Saturday, 5 June 2010

World Bank investigates Cambodian land titling project

http://www.bicusa.org/

via CAAI News Media

The World Bank Inspection Panel began its investigation into the Bank-funded Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) in Cambodia last week, following a complaint that World Bank safeguard policies were disregarded during the $28.8 million project, leading to more than 20,000 forced displacements.

The complaint was filed in September by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), with the support of Bridges Across Borders Cambodia (BABC), on behalf of representatives of more than 4000 families living around Boeung Kak who have suffered or are currently threatened with forced eviction. It alleges that the Bank breached its operational policies by failing to adequately supervise the Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP), which denied land titles to the Boeung Kak families shortly before the area was leased by the Government to a private developer.

The LMAP was established with the stated aim of improving security of tenure for the poor and reducing land conflicts in Cambodia by systematically registering land and issuing titles across the country. However, a report released last year by BABC and COHRE[1] found that land-grabbing and forced evictions have escalated significantly over the last ten years, while many vulnerable households have been arbitrarily excluded from the titling system. This exclusion has denied these households protection against land-grabbing and adequate compensation for their expropriated land, often thrusting them into conditions of extreme poverty.

Despite strong evidence to prove their legal rights to the land, Boeung Kak residents were excluded from the titling system when land registration was carried out in their neighbourhood in 2006. Shortly thereafter, the Cambodian Government granted an illegal 99-year lease over the area to Shukaku Inc, a company chaired by Lao Meng Khim, a Sentator from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and close associate of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Residents of the area covered by the lease – many of whom have lived lawfully in the area since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 - were suddenly accused by the Government of being illegal squatters on State-owned land.

The World Bank Inspection Panel is investigating whether the Bank breached its operational policies by failing to supervise the Government’s implementation of social and environmental safeguards tied to the project that were intended to ensure that a Boeung Kak scenario would not unfold. “These safeguards were essential for such a high-risk project in a country that is renowned for its lack of good governance and law enforcements,” said Bret Thiele, Senior Litigation Expert at COHRE.

The World Bank acknowledged in August 2009 that the safeguards had been breached and approached the Cambodian Government to discuss measures to bring the project back into compliance. The Government responded by abruptly ending its agreement with the World Bank on LMAP, citing the Bank’s “complicated conditions” as the reason for its move.

David Pred, Executive Director of BABC, highlighted similarities to a World Bank Inspection Panel case in Albania last year, in which a Bank-financed project was also implicated in forced evictions. At that time, World Bank President Robert Zoellick promised "the Bank would move promptly to strengthen oversight, improve procedures and help the [affected] families." Zoellick added that "the Bank cannot let this happen again."

“They let it happen again,” said Pred, “and this time it is 4000 families losing their homes. The Bank must find a way to repair the harms suffered by the people of Boeung Kak. Safeguard policies are not optional - if the Cambodian Government refuses to comply with its contractual obligations to respect these safeguards, then it should not be entitled to any new financing from the World Bank.”

Samdech Dekchor: Isolation Sickness, Not to Work in Teams Does Not Lead to Success but to Danger – Friday, 4.6.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

 
via CAAI News Media
 
Posted on 5 June 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667
 
“Phnom Penh: In front of students and officials of the Royal University of Administration who received their degrees on Thursday, 3 June 2010, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, said that if somebody does not work cooperatively and works with a self-isolating attitude, such an approach does not lead to success but to danger.
 
“Presiding over the 54th anniversary of the creation of the Royal University of Administration, combined with the granting ceremony of degrees and certificates to students and to senior officials of the Royal University of Administration, held at the National Institute of Education, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said, ‘A person should not be isolated but working in a team – to work together leads to success. To isolate oneself is like a dangerous sickness. Such people believe that if they leave the country, the nation will collapse, and if they leave their province, the province will be ruined.’
 
“The head of the Royal Government added that in any institution, both in the Royal Government and in the ministries, not all people commit corruption. If there are 100 officials, only two or three are corrupt. Therefore the others will cooperate to eliminate corruption.
 
“The head of the government publicly announced during this event that the leader of the country, as well as fellow officials, are servants of the people to provide services to them and not to dominate the people.
 
“In this sense, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen said that the higher positions they hold, and the more powerful they are, the more they have to lower themselves down to listen to others.
 
“He said, ‘We must think that we have to serve the people, but not to control them. Whether we hold high or low positions, we must listen to all arguments, and we must be honest to the people and do everything for them, but we must not do anything that affects them.’
 
“At the same time, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen announced again that he will be the candidate for the position of prime minister in the 2013 elections, and that he has the total support of the Cambodian People’s Party. He said, ‘If you want Hun Sen to be prime minister, you have to vote for the Cambodian People’s Party, but Hun Sen alone cannot work, he needs the support by the party.’
 
“Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians told Deum Ampil that the announcement about the candidacy as prime minister by Samdech Hun Sen does not mean that he will stay in this position forever. It depends on the upcoming votes by the people.
 
“The head of the Royal Government said that the activities of the Royal government in the previous terms and in the current fourth term show that the people support the government, and this will lead to success also in the next terms.
 
“On the same occasion, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen recalled the three core points of the Win-Win Policy of the Royal Government that have led to total national unity and to progress:
 
  1. Guarantee the security of both the possessions and the lives of all persons who leave Pol Pot to join the government.
  2. Keep them in their roles that they played before. If they are soldiers, let them still be soldiers. If they were police, let them be police. And if they were district governors, let them be in their positions.
  3. Recognize both that they were a movement and they are no more a movement.”
 
Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #495, 4.6.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 4 June 2010

PM's travel aimed at salvaging Thailand's image

via CAAI News Media

By KINAN SUCHAOVANICH Associated Press Writer

BANGKOK (AP) - Thailand's prime minister Friday planned his first foreign trip since bloody political unrest ended last month in Bangkok, hoping to repair the hammered tourism industry and blighted image.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will aim primarily to restore confidence among investors and tourists when he attends the World Economic Forum of East Asian leaders in Vietnam on Sunday, the Thai government spokesman said.

Abhisit also will meet counterparts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and top business executives from the region, spokesman Panithan Wattanayagorn said.

"The theme here is recovery," Panithan said, citing the two-month anti-government protests as a key reason for economic decline in once-booming Thailand. Nearly 90 people were killed and some 1,800 injured during the protests, which ended in a bloody crackdown May 19.

The government estimates the vital tourism industry lost up to $2.2 billion as a result of the crisis.

In a World Economic Forum report published last month, Thailand fell 10 places to number 60 among the 125 countries indexed. The rankings show Thailand's competitiveness slipping, which could decrease foreign investment.

Panithan said Abhisit during his trip would also update the international community on the progress of his reconciliation "road map."

"It is necessary for (foreign governments and investors) to understand this healing process," he said.

Abhisit has been grounded in Thailand for more than two months as Red Shirt protesters demanding new elections occupied Bangkok's prime commercial district, sending tourists packing and shops closing.

Since then, he has tried to mend Thailand's image, meeting with diplomats and the foreign media to discuss the political developments.

Although the situation in Bangkok has calmed, the capital and 23 other provinces are still under emergency decrees and many analysts say the deep rifts in Thai society will not be easy to fix.

U.S. Leader In Mine Clearance

Landmine

Voice of America
Saturday, 05 June 2010

via CAAI News Media

The United States is a world leader in humanitarian mine action, having provided more than $1.5 billion since 1993 to mitigate the threat from landmines and explosive remnants of war in nearly 50 countries.


As such, the U.S. has sent an interagency delegation of humanitarian mine action experts to observe the Second Review Conference of the 1997 "Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction."


Although not a State Party to this convention, the U.S. shares common cause with all who seek to protect innocent civilians from indiscriminately-used landmines and considers participation in this conference an opportunity to engage on the future of mine action.

The U.S. continues to provide mine action assistance to many countries, including Afghanistan, where landmines affect almost every province. On average, nearly 40 people a month are injured or killed by landmines and unexploded ordnance in Afghanistan. Since 1993, the U.S. has provided more than $180 million for humanitarian mine action in Afghanistan. Over the last 20 years, more than 1,500 square kilometers of land have been cleared.

In Angola, 40 years of conflict have left behind a deadly legacy of abandoned landmines and unexploded munitions. In 2009, $5.8 million in U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action aid helped Angola clear over 1 million square meters of land of landmines and unexploded munitions. Since 1995, the U.S. has contributed nearly $70 million to help in the removal of landmines and destruction of excess munitions and unexploded ordnance in Angola.

Three decades of war have left Cambodia severely affected by landmines and explosive-renmants of war. Assistance from the U.S. and other donors has significantly reduced the annual casualty rate. In 2009, the U.S. State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement allotted more than $5.7 million for humanitarian mine and unexploded ordnance action in Cambodia.

The United States is committed to mitigating the threat from landmines and explosive remnants of war wherever they occur.

Two Charged With Terrorism After Prank Letters

Heng Reaksmey, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Friday, 04 June 2010

via CAAI News Media

Photo: AP
Armed Cambodian police officers stand guarding outside the municipal court in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The court also charged the two men, Rafiqu Leslami Aka Kalan, a 42-year-old cook from Bangladesh, and TD Taudyal, a 44-year-old marketing manager from Nepal, with illegal entry.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court charged two men with terrorism on Friday, citing prank letters they had allegedly sent to three Western embassies in April.

The court also charged the two men, Rafiqu Leslami Aka Kalan, a 42-year-old cook from Bangladesh, and TD Taudyal, a 44-year-old marketing manager from Nepal, with illegal entry.

Both men were arrested on Wednesday, after allegedly sending messages to the embassies of the US, UK and Australia that warned of terrorist acts against them by four unnamed foreigners, according to Phnom Penh court and police.

Police say security was bolstered at the embassies and a monthlong investigation was initiated. However, when the four foreigners were questioned, police found no threat.

Instead, police suspect the e-mails were related to a business dispute between the two men and foreigners, who police would not name but said had come from Western countries.

Both men are now being held in Prey Sar prison, awaiting trial. They face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty on terrorism charges.

Cambodian officials have been quick to act on any potential terrorism threats in Cambodia, following the discovery that a leader of the terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah named Hambali had been sheltered here prior to his 2003 arrest in Bangkok.

Iran Visit Prompts Warmer Diplomatic Ties

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer | Phnom Penh
Friday, 04 June 2010

via VAAI News Media

Photo: AP
Iranian police soliders walk next Iran's national flag.

"If we have strong relations with Iran, we will receive strong experience in producing oil and drilling for gas and in mining."

Cambodia is considering increasing formal diplomatic relations with Iran, including establishing an embassy in the capital Tehran, officials said Friday.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently considering the “proper time” for a visit to Iran by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, a ministry spokesman said.

The decision follows the visit of an Iranian delegation of five National Assembly members this week that ended Thursday. The delegation met with high-ranking members of the National Assembly and Senate and with Foreign Affairs officials.

The delegation requested the establishment of an embassy or trade center to promote Iranian investment for oil, gas and mining, said Cheam Yiep, a Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker that met with the delegation.

Kuy Kuong, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said a potential visit by Hor Namhong to Iran would be to discuss “the economy, trade, investment and tourism.” Cambodia was also considering an embassy, he said.

Cambodia restarted diplomatic relations with Iran in 1992, “but we do not have an embassy yet,” he said. “We contact Iran through the Iranian Embassy in Hanoi.”

The Iranian delegation leader, Mohsen Kouhkan, told lawmakers here Iran could offer technical assistance for oil, gas and mining, Kuy Kuong said.

“If we have strong relations with Iran, we will receive strong experience in producing oil and drilling for gas and in mining,” he said.

International censure of Iran for its nuclear policies was not a concern of Cambodia, which is focused on economy, trade, investment and tourism, he said.

Minorities Face Continued Conflict with Plantations

Pich Samnang, VOA Khmer | Ratanakkiri, Cambodia
Friday, 04 June 2010

via CAAI News Media

Photo: AP
An ethnic minority Cambodian boy, left, stands next to his mother at a village in Mondul Kiri province northeast Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“The target of the people is to expand their farms to meet the need of their increasing family members, so it will affect the forest as well. The forest has many enemies.”

Pheng Krong worked one day sawing at a piece of wood for construction of a new house. The 37-year-old farmer of the Brov ethnic group had plans to replace his small wooden house in Ta Gnach village, in Ratanakkiri’s Ta Veng district. What he did not have plans to do, however, is work on a patch of farmland 2 kilometers down the road.

That’s because that land has been overtaken by a rubber plantation concession.

“I no longer develop on my land because I feel I can’t live here longer,” he told VOA Khmer recently. “The villagers here do not care about planting or farming on their land any more because it will be a waste of time.”

Pheng Krong and other members of 36 Brov families say they will have to clear more forest land to begin farming again. And they are not alone.

The problem of land loss is not limited to Pheng Krong’s village, but it has spread to other villages here in the province. Residents here say they are increasingly loosing long-term farmland to concessions for plantations of rubber and cashew. Thousands of families in this province depend on that land for the livelihoods. But more and more companies are establishing themselves on that land.

Romam Ting, a representative of 41 Jarai ethnic minorities in Ang Daung Meas district, 40 kilometers from Ta Gnach, said villagers are losing out to concessions.

“When companies come, they said they have concessions from the government to grow rubber trees, they have to clear the land,” he said. “When they start clearing the land, they clear our communal land that we’ve used for planting. When we protest, they say the state has granted them the land, so it’s theirs.”

That’s a potential problem for a province with 150,000 residents, mostly populated by minority tribes Phnong, Jarai, Kachork, Brov, Tavet, Kreung, Long Tumpuon. The hill tribes believe in spirits that dwell in the forests and mountains, and their lives revolve around mixed farming, fishing and the forest.

Dam Chanthy, director of the Highlander’s Association, which helps raise awareness of indigenous people on land rights issues here, said agro-industrial plantations have overlapped the forests and communal land indigenous people traditionally use to earn a living.

“Companies just work on the land without consultation with the affected communities, so the people are now facing a big threat as they need more land for their community farms,” she said in a phone interview.

At least 14 companies have applied for land concessions in the northeastern province, but only one of them has been registered as a contracted and validated company. But, the villagers say more companies are operational, and most of them overlap community land.

“Some companies do plant some young rubber trees, but they take no care of them,” one hill tribe member who asked not to be named said. “They just cut down the trees in the forest and take away valuable timber.”

The concession practice is having a big impact on the forest here.

Around 8,000 square kilometers of land in the province is covered by forest, but tens of thousands of hectares have been deforested, local environmental organizations say.

And that’s only the beginning. Eighty-five companies have been granted land concessions for more than 950,000 hectares in 16 provinces, according to government figures.

The UN’s office for human rights in Cambodia said in 2007 the concessions are having a devastating impact on the indigenous communities. More than 50,000 hectares in Ratnakkiri alone have been given over to concessions, according to the UN.

And when people lose their land, they are pushed farther into the forest, said Pen Bunna, a rights coordinator for Adhoc. The government needs to implement the existing forestry law and concession laws in order to protect the indigenous communities, he said.

Officials say they understand the problem and are working to solve it.

Pao Ham Phan, the provincial governor, said authorities have prevented land clearance on sacred forests and community farms.

“When there are overlaps with the community land, we cut away that plot of land from the concession,” he recently told reporters in his office. “Where the forests are still in good condition, we don’t grant concession rights to the companies and we also ask the companies to protect them,” he said.

Some concession requests for 10,000 hectares are reduced to 4,000 to 6,000 hectares, he said. “This shows that the government has taken care of forest sustainability.”

Meanwhile, other problems stem from villager expansions of farmland by clearing more forest.

“The target of the people is to expand their farms to meet the need of their increasing family members, so it will affect the forest as well,” he said. “The forest has many enemies.”

Khmer Rouge Victims Worry Over Tribunal Budget Woes

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer | Washington, D.C
Friday, 04 June 2010

via CAAI News Media

Photo: AP
Chum Mey, a survivor from the S-21 prison during the Khmer Rouge regime.

“This is an issue that we are critically facing. Whatever it is, a car or motorbike, can move if it has gasoline, but if it doesn’t, it’s impossible to work. Even though the donors have pledged this, frankly speaking, money has not been coming, and my unit has had a drought since January.”

Representatives of victims of the Khmer Rouge say they are concerned about the future of the UN-backed tribunal, following a lackluster round of funding in New York last month.

Donors pledged about $17 million for expenses in 2010, money far short of the $85 million tribunal administrators say they need for 2010 and 2011.

“This is an issue that we are critically facing,” Nov Kassie, an official at the tribunal’s Victims Unit, told “Hello VOA” Thursday. “Whatever it is, a car or motorbike, can move if it has gasoline, but if it doesn’t, it’s impossible to work. Even though the donors have pledged this, frankly speaking, money has not been coming, and my unit has had a drought since January.”

Nov Kassie said plans for justice and reconciliation are stuck, and with no salaries, the operation has been based on the borrowing of money from one place to another. There is no more money to borrow, he said.

Chum Mey, who survived the Khmer Rouge torture center Tuol Sleng and now heads an association of victims, said he too was facing money shortages. This may hamper his ability to bring victims to the court for the reading of a verdict against Tuol Sleng’s former chief, Kaing Kek Iev, or Duch, on July 26.

Members are now considering what to do next, especially if Duch is given a reduced sentence, Chum Mey said.

Lee students’ Cambodia Project — Keeping the village afloat

Cleveland Daily Banner

via CAAI News Media

by Gaurav Tiwari, Special to the Banner


IN CAMBODIA — Orphanage children will be recipients of high nutritional soy products.
A house built in Takam, Cambodia by business students under Guy DeLoach’s leadership.


Four business plans developed by Lee students are at the heart of a comprehensive project seeking to create a sustainable village model in Cambodia, as the Lee University Department of Business and the People for Care and Learning join hands to make a difference in the country’s dire social scene.

This project started to take shape when the chair of the Department of Business Dr. Dewayne Thompson and assistant professor of Business Guy DeLoach went on a trip in 2009 to Cambodia with the People for Care and Learning.

This organization has been offering classes to village children and is a major presence in Cambodia.

The trip included a visit to the Tonle Sap Lake, a floating village of about 1 million ostracized Vietnamese people. The people living on the lake share a common story of suffering — they have been banished from the mainland and forced to live in abject poverty and plight.

Cambodia is known for its sex trade of young children as many parents sell their children due to indebtedness brought on by local lenders. Seeing the problems from a close range, Thompson and DeLoach decided that something had to be done to break the cycle of poverty, and the idea of a sustainable village model entered a period of incubation and hope.

“When we returned, we decided to offer a course consistent with our experiential learning model but with a purpose to alleviate the suffering of a few,” said Thompson.

“While our efforts are modest, we have 13 students involved in developing four business plans that we hope can be implemented to break the cycle and create the sustainable village.”

Katie Rowcliffe, Blake Kernea, and Jacob Brown are working on a soy production project which they hope will allow them to provide a nutritional meal for the Tonle Sap children. These students also have concrete plans of Soymilk production and including “okara”, a soymilk byproduct, in some of the local food to provide an effective source of protein for children.

Kayla Smith, Ginny Stewart, and Justin McComber are developing a business plan to produce solar energy to power refrigeration for the barge and to create other revenue-producing enterprises.

Integrated farming is the project being developed by Morgan Adams, Andrea Mouser, and Jared Houghton. This is a green initiative that includes building fisheries, pig farms, and other agricultural plans designed to provide a source of income for families.

Cait Kooistra, Kristine Tuck, Lauren Thompson, and Alan Ponce are working on the microenterprise and microfinance project. They hope to loan money for personal needs and to create business opportunities.

“An alumna, Bilguun Boldbaatar, is an advisor to the teams,” said Thompson. “BB, as she is better known by, is from Mongolia and has tacit insight.”

The project has a clear vision in incorporating locals and tapping into the local resources and partners, as the goal is to make life better for Cambodians’ families, including those on the Tonle Sap Lake.

“Students have individuals who serve as advisors to help navigate through the more difficult and technical aspects of each project,” Thompson said, further adding that the students have also presented their projects before technical advisors and to potential donors.

As the students, with support from the Department of Business, embark on an eventful journey to change lives in Cambodia one family at a time, their project seeks to enact St. Francis of Assisi’s compelling charge to all Christians: “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

“The goal is to change lives by showing the people of Cambodia the love of Christ manifested by, quite literally, teaching them to fish,” Thompson said.

The tireless individuals in the Cambodia project are applying their expertise to alleviate poverty halfway around the world. If the buildup to the program, enthusiasm of the team, and support from sponsors is any indication, 13 Lee students and many Cambodians, including those on Tonle Sap Lake, are about to have a truly life-changing encounter.


Read more: Cleveland Daily Banner - Lee students’ Cambodia Project — Keeping the village afloat

ASME to open 1st business centre in Cambodia to increase links with local firms

via CAAI News Media

By May Wong
Posted: 04 June 2010

SINGAPORE: The Association of Small and Medium Enterprises or (ASME) will open a business centre in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh to increase tie-ups between companies.

The centre, supported by SPRING Singapore and IE Singapore, is scheduled to be opened early next year.

This is the first-ever overseas centre by a Singapore business association.

Collaborating to develop Cambodia's infrastructure or providing education services in Phnom Penh are some of the sectors that Singapore SMEs can venture into.

Bryan The, CEO, Association of Small & Medium Enterprises, said: "Singapore businesses tend to lag behind some of the other competing countries in the region like Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong for example.
“And that often when business opportunities crop up, the other countries tend to snap them up faster than Singapore. So we hope that by being physically there, it could help hasten the process and also raise awareness of such opportunities to Singapore businesses.

“We think that in the next five years, Cambodia would be the next big thing, possibly even as big as Vietnam and being relatively untapped. This is the right time to be in Cambodia right now.”

ASME's business centre comes on the back of the government's recent call for Singapore companies to internationalise.

The centre will also look for opportunities in countries like Laos and Myanmar.

ASME has decided to set up a business centre in Cambodia because currently, there is no Singapore representative or assistance there.

The association believes that Cambodia has potential market opportunities worth over US$200 million. One of the key responsibilities of the centre will be to match-make Cambodia and Singapore companies for business cooperation.

And understanding consumer needs in emerging regional markets is key when expanding overseas.

Arnaud Frade, regional director, Retail and Shopper, TNS, said: "Getting to know your consumers and not making assumptions. What is working here in Singapore may not be working in China.

“If they go into this market without the real knowledge, they'd very likely waste a lot of resources, distract their management and ultimately, again risk losing share at home because all their resources have been diverted."

To better familiarise Singapore SMEs with the demands overseas, ASME will double its trade missions to over 20 this year to countries like China, Vietnam and even Uzbekistan. - CNA/vm

Violence Against Women

via CAAI News Media

Provided by UNFPA
Friday, June 4

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) held Preliminary Dissemination Workshop on the National Research on Domestic Violence against Women in Georgia - the first initiative to generate nation-wide evidence-based results on the prevalence, causes and consequences of domestic violence at the Courtyard Marriott On May 27-28. The research was carried out in partnership with the ACT Research and the Centre for Social Sciences and is the first initiative to generate nation-wide evidence-based results on the prevalence, causes and consequences of domestic violence in Georgia.

As the survey revealed, among women who have ever been married every eleventh woman has been a victim of physical violence. 35% of women report on having experience acts of violence intended to control their behavior. e.g. 29% of women are not allowed to have relations with family, 11,6% need permission to use medical services from their husbands and 11,1% of women say they are forbidden to talk to another man. This data points that women are more open to talk about the forms of violence which are socially acceptable and are trying to hide the truth when it comes to physical and sexual abuse (because of fear and shame).

Another important finding of this survey is women’s perception of a family being a secret place, where anything can happen inside, but should never be put outside for discussion or public debate. 78,3% of surveyed think that domestic violence problems should remain within the family and should not be discussed publically. This kind of perception is one of the factors that hinder effective fight against domestic violence. 34,1% of women justify husband beating his wife in certain cases such as cases of adultery, disobedience etc.

Interestingly, domestic violence against women is closely related to the educational level. The lower is the educational level of woman, higher is the percentage of such actions, for instance, 60% of women with incomplete secondary education become subject to their husbands’ control more often than women with complete secondary, professional or higher educational levels (35%).

The Preliminary Dissemination Workshop aimed at presenting and summarizing survey findings and elaborating relevant recommendations to inform the formulation and refinement of policies and action plans as well as advocacy and public awareness-raising campaigns on gender-based and domestic violence in the country.

The results have revealed the truth about the phenomenon of violence against women and has documented that it is a widespread problem throughout Georgia requiring stronger governmental policy and active public awareness campaigns to empower women and increase their awareness about their rights, remedies for protection and help available for victims. As the research has shown increasing women’s participation in public life, improving their access to education and workplace and establishing equal rights and opportunities for women and men is the key to combating violence against women.

The research was based on the methodology elaborated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) within the framework of the Norwegian Government and the UNFPA co-funded project “Combating Gender-Based Violence in the South Caucasus” which is a multi-pronged, 3 year project contributing to the national response to gender-based violence in the three countries of the South Caucasus – Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. The survey report will be available publically soon.

U.N. agency in Cambodia appeals for better care of women, girls

via CAAI News Media

June 04, 2010

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) appealed to the world leaders to pay more care and support to the women and girls in Cambodia.

In a statement on Friday, UNFPA said the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth threaten women's lives every single day.

It said, "Though in Cambodia we have seen a two-fold increase in births attended by skilled health personnel in a decade -- progress we can all be proud of -- five women still die giving life every day, and many still lack access to essential reproductive and maternal health services."

The appeal titled "Delivering a better future for women and girls" was made just a few days ahead of the leaders from around the world to get together at the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, D.C. on June 7-9, to renew their commitments toward improving reproductive and maternal health, improving gender equality and accelerating progress toward MDG 5.

The Cambodian delegation will include Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister for Women's Affairs, Khuon Sudary and Ouk Damry, both are members of the National Assembly, Khloth Tongphka, member of the Senate, and officials from the Ministry of Health, UNFPA Representative to Cambodia Ms. Alice Levisay, and NGO representatives.

The statement said that women are a driving force in Cambodian society and in the Cambodian economy.

"When women aren't healthy, their families, their communities and the country suffer," it said.

Women Deliver representatives will call on governments, multilateral organizations, donors and non-governmental organizations to redouble their commitments and translate talk about reproductive and maternal health into action.

"Women deliver not only babies. They deliver enormous social and economic benefits to their families, communities and nations. All research shows that it pays off to invest in women. But they need to be healthy and alive to thrive and contribute," says President of the Women Deliver Initiative, Jill Sheffield.

The Women Deliver Initiative was launched at a conference held in London from October 2007 to mark the 20th anniversary of global efforts to reduce high rates of maternal and newborn death and disability in the developing world.

Source: Xinhua

Newport dentist set for Cambodia mercy mission

via CAAI News Media

A NEWPORT dentist is about to embark on a two-week trip to Cambodia where he will help treat patients with cleft lips and palates.

Keith Morgan, 51, who runs Malpas Dental Practice, will join a team of cosmetic surgeons from charity Operation Smile, to help fix the teeth of men, women and children who are undergoing the operation.

The father-of-four will also climb aboard a United States Navy hospital ship, which spends up to five months of the year treating patients all around the world, to perform procedures on people in remote locations who would otherwise not get the treatment they need.

Mr Morgan, of Langstone, got involved in the organisation on the recommendation of a friend who worked for the US Navy two years ago.

On his first trip in 2008 he travelled to Papua New Guinea, followed by Kenya in 2009, helping to treat around 100 patients each time.

Mr Morgan, who also runs a dental surgery in Cwmbran, said he was looking forward to jetting off in two weeks time. He said: "It really is a life-changing thing for these people.

"It is a great opportunity to help people in the third world who would not get this done otherwise."

Flying high in Phnom Penh

Photo by: Sovan Pilong

via CAAI News Media

Friday, 04 June 2010 15:00 Chhay Channyda

Workers on Thursday put finishing touches on the capital’s first sky bridge, which will link Norodom Boulevard with National Road 2 heading towards Kandal province’s Takhmao town. Meanchey district Governor Kouch Chamroeun said that the sky bridge would be officially opened on June 24 at a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “This bridge will help to ease traffic for people in and out of Phnom Penh,” Kouch Chamroeun said. Construction of the 380-by-14-metre sky bridge began in May 2009, and was set to cost US$6 million. Kouch Chamroeun noted that the city is planning two more sky bridges – one of which, officials said last month, would extend from near the corner of Kampuchea Krom Boulevard and Street 169 to the Boeung Kak lake development site.

SRP blocked on Takeo border visit

Photo by: Heng Chivon
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Tok Vanchan of Takeo province crosses a river in Borei Cholsa district’s Chey Chauk commune on Thursday, after a police blockade prevented a group of lawmakers from using the nearby bridge.

via CAAI News Media

Friday, 04 June 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

Takeo Province

POLICE in Takeo province on Thursday prevented a delegation of Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers from visiting a site along the Vietnamese border in Takeo’s Borei Cholsa district, in the latest in a series of showdowns between the opposition and the government over alleged Vietnamese encroachment.

Last week, Borei Cholsa residents complained that newly planted border posts along the Vietnamese frontier had cut off large portions of their farmland. Provincial authorities, they said, had prevented them from examining the border posts and had threatened them with imprisonment if they were to protest. Takeo provincial Governor Srey Ben said Wednesday that Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities had only been on a surveying mission in the area, and had not yet planted permanent border markers.

On Thursday, 20 SRP parliamentarians and around 100 supporters attempted to visit the border posts in question, but were confronted in Borei Cholsa’s Chey Chauk commune by around 30 provincial and military police and about 50 local residents who prevented them from going farther. The two sides exchanged words heatedly before the SRP delegation turned back.

“The SRP does not have permission from the government, so we do not permit them to enter,” Chey Chauk commune chief Tuon Vanhorm said.

“Let me see a letter of permission first, and then we will permit the delegation to enter.”

On Tuesday, after being notified about the planned trip to Takeo by the SRP, National Assembly President Heng Samrin wrote a letter in response, saying that he “would not allow and would not be responsible” for the SRP’s trip.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann called the restriction of the delegation’s movements “illegal” and said that the ruling Cambodian People’s Party had paid off local villagers to join the blockade.

“This is intimidation,” Yim Sovann said. “They have illegally blocked the people’s representatives from fulfilling their duty.”

The SRP has made alleged Vietnamese encroachment along the border one of its signature issues since October, when opposition leader Sam Rainsy led local residents in uprooting border posts in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district that he claimed had been planted illegally. In January, the Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced Sam Rainsy to two years in prison in connection with the incident, and two Chantrea residents who took part in the protest received one-year jail terms.

Sam Rainsy, who has been travelling abroad since last year, was charged in March with falsifying public documents and spreading disinformation after he staged several video press conferences arguing his case and highlighting the border issue.
Var Kimhong, the government’s senior official in charge of border affairs, declined to comment on Thursday about the SRP’s trip and about the border-demarcation process more generally.

“I gave, already, all this information,” Var Kimhong said, referring to a November appearance before the National Assembly in which he defended the government’s approach to demarcation of its eastern border. “I don’t want to repeat again, again, again.”

Var Kimhong told the assembly in November that 140 of 375 planned border markers had been planted along Cambodia’s and Vietnam’s 1,270-kilometre shared border, a process that began in 2006 and is set to be finished by 2012.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said local authorities needed to prove that the SRP members were a security threat in order to legally justify restricting their movements. The government, he added, risked drawing more attention to the Vietnamese border by continuing to stifle discussion about it.

“If they act like this, then maybe people will still be suspicious about the problems along the border, so I think it is not a good way,” Sok Sam Oeun said.

Puon Pon, a Borei Cholsa district resident who joined the group blocking the SRP delegation, said he did not believe the farmland of local villagers had been significantly affected by the new border posts.

“They were planted in rice fields, but that land does not belong to anyone – it is state land,” Puon Pon said.

But Keo Kim, a Borei Cholsa resident who joined the SRP delegation, said the border posts would cost him all 2.5 hectares of his farmland if they became permanent. Police in Takeo, he added, had unjustly prevented the SRP delegation from investigating the issue.

“If the markers that they have planted are made official, my land will be totally lost,” Keo Kim said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE AND CHHAY CHANNYDA IN PHNOM PENH

$1.1 billion pledged in donor aid


via CAAI News Media

Friday, 04 June 2010 15:02 SEBASTIAN STRANGIO AND NGUON SOVAN

INTERNATIONAL donors have pledged a record US$1.1 billion in development assistance for the upcoming 18-month period, following a two-day government-donor forum that wrapped up in the capital Thursday.

At the close of the third Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum (CDCF), Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon hailed the outcome of the talks.

“The meetings have been conducted successfully for all of Cambodia’s donors, development partners and development partners from civil society,” he told reporters.

“This financing responds to the need for the development of the National Strategic Development Plan for this year.”

Keat Chhon said Japan was again the largest donor. He declined, however, to give more details about the $1.1 billion pledges, saying, “We cannot disclose the breakdown of how much each country is providing to Cambodia.”

Areas of focus in the government’s development agenda, he said, were “roads, water, human resources and electricity”.

During Thursday’s meeting, delegates discussed anticorruption measures, judicial reform and measures to improve aid effectiveness.

The $1.1 billion pledge – which surpasses the $951.5 million pledged at the last CDCF in December 2008 – comes amid mounting calls for international donors to pressure the government to meet good governance reform benchmarks.

On Tuesday, 15 local NGOs said donors should “take responsibility and speak out against the deterioration of rights and democracy in Cambodia”. Doing nothing, they added, could be seen as “tantamount to complicity”.

A series of 20 NGO position papers released last week said land rights and resource-revenue transparency should be key areas of focus.

Eleanor Nichol, a campaigner for UK-based watchdog Global Witness, described the CDCF meetings as a “mass exercise in intellectual dishonesty” that resulted in little concrete action on the ground.

Despite years of government-donor talks, she said, hundreds of millions of dollars in resource revenues have not appeared in national accounts.

“I’m absolutely astounded that in a year that’s been an annus horribilis in terms of corruption, donors have decided to up the amount of support they are giving the government,” she said.

“We’re not having anything like the sense of outrage that one would expect to find in a case where there’s been pilfering on a grand scale.”

Qimiao Fan, the World Bank’s country manager, said in an address Thursday that “transparency and accountability in the management of public finances and natural resources” were critical issues in CDCF discussions.

Speaking on the sidelines of Thursday’s meeting, Japanese ambassador Masafumi Kuroki said Tokyo had pledged $130 million at this year’s CDCF. He added that there is room for improvement in aid effectiveness.

“There is already increased monitoring of aid between the government and development partners, and I think we need to further promote this process,” he said.

US Embassy spokesman John Johnson said the US government had earmarked $68.5 million in aid for fiscal year 2010.

The European Union pledged around $60 million to the government, with EU member states supplying an additional $190 million, said Rafael Dochao Moreno, charge d’affairs of the EU Delegation to Cambodia.

Of this figure, UK ambassador Andrew Mace said his government had pledged around $33 million for 2010 after two days of “open and constructive dialogue” with the government.

“All the issues that were raised by civil society were on the agenda and were discussed,” he added.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the $1.1 billion pledge was “not a surprise”, and that human rights and democracy were not high on the agendas of Western donor countries.

But without an emphasis on issues such as land-tenure security and good governance, he said, little can be done to fight poverty.

“You can spend all the money you want to develop the agriculture sector, but if land is being grabbed and people don’t believe in the system – if they don’t feel secure – you’re not going to succeed at poverty reduction,” he said.

Nichol said donors have been making statements of intent for years, to little avail.

But others said donors play an important role in creating a bridge between the government and civil society through the CDCF process.

“To ensure aid effectiveness... civil society organisations need to be more active participants in the process itself,” said Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia.

PM vows to fight corruption

Photo by: Uy Nousereimony
Hun Sen speaks during a graduation ceremony Thursday at the National Institute of Education.

via CAAI News Media

Friday, 04 June 2010 15:02 Cheang Sokha

GOVERNMENT officials caught engaging in corrupt practices will be swiftly prosecuted under the Kingdom’s new Anticorruption Law, Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed Thursday.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony for students from the Royal School of Administration, the premier urged officials to stamp out corruption in all its forms, and called institutional graft “a dangerous disease”.

“I am optimistic that we still have the capacity to fight against this dangerous disease,” Hun Sen said. “Corruption will damage our institutions.”

But the premier also defended the Kingdom’s police, military and government institutions, saying that most officials do not engage in corruption.

“People who commit corruption, they do it secretly. But be aware that other people working with you will find some way to know about it,” he said.

Cambodia is regarded as one of the most corrupt nations in the region, according to Transparency International, which ranked the Kingdom 158th out of 180 countries in its 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Observers have questioned whether the Anticorruption Law, passed earlier this year, will give officials enough tools to effectively and thoroughly combat graft.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said he is concerned the new law lacks safeguards to protect whistle-blowers. Particularly troubling, he said, is an article outlining punishments of up to six months in jail or 10 million riels (US$2,386) in fines for complaints that lead to “useless inquiry”.

“This makes it a problem for the public to report about corrupt people,” Yong Kim Eng said.

It also remains to be seen whether the new Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) will be able to ensure witness confidentiality, he said, or whether the unit will be sufficiently independent – both politically and financially, since it falls under the auspices of the Council of Ministers – to carry out investigations.

After the law was passed in March, ACU officials acknowledged that extensive training would be required for those tasked with fighting graft.

Deputy Director Chhay Savuth said Thursday that the body was still in the process of “forming an internal structure”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY IRWIN LOY

Union leader agrees to postpone strike


via CAAI News Media

Friday, 04 June 2010 15:02 TEP NIMOL AND IRWIN LOY

LABOUR Ministry officials have urged garment workers not to strike, after a prominent union leader threatened to do so as part of a campaign to raise the sector’s minimum wage.

In a letter addressed “to all workers” and sent to the Post Thursday, the ministry’s Labour Advisory Committee warned that union members should consider launching a strike only after attempts at agreeing on a new minimum wage have been exhausted.

“The Labour Advisory Committee would like to call for all workers to practise their rights properly, according to the law,” reads the letter, which was signed by Labour Minister Vong Soth.

The letter comes after Chea Mony, the head of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia (FTUWKC), threatened to strike if the ministry and an industry association, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), failed to respond to union requests to boost garment workers’ minimum wages to US$70 per month from the current $50.

Union representatives and employers previously agreed to renegotiate minimum-wage standards in garment factories by the end of this year.

But Chea Mony said Thursday that his union’s 86,000 workers can’t afford to wait.

“If we keep waiting for negotiations, one year will be lost uselessly,” said Chea Mony, who called the potential strike his “last achievement in helping workers” before his planned departure from the union at the end of the month.

He said the strike is still a possibility, but that he will wait for a response from GMAC before setting a date.

But it appears not everyone in the Kingdom’s vast labour movement is on the same page.

Tep Kim Vannary, president of the Cambodian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (CFITU), said she would not support a strike because negotiations with employers have yet to begin.

Kong Atith, vice president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union (CCAWDU), said that he regards a strike as a “last choice”.

The demands of the CFITU and the CCAWDU also differ from the FTU. Instead of $70 per month, both unions are asking for wages of $93.

Ken Loo, GMAC’s secretary-general, urged patience in advance of negotiations.

“We have till the end of the year to complete such negotiations and as such, have a good seven months left,” Loo said in an email, describing the current situation as a “preparatory phase”.

He said the multitude of unions in the sector – there were 237 operating in the garment sector alone last year, according to an International Labour Organisation report – complicates the situation.

“It is close to impossible when GMAC has to deal with negotiating with so many unions who each have different demands,” Loo said.

One industry observer said the various unions must be in agreement if they hope to secure satisfactory concessions for their members.

“The unions should be united in order to get one voice and have specific proposals,” said Moeun Tola, the head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre.

He, too, said the FTUWKC threats may be premature in light of the fact that negotiations have not even begun.

“The unions have the right to strike and the right to protest, but that should be the last option in my opinion,” he said. “There have been no consultations or negotiations ... yet.”

Russey Keo road project queried

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Construction workers on Thursday prepare land for the widening of National Road 6. Villagers living along the road have requested that the project be scaled back.

via CAAI News Media

Friday, 04 June 2010 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

NATIONAL Assembly President Heng Samrin has written a letter urging officials in Russey Keo district to consider scaling back a planned road expansion in response to a request from villagers who say they fear they will lose their homes if current plans for the project go forward.

About 100 families stand to be affected by plans to widen a 4-kilometre section of National Road 6 by 60 metres, said villagers who protested in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home in Kandal province’s Takhmao town on Thursday.

A May 25 letter signed by Heng Samrin, a copy of which was obtained Thursday, said local officials should consider a request from the families to widen the road by only 27.5 metres.

“The villagers are certainly concerned about the loss of their homes due to this project, which is why they suggested expanding the road by only 27.5 metres total,” he said.

Sueng Phun, a representative of families living in Chroy Changvar commune, said Thursday that limiting the expansion to 15 metres on each side would spare some of the homes, and that others could be disassembled and moved back from the road.

“This plan will seriously affect our homes,” he said, “so we are seeking intervention from [Prime Minister Hun Sen] to reduce the road expansion from 60 metres to less than 30 metres.”

But Kop Sleh, deputy governor of Russey Keo district, said the families are living illegally along the roadside, and that only 80 homes would be affected if plans for the 60-metre widening go forward.

“Currently, the project will affect only 80 homes of people who are living on the sidewalk, which is a violation. However, we are still resolving their concerns,” he said.

Nhem Saran, director of the Municipal Department of Public Works and Transport, said US$143,199 had been allocated for the project.

Thais abused riot suspect, embassy says


via CAAI News Media

Friday, 04 June 2010 15:01 James O'Toole

THAI police beat and extracted a forced confession from a Cambodian man detained during riots in Bangkok last month, the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok alleged in a statement this week.

In a letter to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated Tuesday, the embassy said that San Moniphet, a Battambang native who Cambodian officials say was arrested by Thai police in Bangkok on May 19 and accused of arson, had been subject to violent treatment in “gross violation of international law”.

“Mr San Moniphet informed the representative of the Royal Embassy of Cambodia who visited him in police custody that he was only standing near the scene and watching the burning building when the police arrested him,” the statement reads.

“He still insisted on his innocence despite being violently forced to confess by the police with beating on his mouth and chest.”

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Thursday that Cambodian officials had yet to be informed about charges or a trial date for San Moniphet. Embassy officials in Bangkok, Koy Kuong added, had secured a lawyer for San Moniphet and were helping to prepare his case.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi called the allegations from the embassy “very serious” and said the Thai judicial system would settle the matter.

“The case is now subject to judicial process, and we have confidence that all suspects will be given due process and be given fair treatment,” he said.

San Moniphet has lived in Thailand for about five years and had been working at a beverage shop in Bangkok, Cambodian officials have said. He was allegedly arrested outside the shop during riots in the Thai capital that left 89 dead and over 1,900 injured.

Tith Sothea, a member of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit at the Council of Ministers, said after San Moniphet’s arrest that Thai police reportedly confiscated a lighter, pieces of clothing and fuel from the suspect at the scene.

Vice raid leads to eight arrests

Photo by: Pha Lina
Motorists and a child pass by a coffee shop on Sisowath Quay on Thursday, one day after it was raided by Srak Chork commune and Daun Penh district police on suspicion of prostitution.

via CAAI News Media

Friday, 04 June 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

POLICE in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on Wednesday raided a coffee shop in Srak Chork commune suspected of doubling as a brothel, arresting the owner, three Vietnamese women believed to have been working as prostitutes and four male customers, as part of a continued crackdown on vice in the capital.

Commune police Chief Touch Sarin said his officers had collaborated with district police before carrying out the raid, which took place in the afternoon. He said the owner and the three suspected prostitutes were being held at the district police station, but that the four men had been released Wednesday evening.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has issued multiple calls for officials to raid venues suspected of permitting gambling, drug use and prostitution this year, saying the crackdown should be ongoing and likening it at one point to “drizzling rain”.

Though he could not provide official statistics, Touch Sarin said “multiple raids” had taken place recently in his commune alone. “We will always crack down on these private brothels like drizzling rain, and we have operated multiple raids on these illegal places,” he said. “We have seen that it has been reduced, while legitimate massage parlours and coffee shops still remain open for business.”

Em Saroeun, deputy district police chief, said the three alleged prostitutes and the shop’s female owner were still in detention and would soon be sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for further questioning.

Yin Chanthy, one of the four detained customers, accused police of being overzealous and denied any involvement in the purchase of prostitution.

“I didn’t come here to have sex with the prostitutes,” he said. “I really didn’t know it was a brothel. I just came here to find shelter from the heavy rain and to have coffee with three other men.”

Trade competitiveness falls

Photo by: Nguon Sovan
Port workers tend to shipping containers at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in 2008.

Trading up
How does Asia rate?

Cambodia dropped 11 places to rank the lowest of Asian countries surveyed on the ease of conducting trade and business, due mainly to graft issues.
Rank Country Change
1. Singapore (same)
30. Malaysia (-2)
60. Thailand (-10)
68. Indonesia (-6)
71. Vietnam (+18)
92. Philippines (-10)
102. Cambodia (-11)
Source: WEF

via CAAI News Media

Friday, 04 June 2010 15:01 Catherine James

Survey sees improvement, but Kingdom’s regional ranking drops

CAMBODIA’S trade access and general business environment are improving, but its desirability as a trading partner has dropped, particularly compared to its regional neighbours, according to a report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) Thursday.

Cambodia fell 11 places in a WEF survey on trade facilitation – dropping from number 91 to 102 out of 125 countries and ranking the lowest among Asian countries – despite increasing its score across the survey’s key areas.

The report, titled “Enabling Trade in the Greater ASEAN Region”, examined market access, border administration, transport, communications infrastructure and the overall business environment.

“If you look at Cambodia’s scorecard, it has actually improved overall, moving from 3.5 to 3.6 on a scale of one [worst] to seven [best],” the report’s co-author, Theirry Geiger, told the Post. “But even if you improve in the score you can still fall in ranking because other countries improve more than you.

“This is where the corruption is a huge drag on Cambodia’s performance. Irregular payments, lack of transparency, unpredictability – how many days depending on how much you pay – we give these considerations quite a lot of weight,” Geiger added.

However, he pointed out that the overall score for corruption had slightly improved. Another concern is transport infrastructure, for which Cambodia ranked 116th, Geiger said.

“When it comes to being able to transport across the country, it’s important, and in this regard Cambodia ranks pretty low,” he said. “So it dropped 10 places, but again, it has improved slightly on the scorecard.”

The report said Cambodia’s “most notable strength regionally was in the market-access component”, ranking 40th worldwide. However, in terms of corruption it still ranks “among the highest”, at 120.

Among ASEAN members, Singapore was the standout performer in the region, maintaining the world number-one rank it took last year.

Vietnam showed the most improvement, jumping from 89 last year to 71, mainly on the strength of its “improved market access”, Geiger said. Yet Vietnam was ranked 50 for market access, behind Cambodia.

The report said Cambodia’s market access score was high because “the tariff structure is relatively simple (30th) with no tariff peaks and only four distinct tariffs across all lines.

“Cambodia enjoys favourable conditions for accessing foreign markets (sixth) with tariffs averaging 4.7 percent (fourth).” The barriers to trading include inefficient border administration (96th) where “procedures to import and export are burdensome, numerous and lengthy”.

“In addition Cambodia’s limited logistics capabilities and restricted connectivity result in delays, numerous hassles and high shipping costs.”

Ministry of Commerce Secretary of State Ok Boung said the government is working at facilitating trade, but admitted there is more that can be done. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MAY KUNMAKARA