Monday, 11 January 2010

China's soft power hardens in Cambodia

By Sebastian Strangio

(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH - A day after Cambodian authorities spirited 20 ethnic Uighur asylum seekers out of the country on an unmarked charter flight, China's Vice President Xi Jinping touched down at Siem Reap International Airport. During his three-day visit in late December, the Chinese leader signed an unprecedented US$1.2 billion in economic aid agreements with the Phnom Penh government, while rights groups and Western governments howled condemnation over the sudden deportations.

The deported Uighurs hailed from China's restive northwest Xinjiang province and were part of a group of 22 who had drifted into Cambodia with the aid of Christian missionary networks in November after braving the long and arduous overland journey from China. Uighur rights groups said that the group fled China after witnessing bloody clashes between Chinese security forces and Uighur demonstrators on July 5 in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. Two of the group remain on the run.

A Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Koy Kuong, said that the Uighurs - who had applied for political asylum through the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - were deported for breaching Cambodia's immigration laws. "We have not specifically targeted these people - we do this in general for all foreign nationals who enter Cambodia illegally," he said at the time.

Despite the Cambodian denials, the nature and timing of the seemingly hurried deportations are a vivid illustration of the new bonds of patronage and political accommodation now linking Beijing and Phnom Penh. In recent years, China's global sales pitch - hefty amounts of economic aid disentangled from human rights or good governance conditions - has found a willing recipient in Phnom Penh.

"China respects the political decisions of Cambodia," said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in September, during a ceremony marking the construction of a $128 million Chinese-funded bridge. "[T]hey build bridges and roads and there are no complicated conditions," he added.

The newly promised $1.2 billion in economic assistance comes in addition to 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 monolithic $30 million Council of Ministers building in Phnom Penh, given as a "gift" from the Chinese government.

The arrival of the Uighurs was an unprecedented test for Hun Sen's regime, forcing it to choose between acquiescing to the apparent demands of its top regional patron and its conflicting obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. To some international observers, China's intent to secure the deportation of the Uighurs from Cambodia was clear from the outset.

"China takes a very hard line on Uighurs who seek out shelter in other countries, as China does not admit that there are conditions in Xinjiang, where most Uighurs live, that can be oppressive and might cause Uighurs to flee the country," said Josh Kurlantzick, a fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations in Washington.

The Uighur American Association, a US-based Uighur exile group, claims that in late 2001 and early 2002, Nepal forcibly returned at least two Uighurs to Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, one of whom was executed in 2003 despite having registered with the UNHCR office in Kathmandu. Kurlantzick said the Chinese government has pushed hard to have Uighurs sent back to China from Central Asia and protested aggressively against the transfer of Uighurs held by the US government at Guantanamo Bay to third countries.

That includes a strong Chinese Foreign Ministry statement issued on Friday warning Switzerland against accepting Uighur detainees that Beijing says it considers terrorists and a threat to its national security.

Overlooked obligations
Rights activists and UNHCR officials have demonstrated increasing faith in Cambodia's willingness to abide by the Refugee Convention's protocols in processing asylum cases. In an article published by UNHCR in October 2008, Cambodia was hailed as an emerging "refugee model" for Southeast Asia.

The article followed the signing of an agreement between UNHCR and the Cambodian government that month that began the transfer of all asylum cases - except ethnic Montagnards from Vietnam - to a new Cambodian Refugee Office housed at the Department of Immigration. The article described the change of location as "an important move - symbolic of this country's determination to take on new responsibilities in protecting refugees' human rights".

The transfer of powers was completed by a government sub-decree signed by Hun Sen on December 17 - just two days before the Uighurs' deportation. Rights activists familiar with the case said that on the previous day, UNHCR vehicles were used to round up the 20 Uighurs and take them to a safe house under joint government-UNHCR administration. On the night of December 18, the Uighurs were then allegedly forced at gunpoint to board Cambodian police vehicles and flown out the following night to an unknown destination in China.

Andrew Swan, a project coordinator at the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, described the deportation as a "bolt from the blue" that reversed an earlier apparent willingness to process fairly the Uighur asylum cases. "Prior to the extradition ... there were few indications that the Cambodian government would interfere in the cases of the 22 Uighurs," he said. "Our confidence has been proved tragically wrong, and I believe it will take many, many years for Cambodia to regain both its regional and its international stature."

Denise Coughlan, director of Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS), which was involved with the Uighur cases, said she was "shocked" at the Cambodian government's actions after formally requesting UNHCR assistance to determine the status of the Uighur group and offering to provide a safe house while their applications were pending. "Like sheep going to the slaughter, the people went to the safe house clearly believing they were going to be protected," she said.

The deportation also prompted a storm of diplomatic condemnation. A statement issued by acting US State Department spokesman Gordon Daguid on December 21 said the US "strongly opposed" the deportation, warning it would "affect Cambodia's relationship with the US and its international standing". Graham Watson, a British member of the European Parliament, issued a statement on January 7 decrying the deportation and calling for a fair accounting of the two Uighurs remaining in the country.

"Cambodia's sneaky decision to extradite 20 Uighurs to China is a disgrace," he said in the statement. "The Cambodian government should give a proper account of why it chose to act in this way."

Yet it was perhaps unsurprising that Beijing's $1.2 billion economic aid carrot would trump Cambodia's loose legal obligations under the Refugee Convention. Meanwhile, criticism has also been directed at UNHCR's Cambodia-based office for putting so much trust in the government's claims.

Sara Colm, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said it was "astonishingly poor timing and a gross error in judgment" for the UNHCR to hand control of refugee-processing - and the Uighur cases in particular - to the Cambodian government. "The bottom line is that Cambodia flagrantly violated its obligations under the Refugee Convention, which ended tragically for the 20 Uighurs," she said.

Following the deportation, Cambodian officials also vented their frustration at the UNHCR for putting them in a compromised position with the Uighurs. They openly derided UNHCR officials for dragging their feet in processing the asylum applications.

"[The] UNHCR is the laziest office in Cambodia," said government spokesman and Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on December 21. "If they [granted refugee status] within a few days, those people would have been moved to other places, but they were slow and kept them for about a month." He also accused the agency of leaking the story to the press in order to "beat a drum" against the government, forcing it to begin investigations into the whereabouts of the 22 asylum seekers.

Kitty McKinsey, the UNCHR's spokesperson in Asia, said that despite the "aberration" of the deportations, which she claims the UNHCR took extraordinary steps to prevent, the essence of the problem is that only states have the power to provide protection to asylum seekers. "We work very diligently and sincerely to assist the government and provide protection, but if a state has signed the Refugee Convention, it's up to the state itself to provide protection," she said.

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

Cambodian FM to attend ASEAN meetings in Vietnam


(CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong will attend a series of ASEAN meetings to be held in Da Nam, Vietnam, on Jan. 13 to 14, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Foreign ministers from 10 member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will discuss measures to move forward community building process and external relations, especially for the year 2010, according to the release.

Hor Namhong will also attend the 4th Foreign Ministerial Meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) due to be held from Jan. 16 to 17 in Tokyo, Japan.

On the sideline of the meeting, Hor Namhong and Hugo Martinez, minister of foreign affairs of El Salvador, will sign the joint communique on establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Editor: Wang Guanqun

Laos first stop as P Penh goes complaining

Published: 11/01/2010

(CAAI News Media)

A small story sometimes has big implications. What is happening between Cambodia and Laos nicely fits this definition.

Cambodian Deputy Foreign Minister Long Visalo went to Vientiane last Tuesday. His mission to the northern neighbour was clear. The Cambodian government wanted to brief Laos about its dispute with Thailand.

In the Laotian capital, Long Visalo lectured some 200 Lao Foreign Ministry officials on the history of Preah Vihear, the ruling by the International Court of Justice in 1962 that the Hindu temple belonged to his country, as well as Cambodia's right to list it as a World Heritage Site under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in July 2008.

The Cambodian deputy minister also told his hosts about the border dispute between his country and Thailand, which started after the latter country made a U-turn on its previous stance which had been in support of Cambodia's attempt to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage Site.

The Cambodian campaign cannot be seen as anything but the start of its efforts to drum up backing from other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to help sort out the border conflict with Thailand for good.

And Laos will not be the only stop in this tactic. On the list, of course, are Burma and Vietnam (the latter is scheduled to take the Asean chair till December).

Phnom Penh's strategy is to turn the dispute over the overlapping land boundary of 4.6 square kilometres into a regional issue by trying to bring in the involvement of other Asean members.

Thailand thinks otherwise, with its intention to keep the matter as a quarrel between two neighbours which should be settled by the two neighbours only.

The more countries jumping in, the more difficult it will be to resolve the problem.

The talks in Vientiane did not cover the issue of ousted Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra - at least as far as the information made public shows.

But then again, the Thaksin issue is not a main factor at all for Cambodia.

Ending Thaksin's role as an economic adviser to Phnom Penh is Bangkok's condition for diplomatic normalisation with Cambodia. No country can stand seeing its citizen, who has been sentenced to jail, given recognition by another government.

But for Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, the root cause goes beyond last year when he added Thaksin to the long list of advisers to his government. It began right there on the border between Cambodia' Preah Vihear province and Kantaralak district in Si Sa Ket province.

The whole issue is about the temple and the land dispute in that area.

"You raise the issue of Thaksin, but you forget the issue of Preah Vihear," Hun Sen said in October, during one of his verbal onslaughts on Thailand.

It is not difficult for anybody to guess that there is no way in sight for the two countries to end the sour ties, given their vastly different positions which are beyond the reach of a compromise. But, as Asean members, they cannot leave relations festering this way, either. Other countries view what is happening between Thailand and Cambodia as an obstruction to Asean's attempts to bring unity into the club which, five years from now, is to become one single community. However, what can other Asean countries do but watch and hope that there will be a miracle to end the two neighbours' quarrel?

Another worry from the Thai-Cambodian spat is that it could spill over to poison ties between Thailand and other members in Asean who are very close to Cambodia. One of them is Laos. The history of their jungle warfare to drive out, first the colonialists and then the Western-supported governments, has made Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam brothers, who also have same positions on issues in Asean. As countries with Thailand as their immediate common neighbour, Cambodia and Laos have long been aware of the rising Thai influence in their country.

So far there are no problems in the relations between Thailand and Laos. But that does not mean everything will go smoothly. Problems still exist but they have been swept under the carpet by Vientiane over the past years because it needed help from Thailand to host the SEA Games last year.

Now the Games are over. Now the Cambodian deputy minister has visited Vientiane. And now the story of Thai-Laos relations in the post-SEA Games era begins.

Saritdet Marukatat is News Editor, Bangkok Post.

.Penh returns CATS to Thai owners

PM Hun Sen (left) hands over a royal pardoned document to Siwarak Chutipong in Phnom Penh on Dec 2009.

Earlier, Mr Sivarak said he planned to return to work for CATS in Phnom Penh after Cambodian premier Hun Sen assured his mother, Simarak na Nakhon Phanom, that he could 'stay happily in Cambodia'.

Published: 11/01/2010

(CAAI News Media)

The government of Cambodia has officially returned the operation of Cambodia Air Traffic Services (CATS) to its owner, Bangkok-listed Samart Corp Plc, Samart executive vice chairman Sirichai Rasameechan said on Monday.

The Cambodian government earlier seized control of CATS and barred its Thai employees from the offices after Thai engineer Sivarak Chutipong was arrested for passing fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's flight information to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh. He was later pardoned by Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni.

"Thai staff employed by CATS can now return to work as usual," Mr Sirichai said.

Weaving culture, weaving lives

A report on the 2009 Mekong Arts and Media Festival, held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Published: 11/01/2010

(CAAI News Media)

At the end of the 2009 Mekong Arts and Media Festival, "Weaving Culture, Weaving Lives", held last November in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the organisers, the Philippine Education Theatre Association (Peta), had successfully used its special blend of talent, skill, and experience to encourage artists to work in the communities they are part of. The event provided hands-on help to build a network of artists from across the Mekong sub-region that is multicultural, transnational, creative, energetic, interactive, and starting to show signs of self-sustainability.

This year's event was the fifth of its kind run by Peta in the Mekong sub-region, the first having been held in Manila, The Philippines, in 2005. It was evident that the young, talented, and eager artists had grown since the programme began five years earlier, in large part due to the encouragement and resources provided by Peta.

The well-organised five-day event showcased an array of performances, workshops and presentations, and learning experiences about a variety of active and ongoing projects, emerging from the great energy of the young artists at the festival which, like all earlier festivals, had its own parallel conference, workshops, performances, and other activities to get young people together to learn to share and create art projects.

As a fitting opening, the festival began with a parade involving the young artists performing classical music and dance, and guiding a gigantic naga and two big elephant puppets, along with a real, famous Phnom Penh elephant through the Cambodian capital.

The festival was interspersed with various art exhibitions, circus shows, classical dance pieces, and international events from the six countries bordering the great Mekong River.

Opening day parade by youth participants. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE MEKONG ARTS AND MEDIA FESTIVAL

All the youth programmes were run by young people who brought leadership skills learned through their work with Peta over the past five years, while artists from different countries shared new techniques and knowledge.

The festival brought the city of Phnom Penh to life with a vivid spirit, energising the streets and people with a happy feeling of the hopeful power of youth that guide their lives with infectious good will.

Most of the local kids in attendance were from Phare Poulou Silpek in Battambong, Cambodia.

The programme was indeed successful in creating new networks of artists across the region. These young people were so proud and eager to learn and to share what they know, showing great physical and spiritual strength to overcome their often-difficult living conditions. The happy hearts and minds of these young people showed brightly through the five days. They seemed to realise the strength that the arts and training had provided them and took full advantage of the opportunity to speak out and share their new knowledge with their friends.

Less visible, but at least as important in the long run, are the management skills learned by those who have worked with Peta. These skills have grown appreciably during the last five years. After receiving some funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, during the last five years, the Peta-run partnership has also gained new funding from other organisations including Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders. Perhaps these may be the new threads that will make the arts more lively, helping create hope among new generations.

Parallel to the young artists' activities was a conference where a diverse range of artists and scholars from Japan, Cambodia, China, Burma and Thailand presented their work and shared innovative ways to create and collaborate with their communities.

Sixty international artists attended the festival, performing and sharing their art, knowledge and progress in their thinking and talent. Many of them have learned about the importance of good management to create an environment for them to enable dance, theatre, and puppet performances in a sustainable way.

The Crescent Moon Theatre and Wandering Moon from Thailand joined the workshop.

After working for five years with Peta, the confidence and ability of these artists-turned-managers has matured considerably. Most of the young artists - especially those from Phare Poulou Silpek - have become teenagers or young adults and are now strong circus artists. During the recent festival, these artists shared and inspired each other, regardless of nationality or background. Although English was the main language used to communicate, at the eating tables, those from Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand shared their thoughts in a mix of languages.

The laboratory, which was arguably the most difficult aspect of the programme to facilitate due to the amount of information to share, translate, seemed to work out well in the end.

The laboratory started when artists began recognising certain things that could benefit the performing arts among the varied communities in the Mekong sub-region. As time has passed, Mekong artists and the communities have adapted what they have learned and shared in the festival's laboratories for the benefit of the societies they live in.

The ongoing success of the annual event is due largely to Peta's concept of working with others and by providing regular opportunities to share ideas.

It also gives young artists the opportunity to grow and learn from senior artists about channelling inspiration and creativity with discipline and management into arts projects that are fun and suitable for their local audiences. Most aspects of the project deal with young people and aim to promote their self-esteem and empowerment, and offer health education that is so needed in communities along the Mekong. They also share ways of fundraising, managing and promoting artists and their needs. It was wonderful to see the various peoples of the Mekong sub-region mingling together through the support and care of the Peta organisation, who has also seen its value and has opened up the project to artists from Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan. We know that creating a self-sustainable partnership takes time, and Peta has laid the foundations of doing just this.

After all, we all are part of a common work in progress that aims to improve the lives of those in the Mekong area through encouraging creativity, organisation and inspiration.

Date set for Cambodian opposition leader's trial in border row case

Mon, 11 Jan 2010 05:39:56 GMT
By : dpa

(CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh - The opening court hearing against Cambodia's main opposition leader is set for January 27 over the destruction of border markers, national media reported Monday. Sam Rainsy, leader of the party that bears his name, is accused of destruction of property and racial incitement. The charges relate to an October incident in Svay Rieng province in southern Cambodia when six wooden posts marking the border with Vietnam were removed.

The Sam Rainsy Party charged that Cambodian farmers' land rights in the area are not being respected in the border demarcation process currently under way.

Sam Rainsy is out of the country. His lawyer Choung Chou Ngy told the Cambodia Daily newspaper, "I will go and join the trial on behalf of my client, [but] I do not know if he is coming or not," adding that his chances of winning the case were remote.

The court has also issued arrest warrants for five farmers over the incident. Two are in pre-trial detention while the other three have fled. The charges carry jail terms of up to three years, meaning Sam Rainsy could lose his parliamentary position if convicted.

The opposition leader was stripped of his parliamentary immunity in November over the incident in a vote that was boycotted by the opposition. His party insisted its leader has done nothing wrong and was simply standing up for impoverished farmers.

"[Farmers] are losing land because of these demarcation poles," party spokesman Yim Sovann said. "The people do not agree with that because they have only a few hectares of land to feed their families, and now they are losing everything."

In late December, the Svay Rieng provincial court issued an arrest warrant for Sam Rainsy after he failed to appear for questioning over the incident, which riled Hanoi. The two nations are currently demarcating their 1,270-kilometre border in a process that was scheduled to be completed by 2012.

Vietnam has significant interests in agribusiness, aviation, telecommunications and banking in Cambodia. In December, Hanoi signed an agreement with Phnom Penh that could result in investments worth billions of US dollars, including a deal to look for aluminium ore, known as bauxite, in Cambodia's border province of Mondolkiri.

Three opposition parliamentarians were stripped of their parliamentary immunity in 2009 over various charges. Critics accused the ruling Cambodian People's Party of using the courts to move against its perceived opponents in politics, the media and civil society.

Police Blotter: 11 Jan 2010

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:01 Tha Piseth

Police say a man in Kampong Cham province stabbed his wife last week after she urged him to return home. It happened Thursday when the man refused to return to the house he shared with his wife. The woman called out for her husband, but he responded by stabbing her in the stomach and running away. The woman is currently recovering in a local hospital. Police say they are at a loss to explain the attack because the victim is unconscious and the accused perpetrator has gotten away.

An accused pickpocket was arrested thanks to his would-be victim Wednesday. The 20-year-old allegedly tried to relieve a woman of her mobile phone, while the woman was relaxing in a Poipet town entertainment club. The accused thief got more than he bargained for, however. The woman caught the man’s wrist and held on until police arrived to arrest him. The case has been sent to court.

A 37-year-old man has been arrested after he allegedly went on an arson spree that left three houses in a Kampong Speu village torched. Police said it happened Wednesday, yet they are not sure why the man allegedly burned the houses. Local villagers claimed the suspected firebug suffered from a mental illness.

Police have arrested five “gangsters” after they allegedly robbed a policeman of his motorbike by beating him with sticks. Police said the man fled after the hoodlums lashed him with sticks. “They ambushed me and beat me,” said the officer, Tep Sovann. Two of the men were arrested the following morning while riding the very motorbike they were accused of stealing. The other three were arrested later in the afternoon, after police interrogated the original pair. The case has been sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

A woman and her husband suffered serious injuries following an attempted robbery while the pair was part of a wedding party. Police say two would-be robbers were aiming to swipe the woman’s wallet, which contained a necklace, but the plan failed when she pulled back. However, she fell to the road in an attempt to evade the robbery. The man suffered serious head injuries in the process.

Petrol pump prices rise on back of recent global highs

Photo by: Pha Lina
A motorbike passes through a Total service station on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh displaying prices Sunday that were recently raised as oil continues to climb on world markets.

If other companies have increased the price already, we will think of increasing the price too."

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:03 Soeun Say

Petroleum firms blame international market as taxi drivers say that their businesses are quickly becoming unsustainable

PETROL pump prices increased again at the end of last week as service station operators defended the move, citing rising prices on international markets, the source of all of the Kingdom’s oil products.

Caltex, Sokimex and Total were all selling premium petrol at between 4,350 riels and 4,450 riels (US$1.04 and $1.07) per litre Sunday following price rises of about 200 riels a litre initiated on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We started to increase the price on Thursday,” Stephane Dion, managing director of Total Cambodia, said on Sunday.

“The oil price has risen because the crude oil price on international markets has increased,” he said, citing Cambodia’s dependence on international crude.

Asia gasoline hit a 15-month high in Singapore on Friday. Benchmark 92-RON gasoline rose 5.4 percent to $90.25 a barrel, the highest price since October 7, 2008, according to a report by Bloomberg.

At Asia’s biggest oil trading centre, Glencore International AG sold 50,000 barrels of 95-RON petrol to Total at $90.50 a barrel, the report said, a sign that prices are likely to continue rising in the region as oil prices recover from the lows of a year ago.

“If the international market price keeps rising, we will go along with it,” Dion said.

On Sunday, regular-grade petrol was selling for between 4,100 riels and 4,150 riels per litre compared with between 3,900 riels and 3,950 riels per litre two weeks ago.

Total’s premium brand Excellium was the highest-priced fuel on the market in Phnom Penh on Sunday at 4,450 riels per litre.

Chhun Aun, managing director of Cambodian firm Tela, said that his company will likely follow suit today.

“If other companies have increased the price already, we will think of increasing the price too on Monday, but by how much … we do not yet know,” he said, citing pricing pressures from international oil markets.

A representative from Sokimex who declined to be named said Sunday that increases in the cost of fuel in the Kingdom have become a necessity, given what is happening on markets worldwide.

Cambodia still does not produce its own oil or gas. The government is locked in talks with US-based oil giant Chevron over developing offshore Block A – the concession that is the closest to producing – but neither side has released information on discussions after the expiration in April of the firm’s previous agreement.

Officials in the government said last year that production on the concession could not be expected until around 2013 at the earliest.

There are few other domestic blocks set for imminent production, a situation that was exacerbated when the Thai government decided to put to parliament a decision on whether a framework joint-production agreement with Phnom Penh should be ripped up following a spat over Thai ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra last year.

The agreement, made in 2001, was meant to be the first step on a deal that would split future energy revenues from a disputed offshore area in the Gulf of Thailand.

Meanwhile, Cambodian taxi drivers complained Sunday that their businesses are under pressure from the recent price hikes.

“Since early January, oil prices have been on the rise every day,” said Keo Sarat, a 38-year-old taxi driver based in Phnom Penh. “I dare not continue my business because I never make a profit.”

He said he hopes prices stabilise, and he added that many taxi and tuk-tuk drivers have started to complain of the recent escalation in fuel costs.

“I earn only 20,000 riels per day,” said 44-year-old tuk-tuk driver Heng Vichet, also based in the capital. “That is not even enough to cover petrol expenses.”

‘I Am Precious’ designers show off

Photo by: Pha Lina
Vat Chanthy, a 25-year-old employee at the Taipore garment factory in Phnom Penh, models her shortlisted entry in the annual I Am Precious fashion competition, in which garment workers try their hands at designing their own clothes.


Photo by: Pha Lina
Finalists in the I Am Precious campaign, in which garment factory workers get to try their hands at being clothes deigners, model their creations on Sunday.

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:03 David Boyle and Phak Seangly

Top contestants gather to exhibit their entries, carefully translated into full-size garments

A GROUP of Cambodian garment factory workers had a rare occasion to smile on Sunday after a year that has brought steady decline in the sector.

Far away from the monotony of the factory floor, the girls looked like seasoned performers as they modelled the creative visions of their co-workers.

After a difficult year for the Cambodian garment industry, in which an estimated 38,000 people lost their jobs, the I Am Precious dress and T-shirt design competition brought a ray of hope.

The contest, now in its second year, is open to garment workers across the country. This year, more than 1,000 people submitted designs, which were whittled down to a short list of 20, which were each then lovingly translated into an outfit. The winners were announced late last year.

Minna Maaskola of the International Labour Organisation, who coordinated the campaign along with several trade unions, said the competition had generated an enormous boost to the self-esteem of garment workers across the board. “In this campaign, the contestants have been very happy and glad,” she said. “They didn’t really know how big it was, and I think it has only been positive, and the girls have said that they are now famous in the factory.”

Organisers of the competition say they are aware of the need to create sustainable opportunities for workers and have added a pattern-making course to provide genuine opportunities. “That’s what we wanted to do this year, to improve it a little bit so there’s a continuation, there’s a training course, there’s something extra. It’s not just winning a bicycle,” Minna Maaskola said.

The dress that most dazzled this year’s judges – and the focus of Saturday’s photoshoot – was designed by Khean Vantha, 30, from Kampong Cham province. The stunning floor-length iridescent blue gown resembles a couture nod to the American flag. She said the contest had given her the confidence to consider pursuing a career in fashion design. “After winning the competition, I am being trained in clothes design by the ILO,” she said Sunday. “After the training ends, I might stop working at the factory and think of running my own business at my home in Kampong Cham.”

Sem Sinnun, 23, modelled Khean Vantha’s winning design during Sunday’s photoshoot – part of a forthcoming magazine feature. “Although nowadays I am a simple factory worker, in the future I want to be a clothes designer,” she said. “Even though I normally work every day, I am concerned about my job as a garment worker at Shen Zhou factory because of the global economic crisis and because some factories were closed already in 2009.”

Trial date set in Rainsy case

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

SVAY Rieng provincial court has summoned opposition leader Sam Rainsy and five villagers to appear in court on January 27 to face charges stemming from the removal of wooden markers near the border with Vietnam.

Choung Choungy, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, said Sunday that he received a court summons signed by court prosecutor Keo Thea on Friday and would appear to defend his client, who is currently overseas.

“I maintain my stance that this story is not a criminal case, and that [Sam Rainsy] is not wrong because he did what he did as a representative of the people,” he said.

“This is not a criminal case, but a political story.”

Sam Rainsy has been charged with racial incitement and purposely destroying border-demarcation poles after a Buddhist ceremony in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district on October 25. Villagers claimed the markers were placed in their fields by Vietnamese authorities, prompting opposition concerns that Cambodian authorities are turning a blind eye to border encroachments.


A warrant was issued for Sam Rainsy’s arrest after he failed to appear in court on December 28 for questioning in relation to the incident.

Five local villagers – Meas Srey, 39, Prom Chea, 41, Prak Koeun, 38, Prak Chea, 28, and Neang Phally, 39 – were also charged with destroying the border markers and have been summoned to appear in court on the same day.

Two of those named, Meas Srey and Prom Chea, have been detained by local authorities, and the other three remain on the run after failing to appear in court last month.

Nget Nara, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said the trial of Sam Rainsy and the villagers would draw the attention of many national and international human rights observers.

“This story is very important because it is related to the border issue and the lifting of Sam Rainsy’s [parliamentary] immunity. Observers will want to know whether or not the trial will give justice to Sam Rainsy and those people,” he said.

Judge Koam Chhean, who is handling the case, could not be reached on Sunday.

Kampot, VN police to probe death

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

KAMPOT provincial police have launched an investigation in cooperation with Vietnamese authorities after a Cambodian man’s body was discovered floating in a lake in Vietnam’s Kien Giang province last week.

Phorn Banh, 24, was found dead in the lake on Saturday afternoon about 7 kilometres from his home in Kampong Trach district’s South Boeung Salang commune.

District police Chief Khuon Sovan said officials do not yet suspect foul play in the killing and are awaiting the results of an autopsy.

“I have already sent my deputy police chief to cooperate with Vietnamese police officials to learn about the case,” he said.

Try Chhuon, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said two witnesses had noticed injuries on the body as they removed it from the lake. “The victim’s teeth were broken; there were black marks on his chest and right hand,” she said.

“We are thoroughly investigating and suspect his death could be an assassination rather than a drowning.”

Try Chhuon said that Deb Sim, a relative of the victim, reported that he, the victim, and two others who often worked together had been drinking with Vietnamese people, and that he and Phorn Banh had been invited to a Vietnamese wedding reception until 10pm.

“Deb Sim added that after leaving the reception, a motorbike carrying two people crashed into them while driving separate bikes to head home,” she said.

“They were not injured, but a Vietnamese woman hurt her knee. They felt frightened and carried their bikes to flee the scene and get home, when immediately several flashlights pointed at the men, and [people] started chasing them,” she said.

“Deb Sim arrived safely home around midnight, but the victim had disappeared.”

Phorn Banh had a wife and two children.

M’kiri blaze probably an arson, officials say

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:02 Kim Yuthana

OFFICIALS in Mondulkiri province say they are investigating a fire that destroyed a Forestry Administration office building in Sre Preah commune, Keo Seima district, on Saturday night, in what the deputy commune police chief said was likely a case of arson.

Sambath Methany said the fire appeared to have been intentional, but he added that officials had yet to identify a suspect.

He and several other officials noted that the blaze took place two days after illegal loggers opened fire on Forestry Administration officials from the office as they were trying to disrupt the route of two trucks loaded with illegal logs headed to the Vietnamese border. But the officials emphasised that there was no hard evidence linking the two incidents.

“I don’t know yet the reason for the fire, but the event happened after the Forestry Administration officials cracked down on the illegal logging case on the night of January 7,” Sambath Methany said.

Sarou Rattana, head of the Forestry Administration’s Keo Seima district office, said he was collecting evidence in the case, adding that officials had managed to confiscate the two trucks that were stopped during the January 7 altercation, in which no one was injured.

“My colleagues will continue the investigation,” he said.

Tot Choy, the chief of Sre Preah village, said Sunday that local authorities had found bullet casings from the shooting.

Chhay Thy, Mondulkiri provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said he planned to launch a separate investigation, adding that he was convinced the fire was intentional.

City shuts down oil factory

Photo by: Pha Lina
An oil-reprocessing plant in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district has been ordered to close by provincial officials following complaints from villagers who say pollution from the site has been causing a range of health problems.


(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

CITY authorities shut down an unlicensed motor oil reprocessing factory that had been operating for less than a month in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Sunday following compaints from local residents that pollution has caused an outbreak of health problems.

Hem Narith, deputy governor of Dankor district, said that he ordered the closure on Sunday afternoon after accompanying investigators to the factory site in Chom Chau commune, where he confirmed that the facility had no documentation.

“When I spoke with the staff that were working at the factory today, they said they didn’t know who owned the factory and they didn’t even know what the place was called, but they did admit that the factory had no licence or documentation of any kind,” he said. “Now that we’ve closed the factory, the next step is to track down the owner.”

The investigation was prompted by complaints filed Friday by people who live near the factory. For the past month, they say, a daily output of smoke and caustic odours had caused vomiting, headaches, itchy skin and respiratory problems.

“I don’t know which chemicals they used to refine the oil, but the smoke and the smells constantly gave me headaches and caused me to vomit,” said commune resident Sar Sampos. “I don’t know what effect it might have had on my pregnancy.”

Van Vannath, who lives 40 metres from the factory, said that more factories operating in the commune would help support local incomes, “but even so, we don’t need this factory”.

Soth Sath, chief of Chom Chau commune, said the operation could only reopen if its owner “allowed government experts to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment, complied with the assessment’s findings and then obtained a legal permit”.

Yean Ly, director of the Association for the Protection and Development of Cambodia’s Environment, said that recycling motor oil could serve a beneficial purpose in reducing pollution, but that the process could also pose a threat to human health if conducted with obsolete equipment.

“The Cambodian government needs to subsidise the import of newer, cleaner technologies, because right now we are facing a shortage of cutting-edge equipment.”

PANDEMIC: Local cases of swine flu reach 550

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:02 Cheang Sokha


The total number of people infected with the A(H1N1) influenza virus rose to 550 as of January 7, the Ministry of Health’s Department of Communicable Disease Control announced on its Web site. Four new cases were confirmed during a seven-day span from December 31. Six people have died from the virus – more commonly known as swine flu – since the first instance was detected in the Kingdom in June 2009. The first death was confirmed on September 27, and the latest was an 18-month-old boy who died on December 3. The World Health Organisation has recorded at least 12,799 deaths worldwide as of January 8, but the real number of cases is undoubtedly higher, as many deaths went untested. There have been 1,165 deaths in Southeast Asia. Health officials advise that to help prevent the spread of the disease, people should wash their hands frequently, refrain from spitting in public, use tissues or handkerchiefs and avoid crowds. Authorities urge anyone showing symptoms including a high fever, coughing, headache, muscle ache, sore throat, runny nose and lethargy, to contact them immediately.

Assault victim speaks out

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol

THE victim of a suspected acid attack has urged authorities to bring his assailant to justice.Hor Tin, 23, said he has not been able to return to work since he was doused with a corrosive liquid in an attack in Prampi Makara district last week.

“I have suffered a great deal,” Hor Tin said. “I worry that the attackers will go free because so many offenders of acid attacks have never been arrested or convicted at all.”

Hor Tin said he was attacked after a spat over a parking sign last Monday. But his assailant, 41-year-old dentist Lim Soma, was later released by police.

The Post was unable to reach court or police officials for comment, but the district’s governor, Soam Sovann, said last week that authorities have urged the two parties to work out monetary compensation outside the legal system.

There is some disagreement over what liquid was used in the attack. Hor Tin and his employer – who said Hor Tin was the unintended victim in an attack that stemmed from a long-simmering feud between families – as well as Soam Sovann have all described the substance as acid, but Lim Soma said it was teeth whitener.

“The liquid that I poured over him is the water you use to make your teeth look white,” she said in an interview last week. “It is not acid.”

The altercation follows a string of acid attacks in December: Two teenage sisters in Phnom Penh were seriously injured when assailants on a motorbike poured acid on them; Hang Srey Leak, a 16-year-old TV talent show winner, was scarred after an attack; and four women who worked in a karaoke bar were also attacked. Authorities have made arrests in all but the first case.

Also, at least two other December attacks failed to receive media attention, according to the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC). This brings December’s tally to at least five – almost as many as for the rest of 2009, according to the group.

Officials warn of cholera spread

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol and Sen David

THE Ministry of Health warned of a potential cholera outbreak on Sunday after a cluster of infections, including one fatality, were reported in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district.

Health officials have been tracking a rash of cholera infections across the country over the past 45 days, said Dr Sok Touch, director of the Communicable Disesase Control Department at the Ministry of Health.

“I suggest that health officials in every province take urgent action to prevent peoples’ exposure to contaminated water,” he said.

“Anyone experiencing severe diarrhoea and vomiting should immediately go to the hospital or the nearest source of medical care because this disease can spread easily and is potentially fatal.”

On January 5, Toch Kamsat, 28, a garment worker from Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district, died 12 hours after she was hospitalised for diarrhoea and vomiting.

“The woman’s fatal infection came from contaminated food or water she consumed outside of the workplace,” said Pok Vanthat, deputy director of the Occupational Health Department at the Ministry of Labour.

As a precaution, however, Pok Vanthat said that doctors would be sent to factories across the country to provide health checkups for garment workers.

Mondulkiri concession agreements cancelled

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:00 Chhay Channyda

THE government has cancelled agreements on 50 private concessions in Mondulkiri province, apparently due to company inactivity, according to the provincial governor.

In a statement dated January 4, Chan Yoeun said the decision had been made to “nullify and invalidate 50 companies in Mondulkiri province”.

It said an additional three companies previously under investigation would be able to continue working in the province according to their original agreements, adding that the authorities “welcome new companies or old that seek real investment”.

The statement, which was published in the local Khmer-language press, listed the names of the companies whose deals were annulled – including Tanimex Co Ltd and Good Luck Co – although no official reason was given for the decision. Chan Yoeun was unavailable for further comment.

Deputy Governor Aisy Sokunthear said in November that the government was considering whether to cancel agreements with more than 50 firms operating in Mondulkiri province on the grounds that they had failed to develop their land concessions. She was unavailable for further comment Friday.

At the time she said the decision to investigate the companies had been made to determine the tax that should be paid to the government, and also so that unused land concessions could be redistributed to companies with serious plans to develop the province.

According to Mondulkiri provincial figures, the government granted 260,000 hectares of land to the companies in question for production of crops including rubber and coffee.

Chhay Thy, a provincial monitor for the rights group Adhoc, said Friday that the decision to invalidate the companies’ licences followed a meeting on November 25 between the head of the National Land Dispute Resolution Committee, Bin Chhin, and provincial officials from Mondulkiri.

No further details from the meeting were immediately available.

“Those companies have not done anything except clear the land,” Chhay Thy said, adding that firms should discuss with local inhabitants private-sector projects and their impacts on communities before going ahead with development.

Store to sell B’bang rice in capital

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:00 Ith Sothoeuth

RICE millers in Battambang province have teamed up with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to open a new Battambang Aromatic Rice store in Phnom Penh, the Japanese development agency said Sunday.

The store, which is set to open Tuesday, will sell only rice certified by the Battambang Rice Promotion Committee (BRPC), according to Chhoeurn Kolyan, project secretary of Battambang Rural Area Nurture and Development. The new shop has already received orders for 800 tonnes from dealers in the capital, he said.

The aim of the project is to offer in Phnom Penh certified Battambang rice, a well-known product in the Kingdom, said Chhoeurn Kolyan, adding that many rice sellers sold their produce in Cambodia with a Battambang label, even if it was harvested elsewhere, in a bid to trade on the name.

“We want to promote the brand name Battambang [rice],” he said, adding that there were plans to ship the rice overseas.

“In 2010, we will focus only the local market. For the future, when more millers participate, we would like to export.”

Currently, only three of nine BRPC members are capable of producing Battambang aromatic rice that meets certification standards, said Chhoeurn Kolyan, although the remaining six are installing the necessary equipment to do so and are expected to be up and running this month.

To meet the necessary requirements, broken rice must not exceed 15 percent and the seeds must be genuine aromatic varieties, said Sieng Suthang, Battambang’s deputy governor and president of BRPC.

The provincial organisation was established in August 2008 and involves input from local government departments, the Battambang Chamber of Commerce and the Rice Millers Association.

Stocks Roundup: Maybank steady on news of expansion

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:00 James O'Toole

Stocks Roundup

SHARES in Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange remained stable last week after Chief Executive Officer Abdul Wahid Omar’s announcement on Tuesday that the bank plans to add five additional branches in Cambodia. Maybank closed on Friday at 6.92 ringgit (US$2.05) after opening at 6.92 ringgit and beginning the week at 6.85.

Shares in the Malaysian lender have hovered around 6.85 ringgit over the past few months, hitting a 52-week high of 7.08 in November.

On Tuesday, Maybank opened its seventh branch in the Kingdom in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district. Maybank international head Abdul Farid Alias said at the event that the firm is optimistic about prospects for growth in Cambodia, and plans to open at least one more branch here by the end of June.

Trading in property investment fund JSM Indochina resumed last week after it was suspended following the December 7 resignation of Numis, the fund’s nominated adviser. London’s AIM board had JSM listed at $0.66 before the suspension last month; it opened on Wednesday at $0.67 before closing down Friday at $0.595. Panmure Gordon (UK) Limited has been installed as the fund’s new nominated adviser and broker.

San Francisco-based hedge fund Passport Capital LLC, which controls about 13 percent of JSM’s capital, called for the December 7 investor meeting in London in which a new chairman, Scott Verges, was appointed along with two new non-executive directors.

Verges and his new colleagues, Paul Kaju and John Duggan, touched down in Cambodia last week to review JSM’s investment strategy in the region at the request of shareholders. New JSM investments are on hold pending a review of its investment strategy, the firm said last week, adding it was working with Panmure Gordon to return uninvested cash to shareholders.

France-based holding firm Electricite et Eaux de Madagascar (EEM) closed up 4.72 percent on Friday at the Paris Stock Exchange, finishing at €8.21 (US$11.83). EEM operates hotels in Cambodia and Vietnam, including the Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa in Siem Reap, under EEM subsidiaries EEM Victoria and Victoria Angkor.

The company hit a 52-week high of €9.10 in October before falling below €8 towards the end of the year.

Vimpelcom, owner of Cambodian mobile phone company Beeline, finished at $20.42 on the New York Stock Exchange Friday, up 3.50 percent from its December 1 price of $19.73.

Thun Sophea beats Vouey Sothun purple

Photo by: Robert Starkweather
Thun Sophea (pictured) caused severe bruising on the legs of opponent Vouey Sothun during their fight at TV5 arena Friday.

(CAAI News Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:00 Robert Starkweather

Ministry of Defense Boxing Club great Thun Sophea returned to the ring Friday night at the TV5 boxing arena, easily earning the decision over veteran Vouey Sothun.

Southpaw Thun Sophea scored with lead hooks and low inside kicks and generally outmanoeuvred a keen but overwhelmed Vouey Sothun.

The inside of Vouey Sothun’s left thigh was black within minutes of the opening bell, and by the end of round five it was displaying fantastic hues of red and purple.

Thun Sophea’s had beaten Vouey Sothun on two previous occasions, and emerged victorious over “Contender Asia” star Dominik Zidov in his most recent competitive fight back in August.

He is widely considered as Cambodia’s best kickboxer, winning against every local fighter of note, including Vorn Viva and Meas Chanta, and both ISKA world champions, “The Raging Bull” Chey Kosal and Sen Bunthen.

Weekend Cup ties run more or less to script

(CAAI news Media)

Monday, 11 January 2010 15:00 Ung Chamroeun

THE weekend was bursting with local football action from the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup preliminary round matches played at the four centers of Siem Reap, Battambang, Svay Rieng and Kep. Almost all of the Phnom Penh heavyweights, including Phnom Penh Crown, Build Bright United, National Defense Ministry, Khemara Keila, Naga Corp, and Preah Khan Reach, registered prefect records from their opening matches, while Cambodian Premier League dropouts Post Tel look set for a shock exit.

Post Tel, who had made the quarterfinals in 2009, succumbed to a 2-1 loss to home team Kep Thursday, and were then put on the receiving end of a 6-0 drubbing by Koh Kong province Saturday. They will have to win both of their remaining games to stand a chance at qualifying for the knockout stage in the capital.

Navy backed side Phouchung Neak recorded a remarkable Cup run in 2009, making the semifinals, which impressed the football federation enough to grant them Premier League status, after Kampot province had relinquished their promotion place due to a lack of funding.

On Friday in Kep, Phouchung were held to a 0-0 stalemate by CPL side Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, and then scratched out a 2-0 win against Life University Sunday. Kirivong went level on points but top on goal difference of group E Sunday after battering Kampot province 6-0. With Kampot claiming a vital point thanks to a 1-1 draw with Life University, it is still technically possible for any team to advance, and Tuesday’s fixtures could provide some sparks.

In Battambang, reigning champions Phnom Penh Crown took control of group A with victories from both their games. They dispatched hosts Battambang Province 4-0 Thursday before thrashing the Pailin team 7-0 Saturday.

Kampong Chhnang outfit Rithisen recorded a huge 12-1 win over Banteay Meanchey Province Thursday, a scoreline that was astonishingly mirrored by Chhma Khmao over Kratie Province in Svay Rieng the same day.

Tam Matt, coach of Rithysen, was delighted at the result, but noted three tough games came up. “Banteay Meanchey is a weak team and we won easily, but with Battambang, Pailin, and especially cup holders Phnom Penh Crown will be difficult,” he told the Post by phone. “I can see neither positives nor negatives in the next matches, but I keep pushing my boys to do their best. However, we know already that Phnom Penh Crown will go ahead in this group.”

Battambang picked themselves up from the Crown defeat to inflict further misery on Banteay Meanchey Saturday, with the host side winning 3-1.

In Siem Reap, Red Lion FC (Tor Krahom) are already eliminated following two defeats, while the three other teams in group C; Build Bright United, Prek Pra Keila and Preah Vihear; are still in the hunt for the top two places. In the opening ties Thursday, Build Bright United (BBU) smashed Preah Vihear 6-0, while Prek Pra Keila defeated Red Lion 2-0. BBU and Prek Pra Keila then played out a 0-0 draw Saturday to take a share of the lead on four points each, while Preah Vihear kept themselves in it with a 3-2 victory over Red Lion.

“BBU is one of the big teams but they couldn’t score any goal against us,” said El Fatel, coach of Prek Pra Keila. “I’m so confident in my team, and hope that we will beat Preah Vihear in our last preliminary round match [at 4:15pm today]. I believe that we will travel to Phnom Penh with BBU.” Prek Pra Keila will also join the university side in the CPL this coming season.

In Kep, group F was left wide open, with four teams on three points. Wat Phnom, formerly Spark FC and the surprise package of last year’s CPL, won their fixture with Kang Reach Sey 1-0 Thursday. Kang Reach Sey then restored face with a victory 2-1 over hosts Kep Saturday.

“The low-standard field caused difficulties for all teams in our group,” bemoaned Kang Reach Sey manager Hul Sakda. “Our loss to Wat Phnom was just unlucky. However, I believe in the performance of my youngsters in the next two fixtures. They will overcome this preliminary round and make the last-16 stage in Phnom Penh.”

Svay Rieng games saw group H favourites Preah Khan Reach book their place in the next round by means of 4-3 wins against BB World Thursday, and local side Chhma Khmao Saturday. Kratie Province were given no chance of qualifying after a 12-1 trouncing by Chhma Khmao Thursday and a 7-1 rout from BB World Saturday.

The stage is now set for a crucial clash today between Chhma Khmao and BB World, with the home side needing just a draw while the latter needs all three points. “BB World have many youngsters who play with determination, but I hope that my players will do better to obtain victory for the club,” said Pin Dara, coach of Chhma Khmao who have also been promoted to the CPL this year. “I believe that we will qualify with Preah Khan Reach.”

In Battambang, Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Mekong Kampuchea University clinched their places in the next round after both registered two wins out of two. MND pushed past Pursat 4-2 Sunday after treating Kampong Chhnang club DATE (Development and Appropriate Technology) to a 4-0 lesson. Mekong Kampuchea University had beaten Pursat 3-1 Friday before sealing qualification with a 2-1 victory over DATE Sunday.

“Now we are looking forward to victory in the next stage,” said MND assistant coach Hor Sok Heng, adding that he was happy that none of his players have contracted injury. Current CPL champions Naga Corp made sure of advancement Sunday with a 12-0 rampage against Kampong Thom in Siem Reap Sunday. Despite a 5-2 loss to Naga Friday, Oddar Meanchey still have a chance of making the knockout round after beating hosts Siem Reap 1-0 Sunday. “I can’t predict the result, but I hope that my team will win over Kampong Thom in our last match Tuesday,” said Koeu Slaymann, manager of the Oddar Meanchey team.

Despite their deep financial problems, Khemara Keila breezed through their first two games at Svay Rieng to qualify from group G. A 5-0 feast against Prey Veng Friday was followed up with an 8-0 destruction of Kandal Province.

“The organising committee did not follow the schedule which had been set up, so we made some wrong preparations,” revealed Khemara manager Lah Salakhan. “However, we are already qualified, so I’m happy about that.”

With Arizon Cambodia already out of the running after two losses, Kandal Province and Prey Veng clash today will decide who joins Khemara Keila in Phnom Penh February 7.