Monday, 23 August 2010

Disregarding or Facing Agreements in the Press? – Sunday, 22.8.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

via Khmer NZ

Posted on 23 August 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 678

The Mirror was created to mirror the Khmer language press – that is to focus on important dynamics in society, as they are reflected in the press. That includes also to observe when there seem to be discrepancies between different streams of reporting. And it includes also to observe what seems not to be reported in the Khmer language press, though one would expect it.

Monitoring what is going on includes also to observe the reaction to one’s own publication. The main website of The Mirror by now gets up to 10,000 visits per month (it started in January 2007 with zero – replacing the former edition printed on paper).

While observing this wide interest with satisfaction, it is also disappointing to see that some important pieces of information, related to the conflicts with Thailand, are regularly not reported in the Khmer press. If this impression is wrong, we would appreciate to be informed which publications and public documents in the Khmer press we missed. The Mirror does not have access to confidential information; what we use and quote is publicly available, especially on the Internet.

In response to careful, detailed documentations, where we asked for specific responses, if our documentation is deficient, so that we can correct and improve it, there was either no response – and the public debate continues as if it were not missing some important points – or I get mail saying just “You are completely wrong!” I do not mind to get such mail, if it points to where I am wrong – I appreciate corrections.

Therefore I am repeating here some essential points, and I will do so until they are receiving proper attention in the present situation of tensions.

I was utterly surprised, talking recently to a friend who is a regular reader: when I mentioned some of the facts which had been on The Mirror repeatedly, he had obviously missed them. He thought the controversies about the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage list were related to Thailand referring to maps drawn by Thailand, and therefore Thailand was denying that the whole area around the Temple of Preah Vihear was designated a World Heritage Site.

The contrary is true, according to the documents. Emphasis in the following sections is added during editing.

For Preah Vihear

From the Cambodian 2008 submission document, THE TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR – Proposed for the inscription on the World Heritage List (UNESCO), Edited by the Council of Ministers, PHNOM PENH, JUNE 2008:

On 6 May 2008 His Excellency Mr. SOK An, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, welcomed his Excellency Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand… The meeting was conducted in a fruitful and constructive atmosphere to discuss ways and means of strengthening the neighborly cooperation for a further reach for long lasting cooperation between Cambodia and Thailand… The Kingdom of Cambodia strongly stresses that the inscription of the Temple of Preah Vihear is without prejudice to the demarcation work of the Cambodian-Thai Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) between Cambodia and Thailand; and the zoning (“Zonage” in French) stipulated in the document submitted by Cambodia to UNESCO shall not be considered as boundary line.

And finally, during a meeting in Paris (France) on 22 May 2008 between a Cambodian delegation led by His Excellency Mr. SOK An,…The Kingdom of Thailand reconfirmed its support for the Heritage Committee to be held in Quebec, Canada in July 2008. For its part, the Kingdom of Cambodia, in a spirit of goodwill and conciliation, accepted to inscribe the Temple of Preah Vihear on the List of the World Heritage, at this stage, without a buffer zone on the north and west of the Temple.

On 18 June 2008, a Joint Communique was signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, including a map presented and signed by Mr. Var Kim Hong, the Head of the Cambodian Border Committee, which was – as far as we know – never presented in the media in Cambodia (again – any correction of this information is welcome), but it was repeatedly in The Mirror, including the Cambodian proposed map for the listing, the last time here. The text says the following:

1. The Kingdom of Thailand supports the inscription, at the 32th session of the World Heritage Committee (Québec, Canada, July 2008), of the Temple of Preah Vihear on the World Heritage List proposed by the Kingdom of Cambodia, the perimeter of which is identified as N. 1 in the map prepared by the Cambodian authorities and herewith attached. The map also includes, identified as N.2, a buffer zone to the East and South of the Temple.

2. In the spirit of goodwill and conciliation, the Kingdom of Cambodia accepts that the Temple of Preah Vihear be nominated for inscription on the World Heritage List without at this stage a buffer zone on the northern and western areas of the Temple.

3. The map mentioned in paragraph 1 above shall supersede the maps concerning and including the “Schéma Directeur pour le Zonage de Preah Vihear” as well as all the graphic references indicating the “core zone” and other zoning (zonage) of the Temple of Preah Vihear site in Cambodia’s nomination file;..”

This is the last public map, a Cambodian map, which was to “supersede” – that is: to replace – the formerly used Cambodian maps.

As a consequence, this was decided:

The World Heritage Committee,

9. Notes that the property proposed for inscription is reduced and comprises only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves;…

14. Requests the State Party of Cambodia, in collaboration with UNESCO, to convene an international coordinating committee for the safeguarding and development of the property no later than February 2009, inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand and not more than seven other appropriate international partners,…

15. Requests the State Party of Cambodia to submit to the World Heritage Center, by 1 February 2009, the following documents: c) Confirmation that the management zone for the property will include the inscribed property and buffer zone identified in the RGPP [“revised graphic plan of the property”]; d) progress report on the preparation of the Management Plan)


All these points were to be implemented after convening this international coordinating committee, inviting the Government of Thailand and others, to work together and to present their results.

Questions:

- Why is the discussion in the Khmer media not referring to the official documents about the listing of the Temple of Preah Vihear, clearly limited in nature: “only the Temple of Preah Vihear and not the wider promontory with its cliffs and caves.” This is not based on a map unilaterally drawn by Thailand, but it relates to what the Cambodian side had officially brought to the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There is nothing to be discussed with Thailand.”

- Why are the Khmer media disregarding that there were – from the beginning – the following requests by the World Heritage Committee: “to convene an international coordinating committee… inviting the participation of the Government of Thailand… [to provide the expected results] – a) a provisional map providing additional details of the inscribed property and a map delineating the buffer zone…” It has never been reported in the press that the Cambodian Government did invite the Thai Government according to this request by the World Heritage Committee. – There were even statements from people in official positions saying: “There are no buffer zones.”

Reading the documents, it seems that Thailand is not insisting on some unilaterally drawn Thai maps, but looks forward that the documented decisions of the World Heritage Committee be implemented.

For the Border

This is a different legal issue from the World Heritage Listing (though, of course, related).

In order to demarcate the border between the two countries, a Memorandum of Understanding “on the Survey and Demarcation of Land Boundary” was concluded between the two countries in June 2000, long before the Preah Vihear World Heritage Listing was on the agenda of the relevant UNESCO committee. This Memorandum is related to the whole stretch of the border. That the whole length of the approximately 800 km border is to be demarcated shows that both sides agreed that this is not yet done – there is not yet mutually agreed border. Both sides agreed on this – otherwise they would not have signed this joint agreement.

While there is frequent reference to this Memorandum of Understanding from 2000 in the Khmer press, it was quite difficult to find it in Cambodia, also consulting with several persons from the media did not help. One e-mail request to a friend in Thailand immediately provided a source on the Internet.

But there is a noteworthy difference in the handling of the related task: While in Thailand, related government officials and agencies are accountable to the Thai National Assembly about what they do related to the border – the executive is monitored by the legislative – we are not aware that either the Cambodian National Assembly nor the Khmer press have requested similar information to monitor the activities of the Cambodian government officials and agencies involved. The different legal arrangements under the different constitutions of both countries result in different procedures.

Shortly after Prime Minister Hun Sen had made his conciliatory declaration about a win-win solution by mutual dialogue without a winner and a loser, several statements from various other sectors of the government were released, strongly blaming Thailand and calling for multilateral negotiations. The Prime Minister added his voice – but more recent news say that there still may be a bilateral meeting between the two prime ministers soon in Brussels at an ASEN meeting.

Whatever the future will bring in terms of bilateral or multilateral meetings – the written submissions and the documented decisions will have to be faced. To continue to disregard them can hardly bring the solution where both sides win, the goal that Prime Minister Hun Sen has seen as important for all.

Vietnam president to visit Cambodia this week

via Khmer NZ

August 23, 2010

Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet is scheduled to pay a three-day state visit to Cambodia this week, according to a government statement released Monday.

The Foreign Ministry's statement said at the invitation of Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, Nguyen Minh Triet, president of Socialist Republic of Vietnam will lead a delegation to pay a state visit to Cambodia from Aug. 26 to Aug. 28.

Nguyen Minh Triet will be received in a royal audience by King Sihamoni in the Royal Palace, and he will be respectively received courtesy calls by Chea Sim, president of the Senate, Heng Samrin, president of the National Assembly, and Hun Sen, prime minister of Cambodia.

During the visit, Ngueyn Minh Triet will attend the opening ceremony of representative office of the Voice of Vietnam based in Phnom Penh and also visit the Cambodian-Vietnamese friendship school, according to the statement.

Source:Xinhua

Cambodians tackle tribunal's legacy after Khmer Rouge trial - Feature

via Khmer NZ

Posted : Mon, 23 Aug 2010
By : Robert Carmichael

Battambang, Cambodia - On the outskirts of the city of Battambang in western Cambodia stands a Buddhist pagoda called Wat Samroung Knong.

These days the pagoda is a tranquil place, but for four years from 1975 the Khmer Rouge turned it into a killing field as they sought to reshape Cambodian society.

It is a the community's religious leader, Acha Thun Sovath, remembers well. In the early 1970s he lived here as a young monk, but the Khmer Rouge forced him to leave the monkhood and work in the rice fields with everyone else.

Wat Samroung Knong became a torture and execution centre. The Khmer Rouge interrogated their prisoners - soldiers, teachers and others - demanding to know what positions they had held under the previous regime.

"When they finished questioning them, they took them to a piece of land behind this pagoda where they killed them," he said.

More then 10,000 people were executed here. It was a brutal time, but try telling that to some of the young people, many of whom simply do not believe Cambodians killed each other, said Acha Thun Sovath.

At the time, neither did he.

"I am now an old man, but in 1974 when I heard people talking about how the Khmer Rouge were killing monks and ordinary people, I didn't believe it either," he said softly.

Today, three decades after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge, the pagoda is the venue for an effort to ensure this community learns about the brutal past.

Built on stilts over what was a mass grave - a deep pond around twice the length of an Olympic-sized swimming pool - a simple wooden structure is nearing completion.

It will be a community learning centre, and fits the concept of legacy projects. They are what is to remain once the international war crimes tribunal in Phnom Penh closes.

Some of the money to build this centre came from the Australian embassy, but the community itself donated materials, time and money.

That gives them an important stake in ensuring it succeeds, said Daravuth Seng, recently executive director of the Center for Justice and Reconciliation, a local non-governmental organization that was also involved in the project.

Seng said the building would provide a gathering space for the community, and would hold information about the Khmer Rouge period.

"So there's opportunity to learn about their past, as well as plan for their future," he said.

The UN-backed tribunal can provide legal justice, which is essential, but that is only one facet of what is needed.

"So more than it being the end, the court is actually the beginning of a process called reconciliation," he said. "Projects like this are very important."

They are also not expensive. Seng reckons it will have cost around 10,000 dollars when it the project finished, which is less than some senior tribunal staff earn in a month.

Other projects are either underway or in the planning stage. One that has started is the virtual tribunal, a database that will hold a digital archive of all court records.

Michelle Staggs Kelsall heads the Khmer Rouge tribunal monitoring section at the East-West Center, a US-based research body.

Two legacy-type projects stand out for her at this tribunal. One is the court's aim to transfer its good judicial practice to Cambodia's domestic court system.

The other is that the tribunal leaves behind a record of what happened during the Khmer Rouge years.

Staggs Kelsall said discussion of the court's legacy has really just started following the completion of its first case, that of Comrade Duch, the former head of S-21, the Khmer Rouge's main torture and execution centre.

"If you look at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court, both have shown more of an interest [in the legacy aspect] the longer they have gone on," she said.

Back at Wat Samroung Knong, Acha Thun Sovath said the centre would prove vital in ensuring the young learn about their past. "We must tell them what happened here under the Khmer Rouge," he said.

Daravuth Seng said the tribunal has shown Cambodians the world is interested in their suffering, which has increased the desire among Cambodians to learn more.

"One reason we had the tribunal was to help people learn from their history and to provide a voice," he said. "And now, here's a permanent voice that will allow the community to teach itself."

In one culture, several generations can live worlds apart

http://www.recordnet.com/

via Khmer NZ

Park Village Apartments resident Sophanary Sok, 23, center, grew up speaking both English and Khmer. Keeping connected to your culture, Sok said, is important to holding families and communities together. Shawn Phang, 14, right, was a friend of Rin Ros, the teenage victim of a fatal Aug. 6 beating at Panella Park. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/The Record

Sophanary Sok and Kunthea Tuy, right, teach Cambodian dance to youths at the Park Village Apartments.  CALIXTRO ROMIAS/The Record

Sophanary Sok walks with her 3-year-old niece, Keomontha Meas, after doing laundry at the Park Village Apartments in Stockton. CALIXTRO ROMIAS/The Record


By Jennifer Torres
Record Staff Writer

August 23, 2010 12:00 AMSTOCKTON - The days since the beating death of 14-year-old Rin Ros have brought grief and disbelief - his aunt, who was his guardian, finds herself calling out to him before realizing again that he isn't there.

But as seven youths - three of them as young as Ros himself, and the rest not much older - face murder charges in his death, there also have risen concerns about Cambodian boys, growing up American in a refugee community, seeking their own identities when cultural and linguistic gulfs often separate them from their parents and other adults.

After school Aug. 6, Ros was in a car at Panella Park when, according to reports, a group of as many as eight or nine people pulled him out and beat and kicked him. The attack was fatal.

At 19, Michael Muy is the among the oldest of those charged in Ros' death.

Kunthea Tuy, a youth leader at the Park Village Apartment complex where Ros lived, said she knows Muy's family; they lived for a time at Park Village, too.

"What happened?" she asked his mother recently. "She said, 'I don't know.' "

In the late 1970s, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge forces took over Cambodia and killed an estimated 2 million people in a campaign of forced labor, starvation and execution.

Thousands fled. More than 150,000 of them were moved to the United States.

Many eventually settled in Stockton, where they formed enclaves, among which Park Village remains one of the largest.

Today, nearly one-quarter of San Joaquin County's Cambodian households remain linguistically isolated, meaning that no adult in the home speaks or understands English very well.

And often, the children don't speak Khmer.

"In this generation of parents ages 30 to 45, they're able to speak the language and understand some basic English," said Sophaline Buth, a liaison to Southeast Asian families in Stockton Unified School District. "But because of the economic crisis, most parents need to go far away to find work. In one family I'm dealing with right now, the father is a truck driver. Mom works late, and they leave their kids with the grandparent. The grandparent doesn't speak the language, and she trusts the grandkids that when they say they are at school, they're at school."

But they aren't at school. Buth broke it to the mother.

"She was in shock," Buth said, " 'Oh, my god. None of my kids are in class?' I said, 'No. Sorry.' "

After Ros' killing, the school district hosted a meeting for Southeast Asian parents where leaders including Buth and Tuy discussed community resources and how to be better aware of their children's behavior.

Problems usually start with poor school attendance, Buth said. She once counseled Ros about missing school. She had a similar conversation with one of the boys accused of killing him.

All of the teens she meets with, she said, are unfailingly polite - "In front of adults, they change their personality" - making it even more challenging for parents to spot potential trouble.

Fundamentally, she said, the problem is one of identity.

"Kids at school, they want to fit in among the majority," she said. "They say, 'I'm American, too.' But their culture, their background, they don't know that. They act out. Later on, when they've been educated, they appreciate who they are. But at the high school level or younger, they just want to fit in with their friends."

Siobhana Hach is 16. Ros was one of her friends.

"The boys, they want to be cool," she said. "Some people are jealous because they can't get this or that. Or they want to prove who's stronger than who."

Shawn Phang, 14, grew up with Ros at Park Village. He learned about his friend's death from adults in the apartment complex.

"When I heard it from the old folks, I really didn't know what they were saying," he said.

When they were younger, he said, he and Ros used to bike or play tag nearly every day.

"I almost grew up with him," Phang said. "I guess he moved on, got new friends."

Tuy said she hopes to restart Cambodian language and culture classes, as well as an after-school program for teenagers at Park Village. The classes stopped because of budget cuts. The program - which used to run from 6 to 9 p.m. - ended for safety reasons after two guards were shot in the complex parking lot in June 2009.

"Now we don't want them to go outside," Tuy said.

Sophanary Sok was folding laundry at Park Village last week. She grew up speaking Khmer and English. Now 23, she teaches Cambodian dance to young girls.

Keeping children connected with their culture will keep them connected to their parents and community, she said.

"That's the only way kids can really learn who they are," Sok said. "You don't want it to fade away. ... It's going to be a regret."

Contact reporter Jennifer Torres at (209) 546-8252 or jtorres@recordnet.com. Visit her blog at recordnet.com/torresblog.

Microfinance Investor BlueOrchard opens its Asian office in Cambodia

http://www.microfinancefocus.com/

via Khmer NZ

Monday, August 23, 2010

Home » Latest News » Microfinance Investor BlueOrchard opens its Asian office in Cambodia
Microfinance Investor BlueOrchard opens its Asian office in Cambodia
Monday, August 23, 2010, 12:11
Latest News
Add a comment ShareMicrofinance Focus, Aug 23, 2010: Geneva based commercial microfinance investor BlueOrchard Finance has recently opened its Asian office in Phnom Penh, Cambodia for strengthening and expanding its presence across the continent.

In Cambodia, BlueOrchard Finance has been actively lending to microfinance institutions since 2001 and has a current investment portfolio of 36 million USD. Across South and South-East Asia, BlueOrchard Finance manages a total of 115 million USD. Worldwide, BlueOrchard manages over 1 billion USD through its existing network in Geneva, New York, Lima, Amsterdam and Bishkek.

BlueOrchard Finance, with its ten-year track record, invests in microfinance institutions that target low income communities. It has proven in a decade that social and economic investment can create solid returns for investors while at the same time transforming the lives of millions of disadvantaged people.

Geert Roosen, CFO, BlueOrchard Finance said from Phnom Penh: “BlueOrchard Finance pioneered debt investing in microfinance for the fund management industry in 2001 and we are today witnessing another milestone which will allow us to strengthen our presence and drive our expansion in Asia. Being present in this rapidly evolving market is a must to serve our global investors and local investments.”

Commenting on BlueOrchard Finance’s expansion strategy in Asia, Melchior de Muralt, Vice Chairman of BlueOrchard Finance’s Board of Directors and driving force behind its Asian expansion strategy commented from the Cambodian capital: “Further Asian projects will be launched in the coming months as we see great opportunities both on the fundraising and on the placement side. Indeed, double bottom line investing might well become part of the Asian investors’ mindset as increased interest of Asian second generation family offices, foundations and institutional investors show. On the investment side future projects in China and India are being investigated together with respective local partners.”

Cambodia’s NagaCorp Shuns ‘Explosive’ Asian Growth

via Khmer NZ

23 Aug, 2010 / GamblingCompliance / Daniel Macadam

Gaming analysts are split over the future prospects of Cambodian casino operator NagaCorp, after the company said it had shifted its focus away from junket-led business, spurning the sort of “explosive growth” seen by other Asian operators.

NagaCorp exceeded analysts’ expectations last week with an impressive 77.1 percent EBITDA increase to US$30.1m in the first half of the year. Shares in Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp rallied almost 30 percent on Wednesday, as the company also announced a 6.5 percent increase in net revenues to $67.8m.

Analysts at Las Vegas-based advisory firm Union Gaming praised the results and were optimistic about continuing growth at NagaCorp, which holds a monopoly to operate casinos within a 200km radius of the Cambodian capital Phnom Phen until 2035, pointing again to the company’s relative undervaluation compared to its Asian peers.

By contrast analysts at Hong Kong-based investment boutique Sun Hung Kai Financial dismissed NagaCorp’s growth story as “unexciting”, precisely because of its emphasis on mass market over junket players.

NagaCorp recorded EBITDA margins of 44.4 percent, up from 26.7 percent in the same period last year, and put the increase down to its increased focus on mass market play and mid-range junket players who come without commission earning middlemen.

“The solid results from our public floor and gaming machines business means that we are significantly less reliant on the junket business, where margins are relatively thin due to commissions payable to junket operators,” NagaCorp said in its half year report.

Junket business at the company’s flagship NagaWorld casino in Phnom Phen fell 41 percent year on year to $20.2m, and accounted for under a third of the company’s business, compared to 53.6 percent last year.

“Our focus is on sustaining our junket business on our terms, which includes a very conservative credit policy and relatively low table limit,” NagaCorp added.

“Our business remodelling strategy is focused on sustainable, predictable results for our shareholders, not the explosive growth many other gaming operators seek.”

Analysts have extolled the virtues of NagaCorp’s 1.7 percent junket commission, which offers junkets a higher rate than the 1.25 percent that Macau operators are currently capped at.

“Naga seems unwilling to capitalise on its competitive advantages of low costs and ability to offer high commissions to agents,” Eva Yip, analyst at Hong Kong-based investment boutique Sun Hung Kai Financial, said in a daily note.

“It only offers credit terms to one junket, and this lack of flexibility seems likely to limit growth potential.”

Yip added that NagaCorp’s switch of focus from junkets to local patrons, combined with a rolling back on large capital expenditure projects, could help boost earnings and generate cash flow, but made for unexciting growth prospects.

Sun Hung Kai Financial upgraded its forecast for NagaCorp’s full year 2010-11 earnings by 11 to 13 percent, and analysts at Las Vegas-based Union Gaming similarly raised their full year earnings forecast to predict EBITDA growth of 60 percent.

But Union Gaming’s Bill Lerner was more optimistic about the Cambodian locals market than Yip, arguing that the lucrative expat market was growing on the back of an influx of new foreign businesses into the country.

Only foreign passport holders are allowed to gamble in Cambodia, so a 42 percent increase in foreign company registrations so far this year will benefit NagaCorp’s flagship casino in Phnom Phen, according to Lerner.

According to NagaCorp’s report, the number of tourists visiting Cambodia increased by 11.5 percent in the first five months of the year to 1.1 million, and the casino operator continued to benefit proportionally from the tourism growth.

Cambodia’s visitation figures lagged behind many of its key Asian competitors for gaming tourists, though, as tourism increased 26.7 percent in Singapore and 51 percent in Malaysia in June.

Both Yip and Lerner pointed out that NagaCorp trades at a sizable discount to its Asian peers, with a 4.7 times 2010 EV/EBITDA consensus compared to the Asian group average of 12.5x.

Cambodia’s lower tourism figures are a factor, and Lerner listed country risk, NagaCorp’s reliance on NagaWorld, limited liquidity and investor unfamiliarity with NagaCorp as other reasons for the lower valuation.

“We believe that NagaCorp shares should trade at a discount to its Asian peers, although not at such a substantial discount,” Lerner said.

Instead, he suggested NagaCorp deserves “at least the same valuation as Genting Malaysia”, which trades at 6.8 times 2010 EV/EBITDA, because the Cambodian casino operator’s growth is not tied to increases in local or regional GDP unlike Genting Malaysia.

Cambodia, Thailand to resume ties after Thaksin quits

http://www.worldbulletin.net/

via Khmer NZ

Cambodian government announced former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra had resigned as Cambodia's economic advisor.

Monday, 23 August 2010 13:54

Thailand will resume diplomatic ties with Cambodia from Tuesday, the Thai government said after the Cambodian government announced former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra had resigned as Cambodia's economic advisor.

Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors from each others' countries on Nov. 5 after Cambodia appointed Thaksin an economic adviser in late October, a move that heightened tension between the neighbours.

"They have announced that they do not have any more ties with Thaksin so our condition to hold back a diplomat has ended," Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya told Reuters.

"Thailand will send our diplomat back tomorrow. Similarly, Cambodia will also send its diplomat back to Thailand."

Ex-Thai PM quits as Cambodia's economics adviser

Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives abroad to avoid a jail term in Thailand for corruption


via Khmer NZ

PHNOM PENH — The Cambodian government said Monday that fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra had resigned as its economics adviser -- a role that had fanned tensions between the two nations.

Phnom Penh said Thaksin, who was ousted in a 2006 coup and lives abroad to avoid a jail term in Thailand for corruption, had stepped down "because of personal difficulties in fulfilling his role completely".

The appointment, announced in November 2009, came amid strained ties between the two countries because of a border conflict over land surrounding an 11th century temple that has claimed several lives.

Indonesia - Cambodia’s PM Hopes for More Cooperation in Training, Tourism and Investment

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 23 August 2010
The Cambodian government hopes Indonesia investor could take part in the warehouses and rice mills construction program to boost its country rice export, said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during the courtesy call with Indonesia Ambassador to Cambodia, Soehardjono Sastromihardjo, in Phnom Penh (19/08).

In his reply, Ambassador Sastromihardjo reiterated Indonesia’s commitment to continue increasing its cooperation with Cambodia in politics, economy, socio-cultural and security.

The ambassador stated that Indonesia is increasing its efforts in the battle against transnational crimes such as drug trafficking, trafficking in person, illegal logging and terrorism in addition to natural disaster mitigation and management, i.e. tsunami and earth quake. In the tourism sector, Ambassador Sastromihardjo explained that his government is going to finalize its internal arrangement before the enactment of the visa-free agreement signed in June 2010. The moment could not have been better considering that one of Indonesia’s private airliners would soon open a direct flight from Jakarta to Phnom Penh. It was also seen as a concrete move to support the Plan of Action of the MoU on Sister Temple Province signed in June 2010 between the province of Central Java in Indonesia and Siem Reap province in Cambodia.

In the interim, PM Hun conveyed his sincerest appreciation to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for the role played by Indonesia in maintaining the peace in Cambodia and gave his warm wishes on the commemoration of the 65th anniversary of Indonesia independence.

The Prime Minister also highlighted the well-established cooperation between the two nations primarily in the various training assistance provided by the Indonesian to Cambodians, such as the training for the Prime Minister Body Guard, other technical trainings and the numerous Cambodian students who are studying in Indonesian schools and universities

Cambodian land mines subject of presentation at Tolerance Education Center

via Khmer NZ

Blake Herzog • The Desert Sun • August 23, 2010

Bill and Jill Morse, former Palm Springs residents who now live in Cambodia, will appear at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Tolerance Education Center, 35-147 Landy Lane, to speak about the issues surrounding the 5 million live land mines still present in that country.

The Morses founded the nonprofit Landmine Relief Fund after traveling to Cambodia a few years ago to seek out land mine diffuser Aki Ra. They will present a 15-minute film, talk about the present situation in the country and introduce a Cambodian woman who plans to form an all-woman land mine diffusion team to target low-priority rural areas.

Information: (760) 328-8252

Cambodia Seeks to Internationalize Temple Row with Thailand


In this July, 2008 photo, a Cambodian soldier stands guard at an entrance gate to Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian-Thai border. (Photo: AP)

via Khmer NZ

By MARWAAN MACAN-MARKAR / IPS WRITER
Monday, August 23, 2010

BANGKOK — Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is threatening an international showdown with neighboring Thailand over the vexed question of managing a 10th- century Hindu temple, an architectural jewel of Cambodia’s ancient Khmer civilisation.

Cambodian has put the government of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on notice that it would seek multilateral fora—either the United Nations or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—to resolve Bangkok’s delaying tactics over a management plan for the Preah Vihear temple near the two countries' border.

Cambodia has approached Vietnam, the current chair of the 10-member Asean of which both Thailand and Cambodia are members, to step into dispute, says Koy Kuong, spokesman for Cambodia’s foreign ministry. “We will also discuss border issues when UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visits Cambodia in October.”

“Thailand wants a bilateral solution to this problem but it keeps delaying by pushing for more rounds of meetings,” Koy said during a telephone interview from Phnom Penh. “We have been patient and have exercised our restraint, and have not given up on a bilateral outcome.”

“(But) Cambodia cannot wait for long,” he argued. “Thailand should not be afraid of using multilateral mechanisms if they think they are correct. We are preparing to seek multilateral mechanisms to help us move forward on Preah Vihear.”

Hun Sen appears to have the upper edge in the fate of Preah Vihear’s future as a World Heritage Site, a status that the UN-backed World Heritage Committee (WHC) awarded to Cambodia in 2008. The country has another World Heritage Site in the sprawling, 12th century Angkor Wat complex.

The Preah Vihear issue has made its way into the domestic troubles that the Abhisit administration faces, in a tussle that continues to chip away at Thailand’s credibility on the world stage. On Tuesday, the Thai parliament delayed a debate on Thai-Cambodian boundary talks after legislators caved in to pressure by a vocal ultra-nationalist protest group, one whose supporters had helped bring the Thai premier into power.

The Network of Thai Patriots, which mounted a recent protest outside the Bangkok office of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has been turning the heat on Abhisit to protect the area where Preah Vihear stands along the Thai-Cambodian border, claiming that it is part of Thai territory.

Against this backdrop, the Thai government has argued that disputes over border territory be resolved bilaterally through the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Committee. “As long as the demarcation (of the border) has not been finished, Thailand cannot cooperate with any decision by the WHC,” Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya wrote in a July letter.

Thailand’s claim that it has a stake in the area where Preah Vihear sits goes to the heart of the dispute with Cambodia, threatening to turn the temple, perched on top of a steep cliff, into a major flashpoint of tension between the two South-east Asian kingdoms.

“The nationalists have demanded that Abhisit’s government revoke the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on boundary demarcation signed with Cambodia in 2000 on grounds that the pact recognized a map that in their view Thailand had never accepted,” wrote Supalak Ganjanakhundee in Thursday’s edition of ‘The Nation’, an English-language daily. 'Abhisit said he also believed Thailand has never recognised the map, but he cannot revoke the MoU since it was signed by (a former leader of his party as then premier).'

Thai academics like Puangthong Pawakapan argue that Bangkok’s recalcitrant position toward its eastern neighbour could prompt Cambodia to go as far as seeking the views of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in 1962 ruled that the Preah Vihear temple was situated in Cambodian territory.

“Cambodia still has the right to request the ICJ to interpret the 1962 verdict to clarify where is the border line in the disputed area,” says Puangthong, an assistant professor in international affairs at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University.

The ICJ, based in The Hague, had based its verdict on a 1907 map drawn up when Cambodia was under French colonial rule.

Its judges also noted that the rulers of Siam, as Thailand was then known, had accepted this map without protest for five decades.

It was this verdict that helped secure for Cambodia World Heritage status for the Hindu temple in 2008, an event that triggered a right-wing backlash in Thailand.

Cambodia’s effort to get the temple’s management plan approved by the WHC at its meeting in Brasilia in late July prompted another round of Thai nationalist chest-thumping, this time over a 4.6 square-kilometre slice of land near Preah Vihear, which they say belongs to Thailand according to the country’s maps.

Against the backdrop of Thai opposition, the WHC postponed till next year a vote on the Cambodian management plan for Preah Vihear. This may well mean that this will remain pending for years, as is the case with that international symbol of territorial disputes—Jerusalem.

Cambodia may have to 'rework' its management plan for the next council meeting in 2011, a neutral diplomatic source familiar with the WHC process in Brasilia told IPS.

But Hun Sen knows where he stands on the matter of this 4.6-km area that Thailand says is 'overlapping' with its territory. “I don’t know this area of 4.6 square kilometres, so how can I ask my people and army to withdraw (from it)?” he asked.

Newburyport girls making a difference in Cambodia

http://blastmagazine.com/

via Khmer NZ

By Sara Brown

Aug. 22

via Khmer NZ

Most 13 year old girl’s lives revolve around school, friends and the boy that sits across from them in math class they have a crush on. Life doesn’t seem to go much further then the latest sale at the mall.

Leah Petty and Claire Miller are not like most 13-year-old girls. For the past three years, the Newburyport girls have been raising money for the children of Cambodia.

Petty, who lived in Singapore at the time visited, Cambodia for the first time and was touched by what she saw.

“It really struck me how people were living here,” said Petty. That fateful visit made Petty want to do something to help. She contacted a group in Cambodia called Journeys Within Our Community, and contacted a friend back home in the US, Miller, and that’s when the ball was in motion.

JWOC was founded by Brandon and Andrea Ross, owners of Journeys Within Tour Company in response to guests and travelers desire to give back and make a difference. JWOC believes in its slogan, “See a Problem, Solve a Problem” and has been doing that for the last five years

“We are so amazed by Leah and Claire,” said Ross. “To be so young, yet to be able to really embrace the idea that they can make a difference in the world. It’s very inspiring and they embody everything that JWOC stands for: To see a problem and to solve it!”

For Petty, working closely with JWOC founder Ross proved to be a rewarding experience. “I really admire Andrea. It’s been to work with her and ask her questions. I want to do what she does,” said Petty.

To raise money Petty and Miller have had countless bake sales. Also they have made magnets and sold photos they took of Cambodia while they were visiting the country. Two weekends ago, the girls had a yard sale to raise money for Cambodia. Thanks to generous donations from family and friends, the girls raised over $1600. To date the girls have raised over $4000.

While the girls efforts have been tremendous thus far, they are still not done hatching up plans to raise money. Petty, who just moved back to the States, is thinking about throwing a pool party in her back yard. “I have a pretty big back yard,” said Petty. “We could have a band playing and to come in everyone would have to pay five dollars or something. I am still thinking it out.”

Petty admits that when she first wanted to help Cambodia, her family was a little surprised by her altruistic intentions. “I am the third child and I am always like ‘I want this or that’ so they were a little surprised I wanted to do something to help other people,” said Petty.

While her family was at first initially surprised by Petty’s generosity, she continues to amaze them and others. “As an organization you always hope for people to be inspired by what you’re doing and to help you fundraise so you can continue to make a difference. Leah is different because she inspires us,” said Ross. “It has been such a pleasure to watch her really take her cause and make it happen. I don’t know many kids who would give up their birthday presents and ask for donations instead, or who spend the summer brainstorming ways to fundraise and then carry them out.”

Petty has been to Cambodia twice and says her second visit was the most powerful. “I actually got to socialize with the kids I was helping. It was nice to get a feeling from the kids and meet them instead of just seeing them,” said Petty.

“I have spent time with Leah in both Cambodia and Singapore and she is a warm and outgoing young woman, she has endless energy and has a truly good heart,” said Ross.

Petty encourages everyone to get involved and to help Cambodia or any third world country. Petty is a true believer that every little effort makes a difference.

“Anything you do will help them. They have so little. They will appreciate it.”

Sara Brown is a Blast Intern

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via Khmer NZ

Former Thai PM Thaksin Resigned from Advisor of Cambodian Government

Monday, 23 August 2010 10:29 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 23, 2010-The Cambodian government on Monday announced that former Thai Thaksin has resigned from position as economic advisor and advisor to the government. PM Hun Sen accepted that resignation requirement from Mr. Thaksin and PM Hun Sen asked Cambodian King Norodom to terminate Mr. Thaksin’s position.

Former Thaksin said in the letter that He could not implement his role because he has own personal matters and difficulties.


Prince Ranariddh: Royal Parties should not United

Monday, 23 August 2010 10:06 By Soy Sophea

CAMBODIA,PHNOM PENH,AUGUST-23-2010:Former President of a Cambodia’ royal party National Party on Monday expressed his pessimistic over an action of unity of Cambodia’s two royal parties.

Prince Ranariddh, also former chairman of Cambodia’s National Assembly, said in his statement on Monday that, “I understand that National Party (formerly Norodom Ranariddh Party) could not unite as one party leading to lose its supporters and members.”

Prince Ranariddh refereed to Cambodia’s Constitution Council which recently described any united parties will be abolished from Interior ministry’ party list.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


Senate President Receives Out-going S. Korean and Singaporean Ambassadors

Phnom Penh, August 23, 2010 AKP -- Senate President Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim separately received here last Friday out-going ambassadors of the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Singapore.

In the meetings, the Cambodian senate president highly appreciated the ambassadors’ diplomatic mission in Cambodia, which helped further strengthened the ties of friendship, solidarity and bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and S. Korea, and Cambodia and Singapore.

He also praised the out-going ambassadors for their good cooperation with Cambodia’s executive and legislative bodies as well as with other government ministries and institutions.

In reply, the out-going S. Korean ambassador Mr. Lee Kyung Soo affirmed his country’s support to Cambodia.

For her part, the out-going Singaporean ambassador Ms. Tan Yee Woan praised Cambodia for its rapid development. --AKP

(By CHAN Soratha)

-------------------

AKP/02

Vietnamese President To Visit Cambodia This Week

Phnom Penh, August 23, 2010 AKP -- President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet will pay a state visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia from Aug. 26 to 28, at the invitation of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

During his three-day visit in Cambodia, the Vietnamese president will be received in royal audience by His Majesty the king at the Royal Palace, said a press release of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation dated Aug. 23.

Besides, Mr. Nguyen Minh Triet will be respectively received courtesy calls by Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim, President of the Senate; Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly; and Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, it said.

The Vietnamese president will also pay respects to His Holiness Buddhist Supreme General Patriarch Tep Vong, Buddhist Supreme Patriarch of Dhamma Mahanikaya and His Holiness Samdech Preah Abhisiri Sugandha Mahasangharajah Dhipati Bour Kry, Great Supreme Patriarch of Dhammayuttikanikaya of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

He will also attend the opening ceremony of representative office of the Voice of Vietnam based in Phnom Penh and visit the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship School. --AKP

-------------------

AKP/03

Government Approves Sub-Decree to Provide Jobs to Disabled People

Phnom Penh, August 23, 2010 AKP -- The Royal Government of Cambodia approved here last Friday in the Council of Ministers’ weekly meeting a draft sub-decree providing more jobs to the disabled people.

The purpose of the 20-article sub-decree is to order the Government’s institutions and ministries to accept the disabled people who have ability to work in their respective institutions and ministries, according to a press release issued after the meeting,

This policy contributes to helping the disabled to make use of their remaining physical aptitude for social and family development, and to minimizing family’s and government’s burden in caring the disabled people, said the press release.

The sub-decree was compiled and drafted by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation in collaboration with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Labor, the Council for the Development of Cambodia and the concerned NGOs.

Meanwhile, the Council of Ministers also approved a draft sub-decree on the creation of the National Committee for Environment and Health. --AKP

(By Noeu)

-------------------

AKP/04

Cambodian Lawmakers Visit Japan

Phnom Penh, August 23, 2010 AKP -- Six Cambodian lawmakers from different political parties are leaving today for a study visit in Japan to learn about the country’s agricultural development.

During its one-week visit in Japan, the Cambodian lawmakers will meet with Japanese deputy minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and lawmakers from the opposition and ruling parties to learn more about Japan’s agricultural development and rice-growing technical development, according to a press release of the Sasakawa Foundation across Asia of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation of Japan.

Besides, the Cambodian delegation will also conduct a field visit to a farm of the Utsunomiya University and the Asian Rural Institute in the Utsunomiya City from Aug. 26 to 28, it said.

The visit is part of an exchange program between the Japanese lawmakers and those of other Asian countries, stressed the press release, adding that since 2000, the Sasakawa Peace Foundation has invited approximately 50 Cambodian lawmakers to visit Japan. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)

-------------------

AKP/05

SICCI Studies Cambodia’s Investment Opportunities

Phnom Penh, August 23, 2010 AKP -- In the course of its official visit to Cambodia, the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) delegation led by its chair Mr. R Narayanamohan last week met with Deputy Secretary General of the Council for the Development of Cambodia H.E. Suon Sethy to seek an understanding of agricultural investment opportunities.

In addition to information about investment potentialities and opportunities, H.E. Suon Sethy briefed the SICCI delegation about strategic encouragement of the Royal Government of Cambodia and support legal mechanisms in place.

Cambodia is particularly promoting rice production and export whose policy was adopted in July 2010 by the Cambodian Council of Ministers.

The Singapore and Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry delegation expressed its interest in Cambodia’s privatization promotion and that the information they receive will help this body to make swift decision in the future related to investment in Cambodia. --AKP

(By MOM Chan Dara Soleil)

-------------------

AKP/06

EU Assists Cambodian Farmers Hit by Rising Food Price

Phnom Penh, August 23, 2010 AKP -- Thousands of Cambodian farmers, affected by the rising food price that peaked in 2008, have been benefiting from European Union (EU) supported projects through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Thanks to the good cooperation from the royal government, the EU has been implementing projects to support farmers in nine provinces of Cambodia who are most hit by the 2008 rising food price, said Mr. Rafael Dochao Moreno, chargé d’affaires a.i. of the Delegation of the European Commission to Cambodia, during his Aug. 18-19 monitoring visit to Takeo and Kampot province.

The EU-supported projects include lasting agriculture intensification, fish raising, post-harvest management, rice seeding variety provision, technical support, and water resource and nutrition management.

The EU invested 11.2 million Euros on food security support program through FAO. To date, roughly 40 thousand families received rice-seeding varieties. The EU is committed to cover 250 thousand families by June 2011. --AKP

(By MOM Chan Dara Soleil)

-------------------

AKP/07

Interior Ministry, NGO Sign MoU to Combat Child Exploitation

Phnom Penh, August 23, 2010 AKP -- The Ministry of Interior and NGO Action pour les Enfants (Action for Children) signed here last Thursday a Memorandum of Understanding to combat child exploitation and crimes against children.

The MoU was signed by Mrs. Chou Bun Eng, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry and Mr. Samleang Seila, Action pour les Enfants country director.

Mrs. Chou Bun Eng said the MoU will further boost the cooperation between the Interior Minister and the Action pour les Enfants to fight against child exploitation and crimes against them.

According to the Action pour les Enfants’ report, some 130 foreigners have been arrested for child sexual exploitation and 284 children, from 6 to 17 years old, have been rescued. --AKP

(By KHAN Sophirom)

-------------------

AKP/08

Cambodia Grants Right to Malaysian Company to Build Pay-Parking Lots

Phnom Penh, August 23, 2010 AKP -- The Phnom Penh Municipality has recently granted right to EDISIJUTA [Cambodia] Pte Ltd. of Malaysia to make the pay-parking lots along Preah Monivong and Kampuchea Krom Boulevards.

The pay-parking lots will be constructed soon along the above two boulevards in Phnom Penh capital city in order to better manage the public order, according to an official of the Phnom Penh Municipality.

The first ever pay-parking lot on Charles de Gaulle in Phnom Penh has so far seen a success. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)

-------------------

AKP/09

81.9 Percent of High School Students Pass Examinations

Phnom Penh, August 23, 2010 AKP -- According to the results of high school examinations released last Friday, this year, 87 561 out of 106 908 students have passed the examinations or 81.90 percent.

An official at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports said that the results of high school examinations this year were better than that of last year, or an increase of about 4 percent.

Among these successful students, only one got grade A, 665 grade B, and the rest grades C, D and E, he said. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)

One way of washing fruit


Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 23 August 2010 15:00 Heng Chivoan

A motorist transporting bananas attempts to force his way through floodwater near Kandal Market in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Season of incense


Photo by: Sovan Philong

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 23 August 2010 15:04 Sovan Philong

Moa, 27, dries incense sticks in Anhchanh village, in Battambang province’s O’Char commune, on Saturday in preparation for the upcoming Pchum Ben holiday. During the annual holiday, which this year falls from October 7-11, families traditionally light incense and make other offerings to the spirits of departed ancestors.

Hun Sen, Abhisit talks on the agenda


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 23 August 2010 15:04 Cheang Sokha

THAI Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said yesterday that he was ready to discuss border issues with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels in October.

The comments came after Thursday’s announcement by the Foreign Ministry that Hun Sen was willing to raise the border dispute in accordance with the suggestion of ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan.

“I’m ready to talk with Prime Minister Hun Sen concerning the Thai-Cambodian conflict together with the Preah Vihear temple issue at the ASEM,” Abhisit said. “It is not necessary to bring other organisations to deal with the Thai-Cambodian row since the two countries are well aware that they are neighbouring countries, and I believe both of us don’t want the problem to escalate.”

Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong reiterated yesterday that if Abhisit requested a meeting with Hun Sen during the October 4-5 summit, then it could proceed, but he said a meeting had not yet been confirmed.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Cambodia is still wondering why Thailand is afraid to put the border issue on the table multilaterally.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On Thursday, Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya wrote to ASEAN chair Vietnam, saying that the lingering border dispute – which dates back to July 2008, when Preah Vihear temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – could be solved by bilateral talks.

“I wish to assure you that Thailand remains committed as always to exercising utmost restraint,” Kasit said in the letter, which came after a similar letter from Hor Namhong calling for ASEAN mediation to prevent “large-scale armed conflict” over the border dispute.

He went on to “categorically reject” Hor Namhong’s allegations that Thailand had taken an aggressive stance over the border issue.

But Koy Kuong said that despite its stated commitment to bilateral negotiations, Bangkok had always found a way to delay talks.

“Cambodia is still wondering why Thailand is afraid to put the border issue on the table multilaterally,” he said. “Thailand repeatedly says [it wants] bilateral talks with Cambodia, but its willingness is nothing.”

Sub-decree boosts rights of disabled


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 23 August 2010 15:04 Vong Sokheng

ADVOCATES for the disabled won a victory last week as the Council of Ministers passed a sweeping expansion of the workplace rights of the disabled, though some observers say the implementation of the new legislation remains a daunting challenge.

In a sub-decree passed on Friday, the Council of Ministers established a 2 percent quota for the hiring of disabled workers at public institutions. Quotas for the private sector have been set at 1 percent.

Council of Minister spokesman Phay Siphan said the sub-decree would go into effect in three years, with employers expected to meet 30 percent of their quotas in the interim. A statement from the Council said the subdecree was intended to “help disabled people improve the lives of their families and the nation”.

Mark Morrison, disability adviser for Handicap International Belgium, said his organisation was pleased with the dialogue the government had maintained with civil society groups during the development of the disability legislation. He emphasised the importance of “systematic monitoring of all public and private employers which are covered in the law” as the government moves forward with implementing the sub-decree.

Chea Mony, president of the Free Trade Union, said the government would need to consider exceptions to the quotas.

“I don’t want to be a critic, but look at the garment industry – there are no disabled workers there,” Chea Mony said.

Sung Bonna, president of Bonna Realty Group, said he was prepared to comply with the quota system, but that all potential BRG employees must possess “the quality and experience needed by the company”.

Morrison said renovations to ensure full compliance with the sub-decree would be a “significant expense” for many organisations, including even Handicap International Belgium.

“We do not have an elevator or lift in our building,” Morrison said. “We need to improve, because it’s a basic right of all persons to be able to participate in a working environment.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE

Garment pay strike continues


Photo by: Pha Lina
Employees of the Sun Lu Fong garment factory in Meanchey district raise their hands in unison during a strike at the factory yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 23 August 2010 15:03 Tep Nimol

AROUND 160 garment workers continued to strike yesterday outside the gates of a factory in Meanchey district, where they have camped out day and night since Thursday to agitate for improved working conditions.

Ien Pov, a union representative at the Sun Lu Fong factory, said workers had made eight demands to the factory’s management, including a request that workers receive US$80 in severance pay for every year they have worked at the factory.

“Most workers want me to continue to hold the strike after learning that the factory owner has violated their rights and the law,” he said.

But union officials and local authorities say the demands of the workers may not reflect their rights under labour laws.

Som Aun, president of the Cambodian Labour Union Confederation, said that the severance pay demand especially was a step too far.

“Their demands cannot be settled in just a short time because what they have demanded is illegal,” he said.

“This condition is not mentioned in the Cambodian Labour Law. They can receive that kind of payment only if they are fired by the factory.”

Som Aun issued a letter on Saturday calling the strike “illegal” and said that the confederation had decided in a meeting on August 16 not to sanction the strike because he wanted to meet with the factory’s management to discuss the workers’ demands.

Last week, the Arbitration Council dismissed a complaint filed in July by 160 workers from the factory, citing the illegality of the resignation clause.

“The factory will discuss their demands and try to solve the problem outside the court system if the approximately 20 percent of workers who are on strike agree to go back to work,” Som Aun said.

Sok Nan, deputy administrative director of Sun Ly Fong factory, said yesterday that fewer than 50 workers were still taking part in the strike.

“I have no idea how the factory will deal with the protesting workers, but we are not paying attention to the strike,” she said.

Meanwhile, Keo Sareoun, the chief of Chak Angre Leu commune, said authorities planned to crack down on the striking workers today.

“It is difficult for us to maintain order and safety at night when such an anarchic strike is happening,” he said. “On Monday, I will not allow them to protest in the area any longer.”

He declined to say what measures would be taken to disperse the protesters.

Ien Pov said that about 20 local police officers had already warned the protesters. “The police have told us that if we continue to protest our security cannot be guaranteed,” he said.