Friday, 19 March 2010

Cambodia puts temporary ban on marriages to Koreans

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Posted : Fri, 19 Mar 2010
By : dpa

Seoul - Cambodia's government has put a temporary ban on marriages of its people to South Koreans in a preventive measure against human trafficking, an official at the South Korean embassy in Cambodia told the Yonhap News Agency Friday.

"The Cambodian government has informed the South Korean embassy in Cambodia early this month that it will suspend receiving applications for international marriage between Cambodians and South Koreans," Yonhap quoted the embassy official as saying.

The ban only applies to South Korean-Cambodian couples. Nearly 60 per cent of international marriages in the South-East Asian country are arranged matches to South Koreans, the official said.

Cambodia's restriction came as South Korea's Fair Trade Commission, the country's anti-trust agency, on Monday announced tough guidelines for matchmaking agencies that broker such marriages.

South Korea's international marriage brokerages have burgeoned in recent years to total 1,237 as a growing number of the country's men living in rural areas seek foreign wives, often from South-East Asia, because of a shortage of South Korean women willing to live in such regions.

Of the 6,458 South Korean male farmers or fishermen who got married in 2008, 38.3 per cent wed foreign brides, more than half of whom were from Vietnam, followed by Chinese and Filipino women, the local JoongAng Daily newspaper reported this week.

Cambodia banned brokered marriages in 2008, but from 2008 to 2009, South Korea saw its number of Cambodian brides more than double from 551 to 1,372, Yonhap reported.

Cambodia Forbids Marriage to Koreans


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By Lee Tae-hoon
Staff Reporter

Cambodia has temporarily banned its citizens from tying the knot with Korean nationals, officials at the Korean Embassy in the Southeast Asian country said Friday.

On its Web site, the Korean embassy announced that it was notified of the decision by the Cambodian government on March 5 through an official document.

According to officials of the embassy, the Cambodian government claimed that the measure was drawn up in line with efforts to prevent human trafficking.

The government has also expressed its concern that marriages to Koreans through brokers or matchmakers have become common practice, although it is illegal there.

The number of marriages to Korean nationals accounts for nearly 60 percent of the country's total multicultural marriages, according to them.

The number of Cambodians marrying to Koreans stood at 1,759 in 2007, up from 365 in the previous year. The figure dropped to 551 in 2008.

Australian arrested for child sex in Cambodia: police


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2010/03/19

PHNOM PENH: Cambodian police have arrested an Australian man on suspicion of paying for sex with underage girls over a number of years, they said Friday.


The suspect, identified by police as Michael John Lines, 52, was arrested on Thursday for having sex with two girls, now 17, said Major General Bith Kimhong, director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-trafficking unit.

One of the girls was now the man’s fiancee, Bith Kimhong said.

“He has been committing the offences for four years,” Bith Kimhong told AFP, adding that police suspected he had abused many children.

He said the man would appear at Phnom Penh Municipal Court later Friday to be charged with “buying sex from children”.

Dozens of foreigners have been jailed for child sex crimes or deported to face trial in their home countries since Cambodia launched an anti-paedophilia push in 2003, to try to shake off its reputation as a haven for sex predators. -- AFP

Chinese Vice Premier ends visit to Cambodia

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2010-03-19

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu left here on Friday, ending his three-day official visit to Cambodia at the invitation of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Office of the Council of Ministers Sok An.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) shakes hands with visiting Chinese Vice Premier
Hui Liangyu in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, March 18, 2010. (Xinhua/Lei Bosong)

Cambodian senior officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Office of the Council of Ministers as well as Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue saw Hui and Chinese delegation off at the Siem Reap International Airport.

During his stay here, Hui held talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Sok An. The two sides have an in-depth exchange of views on cooperation in agriculture, tourism, telecommunications, disaster prevention and reduction, and reached broad consensus.

Both sides highly valued the friendly relations between the two countries and agreed to join efforts to promote bilateral relations to a new higher level.

Meanwhile, Hui Liangyu, together with Sok An and Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly, attended the signing ceremony of agriculture, communications cooperation agreements.

Cambodia is the first leg of Hui's five-nation visit which will also take him to the Laos, Palestine, Israel and India.

Editor: Jin Lin | Source: Xinhua

Land disputes flare in Kampong Speu

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Villagers armed with clubs and slingshots await the return of police after clashes over land in Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district on Thursday morning.

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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:06 Uong Ratana

Kampong Speu Province

VIOLENCE erupted Thursday morning in two separate land disputes in Kampong Speu province – one in Oudong district and the other in Thpong district – resulting in the injury of more than 20 villagers and police, as well as the torching of a company’s offices.

An early-morning altercation between authorities and 88 families at Oudong district’s Phnom Touch commune broke out when the authorities tried to carry out a Supreme Court-ordered eviction of the families from a 65-hectare plot of land, villagers said Thursday. Twelve villagers and 14 local police were hurt in the brawl.

At about 6:45am police attempted to forcibly evict the residents so that they could bring in equipment to tear down their houses, but the eviction was thwarted by locals who attacked police with stones and bamboo clubs, and disrupted their advance with burning tyres, villagers said.

The police responded by beating them with batons and firing their weapons in the air and into trees where villagers had displayed photographs of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The land in Phnom Touch commune is claimed by the Meng Keth Company, owned by Taiwanese businessman Kuo Sheng. According to a copy of his citizenship request letter obtained by the Post, Kuo Sheng, 62, was granted Cambodian citizenship in 2001 after Hun Sen wrote to then-King Norodom Sihanouk recommending that he be naturalised due to his positive attitude and his role in developing Cambodia.

However, Sun Bun Chhoun, a village representative, insisted that the villagers haven’t sold their farmland to any businessman, and that they would give up their lives to protect it.

Describing the incident Thursday, Sun Bun Chhoun said, “The police did not explain; they just tried to tear down our houses”, adding that eight villagers were seriously hurt after being beaten by the police with batons.

According to another villager, San Mean, about 400 villagers and 150 police were involved in the incident.

“They shot at me, but the bullet just barely caught my ear … the police pushed a pregnant woman to the ground.... They did not care about villagers’ lives,” he said.

The altercation ended around 10:30am when the police withdrew to a nearby location with their equipment – including a fire engine and two excavators. Villagers, fearing the authorities would return, continued guarding their homes rather than take their injured to the hospital, he added.

“We have been here since 1979,” San Mean said, adding that he implored the authorities to stop trying to take over their land.

Ky Dara, a representative of the Meng Keth Company and a partner of Kuo Sheng, says his company bought 223 hectares of land between 1997 and 2000, and that they plan to plant acacia and coconut trees, and build a factory.

“If they say that they have lived there since 1979, please show us a copy of the land documents and we will provide them compensation, because since 1985 our government has released land documents to all Cambodian people,” he said.

“We have tried to avoid violence. We invited the villagers to negotiate, but they did not come, so now I have no idea what will happen to them,” he said, adding that one prosecutor was also injured in the altercation.

“We’ve decided to stop for a while and will find another way to settle this problem later,” he added.

Kampong Speu Governor Kang Heang said: “It’s a simple case: If the villagers beat the police, the police will beat them back.” He added that the authorities are looking to arrest several ring leaders they say are responsible for instigating the protest.

Ouch Leng, a land programme officer for the rights group Adhoc, said that according to his organisation’s research, the Meng Keth Company did not have the proper legal documents, and simply was trying to use force to take over the land at Phnom Touch commune.

“The authorities should not be using violence to settle these problems,” he added. “They should find a peaceful way to settle the issue.”

Photo by: Uy Nousereimony
A villager in Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district holds a portrait of Prime Minister Hun Sen following clashes with police on Thursday morning. Locals say 14 police and 12 villagers were injured as authorities moved to evict 88 families.

Company office torched
In a separate incident Thursday, about 500 villagers from Omlaing commune in Kampong Speu’s Thpong district burned down an office belonging to the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat, after failing to come to resolve their dispute with the business.

The disputed land in Thpong district is part of a 9,000-hectare concession to the company. Meanwhile, Ly Yong Phat, who owns sugar plantations in Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey provinces that were developed following evictions, has also confirmed he will participate in a controversial partnership between businesses and the Cambodian military that some observers say could see soldiers used to further the aims of the private sector.

Suon Ly, a villager who joined the protest outside the offices, said people from 11 villages came to speak with company representatives about the land dispute, but that when nobody emerged to talk with the group, they decided to torch the company’s office buildings.

Suon Ly added that this is the third time they have tried to speak with representatives of the company.

Governor Kang Heang earlier this month tried to reassure villagers that the concession would not affect their farmland.

Villagers say the company originally offered compensation of US$200 per hectare of rice farmland and $100 per hectare of plantation land, but that as a group they decided to keep their land because they need it to grow rice, which is essential for their livelihoods.

Adhoc’s Ouch Leng said that the villagers “burned down five office buildings” because the authorities and representatives of the company had failed to respond to their requests for negotiations.

Chhean Kimsuon, a representative of Phnom Penh Sugar Company, refused to comment on the incident, and Senator Ly Yong Phat said he had not yet heard about the fire.

Kang Heang could not be reached for comment on the Thpong district dispute.

Hun Sen lambasts Lon Nol takeover


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:06 Cheang Sokha

FORTY years after the coup d’etat that overthrew then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk and established a republican government, Prime Minister Hun Sen has blamed the regime for unleashing decades of civil war and the 1975 victory of the Khmer Rouge.

“Today, March 18, is the 40th anniversary of the country’s coup staged by the group of Lon Nol against Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the legal head of state,” Hun Sen said at the opening of the National Road 78 in Ratanakkiri province on Thursday.

“It is the day that war erupted everywhere across the country. It was a huge destruction that cannot be forgotten.”

On March 18, 1970, General Lon Nol and Prince Sisowath Sirikmatak overthrew the Prince while he was abroad in the Soviet Union. On October 9, the regime’s leaders set up a US-style presidency and brought the country’s centuries-old monarchy to an end.

Hun Sen said that if there had been no coup the country would have been saved years of suffering. “More than two million tonnes of grenades and bombs were dropped into Cambodia, and many Cambodian people were injured and killed,” he said, adding that history had vindicated Sihanouk.

“The group who staged the coup are now dead, and we have no place to bury them in Cambodia – they all died abroad,” he said.

Son Soubert, a member of the Constitutional Council, said in an interview last month that although the Khmer Republic failed, the events of 1970 came about as a result of popular discontent about the Vietnamese communist infiltration of Cambodia, to which the Prince had turned a blind eye. “There were a lot of people like that, who wanted to sacrifice themselves for the defence of their country,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

Svay Rieng pair suffering in jail, families say


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:06 Kim Yuthana

THE families of two villagers jailed in Svay Rieng province for tampering with demarcation posts on the Cambodian-Vietnamese border say they are suffering from a lack of food and severe health problems, and urged NGOs and charities to come to the prisoners’ aid.

On January 26, Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced Meas Srey, 39, and Prum Chea, 41, to one year in prison after they joined opposition leader Sam Rainsy in uprooting six border posts during a Buddhist ceremony in Chantrea district in October. The villagers say the posts were placed in their fields illegally by Vietnamese officials.

Choeung Sarin, Prum Chea’s wife, said that since his arrest, her husband has suffered from an inflamed stomach, heart problems and low blood sugar, She appealed for outside help to purchase medicine.

“I visited him and brought him some medicine on Wednesday, but he did not seem to get any better,” she said, adding that she was 400,000 riels (around US$96) in debt because of her husband’s health problems.

Meas Srey’s elder brother Meas Pril said Thursday that his sister was also suffering from heart problems and arthritis in prison. “I visited her last week. She said her heart problems were getting more serious, and that she wanted to relax and receive treatment at home,” he said.

Meas Pril added that the aid the victims’ families received from Human Rights Party (HRP) President Kem Sokha last month had only staved off the hardship for a short time and appealed for help from generous people, charity groups and NGOs.

Nget Channara, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said the two prisoners were still in a serious condition. “Because of the bad atmosphere in the prison, the illnesses they had at the time they were imprisoned have been getting worse and worse,” he said.

But Kaen Savoeun, chief of the Svay Rieng provincial prison, said the illnesses plaguing prisoners were nothing out of the ordinary.

“If they’re really in a serious condition, we will allow them to go for treatment outside the prison,” he said, adding that the prison also has medical professionals on standby in the case of emergencies.

Tuol Sleng set for renovations

Photo by: Will Baxter
Tourists look at a dilapidated display in the process of being refurbished at Toul Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:06 Cheang Sokha and James O’toole

THE Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is working with UNESCO to renovate the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, officials said Thursday, amid questions over whether the project could overly sanitise the site.

An official at the ministry, who asked not to be named, said Minister of Culture Him Chhem met with Teruo Jinnai, UNESCO’s representative in Cambodia, on Tuesday to discuss preliminary plans for the project, pledging to visit the site together to evaluate it in the near future.

Chey Sopheara, director of the museum, said he had already discussed plans with UNESCO to increase the facility’s archival capabilities, and that the archiving process began late last year.

“We have reached an agreement to store all of our archives digitally, on a server,” Chey Sopheara said Thursday, adding that the Ministry of Culture is planning to add a car park, a garden, public toilets and a ticket office around the site.

Jinnai said the archiving process would expand on the records preserved by organisations such as the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam), as many of the documents and photographs compiled for digitisation have never before been processed.

Though other plans are still in the preliminary stages, Jinnai said UNESCO hoped to help professionalise the museum’s operations and provide better training to its staff members.

“Since Tuol Sleng is also a museum, upgrading the management is very important,” he said, adding that UNESCO had already provided computers, scanners and technology training to museum workers.

The addition of on-site parking, a garden and other renovations at Tuol Sleng, Jinnai said, is to proceed without the sanitisation that sometimes befalls modernised historical sites. “You have to keep the authenticity, and some of them have maybe lost authenticity,” he said.

Youk Chhang, director of DC-Cam, said UNESCO “has come in and provided some support, which should be appreciated”.

He said he worried, however, about the potential for renovation and commercialisation to “dehumanise those who have died and have left behind a memory for us to learn from”.

“By doing that, you wash away the memory, and in fact, tourists don’t want the memory to be washed away,” Youk Chhang said.

Around 17,000 people were imprisoned at Tuol Sleng under Democratic Kampuchea, and almost all were eventually executed.

The museum, in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district, sees around 500 tourists per day and depends largely on their donations for its upkeep, according to the International Centre for Transitional Justice. It was initially conceived by the Vietnamese-backed People’s Republic of Kampuchea as a means of winning international support by displaying evidence of Khmer Rouge atrocities to foreign visitors.

Police Blotter: 19 Mar 2010


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:04 Chrann Chamroeun

MAN AWAITS COURT FOR ALLEGED RAPE
A 24-year-old man in the capital’s Dangkor district has been arrested after he allegedly climbed up to an upper level of a house and raped “a nervous girl”. Police say the 22-year-old victim was changing her clothes when the suspect climbed in through her window Tuesday. The suspect was caught three hours after the assault when the victim’s relatives brought the case to police. Police said the victim and the suspect lived near to each other. “The suspect confessed to raping the nervous girl,” a commune police official said. The accused rapist is now being held for interrogation by district police before his case is sent to court.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

SPURNED WOMAN TAKES HER OWN LIFE
Police in Prey Veng province say a woman killed herself out of sorrow and jealousy after her husband fell in love with another woman. The 27-year-old killed herself by swallowing insecticide Tuesday, police said. It is believed that she became intensely jealous after her husband took up with another woman. She apparently told neighbours her story of sorrow before taking her own life. Police said the woman’s husband arrived after she had swallowed the poison, but it was too late. She was already dead. The woman left behind three young children. A traditional funeral was held for her in her home.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

MAN BEATS WOMAN WITH IRON BELT
A 46-year-old man with a paralysed hand is facing charges in Battambang province after he allegedly beat his wife senseless in a drunken rage. The man was arrested Tuesday after his wife complained to police. It is alleged the man came home after a night of drinking, cursing his wife and accusing her of adultery. The woman said she cursed her husband back, unable to tolerate his verbal attack. That is when the husband is alleged to have grabbed an axe and chased his wife before he was impeded by the couple’s 15-year-old son. The man then tried to beat his wife with a broom before he was again stopped by his son. Then the man reportedly took an iron belt and beat the woman senseless.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

COPS SLOW DOWN TEEN SPEED DEMONS
Two high school students were arrested then released after they raced their motorbikes on a public road, impacting public order and scaring passers-by, authorities in Battambang said. The local police chief warned the teens they would face court action if caught again.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

EU delegation to help facilitate Sam Rainsy’s return, SRP official says


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:06 Meas Sokchea

A DELEGATION from the European Union met with officials from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) at the party’s Phnom Penh headquarters Thursday, offering to help secure the return of SRP president Sam Rainsy in time for the 2013 election, the party’s spokesman said.

“The head of the EU [delegation] said that the presence of the opposition party is necessary. The presence of the opposition is a guarantee that the government will walk on the right path,” spokesman Yim Sovann told reporters after the meeting.

Yim Sovann said that the delegates are visiting Cambodia to assess the political situation, and that they expressed the importance of guaranteeing respect for parliamentarians’ rights. “Excellency Sam Rainsy’s presence is necessary. If there is no Sam Rainsy, there is no democracy in Cambodia because Sam Rainsy is the president of largest opposition party,” he added.

Sam Rainsy, currently in France, faces arrest and imprisonment if he returns to Cambodia. In January, the Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced him to two years in prison for uprooting temporary border posts that villagers said were placed in their rice fields by Vietnamese authorities.

Phay Siphan, spokesman of the Council of Ministers, said the government did not prohibit Sam Rainsy’s return, but that he must be responsible before the law.

“There is nothing to prohibit him. He was punished by the law. He must be responsible for his legal obligations. Democracy occurs as a system, not on an individual basis,” he said.

Sam Rainsy also faces additional charges of falsifying public documents and spreading misinformation after releasing maps showing four border posts sitting up to 500 metres inside Cambodian territory as defined by French- and American-drawn survey maps.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Sam Rainsy wrote to King Father Norodom Sihanouk that unnamed border experts he has consulted in France and Switzerland have backed up his claims of Vietnamese encroachment.

“In spite of the denial of the current Cambodian authorities and in spite of their acts of repression towards Khmer patriots who dare to denounce the infringement of the territorial integrity of Cambodia by our powerful eastern neighbor, no one can contest the reality of the facts any longer,” Sam Rainsy stated in the letter.

Investment: Govt signs agreements with China


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:05 Vong Sokheng

Investment

Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu signed three memorandums of understanding with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An on Thursday as he began a three-day visit to the Kingdom. Ek Tha, deputy director of the Council of Ministers’ press department, said Hui pledged to encourage investors to visit and focus more on Cambodia. “The signings today between the Chinese and Cambodian governments are another step in strengthening the two countries’ cooperation in all fields,” he said. Huawei Technologies, China’s largest private hi-tech enterprise, signed a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and Cambodian mobile-phone operator CamGSM, Ek Tha said. Hui is slated to leave on Friday.

Division over rights progress


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:05 James O'Toole

Diplomats, advocates disagree over Cambodia at UN rights review.

DIPLOMATS and rights workers struck strikingly different tones in assessing the Cambodia’s progress as the Kingdom came up before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday as part of its first Universal Periodic Review on human rights.

After convening in December to discuss Cambodia’s rights situation and hear a report from Sun Suon, Cambodia’s ambassador to the UN, members of the Human Rights Council drafted a list of 91 recommendations that Cambodia was to consider in the run-up to Wednesday’s event.

Sun Suon struck a gracious tone in responding to these recommendations on Wednesday, and although he said that Cambodia “accepted” all of them, he addressed them in general rather than specific terms.

“We view that most of the recommendations are essential to the context of the effort for promoting human rights in Cambodia,” Sun Suon said, touting last week’s passage of the Anticorruption Law as an example of the government’s commitment to international rights norms.

Numerous council members praised the passage of the Anticorruption Law, which has been roundly criticised by local rights advocates for its rushed passage and weak enforcement mechanisms.

The US’s John Mariz called on Cambodia to respect freedom of expression and re-examine the process by which parliamentary immunity is revoked. He said the country deserved credit, however, for the work of the Khmer Rouge tribunal and its efforts against human trafficking.

Thailand’s Sihasak Phuangketkeow said Cambodia’s “openness in discussing her challenges” was to be commended, as was the country’s support for “most of the core international human rights instruments”. China’s Hu Miao said Cambodia “has achieved important, visible progress” in economic and social development.

However, speaking after the statements of the council members, a representative of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues said the diplomats were ignoring “continued, systematic human rights violations in Cambodia”.

“Given the seriousness of the situation, our organisations deeply regret that several countries purposely made general and vague comments instead of recommending specific actions,” the federation said.

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development renewed calls for a moratorium on land evictions, and Interfaith International slammed Cambodia’s treatment of refugees, including the 20 Uighurs who were deported to China in December.

Sun Suon dismissed the rights groups’ concerns in his concluding remarks, saying that the government had already responded to them “on many occasions”.

He affirmed the value of Cambodia’s first periodic review process, however, calling it an “innovative and promising mechanism for the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide”.

Bio-ethanol factory cleared of all blame in Kandal fish kill


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:05 Khouth Sophakchakrya

GOVERNMENT authorities have stated following an investigation that the death of 54 tonnes of farmed fish last week in Kandal province was not caused by leaks from a nearby bio-ethanol factory, despite protests from residents in Ponhea Leu district.

Sam Saroeun, spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, said Thursday that experts could not find any traces of toxic waste in the waters of the relevant section of the Tonle Sap, and that the deaths of the fish were most likely due to the river water heating up because of “climate change”.
“We found 3.1 milligrams of oxygen per litre of water,” he said. “There are no toxins in the river.”

Area fish farmers, however, still say the water became toxic due to leaking waste from MH Bio-Energy Co, a bio-ethanol factory in Ponhea Leu district’s Doung village.

Moth Pouv, 45, who said she lost 100 kilogrammes of fish, said that the factory was leaking waste into the river when the current was slow.

“My fish are dead because of the toxic waste from the factory, and not from climate change,” she added.

The plant was temporarily shut down in August last year after 60 tonnes of fish died due to toxins leaking into the river, but was reopened five weeks later following repairs undertaken on broken pipes.

The company paid 53 families around US$700,000 in compensation for lost fish stocks.

Officials from MH Bio-Energy Co could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Small lots force many hit by Tuol Kork blaze to consider relocation


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:05 Chhay Channyda

FAMILIES who lost their homes when a fire tore through their Tuol Kork district community last week say they are still considering offers to move to new land or to stay and rebuild on lots that are too small for their needs.

Authorities say the 178 families from the capital’s Boeung Kak 2 commune whose homes were destroyed in the March 8 fire will be allowed to rebuild, but only on uniformly small plots measuring 3.92 metres by 5.5 metres.

“All 178 families can have equally sized land, even big and small families,” said commune chief Van Sareth.

The flames tore through a hectare of land near Neak Von pagoda in a blaze that officials said started when an electrical fire spread from a wooden home. Tuol Kork district authorities say the families can rebuild, but wider access roads must be accommodated and homes must be constructed at least 10 metres back from a railway that runs through the community.

Chhin Sophal, a representative of the affected residents, said that not all the villagers have agreed on what to do. Some are worried the new master plan for the area, shown to the villagers this week, rendered their properties smaller than before the blaze.

“The majority of people want to stay and live here,” Chhin Sophal said. “But some houses who have big families want to split their family to stay here and live at the new site as well. They want more land.”

Villager Ket Seang Hai said she did not like the way authorities have divided the land, questioning that her family of seven people would be able to squeeze onto the realigned lots after previously enjoying a relatively spacious plot measuring nearly twice the size.

She said she is considering offers to move to relocation sites, including one in Sen Sok district and one in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district.

The options have stirred vigorous debate among the families, she said, with some villagers split over whether to rebuild near the railway tracks or move to a better location.

“Right now, we do not know when to start building our house or even which plot of land belongs to us,” she said.

In the meantime, representatives from the private sector moved to help those in need. On Sunday, Toll Royal Railway, which is to rebuild Cambodia’s rail network, donated US$500 worth of rice and noodles to affected families.

Infant death blamed on officials


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:05 Mom Kunthear

A FAMILY in Svay Rieng province has blamed workers at a provincial health centre for the death of an almost two-month-old baby who died shortly after receiving a standard vaccination earlier this month.

The parents said the baby boy died March 11, one day after he was injected with a vaccination for tuberculosis at the Kra Sang provincial health centre in Romeas Hek district.

“Two health officers came to my house and they asked my wife whether my son had a vaccination yet,” said Chhun Phally, 27. “My wife allowed them to inject my son because he had never received an injection.”

Chhun Phally said his son cried for the next day, prompting his wife, Am Yat, 28, to give the infant paracetamol, a pain reliever. “I called those health officials to see my son, but they refused to come. So they made my son die,” Chhun Phally said.

The baby’s mother said she believes her son should still be alive today. “If I did not allow them to inject my son, he would not die,” Am Yat said.

The family has filed a complaint with district police and the local commune, implicating the two staff members at the health centre in the death and demanding a payment of 3 million riels (around US$717) in compensation.

However, provincial health officials have denied any responsibility in the boy’s death.

Pen Sona, director of the Svay Rieng provincial health department, said the baby died because of the parents’ carelessness and not as the result of ill treatment from health officials.

“It is the mistake of the baby’s parents that caused their son’s death,” Pen Sona said. “They didn’t bring their son to the health centre when the baby got a high temperature after being injected.”

Pen Sona said health officials who vaccinated the baby followed proper procedures.

Hem Choy, the district’s deputy police chief, confirmed he had received the complaint from the baby’s parents.

“I called the health officials to ask about the case of the baby that died, and they told me that they treated him well, as they do to other children in the district,” Hem Choy said, adding that the case required further investigation.

Cutting infant mortality rates is one of the UN Millennium Development Goals Cambodia has committed to. Though Cambodia has shown positive signs, with the infant mortality rate for children under 5 falling from 124 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1998 to 82 in 2005, questions remain as to the viability of reaching the 2015 goal of 65.

Much of the decline has been attributed to a lower fertility rate and not a significant boost in living standards.

Grenade kills two, injures 10 in KCham


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:05 Chrann Chamroeun

POLICE have arrested a 42-year-old man on suspicion of throwing a grenade into a house in Kampong Cham province’s Chamkar Loeu district on Wednesday, killing two young boys and injuring 10 adults, police officials said.

Provincial police Chief Nuon Samin said Thursday that the survivors of the attack, which took place Wednesday evening, were being treated at Kampong Cham provincial hospital.

“The attack injured a total of 12 people, including two boys. Four were seriously injured and another eight suffered slight injuries, and they were all immediately sent to a hospital for medical treatment, where the two boys died,” he said.

Nuon Samin said police believed the grenade attack stemmed from a long-running business dispute between the suspect and his victims, who lived about 100 metres away from each other in the village and competed for business.

He added that the suspect was being held at the provincial police station, where he would remain until the police finished conducting further inquiries.

“He hasn’t confessed to the bomb attack yet, which is normal for an offender, but there were four witnesses who testified that he was the perpetrator,” he said.

“We are still interrogating him to get further details about the bomb attack at our police station before we send the suspect to face charges at the provincial court.”

Nuon Samin said that since the attack was likely motivated by a personal dispute, police believe the man probably acted alone in the attack.

Hun Sen asks Vietnam to supply more power

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Workers install new power lines in Phnom Penh. Neighbouring Vietnam is the chief exporter of electricity to Cambodia.

via CAAI News Media

Friday, 19 March 2010 15:01 May Kunmakara and Ellie Dyer

Officials estimate electricty demand will rise 50 percent by 2010

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has requested Vietnam fulfill its agreement with the Kingdom and double its electricity output to the capital.

“I just wrote a letter to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung because we have a contract with Vietnam to supply 200 megawatts to Phnom Penh,” Hun Sen said Thursday, speaking at the inauguration ceremony of National Road 78 in Ratanakkiri Province.

“At that moment, they can only supply us with 100 megawatts,” he said. “That leaves 100 megawatts more, which I want to get.”

Hun Sen discussed increasing power to Cambodia with Vietnamese leaders in Hanoi in May 2009. At the time, Cambodia was drawing 90MW of power from Vietnamese suppliers.

The government estimates Cambodia will need to draw 400MW of power by 2010, 50 percent more than is currently available.

In issuing an annual assessment last week, Energy Minister Suy Sem said the surge in demand was coming from new buildings, factories and homes.

Much of the additional supply is expected to come from Vietnam, which was only supplying 23 percent of electricity imported into Cambodia in 2008 but now supplies about a quarter of Cambodia’s total demand.

Last year, the Kingdom purchased 226.76 billion kilowatt-hours from Thailand for US$19 million, and 500.74 billion kWh from Vietnam for $40 million, according to Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy data.

Electricite Du Cambodge (EDC) State Controller Hav Ratanak said this week Cambodia drew 100MW from Vietnamese power supplies in 2009, a figure he would like to see double. EDC’s customer base rose 56 percent from 2005 to 2009, he said.

Cambodia’s electricity goals for the next five years include promoting more power imports from neighbouring countries, building its own power sources, connecting the power grid from source to urban areas and building more transmission lines across the country.

For now, Vietnam is facing its own electricty shortages, said Trinh Ba Cam, a spokesman for the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh.

“I don’t know for sure that Vietnam’s electricity authority has the ability to produce enough for sale to Cambodia,” he said.

The impact of a 100MW shortfall on agreed energy provision is also being considered by the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC), which sets national pricing.

The energy shortfall, for now, is not going to affect prices for home consumers, Ty Thany, director of price setting at the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC), said Thursday.

“We will keep a fixed price for households,” he said. “We will just get electricity shortages.”

EAC may seek to buy electricity from other sources at higher prices in order to meet demand, he said.

Based on EDC’s tariffs, which factor in the cost of energy production in pricing for commercial and industrial customers, energy produced at higher financial rates results in increased bills for the private sector.

Hun Sen said Thursday that Cambodia’s power problems will be a thing of the past once the Kingdom’s hydroelectric dams are in place.

“Please don’t forget when Cambodia develops Sesan and Sre Pok hydroelectricity dams ... Vietnam will buy from Cambodia because it requires a lot of energy,” he said.

Nissan dealers will work together


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:00 Nguon Sovan

THE Malaysian firm set to be Nissan’s sole distributor in Cambodia is willing to work with Phnom Penh’s original and sole dealer, Narita Motorcare Cambodia, a spokeswoman for the company said Thursday.

Nissan Motor Co Ltd last week announced it would give Tan Chong Motor Holdings Berhad (TCMH) sole and exclusive rights to distribute Nissan, but the company “will work with Narita Motorcare and other parties to meet our business objectives”, the spokeswoman, Alice Wong, wrote in an email.

The expansion of Tan Chong’s alliance with Nissan in the Cambodian market “provides strategic benefit to spread our Nissan business outside of Malaysia to tap into [an] emerging market”, Wong added.

Tan Chong has been the franchise holder for Nissan vehicles in Malaysia and Singapore since 1957. The company will replace as distributor the Danish Kjaer Group, which typically provided vehicles to the aid and development sectors and withdrew from Cambodia in 2009.

News of the deal pushed Tan Chong’s share price to a two-month high on the Malaysian stock exchange March 12, when it traded at US$1.031 per share, but by Thursday its price had fallen back to US$0.998.

The company, which established a local subsidiary, Tan Chong Motor (Cambodia) Pty Ltd, in May 2009 announced via the Web site of Bursa Malaysia last Thursday it would put US$5 million into Cambodian operations in the first five years, including setting up showrooms, with an initial sales target of 200 units per year.

Long Narith, managing director of Narita, told the Post this week that Tan Chong had agreed to allow him to be the sole Nissan dealer, but he was unsure how the $5 million investment would affect his operations.

“We’ll wait and see because so far, everything is normal,” he said. “We’re still the only dealer in Cambodia.”

OZ weighs gold find in Mondulkiri at 8m tonnes


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:00 Ellie Dyer

OZ Minerals Ltd has identified 605,000 ounces of gold resources at a Mondulkiri province drill site, the company reported Thursday.

The Australia-based extraction company said in a statement that it has identified inferred mineral resources of 8.1 million tonnes of ore at grades of 2.3 grams per tonne at its interests in Okvau District.

The business has drilled a total of 10,559 metres at its 100-percent owned interest since 2006. In a report, it described the resource as a “foundation asset from which to build a resource base”.

The firm will now refocus drilling efforts on targets within 3 kilometres of the Okvau site, starting in April, the statement said. OZ estimates a potential discovery of more than 2 million ounces of gold in Okvau.

“OZ Minerals remains confident of discovering further Okvau-style mineralisation and adding to the current resource inventory,” a statement said.

Earlier this month, another Australian mining firm, Southern Gold, announced “significant” gold and silver mineralisation results from its first drill of the 2009-2010 season at its Anchor prospect in Snoul District, Kratie province.

Results from a further six “eagerly anticipated” test drills at the site are due next month, said a statement by the Adelaide-based miner, which fully owns the concession.

Meanwhile, gold prices on international markets have soared in recent days. The gold spot price in Singapore was US$1,120.60 per ounce Thursday afternoon.

Concerns about widening European deficits have resurfaced, prompting investors to seek a haven for investments in the commodity, Bloomberg reported Thursday. US dollar and euro weakness was driving the price, it added.

OZ Minerals fell US$0.018 on the Australian Securities Exchange Thursday, closing at US$1.058.

Stop for pop



Photo by: Peter Olszewski
Detail from Christian Develter's painting Defender of China.

via CAAI News Media

Friday, 19 March 2010 15:00 Post Staff

It’s virtually obligatory when launching a new art exhibition in Siem Reap to throw a party, which is probably why Martin Dishman, managing director of the One Hotel Collection, didn’t.

He launched almost by stealth, first with one painting and then with more, letting the vibrant work of Belgian-born, Bangkok-based artist Christian Develter speak for itself.

But Develter’s work doesn’t speak so much as it clamours.

The One Hotel foyer exhibition can be viewed from the street in The Passage, where it’s become an occasional traffic-stopper and red “sold” stickers are appearing.

Develter’s work is certainly striking. It’s far removed from the muted faddish workshop-work that’s been de rigueur in the Siem Reap art scene for the past year or so. Art academics refer to the work of Develter and his ilk as hyperrealism, which is mostly a fancy-shmancy term for pop art, in Develter’s case anyway.

His stuff is pure pop art with an Asian twist.

Initially it was Develter’s female renditions that caught Dishman’s eye in 2007 at an exhibition at Hotel de la Paix, titled Khmer Feminitude. One of the paintings in this exhibition, a portrait of the Cambodian Queen Mother, was given to the royal family.

Dishman said, “I really enjoyed the show at La Paix, and I knew his work would be eye-catching and bring life to our lobby gallery.”

The work on display in the One Hotel lobby is part of the Chasing the Dragon collection that exhibited at the Chinese House in Phnom Penh in mid-November last year.

Provincial inspections


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:00 Soeun Say

LAND management authorities are preparing to fan out across the Kingdom’s to spur on construction projects that may have flagged during the economic downturn, an official said Thursday. “We are planning to go down to inspect and strengthen all the construction project sites in Cambodia, to persuade and cooperate with developers to push ahead with their plans,” said Lao Tip Seiha, director of the Construction Department at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction. Authorities will also work to ensure the projects are following safety guidelines and following construction laws, he said. The first five provinces to receive inspections will be Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Kampong Chhnang, Pailin and Pursat. The visits follow a ministry initiative last year to encourage Phnom Penh projects such as US$2 billion Camko City and $300 million Gold Tower 42.

A caring cup of coffee


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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:00 Post Staff

In the latest example of socially responsible lattes, Siem Reap NGO Cambodia Orphan Fund has set up a café in The Lane, next to Miss Wong. This comes on the heels of the reopening of Joe-to-Go coffee shop near the Old Market, which benefits the Global Child NGO.

Cambodia Orphan Fund’s java spot, called the COFfee House, opened its doors on March 12 with a well-attended sangria-fuelled party. In attendance were the NGO’s staff, volunteers, supporters and random wanderers who stopped by to check out the scene. Many of the orphans who will benefit from the NGO’s newest venture were also in the house.

Cambodia Orphan Fund marketing director John Palfrey explained how he serendipitously found the shop house in The Lane.

“I was wandering around after getting lunch and saw the place for rent. Turns out it backs into Temple Bar, so no one would ever want to live there. We walked in and were able to strike a favourable deal quite quickly,” said Palfrey.

He said the NGO has also moved its offices from the orphanage to the upper storeys of the shop house.

Palfrey said he hopes the COFfee House will fill a void in Siem Reap’s café scene. “There’s nowhere to listen to chill-out music with quality sandwiches and good coffee, especially once Blue Pumpkin closes.”

The Euro-style café serves Illy coffee and sandwiches with Italian-inspired ingredients like fresh mozzarella. Beer lovers can quaff gourmet brews like Erdinger and Leffe Brown, while oenophiles can sip a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or an Argentine Malbec.

The booze isn’t cheap ($5 for an Erdinger), but one can sip contentedly knowing that 100 percent of the proceeds will support the Cambodia Orphan Fund.

A man of the cloth

Photo by: Peter Olszewski
Morimoto’s caress: Each of his weavers inch out 10 centimetres of woven silk cloth daily.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Our purpose will be achieved if we can perpetuate the traditions and experience of those people who viewed the light of the moon on Bayon"--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Friday, 19 March 2010 15:00 Peter Olszewski

Deep in the heart of the Cambodian forest, Morimoto Kikuo is waiting at his remote retreat. The Japanese international textiles expert is also the rejuvenator of Khmer village-based traditional silk weaving and espouses the wisdom of the forest as the answer to the revival of silk.

“But Morimoto,” I say. “Apparently Cambodia’s silk industry is dying.”

“Says who?” he says.

“Well, for one, Economics Today magazine,” I say.

In its March 1-15 issue, the magazine quotes an industry leader who claims “the industry is going to collapse”.

I begin explaining the article but peter out as I realise Morimoto is smiling with bemusement. I opt for silence, as he slowly coaxes an Ara cigarette out of a red pack, lights up, and lays out his philosophy.

Far from being on the brink of extinction, Morimoto says the creation of high-quality yellow or “golden” Khmer silk, once regarded as the supreme silk of Southeast Asia, is in rebirth mode.

Economics Today argues that Cambodia’s silk industry cannot maintain production to keep up with demand, but Morimoto argues: So what?

He cannot keep up with demand either but doesn’t see this as a bad thing. He believes artistic silk production revolves around quality, not quantity: that the future of Khmer silk relies on serving a niche market for high-end, high-quality silk that sells for top-shelf prices. The insatiable demand for it, in itself, ensures the revival.

Morimoto is not interested in mass production to compete with the many metres of cheap imported silk flooding tourist markets. Mass production is anathema to him because deep down, 62-year-old Morimoto is a radical dude. The cool Haynes-like grey t-shirt, black jeans and smooth belt that he wears today give a hint of the Japanese hipster he was in his youthful yesteryear, when he protested the Vietnam War.

In the mid-1960s his ambition was to be a painter and, as he writes in his book Bayon Moon, “I lived my days absorbed by the waves of pop, dada and surrealism. Keeping company with self-described poets and painters, I roamed the streets of Yokohama and Tokyo.”

His urge to become a painter was triggered by the western industrialisation that swept post-war Japan. He writes, “In 1964, a conveyor belt was introduced into the factory where I was working, and the pastoral mode of labour suddenly became a problem in the face of demands of speed and efficiency.”

Now Morimoto argues that a modern pastoral form of labour is the key to the renaissance of high-quality Khmer silk.

He’s spearheading a back to nature movement and, by going forward to the past, believes he is creating a silk road to a new future.

Morimoto originally carved out a career in the Japanese technique of painting and dyeing kimono fabric known as yuzen. In 1995 UNESCO commissioned him to consult on the revival of Cambodian traditional silk weaving.

In 1996 he founded the Institute for Khmer Tradition Textiles, or IKTT, in Phnom Penh. Incidentally, IKTT is wordplay on the term for the pre-dyed silk weavings known as ikat.

In 2000 he moved the organisation to Siem Reap and in 2002 bought five hectares of denuded land 10 kilometres north of Bayon in Angkor Thom district, about an hour by road from Siem Reap. Here he established the Wisdom of the Forest project, which now encompasses 23 hectares of mostly reforested land called Chot Sam and houses he and his 150 silk workers along with their families.

At Chot Sam I ask, “So Morimoto, what is the wisdom of the forest?”

He beams. Now we’re talking. The forest, Morimoto explains, is the repository of almost everything needed to achieve pastoral village self-sufficiency.

In the past, every village had a forest that was alive and supportive. The forest contains everything that’s needed for traditional silk weaving: mulberry trees to feed the silkworms; wood to make the looms that render the silk into fabric; bark, plants and insects to provide the dyes to colour the fabric; and food and water to sustain the workers.

While at times Morimoto sounds like a western hippy communard (his philosophy is “mono wo tsukuru kokoro”: the love of making fine work), he is also imbued with a pragmatism that stops him from losing the thread. Rather than re-creating a silk village of the past, he is building “a new model of a village that utilises traditional wisdom”.

Or as he writes in his book, “Our purpose will be achieved if we can receive and perpetuate the traditions and experience of those people who viewed the light of the moon on Bayon over the course of many hundreds of years, and if we can pass these down to the next generation. This is the beginning of the new phase.”

China's Huawei signs $200m deal with MobiTel

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Thu Mar 18, 2010

* Deal covers services, equipment for network expansion

* China, Cambodia sign agreements on telecoms, agriculture

By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH, March 18 (Reuters) - China's Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] signed a deal worth $200 million on Thursday with Cambodia's biggest mobile phone operator, MobiTel, to expand its network coverage, a MobiTel executive said.

The deal will see Huawei, the world's No. 2 maker of telecommunications equipment, provide services and equipment to MobiTel to boost its coverage in Cambodia.

"The negotiations have been held for years," a senior executive at MobiTel told Reuters, declining to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media. "The value of the agreement is $200 million," he said.

The agreement was signed during a three-day visit to Cambodia by Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Hui Liangyu.

MobiTel is the biggest of Cambodia's seven mobile phone operators, with its 2.5 million subscribers accounting for 67 percent of the market.
MobiTel is a unit of Royal Group, a business conglomerate owned by local tycoon Kith Meng. Royal Group owns companies dealing in financial services, hotels, real estate, television and restaurant franchises.

Hui Liangyu also signed two agreements with Cambodia's agriculture and telecommunications ministries to "strengthen cooperation" between the countries. Details of the agreements were not made available.

China is currently Cambodia's biggest source of foreign direct investment, having so far pumped $4.3 billion into its nascent economy, which grew in double digits for four successive years prior to the global economic slowdown.

(Editing by Martin Petty)

((prak.chanthul@thomsonreuters.com; +855 2 399 2102; Reuters Messaging:

((If you have a query or comment on this story, e-mail to
news.feedback.asia@thomsonreuters.com )) Keywords: CAMBODIA CHINA/TELECOMS

Former sex slave details life at Kew Gardens event

Somaly Mam speaks about her work fighting international sex trafficking at the borough Family Justice Center. Photo by Ivan Pereira

http://www.yournabe.com/
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By Ivan Pereira
Thursday, March 18, 2010

During her teenage years, Somaly Mam said she had to live through the toughest hell as a sex slave in a Cambodian brothel.

But after she found the courage to take a stand and through years of hard work, she was not only able to escape her captors but also help tens of thousands of women around the world who were entrapped in similar situations.

On Friday, Mam, 39, shared her experiences with a group of domestic violence victims at the city’s Family Justice Center in Kew Gardens to encourage them to stay strong and spread the message of hope.

“By helping people, you can help yourself,” she said.

Mam, who runs the international nonprofit group AFESIP Cambodia and the Somaly Mam Foundation, both of which help victims of the sex trade, said the most important step in helping themselves was regaining self-confidence.

After she escaped her brothel in 1993 at the age of 23, the activist said her time as a sex slave had a long-lasting effect on her psychologically.

“For many years I was abused, but that’s not what made me pain. What made me pain was trying to have people understand me,” she said.

Mam, however, said the pain has eased since she started sharing her story with more and more people over the years.

She was sold to the brothel by a man who posed as her grandfather in 1982 and for more than a decade was raped, tortured and abused by dozens of men.

“I had no idea how to step up. They said you are a slave. You do whatever we [ask you to] do,” she recalled.

After witnessing the murder of a fellow slave, Mam made an escape from the brothel and with the help of a French aide was able to leave the East Asian country.

Three years after her escape, she started AFESIP Cambodia to fight sex trafficking in third world nations and give victims training and job opportunities to work as independent women. By working with those victims through the years, Mam said her internal pain has dissipated and her confidence has grown.

“I’m so enriched by the love of the people who understand me,” she said.

Mam told the victims at the Family Center that they, too, could make a difference by being open about their experiences and being advocates against abuse. She added that organizations like the Family Justice Center are powerful tools for women because they give them a legitimate venue to gather and share ideas.

“I know how to fight [slavery] ... but I don’t know how to end it,” Mam said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com
or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Vietnamese products sell well in Cambodia


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03/18/2010

A representative of the Department for Trade Promotion says market share for Vietnamese products in Cambodia increased sharply in the first quarter of 2010.

Tran Van Thi made the statement at a conference on ways to penetrate the Cambodian market held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 18.

Over the past 3 years, the popularity of Vietnamese goods in Cambodia has grown by 40 percent. Aquatic products, steel and processed agricultural products have consistently accounted for 67-80 percent of the market.

By the end of last year, Vietnam had invested in 63 projects in Cambodia with a total registered capital of nearly US$900 million.

Cambodia is now one of the 3 countries drawing the highest level of Vietnamese overseas investment capital. Trade revenue between the two countries is expected to reach US$2 billion by the end of this year.

Where will Thaksin end up - literally?

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/

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By Tulsathit Taptim
The Nation
Published on March 19, 2010

It is clear that this is not the upheaval that Thaksin Shinawatra was hoping for. But what he plans to do next is as foggy as the air in Chiang Mai at the moment. On Wednesday, in the face of setbacks, he was belligerent, asking the dwindling numbers of red shirts at the Phan Fah Bridge to hold on for just one more week, after which, he promised, they would be tasting a sweet victory.

Reports indicated that fresh funds have been shipped in to bolster the sagging campaign. Though most of the protesters came to Bangkok with "pure hearts" - as the organisers have insisted - they still have to eat and support the ones they've left behind. A lot of the red shirts have deserted the rally, and considering the official breakaway of hardliners led by ex-communist Surachai Sae Dan and fugitive Jakrapob Penkair, as well as the backlash of the blood protest, the movement needs urgent and drastic re-engineering.

Though how this will be done is an urgent question, an even more immediate issue has to do with Thaksin's whereabouts. Public and media curiosity aside, his political movement is badly distracted by questions about where he has been and the government's claims that he has been kicked out of the United Arab Emirates.

During his phone-in on Wednesday night, Thaksin vowed to return to the UAE port city of Dubai very soon to prove that the Foreign Ministry was lying. He said he was in Montenegro for business, and photos circulated online yesterday did indeed show him and his children in that country.

So, what has really happened? Without access to flight and immigration records, one can only speculate.

SCENARIO ONE

Here's Thaksin's side of the story: He innocently left Dubai for Montenegro to inspect a hotel renovation after deciding to plunge into property investment there. The trip unfortunately coincided with an earlier Thai government protest to the UAE Embassy that he was using Dubai as a political base to undermine the Bangkok administration.

Loophole: Leaving Dubai for another staggering business investment at a time when his "slave" protesters were sleeping on the streets and shedding blood?

SCENARIO TWO

He has been staying in Cambodia to be in a better position to guide (or command, if you will) the red shirts. The Montenegro photos could be old ones. He wasn't expelled from the UAE and is about to return to rub it in the Foreign Ministry's face.

Loophole: AFP reported Thaksin had been spotted in Montenegro just a few days ago, and later the Montenegrin police confirmed he was there. Nobody has seen him in Cambodia lately.

SCENARIO THREE

The same as Scenario Two, except he came to Cambodia after being booted out of Dubai.

Loophole: He might pop up in Dubai today or tomorrow.

SCENARIO FOUR

A mix of Scenarios One and Two. He had come to Cambodia and, after learning that his location was being compromised (a lot of news reports were speculating that he was in Cambodia), he flew off to Montenegro and pretended to have been there all along. He wasn't expelled by the UAE and is poised to embarrass the Foreign Ministry in a day or two.

Loophole: Nobody has really seen him in Cambodia lately.

SCENARIO FIVE

The same as Scenario Four except he has actually been ousted from Dubai.

Loophole: Nobody has really seen him in Cambodia lately and he has been very defiant about returning to the UAE.

SCENARIO SIX

Doesn't have much to do with where he was, but whether he was really kicked out by the UAE. In this scenario, he was really asked to leave, which explains why he wasn't "quite there" for his followers at the beginning of their most crucial campaign to save him. But according to this scenario he will be able to return to Dubai after lobbying or negotiating with his long-time hosts.

Loophole: Too much diplomatic flip-flopping for comfort.