Friday, 18 December 2009

Suthep no Comment on Hun Sen’s Remarks


(Posted by CAAI News Media)
Friday, 18 December 2009 05:46 DAP-NEWS .Deputy Thai Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban on Thursday declined to respond to Cambodian premier Hun Sen comments that Thai-Cambodian relations will not improve as long as the Thai ruling party remains in office, according to the Bangkok Post on Thursday.

“I will not respond to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s comment because the situation isn’t good at the moment,” the Democrat secretary-general was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post. “The Thai government must be patient in the face of the frequent criticism emanating from Cambodia.”

The polite rebuff comes after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday afternoon blasted Bangkok leaders over the recent Sivarak spy case. The premier claimed that while Thailand is still under Democratic Party control, the two neighbors “will not share a smooth relationship,” he said during a scholarship award ceremony at a university in Phnom Penh.

“Cambodia will wait to see about good relations with Thailand,” he said. “We expect it will have good relation with the next Thai government.”

“The main matter between Thailand and Cambodia is Thailand troops invaded Cambodia soil and occupied areas at a Cambodian pagoda near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple,” Hun Sen continued, stressing his friendship for former Thai PM Thaksin, now a Cambodian government economic advisor. “He is my friend,” the Hun Sen said.

The so-called ‘yellow shirts’ linked to the ruling Thai party have demanded Cambodia’s 11th century Preah Vihear temple be given to Thailand, he added. “We have never interfered Thai internal affairs,” the premier said, highlighting that former Thai PM Chuan Lee Pai tried to bar Cambodia’s membership of ASEAN. Lee said at that time that Cambodia had no senate.

Traffic Accidents a Priority: MoH


(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 05:45 DAP-NEWS .As well as being a national tragedy, Cambodia’s frequent traffic accidents are also a major drain on Ministry of Health (MoH) resources, an MoH officer said on Thursday at the second National Conference for Traffick Safety at the Phnom Penh Hotel.

MoH Secretary of State Toe Kuy seang said that traffic accidents are a priority for the MoH.

The MoH ahs gathered data from various regions to analyze and prepare a report, Kuyseang added.

The number of victims increased annually by around 50 percent report 2004-2008, becoming the second most common cause after HIV/AIDS, he said.

Cambodia has the highest per capita death toll of traffic accidents in ASEAN, at least 4-5 people a day.

Director of the Department of Health and Prevention Prak Pisethraingsey said that “some do not follow traffic lights, use drugs or alcohol, and especially do not obey by the traffic discipline.”
Mohd Nasir Hassan, a representative of the WHO for Cambodia said that accidents are “a the pandemic, always seen in the global not only Cambodia.”

According to a WHO report, 1.3 million deaths are caused by traffic accidents, Hassan added.
However, the government are making effort to control this situation.

A/H1N1 Death Toll Reaches Six


(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 05:45 DAP-NEWS

(CAAI News Media)

The death toll of A/H1N1 in Cambo- dia has increased to 6 people of 531 recorded cases, according to an exper t from the Department of Fighting Pand- emics (DFP) said on Thursday.

The DFP´s Vice Director Ly Sovann told DAP News Cambodia that his staff are investigating the latest cases.

He added that about 300,000 doses of A/H1N1 vaccine will be delivered to Cambodia at the end of December.

“The delivered vaccines will be injected first to our staff and children under six months, then to others,” he said.

Cambodia has recorded A/H1N1 cases in 13 provinces, Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Battam Bang, Siem Reap, Kam- pong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Takeo, Svay Rieng, Mondolkiri, Prey Veng, Banteay Meanchey, Kandal, and Kampot provinces.

Cambodia confirmed the first case of A/H1N1 on June 24, 2009, as one US student group spent thier study tour to Cambodia.

However, MoH leaders, directed by the Premier Hun Sen, are making effort to control and curb the increasing of this virus.

Cambodian King reaffirms close ties with Viet Nam


Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni receives Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Xuan Tuan

18-12-2009

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH — The Cambodian people are good neighbours who will always stand side by side with the Vietnamese people, King Norodom Sihamoni said during his talks with Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh in Phnom Penh yesterday.

The talks took place immediately after a red-carpet welcome ceremony that King Sihamoni gave to the Party leader on his official visit to Cambodia.

"The Vietnamese people are great and trustful friends of the Cambodian people," King Sihamoni said.

He delivered his profound gratitude to the Vietnamese Party, Government and people for their support and valuable assistance to help the Cambodian people escape from the Pol Pot genocidal regime and develop their country.

The King viewed Party General Secretary Manh’s official visit as an important event that would greatly help boost the two countries’ well-established neighbourliness and traditional friendship, as well as deepen their comprehensive co-operation in a sustainable and stable manner.

He pledged to press ahead in his father’s cause of fostering the great solidarity and fine co-operation between the two countries.

Party General Secretary Manh expressed his joy of revisiting the neighbouring country and reiterated that Viet Nam attached great importance to the traditional friendship and co-operation with Cambodia and would do its utmost to boost these ties.

The Vietnamese Party leader shared with the Cambodian King his satisfaction at developments in Viet Nam-Cambodia relations and vowed to foster them even further.

"The Vietnamese-Cambodian established neighbour-liness, traditional friendship and comprehensive, durable and long-term co-operation are invaluable and common assets of the two countries," both Vietnamese and Cambodian leaders said.

They considered the promotion of bilateral wide-ranging ties as an active contribution toward peace, stability, co-operation and development in Southeast Asia and the world.

The two leaders agreed to step up exchange programmes between the two countries’ people, particularly youths.

The Vietnamese and Cambodian leaders praised the two Governments’ endeavours in implementing the signed co-operation agreements and deals, especially the accords regarding border issues, and asserted their determination to complete border demarcation and the planting of border markers by 2012.

They underscored that the two countries would persistently follow a foreign policy of peace, friendship and trustful co-operation with all nations, particularly with neighbouring countries.

At the end of the talks, Party General Secretary Manh presented 100 sets of computers and 100 colour televisions produced in Viet Nam to King Sihamoni for his gifts to Cambodian people and children.

On the occasion, Manh invited King Sihamoni, the King’s father Norodom Sihanouk and the King’s mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk to revisit Viet Nam.

King Sihamoni accepted the invitation with pleasure and promised to convey the invitation to his parents so they could arrange the visit at a convenient time.

Cambodian links

Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh yesterday met members of the Cambodian parliament and government leaders during his visit to the neighbouring nation.

During a meeting with National Assembly Chairman Heng Samrin, Senate President Chea Sim and Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Party leader affirmed Viet Nam’s policy of fostering solidarity, friendship and comprehensive co-operation with Cambodia.

"This is an invaluable asset of both nations, and one of the elements to create power for both countries in their national building and development," he added.

Cambodian Senate, National Assembly and Government leaders congratulated Viet Nam on the achievements made during the renewal process and national development.

They said they valued Viet Nam’s role in the region and the world, especially its assumption of ASEAN chairmanship next year.

The leaders said they were determined to tighten traditional friendship, solidarity and co-operation to create a peaceful and stable environment enabling sustainable development for both countries.

They updated each other about economic and socio-economic situations in their own countries and exchanged views on international matters of common concern. They also expressed a wish to expand exchanges between legislative and executive bodies and localities, especially those involving state management, social management, economic development and international integration.

Party leader Manh and Prime Minister Hun Sen witnessed the signing of agreements between the two Governments on power, industry, mineral resources and water transportation.—VNS

Solidarity on the march



Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN

(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:03 Vong Sokheng

Nong Duc Manh, secretary general of the Vietnamese Communist Party, visits the Independence Monument after his arrival in Phnom Penh on Thursday. During his a three-day official visit, Manh is scheduled to meet with King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin. The visit marks Manh’s first official trip to Phnom Penh since March 2005.

Tribunal charges Khieu Samphan with genocide



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:04 Robbie Corey Boulet

Former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan has been charged with genocide, a spokesman for Cambodia’s UN-backed war crimes court said Friday.

Lars Olsen said Khieu Samphan had been notified of the charge in a meeting with investigating judges Friday morning.

The tribunal announced earlier this week that Khmer Rouge Brother No 2 Nuon Chea and foreign minister Ieng Sary had been charged with genocide, marking the first time the charge had been brought against regime leaders by an internationally sanctioned court.

As with Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary, the genocide charge against Khieu Samphan stems from the regime’s treatment of Vietnamese and the Cham Muslim minority group, Olsen said.

All three men, who had previously been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, were also informed this week that they are now facing charges of homicide, torture and religious persecution under the 1956 Cambodian penal code, which was in effect during the regime.

Prosecutors in September requested that judges clarify the charges against the five regime leaders being held at the tribunal, including Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, whose trial ended in November. Olsen said Friday that a meeting with former minister of social action Ieng Thirith was scheduled for next week.

No decision has been made on whether to indict the four leaders awaiting trial, let alone on what charges they might face. Judges are expected to conclude their investigation for the tribunal’s second case in the next few weeks.

Between 100,000 and 400,000 Cham Muslims died during the regime, according to figures provided by Documentation Centre of Cambodia Director Youk Chhang, who added that it is unclear how many Vietnamese were killed.

KR killings revealed, by accident



Photo by: DC-CAM
Skulls of Khmer Rouge victims are shown at Kraing Ta Chan, a security centre identified in the tribunal’s investigation for Case 002.

(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:04 Robbie Corey Boulet

A KHMER Rouge tribunal staffer on Thursday provided estimated death tolls for security centres and execution sites related to the ongoing investigation of five regime leaders, going far beyond what had previously been made public in a presentation that the court later described as unauthorised.

Hang Vannak, the complaint and applications manager for the court’s Victims’ Unit, delivered his presentation on the scope of the investigation before an audience of 400 civil party applicants at the tribunal.

Judges in November distributed a list of 20 execution sites, security centres, cooperatives and work sites throughout 16 provinces that were being investigated, but provided little information on the types and scale of specific crimes committed at any of them.

On Thursday, however, Hang Vannak went methodically through the list, describing how victims were killed at each site and, in some cases, providing estimates of the number of mass graves and total casualties.

Richard Rogers, chief of the court’s Defence Support Section, expressed concern that the presentation could have compromised the confidentiality of the investigation of the four regime leaders awaiting trial: Brother No 2 Nuon Chea, foreign minister Ieng Sary, head of state Khieu Samphan and social action minister Ieng Thirith.

“If this information came from the OCIJ investigation, then it is a serious and blatant breach of the confidentiality requirement,” said Rogers.

“In any event, wherever this information came from, it is irresponsible to suggest, prematurely, that certain inculpatory findings have been made with respect to the charges still under investigation.”

In his remarks, Hang Vannak said that more than 20,000 people had died at the “1st January Dam” site in Kampong Thom province; that 15,000 “might have been” killed in caves near the Wat Kirirum security centre in Battambang province, and that 10,000 had been killed at the Tuol Po Chrey execution site in Pursat.

An estimated 12,000 people were killed at the Kraing Ta Chan security centre in Takeo province, he said, adding that an exhumation conducted in 1979 had uncovered 2,000 bodies.

He added that as many as 10,000 bodies could still be at the site in “undisturbed graves”.

At the Prey Trapaing Ampil execution site in Kampong Chhnang province, he said, 500 mass graves had contained between 20 and 50 bodies each.

In addition, he said, 41 mass graves “associated with” the Wat Tlork security centre in Svay Rieng “may contain” between 10,000 and 15,000 bodies.

In total, Hang Vannak provided information on at least 80,500 deaths.

After his presentation, he told a reporter that he had drawn on information from “various investigations and documents”. He said some of the information might have been included in the prosecution’s 2007 introductory submission, which is confidential, and that some of it might have been obtained later. He provided a typed list of the different sites that included details about each one, but he declined to say who compiled it.

UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said the court did not stand by the presented data.

“The staff member who presented estimates on facts and numbers during the presentation of the civil party forum was not authorised to provide any such information, and as such the information cannot be considered reliable,” he said.

“The court’s position is that it is not possible at this point in time to provide any neutral, objective estimate on the number of deaths in the different crime sites.”

Asked why a Victims’ Unit staffer was providing prospective civil parties and the media with information the court did not endorse, Olsen said Hang Vannak had “acted on his own”.

Olsen added that he had made a similar statement during the afternoon session of the forum. Reporters were invited to attend the morning session, but not the afternoon session.

When told of the presentation, Ieng Sary’s international co-lawyer, Michael Karnavas, reiterated the confidentiality concerns he raised in November, when the court released limited information about the investigation, a move it said was necessary for prospective civil parties preparing applications.

“It begs asking where are they getting this information, and why are the two co-investigating judges not intervening robustly to eliminate any conduct, however unintentional it may be, that compromises the investigation,” Karnavas said via email.

For her part, Heather Ryan, a trial monitor for the Open Society Justice Initiative who attended the civil party forum, said she was less concerned about the confidentiality issue.

“I didn’t notice any disclosure of what would be confidential that would impinge the safety of witnesses or the rights of the defendants,” she said.

But she said the tribunal’s decision not to source information presented in a public forum was potentially problematic.

“They have to make sure that, when they do give information publicly, it is uncontested information or, if it’s contested, that they make clear that it’s contested,” she said.

“It’s hard to evaluate the information because we don’t know the source.”

ACLEDA stake sale points to maturing banking industry



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:04 Steve Finch

DIVERSIFIED regional holdings firm Jardine Matheson Group has acquired a 12.25 percent stake in ACLEDA Bank for an undisclosed sum, according to a Thursday announcement, a deal that analysts said represented confidence in Cambodia’s financial sector after a turbulent year for the global economy.

JSH Asian Holdings, a group subsidiary, will purchase the stake from FMO, the international development bank of the Netherlands, in the first change of foreign ownership in

ACLEDA, the Kingdom’s second-largest lender. “Jardines brings ACLEDA more than 175 years of experience in commerce and banking in Asia,” ACLEDA Chairman Chea Sok said in a statement Thursday.

The Hong Kong-based firm will offer its new Cambodian partner expertise and business referrals, added ACLEDA Bank Vice President John Brinsden.

For Jardines – which has stakes in Asia Commercial Bank in Vietnam and merchant bank Rothschilds Continuation – the announcement of the transfer after approval by the National Bank of Cambodia ends years of negotiations in Phnom Penh.

“We believe ACLEDA offers significant growth potential in a country that has a bright future,” said Alain Cany, Jardine Matheson Vietnam group country chairman. “We are very much looking forward to being a supportive shareholder in the coming phase of its growth.”

Although the sum was not disclosed, FMO is believed to have made a substantial profit on its purchase nine years ago. Since then, the bank had injected regular capital through rights issues, said Brinsden, adding that FMO would continue to offer loan support and training. “We feel this is the right time for a major private investor such as Jardines to acquire our stake in ACLEDA,” FMO Chief Information Officer Jurgen Rigterink said in Thursday’s statement.

After completion of the deal, which was expected by the end of the year, Cany will replace FMO’s Joseph Hoess on the ACLEDA board of directors, although Hoess will remain on the ACLEDA Bank Lao Ltd board as vice chairman.

International Business Chamber Chairman Bretton Sciaroni said the deal was a sign that the Kingdom’s financial sector was maturing. “To have come to Cambodia at this point is a vote of confidence in Cambodia and ACLEDA,” he said Thursday. Jardine “made a very good choice”.

ACLEDA is thought to be one of the few banks in Cambodia to have weathered the financial storm that first hit the Kingdom a year ago, resulting in tight liquidity in the first quarter, plummeting profitability and concerns over rising numbers of bad loans across the sector.

The International Monetary Fund warned as recently as last week that the Cambodian financial sector remained at risk, particularly from underreported non-performing loans.

Nevertheless ACLEDA recorded a 72 percent rise in profits in the third quarter, compared to the previous period, as profits after tax jumped to US$2.32 million.

Meeting details land seizures




Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A woman screams after her mother faints during violent land evictions at Dey Krahorm in January.

(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:04 Kim Yuthana and Jacob Gold

HUMAN rights activists on Thursday condemned the government’s granting of economic land concessions at the expense of local communities, as hundreds of evictees from across the Kingdom gathered to discuss their treatment at the hands of the authorities.

According to a statement by the Cambodian rights group Adhoc, last year the government granted only 409 hectares – or 0.2 percent – of the total 225,499 hectares of land concessions to ordinary citizens, while the remaining 99.8 percent was awarded to 71 private companies.

Chan Soveth, Adhoc’s senior monitoring officer, said that indigenous and Khmer communities alike frequently experience a sense of insignificance in the eyes of the authorities.

“In 2008, there were 25 cases of forced eviction across the country,” he said. “These affected 10,526 families, or 46,095 people, who were driven from their land without advance consultation and ignored by the state authorities because of claims about development. We in civil society would like to call on the government to stop the granting of economic land concessions.”

At the same time, homegrown indigenous filmmakers showcased work documenting their eviction experiences. The films were shown at an annual land-rights meeting in Kratie province that attracted more than 350 ethnic minority and Khmer community members.

Phok Pal, national creative media training coordinator for the Indigenous Community Support Organisation (ICSO), which hosted the meeting, said: “They are singing about their concerns: land conflict, mining, depleted natural resources, and at the same time about their villages and their traditional culture.”

Svay Poeun, 57, a member of the Phnong minority, said hundreds of families in his area were affected by the gold-mining explorations of Chinese company IRON Investment.

“The Phnong minority who live there used to survive on traditional gold and iron mining, but when the company came, we lost our incomes, and living conditions became more difficult,” Svay Poeun said, adding that the company’s methods had severely damaged the local environment.

Sam Rainsy called to court over border spat



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:04 Meas Sokchea

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and a Sam Rainsy Party deputy commune chief have been summoned to appear at Svay Rieng provincial court for questioning in relation to the lawmaker’s uprooting of wooden markers near the province’s border with Vietnam on October 25.

A citation issued Wednesday by Judge Long Kesphyrom stated that Sam Rainsy was charged with racial incitement and the destruction of property.

“This person is accused of purposely destroying border marker 185 and inciting racial discrimination,” the citation read, ordering Sam Rainsy to appear at the court on December 28. “In case he does not appear as scheduled, we will issue a warrant for his arrest.”

The citation comes after comments from Prime Minister Hun Sen calling on Sam Rainsy, who is currently abroad, to return and face the charges.

“Please come back so you can go to jail. This time you cannot flee. Hun Sen has no reason to amnesty you,” the prime minister said, referring to the Royal pardon that allowed Sam Rainsy’s return from exile in 2006.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said Sam Rainsy was not afraid of facing jail because he had merely done his duty as a people’s representative.

“Everyone knows that the court is under the pressure of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and is not independent,” he said, adding that Sam Rainsy would return “soon”.

Meanwhile, Pao Pheap, 40, the second deputy chief of Samrong commune, has been charged by the court with the same crimes in relation to the incident.

He has been summoned to appear in court on Tuesday.

Thais ignoring prisoner-swap deal: Hun Sen



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:03 Cheang Sokha and James O'toole

PRIME Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday accused Thailand of flouting a prisoner-exchange agreement in which four Cambodian inmates condemned to death in the neighbouring country were set to come back to the Kingdom.

In the midst of a lengthy tirade against the government of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at the National Institute of Education, Hun Sen said his counterpart had yet to make good on a deal brokered in June, when Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban visited Phnom Penh.

“Abhisit asked me to exchange prisoners, and I agreed with him,” Hun Sen said. “We agreed that the two Thai prisoners would serve their jail term in Thailand and the … Cambodian … prisoners would be jailed in Cambodia.”

The four had been convicted of drug smuggling, the premier said.

In a statement released Thursday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government listed the names of the four Cambodians who are facing capital punishment in Thailand: Bunthuon Buntheoun, Bun Sorn, Sem Kay and Sumyud Bou Lay.

The Thai prisoners incarcerated in Cambodia – Abdul Azi Haji Chiming and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading – are serving life terms for terrorism after being convicted of involvement a bomb plot on Western embassies in Phnom Penh in 2003.

The men are said to have ties with the Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist group, which claimed responsibility for the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people.

In its statement, sent to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Thai Embassy in Bangkok, the government proposed that the prisoner exchange take place at the countries’ respective embassies “preferably during this week”.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Thai officials had been duplicitous in their handling of the agreement.

“This is a bad trick of Abhisit not to respect the agreement,” Koy Kuong said. “He signed it with his hand but erased it with his leg.”

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Thursday that he had yet to receive any information on the matter.

PANDEMIC: Swine flu claims sixth local victim



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:03 Cheang Sokha

An 18-month-old boy became the sixth person in the Kingdom to die from the A(H1N1) influenza virus, and the country’s total number of reported cases to 531, health officials said on Thursday. Nima Asgari, a public health specialist at the World Health Organisation, said the latest victim was from Battambang province and had died on December 3. “The boy showed symptoms of the virus and died at Siem Reap hospital,” he said. According to the Web site of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Communicable Disease Control, 44 new cases sprang up in 13 provinces in the past week. To combat the virus, health officials recommend that people wash their hands frequently, refrain from spitting in public, use tissues when coughing or sneezing and avoid crowds.

Study on orphans disputed



Photo by: Pha Lina
Children play on the grounds of the Global Children state-run orphanage in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:03 Zela Chin

ORPHANAGES are a better option for some Cambodian children than remaining in the community, according to a study due to be released today; however, the findings are being disputed by some experts, who say that family ties are crucial for a child’s development.

Duke University in the US surveyed orphaned and abandoned children ages 6 to 12 in five Asian and African countries. In Cambodia, they studied 157 living in institutions and 250 living with extended family in Battambang province.

The research showed that children who lived in institutions had significantly higher body mass indexes and scored higher in health and cognitive tests.

“If the families are economically sound, then it’s better for children to stay in the community,” said Vanroth Vann, lead Cambodia researcher and interviewer.

“But if they would be at risk staying in the community – if no one takes care of them, if they have to find their own food or they face discrimination because their parents died of HIV – then they should move to an institution.”

In 2007, there were an estimated 600,000 orphans in Cambodia, according to UNICEF. Ministry of Social Affairs statistics point to 257 orphanages operating across the Kingdom.

Kean Khlaing, a state-run orphanage in Phnom Penh, has 144 children ages 5 to 20 years in its care. It receives a monthly grant of 4,000-5,000 riels (US$0.96-$1.20) per child.

Manager Kim Neang welcomed the findings and said such institutions offer children a more stable environment than living with extended family.

“If orphans can’t come to Kean Khlaing, then [they] can’t have a good future, education or sustenance,” she said. “Our instructors give something new to the orphans. It’s important for them to have education, money and support.”

Experts at World Vision, however, disputed the study’s findings, saying that children raised in institutions over long periods often leave with artificially inflated expectations of life and find it difficult to reintegrate into society.

“There are roles for orphanages, but you can’t make a general statement that they are better,” said Haidy Ear Dupuy, advocacy and communications director of World Vision Cambodia.

“Many [orphaned] children have relatives to care for them. It’s important for them to know their roots and where they have come from.”

Man shot on border in critical condition



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:03 May Titthara

AN illegal logger who survived a shootout with Thai troops that killed his father-in-law “will die” unless he receives medical treatment soon, according to rights activists in Oddar Meanchey province.

Srey Naren, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the life of Phal Sokha – whose injured leg is infested with maggots – hangs in the balance.

The 20-year-old, from Bak Anloung commune in Trapaing Prasat district, went missing after Thai troops opened fire on eight loggers who had crossed the Thai border into Sisaket province on December 8.

Phlok Lai, 55, died during the incident. Phal Sokha survived days in the jungle without food by drinking from waterfalls.

“I could not walk. I had to creep from Thailand to Cambodia. When I reached home I was unconscious. Now I have a seriously injured leg, and I don’t have money for treatment at the hospital,” he said.

Srey Naren said he has serious concerns about the man’s health. “His family is poor, so they did not bring him to the hospital,” he said.

“I would like to announce to any NGOs, help him, otherwise he will die.”

The shooting is just one of a number of serious incidents to have occurred at the Thai border since September. On Monday, Thai soldiers opened fire on a different group of 14 loggers, shooting one in the leg.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said that the government has written to Thailand calling for a halt to such “cruel actions”.

It has also asked the Ministry of the Interior to instruct villagers not to cross the border.

Govt plans maternal health centres



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:03 POST STAFF

NEW maternal health centres are to be built in a number of Cambodia’s provinces in order to reduce the Kingdom’s high maternal mortality rate, Health Minister Mam Bun Heng announced at a seminar at the National Assembly on Thursday.

Mam Bun Heng said the centres, called “waiting houses”, will be located near rural health centres and referral hospitals, and will be in addition to the 28 already built in Stung Treng, Oddar Meanchey, Kratie, Pursat, Preah Vihear, Preah Sihanouk and Battambang provinces.

They will be used to accommodate pregnant women leading up to the birth of their babies so they do not have to travel long distances on difficult roads to receive treatment, he said.

“It is a very good way to help the people who live far away from the health centres and do not have the means to commute to the centres,” he said.

Pen Sopahanara, communications officer at the UN Population Fund, said her organisation financed the building of waiting houses in two provinces in 2006, as well as another two recently this year.

“We see that this project is useful in promoting maternal health and the health of the baby during the delivery process,” she said.

Also present at Thursday’s seminar was Ho Naun, chairwoman of the Commission on Public Health, Social Work, Vocational Training and Women’s Affairs. She said that although the government attempts to address this issue, she is still unsatisfied with the result.

“The government, NGOs and relevant institutions all have to work harder in order to reach the UNDP’s Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” she said.

News of these new waiting houses comes following the death of a 27-year-old woman who died during a cesarean section on Sunday.

The victim’s mother, Mak Pheun, 57, said she has filed a complaint to Oum Sinath, district governor of Kampong Trach, to find justice for her daughter, but the governor says he has not received it.

“As of today, I have not received any complaint from the family. I don’t know where they have filed it as I have checked with my justice officer, and they have not seen it either,” he said.

“I have discussed this case with the chief of the health department, and the matter is under investigation.”

Man, 26, charged in trafficking conspiracy



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

CHILD trafficking-related charges were brought Thursday by Phnom Penh Municipal Court against a Cambodian-Vietnamese man accused of providing girls as young as 8 years old to an American national who has since been extradited by the US for child sex crimes, Judge Chan Madina said.

Ho Nguy, 26, is accused of conspiracy to purchase Vietnamese prostitutes, aged between eight and 16 years, court officials said, adding that the defendant has been in custody since February 2009.

His capture came a week after the arrest of American Ronald Boyajian, who was seized during “Operation Twisted Traveller”, a US government effort targeting US citizens committing sex crimes in Cambodia.

Boyajian was extradited to the US on child sex charges in August.

“According to testimonies from two girls, they were victimised by Nguy, who worked as a broker to conspire to bring these girls to have sex with foreigners,” court prosecutor Chea Meth said.

An alleged 16-year-old victim added that Nguy “brought me to meet a man who forced me to get into his room and take off my clothes. Later, Nguy called me to perform sex with him several times along with other girls in the village”.

Prosecutors say Nguy admitted to engaging in illegal activity. “I really don’t know that this business is against the law. If I knew I would not do it,” he said. Defence lawyer Dun Vibol denied the “unjust” charges and demanded that the case be re-investigated.

Nguy will face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

A crucial moment of choice



A girl rows her boat across a flooded village in Kandal province after heavy rains in October. AFP

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We must summon the political will to expand the realm of the possible.
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(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:02 Ed Miliband

The time is now, in the negotiations in Copenhagen, to come together for a positive future for ourselves and our children

COMMENT
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Ed Miliband

HAVING arrived in a city besieged by people and paper, I am clear about one thing: Copenhagen is not just another international negotiation. It is a crucial moment of choice for all of us. I am determined that we will make the right choice.

Whether these talks succeed or fail, the world will be transformed by the middle of this century. Our choice is how. We can choose a future we want for ourselves and our children or we can let events choose a less positive future for us.

If we succeed in tackling climate change, the world will have been transformed by our own efforts. Nations will have worked together to reduce our carbon emissions. We will have built a carbon-neutral energy system – with new jobs and new growth. We will have deployed a huge array of low-carbon technologies. Our economies will be more energy secure. Cooperation will have triumphed over rivalry.

If we fail, the world will already have seen a two-degree rise in temperature. It will be irreversibly on its way to four degrees and beyond.

A map I launched last month shows how unmanageable that world will be – with flood and drought making food and water scarce for hundreds of millions of people. Competition for resources will be triumphing over cooperation.

This is the choice we will be making in Copenhagen. We have the technology, and, despite the recession, the necessary transformation of our energy system is affordable. The question is whether we can summon the collective political will.

The stakes for humanity could not be higher, which is why British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was the first of more than 130 national leaders to promise to attend.

As we enter the second week, everything is still there to play for. The shape of the core bargain to be struck is clear. It must reflect the industrialised world’s responsibility for most of the carbon burden accumulated to date.

But it must also look forward to where the future growth of that burden will come from as the emerging economies prosper and grow.

Industrialised countries have to agree to cap the amount of carbon they emit. The EU was first to table an ambitious offer, and since then momentum has been building. We now have substantial offers on the table from all major developed countries, with the US, Japan, Norway and Russia all setting out their proposals since the summer.

At the same time, emerging economies need to be clear about the actions they are going to take to avoid emitting carbon. This is also happening already: Brazil, China, Indonesia, South Africa and the Republic of Korea have all said what they will do.

Our task here at Copenhagen is to make sure that these offers add up to enough to put the world on a path to stay below two degrees of warming. Together, we need to stretch our offers and do something more than is currently on the table.

The UK is making a leading effort. We are the first country to set a legally binding target to cut emissions by 34 percent by 2020 on 1990 levels, towards an 80 percent cut by 2050. The UK can do even more as part of the EU. As Gordon Brown said recently, we are working to make it possible for the EU to raise its offer to 30 percent.

Industrialised countries must also bring to the table short- and longer-term proposals to fund action in the developing world, either to adapt to the climate change we can’t avoid or to reduce emissions.

This should amount, by 2020, to US$100 billion per year. This will have huge potential for low-carbon growth in poor countries that can lift millions out of poverty and give people access to clean energy, as well as protecting them from the impact of the climate change we have already allowed to happen.

There are many other important issues to be agreed, but the heart of the bargain is this: developed country emissions caps, emerging economy action and funding to make it happen. Unless it is settled, there will be little progress on other matters.

To complete the choice, the political deal that world leaders agree at Copenhagen must become the mandate to finalise a legally binding treaty by the middle of 2010 at the latest.

Politics, we are constantly reminded, is the art of the possible. Success in Copenhagen requires more. We must summon the political will to expand the realm of the possible. That is what political leadership means. It is within our reach; we now need to grasp it.
____________________________

Ed Miliband is the UK’s secretary of state for climate change and is leading the British delegation to the climate talks in Copenhagen.

Migrants' remittances even during crisis: IOM



Photo by: SOVAN PHILONG
A woman withdraws money Thursday from an ACLEDA Bank ATM in Phnom Penh. Migrant workers often send money back through ACLEDA branches on the Thai border, according to an IOM study.

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Migrant workers are a clear case of brain drain [on Cambodia].
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(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:02 Jeremy Mullins

New study by the International Organisation for Migration says Cambodians are still finding ways to send money back home

MIGRANT remittances to Cambodia had remained robust during the economic crisis, according to a new International Organisation for Migration (IOM) study shown Thursday in Phnom Penh.

IOM project coordinator Bruno Maltoni admitted it was still difficult to assess the total value of remittances into the Kingdom due to the informal nature of much of the work Cambodian’s do abroad.

Nevertheless, a sample study of about 210 migrants in Thailand showed that remittances remained strong, he said, also citing a November World Bank report highlighting the resilience of migrant remittances to developing countries during the crisis.

“The predicted decline in remittances is far smaller than that for [other] private flows to developing countries,” said the report.

Maltoni estimated there were some 248,000 Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand, a number which could rise to 316,000 by 2018, generating a significant flow of US dollars to family back in the Kingdom, he said.

To study remittances, the IOM conducted sampling in Cambodia’s Kampong Cham and Prey Veng, and Thailand’s Trat and Rayong provinces, extrapolating a set of conclusions from the data, said Maltoni.

The study found 71.8 percent of migrant workers said they sent less than US$100 home, but with some frequency – 68.8 percent of the total claimed they sent the money at least three times a year.

Receiving the money provides a financial boon to family members left at home, especially as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said Cambodia’s GDP per capita was only $823 in 2008.

The benefits of remittances from a large migrant workforce did not come without concerns, however, according to Maltoni.

“Migrant workers are a clear case of brain drain,” he said.

On top of migrants being more likely to be able to read than the family members they left behind, he added, “people with more initiative are more prone to migrate”.

Once people crossed the border to Thailand, contact back home began to decline. “Households are most important at the beginning of migration,” he said.

Noting that fewer migrants owned phones than televisions, he added “they basically fall off the map”.

The money trail
Moving the money home often proved a challenge, the study showed. Some was remitted through migrants’ friends or specialised agents, or through ACLEDA Bank branches set up close to the Thai border.

Maltoni made the presentation at the launch of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2009 Human Development Report in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

The UNDP’s Cambodia resident coordinator Douglas Broderick said the report argued government should ensure migration-friendly policies were established and enforced.

“The overriding message of this report is that migration – both across and within borders – has the potential to greatly improve human welfare, if we get it right,” he said.

Cambodia, Vietnam OK deal on river ports




(CAAI News Meida)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:02 May Kunmakara

CAMBODIA and Vietnam signed a bilateral deal Thursday that will allow greater access to each other’s port facilities, an agreement both sides said would boost trade across the border.

The deal means that ships from Cambodia will enjoy unlimited access to Vietnamese ports on the Mekong, and vice versa, following a more restrictive agreement signed in 1998 that limited Vietnam’s vessels to Phnom Penh.

“The agreement will increase trade activity and transportation on waterways in place of land routes, which have become overcrowded,” said Mom Sibon, secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MPWT).

The deal promises to further access to Cai Mep deepwater port near Ho Chi Minh City, a facility opened this year that has cut days off shipping times to North America, Cambodia’s biggest export market.

Container traffic through Phnom Penh Autonomous Port – which has used the new Mekong route to Cai Mep – increased 8.61 percent in October year on year.

Both sides would establish a task force under the MPWT and Vietnam’s Ministry of Transportation to address issues such as cutting complicated documentation, said Mom Sibon.

Le Bien Cuong, Vietnam’s Phnom Penh-based commercial councilor, said the agreement would further diversify links between the two countries with the aim of annual bilateral trade of US$2 billion.

Trade between the two neighbours reached $1.049 billion in the first 10 months, a 36.15 percent drop on the same period last year when trade hit a record $1.493 billion.

Construction officials to get workplaces in $3m rollout



Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
A worker breaks stone at a plant in Kampot to make construction materials. The government says its plan to build Construction Department offices across the country will boost investment.

(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:02 Soeun Say

Government plans hundreds of cadastral offices across nation

THE Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction has earmarked up to US$3 million to build 118 cadastral offices across the country to coordinate construction and urban-planning activities in towns and cities nationwide.

Lao Tip Seiha, director of the ministry’s Construction Department, said work has already begun in municipalities and districts across 15 provinces, but that all 23 provinces and the capital will be covered.

“We cannot say when or how many years it will take to complete all the projects,” he said. “We just know that some projects will be completed by 2010 and others later.”

Each building is expected to cost between $20,000 and $30,000, with the total budget to come in somewhere between $2 million and $3 million, Construction Department Director General Im Chamrong said.

The initiative is aimed at providing the department’s staff with the tools necessary to better service the construction sector, he added.

“We are building the cadastral offices in an attempt to facilitate growth in the construction sector to in turn boost Cambodia’s economy in the future,” he said.

The UN Development Programme heavily criticised the building regulator earlier this year in a report that said “highly bureaucratic” licensing was reducing the sector’s competitiveness.

The report said it takes 710 days to get all the construction permits required to complete a project in Cambodia, as opposed to 200 days in Vietnam and about 150 in Thailand. Each procedure takes 31 days to clear, compared with 15 days in Vietnam and Thailand and seven in Laos, the report said.

The report also highlighted poor project monitoring and said companies claimed they paid unofficial fees to shorten approval timescales.

Cambodian Priority Property Investment Co General Manager Kong Vansophy said the move would boost investment. “It will be easier for developers to get access to construction services and to obtain the necessary documents when selling, buying or exchanging land and property” he said.

Sok Sovandeith, president of the Building and Wood Workers Trade Union of Cambodia, said he hopes the initiative will help the ministry approve construction applications more quickly and boost investment in the sector. “More projects will create more job opportunities for construction workers,” he said.

He added that he hopes better resources will make it easier for the ministry to monitor construction-sector wages and conditions.

Police Blotter: 18 Dec 2009




(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:02 Sen David


Crook GOT A CHARGE OUT OF STEALING
A 45-year-old man in Kandal province has been arrested and accused of stealing electricity from the state and re-selling it to 54 families in Ang Snuol district. Officials say the man stole electricity by reconfiguring wires at a power station using what they are calling a highly sophisticated technique. The man then allegedly sold the electricity to local families at a rate of 1,700 riels per kilowatt-hour (USD$0.41) – plus an $85 fee. The man is due in court soon.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Man a victim of brotherly loathing
A man allegedly hacked his brother-in-law to death with a hoe, Preah Sihanouk province police said. The killing happened Wednesday in Prey Nup district, when the suspect arrived home in a drunken haze, shouting loudly and causing a ruckus, police said, and when the victim tried to quiet him down, the man grew angry and attacked the victim with the hoe. The victim’s wife said the trio lived together in the same home, but that the two men had a rocky relationship. Police have detained the suspect and are to send him to court soon.
DEUM AMPIL

Moto marauders make off with money
A pair of motorcycle bandits robbed a Tuol Kork district home at gunpoint Wednesday, zipping away with US$90,000 in cash and jewellery. Police said two men arrived on a motorbike, then stormed into the house through an unlocked door. The suspects spent only three minutes ransacking the home before escaping. The family said they cooperated with the robbers because they were scared.
DEUM AMPIL

Domestic worker says she was raped
Police have arrested a man suspected of raping a 13-year-old domestic worker in Phnom Penh’s Veal Vong commune. The victim’s mother said she sent her daughter to work in the man’s home because she was poor. But when visiting her daughter at work one day, the girl told her she had been raped at least twice, and that the suspect had allegedly threatened to kill her if she told anyone. The suspect was arrested Wednesday after the mother filed a complaint with local police.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Builder dies after falling off building
A 27-year-old construction worker died instantly after accidently falling from a nine-storey building under construction in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district. A witness said the victim fell after touching faulty electrical wires. Colleagues had rushed him to the hospital but doctors were unable to save him because he suffered serious damage to the head. The victim’s family and his employer are going to negotiate an appropriate compensation.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

VN bought $52 million in rubber



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:01 Chun Sophal

VIETNAM imported more than 20,000 tonnes of rubber worth around US$52 million from Cambodia in the first 10 months of 2009, and more orders are in the pipeline, an official with Vietnam’s ministry of industry and commerce said.

“We will buy more rubber from Cambodia in the future,” Dao Ngoc Chuong, deputy director in the ministry’s Asia Pacific department, told an investment forum in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

Cambodian Rubber Association President Mak Kim Hong said Vietnam usually takes around 90 percent of Cambodia’s rubber exports, or somewhere between 25,000 and 35,000 tonnes every year.

It pays sellers international prices, he added, which the association said was $2,600 per tonne last Thursday. Prices averaged $2,435 per tonne last year, its figures show.

Mak Kim Hong also said Cambodia’s rubber output was likely to be up a quarter on 2008 to 50,000 tonnes this year due to a larger area under cultivation.

The Vietnamese Enterprises League announced last month it planned to invest $600 million to grow rubber trees on 100,000 hectares across five provinces in Cambodia to extract rubber for export.

Cambodia has around 110,000 hectares of rubber under cultivation. Analysts predict this will hit 250,000 hectares within five years.

Govt must reform Net access, researcher says



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:01 Nathan Green

THE government must facilitate access to international bandwidth, provide a transparent and stable regulatory system and develop a framework for national traffic management to help drive down broadband prices, a telecoms researcher said Thursday.

Mathieu Finzi, who has been working on a study of Cambodia’s information and communications technology sector for technology educator Centre for Information Systems Training (CIST), said high Internet costs and low quality were an obstacle to Internet penetration.

“You cannot have a competitive ICT market without competitive broadband prices, and the same goes for the whole economy,” he said.

“The government needs to prioritise [access to international bandwidth] to help the [Internet service providers] offer competitive prices.”

Cambodia currently relies on bandwidth provided by neighbouring countries, a factor that Finzi said drives costs up and quality down.

“The government must ensure autonomy though a national landing point, diversify upstream providers [of bandwidth] and introduce competition for wholesale prices,” Finzi said.

He noted that prices had come down over the past year, and expected them to drop further when local wholesaler Telcotech switched on its connection to the newly completed Asia America Gateway (AAG), an undersea cable connecting the region to the United States.

Finzi also called for the establishment of a national Internet Exchange Point (IXP) to manage national traffic and allow ISPs to connect without going through international exchanges.

Expansion target met early, says Beeline



(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:01 Jeremy Mullins

VIMPELCOM, owner of mobile operator Beeline, has extended phone coverage to two-thirds of people in Cambodia ahead of schedule, Gael Campan, general director of the company’s operations in the Kingdom, said Thursday.

“In May we made a commitment to cover 66 percent of the country’s population by the end of the year,” he said, adding that the company had passed that benchmark in mid-December, earlier than it had planned.

The Moscow-based firm has established a network of 429 mobile phone towers in 18 provinces, designed to handle “more than 1 million calls per hour”, said Campan, adding that the company intends to have some degree of mobile coverage in all provinces in the Kingdom by the second quarter of 2010.

Speaking Thursday at what he called “the core”, the centre of the firm’s technological operations in Cambodia, located near Takhmao in Kandal province, Campan declined to discuss the cost of these infrastructure investments, saying it would give competitors an unfair advantage.

Vimpelcom, the latest entrant to the Cambodian mobile market, has pursued rapid development for its Beeline brand in Southeast Asia, launching in May in the Kingdom and July in Vietnam.

In September the firm announced it had agreed to acquire Millicom SA’s 78 percent stake in Millicom Laos Co for about US$66 million, the latest addition to what it calls its “Southeast Asian cluster”.

Beeline is currently facing a lawsuit filed by competitor Mobitel with the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in August.

Viettel’s managing director, Nguyen Duy Tho, told the Post this week that the company has 2,400 base transceiver stations active and plans to have 3,000 in operation by the end of 2009 – one in every commune.

Raffles lights up for Christmas



New Living Hope Center Choir singing for the first time at Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Raffles.

(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:01 Ron Perry

In what was called (by employees) “the first ever Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Cambodia”, Raffles Hotel d’Angkor lit up a real tree imported from the US on December 9. A cute choir of orphans from the New Living Hope Center performed for the first time, singing Yuletide classics with Khmer tweaks like “Oh what fun it is to ride in a tuk-tuk all the way.” The ceremony wasn’t much more than a flipping of the “on” switch and a quick reading on the history of lighting ceremonies, but guests had fun plus wine and hors d’oevres.

Water carry on: NGOs distribute water filters to Tonle Sap lakeside dwellers




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The proceeds will help to implement a microfinance program
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(CAAI News Media)

Friday, 18 December 2009 15:01 POST STAFF

Christmas came early to poverty-stricken lake dwellers when representatives of French NGO Hamap and Siem Reap-based Osmose spent three days late in November distributing water filters to communities on Tonle Sap Lake and taking the first steps to create a sustainable microfinance program.

Hamap’s Floating Clinic project coordinator Astrid Desaché said they sold the filters to families and provided the training needed to use them as part of the develoment of a medical program.

“We went to the lake with 300 water filters purchased with funds from two French donors, L’Agence de L’eau Rhin Meuse and Codegaz. But the idea is not to give them for free. We buy them for about $10 and sell them for about $6. It’s affordable for people, who understand the value of it and won’t on sell them.”

The remaining filters will be sold in the coming weeks in the two communities, as well as Prek Toal, and the proceeds will help to implement a microfinance program for the local population with the assistance of Osmose staff.

“The idea is to start a saving group so people can borrow money to give them the chance to develop their finances. It will also help them to take care of their homes. Afterwards they have to repay the money to allow other members to borrow,” Desaché said.