Thursday, 23 December 2010

Neighbours agree to new checkpoint


via CAAI

Published: 23/12/2010

PHNOM PENH: Thailand and Cambodia are pushing for the opening of a new border checkpoint to boost trade between the two countries.

Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya discussed the checkpoint with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his counterpart Hor Namhong when he met them this week to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The new checkpoint would be located at Ban Nong Eian in Aranyaprathet district, Sa Kaeo, opposite Stung Bot in Cambodia's Banteay Meanchey province. The existing Poipet-Aranyaprathet border checkpoint is about seven kilometres further north.

"Both Thai and Cambodian officials in charge of the planned construction of the Nong Eian-Stung Bot checkpoint are working very hard to complete it within two years," Thailand's ambassador to Cambodia Prasas Prasasvinitchai said.

The new checkpoint would serve as an international trade route while the Poipet-Aranyaprathet border crossing would be used only for international tourist traffic, he said.

Mr Prasas said Thailand would reap many benefits from the cross-border trade using the new checkpoint.

The total value of trade between the two countries is estimated at 60 billion baht, 90% of which is Thai exports.

Thai businessmen could increase both the volume and the value of their exports through the checkpoint, he said.

The new checkpoint was raised several years ago but nothing concrete was done until Abhisit Vejjajiva came to power two years ago.

Mr Abhisit and Mr Kasit have held several talks with Cambodia to push for the checkpoint, which could be developed as a special economic zone.

Hun Sen also has said he wanted to turn those areas along the border which are now infested with landmines into a special economic zone.

Former Thai ambassador to Cambodia Poksak Nilubol, who now heads the Thailand-Cambodia Friendship Association, has also travelled to Phnom Penh to provide the Cambodian government with medical equipment and supplies to help improve services at three health centres in Oddar Meanchey province.

20 Uighurs Still Missing After Being Sent Back to China in 2009

http://english.ntdtv.com/

via CAAI

2010-12-22




Last December, 20 Uighur refugees were forcibly deported back to China from Cambodia. Now, one year later, they’re still missing.

The ethnic Uighurs from northwest China had been applying for asylum in Cambodia because they feared persecution and torture in China. They fled China’s Xinjiang region during a crackdown that followed deadly riots there in July 2009. Hundreds of Uighurs were arrested, and several were executed, after what Human Rights Watch called “grave violations of due process.”

Just one day after the Uighurs were deported last year, China’s Vice President arrived in Cambodia. That visit ended with $1.2 billion dollar grant-and-loan deal for Cambodia.

The Chinese regime has refused to provide any information about the missing Uighurs.

Meeting with Vietnamese businesses in Cambodia held

via CAAI

12/23/2010

A meeting with Vietnamese businesses took place in Cambodia on December 23.
Addressing the event, Ngo Anh Dung, Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia, reviewed the achievements and advantages in multifaceted cooperation between the two countries in 2010.

Two-way trade turnover in the first 11 months of 2010 reached over US$1.5 billion. Vietnam’s exports turnover to Cambodia gained US$1.3 billion, up 36 percent compared to the same period last year.

Currently, Vietnamese investments in Cambodia are worth nearly US$570 million, mainly in such fields as rubber planting, industrial crops, aviation, banking, services and tourism.

At the meeting, Vietnamese businesses expressed their hope that in 2011, the two governments will continue to simplify the trade and investment procedures to increase the value of trade exchange to reach US$2 billion.

"Economic adviser" to Obama charged with forgery in Cambodia

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

via CAAI

Dec 23, 2010

Phnom Penh - Police in Cambodia arrested a man claiming to be an adviser to US President Barack Obama and head of an international finance organization that stores its assets in caves and sunken ships.

Ray Dam and associate Soush Saroeun were charged with forgery Monday after being arrested at Dam's home in Phnom Penh. They were accused of forging documents alleging connections with HSBC Bank, the US government and the United Nations.

The pair had been operating a self-described international real-estate consultancy known as Asia Real Property out of modern offices in the Cambodian capital.

Asia Real Property's promotional materials identified the firm as a subsidiary of a group called the Office of International Treasury Control that claimed to be 'the largest single owner of gold and platinum bullion in the world,' holding cash and treasure in a variety of clandestine locations.

'Much of the treasure is buried in tunnels, bunkers and caves and in sunken ships,' the group said in an investment presentation. 'Further treasures are hidden all around the world.'

Dam is identified on the group's website as the 'sole arbiter ... of the Tripartite Gold Commission,' which was a post-World War II organization that searched for gold stolen by Nazi Germany and was dissolved in 1998. The website also said Dam was an adviser to Obama and his predecessor George W Bush.

Police said Dam and Saroeun had been advertising financial services to foreign joint venture partners in company documents claiming a connection to HSBC Bank. If convicted, they face a maximum of 16 years in prison.

According to an investigation report from police, Dam was born in Cambodia, fleeing the country for the US in the 1970s before returning in the early '90s. US embassy officials said they had been unable to confirm whether he holds US citizenship.

Officials from Cambodia's Ministry of Finance lodged a complaint against Dam and Saroeun after learning that the pair were operating without a real-estate licence. A government spokesman said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered an investigation after learning that Dam had been posing as an adviser to the president of Cambodia's Senate.

CAMBODIA: "I wanted to die because of leprosy"

 via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, 22 December 2010 (IRIN) - Leang Sopheap always averted his eyes when he collected alms or charity payments for his temple from villagers to hide his leprosy scars.


Photo: Contributor/IRIN
A patient recovers at the Kien Khleang Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre after his leg was amputated due to complications

PHNOM PENH, 22 December 2010 (IRIN) - Leang Sopheap always averted his eyes when he collected alms or charity payments for his temple from villagers to hide his leprosy scars.

"I dared not to look up," he said. "All the monks laughed at me and isolated me. I stayed alone in my room for one year, and only came home during the night when nobody could see my face."

"I wanted to die," he said.

In 2004, Leang found treatment at Cambodia's only leprosy centre, the Kien Khleang National Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre, in a suburb of the capital, Phnom Penh.

The experience drew him to work as a counsellor at the centre, helping leprosy patients deal with discrimination.

Burden on the poor

Many communities continue to ostracize the infected, survivors of the disease say, despite success in curbing the prevalence of leprosy in Cambodia.

Some people harbour misconceptions that the disease is incurable and inherited. They are reluctant to touch, shake hands with, dine with, or use the same toilets as leprosy patients, fearing they will also become infected.

The isolation often plunges the poor further into poverty. For example, some customers refuse to buy food or products if they believe a shop owner is infected.

Leprosy patients also cannot continue doing some jobs, such as manual labour, after their hands become disfigured.

In Cambodia, more than 300 new cases are reported each year, according to statistics gathered by the International Committee of the Order of Malta (CIOMAL), a non-profit organization based in Geneva that funds the centre in Phnom Penh.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 500 registered cases of leprosy exist in Cambodia, less than a third of the number two decades ago.

The rate has generally remained steady for the past decade, ever since leprosy was eliminated at the national level in 1998.

Leprosy is caused by a bacterial infection that can affect the skin, nerves, and eyes. It is not highly infectious even through recurrent contact. When untreated, it can cause patients' faces and hands to become disfigured, develop ulcers on their skin, and lead to nerve damage.

"Many medical professionals are not well educated about leprosy," Sophal Bou, a manager at Kien Khleang, said. The stigma still exists, he said, although it has declined in the past five years.

Many patients report not having trouble finding medicine in Cambodia, but have difficulty speaking to medical staff, according to a study at Vrije University in Amsterdam, as health staff thought that people with visible impairments were contagious. This led to their social exclusion.

Victory?

Around the world, leprosy often affects the poorest of the poor.

In 2008, about 250,000 new cases were reported, WHO reports, mostly in Asia and Africa.

For the most part, healthcare workers are winning the global battle against leprosy, however. Over the past 20 years, more than 14 million leprosy patients have been cured.

The world health body also reached its goal of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem by 2000 through multidrug therapy.

The WHO defines "elimination of leprosy as a public health problem" when the prevalence rate is less than one case per 10,000 people. Cambodia has a rate of about 0.2 per 10,000 people.

"Progress has been achieved, but we need to be careful to say it's a victory," Harald Schmid de Gruneck, CIOMAL head of mission, told IRIN in Phnom Penh.

"We're doing most of the funding with NLR [Netherlands Leprosy Relief, an NGO], but what happens the day we don't?"

CAMBODIA: "I wanted to die because of leprosy"

 via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, 22 December 2010 (IRIN) - Leang Sopheap always averted his eyes when he collected alms or charity payments for his temple from villagers to hide his leprosy scars.


Photo: Contributor/IRIN
A patient recovers at the Kien Khleang Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre after his leg was amputated due to complications

PHNOM PENH, 22 December 2010 (IRIN) - Leang Sopheap always averted his eyes when he collected alms or charity payments for his temple from villagers to hide his leprosy scars.

"I dared not to look up," he said. "All the monks laughed at me and isolated me. I stayed alone in my room for one year, and only came home during the night when nobody could see my face."

"I wanted to die," he said.

In 2004, Leang found treatment at Cambodia's only leprosy centre, the Kien Khleang National Leprosy Rehabilitation Centre, in a suburb of the capital, Phnom Penh.

The experience drew him to work as a counsellor at the centre, helping leprosy patients deal with discrimination.

Burden on the poor

Many communities continue to ostracize the infected, survivors of the disease say, despite success in curbing the prevalence of leprosy in Cambodia.

Some people harbour misconceptions that the disease is incurable and inherited. They are reluctant to touch, shake hands with, dine with, or use the same toilets as leprosy patients, fearing they will also become infected.

The isolation often plunges the poor further into poverty. For example, some customers refuse to buy food or products if they believe a shop owner is infected.

Leprosy patients also cannot continue doing some jobs, such as manual labour, after their hands become disfigured.

In Cambodia, more than 300 new cases are reported each year, according to statistics gathered by the International Committee of the Order of Malta (CIOMAL), a non-profit organization based in Geneva that funds the centre in Phnom Penh.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 500 registered cases of leprosy exist in Cambodia, less than a third of the number two decades ago.

The rate has generally remained steady for the past decade, ever since leprosy was eliminated at the national level in 1998.

Leprosy is caused by a bacterial infection that can affect the skin, nerves, and eyes. It is not highly infectious even through recurrent contact. When untreated, it can cause patients' faces and hands to become disfigured, develop ulcers on their skin, and lead to nerve damage.

"Many medical professionals are not well educated about leprosy," Sophal Bou, a manager at Kien Khleang, said. The stigma still exists, he said, although it has declined in the past five years.

Many patients report not having trouble finding medicine in Cambodia, but have difficulty speaking to medical staff, according to a study at Vrije University in Amsterdam, as health staff thought that people with visible impairments were contagious. This led to their social exclusion.

Victory?

Around the world, leprosy often affects the poorest of the poor.

In 2008, about 250,000 new cases were reported, WHO reports, mostly in Asia and Africa.

For the most part, healthcare workers are winning the global battle against leprosy, however. Over the past 20 years, more than 14 million leprosy patients have been cured.

The world health body also reached its goal of eliminating leprosy as a public health problem by 2000 through multidrug therapy.

The WHO defines "elimination of leprosy as a public health problem" when the prevalence rate is less than one case per 10,000 people. Cambodia has a rate of about 0.2 per 10,000 people.

"Progress has been achieved, but we need to be careful to say it's a victory," Harald Schmid de Gruneck, CIOMAL head of mission, told IRIN in Phnom Penh.

"We're doing most of the funding with NLR [Netherlands Leprosy Relief, an NGO], but what happens the day we don't?"

Hunsaders spending holidays in Cambodia


via CAAI

By SARA KENNEDY - skennedy@bradenton.com

MANATEE -- A local college professor is leaving Sunday with her husband and four children on a plane to Cambodia for a beach holiday with 308 orphans.

Patricia “Tricia” Hunsader, 48, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, and her family will land at Phnom Penh, the capital, and then join children and houseparents from 11 different orphanages on a bus ride to a beachside village.
“It’s a big party,” Hunsader said of the affair, which is arranged through a charitable organization called “Asia’s Hope.”

PROVIDED PHOTO
Tricia Hunsader visits with children on a military base during a previous visit to Cambodia.

Provided photo
It's hard to say goodbye, Tricia Hunsader says of the time her family spends with families and orphans in Cambodia.


“This time, the focus of our trip will be helping kids of Asia’s Hope celebrate Christmas,” said Hunsader, who mostly teaches math courses at the USF College of Education.

Accompanying her will be her husband, Mike, 50, a co-owner of Hunsader Farms in East Manatee; and four of her five children, including Jared, 23; Zach, 22; Tyler, 18, and Alyssa, 17. Her son, Johnny, 20, is unable to leave his job, she said. Zach’s fiancee, Kayla McCoy, is also making the trip.

The Cambodian children are looking forward to their holiday jaunt, she said.

“They live in a predominantly Buddhist culture that does not celebrate Christmas, so it’s the kids’ second year of experiencing a Christmas celebration,” she said. “The leadership thinks its good to gather the kids together for that time.”

She explained that Cambodian culture is very social.

“When you’re in the town at night, everybody is in the streets, on the balconies, on the roofs,” Tricia Hunsader said. “People enjoy being together, kids getting together is kind of the ultimate celebration.”

“Our family will be putting on a goofy field day of games, competition between the different houses, each with 20 kids or so,” she explained.

It will be the second trip for the family, but the fifth for Mike, who was impressed with the aid the organization provides to destitute children, so vulnerable to economic and sexual exploitation.

Mike Hunsader began traveling to Cambodia as part of the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry.

The kids come from jungle villages on the Cambodian-Thai border and are without parents due to AIDS, tuberculosis, or abandonment.

“Life expectancy is extremely low in that country, and people die of things that are treatable here,” Tricia said.

“But because women don’t have much opportunity in the villages, if the man of the house dies, the woman has no way to support her family, and if she remarries, she will relocate and leave her children behind.”

The whole Hunsader family is fond of the kids, she said, adding, “It’s been little-by-little taking over our world.”

Half of the Cambodian girls would otherwise go into the sex trade; many have experienced miserable lives of scrounging for food and trying to stay alive, said Jared Hunsader.

“Every girl you’re bringing out, you’re saving her from the worst thing on the earth,” he said. “It’s important for people to open their eyes and understand what’s going on in the rest of the world.”

“I give what I can over to them, I give beyond my means because I know it’s going to such a great cause,” he added.

The family will be sitting on a plane for more than 30 hours, and then will travel five hours by bus to the beach village for a three-day holiday with the orphans.

But no one minds the inconvenience.

“Our kids fell in love this summer, and absolutely cannot wait to go back and spend more time with them,” said Tricia.

“What’s so different over there is, you can’t imagine how completely unspoiled kids can be,” said Tricia. “And how much they look after each other.”

“They have nothing, but whatever they do have, they’ll gladly give it to you.”

“We are loved so completely, it’s unlike anything any of us have experienced before.”

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.

Laos, Cambodia ink cultural cooperation agreement

via CAAI

VIENTIANE, Dec 23 (KPL) - Laos and Cambodia intend to organise a number of cultural exchange activities and events over the next three years to boost bilateral cooperation in the sector.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cultural cooperation was signed in Vientiane on 21 December by Lao Minister of Information and Culture Mounkeo Oraboun and Cambodian Minister of Culture and Art Him Chhem.

The MOU outlines plans to organise cultural events, including film festivals and a cultural week, on occasions of national significance for each country, as well as exchange visits by delegations of the two neighbours.

Other events to be organised include photo and painting exhibitions and book fairs.

Under the MOU, each year groups of three to five government officials from each nation’s culture sector will visit the other country for a week.

During a bilateral meeting between cultural officials led by the two ministers on December 16, the two sides expressed their willingness to strengthen relations between their countries and between the four newest Asean members - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam - through cultural activities and events.

“The nations shall invite art groups and delegations from other countries to participate in international and domestic festivals and conferences on culture and art to be held in their territories,” the MOU states.

According to the MOU, the two sides also agreed to facilitate technical cooperation including exchange of experience and information, training for officials working in the field of culture and arts, and actively endeavouring to realise exchange and cooperation, including exchange of scientific and technological information, and delegations in the field of cultural heritage preservation.

The MOU also covers cooperation between museums and libraries in the two countries, with an aim of stimulating exchange of information and officials.

The two ministries also agreed to boost intellectual property rights protection in accordance with the laws and regulations of their respective countries and international obligations. (KPL)

Laos, Cambodia ink cultural cooperation agreement

via CAAI

VIENTIANE, Dec 23 (KPL) - Laos and Cambodia intend to organise a number of cultural exchange activities and events over the next three years to boost bilateral cooperation in the sector.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cultural cooperation was signed in Vientiane on 21 December by Lao Minister of Information and Culture Mounkeo Oraboun and Cambodian Minister of Culture and Art Him Chhem.

The MOU outlines plans to organise cultural events, including film festivals and a cultural week, on occasions of national significance for each country, as well as exchange visits by delegations of the two neighbours.

Other events to be organised include photo and painting exhibitions and book fairs.

Under the MOU, each year groups of three to five government officials from each nation’s culture sector will visit the other country for a week.

During a bilateral meeting between cultural officials led by the two ministers on December 16, the two sides expressed their willingness to strengthen relations between their countries and between the four newest Asean members - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam - through cultural activities and events.

“The nations shall invite art groups and delegations from other countries to participate in international and domestic festivals and conferences on culture and art to be held in their territories,” the MOU states.

According to the MOU, the two sides also agreed to facilitate technical cooperation including exchange of experience and information, training for officials working in the field of culture and arts, and actively endeavouring to realise exchange and cooperation, including exchange of scientific and technological information, and delegations in the field of cultural heritage preservation.

The MOU also covers cooperation between museums and libraries in the two countries, with an aim of stimulating exchange of information and officials.

The two ministries also agreed to boost intellectual property rights protection in accordance with the laws and regulations of their respective countries and international obligations. (KPL)

Cambodia: New Penal Code Undercuts Free Speech

via CAAI

Man Jailed for Sharing Web Articles With Co-Workers

December 23, 2010


Seng Kunnaka, a Cambodian employee of the World Food Programme in Phnom Penh, was imprisoned for incitement under article 495 of the penal code after he shared articles with two co-workers that he had printed from the internet.

Source: KI-Media..

(New York) - The Cambodian government's use of its new penal code against a man who shared web articles with his co-workers is a huge step backward for free expression in Cambodia, Human Rights Watch said today. The man was quickly convicted on incitement charges and sentenced to prison.

Human Rights Watch called on the Cambodian government to amend the penal code, which went into effect on December 10, 2010, to remove provisions that limit the peaceful expression of political views so that the law fully complies with international standards.

"Charging someone with incitement for sharing web articles is a profound setback for free expression in Cambodia," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "Cambodia's new penal code should have put an end to abusive practices, not encouraged new ones."

On December 18, Seng Kunnaka, a Cambodian employee with the United Nations World Food Program in Phnom Penh, was arrested on charges of incitement under article 495 of the new penal code after he shared an article with two co-workers. While the contents of the article are unclear, it was printed from KI-Media, a website that publishes news, commentaries, poetry, and cartoons that are sharply critical of the government, including a recent series of opinion pieces lambasting senior officials regarding a border dispute with Vietnam.

On December 19, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court hastily tried and convicted Kunnaka, sentencing him to six months in prison and fining him 1 million riels (US$250). December 19 was a Sunday, when the courts are normally closed.
During the last two years, more than 10 critics of the government, including journalists and opposition party activists, have been prosecuted for criminal defamation and disinformation based on complaints by government and military officials under the former penal code.

The new penal code places greater restrictions on free expression, Human Rights Watch said. Responding to media inquiries about the case, Cambodia's information minister, Khieu Kanharith, said: "Before, using the argument of ‘freedom of expression' and opposition party status, some people could insult anybody or any institution. This is not the case now."

"A dubious arrest so soon after the new penal code came into effect shows that the Cambodian government is ready to use its new legal powers to criminalize peaceful expression and political dissent," Robertson said. "And Cambodia's pliant courts seem all too willing to throw any perceived government critic in prison after a rushed trial."

Under the new penal code, incitement is vaguely defined in article 495 as directly provoking the commission of a crime or an act that creates "serious turmoil in society" through public speech, writings or drawings, or audio-visual telecommunication that are shared with, exposed to, or intended for the public. It does not require the alleged incitement to be effective for penalties to be imposed, which include prison terms of six months to five years and fines.

The new penal code also allows criminal prosecutions for defamation and contempt for peaceful expression of views "affecting the dignity" of individuals and public officials, as well as of government institutions. It makes it a crime to "disturb public order" by questioning court decisions.

"The new penal code makes it more risky for civil society activists to criticize corrupt officials, police, and military officers who commit abuses or question court decisions," Robertson said. "This is particularly troubling in Cambodia, where the judicial system is weak and far from independent, with court decisions often influenced by corruption or political pressure."

KI-Media is a controversial website that describes itself as "dedicated to publishing sensitive information about Cambodia." The website's editors, who have never publicly identified themselves, compile information from a variety of sources, including leaked and public government documents, Cambodian-language newspaper articles, and Chinese, Cambodian, and Western wire service reports. It also posts hard-hitting commentaries, blog articles, cartoons, and poetry from its readers - most of whom are sharply critical of the government.

Enhancing transnational crime combat among VN, Laos and Cambodia

via CAAI

12/23/2010

More than 100 chief judges and judges from the Supreme People’s Courts of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and their border provinces are attending a two-day conference that opened in the central coastal city of Nha Trang on December 22.

The conference, the first of its kind, is being held under the initiative of the Vietnam Supreme People’s Court (VSPC) in order to share experiences and put forward solutions to enhance cooperation in combating cross-border crimes.

At the first session, themed “Increasing the effectiveness of cooperation in crime prevention and control” and chaired by Chief Judge of the Lao Supreme People’s Court Khammy Saynhavong, participants were briefed on the complicated situation of drug and social order crimes and human trafficking.

According to deputy judge of the VSPC criminal court Hoang Thi Kim Oanh, among more than 1,580 cases of women and children trafficking detected in Vietnam in the 2004-2009 period, 11 percent of the cases were trafficked to Cambodia and 29 percent to Laos.

The conference agreed to enhance cooperation among the three countries’ courts in combating and trials of transnational crimes.

They emphasised the need for local border courts to share experiences and organise fact-finding tours and seminars on professional skills for judges and courts’ cadres.

Cambodia’s Mondulkiri’s coffee regains market

 via CAAI

Published on: December 22 2010

PHNOM PHEN (Commodity Online) : Cambodia’s Mondulkiri’s coffee was increasingly popular in local and international markets, after several years of market constraint saw farmers give up the crop to grow rubber instead.

Sales of the particular variety of coffee had increased to 30 tonnes this year, up from 18 tonnes in 2009 in the local market according to Phnom Phen Post.

Cambodia’s Department of Commerce said Mondulkiri’coffee was grown on about 50 hectares of farm land in the province, yielding about 70 tonnes, and sold for around 20,000 riel per kilo.

Previously the brew barely had a market and had struggled with adequate pricing in the last several years, with coffee farmers hardly surviving in the past.

In the early 1990s the crop was grown on nearly 200 hectares of land. However as the price dropped to 2,000 riel per kilo, farmers gave up and grew rubber instead.

However, despite the growing demand, officials cited low capacity of production as an obstacle for exports.

Cambodia’s Mondulkiri’s coffee regains market

 via CAAI

Published on: December 22 2010

PHNOM PHEN (Commodity Online) : Cambodia’s Mondulkiri’s coffee was increasingly popular in local and international markets, after several years of market constraint saw farmers give up the crop to grow rubber instead.

Sales of the particular variety of coffee had increased to 30 tonnes this year, up from 18 tonnes in 2009 in the local market according to Phnom Phen Post.

Cambodia’s Department of Commerce said Mondulkiri’coffee was grown on about 50 hectares of farm land in the province, yielding about 70 tonnes, and sold for around 20,000 riel per kilo.

Previously the brew barely had a market and had struggled with adequate pricing in the last several years, with coffee farmers hardly surviving in the past.

In the early 1990s the crop was grown on nearly 200 hectares of land. However as the price dropped to 2,000 riel per kilo, farmers gave up and grew rubber instead.

However, despite the growing demand, officials cited low capacity of production as an obstacle for exports.

Cambodia to open Stock Exchange in Mid-2011

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 05:11 by Vibol

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Dec 23, 2010-Cambodia’s stock exchange will open in middle of 2011, with headquarter inside the Canadia tower at level 25,” the announcement from the ministry of economic and finance of Cambodia obtained on Thursday.

“Now we are our stock exchange in the process of establishing and developing Cambodian securities exchange which is going to be implemented in the middle of 2011, H.E Dr. Hean Sahip, deputy secretary general of ministry said in his speech during the workshop on IT for securities exchange in Phnom Penh.
“I would like to inform you that that to reach our objective of inaugural preparation of Cambodia securities exchange in the forth coming middle 2011, Cambodia securities exchange will start their operation soon Canadia Tower, level 25”He added.

Some governmental agencies such as Autonomous zone of Sihanouk port, Electricity du Combodge, autonomous water supply authority of Phnom Penh, Telecom Cambodia will likely be listed in the stock exchange.Other dozen of private baking and companies will join the stock.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

Senate Second Vice President Receives Thai Delegation

Phnom Penh, December 23, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian Senate Second Vice President H.E. Tep Ngorn received here on Dec. 21 a visiting delegation of Thai Senate’s Foreign Affairs Standing Committee led by Mrs. Pikulkaew Krairiksh.

On the occasion, Mrs. Pikulkaew Krairiksh told H.E. Tep Ngorn of her delegation’s visit to Cambodia, the purpose of which she said is to strengthen the ties of friendship, solidarity and cooperation between the two countries and peoples as well as between the two Senates.

For his part, the Cambodian Senate second vice president warmly welcomed the visit of the Thai Senate delegation, saying that it will help boost the friendship, solidarity and cooperation between the two neighboring Kingdoms.

H.E. Tep Ngorn expressed profound thanks to Thailand for its assistance to the reconstruction and development of Cambodia, especially in education and infrastructure construction. --AKP

Article in Khmer by PAL Song

Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul

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

AKP/02

Phnom Penh’s Kite Receives First Prize

Phnom Penh, December 23, 2010 AKP -- The kite of Phnom Penh capital city won the first prize during the 14th Kite Festival held on Tuesday at Koh Pich Convention and Exhibition Center, Phnom Penh.

Battambang’s kite got the second prize, while those from Kandal, Prey Veng and Oddar Meanchey the third.

The kites have been valued by their sound, their appearance and the technique to fly them.

Twenty provinces and municipality participated in this contest organized by the Ministry of the Culture and Fine Arts.

According to Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts Mrs. Menh Kosony, Cambodian kite has also participated many times in the international competitions. It won the first prize in 2009 and the third prize in 2008 at the Internal Kite Festival in India. It also won the third prize in the International Kite Festival in China in 2007.

Cambodia has celebrated the kite festival since 400 years before J.C., or since the foundation of Nokor Phnom, the Khmer first City. --AKP

By LIM Nary

SRP to document incursions


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay is confronted by Vietnamese troops during the party’s visit to the Vietnamese border earlier this month

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

THE opposition Sam Rainsy Party says it is compiling a report documenting a series of Vietnamese territorial encroachments into Kampong Cham province, following the visit of party officials to a sensitive border area in Memot district last week.

SRP parliamentarian Son Chhay, who led the delegation to the border, said yesterday that 14 Khmer villages have been annexed by Vietnam.

He said a report of the situation in Memot – including maps showing the encroachments – was being prepared and would be sent to King Father Norodom Sihanouk, King Norodom Sihamoni, the National Assembly and other government officials late this week or early next.

The report will also detail the SRP’s claims that Vietnamese soldiers entered Cambodia to prevent lawmakers’ access to a newly-planted border marker in Roung commune.

“[The government] has said that we were standing on Vietnamese land while we were facing each other. We cannot accept this allegation because the spot we were standing on did not reach up to the border demarcation post,” Son Chhay said.

He said the report had been prepared using GPS technology and was based on local villagers’ claims they have loss of land to Vietnam.

During its visit to the border on December 14, the party claims, around a dozen Vietnamese soldiers were deployed inside Cambodian territory to block 18 SRP parliamentarians from reaching border demarcation post 103.

Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, again dismissed the SRP’s accusation, saying that the area where the confrontation took place had not been demarcated properly and therefore could not be said to belong to either country.

SRP officials could also face legal action in relation to their upcoming report, he said, if it is found that they “falsified” maps of the border area.

“Even if they deliver [the report], we won’t care about it because we have explained it all already, it is still the same,” Var Kimhong said.

“In case you falsify maps, we will sue you to be imprisoned again and it is difficult to flee from the country,” he added, urging the party to “be careful”.

In September, SRP president Sam Rainsy was sentenced in absentia to 10 years prison on charges of disinformation and falsifying public documents. The charges followed the release in February of maps showing four border posts lying up to 500 metres inside Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district.

Sam Rainsy, currently living in self-exile abroad, has been sentenced to a total of 12 years prison in connection with his campaign to expose border incursions.

Convict flees hospital in Banteay Meanchey


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 Phak Seangly

AUTHORITIES in Banteay Meanchey province are hunting for a 40-year-old prisoner who gave officials the slip during a visit to a provincial hospital on Tuesday.

Long Cheab, deputy prosecutor at the provincial court, said the escapee – jailed for illegally trafficking men across the Thai-Cambodian border earlier this year – was escorted to the hospital under guard for the removal of a kidney stone. However, he managed to cut the chain shackled to his leg and fled the hospital at around 5am on Tuesday.

“We found a string of cut chain which he had thrown out the window,” said Long Cheab, who visited the hospital after the prisoner’s escape.

Provincial prison chief Phean Chhorvoin said the escape was the result of the negligence of a security guard, who had fallen asleep in a hammock outside the building.

He said prison officials and police were cooperating to track down the fugitive, concentrating on clinics and hospitals in Banteay Meanchey and in Battambang, his home province.

“So far we have no clue as to where he could be, as he just fled the hospital less than a day ago,” Phean Chhorvoin said.

Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc said this the second recent escape by a prisoner from the hospital, both of which resulted from the inattention of prison guards.

“The escapes of prisoners pose a severe danger to society and go back to the complete carelessness of prison officials,” Soum Chankea said.

Convict flees hospital in Banteay Meanchey


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 Phak Seangly

AUTHORITIES in Banteay Meanchey province are hunting for a 40-year-old prisoner who gave officials the slip during a visit to a provincial hospital on Tuesday.

Long Cheab, deputy prosecutor at the provincial court, said the escapee – jailed for illegally trafficking men across the Thai-Cambodian border earlier this year – was escorted to the hospital under guard for the removal of a kidney stone. However, he managed to cut the chain shackled to his leg and fled the hospital at around 5am on Tuesday.

“We found a string of cut chain which he had thrown out the window,” said Long Cheab, who visited the hospital after the prisoner’s escape.

Provincial prison chief Phean Chhorvoin said the escape was the result of the negligence of a security guard, who had fallen asleep in a hammock outside the building.

He said prison officials and police were cooperating to track down the fugitive, concentrating on clinics and hospitals in Banteay Meanchey and in Battambang, his home province.

“So far we have no clue as to where he could be, as he just fled the hospital less than a day ago,” Phean Chhorvoin said.

Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc said this the second recent escape by a prisoner from the hospital, both of which resulted from the inattention of prison guards.

“The escapes of prisoners pose a severe danger to society and go back to the complete carelessness of prison officials,” Soum Chankea said.

CITA files classroom graft claim


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 Kim Yuthana

THE Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association wrote to the Anticorruption Unit yesterday, requesting an investigation into corruption complaints against a high school director in Siem Reap province.

On November 26, CITA claims it received complaints from a number of teachers at Hun Sen Siem Reap High School, accusing the school director of bribery and embezzlement.

CITA President Rong Chhun, who filed the letter to the ACU, said the allegations involve the withholding of salaries for 10 resigned teachers, the extortion of students and the embezzlement of funds from school projects.

The letter added that the school director had amassed ill-gotten gains of “approximately 3.5 million riels [US$875]” per month in addition to his ordinary monthly salary.

When contacted yesterday, the school’s director Sour Vancy denied the claims of corruption outright.

“I welcome investigators from the ACU if they really want to investigate, because I follow the school’s routine and I wasn’t involved in the allegations,” Sour Vancy said.

Om Yentieng, the head of the newly-formed, declined to comment yesterday.

Visit to Vientiane: Kingdom’s top leaders go to Laos


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha

Visit to Vientiane

THE Kingdom’s top leaders departed yesterday for a secretive trip to Laos, reportedly joining government officials from communist Vientiane and Hanoi for a one-day meeting.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin led a delegation of roughly 30 officials on the trip, according to a government official who declined to be named.

The ruling triumvirate are believed to be joining officials from Laos and Vietnam for a meeting of Indochinese Communist parties, the official said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said he had no information about the trip, though he confirmed that foreign minister Hor Namhong was part of the delegation. When asked about the trip, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said only that Hun Sen “will be back [today] at 9:30”, declining to discuss the purpose of the visit.

“In other democratic countries, the people all over the country ... know where [their leaders] go and what they are doing,” Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said. “For the leaders of Cambodia, I don’t know what they’re doing.”

Bangladesh visit: Foreign minister due next week


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 Vong Sokheng

Bangladesh visit

BANGLADESHI Foreign Minister Dipu Moni is scheduled for an official visit to the Kingdom next week aimed at strengthening diplomatic ties and boosting bilateral cooperation, a government statement said yesterday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said that cooperation on agricultural investment was “clearly a priority” for discussions during her visit.

Dipu Moni will pay an audience to King Norodom Sihamoni and hold meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun over a two-day visit in Phnom Penh starting December 27, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Bangladeshi delegation will also tour the Angkor temple complex in Siem Reap province.

Koy Kuong said bilateral trade was low between the two countries. In 2009, Cambodia exported less than US$400,000 worth of goods to Bangladesh and imported $1.3 million in return.

Cambodia and Bangladesh are competitors in the garment industry, both paying some of the lowest wages in the world. While Cambodian workers are paid a minimum wage of $61 per month, Bangladeshi workers earn a minimum of just $43 per month.

Firms passing buck at lake


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 Chhay Channyda

TWENTY-SEVEN Boeung Kak lakeside families have accused two private companies of shirking compensation payments and have demanded clarification as to which of the two is responsible for reimbursing them.

The families, from the lakeside’s Village 1, have been forced to leave their homes due to the controversial development of the lakeside area, which is being undertaken by local developer Shukaku Inc. They also live close to a railway rehabilitation project under the control of Toll Royal Railways.

Yesterday, the 27 families met with Daun Penh district authorities to demand a written clarification as to which company owes them compensation.

The villagers say they have accepted a US$8,500 compensation package – one of three options offered by City Hall for evicted residents – but that the two firms have passed the buck as to who is responsible for coming up with the money.

Resident Var Sophea, 25, said that only Sok Penh Vuth, the deputy governor of Daun Penh district, joined the meeting at the district hall yesterday, and that authorities from Srah Chak commune were absent.

She added that Shukaku Inc refused to compensate her family for its eviction from the lake, claiming Toll Royal Railways was responsible for the resettlement.

Sok Penh Vuth declined to comment about the meeting yesterday, while En Saphan, Srah Chak deputy commune chief, said that she didn’t attend and therefore couldn’t comment.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force, said that the lack of information from local authorities showed that they were less concerned with people’s living conditions than with looking out for developers’ interests.

“It is very unusual that they didn’t know which company should be responsible,” he said yesterday. “If they didn’t know, why did they let Shukaku Inc pump sand and submerge the villagers’ houses? Do they not know that the people most affected by this are women and children who cannot access clean water and toilets?”

He requested that the municipality create a clear development plan that would not affect villagers’ homes until proper checks were in place.

Toll Royal Railways – a joint venture between the Australian Toll Group and the local Royal Group – has been granted a 30-year railway concession to rehabilitate the Kingdom’s railway system.

Toll Royal Railways CEO David Kerr said yesterday that his company has no responsibility over resettlement, and that the government and the Asian Development Bank, which is funding part of the rail development, were responsible.

“It’s nothing to do with Toll,” he said. “We don’t do resettlement. We only operate and maintain the railways.”

Representatives of Shukaku could not be reached.

Two men shot dead for crossing Thai border


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha

TWO Cambodian loggers were shot and killed along the border with Thailand on Monday, the same day Foreign Minister Hor Namhong called on his Thai counterpart to address the rash of shootings of Cambodians by Thai troops along the border in recent months.

The men were shot after setting off from Oddar Meanchey province’s Trapaing Prasat district and crossing into Thailand’s Sisaket province, said Touch Ra, deputy chief of the Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations Office at the Choam Sa-Ngam border checkpoint.

“They ventured deep into Thai territory in order to log,” he said. “They were logging in the protected forest of Thailand, so it [was] quite dangerous.”

The two men who were killed were part of a group of eight who crossed into Thailand; another group of 13 loggers crossed the border the same day, four of whom were arrested by Thai authorities and later released, Touch Ra added.

On Monday, Hor Namhong met with Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. Among other things, they discussed the shootings of Cambodian loggers by Thai border guards, and Hor Namhong said Kasit had agreed to press Thai authorities to be more lenient with Cambodian trespassers.

Monday’s incident marks the sixth shooting this year in which Cambodian loggers have been killed by Thai security forces, according to local rights group Adhoc. Last week, six Cambodian loggers who crossed from Trapaing Prasat into Thailand were injured in a shooting by Thai troops.

Touch Ra said Thai officials repatriated the corpses of the two men on Tuesday evening, along with the four loggers who had been arrested. Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he had instructed Cambodian consular officials in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province to look into the shooting.

Officials from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be reached yesterday.

Police Blotter: 23 Dec 2010


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 Sen David

‘Mentally ill’ woman detained for bank attack
Police briefly detained a 31-year-old woman after she threw stones at a mirror and a security guard at a bank in Svay Rieng province’s Svay Rieng town on Monday. Police said there was no apparent reason for the woman’s actions, and suggested that she was mentally ill. They said the woman’s husband had recently moved abroad for work, her son had died, and she had been raped. “She looked crazy,” officials said. The woman was released without charge. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Rush to sell bovines ends in man’s death
A 21-year-old man died in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Monday, after a cattle truck crashed into the motorbike he was driving. Police said the driver of the truck had been speeding because he was in rush to sell the three cows he had on board at the time of the crash. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Duress claimed as reason for robbery
An 18-year-old woman was arrested on Monday, accused of stealing almost US$2,000 from her employer in the capital’s Toul Kork district. Police said the suspect had confessed to stealing the money, but claimed that her husband had forced her to do so. The money has been returned to the suspect’s employer, police said. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Drug trafficking suspect arrested, one year later
A 30-year-old man was arrested in Battambang province on Sunday, on suspicion of trafficking drugs last year. Police said the man had fled to Thailand to evade arrest last year, but had been recognised and was arrested when he returned home at the weekend. The suspect has been sent to court for questioning, police said. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Police hold trio on suspicion of robbery
Three men have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the robbery of a 35-year-old Vietnamese national in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork district. Police said the three men are suspected of threatening the victim with a steel rod before stealing a wallet containing more than US$2,000 and escaping on a motorbike at about 1:30am Monday morning. KOH SANTEPHEAP

While parents at work, young boy drowns
A 4-year-old boy left unattended while his parents went to work in a rice field drowned in a pond near his home in Prey Veng province’s Peam Chor district on Monday, police said. The boy’s parents found his body in the pond when they returned home from work. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

'Billion star' film for Kingdom


Eunhui Weiss, a promoter for the US$200,000 Cambodian film ‘Billion Stars Hotel’, speaks at the launch yesterday, flanked by the film’s local producers and director Quentin Clausin. Photo by: Wesley Monts

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

THREE local film companies have formed a joint venture with a United States production company to produce a feature film, but producers said revenues in the Kingdom would suffer because of lax copyright.

The US$200,000 film “Billion Stars Hotel” will be produced by Cambodian companies Express Film, Kids Express, and 391 Films alongside US production company Critical Density Media (CDM), the joint venture announced yesterday at the launch in Phnom Penh.

Quentin Clausin, a producer with CDM, as well as the film director and scriptwriter, said the venture was not looking to the Cambodian market to turn a profit but rather was banking on the US audience because of poor copyright policing here.

“We aren’t hoping to get the profits from Cambodia’s market because the market here has a lot of copyright issues,” he said yesterday. “But I hope that we will make a profit from the US market.”

Nevertheless, he stressed the movie, expected to be released in the third quarter next year, was first and foremost a Cambodian film.

“We are truly making a film about Cambodia by Cambodians for the first time,” he said, adding that 90 percent of the crew and cast were Cambodian.

The film, which is about a New York fashion photographer’s seven-day journey in Cambodia, will be presented at film festivals and will seek a US film sales company to represent it, once produced.

Puth Por, executive producer of Kids Express, claimed it would help tourism.

“I am proud that we Cambodians have the ability to work with the international media,” he said. “This movie will help Cambodia a lot in terms of the tourism industry.”

However, he also voiced concerns of releasing the film in the Kingdom because of ignorance of copyright.

“I am very concerned about selling our product here. No one is protecting copyright,” he told the Post yesterday.

Sin Chanchhaya, director of the Cinema and Cultural Diffusion Department at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, said he was happy to hear about the joint venture at a time when the local film industry was struggling.

“Cambodian films boomed during 2006-07. At that time we had ten movie theatres in Phnom Penh, but now we have only two theatres and I think that will drop more in the near future,” he said.

According to a new data collected by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, he said the industry had plummeted under widespread piracy combined with the economic crisis since 2008.

Around 67 film and karaoke production companies were registered in Cambodia this year but he believed not all were still operating.

“Nowadays, our film industry is on its last breath,” Sin Chanchhaya said. “Most producers have been forced to shut down, and cinemas almost no longer exist.”

In addition, ha said low-quality products and steep prices for local films had contributed to what he termed “the collapse of the industry”.

National exports up 24 percent


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:01 May Kunmakara

CAMBODIA’S exports rose almost 25 percent in the first 11 months this year compared with the same period in 2009, according to government statistics.

It’s a growth trend that is likely to accelerate, says Sok Sopheak, director general of the Ministry of Commerce.

Official figures from the Ministry show exports increased 24 percent to US$3.16 billion between January and November from $2.55 billion last year.

Sok Sopheak said the Kingdom’s exports were boosted partly by political tensions between some regional exporters and the West, as well as the easing of export rules on garments and textiles into the European Union.

“In the last few months, our garment and textile exports dramatically increased as many neighbouring countries had some political issues with the US or EU – mainly China, and Korea,” he said. “As their exports to these countries tightened, investors who had production operations in our country boosted their production here, making us the more preferred country [to import from].”

“I hope that our export will keep growing, especially to the European Union markets from now [on] because we can more easily export to them,” he said, referring to reduced red-tape for exports to the region.

The Kingdom’s total imports also increased, reaching $4.28 billion in the 11-month period from $3.58 billion for the same time period last year.

Sok Sopheak Cambodia was exporting more garments, rice, bicycles and other machine accessories. And, it had imported more textiles, machinery, car parts and fertilizers.

Freight weight: Sihanoukville Port ends year on high


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

SIHANOUKVILLE Autonomous Port is expected to reach total shipments for the year of 2.2 million tonnes, or 17.4 percent more than last year, according to Ma Srun Hout, the port’s deputy director.

Ma Srun Hout attributed the increase in freight to the recovering global economy.

“Shipments across the port this year had good gains, compared to last year, given the economic situation is much better,” he told the Post yesterday.

Total freight for 2009 was 1,874,095 tonnes.

Official statistics for 2010’s first 11 months show the port has already reached total shipments of around 2,001,115 tones, a 16 percent increase on the first 11 months for last year which totaled 1,724,100 tonnes.

By category, almost a quarter of the total freight was for fuels. The second biggest category for shipment was coal, then metal, cement, heavy trucks and rice.

Of the shipments slated for export, the largest contributor was heavy trucks, followed by “container products” and scrap wood, according to the Ministry’s statistics.

Regional Vovinam Federation to be created next week


via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

Popular Vietnamese martial art Vovinam will get an administrative boost as representatives from five Asean countries – Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia – gather in Phnom Penh next Monday to set up the South East Asia Vovinam Federation.

The four-day congress has been convened in response to growing calls from the Vovinam community for the creation of a regulated body in the region to administer the sport in an organised fashion.

“There is a strong Vovinam presence in Cambodia and the Federation here has taken the lead in putting together this congress which will endorse the new regional body,” said of National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Secretary General Vath Chamroeun.

“It is an important step because Vovinam has been introduced as a medal sport for the first time in next year’s SEA Games in Indonesia.”

An Honour Belt promotion ceremony and a Vovinam International Friendship Show will feature in next week’s congress, according to Rat Sokhorn, Minister-Adviser to the President of the Cambodian National Assembly and President of the Cambodian Vovinam Federation.

Meanwhile, the NOCC is getting ready for its General Assembly in January at a date to be confirmed. The Assembly will undertake a review of the NOCC’s activities during the past year, while setting up the agenda for the next.

An aquatic centre built at a cost of around US$100,000 in Kampot will be officially inaugurated on December 27.

The majority of the cost for the facility has come from Olympasia Projects, a funding programme to promote noble sports and Olympic principles set up by the Olympic Council of Asia in collaboration with Olympic Solidarity and Daimler Chrysler.

Silk weavers open their first fair-trade shop


Silkworm cocoons (above) being cultivated at the Khmer Silk Village Communities shop at Street 55. Below, colourful products for sale. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via CAAI

Thursday, 23 December 2010 15:00 Ou Mom

Silk clothing, cloth and home furnishings made with fair-trade principles are on sale at a new showroom in Phnom Penh which aims to attract more Cambodian customers.

Khmer Silk Village Communities opened its new shop and exhibition area on Monday at 26 Street 55, on the corner of Street 228.

The community covers about 700 silk weavers and 500 silk farmers since it was established in 2005. KSVC has taught them how to develop their weaving and dyeing techniques to increase silk quality and quantity, said Ke Muny, the group’s deputy secretary.

All products in the showroom had been made to fair trade principles, he said, which meant banning child labour, avoiding environmental pollution, and guaranteeing the quality of raw materials.

“The opening of this first exhibition showroom is to appeal to more Cambodian customers because most silk buyers are foreigners, so we would like Cambodians to support and use Khmer products, especially silk products,” said Ke Muny.

Prince Sisovath Pheanuroth, the president of KSVC and a senior technical advisor at the United Nations International Trade Centre, said the community now empowered weavers and silk farmers from Banteay Meanchey, Takeo, Kandal, Prey Veng and Siem Reap provinces.

“We need to select the best silk producers and weavers from each specific area to make a contract with them to deliver the quality and quantity that we have promised,” Ke Muny said.

After training in new techniques over the past two years, Takeo weaver Kuth Thearney said she could now make a better living for her family. “Having learned new ways of automatic weaving and dying, it now only takes us about a week to 10 days to finish one piece of silk,” she said.

Fellow weaver Kong Saron, 36, said: “I’m happy that we have our own exhibition showroom to sell our products. I’ve never brought my silk products to sell in Phnom Penh before because it took too much time.”