For these seats there are no positions for us, so let the young generation do it," he said.

Nhek Bun Chhay noted that the royalists have two positions available to them, albeit lower posts than the royalist veterans have held. Because Keo Puth Rasmey and Lu Laysreng could advance no further than deputy prime minister, posts in which they have already served, it was decided to promote new people, he said.

"We have four senior ministers but there are no minister positions for us, only secretary of state and under secretary of state," Nhek Bun Chhay said.

Council of Ministers building delayed

PHOTO supplied; An artist’s impression of the new Council of Ministers building, which is a gift from the Chinese government.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Karen Ho
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

New premises slated to open in December as construction slowed by weather, logistical problems

A BLIZZARD, an earthquake, disease and logistical snags have slowed construction of the future Council of Ministers building, pushing its forecasted completion to November or December, about three months beyond the original deadline, according to an official with the Yunnan Construction Engineering Group.

"The project must be finished by December," said Shi Wenming. "Both sides are quite sensitive about the project."

Construction of the US$33 million building, a gift from the Chinese government to honour 50 years of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Phnom Penh, began in January 2007.

"Almost all of the materials come from China. Because of a snowstorm, construction materials could not be transported to Guangzhou, one of the Chinese ports for sending materials overseas," Shi explained.

Then in May, the devastating earthquake in China's Sichuan province pulled many workers away from the Phnom Penh worksite.

"Of the 500 Chinese workers, 202 come from Sichuan. Some come from the stricken areas, and 60 went back home," Shi said.

Dengue fever struck too, slowing construction enough for the Yunnan company to import its own medical personnel.

But some of the biggest hold-ups occurred at the port of Ho Chi Minh City, where materials were transferred from large ocean-going vessels to smaller riverboats.

"The longest delay took 68 days when normally it should take 20," Shi said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said no ribbon-cutting date has been set for the new facility, but he said the government is looking forward to moving into it in November or December.

Sihanoukville police attempt to renew ban on motorbike rentals

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Titthara May
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

But shop owners balk at a perennially ignored prohibition on doing business with foreign tourists, while taxi drivers hope for extra hires

Sihanoukville authorities recently reminded local motorbike rental shops of a ban on hiring bikes to foreign tourists that was first announced in 2005 and has since largely been ignored.

Prum Po, chief of Sihanoukville Traffic Police, said Monday his men had visited rental shops Friday to tell operators the prohibition stands.

"I have tried to ban motorbike rentals, but the shop owners don't listen to the authorities," he said. "This year I have impounded more than 100 motorbikes. Then I re-educated the shop owners and returned the bikes."

Seang Kosol, deputy police chief in charge of public order, said, "We did this because we are worried about the security of the tourists".

"They just come to visit, and they don't know clearly about where it's safe to travel. If [foreign] people have lived in Phnom Penh a long time, they can rent or buy a motorbike because they know about Cambodian traffic laws."

Maybe so, but they could still lose their bikes in Sihanoukville, according to Prum Pro.

"Some foreigners ride motorbikes from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville. If they have a Cambodian driver's license, they are allowed. If they don't have one, we take the bike and ask the owner to come collect it."

According to one rental shop operator, the ban has failed because corrupt police do not enforce it.

"When police come to warn us, we give them US$10 or $20, and then we can continue," he said Monday, adding that police drop by about twice a year.

Another motorbike renter, Song Kosal, questioned the wisdom of the policy and its effect on tourism.

"The authorities say they don't want the tourists to have problems with robbers, so they ban motorbike rentals. They should control the security themselves, not impact motorbike rentals," he said.

"When tourists come here, they want to travel freely, so they need to travel by themselves.

"On the other hand, motorbike taxi driver Houy is pleased. "It's difficult to do business when the tourists ride by themselves, because renting is cheaper than we are," he said.

Traffic Law: New road law books issued

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

About 10,000 traffic law manuals were distributed to drivers in Phnom Penh municipality and Kandal province in the first half of this year as part of a push to increase awareness of road safety, according to the National Culture and Social Morality Centre, which handed out the books.

"We have published these books because traffic accidents in our country are increasing and the situation is the worst of all the Asean countries," said Po Samnang, director of the centre. "Five or six people die [in traffic accidents] every day."

Po Samnang said the center, a non-governmental body, was targeting the areas and groups it deemed to be most at risk of being involved in traffic accidents. "We are focusing on [high risk groups such as] moto-dops and taxi drivers."

Pen Khun, deputy police chief in Phnom Penh's traffic bureau, said that road deaths are on the increase in the capital. He said that 137 people were killed in Phnom Penh in the first half of 2008, compared just 122 in the last six months of 2007.Mom kunthear

New five-star hotel to rise on Phnom Penh riverfront

HENG CHIVOAN; Sokimex president Sok Kong (in foreground).

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sovan Nguon
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Shovels turn on a $100 million hotel and 1,500-seat conference facility to be situated across the Tonle Sap river from the capital

A NEW US$100 million five-star hotel is in the works for Phnom Penh with construction set for completion in 2011.

The 799-room hotel, being built by the Sokimex conglomerate, will feature two conference rooms with seating capacity for 1,500 persons and parking spaces for 1,000 cars, said Sokimex president Sok Kong.

The hotel will be situated on the east side of the riverfront on Chhroy Changva peninsula in Phnom Penh's Russey Keo district.

"The 16-storey Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel will be built on six hectares of land which is under a 99-year land lease from city hall from 2007," Sok Kong told the Post after the ground breaking ceremony last week.

The company acquired the land for $42 a square metre.

"The hotel will create 1,200 jobs for Cambodians," he said, noting that the hotel would be eco-friendly and up to international standards, with a liquid waste and sewage treatment system.

Sok Kong said the hotel was favourably located with river views and a good atmosphere but admitted, "There is a problem with traffic because there is only one bridge for access".

He said that Phnom Penh has seen a hotel boom but that the city has no conference facilities.

"The hotel's conference centre will seat up to 1,500 people, and will be the [country's] biggest conference hall. It will raise Cambodia's reputation internationally," he said .

"The Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel will be the hotel with the largest conference hall in the city, and it will be suitable for international conferences," So Mara, undersecretary of state in the tourism ministry, told the Post on Sunday.

"Foreign tourism has grown 19 percent year-on-year, so the hotel will satisfy high-class guests," So Mara said.

Cambodia Hotel Association president Loo Meng welcomed the new hotel.

"It is a good sign for the tourism sector. It shows that the tourism industry is getting better and better," he said.

"The hotel will be good for high-class guests, and it will be as high quality as those in neighbouring countries." So Mara also said that the hotel industry was booming in Phnom Penh as the influx of foreign tourists continues.

Sok Kong said that the Sokha Phnom Penh would be the third five-star hotel operated by Sokimex in Cambodia, joining existing Sokha hotels in Sihanoukville and Siem Reap. Two more were on the drawing boards, he added.

Sokimex is also building two golf courses in a protected area on Bokor Mountain, Sok Kong said, adding that the company was also planning a resort at the site of old Bokor casino.

Moustaches give away Cambodian under-15 football ring-ins

TOPNEWS.IN
August 12th, 2008
by Keval Sharma

Phnom Penh (- The Football Federation of Cambodia is up in arms over widespread reports of hairy-legged, mustachioed players taking the field in the first nationwide under-15 championships, the federation's secretary general said Tuesday.

Cambodia has been named one of the most corrupt countries in Asia by the Berlin-based watchdog group Transparency International, but the country's football federation has said it is determined to buck that reputation and prove itself clean so it can earn funding and international respect.

Frustrated secretary general Ouk Sethycheat said in light of these efforts by the federation, the latest example of bending the rules was beyond the pale.

The cheating involves "several" of the 24 teams involved in the championships, he said while accusing them of abandoning all attempts at subtlety.

"We decide who is under 15 using two criteria - documentation and by looking at them," he said. "If Cambodian players are under 15, under no circumstances do they have hairy legs and moustaches."

He said that after questioning the more hirsute players, it was found their documentation was forged.

The fiasco is particularly embarrassing for the federation after it was fined 4,000 dollars by the Asian Football Federation in February for fielding an overaged player in a regional Under-16 Youth Championship qualifying match. Cambodia's football governing body has pleaded ignorance.

It was not clear what punishments the cheating teams would face.

Cambodia's national team is currently ranked 169th in the world. (dpa)

Chinese president meets foreign leaders on sidelines of Beijing Games

Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) shakes hands with King of Cambodia Norodom Sihamoni during their meeting in Beijing, China, Aug. 11, 2008. Norodom Sihamoni attended the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games on Aug. 8. (Xinhua/Gao Jie)

www.chinaview.cn
2008-08-11

BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday met separately with several foreign leaders in the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.

The foreign leaders, including Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, Slovak President Ivan Gashparovic and Latvian President Valdis Zatlers, had come to the Chinese capital to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games on Aug. 8 and other activities relating to the Games.

Hu extended a warm welcome to the guests, and said the Beijing Olympics, with the theme of "One World, One Dream," is an international sports gala that belongs to people of all countries in the world.

The foreign leaders spoke highly of the Games' opening ceremony and China's preparations for the Games, and expressed the belief that the Beijing Olympics will be a great success.

Hu also had a broad exchange of views with the leaders on bilateral relations and other major regional and international issues of common concern.

In his meeting with King Sihamoni, Hu said that China and Cambodia are not only good neighbors that coexist in peace and harmony, but also good friends with mutual trust, good brothers sharing happiness and woe, and good partners working together for a win-win end.

"The friendly relationship between China and Cambodia is exemplary for countries of different social systems which want to treat each other equally and carry out sincere cooperation," Hu said.

The Chinese government and people are ready to work with their Cambodian counterparts to enhance friendly exchanges, expand mutually-beneficial cooperation, and promote common development, said Hu, adding that China highly appreciates the Cambodian Royal Family's "outstanding contribution" to the development of Sino-Cambodian relations.

King Sihamoni responded that the Cambodia-China friendship was forged and developed through the efforts of several generations of leaders of both countries.

He said the Cambodian Royal Family, government and people appreciate the long-time support and assistance from China and are dedicated to the development of good-neighborly friendship and cooperation with China.

Cambodia, FAO start series of market forums on bird flu

www.chinaview.cn
2008-08-12

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), with the help from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), will hold a series of market forums on avian influenza to prevent and control the disease, said a press release on Tuesday.

The first forum will be held in Kampong Thom province on Aug. 13 and another 13 forums will be organized in major live bird markets this year, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Germany.

In the joint release issued by MAFF and FAO, Kao Phal, director of MAFF's Department of Animal Health and Production (DAHP) said "The forums will help market managers, poultry vendors, butchers and middlemen understand the importance of practicing bio-security measures in order to protect their source of livelihood from the threat of avian influenza."

Prime Minister Hun Sen has asked MAFF to focus on bird flu control and prevention in poultry in order to reduce the risk of human infection, he added.

Meanwhile, Lotfi Allal, FAO chief technical adviser, said that "most live bird markets have poor hygienic practices posing the greatest potential health threat to traders and consumers alike."

A market study commissioned by FAO found that only 40 percent of market sellers interviewed packed and took their poultry waste to the disposal bins.

"Human activity through trade and markets is one way of spreading avian influenza so it is important that poultry traders understand the risk posed by live bird markets and by common practice such as mixing ducks and chickens," said the advisor.

"Ducks are natural reservoir for avian influenza. They can be infectious without looking sick and can spread the disease to other poultry and humans," the advisor added.

At the forum, speakers from MAFF, the Ministry of Health and FAO will explain how bird flu can be transmitted through the live bird markets and what can poultry traders do to prevent and control its spread, said the press release.

To prevent bird flu transmission in the market, poultry traders will be encouraged to adopt measures including "buy and sell only healthy poultry, always keep ducks and chickens separate on the farm, on transport and in the market, keep transport cages, egg boxes and market stalls clean," said the press release.

The fourth of all Cambodia's seven human death cases so far over bird flu was a chicken seller who reportedly collected some dead chickens from the area surrounding her school and was sellingthem. The 20-year-old woman from Banteay Meas District in Kampot province died on April 19, 2005.

Editor: An

Cambodia rejects Thailand's claim over two temples at border area

www.chinaview.cn
2008-08-12

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia Tuesday rejected Thailand's claim over the temples of Tamone Toch and Tamone Thom in northwestern Otdar Meanchey province, which borders Thailand.

"The Tamone temple complex, composed of the temples of Tamone Toch and Tamone Thom and located in the Phnom Dang Rek range, is clearly situated in the Cambodian territory," said the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia in a statement.

"Cambodia rejects any claim contrary to the legal rights of the kingdom," the statement said.

Cambodia is confident that the Cambodian-Thai joint Commission on the Demarcation of Land Boundary (JBC), which will meet in the near future, will be able to settle bilateral border matter peacefully in legal way, it added.

Cambodian-Thai military standoff at the border area over disputed sovereignty of the temples and land there Tuesday entered the 29th day, as both sides promised to settle it through diplomatic channel. But no sign has occurred so far for withdrawal of the accumulated thousand-strong troops near the border.

On July 15, Thai troops went into the border area to fetch three trespassers who had intended to claim Thai sovereignty over the Preah Vihear Temple in the eponymous province of Cambodia. The troops stationed there ever since, thus triggering the military stalemate.

During the time, Thai troops occupied one pagoda in Preah Vihear province and one temple in Bantey Meanchey province that the Cambodian government claimed should belong to its kingdom.

Preah Vihear, Otdar Meanchey and Bantey Meanchey are the three major Cambodian provinces that border Thailand. The Phnom Dang Rekrange, or the Dangrek Mountain, runs through the provinces, serving as a natural defense line against Thailand.

Editor: An

Funds pour into Preah Vihear

HENG CHIVOAN Revellers at Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium celebrate UNESCO’s listing of the Preah Vihear temple.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Brendan Brady and Thet Sambath
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Charities and individual donations add up to nearly US$1 million for soldiers involved in the protracted standoff with Thai troops over disputed territory around the World Heritage Site

THE patriotic fervour over the Preah Vihear temple standoff has incited an unprecedented flow of personal donations towards the national cause, a philanthropic outpouring which is both a symbolic display of solidarity and a useful supplement to shore up gaps in the country's shrunken military budget.

Through media-established funds alone, Cambodians have to date donated an estimated US$830,000 to buy food, medicine and other necessities for soldiers and villagers at Preah Vihear temple, according to figures from fund raising organisations set up after the border dispute began.

What started with contributions from local journalists deployed to Preah Vihear has erupted into a countrywide phenomenon with everyone from rural villagers to Okhnas making their mark through both modest and high-profile offerings.

"The soldiers are defending our heritage, so it is my obligation to help them," said Chan Dara, who added that he is just one of many farmers in Pailin to make a $5 donation.

Battambang resident Ung Phoeung said his cash donation both "showed love for my people" and, more practically, helped Cambodian soldiers who might "lack food and equipment".

'A war supported by the people'

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, told the Post on August 4 that while the government had earmarked adequate funding for the defence ministry at the beginning of the fiscal year, the additional donations for soldiers demonstrated that "this is a war supported by the people, and when the country has war, people have a duty to assist their nation".

CTN reporter Soy Sopheap said a fund established by a group of broadcast and print media journalists to support soldiers deployed at the temple had so far raised nearly $100,000.

Television networks have established support funds using local celebrities in day-long telethon fundraisers. CTN has collected $330,000 in donations, of which $190,000 has been committed to troops at Preah Vihear and Anlong Veng in the form of supplies, said its director Tok Kimsay.

"The response from the people has been very strong. Even beggars have come to CTN to make contributions," he said.

Donations gathered by Bayon TV have reached $400,000, of which $30,000 has been already committed, according to Huot Kheang Veng, assistant to the network's director. The network is deliberating on the use of the remaining funds.

"The military has their own budget and they have enough, but this is a sign of people's hearts," Huot Kheang Veng said.

Anlong Veng is teeming with troops from both sides but, without an iconic prize like Preah Vihear temple hanging in the balance, the district has remained out of the media spotlight.

"I see most donations go to Preah Vihear temple only. We are confronting Thai soldiers also, but without the same support," said Nuon Nov, deputy commander of Military Region 4, which includes Anlong Veng.

First-time author pens historical novel about Preah Vihear

HENG CHIVOAN Taing Ratana inspects the book he wrote detailing the history of the Preah Vihear temple.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Titthara May
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Twenty-six year old legal officer wrote the book in his spare time in a bid to educate his countrymen about the history of the temple

I N light of the current military standoff over Preah Vihear temple, Taing Ratana, a 26-year-old legal officer for the secretariat of the Constitutional Council and part-time author, could be forgiven for expecting better-than-average sales for his first book.

Bes Dong Phnom Dang Rek (The Heart of the Dang Rek Mountains), which is to be published next month, is a novel-cum-history book which sets out the recent history of the hotly contested ancient Hindu temple, including a fictionalised account of the international lawsuit that resulted in Cambodia's sovereignty over the temple being recognised in 1962.

"Most Khmer people don't want to read about history," said Taing Ratana. "If I wrote a history book, people would be less interested. So I changed it into an historical novel [that] details the genesis of the lawsuit until success at the Hague in June 1962."

Newspaper sales are currently up across the Kingdom as Cambodians eagerly follow events on the Preah Vihear frontline but the author says the idea for the book arose in 2001 while he was a first-year law student and became interested in the history of the temple. He began writing the book in February 2002 and completed it in June 2004.

After the anti-Thai riots in 2003, Taing Ratana decided not to seek a publisher for his manuscript because "I didn't want to change history, I didn't want myself, by writing the book, to trouble history, and I didn't want readers to be angry with other nations after reading it".

" Most Khmer people don’t want to read about history. "

"I just want readers to learn something and love our ancient culture," he said.

With UNESCO's recent listing of Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site, however, his friends began encouraging him to publish the work, which begins with the 1954 conflict between Cambodia and Thailand and the legal machinations that followed in the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

"I want all Cambodians and the younger generation to know in more detail about the Preah Vihear lawsuit and what went on during that time," he said, adding that he planned to donate most of the first edition of 1,000 copies to libraries and schools.

Khmer Writers Association vice chairman You Bo said that the novel was a very interesting book, with meaning and structure that makes the reader want to continue to turn pages.

Prime minister orders road to Preah Vihear to be paved

HENG CHIVOAN; Remote Preah Vihear temple will be reachable by a paved road next year.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sambath Teth
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The ongoing dispute with Thailand over territory around the Hindu ruins lends urgency to infrastructure improvements

B ulldozers, excavators and other road construction equipment have been sent by military engineers to Anlong Veng and Trapaing Prasat districts to help construct an 80-kilometre road connecting Anlong Veng town to Preah Vihear temple as interest in the historic ruins grows.

"I got orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen to pave the road from Anlong Veng district town to Sa Em village, Kantout commune, Choam Ksan district, Preah Vihear and to finish it as soon as possible," said Kvan Siem, commander of military engineers at General Command Headquarters.

Kvan Siem expects that the road will take just over a year to complete.

"It is a very important road. We need it to be finished as soon as possible in order to make traffic flow smoothly," Kvan Siem said.

"The government expects more people to be travelling to the site and has ordered the road to be built as soon as possible," said one RCAF general who asked to remain anonymous.

While the amount of funds for the construction of the road has not yet been released, Hun Sen advised Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in a Council of Ministers meeting on Friday to use charitable funds, including money raised by the Bayon TV foundation, to pave the road.

Seng Savorn, director of the Council of Ministers, said that government funds will be used to pave the stretch of road from Anlong Veng district to Sa Em, and the funds from Bayon TV's foundation will be used to construct a connecting road up the hill to the temple.

Huot Kheang Veng, assistant to Hun Mana, Bayon TV's director, said that he is unaware of Hun Sen's order to use the station's foundation funds to link to Preah Vihear temple, an increasingly popular tourist site.

Tourist visits double at Preah Vihear

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophakchakrya
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

THE presence of machine guns and rocket launchers hasn't kept proud Cambodians from making a pilgrimage to Preah Vihear to pay their respects to the mythic 11th-century temple and its new hoard of guardians.

Thai and Cambodian soldiers remain locked in what looks set to be a prolonged standoff in and around the temple's grounds.

But domestic tourism to the site has more than doubled since its UNESCO World Heritage listing on July 7, said Pheng Sameoun, assistant to the general director of the Preah Vihear National Authority.

"Since Thai troops entered the temple, there have been fewer foreign tourists, but the number of locals visiting has doubled," Pheng Sameoun told the Post on Sunday.

According to Pheng Sameoun, the dispute has stirred such a torrent of interest in the temple that, if the surrounding infrastructure such as roads were developed considerably, it could come to rival the Angkor Wat temple complex as the leading domestic holiday destination among Cambodians.

Chheang Solina, 22-year-old Phnom Penh high school student, said she was shocked last Sunday when she saw Thai and Cambodian soldiers occupying the temple, but was reinvigorated walking through its corridors.

"When I arrived at the top of the temple, and breathed in the fresh air, I had a feeling of great pride to be born as a Khmer," she said.

She added that she was happy because the Naga statues seemed to eat the Thai troops.

Bad roads and high transportation costs didn't stop Seng Vireak, 19, and his family from making the daylong trip from the capital, bearing food and supplies to hand out.

Khmers living overseas have joined the wave, making the trip from Europe or the United States to set foot on the temple, whose symbolic value seems to appreciate every day troops occupy it.

Many were seen making donations of money to monks and soldiers living there.

Cambodian group secures translation rights for Jack Kerouac book

Monsters and Critics
Asia-Pacific News
Aug 12, 2008

Phnom Penh - A Cambodian arts' organization has secured the rights to translate the Beat Generation author Jack Kerouac's classic On The Road into Khmer, the group said Tuesday.

The revolutionary 1951 work was penned by the US author in just three weeks, and traces his sometimes debauched travels across the United States over a seven-year period.

Kerouac hailed from Lowell, Massachusetts - home to one of the largest populations of overseas Cambodians in the US - and art group Camerado felt the translation would be a fitting tribute that would also benefit Khmer speakers and modern Cambodian writers.

But Camerado organizer Jason Rosette admitted there were some concerns that it may challenge some culturally conservative Khmers.

'It may be a stretch for Khmers, but we've arranged to do a simultaneous interpretive translation as well, which may make it more accessible,' he said by email. 'We will definitely be in need of sponsorship to get it off the ground.'

Camerado is known for innovative projects, including establishing CamboTube, the Cambodian version of YouTube.

Kerouac's work has been credited with influencing artists and musicians ranging from The Beatles and Bob Dylan to members of the New Journalism movement including Truman Capote and Norman Mailer.

Edinburgh festival: How to avoid armchair colonialism

The performers of Children of the Khmer rehearse in Cambodia for their British tour

Theater&Performing Arts

The St George's West world music experience is admirably contextualised - which is more than can be said of many Edinburgh shows

August 12, 2008

One of the most consistently enjoyable runs you can have on this year's Fringe is at the World Festival at St George's West. Start at 2pm with the Tanzanian rhythms of the Zawose Family, follow it up with the gentle delicacy of Cambodian temple dancing in Children of the Khmer, raise your pulse with the high-energy sexuality of the Capoeira Knights and round it all off with the sultry Cuban swing of Hemingway's Havana. For the most part, it's feelgood, family-friendly fun, a celebration of great musicianship and a glimpse of a range of world cultures.

Seeing international acts on the Fringe is hardly a novelty, but there's something that distinguishes these shows from the crowd. In various ways, all four of them take the time to put the different cultures in context. It happens most radically in the Zawose show, which begins with a 40-minute documentary film telling the story of the life and death of Hukwe Zawose and of the remarkable family of musicians he left behind. Only after we've watched this does the band take to the stage.

There's a shorter film towards the end of Children of the Khmer, giving us a sudden insight into the trying social conditions from which these elegant young performers have emerged. Throughout Capoeira Knights, a narrator figure takes to the stage to explain the slave-trade origins of the martial art and to give a flavour of the favela background from which the performers have come. Finally, Hemingway's Havana is a curious hybrid, somewhere between chat show and gig, in which Valerie Hemingway recalls the final months in the life of the Cuba-loving Ernest Hemingway, the man who posthumously became her father-in-law.

What's important about these interventions is that they stop the performances from being merely exotic. Ever since 1947, the Edinburgh festival and fringe have introduced British audiences to foreign cultures. This is a tremendous privilege, but it raises the possibility of a kind of armchair colonialism, allowing a well-fed western audience to dabble in the colours and rhythms of faraway places without the obligation to understand or engage with what they're seeing.

The danger of this kind of voyeurism does not only apply to foreign shows. After seeing Deep Cut, a friend of mine came out infuriated by what she regarded as a self-satisfied audience getting a vicarious kick from someone else's sad story. They were not politicised, she argued, merely titillated and made to feel important.

Personally, I disagree with her in this case, but I recognise that in some circumstances there can be an imbalance between audience and actor that affects the meaning of what's on stage. A few years ago I was a lot more comfortable seeing Gregory Burke's Gagarin Way when it toured to Kirkcaldy, the play's natural home crowd, than when the middle-class Traverse audience had lapped up the working-class antics in a way that struck me as patronising. There were those, too, who suggested Burke's Black Watch was "soldier porn for liberals" who were looking for a bit of theatrical rough.

Some of these criticisms come from people who are too mixed up about their own class allegiances to find uncomplicated pleasure in entertaining and important work. It would be a crazy if the alternative was to ban plays about soldiers and miscarriages of justice. But as soon as something moves from one context to another, whether it be the temple dancers of Cambodia or the story of Des and Doreen James, then the meaning, too, starts to move. It's up to artists and, I think, audiences to ensure that shift is not exploitative.

Ford expands Cambodia operations on rising sales

George McLeod; A recently sold Ford truck is on display at the new showroom on Pochentong Boulevard.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George McLeod and Nguon Sovan
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

But strong competition from imported second-hand vehicles is a serious barrier to new-car growth, says the distributor

F FROM a gleaming new showroom on Pochentong Boulevard, manager Seng Voeung said he has high hopes for Ford sales in Cambodia.

The company launched its new salesroom last week, and plans to open two more locations - one in Siem Reap, and one in Phnom Penh.

"Foreign business is coming to Cambodia and people are getting richer....The economy is stable and the elections are over, so we expect the rest of the year to be strong," he told the Post. For RM Asia, the exclusive distributor, Seng Voeung says the Kingdom's rocketing growth has translated into strong sales since the dealership started major operations in 2000.

Sales have risen from only 30 units in 2000 to 405 last year, with 500 expected this year, he said.

But with high import taxes, expensive fuel and cutthroat competition, the company says that the new car market faces serious challenges in Cambodia.

"[Import] taxes here are very high....Sedans can be taxed up to 100 percent," said Dillip Ranjan Kar, Ford's after-sales manager.

The company also faces strong competition from the second-hand market, which the company says accounts for more than 90 percent of local car sales. Ford's main competitors are Toyota and Mitsubishi.

"Most countries in the region restrict imports for cars made before 2003 - Cambodia doesn't. This means more pollution and fewer new car sales," said Seng Voeung. He added that the increasing popularity of Ford vehicles in Cambodia motivated the company to import new models.

RM Asia expects Ford sales to increase 30 percent this year, up from 15 percent growth in 2007. The mining sector has helped drive local sales, especially for offroad trucks. "We have fitted our pickups with special suspension for the bumpy roads [in Cambodia]," said Ranjan Kar. The models on sale include the Escape, selling for US$64,000; the F250 pick-up at $75,000; mini-buses for $41,000 and the Focus at $35,000.

Flip Flop Royalist parties u-turn and accept Cambodia poll results

PHNOM PENH (AFP) — Cambodia's royalist parties said Tuesday they would accept the results of last month's election, despite their previous claims that Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party had rigged the polls.

The royalist Funcinpec party and its offshoot the Norodom Ranariddh Party (NRP) joined opposition leader Sam Rainsy late last month to complain that thousands of people were left off voter lists in the July 27 election.

Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP) claimed victory as early results showed they won nearly 60 percent of the vote, and in separate statements released Tuesday the royalists said they would accept that outcome.

"NRP considers that the election ... was transparent, free, fair and in accordance with democratic process in Cambodia," the party headed by former Funcinpec leader Prince Norodom Ranariddh said.

His old outfit, meanwhile, said: "Although there are some technical irregularities, Funcinpec party publicly supports and accepts the temporary results of the election."

Their apparent u-turn comes after Hun Sen said last week he would include Funcinpec in the new government. He also said another party with two seats in parliament -- and apparent reference to the NRP -- had approached him.

Early results released by the National Election Committee (NEC) show the CPP winning 58.1 percent of the vote, compared with 21.9 percent for its nearest rival, the Sam Rainsy Party.

Hun Sen's CPP has said it captured at least 90 of the 123 parliament seats up for grabs. Funcinpec and the NRP are believed to have won only two seats each.

The final NEC tally will be announced in September, ahead of the forming of a new government.
International monitors have said the election was flawed and did not meet key standards, despite a more peaceful campaign and improvements in the electoral process compared to past polls here.

Sam Rainsy has estimated that one million registered voters were cut from the rolls and has demanded a re-vote.

Monkeys in Cambodia Are Suffering because They Have a Sales Value

Posted on 12 August 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 573

“Phnom Penh: According to a new report from an international conservationist organization, monkeys in Cambodia are becoming endangered animals because of the destruction of the forest and of hunting, while local people said that they are animals easy to sell, and merchants come to buy them directly where they are caught.

“According to a report of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, nearly half of approximately 634 species of small and big monkeys and of gibbons in the world are endangered, and monkeys living in their natural habitat in Cambodia are also badly affected.

“This report shows that about 303 species of monkeys are threatened, and 69 are seriously endangered; as for Cambodia, here nine among ten species are endangered.

“The report of this organization shows that monkeys in Cambodia are in a most precarious situation. The report illustrates that 90% of monkeys in Cambodia are struggling to survive, because they are being hunted and killed to mix their remains to produce traditional Chinese medicine. In this situation, after Cambodia comes Vietnam where 86% of the monkeys are endangered, then Indonesia with 84%, Laos with 83%, and China with 79%.

“Mr. Russell Mittermeier, the president of this organization, reported in [the Indian] New Kerala that these species of monkeys are in danger because of the destruction of tropical forests, but now there is another cause: hunting.

“A local person from northwestern Cambodia told this organization that monkeys are being searched to be hunted everyday by villagers, in order to sell them to merchants who come directly to buy them where they are caught.

“Mr. Pai Phong Nhuk, the head of the Sesan Community Network, said that nobody can stop the villagers. They always form groups of four or six people to look for monkeys in flooded forests along the Sesan River to catch and sell them to merchants.

“Mr. “Pai Phong Nhuk said that he does not know where those monkeys are taken to, but merchants always come to buy them directly at the villages.

“He added, ‘Khmer and Vietnamese merchants always come to buy monkeys for between Riel 450,000 [approx. US$110] and Riel 500,000 [approx. US$125].”
Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4664, 10-11.8.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:Monday, 11 August 2008

FDI triples on boom in real estate projects

AFP ; Women walk past an advertisement for the Korean-invested IFC high-rise development in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by NGUON SOVAN and Kay Kimsong
Friday, 08 August 2008

Investment expected to remain concentrated in construction

F OREIGN direct investment nearly tripled in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2007, according to figures from the Cambodian Investment Board Report of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).

FDI totaled US$1.5 billion - up 2.90 fold over 2007's $519.8 million - domestic investment fell from $332.4 million to $208.4 million, a drop of 32.5 percent, during the same period, said the August 1 report.

The CDC approved 51 new projects in the first six months of the year, worth $1.5 billion and creating 73,176 jobs.

South Korea was the leading investor at 71.47 percent of the total, with China coming in at 10.21 percent and France third at 2.80 percent, said the report.

"The huge surge in FDI in the first [half] was [from] investment in a 52-storey International Financial Center by [GS Cambodia Development Co Ltd] from Korea with an investment value of nearly US$1 billion," the report stated.

FDI would have been similar to last year if the GS project were not included. In the first half of 2008, investment has been concentrated in business centres and large-scale resorts. In the same period last year, most investment was in garments, stated the report. Agriculture investment increased 14 percent, industry and manufacturing was up 19 percent, and tourism grew 78 percent.

"Tourism increased sharply due to investments in islands, while infrastructure was up almost three-fold."

Youn Heng, deputy director of the evaluation and incentive department of the Cambodian Investment Board, told the Post that most foreign investment has been pouring into real estate and coastal development, while garment sector investment has fallen. "I project that this year's FDI will reach $3 billion," he said.

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association, said that it was too early to pin down the figure and warned that foreign visits would plummet if fighting were to break out over the Preah Vihear temple. "Now foreign investors are waiting to see the Preah Vihear temple issue resolved. If there is no war between the two and the dispute is solved peacefully, more foreign investors will target Cambodia because this country is favorable for investment," he said.

Capital land values surge 150 percent in one year

TRACEY SHELTON ; Construction workers leaving CamKo City outside of Phnom Penh.

$5,500 per square metre Commercial land prices in June hit US$5,500 per square metre on Norodom Blvd; $5,000 a square metre on Monivong Blvd; and $5,000 a square metre for residential land on Sisowath Quay.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George mcleod and Hor hab
Friday, 08 August 2008

Strong growth in Cambodia’s real estate market bucks global slowdown and declining trends in Thailand, Vietnam

Phnom Penh land prices surged almost 150 percent over the past 12 months to July, according to an August report from Cambodia's largest realty company.

The increases come despite slow property markets in the region and economic turmoil overseas. "Commercial land reached an average US$4,100 per square metre in the first half ... compared to the same period last year, which averaged $1,500 a square metre," stated the report by Bonna Realty Group.

Residential property hit an average $2,300 per square metre, up 140 percent compared to the first six months of 2007, which saw prices of $750 a square metre.

In June, commercial land prices hit $5,000 a square metre on Monivong and Sihanouk boulevards; $5,500 per square metre on Norodom Boulevard in Daun Penh district; and $5,000 a square metre for residential land on Sisowath Quay along the riverside, said the report.

Cambodia's real estate boom comes despite a generally stagnant property market in Thailand and declining values in Vietnam.

Thai property has been held back by political instability and strict regulation while Vietnam has seen sharp declines on high inflation and government-imposed credit restrictions.

"This year there has been a slowdown [in Vietnam]...High inflation, high interest rates and high construction costs are putting pressure on real estate," said Naim Khan Turk, the director of research and consultancy at CB Richard Ellis in Ho Chi Minh City. "The sector has come under pressure from higher construction costs and higher lending rates.... Most of the slowdown has been in the high-end segment," he said.

A local banking source said Cambodia's property sector could withstand the international slump, depending on the length of the crisis and the nature of the investment.

"A lot of the money is coming from abroad. If [foreign] investors are buying with cash, property should fare well. If investors are borrowing to buy property - the sector will soften," Bonna Reality president Sung Bonna told the Post, adding that Phnom Penh's land prices had been hit in July due to the election and the Preah Vihear dispute, with some residential areas falling between five and 10 percent.

He expected prices to pick up within three months of the election.

"Land prices are expected to rise between 30 percent and 50 percent after the election due to high demand from business developers and high-rise construction," he said.

" the Cambodian market as a whole is about half the size of Ho Chi Minh City.... Cambodia is still very much an emerging market. "

In Sitha, general manager of Sovannaphum Realty, said that the impact of Preah Vihear and the election had been largely confined to the speculative market.

"Land prices last month were flat - there were no business transactions on land speculation because buyers dared not to buy and sellers held back," he said.

Foreign interest

International analysts have also been generally positive about the Cambodian market and have shrugged off suggestions that the Kingdom is in the midst of a real estate bubble.

"IP Global remains very bullish on the Cambodian property market and we aim to be making an investment there over the next six-12 months," wrote Tim Murphy, the managing director of IP Global in Hong Kong, in an email.

"We need to gain a deeper understanding of legal land titles and also the availability of bank financing to foreign investors. We believe Cambodia remains a valued proposition for Asia."

But Khan Turk of CB Richard Ellis warned that Cambodia's strong property growth numbers may not be as impressive as they seem due the market's small size and low turnover.

"Cambodia is coming from a very small base ... there is a lot of low-quality property on the market there - especially in the office market.

"He also said that Cambodia has not yet attracted high-end commercial real estate to add value to the sector."

The Cambodian market is a lot smaller [than Vietnam] - the Cambodian market as a whole is about half the size of Ho Chi Minh City alone, so the number of transactions is low...Cambodia is still very much a an emerging market," he said by telephone.

Laos pledges support for Vietnamese investors

12/08/2008

VietNamNet Bridge – Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh has pledged favourable conditions for Vietnamese investors to foster investment cooperation between the two countries.

Meeting with Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc in Vientiane on August 11, the Lao PM spoke highly of Vietnam’s approval for the establishment of the Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia Investment Encouragement Association.

He said he hoped that the association will provide consultancy to the ministries of planning and investment of the three countries to boost Vietnam’s investment into two neighbourering countries.

Minister Phuc said Vietnamese investors are eyeing investment in power, mining and industrial tree plantation projects in Laos, especially projects in border areas and some hydro power plants in northern Laos.

During a four-day visit to Laos starting from August 10, the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s delegation and the Laos side planned to discuss measures to boost Vietnam-Laos investment cooperation in the future and find out solutions to remove barriers.

(Source: VNA)

Hutt News book fair raises $10,000

SIMON EDWARDS/Hutt News
FAIR DEAL: The $10,000 raised at the Hutt News/Books for Cambodia book fair at the weekend will be a major bonus for school libraries in the Takeo province of Cambodia.

New chapter for school libraries in Takeo, Cambodia

THE DOMINION POST New Zealand

SIMON EDWARDS
Hutt News
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

A sale of second-hand books in Lower Hutt on Saturday has raised enough money to buy thousands of new books for children in Cambodia.

People started lining up an hour early for the Hutt News/Books for Cambodia Trust book fair and the early rush was like a department store annual sale. As their parents were soon engrossed in running their eyes along the stacks of donated novels, travel, gardening, health and other titles, most kids seemed to make their selections quickly and find a spot under a table or perched on a carton to begin turning pages.

Of an estimated 30,000-plus books and magazines, perhaps 12,000 were unsold by the end of the day (any charity running a book fair in the near future, please contact the Hutt News - we can get you off to a good start!).

Thanks to the generosity of Hutt people who donated books, and those who turned up to the fair to buy, it looks like the proceeds will clear $10,000 once a few valuable titles are sold on TradeMe.

Books for Cambodia Trust chair Helen Walch is delighted. She says with that sort of money, the trust will be able to extend its help beyond the two high schools in Cambodia it supports to other schools in the Takeo province.

New books in that nation cost an average of NZ$3, so that's a lot of purchasing power.

But as trust secretary Judith Miller explains, "we won't be just chucking a whole lot of books (at them)". Later this month a training session for school librarians is to take place in Takeo, and the money raised by the book fair will ensure that librarians from the primary schools which contribute to the high schools can also be invited to attend.

"It's about supporting that whole library culture and systems." The trust is determined to make a long-term difference.

From that work with librarians in junior and senior schools, and with more books on the shelves, "we'll be helping create a reading culture amongst the pupils," Helen says.

A most welcome feature of Saturday's book fair was the food stall set up by members of the Hutt Cambodian community. Emma Kim and husband Rith say a number of families associated with a local Cambodian music group donated crispy spring rolls, marinades, delicious satay meat, spicey vegetables and other tasty treats for the stall - and refused reimbursement for their ingredients. So after braving the throng inside the hall, book buyers could enjoy a taste of the cuisine of the country they were helping out. The $350 raised by the stall was split between Books for Cambodia Trust and the local music group.

Political deadlock feared after election results

Radio Australia

On Saturday Cambodia released interim election results and, just as expected, it was a thumping win to Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party.

Despite the clear victory there are fears of a political deadlock emerging. Opposition parties are threatening to boycott next month's opening of the National Assembly.

But the CPP, which won 58 per cent of the vote, has warned the opposition parties to show up or risk being stripped of their seats.Presenter:

Chhieng Yuth Speakers: Cheam Yeap, Cambodian People's Party spokesman; Son Chhay, Sam Rainsy Party MP; Ok Serei Sopheak , independent political analyst

Cambodia claims more Thai troops sent to border

The Bangkok Post

Phnom Penh (dpa) - Cambodian border officials Monday accused Thailand of disregarding agreements to move back from three border temples in northern Oddar Meanchey province, but said they would not act until after bilateral ministerial talks in a week.

After negotiations Tuesday, Thai troops agreed to pull back from the Ta Moan group of temples, but moved back into the area Saturday, said a senior border official who asked not to be named.

"We have held four rounds of negotiations with the Thais and they just don't respect any agreement," the official said. "They have not built a barricade at the temple - that has been there for a long time - but they are making it bigger."

However, he said Cambodia refused to react until after talks between the nations' foreign ministers scheduled for August 18.

"We will not be drawn," he said. "We await the orders of Prime Minister Hun Sen and he has ordered peaceful negotiation."

The English-language Cambodia Daily quoted provincial governor Pich Sokkin as saying about 20 Thai troops were now at the temples, with 70 more stationed nearby, and said they were fortifying barricades.

Thailand moved troops into the disputed border area on July 28, further worsening relations over a spat concerning the Preah Vihear temple, which was recently listed as a World Heritage site, about 150 kilometres east of Ta Moan.

Preah Vihear's listing by UNESCO on July 7 came despite protests by Thailand, which complained the surrounding border area remained in dispute and Thai troops moved in not long after. Later that month the spat spread to Ta Moan.

Cambodia has repeatedly said it has proof that the Ta Moan group of temples are sovereign territory but has stressed it seeks a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

Cambodia will pay respect to North Korea

Cambodge Soir

12-08-2008

Celebrations will be organised between the 9th and the 10th of September in Phnom Penh, in honour of the sixtieth anniversary of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

A preparation committee will be set up in Phnom Penh in order to organise the celebrations of the sixtieth birthday of the communist regime of Pyongyang, states KCNA, the official agency of North Korea in a dispatch of Saturday 9th of August.

On the 4th of August, King Norodom Sihamoni has asked Kong Sam Ol, Deputy Prime Minister of the Royal Palace, to organise the event.

According to the official Pyongyang agency, the objective is to “communicate massively about the immortal feats of President Kim Il Sung and General Secretary Kim Jong Il in honour of the country and the revolution.”

In October 2007, Kim Jong Il made an official visit to Cambodia, during which he had seen the Father King Norodom Sihanouk who has maintained good relationships with the leaders of North Korea. A country in which he regularly stayed for long periods of time, living in a residence of 40 rooms, offered by Kim Il Sung in 1974.

Ieng Sary back in prison

Cambodge Soir

12-08-2008

The former Khmer Rouge Minister of Foreign Affairs has left Calmette after one week of hospitalisation.

Ieng Sary went back to his cell on Friday the 8th of August after a stay of one week at the hospital, stated Reach Sambath, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (KRT) spokesman on Sunday 10th of August.

“He feels better now but the doctors still keep an eye on him due to all his health problems”, said Reach Sambath, quoted by Agence France Presse.

Ieng Sary has been hospitalised on Friday the 1st of August after suffering from blood in his urine, he had already stayed at the hospital in February for the same reason.

The former Khmer Rouge leader, arrested on the 12th of November 2007 in Phnom Penh, suffers from the prostate and high blood tension.

His request to be released, filed on the 2nd of July, is being examined by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal.

The preliminary NEC results are being disputed

Cambodge Soir

12-08-2008

Several parties have filed a complaint against the election results. If the committee doesn’t follow suit, the case will be brought in front of the Constitutional Council.

On Saturday 9th of August, the National Election Committee (NEC) has delivered its preliminary results concerning the July elections. The committee’s regulations stipulate that the political parties have 72 hours to challenge them. The SRP, the HRP and the NRP, threatening to boycott the parliamentary opening, have already filed a complaint against these results.

On the more than 6 million validated ballot papers, the CPP has, well ahead of its competitors, obtained 3.5 million votes, or in other words 58% of the valid votes.

The SRP, first opposition party, has merely obtained 1.3 million votes (22% of the valid votes). Far behind, the HRP obtained almost 400,000 votes while Funcinpec and the NRP are almost equal with 303,000 and 337,000 votes respectively.

Amongst the winners, Chea Sim, president of the CPP, declared not surprisingly that: “These results reflect the true will of the people and all parties which participated in the ballot should accept them.”

A point of view not shared by several opposition parties, in particular the SRP. On several occasions, Sam Rainsy has brought up the cases of fraud which he says amount to approximately two million votes and deprived the opposition of numerous seats.

In a press release of last Friday, the SRP deputies have recalculated the election results according to their estimates and their outcome is considerably different than the NEC’s. The CPP would in this way only obtain 77 seats, compared to 90 according to the NEC. The SRP would gain 9 supplementary seats; with 35 compared to the 26 from the official calculations. Finally, the NRP and Funcinpec would each keep their two deputies.

Concerning the future developments; the NEC has to study the complaints filed by the parties within 48 hours. After that the plaintiffs will receive another 72 hours in order to appeal the case before the Constitutional Council.

Cambodia’s Agricultural Products Look for More Markets

Phnom Penh, August 11, 2008 AKP --

Cambodian agricultural products are now looking for more markets in European Union’s countries, an official of the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce said recently.

This year, the Ministry of Commerce will conduct feasible study over new laws and regulations of EU countries related to the initiative of opened market for three agricultural products namely rice, sugar and banana from the developing countries, he added.

According to a yearly report released recently by the Ministry of Commerce, the EU countries will completely cancel tax on sugar product by July 1, 2009, to reduce 80 percent of tax on rice product by September 1, 2009, while the tax on fresh banana was totally canceled since January 1, 2006 from the developing countries. --AKP

(By Mr. KEO Chandara)

Government To Reconstruct Road To Preah Vihear Temple

Phnom Penh, August 11, 2008 AKP --

The Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia has decided to reconstruct a road to Preah Vihear Temple and take measures to prevent the possible flooding caused by the torrential rain.

The decision was made during the last Council of Ministers’ meeting of the Third mandate of Royal Government held in Phnom Penh last Friday under the presidency of Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.

At the meeting, the Cambodian premier ordered H.E. Sok An, minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, to accelerate the reconstruction of the road to Preah Vihear Temple by using the Bayon Television fund plus some funds raised from local and international donors, according to a Council of Ministers’ press release.

Samdech Hun Sen also ordered the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation to work closely with the Ministry of Economy and Finance in building a paved road of 80 km length and fix concrete bridges in the replacement of the old bridges on the above said road that linked from Anlong Veng district of Oddar Meanchey province to Preah Vihear province, said the press release.

The National Committee for Disaster Management was asked to cooperate with local authorities and concerned institutions to take active measures to prevent the possible disasters caused by torrential rain.

To cope with the situation, Samdech Techo Hun Sen further ordered the Cambodian Armed Forces to be ready for rescuing activities by preparing mobile houses, boats, medicines and rice seeds to be sent to the flooded areas.

Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers approved three sub-decrees on the creation of the Royal School for Prosecutors, the Royal School for Notaries and on the management of cosmetic products. --AKP

(By Mr. Neou)

CPP Supports the July 27 General Election Results Announced by NEC

Phnom Penh, August 11, 2008 AKP --

The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has strongly supported the July 27 general election results announced by the National Election Committee (NEC) on August 9, considering the one as the real will of the Cambodian people.

In a statement signed by CPP President Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim on August 9, he asked all political parties involving in the election to accept the election results by adhering to political position as democrats and having a great respect for the national interests.

He appreciated NEC in all levels for its endeavours in the arrangement of the polling process being conducted smoothly and as accurately as scheduled by adhering to its stance on independence, neutrality, impartiality, and transparency.

The local authorities in all levels, and armed forces were also praised for their efforts in supporting the electoral process and ensuring stability, security, social order and safety of the electoral process.

The CPP president expressed thanks to the Cambodian people from all walk of life for voting for the Cambodian People’s Party, as well as to international communities, friendly countries, local and international organizations of the civil societies and other circles for their assistances, either money or materials or technique, in the polling process.

He appealed to all the elected political parties to join together to ensure that the fourth-ever National Assembly will be formed in conformity to the principle of constitutional law and the Cambodian voters’ will, stressing that any attempts made to undermine the Cambodian people’s will and the principle of the democracy will never come again.

The temporary parliamentary election results, announced in a press conference on August 9 by NEC, showed that CPP headed the July 27 general election in the first place, winning 3,492,374 ballots; while the Sam Rainsy Party took the second, receiving 1,316,714 ballots; the Human Rights Party got 397,816 ballots; the Norodom Ranariddh Party won 337,943; the Funcinpec Party scored 303,764; and other six political parties won a minority of votes.

In a press conference, deputy NEC president Ms. Sin Chumbo said the political parties to stand for the fourth-ever parliamentary election will be able to make protests and complaints over the election results to NEC or the Constitutional Council within 72 hours. --AKP

(By Mr. THOU Peou)

Voters give royalists a stiff dose of reality

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by sebastian strangio and vong sokheng
Monday, 11 August 2008

The rise and demise of funcinpec

Funcinpec was founded by former King Norodom Sihanouk in Paris on March 26, 1981 with the aim of opposing the Vietnamese military occupation of Cambodia. Although Sihanouk resigned the party presidency in 1992 in order to be maintain his “neutrality” in the UN-sponsored 1993 elections, his son Prince Norodom Ranariddh led the party to a stunning victory on the back of his father’s popularity, clinching 45 percent of the popular vote and 58 seats in the National Assembly. But the party has lost ground at every election since, dropping from 43 seats in 1998 to 26 seats in 2003. According to preliminary election results released by the NEC Saturday, the party lost 24 of its remaining seats in 2008, winning just five percent of the national vote.

Since scoring a substantial win in the national elections in 1993, beleagured royalists now find themselves a spent political force despite the monarchy’s enduring popularity

ELECTION results, no matter how preliminary, have shown a dismal showing for Funcinpec, the Kingdom's once-dominant political force whose electoral popularity appears to have plummeted as Cambodians voted against royalists candidates, despite their enduring support for the monarchy.

The party lost 24 of its 26 National Assembly seats, gaining just five percent of the vote and being surpassed as the second most powerful political player by historic underdogs, the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, according to figures from the National Election Committee (NEC).

The aftermath of the July 27 parliamentary polls have revealed a party fractured by infighting, its factions pitted against one another by the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP), the royalist's former coalition government partner.

But it is this closeness over the years - Funcinpec and the CPP first came together following the UN-sponsored 1993 elections - that is at the heart of the party's demise, some Funcinpec officials say, blaming the party for becoming "too comfortable" as the CPP's junior coalition partner, a role that gradually saw its power, and credibility disappear.

"I think that royalist supporters have lost confidence in [Funcinpec] because the party is too close to the CPP," said Monh Saphan, a Funcinpec parliamentary candidate for Kampong Cham province.

Prime Minister Hun Sen continues to play a divisive role in Funcinpec, offering another coalition deal to one faction inside the royalist party who remain loyal to his CPP, led by party secretary general Nhek Bun Chhay, while freezing out others who joined the opposition parties in condemning the election results.

"There is no space for you in our alliance and don't try to bargain for a power-sharing coalition government," Hun Sen told Funcinpec president Keo Puth Rasmey, its second secretary general Sisowath Sirirath and their followers during a speech last week in Kampong Speu province.

CPP spokesman and Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith denied on Thursday that Hun Sen was deliberately encouraging a further splintering of the royalists.

"We do not want to see Funcinpec breaking up, but they were wrong in selecting their political strategy during the campaign period," he said, adding that those in Funcinpec who do find themselves in partnership with the CPP are likely to pick up 30 government positions, including a ministerial post.

Wrong political strategy has long been the problem with Funcinpec, say some observers, explaining that the party has failed to adapt to Cambodia's changing political times, instead clinging too much to its association to former King Norodom Sihanouk, Funcinpec's founder, rather than find policies that reflected the reality of what Cambodians wanted out of their government.

"The question is not whether the monarchy continues to be relevant, but whether the political parties that claim they are royalist continue to be relevant," said Prince Sisowath Thomico, the former personal secretary of King Father Sihanouk.

"I don't believe that the people of Cambodia do not support the monarchy and royalism as a political philosophy. Rather, I believe the people lack confidence in the leaders of the so-called royalist parties," he added.

"The biggest mistake the royalists made was to use the monarchy to lead their movements. The decline of the royalist parties is linked to the birth of the new regime."

Benny Widyono, a former representative of the UN secretary-general who was stationed in Siem Reap during the 1993 election campaign, also said that Funcinpec had previously benefited from its association with the former king, but that the lustre had faded since the 1990s.

"The reason that Funcinpec won in 1993 was personality recognition and name recognition. When [former Funcinpec president Prince Norodom] Ranariddh was campaigning in Siem Reap, we didn't allow him to use Sihanouk on his banners, but he was still wearing a t-shirt with Sihanouk's face," Widyono told the Post.

"Name recognition is one thing, but effective campaigning is another....The way I see it, this election will be the end of Funcinpec," he added.

Other royalists, however, maintain that their party's crashing performance in this year's elections was the fault of vote rigging committed by the CPP, rather than a devastating loss of popularity - a claim echoed by many of Cambodia's other opposition parties.

"The royalist parties failed because the election was not free and fair according to international standards," Prince Sisowath Sirirath, Funcinpec's second deputy secretary, told the Post shortly after the election, referring to both Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party, led by Funcinpec's former president.

"The National Election Committee (NEC) has set the system up to benefit the CPP by confusing voters and removing their names from polling stations," he added.

NRP spokesman Muth Chantha also said that due to the manipulation of voter lists by the CPP, the Cambodian people were deprived of their opportunity to cast their ballots for royalist parties.

Chinese teachers arrive in Cambodia

Vedior
Monday, August 11, 2008

Cambodia has welcomed the arrival of 12 Chinese teachers who will work for one year in six community schools, it has been reported.

An agreement between the Chinese government and the Association of the Chinese People in Cambodia (ACPC) means that the teachers will work in institutions in the country's capital Phnom Penh.

The teachers' arrival aims to strengthen the ties between the two countries and promote further educational exchanges between them, chinaview.cn reported.

Secretary of the ACPC Ming Lean offered an encouraging welcome to the teachers, saying: "Your arrival embodies the care and support from the Chinese government for the education cause of the Chinese Cambodian community schools."

According to the ACPC, Cambodia has 1,000 Chinese language teachers and around 30,000 students studying the subject.

The ministry of foreign affairs for the People's Republic of China says that two countries have a "time-honoured traditional friendship" with their economic relations expanding rapidly
.

Cambodians accuse Thailand of redeploying troops at border temples

M&C Asia-Pacific News
Aug 11, 2008

Phnom Penh - Cambodian border officials Monday accused Thailand of disregarding agreements to move back from three border temples in northern Oddar Meanchey province, but said they would not act until after bilateral ministerial talks in a week.

After negotiations Tuesday, Thai troops agreed to pull back from the Ta Moan group of temples, but moved back into the area Saturday, said a senior border official who asked not to be named.

'We have held four rounds of negotiations with the Thais and they just don't respect any agreement,' the official said. 'They have not built a barricade at the temple - that has been there for a long time - but they are making it bigger.'

However, he said Cambodia refused to react until after talks between the nations' foreign ministers scheduled for August 18.

'We will not be drawn,' he said. 'We await the orders of Prime Minister Hun Sen and he has ordered peaceful negotiation.'

The English-language Cambodia Daily quoted provincial governor Pich Sokkin as saying about 20 Thai troops were now at the temples, with 70 more stationed nearby, and said they were fortifying barricades.

Thailand moved troops into the disputed border area on July 28, further worsening relations over a spat concerning the Preah Vihear temple, which was recently listed as a World Heritage site, about 150 kilometres east of Ta Moan.

Preah Vihear's listing by UNESCO on July 7 came despite protests by Thailand, which complained the surrounding border area remained in dispute and Thai troops moved in not long after. Later that month the spat spread to Ta Moan.

Cambodia has repeatedly said it has proof that the Ta Moan group of temples are sovereign territory but has stressed it seeks a peaceful resolution to the dispute.

FACTBOX: Will Thai government last longer without Thaksin?

Mon Aug 11, 2008
By Nopporn Wong-Anan

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra skipped bail on Monday and went into exile, alleging that political enemies who removed him in a 2006 coup were meddling in the courts to "finish off" him and his family.

His decision to flee rather than fight a slew of corruption charges lodged since the coup pushed the stock market up as much as 3.6 percent at one stage amid hopes the political temperature might cool after three years of turmoil.

But the turbulence is far from over, with lawsuits hanging over the ruling six-party coalition. Leaders of the street protests that have dogged Thaksin and the government for nearly three months are also vowing to fight on.

After interviews with several analysts, Reuters has compiled three possible scenarios:

PRESSURE KEPT ON GOVT., PPP AND/OR CABINET SUSPENDED

- The government continues to feel pressure from its opponents and the courts in the form of an electoral fraud charge against the ruling People Power Party (PPP), widely seen as a Thaksin proxy.

However, before any ruling -- maybe as early as next month -- the National Counter Corruption Commission (NCCC) decides to press ahead with an investigation into the entire cabinet for backing Cambodia's bid to list a disputed Hindu temple as a World Heritage site.

Under the army-drafted, post-coup constitution, the cabinet is suspended from office the moment the NCCC starts its probe.

It is not clear how the power vacuum would be filled, but it would presumably have to involve elections.

Even if the cabinet survives the NCCC case, analysts say the PPP could well be disbanded by the Supreme Court for vote fraud before the end of the year, leading to another election.

With both cases looking as though they may lead to more polls, firebrand PM Samak Sundaravej is likely to roll out more populist projects in the interim to position himself well for any run-off.

WITH THAKSIN GONE, OPPONENTS BACK OFF GOVERNMENT

- With Thaksin effectively confined to the political scrap heap, his opponents in the military and royalist establishment could give the PPP a break and back off.

The courts and NCCC also take a more lenient view of the PPP and the cabinet, letting them off and allowing the shaky administration to muddle through at a time of stagnating growth and decade-high inflation.

Most analysts do not see this happening, given the depth of hatred in the establishment for Thaksin and his associates, who make up almost the entire cabinet.

PPP FALLS APART, COALITION COLLAPSES

- With Thaksin gone, various factions within the PPP vie for supremacy of a political party that has almost no ideological base.

Despite PM Samak's attempts to impose authority, the PPP quickly splinters, leading to the collapse of the six-party coalition and another general election in which the opposition Democrat Party, the country's oldest party, could sneak to victory.

(Editing by Ed Cropley and Paul Tait)

Chinese president meets foreign leaders in Beijing

China Daily

2008-08-11

BEIJING -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday met separately with several foreign leaders in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The foreign leaders, including Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, President of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, Slovak President Ivan Gashparovic and Latvian President Valdis Zatlers, had come to the Chinese capital to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games on August 8 and other activities relating to the Games.

Hu extended a warm welcome to the guests, and said the Beijing Olympics, with the theme of "One World, One Dream," is an international sports gala that belongs to people of all countries in the world.

The foreign leaders spoke highly of the Games' opening ceremony and China's preparations for the Games, and expressed the belief that the Beijing Olympics will be a great success.

Hu also had a broad exchange of views with the leaders on bilateral relations and other major regional and international issues of common concern.

In his meeting with King Sihamoni, Hu said that China and Cambodia are not only good neighbors that coexist in peace and harmony, but also good friends with mutual trust, good brothers sharing happiness and woe, and good partners working together for a win-win end.

"The friendly relationship between China and Cambodia is exemplary for countries of different social systems which want to treat each other equally and carry out sincere cooperation," Hu said.

The Chinese government and people are ready to work with their Cambodian counterparts to enhance friendly exchanges, expand mutually-beneficial cooperation, and promote common development, said Hu, adding that China highly appreciates the Cambodian Royal Family's "outstanding contribution" to the development of Sino-Cambodian relations.King Sihamoni responded that the Cambodia-China friendship was forged and developed through the efforts of several generations of leaders of both countries.

He said the Cambodian Royal Family, government and people appreciate the long-time support and assistance from China and are dedicated to the development of good-neighborly friendship and cooperation with China.

While meeting President Christofias, Hu pointed out that China and Cyprus enjoy all-weather friendship and partnership.

"China is willing to work with Cyprus to enhance high-level exchanges, expand cooperation in diverse fields and cement coordination within the frameworks of the United Nations and Asia Europe Meeting and in multilateral affairs," he said.

President Hu stressed China's persistent stand that the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus should be duly respected, and the Cyprus issue should be settled in a fair and reasonable manner on the basis of relevant UN resolutions.

Christofias thanked the Chinese side for the support of Cyprus unity, and hoped the two countries enhance cooperation in trade and economic sectors.

Cyprus will continue with its efforts to promote Europe-China relations, he added.

Meeting with his Slovak counterpart, Hu said that bilateral ties have been going along quite well in recent years and the two countries have enhanced high-level exchanges, built mutual political trust, maintained practical and fruitful cooperation in diverse fields, and cemented coordination in international affairs.

Slovakia is considered as a trustworthy friend and partner of China, Hu said. "Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of China-Slovakia diplomatic relations. We're willing to work with Slovakia to promote bilateral friendly cooperation to a new height."President Gashparovic said his country thinks highly of China's influence in international affairs, and hopes to deepen cooperation with China to further promote bilateral relations.

In his discussions with the Latvian president, Hu said that China's relations with Latvia have forged ahead smoothly since the two countries clinched diplomatic ties 17 years ago.

China values such relations and is ready to work with Latvia in promoting all-round development of bilateral ties by maintaining exchanges at all levels, enhancing contacts between the governments, legislatures and political parties, expanding channels for trade and economic cooperation, broadening exchanges and cooperation in diverse fields including science and technology, culture and education, and maintaining good coordination in international affairs, Hu said.

President Zatlers echoed Hu's views on bilateral ties, saying his country is ready to work with China to expand cooperation in economic and trade fields and boost exchanges in education and cultural sectors.

During the Monday meetings, Hu also thanked the foreign leaders for their countries' assistance to China after the devastating May 12 earthquake that rocked Sichuan Province and neighboring regions.