Friday, 17 December 2010

Experience Chinese New Year in Sihanoukville

via CAAI

2010-12-17
DirectRooms.com is able to reveal that visitors from international locations as well as Cambodians will be heading for the seaside resort of Sihanoukville to celebrate the Chinese New Year in the first week of February 2011. There are numerous residents of Chinese descent in Cambodia

The heady mix of the colourful New Year festivals and parades mixed with the clement weather and warm seas at this time of year ensures that the cheap Sihanoukville hotels do a roaring trade during the festive season. Many Cambodians turn the event into their annual holiday and accommodation is often booked for a week either side of the official New Year.

In 2011, the first new moon in the Chinese lunar calendar occurs on the evening of Thursday 3rd February, and this marks the official end of the old year, and beginning of the new. Due to the fact that the Gregorian calendar is not the same as the Chinese, the New Year does not fall on the same day every year.

Visitors will get the chance of seeing traditional Chinese dragon dances. Residents dress up as a colourful dragon train and dance through the resort town’s streets and offer good luck to all who see them. The whole procession resonates to the sound of firecrackers and drums.

Lek Boonlert, marketing head of DirectRooms commented: “The Chinese New Year celebrations in Cambodia signify the start of a long holiday and inhabitants head south to the nation’s beach resorts on the Gulf of Thailand. Travellers should browse online hotel options if they are planning on visiting Sihanoukville at this time.”

Cambodia agrees on religious links

via CAAI

December, 17 2010

HA NOI — Increased religious co-operation would contribute to enhancing traditional friendship and comprehensive co-operation between Viet Nam and Cambodia, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem told visiting Cambodian Minister of Cults and Religious Affairs Min Khin.

Speaking with Minister Min Khin at a meeting in the capital city yesterday, Khiem, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said he hoped the two sides would further step up their co-operation in the near future.

"Viet Nam will try its utmost to preserve and look after Viet Nam-Cambodia relations," Khiem said.

He also lauded the results of talks between the Government's Committee for Religious Affairs and the Cambodian Ministry of Cults and Religious Affairs.

Minister Min Khin said he believed good relations between Viet Nam and Cambodia would continue to develop in the interests of the two peoples. —VNS

Cambodia: Prince Ranariddh returns to politics

 via CAAI

Posted 17 December 2010
Written by
Sopheap Chak

Cambodia's Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was a former Prime Minister and royalist party leader of the country, has vowed to be politically active once more. He left the country two years ago after the split in his party and his conviction in absentia of embezzlement. Netizens and political pundits are assessing the impact of Prince Ranariddh's statement on Cambodian politics.

Retiring from politics in 2008, Prince Ranariddh surprised everybody in Cambodia when he recently announced that he will return to politics in order to strengthen the royalist movement. Speaking in Kampong Cham province early this month before a crowd of about 500 supporters, the prince emphasized that his return is a response to the petitions asking him to regain leadership in Cambodia. Via the Phnom Penh Post, he explains further:

“I am preparing myself to lead the Norodom Ranariddh Party,…Doing politics is the same as being addicted to opium, but what is important is that there have been a lot of petitions inviting me to lead the Norodom Ranariddh Party.”

In the same article, the prince asserted his centrist approach by neither supporting nor criticizing the government. With this stance, the Prince hopes to merge with royalist groups and other willing parities like Human Rights Party. However, this political plan is difficult to accomplish as there are denial and unresolved conflicts among the groups. There is also a question about whether he is affiliated with the democrats or communists.

Reacting to the reported return of the prince, Prime Minster Hun Sen warned that this will link the monarchy with politics and this will require the prince's resignation as a royal adviser to his brother, King Norodom Sihamoni. Hun Sen explains why the prince should resign as the king's adviser:

“If you want to do politics, you have to quit the Supreme Council as adviser to the King, otherwise the King will lose neutrality on the matter of politics. The name of the King will be used for propaganda, saying I am a brother of the King, I am the son of former King, and it will link the King with politics.”

This reaction probably has been expected beforehand that is why the prince said during the gathering at Kompong Cham province that his return to politics is not intended to provoke conflict with the Prime Minster. Later, after the King Father, Norodom Sihanouk, wrote on his website to show his complete support for Hun Sen as leader of Cambodia, Prince Ranariddh clarified that he is open to forming a coalition government with the premier’s Cambodian People’s Party.

Such stance has been criticized by the Son of the Khmer Empire who wrote that the prince has no clear political vision and this scenario could be a plot between the prince and the Prime Minister.

•Prince Ranarith is a half-dead politician who has no vision and challenge in order to win over Hun Sen to safeguard the country and the people of Cambodia, but he just does politics for his survival only.

•This could be a political ploy plotted by Hun Sen because Hun Sen does worry about the strength of Sam Rainsy Party (SRP). Until now Hun Sen still thinks that Ranarith can still be used in order to divide the strength of majority Cambodians who are not pro-Cambodian People’s Party. More importantly, Kem Sokha may join Ranarith and this would strengthen this new force and for sure weaken the second biggest party- SRP. When this achieved Hun Sen would lead Cambodia at his will.

While the return of the prince has attracted considerable attention from prominent political parties and traditional media, it seems there has been no significant reaction from local netizens who often exchange ideas and news commentaries via online social networks tools such as blogs, facebook and twitter. Evidently, only the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, a local non-political NGO has initiated a poll about the issue via facebook that is now generating maybe less than 10 respondents:

Is the return of Norodom Ranaridh a good thing for Cambodian politics?

This may answer partly the question on whether the return of the prince would have a huge impact on Cambodian politics.

By Sopheap Chak · Posted 17 December 2010

Cambodia's rampaging elephant sent to zoo

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

via CAAI

Dec 17, 2010

Phnom Penh - An elephant that was captured in southern Cambodia after terrorizing a village has been sent to a zoo for 're-education' and may be mated with a female, local media reported Friday.

The bull elephant, known as Sambo, was tranquilized on Wednesday after stomping its owner to death and running amok in the village last week, trampling crops and harassing residents.

Locals responded by attacking the beast with sticks, knives and fireworks before the Cambodian Forestry Administration subdued it.

Cheng Kimsun, director of the Forestry Administration, told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper that the government had decided not to euthanize the pugnacious pachyderm.

'Sambo is not crazy, but he has lived a very stressful life because he had been mistreated for so many years,' Cheng Kimsun said. 'He was chained down, he could not go anywhere and he also had no wife - he needs his freedom.'

Nhek Ratanapich, the director of Cambodia's Phnom Tamao zoo, told the Post that zoo officials hope to pair Sambo with a similarly aggressive female elephant called Srey Pao.

'I hope that after Sambo stays with Srey Pao he will be happy, his stress will be released and his mental condition will improve in the future, and finally, he can be a nice elephant again,' Nhek Ratanapich said.

Other experts cautioned that Sambo may not yet be ready to rejoin fellow elephants after his rampage.

'Integrating him with other elephants is very important, but from what I have observed from this elephant, putting him in contact with other elephants is not advised at the moment,' said Jack Highwood, the head of an elephant sanctuary in Cambodia's Mondulkiri province.

Cambodia to let 62 Vietnamese refugees stay longer

via CAAI

Dec 17, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia said Friday it will allow 62 Vietnamese refugees to stay in the country a few more weeks as a favor to the U.N. refugee agency but believes they no longer face any danger in Vietnam and can be sent back.

Cambodia previously gave the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees a New Year's Day deadline to close a refugee compound in the Cambodian capital. But the country will now give the agency until Feb. 15 instead, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said.

"Vietnam is speeding up its economic growth. There is no war and no bombs, therefore Vietnam should not have any refugees," Hor Namhong told reporters. "For the refugees who have not been granted asylum, they must be sent back to Vietnam. They cannot stay in Cambodia."

The Foreign Ministry notified the UNHCR this month it planned to shut the housing compound Jan. 1 and send the residents home. Cambodia wants to close the compound in Phnom Penh to deter more arrivals.

The UNHCR pleaded for a little more time to help resettle the refugees.

"We'll do them a favor. Prime Minister Hun Sen decided to postpone the deadline," the foreign minister said.

Thousands of hill tribe people known as Montagnards fled to Cambodia since 2001, when Vietnam cracked down on protests against land confiscation and religious restrictions.

The current group is the last batch of asylum-seekers from 1,812 Vietnamese hill tribe people taken in by the UNHCR since 2006. The agency has resettled 999, mostly in the United States, and sent 751 home.

Many Montagnards sided with the United States during the Vietnam War, attend Protestant churches not recognized in Vietnam and are generally distrusted by the communist government.

Cambodian PM Back Home from Visit to China

http://english.cri.cn/

via CAAI

2010-12-17
Xinhua
Web Editor: Zhang

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen returned home on Friday after concluding his five-day official visit to China, at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

During the visit, Chinese President Hu Jintao and China's top legislator Wu Bangguo met with Hun Sen respectively. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held talks with him.

China and Cambodia on Monday agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation. Both sides signed 13 deals on cooperation in areas such as energy, infrastructure, finance and consular affairs.

Besides Beijing, Hun Sen also visited north China's port city Tianjin and east China's Jiangsu Province.

Cambodia Borrows $1,500 Million Finance from China for Five- Years Development Plan

via CAAI

Friday, 17 December 2010 07:01 DAP NEWS / PISETH

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Dec 17, 2010-Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong said on Friday that Cambodian government has asked $1,500 million finance from China to develop its infrastructure and economic growth from 2010-2015.

Samdech Prime Minister has asked his Chinese counterpart PM Wen Jaiboa to provide $1,500 million finance under 16 development projects,” Hor told reporters after arrival from China, where PM Hun Sen visited for 13-17 December.

Hor added that Chinese side had accepted that plan and Chinese side also will monitor the development plans.

During PM Hun Sen’s visit, both sides inked 12 agreements for bilateral cooperation, and Cambodia gets $300 million from China, Hor said, adding that in 2010, china helps $300million.

So far, China has provided $1,100 million finance for Cambodia and even though it did not know in detail about grant aid and loan.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

AKP/01

Cambodia Welcomes More Chinese Investment: PM

Phnom Penh, December 17, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia welcomes more investment from east China's Jiangsu province, Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen said Thursday.

Samdech Techo Hun Sen, who is paying a five-day visit in China, made the remarks when meeting with Luo Zhijun, secretary of the Jiangsu Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), in Nanjing, provincial capital of Jiangsu, Chinese News Agency Xinhua reported.

As an economic power of China, Jiangsu province has made great contribution in getting China out of the global financial crisis. Cambodia has benefited from the fast development of Chinese economy including that of Jiangsu province, Samdech Techo Hun Sen said.

Hongdou Group Co., Ltd., a Jiangsu-based enterprise in clothing, tire, biological pharmacy and real estate, is building an industrial park in Preah Sihanouk province, southern Cambodia, Premier Hun Sen said.

Samdech Techo Hun Sen hoped that he hoped both parties could work together to develop the industrial park.

Luo, for his part, appreciated the great efforts and contribution Samdech Techo Hun Sen has made in promoting the friendly communication, bilateral exchanges and cooperation between China and Cambodia.

Luo said he believed that the prime minister's visit would enhance the mutual understanding, promote pragmatic cooperation and establish a win-win relationship between the two countries.

Jiangsu province maintains close and friendly communication with Cambodia. The province's Wuxi City is sister city to Cambodia's Sihanoukville City. Many enterprises in Jiangsu province have invested in Cambodia, Luo said.

We are willing to enhance the communication and cooperation with Cambodia in a variety of areas, Luo said.

Luo also introduced basic information of Jiangsu province to Samdech Techo Hun Sen. With a long history, well-developed science and education and comprehensive industry sectors, Jiangsu's economy has ranked high among the provinces in China, Luo said.

Currently, the province's aggregate economic volume accounts for 10 percent of that of China, with a GDP per capita of US$7,000. Its foreign investment ranks number one in China, accounting for around 30 percent of the total of China. Its imports and Exports ranks number two in China.

Samdech Techo Hun Sen arrived in Beijing on Monday to start his official visit to China, during which he also visited north China's coastal municipality of Tianjin. --AKP

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AKP/02

Cambodia-Thailand Visa Exemption Agreement Comes into Force

Phnom Penh, December 17, 2010 AKP -- The Agreement on visa exemption for holders of normal passports between Cambodia and Thailand has come into force from Dec. 16, 2010.

A ceremony to celebrate this event was held in Poipet City, Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey province in the presence of Ung Oeun, governor of Banteay Meanchey and his Thai counterpart of Sa Kaew province, Sanit Naksuksi.

On the occasion, both governors said with this visa exemption, the peoples of the two countries can travel to and stay for 14 days in the host country without applying for visas.

Governor Ung Oeun praised for the good relationship between the peoples of Banteay Meanchey and Sa Kaew provinces.

In the first 11 months of 2010, the number of foreign tourists who came to Cambodia from Thailand through Poipet border gate reached over 300,000, an increase by 2.83 percent as compared to the same period of 2009.

On Nov. 17, the Cambodian and Thai foreign ministers signed here the Agreement between the two neighboring countries on visa exemption for holders of normal passports under the presidency of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart H.E. Abhisit Vejjajiva upon their close-door bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 4th ACMECS Summit.

Cambodia has signed visa exemption agreements with the ASEAN member countries, except Brunei and Myanmar. --AKP

By SOKMOM Nimul

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

AKP/03

Vietnam, Cambodia discuss Role of Religious Affaire

Phnom Penh, December 17, 2010 AKP -- Vietnam recognises and upholds the moral and cultural values of belief and religion, and considers belief and religion a spiritual need of the people and religious followers an integral part of the great national unity.

Head of the Vietnamese Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs Nguyen Thai Binh made this remark while receiving a delegation from the Cambodian Ministry of Cult and Religion, led by Minister Min Khin, in Hanoi on Dec. 16, reported Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

At the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on religious affairs in their respective countries as well as the implementation of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on bilateral cooperation, signed in Cambodia in December 2007.

Binh told his guests that Vietnam’s 1992 Constitution affirms that belief and religion constitute one of the people’s fundamental rights, and citizens have the right to freedom of belief and religion, following or not following a religion, while the State respects and ensures this right for citizens

All religions are equal before the law and all acts that abuse belief and religion to incite violence, divide the people and nation, and organise superstitious activities are prohibited, the official added.

Regarding the performance of the MoU, Binh said the two sides have exchanged central-level delegations, provided documents related to the State management of religious affairs, and supported each other in organisation of UN Vesak Day in Vietnam.

However, he suggested the two sides organise working visits to each other’s countries for local delegations and hold bilateral symposiums in the future.

Minister Min Khin proposed that the two sides speed up the implementation of the MoU and expressed his wish to deepen relations between the two agencies.

The minister said the Cambodian State always cares for the people’s right to freedom of belief, which is prescribed in the country’s Constitution.

The same day, Minister Min Khin was received by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, who highly praised the results of cooperation between the Vietnamese Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs and the Cambodian Ministry of Cult and Religion.

Khiem said he hoped the two agencies would step up cooperative ties in religious affairs, thus strengthening the traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia.

Min Khin thanked Vietnam for its valuable support and assistance towards the Cambodian people and expressed his belief that their neighbourliness would further develop for the interests of the two countries’ peoples. --AKP

Ex-official jailed for forgery


Koy Dara (left), acting bureau director of finance at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday where he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

via CAAI
 
Friday, 17 December 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

A FORMER official of the Ministry of Economy and Finance was sentenced to 10 years in prison yesterday, two weeks after he pleaded guilty to forging public documents and embezzling more than US$600,000 to fund a gambling addiction.

Presiding Judge Ker Sakhorn also ordered Koy Dara – former acting bureau director of finance at the Ministry for nearly 20 years – to pay back the embezzled money in full.

“I have no comment over the court’s conviction, although we won the case,” said Theng Meng Y, who represented the Ministry of Finance.

Uk Siroeun, Koy Dara’s defence lawyer, said he would appeal the sentence, because his client confessed his guilt from the outset.

“We will appeal the conviction at the Appeal Court with the hope that the sentence might be slashed down the minimum,” said Uk Siroeun, adding that his client’s civilian service deserved consideration.

Under Article 49 of the UNTAC criminal code, a conviction on charges of forging public documents is punishable by five to 15 years in prison. Under Article 37 of the law, embezzlement by public officials is a felony punishable by three to 10 years in prison and a fine of double the sum of money stolen.

Koy Dara was arrested and charged in April by the Ministry of Interior’s internal security police, following suspicion that he had embezzled state funds between early 2009 and the time of his arrest. Two weeks ago he admitted to altering cheques and forging documents, as well as losing the money at Nagaworld casino.

Koy Dara’s conviction comes amid a concerted government campaign to eradicate graft, which included the passage of the long-awaited Law on Anticorruption in March.

The Anticorruption Unit – which did not handle Koy Dara’s case – approved a policy last month requiring around 100,000 government and military officials to disclose their assets. Last week, government officials, lawyers and police attended an anticorruption conference on the declaration of assets.

The ACU has also arrested and charged a Pursat provincial prosecutor and two bodyguards with corruption, extortion, and false imprisonment.

ACU head Om Yentieng has said that the agency is pursuing investigations of corruption at the Battambang provincial court and the Appeal Court in Phnom Penh, though he has not yet provided details of the investigations.

Hang Chhaya, executive director for the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said that the government’s anti-graft push was welcome but should be implemented in a more measured way.

“I think from the experience of other countries, one would like to see a proper process – how you empower people, educate the judges and the legal offense teams and prosecutors,” said Hang Chhaya.

“Otherwise, down the line a few years later, the same problems will just re-emerge.”

Drug case hearing for union head


via CAAI

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Chrann Chamroeun

A UNION leader who has been held in pre-trial detention since his contraversial arrest in November pleaded innocent to drug smuggling charges yesterday at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Suos Chantha, a 29-year-old union leader at the United Garment Factory in Sen Sok district, was arrested November 19 and charged with drug smuggling after officials allegedly confiscated nine small packets of methamphetamines from his motorbike.

The arrest sparked protests from workers and union heads, who claimed the charges had been fabricated.

Investigating Judge Phou Povson said yesterday that investigations were ongoing.

“We ordered him to continue serving pre-trial detention,” he said.

Ath Thorn, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said he would continue to support Suos Chantha.

“We still believe that he was not involved with drug smuggling or dealing,” he said. “He told me he didn’t even smoke cigarettes.”

He said Suos Chantha had also claimed to have been “brutally beaten” by military officials after his arrest.

Police Blotter: 17-12-2010


via CAAI

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Phak Seangly

Woman stabbed during Koh Kong burglary
A 25-year-old woman was stabbed seven times in the face and chest during a scuffle with a burglar who broke into her home in Koh Kong province at around 4:30am on Wednesday. Police said the burglar had snuck in after making a hole in the roof, and was trying to remove jewellery from the sleeping victim’s body when she woke up and began shouting for help. The startled burglar stabbed the woman repeatedly, causing serious injuries, before grabbing a mobile phone and escaping through an open window. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Rider crashes into parked truck, dies
A 25-year-old motorcyclist died immediately – and two passengers were seriously injured – when he drove into a parked truck in Svay Rieng province’s Svay Teab district on Tuesday evening. Police said the truck had been left parked in the middle of an unlit stretch of road, and that there had been no signs to warn drivers of the obstacle. The truck owner fled the scene after the accident, police said. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Man arrested for killing clumsy passerby
A 30-year-old man was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Tuesday for allegedly beating to death a man who brushed against his motorbike and caused a helmet to fall from the handlebars. Police said the suspect and an accomplice fled after attacking the victim on the evening of December 11. The suspect has been sent to the Municipal Court, and police are searching for his accomplice. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Mother severely beaten for late debt repayment
A woman was hospitalised in Kampong Cham province on Monday after another woman allegedly beat her for failing to repay a debt of about US$50. The victim said that when she had told the suspect that she was unable to immediately repay the full amount with interest, the suspect had tried to force her to work as a domestic aid, but the victim declined because she had a 1-year-old child to look after. The victim claims that the incensed woman grabbed her by the hair and beat her head against the wall, before picking up and throwing the infant against the wall. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Indonesian trade up 25 percent, more to come


via CAAI

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Soeun Say

BILATERAL trade between Cambodia and Indonesia increased by 24.7 percent in the first nine months of 2010, and looks set to keep growing, according to trade officials yesterday.

Two-way trade between the countries reached US$175 million in the year to October, compared with $140 million over the same period last year, according to figures from the Indonesian embassy in Phnom Penh.

Exports to Indonesia rose from $2.5 million to $3.1 million, a gain of more than 22.8 percent, while imports from Indonesia increased from $138 million to $172 million, up more than 24.7 percent.

Cambodia’s main exports to Indonesia were unprocessed rubber, textiles, clothing and agricultural products.

Its main imports were medical products, consumer goods, manufactured goods, machinery and electrical appliances.

Indonesian ambassador Soehardjono Sastromihardjo said last month that he predicted trade between the countries would grow by more than 20 percent every year. He was hopeful trade would reach $250 million this year, up from $202 million in 2009.

He said Cambodia’s agriculture sector could help meet Indonesia’s demand for rice. Its population needed 20 million tonnes a year.

“We want to import rice to our country. Now, we are looking for a lot – about 300,000 tonnes,” he said.

Nguon Meng Tech, director general of Cambodia’s Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday that the Kingdom had the potential to export more agricultural products to Indonesia in the future, especially rice products, because Indonesia had a large population but lacked sufficient farmland.

State says inactive SEZs are acceptable


via CAAI

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

WORK has not begun on some of the Kingdom’s licensed special economic zones, but the government has no plans to remove the concessions, according to a Council for the Development of Cambodia official.

Chea Vuthy, deputy secretary general of SEZs at the council, said the property belonged to firms, and was not state land.

“We will not take licences away from special economic zone investment companies, even though they have failed to develop their zones,” he said yesterday at a business and investment opportunity forum held at Phnom Penh’s Cambodiana Hotel.

In the eight years prior to 2010, the CDC has approved some 21 SEZs across the Kingdom, with declared investment capital totalling over US$1 billion. Around 14 remain undeveloped, based on CDC statistics.

Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodia Economic Association, said promoting increased SEZ development projects will help to create businesses and further employment.

“I think the government should encourage investments in infrastructure and other services in special economic zones to benefit the economy,” he said yesterday. “It should not leave these zones empty by increasing the land prices in those areas.”

Cambodian law firm BNG Legal said earlier this year the SEZs are designed to ease challenges to setting up business.

It said SEZs have government officials stationed on site to provide administration services, such as clearances and permits. Businesses also benefit from fiscal advantages such as income tax, customs, and VAT breaks.

Four special economic zones have been officially opened – Manhattan SEZ near Phnom Penh, Tai Seng Bavet SEZ in Svay Rieng Province, Phnom Penh SEZ, and Sihanoukville SEZ 2.

Two other projects, Sihanoukville Port SEZ 1 and Neang Kok Koh Kong SEZ, are both said to be under construction.

Yesterday, officials said construction is slated to start on the Hong Kong-funded $34 million SEZ in Saang District of Kandal province at the end of the year.

Chea Vuthy said work will begin on the site this month.

“We are encouraging cooperation in developing other Special Economic Zones in an attempt to attract more foreign investment,” he said.

Future of exports seems not so dim


via CAAI

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Steve Finch

THE International Monetary Fund’s concerns over Cambodia’s persistently narrow export base are well founded, but thankfully the signs for primary markets the United States and Europe look better than expected for the New Year despite slow economic recoveries among these countries.

Noting that garment exports to the US and Europe account for 40 percent of the Kingdom’s total exports, the IMF warned of downside risks in the long-term on the back of a frail world economy. But all signs point to steady demand from these primary markets in early 2011 for Cambodia’s garment sector suggesting that revenues, at least, should continue rising.

From January 1, Cambodia will enjoy zero tariffs on almost all garment exports to the European Union following new legislation that reduces the onus on the exporting country to add value. The Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia has said the Kingdom will benefit hugely from this rule change given Cambodia’s reliance on imported raw materials, which under the existing rules meant zero-tariff status often did not apply.

That means regardless of the fiscal problems in Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal demand for Cambodian garments is expected to rise in these troubled economies as they will cost less and can better compete with other countries that already enjoy tax breaks.

Meanwhile, although the US has struggled to reduce unemployment, recent data suggests the all-important holiday shopping season this year will be better than expected despite the general economic malaise which in turn should add momentum going into next year.

The US National Retail Federation has forecast the holiday sales gain for November and December will be the largest since 2006, while November results for major clothing brands and retailers that import from Cambodia were generally solid.

Clothing brands including Abercrombie & Fitch as well as retailers such as Target, JC Penney Co and Macy’s – all of which import from Cambodia – posted better-than-expected retail figures last month in the US. In theory, this should deplete inventories and in turn create demand for Cambodian garments going into next year.

However, GMAC Secretary General Ken Loo said yesterday that this did not necessarily translate into a complete recovery for the sector or rising profits for garment factories in Cambodia given that this year’s recovery had not yet overtaken last year’s decline, while costs such as fabric were up 60 percent since January. Cotton costs had risen even faster, he added.

While the rebound in orders at the start of the year was misleading in its scope in that it represented the start of the turnaround in Cambodia’s garment sector, and orders may slow down, the outlook in terms of demand remains fairly robust given opportunities in the US and Europe. So even if market diversification does continue to be a challenge, the critical factor determining the fortunes of Cambodia’s main export industry next year remains costs such as cotton, fabric and electricity.

Demand is of course important but it won’t necessarily guarantee recovery and growth in real terms. The real test here is profit.

National team face Crown in friendly


via CAAI

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Dan Riley

The Cambodian national team play reigning Metfone C-League champions Phnom Penh Crown today at 3:30pm at Olympic Stadium.

The friendly fixture is part of series of practice matches against all the top flight local teams to help new coach Lee Tae-Hoon of South Korea identify his best squad for the two upcoming AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers against Macau to be held home and away on February 9 and 16.

The national team failed to progress to the knockout stage of the ongoing 2010 Suzuki Cup, missing out on goal difference in the qualifying tournament held in Vientiane last October. They had previously qualified for the tournament in 2008, when the qualifiers were held at Olympic stadium.

Today, the squad will be up against familiar national team regulars such as Khim Borey, Kouch Sokumpheak, Tieng Tiny, San Narith and Sun Sopanha.

Recently appointed Crown coach Bojan Hodak of Croatia and his squad are currently preparing for the 2011 Samdech Hun Sen Cup competition which will begin in early January. The two-time Cup champions will spend the Christmas period in Vietnam training and playing two friendlies against local sides before returning home on December 30.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


via CAAI

Malaysia seize initiative in Suzuki Cup semifinal

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Dan Riley

A second-half brace by Safee Sali helped Malaysia overcome defending champions Vietnam 2-0 in the first leg of their 2010 Suzuki Cup semifinal Wednesday night. Spurred on by their vociferous home support at the Bukit Jalil stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia put themselves in a strong position to progress to the final, something they haven’t achieved since the inaugural edition in 1996 when they lost 1-0 to Thailand. The teams now head to Hanoi to play the second leg tomorrow at 7pm.

Thai tourist and business boom begins

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Soeun Say

NEW visa exemptions for Cambodian and Thai citizens came into effect yesterday, expected to boost tourism and trade in both countries. The agreement allows citizens of each country to travel across borders visa-free for 14 days. Koy Kuong, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said it facilitated cross-border investment and business trips. Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said the long-awaited exemption could see the Kingdom’s 100,000 Thai visitors a year double.

Supermarket sets date

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Soeun Say

Cambodia’s first major Vietnamese supermarket will officially open its doors on December 29. Vietnamese firm Z38 Com’s administration manager Va Sery Vuthy said Vietnam’s ambassador in Phnom Penh and the Cambodian Minister of Commerce would be invited to the grand opening.

Four hurt in UXO blast

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Thet Sambath

FOUR children were seriously injured on Wednesday when an unexploded landmine they had mistaken for a toy blew up in Battambang province’s Phnom Proek district. “The children didn’t realise they were playing with a mine,” said Sareth Visith, deputy police chief of Phnom Proek district yesterday. Pring Panharith, Battambang’s demining unit manager, said 260 people have been injured due to unexploded ordnance in the province this year.

Governor fronts court

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Chrann Chamroeun

THE governor of Andong Meas district in Ratanakkiri province was summoned to the provincial court on Tuesday, for questioning related to allegations that he planted more than 10 hectares of protected community forest land with cassava. Pen Bonnar, the provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said governor Norng Dararidth came under suspicion following the November 23 arrest and detention of local land broker Sabon Kro Nhjoun. Norng Dararidth could not be reached for comment of Tuesday.

Teachers allege pay docked for state ‘party’

Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 May Titthara

TEACHERS in Pursat province are preparing to file a complaint to the Anticorruption Unit after school directors allegedly docked their salaries last month to fund a party held in honour of government officials visiting from Phnom Penh. Kim Darany, provincial director of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association, said yesterday that she had received complaints from teachers across the province, claiming that up to 9,000 riels [US$2.25] had been deducted from their monthly pay. Soung Sophy, an official at the provincial education department, said yesterday that he did not know about the deductions.

Correction


Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Post Staff

In the story “Refugees face deportation” (December 15), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was misidentified as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Also, in the story “Rampaging elephant subdued” (December 16), the organisation Wildlife Alliance was incorrectly identified as World Wildlife Alliance.

Illegal wood raid fails


Friday, 17 December 2010 15:00 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

MORE than five tonnes of luxury wood was confiscated from illegal wood shops by authorities during a raid yesterday in Banlung district in Ratanakkiri province, according to Neang Khai, the deputy provincial military chief. A mix of authorities including police forces, military police, court officials, forestry department officials and customs officials orchestrated the raid, Neang Khai said, adding that no arrests were made because those responsible had been tipped off about the raid. He said the shop owners’ identities were known to policy, and that they would be arrested soon.

Midwives get mobile


via CAAI

Thursday, 16 December 2010 21:45 Brooke Lewis and Mom Kunthear

Kampong Thom province

Sem Phai, a 35-year-old rice farmer in Kampong Thom province’s Prasat Sambor district, has three children and says she cannot afford any more.

But living in Tang Krasao village, which lies a bumpy hour-long drive from Kampong Thom town, means that Sem Phai’s options for preventing unwanted pregnancies are limited.

She tried using a contraceptive pill but soon stopped after noticing that it was causing her to become “thinner and thinner”.

“I don’t want more children because I’m poor and I’m afraid I can’t earn enough to support them when they grow up,” she said. “I want to spend time working to support my family.”

Local healthcare workers say some women in Sem Phai’s position prefer to abort unwanted pregnancies than to seek family planning services, citing accessibility, affordability and expediency as major considerations.

Authorities have long cited a lack of healthcare services in rural and remote areas as one of the major obstacles to reducing the Kingdom’s maternal mortality rate which, based on 2008 census data, is pegged at 461 deaths per 100,000 live births and is widely cited as among the highest in the region.

Up to a quarter of these deaths are related to unwanted pregnancies, meaning that “roughly one woman dies every 10.5 hours from unsafe abortion”, according to the NGO Marie Stopes International, which has recently introduced Midwives on Motos, a new programme designed to improve access to safe family planning services in remote areas.

Along with 14 other women, Sem Phai visited her local health centre last month to receive a hormonal implant. The implant, which is inserted just beneath the skin on the woman’s upper arm, protects against pregnancy for three to five years and is not usually accessible for women in remote villages like Tang Krasao.

Sitting on a wooden bench outside the open door of the healthcare centre while waiting her turn to receive the implant, Sem Phai said her initial fears about side effects had been quashed after a consultation with Khy Sophorn, an MSI midwife visiting from Kampong Thom town.

“At first, I felt scared about this because I heard the rumour that it hurts women,” she said.

In a group discussion before beginning individual consultations, Khy Sophorn explained to the women assembled that the implant would not “walk around their bodies” or make them too weak to do physical work.

Sosy Vorn, a midwife based in Tang Krasao village who has been practicing in Kampong Thom province for more than 20 years, said such rumours were common and that there was often an initial distrust of modern contraceptives like the implant.

“Family planning methods are new to Cambodia and lots of women have heard stories of bad side effects. It will take some time to build trust in family planning methods,” she said. “Some women just want to see what happens with their neighbour’s implant; if it goes well then maybe they will do that too.”

She said that some women in remote areas still use abortion as a form of family planning and see it as preferable to medium-term contraception methods.

“Some of the women like to use abortion rather than family planning,” she said. “A surgical abortion takes only five minutes and doesn’t hurt after, but for family planning, they have to take some time to do that.”

The need for accessible family planning services was made evident in the 2005 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey, which found that 59 percent of married women in Kampong Thom province did not want any more children, yet only 30 percent of them reported using modern contraceptive methods.

An estimated 1,700 women die during childbirth or as a result of becoming pregnant in Cambodia every year, according to a May report from the Ministry of Health, which cites transportation problems as one of the top three “critical delays [to accessing services] that can make the difference between life and death”.

The report also highlights the importance of access to family planning, noting that, “Globally, there is strong association between low MMR and high rates of family planning”.

Nationwide, the number of married women using family planning methods rose from 18.5 percent in the year 2000, to 28 percent in 2009, according to the report. The Kingdom has set a target to more than double this number to 60 percent by 2015, as part of a wider goal to reduce maternal mortality rates to less than 250 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015.

Che Katz, MSI’s country director, said taking services to people in remote areas was one of the most immediate ways to work toward such goals.

“Midwives on Motos is about how to access women and men who are really underserved with family planning services and sexual reproductive health services,” she said.

“People in urban centres have more access to health services, or [semi-urban] centres, but when you move further out to into the rural or remote areas, it’s quite hard for them to get access to services. The cost of travel can be just prohibitive for poor women.”

Midwives on Motos began in Kampong Thom province in March following the introduction of similar programmes in Battambang, Siem Reap and Koh Kong provinces in January. MSI claims to have provided more than 660 women with family planning services through the programme.

Katz said, along with other MSI programmes, Midwives on Motos had a notable impact on reducing the number of maternal deaths.

“This year we will have averted 315 maternal deaths directly from our work.... and more than 4,000 infant deaths, and we’ll have saved the government of Cambodia and the people of Cambodia US$21 million in health services costs,” she said. “So that’s a very measurable impact that we’re having.”

Subdued Sambo headed for the zoo


Photo by: Adam Miller
Sambo the elephant wanders through a field in Kampong Speu province after being shot with a tranquiliser dart on Wednesday.

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 December 2010 20:55 Adam Miller and Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

AUTHORITIES are hoping for a fairytale ending to the story of Sambo, the violent bull elephant that has wreaked havoc on villagers in Kampong Speu province over the past two weeks, who will be taken to Phnom Tamao Zoo and possibly paired with a fiery female companion.

Sambo, who is about 50 years old, killed his owner on December 3 and ran amok, chasing locals and destroying their crops in Mon village, until he was tranquilised and restrained on Wednesday night.

Cheng Kimsun, director of the Forestry Administration, said yesterday that the aggressive elephant would be sent for “re-education” at Phnom Tamao Zoo in Takeo province in about a week.

He said the Forestry Administration decided yesterday that Sambo would not be killed, even if he were to turn violent again.

“According to our animal experts, Sambo has almost human-like senses,” he said.

“He can understand people’s behaviours and their activities. The reason why he became so cruel was because he was tortured by his owner and was also violated and disturbed by people.”

He said officials hoped that conditions at the zoo would help rehabilitate the elephant.

“Sambo is not crazy but he has lived a very stressful life because he had been mistreated for so many years,” he said.

“He was chained down, he could not go anywhere and he also had no wife – he needs his freedom.”

Marriage plans?
Nhek Ratanapich, the director of Phnom Tamao Zoo, said Sambo’s new living place would possibly be situated near a 45-year-old female elephant named Srey Pao, who he said is similarly aggressive.

“We want to put Sambo together with Srey Pao in our zoo but we are afraid that they will not like each other because they didn’t know each other before,” he said.

“So now we are thinking that first we will just put Sambo in an enclosure nearby Srey Pao, and after they get to know each other well enough we will marry them and put them together in their own enclosure.”

He said he hoped the company would help to calm Sambo.

“I hope that after Sambo stays with Srey Pao he will be happy, his stress will be released and his mental condition will improve in the future, and finally, he can be a nice elephant again,” he said.

Experts agreed yesterday that it would be wise to wait before making any attempts to intergrate Sambo with other elephants.

Jack Highwood, of the Elephants Livelihood Initiative Environment, said Sambo was not ready for company.

“I think that while it is very important the FA gives Sambo a proper welcome to Phnom Tamao Zoo, I think he needs time to calm down and the staff there needs to study him further,” he said.

“Integrating him with other elephants is very important, but from what I have observed from this elephant, putting him in contact with other elephants is not advised at the moment ­– but is certainly possible in the future.”

Nick Marx, wildlife rescue director at international conservation group Wildlife Alliance, said that mating elephants is a step-by-step process.

“We have some wonderful elephants for him to mate with but we can’t say whether or not we will integrate him,” he said.

“He’s been well behaved for the better part of his life and we will have to wait and see if he reverts back to that gentler part of his life.”

He also noted that it was important to consider the interests of Sambo’s potential mates.

“This is a huge elephant and the girls aren’t as big – he could do great damage to them and we wouldn’t want to compromise them,” he said.

He added: “Of course, baby elephants would be wonderful and even though it’s too far in the future, it’s what we all hope for secretly.”

NGOs called to account


via CAAI

Thursday, 16 December 2010 21:27 James O’Toole and Cheang Sokha

THE government has made public a draft version of the long-awaited NGO Law, legislation some fear could restrict the activities of groups in the Kingdom’s vast civil society sector.

The law, the passage of which is declared “urgent” in the draft, includes new registration and reporting requirements that apply to local organisations. The undated version of the law released yesterday includes 11 chapters and 58 articles, and will be debated by government officials and NGOs at a consultative meeting organised by the Ministry of Interior on January 10.

“We will be collecting their recommendations before we submit the draft law to the Council of Ministers,” Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said, adding that the law would “add transparency” to the country’s more than 2,000 NGOs.

“Some NGOs ask the government to be transparent with the people, but these NGOs themselves are not transparent with their staffs,” Khieu Sopheak said. “Some NGOs do not have transparency at all.”

The draft law requires NGOs to submit personal information about their leadership to the Ministry of Interior, and to submit financial statements that may be examined by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the National Audit Authority. NGOs and associations are also required annually to “generate reports on activities, the status of their budget in the previous year, and action plan for the next year”.

All associations and domestic NGOs must reapply with the government within 180 days of the law’s passage or see their previous registration documents nullified, the draft law states.

“There are some concerns, some positives,” said Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, who noted that the draft law released yesterday was less restrictive than a 2005 version. He added, however, that the expanded legal framework for registration and reporting could pose a challenge for some groups.

“I’m trying to look at it from [perspective of] the smaller, local, more community-based groups, and I’m just thinking that they are the ones that probably have to be more concerned than us with this draft law,” Ou Virak said. “The registration process, the reporting process, it’s just a lot of these formalities that they may find very difficult.”

NGO leaders said yesterday that they would be analysing the draft law in the coming weeks and would issue a joint statement ahead of the government meeting in January.

“We hope that this is just the start of a consultation, January, because for such a law, I think it’s in the government’s interest to ensure full participation,” said Naly Pilorge, director of local rights group Licadho.

“At least from our point of view, we really hope that this is just the start and not a one-day process.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen said in 2008 that the NGO Law was a priority for his new term, along with the Kingdom’s new Anticorruption Law and penal code.

Licadho has raised concerns about the penal code, which is being introduced this month, claiming that some provisions could restrict freedom of expression and public debate. Pilorge said the group would be reviewing the draft NGO Law against the penal code, the Anticorruption Law and the Demonstration Law “to ensure that all of them are in line with each other”.

Hun Sen has said the NGO Law is needed because “NGOs are out of control … they insult the government just to ensure their financial survival”. He has also voiced fears that terrorist groups could operate in the Kingdom by posing as NGOs.

In a joint statement issued last year, 237 local and international NGOs expressed concern over the proposed law, charging that “the legitimacy of civil society to create space for the ‘voice’ of affected communities is being called into question by the government”.

Abhisit may intervene for jailed Thais


via CAAI

Thursday, 16 December 2010 21:07 Cheang Sokha

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he plans to intervene in the case of three Thai nationals who were sentenced in a Cambodian court last week to 18 months in prison.

According to a report by Thai news agency MCOT, Abhisit said on Wednesday that he assigned his country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help the convicted trio and provide a legal remedy.

“I have asked Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya about this and it was affirmed that the ministry is currently following the situation,” Abhisit was quoted as saying.

“We’re studying how we can benefit from the agreements made between Thailand and Cambodia regarding this issue.”

Last week, Siem Reap provincial court sentenced the Thai nationals to 18 months in prison on charges of illegal entry and unlawful possession of weapons. Sanong Wongcharoen, 36, Lim Puangpet, 39, and Lan Sapsri, 53 – all from Surin province’s Sangkhla district – were arrested on August 18 by authorities in Oddar Meanchey province.

At the time of their arrest, Cambodian soldiers confiscated homemade guns, torches and batteries from the trio, who had strayed about 500 metres inside Cambodian territory.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said his ministry had not received any contact from Thailand over the case of these men.

Ly Vengheng, defence lawyer for the convicted men, said yesterday that his clients are considering whether to lodge an appeal against their conviction.

OCIC plans two new bridges


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
People stand at sunset yesterday near the northern bridge to Diamond Island, where a stampede last month killed 353 people.

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 December 2010 20:32 Tep Nimol

REPRESENTATIVES of a development company said yesterday that the firm plans to build two new concrete bridges close to the Diamond Island suspension bridge, where more than 350 people were killed last month in a stampede on the final night of the annual Water Festival holiday.

An official government investigation determined that the swaying of the suspension bridge caused panic and led to the stampede, which left 353 people dead and another 393 injured.

Touch Samnang, Koh Pich project manager for the Overseas Cambodian Investment Cooperation, said yesterday that the new bridges would be more stable.

“The two bridges are concrete,” he said. “They are different from Koh Pich Bridge.”

He declined to give a timeline for the project, which he said would cost an estimated US$3 million.

During a meeting at City Hall on Monday, Governor Kep Chuktema gave permission for the construction of the bridges to begin in mid-January.

At the meeting, Sum Piseth, vice director of the municipal Management Office, said the two bridges would each be 101 metres in length and 12 metres wide, and would have emergency stairs and “no shaking”.

“Those bridges will take, at the longest, 10 months to complete,” he said.

Dream Park plans underway


An artist’s impression of KNN Cambodia Co’s US$10 million Dream Parkto be built in Phnom Penh. The amusement park is slated to open next March. Photo by: Photo Supplied

via CAAI

Thursday, 16 December 2010 20:25 Catherine James

KNN Cambodia Co will open the Kingdom’s first major amusement park next March, according to founder and managing director Khunnath Cheam.

Construction has begun on the US$10 million-plus Dream Park project – solely funded by KNN – located on the vacant block opposite Phnom Penh’s only casino Nagaworld.

Khunnath Cheam acknowledged he was taking a risk as sole investor, but said the improved domestic economy and lack of competition augured well for the future of the theme park.

“I could see the economy in Cambodia was developing more every day, so people have more money. And when they have money, they will spend more to eat better food and have better amusement,” he said.

“I don’t see any amusement parks in Cambodia … So I thought, if I launch this business I think I could make a good business from this one,” he said.

KNN has a five-year lease, starting March this year, on the privately-owned land. Khunnath Cheam said he hoped to recover his investment within two years of the park opening.

The firm already has four other ventures: its core business of selling second-hand machinery, another business selling Khmer handicrafts, a clothing and textiles line, and a small money transfer business.

“[It] is totally different to what I have been trading. In my [main business] there is more competition,” he said.

Dream Park’s rides were purchased from Europe with the construction of each to be overseen by the European company’s recommended engineer, he claimed, adding it was an important factor to ensure safety.

“We are really concentrating on the rides,” he said, adding he sourced the four main rides from Europe at a cost of more than 3 million euro (US$3.97 million). “We want them to be international standard.”

The park plan features major rides such as a tower drop and a pirate ship, as well as a roller-skating rink, an indoor playground and a giant Ferris Wheel. A go-kart track was still under negotiation, he said.

Some 200 stalls would be set up in the park, available for rent at a flat rate of $200 per month for businesses to sell anything from accessories and souvenirs, to food and beverages.

A strip of restaurants and cafes was being built facing the river. They will have two entrances - both externally to the riverside and internally to the park - to maximise traffic.

Susi Tan, the project director for Diamond Island’s developer Overseas Cambodia Investment Cooperation, said yesterday it remained to be seen what the competitive impact of the new park would be on Diamond Island’s businesses, given the close proximity.

“It might have a negative impact, or it might have a positive impact,” she said, adding the projects were catering for quite different tastes.

“I think we have a different style from each other. “

Domestic Violence Against Sex Workers in Cambodia

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/

By Chan Dyna and Keo Sichan and Melissa Cockroft

December 16, 2010

via CAAI

This article is part of a series published by RH Reality Check in partnership with the Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) to commemorate the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, December 17th, 2010. It is excerpted from Research For Sex Work 12, published 17 December 2010 by the NSWP, an organization that upholds the voice of sex workers globally and connects regional networks advocating for the rights of female, male, and transgender sex workers. Download the full journal, with eight more articles about sex work and violence, for free at nswp.org. See all articles in this series here.

Much attention related to sex workers in Cambodia in recent times has focused on violence committed by police and local authorities since the passing of the Law on the Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in 2008.1 In sharp contrast, little attention has been given to violence experienced by sex workers from those closest to them: their husbands, boyfriends and partners. This article provides a brief discussion of intimate partner violence experienced by Cambodian sex workers and some of the challenges for the Cambodian Prostitute Union (CPU) to support them in addressing this issue. Established in 1998, the CPU is the first sex workers collective in Cambodia, providing support, advocacy for sex workers rights, and education on HIV prevention and health care to sex workers based in Phnom Penh.

My husband regularly beats me, every day. Usually he uses his belt or his hand, sometimes he kicks me too. He beats me because we have problems with our income. He doesn’t have a job and relies on me to support him. Even though we don’t have much money, he gambles and plays cards. He also uses yama [methamphetamines]. Sometimes I stay in a guesthouse or at my relatives’ house to try and escape his violence but he always finds me. He follows me everywhere so I cannot escape him. Every night he follows me to the long road where I get my clients. My husband says I should charge $10 per client. He always comes with me and waits for me. After I am finished with the client he collects the money from me. He says that I cannot be trusted with the money because I am stupid.


These are the words of CPU member Song Vann, 28 years of age. She has a 7-year old son who lives with her mother. Song Vann has been with her current husband2 for over two years. She vividly remembers one particularly violent incident:


One night I only received $5 from a client. When my husband saw that I only had $5 he became very angry. He argued with me, saying that I had kept $5 for myself. He cursed me and pushed me onto the road. I was lying face down. He repeatedly stamped on the back of my head with his foot, banging my face into the road. It didn’t bleed but I got a very large bump on my forehead and scratches across my face. This happened on the side of the main road where sex workers stand to get clients. Maybe ten other women saw my husband do this but they didn’t do anything. It’s normal for a husband to beat his wife. You don’t interfere in one’s family business...

Karma

Like many other Cambodian women, Song Vann believes that she deserves to be beaten:


‘I think I experience violence because I am illiterate and not clever, also because of my past life. Maybe I committed a lot of sins in my past life and now I have to pay for them.’

The CPU sees cases like Song Vann’s all the time. Many members believe that they experience violence and other hardships in their lives because of karma, even though others realise that violence is not because of their sins but because their husbands are bad and Cambodian society tolerates violence against women and sex workers. Solving violence committed by husbands and partners is very difficult. Sometimes the CPU calls the police to intervene when members have experienced domestic violence. Officers then come to the house and say to the husband: ‘If you do this again, we will arrest you.’ But the next day they will say that domestic violence is a family matter that should be resolved in the family, and that they do not want to encourage divorce.

Weak Enforcement of the Law

The 2005 Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of the Victim provides legal protection for women in Cambodia. However for Cambodian women more generally, social and cultural attitudes that encourage silence around reporting of domestic violence and reconciliation between couples, combined with corruption and a lack of understanding of the law by police and local authorities, result in weak enforcement and implementation of the law. As a result, few cases of domestic violence make it to court and where formal complaints are made, frequently out-of-court settlements and non-legally binding divorce contracts are made.

For Cambodian sex workers it is even more difficult. As many Cambodian sex workers typically have no ID card and no permanent address,3 it is difficult for them to make a complaint to the local authorities. Sex workers are also commonly not legally married, which creates difficulties for proving the existence of the relationship to authorities. As sex workers often experience violence at the hands of the police, they are understandably reluctant to approach the police for assistance and do not trust them. Police officers are also likely to discriminate against sex workers, refusing to assist women once they become aware that they are sex workers. Due to the prevalence of corruption within Cambodian society, for sex workers who seek to make a formal complaint, they must also pay unofficial ‘fees’ every step of the way to the police, local authorities and court officials, which many sex workers cannot afford.
How Sex Workers Fight Back

The CPU provides education to sex workers and their abusive husbands about the domestic violence law as well as counselling between husbands and members. The CPU also assists the women to make a formal complaint to the local authorities and will accompany them to ensure that they are not discriminated against. Safe shelter with relevant women’s legal and human rights organisations will also be sought for women who experience extreme violence, at the request of the women. Whilst the CPU cannot provide direct legal assistance, it refers sex workers to supportive local legal or human rights organisations that can provide advice and a lawyer if a sex worker wishes to take the case to court. The CPU leader (Chan Dyna) also regularly talks on public radio to advocate for sex workers’ rights and to stop discrimination and violence against sex workers.

And what happened to Song Vann? The CPU had referred her to a local organisation that could assist her in accessing a safe house, legal services and support, but Song Vann decided to stay with her husband. We understand that it is difficult for her to escape the cycle of violence common in cases of domestic violence and we cannot force her to leave her husband. The CPU continues to provide counselling and support for Song Vann and her husband to try and minimise harm caused to her. We hope that in the future, with the support of other CPU members, she will have the strength and confidence to leave her husband.

About the Authors

Chan Dyna is the leader of the Cambodian Prostitute Union. Keo Sichan and Melissa Cockroft are with the Cambodian Women’s Development Agency, a local women’s NGO which provides technical support and assistance to the CPU.

Notes

1 How this law has provided justification for the use of force against sex workers has been highlighted through both local advocacy efforts and the report Off the Streets: Arbitrary detention and other abuses against sex workers in Cambodia, published by Human Rights Watch in July 2010.

2 Like many sex workers in Cambodia Song Vann refers to her partner as her ‘husband’ although they are not legally married.

3 In Cambodia to obtain an ID card you need to have a permanent address. Because sex workers frequently move to try to find work or escape crackdowns, they often do not have a fixed address, or they have no relatives whose address they can use. They are also reluctant to go to the authorities to obtain an ID card due to discrimination and mistrust.