Friday, 31 July 2009

HCMC retail sites in short supply, no ceiling seen on development

VietNamNet Bridge – Unlike the office leasing market, now quiet because of low demand, the leasing market for upscale store sites in Ho Chi Minh City has remained bouyant even in the economic downturn, reports the Saigon Economic Times.

Urban consumers always ready to spend money

Like their counterparts in the in big urban areas of other countries, Vietnamese consumers shop more and more at high grade shopping centres, the domain of products with international brand names.

According to an executive of Savills Vietnam, a real estate service broker, the tendency can be seen more clearly in markets like where young people account for a large fraction of the population -- like in Vietnam. In a special report on the Vietnamese real estate market, Savills pointed out that at the lowest point of the global crisis, the fourth quarter of 2008, Vietnamese consumers hardly broke stride. They continued to seek out internationally known products and to go shopping at modern trade centres, like their counterparts in developed countries.

Sales of Louis Vuitton brand fashion products on the day its shop at Ho Chi Minh City’s Opera View building opened two years ago reached $750,000.

A senior manager of the Him Lam Real Estate Corporation said his corporation will begin construction of a high grade trade centre in HCMC’s District 7, calling it the ‘model of modern shopping for people with money.’ Meanwhile, CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), another real estate broker, also forecasts big, sustained potential for sales of ‘flashy and expensive’ goods in Vietnam’s retail market.

Products with international brand names continue to be offered – and sold – at prices higher than in other countries. The manager in charge of leasing retail premises at Saigon’s newly renovated Eden Mall confirms that most buyers of deluxe products are Vietnamese consumers, not tourists or foreigners.

Marketers of brand name fashion products, who study the consumption habits of wealthy urbanites, hunt relentlessly for beautiful, empty retail premises in big cities. In HCMC, there’s a growing shortage of such sites.

The T-junction

Many Vietnamese real estate developers share the Savills executive’s view that domestic retailing should be developed to the point that Vietnamese shoppers are not tempted to go abroad to spend their money in places like Thailand or Singapore.

In HCM City, a number of trade centres are under constructin, including Kumho Asiana Plaza and the Vincom project. The Saigon Paragon shopping centre opened its doors to customers late in June.

Savills predicts that HCM City will have 1.1 million more square metres of high standard retail premises in the next four years. CBRE’s estimate is that 1.35 million square metres of new retail premises will be ready by that time. Fifty percent, it notes, are already under construction.

Some analysts believe that the massive investment in retail premises will push down leasing fees that have gone sky high. However, real estate developers show no worry about that.

The Him Lam manager said that if the area of retail premises is compared with the number of people able to buy, it’s evident that the ratios are still very low in HCM City and in Hanoi as well. The Eden Mall exec believes that leasing fees for well-sited premises can only increase.

Observers have put forward three scenarios for the retail stores real estate market for the next several years.

In the first scenario, Vietnam opens the retail market’s doors widely to wholly percent foreign-owned retailers. In this case, domestic retailers can obtain international experience in management and brand name development from foreign retailers. This will help domestic retailers improve their technology and business efficiency, while setting up new standards for services and products on the market.

In the second scenario, there continue to be restrictions on foreign retailers, i.e., limits on opening new retail branches, which will incline them to become consultants or managers for domestic retailers.

An executive of the firm that owns Hung Vuong Plaza Trade Centre said that the second scenario will benefit domestic traders and domestic projects. She believes that in this case, many Vietnamese investors will seek relationships with foreign investors.

In the third scenario, it is posited that Vietnamese investors will occupy all advantageous retail positions, supported by a closed-door policy vis-à-vis foreign retailers. The Him Lam Company executive doubted the third scenario would happen. If it did, he said, it would be a catastrophe, preventing the upgrading of the domestic retailing industry that is needed in the context of Vietnam’s deeper integration into the world.


Bright prospects for VN’s exports to Cambodia

Workers at a Vinamit’s factory that produces dried jackfruit, one of the company’s exports to Cambodia. In the past several months, Vietnam’s exports have been at the top of Cambodia imports. (Photo: SGGP)


Friday ,Jul 31,2009

Made-in-Vietnam goods are taking the lead among Cambodia’s imports and Ho Chi Minh-based exporters have posted a robust year-on-year growth of 44 percent in January to July, pointing to a bright future for Vietnam’s exports to the market, the city People’s Committee deputy chairwoman, Nguyen Thi Hong, said in a recent meeting.

Three years ago, Vietnamese goods ranked third in Cambodia, after Thailand and China, but the situation has changed, with Vietnam surpassing both countries.

This is partly due to concerns revolving around China’s food hygiene and safety, while Thailand and Cambodia have had some diplomatic issues.

Of Vietnamese exports to Cambodia, many registered sharp growth, like instant noodles – which increased as much as 66 percent – in the past few months.

Cheap prices is the leading competitive factor in Cambodia, as local people’s income remains low, so goods of reasonable quality with low prices will obtain a firm foothold in the market, the HCMC Investment and Trade Promotion Center (ITPC) said.

The range of Vietnamese exports to Cambodia has continuously expanded, including seafood, fruit and vegetables, instant noodles, iron and steel, construction materials, pharmaceuticals, plastics, garment and textiles, cosmetics, cleansers, fertilizers, pesticides, and agricultural machinery and equipment, the center said.

Obstacles to remove

However, experts warned that there remain some challenges to Vietnamese exporters, including those in HCMC.

The first, Cambodia’s import duties are high, so they have to compete fiercely with Thai and Chinese rivals in terms of prices.

The second, Vietnamese businesses have yet to set up steady distribution channels in Cambodia to expand their market share.

The third, many Vietnamese companies have yet to create durable prestige for their brand name in Cambodia.

A technician at Thibidi, a manufacturer of electrical equipment, which provides transformers to the Cambodian Electricity Company. (Photo: SGGP)

To tackle these obstacles, Ms Hong said she had asked the ITPC to prepare a program to broadly introduce and promote Vietnamese goods, especially goods with a competitive edge.

The ITPC reported that it has identified four key companies that have capabilities to lead the program, namely Saigon Trading Corp. (Satra), Saigon Commercial Cooperative Union (Saigon Co-op), Saigon Industrial Corp., and Saigon Agriculture Corp.

Of these companies, Satra is a pioneer, which has effectively run a chain of duty-free shops at border-gates Moc Bai and Tinh Bien in the southern provinces of Tay Ninh and An Giang respectively.

It has also set up a system of bonded warehouses at four locations along the border with Cambodia to help the flow of Vietnamese goods into Cambodia.

It has also joined hands with a Cambodian partner, Sokimex, to build a supermarket for Vietnamese goods in the country.

To facilitate exports to Cambodia, as well as to improve Vietnamese goods’ competitive edge there, the Government should help exporters by adopting support policies, such as giving investment incentives and tax reduction or exemption for a certain number of exports to Cambodia, Ms. Hong said.

By Thuy Hai – Translated by Truc Thinh

The end of an era as Hayes bows out

Phnom Penh Post founder and Editor-in-Chief Michael Hayes, whose 17 years at the helm of the paper ends with today’s issue, is pictured this week surrounded by some of the Post’s iconic front pages.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

SEVENTEEN years after he and Kathleen put out the first issue of the Phnom Penh Post, founding Publisher and Editor Michael Hayes is leaving. It genuinely marks the end of an era.

I met Michael in 2001, when he offered me the managing editorship of the Post. He needed a replacement in a hurry since his first choice, based in New Zealand, had stopped returning his calls.

The Post had a great team then, and it does today. It is fair to say the paper has been lucky with the quality of its staff over 17 years.

That was seldom the case with money, leading to Michael being fondly nicknamed "Oknha Coupon" in reference to the necessity of handing out restaurant vouchers to top up the wages of his dedicated staff.

Over almost two decades the Post covered iconic moments in Cambodia's history. It survived tough times, some money-related, others political. There is no doubt his drive, enthusiasm and integrity steered it through the worst.

Many local and foreign journalists who started on the Post have gone on to greater things. Their successes are testament to the achievement that is the Post. Much of that credit belongs to Michael.

He leaves the Post in great shape as it continues along the rocky road that is Cambodia's media environment.

Robert Carmichael was managing editor of the Post from 2001 to 2003.

Legal body to force out elder judges, prosecutors

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

But some say their absence could strain the court system.

ATOTAL of 27 senior judges, prosecutors and provincial court chiefs are set to retire following a meeting Wednesday of the Supreme Council of the Magistracy (SCM), which has enacted a little-used law mandating compulsory retirement at age 60.

Sam Pracheameanith, Cabinet chief in the Ministry of Justice and assistant secretary general of the SCM, said Wednesday that the retirements would be made official once a royal decree was issued by King Norodom Sihamoni, who chairs the council.

"Retirement is a part of [the government's] judicial reform programme, which aims at improving the judicial services in the Kingdom. It will not affect the current work of the courts," he said.

The Kingdom's 1999 Co-Statute on Civil Servants lists 60 as the mandatory retirement age for all government employees and civil servants, but the law has never been fully implemented for judicial officials.

Sam Pracheameanith said that the nine-member SCM, which includes prosecutors and judges from the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court and Phnom Penh Municipal Court, has also approved 63 graduate judges to undertake internships under the auspices of the SCM.

The SCM, as the Kingdom's chief judicial body, has the power to appoint, replace or disqualify any judge or prosecutor on the grounds of conflict of interest or incapacity.

The forced retirements announced Wednesday have drawn some criticism from legal and civil society observers.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP), said the judges should not have been forced to retire, since the government still claims it lacks the human resources to fully staff the court system.

"My point of view is that the old judges and prosecutors who had a lot of experience would have played a fairer role in bringing justice to society than the young graduate students," he said.

"I think that the government should have allowed the judges and prosecutors to continue their work if they do not want to retire, so that they can work with the young [judges]."

He said that in countries such as Thailand, judges and prosecutors who pass the age of retirement are given dispensations to be able to continue their work.

Hanrot Raken, a retired member of the SCM, reiterated concerns Wednesday that the forced retirement of judges and prosecutors could affect the work of the court system.

"I think that the replacements for the retired judges and prosecutors will not have enough experience to handle their cases ... and trials will lack justice," he said.

Stretched to the limit
Chiv Keng, president of Phnom Penh Municipal Court, told the Post this month that each judge was forced to handle between 600 and 700 cases per year but could only properly handle around 200.

The Appeal Court alone receives roughly 2,000 criminal and civil cases annually, he said.

Chan Saveth, a monitor at local rights NGO Adhoc, said the lack of human resources in the courts meant that individual judges had to handle at least 10 criminal cases per day.

"We are concerned that judges forced to handle 10 cases per day will not be able to ensure that justice is done," he said.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor at the local human rights group Licadho, added that the criminal cases currently being handled by the soon-to-be-retired judges might be delayed or abandoned by the courts in the confusion of the changeover.

But Sam Pracheameanith dismissed those concerns, saying that more than 200 judges are currently being trained, and that the ministry has carefully planned the retirements, spacing the resignations of senior court officials to ensure that the workings of the judiciary are not affected.

Vehicles to be confiscated

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Officials gather at the Interior Ministry for a meeting on the Land Traffic Law on Thursday.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Chhay Channyda and Tha Piseth

As part of plan to ramp up Traffic Law enforcement, police will be authorised to confiscate vehicles beginning Saturday.

INTERIOR Minister Sar Kheng said Thursday that a new effort to enforce the Land Traffic Law would lead to the confiscation of vehicles lacking side mirrors or licence plates as well as motorbikes ridden by drivers without helmets.

"We are not just imposing this law out of nowhere," Sar Kheng said, noting that the law had been approved by the National Assembly in 2007 and that his ministry had issued a directive in June stating that it would step up enforcement of the law on August 1.

"The people should know. We informed them one month ago to be cautious."

During a meeting at the ministry Thursday morning, Sar Kheng told municipal officials, provincial governors and Traffic Police officers that police were authorised to seize vehicles until fines could be paid and infractions remedied.

Motorbike drivers caught riding without helmets will be given the option of purchasing a helmet on the spot or having their bikes confiscated.

Any vehicle being driven without a licence plate or side mirrors will be confiscated, and drivers will be required to pay fines for infractions as well as a fee of 20,000 riels (US$4.75) for vehicle storage. The vehicle will only be released when it is fully equipped with a license plate and mirrors.

Under Article 79 of the Land Traffic Law, driving a vehicle without a licence plate incurs a fine of between 25,000 and 200,000 riels ($6-$48).

Under Article 88, driving a motorbike without a helmet incurs a fine of 3,000 riels.

Sar Kheng instructed all municipal and provincial governors to identify one or two hectares of land where confiscated vehicles could be stored.

Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said during the meeting that municipal officials had identified four places in which to store vehicles confiscated in the capital - Olympic Stadium, district police stations, the offices of district governors and the night market on Street 108 when it is not in use.

Persistent problem
The plan to ramp up enforcement of the Land Traffic Law comes as national deaths from crashes reportedly average more than four a day.

Keo Savin, director of land transport at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said by phone Thursday that 1,039 people had been killed in traffic accidents so far in 2009, compared to 1,638 for all of 2008.

Kep Chuktema said he believed City Hall needed to implement additional measures to make the roads safer, including relocating businesses set up on city sidewalks.

"The people running their businesses on the sidewalks park their cars on the roads next to them, which makes the roads in Phnom Penh become narrow," he said.

"This is a problem we have to solve in order to avoid traffic congestion."

Traffickers appeal to court

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Two defendants appear at the Court of Appeal Thursday to appeal their 2007 convictions for human trafficking and debauchery.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

Two defendants say they were convicted on scanty evidence; extradition hearing for Russian paedophile Trofimov deferred.

THE COURT of Appeal on Thursday postponed an extradition hearing for accused Russian paedophile Alexander Trofimov when he failed to turn up, but heard the appeals of two German and three Vietnamese nationals convicted of human trafficking and debauchery in 2007.

The Appeal Court is scheduled to announce a verdict on Monday following Thursday's three-hour hearing, for which only two of the accused - one German and one Vietnamese - were present, presiding Judge Chaem Vicharit and observers told the Post.

"The two men did not confess before the court today, and they said that there is not enough evidence to press charges against them," said Peng Maneth, a lawyer provided by Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE), the anti-paedophile NGO that was involved in the 2006 raid that led to the charges against the group.

Trafficking, abuse charges
The five accused were arrested and sentenced for their roles in trafficking and abusing underage Vietnamese girls following a massive August 2006 police raid on the house of one of the German nationals.

They are appealing their sentences, which could be reduced under new anti-trafficking legislation under which the prison terms of several convicted sex offenders have already been slashed.

According to a letter to the court read by presiding Judge Chaem Vicharit, alleged "mastermind" Karl Heinz Henning was absent from the proceedings because he was "seriously ill" in his Prey Sar prison cell.

The court deemed the letter unofficial because it had not been signed by a doctor.

Vendors in Takeo say they want to go back to their former stalls

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
May Titthara

Despite alleged threats from district officials, Takeo vendors protest prohibitively high cost of stalls in newly renovated and upgraded market.

ABOUT 300 vendors from Tonloab market in Takeo's Kirivong district demonstrated in front of the market Thursday to press for the right to continue to sell their goods there, vendors told the Post on Thursday. Vendors said they planned to bring their case to Prime Minister Hun Sen despite authorities' attempts to intimidate them.

"We protested because we want to sell at our old location," said San Sokhom, 49. "The market owners broke their promise."

San Sokhom said the market's owners announced plans to modernise the market three years ago, including installing an improved drainage system and a new roof. When the market reopened a month ago, the owners were charging between US$5,000 and $12,000 for a small store, pricing the vendors out of their old locations.

Nguon Sovann, another vendor, said she and others had been relegated to peddling their wares along a nearby street since they had been "kicked out".

"They only let us sell along the road. It makes a traffic jam every day," she said.

Nguon Sovann accused the Kirivong district governor of threatening her husband at gunpoint for demonstrating.

"At about 9pm on Wednesday, the Kirivong district governor came with a gun to my house and pointed it at my husband's head. The governor said my husband was the protest leader who persuaded vendors to protest," she said.

Kirivong police chief Meas Sophoan and Kirivong district governor Teuk Songlim declined to comment. Ni Hen, an owner of Tonloab market, could not be reached.

Nguon Sovann denied rumours that the vendors planned to burn down the market, saying they would seek help from Hun Sen instead.

"We are not crazy. We will not burn down the market. If we don't have any settlement here, then we will go to Prime Minister Hun Sen's house to ask for help," she said.

Even though commune officials met with vendors after the demonstration, vendor Nhen Pros said they believed their demands were not being taken seriously by the authorities.

"They asked us to go to the commune office, but they didn't talk about our suggestions," he said. "They only talked about their plan to ask vendors selling along the road to let them continue to pave the road."

"We did not agree because they would cheat us again," he added.

Election monitor calls for voter list reforms

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

LOCAL election monitor Comfrel has called on the National Election Committee (NEC) to reform the system of voter registration to ensure all eligible voters are able to cast their ballots in the 2012 commune council elections and 2013 national elections.

According to a report issued by Comfrel Thursday, 440,000 eligible voters, most of whom voted in the 2003 national election, could not cast their ballots in last July's national elections because they were unable to find their names on voter lists or locate the correct polling stations.

"We found irregularities after the July 2008 election and call for the NEC to make reforms in order to ensure that eligible voters' right to cast their ballots without unnecessary obstacles or difficulties is upheld," Comfrel executive director Koul Panha told the Post Thursday.

He said the report's findings would be submitted to parliamentarians, political parties and the NEC.

The report, based on surveys of 8,678 eligible voters in all 24 provinces and municipalities, found that the names and addresses of 18.5 percent had disappeared from the voter lists during the 2008 election.

Tep Nytha, secretary general of NEC, said Thursday that he had not yet received an official report on voter lists and registration, but he said the NEC would study the report and evaluate possible methods for improving the election process.

"We cannot accept all the requests made by civil society groups because they are far beyond the ability of the NEC," he said.

But Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) lawmaker Kouy Bunroeun said the government, the NEC and political parties must have the "political" will to amend the law in order to improve the election process.

In last year's national election, the ruling Cambodian People's Party won 90 of the National Assembly's 123 seats. The SRP took 26 seats, the Human Rights Party three seats and the Norodom Ranariddh Party and Funcinpec two seats each.

M'kiri clinic to provide care for domesticated elephants

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Chhouk, an elephant rescued in Mondulkiri after losing his foot in a hunter’s snare, was transported to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre in Takeo province for treatment.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Elephant assistance NGO currently provides treatment through house calls, but plans to consolidate and streamline operation.

THE Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment (ELIE) has announced plans to open a new health-care centre in four to five months in Mondulkiri province where mahouts will be able to bring their elephants free of charge.

ELIE has been providing free veterinarian assistance for domestic elephants and teaching locals animal husbandry since 2006, but the new health-care centre will allow the organisation to treat sick elephants in one place instead of making house calls every time an elephant falls ill or gets injured.

Chear Chantorn, the assistant project officer for ELIE, said that some domestic elephants in the region drag timber up and down hills for illegal loggers, work so grueling he called it akin to "torture".

"I pity the domestic elephants. We decided this year to create a health-care centre to protect the elephants," he said, stressing that elephant owners will not be charged for the elephant's health services and that they would be trained on how to provide proper care.

ELIE is funding the project through donations and earnings from its ecotourist elephant camp, where visitors to Mondulkiri can pay to ride elephants through the jungle.

By caring for domestic elephants and giving mahouts a chance to take tourists around, Chhouk Sen, the council governor of Mondulkiri's provincial capital, Sen Monorom, said ELIE had helped improve the lives of many members of the local Phnong minority.

"They don't just treat the elephants for free, they provide jobs to our Phnong people and promote tourism in Mondulkiri," he said.

There are currently 63 domestic elephants in Mondulkiri, said Tuy Sariwathna, director of Fauna and Flora International in Mondulkiri, who added that there had been five elephant deaths so far in 2009 compared with just two in all of 2008.

Woman gives birth during protest at B Meanchey court

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

40-year-old births 6th son while protesting charges of murder and robbery against husband that rights officials, villagers call unsubstantiated.

A WOMAN whose husband was detained by Banteay Meanchey provincial police last week after being accused of murder gave birth on the doorstep of the provincial court on Sunday, as she gathered with fellow villagers to press for her husband's release.

Sam Kol, a doctor working for the local rights group Licadho, said Sok Nath, 40, went into labour and gave birth to a boy outside the court at 8pm.

"She gave birth on the grass under a tree," he said, adding that local village women helped deliver her sixth son.

Four days after the birth, he said that Sok Nath still suffered from poor nutrition and could produce breast milk only after receiving help from his organisation.

"She looks weak because she doesn't have enough food to eat, and the food she eats is not nutritious. She has no money. We have supported her with food, medicine and money, but it is not much," he said.

Sok Nath and around 140 residents from Banteay Meanchey's Rasmey village gathered at the provincial court Saturday, when her husband, Khleung Da, 46, was arrested on suspicion of murder and robbery.

Human rights officials say they believe Khleung Da was actually detained for representing the villagers in land disputes in the region.

"He has made no mistake. He was arrested unjustly because we went to investigate the issue and asked villagers about the murder, and the villagers said that he was not involved in the robbery," said Sum Chan Kea, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc.

Villager Ngor Ea said Khleung Da's arrest was a mistake, and that the court did not have enough evidence to hold him. "They accused him of murder, but not any one has appeared to file a complaint," he said.

Judge Sim Kuch, who is in charge of Khleung Da's case, said Thursday that he had received it from prosecutor So Vath. So Vath could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Study reaffirms data on resistant malaria

A woman in Chamkarmon district treats a mosquito net with repellant.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

Research in New England Journal of Medicine offers more evidence of drug-resistance trend.

ANEW study has confirmed that malaria parasites in western Cambodia are becoming increasingly resistant to drug treatment, underscoring the urgency of treatment and containment efforts already under way in the Kingdom.

In an article published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of doctors detailed a study in which they compared the effectiveness of artemisinin, the drug most commonly used in malaria treatment, in the cases of infected patients from western Cambodia and from northwestern Thailand.

In 40 patients from Pailin province, the median time that the drug took to clear the parasite was 84 hours, with 55 percent of patients still infected after three days of treatment. In 40 patients from Wang Pha, in Thailand's Nan province, by contrast, the median clearance time was the expected 48 hours, with only 8 percent of patients still infected after three days.

Ros Seyha of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said the presence of artemisinin-resistant malaria in Cambodia had already been discussed in the scientific community, but he stressed the importance of continuing research on this issue.

"Monitoring drug sensitivity is not something that should be done in just one study. There must be ongoing observations of what's going on as treatment is being delivered to the target group," he said.

Duong Socheat, director of the National Malaria Centre (NMC) , said the results in the Journal were "not really surprising".

Since February, he has been supervising a US$22 million effort to contain artemisinin-resistant malaria in western Cambodia, in partnership with the WHO and with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Duong Socheat told the Post in May that a fully artemisinin-resistant strain of malaria would be "a disaster". He said malaria centre and its partner organisations hoped to rid Cambodia of the disease by 2015, but that costs remained an obstacle.

Drug resistance in the Kingdom has been exacerbated by the fact that some patients can only afford a partial course of treatment, killing all but the most resilient parasites.

Though the WHO and the NMC have worked to educate pharmacists about the importance of full treatment, costs remain prohibitive for many Cambodians, Duong Socheat said.

16 councillors attend training course about how to talk to media

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

A training course run by the National League of Commune/Sangkat Councils is teaching commune officials to be better spokespeople.

A TRAINING course sponsored in part by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is training 16 council members from communes across the nation to become effective media officers and spokespeople.

The course, organised by the National League of Commune/Sangkat Councils, started Wednesday and concludes today.

"We organised this training course in order to teach [council members] how to communicate with reporters, answer to reporters and write reports about the achievements of the commune," Pok Sokundara, secretary general of the National League of Commune/Sangkat Councils, said Wednesday.

He added that the members taking part in the course were selected by the league, and that topics ranged from communication and advocacy theory to how to interview people and find general information.

"This course can help [members] understand how to communicate with media officers, which currently seems difficult for them because it is new and different from what they've done before," he said.

Chhay Sophal, director of the media organisation Cambodia News, which has been helping to train the councillors, said Wednesday that the programme was designed to make information more readily available at the grassroots level.

We live with the media, so having good communication ... is very important.

"I think it's good to have spokespeople in provincial or commune councils in order to provide information to journalists or other media centers," he said.

Linking officials with locals
Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said Thursday he supported any programme that could help improve communication between the government and local people.

"We live with the media, so having good communication with [journalists] is very important."

Murder Trial: Sentences set in killing at Ream Park

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

Murder Trial

Five men were sentenced to between one and 12 years in prison in connection with the March 7 slaying of Nov Kim, a provincial official stationed in Ream National Park in Preah Sihanouk province, Preah Sihanouk provincial court Judge Tang Sunlay told the Post Thursday. Only three men, Sum Ath, Thorn Vichhav and Thorn Virak, were present when the judge read out their sentences. Thorn Virak, 37, was sentenced to one year for using illegal weapons and was fined 500,000 riels (US$119). Sum Ath, 39, was sentenced 10 years for premeditated murder, and Thorn Vichhay, 15, was handed down three years for being an accomplice to murder. The two perpetrators tried in absentia, Soam Vannak and Lung Bunthorn, received sentences of 10 and 12 years, respectively. Nov Kim was shot and killed while working at the national park after he had detained the five men on suspicion of illegal logging. Judge Tang Sunlay ordered four of the five men to also pay a total of 40 million riels ($9,512) in compensation to the victim's family. "I welcome the court's conviction of the five criminals," said Chan Chamroeun, an investigator for the rights group Adhoc.

A changing of the editorial guard

Photo by: Michael Hayes
In the jungle: a fatigued editor-in-chief during a kouprey hunt in Mondulkiri province in March 1994.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Michael Hayes

The Post's founder remembers what made the newspaper great - and what will keep it so.

TODAY is my last day as The Phnom Penh Post's editor-in-chief, a position that I have held now for 17 years and 21 days since the first issue of the Post was published on July 10, 1992.

I had actually decided on my title six months earlier and put it on business cards after my older brother Jack explained what the choices were when I was in the process of setting up the paper. I didn't have a clue myself, so he explained the options.

I remember asking him: "Hey Jack, you studied journalism. What should I call myself? Chairman or president or ... what?" Demonstrating the deep affection only a guy can have for his kid brother, he replied: "You numbskull! What are you - a complete moron? You'll be publisher of course, and then if you want to control the content you should be editor-in-chief as well."

There was a lot to be learned in those early days.

Two critical lessons from the 1990s which are no less important today are the need to get the facts right and the dangers involved in attempting to print the truth.

The day after the first issue came out, a gentleman showed up at the office dressed smartly in a royal uniform.

He delivered our first letter-to-the-editor, and it was from none other than then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk, noting that in our lead front-page story we had published the wrong date for Cambodia's independence.

But what proved to be much more painful was the climate of fear and violence that developed after the new government was formed in 1993.

Sadly, who now remembers Tou Chom Mongkol, Nuon Chan, Sao Chan Dara and Thun Bun Ly? These are the names of Cambodian journalists who were murdered between 1994 and 1997, most on the streets of Phnom Penh and in broad daylight.

Their cases were never resolved.

Add to these tragedies the grenades thrown at newspaper offices, the numbers of publications confiscated or shut down, the reporters sued or jailed, the pervasive use of anonymous death threats to intimidate the press, and the question has to be asked: Why would anyone in their right mind want to practice journalism in Cambodia, especially since after some years of relative calm we seem to have entered a new phase of systematic efforts to muzzle an independent press?

The simple fact is that I've never had much difficulty finding Cambodians who wanted to be reporters. And if turnover was high, it was more because people with marketable skills in the foreign-employer arena found it difficult to live on the Post's pitifully low salaries, or the demands of working till midnight on deadline placed too heavy a price on time with families.

So if this issue seems unduly focused on me, my preference is to use the space to salute the courageous and dedicated Cambodian reporters who have worked, often at great risk to themselves and their families, for me over the last 17 years. These are the real unsung heroes of The Phnom Penh Post.

As a foreigner I have always had the option to call my embassy for help or just head to the airport and catch the next flight out. My Khmer reporters do not have these luxuries, but in spite of this many, if not most, were and still are determined to do something to help their country, to print the truth about issues and problems that were and still are related to helping Cambodia recover from 30 years of civil war and chaos.

I also want to salute and thank the many friends of the Post who as contributors, freelancers, sources from all sectors of society or just plain readers have, in whatever form, taken an active interest in and involvement with what we do.

Some of the Post’s noteworthy front-page stories.

Over 17 years we've had both the challenge and the pleasure to report on some of the most incredible stories any journalist could imagine covering. Starting with UNTAC (at the time the UN's largest-ever peacekeeping mission), which resulted in the formation of a new government in 1993, the Post team has been on their toes.

The gradual demise of the Khmer Rouge over the next five years, including Pol Pot's death, brought some sense of closure and great relief. The collapse of the coalition government in 1997 just added more bitterness and sorrow to the brew.

Four contentious national elections made hanging chads look like kid's play.

And superimposed on the whole time frame is the cat-and-mouse game played between government, donors, rights groups and aid agencies in the always convoluted, challenging and entertaining process of reform and recovery, reconstruction and reconciliation.

It has always amazed me since day one how many people wanted to get involved with the paper, how serious was the task of publishing words in print, and how many people and institutions preferred to keep what they did in the dark. The pen may not be mightier than the sword, but it sure as hell can scare the daylights out of both saints and sinners.

Seth Meixner will take over as editor-in-chief, but since I've been working only half-time for the past year, Seth has already been running the show.

I expect the transition will be a seamless one and, in any case, I'll still be around as a senior editor.

As for the Post, it will only be useful if it meets the needs of its readers. This issue becomes more critical as we prepare to start publishing an edition in Khmer on September 9, 2009, when the waters of Cambodia's tolerance for press freedoms will be seriously tested once again.

Finally, I said this in the first issue and I'll say it again: If you want a better paper, then let us know what you need.

Go ahead, don't be shy, give us your best shot - in print, please.

----- New editorial appointments at The Phnom Penh Post -----
New appointments at the Post – English and Khmer

Group Editor-in-Chief
Seth Meixner
PK Editor-in-Chief
Kay Kimsong
PK Managing Editor
Neth Pheaktra
PE Managing Editor
Philip Bader
PE Lifestyle Editor
Joel Quenby
PE DeputyLifestyle Editor
Mark Roy
National News Editor
Laura Snook
Chief of Staff
Sam Rith

In advance of next month's launch of the Khmer edition of The Phnom Penh Post, the newspaper's owner Post Media Ltd (PML) has announced senior editorial appointments effective on August 1, 2009.

Mr Seth Meixner has been appointed group editor-in-chief of the two editions of the newspaper. Mr Meixner was previously managing editor of The Post's English edition, a role that will now be filled by Mr Philip Bader.

Mr Meixner has wide-ranging experience in Cambodia, having been a former managing editor of The Cambodia Daily and bureau chief for the wire service Agence France Presse before joining PML.

Mr Kay Kimsong will be the inaugural editor-in-chief of "PK" - The Phnom Penh Post's local language edition. He will be backed by Neth Pheaktra who will act as the managing editor.

Mr Kimsong said he was delighted to be leading The Post into its vernacular edition.

"These are challenging and exciting times for Cambodia. The likelihood of a stock exchange soon, the rapid sophistication of business and markets, and a fast-maturing population that desires more from its press, forces us to think carefully," he said.

'Over the past 12 months we have been planning our Khmer edition, and it will be fundamentally different from its English-language sister. The papers will have the same name, but will often make different editorial judgement. That's an exciting concept."

"We are looking forward to competing for readers when we launch in September. We're confident that we have judged our market correctly," said Mr Kimsong.

Post Publisher Ross Dunkley said the company had commissioned the designing of unique Khmer fonts for the newspaper. To be known as Post Khmer, the new fonts, written in Unicode, will be widely available for PC users once the paper is launched.

Meanwhile, The Phnom Penh Post today launches its regular Friday insert, called 7Days.

"The lifestyle liftout aims to highlight the growing diversity within Cambodian society and the lifestyle options available to people these days," said Mr Dunkley.

Insurers urged to offer cross-border coverage

Photo by: Holly Pham
Vehicles cross the border between Cambodia and Thailand at Poipet. The Ministry of Economy and Finance has instructed the Kingdom’s seven insurers to pool together to insure vehicles at the border.

It doesn't need much capital, but the problems lie with logistics.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Nguon Sovan

Ministry of Economy and Finance instructs insurance association to create pool for nation’s 7 firms to cover vehicles crossing borders

THE Ministry of Economy and Finance has instructed the Kingdom's seven insurance companies to contribute to a pooled insurance scheme that will cover vehicles crossing Cambodia's borders.

The government issued a directive establishing cross-border transport insurance in March this year.

In Meatra, the ministry's head of insurance in the finance industry department, told a tourism conference Wednesday that the pooling scheme is necessary because no single insurer is willing to take on the expense and risk of providing insurance.

"Each company is reluctant to sell insurance at border crossings because it will cost a lot to set up ... and they are worried there will be no profit because of the small number of vehicles crossing," he said.

The ministry instructed the General Insurance Association of Cambodia, an industry body, to set up a joint pool with the seven firms contributing.

"If [the pool] loses, they all lose, and if it profits, then they all profit," In Meatra said. "The agreement to establish the pool will be signed in early August."

He said the scheme would be operational by early 2010, once negotiations with the country's neighbours are completed.

"The insurance laws of Vietnam, Thailand and Laos are different from ours - their firms don't sell third-party liability insurance, only insurance for individuals and passengers," he explained. "So if a Cambodian vehicle crashes [abroad], the passengers can leave, but the vehicle will be impounded."

In Meatra said the owners of foreign vehicles coming to Cambodia can buy insurance for both the passengers and the vehicle.

"So [in an accident], we would release the passengers and the vehicle. We are negotiating for this issue to be equitable for all," he said.

Chan Dara, deputy director-general of the transport department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said Wednesday that Cambodia has signed cross-border agreements with its three neighbours.

But vehicles can currently cross legally only between Cambodia and Vietnam.

"A fixed number of 150 vehicles from each country are permitted to cross the border every day," Chan Dara said.

Cambodia agreed with Laos in April that 40 vehicles could cross daily, but Chan Dara said that has not started due to implementation problems on the Laotian side.

"As for Thailand, there is a deal, but it's not been implemented since we have difficulties contacting the Thai side," he said.

Duong Vibol, managing director of insurer Caminco, applauded the idea of a pool. But he said discussions have not taken place to determine the capital injection required from each firm.

Youk Chamroeunrith, general manager at Forte Insurance, told the Post that his firm had not been interested in undertaking the role on its own.

"We weren't worried about the losses because there are many vehicles crossing the Vietnamese border," he said. "But there would have been too many obstacles for one company. It doesn't need much capital, but the problems lie with logistics: IT, electricity, water and the site itself."

Siam Cement sees profit drop in Q2

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Steve Finch

SIAM Cement Group, which owns 90 percent of Kampot Cement, has announced a 21 percent drop in profits for the second quarter to 1.553 billion baht (US$45.6 million) in its cement division.

In a statement Wednesday announcing financial results up to the end of June, the publicly traded company said net sales fell 11 percent in the second quarter to 11 billion baht "due to lower cement prices and sales volume".

However, first-half net profit was still up 10 percent year on year in the division due to "various energy savings programs", the statement added.

Siam Cement Group's overall results were more healthy - consolidated net profit increased 32 percent in the second quarter compared to the first to 6,837 billion baht, decreasing 5 percent year on year.

As the major shareholder in Kampot Cement - which has a domestic market share of about 50 percent - Siam Cement has a strong presence in the Cambodian cement market, which has seen declining sales on the back of the downturn in the construction sector.

Kampot Cement said this month that sales had fallen about one-third in the first five months of the year. The company added that it was unlikely to meet its 2009 sales target of 3 million tonnes.

The $127 million joint venture was established in January 2008, with Cambodia's Khaou Chuly Group holding the remaining 10 percent stake.

CAMFEBA, Japan run course on global crisis

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Chun Sophal

THE Cambodian Federation of Employers and Business Associations (CAMFEBA) ran its second management training course on Thursday in conjunction with Japan's International Cooperation Centre, known as Nippon Keldanren.

The training course, which advises attendees on how best to manage in the global economic crisis, was attended by 35 employees from 20 companies.

At the start of the course, CAMFEBA's deputy president, Tei Sing, said current circumstances were tough for businesses.
"We provide successful strategies through this training course to company staff so they will learn how to cut their costs and increase productivity as they battle the global financial crisis," he said Thursday.

The two organisations joined together to run a similar course for 60 company employees in 2003.

Cambodia holds first SME forum

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem (centre) addresses Thursday's SME forum.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
May Kunmakara and Ith Sothoeuth

Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy seeks to increase cooperation with small and medium enterprises to help strengthen and diversify the Kingdom’s still-stunted light industry sector

CAMBODIA held its first forum Thursday aimed at improving the competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Minister Suy Sem, who heads the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, told attendees that the aim was to promote dialogue and improve effectiveness.

"This is in order to encourage discussion about policymaking and the government's strategy at the national level to strengthen and develop industry and [SMEs]," Suy Sem said.

The purpose of the forum was to review the government's newly announced 2009-13 strategic framework to diversify production of goods and incorporate improved technology. More than 100 attendees from the private sector, government and development partners took part.

"In my opinion this is the most significant time for Cambodia to re-evaluate its action plan for developing industry and [SMEs], to strengthen them and make them more effective," said Suy Sem.

The ministry's director general, Meng Saktheara, who also heads its SME sub-committee, told attendees that 90 percent of industrial activity is undertaken by SMEs, which contribute greatly to economic growth. And he said SMEs employ 40-50 percent of the labour force.

He said the global economic crisis had spurred the ministry to help SMEs produce higher-quality goods that can compete with foreign products.

"[The ministry] is trying to help SMEs that are able to produce products that comply with international standards," said Meng Saktheara. "We are also urging them to manufacture high-quality products that are priced to compete with foreign products."

SMEs are also being encouraged to use modern technology rather than traditional methods and to introduce more-creative packaging.

Meng Saktheara told attendees that 80 percent of SMEs make food and beverages for local markets and for the tourism market, which fluctuates and is affected by external factors.

"We need to produce high-quality goods other than food and beverages, and supply those locally and for export," he said. "But this framework cannot solely be carried out by the ministry. We need to cooperate and work with the relevant ministries, development partners and SMEs ... to ensure success."

Meng Saktheara said SMEs can act as a bridge for poverty reduction and rural development.
Mao Thora, a secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, said his ministry has worked to cut red tape to lower the costs for SMEs.

"[The Commerce Ministry] has made it easier for local entrepreneurs by cutting expenses incurred when setting up a business, lowering the time required and removing certain requirements," he said.

Cambodia plans to boost lobster farming

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Chun Sophal

Government plans major hatching programme to develop local market in bid to cut imports

THE government has waded deeper into the crustacean trade with plans to hatch 1 million baby freshwater lobsters by late October.

The juveniles will be sold to domestic farmers looking to rear them for the local market, thereby cutting the need for imports.

Haing Leap, the deputy director of the Department of Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told the Post on Thursday that the Takeo provincial fisheries department had hatched 300,000 baby lobsters since June.

He said the centre sells 45-day-old lobsters to farmers for US$0.06 each.

"We want to encourage farmers to raise baby lobsters because we expect they will be able to supply them to local markets," Haing Leap said.

In no more than five years' time we will be able to cut lobster imports.

He added that just 10-20 tonnes of wild freshwater lobsters are caught locally each year, with 3 tonnes a day brought in from Vietnam to satisfy demand.

Breeding areas diminish
Haing Leap blamed the low number of locally caught lobsters on environmental changes and the loss of sheltered areas where breeding females could lay eggs.

"We hope that if Cambodian farmers are interested in rearing lobsters, then in no more than five years' time we will be able to cut lobster imports," he said.

Prum Vath, a lobster farmer in Takeo province's Angkor Borei district, plans to raise 200,000 baby lobsters for the local market before the end of the year.

He said it takes a minimum of six months to raise them, at which point he sells them for US$15-$20 a kilogram.

"Rearing baby lobsters poses no problems because they are easy to look after and it is easy to find markets," the farmer said.

Another farmer told the Post that 3 percent of lobsters die before reaching maturity.

Haing Leap at the Fisheries Department said the hatching season runs between June and October, adding that farmers need at least 1.5 million baby lobsters.

"If farmers can raise 1-1.5 million lobsters a year, then that will supply local markets with 60-90 tonnes of lobster each year," he said.

Haing Leap said that in 2005 the Japanese government funded a five-year, $5 million project to teach lobster-rearing skills to farmers in a number of the Kingdom's provinces.

Disabled Volleyball League hits off

A player from the Siem Reap Eagles (centre) jumps but misses a blocking opportunity against the Prey Veng Cobras during their opening game of the Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled) Saturday.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

Disabled athletes showcase their skills inside Olympic Stadium at the annual Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled), where substantial cash prizes await the winners

WITH the excitement of the University Games still echoing through the hallways, the indoor sports hall of the Olympic Stadium came alive once again last weekend as 10 teams from across Cambodia assembled for the 2009 Cellcard Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled).

The annual competition, which is scheduled to run from July 24 until September 26, has attracted main sponsorship from telecom company Cellcard, as well as ANZ Royal Bank and numerous other contributors. The league offers mouth-watering cash prizes for the winners, with the first prize taking home a whopping US$3,000, runners-up earning $2,000, and third place finishers banking a cool $1,000. Outstanding players from the event will also be selected for the national team to represent the Kingdom in regional and world tournaments.

Teams entered into this year's league include Battambang MOSVY Tigers, Kampong Speu Global Giving Scorpions, Kampong Speu CTN Koupreys, Pailin Stadt Frechen Lions, Kampong Cham Bartu Bulls, Kratie Nike Changemakers Dolphins, Siem Reap Globe Magazine Eagles, Phnom Penh ANZ Dragons, Prey Vieng Kingmaker Cobras, and Takeo ISPP Templestowe Falcons. After the first round of games last weekend, the Phnom Penh Dragons and the Siem Reap Eagles share top spot with three wins out of three, while the Kratie Dolphins are rooted to the bottom having lost all of their three games. The next round of matches are to be played on August 22 and 23.

Secretary general of CNVL(D), Australian-born Christopher Minko, revealed that the league is in its ninth season, and unlike the able-bodied sports in Cambodia that are still trying to find their feet, disabled sports are already flying.

The Cambodian National disabled volleyball team is currently ranked third in the world, with the majority of squad members chosen from previous CNVL(D) meetings. "Cambodia is number one in Asia-Pacific, and third in the world behind Germany and Slovakia," Minko said. "We are hoping to push on until we reach the number one spot."

The 52-year-old Australian, who has been in Cambodia for 16 years developing disabled volleyball, is confident that local players can attain an extremely high standard of playing by competing in the CNVL(D). "These players are very good," Minko asserted. "They are not handicapped by their disabilities. They put in their best and are doing great."

CNVL(D) Secretary General Christopher Minko attends the opening day of the CNVL(D) at Olympic Stadium Saturday

The national team have triumphed over Poland, Canada, India and Australia in the past, and is looking to repeat such feats in the 2009 World Cup coming up in December. They will receive training from Christian Zepp of Germany, who has been working as the national team coach since 2001. Zepp has been campaigning for CNVL(D) funding for many years. A year ago he won a local swimming pool competition near his home in Frechen, near Koln, swimming 40.7km over a weekend and donating the entire prize money to the CNVL(D).

Minko revealed that the CNVL(D) are also involved in training athletes in wheelchairs, and will prepare to send some Cambodian disabled athletes to the 2012 Paralympics Games in London.

The CNVL(D) has had Prime Minister Hun Sen as its Grand Patron since 1999, and help provide essential services for disabled Cambodians, most of whom are victims of polio and land mine accidents, as well as organising educational programs to raise awareness of disability issues.

Photos by Nick Sells (

Army team suffer lack of depth

National Defence Ministry manager Op Sam An (centre, white shirt) shouts intructions to his players from the dugout during their CPL match against Khemara Keila Saturday

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Ken Gadaffi

With an injury room full of key players and a policy not to sign foreign players, the National Defence Ministry have struggled to compete this season

Army team plagued by injury
The National Defence Ministry team (MND), popularly known as "Army", is feeling the pressure to perform with the key squad members plagued by injury.

Noted for their fluid passing game, MND are currently languishing in eighth out of 10 teams, with 13 points from 12 games, although a nine-point gap separates them from the drop zone. With only six rounds remaining, the Army side face a titanic struggle to make it into the Super 4, with fourth-placed Naga Corp five points ahead.

According to the assistant coach Long Rithea, who spoke on behalf of head coach Oup Som An, the club has been hit hard by the loss of players such as leading goalscorer Khim Borey, fellow forwards Um Kompheak and To Vanthan, and defensive midfielder Nhem Piseth. "This problem has affected our game plan, and we have been trying to find a solution by introducing other players," said Long Rihtea said just moments after his team fell to Khemara Keila by a lone goal last Saturday. "We hope to improve further as the league progresses."

The team has registered the maximum 30 players allowed by the Football Federation, but all are under 23 years of age with many representing the national team: nine players in the under-23 team, and six players in the under-19 team. MND is the only Cambodian Premier League team without a foreign player, which many soccer pundits have blamed for the team's poor showing this season. Coach Long Rithea stated that it's the decision of the club's management to install a policy of not signing foreign players. "They [the management] want to develop the local players," Long Rithea remarked.

However, the assistant coach, who played of the Army team from 1995-2005, noted a lack of physicality and experience due to the youthfulness of the squad. "We have assembled players since 2006, and most are very young ... so they are [still] learning," he said.

Long Rithea is realistic that the club can squeeze into the top four by the end of the season and, having played the top teams already, they are looking to capitalise on the weaknesses of teams lower down the table in their remaining fixtures.

MND have lost all three of their games in the second half of the season, 1-3 to Phnom Penh Crown July 11, 0-2 to Preah Khan Reach July 18 and 0-1 to Khemara Keila last Saturday. They face second from bottom Post Tel this Sunday at 2pm.

Khemara Keila's Adeleke Eleshin (right) has moved to play in the Thai Premier League after two years in the CPL.

Eleshin packs his boots for Thailand
Khemara Keila defender Adeleke Eleshin has signed for Thailand club Bangkok Glass for an undisclosed amount. The Nigerian-born defender, who won the 2008 CPL season and 2009 Samdech Hun Sen Cup with Phnom Penh Crown before joining Khemara Keila earlier this season, finally got his clearance from the club on Monday to leave. Eleshin will be joining fellow compatriot Gbenga Ajayi at the club currently second in the Thai Premier League (TPL), which entered its second round last Sunday.

"I am delighted to be moving to Thailand," said Eleshin. "With the experience I have [from] playing for Phnom Penh Crown and Khemara Keila, I hope to do well."

The lanky defender, who also can play in midfield, was originally signed by Thai Ports Authority, but has been loaned to Bangkok Glass for the rest of the TPL season, after which he will return to Thai Port.

Ironically, Eleshin will come up against his former club Phnom Penh Crown next month when Bangkok Glass play them in the quarterfinals of the Singapore Cup. First leg is slated for August 26 with the second leg on September 2.

Photos by Nick Sells (

Basketball coach returns from US scouting

The Cambodian national basketball team train in the dimly lit inside sports hall of Olympic Stadium Tuesday under the watchful eye of Coach Koledoye (bottom right).

Cambodian national basketball team coach Augustine Koledoye

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009
Ken Gadaffi

CAMBODIAN national basketball team coach Augustine Koledoye has returned from a month long visit to the US and Canada, where he was searching for Cambodian-born talent to draft into the national team ahead of a busy schedule of games coming up in the later part of the year.

"I have been scouting around for Cambodian-American players, and I found three good players in LA," said Koledoye by telephone, moments after he arrived in Phnom Penh airport. "In fact there are many of them, but I only have hope on those three because the rest are just a bunch of street players."

Many Cambodian players whose families were relocated to the US play for community-based teams in an Asian League. "The players are quite good," remarked Koledoye. "But for their height, they would be able to find their way into the NBA."

According to the Nigerian-born coach, the tallest he was able to find was only 6-foot-2 (1.88 metres), significantly under the NBA players' average height of 6 foot 7 inches, and dwarfed by the likes of China's 7-foot-6 superstar Yao Ming.

Koledoye declined to reveal the players' identities until further discussions with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, but remains confident that they will commit to coming to play for Cambodia in the future. The coach said he has already presented a plan of the team to the players and hopes they can honour a call up to the national team.

The coach also stated that basketball at the SEA Games in December is still in the balance, as the host country Laos has requested to write off the discipline due to lack of facilities. However, regional basketball superpowers Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines are unhappy with Laos' decision and are seeking an alternative venue.

Koledoye, who doubles as sports director and after school coordinator at Northbridge International School, revealed that Thailand are prepared to host the event in a town close to Laos border, but has received no official verdict yet. "The big basketball countries want to offer help ... but Laos is not budging," complained the Cambodia coach. .

Photos by Nick Sells (

CBF announces its events calender

Photo by: Cambodian Baseball Federation
Young Cambodians practice playing baseball with donated equipment at the Baribo ballpark near Kampong Chhnang town in 2007.

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

Cambodian Baseball Federation publishes a complete schedule including annual league and province tournament as well as dates for national team training and tryouts among events

CAMBODIAN Baseball Federation (CBF) President Joe Cook, who lives and works as a chef in Alabama and who makes establishing baseball in Cambodia his life pursuit, has emailed the Post an extensive calendar listing upcoming events organised by the Federation.

First up was the return of the Cambodian national teams to training July 25 that saw 118 baseball hopefuls turn up at Baribo ballpark, near Kampong Chhnang Saturday to tryout for squads.

Of the players that attended, 57 were chosen to stay on for further training, although this number is likely to drop to 20-30 over the few next weeks as funds run low.

Coaches bring technology
A big boost for the development of the national league is the August 1 arrival of five American coaches from Oregon, who will stay in Baribo village for five days, or possibly more, bringing technical equipment such as laptops and digital cameras to help players improve their hitting, pitching and fielding.

Also planned is to send Cambodian coaches and umpires to different schools to help train students and popularise the game. Currently, the federation has 11 former players that have retired. Five are to be chosen to become national team coaches, while the remaining six will take up other roles in the federation, such a management staff.

Players divide into three
The players will keep training until September 14, when they will be drafted into three separate teams of 15, based in either Baribo, Kampong Thom or Kampong Speu.

The Baribo ballpark has received significant upgrades such as extra batting nets, dugout and pitching mound renovation, replacement roof for the clubhouse and a grass-trimming for the entire field, not an simple task without a mower.

Kampong Speu ballpark is the newest addition to the baseball setup, with owner Kevin Kim promising completion in early November.

Photo by: Cambodian Baseball Federation
Joe Cook poses with his beloved baseball equipment in front of Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat temple.

Pakistan event 80 percent
From August 23-28, the Asian Baseball Federation (BFA) are scheduled to hold a South and West Asian Cup competition in Lahore, Pakistan. Nations slated to participate in the event include Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, as well as the hosts. However, in light of the recent terrorist attacks there, the BFA have yet to decide whether it is a safe venue, and Cook suggested the competition has around an 80 percent chance of going ahead.

October 5 sees exhibition games in prelude to the start of the Major league season on October 12, with the Little League and Youth League seasons also starting two days later. Cook has stressed an emphasis on developing these leagues to develop future talent for the national team and major league. All games are to be played at Baribo, although it is unclear if they will follow a regular schedule, and the season ends next February.

A trip to Vietnam and an invitation to the Malaysian team, whom Cambodia historically beat 20-8 in the Asian Baseball Cup May 28, has been discussed for October, although not confirmed.

Biggest-ever tournament
The CBF's event of the year is the province tournament, held November 23-27. Cook declares this year's competition, now in its sixth edition, as the biggest in the federation's history, which conincides with the CBF's seven-year anniversary.

Despite the Baribo team's having won all of the previous tournaments, a team from Banteay Meanchey are apparently set to steal the crown.

The federation are yet to decide upon the exact details of the tournament, although an August 12 meeting in the residence of Nhem Thavy, the Kampong Thom-based federation official, is set to help clarify rules and regulations amongst the teams. The meeting will also be attended by members of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the National Olympic Committee.

Not safe to visit, says Cook
Cook mentioned briefly by phone about the contempt that meets him when he travels to Cambodia, citing animosity from other sports federation officials over his occupancy, rather than a Cambodian's, of the CBF presidency. "There are many people that really hate me," said Cook, hinting that his life is in danger each time he visits his homeland. "But I will die for my love of baseball," he declared.

Cook stated that he will not allow corruption to plague his federation by allocating a Cambodian dignitary as president, although he said the reason officials are so angry with him is that they believe he is using the federation to extort money himself. "Why would I do that?" complained Cook. "Its my hard-earned money in the first place that funds the federation."

One hopes Cook would consider relinquishing his position as president to a suitable candidate to appease the federations and ministries, and thus allow him to concentrate on daily happenings as a general secretary.

With the CBF desperate for sponsorship and funding in what has proved to be an expensive pastime, Joe Cook needs to attract all the help he can get.

"People can donate anything," he said eagerly. "Even a hundred dollars will buy an advertising spot on the shirts. Everything helps [our cause]."

Currently, the CBF rely on Cook's private funding and various donations from baseball federations around the globe, including the US Major League and the Japanese Baseball Federation.

CPL matches reshuffled

The Phnom Penh Post
Friday, 31 July 2009

PHNOM PENH - After a full round of Cambodian Premier League matches that left the order completely unchanged, round 13 fixtures have been rearranged to accommodate teams missing squad members at the U-19 competition in Vietnam. Phnom Penh Crown can go top for the first time this season with a win over Post Tel Club, although Preah Khan Reach can regain their throne after playing their game in hand next week. Meanwhile, Build Bright United and Spark FC could momentarily break into the Super 4 with victories before Naga Corp's game Wednseday.

Cambodia will receive 33000000$ from Japan for 3 projects

Sex slave tells story to stop trafficking

Woman on campaign to end global child prostitution

31st July 2009

TORONTO -- In the years after Somaly Mam was stolen from the streets of Cambodia and sold into the sex trade, she ran to several people for help but got none.

More than two decades later, she hopes that by sharing her tale around the globe, others will be moved to give the countless faces of the flesh trade the help she so desperately needed.

Mam doesn't know her birth name -- she was orphaned as a young child.

She doesn't know her exact age, but figures she is about 39 and was "12 or 13" when she was sold by a man posing as her grandfather into years of slavery.

During an interview yesterday in front of Metropolitan United Church, where she, The Body Shop and Beyond Borders launched a campaign to stop sex trafficking, Mam said she didn't know what a brothel was either -- before she was forced to work in one.

Mam, who has rescued thousands of children from the sex trade in Cambodia, is travelling the globe with The Body Shop, which promises to donate a chunk of money from every bottle of Soft Hands Kind Heart cream sold in Canada to the Somaly Mam Foundation and Beyond Borders, the Canadian affiliate of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes).

"We are also human beings, even if we are victims," Mam said. "Who wants to be a victim? Who wants to be sold in a brothel? Who wants to have all the clients rape you every night? Who wants it? No one wants it."

Beyond Borders president Rosalind Prober said she hopes the Stop Sex Trafficking campaign will spread "the message of hope" for the countless victims within our borders.

"We have always said that we were a country of freedom, a country of growth and prosperity, but you can't have that when our most vulnerable group, our children, are being exploited and that's being accepted," said Winnipeg MP Joy Smith, who is pushing the federal government to create a national strategy to combat human trafficking and pass a bill that will mean minimum five-year sentences for child traffickers.

"We don't want to launch a campaign that upsets people so much that they just switch it off," The Body Shop spokesman Shelley Simmons said. "We want them to know that with Somaly's organization and ECPAT, there are solutions."


New Form of Drug-resistant Malaria Spreads in Cambodia


A malaria that resists the drug artemisinin, which was considered a wonder cure for the disease, has been spreading rapidly in Cambodia, causing concern that it could spread globally.

The drug, which is popular because it is fast-acting, has few side effects and was almost 100 per cent effective, is the first choice for combating the parasitic infection, which kills about a million people each year.

But a study has found that malaria patients in the province of Pailin in western Cambodia are taking far longer than normal to recover, and many are not recovering at all, reports.

The findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday, are expected to add urgency to efforts to halt the spread of the new strain which experts say could lead to millions more deaths from the disease.

The report comes on the same day researchers in Europe claimed a significant breakthrough, using mosquitoes themselves as a way to a potential malaria vaccine.

In the study conducted at Radboud University in the Netherlands volunteers using the drug chloroquine were given gradual exposure to malaria-infected mosquitoes.

The experiment produced dramatic results, with all 10 subjects in the vaccine group all acquiring immunity to malaria, while five others in a non-vaccinated comparison group did not, reports.

With signs of artemisinin-resistance occurring in Cambodia and Thailand, Dr Dondorp says swift action is required to contain the spread.

"Preventing the spread of resistant parasites when they emerge is crucial," he says. "The use of combination therapies is very important for this. I would like to see a ban on artesunate monotherapy except for specific cases," Science Daily reports.

Confronting Malaria and Drug Resistance on the Thai-Cambodia Border

OCHRAB, Cambodia In this reporter's notebook, NewsHour correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro writes about tracking the growing resistance to the malaria drug artemisinin in western Cambodia.
By Fred de Sam Lazaro, NewsHour correspondent

It is in the remote villages carved out of forests along Cambodia's border with Thailand that you get a keen sense of the challenge in containing the malaria parasite, which has withstood numerous attempts at eradication over the decades.

It now threatens to outfox medicine's last line of effective drugs.

A NewsHour crew accompanied a team from Cambodia's National Malaria Control Program to Ochrab village, two bumpy hours from the nearest public health center in Thasanh.

Here, after asking around about those who might be ill, we found a gaunt 23-year-old Pin Sreymom. Too weak to tend the family's patch of land with her parents, she sat outside the family home, a one-room wood structure perched a few feet above ground on stilts.

Inside, her 19-year-old brother Pin Vantim lay bedridden by the searing fever that is a hallmark of malaria. He had rejected all offers to address his declining health. Meanwhile, his sister took some medicines bought from a neighbor.

With cajoling, the siblings agreed to be tested for plasmodium falciparum, the most lethal malaria parasite, which kills hundreds of Cambodians each year. A health worker mixed the blood specimens with a blue fluid, spread them on glass slides and set a timer for 30 minutes -- time enough to set up a microscope and probe their hosts' reticence to seek free treatment offered at the regional center.

Her brother is afraid of drugs and injections, explained Sreymom. For her part, leaving their house unattended was simply out of the question, she said. The journey would take too long, imperiling their modest livelihood and belongings and the motorcycle taxi ride is both unaffordable and uncomfortable.

So Sreymom made do with a sachet of pills from a neighbor. The label suggested it contained a full four-day course of the government-approved combination therapy for malaria. Sreymom decided to take only some of the cocktail of tablets, a common practice, often done to conserve a precious commodity.

Her case deeply worries doctors like Darapiseth Sea, of Cambodia's malaria control program. For one thing, Sea could not certify the authenticity of the drugs. Counterfeits are widespread here. Imported mostly from China they may contain none of the drug's active ingredients or - worse - only a portion of what's required. Even in cases where the drugs are genuine, patients often stop taking them once they feel better. However it occurs, such partial dosing means the parasite may not be eliminated from the body and can begin to develop resistance to the drug.

That's what happened with earlier antimalarials, like Chloroquine and Mefloquine. New studies show a similar pattern, a small but disturbing decline in the efficacy of artemisinin, modern medicine's last effective weapon against P. falciparum, says Mark Fukuda, co-author of one of the recent studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Fukuda is a Bangkok-based lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, one of several international agencies launching a concerted joint effort to contain the problem here.

Cambodia's health officials must coax patients to take only the approved drug combinations, which mix in a portion of artemisinin with older anti-malarial drugs, which are far less effective by themselves. Doctors want to preserve the potency of artemisinin and use it as a solo drug for only the most severe cases.

The government must make it easier and cheaper for patients to get unadulterated drugs -- the most effective way to put knock-off drug sellers out of business. And health workers must convince patients to take the full dosage, even after they feel better.

The goal is to get information and medicines to vulnerable people, along with treated bed nets that can shield them from mosquitoes, which spread the parasite as they pierce the skin of one human victim after another.

It is a daunting task in a region still suffering the legacy of decades of brutal warfare. Roads are poor to non-existent in a landscape where signs warning of unexploded mines are common.

And the government must find more efficient ways to deliver care, such as training local volunteers to conduct surveillance. That may become easier with the advent of promising new rapid test kits. The stop at the Pin residence alone took almost an hour for the malaria team we followed, a tedious rate of productivity.

When the timer went off, the microscope confirmed what seemed obvious to the visiting team. Pin Sreymom's blood samples showed some parasites. However, her brother's levels were life-threatening and required immediate intervention.

Still, Vantim adamantly refused to travel for treatment - an intravenous course of pure artemisinin for his advanced case. In the full glare of an international news crew backing up the malaria team, he finally agreed to take a less-optimal course of pills. The team could only hope he would complete the dosage. There are no resources yet to follow up on his case.

It was a long morning's work in the farthest reaches of the global malaria pandemic. The stakes are huge. Resistant malaria would spell catastrophe if it spread to sub-Saharan Africa, where the disease already kills 3,000 children every day. With the ease of global travel, Fukuda says, we're one plane ride away from that epidemiologic leap.