Thursday, 14 January 2010

NGOs face sub-decree on govt pay



Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A woman writhes in pain as she gives birth in a referral hospital in Pursat province last March.

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:03 James O’toole and Vong Sokheng

Groups say supplement cuts are likely to fuel absenteeism

IN AN overflowing meeting room in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district, NGO and development partner representatives on Wednesday elaborated on their concerns about the government’s recent decision to terminate salary supplement programmes for civil servants, a decision the World Health Organisation (WHO) says could lead to a rise in staff absenteeism and an increased burden on the poor.

At the headquarters of the local health group Medicam, the meeting’s 57 attendees considered their options after a sub-decree that went into effect January 1 banned the supplementation of civil servant salaries by development organisations. Through salary-supplement programmes, NGOs and development partners had been boosting the income of Cambodian civil servants in a range of sectors.

None of those in attendance were willing to be quoted on the record during the gathering, but many said that although they were committed to working with the government, they were unsure whether officials fully grasped the potential impact of the sub-decree.

“I don’t think that the government has adequate information on … the adverse impacts of this decision, because the time is too short,” Medicam director Sin Somuny said following the meeting.

On December 3, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a sub-decree stipulating that the supplement termination would take effect at the start of this year.

Meanwhile, promotions and salary raises have been suspended for one year, according to a September circular from the Council of Ministers, and the premier has also ordered a 50 percent reduction in contracted and temporary staffers throughout the government. This means that only half of the 29,756 contracted government officials and 11,996 temporary workers requested by government ministries for 2010 can be hired, though Hun Sen granted an exception for 850 health workers and 4,800 teachers.

Some at the Medicam meeting questioned that the health sector would be able to afford those 850 new workers, given the termination of the salary supplements.

In a letter dated December 21 and obtained by the Post on Wednesday, acting World Health Organisation representative for Cambodia Michel Thieren wrote to Minister of Health Mam Bunheng to outline a number of possibly harmful consequences of the supplement termination.


Photo by: Sovan Philong
Students walk out after class at Boeung Trabek high school in Phnom Penh last year.

A rise in absenteeism and “an increase in unregulated private practice by public-sector health providers” is likely, Thieren said, as health professionals look to bolster their reduced income by seeking other sources of revenue. In addition, poor Cambodians may bear an increased financial burden in seeking medical care as government health workers retreat en masse to the more lucrative private sector.

“There may be a reduced range of services for fee-exempted patients in order to get cost recovery for more expensive treatments,” Thieren wrote.

“Health fees can be a huge burden for the poor, as health is often a long-term, large and unpredictable expenditure for households.”

In a December 4 letter to World Bank country director Annette Dixon, Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon explained that the government had made the decision both to deal with the effects of the global financial crisis and to facilitate a broader process of civil service reform.

The issue of fairness was also a factor in the government’s decision. Salary supplements that are not uniformly distributed “cause bad feelings in the workplace and lead to declines in productivity”, Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said last month.

Hang Chuon Naron, secretary general at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said Wednesday that the government is scheduled to hold a meeting today to discuss the supplement termination, but declined to comment further. Government officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the meeting would be presided over by Keat Chhon and Prak Sokhon, secretary of state at the Council of Ministers.

A debate that emerged at the Medicam meeting was whether NGOs and development partners in the health sector should be looking for ways to “get around” the sub-decree and continue compensating civil servants at present levels, or whether they should strictly observe the sub-decree and simply monitor its ramifications.

“You can hear two different perspectives, so we don’t know exactly. There is no clear direction on what we are going to do yet,” Sin Somuny said.

Those assembled Wednesday agreed to draft a position paper on the issue and establish a working group to monitor the policy change’s effects, he added.

The Medicam director said many rural health professionals may not yet be aware of the government’s decision, even as they draw most of their wages from salary supplements.

Though perhaps particularly significant for the health sector, the effects of the government’s decision should be monitored across government ministries, Sin Somuny said.

“We need to get more information on other social impacts such as education, rural development, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and agriculture – many of these key social service delivery sectors,” he said.

On December 17, the Australian and British ambassadors as well as the UN, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank wrote to Keat Chhon to announce their compliance with the decision, though they also requested a meeting to discuss “how to mitigate the potential adverse impacts of the decision”. Sin Somuny said that as of Wednesday, there had been no response by the government to this request.

Thaksin planning to make third visit



Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong speaks to reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport on Wednesday before departing for a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Vietnam.

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:03 Sebastian Strangio and Cheang Sokha

FORMER Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is to make his third visit to Cambodia later this month, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said Wednesday, as red-shirted supporters of the fugitive billionaire prepared to take to the streets in the Thai capital.

Speaking to reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport, Hor Namhong said Thaksin’s upcoming visit – his third in his capacity as an economic adviser to the government – was not linked to the current tensions in Thailand.

“Thaksin coming or going out of Cambodia is not strange. It is a normal thing,” Hor Namhong said before leaving for Vietnam to attend a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers.

“We are absolutely not interfering in Thai internal affairs. Whatever colour T-shirts they have is up to them.”

He said also that tensions between Cambodia and Thailand, which reached a new low with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s appointment of Thaksin in November, had deeper roots.

“The issue between Cambodia and Thailand has not come from the appointment of Thaksin as a government adviser but from Thailand’s three invasions of Cambodia,” he said, referring to border clashes that erupted over the disputed Preah Vihear temple in 2008 and 2009.

The announcement was made a day after Hun Sen raised the stakes in his spat with Bangkok, predicting a hasty demise for the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and branding foreign minister Kasit Piromya a “terrorist”. Kasit had warned earlier that Bangkok would not normalise relations with Cambodia until Cambodia revoked Thaksin’s appointment.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong also said the government was not trying to get involved in Thai politics, saying Thaksin was visiting purely in his capacity as economic adviser.

“This is the internal affair of Cambodia.… We don’t care about the Thais’ view,” he said.

When contacted Wednesday, Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn said he had no comment about Thaksin’s upcoming visit, adding that it was Cambodia’s “internal affair”.

“For a particular visit, we have no particular policy, but we do have a policy to get Thaksin back to Thailand,” he said, referring the criminal charges facing him in the Thai courts.

Whether or not Cambodia chooses to acquiesce to Thai demands for Thaksin’s extradition, he said, was its own decision to make.

“Cambodia is a sovereign country and can do whatever it sees fit. Our position is that the complications [resulting] from the appointment of Thaksin can be resolved,” he said.

The Thai Supreme Court is set to hand down its verdict in Thaksin’s 76.6 billion baht (US$2.3 billion) assets seizure case on February 26, a Thai court official said on Tuesday.

A high-stakes game
Some observers, however, said the timing of Thaksin’s visit was more than a coincidence.

“It’s a coincidence that the Thai government is stepping up the rhetoric and calling for the revocation of Thaksin’s appointment. But at the same time, the Red Shirts are mobilising,” said Thitinan Ponsudhirak, a political analyst based at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, adding that his arrival was likely deliberately timed to coincide with the upswing in protests.

“[Thaksin] is better placed if he’s next door,” he said.

On Monday, around 10,000 Red Shirts rallied outside the house of a Thai royal adviser, an event apparently aimed at building support for a new wave of anti-government rallies in Bangkok later this month.

Chheang Vannarith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said the motivations for Thaksin’s visit were complicated, but agreed there was a link with the Red Shirts’ activities.

“I think his physical proximity to Thailand can be a kind of spiritual support,” he said.

He added that Hun Sen’s predictions about the downfall of the Abhisit government were a clear indication that the premier was backing the pro-Thaksin Puea Thai Party to win victory in the next Thai election, on the assumption there would be a quick warming of relations if the current government falls.

Thitinan predicted a protracted game of cat-and-mouse between the two countries, punctuated by “a lot of comings and goings” for the ex-premier, but said Hun Sen was taking a great risk by burning his bridges with the Abhisit government.

“In the long term, it’s a big gamble to place Thai-Cambodian relations into the context of Thai domestic polarisation,” he said.

“I think by international standards this is very rare. And dangerous.”

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP AND THE BANGKOK POST

Minority villagers to brave R’kiri court



via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:02 Chhay Channyda

FOUR ethnic Tumpoun villagers facing charges related to an ongoing land dispute with a rubber company in Ratanakkiri province have agreed to appear in court on Thursday after learning that the rights group Adhoc had arranged for their legal representation, their lawyer said on Wednesday.

The development follows the return to the province of Pen Bonnar, an Adhoc activist embroiled in the same dispute, on January 1. Adhoc last year temporarily moved the activist to Phnom Penh after he was charged with incitement for refusing to appear in court in July in connection with his support of the Tumpoun villagers.

Long Lon, the lawyer provided by Adhoc for the defendants, said his four clients were charged with trespassing on a rubber plantation owned by the DM Group, whose claim to the Patang commune property has been challenged by villagers there since 2007.

“I will be on hand to ensure that the judge does not arrest them,” he said.

Sven Vev, Yang Than, Pich Ponlok and Tol Oeur refused to appear in court on January 6 when they were unable to obtain legal representation.

Sven Vev said that, with the support of a lawyer, he could confidently state his case in court. “They accused us of violating their property, but 260 hectares of their claim is in fact our farmland,” he said.

Pen Bonnar, who has not yet been summoned to court, said he “did not trust” investigating judge Thor Saron to give justice to the villagers, accusing him of bias in favour of the company. Thor Saron could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Foreign minister says Thais breach international law



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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:02 Vong Sokheng and Cheang Sokha

THE continued shootings of Cambodian loggers, allegedly at the hands of Thai soldiers, constitute a breach of international law and human rights, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong charged Wednesday.

Speaking with reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport, Hor Namhong said Thai soldiers should respect international law when dealing with illegal loggers.

“If Cambodian people do something wrong, [Thai authorities] can punish them by using international law and the principle of human rights,” Hor Namhong said before departing to attend a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers in Vietnam. “We have sent them many diplomatic notes.”

The foreign affairs minister’s comments came two days after Thai soldiers allegedly shot and killed two Cambodian loggers near the border with Oddar Meanchey province.

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... the number of people killed has increased.
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On Wednesday, seven Cambodians who had been missing following that incident returned home, officials said.

“All the missing Cambodian loggers were safely returned,” said Keo Tan, the police chief in Trapaing Prasat district.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanyagorn said he had no official details of the incident. But he said all border issues should be discussed during Joint Border Committee meetings.

“Our position is clear: We would like to work with Cambodia at the committee level to resolve border issues,” he said by phone from Bangkok.

Figures from local rights group Adhoc suggest that shootings of illegal loggers along the disputed border area have spiked in the last year.

Nine villagers were killed in 2009 and three in the early days of 2010 after they entered Thailand illegally, said Srey Naren, Adhoc’s coordinator in Oddar Meanchey. “Since 2002, there have been only one or two cases per year of Cambodians being shot,” Srey Naren said.

“But since the dispute along the border has flared, the number of people killed has increased.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

French alleged paedophile testifies



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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday heard the case of a 60-year-old Frenchman charged with soliciting sex with a 16-year-old Cambodian girl and producing and possessing pornography.

Claude Jean-Pierre Demeret was arrested August 20 in Boeung Kok district. Police searched the room of the guesthouse where Demeret was staying and found children’s underwear and toys, as well as dozens of explicit photographs of himself.

Demeret told the court he had not had intercourse with the victim, but admitted to having the victim perform a sex act on him.

Demeret’s defence lawyer argued that the accused was the victim of entrapment on the part of police and a local NGO. Presiding Judge Chan Madina seemed to accept that argument, accusing the plaintiff of having been involved in similar schemes with four other foreigners in recent years.

The victim’s lawyer, Peng Maneth, from the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, denied the entrapment charge. A verdict will be handed down on January 26.

Otres development riles business owners



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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:02 David Boyle and Sen David

THE owners of businesses and houses on Otres beach in Preah Sihanouk province have vowed to protest a decision by provincial authorities that would require them to vacate their property by the end of the month.

About 100 people stand to be affected by the move, which was announced at a meeting on Saturday, according to some of the residents and business owners.

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Some of these vendors just make [otres beach] look dirty.
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Rory Sheffield, who owns a guesthouse and bar on Otres beach, said he had been aware when he signed his lease three months ago that the authorities would be within their legal rights to appropriate the land, but he said he had been told by officials that no such action would be taken for at least five years.

“If they want to stop the businesses here, they should stop issuing the business licences and phase it out,” he said Tuesday. “They can’t take all our money and then just say, ‘OK, one month’.”

Another local businessman, Rainer Deyhle, who recently opened Cinderella’s Beach Bar on Otres beach, said the authorities had renewed his business licence just two weeks before. He vowed to take the fight global.

“I’m going to inform the German press, my neighbours are going to inform the American and English press, and we will tell everyone that Cambodia is not a trustworthy place,” he said. “We are going to make a big deal out of this.”

He said the authorities had told those present at the meeting that they planned to build a garden on the beach, adding that he was mystified by the prospect of a garden planted in the sand.

Sihanoukville Governor Chin Sarin said Tuesday that he was uninterested in the complaints of residents and business owners, and vowed that the authorities would press on with their plans.

“No one can reject this decision,” he said. “The government wants to make a new public garden to attract tourism, and some of these vendors just make the beach look dirty. All the vendors have to move this month.”

Sok Heng, a vendor, said he was concerned that he and his colleagues could lose their only source of income, adding that he planned to organise a protest outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home in Takhmao.

“We have no contract with the government because the state owns the beach and can do whatever they want, but we want to appeal to the government,” he said.

Roadside vendors forced out by Phnom Penh police



Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Police in Daun Penh district’s Phsar Kandal I commune warn vendors Wednesday to clear their stalls and merchandise from the pavement of Street 154.

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:02 Chhay Channyda

POLICE fanned out across Phsar Kandal I commune in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on Wednesday to inform shopkeepers and street vendors that they could no longer block the area’s pavements and roadways with their displays, threatening to confiscate the goods of offending merchants.

“In order to improve public order, businesses on Sisowath Quay have been asked to restrict their activities to shop interiors. However, vendors located on small streets can use half the width of the pavement,” said Nuth Chantha, Phsar Kandal I’s chief of public order police.

“On Thursday, we will come back again to implement the new policy. Violators will have their goods confiscated.”

Nun Chantha added that 70 percent of the shop owners who were informed of the new regulation said they planned to comply.

Hem Him, Phsar Kandal I commune’s chief of police, said the heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the area – which includes the riverfront businesses and restaurants on Sisowath Quay popular with foreign tourists – left no room for unregulated commercial spillover.

“The commune’s new policy on sidewalk and road use is part of the Phnom Penh municipality’s plan to widen the city’s streets and avoid the congestion caused by vendors using the streets as their own land,” he said.

Sophal, a watch repairman who declined to give his family name, said he heard the announcement via loudspeaker from his stall in front of a residential building near Kandal Market.

“I will move my stall back from the street, closer in to the building, but many vendors will not comply,” he said. “They paid money to the police to keep their businesses open as usual tomorrow.”

Shoe Squabble: FM blasts flags on footwear



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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:02 Post Staff

Shoe Squabble

The image of the Cambodian flag on footwear sold through an online shoe retailer has sparked condemnation from a senior government official. Footwear featuring the Cambodian flag, including the image of Angkor Wat, is listed for sale on the Web site of California-based Zazzle. “They cannot do that with the flag of Cambodia, as it is the Cambodian soul,” Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong said Wednesday. “Using the flag of Cambodia seriously affects us because Angkor Wat temple is the most respected symbol of the nation.” Hor Namhong pledged to “find this company” and “make a complaint”. A representative from Zazzle said in an e-mailed response, “While we understand and appreciate that our customers have a diverse set of views and convictions, Zazzle is set up to be an entirely free-market enterprise. We simply provide a digital forum [where] artists and contributors can post products of all sorts.”

Police collect information from K Krom



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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:01 Tharum Bun and Cameron Wells

THE 24 Khmer Krom refugees deported from Thailand last month were visited Tuesday by district police in Phnom Penh, who gathered information that the group believes may be used to produce identification cards.

The deportees – who have been staying at an unspecified location – had originally planned to visit the chief of Boeung Tumpun commune in a bid to confirm that they were eligible to stay there, but the police officers visited them instead. They have been without identification since being deported from Thailand on December 5 after fleeing Vietnam to escape what they described as persecution and religious repression.

Khmer Krom spokesman Thach Song, 49, said the police requested information including names, birthplaces and ages, as well as details on where the deportees were living and where they came from.

“I think the police came to gather information for identification cards,” he said. “I asked whether the district police will issue the documents, and the police said it was up to the district chief.”

The deputy Boeung Tumpun commune chief confirmed that the police had visited the group in person. “This is a preliminary step,” he said of the visit, during which each member of the group thumbprinted the documents recording the information.

Naly Pilorge, president of the rights group Licadho, said it was somewhat curious that police would be used to collect information for identification cards.

“It’s unusual, and to me the alarm bell rings,” she said. “The normal way does not involve police.”

The deportees – exhausted and poor – have been awaiting official identification of their citizenship since arriving in Cambodia. Without it, they cannot rent a house, go to hospitals or enroll in schools. Five of them have fallen ill, and all are reportedly low on food. On Tuesday they sent a letter to the Red Cross requesting both food and medicine.

Workers at shoe factory pledge to extend protest against firings



Photo by: Sovan Philong
Workers at a shoe factory in Phnom Penh’s Choam Chao district protest the recent firings of three union leaders on Wednesday.

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol and May Titthara

ANGRY garment workers on Wednesday vowed to extend their protest against the firings of three union leaders into a second week if factory owners refused to rehire the sacked workers and allow staff to form a new union.

Around 900 workers from the Tage Shoes factory in Phnom Penh’s Choam Chao district began the protest in front of the factory last Friday, and a spokeswoman for the protesters said Wednesday that they would relocate to outside Prime Minister Hun Sen’s house in Takhmao next week if factory owners don’t back down.

“We are waiting for a resolution from the factory owner. If we cannot find a peaceful resolution, we will protest in front of the prime minister’s house for a government intervention,” Sem Vuthy said.

“The factory owner violated 30 articles of Labour Law, and we cannot accept that,” she added.

“Our factories had a union company that served the factory owner rather than the workers, but when we tried to create a new union, the factory owner fired three of the leaders.”

One of the fired union leaders, Svay Phorn Sipha, said, “They fired us only because factory workers want to establish a new union.”

Company officials could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

La Luy, director of the labour disputes office at the Ministry of Labour, said he had tried to convene a meeting for workers’ representatives and the factory owners, but had been unable to get the factory owners to attend.

More VN border markers this year



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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:01 Meas Sokchea

THE Council of Ministers announced Wednesday that 100 border-demarcation poles would be planted along Cambodia’s shared border with Vietnam this year, as the Kingdom’s top border negotiator engaged in talks with officials in Hanoi.

Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, on Tuesday led a Cambodian delegation to Hanoi in advance of a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers that began Wednesday.

The discussions come as opposition leader Sam Rainsy faces charges of racial incitement and destruction of public property at Svay Rieng provincial court in connection with an October protest during which he joined villagers in uprooting border poles. He is expected to be tried in absentia on January 27.

Government officials have defended the demarcation process, but Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann criticised it on Wednesday, saying the talks were not transparent and could lead to farmers along the border losing land to encroachments. “The people will suffer because of these border posts,” he warned.

Night market upstarts spark vendor dispute in Siem Reap



Photo by: Byron Perry
Market vendors in Siem Reap are up in arms about a new night market that has been erected at about 5pm every evening for the past two weeks in the middle of the road east of Pub Street.

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:01 Rann Reuy and Byron Perry

Siem Reap Province

ANIGHT market war is brewing in Siem Reap town in response to upstart vendors who have begun erecting new stalls in the middle of a main thoroughfare next to Pub Street.

Collectively called the Siem Reap Night Market, the new stalls have sucked business away from the Angkor Night Market and the Noon Night Market, and blocked a major thoroughfare, critics say.

Seng Phalkun, owner of the Noon Night Market, said he has given provincial officials letters of protest and collected more than 500 thumbprints from vendors at the Noon Night Market and Angkor Night Market, business owners near the Siem Reap Night Market, tuk-tuk drivers, tour guides and taxi drivers.

“What they’re doing is totally wrong because officials have told people not to use the sidewalk to do business, but now they’re using the public street,” Seng Phalkun said.

The new market stalls have been open for the past two weeks and are set up around 5pm every evening in the middle of the road east of Pub Street. Siem Reap town Governor Tep Bunchhay said the stalls are temporary and have not yet been approved by the provincial governor.

“Provincial officials did not give us complete permission, but they told us to run it temporarily,” he said. “We will close it if there are no buyers.”

Bun Tharith, Siem Reap deputy governor, declined to comment.

Huy Leng, owner of the new Siem Reap Night Market, defended the decision to open stalls in the road, saying that it allows vendors to rent space at cheap prices.

“I rent stalls to vendors for US$50 because the people will sell the goods cheaply, clients will buy more, and foreigners will compliment Cambodia on its cheap goods,” he said.

Huy Leng said he has 100 stalls now, and that all of them are rented.

Not all business owners around the Siem Reap Night Market are angry, however.

“Business has been the same. It’s not affecting me that much, but I like that it’s busier around here in general,” said Hon Hsiu Yen, the owner of vintage clothing store Bubble T.

But Khoun Naren, manager and co-owner of Cherry Blossom Boutique, said: “It’s not good. It’s difficult for firemen to enter the street. They pay cheap rent while we pay $1,500. We’re working on fighting it.”

Border row defendants get lawyer



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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:01 Meas Sokchea

TWO of the villagers facing charges at Svay Rieng provincial court in relation to the uprooting of border-demarcation posts have obtained legal counsel for their upcoming trial, a rights groups said on Wednesday.

Sam Sokong, a lawyer from the Cambodian Defenders Project, is set to defend Meas Srey, 39 and Prom Chea, 41, currently being detained at Svay Rieng provincial prison, according to a statement issued by the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC) on Wednesday.

Three other villagers – Prak Chea, 28, Prak Koeun, 38, and Neang Phally, 39 – are still on the run from the authorities.

The five villagers have been accused of purposely removing wooden border-demarcation posts along with opposition leader Sam Rainsy after a Buddhist ceremony in Chantrea district on October 25.

The two villagers will face trial on January 27, and Sam Rainsy – who is currently out of the country – is set to be tried in absentia.

Lawyer Sam Sokong confirmed on Wednesday that he will appear in court as scheduled to defend his clients, but said he was not yet clear on the particulars of the case.

“I will go to defend my clients. I can’t say whether my clients have been accused illegally or legally because I haven’t yet seen the case,” he said.

Hang Chhaya, president of CHRAC, confirmed that the Cambodian Defenders Project would not request any fees from the families of the villagers.

Trade with Hong Kong takes turn for the worst



Forklift trucks move containers at the Port of Hong Kong at the end of October. Bilateral trade between Hong Kong and Cambodia failed to recover in November.BLOOMBERG

FalliNG trade
Hong Kong trade was down sharply over the first 11 months. Here is how bilateral trade with the territory compared to other major trading partners with Cambodia:


South Korea down 12pc*
Hong Kong down 24pc
Vietnam down 26pc
Thailand down 28pc*
*Only figures for first 10 months available

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

After falling over 18 percent in October, trade with Hong Kong plunged 24 percent in November, down from ’08 by over $100m

BILATERAL trade between Cambodia and Hong Kong slid even further in November to an annualised 24.4 percent, according to figures from city’s Trade Development Council (HKTDC) released Wednesday.

The statistics mark a significant slump when compared to the year-on-year data for October – a month which saw trade fall from US$49 million in 2008 to $40 million in 2009, a dive of 18.3 percent.

In November last year, Hong Kong and Cambodia recorded bilateral trade worth $34 million, compared to $45 million in 2008.

The new data mark the latest fall in what was a bleak first 11 months in 2009 for economic activity. Between January and November, two-way trade between the pair plummeted to $437 million from $575 million in 2008.

But officials within the HKTDC and the government remained positive about the future of Cambodia’s bilateral trade with the Chinese territory, a major trading partner for the Kingdom.

HKTDC Director Tina Phan said Wednesday that although trade between Hong Kong and Cambodia had been affected by the global economic slowdown last year – which led to a reduction in garment orders from the European Union and the United States – domestic companies can still use Hong Kong as a platform to export products to other countries.

“Everyone is upbeat about the recovery signs for trade in 2010,” said Tina. “However, it will take some time for investment to return to Cambodia.”

Ok Boung, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, agreed that there had been signs of a recovery in trade with Cambodia.

In the first 11 months of 2009, Cambodia’s exports to Hong Kong increased 32.5 percent to $12 million from $9 million the previous year. In the same period, Hong Kong’s total exports to Cambodia dipped 24.8 percent to $425 million from $565 million.

“We have seen some improvements recently,” Ok Boung said. “I think that in the following year, our trade with foreign countries will be better compared to last year. The new China-ASEAN Free Trade Area will open more access for trade exchange.”

Such trade could bolster Cambodian imports of Hong Kong goods, which were hit hard in the first 11 months of 2009 compared to 2008.

Imports of fabrics and woven material were down 48.8 percent to $3 million – yet another indication of a continuing downturn in the garment sector – telecommunications equipment and parts dropped 17.8 percent to $46 million, and electrical machinery and apparatus decreased 26.7 percent.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s financial secretary John Tsang warned that the territory’s economy could “still be rather bumpy going forward” unless a turnaround in the United States took hold. Like Cambodia, Hong Kong relies on consumption from the world’s largest economy.

Tsang said he believes the US may suffer a “double-dip” recession when the American government’s economic stimulus measures wind up.

Last month, the city’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang added that Hong Kong’s economy could be in for a further downturn by mid-2010.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

Police Blotter: 14 Jan 2010




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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:01 Tha Piseth

COPS HUNT FOR CLUES IN DROWING DEATH
Police are looking for clues into the death of an unidentified man whose body was found floating in a river near Battambang town Monday. Two local residents told police they had often seen the man getting drunk during the evening. Villagers have speculated that the man died after he became intoxicated and tumbled into the river. Police confirmed that the man died from drowning.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

WOMAN ARRESTED AFTER DRUG BUST
Anti-drug police in Banteay Meanchey province have seized 1,900 tablets of methamphetamine after arresting three women earlier this week. Police originally suspected that the trio caught with the tablets were mules who planned to transport the drugs. However, two of the women were later released because it was decided that they were not related to the case, police said. The two women then sped off in a car that was seized at the time of arrest. The remaining woman remains in custody.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

POOR DANCING LEADS TO WEDDING ASSAULT
A 28-year-old man was stabbed in the hand with a knife-sharpener Saturday, and his younger brother was struck three times in the forehead while dancing during a wedding party Saturday. Police said the violence was sparked after the younger brother accidentally stepped on another man’s foot during the boogie session in Kampong Thom. The man took offence at the younger brother’s poor dancing. But when the older brother tried to intervene, he was stabbed. Police are looking for four suspects believed to have been involved in the violent assaults.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

MAN ACCUSED OF RAPING GIRL, 9
An 18-year-old man from Takeo province has been arrested after he lured a 9-year-old girl to a nearby primary school and allegedly raped her. Police say the incident happened after the suspect was at the girl’s house helping her with housework. Police say he lured the girl to a nearby classroom. The man was arrested immediately after the girl’s father told authorities Sunday.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Singpore firm to invest $4.5m in new lottery



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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:00 Nguon Sovan

A SINGAPORE-BASED company has announced a US$4.5million plan to buy 25 percent of shares in Cambodia’s only licensed sports lottery.

The board of directors of PSC Corporation Ltd said Tuesday that the company had entered into a sale-and-purchase agreement with Sport Social Affairs Co (SSA) share-holders Lin Lun and Ly Hout.

The company has agreed to buy 250 shares, worth $1.25 million, representing a quarter of the share capital in the business.

SSA has imminent plans to launch a national lottery in the Kingdom. An extra $3.25 million is being included in the potential deal to take into account its earning potential.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary general of the National Sports Foundation, which currently holds 20 percent of SSA’s shares, said Wednesday that the proposed acquisition, although yet to be finalised, is a good start for the venture.

SSA, which set up in January last year, has a 30-year exclusive agreement with the National Sports Foundation of the National Olympic Council of Cambodia.

It is the organisation’s official partner and investor in development programmes. This means it has been issued with a licence from the Ministry of Finance to become the Kingdom’s only sports lottery business.

“SSA will be the only company in Cambodia that operates the national lottery to support national sports,” added Vath Chamroeun. “Now we are preparing to open the lottery operation. It is expected to launch within the next two months.”

Last year Prime Minister cracked down on gambling in the Kingdom, targeting in particular sports betting which forced the closure of CamboSix, a chain of bookmakers across the country.

Vietnam Air profits plunge



A security guard watches over two Vietnam Airlines aircraft at Hanoi airport. Vietnam’s national carrier - a stakeholder in Cambodia Angkor Air - says it is looking to become the hub for travel to the Kingdom. AFP

Vietnam looks to become Cambodia hub
THE director of Vietnam Airlines’ representative office in Japan, Nguyen Quoc Tuan, has said that Vietnam hopes to establish itself as a hub for onward travel to Cambodia. Speaking at the inauguration Tuesday of the airline’s new route between Hanoi and Osaka in Japan’s second-largest city, Nguyen added that Vietnam also hoped to serve a similar role for Laos, according to a Vietnam News Agency report Wednesday. Thailand has traditionally served as the main gateway to the Kingdom, but political protests closed Bangkok’s main airport, Suvarnabhumi, at the end of 2008, an event that prevented some passengers from travelling on to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Vietnam overtook South Korea to become the main source of arrivals to Cambodia last year, but many of these were via overland routes rather than flights, according to official government statistics. Overall air arrivals fell 2.84 percent for the first 11 months of 2009. On Wednesday, Van Ha, section manager for Vietnam Airlines in Cambodia, declined to offer a breakdown of how the decline in air travel had hit the carrier’s operations in the Kingdom during 2009, adding that the airline would release results next week. Cambodia Angkor Air – the Kingdom’s new national carrier, which is part-owned by Vietnam Airlines – said last month it had already turned profitable following its launch at the end of July. STEVE FINCH

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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:00 AFP

HANOI – Vietnam Airlines profits tumbled 42 percent year-on-year as the state-owned flag carrier was hit by the effects of the global recession and swine flu outbreak.

The airline’s pre-tax profit fell to US$8.1 million last year, down from $14 million a year earlier, it said late Tuesday.

The carrier also cited “epidemic outbreaks” for its profit fall, an apparent reference to the global A (H1N1) swine flu pandemic.

But the airline noted it had still posted profits as other international airlines suffered losses in 2009, one of the worst years on record for airlines following the global economic crisis.

“Vietnam Airlines still earned profits” while increasing its fleet and opening new domestic routes, it said.

VNA’s revenue for the year reached $1.3 billion, against $1.56 billion reported a year earlier. The 2009 figure was four percent higher than the target, it said.

The airline said it transported 9.3 million passengers – up from 8.8 million the previous year. One third of the passengers were foreigners, it said.

Vietnam Airlines is targeting 11 million passengers this year.

The International Air Transport Association, an industry group, has said global passenger demand is expected to grow this year after a fall during a difficult 2009 for the industry.

Shares of Asia’s largest carrier, Japan Airlines (JAL), have plunged this week on fears the carrier is preparing for a court-backed bankruptcy filing.

Vietnam Airlines said it was due Wednesday to begin direct flights to Osaka five times a week to replace previous cooperative flights with JAL.

Vietnam Airlines expects to triple its fleet of 50 aircraft by 2020, and officials have said it is seeking to become one of the region’s leading carriers.

New towers suffering from office rental lull



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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:00 Soeun Say

A NEW US$3 million tower in Phnom Penh may be put up for sale if the building’s rental potential is not reached, its managing director told the Post on Wednesday, following a lack of demand for the office space.

Construction began on the eight-storey K-Tower, located on the corner of Russian Boulevard and Street 257, in 2007. It is set to be completed next month.

But Managing Director Keo Wanna told the Post on Wednesday that he would consider selling the block for $3.5 million if he cannot make the most of the rental market.

Despite having announced last week that the space was up for rent, he has not accepted a single client. Instead, he is holding out for offers from big businesses that can rent whole floors at a time.

“As Cambodia’s real estate sector is in a downturn, the rental market is very quiet,” he said.

“Since we announced the space was available for rent last month, we did get a lot of potential clients – but they were only focusing on small spaces of around 100 square metres.

“We don’t want to take them to rent our place. We need big clients who want to rent a floor or more.”

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As Cambodia’s real estate sector is in a downturn, the rental market is very quiet."
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Space in the tower is available for rent for $13 per square metre, which includes a security and cleaning service. Keo Wanna said it could provide a good base for bank operations, showrooms or stock broker offices.

He added that the location – opposite the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce in the capital’s Toul Kork district – would be a good base for foreign companies because of a lack of traffic in the area and a negligible risk of flooding.

Space also lies empty in another Phnom Penh landmark – the Canadia Tower, Cambodia’s tallest building – due to a lull in the rental market.

Su Si, director of Mega Asset Management Co, which owns the Canadia Tower, said: “Nowadays, it is very quiet on the market. We’ve got only two big companies, iOne and Canon, to rent our ground floor.”

She explained that potential clients are demanding cheap prices of around $6 to $7 per square metre, despite the standard rate for a metre of space being around $25 – a $3 to $5 discount on the initial rental rate marketed.

“We cannot rent to them because our place is an international standard,” said Su Si, before adding that the company is now offering a 30 percent discount for customers who agree to rent space for one year.

According to Canadia Tower’s brochure, it has 12 floors of offices available for rent, which represent just over 10,724 square metres of prime work space. Were Canadia Bank able to secure full occupancy, this would represent about $3.22 million in rental revenues per year at $25 per square metre.

Were Canadia to accept tenants at the lowest rate it is being offered – $6 per square metre – it would therefore lose close to $2.5 million in office rental revenue per year, a staggering sum and a sign of persistent low demand in the property sector.

Last month CB Richard Ellis Country Manager Daniel Parkes predicted that demand for office space would grow within the next five years, however he also projected that available office space in the capital would almost double by 2013 based on the current projects underway.

Children of Sunrise Village celebrated in new exhibition



Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
Kids perform the coconut dance in Kandal province. The dance will be performed at the opening of Dance to the Light at FCC.

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While travelling overseas I became disillusioned with the way many ngos wasted money."
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Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:00 Bennett Murray

Opening tonight at the FCC, Dance to the Light is photographer Tracey Shelton’s latest show and looks at the beauty of dance through children’s eyes

TRACEY Shelton’s Dance to the Light photo exhibition, which depicts the lives of orphans at the Sunrise Children’s Village, debuts tonight at the FCC.

“The idea we had was to take the traditional dances the children perform and take them into the traditional areas where the dances evolved,” says Shetlon. “The title of the exhibition and the images themselves evoke a sense of hope, new directions, and new beginnings for the children.”

Proceeds from the exhibition will go toward Sunrise’s funding.

Shelton came to Cambodia as a volunteer at Sunrise in 1998, saying she was inspired by an interview she saw on TV in Australia with Sunrise president Geraldine Cox.

“Why did I volunteer? I was young and stupid and I thought I could change the world,” Shelton says with a laugh. “While travelling overseas I became disillusioned with the way many NGOs wasted money.”

Sunrise, however, was different. “I liked Geraldine’s principles and her ideas behind running the orphanage,” says Shelton. “I got in touch with Geraldine, and she says I was the only volunteer she hired not through an agency.”

Shelton moved between Cambodia and Australia until 2005, when she settled in Phnom Penh permanently, working as a photographer for the Phnom Penh Post for four years.

The orphanage, which has a branch in Siem Reap and an upcoming one in Sihanoukville, houses 120 children in Kandal province.

“We don’t turn anyone away for any reason,” said Cox, pointing out that many of the orphans are HIV-positive.

The orphanage’s dance school aims to help the children’s development while promoting Khmer heritage.

“The principle behind the dance school at the orphanage is that the classes are not compulsory. Kids can choose to be involved for as long as they want,” Shelton said.

The classes also help to boost the children’s confidence.

“There are a couple of acid attack victims at the school. One is so outgoing, but the other, Thy, was painfully shy, and would wear her hair down across her face,” says Shelton. The girl opened up, though, after performing with her dance group at the Sydney Opera House last October.

“Having so much support and having so many people coming to see them – now she has her hair tied back and she is doing fantastically well.”

The orphanage also provides state-approved training in computer skills, English, sewing, carpentry and agriculture.

Seyha Ban, a former orphan at Sunrise who now studies business in Sydney, says the orphanage was immensely helpful for his development.

“Sunrise gave us everything; education, food, and shelter,” says Seyha Ban. “I believe that the poor children and the orphans, once they come to Sunrise, they will definitely get a better future.”

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief



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Battle of generations

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:00 Robert Starkweather

Two generations of Kampong Cham fighters will clash Saturday when veteran Nuon Soriya takes on rising star Cheam Adam at the CTN boxing arena. One of the most recognisable names in Kun Khmer, Nuon Soriya, 29, began his career as a kickboxer 18 years ago on the village circuit in Banteay Meanchey. 21-year-old Cheam Adam first gained recognition as a fighter in 2008 as the inaugural winner of CTN’s reality series Kun Khmer Champion. Both fighters are coming off rare knockout losses, Nuon Soriya to Frenchman Yvonick Hubert, and Cheam Adam to Morn Kimlong. Also on the card, ISKA world middleweight champion Vorn Viva will face Long Sophal. Fights begin Saturday at 2:30pm.

Agencies bring in maids

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:00 Post Staff

EMPLOYMENT agencies in Malaysia are bringing over about three times as many maids from Cambodia since Indonesia blocked their workers last year following abuse allegations, according to press reports. The Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies President Alvy Bavutty said that up to 3,000 Cambodians were making the trip to work as maids every month, according to a report Wednesday in the Malay Mail. Last year three times as many Cambodians went to work legally in Malaysia compared to 2008, according to Ministry of Labour figures released Monday, of whom over 85 percent were women.

Mangroves make money

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

A REPRESENTATIVE of Peam Krasaob Natural Resources Protection Community reported the project earned 167 million riels (US$40,000) from ticket revenues last year for a protected mangrove area off Koh Kong province. Chut Tith, chief of the community, said the figure probably represented an increase on 2008 – although he was unable to provide data – citing increased flows of tourists to the area, most of whom were Cambodian. The project is targeting $70,000 for 2010, he added, a sum that would be reinvested in the community. Statistics showed 51,400 Cambodian tourists visited last year, and just 2,560 foreigners.

Exchange design holdup

Thursday, 14 January 2010 15:00 Steve Finch

WORLD City Co Ltd, the South Korean firm responsible for the design and construction of Cambodia’s first stock exchange, has still not received the go-ahead from the government on floor plans for the building, according to the firm’s Vice President Duk-kon Kim. Construction cannot go ahead at Camko City on the outskirts of Phnom Penh until the Ministry of Finance clears the architectural plans, he said Wednesday. The government has already passed plans for the main structure. Kim said it will take four months to complete the shell of the structure, which must be completed before the onset of the rainy season. The remaining interior work would take about the same amount of time to build, he added.

Within the Last 15 Years, Chinese Investors Control Projects Worth Up to US$6,511 Million – Wednesday, 13.1.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/
Posted on 14 January 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 647
via CAAI News Media

“Phnom Penh: Statistics over a course of 15 years show that Chinese investors invested the largest amount among all foreign investors in Cambodia.

“According to figures received from the Council for the Development of Cambodia late last week, China invested from 1994 to September 2009 as much as US$6,511 million in Cambodia.

“The same source added that after the Chinese investment, South Korea stands at the second position with total investments of about US$2,856 million; the third is Malaysia with US$2,199 million; the fourth [?] the European Union more than US$1,135 million; fifth [?] is the USA with US$1,179 million; sixth, Thailand with about US$748 million; seventh, Taiwan with about US$654 million; eighth, Singapore with about US$519 million; ninth, Hong Kong with about US$278 million; and tenth, Japan with about US$148 million.

“Most of the investment projects of the 10 investors focus on tourism and on industry.

“The same source went on to say that tourism received up to 48% of the investments, followed by 23% for the industry, and also 23% for services. However, there is little investment in agriculture, which received only 6%.

“Based on the above figures, within 15 years, it is noticed that in 2008 alone, foreign investment in Cambodia grew up to US$10,891 million, followed by 2006 with US$4,415 million; 2007 had about US$2,673 million, and by September 2009 it was only US$1,610 million.”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5098, 13.1.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Military Plans Prolonged Border Defense


By Kong Sothanarith, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 January 2010

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Cambodia has begun reinforcing its troops along the Thai border and plans to keep a strong military presence on the border until at least 2014, the Ministry of Defense says in a review.

In a report distributed to local media, Minister of Defense Tea Banh said the border would be bolstered “to ensure national protection.”

The Ministry of Defense is conducting a five-year review and making plans for the next five years.

The five-year plan includes recruitment of new forces and addition of equipment. Cambodian soldiers are engaged in a protracted standoff with Thai troops along the border at Preah Vihear temple.

Sporadic skirmishes since July 2008 have left at least seven soldiers dead.

“To ensure national protection, the Ministry of National Defense, the general command, have reinforced forces along the western and northern border and recruited new forces along with new equipment, for quality in combat,” Tea Banh said in the report, which was issued to defense officials Tuesday.

The document highlights reforms that include consolidating infantry, maritime and air forces.

Angkor Shoe Draws Ire of Foreign Minister

By Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 January 2010

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Foreign Minister Hor Namhong on Wednesday condemned the use of the Cambodian flag in the production of a new line of footwear advertised on the Internet and reported in local media this week.

The shoes were designed with the iconic symbol of Angkor Wat, on Keds canvas, infuriating many Cambodians and irking the foreign minister, who lambasted the design before flying to Hanoi Wednesday.

“The shoe is insulting and defames Cambodian honor and dignity,” Hor Namhong told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport. “This we cannot tolerate.”

Similar shoes were designed around the flags of many other countries, but Hor Namhong said he was concerned only with the image of Cambodia.

“In fact, the shoe issue affects our nation because Angkor Wat is a respectable [symbol] to the Cambodian people and the nation,” he said. “So Cambodia must investigate the production of the shoe. And then we will protest.”

Angkor Wat is a powerful national icon for Cambodians. In 2008, flip-flop sandals bearing the temple’s image appeared in markets in Vietnam’s Tai Ninh province, provoking a government investigation.

In November 2008, a Thai man was arrested for carving the temple’s image in a slab of concrete in front of a public toilet in Poipet, on the Thai border.

In 2003, unconfirmed rumors that a Thai actress had claimed the temple for Thailand sparked a night or rioting and looting in Phnom Penh that destroyed the Thai Embassy and many Thai businesses.

“Angkor Wat is the symbol of the Cambodian nation,” Hor Namhong said. “Angkor Wat and the national flag of Cambodia always stay in all Cambodians’ souls, hearts and minds. We cannot accept the production of these shoes, and the company must be responsible for violating Cambodia.”

Justice Officials Graduate US Tech Course

By Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 January 2010

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Nearly 100 Cambodian justice officials on Wednesday received diplomas for a five-month technology course sponsored by the US, one that aims to improve the judiciary’s ability to track cases and detainees and analyze trends.

The 97 officials were trained on an information system being installed by the US government, “which will modernize the way the Ministry of Justice documents the work of the courts,” according to a US Embassy statement.

“Justice officials will take this knowledge to use to work with the general administration and insert the data on all cases that are provided from provincial courts,” said Pen Someathea, deputy general-director of research and judicial development at the ministry.

The US is providing $2 million in 2010 to strengthen Cambodia’s judicial system, which critics say is politically biased and susceptible to corruption.

The information system anticipates an improved judiciary, where “more and more Cambodians come to trust the country’s courts to resolve disputes,” the embassy said.

The system includes a database to track human trafficking cases “and allow for analysis of trends in the prosecution of human trafficking,” the embassy said.

It will also track detainees, allowing officials to identify excessive detentions, another criticism of today’s courts.

The ministry will also be able to chart annual trends in “caseloads and clearance rates” to identify backlogs and reduce case delays, the embassy said.

Little Change in Tonle Sap Fishing Villages

By Ros Sothea, VOA Khmer
Original report from Phnom Penh
13 January 2010

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A foul odor rises from the water of the Tonle Sap lake, where sunlight reflects off the surface and the heat of noon pervades three floating villages. The floating houses here are small, some without walls, others pierced with holes. Wind shakes the homes, as do the wakes of boats that pass by from time to time.

In these floating villages—Chnok Trou, Kampong Preah and Sess Slap—30 kilometers north of Kampong Chhnang town, some women prepare dry fish or prepare them to make paste; others care for pigs.

Little has changed here since the national elections in July 2008, when campaigning officials promised to improve villagers’ lives, to combat illegal fishing and corruption and to improve agriculture.

"They promised to help the poor, to let people become rich before the state,” said Khieu Sokha, a 37-year-old villager, as he sat on a small boat filled with wood. “But finally villagers are still poor.”

Sitting in a wooden chair in his floating home, his back curved under 71 years of living, Chhoun Sam Ban, who was born here, said the political parties have not built a close relationship with villagers.

“They respected some [promises], and haven’t others,” he said with a dry face. “We are the poor, and we are not taken care of.”

Not all share his point of view. Thay Kim San, a leading businessman in Chnok Trou commune, said officials repsected promises, “especially in infrastructure.”

Here there are 195 families: about 9,000 villagers, and 1,500 voters, a mix of mostly ethnic Khmers, Vietnamese and Cham, who all sell their fish to Phnom Penh, Vietnam or Poipet, on the Thai border.

Villagers here say their fish yields have been declining in recent years.

“First of all, because of the destruction of flooded forests, and second because 90 percent of villagers depend on fishing,” said Phat Phalla, an environmental activist in the commune.

Oeur Rattanak, an activist for the Human Rights Party in the commune, shared the same view.

“Not many villagers have seen an improvement in their living conditions,” he said, adding there had been some political discrimination in the community.

Five parties competed here in 2008, where the ruling Cambodian People’s Party gained the most votes, followed by the Sam Rainsy, Norodom Ranariddh and Human Rights parties, successively.

The commune council is led by the CPP, which has four seats, versus three seats for the Sam Rainsy Party.

Cheang Kong, an SRP council member, said people’s lives were “improving,” even if there were some negative points.

“We’ve achieved our committment in developing the commune, in assuring security,” said Samreth Heng, CPP head of the commune council. “But we still have been incapable of having the means of securing villagers when they are in an emergency.”

In 2008 and 2009, the government released 64 million riel, about $15,400, to develop the commune, but the adminstration has not yet used it, “because it is a small amount,” Samreth Heng said. Local officials were waiting for the 2010 budget, around 60 million riel, about $14,400, he said.

Meanwhile, the rest of the community depends on the support of non-governmental agencies and the Asian Development Bank, which is focusing on women capacity development, small infrastructure, fisheries and pork.