Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Property dispute turns into tit-for-tat

Written by Ros Dina
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

BUSINESS tycoon Duong Chhiv launched a $2.6 million countersuit against Khek Vandy on Tuesday during a hearing at the Phnom Penh Court over proceeds from the 2007 sale of 8 hectares on Phnom Penh's Chroy Changvar peninsula.

The former Funcinpec lawmaker has claimed Duong Chhiv owed him 45 percent of the profits from the $30 million allegedly received from the sale under the terms of a November 1993 contract.

He alleged that Korean developer BK Global paid $500 per square metre for almost 5 hectares and that other buyers paid $260 per square metre for a further 3 hectares.

But Duong Chhiv's lawyer, Chan Sok Yean, said the contract originally covered 40 hectares on the peninsula and was rendered null and void when City Hall confiscated 32 hectares in 2001 for municipality projects.

He said Khek Vandy misled his client into buying disputed land and asked the court for $2.3 million compensation and a further $300,000 in damages.

"With $2 million in 1992, if my client have bought somewhere there was no dispute, my client maybe could have earned hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue," Chan Sok Yean told presiding judge Ke Sakhon.

Under the terms of the contract, which Khek Vandy said was witnessed by then Russei Keo district governor Seng Ratanak, Duong Chihiv funded the purchase of land on the peninsula and any development costs in return for 55 percent of the profits.

Khek Vandy's lawyer, Kong Mesa, accepted most of the land had been confiscated by City Hall but argued that Duong Chhiv had made a profit on the remainder and was bound by the contract.

Ke Sakhon declined to make a ruling and asked the lawyers to submit more papers on behalf of their clients, both of whom were absent for the hearing.

Despite progress, questions remain over Canadia Tower



PICTURES BY NATHAN GREEN (LEFT) AND SOVANN PHILONG

Written by Soeun Say
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Despite the rapid progress this year on the skeleton of Canadia Bank's new headquarters (seen here on January 17 and June 23 this year), questions are still circulating as to when it will be ready for occupation. Su Si, the director of Mega Asset Management Co, the property unit of Canadia Bank's sister company Overseas Cambodian Investment Corp, which is overseeing construction, told the Post last week it was still on track for a September 9 launch. Canadia Bank Deputy General Manager Charles Vann was less certain, telling the Post only it would be launched this year. Meanwhile, a page on Canadia Bank's Web site indicating the new headquarters would be ready by September 9 has since been removed. Experts contend that even when the shell is complete, it will require around one month per floor to ready the building for occupation. The photo on the right does not show that the windows on the rear of the building are not in place.

Phnom Penh builder, Japan firm eye venture

Written by May Kunmakara
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

SOM Corp and Tama Home view cooperation in Cambodia

OCAL construction firm SOM Corp is looking to form a joint venture with Japanese developer Tama Home Co to build villas and apartments in Cambodia, a SOM official said.

SOM General Director Som Monorak said the current construction downturn resulting from the global financial crisis meant it was a good opportunity to enter the market.

"We are interested in investing now because we think that it is a good chance to have success while others stop their developments and withdraw their money," he said.

"Those who dare to invest in the sector at this time will find success in the near future. The crisis won't last for ever."

He refused to disclose financial details but said a decision on whether to proceed would likely be made in November following a feasibility study by both companies.

"First, we will study the opportunity in Phnom Penh, especially for villa and apartment development, and later we plan to expand into other provinces nationwide," he said.

Although recent construction ministry figures show approvals for new projects almost doubled in the first quarter of 2009 compared to a year earlier to US$919 million, there has been a widely acknowledged slump in actual building activity across the country since the middle of last year.

According to the UN Development Programme, more than 30 percent of construction projects may have been put on hold since the economic crisis hit Cambodia.

However, mass layoffs among construction workers and falling raw material prices have given a boost to developers with the cash reserves or access to credit needed to push ahead with developments.

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Those who ... invest in the sector at this time will find success in the near future.
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Hopes of more to come
Im Chamrong, director general of the Ministry of Land Management's construction department, said other Japanese developers were also looking at Cambodia, though most were focused on the tourism-related developments.

"This shows that our real estate sector is still interesting to foreign investors, and with their eyes on us, the sector is going ahead," he said.

National Valuers Association of Cambodia President Sung Bonna said Japanese companies were not big investors in Cambodia's property sector but that he hoped others would follow in Tama's footsteps if its ventures proved successful.

"It would be great for us if we can really attract those investors," he said. "The time is right for them because they know the real requirements and market demand in Cambodia."

SOM was first registered in 1992 as Phnom Penh Construction. It was renamed SOM Corp in 1997 with Som Chheng as president. Som Monorak was appointed general director in 2001.

According to the company's Web site, its notable projects include Siem Reap's Angkor Lucky Department Store in 2007, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in 1997, the ambassador's residence for the Japan Embassy in 2002 and the Intercontinental Hotel in 1995.

Tokyo-based Tama Home was founded in 1998.

Popular Indonesian dishes reflect diversity of the islands


Photo by: Sovann Philong
Warung Bali restaurant, on Street 178 west of Sothearos Boulevard.

Written by Stephanie Mee
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Warung Bali restaurant offers one of Phnom Penh’s finest examples of Indonesia’s unique cuisine, along with traditional culture and hospitality

TUCKED away amid several fried noodle shops on Street 178 near Sothearos is a small unassuming restaurant with simple, plastic-covered tables and wooden chairs. At first glance, one might be forgiven for mistaking it for another Khmer eatery, but in fact Warung Bali is one of Phnom Penh's finest examples of the unique cuisine of Indonesia.

Indonesia is a nation made up of more than 6,000 islands, a population of approximately 240 million people, and more than 300 ethnic groups. Thus, it is no surprise that the food from this vast archipelago reflects the diversity of its islands.

At Warung Bali, native Javanese owners Pirdaos and Kasmin offer some of the most popular Indonesian dishes, along with a little bit of Indonesian culture.

"When I moved here 13 years ago, there were not many places to eat Indonesian food," said Kasmin from the small but bustling eatery.

"My boss at that time decided to open Bali Cafe on the riverside, and it did well, but the prices were a bit high. When it closed two years ago, I saw the opportunity to open up a small warung (Indonesian for a small family-owned restaurant) where we could offer authentic Indonesian food at lower prices," he added.

Kasmin said that, although he doesn't make a lot of profit from the food sales, his restaurant does well due to the sheer numbers of customers, mostly made up of Indonesian travellers and expatriates, as well as Western customers.

"Indonesian food is similar to Khmer food in some ways, but in other ways very different," Kasmin said. "For example, Indonesian food can be much spicier than Khmer food, and the meat is often marinated in a variety of spices before cooking. Also, the soy sauce is sweeter and thicker. In fact we make our own soy sauce here in the traditional Indonesian style."

On the menu
Warung Bali's most popular menu item is the ayam bakar kecap Bali, tender, marinated chunks of chicken on the bone, grilled and smothered in Kasmin's homemade soy sauce with a hint of coconut and garlic, and garnished with fresh chilli and peanuts.

Other popular dishes include gado gado, a salad of lightly steamed vegetables such as crisp, green string beans, crunchy cabbage leaves and sliced potatoes in a fragrant peanut, chilli and lime sauce; and sate sapi, marinated grilled beef skewers served with spicy Indonesian peanut sauce and sweet soy sauce.

"These dishes come from all over Indonesia, not just Bali," Kasmin said. "Different dishes originated in different regions, although they are eaten widely throughout Indonesia. For example, the gado gado is a Jakarta-inspired dish, and the sate ayam (chicken satay) originates from Madura in East Java."

As Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation, much of the food outside of the small island of Bali is Halal, and Warung Bali is no exception despite its name.

"You will never find pork, frog or dog here," Kasmin said.

Dishes at Warung Bali are a bargain, ranging from 6,000 riels (US$1.50) to 10,000 riels for portions large enough to be shared with friends or family.

Taste of Indonesia
Kasmin and Pirdaos also offer customers a taste of the culture of Indonesia at the cafe, with authentic Indonesian paintings and batik hangings on the walls, and a large wooden table, loaded with books and magazines containing information about their native country.

Part of the restaurant's popularity also comes from the open and affable nature of the owners, who are quick to offer a broad smile to newcomers and who never forget a face.

Service is quick, easy-going and reliable.

For a taste of Indonesia at bargain prices visit Warung Bali at 25Eo Street 178, or call 012 967 480.

Phnom Penh Asides: The sheer hell that is ... grocery shopping

Written by Kevin Britten
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

PHNOM PENH ASIDES

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By Kevin Britten

AS A FOREIGNER arriving in Phnom Penh for the first time, you often notice the rich variety in the abundance of restaurants, cafes and eateries dotting the streets.

After a while, you realise they only exist because shopping for groceries and cooking at home is such an ordeal. Without all these restaurants, we would surely all starve to death.

Squeezing along the narrow stinking alleyways of the open-air markets, with all the attendant heat, pushing and bantering while wriggling fish are hacked up is an experience you probably won't want to repeat.

Outsourcing your daily shopping is arguably one way of retaining your sanity. However, your housekeeper needs to be proficient at reading English, Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese in order to distinguish between floor cleaner and fabric conditioner, or bug-spray and furniture polish.

Learning the function of products by the shape, size and colour of their containers is also a lost cause, as the brands will doubtless be packaged differently by your housekeeper's next visit to the supermarket.

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Outsourcing your daily shopping is arguably one way of retaining your sanity.
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This perhaps explains why so many foreigners have their clothes laundered with ant poison.
As for sending the housekeeper on errands to a supermarket?

Western food is a mystery to most locals. The idea of a frozen, boneless chicken breast is understandably confusing if you were raised on chicken that is 90 percent bone and 10 percent tight, dark muscle.

Packets and cans are also a conundrum if you believe that you must be able to see, smell and poke goods to check their quality prior to purchase.

The way supply and distribution works here means that often the only available foods are snack-foods.

The positive side of that is that you can still construct a four-course meal, with each course represented.

A prawn cocktail, say, followed by beef broth, then a pork and vegetable dish with tropical fruit for dessert.

There's even a chocolate-flavoured snack to accompany the coffee.

As long as you don't mind living on foodstuffs whose main ingredients are additives, colourings, preservatives, and other, mysterious forms of starch, then you are in hog heaven.

Likewise, if your shopping list often reads like a duty-free wish list, regularly featuring items like perfume, cigarettes and booze, then Phnom Penh has supermarkets that cater to you.

Even better, if you like shopping with half the lights switched off and the air-con on super-low.

Sweating through the aisles of whitening toiletries, mysterious brands of beer and the more obscure products of the Chinese pickle industry is one way of passing a Saturday afternoon.

Halfway there
Then there's the ordeal of the cashiers.

When the system goes down, cashiers are reduced to writing the barcodes on a piece of paper plucked from the waste bin and then grappling with a calculator the size of a mobile-phone to add it all up.

When the system is up and running, they must find the barcode, zap it, read what comes up on the screen in two languages, and examine the packet to see if it matches before going to ask for more change for your $20 bill at another register.

Thankfully, this all plays out in front of a small crowd of staff who are merely curious about what the foreigner has found in the store that might be worth spending such huge amounts of money on.

My hardiest friends take the whole thing extremely seriously, driving a route of five different stores to complete their shopping list.

They learn what each supermarket specialises in, exchange information of what is in and out of stock, and call each other to exchange gossip on who has just unloaded a truckload of Korean baby bath or who has just taken delivery of a tonne of assorted Spanish cheeses. They plan the whole shebang with military precision.

Those of us without the time, resources or stamina for all this, however, are bound to spend more time reading menus than recipes.

In the time this saves, I often find myself wondering how everyone else is spending their Saturday afternoons.

National Wushu tourney finds champions

Written by DOM FIELD
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

THE Cambodian Wushu Federation, together with the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Education, held its four-day national championships over the weekend at Olympic Stadium. Male and female competitors - 232 of them - drawn from ten clubs and schools predominantly based in the capital, started the event on Friday, with winners progressing to the final rounds on Tuesday morning.

In total, 26 separate events were contested, with the federation hoping to find a selection of competitors to represent Cambodia at the SEA Games in Laos this December.

Participants competed in modern Wushu's two main disciplines, Taulu and Sanshou.

Taulu involves martial art patterns and movements, for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. The forms are comprised of basic movements, including stances, kicks, punches, balances, jumps, sweeps and throws, with added difficulty and style marks attributed to aerial techniques such as 540- and 720-degree jumps and kicks.

Sanshou differs from Taulu in that it is a contact sport influenced by traditional Chinese boxing, with Chinese wrestling and grappling techniques also evident. In appearance it is similar to the Cambodian boxing discipline, Pradal Serey, although the use of elbows and knees is prohibited in Taulu.

Tai Chi Phnom Penh Club dominated the Taulu events, winning five gold medals. Ly Tithsamnang, Bhan Doeun, Tang Mengheang and Ek Sophara all won individual golds in the tai chi chuan events, whilst the team gold was awarded to the club following a graceful and stylish display by Doung Khemna, Thea Yunghuo and So Huy. Other notable winners in the Taulu events included the youthful and diminutive Sen Soksamnangsophea of Sopheak Mongkol Club (2 individual golds), and Mohi Channida of Phnom Penh's Kongfu Club, who gained two golds in the under-16 female class.

Honours in the Sanshou were shared by four clubs; Baktouk High School, Kongfu Club, O'Russei Club and Vo Shu Sanshou Club. The 45-kilogram class was won by Huol Banraksmey; 48 kilograms by Than Sovannarith; 52 kilograms by Ly Senhar; 56 kilograms by Sen Sakshunnara; 60 kilograms by Sham Thlar; 65 kilograms by Veing Virak and 70 kilograms by Nin Ko Solramhet. The female competition was not governed by weight restrictions and was eventually won by Lunh Sreypich, following a hotly contested final bout.

Although the Cambodian Wushu Federation's General Secretary, Mao Chan Thavuth, was unavailable for comment at the event, a representative expressed delight at the success of the five-day tournament. "The sport is still young in Cambodia, and that is reflected in the fact that all of the clubs are based in and around the capital."

The federation official noted that standards were improving every year, admitting that, although Cambodia is not yet ready to mount a serious challenge for medals at the SEA games, great experience will be gained.

Although the number of spectators at the tournament was low, Tuesday witnessed a neatly arranged medal ceremony for the winners, in front of family and friends.

Police Blotter: 24 Jun 2009

Written by Lim Phalla
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

COUPLE BURNS TO DEATH OVER SEX
A couple was burned to death after the husband, angry that his wife had not had sex with him for six months, lit their house on fire in Chhouk village, Samraong commune and district, Oddar Meanchey province, on Saturday, police said. Police identified the husband as Duk Saroeun, 35, and the wife as Hor Sidorn, 22. Villagers said the husband started the blaze with eight litres of petrol. Duk Saroeun died on the scene, and Hor Sidorn died on her way to hospital.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

TAXI DRIVER RAPES TEENAGE GIRL
A 29-year-old taxi driver from Preah Vihear province, was arrested for raping a 15-year-old girl on Saturday. The suspect invited the victim to eat dessert at midnight and afterwards raped her at his friend's rented house in Traing village, Slakram commune, Siem Reap town. The victim lives with her older sister in Svay Dangkum village and commune, Siem Reap. The suspect first got to know the victim when he accidentally dialed her number.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

WOMAN ARRESTED ON DRUG SUPICIONS
A general goods saleswoman, Touch Sabun, 56, was arrested on suspicion of selling illegal drugs on Saturday at her house in Ou Bei Choan village and commune in Banteay Meanchey province. Police found 40 pills of yama. The suspect confessed that she has been dealing illegal drugs for nearly two years. She used to buy them at 120 baht (US$3.50) and sell at 140 baht per pill.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

RESIDENTS NAB MAN IN CHAIN SNATCHING
Following the robbery of a necklace from a 23-year-old American tourist, two suspected thieves got into a motorbike accident and one of them was caught by nearby residents. The incident happened while the victim and three of her friends were travelling in a tuk-tuk on Monday on Sisowath Quay in Chey Chumneah commune, Daun Penh district, Phnom Penh. The suspect seized was Um Sarath, male, 23.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

BURGLARS CAUGHT RED-HANDED
Three burglars were caught red-handed by Tuol Kork police at 1:30am on Sunday as they attempted to steal a DVD player at #9Q, Street 265, Teouk La'ork 3 commune, Phnom Penh.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


In Brief: CPL clubs anger players

Written by Ken Gadaffi
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

PHNOM PENH - The foreign legion of African players from three Cambodian Premier League clubs have voiced their anger over club managements not meeting their contractual obligations. Some of the players are not happy with their treatment by the clubs, with many complaining of unacceptable delays in payment of wages and arranging visas. Cambodian Football Federation deputy secretary and technical director May Tola stated that players have the right to bring their cases to the federation for arbitration. "If any player is not happy with the management for failing to abide by the contractual agreement, such player should present the matter to the federation and we will look into it by inviting both parties," he said Tuesday.


In Brief: 4 teams eye up second

Written by Dan Riley
Wednesday, 24 June 2009

PHNOM PENH - Today's double-header of CPL games at Olympic Stadium should provide a shake-up in the league table, with all four teams vying for second place. At 2pm, Kirivong Sok Sen Chey - who currently occupy the runner-up spot - take on reigning champions Phnom Penh Crown in what should be a top showcase of talent. Crown can draw level with Kirivong on points with a win and will leapfrog the Takeo-based team if they can net more than two in difference. On the other hand, Kirivong can reduce the gap to 3 points on league leaders Preah Khan Reach with a victory. At 4pm, Khemara Keila face Naga Corp in what should be a closely fought contest. Either team could find themselves in second place entering the last round before the mid-season break providing they win and Kirivong lose.

World Refugee Day in NZ, Cambodian Refugees (CAAI Temple)



AsiaDownunder

We investigate how refugees from Cambodia selflessly shared their finances within the community to make sure each and every one of them are able to lead good lives here. Now theyve pooled their resources to purchase land for a temple so they can preserve their religion and culture.

Tuk-tuk ban damages Phnom Penh's charm

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/

Written by Daniel Doyle
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Dear Editor,

As a regular visitor to Cambodia, I was shocked to read about the ban on tuk-tuks using Sisowath. While regular offers of tuk-tuks can be mildly annoying, they are an integral part of what makes Phnom Penh special. Their instant availability outside one's hotel makes getting around in Phnom Penh easy and enjoyable.

On a practical level, what am I supposed to do in future when I want to get from my hotel at one end of Sisowath to the bus depot at the other end for my trip to Siem Reap or Battambang? Carry a heavy suitcase for a kilometre?

More importantly, what more lucrative area is there in Phnom Penh for the tuk-tuk drivers to make a living? Why are these guys who are attempting to make an honest living banished from the busiest tourist area? Why not target the RCAF-registered luxury vehicles that still illegally park on the footpath or wherever they like along Sisowath?

Daniel Doyle
Visitor of Phnom Penh

Saving Khmer heritage takes commitment

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/

Written by Michael Hansen
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Dear Editor,

The threatened closure, or even downsizing, of the Centre for Khmer Studies in Siem Reap must be a matter of considerable concern to anyone seriously interested in historical research in Southeast Asia.

The "Heritage Industry" in Cambodia is alive and thriving and is a key driver to the economy. But, as everywhere, the tourist is usually presented with a potted and sanitised view of the past. Discovery of the true heritage of any culture is an everlasting process that needs, at its heart, careful objective scholarship undertaken by people free from commercial pressures.

Work also needs to be done out in the field, through the collection, for example, of folk tales and songs and memories of periods that currently attract little attention. For obvious reasons there is plenty of collected information on the Khmer Rouge era, but not nearly so much on, say, the minutiae of village life in the 1930s.

Unfortunately, the raw results of such research work are not usually marketable, although they often provide the basic material for those who popularise history. One can only hope that a donor will come forward and sponsor the next stage of the CSK development. Its loss would be very regrettable.

Michael Hansen
Phnom Penh

Cambodian trial hears from remorseful Duch


Tuesday 23rd June, 2009

Cambodia's UN-backed war crimes trial has been told by former prison chief Duch that he prayed for forgiveness over his shocking past.

Kaing Guek Eav, who is better known as Duch, is on trial for overseeing the torture and killing of 15,000 people.

All of the dead had been committed to notorious Tuol Sleng prison, also known as S-21, which Duch controlled in the days of the communist leader, Pol Pot.

Duch began to sob uncontrollably, when confronted with photos of his alleged victims.

He said his prison-organised trip to Choeung Ek, the so-called killing field where prisoners were executed, had filled him with sorrow.

Duch said he held annual prayer meetings to ask forgiveness from his parents, teachers and victims of his crimes.

When his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity began in March, Duch accepted responsibility for his role at Tuol Sleng.

He has nevertheless consistently rejected claims by prosecutors that he was involved in mass torture, maintaining he only ever tortured two people himself and never personally executed anyone.

The Immunity of Two Parliamentarians of the Opposition Party Was Removed at the Same Time – Tuesday, 23.6.2009

Posted on 23 June 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 618
http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

“Phnom Penh: The National Assembly of the Kingdom of Cambodia decided to remove the immunity of two parliamentarians from the opposition party on 22 June 2009.

“The two opposition party parliamentarians, whose immunity was removed at the same time, are a parliamentarian from Kampot, Ms. Mu Sochua, and a parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Ho Vann. The Immunity of these two parliamentarians was withdrawn officially on 22 June 2009, in order to open the way for the courts to continue legal procedures regarding complaints of Prime Minister Hun Sen and of 22 military officials against them.

“The event to decide to remove the immunity of these two parliamentarians was observed by many civil society organizations as well as by representatives of several embassies. After the National Assembly had voted to remove the immunity of these two parliamentarians of the Sam Rainsy Party, other parliamentarians of the Sam Rainsy Party and of the Human Rights Party walked out of the National Assembly, with masks to convey that the freedom of expression is restricted, and these two parliamentarians without immunity protection said that this decision is not just, and some civil society organizations announced to demonstrate, if these two parliamentarians are brought to the courts.

“A parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, the spokesperson of the Sam Rainsy Party, Mr. Yim Sovann, told reporters that Ms. Mu Sochua and Mr. Ho Vann are victims, and therefore, ‘we see that there is no balanced relation between the court and the executive body. In addition, Mr. Yim Sovann accused the National Assembly of violating its internal rules and the position of parliamentarians.

“Mr. Yim Sovann called on the international community to put pressure on Cambodia.

“As for Mr. Ho Vann, whose immunity was removed, he said that he had already clarified everything and did not expect that the National Assembly would clarify in its records the reason for removing their immunity. Ms. Mu Sochua, despite having no immunity, announced that she would continue to struggle based on the law against Samdech Hun Sen until the end. She said that she will appeal even though the Municipal Court might decide to withhold her appeal.

“The president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, Mr. Rong Chhun, said that he will lead a demonstration, if Ms. Mu Sochua is brought to court. But he emphasized that such a demonstration is not only to support opposition party parliamentarians, but also to support parliamentarians of the Cambodian People’s Party, if they suffer injustice.

“The Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian from Phnom Penh, Mr. Ho Vann, was sued on 20 April 2009 by 22 military officials for defamation and incitement to commit successful and unsuccessful misdemeanors, 22 people who had received [military] degrees. Ms. Mu Sochua has sued the prime minister for defamation, after she held a press conference with the lawyer Kong Sam On on 23 April 2009.

“Presiding over an inauguration of the Hun Sen Krang Yov High School in S’ang, Kandal, on 22 June 2009, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, warned against any outside interference, while the legal procedures to strip the opposition party parliamentarians for defamation are proceeding.

“Samdech Dekchor stated, ‘Some foreigners and other people: Please don’t disturb the law. And if there is an attempt to disturb the legal procedures, then we have the law and the procedures to act against those troublemakers. The court is used to avoid violence, because if problems were not solved according to the law, there would be anarchy. We strengthen the law and the procedures. Thus, you can say what you want, but make sure it does not affect the rights of others, since they have their own rights and they are humans, not animals.’

“Samdech added that ‘we begin strengthening democracy and also the state of law, but not an anarchic democracy. However, democracy must be accompanied by the state of law. Even though you are parliamentarians, if you do wrong, the court will prosecute you. But before a prosecution, the court has to remove their immunity.’ He continued to say, ‘They shouted that we [the government] are corrupt. As for them, they do not own companies, and they do not do rice cultivation, they are just members of an opposition party and of non-government organizations, but why do they have money for airline travel to go abroad and to sleep in five stars hotels? Just traveling abroad twice costs as much as the construction of a school building; where do they get the money to cover such expenses?’”

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.8, #1977, 23.6.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

International Prosecutor Quits Tribunal


By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 June 2009

Robert Petit, the Canadian prosecutor for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, will resign his post, tell reporters Tuesday he was leaving Sept. 1.

“It is with the deepest regret that, for personal and family reasons, I must demit my position as International Co-prosecutor,” Petit wrote in a statement.

Petit has been at odds with his Cambodian counterpart, Chea Leang, over whether to indict more leaders of the Khmer Rouge, claiming more indictments could be prosecuted under the UN-backed court.

Chea Leang argues that more arrests could destabilize the country, echoing statements made in public by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“I remain convinced that Cambodia’s hopes for a better future lie, in part, on true accountability for crimes,” Petit said in his statement. “My staff and I have tried, within our jurisdiction, to contribute to that goal to the best of our abilities.”

The resignation comes in the middle of the trial of Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, in the tribunal’s Case No. 001, and ahead of a trial for four other jailed leaders, Case No. 002. Further indictments would bring up a third case.

“We are concerned about the continuity of the court, especially for Case No. 002, which is under investigation, and how will go Case No. 003, proposed by Robert Petit,” said Long Panhavuth, a tribunal monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative.

Lawmakers Seek Low Profile After Immunity Pull

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 June 2009

One parliamentarian left the country and a second went into hiding Tuesday, following a National Assembly decision to suspend their parliamentary immunity for pending lawsuits.

Mu Sochua, who is facing a defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Hun Sen after her own allegations against the premier were dropped, left for the US Monday, saying she would return July 6.

Ho Vann, who is facing suit from 22 military commanders, for defamation and incitement, after public criticism of certificates awarded the officers by the government of Vietnam, dropped from the public eye Tuesday, citing “security concerns.”

The National Assembly, with a huge ruling party majority, voted to suspend their immunity in a closed-door session Monday. Critics argue the decision could hurt democracy.

US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said the National Assembly’s decision “threatened” democratic developments the country had made in recent years.

“We are concerned that two parliamentarians were left exposed yesterday by the National Assembly to criminal prosecution, and have been disappointed to see the constriction of free expression in Cambodia over the past several months,” Johnson wrote in an e-mail.

“It appears that the courts are being used to intimidate critics of the government,” he said. “Free speech and freedom of the press are fundamental rights in democracies throughout the world, and public figures and politicians should be prepared to receive both praise and criticism from the people they govern as part of the democratic process.”

Immunity Vote Will Hurt Parliament: Expert

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington
23 June 2009

The National Assembly’s vote to take parliamentary immunity from two opposition lawmakers will lead to a deterioration of lawmakers’ expression, a leading democracy expert said Monday.

Without a guarantee of immunity, lawmakers will be less likely to express their opinions, said Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“They express their opinion, that is their main task—voicing support or criticism on policy, its implementation by the government, the ruling party, a draft law—that’s the role of the [parliamentarian],” he said.

Truly democratic countries rarely stripped immunity of its lawmakers, he said, but wrongdoers often themselves resign. The constitution provides for strong protections of parliamentarians, he said.

One of the Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers, Mu Sochua, who is a facing a lawsuit for defamation from Hun Sen, spoke live on “Hello VOA” before her departure from Phnom Penh International Airport, saying she had not had any problem with the police and would return July 6.

The court dropped Mu Sochua’s own suit against the prime minister, for allegedly degrading remarks during the 2008 campaign, following Hun Sen’s countersuit.

In Prayers, Duch Seeks Forgiveness

By Pich Samnang, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
23 June 2009

Jailed Khmer Rouge prison chief Duch, who is charged with orchestrating the deaths of 12,380 people, told the UN-backed tribunal Tuesday that his faith in God, discovered after the fall of the regime, had helped him overcome his dark past.

“Every time I worship Jesus Christ, I always pray for all the Khmer Rouge victims,” Duch told the tribunal on Tuesday. “I never missed my prayers for the dead victims, even when I was in [military] prison,” he said, following a screening of a short video featuring him replaying his role as chief of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison.

Duch, whose real name is Kaing Kek Iev, became a Christian in the mid-1990s, prior to his 1999 arrest and detention in military prison. He said on his birthday every year he would make offerings, even when he was in jail, “to console the spirits of the dead.”

In response to Duch’s expression of remorse, the Trial Chamber’s chief judge, Nil Non said he could do that “later.”

Duch faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture and murder for his role as Tuol Sleng’s administrator.

In Tuesday’s apology, Duch referred specifically to the family of a former professor, Phuong Ton, who was killed at Tuol Sleng after he returned from Europe.

Phuong Ton was a respected professor of international law, and one of his students, Kar Savuth, is currently a defense attorney for Duch.

Korean Securities Firm Ready for Bourse

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Origial report from Phnom Penh
23 June 2009

Tong Yang Securities is the only company that has so far opened for business in anticipation of a stock exchange that officials hope to have up and running by the end of the year.

“We came to Cambodia with a long-term perspective,” the company’s chief representative, Han Kyung Tae, told VOA Khmer. “We are ready to start our business.”

Tong Yang, a financial service provider in South Korea that set up here in 2006, hopes to offer security brokerage, stock deposits, subscription and sale of securities, merger and acquisition brokerage, bond issuance and discretionary investments.

“We are right now working with a couple of state-owned companies and a couple of private companies who might be listed on the stock exchange,” Han said.

Cambodia has said it will have its exchange up and running in December 2009, despite the global downturn and with the aid of South Korea.

Han said his company had been waiting for an official license to extend its business roles, such as broker and dealer, and to establish a private equity fund.

In South Korea, Tong Yang charges from 3 percent to 5 percent of the capital it earns trading bonds or shares. Han said he was not sure what commission the company will take in Cambodia.

Stock trading partly depends on security firms or investment banks. It also requires economic stability, a system of laws and strong companies listed on the exchange.

Vietnam’s stock exchange was established with only a few companies, Han said. But a decade later, more than 400 companies were listed. After 20 years, China’s stock market lists 4,000 companies.

In Cambodia, meanwhile, securities experts have estimated around 40 companies will be listed, while their earning potential remains to be seen.

“It depends on competition, the size of business,” Han said. “If competition becomes tougher in the investment banking business in Cambodia, which has a small size of economy, we will face difficulties in pursuing profit.”

Han also warned that if smaller securities firms are approved, the bigger ones will not enter Cambodia’s market.

Sam Ganty, a member of the government’s Securities and Exchange Commission, has said that bigger investment banks have more influence than smaller ones.

They might be stronger, have more experts, and a network of potential investors, he recently told VOA Khmer.

SEC President Minh Ban Kosal said that so far 10 securities firms are waiting to apply for business licenses.

The commission will carefully select the firms with minimum capital fit to its national economy, he said, adding that firms will be able to apply for licenses starting in August.

Suthep to explain opposition to heritage listing to Cambodia

By: Bangkok Post
Published: 23/06/2009
http://www.bangkokpost.com

Deputy Prime Minister for security affairs Suthep Thaugsuban said on Tuesday he will on Saturday visit Cambodia to meet Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and explain the case Thailand is making to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) about the registration of the Preah Vihear ancient temple as a World Heritage site by Cambodia.

Mr Suthep said the petition is a matter between the Thai government and Unesco, and had nothing to do with Cambodia, which owns the temple.

If all conflict was cleared up, the situation between the two neighbouring countries would improve, he said.

He believed neither Thailand nor Cambodia wanted any problem with each other.

Army chief Anupong Paojinda made a visit to the Thai-Cambodian border area near Preah Vihear temple on Tuesday morning.

His trip followed reports Cambodia had sent troop reinforcements, extra 130mm artillery pieces and T-54 tanks to the border.

News media in Cambodia earlier reported there were unusual movements of Thai troops in expectation that the situation would become tense after Thailand asked Unesco to review the registration of the Preah Vihear temple as a world heritage site.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong also said his country was ready for any situation which might follow the reinforcement of troops on the Thai side of the border.

Co-Prosecutor of UN-backed tribunal trying Khmer Rouge leaders steps down

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh

UN News Centre
http://www.un.org

23 June 2009 – The international Co-Prosecutor of the United Nations-backed tribunal in Cambodia trying Khmer Rouge leaders accused of mass killings and other crimes three decades ago announced his resignation today.

In a statement, Robert Petit said he would be stepping down as of 1 September for personal and family reasons.

“It has been the greatest privilege of my career to have the opportunity to bring some justice to the victims of the crimes of the Khmer Rouge,” he said. “I remain convinced that Cambodia’s hopes for a better future lie, in part, on true accountability for crimes.”

Mr. Petit said that the search for his successor will likely wrap up soon.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), set up in 2003 under an agreement between the UN and Cambodia, is tasked with trying senior leaders and those most responsible for serious violations of Cambodian and international law committed during the Khmer Rouge rule.

The tribunal is staffed by a mixture of Cambodian and international employees and judges, and there are two prosecutors: Mr. Petit, who is leaving his post as International Co-Prosecutor, and Chea Leang, who is Cambodian.

Estimates vary, but as many as two million people are thought to have died during the rule of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979, which was then followed by a protracted period of civil war in the impoverished South-East Asian country.

Currently, two cases are before the court. The trial of Kaing Guek Eav, also known as “Duch,” got underway in March, when he was charged by the ECCC in Phnom Penh with crimes including torture and premeditated murder while he was in charge of the renowned S-21 detention camp, while Nuon Chea faces charges of having planned and ordered the murder, torture and enslavement of civilians.

In April, a senior UN legal official underscored the need to address allegations of corruption surrounding the ECCC.

Assistant-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen has submitted a provisional ethics monitoring mechanism to Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An for his consideration.

In a statement to the press, he stressed that for an ethics monitoring system at the ECCC to be credible, the staff should have the freedom to approach the Ethics Monitor of their own choice and put forward complaints without fear of retaliation.

“The United Nations will further strengthen its own anti-corruption mechanism within the Court,” added Mr. Taksoe-Jensen.

Lightning kills 103 Cambodians in less than 6 months+

Jun 23, 2009

PHNOM PENH, June 23 (AP) - (Kyodo)—At least 103 Cambodians have been killed by lightning in less than six months this year, a senior government official said Tuesday.

Ly Thuch, senior minister and second vice president of Cambodia's National Committee for Disaster Management, told Kyodo News that since early this year, 103 Cambodians, mostly in rural areas, have died after being struck by lightning.

He blamed changes in climate as the main causes of the incidents, but acknowledged the victims might also have had little or no education and information about the dangers of lightning. "The Royal Government is surprised, concerned and sorry to those who were killed by lightning" Ly Thuch said.

He said lightning killed about 80 Cambodians last year and just 45 in 2007.

Lightning normally strikes during the rainy season from May through October.

International Prosecutor Quits Cambodia Khmer Rouge Trial


6-23-09

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AFP)--The international prosecutor at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal announced his resignation Tuesday from the court, which is trying the late 1970s regime's prison chief.

Canadian prosecutor Robert Petit said in a news statement that "for personal and family reasons" he would soon leave his position at the U.N.-backed court.

Petit has previously clashed with his Cambodian co-prosecutor over whether to go after more suspects from the hard-line communist movement at the tribunal.

"I remain convinced that Cambodia's hopes for a better future lie, in part, on true accountability for crimes," Petit said in the statement.

"My staff and I have tried, within our jurisdiction, to contribute to that goal to the best of our abilities," he said.

The court's long-awaited first trial has seen Kaing Guek Eav, better known by the alias Duch, accept responsibility for overseeing the torture and execution of more than 15,000 people at Tuol Sleng prison.

Four other Khmer Rouge leaders are also in detention awaiting trial, but while Petit has sought to bring more cadres to justice, Cambodian co-prosecutor Chea Leang has disagreed.

Lawyers for detained former Khmer Rouge ideologue Nuon Chea have alleged Petit has knowledge that his co-prosecutor was ordered by the Cambodian government not to pursue more former regime members.

In a Tuesday letter to Petit, which they distributed to the press, Nuon Chea's lawyers Michiel Pestman and Victor Koppe demanded a written reply to the allegation by the end of this week.

Petit wasn't immediately available to comment on the allegations, and is due to formally leave his position Sept. 1.

The tribunal is conducting the search for Petit's successor, a court press official said.

After years of wrangling between the Cambodian government and the U.N., the court was created in 2006 to try leading members of the communist 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime and began its first trial in February.

But the court has faced controversy over a series of government interference allegations and claims that Cambodian staff were forced to pay kickbacks for their jobs.

The president resumes his role, while the prosecution loses theirs

Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 22/06/2009: A journalist reads a newspaper in the ECCC press room while Duch’s trial goes on
©Vandy Rattana


Ka-set
http://cambodia.ka-set.info

By Stéphanie Gée
23-06-2009

The hearing on June 22nd 2009 highlighted the weakness of the prosecution in Duch’s trial. Between repetitive questions and off-topics, the examination of the accused by the co-Prosecutors on the functioning of S-21 and Choeung Ek left more than an unfinished taste. The court president, Nil Nonn, started directing the debates again, with a timely reminder to the parties of the rules of the game.

Co-Prosecutors’ interrogation misses its target
The Cambodian co-Prosecutor started interrogating Duch and several of his questions were rejected by the president: “I request that the accused not answer this question. It is repetitive.” The documents, drawn from the introductory submission, succeeded one another on the screen. They manifestly had great value for the case file. Unfortunately, an unclear presentation and mediocre translation limited their reach and understanding. Duch did not contest he was the author of the notes written on the archive documents, which shed light on the role played by the accused in the direct orders to torture and execute. He was also led to repeat that all the power was in Pol Pot’s hands and he was only following orders, etc.

The international co-Prosecutor took over. Straight away, he stated to the accused: “During the last two weeks, you have appeared to be more honest with the ECCC [Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia].” And, according to him, inconsistencies appeared, which Duch challenged him to point out. William Smith then went on a series of perplexing questions. “Why did you decide to get married on December 20th 1975?” After reminding that the minimum age authorised to get married under the Khmer Rouge was 25 years old, Duch referred to “the state of human necessity.” The president intervened: “We are discussing today the functioning of S-21 and Choeung Ek… Please limit your questions to the facts being debated and reserve these questions for when we discuss the personality of the accused.”

The Australian resumed: “And you had two children during the time you worked at S-21?” Duch agrees. Interrogated on his wife’s occupation, the accused explained she was initially part of a sewing unit in the provinces and he obtained that she stay in Phnom Penh, where she was posted in the military hospital. “We would spend one night together every ten days,” he noted. Asked to describe his working day, Duch reported he started work at 7am, took a lunch break followed by a nap from 11am to 2pm, and worked until 5pm. After dinner, he would resume work from 7pm to 11pm, a day that could sometimes go on until 1am. The president carefully made sure the debates went smoothly, and made himself heard as soon as a question led the accused to repeat what he had already said in court.

After lunch break, while the speaking time allocated to the co-Prosecutors by the court –three hours – was nearly over, pertinent questions had still not been asked. As for Duch, he complied by giving short answers. Yes, he did not have the time to do everything and had to delegate; yes, he would go frequently to the sculpture studio within the high school compound as soon as he started being “overwhelmed by a feeling of despair”; yes, he was the one who would generally summon his deputy Hor to his office adjoining his house to “manage daily affairs” such as the arrival of new prisoners.

“Did you have no scruples sending members of your own staff to death?”, the co-Prosecutor asked him as the screen displayed a chart of arrests in S-21, which showed 34 interrogators out of a total of 155 staff members were thus eliminated. “That is not true,” Duch answered. “I was not happy. But if an incident occurred, we were responsible for it. […] And when a young man raped a female detainee, I would not have spared him if that had been a crime…” Why did he give in to fear only from the moment when Vorn Vet – former Khmer Rouge Minister of Industry and former superior of Duch – was arrested, in November 1978, and not before, when some of his subordinates were?, the co-Prosecutor continued. Because the S-21 staff members who had been incriminated until then did not originate from M-13, the centre Duch previously directed, and he therefore saw no reason to worry, he explained. Early January 1979, as the noose was tightening around him, Duch claimed he then took refuge in sleep, day and night, out of despair. “I was waiting for death,” he said.

Overrunning speaking time, the defence objects
The time allocated to the co-Prosecutors came to an end. William Smith requested a 20-minute extension. François Roux, Duch’s international co-lawyer, reacted strongly: “You could observe that a number of questions appeared to be off the topic. It fell upon the co-Prosecutors to ask pertinent questions in the time they were given. […] The co-Prosecutor cannot complain about time lost because the answers [of the accused] were too long. Your Honour, I request the end of the interrogation.” In his defence, the co-Prosecutor recalled that the issue being debated represented the “heart of the trial” and claimed that “given the amount of time, efforts and money spent on this trial,” and “if the accused came before this Chamber with remorse and to say the truth,” then he believed his request for a 20-minute delay could not be objected to. The president deemed the defence’s remark “pertinent” but authorised the co-Prosecutor to continue, whilst observing he should have selected essential questions.

William Smith then attempted to make the accused recognise that he was an essential link in the implementation of the policy of the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK). Duch highlighted the fact he only obeyed orders and claimed again that he was not at the origin of the policy. “You played a very important role within the CPK, didn’t you?” “It is difficult for me to position myself,” Duch answered. “Haven’t you inflicted fear upon innocent Cambodians?” “Fear existed everywhere,” Duch replied. “But it is the party’s Central Committee who initiated this terror. And if we did not follow the orders, death awaited us.” Then, showing Duch the picture of a female detainee sitting next to her baby, the co-Prosecutor asked him: “How could you think in your soul that they were the faces of the enemy?” “Nobody can answer that… The Central Committee decided who the enemy was. […] It wasn’t up to me, but to the superior echelon, to decide who had to be smashed…”

This time, the co-Prosecutors gave up. It was revealed that the co-lawyers for the four civil party groups did not retain the suggestion made to them during the last trial management meeting to appoint a Cambodian and an international lawyer to speak in the name of all. They preferred to keep one representative per group.

“To each their role,” the defence reminded
Hong Kim Suon, co-lawyer for group 4, asked the accused how he could be sure that the use of poisonous insects did not take place in S-21 or that the practice of ripping prisoners’ nails was ended once he became aware of it and forbade it. “If those orders were not respected, I had told Hor [my deputy] that he would be responsible for it before the party.” A few questions later, François Roux intervened to clarify things: “I would like the civil parties to be invited not to carry out an examination as if they were prosecutors” but to ask questions directly related to the victims and civil parties. “I would like the role of each and everyone to be reminded.” Alain Werner, co-lawyer for group 1, lamented that the defence had not raised this point during the last trial management meeting.

François Roux argued: “I am not seeking in any way to limit the civil parties’ role, but to give it its full meaning. […] They do not have to continue the prosecutors’ role. The civil parties have an autonomous role,” which is not to lead the prosecution, he added, referring to the principles established in a “mixed procedural regime that is mainly inquisitorial.” “Those are the texts. You cannot stand in for the prosecutors.” He added that an illustration of this drift was the request recently made by the civil party lawyers to be able to intervene on the sentence.

The Chamber finally allowed the interrogation by the civil parties in a way to support the co-Prosecutors’ work, a green light assorted with recommendations: to avoid asking questions already asked by others, to make short ones “to avoid confusing the accused” and to abstain from any off-topic.

The lawyers intervened the one after the other. Invited to discuss specific detainees, Duch answered he did not recall the more than 10,000 victims who came to S-21. As for the medical experimentations and anatomy lessons carried out on prisoners, Duch claimed he had barely any information on the subject, which mattered little to him, and recalled that his concern was to “try and avoid any mistake in the implementation of the party line.”

The interrogation on the functioning of S-21 and Choeung Ek will be followed by that of the accused on S-24 by the judges and parties. Then, from June 30th to July 14th, the Trial Chamber announced, nine survivors of S-21 will be heard (at last), with one every day.

Firsthand knowledge


Photo by: CHRISTOPHER SHAY

Written by CHRISTOPHER SHAY
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A security guard attempts to prevent a reporter from taking a photo of the Borei Keila community facing imminent eviction. Reporters and rights groups were not allowed inside on Monday, but some residents say even though they have been promised on-site apartments, they are worried they will be made homeless after their homes are demolished.

Plantation to be nationalised


Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
The dispute has centred on the rubber prices offered by Tai Seng Company.


Written by ROS DINA
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Ministry of Agriculture says it will seize rubber plantation in Ratanakkiri province following dispute between Tai Seng Company and workers over rubber prices

THE Ministry of Agriculture has said it will nationalise a rubber plantation in Rattanikiri province to solve for good an ongoing price dispute between a workers collective that has long-held harvest rights and the private company licensed to buy the resin.

Forestry Minister Chan Sarun said the government had hoped the solidarity group led by Khin Sok would come to an agreement with the Tai Seng Co, but had decided to work with the provincial authority to confiscate the Borkeo Rubber Plantation as state-owned property. "The time is right to end this problem," he said.

The plantation has been controlled since the early 1980s by one of many workers collectives, or solidarity groups, set up to manage the country's land resources, but had always remained in government hands as state-controlled land.

In 1997, the government granted Tai Seng a 70-year concession to 3,500 hectares of rubber plantations in the province, including the Borkeo Rubber Plantation, for $300,000 per year. Under the terms of the concession, the first of its kind in Cambodia, the workers collectives were entitled to continue harvesting the rubber, as long as they sold the resin to Tai Seng.

However, group leader Khin Sok said more than 100 tonnes of solidified rubber remained scattered across the plantation after Tai Seng offered only 1,000 riels per kilogram, far below the market price of 2,800 to 3,000 riels per kilogram. "The blockage is forcing workers to starve, and we request that they solve the problem as soon as possible," Khin Sok said last week.

But Tai Seng Manager Ly Hong Sin said the group had been offering a fair price of 2,400 riels per kilogram for solidified rubber and 3,000 riels for liquid rubber.

"I never buy rubber at 1,000 riels per kilogram," he said. "If they accuse me of that, please show me the invoices." He said Khin Sok was trying to illegally sell the rubber on the open market.

Soy Sona, head of Ratanakkiri's agriculture office, said the government had moved to abolish workers collectives in late 2008 by turning them into "producer villages". To encourage the workers to agree to the proposal, they were promised that profits from sales would be split more equally among workers. Under the system in place since the 1980s, group leaders received 50 percent of the profits with the rest split among workers, but the new system reduced the leaders' share to just 15 percent, Soy Sona said.

Of the six solidarity groups working on plantations covered by the Tai Seng concession, all but Khin Sok's had agreed to the new terms, he said.

Pen Bunna, ADHOC's human rights official in Ratanakkiri, said workers benefitted from the new ministry policy, which prevented their exploitation by group leaders.

Khlaong Ny, the commune chief for Borkeo district's Tiek Chak village, said he had tried to meet with the workers to discuss the new agriculture policy, but that Khin Sok refused. "They accused me of encroaching on their estate," he said. "So, I no longer bother about that place even though the area is under the territory of my authority."

Ly Phalla, director general of the Rubber Plantation Department, said Khin Sok was trying to defy the government to claim its land as his own. "He refused to allow us and the local authority to get into his place," he said. "Then he continues to illegally collect rubber from the state-owned land to sell for his own benefit."

He added that Khin Sok wanted to sell the rubber in the open market rather that through Tai Seng to avoid paying government taxes, and suggested he was being backed by some powerful figure who had helped him lodge a complaint with the National Assembly.

Phnom Penh land lawsuit heads to court


Written by Ros Dina
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A LAWSUIT by former National Assembly member Khek Vandy against businessman Duong Chhiv over the sale of 8 hectares of land on Phnom Penh's Chroy Changvar peninsula will be heard today in Phnom Penh First Court.

The former Funcinpec lawmaker told reporters Sunday he was seeking 45 percent of profits on the US$30 million he said was received by Duong Chhiv Co for the land, which includes almost 5 hectares sold to Korean developer BK Global in 2007. Khek Vandy said BK Global paid $500 per square metre for the land, on which it planned to build condominium complex Pharos Mekong Towers.

The remaining three hectares were sold for $260 per square metre, he said.

Khek Vandy said the disputed land was part of a larger 40-hectare block he had acquired over three years in the early 1990s from local residents.

He showed the Post a 1991 letter from the Council of Ministers granting him permission to develop the area. He said he used the letter to encourage Duong Chhiv to form the partnership.

According to a contract, which Khek Vandy said was witnessed by then-Russei Keo district governor Seng Ratanak, Duong Chihiv funded the purchases and development costs in return for 55 percent of the profits.

Duong Chihiv was reportedly ill Sunday and could not speak to the Post, but his wife, Sat Navy, disputed the claim. "The contract to share 45 percent of the benefit with Khek Vandy is only when we both share capital to develop the land," she said. "But in fact the land has not been developed, and Khek Vandy has not contributed any capital either."

She added that the land was sold for only $100 per metre, not $500 as claimed by Khek Vandy.

BK Global Marketing Manager Kheang Piv refused Sunday to disclose how much the company paid for the land, adding that BK Global owned hard title, so any dispute was between the two parties.

The planned development was shelved last year in the wake of the global credit crunch, and Kheang Piv refused to say when or if it would proceed.

Sat Navy said that her family were the real victims.

The family had bought around 40 hectares on the peninsula through Khek Vandy, who acted only as a broker, but most was reclaimed by the municipality for development projects.

"It is me who should sue him for taking us to buy land in such a disputed area," she told the Post. "I am the real victim who has spent money to buy that land 100 percent because we were persuaded by Khek Vandy."

She said her husband had only been allowed to retain 8 hectares it had sold because "the government realised that I have lost too much".

Khek Vandy is married to Bopha Devi, daughter of retired King Norodom Sihanouk.

Malaysian company invests in cemetery


Written by Chun Sophal
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A MALAYSIAN company has announced plans to build an "international standard" cemetery in Kandal province's Ang Snuol district.

NV Multi Corp Berhad has invested US$5 million in building the cemetery with local group Cambodia Asia Flour Mill Corp and plans to finish the site "in the near future", it said.

"We want to build a cemetery for Cambodian people because we want them to have their fortune assured when they die," Kong Hon Kong, managing director of the group, said Monday.

He added that the cemetery, which is to be called "Agglomeration of Great Fortune", is being built on an 11-hectare plot of land in Thlork village, Peurk commune, and will become Cambodia's first "international standard" cemetery.

Khau Kimbac, president of Cambodia Asia Flour Mill Corp said that those wanting to be buried on the site would not only receive a plot of land but also caretaking services for their graves and paved entranceways to their graves "forever".

He added that the company would expand its services in the future if they succeeded reaching customers.

"In the future, we will provide services not only for those wanting Chinese-style graves but also Khmer-style ones," Khau Kimbac said.

According to documents shown by the company, prices will range from $7,650 to $126,700 per lot.

Ang Snuol district Governor Samuth Theoun said on Monday that the cemetery was in a good location, situated on a peaceful mountain slope with a lush and tranquil atmosphere.

"[It] will create more jobs for caretakers in Cambodia, too," he said.

The Malaysian group has built cemeteries in seven other countries in the region, Kong Hon Kong said.

Just a minute for Butler


Written by RICHARD WEIR
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

PHNOM PENH - American Clayton Butler provided an impressive performance Sunday at CTN, marking his professional debut with a crisp first round knockout against Cambodian Di Samrith. The minute-long bout, sanctioned at the weight of 80 kilograms, saw a game Butler plunging straight in with flurries of punches, hoping to hurt his more experienced opponent early on. A heavier Di Samrith attempted to counter with low kicks, but a flush right hand from Butler precluded any resistance, leaving the floored and visibly bewildered native unable to beat the count. Butler is trained by Paddy Carson of Angkor Gym, Phnom Penh.

Global recession deeper than predicted, World Bank says


Photo by: STEVE FINCH
The World Bank said that developing countries, including Cambodia, are likely to see private capital inflows plummet this year.

Cambodia to contract
The World Bank said on Monday in its latest economic outlook that Cambodia's economy would contract 1 percent this year, the same forecast it delivered in April. The London-based Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) said on Monday that its forecast also remained unchanged at minus 3 percent. While the World Bank said that East Asia had delivered the most stimulus spending of any region in the world, the EIU said there was little scope to do so in Cambodia due to lacking fiscal resources. ANZ Royal Bank CEO Stephen Higgins said there was "a reasonable amount of fiscal space" to spend on boosting economic growth. Steve Finch


Written by Timothy R Homan
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Developing nations expected to be hardest-hit as foreign direct investment from richer countries dries up, worsening unemployment and poverty

WASHINGTON

THE World Bank said the global recession this year will be deeper than it predicted in March and warned that a flight of capital from developing nations will swell the ranks of the poor and the unemployed.

The world economy will contract 2.9 percent, compared with a previous forecast of a 1.7-percent decline, the Washington-based lender said in a report Monday. Growth will be 2 percent next year, down from a 2.3 percent prediction, the bank said.

The bank, formed after World War II to fund health and development projects in poor countries, said that though a global recovery may begin this year, impoverished economies will lag behind rich nations in benefitting.

The lender called for "bold" actions to hasten a rebound and said the prospects for securing aid for the poorest countries were "bleak".

"The recovery is not going to be V-shaped," said Alvin Liew, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore. "We may see slower consumer demand over a prolonged period."

The bank is more pessimistic than its sister organisation, the International Monetary Fund. The IMF, which is forecasting a global contraction of only 1.3 percent this year and growth of 2.4 percent in 2010, said Friday that it plans to revise estimates "modestly upward".

The lender's view also contrasts with that of billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, who on Saturday told Polish television that the worst of the global financial crisis "is behind us".

The World Bank cut its outlook for the United States this year, forecasting a 3 percent drop in the world's biggest economy, after predicting a 2.4 percent contraction in March.

Japan's GDP will shrink 6.8 percent, more than the previous prediction of a 5.3 percent decline, the lender said. The euro area's economy may shrink 4.5 percent, compared with the previous estimate of a 2.7 percent contraction.

Global trade may drop by 9.7 percent, compared with a March forecast of a 6.1-percent decline.

"Unemployment is on the rise, and poverty is set to increase in developing economies, bringing with it a substantial deterioration in conditions for the world's poor," the World Bank said.

Though the world is set to return to growth in the second half of 2009, a recovery will be subdued, the report said.
Reduced capital inflows from exports, remittances and foreign direct investment means "increasingly grave economic prospects" for developing nations, the lender said.

After peaking at US$1.2 trillion in 2007, inflows this year may fall to $363 billion, it said.

Reduced aid from advanced economies because of the economic crisis will also likely weigh on their finances, the bank said.

Developing world slows
Economic growth in the developing world will be 1.2 percent, the World Bank said, scaling its outlook back from 2.1 percent.

Developing nations in eastern Europe and Central Asia will be some of the hardest-hit, the revised forecasts show. The region's economy is likely to shrink 4.7 percent this year, down from the 2-percent decline projected in March.

China, which is the biggest of the developing economies, will keep pumping money into its financial system during this "critical" phase of its recovery, Premier Wen Jiabao said in a statement on the government's Web site Sunday.

Efforts to revive domestic economies through stimulus spending should be coordinated internationally, the bank said.

"Any country that acts alone - even the United States - may reasonably fear that increases in government debt will cause investors to lose confidence in its fiscal sustainability and so withdraw financing," the report said.

The US is implementing a two-year, $787 billion stimulus package, while China is spending $585 billion. BLOOMBERG

Turn it up


Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

Written by Tracey Shelton
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A street vendor turns on his new loudspeaker announcing how fresh and delicious his coconuts are. The attention-grabbing marketing shtick that began with egg sellers has caught on with coconut, bread and juice vendors who bring their own jingles to Phnom Penh's streets.

Police Blotter: 23 Jun 2009


Written by Lim Phalla
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Worker accuses colleague of rape
28-year-old Vich Huot was arrested by police at a rented house in Phnom Penh on Friday night on suspicion of raping a 21-year-old woman. The victim said that on Thursday night the suspect called her to come out from her house to have a chat with him and then raped her on the grass near her house. The arrest was made after the victim reported the suspect to the police. Both the victim and the suspect are garment workers.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Four arrested in assAult on drivers
Pursat police arrested four out of seven suspects for attacking and severely wounding two motorbike taxi drivers on Friday. The victims are Ly Sary, 20, and Phai Sophon, 32, both of whom live in Pursat town. Witnesses said the attack happened when the victims came to pick up two karaoke girls at a restaurant where the girls were quarrelling with the suspects. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Man accused of attacking amputee
Um Rorn, 22, from Banteay Meanchey province, was arrested by the police for attacking an amputee with a knife while he was under the influence of illegal drugs. The victim was Keuk Sre, 41, from Oddar Meanchey province. The victim said he and the suspect quarrelled once, but that the conflict was a minor one.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Accused murderer attempts suicide
Mao Sreymom, 30, died in hospital after being cut in the throat with a knife by her former husband, Suon Vichet, 31, from whom she had been divorced for five months. Her husband then cut his own throat in an attempt to kill himself. Although he sustained severe injuries, he did not die, as he was rescued by villagers on time. The crime happened at the victim's house in Phnom Penh on Sunday afternoon. Witnesses said the couple, who have two children, divorced because the husband had an affair with another woman, and that he attacked his ex-wife because he was angry with her for getting involved with another man after their divorce.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Mondulkiri activists subject to restrictions, threats: NGOs


Photo by: BILL HEROD
Phnong villagers beat gongs during a ceremony in Bou Sra commune Thursday.


Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Rights workers helping ethnic Phnong communities displaced by a rubber plantation claim they were denied access to a local ceremony last week

HUMAN rights NGOs working in Mondulkiri province say they have been subjected to restrictions of movement by local authorities and fear they may face charges of incitement for helping ethnic Phnong communities in Bou Sra commune in their fight with a local rubber plantation.

Sam Sarin, provincial investigator for the rights group Adhoc, said that police prevented rights workers from attending a traditional ceremony held by Phnong ethnic villagers in Bou Sra commune's Pouteut village Thursday.

The villagers gathered to slaughter a buffalo and curse a French-Cambodian rubber plantation that they claim has taken their land.

"Residents claim that the land belongs to them, but we were not allowed to travel to the location where the residents held the ceremony," he said.

"We were then allowed to join the ceremony after protesting [to police], but we were accompanied by about 15 to 20 armed police patrolling for the company."

The 10,000-hectare plantation, a joint venture between the Khaou Chuly Company and French rubber giant Socfin, began clearing land late last year, with local communities claiming the loss of traditional rotational farmland.

Sam Sarin said local NGO workers were now "very concerned" for their personal security after educating local communities about their legal rights.

"Our activities are always interrupted and threatened by local authorities when they see our team getting too close to the residents," he said.

"Our team try to help them understand about their rights in relation to their land dispute, but [officials] are dissatisfied and find ways to the intimidate residents and our staff."

Em Veasna, the provincial director for the NGO Human Rights Vigilance of Cambodia, said the Mondulkiri police did not have the right to block access to the public road leading to the area where the ceremony was held.

"The [authorities'] act contradicts constitutional law and violates citizens' rights," he said.

"We were warned directly and indirectly by local authorities not to meet the residents or hold any discussion or forums on human rights issues, and accused of inciting them to stand up and protest against the company."

But newly elected provincial Governor Chan Yoeun denied that authorities had made threats against rights workers, saying he had not yet seen "any reports from those NGOs that claimed that my authorities threatened them".

Pich Chreada district Governor Nuon Saron added that he welcomed local NGOs to work with the government, but added that the rights workers had responsibilities as well.

"They must conform with the principle of government and with the agreement of the local authorities," he said.

Nigerian narcotics suspects in city court


Written by Chrann Chamroeun
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

THREE Nigerian nationals suspected of attempting to smuggle nearly a kilogramme of heroin through Phnom Penh International Airport by hiding it in giant clothes buttons were sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Sunday and Monday for further investigation, Dangkor district police Chief Born Sam Ath said.

The men, thought by authorities to be the masterminds behind a major drugs smuggling ring, are under interrogation by prosecutors, he added.

The trio were among 23 Nigerians arrested on Wednesday in a crackdown on drugs trafficking.
The other 20 men have been sent to the Department of Immigration for further investigation, Born Sam Ath said.

"We are now actively hunting to arrest more Nigerian suspects who we believe are hiding in Phnom Penh," he added.

Nearby Myanmar is the world's second-leading producer of heroin, and with its porous borders, Cambodia has increasingly become part of transit route for drug smugglers, police say.

Govt, Cintri attempt to stop the practice of burning trash


Photo by: SOVANN PHILONG
A woman burns trash in Phnom Penh on Monday morning. Ministry of Environment officials want to educate people about the risks of inhaling toxic fumes from burning refuse. Cintri hopes to outlaw the practice.

Written by Khoun Leakhana
Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Ministry of Environment warns against releasing toxic substances into the air, urging people to prevent their waste – and their health – from going up in smoke

THE government has warned people against burning garbage in public areas, saying it releases toxins that are damaging to people's health and the environment.

"Residents both in the countryside and in Phnom Penh often burn garbage on the street, and sometimes plastic waste at dump sites is burned accidentally," Khieu Muth, secretary of state of the Ministry of Environment, said at a workshop on the issue Friday.

"The burning of garbage such as plastic bags, medical waste and food scraps can generate dioxins and furans in the environment," he said.

According to the World Health Organisation, exposure to certain dioxins, which are a pollutant, and furans, a toxic food byproduct, has shown to cause cancer. Skin infections and liver damage are also common side effects from prolonged exposure to the chemicals.

Exposure to the two substances comes primarily from living near hazardous waste sites or incinerators, as both become toxic when heated.

Exposure can also come from working in or near industries involved in producing certain pesticides, at paper and pulp mills, and from operating incinerators.

"Considering the amount of waste in Cambodia at the moment, the level of dioxins and furans is still not significant when compared to other countries. However, we are still concerned about this problem because here people don't yet understand about proper garbage management or the effect on our health of these two toxic substances," Khieu Muth said.

"What we can do now is create an effective mechanism for the management of garbage and to educate people about the negative effects of dioxins and furans on their health," he said.

To help solve the problem, garbage collection company Cintri wants the Ministry of Environment to outlaw the burning of dangerous materials or streetside garbage.

"We want there to be a law to stop people from disposing of garbage in a disorderly or careless manner, especially through burning," Cintri Vice President Seng Chamreoun said Sunday.

However, many of Phnom Penh's residents may unthinkingly burn their rubbish in response to the perceived inefficiency of existing garbage collections. The volume of garbage produced in the capital is on the rise, said Seng Chamreoun, adding that Cintri collected an average 950 tonnes of garbage a day in 2008 in the city and other provinces. This has increased to 1,000 tonnes a day in 2009 so far, he said.

He argued that existing rubbish collections are sufficient, and that burning trash can have a far more harmful long-term effect on the capital's air.

"We want to live in a clean environment. ... So, I think it is a good idea to have a law to fine people for burning [garbage]," he said.