Thursday, 11 February 2010

UNESCO'S LISTING OF PREAH VIHEAR TEMPLE : Listing still incomplete : Suwit

via CAAI News Media

By The Nation
Thu, February 11, 2010

Thailand has been notified by the Unesco's World Heritage Committee that the process to list Preah Vihear Temple as World Heritage Site remains incomplete because Cambodia has yet to file its site management plan which hinges, in turn, on the border demarcation.

"The uncertainty on Preah Vihear Temple listing will be resolved pending on the Thai-Cambodian cooperation to demarcate the borders," Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti said on Thursday.

There is no date set for the next meeting of the Joint Border Committee and time is needed to create a cooperative atmosphere between Thailand and Cambodia before proceeding to tackle the border dispute, he said.

He said he does not expect the debate on the temple listing to flare up during the upcoming World Heritage meeting in Brazil in June.

Twelve-year wait for DFAT documents

via CAAI News Media

February 11, 2010

AAP

A coronial inquiry into the murder of an Australian man in Cambodia has been waiting more than a decade for a government department to hand over documents, a Senate hearing has been told.

David Wilson, 29, of Melbourne was murdered by the Khmer Rouge on November 1, 1994, following his kidnapping from a train in southern Cambodia the previous July.

A coronial inquiry has waited 12 years for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to produce requested documents.

Liberal senator Bill Heffernan questioned bureaucrats from the department, demanding to know "why the hell" had it taken so long.

Hundreds of documents have been provided in the interim to the Wilson family under Freedom of Information applications, but the coroner's office is still waiting, a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra on Thursday was told.

Government frontbencher John Faulkner, representing Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, agreed there was a problem that needed to be fixed but asked for time to find answers.

"There may be considerable complexities in this," he said.

Cambodia Discovers Drainage System at Bayon Temple

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2010-02-11
Xinhua
Web Editor: Yang Yang

A team of Cambodian and Japanese archaeologists said it has uncovered an ancient man-made drainage system at the site of the Bayon temple at Angkor Thom, local media reported on Thursday.

The temple, built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, has been the subject of three digs since 1999, but this is the first time such a drainage system has been discovered, according to the archaeologists.

"The drainage system is for rainwater flow from the first and second levels," the Phnom Penh Post quoted Heng Kamsan, one of the archaeologists as saying.

Heng Kamsan said 14 metres of the 70-centimetre-wide drain had been dug up, and that its covering of laterite stone was due to be removed next week.

He said the archaeologists had at first been hoping to learn more about the condition and construction of the temple's foundation.

After one largely fruitless month of work, however, he said the archaeologists were elated to happen upon the drainage system.

"While we did not expect to find it, we did, and it has made us happy," he said.

The ongoing dig, which began in January, is being carried out under the auspices of UNESCO and the Apsara Authority, which manages the Angkor Wat temple complex. The dig was expected to conclude by the end of March, according to Heng Kamsan.

CB Richard Ellis appointed as agent for Cambodia’s largest private island Koh Rong.


via CAAI News Media

by Andrew Batt
Asia Property Report - February 11

CB Richard Ellis has been appointed by The Royal Group of Cambodia as exclusive advisor and sole agent to introduce investors in developing the Cambodian island of Koh Rong for international tourism and real estate development.

The Koh Rong archipelago, 30 minutes by boat from Cambodia’s main coastal town of Sihanoukville, is being hailed as the “next Asian Riviera”, following the success of Phuket, Ko Samui and Bali.

The Royal Group, renowned as Cambodia’s most dynamic and diversified business conglomerate, has been granted a 99-year lease by The Royal Government of Cambodia to develop Koh Rong, the largest private island in the region.

David Simister, Chairman of CB Richard Ellis Thailand and Cambodia, said: “CB Richard Ellis is delighted to be appointed as the lead consultant for Koh Rong. We are very conscious of our responsibilities to create a sustainable and ethical approach to the development of one of south east Asia’s most pristine and untouched islands.”

The company is headed by Chairman and CEO Neak Oknha Kith Meng, one of Cambodia’s most prominent tycoons. He said: “CB Richard Ellis is an invaluable partner for advising Royal Group on development of this unique destination to international standards and promoting it to the global market.”

Koh Rong is Cambodia’s largest island and covers 78 square kilimetres. It is about a third of the size of Thailand’s Koh Samui, with a local population of approximately 1,382 people from 317 families living in small fishing villages. The island remains virtually untouched with its 28 white sand beaches stretching up to 6 kilometres and crystal clear water comparable to the Maldives.

“The Koh Rong story is similar to that of Samui and Phuket 20 to 30 years ago,” added Mr. Simister. “It is one of the last undiscovered paradises in South-East Asia.”

Development opportunities are now opening up with a new international airport at nearby Sihanoukville, currently welcoming chartered flights and private jets. Flights from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are expected to begin in the near future, with rumours of regional airlines also considering scheduled flights in 2010. “The airport, once fully operational, will be the principal gateway to Cambodia’s southern coast and a critical catalyst for the area’s development,” he said.

An environmental impact study is already underway for the development of Koh Rong as “Asia’s first environmentally planned island”. A team of international consultants is now on board including Scott Wilson Engineers to oversee the environmental aspects and MAP Architects Hong Kong to create the Master Plan to be rolled out over the next three months.

Tourism development of Phuket and Koh Samui over the past 20 years is being studied to shorten the process of developing high quality, sustainable tourism at Koh Rong, while avoiding the mistakes of previous developments.

“The main focus is on developers with plans for exclusive, environmentally sensitive tourism projects,” said Mr. Simister.

Two to three golf courses can be accommodated on the island and new infrastructure will include plans for organic farming, waste management, improved education, jobs and medical care for the local population.

CB Richard Ellis is also the sole agent for Song Saa Island Resort in the Koh Rong archipelago, the first international quality resort to be launched. Song Saa is an exclusive private island resort developed by Brocon Investment comprising 20 villas, of which only 14 are available for private ownership.

Song Saa has had an immediate success following an overseas launch in Phuket before Christmas. A total of 85 per cent of the units are booked by a global mix of investors including Norwegian, French, Hong Kong Chinese, Hong Kong expatriate, Japanese and British.

“The international market has clearly identified with the products. Pioneering investors in this new frontier are attracted by the low entry price, the guaranteed yield and expect to be rewarded by a significant upside in capital appreciation” said Mr. Simister.

“Song Saa marks the beginning of international development of the Cambodian coastline and is the first project to target foreign buyers. We believe the success of Song Saa’s eco-development model will be replicated on a larger scale in future developments on Koh Rong” added Mr. Simister. He said the Koh Rong archipelago and Cambodian coastline has the potential to become the next Asian Riviera, comparable to established markets such as Phuket, Samui and Bali.

“Song Saa is merely the beginning of Cambodia’s coastline development, but its success has certainly put Cambodia on the map and is making global investors recognise Cambodia’s untapped development potential.”

The Royal Group has business interests in a wide range of industries such as telecommunication, media, banking (partner with ANZ Bank), insurance, education, trading, resorts and property, with interests extending to Cambodia’s railways with the subsidiary company Toll Holdings from Australia.

Listing of Preah Vihear Temple incomplete pending border demarcation

via CAAI News Media

February 11, 2010

Thailand has been notified by the Unesco's World Heritage Committee that the process to list Preah Vihear Temple as World Heritage Site remains incomplete because Cambodia has yet to file its site management plan which hinges, in turn, on the border demarcation.

"The uncertainty on Preah Vihear Temple listing will be resolved pending on the Thai-Cambodian cooperation to demarcate the borders," Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti said on Thursday.

The Nation

Don't be surprised if Cambodia soon overtakes us

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From Far
Feb 11, 10

I am a Malaysian who has been living overseas for the past two years now and it is interesting to look at Malaysia from afar especially from the political perspective.

One thing I would like to comment on is the political mindset of the politicians especially those in the governing parties who are still sticking to the old political model of the '50s and '60s when everything was based on race.

The consequence of this is practically all government policies especially those involving education, politics, economics are still very much based on race.

No wonder Malaysia is only good at growing at its own pace when compared to other countries in the region.

It has already been slipping behind Thailand economically and very soon, Vietnam will catch-up with us. And don't be surprised if Cambodia soon overtakes Malaysia too!

My opinion is that Malaysia badly needs a new generation of politicians who will dare to tear apart all the current racial policies in all areas and come up with policies which are truly for all Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.

Only then can Malaysia 'boleh'.

Number of Cambodian landmine casualties shows further annual drop

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/
via CAAI News Media

Feb 11, 2010

Phnom Penh - Official figures released Thursday showed the number of Cambodians injured by landmines and unexploded ordnance dropped 12 per cent last year from 2008 although the number killed remained constant at 47 in each year.

A total of 243 people were killed or injured in 2009 by explosive remnants of war (ERW), down from 271 the previous year, the Cambodian Mine/ERW Victim Information Service said

The number of victims has shown a steady decline year-on-year since 1994 when almost 3,000 people were killed or injured.

Chhiv Lim, a project officer for the service, said a survey undertaken four years ago showed several reasons behind the annual decline in deaths and injuries.

'We found the number one reason was demining activities, and that's because we have a lot of people involved in demining,' he said. 'The second is that people [have been educated] to understand the dangers of mines and ERW.'

Other experts have previously said a further factor in Cambodia's predominantly agricultural society has been farmers earning better prices for crops. Improved incomes mean less need to forage for supplementary products such as bamboo and firewood and a lower risk at coming across unexploded ordnance.

More than half of last year's deaths and injuries came from three provinces in the country's north-west. The majority of victims were men while around one-third were children.

In 1999, Cambodia ratified the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines. While more than 150 countries have signed the treaty, China, Russia and the United States are among those that refuse to do so.

The treaty gave countries 10 years until 2009 to clear all mines from their territory, but Cambodia missed that goal. In December, Cambodia was granted a 10-year extension on the deadline although it is still thought unlikely to reach that revised target.

This week, Germany pledged 1.4 million US dollars for demining in Cambodia's north-west, adding to around 10 million dollars it has provided for demining in the country since 1999.

Cambodia has one of the highest disability rates in the world, a legacy of the country's decades of civil war that started in the 1960s and finished in the late 1990s.

Cambodia to Check Poultry Shipped to Capital for Bird Flu Infection

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2010-02-11
Xinhua
Web Editor: Yang Yang

With the increased transport of poultry ahead of the upcoming Chinese New Year, the Ministry of Agriculture is setting up special checkpoints for poultry transported on the main roads into Phnom Penh in order to prevent any birds infected with the H5N1 avian influenza virus from reaching the capital, local media reported on Thursday.

Kao Phal, director of the ministry's department of animal health production, was quoted by The Cambodia Daily as saying that agriculture officials and officers from the Economic Police were deployed along National Road 1 on Wednesday and would be stationed on all main roads into the capital to check the influx of poultry in the days leading up to the Chinese New Year, which takes place this weekend.

"We check the birds before we allow them to be transported to the markets, we do not test for bird flu, we just check the birds' sanitation and health," he said, adding the measure was part of a nationwide campaign to prevent the potential spread of the H5N1 avian influenza virus.

"We called all the 24 provincial agriculture departments to the ministry recently to appeal to them to educate the villagers in each province" about the virus, kao Phal said.

Lotfi Allal, chief technical advisor at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, was quoted as saying that in recent years the government has taken specific measures during major holidays to check poultry for H5N1.

"The high risk periods are around these festivals. There is a lot of trade in animals, such as poultry, around this time. Always around this period we support the government with their public awareness campaigns," he said.

Allal also said FAO and government officials were wrapping up their activities to control the recent H5N1 outbreak in Takeo province, as bird culling in a 1-km radius around the outbreak's epicenter had ceased, while investigations in a 5-km range were also completed.

Earlier this month, more than 10,000 ducks have died and some 30,000 others are sick in the country's southern province of Takeo.

Cambodia: Mixed Views on Freedom of Expression


via CAAI News Media
Thursday, February 11th, 2010
by Sopheap Chak

Surya Subedi, the human rights envoy of the United Nations to Cambodia noted the progress of human rights issues in the country during his second visit in January 2010. Asked by reporters following his talk with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Subedi highlighted the general picture of human rights situation in Cambodia:

“We discussed a wide range of human rights issues. We have been making progress on freedom of expression and the NGO law, land evictions and the cooperation between civil society and the government.”

Unlike his predecessors who were harshly criticized by the Cambodian government, Subedi is apparently more acceptable to government officials including Om Yentieng, a top adviser to Hun Sen and the chief of government's human rights committee, who urged UN officials not to continue the “old way” of criticizing the Cambodian government on human rights issue. Om Yentieng reportedly claimed that the government is working hard to solve and improve the human rights situation in Cambodia. He offered an interesting notion on human rights situation in Cambodia by saying:

ប្រទេស​កម្ពុជា​មិន​មែន​ជា​ឋាននរក​ ហើយ​កម្ពុជា​ក៏​មិន​ទាន់​ក្លាយ​ជា​ឋាន​សួគ៌​មួយ​នៃ​សិទ្ធិ​មនុស្ស​នោះ​ដែរ។

“We are not a hell [like UN reports have mentioned] and we have not yet become a heaven of human rights.”

However, a human rights organization, ADHOC, recently released its 2009 report on “Human Rights Situation” by marking the year 2009 as the year when restriction on the freedom of expression increased. The usual targets were politicians and activists who are critical to the government. The report noted that the sorry state of freedom of expression in 2009 is comparable to 2005 when a number of human rights activists were arrested.

“At least twenty-two complaints were filed by government officials against dissident politicians and civil organization representatives, with an additional twenty-five complaints against journalists. This year, the situation can be compared to 2005; although there has been a slight improvement in relation to sentencing in defamation cases. No one who has been accused of defamation charges has been jailed and the accused of other charges have been given more chances to escape overseas comparing to 2005. Notably, it has become a tendency to restrict this freedom right after the general elections and the formation of a new government. With new elections looming, the situation has been loosen. We expect, this time, similar tendency would be repeated.”

The report raised the alarm on the increasing number of threats against human rights defenders over the past three years. Compared to 2008 when 164 prosecutions were conducted, the figure jumped dramatically in 2009 when 235 human rights defenders were charged. Of this 2009 figure, 147 were arrested with 89 granted bails and 58 remained in custody while the remaining 88 have managed to escape questionable arrest warrants. ADHOC also raised additional concern given the fact that many threats against human rights defenders are channeled through the courts. This trend is similar to the charges against journalists who were sued for defamation, misinformation and related issues.

Coincidentally, on the same day of the news release of ADHOC's report, an activist from the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights reportedly appealed for intervention against an alleged death threat issued by members of an army unit after he took a photograph of soldiers cutting down fruit trees on a disputed land in Chumkiri district of Kampot Province.

This concern is not only raised by human rights institutions and activists, but also discussed in the blogosphere. Morn Vutha, following the chat with a student journalist, was asked an ordinary but crucial question: Are you afraid of threat warning?

“It is because that I talked more about corruption, bribery and extortion. Therefore, she asked me if I am afraid of writing articles about these issues.”

Vutha , who proclaimed his dream to own a personal blog where he can voice his opinion and disseminate news to friends, posted his reply to the question by highlighting the importance of freedom of expression through blogging.

“What I wrote about is the true things happening in the current society. I cannot shut up my mouth. I just want to share the real issues to all of you and other readers over the world […] The truth is the truth. We cannot hide it forever. In general, those who criticize the government are always getting life threat from unidentified people, especially human rights workers and politicians[…] Blog created is a good tool for sharing my own thoughts and opinions with all of you.

This sentiment is also shared by Kounila, in her post on “Politics You View in this World,”. She declared that Cambodian society might continually stay under suppression. It is just like domino effect where the old generation living in the dark period of genocide were traumatized to stay in silence and this had great impact on the younger generation who were told to follow only instructions without questioning.

“They [the old generation] are afraid to tell their real feelings. They are scared to be asked to give judgments about anything. Later, their children are taught to follow authority without questions, and after all they learn to do the same. No politics is blurted out at school or at home since their parents can blame or shoo them about any topic related to politics they talk about anywhere,” wrote Kounila.

Without letting this effect continue, Kounila started arguing with a friend and teacher about politics. Acknowledging that people perceive politics as dangerous and no ordinary person wants to be involved with politics, Kounila wonders why politicians dare to kill each other. Regardless of the threat in the political stage, Kounila still perceives that people need to act out in order that politicians will not be controlled by only a so-called elite group. She emphasizes that politics is for the people's welfare, it is therefore necessary for people to get out of political trap.

“Don’t let politics control you. You control it! Power is intoxicating but it doesn’t last long, just a blink if you think hard,” urged Kounila.

While there are mixed views on the state of freedom of expression in Cambodia, there is a subsequent tendency of internet censorship. The government plans to have a state-run exchange point to control all local internet service providers in order that internet security including pornography, theft and cyber crime can be censured. This has sparked another fear about the declining state of freedom of expression and access to information in Cambodia.

Research and Markets: Cambodia Sourcing Report: Silk Fashion Accessories 2010 Gives In-Depth Profiles of 21 Major Suppliers

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Thu, 11 Feb 2010
Author : Research and Markets

DUBLIN - (Business Wire) Research and Markets
(http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/c4273f/cambodia_sourcing) has announced the addition of the "Cambodia Sourcing Report: Silk Fashion Accessories" report to their offering.

Cambodia's silk fashion accessories industry is an emerging line that shows great potential for development as one of the country's major exporting sectors.

The industry is small and mainly composed of NGOs that provide employment opportunities to many disadvantaged people who have been affected by conflicts and disease. These efforts by social-civic enterprises have resulted in not just introducing local products to a worldwide buyer audience, but also in helping uplift the plight of the underprivileged.

The industry's strengths lie in its strong design capability and acceptance of small orders. Some suppliers do not even have minimum order requirements. This report focuses on the main types of silk fashion accessories exported from Cambodia bags, scarves, jewelry and casual wear.

What you'll get

•In-depth profiles of 21 major suppliers with a comprehensive look at their product and pricing strategy, manufacturing and export capability, verified contact details, and more this information is not available anywhere else
•204 full-color images that depict popular silk fashion accessory export models, complete with product descriptions, prices, minimum order requirements and delivery times
•Verified supplier contact details, including names, e-mails, telephone numbers, websites and key products
•Supplier information in tabular format to help you compare suppliers at a glance
•Results of the custom-designed supplier survey, which forecasts industry trends for the next 12 months
•An extensive overview of the industry discussing the main challenges facing suppliers
•An in-depth examination of the supplier base highlighting key characteristics of the different types of companies
•Details of the primary production centers
•An update of the latest trends in design, R&D, materials and components
•A review of the key factors that influence the price and quality of low-end, midrange and high-end products
•Comprehensive pricing tables featuring export price ranges
Who should read this report

•CEOs, Directors, Presidents, Business Owners - Export/ Import Managers, Sourcing Representatives, Sourcing Engineers, Supply Chain Directors, Procurement Managers, Agents - Sales Executives & Managers, Marketing Executives & Managers, International Buyers - Business Consultants, Investment Managers - Anyone who needs to understand the China supply market
In this report

•21 in-depth company profiles
•204 top-selling export products
•Supplier demographics
•Supplier survey
•Industry statistics &charts

Although the majority of manufacturers are NGOs, a number of enterprises are joint ventures or foreign invested companies.

Phnom Penh is the main production hub. The country's capital is home to almost two-thirds of suppliers in this report. Other important sourcing centers are the provinces of Siem Reap, Battambang, Kandal, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Thom.

Despite strong consumer interest, manufacturers of silk fashion accessories in Cambodia are facing certain issues that have made the business environment more challenging.

The local supply of silk is short, forcing manufacturers to use imported materials from Vietnam and China. Due to low supply, costs have climbed by as much as 20 percent over the past 12 months.

In response, the government is planning to revive the local sericulture industry to keep silk imports at a manageable level.

Another key hurdle is low production capability due to the continued employment of traditional processes done by hand. But since local items are characterized by their quality, which is achieved through painstaking detail, most suppliers are unwilling to shift to modern, machine-based production.

The following are some of the key trends we see in Cambodias silk fashion accessories industry:

•In an effort to generate more orders and stimulate buyer interest, the majority of suppliers are expected to keep prices at current levels.
•Exports in the line are expected to see substantial growth, with close to half of manufacturers seeing exports to surge by at least 10 percent. An almost equal number of suppliers expect overseas shipment to increase by up to 10 percent.
•Suppliers consider the EU as their top target market in coming months. North America and the Asia-Pacific region are expected to be strong secondary markets.
•More products will feature environment-friendly components. These include natural and recyclable materials such as reed, sedge, jute and coconut shell.

This report covers all major types of silk fashion accessories produced in Cambodia, including scarves, hand, shoulder, evening and shopping bags, men's and women's wallets, purses, and pouches. While all profiled suppliers focus on silk fashion accessories, a few also offer other types of products such as necklaces, rings, earrings, and bracelets.

The Industry Overview section discusses key issues affecting export manufacturers and elaborates on the composition of the industry.

The Products & Prices section details the features and price ranges of silk fashion accessories. It also lists the latest trends in style and materials.

This Cambodia Sourcing Report is part of a series designed to provide buyers with information on new products from export manufacturers in supply markets that specialize in handmade merchandise.

The Developing Country Sourcing Report series is part of Global Sources corporate social responsibility initiatives. It is offered in conjunction with The Kearny Alliance, whose mission is Aid through Trade. The objective is to help create jobs in developing Asia through export promotion.

To produce this report, larger, midsized and emerging manufacturers all with substantial export experience were surveyed.

The selection of suppliers is designed to reflect the composition of the industry in India in terms of geographic location, materials used and range of products offered.

For in-depth profiles, our researchers visited the facilities of each company and interviewed senior executives who discussed their recent performance and provided forecasts for the next 12 months. All other companies in this report were either visited or contacted by phone.

In each case, companies were required to answer specific questions designed to verify their manufacturing and export credentials, including a breakdown of exports by product type and market. Suppliers also participated in a survey designed to provide insight into the industry.

Key Topics Covered:

•Industry Overview
•Supplier summary
•Export value
•Products & prices
•Production & export statistics
•Price guides
•Supplier survey
•Export prices, export sales, export markets, major challenges, R&D focus
•Supplier Profiles
•supplier matrix
•Raw material & exports
•Supplier profiles
•Product Gallery
•Top-selling export products
•Contact Details

For more information visit

Source: Global Sources

Research and Markets
Laura Wood, Senior Manager,
press@researchandmarkets.com
U.S. Fax: 646-607-1907
Fax (outside U.S.): +353-1-481-1716

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Leopard to Invest in a Cambodian Bank, ACLEDA

Thursday, 11 February 2010 06:52 DAP-NEWS/ Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH, Feb. 11- Leopard Cambodia Fund's Investment Committee gave conditional approval to four more investment proposals which we hope to transact soon.

Accordingly, on 29 January 2010 the General Partner issued a drawdown notice to Limited Partners in the amount of US $ 7,900,000, said the firm release.

The investment targets are minority stakes in a major bank, a microfinance institution, a seafood processing factory, and a WiMax internet company.

"We will publish more details once the deals are wrapped up, but for now we will mention that the targeted bank investment is an indirect holding in ACLEDA Bank Plc, one of the largest retail banks in Cambodia and the only one with a nationwide branch network," said the release.

Established in 1993, ACLEDA now has 232 offices, over 7,000 staff, and more than US $900 million in total assets.

See the related news:

Leopard Cambodia Fund Update:

Leopard Cambodia Fund closed its extended fundraising period on 31 December 2009 with US $34,135,000 of committed capital.

The Fund is no longer accepting new subscriptions.

"We extend our gratitude to each of our 107 investors for backing us during a time of global financial turmoil," said newsletters released by Leopard.

"We hope to see as many of you at our Annual Investors Meeting in Phnom Penh on 28 May 2010," it said.

Portfolio Notes:

Leopard Cambodia Fund's Investment Committee gave conditional approval to four more investment proposals which we hope to transact soon.
Accordingly, on 29 January 2010 the General Partner issued a drawdown notice to Limited Partners in the amount of US $7,900,000, it said.

The investment targets are minority stakes in a major bank, a microfinance institution, a seafood processing factory, and a WiMax internet company.

"We will publish more details once the deals are wrapped up, but for now we will mention that the targeted bank investment is an indirect holding in ACLEDA Bank Plc, one of the largest retail banks in Cambodia and the only one with a nationwide branch network," said the release.

Established in 1993, ACLEDA now has 232 offices, over 7,000 staff, and more than USD 900 million in total assets.

Kingdom Breweries (Cambodia) Ltd. received its Final Registration Certificate from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), along with a basket of tax incentives, said the release.

The 40-man work crew continues to transform the old Nestle factory into a modern brewing showpiece.

Peter Haupenthal, our brew-master from Germany has taken his post now in Phnom Penh. Kingdom's CEO, Peter Brongers has selected a sleek bottle design and placed the first order. There's still a lot of work ahead, but we are planning the launch party for Kingdom Beer in July 2010, said the release.

CamGSM'sbridge loan (in which LCF invested $5.0 million) just won the "TelecomFinance 2010 Asia Deal of the Year" award.

The judging panel said: "This was truly a trailblazing deal. It was the largest M&A deal in the country, and the financing that accompanied it also saw the largest ever syndicated loan on Cambodian soil. The deal could potentially mark the beginning of a new dawn in Indochina."

Team News

Leopard Capital is pleased to welcome two of the world's most revered contrarian investors, Jim Rogers and Marc Faber, to its Sri Lanka Advisory Council. Our investment team looks forward to receiving their invaluable guidance as we sift through the best investment opportunities in post-war Sri Lanka.

Related story last month:

Leopard Capital completes fundraising for Leopard Cambodia Fund LP, and launches two Sri Lanka funds

PHNOM PENH: Leopard Capital announces that Leopard Cambodia Fund LP, Cambodia's first multi-sector investment fund, achieved its final closing on December 31, 2009.

The Fund received $34,135,000 of committed capital from over 100 investors around the world, including pension, family office, and individual investors, said the release obtained by DAP.

The Fund's initial closing was April 2, 2008. It has since made five investment commitments in Cambodia, representing over 40 percent of its capital.

The Fund's portfolio thus far includes investments in rice production (Cambodia Plantations), mobile telecommunications (CamGSM), beer brewing (Kingdom Breweries), power transmission (Greenside Holdings), and residential property development (Angkor Residences).

The Fund's Manager is in advanced negotiations on several other investment proposals and expects that the Fund may be fully invested during 2010.

Leopard Cambodia Fund is managed by Leopard Capital Cambodia Ltd.

Douglas Clayton, CEO of Leopard Capital, commented "it was challenging to raise a first-time fund like this during a global financial crisis but we think the timing will turn out to be very fortunate," said the release.

"The volume and quality of investment proposals we're getting has exceeded our expectations, and we're pleased with the diversified portfolio we're building."

"We hope that the performance of Leopard Cambodia Fund will help change global perceptions about investing in Cambodia," he said in the press release.

Leopard Capital also announces that its subsidiary Leopard Capital Sri Lanka Ltd. plans to start fundraising this Quarter for Leopard Sri Lanka Fund (for private equity) and Leopard Sri Lanka Value Fund (for public equity), it said.

Both funds will be managed by Leopard Capital Sri Lanka Ltd., whose Managing Partners are Nirosh De Silva, Ramanan Govindasamy, Douglas Clayton, Kenneth Stevens, and Thomas Hugger.

Leopard Sri Lanka Fund has a fundraising target of $100 million and a 10 year lifespan. The Fund will invest in unlisted companies in Sri Lanka, typically taking minority positions. It aims to help fund the post-war development of Sri Lanka's economy by investing in sectors such as tourism, consumer goods, seafood processing, agriculture, and manufacturing.

The Fund is advised by an Advisory Council headed by Dr. Marc Faber, publisher of the widely-respected Gloom Boom and Doom Report. The expected launch date for this fund is 1st April 2010.

Leopard Sri Lanka Value Fund is an open-ended fund with an initial fundraising target of $30 million. It will invest in a diversified portfolio of companies listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange which the Manager considers underpriced by fundamental measures, including under-researched smaller companies. The launch date for this Fund is scheduled for 1st February 2010.

Leopard Capital LP manages investment funds in Asian frontier markets. By providing well-timed access into overlooked, post-conflict and pre-emerging economies, it seeks to capture excess returns.

Leopard Capital was founded in 2007 by Douglas Clayton as a partnership of financial professionals with lengthy investment experience in Asian emerging markets. Leopard Capital is based in the Cayman Islands and has affiliated offices in Hong Kong, Phnom Penh, and Colombo.


Hun Sen’s cursing of Abhisit Right: Red Shirt Leader

Thursday, 11 February 2010 04:06 DAP-NEWS

A leader of the Thai pro-Thaksin Red Shirts protesters told DAP News Cambodia by phone on Wednesday that the insults hurled at Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vijjajiva by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s were justified as Abhisit’s leadership of the Thai nation has been a failure so far.

“His leading of the country is a failure in both economic and diplomatic fields,” said Latdavan Vongsreyvong, former Women’s Affairs Minister during Thaksin’s premiership.

“It is a duty for him as a premier of Cambodia and it is not a surprise to Bangkok. I would like to say thanks for Samdech Hun Sen who supports Thaksin.”

Regarding a planned Red Shirt rally this month, she insisted that she could not predict what will happen, as this issue is very complicated, but said it depends on the Thai government. She claimed more than one million protesters will rally peacefully to bring down Abhisit’s government.

Hun Sen certainly had harsh words for the Thai PM. “If you don’t tell the truth about Thai troops invading Cambo- dia, let magic objects break your neck, may you be shot, be hit by a car, may you be shocked by electricity or [may you be shot] by misfired guns,” he said Abhisit during his visit to border areas.

“Will Abhisit swear on having all his family members killed and having them [perish] in a plane crash, if [he still claims] that Thai troops did not invade Cambodia?” he asked.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he did not pay any attention to Hun Sen’s curses, adding that everyone knows who was the cause of the ongoing bilateral problems.

Hun Sen’s criticism clearly showed why the shaky Thai-Cambodia ties could not be restored, the Thai premier was quoted as saying by the Nation.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday reaffirmed the Cambodian government’s willingness to resolve the ongoing border dispute with Thailand at the international level, using such arbiters as the International Court of Justice or the UN Security Council.


Thailand to Begin Military Exercise Today

Thursday, 11 February 2010 04:06 DAP-NEWS

Thai soldiers are to exercise today in Sisaket province bordering Cambodia’s Preah Vihear and Oddor Meanchey province. However, no official report confirmed the number of Thai soldiers involved.

The Thai soldiers’ exercise comes following Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s first visit to the border areas. Hun Sen warned during his visit that any exercise must involve firing into Cam-bodian territory. Previous Thai exercises saw bullets in Cambodian land three times because of “technical matters.”

Several soldier commanders at the border could not be reached for comment related to the Thai exercise.

On Tuesday, as the PM Hun Sen blasted the Thai government; Thai soldiers in Zone 2 and Zone 4 near Preah Vihear temple allegedly declared their desire to invade the 4.6 square kilometers they say is disputed territory.

The Thai troops made a declaration boasting that they want to fight to take the area, zoned as Thai territory only on the Thai’s own unilateral map. The information was reported by a Cam-bodian troop source stationed in the Veal Entry area on February 9. The sourced claimed that the Thai troops made their declaration after Hun Sen’s 3-day visit to the border zone.

However, the situation at the border is normal, but the source at the border said that Cambodian soldiers station at the border are ready to fight if Thai forces cross illegally into Cambodian land.


Tobacco Usage Down in 2009

Thursday, 11 February 2010 03:57 DAP-NEWS

The percentage of Cambodian men using tobacco fell to about 48 percent in 2009, according to an expert for the Cambodian Movement for Health on Wednesday.

Som Yen told DAP News Cambodia that only about 3.6 percent women smoke, as well as 24 percent of monks, quoting his 2009 report.

Tobacco has more than 4,000 kinds of chemicals and seriously damages health, Som Yen stressed.

Director of the National Health Improvement Center Khun Sokrin told DAP News Cambodia that the new warnings announced by the Ministry of Health caution that smoke can cause pneumonia, lung disease, heart attack, stroke and tooth decay.

Some Yen also said that smoking can cause nervousness, headaches and stress, as well as diseases like stomach and lung cancer, larynx-problems and birth defects. The active ingredient, nicotine, is also harmful.

Som Yen recommended that all smokers give up. “All smokers should take a glass of water, breath slowly 3-5 times, do housework, exercise, or other things,” he added.

Dragon fruit for tigers

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 11 February 2010 15:02 Heng Chivoan

Chhim Lina, 38, fixes his display of a dragon fruit tree imported from Vietnam on sale for the sinospheric Lunar New Year at his stand in Kandal Market on Wednesday.

Fish out of water

Photo by: Sovan Philong

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 11 February 2010 15:02 Sovan Philong

A small fish, likely discarded after a catch, lies in a dried-out area of Prek Kompus lake in Kandal province last month.

Doctors declare ‘epidemic’

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
Sok Reaka, a six-month-old suspected cholera patient from Kampong Speu province, watches a nurse tend to him at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital on Wednesday.

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 11 February 2010 15:04 Brooke Lewis and Tep Nimol

Hospitals confirm 14 cholera victims as officials dispute any confirmed cases

DOCTORS from two hospitals confirmed 14 new cases of cholera on Wednesday, but the Ministry of Health continued to question whether any patients had tested positive for the disease, a position that has drawn criticism from officials at a children’s hospital in Phnom Penh.

Dr Denis Laurent, head pathologist at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital, said six new cases had been confirmed there on Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases treated so far this month to 25. The hospital recorded 65 cases between November and January. “This is an epidemic,” he said.

Or Vanda, deputy director of the technical office at Calmette Hospital, said staff there had confirmed eight cases of cholera on Wednesday. He added that families living nearby the eight people who tested positive for cholera had not been told of the diagnoses.

“In principal, it isn’t good for the public to be informed, because people become surprised and disturbed because cholera is regarded as a serious disease in their minds,” he said.

Despite the reports from the two hospitals, Ly Sovann, deputy director of the Communicable Diseases Control Department at the Ministry of Health, said he did not believe there had been any cholera cases in Cambodia. “Doctors have a right to say their own opinions,” he added.

Nima Asgari, public health specialist at the World Health Organisation, said there was no doubt that cases of cholera had been confirmed, but that cholera is just one strain of watery diarrhoea, an affliction that is common during the dry season.

He said there was no need to distinguish between cholera and watery diarrhoea when warning people about the possibility of an outbreak.

“From the viewpoint of preventing transition and providing treatment [for cholera and other forms of watery diarrhoea], the initial steps are the same,” he said.

But Dr Visoth Mony, deputy director and head of the intensive care unit at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital, said seasonal diarrhoea is often caused by a virus, whereas cholera is caused by bacteria. He said cholera could very quickly lead to liver failure and death, and that the two diseases need to be treated differently, with suspected cholera patients given antibiotics immediately.

“The WHO completely disagrees with that statement,” Nima Asgari said. “To routinely give out antibiotics is not the way the WHO recommends dealing with cholera. The first step should be rehydration with fluids and electrolytes.... Cholera kills because it dehydrates people.”

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
Dr Khieu Kolrath holds up a petri dish showing a confirmed cholera specimen at Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital on Wednesday.

Nima Asgari said the majority of cholera cases could be treated simply by drinking plenty of fluids. “The first line of treatment for cholera is oral hydration – lots of water and supplements such as Royal D,” he said. “Those who become sicker and are still dehydrated need to be admitted to hospital for intravenous treatment, and a small amount of these patients will also need antibiotics.”

Dr Beat Richner, director of Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital, said it was imperative that people in affected areas be informed about the threat of cholera and told how to seek immediate help because, in the worst cases, the disease can kill within hours.

“We know about a 13-year-old girl who died because her family was not informed that their neighbour had cholera,” he said. “This girl would not have died if they’d been informed.”

Visoth Mony said the Ministry of Health must know of the presence of cholera because the hospital was obliged to report all communicable diseases to the government.

“We have reported every case, and the Ministry of Health comes to the hospital to make reports, and they say that they will warn people in the villages. But when [patients] come to our hospital, they usually say nobody went to their village,” he said. “Just 40 percent of patients have received information from the Ministry of Health, and 60 percent had heard nothing.”

Nima Asgari said he believed the Ministry of Health generally informed families living in areas stricken with many cases of watery diarrhoea about the potential threats.

Laurent said he did not know why the government might be reluctant to confirm the existence of cholera, but he speculated that it could be due to fear of a potentially negative impact on foreign investors and tourism. “Our goal is not to create panic, but we have this problem now with cholera, and we have to react,” he said.

Red List aims to combat art theft

Photo by: Heritage Watch and Andrew Burke
Above: Glass beads, typical of what is found at Iron Age burial sites, photographed at a market. Right: A looted temple in Pursat province. Below: An example of the type of artefact that is commonly pilfered. The photo shows a container dated between the 5th century BC and the 5th century AD.

Thursday, 11 February 2010 15:04 Irwin Loy and Khouth Sophak Chakrya

ARCHAEOLOGISTS and government officials have high hopes that a new watch list of endangered antiquities will prevent them from being traded illegally.

The International Council of Museums (ICOM) this week published its Red List of at-risk Cambodian antiquities, which are commonly looted, trafficked and then sold on the illicit art market.

Items on the list range from the mundane to the divine; everyday objects like spoons, teapots and axes share space with detailed sandstone sculptures of the Hindu deities Vishnu and Ganesha.

But the objects all share one thing in common: They are highly coveted in the illegal art world, one of a series of factors motivating looters and fuelling what observers say has been a decade-long surge in the destruction of invaluable prehistoric sites in the Kingdom.

“It is a big problem,” said Hab Touch, director of the National Museum of Cambodia.

“Illegal excavations and the illicit trafficking of our Cambodian cultural heritage is still going on. It is important to stop that.”

Internationally, it is hoped that museums, collectors and others who deal in art and antiquities will consult the list and ensure they have thoroughly checked for authenticity and legal documentation before buying Cambodian artefacts.

Within Cambodia, the Red List will be distributed to heritage police, local authorities and customs officials stationed at border crossings, through which the tide of the illegal art trade flows.

“The problem is, right now, sometimes they don’t understand the issue well, or understand what kind of art Cambodia needs to protect,” Hab Touch said of the officials.

“I hope this will be one of the tools that can be used to provide that information.”

At this stage, however, authorities in Cambodia have been fighting an uphill battle in stopping the rise of the illegal trade.

“Cambodia has been facing a problem with a loss of cultural heritage for a while,” said archaeologist Dougald O’Reilly, founder and director of the group Heritage Watch.

“Since about 2000, there has been a big increase in the destruction of prehistoric sites.”

Affordable treasures
Past experience has shown that it can take mere months for a cultural goldmine to be lost forever.

In 2000, workers building a road linking National Road 6 to a small village in Banteay Meanchey province accidentally uncovered a cemetery containing numerous treasures, such as human bones, ceramic pottery and jewellery.

A little over a year later, however, archaeologists reported that 80 percent to 90 percent of the site had been destroyed by looters. By 2003, the site, Phum Snay, was lost forever.

The fate of Phum Snay underscores the fact that the illegal art trade hasn’t just touched high-profile pieces from temples around the Kingdom.

Within the past decade, the surge in the transport of Cambodian antiquities has included smaller items that interest even casual art buyers. A bead the size of a finger can be bought for as little as US$50, O’Reilly said.

Artefacts unearthed at Phum Snay have even made their way to stalls at local markets.

“There is a very substantial domestic market for antiquities as well – the smaller antiquities, because it is affordable,” he said.

Many of the artefacts, however, are being shipped out of country for international buyers; the US Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that the losses from global art and cultural property crime top $6 billion each year.

“From anecdotal evidence, we’ve been able to piece together that the bulk of the material is being trafficked across the Thai border,” O’Reilly said.
“Many times, it will be a middleman, and that middleman will take the material to the border and sell it on.”

It remains almost impossible to quantify just how many artefacts have been lost to looting.

“It is rather mind-boggling how much has been pilfered,” O’Reilly said. “When you go to these sites and see piles of human remains that are up to three or four metres high, you get a good idea of how much is missing. It’s all illegal.”

Poverty drives theft
Although international demand has created a market for the looted items, ICOM notes that many of those responsible for stealing the artefacts are doing so because of severe poverty.

“We must not forget that the roots of illicit traffic also lie in the country’s serious economic situation, which exacerbates the environment for looting and theft of artworks,” ICOM notes in materials accompanying the Red List.

“Criminals know how to take advantage of many families’ survival conditions to encourage them to exchange looted objects for money.

“ … Thus it is not enough to take emergency measures which are intended to supply customers, policemen and experts with tools to monitor the art market.”

And although the illegal trade in Cambodian antiquities may be enormous, many national treasures are still resting in international museums – a point of contention for numerous countries that have seen their artefacts lost over the years.

Chuch Poeurn, secretary of state at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said he hoped the Red List would help jumpstart the return of Cambodian antiquities from abroad.

“We have negotiated with some countries and government leaders to remove our antiquities from their national and private museums and return them to our country,” Chuch Poeurn said during a press conference Tuesday that marked the release of the Red List.

In 1993, ICOM published a list of 100 objects stolen or missing from Cambodia. To date, 10 of the items have been returned, Hab Touch said, including a head that was found at the renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

For now, Cambodian officials say that stemming the flow of pilfered artefacts is more than just integral to the Kingdom’s cultural survival – it is also economically vital.

“It’s not only the identity of the people,” Hab Touch said.

“Our culture contributes many economic benefits to this country. We think that tourists come to Cambodia mainly because of our culture. They come to visit the temples and that does a lot for the economy. If all the sites are destroyed, it won’t be good for us.”

Bilateral approach may not work for border dispute: PM

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A soldier guards the area near Preah Vihear temple Saturday morning. As he concluded his visit to the border, Prime Minister Hun Sen questioned whether issues with Thailand could be resolved bilaterally.

via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 11 February 2010 15:04 Vong Sokheng and James O’toole

CAMBODIA may be forced to take its ongoing border dispute with Thailand to an international forum if a solution is not brokered soon, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday, calling Thailand’s occupation of territory adjacent to Preah Vihear temple unacceptable.

“If it is necessary, Cambodia will raise these issues to the UN security council and at the International Court of Justice,” Hun Sen said.

The countries have been addressing the issue bilaterally under the auspices of the Joint Border Commission (JBC), though Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Wednesday that this mechanism may prove inadequate to solve the problems near Preah Vihear and elsewhere.

“Yesterday, Samdech Hun Sen showed clearly that Cambodia can choose a third-party approach,” Koy Kuong said. “The bilateral approach we still apply, but if it doesn’t work, we can choose another approach.”

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Thailand believes that disputes over the countries’ shared border are “a bilateral issue that should be solved bilaterally”.

“If the Cambodian government wishes to bring this issue to the world court or the United Nations security council, we’ll have to look at the details of what that may be,” he said.

Koy Kuong noted with frustration that the bilateral JBC negotiations have been stalled for months because the Thai parliament has yet to approve the latest round of negotiations, and he said that Bangkok has “no real willingness to solve the problem”.

“We can wait, but our patience is limited,” he said.

On Wednesday, Hun Sen ended his five-day border trip by inaugurating a new building of the Cambodian Red Cross in Preah Vihear province before returning to Phnom Penh.

Govt plans Valentine’s sex warning


via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 11 February 2010 15:04 Mom Kunthear

THE Ministry of Women’s Affairs plans to broadcast ads ahead of Valentine’s Day warning Cambodian teenagers against engaging in promiscuous sex, ministry Secretary of State Sivann Botum said Wednesday.

Starting Saturday, the five-minute spots will focus on the “meaning of the day” by encouraging teenagers to show love for their family first, teachers and then friends”, Sivvann Botum said.

“We decided to create the advertisements to reach out to young people because we want to make them understand that most teenagers do the wrong thing on Valentine’s Day, which can impact the respect people have for Cambodian women,” she said, adding that women often offer their virginity to their partners without thinking about their future and the honour of their family and culture.

Ministry representatives visited five high schools in Phnom Penh last week and will visit one in Siem Reap on Friday to show teachers and students the spots in advance, Sivann Botum said.

“Many students and teachers liked our advertisements and they requested us to insert it into the education curriculum, but we have not made any decisions yet,” she said. “Because of the response from students and teachers, we will go to even more schools next year.”

Sok Sovanna, Bak Touk High School director, said he and his students were interested in the spots. However, he felt they were not yet informative enough to actually educate teenagers.

“It is very important for students and also young people to know more about the meaning of Valentine’s Day and educate them to be not promiscuous on the day,” he said.

“But I am worried about the students who missed class on the day we saw the advertisement because they may not understand what they are doing is wrong.”

Authorities spray cars in attempt to halt flu


via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 11 February 2010 15:04 Chhay Channyda

AUTHORITIES in Kandal province have launched a campaign to contain a recent outbreak of the H5N1 influenza virus – commonly known as bird flu – that led to large-scale culls of chickens and ducks in neighbouring Takeo province last week.

Ing Sokmoy, chief of the Office of Domesticated Animals at the Kandal provincial Department of Agriculture, said on Wednesday that the campaign, which began this week, was designed to prevent the virus from spreading during Chinese New Year, which begins on February 14.

As part of the campaign, officials have been spraying vehicles travelling along National Road 1 to Phnom Penh with liquid TH4, an antibacterial agent. H5N1 is nonbacterial.

“We always have these kinds of campaigns to avoid virus infection,” she said. “Even though our province has no reports of bird flu, we want people to be cautious that bird flu has been found in Takeo province recently and make them aware about sanitation.”

She added that TH4 would be sprayed on the wheels of all cars and trucks importing goods to Phnom Penh through Kandal.

Ing Sokmoy did not say when the campaign was set to finish, but emphasised that it will continue for as long as officials deem it necessary.

On February 3, officials started to cull poultry in Takeo’s Pralay Meas village after more than 19,000 ducks died and some bird flu tests came back positive. Nhib Sron, director of the Takeo provincial Department of Agriculture, said sales of poultry have been banned for 30 days within 5 kilometres of the affected village in Koh Andeth district.

Officials discuss Law on Land Management


via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 11 February 2010 15:04 Kim Yuthana

CAMBODIA is in the process of drafting a new Law on Land Management, which will earmark certain areas of the country for development or conservation, officials said in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.

During a two-day conference on the proposed law, which is being formulated by the General Secretariat of the Land Policy Council in the Ministry of Land Management, ministry officials said the new law is in the process of being drafted and would be put together in consultation with relevant nongovernmental organisations.

Roth Sarin, secretary general of the Council, said the discussion was conducted in order to gather input so that standardised policies could be established for inclusion in the law.

He did not specify when the draft could be officially completed, but said that following the conference, which wound up on Wednesday, the Land Policy Council’s general secretariat would make some adjustments to the law and conduct broader discussions during which it would seek additional input from NGOs.

According to a copy of the draft legislation obtained by the Post, the Law on Land Management is being designed to ensure that land and natural resources will be used with “effectiveness, stability and equity in order to promote economic and social development”.

The draft of the law also states that “constant population growth and the changes in lifestyle in the cultural and economical context of globalisation require effective land management”.

Closed dams a headache for fishermen


via CAAI News Media

Thursday, 11 February 2010 15:03 Cameron Wells and Tha Piseth

RIVER conservation advocates said Wednesday that the closing of dams in Vietnam had caused the Sesan River in northeast Cambodia to become so dry that it was occasionally possible to walk from one side to the other, and that fluctuating water levels were threatening villagers dependent on the river’s fish.

The 3S Rivers Protection Network (3SPN) said in a statement that the water shortage in the Sesan – particularly in the O’Yadav and Andong Meas districts of Ratanakkiri province – had been caused by the Yali Falls hydroelectric dam, located 80 kilometres from the Cambodian border, as well as five other dams in Vietnam.

Sev Doeun, a spokesman for 3SPN, said in an interview that the recent temporary closures of the Yali Falls dam had not only threatened fishermen’s livelihoods, but had also made some of them ill.

“On February 2, they closed the dam and prevented the water from flowing,” he said. “When the water wasn’t flowing, the young people were getting rashes. Also, when it was low, the people found it hard to row and fish.”

Their problems didn’t end when the dam was reopened on Tuesday, he added.

“When the water was low, they had to leave the boats on the riverbed, but when it reopened the boats floated away,” he said. “The fishermen couldn’t find them. The people were [also] scared when it reopened because there could be flooding.”

Concerns in Vietnam
The 3SPN statement follows a forum held at Vietnam’s Can Tho University on February 3 at which experts said they were worried that dams built on the Mekong would disrupt fish migrations “that are critical to the life cycle of 70 percent of the Mekong’s commercial fish catch” in Vietnam.

Experts expressed concern about plans for the construction of 11 further hydropower dams on separate Mekong tributaries, which they said would affect water quality and cause riverbank erosion.

Ratanakkiri provincial officials said they were too busy to comment on Wednesday.