Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Top Commanders Meet Over Border Dispute : Preah Vihear temple hostilities over






Floating villages in Combodia

www.chinaview.cn
2009-08-25

Children play on Tonle Sap Lake, northwest of Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Aug. 19, 2009.(Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

Local fishmen return home after a day's work by boat on Tonle Sap Lake, northwest of Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Aug. 19, 2009.(Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

Foreign tourists take a tour by boat on Tonle Sap Lake, northwest of Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Aug. 19, 2009.(Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

Local residents live on a floating water dwelling on Tonle Sap Lake, northwest of Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Aug. 19, 2009.(Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

Local vendors sell vegetables and fruits on a boat on Tonle Sap Lake, northwest of Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Aug. 19, 2009.(Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

Local residents rest on a boat on Tonle Sap Lake, northwest of Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia, on Aug. 19, 2009. Tonle Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, covering an area of 2,500-3,000 square kilometers during the dry season. In recent years, Tonle Sap Lake has become a famous scenic spot for tourists from all over the world, who have interest in the lifestyle of local residents living in floating villages around the lake. (Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)

Civic Group Opposes House Discussion on Preah Vihear Temple


Yesterday a civic group observing the dispute on Preah Vihear Temple between Thailand and Cambodia petitioned to halt the discussion about a settlement with Cambodia, scheduled for a Parliament meeting this Friday .

The civic group who follows the dispute on Preah Vihear temple, led by Mom Luang Valwipa Jaroonroj์, Thepmontri Limpapayom and Veera Somkwamkid, submitted a petition calling for a postponement of the house discussion about a temporary agreement between Thai and Cambodia over the disputed ruins and land.

The group urged the House to call off the discussion until a transparent public hearing on this issue was held. They feel that the temporary bilateral settlement will eventually lead to the listing of the Preah Vihear temple as a Cambodian World Heritage site with Thai endorsement. If it happens, the group
says Thailand will lose its sovereignty in the 4.6 square kilometer overlapping border area.

Today at the Parliament, there will be a seminar about the overlapping border area with a presentation of evidence that shows the Foreign Affairs Ministry supporting the listing of Preah Vihear Temple as Cambodia's World Heritage.

On the other issues at the upper House meeting yesterday, the Senate resolved yesterday to extend the discussion about the borrowing act that would enable the Finance Ministry to pull in 400 billion baht for another thirty days after the Senate earlier endorsed its draft.

The senators also grilled the Prime Minister over the relocation of operations at Don Muang Airport to Suvarnabhumi Airports, tax collection, management of funds generated from the government bond issuance, political reform and the decentralization of power to local administrative bodies.

Thai, Cambodian army chiefs say temple hostilities over


Tue, 25 Aug 2009
Author : DPA

Phnom Penh - Cambodian and Thai armed forces chiefs said 13 months of sometimes-fatal hostilities around the ancient Preah Vihear temple are at an end, local media reported Tuesday. At least seven soldiers from both sides were killed in occasional clashes around the temple complex since mid-2008 in a tense standoff that has had other members of the ASEAN regional bloc concerned.

At a meeting on Monday between military top brass from both sides in Phnom Penh, General Songkitti Jaggabatra, the Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, said the dispute would no longer be allowed to damage relations between the two kingdoms.

"I would like to clarify again that there will be no more problems between Thailand and Cambodia. The border will not be the cause of any further disputes," he said in remarks carried by the Phnom Penh Post newspaper.

His opposite number, General Pol Saroeun, echoed that.

"We have the same view. Our goal is to achieve peace and solidarity with each other as siblings," Pol Saroeun said.

Their meeting came just days after Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Cambodia would cut the number of troops stationed at Preah Vihear after Thailand reduced its forces to just 30 soldiers.

The 11th-century Hindu temple, which sits on Cambodia's northern border with Thailand, was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 by the World Court. Last year the UN's cultural body UNESCO added Preah Vihear to its World Heritage List, a move that rankled Thai nationalists who still contest the ownership of the site.

Cambodia and Thailand have yet to delineate much of their 804-kilometre long common border
.
Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 24/08/2009: Day 63 in Duch’s trial at the ECCC © John Vink/ Magnum

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

By Stéphanie Gée
24-08-2009

Due to progress in the trial and the withdrawal by some civil parties of their request to testify before the Chamber, only Monday August 24th was devoted to the testimony of the last civil parties who requested it. At this pace, hearings may be over by the end of September and the office of the co-Prosecutors and the defence would then enjoy a period – still undetermined to this day – to prepare their arguments and pleas. Mrs Chum Neou was finally able to share her full testimony, which was fragmented as it was spread over last Thursday and this Monday and interrupted three times. A former Khmer Rouge who was “betrayed” by the Angkar, she reported her aunt had never forgiven her for being one of them. As for Mrs Chhin Navy, she said she had made peace with her sister who denounced her husband to the militia. However, that act of forgiveness seemed to have been a half-hearted one…

A story told for the first time in 32 years
Mrs Chum Neou was now in her sixties and had joined the revolutionary ranks voluntarily in 1971. She resumed her story where she had stopped on Thursday and talked about the death of a son aged barely a few months, whom she was unable to care for adequately. She was there for him, for her husband, disappeared at S-21, and for herself, since she was detained at S-24 (Prey Sar). “It is the first time today in 32 years that I can talk about these things. Every time I remember these events, I cannot help crying,” the civil party said. Reviving these scattered memories overwhelmed her with emotion and maybe prevented her from being very “consistent,” she admitted. Everything came back to her in a disorderly fashion. 



Her meeting with Duch
She recounted in detail her life at Prey Sar, which re-education centre nature she found out on the site. Despite the hardships, she continued, she did not cry at the time to “prove” she had been re-educated properly. And indeed, to her utmost surprise, she survived, she said. In the forest, near Omleang, still under Khmer Rouge surveillance, in early January 1979, Mrs Chum Neou reported she met Duch, whose house she had been summoned to for attempting to escape. “He took his gun out of its holster and pointed the muzzle at my forehead. I was certain that the safety mechanism was on and I was determined to fight to get rid of that gun. I was not scared. […] He asked me how many days I had stayed there. I replied I had been there since 1977. He seemed surprise and asked me how come I had managed to stay there that long but I said I didn’t know why. He then told me it was great that I had stayed that long and was still in good shape.” However, she assured judge Lavergne that Duch did not accompany the gesture with threats. She added it was not the first time she saw him as she said she surprised him twice in 1978, when he had come to “inspect work in the rice fields” at S-24. She returned to her village in 1980 to find the distressing news that all her relatives had died.


Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 24/08/2009: Chum Neou, civil party who lost her husband and new-born baby, on a screen in the press room on Day 63 in Duch’s trial at the ECCC © John Vink/ Magnum

Joining as civil party to break away from the Khmer Rouge
François Roux, Duch’s international lawyer – back after two weeks away at the international tribunal for Lebanon –, returned to Mrs Chum Neou’s involvement in the Khmer Rouge movement. The decision had been made “because I was very angry that we suffered from the capitalists and the American imperialists” and “I wanted to free the country of those people.” As the leader of the girls in her commune, she quickly became in charge of bringing ammunitions and supplies to the troops on the frontline. “Did you feel that you served the Angkar, but the Angkar betrayed you?”, the lawyer asked her. “That is correct.”

“During that period, you lost not only your husband, but also other relatives. When you returned to your village, did people still consider you as a Khmer Rouge? And still today, do people see you as a former Khmer Rouge?” The civil party took a breath: “It is not that I cannot answer this question. But I am feeling pain now. My aunt was in such a rage when I met her again. She said it was because of me that her husband was dead. That was a great suffering for me. The accused has apologised repeatedly. But I obviously cannot accept it. I bowed before my aunt to ask her forgiveness for the death of her husband and he was a blood relative of mine. She did not accept. […] A word of apology by the accused before this Chamber is not enough! I bowed and I presented my apologies to my aunt and she rejected them. When I had a chance, I applied to join as civil party so I could speak in the name of my relatives who were victims and prove that I am not a Khmer Rouge member, that I am loyal to the Nation and I felt betrayed by that group!”

The accused did not question the fact that Mrs Chum Neou spent time at S-24 and her husband found death at S-21. However, he specified that if he did go to Prey Sar, he “never let people see [him].” He then denied he could have pointed a gun to her forehead: “I did not behave like that.”

The incomprehension remains
Mrs Chhin Navy, 70 years old, took the stand. This “April 17th,” according to Khmer Rouge lexicon, lost her husband, a former deputy president of civil aviation at Pochentong, at S-21 and said she since lived “in despair,” with the same questions haunting her. “Why my husband? Why my aunt? Why my mother-in-law? Why my sister? Why did a total of eight people in our families die, drowned in the river or taken by truck to be killed at the foot of the mountain? […] I am extremely grateful to this court that is seeking to give us justice. […] I hope human beings will never be as cruel as Pol Pot and his henchmen were.”

A tragedy impossible to forget
She was very agitated and her story was entangled, but her lawyer did not come to her rescue. After one hour, president Nil Nonn invited her to focus on the period when her husband was detained at S-21.

When she discovered her husband’s photograph at Tuol Sleng in 1980, she could no longer control her crying. Her colleagues then advised her try and forget what happened, focus on her children’s education and think about the future. “But in my mind, I kept imagining very vividly the torture and sufferings inflicted upon my husband.”

Betrayal by a sister made blind by indoctrination
If her older sister betrayed them by accusing Chhin Navy’s husband of being a CIA spy, which resulted in his arrest, it was because she was “indoctrinated” by the communist, the civil party explained, claiming she was no longer angry with that sister. “She denounced my husband and I blamed her for that. But maybe she wanted to be Pol Pot’s wife. That’s why she denounced my husband to the militia.” “Once, I asked her what communism was after all these experiences and sufferings. Now, I know what communism is: it is competition, massacres, people being transferred to Tuol Sleng, betrayal, relatives being denounced and ending up executed…”

“You reap what you sow”
Mrs Chhun Navy found peace in Buddhism and believed in the work of justice. “You get what you plant. You reap what you sow. […] I pity Duch. Maybe people will feel hurt…” She added in the same breath: “But he deserves what is happening to him. My sister also deserves what is happening to her for denouncing my husband to the militia. How could I receive reparation for the suffering I was inflicted? […] Nothing can repair the acts perpetrated under that regime and that my husband suffered,” the widower said, speaking a little chaotically and always holding a handkerchief close to her lips.

A victim who used to be close to Duch
The last civil party to be heard, Mr Touch Monin, a teacher, came to honour the memory of a close cousin, an engineer who returned from USSR and disappeared at S-21 in 1977. He strayed in his statement, recounting his own trajectory under the Khmer Rouge. François Roux intervened to request that the civil party return to the object of his testimony, the fate met by his cousin. It was then discovered that the latter was a friend of Duch, who even accompanied him to the airport when he left for Russia. The accused himself confirmed it, but did not say more on this case…


Kambol (Phnom Penh, Cambodia). 24/08/2009: Villagers going to the hearing on Day 63 in Duch’s trial at the ECCC © John Vink/ Magnum

Cambodia Releases E-Government Guidelines

http://www.bernama.com

PHNOM PENH, Aug 25 (Bernama) -- The agency behind the nationwide e-government released a long-awaited guidelines for the first time, at the end of last week detailing what ministries and other government departments needed to do, to take their services online, a local media reported on Tuesday.

The National Information Communications Technology Development Agency (NIDA) also released information security to ensure government information was kept secure and protected from system intruders, China's Xinhua news agency reported, citing a report from the Phnom Penh Post.

NIDA Secretary General Phu Leewood was quoted as saying that the e-Government Service Deployment Plan was important for building information communication technology (ICT) capacity in govenment and also for tracking progress and what remained to be done.

"This is a master map for us to walk together in the right diection for all [government and private] institutions to get up to speed with the global ICT sector," he said.

Thirty government ministries and institutions received the two sets of guidelines at a seminar last week.

The guidelines were based on a needs analysis conducted at all relevant ministries in 2007 with technical assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

They identify areas in which e-government can be used to build the public service competency of government institutions, provide guidelines for collecting data and help establish a blueprint for expanding government services.

Van Khema, a deputy director at NIDA in Charge of networks, said the key obstacle in the path of the e-government rollout is the connection of all 24 provinces to the central government's information-sharing system via a fibre-optic backbone.

He declined to give a timeline, saying only the infrastructure would be in place "soon".

Called the Provincial Administration Information System Project, the e-government project has a budget of some US$15 million to connect offices within each province to one another, and another US$20 million to connect each province to the government in Phnom Penh.

Three data centers -- in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville -- will act as hubs for surrounding provinces.

-- BERNAMA

Cambodian man spends four years awaiting trial for petty theft


Asia-Pacific News
Aug 25, 2009,

Phnom Penh - A 31-year-old man has spent nearly four years in a Cambodia prison awaiting trial on charges of stealing a mobile phone worth 15 dollars, national media reported.

Roeun Moeun was arrested in October 2005 along with three other men on suspicion of committing the crime, the Cambodia Daily newspaper reported on Tuesday. The other men have since been convicted or released by the provincial court in Kandal outside Phnom Penh.

His defence attorney said when the judge ruled on the original case last year, he omitted Roeun Moeun's name from the ruling. For that reason he was not released.

'It is a serious violation of the rights of the accused,' the lawyer said. 'Why couldn't he receive justice from the court?'

The case appears to have been forgotten in the country's chaotic and inefficient court system. Court officials responsible for investigating the case over the years have been transferred to other provinces, with the result that Roeun Moeun's case was ignored.

Judge Leang Sour, who issued the original ruling last year, told the newspaper that he had been unable to release Roeun Moeun since he did not appear to be facing any charges.

'I returned his case to the prosecutor for further investigation and I never heard about it again,' he said.

In recent months several cases have emerged where suspects have been held for years before facing trial. In August a suspected drug smuggler was sentenced to 38 months in prison after she had spent all but five days of that time awaiting trial.

In response the government's human rights committee is reviewing the number of detainees in pre-trial detention in the nation's 25 prisons.

Under Cambodian law, pre-trial detention is limited to four months in the case of a misdemeanour if the potential sentence carries a term of more than a year.

Horror trial is TV hit in Cambodia

A man in Cambodia watches a live telecast of the trial of chief Khmer Rouge torturer Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch. [Reuters]

Australia Network News
http://australianetworknews.com

Robert Carmichael, Phnom Penh

A half-hour television show has proved a surprise success in Cambodia by telling people about the trial of Comrade Duch, the former Khmer Rouge prison commander.

It has become an important way to tell the country of the crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge regime.

Much television fare in Cambodia is light entertainment.

But this show presented by journalists Neth Pheaktra and Ung Chan Sophea is at the other end of the spectrum.

It deals with the continuing war crimes trial of Comrade Duch - Kaing Guek Eav - the former Khmer Rouge cadre who ran the notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh in the middle and late 1970s.

Diary

Co-presenter Neth Pheaktra told Radio Australia's Connect Asia: "It is a summary of the week of the Duch trial.

"During the 24 minutes of the program we have the summary, the diary of the Duch trial, and also the key points that the witness, the defendant and also the judges reveal in the court."

At least 15,000 people were sent to S-21 prison, and almost all were tortured and executed. As many as two million people are thought to have died during the Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia between 1975 and 1979.

Informing Cambodians of the facts of the country's genocide is a key part of the remit of the joint UN-Cambodian Khmer Rouge tribunal, says tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath.

But that is a challenge in Cambodia, where more than 80 percent of people live in rural areas, and levels of illiteracy are high.

Reach Sambath says TV and radio broadcasts are an important way of informing people.

Another way is physically to bring them to the courtroom, which is located on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Believing

"By the end of this week we had more than 17,000 Cambodians (visit) from across the country," says the spokesman.

"And when they come to the court, which we call 'Seeing is Believing', everybody goes home and they talk with their friends and relatives."

The weekly television show, which is independent of the tribunal's public affairs section, reaches a lot more people than that.

Reach Sambath says the show provides an excellent summary of the week's events for people who are too busy to watch the daily live feed broadcast on television.

The program is the creation of a local production company called Khmer Mekong Films, or KMF, and is funded mainly by the British Embassy.

KMF executive producer, Briton Matthew Robinson, says the broadcaster estimates the show, which runs in the prime lunchtime slot on Mondays and is repeated on Tuesdays, is seen by up to three million of Cambodia's 15 million people.

Presenter Ung Chan Sophea says informing Cambodia's youth of the terrible events under the Khmer Rouge regime is extremely important.

She regularly has young people telling her how much they enjoy the show, and how much they have learned from it.

"I am very happy because I can contribute by participating in this program and helping people to understand."

How Cambodian culture re-emerged after the devastating Pol Pot years

Image via flickr.com
http://www.eturbonews.com
By Tom Fawthrop
Bangkok Post
Aug 25, 2009

The awesome grace and meticulous movements of the performers have entranced audiences since ancient times, an experience now shared with plane-loads of tourists descending on Siem Reap in western Cambodia, the jumping off point for the world's largest temple complex - legendary Angkor Wat.

Dating back to the days of the great Angkor empire that flourished from the 9th to 15th centuries, Cambodian dance is a celebration of the gods, mythology, and the world of the royal palace.

This 144-page, lavishly-illustrated, coffee-table book authored by Denise Heywood, a lecturer on Asian art, brings the reader a fine appreciation of Cambodian dance intertwined with the turbulent history and how it has always been at the core of Khmer culture and identity. The book details and explains the origins and development of the dances, music, and shadow puppetry, all in the context of their spiritual importance as a medium for communicating with the gods.

But Cambodia's recent tragedy brought its great tradition of dance near oblivion. The "Killing Fields" regime of the Khmer Rouge not only killed through slave labor, starvation, and slaughter nearly 2 million people, including 90 percent of artists, dancers, and writers, but it also came close to extinguishing Khmer culture and tradition. Pol Pot's brand new agrarian dystopia had no place for the arts, culture, or any other kind of entertainment except xenophobic songs and Pol Pot propaganda.

Heywood first arrived in Cambodia as a freelance writer in 1994, and her interest in dance was heightened by the extraordinary tale of how a few dancers and choreographers survived the genocidal years from 1975 to 79.

In January 1979, a new Heng Samrin government backed by Vietnam proclaimed the restoration of normal society after four years of the Pol Pot regime had trashed most aspects of family life and the previous society.

A handful of survivors emerged from the darkest era in Cambodian history dedicated to resuscitating their cherished traditions of dance. Actor, poet, and director Pich Tum Kravel and former director of the National Conservatory Chheng Phon were among the cultural stars who miraculously survived.

They became the key people enlisted by the new Ministry of Information and Culture under Keo Chenda, charged with the critical mission of bringing all the surviving dancers together.

The expertise was handed down through the generations from master to pupil and never documented in written form, so everything depended on human memory. The late Chea Samy became the leading teacher at the re-established School of Fine Arts in 1981 (ironically Pol Pot was her brother-in-law).

Piecing together the collective memories of survivors and much of the vast repertory, the performing arts were revived.

When this reviewer saw the post-Pol Pot Cambodian National Dance Company perform in Phnom Penh in 1981, it was a highly-emotional experience. Members of the audience wept. This outpouring of raw emotion encompassed both tears of sadness for those loved ones they would never see again - and tears of joy that Khmer dance was alive again and had risen from the ashes of nihilistic destruction.

Nothing had greater significance for the Khmer people in this process of rebuilding than this revival of the nation's soul and psyche in which dance plays a central role.

While Heywood is to be commended for her documentation of the revival of dance in the 1980s, it is a pity she has wrongly contextualized this cultural renaissance by claiming that "Heng Samrin's Vietnamese government" organized a national arts festival in 1980.

In fact, President Heng Samrin and everyone else in the new government were all Cambodians and not Vietnamese. Somehow the author has been infected with the cold war propaganda emanating from Asean governments and US embassies in the region.

The reality was more complicated. The cultural revival depicted in this book makes it clear that Vietnamese control over security and foreign policy, despite tensions and differences with their Cambodian allies, did not block the re-emergence of Khmer culture that at the same time planted the seeds for future independence.

In 2003, Unesco bestowed formal recognition proclaiming the Royal Ballet of Cambodia to be a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage. And one year later, Prince Norodom Sihamoni, a former ballet choreographer and dancer, was crowned king.

Thai classical dance borrows much from the dance traditions of Angkorian times. After Siam's invasion of Siem Reap in 1431, hundreds of Cambodian dancers were abducted and brought to dance in Ayutthaya, at that time the capital hosting the royal court of the Thai king.

This timely book also mentions that Cambodian choreographer Sophiline Shapiro has, among many other projects, adapted Mozart's Magic Flute to Khmer classical dance as part of a 2006 festival to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the great composer's birth.

This production with many innovations caused a stir among the purists. Shapiro passionately defends her new productions against the critics, telling the author "increasing the repertory of dance will help to preserve it and prevent it from atrophying or becoming a museum piece."

Thai, Cambodian army chiefs say temple hostilities over


Submitted by Sahil Nagpal
Tue, 08/25/2009

Phnom Penh - Cambodian and Thai armed forces chiefs said 13 months of sometimes-fatal hostilities around the ancient Preah Vihear temple are at an end, local media reported Tuesday.

At least seven soldiers from both sides were killed in occasional clashes around the temple complex since mid-2008 in a tense standoff that has had other members of the ASEAN regional bloc concerned.

At a meeting on Monday between military top brass from both sides in Phnom Penh, General Songkitti Jaggabatra, the Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, said the dispute would no longer be allowed to damage relations between the two kingdoms.

"I would like to clarify again that there will be no more problems between Thailand and Cambodia. The border will not be the cause of any further disputes," he said in remarks carried by the Phnom Penh Post newspaper.

His opposite number, General Pol Saroeun, echoed that.

"We have the same view. Our goal is to achieve peace and solidarity with each other as siblings," Pol Saroeun said.

Their meeting came just days after Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Cambodia would cut the number of troops stationed at Preah Vihear after Thailand reduced its forces to just 30 soldiers.

The 11th-century Hindu temple, which sits on Cambodia's northern border with Thailand, was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 by the World Court. Last year the UN's cultural body UNESCO added Preah Vihear to its World Heritage List, a move that rankled Thai nationalists who still contest the ownership of the site.

Cambodia and Thailand have yet to delineate much of their 804-kilometre long common border. (dpa)

Promoting Vietnamese goods at the Cambodian border

25/08/2009

VietNamNet Bridge – Now that demand from Western customers is depressed by the global economic crisis, Vietnamese businesses have been eyeing Cambodia, a neighbouring market to which they have paid little attention in the past.


Fifty Vietnamese businesses joined an ‘export-on-the-spot’ fair on August 23 at the newly-opened Tinh Bien Border Economic Zone (BEZ). The new facility is at a border crossing between Vietnam’s delta province of An Giang and Cambodia’s Takeo province, south of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

The export fair was jointly organized by the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the An Giang province People’s Committee.

Boosting export through bonded zone

A bonded zone has been established, to which businesses can bring goods and contact many prospective buyers from Cambodia, from petty merchants to big distributors. The Vietnamese businesses will not have to pay taxes (VAT and export tariff) on their sales, and they can take advantage of simplified export procedures. Meanwhile, Cambodian distributors will be able to take ownership of goods right on the other side of the border.

Many businesses have expressed their interest in this model of selling goods. Vu Quoc Dung, representing the footware maker, Bita, said that the company had sent 100,000 sample pairs of shoes to distributors in Cambodia a month earlier, and now he had come to Tinh Bien to make direct contacts with partners. Phu An Sinh Company is striving to sell frozen and processed food to Cambodia, while Kem Nghia Company aims to sell low-priced beauticians’ tools.

Many enterprises have successfully contacted Cambodian distributors, while Sacombank has helped businesses in payment procedures.

Setting up direct distribution systems

To boost exports to Cambodia, My Hao Cosmetics Company has decided to recruit a Cambodian sales director. My Hao General Director Luong Van Vinh said that because Cambodian people’s income remains low, they are interested in low cost products. This has prompted My Hao to make products suitable to that market.

The Duy Tan Plastics Company has concluded that Vietnam-made household plasticwares can compete well with Thai products in the Cambodian market, said a representative of that firm. The company’s sales in Cambodia have increased steadily. Vinamit, a farm products processor, has also decided to set up a direct distribution network in Cambodia to boost sales instead of selling goods though agents. Nutifo od said that dairy products for old people and for children will be its key products in Cambodian market.

Exports to Cambodia have been increasing so smoothly that export revenues of HCMC businesses to Cambodia in the first seven months of 2009 increased by 44 percent over the same period of 2008, even though the city’s export revenues in general decreased by 13.9 percent. Medicines, fertilizer, steel, construction materials, cosmetics, fruit, seafood and apparel are in particularly high demand.

The HCM City Trade and Investment Promotion Centre has been tasked with coordination of the export offensive. Four big corporations are expected to support the plan’s implementation: the Saigon Trade Corporation, Saigon Co-op, the Saigon Industry Corporation and Saigon Agricultural Corporation. Another large scale Vietnamese products fair is planned to be held soon in the western Cambodian city of Battambang.


An Giang Province chairman leads marketing for Vietnam made goods

To ensure the success of the export fair at Tinh Bien BEX, Lam Minh Chieu, Chairman of An Giang province led a delegation of Vietnamese businesses to Cambodia to build interest in Vietnamese goods.

Particularly, Chieu asked two Vietnamese enterprises to give pesticide and agriculture technique training to Cambodian farmers on August 22 and 23.

Chieu noted that the economic zones in which the State has made heavy investment ought to be, not simply the places where foreign-made goods can be bought cheaply, but also ‘doors’ that introduce Vietnamese goods to foreign countries.


VietNamNet/NLD

Peace at Preah Vihear: army

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Royal Cambodian Armed Forces General Pol Saroeun and Royal Thai Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Songkitti Jaggabatra leave RCAF headquarters on Monday after agreeing to a peaceful resolution to the 13-month-long military standoff a the Preah Vihear temple complex.


The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Sam Rith

Army brass from both nations say temple hostilities are over for good.

SENIOR military leaders from the Thai and Cambodian armed forces declared an official end to hostilities on the border at Preah Vihear on Monday, stating the shared goal of "peace and solidarity".

In a pivotal meeting between the neighbouring countries, staged at the headquarters of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, commanders from both sides said they drew a definitive line under the territorial dispute that has been simmering for decades.

Addressing an assembled crowd of military dignitaries, representatives of the once-feuding forces - seven of whom have been killed in skirmishes since the conflict entered its most recent phase in July 2008 - heralded a new spirit of cooperation.

General Songkitti Jaggabatra, supreme commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, said the historic border dispute at the site of the 11th-century temple would no longer be allowed to jeopardise diplomatic relations between the two nations.

"I would like to clarify again that there will be no more problems between Thailand and Cambodia," he said. "The border will not be the cause of any further disputes."

In response, RCAF Commander Pol Sareoun insisted that Thailand and Cambodia shared a vision for the future.

"We have the same view," he said. "Our goal is to achieve peace and solidarity with each other as siblings."

The meeting was held after Prime Minister Hun Sen's announcement on Saturday that he plans to slash the number of Cambodian troops stationed at the border. The move was a response to Thailand's decision to reduce the number of its soldiers in the area to just 30.

Speaking during a visit to Pursat province on Saturday, the prime minister said: "Having too many troops up there is not really good. We have a plan to change the deployment a little. If anything happened, it wouldn't take long to send our troops up again, but I hope there won't be any fighting there."

The opposition, however, was less optimistic. Speaking to the Post on Monday, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay insisted the meeting signified nothing new.

"I don't believe the border dispute can be solved through such a meeting," he said.

Son Chhay said such disputes were best resolved via the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and international law. Solving border conflicts of this scale and intensity, he said, should be left to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

"As we already know, we cannot defend our territory by simply negotiating with Thailand," he said.

"Thailand depends on their military power and resources, and they're just delaying this issue as long as possible so that they can eventually demand more of our territory.

"We're waiting for the government to use diplomatic institutions, the legal system and international agreements, such as the 1991 Paris Peace accords, which promised to guarantee our territory." Continuing negotiations with Thailand could, he said, use up valuable financial resources and further jeopardise the stability of Cambodia's faltering economy.


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
RCAF Commander Pol Saroeun and Royal Thai Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Songkitti Jaggabatra leave RCAF headquarters on Monday after agreeing to a peaceful resolution to the 13-month military standoff a the Preah Vihear temple complex.


Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association, echoed Son Chhay's reservations. "We don't have any faith in Thailand's promise," he told the Post. "We have not seen any positive solutions yet."

Rong Chhun, whose organisation had earlier demanded that Thai troops withdraw from the area, said Bangkok was trying to buy time.

He said that despite previous promises made by Thailand to withdraw its troops, many of its soldiers remained stationed on Cambodian soil.

"We have had a lot of meetings, but we have no results," he said. "Our leaders should make the right decision: Don't believe Thailand's promises."

The temple and the territory around it have long been a source of tension between the two countries.

French colonial surveyors in 1907 drew a map showing Preah Vihear perched along the Dangrek mountain range inside Cambodia. Thailand does not regard that map as valid, arguing that an earlier agreement showed the temple alongside a Thai mountain.

Thai troops occupied Preah Vihear in the 1950s, but were forced to leave in 1962 after the World Court accepted Cambodia's ownership claim. Mass demonstrations in Thailand followed the ruling.

Cambodia began the process to have the temple granted heritage status years ago and on July 8, 2008, it was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.

The move again enraged Thai nationalists, who marched on the temple complex and also blamed their government for handing Thai territory over to Cambodia, adding to the political turmoil already engulfing Bangkok.

Shortly after its inscription as a World Heritage site, Thai troops were accused of invading Cambodian land near the temple, sparking the largest buildup of troops and military equipment along the border in years.

In April 2009, more than 319 families were left homeless when a market at the foot of the Preah Vihear temple was destroyed during fighting that razed 264 stalls. The government demanded US$2.1 million in compensation from Thailand, but has yet to receive an official response.

Coastal dredging operation halted: company

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Vong Sokheng

PREAH Sihanouk province customs officials prevented the export of several thousand tonnes of sand to Singapore in a recent raid, officials from the company transporting the material said Monday, adding, however, that it had obtained permission from the government to operate.

Pen Pinith, a supervisor at the Cambodia-based company Dany Trading, said company ships entered waters off of Preah Sihanouk province on August 14 after obtaining permission to carry the sand to Singapore.

He said the ships were raided on Friday, noting that employees aboard the ships had failed to produce official approval documents.

Prime Minister Hun Sen in May announced a ban on sand-dredging for export. In subsequent announcements, he said that dredging could be permitted in areas where damage to the environment could be minimised.

Pen Simon, director of the Customs and Excise Department at the Ministry of Economy, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Sao Sokha, commander of the national Military Police, said he had not yet received a report from officers involved in the raid.

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sand from the Kingdom's rivers and coastal areas have been dredged and shipped to Singapore for use in land-reclamation projects.

Indonesia and the Philippines are among the countries that have banned the practice of dredging because of its destructive impact on riverbeds and shorelines.

Motor taxes spark violent protests

Photo by: Photo Supplied / Peter Olszewski
Motorists protest against motorbike tax enforcement as police struggle to maintain order in Poipet (left) and Siem Reap (right) on Monday.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
May Titthara

Drivers in three provinces express indignation over a directive to enforce the Land Traffic Law.

Police and demonstrators clashed in Siem Reap on Monday over efforts by authorities to collect motor taxes.

Vor Vorn, 31, a resident of Siem Reap who claimed to represent the protesters there, said about 3,000 people had intended to demonstrate along the city's central thoroughfare Pub Street, but that police had prevented many from participating.

"Police blocked the street so we could not get through on our motorbikes," he said. "Several of us tried to crash through the barricades, but the police came and fought with us."

Vor Vorn added that there were no injuries and no arrests made during the rioting in Siem Reap.

"We did not want to make trouble for the police. We just wanted to send a message to the government to reduce the cost of motor taxes," Vor Vorn said.

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We just wanted to send a message ... to reduce the cost of motor taxes.
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The demonstrations followed a directive issued earlier this month by Prime Minister Hun Sen ordering provincial police across the Kingdom to collect motor taxes in accordance with Cambodia's Land Traffic Law.

You Vala, who participated in the protests in Siem Reap, said many drivers own cheap, illegally imported motorbikes because they can't afford legal ones, and that they were uncertain about how much they would be required to pay to properly license their motorbikes.

"If we were rich, we would have purchased proper motorbikes," You Vala said, adding that authorities should blame themselves for not cracking down sooner on those who import motorbikes without paying the necessary taxes.

Siem Reap Governor Sou Phirin was unavailable for comment on Monday, as were provincial customs officials.

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

Demonstrations were also reported in Svay Rieng and Banteay Meanchey, where residents reported that two protesters were briefly detained.

"About a thousand people gathered [in Banteay Meanchey] with their motorbikes and burned tyres to protest the taxes," said local resident Thun Sophea.

Flight of man named in leaflet shows guilt, police chief says

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Meas Sokchea

Man whose name appeared on leaflets has fled to border: nephew.

POLICE have yet to identify the producers of leaflets that characterised Prime Minister Hun Sen as a corrupt "puppet of Vietnam", Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth told the Post Monday, adding that officers would not assume that those whose names were on the leaflets were behind the fliers.

Hundreds of leaflets accusing Hun Sen of damaging the prestige of Khmer culture were distributed through the streets of the capital early Wednesday morning.

Kem Sopheak, whose name appeared along with four others on the leaflets, has denied any involvement in their production. He told the Post last week that he had gone into hiding, and he could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Referring to Kem Sopheak, Touch Naruth, who is heading the investigation, said: "If he has not done anything, then he should not be afraid. We can't detain anyone without clear proof. We have to investigate it first. Like always, we have to do our research."

Touch Naruth called on Kem Sopheak, who said last week that he was a Sam Rainsy Party activist, to meet with authorities to clarify his position, adding that any attempt to remain in hiding would suggest that he was involved.

"If he said he has not done this, and then he tries to escape, that means he's guilty," he said.

A man who identified himself as a nephew of Khem Sopheak named Samnang, said Monday that his uncle had fled to the Cambodian-Thai border.

"If he calls me again I will tell him to clarify with the police, but it's up to him," Samnang said.

Court sets trial date for Ho Vann

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Meas Sokchea

HO Vann, a lawmaker from the Sam Rainsy Party, has been summoned to appear in Phnom Penh Municipal Court on September 9 in connection with a defamation lawsuit filed against him by 22 officers of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

The summons was issued Wednesday by Municipal Court Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun.

Ho Vann was sued earlier this year by the RCAF officials after he made comments to a local newspaper about the officers' academic degrees that were awarded by a Vietnamese military institute.

Although Ho Vann is currently overseas, the citation states that even if he is not present on the trial date, he will be charged in absentia for defamation.

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said Monday that regardless of whether Ho Vann appears in court, a guilty verdict is a foregone conclusion. "This is a political case that the ruling party arranged to threaten the opposition," Yim Sovann said. "We expect the court to follow the order of the ruling party."

Municipal prosecutor Sok Roeun could not be reached for comment. Municipal judge Sin Visal contested this characterisation of the court, however, saying: "No one orders me."

Imprisoned publisher looks seriously ill, say lawyer, NGO

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Hang Chakra appears in Appeal Court earlier this month.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Chrann Chamroeun

Spartan, crowded cells may be taking a toll: Licadho president.

THE health of Hang Chakra has deteriorated since his incarceration, the jailed newspaper publisher's lawyer told the Post on Monday.

Hang Chakra, the publisher of the Khmer Machas Srok newspaper, was convicted in June of defamation and publishing false information in connection with a series of articles published in April and May accusing officials working under Deputy Prime Minister Sok An of corruption. He was sentenced to one year in prison and fined 9 million riels (US$2,187). The Court of Appeal rejected his case on August 11.

Choung Chou Ngy, the lawyer for Hang Chakra, said that his client was currently sick with "a very bad cold", and that he had lost weight. "I feel very concerned about his faltering health," Choung Chou Ngy said.

Kek Galabru, president of the rights group Licadho, said she was "very worried" about Hang Chakra's condition after meeting with him last week. She suggested that poor conditions at Prey Sar prison may be playing a role in his health problems.

"The detention cells are very small but are filled with many prisoners. It is difficult to breathe, and prisoners lack proper sanitation and food, so all in all, it's very easy for them to get diseases," she said.

Am Sam Ath, a technical supervisor for Licadho, said that his organisation would be sending a doctor "early this week" to check on Hang Chakra after being informed of the publisher's ailments by his lawyer and family.

Sam Ny, a deputy director of operations at the Ministry of Interior, said that prison officials are giving due attention to Hang Chakra and other prisoners. "We have doctors stationed at the prison to check up on prisoners' health regularly, but if Hang Chakra's health condition is serious, we will send him for medical treatment at an outside hospital," he said.

Choung Chou Ngy said he was unsure of whether his client would appeal his conviction in the Supreme Court, and that he had worried about Hang Chakra's health problems since his poor performance at the Court of Appeal hearing two weeks ago.

"He couldn't keep his composure during his testimony at the Appeal Court hearing on August 11. He answered questions very differently from how I had counseled him to answer beforehand," Choung Chou Ngy said.

10 loggers still missing after Thai raid: villagers

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Thet Sambath

ODDAR Meanchey province villagers said that at least 10 Cambodian men are still missing after a Thai crackdown on illegal logging last week, though provincial officials said they did not know of any who remain unaccounted for.

Eleven Cambodian men were arrested in Thailand last week in an incident that villagers and officials said turned violent, with Thai soldiers firing weapons at the scene. The loggers are currently awaiting trial at a prison in Thailand's Khun Han district, Sisaket province.

Chhoun Ra, 41, of Oddar Meanchey's Trapaing Prasat district, said that Pol Ben, her 20-year-old son, had not been seen since last week. She named nine other men from several provinces who she claimed were missing as well.

"I've asked local authorities, military officers and policemen to help find the missing men, but they all seem to ignore us," she said.

Leu Chandara, deputy chief of the Thailand-Cambodia relations office at the Chom border gate, said that he believed there were no longer any such cases.

"I have not heard that there are still missing men. I only know of the 11 men who are imprisoned," he said.

Vann Kosal, governor of Trapaing Prasat district, also said he had not heard of any men who remained missing. Officials acknowledged last week that five men were missing and that a search was ongoing.

Pailin brothels closed

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Mom Kunthear

OFFICIALS in Pailin province have ordered the closure of 11 establishments in which customers were able to pay for sex, an anti-human trafficking official said Monday.

Nun Saroeun, deputy director of the provincial Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, said the owners of the establishments had been ordered to sign contracts on August 10 in which they committed to closing last Thursday.

"The police and my staff investigated to find sex services being offered at restaurants, massage parlours and karaoke places, and we found that there were 11 in total," he said, adding that they expected to find more during future investigations.

More civil parties refuse to forgive S-21 commandant

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Cheang Sokha

Former soldier accuses Duch of threatening her with a gun.

AFEMALE Khmer Rouge soldier described for Cambodia's war crimes court on Monday two events taking place shortly after the fall of the communist regime that she said stopped her from forgiving former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, despite his many apologies.

Civil party Chum Noeu, 60, whose husband was sent to Tuol Sleng in 1977 and killed, first told of an encounter with Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, while she and other comrades were fleeing Phnom Penh after the Vietnamese arrived in January 1979.

She said Duch threatened her with a handgun after he was told that she had tried to leave a group of fleeing soldiers.

"I was very polite. I called him 'Brother'. I was not scared. I smiled at him. Before he asked me, he already pulled out his gun ... and he pointed the gun at me," she said, adding that she saw that the weapon's safety was not on at the time.

She went on to describe a reunion with her aunt in Prey Veng province, which also took place not long after the Khmer Rouge defeat.

Because of Chum Noeu's Khmer Rouge affiliation, her aunt blamed her for her uncle's death, she said.

"My aunt was so furious when I met her. She said because of me her husband died. This was a great pain inflicted upon me," she said.

"I knelt down before my aunt to ask for forgiveness for the loss of her husband, but she would not accept it. So even one word of apology from the accused - I cannot accept it."

Asked to respond to Chum Noeu's testimony, Duch flatly denied personally threatening her with a firearm.

"I never pointed a gun at anybody," Duch said.

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How could I be compensated for the suffering I have endured?
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"I had several subordinates to make arrests and they were able to reprimand people."

'Nothing could compensate'
Also Monday, the court heard from civil party Chhin Navy, 70, who cried as she recalled the death of her husband, a former public works and civil aviation employee who was killed in May 1976 after confessing at Tuol Sleng to being a CIA agent.

"I was shocked that a person with such dignity, a person who was treated with respect like my husband could be arrested and detained and badly treated," Chhin Navy said.

"How could I be compensated for the suffering I have endured?

"Nothing could compensate for such acts committed by that regime against my husband," she said.

Dozens of witnesses and civil parties, including foreigners, have testified so far at Duch's trial - the first of five former Khmer Rouge leaders detained by the UN-backed court.

This week, judges are expected to hear from a mental health expert on the effects of the regime on survivors.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

Sidewalk vendors face eviction

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Roadside stalls spill out across Street 271 on Monday.


The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Chhay Channyda

Crackdown to reduce traffic congestion is slated to begin in two weeks.

OVER the next two weeks, Phnom Penh municipal authorities say they will attempt to raise awareness of a ban on sidewalk vendors in the run-up to more stringent enforcement of this provision of the Land Traffic Law.

In a meeting of around 400 government officials at City Hall on Monday, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema said that businesses and vendors who operate on city sidewalks must be informed of the law, so that they have a chance to vacate in an orderly fashion.

Following through on an August 17 directive from Interior Minister Sar Kheng, municipal authorities are to begin enforcing the ban on sidewalk vendors in two weeks' time, beginning with main boulevards such as Monivong, Mao Tse-tung and Kampuchea Krom.

"We are targeting big businesses along the boulevards first. I do not want ordinary people to complain that we are targeting only them," Kep Chuktema said.

Businesses who do not comply with the order will be subject to "administrative measures or legal action", the governor said, though he did not mention specific penalties.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth said Monday that authorities were still deciding how best to inform sidewalk vendors of the ban, which is aimed at reducing traffic congestion.

At the meeting, Kep Chuktema suggested that vehicles equipped with loudspeakers drive through neighborhoods playing the message: "Please do not run businesses on the sidewalk. Good people must respect the law."

Widespread enforcement
The focus on sidewalk vendors comes less than a month after officials ramped up enforcement of other aspects of the Land Traffic Law.

Authorities announced last week that they had temporarily impounded more than 60,000 vehicles, the vast majority of them motorbikes, the drivers of which had been found to be in violation of the law.

That enforcement effort, implemented with an eye towards improving traffic safety rather that reducing congestion, targeted vehicles that lacked licence plates and mirrors as well as motorbike drivers who were not wearing helmets.

Police say man sent sex workers to China

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Chrann Chamroeun

A CHINESE-Cambodian dual citizen was arrested Saturday at a hotel in Tuol Kork district and charged with cross-border human trafficking, Phnom Penh Municipal Police said Sunday.

The suspect, identified as 59-year-old Sitou Man, was apprehended when authorities raided his hotel room, where he was examining two women prior to sending them to China to work in the sex industry, Phnom Penh Municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau Chief Keo Thea said.

"This is a new success for our police department's effort to fight cross-border human trafficking and bring traffickers to answer for their crimes under Cambodian law," Keo Thea said.

The raid followed a lengthy investigation based on tips from Cambodians who had been victimised in the Chinese sex industry, he added.

Sitou Man is suspected of having been involved in trafficking in Cambodia for more than 10 years, police said, adding that he is a dual national who has lived in Cambodia since the 1970s.

Keo Thea said Monday that the suspect had been sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court and charged with cross-border human trafficking.

Police are currently searching for other Cambodian women suspected of being victimised by Sitou Man in an effort to bring additional charges.

Investment approvals plunge, eclipsed by huge 2008 projects

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
Four major development projects approved in the first seven months of 2008, including a $1 billion plan to upgrade Bokor Mountain Hill Station, above, contributed to heavily inflated investment figures last year, officials said.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Chun Sophal

Figures show $6.86bn drop in applications to invest in first seven months, but analyst says there is still growth in key industrial, agricultural sectors

AUS$6.86 billion drop in investments approved by the Cambodian government during the first seven months of 2009, compared with the same period in 2008, can be attributed to a small number of massive projects greenlighted last year, according to official figures.

Detailed figures from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government's investment arm, show that the value of approved investments dropped 82 percent, from $8.34 billion to $1.48 billion.

The biggest hit came in the tourism and service sectors, figures show.

"This year, the value of approved projects related to the tourism and service sectors is less than last year," said Youn Heng, deputy director of the Evaluation and Incentive Department at the Cambodian Investment Board, a body of the CDC.

A sector analysis shows nine tourism-related projects worth $487.1 million were approved between January 1 and July 30 this year.

This compares with nine projects worth $6.97 billion in the corresponding period last year.

These include Evergreen Success and Asia Resort Development's proposed $1.8 billion development in Ream National Park; Sokha Hotel Co's proposed $1 billion Bokor mountain development in Preah Monivong National Park; and a $3.8 billion proposal by Chinese company Union Development Group Co to build a coastal development in Koh Kong.

Removing these, the three biggest tourism-related projects from that period, worth a combined $6.6 billion, from the total actually shows an increase of around $117 million in tourism-sector approvals.

The services sector was also swelled last year by GS Cambodia Development Co's $967 million International Finance Centre complex.

However, there were just two approvals in the services sector this year - a $234.6 million telecommunications project and a $6.8 million water supply deal.

Silver lining
Stripping out last year's statistical outliers, worth $7.56 billion, however, actually results in a jump in approvals over the period from $780 million to this year's $1.48 billion, the figures show.

A project-by-project breakdown of approvals was unavailable Monday to determine whether any significant projects were approved this year.

But Kang Chandararot, director of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, said the apparent decline in investment in the service and tourism sectors was not as important for the developing economy as the increase in the agriculture and industrial sectors.

"We had some major investments in the service and tourism sectors last year, and this year we may or may not attract investment in these sectors," Kang Chandararot said.

"But we don't think that it is a bad sign for our economy," he added.

CDC figures show 15 agriculture projects worth $426 million were given the go-ahead in the first seven months of this year, compared with three projects worth $81 million a year earlier.

The garment sector saw a downturn in investments in line with a global drop in export orders, but 18 projects worth $68.8 million were still approved over the period.

Three shoe manufacturing applications worth $7.12 billion were also approved.

The industrial sector as a whole, which includes garments, saw 38 projects worth $323.6 million approved in the first seven months of this year, almost double the value of the 42 projects worth $173.9 million approved in the corresponding period last year.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY NATHAN GREEN

ANZ's new subregion seen as plus at subsidiary

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Nathan Green

THE establishment by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ) of a new Indochina subregion is "undoubtedly a positive" for its Cambodia subsidiary, ANZ Royal, CEO Stephen Higgins said Monday.

The subregion has been set up as part of a reshuffle across the bank's Asia Pacific, Europe and America Division after the acquisition this month of selected Asian assets from Royal Bank of Scotland for US$550 million.

Higgins said ANZ was the only bank with a "meaningful presence" across Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and that it was therefore "natural" for the bank to bring its businesses under one umbrella.

"This provides ANZ with a unique advantage, particularly in terms of serving larger corporates," he said. "While there isn't likely to be much change on a day-to-day basis, it is undoubtedly a positive for the Cambodia business, as we will be better able to leverage off the considerable investment that ANZ is putting into Vietnam."

The CEO of the Indochina subregion will be Thuy Dam, who will continue in her current role as CEO in Vietnam.

E-government guidelines released

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An addresses a forum on e-government this month in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
May Kunmakara

Directions instruct state departments in gathering and distributing information, maintaining security and expanding services throughout the country via a single $35m computer network

THE agency behind the nationwide e-government rollout released long awaited guidelines at the end of last week detailing what ministries and other government departments needed to do to take their services online.

The National Information Communications Technology Development Agency (NIDA) also released Thursday information security to ensure government information was kept secure and protected from system intruders.

NIDA Secretary General Phu Leewood said Monday that the e-Government Service Deployment Plan was important for building information communication technology (ICT) capacity in government and also for tracking progress and what remained to be done.

"This is a master map for us to walk together in the right direction for all [government and private] institutions to get up to speed with the global ICT sector," he said.

The e-government network will be key to building public confidence in the government, particularly rural areas, Phu Leewood added.

Thirty government ministries and institutions received the two sets of guidelines at a seminar at the Hotel InterContinental in Phnom Penh last week.

The guidelines were based on a needs analysis conducted at all relevant ministries in 2007 with technical assistance from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

They identify areas in which e-government can be used to build the public service competency of government institutions, provide guidelines for collecting data and help establish a blueprint for expanding government services.

Van Khema, a deputy director at NIDA in charge of networks, said the key obstacle in the path of the e-government rollout is the connection of all 24 provinces to the central government's information-sharing system via a fibre-optic backbone. He declined to give a timeline, saying only the infrastructure would be in place "soon".

"Now, the problem we are facing is the lack of infrastructure," he said.

Called the Provincial Administration Information System Project, the e-government project has a budget of US$15 million to connect offices within each province to one another, and another $20 million to connect each province to the government in Phnom Penh. Three data centres - in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville - will act as hubs for surrounding provinces. Additional reporting Ith Sothoeuth

Police Blotter: 25 Aug 2009

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Lim Phalla

DEFECATION CHARGE LEADS TO BEATING
Police last weekend arrested a spoiled teenager and charged him with attacking and sexually harassing his 71-year-old grandmother in Kandal province's Kien Svay district in late 2007. Suon Sam Neang, 19, is accused of hitting his grandmother with a wooden stick, undressing her and pushing her head down into the mud after she accused him of defecating on her pile of straw.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

MACHETE ATTACK BY MAN DENIED DINNER
A 36-year-old man described as a drunkard in Battambang province attacked his wife and daughter with a machete Thursday after they neglected to cook him dinner when he returned home at midnight after a round of heavy drinking. The victims, identified as Pich Samul, 39, and Pich Nang, 16, sustained serious injuries and are recovering in hospital. Witnesses said the suspect, Try Trin, 36, had a history of binge drinking and physical abuse.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

OUT-OF-CONTROL VAN KILL 4, INJURES 3
Four men died instantly when two vans collided on National Road 7 in Kampong Cham province on Friday morning. Police identified three of the dead, all from Dambae district, as Tea Chhout, 35, Houn Kim Hay, 14, and Leng Vau, 18. The fourth victim was unidentified. Witnesses said the accident was caused when a van driven by Hak Tho, 25, turned on its side and collided with a van driven by Tea Chhout heading in the opposite direction. Three others were severely injured in the accident, including a motorcyclist who was also hit by Hak Tho's van.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

PESTICIDE-WIELDING THIEVES NABBED
A band of three thieves accused of using pesticide to poison guard dogs was arrested Friday in Battambang province. Police said the suspects confessed to having stolen from many houses throughout the Kingdom, adding that they scouted out targets during the day and broke into them at night. A fourth thief remains at large.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Leading a Korean invasion: K-Pop and all that Hallyu

Jeong Ji-hoon - better known as Rain. Photo Supplied

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Joel Quenby and Tha Piset

Khmer parents beware: It seems that Cambodian youths, like most of their Asian counterparts, have contracted the contagious Korean pop-culture craze

Like image-conscious students everywhere, 19-year-old Nguon Dalen spends time on his appearance. Mostly on his hair, it appears.

Nguon Dalen's lovingly sculpted coif, a multilayered mullet, looks distinctly high-maintenance.

"I like Korean hairstyles," he shrugs. "I'm young, so I need something new. I especially like Rain's style: His hair and clothes help him look handsome."

Nguon Dalen has been into Korean fashion since he was in high school. And he's not alone.
Many young Cambodians are likewise seeking to emulate "K-Stars", as they are colloquially known.

It seems that, having flooded Asia's airwaves and won the hearts of fans region-wide in the process, "the Korean Wave" - a pop culture phenomenon also dubbed "Hallyu" - has washed onto Cambodian shores.

In November 2008, Glen Felgate, general manager of Cambodian Television Network (CTN), told Television Asia Plus magazine that Korean dramas were particularly popular in Cambodia. One, How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor, even visited the Kingdom on a location shoot last year.

"The reason many youngsters adapt to new waves of foreign pop culture is that young, influential Cambodian singers and film stars have followed the examples set by their Korean counterparts," says Vong Emsaman, sociology professor of the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

"We cannot stop the behaviour of those young people," he says.

But why would anyone want to?

The professor says he feels that the revealing ensembles favoured by Korean starlets impact negatively on the way well-mannered Cambodian girls clothe themselves.

His answer hints at a generational divide that has caused strife between parents and teenagers since Elvis first wiggled his hips on American network television.

Youth subcultures - from flower-power-spouting hippies in the '60s to the phlegm-gobbing punks of the late '70s - mutate over the years, but the nature of the conflict they bestride stays essentially the same.

After all, it's well-established that adolescents, if graced with the freedom and means, often instinctively rebel against their elders, seeking to distinguish themselves from the "squares", using fashion and pop culture tropes as their usual weapons of choice.

But the Korean Wave has been an especially pervasive love affair; this pan-Asian obsession has staying power.

Fans from Saigon to Shanghai await visiting K-Stars amid airport scenes reminiscent of Beatlemania.

This is curious, especially when one considers the language barriers necessitating subtitles for non-native fans of Korean media.

So how did it all begin?

The inception of Hallyu is tied in with the march of capitalist culture into Asia in the early '90s.


Tragic Korean actress Jang Ja-yeon. The Guardian

STORM IN SOUTH KOREA OVER SUICIDAL STARS

When Jang Ja-yeon killed herself in March, she not only deprived South Korea of a wildly popular soap star. In a damning letter naming the men responsible for the distress that may have caused her to take her life at age 26, Jang heaped shame on the country’s entertainment industry with allegations of sexual abuse. The villain of the piece, according to reports, was her agent, Kim Sung-hoon. Jang reportedly claimed Kim had regularly beaten her and forced her to have sex with a string of VIPs, including directors, media executives and CEOs. When police raided Kim’s office, they discovered a shower and bed in a “secret room”. The South Korean media has finally condemned the industry for the way it treats its most marketable – and usually female – talent. Film and TV viewers are now wondering how big a part abuse and the demands of “slave contracts” played in a spate of celebrity suicides originally put down to the pressures of fame. Jang’s suicide was one of several among South Korean entertainers over the past year. THE GUARDIAN

South Korea, as one of the era's economic tigers, with close ties to Western culture and rapidly emerging techno-wizardry, was well-placed to take advantage.

Newly minted transnational media corporations churned out slickly produced pop videos starring whiter-than-white (often cosmetically modified) stars.

Meanwhile, TV soap operas promoted ultramodern "middle-class" lifestyles, starring sensitive male protagonists who made teens and housewives alike swoon.

Perhaps just as importantly, South Korea wasn't as politically loaded as Japan or the US. Audiences thus felt freer to embrace comparatively neutral K-Star power - a "soft" force based firmly in the material realm, nonthreatening and easy to aspire to.
China and Taiwan became the first converts.

The message then spread like wildfire to Southeast Asia, the Asia-Pacific, even the Middle East (although the phenomenon is now well-established enough to have faced nationalistic backlashes in both China and Japan).

So much for the movement - who are the protagonists?

As any K-Pop devotee would attest, no one embodies Hallyu more emphatically than Jeong Ji-hoon - better known by his stage name Rain.

Riding the crest of the Korean Wave, Rain's meteoric rise saw him in 2004 become the first-ever winner of the MTV Asia Grand Slam, securing top honours in every country broadcasting MTV Asia.

By 2006 he was being listed in Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People Who Shape Our World" and selling out gigs in Vegas and at Madison Square Garden.

Rain's march has been hindered by legal wrangles recently, but there's no doubting the impact he and his ilk have made across Asia.

A Thai concert promoter, for example, ran a competition in which the prize was a night's stay in Rain's Bangkok hotel suite after he'd checked out - but before the maid had cleaned up. (The winner presumably spent a rapturous night alternately sniffing and sobbing into Rain's rumpled towels.)

Jaruwan Supolrai, 26, of Bangkok's Thai Volunteer Service, says that, "many Thai teenagers are crazy for Koreanisation, especially those living in the city.

"They're big fans of Korean singers, stars and fashion. Of course, that makes them want to be like their idols."

His elder Vong Emsaman concurs.

"I lived in Japan for seven years," says the sociology professor. "And I saw that many women in that country may be dressed in sexy clothes, but they are still considered good in their society."

He adds that the solution is to set appropriate dress-code regulations at school.
Trust the powers that be to spoil kids' fun. Some things never change.

Too many curveballs for Moun Chanthorn

Cambodia's Moun Chanthorn pitches a curveball against Myanmar in the Asia Cup on May 27. CBAF

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
DAN RILEY

CAMBODIAN National Baseball team captain Moun Chanthorn has been placed on the disabled list due to a strained elbow. The right-hand pitcher picked up the injury while playing Friday for the Royals team, who represent Eastern Cambodia, against their national opponents the Braves.

Moun Chanthorn had suffered elbow problems during Cambodia's game against Myanmar in the 8th Asian Baseball Cup May 27. The national team doctor has confirmed that the latest injury will keep the 22-year-old out of action for at least two weeks.

Hailing from Banteay Meanchey province, Moun Chanthorn has played baseball since 2004, emerging as the Kingdom's top pitcher, while also ranking fifth in hitting. Tom Dill, a baseball coach from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, warned the Cambodian Baseball Federation (CBAF) not to let its pitchers throw too many curveballs, as it can cause serious damage to the arm muscles.

Moun Chanthorn, whose best pitch is the curveball, was initially reluctant to take the mound Friday, but was determined to help the Royals draw level with their opponents, having lost to the Braves in their first two games and winning the third.

Head coach of the national team Savoeun Nhoeb was deeply concerned about the star hurler's condition, hoping that he will recover in time for the Asia Cup in Dubai, September 28, where they will face archrivals Myanmar. "Being without Chanthorn at the tournament will [make it difficult] for our team to beat Myanmar," said the head coach. "He's our best pitcher, and great leader."

Moun Chanthorn has shown his frustration at being kept off the field but will try to help the Royals in the meantime overcome their national counterparts through a coaching position.

Meanwhile, the Royals' new pitcher Teng Sakan, who was traded last Friday, helped inspire the team to a 11-2 spanking of the Braves on Saturday. The Braves were missing the skills of their expert shortstop Houey Sipho, who seemed to be suffering from heat exhaustion. The Royals then rallied Sunday to complete a come-from-behind 3-2 victory, to go up 4-2 in the series, having won the four straight games.

The Braves have looked like a caged tiger since the trade Friday and can't seem to figure out a winning strategy.

However, the introduction of right-hand fastballer Chea Theara Monday should produce a change in fortunes, with crowds amassing to watch the promising young talent.

The Royals also prepared for the debut of second baseman Sunn Vikea, nicknamed the Lightening Kid. He is reported to be the fastest of any player in the league today, with a batting average of .389 and 12 stolen bases.

Cambodian Open set for thrilling week

Vietnamese No 2-ranked Noelle Hyunh Mai Hyunh will play her first Cambodian Open match Wednesday at 3pm. TFC

The Phnom Penh Post
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
DAN RILEY

THE weekend saw plenty of action in the Cambodian Open Tennis Tournament. Standout matches from the Men's draw saw Chhit Davin outclass Long Samnang 6-0, 6-1; Oun Sambath oust the player simply known as Kong 6-1, 6-0; Chris Forsinetti overwhelm Yi Puthea 6-0, 6-0; Ek Chamroeun push past Yi Keavirak 6-4, 6-3; and Sok Samath smash through Mattieu Babot 6-0, 6-1.

With the competition heating up towards the finals at the end of the week, the Tennis Federation of Cambodia (TFC) welcomes all interested parties to watch and encourage the players every day free of charge at the Cambodian Country Club (CCC), between 9am and 6pm.

A highlight Wednesday will be the appearance of Vietnamese star Noelle Hyunh Mai Huynh. The 24-year-old has been ranked No 2 in Vietnam for the past eight years, and has won two major events on the Asian tennis circuit; the Thailand Masters in December 2008, and the Pro Circuit Thailand Championship earlier this month.

Huynh has cancelled a tournament in her homeland to make the Cambodian Open, showing her support and commitment to Cambodian tennis. She will play in her first match at 3pm Wednesday at the CCC.

AIDS patients struggle in isolated Cambodian town

Many Cambodian AIDS patients and their families have been relocated to this community outside Tuol Sambo.


By Miranda Leitsinger
CNN

TUOL SAMBO, Cambodia (CNN) -- Van Thy says the government evicted her from her home in the Cambodian capital and trucked her and others out to a town an hour away where she now lives in a hot green metal shed with no running water and dim prospects.

Before the move, she had a job as a dishwasher, but now the 36-year-old woman is unemployed, penniless and her health has taken a turn for the worse. She has AIDS like many of the others in the 40 AIDS-affected families that were resettled here.

"We were called for a meeting and when I got there, a lot of trucks were already prepared. There was no meeting. They told us to prepare our stuff for moving out," she said, her voice trembling as she detailed her departure from the Phnom Penh shantytown she called home for nine years. "Everybody cried the day we left."

As Cambodia emerges from the 1970s Khmer Rouge genocide and decades of conflict, evictions for development purposes have become a hot issue, with rights groups and upset villagers living on desirable land launching protests in recent years. But what sets the families apart at Tuol Sambo is that they have AIDS.

"The problems that this community face are not unlike problems that people face throughout the country," said Kathleen O'Keefe, an independent consultant focusing on HIV/AIDS and land issues.

"What has made these problems extreme is that they have been isolated and treated as a community" and their relocation has added "additional problems, like real health risks of many immune compromised people living far too close together. This place would be a health risk to healthy people."

This is the second relocation for many of these families. They had been living in a shantytown in the Cambodian capital, an area called Borei Keila that was across the street from a hospital where they received medical care and where they could find jobs to earn $1.25 or $1.50 a day.

O'Keefe said they had lived dispersed throughout the community but were forced to move into one building there in 2007 when the area started to undergo development.

"They were segregated into a green building, which very quickly became known as the ... AIDS village," O'Keefe said. "This AIDS colony in Tuol Sambo is the second time they are being even further isolated ... it's been an extremely traumatic situation for them."

O'Keefe said most of the families that were moved to Tuol Sambo told her they have lost their jobs, their health is worsening due to a lack of clean water and food, and they face discrimination from their new neighbors because of their illness.

"We feel very ashamed to go outside, they look like they discriminating against us," Van Thy said.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said those who were relocated got a plot of land, a house and $275. He also noted they were provided rice, electricity and said, "when the water supply can be connected to this area, then we can connect it for these people."

Mann Chhoeun said the people were illegally squatting in the Phnom Penh shantytown, but they were not forcefully evicted.

"They proposed to go ... because living in that area (their previous shantytown) they had floods and they have no proper business to do in there, so that's why they proposed to us to go there," he said. "They think that when they go there (to Tuol Sambo), they can own the land, they can own a house and they can make some business or something like that."

He also said he did not believe there was discrimination in the area, "but there is some feeling when they (people) learn that someone has been living with HIV/AIDS."

Van Thy said her new home has brought many challenges and a recent blood test showed that her CD4 count -- a marker of decreased immune function that is often used to demonstrate how well anti-HIV drugs are working, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- had gone down.

She said the doctor told her she needed to eat more, but she said having little money means eating less: "It means that my health is getting worse," she said.

The water in their new home is from a well and is undrinkable unless it is boiled or purified.

"We are patients, we need some clean water," she said. "They said the water cannot be drunk, just for using to wash clothes and things like that."

Another man, Chheang Toma, takes the temperature inside his green shed at noon every day. On average, it is 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) but one time spiked up to 50 Celsius (122).

"This area is very difficult," he said. "I am always sick and I always have a headache. The weather is so hot even my son has gone to the clinic two times already."

Home care specialist, Oum Vicheth, has been working with this community since 1998 and holds a clinic at Tuol Sambo once a week. He said the move "has strongly affected them."

"This is a long-term effect, not a short-term one, because medicine alone cannot help them. It combines with other factors like food, eating enough, sleeping enough, and a good environment, so all this can help make their health stable," he said.

"The problem is right now that what these people are facing is about their food, about their sleep and about the heat. It's very hot. Sometimes this affects the quality of the medicine they keep."

Chheang Toma said his son, who is in first grade, heard that parents of local children told them not to play with him because he has HIV.

"He just told me that he wanted to play with those children but when they saw him they just run away," he said. "I know right now some parents they just learning and understand about us, and they start to tolerate, but some others keep us in isolation -- like they still look at us, treating us very bad by not coming very close and not making friends with us."

Oum Vicheth said he was providing health care to the villagers as a way to bring them closer to the group and they have held meetings with them about how HIV is contracted.

"There was very little thought given to integrating the community into the larger resettlement area of Tuol Sambo," said Tony Lisle, the UNAIDS country coordinator for Cambodia. "By basically settling the community in one contiguous place it opens the community up to discrimination."

The UN team in Cambodia also "was disappointed that the relocation was carried out before the site was made habitable" and monitors would visit the site in late August, Lisle said.

Tang Kunthy, secretary-general of the Cambodian government's National AIDS Authority, said the Tuol Sambo group's worries were about the housing, not their health care, since he said they still had good access to treatment, including home-based care, medicine and the help of charities.

He said the housing situation could not be changed overnight, but it would improve "step by step," and he also noted Tuol Sambo was an area the municipality wants to develop.

"The municipality has a plan for the future," he said. "I asked the government to explain to them (the Toul Sambo residents), to provide more information to them."

He also noted there was "no serious discrimination" in Cambodia against people with HIV/AIDS, but that the AIDS authority would try to ensure any such problems did not arise in the future.

Back at Tuol Sambo, people think of the future and how they will make ends meet.

One man in the community who has AIDS lost one job in the move but still has part-time work. He said things have improved with their new neighbors.

"When we first arrived here, the villagers around the area just said look at AIDS people living here and so they did not allow their children or relatives to come and play in this area and they don't talk to us. But now after seeing the home care specialist," things seem to be getting better with them, he said.