Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Thai soldiers enter Cambodia near disputed temple

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodian officials say about 100 armed Thai soldiers have entered Cambodia near a disputed border temple where clashes erupted last year.

A spokesman for Cambodia's Council of Ministers says the Thai soldiers were fully armed and crossed into Cambodia about a half mile (1 kilometer) west of the 11th century Preah Vihear temple at about 1:40 p.m. (0640 GMT) Wednesday.

Spokesman Phay Siphan said no fighting had erupted but "both sides are on alert."

He said Cambodia's top commander was asking the Thai soldiers to leave the area.

Soldiers from both countries have been stationed at the border since last July, when long-standing tensions flared and fighting erupted. The clashes briefly sparked concerns of war.

Film stars fight escort hoaxes

Actress Doun Zorida gets her makeup done Tuesday before hosting an entertainment show on TV5.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Titthara and Mom Kunthear
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A CRIMINAL investigation has been launched into a number of Phnom Penh nightclubs that purport to offer female film stars' services as high-class escorts.

Actresses have told the Post they intend to sue for damages, actors unions are issuing warnings to their members, and the Minister of Women's Affairs has expressed outrage at the practice - which, it says, objectifies women and damages Cambodian culture.

Movie star Doun Zorida, who also presents an entertainment show on TV5, told the Post Tuesday that she has spoken to the police, who have launched a probe into the clubs, and has decided to go public to draw attention to the issue.

"My pictures have been shown in photo albums at some VIP clubs in Phnom Penh and with a price next to the photo of some $4,000 to $8,000," she told the Post, referring to purported charges for sexual services, but declining to name the clubs involved in the scam.

"The clubs put my photo there to cheat their clients. When a client asks for me, the owner asks them to pick another actress because I am busy," she said, adding that she intended to sue and appealed to other affected actresses to come forward.

"When the police went to investigate the clubs, they found many actresses' photos in albums, all with different prices. I know that some film stars really do [prostitute themselves] but I do not. Not all film stars sell their body," she said.

"Today I am telling all actresses to come together to sue these people through the anti-human trafficking police, so that when police see club owners use our photos they will arrest them," she added.

Ing Kantha Phavi, minister for women's affairs said on Tuesday that her ministry would help the investigation.

"It impacts how women are valued if this has in fact happened. The ministry always tries to promote Khmer women as valuable members of society and the family, not as objects," she said. "We will cooperate with police and take measures through the law if it has happened,"

Ten Borany, deputy director of the Anti-Human Trafficking Department at the Ministry of Interior, said he was "now investigating the issue".

Doun Zorida added that her photo had also been displayed on escorting websites and on club owners' phones.

"After I consulted the club owners, the photos were taken out of the albums, but they can still show their clients the photos on their phone," she added.

Actress and singer Vang Sreyno told the Post that she had also seen her photo displayed in clubs, and that she had met with police to help them investigate the issue.

"I will join together to sue these clubs because it affects the entire film industry," she said.

Ieng Sithul, director of the Khmer Actress Association, said she was making other actresses aware of the problem.

"Right now we are talking about this issue with our members, and we plan to formally launch a lawsuit against them on Friday."

Heng Pov faces time on charges in '98 plot

Disgraced ex-police chief Heng Pov is escorted into the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday morning.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Ex-top cop chides presiding judge over access to funds, while defence says case reopened with no further investigations.

THE Phnom Penh Municipal Court will announce its verdict in the murder trial implicating former city police chief Heng Pov on April 7, it said Tuesday following a five-hour court hearing.

Heng Pov, who is already serving 74 years in prison for a variety of murder, extortion and kidnapping convictions, has been charged - along with three other men - with the attempted murder of Koh Santepheap newspaper editor Thong Uy Pang in June 1998.

Three of the four accused were present for the hearing, the opening of which saw Heng Pov argue with Chief Presiding Judge Chan Madina over his legal representation and access to nearly $1 million of funds held in Canadia Bank accounts bearing his name.

Refusing a court-appointed lawyer, Heng Pov accused the judge of denying him his legal rights and again criticised the court-imposed freeze on his assets.

"Legally, the court should allow me to withdraw money from Canadia Bank, but the Municipal Court chief always hinders my requests, and I am not able to pay for the services of my lawyer," he told the court.

Heng Pov remained silent for the rest of the hearing while the court questioned suspects Ly Rasy, a former police official, and Pheng Phai, a former police bureau chief of anti-drug trafficking.

Heng Veng, the fourth accused and Heng Pov's nephew, remains on the run from authorities.

Ly Rasy and Heng Veng's defence counsel, Long Dara, complained to the court that the case was dropped in 2000 due to the lack of suspects aside from fugitive Heng Veng, but that in 2006 the court decided to reopen the case and charged three individuals without conducting fresh investigations.

"It is very strange that in 2000 the court prosecutor decided to leave the case but later on decided to reopen the case ... without a re-investigation," Long Dara told the court, calling on the court to lift the charges against his clients.

But the victim's lawyer, Puth Theavy, replied that the court was "afraid" to work on the case while Heng Pov was police chief, and that now he was behind bars it was possible for the court to pursue justice for his clients.

He added that the attempted murder of Koh Santepheap editor Thong Uy Pang and his bodyguard Yim Chhoeun was an official police order rather than a case of individual revenge, which was a clear case of premeditation.

"I request that the court have a thorough consideration and to convict these men in a serious way," he said, also requesting the court pay US$300,000 in compensation costs for his two clients.

Court prosecutor Hing Bunchea also asked the court to convict the four accused according to Article 31 of Criminal Law, which carries a penalty of between 10 and 20 years.

Minister greenlights draft RCAF reforms

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sam Rith
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

MINISTER of Defence Tea Banh has approved a draft administrative and management reform of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), following its submission by new RCAF Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun.

The draft Reform of the RCAF Appointment Structure and Management System, approved by Tea Banh on March 5, includes proposed reforms of the army's size, structure, appointment procedures and ranking system, according to documents obtained by the Post.

It also recommends how the army can strengthen the quality of its leadership, encourage responsible command and eliminate the number of non-existent "ghost" soldiers drawing money from the national coffers.

"The RCAF Commander-in-Chief has organised an in-depth reform of the RCAF appointment structure and management system and plans to implement it through the whole of RCAF in the coming months," Pol Saroeun stated in a letter to Tea Banh, dated March 4.

"To ensure the efficiency of implementation of the reforms, I would like to suggest for the Defence Minister to check and approve the draft herewith."

The following day, Tea Banh responded that he "approved in principle" the draft reforms and ordered "all staff to carry out the necessary work".

Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay said he welcomed the reform of the armed forces so long as it was conducted fairly and thoroughly, and added that a previous set of army reforms funded by the World Bank failed due to the number of ghost soldiers paying their "salaries" into the pockets of well-connected miltary officials.

"It is time for the government to stop taking advantage by showing unreal numbers of soldiers," he said. He said also that the government should improve the quality of leadership, observing that many officers gained rank through nepotism and corruption.

Pol Saroeun declined to comment in detail Tuesday, saying the reforms were "an internal military issue that needs addressing".

Deminers to Africa: PM

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Cambodian deminers before leaving for Sudan.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Hun Sen confirms Cambodian deminers and peacekeepers will be deployed to Africa but departure date unknown.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday that Cambodia would dispatch more than 400 deminers and peacekeepers to Chad and the Central African Republic as part of an ongoing United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Speaking Tuesday during a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said he made the decision to dispatch the deminers and peacekeepers two weeks ago, adding that they had been requested by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He did not say when or for how long they would be deployed.

The mission, approved in September 2007, is "a multidimensional presence intended to help create the security conditions conducive to a voluntary, secure and sustainable return of refugees and displaced persons" in the central African countries, according to the UN's website devoted to peacekeeping operations.

Hun Sen said Cambodia's ability to contribute deminers and peacekeepers to the UN mission was evidence of its political and social stability.

His remarks were an apparent reference to a report released Friday by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that rated Cambodia as one of the countries most at risk of suffering serious social unrest as the glocal economic crisis escalates. Cambodia was tied for fourth with Sudan, making it more stable than Zimbabwe, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo but less stable than Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This comment is unreliable, saying that political risk in Cambodia is worse than Afghanistan and Iraq when they have been fighting each other and dying every day," Hun Sen said. "This prediction would affect their prestige."

He did not reference the EIU report directly.

Cambodia has despatched deminers to Sudan as part of UN peacekeeping missions since 2006.

Prak Sokhon, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, told the Post Tuesday that Cambodia had prepared 270 deminers and 150 peacekeepers for deployment.

"We have prepared this number, but we have not decided how many troops to despatch," he said. "It is up to the United Nations."

9 charged in land fight

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha and Kyle sherer
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Siem Reap Province

NINE villagers from Siem Reap province's Chi Kraeng commune were charged with robbery and assault Monday over their participation in a weekend clash with military police that left three villagers in hospital with bullet wounds.

The confrontation, triggered by a long-standing local land dispute, saw the arrest of 40 individuals, but most were released by authorities after pledging to give up their claims to 92 hectares of land contested with villagers from a neighbouring commune.

The villagers appeared in Siem Reap courthouse Monday before being detained at Siem Reap prison. Yin Srang, chief clerk at the prosecutor's office at Siem Reap provincial court, told the Post that the trial of the nine villagers is expected to start in four to six months.

He said it is likely more prosecutions will follow, though he is not sure if the three hospitalised Chi Kraeng villagers will be charged.

A group of local rights groups also met with provincial Governor Sou Phirin Tuesday seeking solutions to the land dispute involving villagers from Chi Kraeng and Anlong Samnor communes.

The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, comprising 21 local NGOs, and the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke for three hours with the governor, who promised to resolve the dispute fairly with participation from civil society groups.

Funding for KR-era B'bang dam in jeopardy, ADB says

Roth Mom, a farmer and representative for the 180 families who have made a complaint, at the site of the dam in Battambang.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Thet Sambath
Wednesday, 25 March 2009


The Asian Development Bank says the concerns of local people who stand to be affected should be addressed.

THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) has threatened to withdraw funding for a US$2 million project to rehabilitate a collapsed Khmer Rouge-era dam in Battambang province unless the concerns of affected local people are addressed.

The warning comes after 180 families filed a complaint with the Battambang authorities requesting that they be given land in compensation for the 500-hectare Chork dam site, which they have farmed since 1979.

"If this development will have a big impact and that cannot be resolved, then we will withdraw [funding for] it," said Prum Viratha, the deputy team leader of technical assistance for the bank's Northwest Irrigation Sector Project. "Our loan agreement stipulates that [problems with] any project affecting the land, rice paddies or houses of people must be resolved."

Prum Viratha said that condition applied whether or not the project was on state land. He said the bank did not yet know how many rice fields were affected since the assessment stage was currently focussed on the technological requirements of the rehabilitation. The next stage would investigate the project's impact.

"The government has to solve it according to the loan agreement. If the problem is not solved and both sides disagree, the project will be withdrawn," he said.

Officials respond
The governor of Battambang, Prach Chan, told the Post Monday that the authorities were investigating the villagers' complaint.

"I have ordered my officials to look into this problem and to meet with the relevant officials and people in order to find a solution," Prach Chan said Monday. "In the newspapers it looks as though we are treating the people badly ­- but we are just trying to repair the dam in order to allow people to irrigate their rice paddies and farms twice a year."

Asked whether he thought the ADB would withdraw funding if the situation was not resolved, Prach Chan said it was too early to say. He was first waiting to hear from his officials about a proposed solution: "What I know is that the people have been growing rice on state land," he said.

Long Phal Khun, the director of the provincial Department of Water Resources and Meteorology, said a team had travelled to the Chork dam on Monday to assess the impact from the proposed restoration.

"First, we need to examine the situation and determine the number of rice paddies affected by the rehabilitation," Long Phal Khun said. "Once it has been studied, we can decide on the next stage for the people affected."

The ADB is funding three dam reconstruction projects in the province ­- Daun Av, Canal No 1 and Chork - as part of its $20 million Northwest Irrigation Sector Project.

Police clear hospital staff in Pailin death


The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear and Chrann Chamroeun
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Battambang prosecutor says he plans to look into the March 15 death of a pregnant woman.

Four obstetricians at Pailin Referral Hospital who were interrogated in connection with the March 15 death of a pregnant woman were told Monday they had been cleared of any wrongdoing, the hospital's head of obstetrics told the Post Sunday.

Luy Chantha, who was among those questioned, said Pailin Governor Y Chhien informed the obstetricians that he would "stop this problem" during a meeting last week in which they explained their version of events.

The woman, Vorn Yoeub, 37, went to the hospital to give birth on the night of March 15 with her husband, Mith Rorn. In a March 18 interview with the Post, Mith Rorn said obstetricians at the hospital demanded US$25 in advance to treat Vorn Yoeub, a fee the couple could not pay.

"My wife's stomach got very painful, and I woke up the two obstetricians three times," Mith Rorn said.

"But they ignored me and said it could wait until the morning. But by then it was too late - my wife died during the night."

This account was disputed by hospital staff, and Luy Chantha reiterated on Sunday the hospital's claim that it never turned away patients who were too poor to pay treatment fees.

Luy Chantha said the investigation, conducted by Pailin police officers, began Thursday and ended Sunday.

Lawyer to look into case
Battambang court prosecutor Koy Chanya, who has jurisdiction in the case, said Monday that he planned to continue pursuing it despite the officers' finding that the obstetricians were not in the wrong.

"I will not be silenced. I will try my best to find justice for any victim," he said. "This is very shocking news of carelessness on the part of expert doctors and obstetricians."

Luy Chantha said she planned to sue any NGO workers and others who had pushed for a criminal inquiry, saying they had "damaged our reputation throughout the country".

Chhuon Makara, Pailin provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said the question of whether to continue pursuing the case was complicated by the fact that Mith Rorn had decided not to press charges.

A tale of two tribunals

A young woman rides her bicycle near the entrance to the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Long Panhavuth
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The ECCC must be beyond reproach in its form and function, or risk lethal comparisons to its 1979 predecessor.

The atrocities committed in Cambodia between April 17, 1975, and January 6, 1979, by the Khmer Rouge Regime were the focus of a trial in August 1979, conducted by the People's Revolutionary Tribunal with support from Vietnam and other communist-bloc countries. Pol Pot and Ieng Sary were tried and sentenced to death in absentia. The judgement of that tribunal, however, was not internationally recognised as legitimate and was generally considered to be a show trial. The 1979 tribunal was not independent and utterly failed to respect the right of the accused to basic due process. The 1979 tribunal was conducted precisely to legitimise the political goals of the regime at that time.

The current Khmer Rouge tribunal, with the sexy name Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), is the result of more than 10 years of effort and difficult negotiations between the United Nations and the Cambodian government, and is designed to avoid the flaws of the 1979 tribunal. It is a partnership between the government of Cambodia and the United Nations that features a cumbersome structure designed in large part to ensure that the court meets basic international standards for fair trials.

The participation of international professionals at all levels of the court - including the judiciary - and a requirement that decisions of the chambers be achieved by "supermajority vote" (a voting process that ensures at least one international judge concur with the decision) flow from concerns about the political commitment of the government to an independent court that meets international standards.

How will the ECCC be different from the 1979 tribunal? It should be different in that international participation in the prosecution, judiciary and administration will bring wisdom acquired from the emerging international criminal justice movement rather than from communist leadership with no commitment to judicial independence or fair trials. At the ECCC, it is probably fair to say, further, that the current international participation is not to collude or to legitimise the political goals of the current elites. Their participation is to ensure that the international standards for fair trials are upheld and that political interference or other illegitimate actions are prevented or exposed, but it is probably too early to give the international actors the credit as some of them may, indeed, be here just to collude or to legitimise.

A second basic difference between the 1979 tribunal and the ECCC should be demonstrated by the respect of the ECCC for the fair trial rights of the accused, but the ECCC is still struggling to gain credibility and to be a competent court amid corruption allegations within the administration of the Cambodian side. In addition, concerns about basic independence from political interference - evidenced by the disagreement among prosecutors about whether to investigate additional suspects - raises doubts about the hallmark of a fair trial: judicial independence. Furthermore, recent remarks by the government's spokesperson that more prosecutions are unnecessary feed concerns that the decision over who to prosecute is being made by politicians rather than by prosecutors.

Finally, unlike the 1979 trial, the ECCC proceedings shall be transparent from beginning to end in order to allow the Cambodian people to have a basic minimum understanding of the proceedings. The current policies of the court to protect almost completely the confidentiality of the investigation process and of proceedings to resolve differences between co-prosecutors or co-investigating judges harms the ECCC's claim to transparency.

The ECCC must reassess whether it is making sufficient efforts to distinguish its operations from the 1979 tribunal. The purpose of the ECCC is not merely punishment. It is also to tell more of the truth about the Khmer Rouge and to offer reconciliation with that truth. To succeed in fully distinguishing its work from that of the 1979 tribunal, the ECCC, its partners, donors and all those who act on its behalf must renew efforts to ensure that the court operates consistently according to international standards of justice, free of the taint of corruption or political interference. Furthermore, it must make much greater efforts to ensure that the people of Cambodia have a basic understanding of the proceedings.

Long Panhavuth is a program officer with the Cambodia Justice Initiative, a legal NGO monitoring the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

DuPont presses govt over GM corn crops

Du Pont, a US-based GMO company, says it hopes to see its corn seeds used in Cambodian fields having already set up an office in the Kingdom last year.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by George McLeod
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

US-based chemical giant says it is trying to register hybrid corn seeds with Ministry of Agriculture, but opponents warn of dire consequences

CAMBODIA'S first genetically modified (GM) crops may be on the way, with American chemicals giant DuPont saying it is in the process of registering GM seeds with the Ministry of Agriculture.

"We are proceeding to register our hybrid corn seeds with [the Ministry of Agriculture]... We are open to discuss research collaboration in hybrid materials," said Hsing Ho, Du-Pont's managing director in Singapore, in a speech at an agriculture and technology seminar in Phnom Penh on Monday.

DuPont opened its first office in Cambodia in 2008.

A DuPont representative in Phnom Penh said the company is still studying the Cambodian market, and that it has not developed a plan for local operations. He added that DuPont attended the Monday event at the government's invitation.

DuPont is one of the top makers of genetically modified seeds, or seeds whose DNA is altered to offer benefits such as higher yields, or enhanced resistance to disease.

We ... need to do more research into the health and environmental impact.

GM crops are grown in 25 countries worldwide with nearly 800 million hectares under cultivation in 2008, say figures from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), which attended the seminar.

GM crops, also often called genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified organisms (GMO), are a subject of controversy, and opponents claim they pose health and environmental risks. The Ministry of Agriculture told the Post that no

GM crops are grown in Cambodia, and they require special permission.

A ministry spokesman said that the government is under pressure to adopt the crops, but that the benefits of higher yields do not offset possible damage to Cambodia's food exports.

"Many countries do not allow GM goods, so if we start allowing those crops here, it could lead countries to stop buying from us," said Hean Vanhan, secretary of state for the Ministry of Agriculture.

"We also need to do more research into the health and environmental impact of GMO," he said.

But one group that backs GE crops said Cambodia could benefit from reduced malnutrition and increased food security.

"Cambodia has a lot to gain from the use of GE crops," said a spokesman from ISAAA, a nongovernmental group.

"The three most common GM crops have been corn, cotton and soy - corn is doing wonderfully well, especially in China and India," said Daniel Otunge by telephone from Kenya. "For developing countries, the first concern has to be feeding its own population ... this is a legitimate concern for exporting farmers, but at this point, GM crops are so widespread that it is becoming less of an issue," he said.

Five European countries ban the import of GM crops, and some African and South American states prohibit some types of GE crops, according to Greenpeace. Sixty countries require the labelling of foods containing GM ingredients, according to the American Association for Health Freedom.

Otunge said that concerns about possible environmental and health side effects are overblown. "Over the past 12 years when GM crops have been widespread, there has been no evidence they impact health. Ultimately, they help the environment by reducing the need for toxic sprays," he said.

But according to Greenpeace, an environmental watchdog, Cambodia stands to lose by adopting GM crops. "For Cambodia, I can't see how it would make any sense [to use GE crops].... In the age of climate change, genetically engineered crops are a threat to food security," said Jan van Aken, a GE expert.

He cited South Africa as an example, where 200,000 hectares of GE crops were lost recently for unexplained reasons. "There is not a single example of where genetically modified varieties have seen higher yields. There have been examples where genetically modified crops have resisted insects for two or three years, but new insects come and threaten the crops."

Cafe to cash in on intl brand

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
The Starbucks sign at the soon-to-open The Cafe coffeeshop at The Place on Sihanouk Boulevard. The sign says "The Place does not possess Starbucks licence".

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Michael Fox
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

A COFFEE shop sporting the Starbucks logo is scheduled to open on April 1 in Phnom Penh, despite having failed to secure a Starbucks licence, the store manager said on Tuesday.

Called The Cafe and situated in The Place on Sihanouk Boulevard, it is closely modelled on the American coffee giant.
The logo displayed on the window is a replica of the Starbucks logo, but a ring of text around the outside states: "The Place does not possess Starbucks licence".

Cafe manager Joshua Jones admitted they are not a licensed Starbucks store but said they would sell Starbucks coffee and products as well as use the logo.

Jones said he had not been involved in the legal proceedings around the design of the label, but was confident they were not infringing on Starbucks's trademark.

"Whatever we have done we have done within the law, and whatever repercussions that it might have, have been covered," he said, adding that the wording around the logo clarified this.

Previous applications for a Starbucks licence had been rebuffed. "We have applied for one a number of times, and each time we have been denied," he said.

"They're not interested in coming to Cambodia."

Starbucks is a US-based coffee giant with over 4,500 stores in 47 countries around the world, according to its website.

After a prolonged period of rapid expansion, the coffee giant is currently axing a number of its outlets around the world.

Since July last year it has announced the closure of over 900 stores worldwide. Its profits dropped by almost 70 percent in the final quarter of last year.

The company has been known to vigorously protect its intellectual property, though this appeared to be only in countries where it was already operating.

Starbucks has successfully sued outlets in the past for trademark infringement, including a Chinese chain that used a green and white logo with a similar sounding Chinese name.

It also prevented a US artist from profiting from a parody of the Starbucks logo which featured the words "consumer whore" around the outside.

Jones said his target market was 20-to 30-year-old unmarried professionals. He added that he expected foreigners who were familiar with the brand to be his major customers to begin with.

Lawyer Matthew Rendall, a partner at Sciaroni and Associates, said that unless The Cafe had permission from Starbucks, it appeared to be a blatant copyright violation.

"You can't go and use somebody else's logo to promote your own product or service without their permission, so unless they've got permission from Starbucks you'd have to assume that was a trademark violation," he said.

Rendall added that the Ministry of Commerce was very vigilant about protecting trademarks, on the basis that that business might try and enter the country one day.

"You've got to assume that at the very least it's false and misleading," he said.

Cambodia to set up own standards system soon

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by May Kunmakara
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

CS tag will match the global ISO system, says official

CAMBODIA has set up a standards institute to improve the quality of local food and water, an official said Tuesday.
The new Cambodian Standard (CS) should also help local manufacturers gain access to external markets said Ping Sivlay, the president of the new Institute of Standards of Cambodia (ISC).

Ping Sivlay said the implementation date for the standards, which fall under the remit of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, had not yet been finalised. He said the standards match those of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), but would not be drawn on the costs of testing products to meet the CS. The cost to issue the certificate is US$100, he said.

"Some products will need to carry the CS standard in order to ensure safety for users," he said. "Cambodia is a member of the WTO, so all local entrepreneurs should come to get their certificate to improve product quality to sell in the local market and also to export to foreign markets. We can also help them get the ISO rating."

Ping Sivlay said there were two types of standards - voluntary and compulsory - with the latter applicable to products that affect human health, such as water, salt, pepper and beans. Voluntary standards are meant to encourage entrepreneurs to get the CS mark.

The ISC can currently only test the chemical composition and microbiology components of food and water - that is done using a machine accredited by Norway. Ping Sivlay said just 30 of the nation's 100 manufacturers of bottled water had the CS mark, and just one company out of 50 that produce pepper, beans, salt or vinegar.

"When those enterprises meet the standard, they don't only produce high-quality products, they also ensure that hygiene standards are followed with regard to packaging and the workplace environment," he said. "If we find that a company is making a product that has a high impact on human health, we will force them to get the compulsory standard or shut them down."

Thai Vantha, the deputy manager of bottled water manufacturer Euro-Tech, said his firm had its CS certificate as well as the ISO 9001 certificate, which it obtained overseas.

"Having the standard has improved the quality of my company's product because we follow all the ministry's guidelines," he said. "And our clients support us because they trust the quality of our water."

However, Chhorn Ravuth, the manager of palm wine manufacturer Confirel, said he was worried at the cost of complying with the regulations, and said some bureaucrats might use the opportunity to look for problems that did not exist in order to extort money. He added that his company already holds a certificate from Russia allowing it to export.

"I am happy that our country has an institute for local enterprises to improve the quality of our products," said Chhorn Ravuth. "But the cost of complying should not be so high that it acts as a barrier to entrepreneurs as that will cause us to lose access to local and foreign markets."

Your guide to the rental trail

Photo by: Mark Roy
Rental properties in Phnom Penh can often be hard to find.

What to look for
- Access: Will you have a separate entrance or a shared gate? Will you have easy 24-hour access?
- Landlord: Many landlords live on site or nearby, so find one you get along with.
- Security: Is security provided? Are there street lights? Is the roof accessible from surrounding buildings?
- Noise: Is there any construction going on nearby? A karaoke bar? Visit early in the morning or late at night to check on noise levels.
- Heat: Are there ceiling fans or air conditioning? How is the airflow? Older houses can be sweatboxes.
- Mosquito screens: If these are not installed, insist on some at no cost to you.
- Mattresses: Foam mattresses may be old and uncomfortable – your landlord may supply a new spring mattress if your request one.
- White goods: Is a refrigerator provided? Is there a laundry nearby? You may be able to do a deal on a washing machine with you landlord, or try the buy and sell column at or the classified ads in the Post Tuesday and Friday.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mark Roy
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

So you are in Phnom Penh and need a place of your own – but how do you negotiate the minefield of securing a good rental property without it costing you an arm and a leg?

With a high volume of workers arriving and departing in Phnom Penh, there is no shortage of rental properties coming onto the market. But good-value properties are snapped up quickly.

When you find a place that's right for you, you need to move fast, says Bruce Cormack, a moderator of the online resource Expat Advisory Services. "You can't put a place on hold - generally it's up for grabs until a cash deposit has changed hands," Cormack says. "There's no substitute for being there in person."

But searching for an apartment on your own in Phnom Penh can be a case of "buyer beware", he warns.

"Your best bet is to make use of a local to help you, either a foreigner or a local Khmer," he says.

"Most residents will have an idea of reasonable prices for the main areas of town, or can put you in contact with someone who knows."

Bonna Real Estate Project Manager Charles Villar says people who choose to go through a real estate agent do so to avoid extra hassles.

"Real estate agents have properties already available for home finders, and this can cut down the time expats, NGOs and executives spend searching," Villar explains.

"These are people who are busy during the day." He said the other benefit was increased security.

"We provide standard contracts, and we can explain these contracts to our clients," he says. "We are also licensed by the government, which is another level of security."

Cormack says it pays to do some thinking before you begin your hunt. "Whether you're searching solo, through an agent or with help from a friend, there are basic criteria you have to decide on before you start," Cormack says.

"You'll make your life and those of the people who may be trying to help you a lot easier if you take an hour to sit down and figure out what you want, or to at least narrow it down."

For example, do you want a villa, a one-bedroom flat, or a serviced apartment? How many bedrooms do you need? Do you need a study, a balcony, a garden? Do you need a parking bay?

Do you want to live on the ground floor or climb stairs? Do you want it furnished or unfurnished?
What other services do you need? Broadband, Wi-Fi, satellite TV, cleaning, a security service and laundry facilities will usually cost you extra.

Signing a longer lease will put you in a better position to bargain.

Location, location, location...
It pays to equip yourself with a good map and narrow your search by location. A real estate advertisement often lists the quarter in which the property is located. A useful map will show the main districts (khan) which are divided into quarters (sangkat). A map of districts and quarters can be found in the Yellow Pages, or online at codes.

Cormack also suggests visiting friends' places to see what you can get for the price in different areas.

Know your budget

Weigh up your costs and look at carefully your budget, and let your agent or those helping you know how much you want to spend.

"As a rough guide, $150-$300 per month budget would allow for basic, but comfortable and secure, rental properties in various parts of town," Cormack says.

But you can also pay much more than $4,000 per month, depending on what degree of amenities or luxury you require.

Doing the business
A standard contract will normally require two months' deposit plus once month's rent in advance.
If you are dealing with a landlord who does not speak English well, Cormack recommends taking a local with you who does, even if you are going through a real estate agent.

"Your Khmer speaker can monitor discussions between an agent and the landlord to ensure that you're informed of things discussed that you need to know, assist with your side of the bargaining, and save you from frustration if much of the conversation would otherwise be in Khmer," Cormack says.

And most importantly, get written receipts for every payment you make, he says.

Encouragement for foreign projects to push ahead

Photo by: SOEUN SAY
Secretary of State for Ministry of Land Management Urban and Construction Phoeung Sophoan with Vice President of Camko City DK Kim.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Soeun Say
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Government officials have been visiting major foreign-funded construction sites in Phnom Penh over the last few weeks in order to persuade developers to push ahead with their plans despite the impact of the global financial crisis.

Ministry of Land Management Secretary of State Phoeung Sophoan visited the 119-hectare Camko City development on the outskirts of Phnom Penh on Thursday.

Owned by South Korea's World City, the development was initially slated to cost $2 billion and be finished in 2018, but concerns have risen that the developer may be considering scaling back its ambitious plans.

"Today, we came here to strengthen the relationship and persuade the Korean investors they should feel good about the prospects of their projects," Phoeung Sophoan told Prime Location Thursday.

Camko City Vice President DK Kim brushed aside concerns and said the second phase of the development would be launched as planned later this year when phase one was completed.

The US$109 million initial phase included 1,009 townhouses, villas and condominiums, 85 percent of which had already been bought, Kim said.

Kim denied rumours that the Ministry of Economy and Finance were considering moving its proposed stock exchange from Camko City to the still-under-construction Canadia Tower.

"I'm 100 percent sure the stock market will be housed here and not moved to another place," he said.

Phoeung Sophoan said the mission had also visited Yon Woo's Gold Tower 42 project, and would also visit GS Engineering and Construction's International Financial Complex and Ciputra's Grand Phnom Penh International City, among other large developments.

While he acknowledged the impact of the global financial crisis on Cambodia's construction sector, Phoeung Sophoan said many smaller developments were pushing ahead and around 20 new projects had received approval already in 2009.

Larger developments had slowed construction work, but were still committed to finishing their projects, while other projects were awaiting approval, he added.

"According to my inspection of the Camko City construction site today, I am confident the developer has sufficient budget to complete construction."

He said the development was creating jobs for 4,600 workers and that up to 10,000 workers could hope for employment if the pace of construction could be ramped up in the near future.

Keeping the business afloat

The nightclub boasts a popular river location opposite the Night Market in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Conor Wall
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

After the crowd sank Pontoon’s dancefloor on its first big party night, the new management took the opportunity to completely redecorate its unique nightclub space on the Tonle Sap river

Oh the twists and turns one's life can take. One year ago, who would have imagined two Scottish nightclub managers would end up transforming Phnom Penh's sleepy club scene from a pontoon afloat on the brown waters of the Tonle Sap river. Certainly not Simon Shaw, 27, and Eddie Newman, 28.

Originally from Glasgow, these two young entrepreneurs have slightly different Cambodian timelines. Eddie has been in Cambodia on and off for four years, while Shaw came here for the first time a little over a year ago. Both had experience working in bars, clubs and promotions back in their homeland, and it was only a matter of time before they fell back into their old ways. Their latest business enterprise has seen them turn the Pontoon Lounge and Club into one of the city's most popular nightclubs.

"Cambodians love Western culture," says co-manager Shaw. "Our aim is to attract both Khmers and local expats by showcasing international acts in a European-style venue."

Our aim is to attract both Khmers and local expats by showcasing international acts in a European-style venue.

So far Shaw has kept true to his word by securing the services of acts such as Ministry of Sound co-founder Bert Bevans, Akil from Jurassic 5 and a host of other English, American, Thai and Singaporean DJs.

The venue has proved to be somewhat more challenging. Last July, on only its fourth night, Pontoon sank during the first big party night under the new management.

"It was a blessing in disguise," explains Shaw. "Firstly, it showed the owners that we were the real deal. We knew how to throw a party. Secondly, it meant, once refloated, we had to completely redecorate the whole pontoon."

The first port of call was to secure the pontoon, so 300,000 extra litres of ballast were added to the vessel's underside. Next some interior changes were needed. The dark colour scheme chosen exudes sophisticated elegance. Jet-black floorboards, walls and arching roof canopies set the backdrop for the sultry burgundy and black leather sofas that encircle the dancefloor. The dancefloor was enlarged by moving the seating and bar areas back, allowing extra couches to be added.

With the dancefloor sorted, the DJ booth needed work. "The focal point of any club should be the DJ booth," reveals Shaw. For this reason, it was painted an angelic shiny white and moved into a central position. The new sound system required changes to the power supply to handle the extra wattage. The speakers were imported from Thailand, Singapore and England.

On the other side of the pontoon, against the all-black background, the glossy white, marble bar stands out like an oasis in a desert. At night, red and yellow strip lights below the counter illuminate the marble, showing off the stone's beautiful inner contours and strata. Ten extra leather bar stools have been added and the bar lengthened to accommodate the expat tradition of bar-hanging.

As Shaw explains, with a hint of Glaswegian sarcasm: "The four extra metres of bar counter we have added has meant we can now deal with a lot more customer complaints."

The lack of wall space in the pontoon limits the artwork or ornaments that can be hung. However, on either side of the main walkway exit, two stunning cityscapes of Phnom Penh, by local expat artist Victor Blanco, instantly grab the attention of visitors.

"I gave Victor complete freedom with the wall space, and to be honest I couldn't be happier with the outcome. It's probably my favourite ornament in the whole club," reveals Shaw.

With the pontoon in order, Shaw and Eddie's attentions turned to the 30-year-old ex-casino boat Mekong Queen moored next door. Under the previous owners, the upstairs had been a restaurant. However, the two Scots decided a chill-out bar would more suit the club theme they were looking for. As with Pontoon, black wooden floorboards and walls set the backdrop for the chic leather sofas and leather-padded bar. Each sofa set is partitioned by innocuous-looking glass-box tables, which spring to life when darkness falls.

"It is not until nighttime that the real atmosphere of the chill-out bar comes to life," explains Shaw.
"The lighting system we installed is simple but very effective."

Ambient red lighting within each glass box illuminates the whole room with a soft, warm red glow. This glow reflects off the floor, the beautiful varnished roof, a solitary gold painted pillar and the room's many windows to create the illusion that light is coming from all angles.

Downstairs, under the chill-out bar, lies Shaw's living quarters. Here the dark black wood of the pontoon and bar are replaced with much lighter pine. Harsh light spills through the circular portholes stretched along the starboard side of the room, illuminating circular pockets on the varnished floorboards. A partition of black metal and white fabric partially hides the sleeping area. Around the room, entertainment systems, TVs, stereos and even a backgammon board give an indication of the occupant's hobbies.

When asked of these hobbies, Shaw admits he is not the party animal one might expect. Although nights can be a bit hectic, his favourite pasttime is relaxing in his favourite corner of the dance floor watching the world drift by on the Tonle Sap. "I am a lucky man", he says with a wry smile. "My living room is a floating pontoon with a spectacular view. And not many people can make a claim like that in their lifetime."

Medley of diverse dishes provide taste of Myanmar in Cambodia

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Win Myanmar restaurant in Phnom Penh serves tasty fare.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Stephanie Mee
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Phnom Penh restaurants Irrawaddi and Win Myanmar offer a taste of Myanmar hospitality and cuisine with signature dishes that are bound to make your mouth water

Although not as internationally renowned as the fare in neighbouring countries such as Thailand, China or India, Myanmar cuisine is just as fresh, flavourful and varied as any other type of food in Asia.

The culinary tradition in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been influenced over the centuries by its bigger neighbours, and more recently, England and Bangladesh, and this has resulted in a medley of diverse dishes, all with a distinct twist.

Typical dishes in Myanmar range from many types of noodle and rice dishes, stir-fried vegetables and meats, curries, fresh and spicy salads, crispy fried fish, sweet sticky rice with shredded coconut, and all manners of soup.

"Most Burmese food is fresh, such as the salads, soups and fish dishes, although some fried dishes can be a bit spicy, oily and salty at times," said Cho Cho, former Yangon resident, and owner of Irrawaddi restaurant in Phnom Penh. "That's why we try to attune our dishes to the customer's tastes. We try to change them just a bit so that they suit everyone's palate."

Cho Cho estimates that there are about 200 Myanmar nationals residing in Phnom Penh, and her restaurant appears to be a home away from home for many, as well as an assortment of Western and Asian clientele.

With some 72 dishes on offer, the menu at Irrawaddi reads like a crash course in the flavours of the diverse regions of Myanmar, with such options as fried bamboo shoots with garden peas and a crispy onion topping, ginger salad, fried bitter gourd and tea leaf salad.

"Tea leaf salad is very special in Myanmar," said Cho Cho. "Whenever you go to someone's house to visit, the host will often serve tea leaf salad to the guests, along with hot tea."

The tea leaf salad, or le ptet thow, at Irrawaddi is a combination of mild, moist green tea leaves; crunchy white beans; tiny, salty, dried shrimp; fresh tomatoes; fragrant garlic; toasted sesame seeds and a few roasted peanuts for good measure, all tossed in a light oil dressing.

Another popular signature dish at Irrawadi is Hilsa fish. Hilsa is an oily fish rich in omega-three fatty acids that is found only in the Bay of Bengal, and a few rivers in Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Cho Cho and her team at Irrawaddi import the fish from Myanmar and serve it piping hot and tender, in a rich stew of onions, lemongrass and gravy.

I want people to experience the authentic burmese style of hospitality.

"Most of the staff here is from Myanmar, and we have become like family," said Cho Cho. "At first they were nervous to serve people because they had no international serving experience, but I said to them: ‘Please maintain your own culture. Do what you did in your family, in your community,' I want people to experience the authentic style of hospitality."

Coming from a country that is renowned for its generous and welcoming treatment of guests, it is not surprising that the style of service at Irrawaddi is first rate, with no water glass falling below the halfway point nor a complimentary peanut dish remaining empty for long.

Win Myanmar is another restaurant in Phnom Penh that specialises in Myanmar cuisine, and although the atmosphere is not quite as cosy or visually stimulating as Irrawadi's, what they lack in decorative elements, they make up for in impeccable service and tasty Myanmar and Khmer cuisine.

Dishes at Win Myanmar include pork and chicken salads, catfish curry, Myanmar-style Biryani rice, and a special dish available every Sunday called mohinga.

Often called the national dish of Myanmar, mohinga varies from the north to the south of Myanmar, but a standard mohinga consists of rice vermicelli noodles in a thick fish soup, and contains garlic, onions, lemongrass, ginger, slices of banana tree stem, fish paste, chickpea powder and roasted catfish.

"Mohinga is typically a breakfast food, but can be eaten any time of day," said Soueng Vorn, a waiter at Win Myanmar. "We get many customers from Myanmar who come here for our mohinga special, and to sit and chat and enjoy their Sunday afternoon."

To enjoy the unique flavours of Myanmar in Phnom Penh head to Irrawaddi Myanmar restaurant, 24 Street 334 or Win Myanmar restaurant, 23 Street 110.

New cookbook whisks up feast

Photo Supplied
Women’s International Group of Cambodia.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Zoe Holman
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Women's International Group of Cambodia accomplishes organisational and culinary feat

That old maxim that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach may well be proven by a recent cookbook from the Women's International Group of Cambodia (WIG).

Created to fundraise for the group's charitable work, this full-colour, 195-page collection features 64 recipes from 24 different countries, all of them tried and tested by the busy hands and discerning palettes of WIG members.

The book was published and launched last November with the help of the main sponsor, the recently closed Cambo Six, and co-sponsor, Telekom Malaysia International Cambodia (Hello), as well as six months of toil and stirring, whisking and frying by WIG members.

Established in 1994, WIG is a coalition of "ordinary women doing extraordinary things", as Malaysian-born cookbook co-ordinator Lee Say Lor said.

With over 100 members from 30 nations organising a range of activities and monthly meetings with topical guest-speakers, WIG provides a social network for women living in Cambodia. However, WIG's other major focus is fundraising for charity through their membership fees and annual Christmas fair.

The organisation aims to fund around 10 projects each year, ranging from purchasing cows for a women's community cow bank, water filters for a silk factory and pharmaceuticals for former prostitutes, to funding the publication of children's storybooks.

"We try to give to those projects which don't get support from mainstream funding ... and are sustainable," said WIG president Dorte Kieler

Organisational feat
WIG's cookbook is a product of the diversity and energy of its members. With all aspects of its production including recipes, text and editing, food-preparation and photography, graphics, design and funding organized by the WIG members themselves, the project was an organisational as well as culinary feat.

The book's composition reflects an intercultural ethos.

"It seemed inappropriate to organise the book in the standard categories of appetisers or breakfasts and dinners because what's considered breakfast in one culture ... might be considered lunch or dinner in Western culture," said Ashley Young, a member of the WIG cookbook team.

Recipes and their complete Khmer translations are therefore grouped into Light Choices, Main Choices and Sweet Choices, and the book also includes a beginner's briefing on the Cambodian market.

"The local market is such an integral part of Cambodian life, but to a foreigner it can be a bit daunting," said Lee Say Lor.

And where food customs can often prove mystifying, alienating or plain bizarre, it is hoped the book will give cooks the confidence and insight to brave unchartered culinary waters.

"We also want more Cambodians to try out foreign recipes. Food is a great cross-cultural bridge," said Lee Say Lor.

The cookbook can be purchased from the Reading Room, Ida and Ira Gallery, Silk and Pepper, Angkor Soaps, Amatak Spa and DoriThy Gallery.

Edible art

Photo by: Sovann Philong

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Post Staff
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Newlyweds Lim Molyroth, 27, right, and Sok Saravuth, 28, hold fruit decorated by the Daughter-in-Law Training Centre in Phnom Penh. The centre, run by Lim Molyroth's sister, Lim Molyrathana, 29, specialises in the art of entertainment, providing young women with the creative skills to turn an average party or banquet into a more sumptuous and stylish affair. Lim Molyrathana, a student of fruit-carving since 1998, says she is comfortable working with "canvases" as diverse as pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers and papayas. She has hundreds of designs in her catalog, she says, and hopes to add hundreds more in the future.

Boxing reality show returns

Contestants on Kun Khmer Champion pose for the cameras after a March press conference announcing the new season’s lineup with technical director Paddy Carson (back row, far left) and trainers Meas Sokry (back row, second left) and Sok Vichay (back row, fourth right).

The Phnom Penh Post

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Sunday sees the inaugural bout of CTN’s Kun Khmer Champion, back for its second season to find a local kickboxing champion out of 12 unknowns

TWELVE unknown rookie fighters will try to slug their way to wealth and fame in the second season of Kun Khmer Champion at the CTN boxing arena, which airs its first show Sunday.

For the dozen newcomers the Kun Khmer Champion reality series offers a chance to skip years of fighting in little-viewed undercard bouts and go straight to the main event, where packed arenas cheer every punch and gamblers shower their winners with prize money.

Like fighting sport the world over, a boxer's ability to command big money rides largely on his popularity, with fighters often spending years brawling in obscurity before breaking into the limelight.

"A year ago I was pouring cement," said Sam Ournlourng, a 21-year-old from Prey Veng and one of a dozen hopefuls on the show. "I'd rather fight."

With a professional record of 10-1, Sam Ournlourng comes to the show with a better chance of winning than most. The majority of contestants arrive with little or no professional experience.

"For this season, we wanted completely unknown fighters," said the show's producer, Ma Serey, who spent weeks scouring boxing's ranks for the newest and most talented youngsters at 65 kilograms.

"We wanted to take guys at the very bottom and build them up," said Paddy Carson, a trainer and technical director on the show. "We wanted to give the young guys an opportunity to become Kun Khmer champions and make a name for themselves."

Now in its second season, Kun Khmer Champion puts 12 fighters under one roof to live and train.
Each week, the fighters face a physical challenge to determine who will fight at the weekend. Challenges include carrying sacks of rice, racing cyclos and other timed tests of strength and fitness.

The fighter who scores highest in the week's challenge gets to choose his opponent from among the three lowest scorers, with the bout taking main event on CTN's Sunday fight card.

Winners get to stay on the show and fight again. Losers go home.

Unlike typical weekend matches where fighters represent their club, contestants in the Kun Khmer Champion series fight for their native province, which helps them build a hometown following.

"Kun Khmer fighters are like boxers everywhere. They develop loyal followings," said series co-producer Aaron Leverton. "If we can start that process early or earlier, then I think that is a good thing."

Fights earn top dollar
In addition to building a fan base, series contestants also get a crack at purses far beyond what is available to most newcomers.

"Boxers receive a substantial purse for each fight, especially considering they are at the beginnings of their careers and are not yet drawcards themselves," Leverton said.

For each fight, contestants pocket US$100 regardless of the result, considerably more than a standard rookie purse of $25 for winners, $15 for losers.

For the fighter who wins it all, an eye-popping $1,750 grand prize awaits, plus a 12-month salaried contract with CTN.

The second-place winner receives $800, still a staggering amount by local standards, where top-name fighters often work for half that amount.

"From a Cambodian kickboxing perspective, it's a huge amount," Leverton said. "But from a reality series standpoint, it's pretty standard, at least with CTN."

Winners of similarly formatted programs receive comparable cash prizes.

A pre-taped Kun Khmer Champion episode airs on Saturday at 1pm on CTN as a buildup to the inaugural fight of the season screened live on Sunday.

The trainers are Meas Sokry and Sok Vichay, with Vorn Viva, the ISKA world middleweight champion, serving as assistant trainer.

Chhit Sarim and Trueng Sossay were the trainers in the first series, and Ei Phouthang served as assistant trainer.

The first- and second-placed winners from last season, Cheam Adam and Seung Kangsan, respectively, received massive exposure when the two fought in August on the undercard of two international world title fights.

"Cheam Adam defeated Seung Kangsan on his way to the first Kun Khmer Champion title," Leverton recalled. "Then at the world titles last year the two of them fought in the Olympic Stadium before more than 5,000 people."

"That doesn't include the more than 50 percent of the total TV audience who tuned in live," Leverton said. "How many fighters get that kind of opportunity at the beginning of their professional careers?"

Police Blotter: 25 Mar 2009

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Lim Phalla
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Three people were severely injured on Monday when a van collided with a car on National Road 4 in Prey Boeung village, Kantouk commune, Ang Snuol district, Kandal province. The injured were indentified as Eung Sok Haiy, 40, and his wife Sao Phalla. A third unidentified person on a motorbike was also injured when the bike rear-ended Eung Sok Haiy's car.

Phnom Penh and Prey Veng police on Sunday arrested Prum Than, 37, for the killing of his wife Chao Rong, 44. Prum Than is suspected of hitting her repeatedly with a wooden stick before fleeing to his home province of Prey Veng, leaving his three children unattended. The children have since been placed in an orphanage, police said.

Three family members were arrested on Monday in Anchanh Thmey village, Nor Kor Thom commune, Siem Reap province, on suspicion of robbing and murdering a family friend identified by police as Roeum Rith, male, 27, from Ta Cheik village, Siem Reap province. The victim was killed on February 14 with knives and an ax, police said, and robbed of a mobile phone and a motorbike. Police have detained Keo Sophea, 48, and her two sons, Chea Sophealy, 26, and Kong Samedy, 17. Three other family members - all females - escaped arrest.

One of two suspects were arrested by Kanh Chriech district police in Prey Veng province on Saturday for the theft of a motorbike. The victim was identified as Mao Chhun An, from Kampong Cham province's Tboung Khmum district. Police identified the arrested man as Mean Phea 26, from Kampong Cham province.

Hem Savoan, the third suspect in a plot to rob a villager in Kandal province who had just sold his land, was arrested on Thursday by police in Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh. Police said other armed accomplices remain at large. Hem Savoan was imprisoned at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post News In Briefs

In Brief: Khmer artefacts head to Japan

Written by Sam Rith
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Japan will borrow 67 ancient Khmer artefacts for an exhibition there later this year. The Okada Cultural Foundation signed the deal on Friday with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. The exhibition will run from August 2009 to November 2010.

In Brief: Govt, US to step up efforts for miAs

Written by Vong Sokheng
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The government will boost cooperation to locate and repatriate the remains of US soldiers killed in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Tuesday that Anne Mills Griffith, the executive director of the US-based National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia, met with Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Monday to thank the government for its cooperation. Koy Kuong said joint search missions would begin in Kampong Cham province at the end of the year.

In Brief: NEC to print 58,000 ballots for vote

Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The National Election Committee (NEC) will produce 58,000 ballots for the upcoming municipal, provincial and district council elections to be held on May 17. The country's 11,353 commune councillors will vote to fill the posts. NEC member Em Sophat told reporters Tuesday that the body would print a surplus of ballots, as it was worried that "some voters might tick the wrong box of the ballot or the ballot might be destroyed". He said the election would cost the NEC US$1.4 million, which the government is funding. The election is part of the decentralisation drive and will help link commune councils with the National Assembly.

New team formed to encourage Koreans to go to Cambodia


Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Korean Air and the Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) have partnered to create new strategies aimed at boosting the number of Korean tourist arrivals in Cambodia.

In recent months, the airline has seen a dramatic decline of Korean passengers on its routes to Cambodia.

Arrivals to Cambodia from South Korea decreased a whopping 38.24 percent year-on-year in January to 22,524 according to statistics released by the Tourism Ministry.

The financial downturn brought the overall arrivals from all countries in January down 2.19 percent to 218,691 compared to the same period the previous year.

As a result, Vietnam arrivals surpassed South Korea as the top market, with a 27.06 percent year-on-year increase to 22,875 in January.

Korean Air’s Sokhara Ted Tan, Phnom Penh sales office deputy general manager, told The Phnom Penh Post that the airline’s twin routes to Cambodia had been heavily impacted by the economic conditions.

"This year is a difficult one, but by 2010 we hope the economy will be recovering”

Korean Air operates seven flights a week between Cambodia and Incheon, routes linking Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Cambodia Calls on Indian SMEs

BSN Stock Photo
Best Syndication
Submitted by davidpar
March 23, 2009

For years, Cambodia has lived under the shadows of its economically superior neighbours—Malaysia and Thailand. This Southeast Asian country has made a gradual transition from an agro-based economy to an emerging manufacturing hub of Asia.

Its open economy, investment-friendly environment and unexploited commercial avenues are attracting the Indian SMEs to explore business opportunities in this largely untapped market.

View of the past…
In the 1990s, Cambodia initiated efforts to promote industrialisation across sectors. This strategic move however received a major jolt in 1997-98 when the Cambodian economy went through its worst crisis. Economic activity in the country plunged to a record low and prospects of achieving financial prosperity became bleak.

Opposition Party and Civil Society Organization Criticize the Senate for Not Fulfilling Its Obligation according to the Constitution - Tuesday, 24.3.2

Posted on 25 March 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 605

“Responding to the recent 10th anniversary celebration of the creation of the Khmer Senate, opposition party and civil society organizations called on this supreme law institution to conduct reforms, and they criticized this institution for not fulfilling its obligation according to the Constitution, but it acts like a sewage pipe through which national resources flow out.

“During the 10th anniversary celebration of the Senate on Friday, the president of the Senate and president of the Cambodian People’s Party, Chea Sim, said that the Senate contributes to the political stability and development of the Kingdom of Cambodia since this legislative body was established on 25 March 1999.

“Chea Sim, who is known not to be very powerful both in the party and in the public, made a speech at that occasion, saying ‘In the period of 10 years since the creation of this body, the Senate has walked on an honorary way by doing different activities to help restore the country and to develop the nation in all sectors and the Senate has played an important role to integrate Cambodia into the region and into the world during this era of globalization.’


An Internet address to the Cambodian Embassy in the USA continues to carry, since ten years, since 1999 until now, a wrong version of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia. We refer here to the obsolete version of the Constitution which the Cambodian Embassy in Washington continues to present to the US and the international public – in this document the Senate does not exist, and the description of the function of an Acting Head of State is wrong.

The Cambodian Embassy in the USA has also a second, newer address, with the amended version of the Constitution.

The Cambodia e-Government Homepage carries only the amended, new version of the Constitution, however with a different wording in the second part of Article 12.

We carry all three versions of this text. We leave it to our readers to consider what this says about the status of government administered websites, and about the role of the Senate.

Article 12: (Cambodian embassy in Washington – old, but still available)

In case of the death of the King, the President of the Assembly shall take over the responsibility as Acting Head of State in the capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Article 12 - New (As amended March 1999): (Cambodian embassy in Washington – amended version)

In case of the death of the King, the President of the Assembly Senate shall take over the responsibility as Acting Head of State in the capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In the case that the President of the Senate cannot perform his duties of the acting Head of State as “Regent” in the place of the King on the death of the King the responsibilities of Head of State in the capacity of regent shall be exercised in conformity with the second and third paragraph of new Article 11.

Article 12- New (As amended March 1999): (Cambodia e-Government Homepage)

In case of the death of the King, the President of the Assembly Senate shall take over the responsibility as Acting Head of State in the capacity of Regent of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

In the case that the President of the Senate cannot perform his duties of the acting Head of State as “Regent” in the place of the King on the death of the King the responsibilities of Head of State in the capacity of regent shall be exercised in conformity with the second and third paragraph of new Article 11.

Additional information:

Article 11- New (As amended March 1999): (Cambodia e-Government Homepage)

In the case that the King cannot perform His normal duties as Head of State owing to His serious illness as certified by doctors chosen by the President of the Senate, the President of the Assembly and the Prime Minister the President of the Assembly and Senate shall perform the duties of Head of state as “Regent”

In the case of the President of the Senate cannot perform his duties as the acting Head of State replacing the King as “Regent” when he is ill seriously as provided in the above paragraph the President of Assembly shall take them over.

In the case as stated in the above paragraph, other dignitaries as following hierarchy can perform Acting Head of State as Regent:

A.First Vice-President of the Senate

B.First Vice-President of the Assembly

C.Second Vice-President of the Senate

D.Second Vice-President of the Assembly

“While Article 12 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia states that the Senate has the obligation to coordinate between the National Assembly and the government, opposition party, and civil society organizations criticized that the Senate with 61 members does not fulfill its task following the constitution.


Actually, Article 12 of the Constitution does not deal with the obligations mentioned here in the press at all – see the texts quoted above. The functions of THE SENATE is described in Articles 99 to 115 in Chapter VIII, and in Article 116 and 117 in THE ASSEMBLY AND THE SENATE in Chapter IX of the Constitution. We bring the full texts of these articles, as the discussion in the press is not referring to the actual texts in the Constitution.

Article 99 - New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate is a body that has legislative power and performs its duties as determined in the constitution and law.

The Senate consists of members the number of which does not exceed half of all of the members of the Assembly.

Some Senators shall be nominated and some shall be elected universally.

A Senator can be re-nominated and reelected.

Article 100 - New (As amended March 1999):

The king shall nominate two Senators.

The Assembly shall elect two Senators by majority Vote.

Others shall be universally elected.

Article 101 - New (As amended March 1999):

The organization and operating procedures concerning the nomination and election of the Senators and the determination of the electors, election organization and electoral constituencies shall be determined by law.

Article 102 - New (As amended March 1999):

The term for Senators is six years and this term shall expire upon replacement by new Senators.

When the election of the Senator cannot be conducted due to war and special circumstances, the Senate can continue its term year by year upon the proposal of the King.

The declaration of continuity of its term shall be decided by at least a two-third majority of all members of the senate.

In the circumstance described above the Senate shall assemble everyday. The Senate has the right to terminate the above situation with good reason.

If the Senate cannot assemble due to the invasion of foreign troops the proclamation of the state of emergency shall be continuously in effect automatically.

Article 103 - New (As amended March 1999):

The mandate of senators shall be incompatible with the holding of any active public function, with the functions of members of the National Assembly, and of any membership in other institutions provided for in the constitution.

Article 104 - New (As amended March 1999):

The Senator shall enjoy parliamentary immunity.

No Senator shall be prosecuted, detained or arrested because of opinions expressed during the exercise of his or her duties.

The accusation, arrest, or detention of a senator shall be made only with the permission of the Senate or by the Standing Committee of the Senate between sessions, except in the case of flagrant delicto. In that case the competent authority shall immediately report to the senate or to the Standing Committee for decision.

The decision made by the Standing Committee of the Senate shall be submitted to the Senate at its session for approval by a two-thirds majority vote of all senators. In any case, detention or prosecution of a Senator shall be suspended by a three-quarters majority vote of all senators.

Article 105 - New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall have an autonomous budget to conduct its functions.

Senators shall receive remuneration.

Article 106 - New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall hold its first session no later than sixty days after the election upon notice by the King.

Before taking office, the Senate shall decide on the validity of each member’s mandate and vote separately to choose a president, Vice president and its members of each commission by a two- third majority vote.

All Senators must take the oath before taking office according to the text contained in annex 7.

Article 107 - New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall hold its ordinary sessions twice a year. Each session shall last at least three months. If there is a proposal from the king or the prime Minister, or at least one-third of the senate, the Senate standing Committee shall call an extraordinary session of the Senate.

Article 108 - New (As amended March 1999):

Between the senate sessions, the Senate Standing Committee shall mange the work of the Senate.

The permanent Standing Committee of the Senate consists of the President of the Senate and the Vice- presidents and the Presidents of the senate commissions.

Article 109 - New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate sessions shall be held in the Royal capital of Cambodia in the Senate Hall, unless stipulated otherwise in the summons, owing to special circumstances.

Except where so stipulated and unless held at the place and date as stipulated any meeting of the Senate shall be considered as illegal and void.

Article 110 - New (As amended March 1999):

The president of the Senate shall chair the Senate sessions, receive draft bill and resolutions adopted by the senate, ensure the implementation of the internal rules of procedure and manage the senate’s relations with foreign countries.

If the President is unable to perform his duties owing to illness or to fulfill the functions of Head of State as interim or as Regent, or is on a mission abroad, a Vice President shall replace him.

In case of resignation or death of the president or Vice Presidents, the Assembly shall elect a new President or Vice Presidents.

Article 111 - New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate sessions shall be held in public.

The Senate shall meet in closed session at the request of the President or of at least one-tenths of its members, of the King or of the Prime Minister or the President of Assembly.

The Senate meeting shall be considered as valid provided there is a quorum of seven-tenths of all members.

The numbers of votes which are required for the Assembly approval as provided for in the constitution shall be applied to the Senate as well.

Article 112 - New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate has the duties to coordinate the work between the Assembly and the Government.

Article 113 - New (As amended March 1999):

The senate shall examine and give a recommendation to a draft or proposed law that was firstly adopted by the Assembly and other matters that the Assembly submitted within no more than one month. If it is an emergency case that duration shall be reduced to seven days.

If the Senate approves, or disapproves but not within the time limit stipulated above, the law adopted by the Assembly shall be promulgated.

If the Senate calls for the modification of the draft and the proposed law the Assembly shall take that draft and that proposed law into account a second time immediately. The Assembly shall examine and decide whether to eliminate all or some of the provisions or any terms that the Senate calls for so doing.

The exchange of the draft or the proposed law between the Senate and the Assembly shall be done only within one month. This duration shall be reduced to ten days if it is the case of national budget or finance and the duration shall be reduced to only two days if it is an urgent case.

If the Assembly withholds for longer than the time stipulated or delays while inspecting the law the principle duration for the Assembly and the Senate shall be extended so that the time duration for both are equal.

If the Senate rejects the draft or the proposed law this draft or proposed law cannot be reviewed a second time by the Assembly before one-month duration. This duration shall be reduced to fifteen days in the case of the national budget and finance cases and to four days if it is an urgent case.

In the examination of the draft and the proposed law a second time the Assembly shall adopt same by open vote with an absolute majority.

The draft or the proposed laws adopted by the above method shall then be sent for promulgation.

Article 114 - New (As amended March 1999):

The Senate shall establish necessary commissions. The organizing and the functioning of the Senate shall be provided for in the Internal Rules of the Senate. These internal rules shall be approved by a two-third majority vote of all senators.

Article 115 - New (As amended March 1999):

In the case of a senator dying, resigning, or breaching the rules of membership of the senate, within at least six months before expiration of the term, the vacancy shall be filled by a person appointed or elected according to the procedures stipulated in the internal rules of the Senate and the law on the election and nomination of senators.


Article 116 - New (As amended March 1999):

In the special case, the Assembly and the Senate can assemble as the congress to resolve the important issues of the nation.

Article 117 - New (As amended March 1999):

The national issues mentioned above in new article 116 and the organizing and functioning of the congress shall be determined by Law.

“The president of the biggest opposition party in Cambodia, Mr. Sam Rainsy, said, ‘For 10 years, the Senate does not show that it is necessary in whatever way at all. The Senate just spends huge amounts of money wastefully.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy added, ‘The Senate is defined as a legislative body in the Constitution, but the implementation of its role to serve special interests is a different thing.’

“Mr. Sam Rainsy stated in 2008 that the Senate spent nearly Riel 2,800 million, corresponding to US$7.07 million, for the salaries of senators and for other expenses. Also, Mr. Sam Rainsy criticized the election procedure for the Senate, which is not a general election, but it allows only commune councilors to elect members of the Senate, which is not a democratic procedure; he had asked that the election of the Senate should also be an election directly involving the general people.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy said, ‘The current Senate was elected in 2006 by commune councilors from 2002, but since 2002 and up to 2009, much has changed.’

“Political observers in Cambodia said that the Senate itself was created with problems from the beginning, because this supreme body was established as a political deal after the parliamentary elections in 1998. At that time, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was the president of Funcinpec, was offered the position of president of the National Assembly as an award for him for leading Funcinpec to join the coalition government with the Cambodian People’s Party, which led to the creation of the Senate as power basis for the Cambodian People’s Party’s president Chea Sim, who has led the Senate since 1999.

“Mr. Sam Rainsy went on to say, ‘Ten years ago, the Senate was created from political opportunism, to create a position for Chea Sim.’ He continued to say that everyone knows since the beginning that the Senate is not useful at all, and since the time it was created, the Senate shows that it is really not useful for the nation.’

“The president of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, Mr. Ou Vireak, expressed the same opinion as Mr. Sam Rainsy, and he agreed that the creation of the Senate from the beginning was for the provision of power and a role for the Cambodian People’s Party, and Funcinpec was just a tool, resulting from mixing different factors, and it does not serve the interests for the nation.

“Mr. Ou Vireak added that even though the Senate checks laws adopted by the National Assembly and other laws to guarantee the contents of those laws [that they are constitutional], this legislative body shows also that its power to change and to edit laws is limited.

“Mr. Ou Vireak said, ‘Senators are just like readers of the laws adopted by the National Assembly.’ He went on to say that for 10 years, the Senate sent only two laws back to the National Assembly to be checked again, but even then the second body cared only about some word used, but not about the contents of those laws.

“Political observers criticized that the Senate lacks the power to make itself a body that works with authority to recheck laws, and so the Senate is now not different from other institutions that only serve as political power for the Cambodian People’s Party. Unlike in other democratic nations, Cambodian senators are elected to represent their parties and they depend on the support from their parties.

“The executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, Mr. Sok Sam Ouen, said, ‘If a senator or a parliamentarian is dismissed or resigns from a party, that senator or parliamentarian’s seat will be also be lost [but it is to be filled by the party].’ Such a situation shows that the political parties controls the National Assembly and the Senate.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #1719, 24.3.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 24 March 2009