Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Cambodia: Rebuilding lives after Typhoon Ketsana

http://www.reliefweb.int/
Source: Oxfam
Date: 19 Oct 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)
Thach You, like thousands of others in Cambodia, is struggling to keep a roof over her family's head and find enough food for her children following a season of devastating floods. Oxfam is providing relief assistance.

Flooding is not new for Thach You, a 25-year-old mother of five. Thach's house, which stands on stilts, is flooded for a week almost every year. But this year, floodwaters have reached higher and have lasted for three months. Around her house and beyond, a vast body of water covers over 80 percent of the rice fields vital to the local livelihoods in her village.

Like most of the 47 families in Toul Char, a village 143 miles north of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, Thach's family left their house to escape the danger and since mid-July they have taken refuge on higher ground. This was especially warranted after two near- fatal incidents with her two-year-old daughter who fell into the flood waters.

Conditions grew worse for Thach's family on September 29 after typhoon Ketsana, which coincided with the annual floods, dumped heavy rains on the region. The family's temporary shelter, made of palm leaves and tree branches, was no match for the onslaught.

"On the night of the typhoon, the wind was so strong that the roof could not stand it anymore," said Thach. The wind tore it off. "The downpour of rain was frightening. I used sleeping mats to cover my four children and a blanket to cover my then two-week-old daughter while my husband and I were trembling in the rainwater praying for the storm to end."

The same storm devastated parts of the Philippines, Vietnam, and Laos.

Across Cambodia, the storm affected an estimated 100,000 people. Floods and heavy rain hit eight provinces in central and northern Cambodia. Oxfam's reports show 10,867 families being affected with 19 deaths in Kampong Thom province alone. Oxfam is now focusing relief efforts on three hard-hit provinces: Kampong Thom, Kratie, and Stueng Treng. About 97,000 people in the three provinces are affected with 40,000 hectares of rice fields destroyed. Public infrastructure and private property, including houses and livestock, were damaged or lost, causing major disruption to people's livelihoods.

Keeping her family safe

After the typhoon destroyed her roof, Thach had to find palm leaves to rebuild it—while the rain kept pouring, sometimes non-stop for days. Every day, the family looked for food and hoped that the rain would stop.

When Thach's village finally became accessible, she received an Oxfam relief kit containing one plastic sheet, one water filter, two sleeping mats, one mosquito net, one krawma (a traditional multi-purpose scarf in Cambodia), one sarong, one kettle, two 16-liter buckets, one 80-liter bucket, and a bar of soap. These items have helped her to make the living conditions a little better and to ensure that the family has clean drinking water which will help fend off some waterborne diseases.

Thach told Oxfam that finding enough food for her family has been a challenge. A month earlier, she had received 60 kilograms of rice from a relief organization, but that food was long gone because she had to feed the family and return some of the rice she had borrowed from others. To get by, Thach and her husband skip meals so that their children can have more. But malnutrition is already visible.

"Now, it's extremely difficult to borrow rice from others because everybody is in urgent need of rice," Thach said. "Today I could only borrow four kilograms of cassavas and this will keep my children full for only two days."

Oxfam is working to assist 5,000 other hard-hit households by distributing relief items. It has reached 75 percent of them, but the challenges are growing.

"More efforts by humanitarian agencies are needed as receding waters become shallow, disrupting delivery of aid by boat," said Francis Perez, country lead of Oxfam International in Cambodia. "Oxfam will consider giving cash for food if that is the only resort to avoid hunger."

Concern about public health

Food isn't the only worry for Thach's family. Health is also an issue—one that Oxfam is concerned about, too, as water-related diseases are increasing and access to medical care for many people is difficult.

In Thach's village, Chief Houen Chea said only four families in his community went to a health center within the last three months. The nearest one is nearly five miles away and now a boat is necessary to reach it.

Thach's husband, Lun Peang, can hardly walk as his foot was cut with a bamboo thorn. The foot continues to swell and he cannot perform even the basic daily chores. But Lun never sought medical help.

"Even if the public health center does not charge me fees, I will not go because I do not have the $1 I need to pay for the boat to the center," Lun said.

Oxfam plans to reach an additional 5,000 families in the recovery phase in the next three to six months to help provide sanitation, rehabilitate safe water sources, and ensure food and livelihood security for the affected communities.

CWS emergency appeal: 2009 Cambodia flooding


19 Oct 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Source: Church World Service

Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.



Situation:

The effects of Typhoon Ketsana on Cambodia exacerbated an already serious flooding situation in the country; at least 14 people died in flooding caused when the typhoon hit Cambodia on Sept. 29. The storm also badly affected Vietnam and the Philippines.

In Kompong Thom Province, where CWS works, 10,684 families in 254 villages were affected. The damage was widespread: 14,862 hectors of paddy rice were completely destroyed, and 34,078 meters of road cut off. At least 98 houses and public buildings were completely destroyed and another 430 houses and public buildings were badly damaged.

CWS was part of a multi-agency coalition that assessed damage in late September and early October both from flooding prior to the typhoon and flooding caused by Ketsana.

CWS response:

Initial CWS relief assistance included food distribution to 112 families of such items as rice and canned fish. In the next phase, CWS plans to assist 3,841 affected families, or 19,435 persons, with adequate and appropriate food and non-food items, and later, working to provide longer-term food security, as well as access to clean water, and improved sanitation and hygiene facilities. The focus will be on 41 villages in Kompong Thom Province. Twenty-one villages will be assisted directly by CWS Cambodia and 20 villages will receive assistance implemented through CWS partners.

Through January, CWS will distribute the following to the 3,841 families. Food items (totals): White rice - 100 metric tons; canned fish:- 2,000 packs; vegetable oil - 2,749 litres; iodine salt - 2,749 kg; fish sauce - 2,749 bottles; soya sauce - 2,749 bottles; dry salt fish - 2,000 kg. Non-food items to be distributed include mosquito nets - 200; water containers - 500; water purification materials - 1,590; detergent - 1,590 packages; scarves - 1,590 pieces; blankets - 100; sarongs - 100; medicine packages - 100 sets; plastic sheeting - 100; construction material packages - 100 sets.

The second, early recovery stage, through October 2010, will consist of promoting food security and livelihood for the villages. This includes provision of rice seed - 23 metric tons; vegetable seed - 2.75 metric tons; water pumping machines - 16 sets; training to the most affected households on rice production, home gardening, animal raising; support for veterinary services for animal treatments; and raising awareness on sanitation and hygiene to 41 targeted villages. As well, support capacity building efforts that include disaster management trainings for the 41 villages.

Finally, reconstruction efforts will include providing 85 hand pump wells; 85 open wells; 165 household latrines; repair or rehabilitate 2,500 meters of canals or dams, 2,000 meters of village roads; three bridges; and 20 sites where water gates and culverts were damaged. How to help

Contributions to support Church World Service emergency response and recovery efforts may be made online, by phone (800.297.1516), or sent to Church World Service, P.O. Box 968, Elkhart, IN 46515.

[ Any views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not of Reuters. ]

From Killing Fields to Fields of Dreams


SPORTING YOUTH: A Cambodian boy plays soccer in front of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, 17 June 2006. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images )

By John Perra

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia is an unlikely place for baseball. There is chronic poverty, lingering post-war trauma, and rampant human trafficking. Children are more likely to work or rummage through the fetid muck of the Steung Meanchey dump than go to school or play.


But for the last seven years, Joe Cook, a Cambodian refugee, has been teaching the game in his homeland, building Cambodia's first ball field. Last year, he even managed to put together a national team. In March, they finally won their first game, playing a short series against a team from Vietnam. Considering the violent history the two countries share, just playing the game was an accomplishment beyond any scorecard.

Becoming Joe Cook

For Joe Cook, playing games came to an abrupt end in August 1975. He was Jouret Puk then, the son of a high-ranking Cambodian official who commanded nearly 3,000 troops. "My little sister and I were playing behind our house," Cook remembers. "All of a sudden we saw people dressed in black and red marching toward us. We were scared and we hid behind a tree." Those people were the Khmer Rouge and they invaded his village, burning homes to the ground. "They got us all in one place," he recalls, "then they forced us to march to a camp," he says. Cook's father was killed, and his family was split up and forced into labor camps. Cook's youngest sisters were among the 2 million executed by Pol Pot's regime. In 1978, Cook, then eight, escaped his camp with his mother and oldest brother, trying to reach the Thai border.

For a week, they made their way barefoot. "It was only 18 miles to the border but it turned into 80 because we had to keep moving back and forth, criss-cross because landmines were everywhere. So were the Khmer Rouge, and the Vietnamese who had just invaded."

The three refugees had only a small cup of rice between them, so to survive they ate crickets, grass, leaves, and tree bark. "I can remember catching frogs and eating them alive," Cook says. The pools of water they came across were polluted with the dead bodies of pigs, cows, and people. "I tried to brush the blood back to drink," he recalls, "It was so thick and bitter." Bodies lined the roads and when they ran into other people escaping from the camps, they would barter for food.

Finally, they made it to the Thai border and then to a series of refugee camps. In the Philippines, they found a sponsor through the U.S. embassy and arrived in Chattanooga, Tennessee in May 1983. "We couldn't even pronounce Tennessee. And we thought America must be near France because you had to take a plane to both of them," he says.

In America

There, everything was new. "I thought it was like a dream," Cook says, "A stove, a toilet, a TV. It was fascinating." And then there was the game he saw being played near his home.

"All I knew was that it was some kind of sport," he says. It was baseball. "I watched them behind a fence," he recalls, "I saw them having fun. I saw happy faces. As a kid in Cambodia, there was never happiness. But I knew in baseball is happiness. I kept going back every day. Finally I got the guts to go onto the field."

Through a combination of limited English and gestures, he made it clear to the coach that he wanted to play too. "When he gave me a glove so I could play catch, it felt like he had given me the whole uniform. I was like the other kids," he recalls. It was the start of a deep passion.

Baseball was also a way to assimilate. He became "Joe Cook," a chef in a Japanese steakhouse in Alabama, listening to Atlanta Braves baseball on the radio in his kitchen. He married and had two children.

In 2002, Cook's older sister Chamty, who he thought had perished, called from Cambodia. After years of brutality in the labor camps, she had been released in 1990 and used the Internet to track down members of her family. Cook agreed to reunite with her in Cambodia.

As a way of honoring him, Chamty wanted to travel to the airport to meet him. But the transportation costs were more than she could afford. She made a difficult decision. So as not to lose her brother again, she sold her son to traffickers. "When I arrived and found out, I was devastated," Cook says, choking up, "She didn't understand that I could've met her anywhere. I never would've wanted her to do that." The first thing he did was buy back his nephew, Chea Theara, for $86.



MINE FIELD: British sporting legend Bobby Charlton (L) walks out from a mines field at Ratanak Mondol district in Battambang province some 350 kilometers north west of Phnom Penh, 25 July 2007. Charlton arrived in Cambodia on 24 July, for a goodwill visit that is hoped to boost the country's ailing sports programme. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP/Getty Images)

Bringing Baseball Home

"He was so happy, so proud that his uncle had the ability to do that, he wanted to show me his town and also share his town with me," says Cook. Chea showed Cook his school in Baribo, a village in Kampong Chhang province about 68 miles west of Phnom Penh, and near it an open field.

Cook thought it would make a good spot for a baseball diamond. "What's baseball?" Chea asked. "It's a crazy game that I love," Cook told him, "I'll come back and bring equipment and teach you."

And he did. Eventually he built Cambodia's first baseball field in Baribo and began instructing kids there in the fundamentals of the game. Soon he was feeding them, teaching them English, and establishing the national team that includes Chea on its roster.

For several years, Cambodia's government wanted to shut down baseball in Cambodia. It was too American for them, according to Cook. "They kept saying, 'how about soccer?'" he says.

Although also a product of Western influence when the French brought it to Cambodia in the 1930s, soccer has been a hugely popular sport in the country for decades. The skill of Cambodia's players was the envy of much of Southeast Asia until the Khmer Rouge all but put an end to the sport. It wasn't until the 1990s that Cambodian soccer began to regain its strength, with teams competing and winning in international tournaments.

Likewise, Pradal Serey, an ancient boxing style best known for its martial arts roots and kicking technique, has begun to reemerge as a national sport. It too was nearly lost to history when the Khmer Rouge banned traditional martial arts and executed its boxers.

But Cambodia has spent more than a decade now regaining its athletic prominence. It returned to the Olympics in 1996 after a 24-year absence and has participated in those games ever since.

Coming Around to Baseball

Despite the national focus on soccer, Cook kept baseball in Cambodia going, supporting the game out of his own pocket and getting some help with equipment and coaches from Major League Baseball. Then this year, the national team started winning, beating Vietnam in that friendly series and gaining professional bragging rights by besting Malaysia in May in an official game between the countries. A governor donated land for another field after that.

Cambodia's people are starting to come around to the game. Other baseball clubs and organizations have sprung up in the past few months, including one in the capital city of Phnom Penh. The organizer of that group is a young man in his earlier twenties who calls Cook "Bong," the Khmer word for "brother," a sign of respect. That pleases Cook and he laughs, "I am baseball's big brother." In reality, Cook is now president of the Cambodia Baseball Federation.

In August, Cook developed the first regional leagues within Cambodia. The Braves, representing the west, and the Royals, in the east, play each other nearly every day. "Someday I want to build a stadium here," says Cook. The image of a stadium leaves even him, baseball's true believer here, awestruck. "Can you imagine a baseball stadium in Cambodia?" he asks.

John Perra is a journalist, a contributor to Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson (Da Capo 2009), and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus, where this article first appeared.

A(H1N1) flu cases in Cambodia rise to 161


October 19, 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) — Cambodian Health Ministry announced on Monday that flu A(H1N1) in country has risen to 161 cases, killing three people including a pregnant women.


In total Cambodia have 161 cases and 77 of them are women and so far it killed three people and moreover, 133 of 161 cases are Khmer, Ly Sovan, deputy director of Communicable disease department (CDC) of Cambodia told reporters at a press conference here.

He added that 28 foreigners infected with the virus include three Australians, four French citizens, six Japanese, one Filipinos, two people from the United Kingdom, nine Americans, one Indian, and two people from Ireland. The flu is spreading among local communities in the country, he noted.

Many people called the flu Hot Line, but only 300 cases of 1, 200 phones are asking about ways of prevention of this flu and some important information of this flu, he added. He urged local people to stop making useless phone call and keep time for people in need.

He once again said that his ministry is still concerned about the upcoming water festival which lasts from November 1 to 3 this year on Tonle Sap River in Phnom Penh because millions of Khmer people will join this event. The number of the flu infected cases could increase, he added. But Maggs Mac Guinness, technical officer of pandemic planning for the World Health Organization (WHO) to Cambodia said that even though they should not be afraid of this flu, they could prevent it with easy ways.

According to report of health ministry, it is preparing 500,000 posters and leaflets to raise awareness for people about the flu. (PNA/Xinhua)

Cambodian PM blames wealth countries for climate change


http://www.chinaview.cn/
2009-10-19
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday blamed the wealth and advanced countries for climatechange and global warming that pushed the planet to have weather change, irregular rainfall, flooding, disasters and storms.

"The wealthy and developed countries produced too much greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide and they pushed this world into danger, have climate change and global warming," Hun Sen madethe remarks at the First National Forum on Climate Change opened here Monday afternoon.

Calling those acts as "sins", the premier urged the wealthy countries to take more responsibility, to transfer modern technology and offer more aids to help poor countries who are veryvulnerable to climate change in order to cope with the climate change.

However, the premier said that "we still have to have international cooperation to prevent and deal with the climate change and global warming."

Cambodia is doing everything that contributes to reduce carbon dioxide emission and set up the policies to protect, conserve the forestry and replant the forestry in the country, he said, adding that currently, Cambodia had stopped exporting the woods to foreign countries even though it is the national income resource.

He, meantime, asked wealth countries and developed countries to pour more fund to help poor countries and least developed countries.

Hun Sen also said that Cambodia will continue to stand on own help in saving the climate without waiting the assistance from the wealthy and developed countries.

Cambodia will respect the U.N. convention of climate change and Kyoto Protocols and will make its effort to follow these legal tools, he noted.

"We also supported to use solar energy system for people and also support to use renewal of energy for local people," he added. "This event will help to share experience and expand the cooperation with other partners in climate change projects."

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Climate change the 'sin' of rich countries: Cambodian PM


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen salutes during a parade in Phnom Penh on October 13, 2009


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday urged rich countries to take more responsibility for causing climate change, saying poorer nations were the ones to suffer the fall-out.

"All of us poor countries do not cause climate change. (We) would like rich countries to take a bit more responsibility than before," Hun Sen said, branding it a "sin".

Hun Sen made his remarks at the first national forum to promote understanding of climate change in Cambodia, ahead of a key global summit on the issue this December in Copenhagen, Denmark.

He said it was difficult to expect a deal at the UN climate conference because countries disagreed on many points.

"But we hope that all countries will agree on some common points regarding the obligation of reducing greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

The December 7-18 UN climate summit in the Danish capital will see nations attempt to hammer out a new global climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

Cambodia in Pictures



A Cambodian boy rows a boat to transport children from the neighborhoods to a school as it rains in Kamdal province, 25 km (15 miles) east of Phnom Penh October 19, 2009. RUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)


Cambodian children row a boat to transport other children from the neighborhoods to a school as it rains in Kamdal province, 25 km (15 miles) east of Phnom Penh October 19, 2009, after a deadly typhoon hit the country last month. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)


Residents live in a flooded house in Kamdal province, 25 km (15 miles) east of Phnom Penh October 19, 2009, after a deadly typhoon hit the country last month. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)


Houses stand in floodwaters in Kamdal province, 25 km (15 miles) east of Phnom Penh October 19, 2009, after a deadly typhoon hit the country last month. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Posted by CAAI News Media)


Residents pass flooded houses in Kamdal province, 25 km (15 miles) east of Phnom Penh October 19, 2009, after a deadly typhoon hit the country last month. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)


Cambodian children go to school by boat in Kamdal province, 25 km (15 miles) east of Phnom Penh, October 19, 2009 after a deadly typhoon hit the country last month. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)


School children arrive at school after they were transported from the neighbourhoods by a boat rowed by a Cambodian boy in Kamdal province, 25 km (15 miles) east of Phnom Penh October 19, 2009, after a deadly typhoon hit the country last month. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAAI News Media)


Children play near flooded houses in Kamdal province, 25 km (15 miles) east of Phnom Penh October 19, 2009, after a deadly typhoon hit the country last month. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (Posted by CAAI News Media)

Major Cambodian cotton import tipped

http://vietnamnews.vnagency.com.vn/
19-10-2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

HCM CITY — Cambodia plans to export 1,000 tonnes of cotton to Viet Nam, the largest order since 1970, by the beginning of next year.

Kong Chan, managing director of Seladamex Co, said the company as well as many other Vietnamese enterprises specialising in other commodities had recently been negotiating a number of deals with Cambodian firms.

Seladamex has found new markets and begun buying additional cotton from farmers in Cambodia’s Battambang Province for US$400 a tonne. After processing, they will export the cotton for $1,500 a tonne.

Trade between Viet Nam and Cambodia is expected to improve next year and surge past Thailand, which has been a major trading partner of Cambodia for many years, economists have said. Despite the global slowdown, trade between the two countries is expected to reach $2 billion next year. Bilateral trade reached $848 million for the first eight months of 2009, a drop of 29.2 per cent compared to the same period last year. — VNS

Cambodian couple arrested for torturing young girl




10/19/2009
The Associated Press
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

(AP) — PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A Cambodian schoolteacher and her husband have been charged for repeatedly torturing an 11-year-old girl they bought to be their domestic helper and held captive for more than a year, a court official said Monday.

Prosecutor Heung Bunchea said Meas Neary, a high school teacher in Phnom Penh, and her husband, Va Sarouen, a retired Ministry of Education official, were charged with torture and human trafficking in Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

If convicted, they could face 25 years in prison, he said.



Acting on a tip from the couple's neighbors, police arrested them Friday while they were fleeing in a car with the girl, said Major Mok Hong, of the Sen Sok district.

The girl's body was covered with more than 200 wounds, which were allegedly inflicted by the suspects, he said.

"The couple said that they beat the girl with coat hangers, brooms, electric wires, and sometimes used pliers to pull her flesh," Mok Hong said.

The couple paid $400 to the girl's 62-year-old guardian in early 2008 for the girl to help with domestic chores, Mok Hong said, adding that the girl's parents were both deceased.

Heung Bunchea said the girl's former guardian, Thoeng Reth, was also charged with human trafficking for selling the girl to the couple.

The girl is now in the care of a Swiss-based Christian organization, Hagar International, which provides assistance to victims of trafficking and exploitation.

Poor nations most affected by climate change: Cambodian PM


http://www.chinaview.cn/
2009-10-19
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- At the first national forum held in Cambodia on climate change, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Monday that poor countries are the most affected by the change of the climate.

"Poor countries are the ones mostly affected from the crisis that was originated elsewhere, because they have very little resources to cope with climate change," Hun Sen said at the opening of the first national forum on climate change in Phnom Penh.

"Very often, governments of poor countries have very limited intervention through rescue operation and relief efforts after the crisis already occurred," he said.

The three-day forum beginning from Monday was participated by many stakeholders coming from various sources including the government, international organizations, and experts. It aims to help the Cambodian public better understand that climate change is not just an environmental but a development issue with far-reaching consequences for Cambodia's progress toward achieving Millennium Development Goals.

Cambodia signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1995 which reflected its awareness on the issue as well as its determination and responsibility in the global effort to tackle climate change.

Hun Sen said the forum is a critical event because it opens the floor for sharing information and experience with other regional countries.

He said Cambodia has implemented program of climate change adaptation in late 2006, which has 39 projects for implementation to respond to immediate needs of communities to adapt themselves to climate change.

He also said "It is very encouraging to know that recently the European Union has pledged and is considering to provide a budget of two to 15 billion U.S. dollars annually to poor countries for implementing their adaptation measures."

But, Hun Sen alerted the success of this mechanism could be assured only with a good incentive scheme, justice and justified economic cost of legal relative to illegal use of forest.

"In addition to carbon absorption, forest protection and conservation brought a lot of benefits to community, country and the world," he said, and added "They include non-timber forest products for community, protecting watershed, regulating water level, fertilizing land, absorbing rain water, correcting weather condition, conserving biodiversities".

Editor: Wang Guanqun

New Cambodia search for lost son


Monday, 19 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)


Eddie Gibson has not been heard from for five years

" It's inconceivable to us that someone out there doesn't know what happened to Eddie "
Mike Gibson

The father of a Sussex backpacker who vanished in Cambodia will return to the country on the fifth anniversary of his disappearance.

Eddie Gibson, 22, of Hove, went missing on 24 October 2004, a week before he was due to fly back to Britain.

His father Mike will be flying out to Phnom Penh to renew his appeal for information.

He said: "As long as there's some hope we're determined to find out what happened to Eddie."

Mr Gibson added: "It's unfinished business as far as we're concerned. We do want to find out what happened to Eddie, he's our son. Five years has gone by and we just won't give up until we find out.

"We do cope we get on with our lives. We've got two lovely other sons, but Eddie will always be in our minds.

"The scenario is that Eddie almost certainly is not alive. You never give up total hope that we could be wrong.

"We have had a lot of inquiries, ongoing inquiries, into his disappearance and some of them do point to the fact that he may have been murdered out in Phnom Penh.

"We hope not but we are determined not to let it go.

"Phnom Penh, its population would be bigger than Brighton but it's a bit like a village and it's inconceivable to us that someone out there doesn't know what happened to Eddie," he said.

"I've been in touch with the Cambodian Daily, it has an Irish editor who has been editor out there for a very long time. He said it is really very, very strange that nothing has come out, nothing has come forward and that is part of the purpose of the visit."

TV appeal

Eddie was three weeks into a combined Asian and Pacific studies and international management course at Leeds University when he decided to travel to the Far East.

Two weeks into his trip, Mr Gibson's mother received an e-mail telling her he would be flying home from Thailand a week later - but he never arrived.

Investigators have completed a picture of his movements only up to 23 October.

Detectives from Sussex Police went to Cambodia in July 2006 to work alongside officers there.

In 2007 his parents made a TV appeal in Cambodia and offered a £10,000 reward for information about his whereabouts.

Asean needs a culture shock



Asean needs a culture shockAsean countries need to instil a much-needed paradigm shift that will see its people define 'culture' beyond superficialities


Nazry Bahrawi
guardian.co.uk
Monday 19 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

This past month has seen Malaysia waging a culture war against Indonesia and Singapore, two fellow founding members of the Asean regional grouping.

A regional food fight broke out when tourism minister Ng Yen Yen accused surrounding countries of hijacking Malaysia's popular dishes.

Earlier, Malaysia had also unwittingly incensed Indonesians when a documentary about its tourism featured the traditional pendet dance commonly performed on the Indonesian island of Bali. In retaliation, some Indonesians formed a vigilante group to hunt down Malaysians working in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Battle lines between Malaysia and Indonesia were also drawn over the rightful ownership of the intricately patterned batik fabric. When Unesco approved Indonesia's bid to include this cloth in its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, the Indonesian media played it up as a victory over Malaysia where there had previously been efforts to patent batik designs.

Meanwhile, Thailand and Cambodia had been wrangling over the ownership of the Preah Vihear temple located at their borders – a dispute that was also born from a Unesco decision last year to designate the ancient Buddhist temple as a world heritage site for Cambodia (to the chagrin of Thai leaders who are now appealing against this decision). Already, clashes between Cambodian and Thai troops have caused fatalities on both sides.

To downplay Asean's culture war as trivial is unwise. This conflict threatens the regional grouping's unity, forcing its member states to uphold a state of continuing socio-political, even military, tension that is almost akin to the cold war. The skirmishes between Thai and Cambodian troops and the near-violent spat between Indonesians and Malaysians signal a disturbing trend. So too are the reactions of Singaporean bloggers if one considers the results of a survey commissioned by the Asean Foundation last year which found that Singaporean youths are the least likely among their peers in the 10-member grouping to consider themselves Asean citizens.

To bridge the gaping cultural divide, Asean needs to instil a much-needed paradigm shift that will see its people define "culture" beyond mere superficialities. Instead of being fixated on a distinct dish, dress or dance, Southeast Asians have to start seeing culture from a socio-historical perspective. Given that the region was once part of the Silk Road where traders from all over Asia had moved freely, any instances of cultural heritage are likely to be a meshing of many.

As founding members of the grouping, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are well-placed to contribute to this undertaking. Taking the case of multicultural Singapore, this would mean capitalising on the notion of hybridised cultures to encourage endeavours that break down racial barriers such as in school public performances where Chinese pupils dance to Indian bhangra music or Malay students perform the Chinese opera, among others.

There are other ways of instilling such a culture shock. To mitigate the spread of parochialism in future generations, Asean could develop an educational programme highlighting its sense of shared history that could be adapted by schools in the different member-states. The ideal curriculum should capture discourses that not only decentres the idea of a fixed identity but promotes the view that culture is evolutionary and not static. Hence, this month's forum by historians from Malaysia and Indonesia to suss out common cultural links is laudable.

Or Asean leaders could consider setting up a committee of experts to rule on cultural disputes between member-states. Professing multiculturalism as its motto, this committee should also advise the Unesco which had inadvertently fuel Asean's culture war when it ruled in favour of Indonesia and Cambodia on the batik and the Preah Vehar temple respectively. After all, such a committee would gel well with Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan's promise of focusing on culture as the hitherto ignored third pillar of the regional grouping after economic and defence when he first took over last year.

Whatever Asean chooses to do, it needs doing soon. As the Indonesian invasion threat of Malaysia suggests, the region's culture vultures are already hovering on the horizon.

Contract for Marble Exploration in Cambodia Signed Between Terra Insight Services and The Millennium International Group

http://www.cnbc.com/

By: PR Newswire | 19 Oct 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

NEW YORK, Oct 19, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: TEGR), a natural resource exploration services technology company, announces that the Company's service subsidiary Terra Insight Services, Inc. signed a service contract with The Millennium International Group, LLC, a US limited liability company.

Terra Insight Services is to perform a two phase marble exploration utilizing Sub Terrain Prospecting Technology (STeP(R)) on an approximately 100 square kilometer service territory in Cambodia.

"The client's payment for our services will be in cash and an overriding royalty in all natural resources which may be produced or extracted from the service territory of two percent for the first phase and one percent for the second phase of the contract. We have been engaged in phase one of the contract, for which we have already received a prepayment," said Dr. Alexandre Agaian, President of Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc.

"Terra aims at utilizing its unique and innovative exploration capabilities for economic interests in natural resource exploration projects in addition to regular service fees," said Dmitry Vilbaum, the Company's Chief Executive Officer. "Consistent with our business model and plans, we see The Millennium International Group as becoming a valuable Southeast Asia market partner for the Company." About Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc.

Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc., through its subsidiary Terra Insight Services, Inc., provides mapping and analysis services for exploration, drilling, and mining companies related to natural resources found beneath the surface of the Earth. The Company uses a suite of innovative and efficient technologies, which facilitate the prediction and location of commercially viable deposits of hydrocarbons, gold, diamonds, and other natural resources, and assesses them for any given geographic area - on or offshore. For more information, visit http://www.terrainsight.com.

Safe Harbor for Forward-looking Statements This press release may contain forward-looking information within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and is subject to the safe harbor created by those sections. There are many factors that could cause the Company's expectations and beliefs about its operations, its plans to acquire interests in exploration properties or technologies, plans to drill or drilling results to fail to materialize, including, but not limited to: competition for new acquisitions; availability of capital; unfavorable geologic conditions; prevailing prices for oil, natural gas and other natural resources; and general regional economic conditions.

CONTACT: Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc., (212) 286-9197, info@terrainsight.com SOURCE Terra Energy & Resource Technologies, Inc.

Home Society Cambodia Seeks to Muzzle its Opposition



Written by Bryony Taylor
Monday, 19 October 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

New criminal libel laws put a serious dent in press freedom

After escorting United Nations officials out of the National Assembly, Cambodia's ruling party last week pushed through a draft criminal code that is regarded as yet another barrier to freedom of speech in a country becoming infamous for silencing opposition members and journalists.

Cambodia is thus in danger of going down the same road as other Southeast Asian countries in making it easier to file bring criminal libel charges designed to stifle dissent, both from the opposition and the press although its English-language newspapers remain relatively free today.

None of the members of the UN Human Rights team were allowed back into the Assembly during the debate on the code, and the television feed conveniently broke down during discussions on the code's most contentious issues regarding defamation. Ruling party members blamed the UN altercation on a change in visiting procedure paperwork and the television interruption on external feed problems.

"We did not throw them out," said Chheang Vun, Cambodia's former ambassador to Geneva. "The secretary-general for the National Assembly banned them from getting in." He warned that the situation should not be used for political gain by opposition lawmakers.

Since April 2009 the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has noted that Cambodia's government has lodged eight separate criminal defamation and disinformation complaints against opposition lawmakers, protesting civilians and newspaper editors. Two Khmer language newspapers have been forced to close after their editors were sued, and separately a student was arrested for spraying anti-government slogans on his house.

Under the new draft criminal code, media defamation cannot be considered a criminal offense and will instead be covered by Cambodia's press law. Anyone other than journalists may face fines of between $25 and $2,500 for public defamation, which the code describes as "all exaggerated declarations, or those that intentionally put the blame for any actions, which affect the dignity or reputation of a person or an institution."

Individual interpretation of these words could well lead to further curtailing of critics' remarks.

"It is a shame that the authorities did not take advantage of the drafting of the new Penal Code to remove defamation," said Brittis Edman, Amnesty International's Cambodian Researcher. "We have long called for a decriminalization of defamation; the criminal justice system is not the appropriate channel for resolving defamation cases; they are better settled under civil law and should not violate the freedom of expression."

"[The code] currently includes a number of provisions which unduly restrict freedom of expression," said the British human rights group Article 19, which lobbies for freedom of speech. It also pointed out that the broad defamation statute also appears to leave out truth as a defense against defamation charges.

"These rules should apply only to incorrect factual statements made without reasonable grounds. It should not be an offence to make a defamatory statement which is true or which is a reasonable opinion," it said.

The Washington, DC-based Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission convened a meeting last month in Phnom Penh to discuss Cambodia's situation regarding freedom of expression. Testimony by three prominent Cambodians — opposition SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, labour advocate Moeun Tola and Kek Pung, founder of Licadho, a domestic NGO — detailed a litany of lawsuits filed by members of the ruling party curbing free speech similar to the methodology of Malaysia and Singapore's previous use of defamation.

Hun Sen's ruling CPP party rejected any accusation put forth at the hearing regarding the abuse of human rights in the country, condemning Sochua particularly for giving ‘false testimony' in a biased and misleading manner. They also highlighted Cambodia's free press.

Sochua was convicted for defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen in a ‘he said, she said' battle of lawsuits, which she faced without a lawyer after her representative was threatened with the loss of his career. Hun Sen famously insulted a strong and prominent woman widely believed to have been Sochua with the colloquial insult "cheung klang" — strong leg — in a nationally broadcast speech on April 4 2009.

She filed a defamation suit soon after. Hun Sen however, countersued on the basis that her filing against him was itself defamation and countersued. Her case was dismissed and she lost her defense, leaving her to appeal against the conviction fine of 16.5 million riels (US$3,971).

Sochua has embarked upon a battle for freedom of speech with considerable fire and PR savvy more often seen in the West. Such has been her success in bringing attention to what she calls Cambodia's "sham democracy" that delegations from the EU, a new and more forthright UN human rights rapporteur and countless damnations from NGOs and human rights groups have questioned her treatment. The US embassy in Phnom Penh has been ordered to monitor her safety and report back. But will it make a difference? History says not.

While Cambodia's Asean neighbors Singapore and Malaysia have a long history of using similar methodologies to curtail criticism and Indonesia's criminal defamation laws have the potential to bring editors to bear, according to Human Rights Watch, compared to their Asean neighbors governmental critics in Cambodia face greater penalties and actual fear of violence.

Brad Adams, HRW's Asia Director said: "Sadly, democracy is not a term I would apply to Cambodia. Aside from having elections every five years, almost all the other elements are missing. The trend is negative and with the continuing consolidation of power by Hun Sen, not least in the military, it is hard to see the trend reversing. Hun Sen has shown little ability to change over the years, to become more tolerant of criticism, less autocratic and work to create enduring, competent and independent institutions. Massive corruption and greed among those in power is at the heart of the problem, yet no steps are being taken to address it. It is depressingly similar to what has happened in Malaysia and Singapore over the years."

In an Amnesty International report concerning the actions of the Singaporean government during the period, the NGO highlighted the very same concerns that are repeated in Cambodia today. "The intended [and expected] effect of these suits, it is believed, has been to inhibit the public activities of opposition politicians."

There is very little difference between this and the ongoing actions in Cambodia, Mu Sochua says. "When [the] government of a non or semi-democratic regime is in control of the judiciary, their opponents will continue to be victims of such a lack of independence in the judiciary. However, by continuing to pursue this practice, the leaders in power will discredit themselves at the end. I believe that there will be a break point but it has to be worse before it can be better." She added that while total judicial forms were unlikely without a change in leadership, she hoped aid donors would only provide further help on a conditional basis tied to freedom of speech.

A disproportionate use of civil defamation suits by any government has the chilling effect of silencing a political life that for progress must thrive. While Singapore is an economic success, Cambodia is far from it and is yet to be considered an attractive destination for foreign direct investment. A decoupling of defamation from criminal law must coincide with a government taking lessons in constructive criticism. Without this, it is the Cambodia people who continue to lose out with a legislature, executive and judiciary, neither of which are accountable to those they rule.

Cambodia balances East and West


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By Sebastian Strangio

PHNOM PENH - At a ceremony last month marking the construction of the US$128 million Cambodia-China Prek Kdam Friendship Bridge in Kandal province, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said the growth in aid and investment from China was boosting economic development and strengthening his country's "political independence".

"China respects the political decisions of Cambodia," he told his audience. "They are quiet, but at the same time they build bridges and roads and there are no complicated conditions." It was a thinly veiled reference to the strings attached to Western aid, including calls for progress on anti-corruption reforms, and underscored China's growing role in Cambodia's developing economy.

With a still booming economy amid the global economic downturn, China has maintained the momentum behind its strong commercial diplomacy towards Southeast Asia. Cambodia - a small but important corner of Beijing's emerging regional economic sphere of influence - has been one of the key beneficiaries of the loans, aid and investment largesse.

Official "friendship" delegations between the Chinese Communist Party and Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party have proceeded apace throughout the crisis. During a three-day visit to China's Sichuan province that concluded over the weekend, Hun Sen and Chinese officials announced $853 million worth of new Chinese loans and grants for various infrastructure projects in Cambodia.

The funds will be dedicated to hydropower projects, two bridges and the rehabilitation of the highway linking the country's Kratie and Mondulkiri provinces. The announcement comes on top of the $880 million in loans and grants Cambodia has received from Beijing since 2006, including finance for the $280 million Kamchay hydropower dam in Kampot province and the recently completed $30 million Council of Ministers building in the capital Phnom Penh - presented as a gift from the government in Beijing.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Qian Hai said Chinese investments in Cambodia as of 2009 totalled $4.5 billion, a commercial success he credits in part to a policy of respecting Cambodia's sovereignty. "We do not interfere in the internal affairs of Cambodia," he said. Phnom Penh has traditionally reciprocated by recognizing Beijing's One-China policy, advocating "peaceful reunification" between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, Qian Hai added.

China's global sales pitch to developing countries, essentially aid and investment decoupled from prickly issues of human rights or democratic reforms, has in recent years scored diplomatic points in Phnom Penh. But like most Southeast Asian countries, Cambodia has had a complicated and sometimes stormy historical relationship with Beijing.

The 1950s and 1960s were marked by close relations, cemented by the close personal friendship between Cambodia's mercurial Prince Norodom Sihanouk and Chinese leaders Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, who offered the beleaguered Sihanouk asylum - including a residence and official stipend - after he was overthrown by the US-backed General Lon Nol in 1970.

China's support from 1975-79 for the radical Khmer Rouge regime - as a counterweight to the assertiveness of the recently reunited socialist Vietnam - led Hun Sen to refer to China as "the root of everything that was evil" in Cambodia in a 1988 essay. As memories of Cambodia's long civil war have faded and Hun Sen has consolidated his power, historical grievances have yielded to more practical concerns. (After Hun Sen ousted then-first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh in a bloody factional coup in 1997, it is notable that China was the first country to recognize his rule.)

China's commercial growing economic ties to Cambodia are only one aspect of its re-engagement with Southeast Asia. Joshua Kurlantzick, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington and the author of Charm Offensive: How China's Soft Power is Transforming the World, said that around the time of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, China began to assert itself in the region through greater aid disbursements, new trade arrangements, cultural diplomacy and military ties.

"China ... saw broader China-ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] relations as a way of reassuring countries in the region that China would be a peaceful and non-interfering type of power - that China could work well with ASEAN and thus demonstrate it could play the game of soft, multilateral diplomacy," he told Asia Times Online.

Countervailing aid
Chinese aid is in some measure weaning Cambodia off its dependence on the West, which still contributes nearly half of the country's annual budget.

On October 16, the National Assembly debated a new trade treaty with China with lawmakers from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) arguing that Chinese-funded projects have had adverse effects on the environment and local people. SRP parliamentarian Mu Sochua singled out a 199,000-hectare agricultural concession granted to Chinese firm Wuzhishan in the country's northeast Mondulkiri province, which she said has illegally stripped large tracts of land from ethnic minority Phnong villagers.

Carlyle Thayer, a professor of political science based at the Australian Defense Force Academy in Sydney, said China's strategy of "non-interference", enshrined also in the ASEAN Charter, has been a major selling point for Beijing in Southeast Asia, where in some countries it is viewed as a shield against pressure from the United States and other Western countries. "Chinese aid offers an escape hatch for countries under pressure from the West [that] promote human rights and democratic reform," Thayer said.

Kurlantzick said that Chinese aid was likely to have a "corrosive" effect on good governance and human rights in Asia. "Hun Sen knows how to play China off of the Western donor groups and China's aid - even if not necessarily linked to any downgrading of human rights - could have the effect of a kind of race to the bottom on human rights," he said.

Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at the US-based Human Rights Watch, agreed that unconditional Chinese aid to Cambodia could act as a "financial lifeline" that might otherwise be cut by Western donors. She said, however, that since Western nations often failed to work together effectively to set and enforce aid conditions in Cambodia, China's growing presence may end up having little distinct impact on human rights.

"The most important point - and key problem - is that the government in Phnom Penh ... seems determined to be extraordinarily abusive, regardless of whoever's money is on offer," she said.

Despite the recent influx of Chinese capital, there is no indication Hun Sen's government is ready to abandon ties to the West. Chea Vannath, an independent political analyst based in Phnom Penh, said that growing Chinese influence would likely be used to counterbalance the influence of Western countries - a vital strategy for a country of Cambodia's small size and redolent of Prince Sihanouk's balancing act during the periods of the Cold War that he ruled the country as prime minister, from 1955 to 1970.

"I think that what the government is trying to do is to diversify its aid ... It is eager to strike a balance," she said. "As a sovereign government, Cambodia needs aid from both sources."

Thayer agreed that rumors of a drop in Western - particularly American - influence were exaggerated. In 2007 US-Cambodia relations warmed when Washington lifted restrictions on the provision of aid to the central government, imposed following the coup of 1997. The US was already the top destination for Cambodia-made garments and textiles, one of the country's top exports.

In June, US President Barack Obama signalled his intention to boost trade further by removing Cambodia and Laos from a Cold War-era US trade blacklist, opening the way for American businesses to access US government-backed loans and credit guarantees for trade and investment between the two countries.

"All the countries of Southeast Asia, to varying extent, have long adjusted to China's rise and political influence," said Thayer. "They do not want to be put in a position of having to choose between China and the United States."

Sebastian Strangio is a reporter for the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia.

Refugee tells of life in slave labor camp


10/19/2009
GOSIA WOZNIACKA
The Associated Press

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

(AP) — PORTLAND, Ore. - For more than 30 years, Kilong Ung, a Portland software engineer, struggled with haunting memories of nearly starving in a slave labor camp.

Then there were the deaths from exhaustion of his father, mother and little sister, and the extinguishing of 1.7 million other Cambodians by starvation, disease, torture and execution under Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime.

Ung, then a boy, survived and came to the United States as a refugee, reaching the pinnacles of the American Dream: a Reed College education, graduate school, and lucrative jobs in the corporate world. But despite the successes, he could not forget.

He dreamed of creating a way to share the horrific past with his two Oregon-born children. And he wanted to honor the people who didn't survive, as well as those who helped him make it in life.

Ung decided to write a book, to simultaneously get rid of the memories and preserve them. This summer, he self-published his memoir, "Golden Leaf, a Khmer Rouge Genocide Survivor."

But the book is only a means to an end, the 49-year-old Ung said. He wants his memoir to "leverage the past" and help Cambodia. The goal: to use some of the proceeds from the book to build a school in his country of his birth. He plans to name the school "Golden Leaf."

After surviving a slave labor camp under Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime, Kilong Ung became a refugee in a camp in Thailand. He came to Portland in 1980. The book describes the cruel, dirty, hunger-filled life inside a labor camp. Ung buries his grandmother, catches and eats a rat, cradles his emaciated mother, and is arrested and degraded for stealing a coconut.

When the Vietnamese drove the Khmer Rouge from power in 1979, Ung fled Cambodia by foot to Thailand with his older sister and her boyfriend. They eventually settled in California as refugees, and within a year moved to Oregon.

Because of his experiences, Ung writes that he saw himself as "a leaf at the mercy of the wind." But while other "leaves" were crushed, he persevered and became a "golden leaf."

What sets Ung apart from fellow survivors, said Mardine Mao, president of the Cambodian-American Community of Oregon (CACO), is not just perseverance, but also a vision to transform past suffering into something positive.

"I've lost so much," Ung said, "and if I do nothing with the past, all that has happened would have happened for nothing."

Area Rotary clubs are also interested in supporting the project, said Gene Horton, a member of the Hillsboro Rotary Club, who plans to help Ung raise funds.

"I'm quite impressed with Kilong," Horton said. "He's come so far; it's an amazing story. He's forceful and dedicated enough to make this idea happen."

Ung's other hope is to inspire Oregon's Cambodian community. He has served as a Cambodian language teacher, youth mentor, and past president of CACO. Under his leadership, the organization grew and formed support groups for youth, women, and elderly, a heritage banquet, and a public forum to discuss the Khmer Rouge tribunal, among other programs.

"Many Cambodians would rather forget the past, because it's too painful to relieve the memory. Kilong found the courage to speak up," Mao said. "His work is a great example that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. It provides an inspiration to those of us that may want to share similar stories."

But perhaps Ung's biggest contribution is guiding fellow refugees into the midst of the American mainstream. He wants to serve as a bridge between the Cambodian and American communities, Ung said. His higher education, active participation in the Rotary club and the Royal Rosarians, fluent English and other achievements can be a model of success.

In the end, Ung's story is a deposition against the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.

"A book becomes evidence," Ung said. "It becomes a legacy, a document."

His final message is of forgiveness and recovery. Ung is converting his sorrow into action: his family has put down roots in Oregon. Against all odds, "a leaf at the mercy of the wind... became a tree."

___

Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com/

Culture Corridor




Cambodian musicians are among the performers who represent the diverse culture of the Atlantic Avenue Corridor, where Union Bank Renaissance opened in Long Beach five years ago. (Stephen Carr / Staff Photographer)

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By Kelly Puente, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/18/2009

LONG BEACH --- Five years ago, Union Bank Renaissance took a chance on a struggling neighborhood in Central Long Beach — something no other bank was willing to do.

"For 40 years no one wanted to take that challenge," said branch manager Victor Otiniano. "But we wanted to work with the neighborhood and help small businesses. We're a big bank with a community attitude."

On Sunday, Union Bank Renaissance, located at 1900 Atlantic Ave., celebrated its fifth anniversary with a multicultural celebration at Houssels Auditorium in Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. The event, meant to honor small businesses and recognize the rich cultural diversity of Central Long Beach, featured Cambodian folk music, a mariachi band and Peruvian and Bangladeshi dancers.

"This is a tribute to the small business leaders in the community," said 6th District Councilman Dee Andrews. "Keep up the good work."

When Union Bank opened its doors in 2004, city officials and residents hoped it would bring business to the blighted area of Long Beach just north of Pacific Coast Highway. Dubbed Renaissance Square, the bank was part of a $3 million Redevelopment Agency-funded project in the Atlantic Avenue corridor.

Tax consultant Rolando Navarro said he opened his business, Rolly's Tax Service, 3913 Long Beach Blvd., four years ago with the help of Union Bank. Rolando was one of several small business owners and clients of Union Bank recognized on Sunday.

"If you work hard, you get recognized," he said.

The celebration was also a "phase three" event of the Leadership Long Beach Connected Corridor, a project that seeks to transform neighborhoods along Atlantic Avenue by creating connections between residents and small businesses within the community.

The organization, which hosts community events and forums, began "phase one" in 2007, focusing on a stretch of Atlantic from the North Long Beach border to Del Amo Boulevard. "Phase two" focused on Atlantic from Del Amo to Spring Street, and "phase three" is now focusing on the stretch from Spring to Pacific Coast Highway.

The organization will begin "phase four" next spring, focusing on Atlantic from PCH to Ocean Boulevard.

For more information visit Connected Corridor's Web site.

Maybank opens sixth branch in Cambodia



Monday, October 19, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

MALAYSAN Banking Bhd today opened its sixth branch in Cambodia, with a prospect of adding two more in the country this financial year.

Located at Phnom Penh’s largest business centre dominated by the capital city’s Olympic Stadium landmark, the new branch is expected to help boost loan and deposit growth by 38 per cent and 15 per cent respectively by end of June next year, the bank said in a statement.

“This latest branch will offer a range of business and retail facilities to cater to local as well as Malaysian and Singaporean businesses with interests in the country,” said Abdul Farid Alias, Maybank Senior Executive Vice-President and Head of International.

He said deposits and total assets grew by 27 per cent each over the last three years and as the Cambodian economy gets back on a growth path, Maybank expects the Olympic branch to contribute to earnings from its second year of operations.

The branch will support four other Maybank branches located in the capital city.

Maybank Cambodia started operations in 1993 with its first branch in Kramoun Sar, Phnom Penh. Its other branches are in Teukhtla, Moa Tse Tung Boulevard, Chbar Ampov in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. - Bernama

Cambodia to try men who robbed Vietnam jewellery store


Mon, 19 Oct 2009 
By : dpa

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Hanoi - Cambodian police have arrested one of four men who allegedly stole a kilogram of gold and 20,000 dollars from a jewellery store in Vietnam, a Vietnamese police official said Monday. Cambodian citizen Chum Chech, 24, was arrested in Cambodia's Pray Ven province based on information supplied by Vietnamese police, said Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Cao of the provincial police in Tay Ninh province.

Chech is accused of being one of four men who robbed a jewellery store in Tay Ninh on April 14.

"We cannot extradite him for trial in Vietnam because the two countries have not signed an extradition treaty," Cao said. "The robbers will be tried in Cambodia under Cambodian law."

Cao said Chech had named his accomplices, who were reportedly armed and hiding in Cambodia.

He reportedly confessed that the group decided to rob the store because they needed money for a Cambodian holiday. They bought the two AK-47s and crossed into Vietnam on motorbikes and went to Tan Lap market, according to police.

They made the jewellery store owner to open his safe, and then forced him, his wife, and a housekeeper into a room and locked the door before fleeing back to Cambodia, police said.

Cao said police were still searching for the other three men.