Friday, 2 October 2009

CAAI Extends its Sympathy to the Countries of Southeast Asia and the Pacific that were Affected by the recent Natural Disasters

On behalf of the CAAI News Media team and the CAAI community expresses its regret for the tragic loss of human lives, the massive displacement of the population and the severe damage done to public works by the tsunami in Western Samoa and the Kingdom of Tonga, as well as by the typhoon Ketsana in Philippine, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.


The CAAI extends its sympathy to the governments of these nations, as well as its deepest condolences to the victims’ families. It hopes for the swift recovery of the affected communities, including the repair of the material damages caused by these natural disasters.


Yours Sincerely,


CAAI's Team

Day for the Elderly



Photo by: Sovan Philong
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:03 Kim Yuthana

The Cambodian Elder Support Organisation on Thursday took 56 elderly Cambodians to visit the Khmer Rouge tribunal, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Royal Palace to mark the International Day for the Elderly. In a statement, Prime Minister Hun Sen acknowledged Cambodia’s “responsibility, as a developing nation, to pay attention to all citizens, especially the elderly”.

Ketsana death toll rises to 14



Photo by: AFP
A Cambodian boy stands on Thursday amid the wreckage of his house, damaged the day before by Typhoon Ketsana in Kampong Thom province.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:04 Peter Olszewski and Lily Partland

Siem Reap town submerged as main river burst its banks following typhoon.

Siem Reap

SIEM Reap found itself underwater Thursday after the downpour from Ketsana caused the swollen Siem Reap River to burst its banks.

The entire downtown area was submerged in waist-high water, and the city’s social epicentre, Pub Street, was awash.

As of Thursday night, the local death toll had risen to three, with provincial Chief of Cabinet Ly Samreth saying, “The flooding is more serious than before”.

“A Khmer man died in Siem Reap town on Wednesday when he fell into an open pipe and drowned,” he said.

He added that business people were losing money.

“Cambodian people and businesses are losing money because they cannot work,” he said.

“Only 30 percent of the market stalls have remained open.”

National Road 6 was flooded in seven places and 241 schools were also flooded – 95 of which had to close.

Provincial officials reported 17 people injured and 60 homes destroyed, although some rural areas had yet to report.

Observers reported an almost festive feel as children capitalised on the crisis. Some were seen steering remote-controlled toy boats through waterlogged streets; others used polystyrene lids as makeshift surfboards. Several people dragged nets through town in the hope of catching fish.

Upstream, the situation was more serious, with reports of flash floods. In drier rural areas, people complained of being invaded by centipedes and other fauna seeking shelter.

Local authorities said they were preparing food and medicine to take to Sonikum district, which suffered the worst effects of the weather.

Thousands displaced by flooding




Photo by: Heng Chivoan and AFP
Buddhist monks survey the damage in Kampong Thom province (left), while a group of women wade unperturbed through the floodwaters.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

THE Cambodian death toll from Typhoon Ketsana climbed to 14 on Thursday, as an unprecedented clean-up operation was launched in the wake of the most ferocious storm to lash the Kingdom in living memory.

In a central Cambodian village where nine people were killed, authorities moved fallen trees from roads while victims sifted through the remains of their muddy, smashed wooden houses and gathered what was left of their possessions.

“Everything of mine, including rice, is destroyed. We are staying under a tent, filled with fear,” said weeping villager Ket Suon, 43, who fled his home with his family as it was crushed by the storm Tuesday evening.

As of last night, the National Committee for Disaster Management confirmed 14 deaths across the Kingdom. In addition to the nine who died in Kampong Thom when their houses collapsed on Tuesday night, three deaths were confirmed in Siem Reap province, where the river burst its banks and caused widespread flooding. Two more deaths were confirmed in northeastern Ratanakkiri province from flash floods.

The toll is expected to rise, with scattered reports of fatalities still emerging from remote rural areas. Sorn Thoeun, disaster reduction coordinator at World Vision, said two people also died in Mondulkiri province, although the province’s deputy governor, Yim Lux, said that they were only “missing”.

Relief efforts were under way Thursday, with local authorities and Red Cross officials working to help those who lost their homes or were forced to flee because of flooding.

“When you’ve got hundreds or thousands of hectares of rice fields affected by floods, that could affect food security in the coming months,” said Sharon Wilkinson, Cambodia director for CARE International.

The number of people displaced by the storm’s destructive force is expected to reach into the tens of thousands nationwide, but officials were at a loss Thursday as to what the final tally might be. “We do not know how many families are affected in the country,” said Uy Sam Ath, director of disaster management for the Cambodian Red Cross.

Typhoon Ketsana killed at least 383 people across Southeast Asia before it was downgraded to a tropical storm on Wednesday. The international community has since mobilised, pledging millions of dollars of aid for the battered region. On Wednesday, the European Commission promised €2 million (US$2.9 million) for relief efforts in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Ly Thuch, deputy chief of the National Committee for Disaster Management, insisted Cambodia’s government had humanitarian efforts “under control” as it coordinated aid to affected areas with local and international agencies.

In Kampong Thom’s Teak Mileang village, however, locals were left picking up the pieces. Phan Sokheun, 52, was struggling to make sense of the carnage. “I never thought my village could be destroyed like this,” she said. “My house was demolished by the storm, but it is raining heavily, so my family will get sick soon because we cannot bear the cold conditions. I don’t know how I can.”

Kong Many, 47, said he feared supplies would soon run out. “We have food provided by the Cambodian Red Cross, but it cannot support us for much longer,” he said. “Then how will we find food?”

Governor Chhun Chhorn said 200 police officers had been mobilised to help the homeless, but more help was needed in the province, which felt the full force of the typhoon when it reached Cambodia.

World Vision spokesman Haidy Ear-Dupuy warned it could be weeks before people in some of the worst-hit areas of Kampong Thom can return home.

Although most of the storm’s strength has been expended, the Mekong River is expected to reach dangerous levels within three days. “We are alerting people in the provinces around the Mekong of severe incidents,” said Mao Hak, director of hydrology and river works at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology. Water levels in Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Cham provinces remain dangerously close to alert levels, he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KHUON LEAKHANA, IRWIN LOY AND AFP

Officials say trafficking has dropped


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:03 Tep Nimol

Govt and rights groups await data to confirm suspicions.

THOUGH it remains a significant issue, human trafficking in Cambodia has decreased in 2009, officials from the Ministry of Interior and local rights groups said Thursday.

Chiv Phally, deputy director of the department of anti-human trafficking and minority protection at the Ministry of Interior, said that women and children in Cambodia are safer now than in past years thanks to increased law enforcement and successful prosecutions of human-trafficking offenders. The ministry official was speaking at a conference in Phnom Penh to kick off a government campaign publicising rights protections for victims of child trafficking.

Though he did not provide any official statistics to support his claim about the trafficking decline, Chiv Phally vowed continued vigilance on the part of anti-trafficking authorities to secure further decreases. In addition to his praise for law enforcement, he also attributed the trafficking decline to community awareness programmes organised by the government that have informed the Kingdom’s residents about how best to protect themselves from predatory criminals.

Samleang Seila, country director for the child rights group Action Pour Les Enfants, said that his organisation and most others working on the issue have acknowledged the trafficking drop.

“If we look at the number of arrests and the number of complaints made to the courts, we see a reduction in human trafficking,” he said, citing “law enforcement effectiveness and the increasing understanding and commitment of the government” as the main reason for this reduction.

Lim Tith, the national project coordinator for the United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking (UNIAP) agreed that trafficking in Cambodia has likely declined, but cautioned that the news is not all good.

“Internally, it has probably decreased, but externally, it has stayed the same or even increased,” he said, differentiating between trafficking within Cambodia and the trafficking of Cambodians to other countries.

Most Cambodians victimised by international traffickers end up in Thailand or Malaysia, he said, as the demand for cheap labour has been exacerbated by the global financial crisis.

UNIAP plans to release a comprehensive study of human trafficking in Cambodia near the end of this year, which Lim Tith said he hopes will substantiate the limited information currently available on trafficking trends.

“Definitely before the end of this year, we’ll have this data, and then we’ll know,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE AND SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

Police Blotter: 2 Oct 2009


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:01 Thet Sambath

‘VIRGIN SPIRIT’ QUEST LEADS TO RAPE
Police in Takeo province on Monday arrested a 47-year-old man who has been accused of raping his daughter in an attempt to channel her “virgin spirit”. The man is said to have told his 21-year-daughter that he would become sick and suffer “nervous convulsions” if he did not have sex with a “virgin spirit”. Though the daughter refused at first, she eventually agreed after the suspect had a “nervous convulsion” in front of her. After a few months, his wife begged her husband to stop raping her daughter. He refused, which prompted both wife and daughter to go to the police.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

GANG RIVALS SPEND A NIGHT TOGETHER
Military police on Tuesday arrested four members of rival gangs after they were caught fighting and riding their motorbikes “in a disorderly manner” in Daun Penh district. Though they were sworn enemies, the spoiled teenagers were made to stay in the same cell for one night, during which they were “educated to stop it”, police said. Their parents were allowed to take them from police custody after they promised to instruct their children to refrain from resorting to violence.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

CRUEL’ MAN DETAINS AND STABS WIFE
A 45-year-old man on Tuesday stabbed his pregnant wife to death after locking her up against her will for four days, police said. The man, who lives in Bakan district, Pursat province, at first told his children that he would kill their mother if they were not respectful. The children then reported him to the police, but not before he acted on his threat. Neak Srey Yom, the 14-year-old daughter of the suspect, said her father had always been “cruel”.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

WOMAN RAPED BY HER SON-IN-LAW
A 26-year-old man in Kandal Steung district, Kandal province, failed in his second attempt to rape his 56-year-old mother-in-law on Friday, police said. The accused is said to have attempted his depraved act while the two were picking vines. The mother-in-law managed to dodge the attack. When she returned to her home in Bati district, Takeo province, she said Rim Rem had successfully raped her in 2005. She said she did not complain at the time because she did not want her family’s private matters to be aired in public. Rim Rem admitted to police that he raped his mother-in-law once, saying he did so because his wife had just given birth and “it was time for prohibition”.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

TV spots to target counterfeit drugs


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:03 Jude Mak

A CAMPAIGN warning the public about counterfeit drugs is set to begin airing on state television channel TVK on Thursday, officials have said, in a bid to combat the fake products flooding the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

The “Pharmacide” announcements, developed last year by the Pharmacopeia Drug Quality and Information Programme, a health-care monitoring programme for developing countries supported by USAID, is to be broadcast in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam as part of a regional initiative to increase public awareness about the proliferation of counterfeit and poor quality medicines.

“If customers are aware which medicines are fake, then we hope that they will buy their medicines only from licensed pharmacies,” Yim Yann, president of the Pharmacists’ Association of Cambodia, says in one of the television spots.

Researchers have found that counterfeit and poor-quality medicines are bolstering the drug resistance of malarial parasites, and in other cases have triggered adverse reactions, including protracted illness and death of patients.

In 2008, police across Southeast Asia made a series of arrests and seized fake drugs worth millions of dollars in Operation Storm, supported by Interpol, the World Health Organisation and the World Customs Organisation.

Nearly 200 raids were carried out, resulting in 27 arrests and the seizure of more than 16 million pills with an estimated value of US$6.6 million.

SRP councillor arrested for cutting palm tree


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:03 Meas Sokchea

A SAM Rainsy Party district councillor was arrested in Svay Rieng province on Thursday after police accused him of cutting his neighbour’s palm tree.

The man’s relatives and other party members said they believed the arrest was politically motivated.

Peng Kanha said her father, Kong An, had been arrested in Svay Teap district and sent to the provincial court, which decided to detain him.

“They accused my father of destroying someone’s property by cutting leaves from the palm tree,” she said.

“In fact, my father has been taking care of this palm tree since 1983. This issue is a political story because my father is a district councillor for the Sam Rainsy Party,” she said.

SRP provincial Deputy President Meas Kheng said the arrest had been ordered for political reasons by Phang Samon, the deputy president of the court, but did not offer any details of the dispute.

Phang Samon could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Defendants released after Takeo court questioning


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

Judge gives reporter and rights activists four days to find legal representation.

A RADIO Free Asia reporter and two human rights activists charged with spreading disinformation were released after appearing for questioning before a Takeo provincial court on Thursday.

Their release comes one day after the arrest of their co-defendant, local Cham Muslim leader Ny San, set off a confrontation between military police and shocked members of Borei Cholsa district’s Cham Muslim community.

According to Chheng Sophors, a senior investigator for local rights group Licadho, “RFA reporter Sok Sarey arrived in court for the interrogation accompanied by a lawyer. Although he was allowed to go home, the charges against him still stand. All the defendants are awaiting trial.”

The charges were brought against the defendants by Ry Mab, acting representative of the Borei Cholsa Cham, after RFA and the CCHR reported on a leadership dispute involving Cham Muslims supporting Ny San.

Chiep Cheav and Khem Sarom, the two rights activists, who are employed by the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), answered none of the questions directed at them by investigating Judge Tith Sothy. Neither was represented by a lawyer.

“I reserved my full right not to answer any questions regarding the charge of spreading disinformation,” said Chiep Cheav.

“But I asked the judge to suspend his interrogation for 10 days in order to give me adequate time to find a lawyer. He gave us only four days before we have to show up again in court, which I accepted.”

“We refused to accept the charges brought against us. Instead, we advised the plaintiffs to lodge their complaints with the provincial religion department and the Ministry of Cults and Religions, and also suggested that they broadcast their information on Radio Free Asia,” he added.

Because two of the four days allotted to find legal representation will fall on the weekend, Chheng Sophors said he doubted the defendants would be able to find lawyers in time. Nonetheless, Chheng Sophors pledged that Licadho would remain involved.

“We will keep investigating this case until the trial. Today we brought in a UN representative to meet with the judge and find out more about the case, but I don’t know what the two discussed,” he said.

PM’s Cabinet rejects residents’ request to halt lake reclamation


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:02 Rann Reuyand Sebastian Strangio

THE Cabinet of Prime Minister Hun Sen has rejected a recent request by 604 Boeung Kak lakeside residents requesting a halt to the filling of the lake for a construction project, reassuring them that the government is committed to providing “fair” compensation for displaced villagers.

The letter, issued by Cabinet Deputy Director Lim Leang Se on September 25, does not refer specifically to the filling of the lake, but said the government had granted permission for the company Shukaku Inc to develop the area as a commercial, cultural and tourism centre that would improve the city’s image.

Shukaku began filling the lake with sand in August 2008, in preparation for the 133-hectare development.

Lim Leang Se said on Thursday that City Hall had completely settled the compensation for villagers in Boeung Kak’s villages 2 and 4, and was gradually addressing the situation in nearby villages.

“[The villagers] can live as usual because City Hall has just finished with villages 2 and 4,” he said.

He expressed confusion, however, over a separate, September 14 letter from Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema to Hun Sen, a copy of which has been obtained by the Post, requesting a halt to the sand-filling operation.

“I don’t know how to respond to the [request] to halt the sand-pumping,” he said.

Kep Chuktema could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Boeung Kak village representatives said they were concerned that the sand-pumping was continuing, but were “very surprised” about the request from Kep Chuktema. “I don’t know why the governor wrote to the prime minister because the villagers did not make a request [to City Hall],” said Soy Kolab, from Village 6.

Fishermen seek reform of conservation rules



(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

FISHERMEN from across Cambodia plan to petition the government to reform the Kingdom’s fishing regulations and help preserve fish stocks, following a season that saw 60 people arrested on illegal-fishing charges.

In a workshop to be held in Kratie province today, fishermen and community representatives will aim to draft a declaration to redetermine the regulation size for holes in fishing nets.

Fishermen are requesting larger holes (2.5 cm square versus 1.5 cm square), which they say will remove fewer fish and sustain fishing populations.

The event has been organised by the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT) and the government’s Fisheries Administration.

Om Savath, programme manager of FACT, said Thursday that the forum will give fishermen and the opportunity to air their everyday concerns to government officials.

About 150 fishermen across the nation are expected to attend, with the majority being fishermen coming from areas near the Tonle Sap Lake.

“We need the government to allow us to catch some fish in the off-season because we have no land for agriculture as other people do,” said Ke Sochiv, a fisherman from Kampong Chhnang province.

“I expect the government will approve the draft declaration soon with input directly from the fishermen,” Om Savath said.

Minister asks Clinton to cancel Lon Nol debt



Photo by: Sovan Philong.
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong addresses reporters at Phnom Penh International airport on Wednesday evening after returning from an official visit to the US.

(Post by CAAI News media0

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:02 Cheang Sokha and James O’toole

MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong said that in a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week, he called on Washington to forgive more than US$300 million in Cambodian debt.

Having just returned from his trip to the US, where he addressed the UN General Assembly on Saturday and met with Clinton in New York City on Monday, Hor Namhong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport that the US should shift its approach to the Kingdom’s outstanding loans.

“I told [Clinton] that the debt came from Lon Nol, when he staged his coup in 1970 and brought war from Vietnam to Cambodia,” Hor Namhong said. “The US should, therefore, consider cancelling the debt or reinvesting it to support Cambodia’s economic development.”

US embassy spokesman John Johnson said that in addition to the debt issue, Clinton and Hor Namhong covered the Khmer Rouge tribunal and US engagement with Myanmar.

The two also discussed democracy and human rights, Johnson said, with their meeting coming on the heels of Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Mu Sochua’s meeting with Clinton on September 11.

“[Clinton] raised this issue after she met with the opposition lawmaker and NGO workers recently,” Hor Namhong said, adding: “I reassured her that Cambodia has thousands of NGOs, more than almost any other country in the world.”

South Africa asks for details of fatal S’ville jet ski accident


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun and Robbie Corey-Boulet

One man held on manslaughter charges in friend’s death.

A REGIONAL ambassador for South Africa has submitted a formal request to the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok for information pertaining to a recent jet ski accident in Preah Sihanouk province that resulted in the death of one South African national and the detention of another.

Douglas Gibson, the South African ambassador to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, said he sent the letter Wednesday and had yet to receive a response as of Thursday afternoon.

Andre Bester, 27, and his friend Paul Hutchins, 43, were riding jet skis off the coast of Sihanoukville on September 18 when they collided at about 4pm, said Seang Kosal, the provincial police deputy chief.

Bester was brought in for interrogation the following day.

“The man confessed that he collided with his friend because there was a big wave and he was unable to see where he was going,” Seang Kosal said.

Preah Sihanouk provincial court prosecutor Bou Bunhang said earlier this week that Bester had been charged with involuntary manslaughter under the UNTAC Criminal Code, which carries a sentence of up to three years. Von Nguon, deputy director of the provincial prison, said Thursday that Bester was being held in the prison awaiting trial.

Gibson said the letter to the Cambodian embassy asked for official details of the arrest and any charges.

He declined to comment on the handling of the case or what he hoped for in terms of an outcome, saying: “The South African government’s policy is not to interfere with the judicial process of any country.”

Gibson said the embassy had already sent a “senior official” to meet with Bester last week.

He said the embassy would continue to provide consular support to Bester as well as relatives of Hutchins. Gibson added that Hutchins’ kin were travelling to Cambodia to claim the body. He said he was unaware if they had arrived Thursday.

The Cambodian embassy in Bangkok could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Workers walk out over sudden factory closure


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:01 Khouth Sophakchakrya

ABOUT 300 workers from the New Point World Trade garment factory in Russey Keo district held protests on Thursday, demanding salaries for an unscheduled two-month break in production.

Garment worker Matt Sreya, 22, said at the protest that factory management closed the factory without paying workers, many of whom had worked there for about eight years.

“They took away 400 sewing machines and prepared them to be shipped off,” she said. “They stopped us working [temporarily] without telling us when we will return to work again.”

She added that factory representatives had offered workers US$13 for each month they were idle, but the amount was rejected as insufficient.

“We need decent compensation since we need to pay for our housing, food, water and utilities,” she said.

Chao Pheng, deputy general director of New Point World Trade, said the economic downturn had forced the factory to close. “Currently, we do not have any buyers for our products as a result of the economic tsunami,” he said, but added the factory was set to open at the end of November.

Meanwhile, work has resumed at the Fortune Garment and Woollen Knitting company in Kandal province after employees received a letter from the Arbitration Council Foundation requesting the protests to stop.

Protests broke out on September 22 over poor working conditions, and workers’ representative Lun Simeth threatened to strike again if workers’ demands are not met.

Gain in building approvals belies enduring downturn



Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Construction labourers continue work Tuesday on a new conference hall being built on Phnom Penh's Koh Pich. Although construction project approvals climbed 7 percent up to the end of August this year, the IMF and construction materials producers say the slump continues.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:01 Soeun Say and Nathan Green

Despite a small rise in construction approvals during the first eight months of this year, analysts say the sector is still suffering from the economic crisis.

A7 percent gain in construction approvals over the first eight months of the year suggests a recovery may be imminent in the property sector, but other data showed the construction industry is still feeling the impact of the economic downturn.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction this week, 1,499 construction projects worth a combined US$1.61 billion got the green light from government officials through to the end of August 2009, up from 1,396 projects worth $1.51 billion in the same period last year. The number included 357 projects worth $470 million approved in July and August.

“This is a good sign that our construction sector is still growing, despite the global economic crisis,” said Lao Tip Seiha, director of the ministry’s Construction Department.

However, the ministry did not track how much money had actually been invested in the sector, nor which of the approved projects had started construction, Lao Tip Seiha said.

According to May estimates by the United Nations Development Programme, more than 30 percent of construction projects “may have been placed on hold” this year due to the global downturn.

In a briefing on the state of the economy last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also said the construction sector had seen a contraction this year amid the economic downturn.

“New project approvals are down sharply, and if you look closely at the import data, the import of construction materials has also been contracting since late last year,” David Cowen, deputy division chief in the IMF’s Asia and Pacific Department Bank, said last Wednesday. “Bank lending to the property sector is also down.”

IMF Resident Representative John Nelmes said the decline in project approvals referred to foreign investment approvals, which are traditionally seen as a proxy for construction sector activity in the absence of reliable industry or government data. The IMF predicted that foreign direct investment inflows would fall to $490 million this year from $815 million in 2008, largely as result of reduced spending in major construction projects.

“Unfortunately, there are no monthly data on actual construction sector activity, so one has to supplement the approvals data with other indicators, such as imports of construction materials, which are down about 35 percent year-on-year so far this year,” Nelmes said. “Steel imports are about 25 percent lower.”

A downturn in sales has also been reported by brick makers. Sun Rises Brick Factory Executive Director Lay Seng Hoeun said the construction sector was sourcing between 70 and 80 percent fewer bricks from his factory this year compared to the height of the building boom in early 2008.

He said he had dropped production from 170,000 bricks a month, all of which were sold, to around 160,000 every two months. Stocks were piling up despite the lower production levels, he said.

Prices slide with demand
Prices had also dropped from between $600 and $700 for 10,000 bricks to around $200 this year, he added.

He said other nearby factories in Kandal province’s Mouk Kampoul district were facing a similar problem.

Ministry figures show 2,156 development projects worth $3.191 billion were approved over the full year 2008, down 0.64 percent on 2007, when 1,942 projects worth $3.211 billion were approved. Ministry approval is required only for projects over a certain value, with the bulk approved at municipality or provincial level.

According to the UNDP, construction projects increased in value from a total of $500 million in 2003 to more than $3.2 billion in 2007. The average project cost over the same time period increased from $157,000 to $1.65 million as developers began building high-rise apartments and office buildings.

Rice export to HK fails to ship on schedule


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:01 Chun Sophal

THE Cambodian Rice Millers Association missed its deadline for delivery of a shipment of jasmine rice to Hong Kong that had been billed as a milestone for the sector’s export hopes, the organisation’s president said Thursday.

Phou Puy said the plan to export 400 tonnes of the rice variety to the Chinese territory in September and October failed, as the milling equipment necessary to process it was not delivered in time.

Phou Puy announced the contract in July this year, saying the association would receive US$790 per tonne for the rice.

Phou Puy said Thursday he expected to be able to renegotiate the supply agreement and begin exporting rice as soon as the equipment was in place.

The $7.8 million milling machine is due to arrive this month and is expected to be ready for operation in December, he added.

“We will start our supply of rice to Hong Kong at the end of this year because the miller will be completely ready by then,” he said.

The machine is to be set up in Battambang province.

Marketing campaign for GI produce to start



Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A Kampot farmer holds up fresh Kampot pepper in this file photo. The product is set to achieve geographical indicator status this month, said those involved in the project.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:00 Nguon Sovan

But those working on the initiative say that Kampot pepper and Kampong Speu sugar won’t get GI status until later this month.

KAMPOT pepper and Kampong Speu palm sugar are unlikely to have received geographic indicator (GI) status by the time they launch their promotional campaigns next week. However, Kampot Pepper Farmer Association President Nguon Lay and Cambodian Sugar Association President Sam Saroeun said Thursday that both are expected to be officially registered with the Ministry of Commerce this month.

“We will submit the proposal to the commerce ministry on October 5 and hope that it will be registered this month,” Nguon Lay said at the end of an association meeting Thursday.

Sam Saroeun said: “Now we have met all requirements for GI status, as scheduled, and will submit the proposal for Kampong Speu palm sugar to the Commerce Ministry on October 12 and hope it will be approved soon after submission.”

A promotional campaign for the two products, which is expected to trade on their GI status, is planned for Wednesday at Phnom Penh’s Malis restaurant. The French Development Agency, the European Commission and the Ministry of Commerce have been working with producers for more than two years to prepare the products for registration.

As part of that process, associations were established and a wealth of supporting documents produced for the official submission. Required documentation included detailed booklets on the products, production methods, and marketing and sales plans.

Under the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, GI status prevents producers from labelling their products with a geographic location unless the foodstuff has been produced there. The most common example is that of Champagne, which can only be so labelled if it is from the Champagne region of France.

Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh has signed a prakas, or edict, that temporarily protects GI items until a law on the Protection of Geographical Indication Products can be passed.

Under WTO rules, GI status cannot be awarded to a country’s products until that country has laws to ensure compliance can be enforced.

Prak Sereyvath, managing director of the Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) and consultant to the commerce ministry on its GI project, confirmed that the products would “probably be recognised as GI products sometime this month”.

Nguon Lay said he expected that GI status would boost the beleaguered Kampot pepper sector, which has seen sales drop drastically this year.

“Just 4 tonnes of this year’s total output of 14 tonnes have been sold so far,” he said. “The poor market demand has put farmers in financial difficulty, but we expect that the pepper will sell well again when it gains GI status.”

White Kampot pepper sells for around US$10 a kilogram, red pepper for $8 and black $1, but Nguon Lay said the price would be boosted by $1 per kilogram when the product received official recognition.

Kampot durian, Siem Reap prahok (fish paste) and Mondulkiri honey are also targeting GI status, though it is expected the approval process will be faster because the groundwork has now been laid.

Concerns about arbitration centre


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:00 May Kunmakara

THE director of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has raised concerns about the independence of the country’s first commercial arbitration centre.

Nguon Meng Tech said the chamber would try to establish its own arbitration centre to ensure fairness in the resolution of disputes.

“I am happy [it is being set up], but it is really hard for me to say that the arbitration centre will be independent because it is under the supervision of the public sector, and there will be conflicts of interest,” he said.

“It should be under the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, which is independent because it is an institution for the private sector.”

The chamber was looking for the funds to set up the arbitration centre, he said.

Ministry of Commerce Secretary of State Chan Nora denied that the National Arbitration Centre would be biased, saying it was being established with assistance from development partners and would be comprised of relevant ministries, private-sector representatives and
donors.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will support the centre in its first three years, in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other partners.

Chan Nora declined to give a launch date, saying only that it may be this year. “It is very important for us,” he said.

The proposed centre is to be the first commercial body in Cambodia to rule on disputes between firms, a role that is now performed by the courts or Singapore’s arbitration centre.

Bretton Sciaroni, co-chair of the Government-Private Sector Forum’s working group on law, taxation and governance, said the IFC, ADB and government were working to ensure the centre was of an international standard. ”If business communities have no confidence, nobody will use it,” he said.

Cambodian fund expands to Sri Lanka


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:00 BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE – Leopard Capital LP, which manages a fund in Cambodia, plans to start investing in Sri Lanka, betting that economic growth will accelerate after the end of the country’s 30-year civil war.

The private-equity firm plans to start Leopard Sri Lanka Fund LP early in 2010, it said in a monthly newsletter this week.

The Sri Lankan army’s victory over the Liberation Tigers in May led economists to boost GDP forecasts and a stock rally, making the Colombo All-Share Index the second-best performer in Asia this year.

The Washington-based International Monetary Fund said this month that it expects Sri Lanka’s gross domestic product to expand 3.5 percent in 2009.

“After several decades of civil war, peace has finally returned to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, and a new investment cycle and growth upswing has begun,” Leopard Capital said in the newsletter.

The fund will provide capital to “mid-market” Sri Lankan companies to help them expand domestically and in “other frontier economies”, according to the firm, which manages the US$28.7 million Leopard Cambodia Fund, set up last year.

Colombo stocks may offer better returns as the end of the war frees up state spending for investments in infrastructure and farming, investor Jim Rogers said in August.

BLOOMBERG

Football reporters boxed out



Photo by: Ken Gadaffi
Khek Ravy has announced his intentions to resign from his post as vice president of the Asean Football Federations.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Friday, 02 October 2009 15:00 Ken Gadaffi

Mistreatment of journalists by ignorant policing at last weekend’s Cambodian Premier League playoff finals had football federation officials issuing apologies.

Media kicked out of press box
Western sports journalists were given a frosty reception at last Saturday’s Cambodian Premier League (CPL) playoff finals, with security personnel prohibiting them from sitting in the usual media enclosure. The Olympic Stadium featured heightened security for the day’s proceedings, including arrivals by presiding dignitaries, Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) President Sao Sokha and National Olympic Committee President Thong Khon.

The FFC was criticised for not informing guards to accommodate the reporters, with a makeshift press box moved at the far end of the main stand after fans of both teams had filled the central seats by the time the journalists had returned from prematch interviews.

Post reporter Andy Brouwer was forced to sit lower down among rowdy spectators, making it difficult to view the action and record accurate match notes. To make things worse, a clumsy guard kicked over his drink, mistaking him for a tourist. Other media representatives were also resigned to sit among the crowds, having been asked to vacate their seats in the press box for children of a CPL sponsor, even though numerous chairs were available.

FFC media officer Tep Phany claimed he was unaware of a lack of arrangement for journalists. “I don’t know why they did not make adequate provision for the press,” he asserted.

Newly appointed FFC Vice President Kheiv Sameth also declared that he knew nothing of the neglect of media personnel. “I will talk to the president [Sao Sokha] about it for next time,” he said.

May Tola, deputy secretary general of the FFC, stated he was unhappy to hear of the poor treatment of media, saying: “It’s very unfortunate for the Federation, and so we take full responsibility of this neglect. Our actions did not show good hospitality to the press, who have been supportive all through the season, especially The Phnom Penh Post coverage of the league. The press box must be respected because the media are so important for us.”

May Tola officially apologised on behalf of the federation, promising he would “raise this issue with the organising committee to take note to avoid future occurrence”.

The federation official claimed that the police force’s lack of experience in handling sports events had lead to the problems, and that he hopes they will improve and give recognition to the media in the future. “I am grateful for the role the media, especially the Post, have played in helping our league standard improve,” he said.

Khek Ravy to step down as AFF VP

Recently ousted Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) vice president Khek Ravy is now considering resigning from his position as vice president of the Asean Football Federations (AFF). The move would take him away from football for the first time in over a decade, having previously held the FFC presidency from 1998 to 2006.

“I have met with Cambodia Federation President Sao Sokha already, and we will discuss further on the modalities,” Khek Ravy revealed Saturday. “I want to withdraw from the football scene to allow for change, but it depends.... My priority will be for the interest of Cambodia to be taken first, as I will not want to resign if my seat in AFF will be lost [to another nationality].”

Khek Ravy refuted claims he was kicked out from his FFC vice president position. “I lost in the election [August 27],” he said. “It is good for the game because the federation is experiencing an evolution.... There is a need for change.


Photo by: Nick Sells (http://www.nicksellsphotography.com/)
Western reporters were prohibited from sitting in the press box at Olympic Stadium’s main stand for the Cambodian Premier League playoff finals last Saturday.

“There is a new trend now in the federation to bring in people who are passionate about the game, so I have to give way for such people to come on board. I believe [it will] bring dynamism,” he added.

However, Khek Ravy maintained he would not be stepping away from the organisation completely. “As you can see, I am still around to help the federation whenever I am needed,” he assured. “My decision to step aside is for me to go into other ventures, as I have been in football long enough ... but I will continue to support them [the FFC].”

Khek Ravy voiced his confidence in his successor, Military Police Chief of Cabinet Kheiv Sameth. “I believe the federation is going to keep moving forward,” he said. “The new vice president is a good administrator and has great passion for the game. With his long-term relationship with the federation president [Sao Sokha], he has trust and will be able to move the federation forward from where I left it.”

Classic battle of Blues v Reds



Photo by: AFP
Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher (left) will need to be on top form Sunday to deal with the likes of Chelsea’s Didier Drogba (right) during their English Premier League match.

(Post by CAAI News Media)
Friday, 02 October 2009 15:00 Chris Dring

Liverpool travel to Stamford Bridge Sunday to face a Chelsea side adamant to put the loss to Wigan behind them and reclaim the top spot in the league.

CHELSEA’S immaculate start to the season finally ended last Saturday with an uncharacteristic display at Wigan, which subsequently lost them top spot and reignited the chasing pack. The speculation that six clubs will battle it out for the Champions League places doesn’t look so improbable when you take a quick glance at the current league table. With Chelsea welcoming Liverpool Sunday, the rest of the contenders have a chance to stake their claims.

I doubt that after one bad performance Ancelotti will hit the panic buttons. When Man United lost at Burnley, it seemed to galvanise them on to bigger and better things. Chelsea will want revenge after Benitez’s Reds broke their long unbeaten home record last term and will fancy their chances against a more attacking Liverpool than of old.

Liverpool look shaky from set plays, and Chelsea players are some of the biggest in the game. Carragher is now the wrong side of 30 and looking more vulnerable than ever. If his side is to take anything from the game, then he must rouse his back four to stop the brute force of Drogba and his powerful teammates.

Benitez will only play one up front and hope to nullify the Blues’ midfield. A large question mark still hangs over Lucas and Mascherano, very doubtful due to injury, and I can see Chelsea bossing the midfield. Should Chelsea cut the supply line to Gerrard and Torres, then apart from a piece of magic from a Red, I can see the Stamford Bridge faithful going home jubilant.

Liverpool are top scorers in the division, but all their high tallies have come against weak sides, mainly at home. Their two big tests against Spurs and Villa ended in defeats. Drogba v Torres could be the subheading for this game, but for me, Drogba will end up victorious just because he’s surrounded by superior players.

Sir Alex always seems to have that winning formula. Struggling against Stoke last week, he brought on the ever-green Giggs to transform a United midfield missing a cutting edge. With the luxury of a gigantic squad full of internationals to choose from, it shouldn’t really matter who he picks to play at home against Sunderland.

Steve Bruce’s troops look like a side that shouldn’t worry about the drop, but likewise shouldn’t contemplate European competitions. Bent has proved to be a great acquisition, but it’s unlikely he’ll see much of the ball. Shocks do happen, but from start to finish, this should be a footballing lesson, and the gulf in class should be apparent.

Arsene Wenger must still be puzzled by football as he closes in on his 60th birthday. Arsenal played great at Old Trafford and lost, and were outplayed by Fulham last Saturday and came away with three points. At home to Blackburn Sunday, the game shouldn’t come down to fortune but rather skill. Blackburn under Allardyce don’t come up short on grit and determination, but apart from the impressive Dunn, they seem a very ordinary side.

The Emirates is an expansive pitch giving Arsenal all the room to play through their less athletic and less skilful opponents. There should be plenty of goals with Fabregas, Van Persie and Arshavin all set to shine in a home victory.

Tottenham travel north to Bolton on the back of a resounding victory over Burnley. Spurs came up short against Chelsea and Man United but apart from those two defeats, they have looked impressive. Spurs are geared towards all-out attack by their boss Redknapp, which usually guarantees an entertaining match.

Bolton’s players will tower over their smaller opponents, with Kevin Davis likely to pose a significant threat. Spurs’ centre-back pairing will be crucial because of the absent King and Woodgate. With two contrasting styles on show, will the impish Spurs be able to play around their larger adversary? Spurs have never come away with three points at the Reebok Stadium, and despite the promise of goals, it might be the time to sit on the fence.

At the other end of the table, Portsmouth fans must be close to raising the white flag, having already suffered enough punishment for one campaign. They travel to Wolves low on confidence and belief, and still looking for their first point of the season. Wolves will be around the relegation zone all season but have to be expecting another precious victory to boost their hopes of survival.

West Ham, despite a little pre-season optimism, have found themselves already engulfed in the dog-fight to stay in the top flight. You can’t see them keeping many clean sheets, so Zola should feel happy that Fulham, who seem to be firing blanks, visit Upton Park. I fear this game could be one to avoid, but since it’s a London derby and both teams have had poor starts to the season, it might just be the surprise package of the round.

The Monday night game sees European hopefuls Aston Villa take on high flying Man City. Villa under Martin O’Neil need to find some consistency if they are to improve on last season. They’ve already won at Anfield, but last week they were beaten by Blackburn.

Villa will have to improve, as City will come into this game firing on all cylinders. Bellamy and Tevez have already clicked and should trouble a Villa defence, which is short on pace. Dunne will have a point to prove against his former employers, and the game should be played at a high tempo, riddled with errors.

Agbonlahor is in sparkling goal-scoring form and should trouble City’s new-look defence. City appear the better outfit but with the game being played at Villa Park, I fancy this one to be a draw, which won’t suit either side.

In My Pain, I Am Stronger Than I Ever Was



Posted by: Somaly Mam
Source: globalgrind.com

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Human slavery is real, and it’s going to take everybody’s help to break the cycle!

I’m here to tell you that sex trafficking is getting worse. It’s difficult to believe this can be happening in 2009. In my country of Cambodia and around the world, sex traffickers live off of the desperate lives of the poor and vulnerable. With the world economic crisis, poverty and crime have skyrocketed and protections that barely existed before the crisis have yet to make a difference. To make matters worse, my country is still in a daze from the days of the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields. Criminals put 5-year old girls outside brothels, and little is done. Girls who get saved have three other girls take their place. It’s these realities that I’m facing every day as I struggle to make a difference with the programs that we’ve established to fight back and save young victims.

Even when it feels like we’re swimming against the tide, every life that we save makes it all worth it for me. I’m living my life to do everything that I can to see sexual slavery stopped for good. As a survivor I feel like I have a duty to protect and rescue other girls from the horrors that I faced.

In my pain, I am stronger than I ever was. In my pain, I am here to break the cycle of silence that in my country and around the world allows these crimes to go on and a criminal industry to thrive from the misery of young women and children. A culture of silence and shame is the life that I left behind when I escaped from the brothels.

Survivors are part of the solution. When I established the Somaly Mam Foundation, I wanted to make sure that our programs recognize the critical role that survivors can play in eradicating human slavery. Voices for Change is a program that we launched to identify and train survivors who want to join me in getting our stories and anti-trafficking messages out to communities and the world.

These survivors realize, as I did, that if they had known about what was going on, their lives could have been very different. It’s their stories that are helping poor families recognize that a con for a better life is really the empty promise of an unscrupulous sex trafficker looking for a new victim. It’s their voices that are helping bring attention to the crimes of modern day slavery and forcing governments to take meaningful action. It’s their stories that are educating people about these harsh realities and motivating them to spread the word and help raise the money to rescue and heal survivors. It’s the voices and courage of survivors that are helping other young victims see that they can stand up and reclaim their lives, not in shame but with self confidence and self determination.

You’ve probably heard people say that it takes a village to make a difference. It’s going to take the actions of the villagers, the voices and the strength of survivors, and the involvement and outcry from citizens of the world to end human trafficking and sexual slavery.

Please visit somaly.org to learn more about my efforts and how you can help us end modern day slavery.

-Somaly Mam

EDITOR'S NOTE:

The Somaly Mam Foundation to be featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" this Thursday, October 1st. In the New York Times best-selling book "Half the Sky," Pulitzer Prize winners Nicolas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl Wudunn feature Long Pross, one of AFESIP's leaders who survived horrific atrocities and now serves as a role model for other girls at the shelters. This powerful book inspired Oprah to deliver a compelling call to action for all women.

In an eye-opening hour this Thursday, Oprah will feature several stories of women overcoming adversity to realize a better life for themselves, one of which she calls "the most incredible story of manifesting a dream I have ever heard." In conjunction with the show, Oprah will launch a new registry online at www.oprah.com/forallwomen, where the Foundation will be featured. Tune-in to the "Oprah" show this Thursday to hear Oprah's call to action and to see how we can actually change the course of history in our lifetime. Check local listings for time and channel.

Vietnamese, Cambodian women unions boost cooperation


10/02/2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

The Vietnamese Women’s Union (VWU) and the Cambodian Women’s Association for Peace and Development (CWAPD) have signed a cooperation agreement for the 2009-2012 period.

The deal was reached during the VWU delegation’s visit to Cambodia on September 30, led by Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Thanh Hoa.

As part of the agreement, both sides will step up the exchange of information on their activities to advance women in society and gender equality issues.

They will also work together to organize conferences and exchange delegations to increase mutual understanding.

During talks between Chairwoman Hoa and CWAPD’s Chairwoman Men Sam An, who is also Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister, the two organizations discussed how to raise women’s awareness of the need to prevent domestic violence and woman and child trafficking.

On the occasion, Chairwoman Nguyen presented 30 computers and US$10,000 to help the CWAPD in its efforts to reduce poverty.

Asia death toll rises as Ketsana floods recede


Graphic showing the path of Typhoon Ketsana earlier this week


Cambodian villagers look at the bodies of typhoon victims at Kampong Thom province


A Vietnamese woman paddles past flooded homes at Dien Nam commune


Cambodian people carry aid that they received from the Cambodian Red Cross as they walk through floodwaters brought by Typhoon Ketsana in Kampong Thom province. (AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy)

by Tran Thi Minh Ha
(Post by CAAI News Media)

THUA THIEN-HUE, Vietnam (AFP) – Asian nations were left counting the cost of Typhoon Ketsana Friday, with the death tolls rising in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, according to Red Cross reports.

Vietnam's death toll reached 99 on Friday with another 14 missing, said an official from the national flood and storm control committee.

In Cambodia the number of deaths rose to at least 17, while 16 people were killed and 135 left missing in Laos, the Red Cross said on Friday.

With flood waters receding in much of typhoon-struck Vietnam on Friday, residents hung clothes out to dry, cleared fallen trees and cleaned the muck left by one of the country's worst disasters in recent years.

In the poor fishing village of Rong in Hue city, wet clothes hung on fences and trees while women moved furniture outside late Thursday to dry, or cleaned the muddy floors of their metal-roofed houses.

"We are still cleaning up but things will be OK," said Nguyen Van Tam, 48.

Vietnam's death toll reached 99 on Friday with another 14 missing, said an official from the national flood and storm control committee.

The heaviest toll came in the fishing province of Quang Ngai, in the area where Ketsana made landfall on Tuesday with winds that state media said reached up to 149 kilometres (92 miles) per hour.

Quang Ngai recorded 27 deaths and there were 21 in Kon Tum, a mountainous province with a large population of poor ethnic minority tribes, the official said.

Officials are now concentrating on returning the evacuees to their homes "and cleaning the environment which was very polluted after the passage of the typhoon", an official from the flood and storm committee in Quang Ngai said late Thursday.

Some homes shown on state television looked like they had been hit by an earthquake.

Downed trees are being cut through with saws and people are sweeping debris off roads, television pictures showed. Soldiers are assisting in the effort.

"It was dirty but... we helped each other so it was a lot of fun," said Nguyen Van Ngoc, a sailor in Rung village.

He was among the hundreds of thousands of people who fled their homes because of the storm and said he only returned on Wednesday after the floodwaters, which had reached halfway up the wall of his metal-roofed house, had drained away.

"When the water receded there was mud in the house," said Tran Phuc, a father-of-six in Tong Chanh village south of Hue.

He said the family spent a day cleaning the floor and the furniture.

The typhoon caused damage initially estimated at 120 million dollars to Vietnam, the government said on Thursday in a detailed report obtained by AFP.

It said more than 170,000 homes were flooded while a similar number had damaged roofs, and more than 6,300 other houses collapsed, mostly in Quang Nam province.

Thousands of farm animals died and almost 50,000 hectares (20,000 acres) of farmland were damaged in the country which is the world's second-largest rice exporter.

The death toll from Typhoon Ketsana in Cambodia has risen to at least 17, the country's Red Cross said on Friday.

Three more people were reported to have been killed after Ketsana swept through the country earlier this week, said Uy Sam Ath, director of the disaster management department at the Cambodian Red Cross.

The new toll includes a man who died in eastern Mondulkiri province and two people -- a father and a daughter -- who drowned when their boat capsized Wednesday evening in central Kampong Chhnang province, he said.

Northern Cambodia suffered widespread flooding after the storm battered the country Tuesday evening, affecting thousands of people and destroying hundreds of homes across the country, officials said.

Ketsana has killed 16 people and left 135 missing in Laos, the country's Red Cross said.

Fourteen of the deaths came in southern Attapeu province on the border with Cambodia, said Bountheung Menvilay, head of the agency's disaster preparedness division.

Two other deaths came in Savannakhet province, but Attapeu and adjacent Sekong provinces were most affected by the storm, which passed through the country on Wednesday, the Red Cross official said.

"We do have casualties in that location," said government spokesman Khenthong Nuanthasing, who was unable to confirm the number of deaths.

Bountheung said most of the deaths came during flash floods caused by the storm which has displaced 37,500 people in one of Asia's poorest nations.