Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Ly Phalla (Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries) & Experts' Insights on Rubber Market Outlook at RubberPlant Summit, Cambodia

via CAAI

Tue, 04 Jan 2011
Author : PRWeb

Siem Reap, Cambodia (Vocus/PRWEB) January 04, 2011

Convening 21 to 22 February 2011 in world heritage city Siem Reap, the RubberPlant Summit addresses opportunities for rubber plant investments & best practices in plantation management. It features world-class panel of experts and in-depth analysis of industry outlook in key rubber producing countries including Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia & China.

Rubber prices peaked at a near 30-year high earlier this month, driven by tight supplies in Thailand and growing global demand. Natural rubber producing countries are encouraging investments and new plantations as demand continues to climb.

As the rubber sector heads towards new heights, CMT puts together the timely RubberPlant Summit to address the world rubber industry concerns, from policy developments, to cultivation techniques for increased yield, to agro-economic challenges and more.

The 1.5 day summit will be opened by His Excellency Ly Phalla, Director General of the General Directorate of Rubber, Cambodia. In his keynote address he will give an overview on Cambodia’s outlook and prospects for natural rubber, where the country stands out for her vast land availability and concession incentives for foreign investors.

Program highlights include first-hand insights from the President of Thai Rubber Association, Dr Luckchai Kittipol (CEO of Thai Hua Rubber Public Co. Ltd.) on latest rubber developments in Thailand. With production output forecast to be lower in the coming year, Dr Kittipol will address the challenges and supply constraints in the future as well as developing new areas for rubber cultivation.

Sime Darby Plantation Sdn Bhd’s presentation on Economics of Rubber Cultivation vis-à-vis Oil Palm Cultivation offers valuable tips on diversifying agri-investments.

Those keen on yield improvement should not miss leading researcher CIRAD’s session on breakthroughs in cultivation techniques. Dr. Antoine Leconte, Representative in Thailand, shares on Developments in Innovative Tapping System. Alongside will be IRD’s case study on assessing soil variability in rubber plantations.

Besides, LMC International Ltd will address end-user demands through analysis on latest trends in global tire production and the implications for natural rubber demand.

Other top organizations slated to speak at the summit include:

•Tradewinds Plantation Berhad, sharing on experiences in developing rubber on an ex-sugercane and logged jungle land;
•Vietnam Rubber Association, on Vietnam’s rubber market outlook, challenges and prospects;
•BioFlora Agriculture, on improving rubber tree production in Central America;
•Greenyield Berhad, on potentials for higher natural rubber production in West Africa.

One may access the official event page for full program agenda. For registrations or more information on the summit, contact Hafizah Adam at (65) 6346 9218.

Thai Cabinet Seeks Way To Assist Thai Detainees In Cambodia

via CAAI

BANGKOK, Jan 4 (Bernama) -- The Thai Cabinet has continued seeking ways to assist seven Thai detainees in Cambodia including a member of Parliament from the ruling Democrat Party and a leading activist, Thai News Agency reported Tuesday.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters before the Cabinet's first weekly meeting in 2011 at Government House in Bangkok Tuesday morning that the detention of the seven Thai nationals by Cambodian authorities was among top agenda for the Cabinet's discussions to seek ways for their release.

The seven Thai people, led by the Democrat MP, Panich Vikitsreth, and the leading activist of the yellow-shirt People's Alliance for Democracy(PAD), Veera Somkwamkid, were arrested by Cambodian soldiers in a contentious area along the Thai-Cambodian border claimed by Cambodia last week and have been detained by Phnom Penh on charges of illegal entry into the Cambodian territory.

In response to two video clips distributed on YouTube Monday (Jan 3) in which Panich was heard talking on a mobile phone and telling his secretary to inform Premier Abhisit's personal secretary he was on the Cambodian soil, Abhisit insisted he had only been reported by the Democrat MP that he would travel to a border area.

The Thai leader said, however, that an official press conference would be held after the Thai Cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, Commanding General of Thailand's First Army Area Command Lieutenant General Udomdej Sitabutr denied making any comment on reports that a group of Thai activists calling themselves "patriotic Thais" planned to stage a rally along the Thai-Cambodian border in the eastern Thai Sa Kaeo Province Tuesday to call for Phnom Penh's release of the seven Thai nationals.

The First Army Area commander said that he would give an interview on the issue Wednesday.

Cambodian leader's son gets military promotion

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

via CAAI

Jan 4, 2011

Phnom Penh - The eldest son of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was made a major general in the country's armed forces, local media reported Tuesday, fuelling beliefs that the strongman is grooming a potential successor.

Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than a quarter-century, joined the Khmer Rouge movement as a teenager and received limited secondary education. His 33-year-old son, Hun Manet, by contrast, is a 1999 graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point who later earned a doctorate in economics at Britain's University of Bristol.

He received his promotion at a ceremony Monday in Phnom Penh presided over by Defence Minister Tea Banh, who reportedly touted Hun Manet's West Point education in conferring the honour.

'This school is recognized internationally for its distinction in political science, law and military affairs, and in his new position, Manet must use the skills he has learned,' Tea Banh was quoted as saying by the Phnom Penh Post.

Hun Sen, 58, said last year that he plans to serve as premier for perhaps 15 more years and has claimed that he does not want his son to get involved in politics.

Observers said, however, that Hun Manet's rapid rise through Cambodia's military ranks is evidence of the premier's ambitions for his son.

'This is, again, part of the prime minister's attempt to consolidate power in politics,' said Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, a non-governmental organization that promotes democracy. 'This is the way leadership and consolidating power in Cambodia works.'

Videos raise doubts on Thais who entered Cambodia illegally

http://news.asiaone.com/

via CAAI

Tue, Jan 04, 2011
The Nation/Asia News Network

Thailand yesterday urged Cambodia to consider the two neighbours' bilateral relations when dealing with seven Thais, including a Democrat MP, who were arrested and charged with illegal entry into Cambodia last week.

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the Thai government would fully respect Cambodia's laws and decisions on the cases.

"[But] what we should do now is to ask Cambodia to think of the relations between both countries being restored after the unpleasant events of the past," he said.

Suthep said he was more than ready to go to Cambodia to help the situation if necessary.

"What we could do now is to pray for the Cambodian leader to take into consideration our attempts to restore mutual ties, which have improved after two separate meetings between our prime ministers," Suthep said.

He said he would wait until after the New Year festival to see if there was any development and reaction from the Phnom Penh side.

Panich Vikitsech, a Bangkok Democrat MP, and Veera Somkwamkid, a People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) leader, are among the group arrested last Wednesday while visiting Thai villagers near the Sa Kaew border, which is opposite Cambodia's Banteay Meanchay.

They were taken to Phnom Penh and detained in a central prison in Phnom Penh pending trial.

The group was charged last week with illegal entry into Cambodia and entering a Cambodian military base without permission. The Cambodian court has not yet set a date for their trial.

Meanwhile two video clips recorded during Panich's trip to the site were distributed on YouTube on Sunday. Panich was heard talking on a telephone and telling someone to tell an aide of the prime minister he was on Cambodian territory.

The clips are believed to make more difficult any defence of the seven Thais because from what Panich said, he was well aware he was on Cambodian soil. Thailand initially planned a defence that the group unintentionally strayed into Cambodia.

Suthep said the issue was now a matter of Cambodian sovereignty and legal process, which Thailand had to respect.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said he would discuss the matter in today's Cabinet meeting.

"We are now trying to contact the Cambodian side, but it is not easy. We will however keep trying. All the matters concerning the case depend on Cambodian's reaction."

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi confirmed the seven Thais were inside Cambodia when arrested.

Thani said the Royal Survey Department and Foreign Ministry officials had inspected the disputed area and confirmed the group had been on Cambodian soil.

Chavanond Intarakomalyasut, secretary to the Thai foreign minister, said families of the seven Thais had visited them in Prey Sor prison in Phnom Penh.

The visitors, including Panich's wife, spent about one hour there. All were in good spirits and fine, Chavanond said.

He said he was not sure whether the seven Thais would go before the court today. If the trial starts, their lawyer will submit a bail request for them.

A group of 500 villagers from Sa Kaew's Khok Sung district gathered in front of the district office yesterday to protest against a planned rally by PAD supporters, demanding that it be cancelled, as it would bring trouble to the site.

The Thailand Patriot Network, a splinter group of the PAD, plans to hold the protest near the site where the seven Thais were arrested.

Its leader, Chaiwat Sinsuwoung, declined to disclose the specific protest site, but pledged that it would be held as planned to demand the release of the seven, as they were arrested in Thailand.

Meanwhile PAD spokesman Panthep Puapongpan said Panich had contacted Thepmontri Limpayom, a PAD member, on December 26 and persuaded him to accompany him to the site in question.

Panthep quoted Panich as telling Thepmontri the visit was organised at the order of Abhisit.

However, Thepmontri refused, and Panich invited Veera, a core leader of the Thailand Patriot Network, to go with him.

Vietnam, Cambodia parliamentarians boost cooperation

via CAAI

A delegation of the Viet Nam- Cambodia friendship parliamentarians group, led by Head of the NA comittee for deputies’ affairs Pham Minh Tuyen has paid a working visit to Cambodia from Dec. 22-27.

During the visit, the delegation met with representatives of the Cambodia- Viet Nam friendship parliamentarians group, headed by permanent Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An.

At the meeting, the two sides informed each other of the political situation and economic achievements of their countries and review their bilateral cooperative activities.

They agreed to further cooperate in information and delegation exchange so as to strengthen friendship between the two nations.

In the framework of the working visit, the delegation was also received by acting President of the Cambodian National Assembly Nguol Nhel and visited some localities in the country.

VN, Laos, Cambodia combat transnational crimes

via CAAI

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

The conference, the first of its kind, is being held under the initiative of the Viet Nam 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 Viet Nam in the 2004-2009 period, women and children trafficked to Cambodia made up 11 percent of the cases and to Laos , 29 percent of cases.

VSPC Deputy Chief Judge Dang Quang Phuong said that the signing of bilateral and multilateral cooperation treaties among the three countries in combating crimes remained slow, which he said failed to reflect the goodwill and wishes of concerned parties in the negotiation to sign the judiciary assistance agreement.

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.

Premier’s son earns military promotion


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:02 Vong Sokheng

HUN Manet, the son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, was promoted to the rank of two-star general yesterday in a ceremony at the Ministry of Defence, a move that has stoked further speculation about the 33-year-old’s political future.

Hun Manet currently serves as director of the anti-terrorism department at the Ministry of Defence and was promoted in September to deputy commander of his father’s personal bodyguard unit.

Observers have long speculated that he is being groomed as a potential successor to Hun Sen, having been educated at the United States Military Academy at West Point and later at Bristol University in the United Kingdom.

In a speech yesterday at the ceremony, Minister of Defence Tea Banh said Hun Manet’s West Point education had prepared him to lead a new generation of military officers within the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

“This school is recognised internationally for its distinction in political science, law and military affairs, and in his new position, Manet must use the skills he has learned,” Tea Banh said.

“We have to let the younger generation take over our work and ensure that our achievements are protected and that forces of evil who want to destroy our achievements are stopped.”

Hun Manet graduated in 1999 from West Point, where his education was financed by the US government, according to The Associated Press. He was reportedly granted one of the ten spots in each class at the military academy that are reserved for foreign students, later going on to earn a PhD in economics at Bristol.

Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said yesterday that Hun Manet’s promotion provided further evidence of Hun Sen’s ambitions for his oldest son.

“This is, again, part of the prime minister’s attempt to consolidate power in politics,” Hang Chhaya said.

“This is the way leadership and consolidating power in Cambodia works.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE

Inmate files complaint against state officials


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

KONG Khorn, a woman serving a 10-year prison term for extorting money in connection with a 2008 land dispute, has appealed her conviction, alleging that three government officials should be serving time in her place.

Ouk Savuth, prosecutor general at Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said he was investigating a complaint from Kong Khorn accusing several officials of extortion and bribery. Horm Kunthy, who heads the municipal penal police office at the Ministry of Interior; Nov Nil, chief of Svay Teap village in Kampong Speu province’s Kong Pesei district; and Prom Nai, chief of Angkor Porpel commune have all been named in the woman’s complaint, he said.

“We are now working hard on this issue,” Ouk Savuth said.

Kong Khorn’s husband Tea Chamroeun said yesterday that his wife, currently in Prey Sar prison, was innocent of the charges. She had attempted to help a friend, Mao Phearom, who was embroiled in a land dispute, he said.

In 2008, Mao Phearom, a 43-year-old woman living in Svay Teap village, became involved in a dispute with Seng Vannak, 42.

Kong Khorn approached Horm Kunthy, who was working locally for the Ministry of Interior, and upon his recommendation, Mao Phearom filed a complaint against Seng Vannak.

After several aborted meetings organised to settle the issue, he said, Nov Nil and Prom Nai then paid US$400 to Horm Kunthy to resolve the problem.

At this point, Tea Chamroeun said, Horm Kunthy accused Kong Khorn of extortion, perhaps because he “knew that he had done something against the law”.

“[Horm Kunthy] filed a complaint [alleging] extortion against her, and then he arrested her on June 17, 2008… and she was jailed until today”, he said.

Horm Kunthy, Nov Nil and Prom Nai could not be reached for comment yesterday.

But Mok Chito, director of the Ministry of Interior’s department of penal police, said the accusations against Horm Kunthy were trumped-up.

“I don’t think that my police officer was involved in this accusation, which is just an attack by the convicted person,” he said yesterday.

Protesters plead to Chinese firm


Photo by: Photo Supplied
Boeung Kak residents hold a sign bearing the name of a Chinese company linked to the controversial lakeside development during a protest at the city’s ‘Freedom Park’ yesterday.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

ABOUT 200 residents from seven villages in the Boeung Kak lakeside area participated in a protest at Phnom Penh’s “Freedom Park” yesterday, calling for a Chinese firm to intervene in a dispute with the local company that is developing the lake.

Protesters also appealed to local officials and numerous foreign governments to help resolve the ongoing dispute, which has forced hundreds of families out of their homes.

Shukaku Inc, a company owned by Cambodian People’s Party senator Lao Meng Khin, is filling in the lake to make way for a 133-hectare housing and commercial development, which housing rights advocates say will displace more than 4,000 families.

Dozens of villagers’ homes have been submerged in sand since the development began, and hundreds of residents say they have not been offered adequate compensation.

Protesters yesterday held up banners bearing the name of the Inner Mongolia Erdos Hung Jun Investment Co, a Chinese company that has reportedly invested tens of millions of dollars in the Boeung Kak lakeside development.

The China angle
The Post last week reported that the state-owned firm signed in July an agreement with two local companies, including Shukaku, to develop the lake.

According to Chinese-language news reports, the Boeung Kak development was included in a US$3 billion package of investment deals that also included a 750-megawatt power station in Sihanoukville and the exploration of bauxite in Mondulkiri.

The Chinese reports reveal that Hung Jun’s lake development agreement also involved the Cambodia International Investment Development Group, which also appears to be linked to Senator Lao Meng Khin.

According to a government investment literature available online, the firm runs a special economic zone in Sihanoukville, with Lao Meng Khin listed as the “zone developer”.

Ly Mom, a representative of the protesters, used a louspeaker yesterday to call on the Inner Mongolia Erdos Hung Jun Investment Co to push Shukaku to negotiate a resolution with the villagers.

“We are not against the development, we are just demanding a proper and transparent solution,” she said.

Protesters also waved flags from countries including the United States, Australia and Vietnam, in a bid to draw attention from officials at embassies in Phnom Penh.

Representatives of Shukaku Inc could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Grandfather faces court over child rape


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:02 Sen David

KAMPONG Chhnang provincial court yesterday charged a 71-year-old man with raping his three grandchildren following his arrest on Sunday, officials said.

Sim Somphos, Kampong Chhnang’s deputy provincial police chief, said that Cheam Sorn was accused of raping the three girls – aged 11, 12 and 13 – who lived with him in Kampong Leng district.

“He persuaded them to sleep in his bed as grandfather and grandchildren, but in fact he raped them,” he said.

“He is not a human being.”

Cheam Sorn’s alleged transgressions came to light on Saturday, when the children’s mother noticed that her 12-year-old daughter was bleeding.

When she asked her daughter about it, she found out that the girl had been raped by her grandfather and filed a complaint, resulting in Cheam Sorn’s arrest on Sunday.

Sim Somphos said that during questioning, the man also admitted to raping the girl’s two sisters. The man reportedly told police he assaulted the 12-year-old for the first time on December 26, but said he had raped her sisters more than five times previously.

Kampong Leng district police chief Pa Sean alleged that one of the children slept in their grandfather’s bed every night in order to give the man a massage.

He said that until Saturday, the girls’ mother was not aware her daughters were being assaulted.

“The suspect gave the children 500 to 1000 riel every time he raped them in order to keep them quiet. One of the girls was even raped in front of her sisters,” Pa Sean alleged.

New fee for ID cards


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

THE Ministry of Economy and Finance and the National Police have announced the introduction of a new 10,000-riel (US$2.50) fee for the issuing of identification cards, according to a public notice obtained yesterday.

National ID cards, which are compulsory for Cambodian citizens over 18 years of age, are currently free of charge.

National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said yesterday that the new charges would help pay for the materials that produce the cards.

“The price is not too expensive, so ordinary people can afford it,” he said.

Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for the local rights group Adhoc, said the fees could pose problems for the rural poor.

“If they have ten members in their family they’ll have to pay up to 100,000 riels [$25], while rich people will be okay [with paying the fee],” he said.

“The production of ID cards should be paid for by the state for its people, [like in] other neighbouring countries, such as Vietnam.”

Kirt Chantharith admitted that some poor people might find it difficult to afford the extra fee, but said it was necessary to cover the costs of the service.

He added that the new charge will come into effect after it is approved by the ministers of interior and finance.

Kandal man charged over arson attack


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

KANDAL provincial court yesterday charged a 29-year-old man with aggravated attempted murder after he was arrested for dousing his mother-in-law with petrol and setting fire to her house in Kampong Svay commune.

Pa Sam Eth, Kien Svay district police chief, said Kol Kem was arrested on Saturday, hours after he allegedly attempted to kill his mother-in-law Veng Lin, 59, by splashing her with a litre of petrol and setting fire to her cottage.

“We have charged him with aggravated attempted murder,” deputy court prosecutor Bong Bun Visuth said yesterday. “Although he didn’t confess his guilt, we charged him based on the victim’s complaint pending further investigations and a trial.”

Pa Sam Eth said Veng Lin, who shed her fuel-soaked clothes and fled from the house, was lucky to escape with only minor burns to her arm.

“It was very good luck that the woman took off her clothes, leaving her underwear on, and called for help otherwise she would be completely burned,” he said.

“It was a very brutal act for the offender to try to burn his elderly and poor mother-in-law to death.”

He said that police had confiscated a bottle used to carry two litres of petrol and a lighter as evidence.

Pa Sam Eth said that according to the victim’s complaint, the dispute started when she prevented her daughter, 25-year-old Yun Kunthea, from living with Kol Kem, who she claims had beaten her daughter regularly during their two-year marriage. She told police that the beatings had also forced her daughter to abort a pregnancy after four months.

Pa Sam Eth said that Yun Kunthea had not made any compensation demands, requesting that her husband be punished in accordance with law. She told police she could no longer tolerate living with him due to his constant abuse.

Woman’s body pulled from river


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:01 Tep Nimol

POLICE in Kampong Speu province say they are trying to identify the body of a woman that was pulled out of a river in Samrong Tong district on Sunday.

Samrong Tong District Police Chief Phot Sophal said yesterday that local fishermen found the body when it got snagged on one of their fishing nets at around 4pm on Sunday. The body was wrapped in a sack at the time of its discovery.

“We couldn’t identify the body because it was already decayed and bloated,” he said, adding that the woman appeared to be between 17 and 20 years old. “It seems as if the woman was not a villager from this area, because no one is missing a family member.”

Phot Sophal said it was unclear if the woman’s apparent killing had involved a rape or a robbery, since an autopsy was just being conducted and had not yet returned any results.

The woman was about 1.5 metres tall and was wearing a sarong when her body was thrown in the river, he said. She also had a jewel embedded in one of her teeth.

The discovery follows a similar occurrence in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district last week, when a woman’s body was pulled out of a pond by villagers in Bavet commune. Police said the women was of a similar age.

Mao Pin Pirom, Bavet commune’s police chief, said yesterday that the body could not be identified and that police did not yet have a suspect in the apparent killing.

Police Blotter: 4 Jan 2011


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:01 Phak Seangly

Two hurt in un-foretold robbery of fortune teller
A husband and wife, both 44 years old and employed as cooks for a fortune teller, were injured when their employer’s home was robbed in Kampong Cham province’s Chamkar Leu district on Saturday. District police said four men raided the house armed with two AK-47 rifles, beating the female cook and shooting her husband in the shoulder when he attempted to help her. The robbers made off with 600,000 riel (US$150) and a piece of costume jewellery, police said. The wounded man was sent to the provincial hospital for treatment and police are searching for the suspects. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Three teens arrested for illegal gambling
Police on Saturday arrested and detained overnight three teenagers, aged 14 and 15, accused of gambling on cards in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. Police said neighbours, who were concerned that the three would resort to thievery to support their habit, had tipped police off to the illegal activity. The three were detained, “educated” and signed a contract promising to stop gambling, police said. They claimed that the measures were necessary because the teenagers had ignored numerous previous warnings from officials. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Indebted cattle farmer found dead in shed
A 32-year-old cattle farmer was found dead in a shed on Saturday in Kampot province’s Kampong Trach district. Police said the man had committed suicide after a heavy drinking session with relatives on Friday night, during which he had appeared upset and announced that he “did not want to live anymore” because his business was unsuccessful and he was unable to repay a US$2,000 debt he had accrued. The man was survived by his wife and children. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Lost boy, 12, feared dead after canal swim
Relatives are searching for the body of a 12-year-old boy feared to have drowned in a canal in Kampong Speu province’s Chbar Mon district on Saturday afternoon. The boy had reportedly taken lunch to his uncle, who works at a barbershop, before asking for a haircut and then decided to take a swim in a nearby canal. When the boy failed to return from his swim, his uncle went looking for him, but could only find his nephew’s clothes, which were lying on the banks of the canal. The uncle enlisted the help of local fishermen, who were unable to find the body after three hours of searching. They said they are now waiting to see if the corpse floats to the surface of the canal. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Vendors file letter to PM


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:01 Tep Nimol

REPRESENTATIVES of aggrieved vendors from the Heng Ly Market in Tuol Kork district yesterday filed a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet, requesting the premier’s intervention in a dispute over a rent hike that came into effect on January 1.

About 100 vendors protested against the rent increase twice last month after the market’s owner announced that he would be raising annual stall rental prices for about 800 stallholders.

Representatives said 21 stalls remained closed yesterday, after 44 stallholders who refused to pay the new fees were shut out on Sunday.

Company representatives could not be reached for comment, but have previously stated that vendors’ demands to keep rents static were unrealistic.

Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of Hun Sen’s cabinet, said yesterday that the vendors’ letter had been received and that the matter would be discussed at City Hall today.

“Heng Ly Market is a private market, so we can’t alone decide to reduce the rental price,” he said.

“We will talk with the company through City Hall officials to find a suitable price all of them can accept.”

Leopard Capital takes major MFI stake


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:00 Catherine James

PRIVATE equity fund Leopard Capital acquired a 33.7 percent stake in microfinance institution Intean Poalroath Rongroeurng Ltd for an undisclosed amount yesterday.

Leopard Chief Executive Douglas Clayton said the amount was “not a huge investment” for the US$34 million fund.

“We target 10 percent of our fund into each investment. but the investments so far before this one ranged from $1.3 million to $5 million – this is in the lower half of the spectrum,” he said.

IPR Chief Executive Hort Bun Song said securing Leopard as a shareholder was a gateway to further funding.

“I hope by getting Leopard Capital to join with us, we can access more funds from international funders so we have the opportunity to expand and build better systems,” he said, adding that negotiations had been ongoing since early last year.

Leopard would take an active role in the company, joining six others on IPR’s board, including founder and chairman Phou Puy, Hort Bun Song said.

Phou Puy, entrepreneur and chairman of the Federation of Cambodian Rice Millers was IPR’s sole owner before this deal. He founded IPR in 2005 in response to capital constraints faced by the Federation, according to a statement released by Leopard yesterday.

Hort Bun Song said IPR has more than 3,000 customers today – mainly small businesses in rice production, but with a growing base of ventures in other agricultural sectors.

Clayton said the latest investment meant Leopard’s flagship Cambodia fund was almost 75 percent fully-invested, and added the fund was not likely to invest in another financial institution.

“I think that’s it for this industry. We now have [ACLEDA Bank] as well as the MFI, so I think if anything we’d put more money into what we have but not take another one,” he said.

Leopard is a small shareholder in ACLEDA, investing $3 million last year in the former MFI, Clayton said. He agreed the stake in the bank had helped with the decision to invest in IPR.

“I think through ACLEDA we recognised that rural finance can be a profitable industry,” he said. “But this is in a different segment of the market – IPR is very small loans.”

IPR made a profit of 1.19 billion riel (US$294,379), with loans totaling 17.18 billion riel ($4.24 million) in 2009, according to National Bank of Cambodia.

Biofuel plant delays production by another six months


via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:00 Soeun Say

CAMBODIA’S first biofuel production plant has pushed its restart back until at least July, as the high prices of cassava continues to halt company plans, according to company officials.

“At the moment, we have no plans to reopen, but we hope to restart in July of this year,” said Kim Jong-ho, director of administration at MH Bio-Energy Cambodia.

“The price of cassava remains high. We are waiting for the price to decrease, and now, we are harvesting our cassava,” he said yesterday.

South Korean MH Bio-Energy plant is a Kandal province factory that uses cassava to produce ethanol for sale largely to Europe. It first opened in November 2008 with an initial investment of US$30 million.

In 2009, MH Bio-Energy plant exported 29,406 tonnes of bio-ethanol to European markets.

However, the plant’s doors have been closed since May 2010 because of rising crop prices.

The firm has acquired some 8,000 hectares to plant cassava in a bid to end purchases of cassava on the open market, but to date has only planted 1,700 hectares.

“It is not enough for our production,” said Kim Jong-ho. “We need to plant 6,000 hectares of cassava to support our production this year.”

The factory requires 10,000 tonnes of cassava per month to produce bio-ethanol, a compound that can be blended with petrol.

Dry-chip cassava currently fetches $240 per tonne, which is a hike up from $170 to $180 per tonne the product commanded on markets this time last year, he said.

MH Bio-Energy had already postponed its re-launch due to similar concerns. In October, the firm’s Chief of Administration Boeun Thy had said he had anticipated a December restart, due to the high price of cassava.

Banteay Meanchey province cassava farmer Chok Pouk said that cassava prices rested on demand, largely from Thai and Vietnamese markets.

She currently sells at 2,800 baht or $93, per tonne for the unprocessed crop, up from 1,200 baht or $45 last year.

Cambodia ought to push to open markets other than Thailand and Vietnam to increase opportunities for farmers, she said, adding her farm had increased to 400 hectares on the back of larger demand.

“I hope there will be a new market in China,” she said. “We’re looking to export to China soon.”

Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen said a deal on cassava was to be signed during a five-day official to China.

Lakeside development dries up tourism


A resident rummages through the rubble at Boeung Kak Lake, looking for wood to sell. Local businesses are leaving the area or closing shop as tourism falls. Photo by: DANIEL GOODMAN


Debris from demolished homes and guesthouses at Boeung Kak Lake. Photo by: DANIEL GOODMAN

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I will probably close in the next few months once the tourist season ends because I don’t have enough money

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via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:00 Daniel Goodman

In Boeung Kak, it’s not only the lake drying up. Tourism, an important part of the community’s economy, is disappearing and many local businesses are struggling to revive their livelihoods in other parts of the city, while others cannot even afford to relocate.

Joe Yan, a 33-year-old former tuk-tuk driver, opened his establishment almost two years ago when Boeung Kak lake was still a popular tourist destination. It survived the nation-wide drop in tourism during the global financial crisis, but it’s not likely to survive the loss of the lake.

“I will probably close in the next few months once the tourist season ends because [unlike some others] I don’t have enough money to start a new shop in other parts of town,” Joe says.

His small, dimly-lit dive bar, Corner Bar, which offers visitors a selection of Indian food, “happy” pizza, cheap beer and a pool table that has seen better days, used to be a popular hangout for backpackers travelling through the region on a budget but is now often empty, according to Joe.

Beoung Kak Lake is the site of a controversial development by Shukaku Inc, a company owned by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin. The government sold Shukaku a 99-year land concession to the lake. The company has been filling the lake with sand and forcing out residents and businesses to make way for its planned 133-hectare commercial and housing development project.

Local human rights groups estimate around 4,000 families are being impacted by the development, not only through evictions but also the end of their livelihoods. Tourism-based businesses around the lakeside, a popular area for budget travelers, are closing their doors.

Tuk-tuk driver Kim Kok Vanna, 42, originally from the lakeside, had to move his home almost 16 kilometers from the lake but still commutes back each day for work.

“I used to live right here and it was close to work and there were a lot of tourists here,” Kim says, standing at the lake’s edge in the rubble of the home of one of his friends. “Now I have to travel far to get here and the business is no good anymore.”

The actual lakeside is now littered with rubble and debris from demolished homes and hostels, and the area’s main strip is empty. Joe estimates the lakeside used to have as many as 15 active hostels, the main street above the lake had around 17 hostels and there were many shops and restaurants catering to visitors. Now, only four guesthouses remain and a handful of restaurants and shops.

A manager at Simon’s II and No 11 Happy Guesthouse at the lakeside, two of the guesthouses still standing in the area, said that occupancy is about a quarter of what is was last year.

For Sakreat, 27, from Kratie province, the development at the lake has led to a new line of work with less security. He worked for about a year and a half at the No 10 Guesthouse in the area until about two months ago when it closed and now he drives a tuk-tuk and bases himself in the lakeside area.

“It is hard for us because the hostels are closing and there are less tourists,” Sakreat says, “Also, we can’t move to other parts of town because the other hostels already have their own tuk-tuk drivers and they don’t need more hanging around.”

However, some have found the forced move to be an opportunity. Italian restaurant La Dolce Vita shuttered its lakeside location and reopened on Street 172 about a month and a half ago.

The owner, Parom, ran the restaurant on the lakeside for five years but is happy about the move closer to the riverside where he predicts business will be better and revenue higher.

“We just started so business is slow, but I think in the long term it will be better here,” Parom says, “The clientele here is higher class, more local foreigners [expats] and higher-budget travelers.”

While the move means higher rent for Parom, he says he has been able to raise prices to offset the increase in costs.

Some, however, are concerned about how the lakeside development will shift market dynamics. As budget travellers look elsewhere for accommodation, they have starting moving into tourist areas that cater to mid-range or luxury travellers.

The York Guesthouse on Street 172, which caters to “mid-range” backpackers and tourists and offers rooms at rates of US$18-25 per night, has had to lower prices to accommodate an increase in budget backpackers, according to owner Peter Spencelayk, a UK native from York.

Peter has been living in Phnom Penh for seven years and used to operate the Hope and Anchor hostel. He opened his new guesthouse about two months ago. He says it is sad about the demise of the lakeside “because it used to provide an option for the budget travellers”.

Simon Tan, a guest at York Guesthouse who has been a regular visitor to Phnom Penh since 2003, explains: “The lakeside used to separate the market because [the riverside] area is still too expensive for many of the backpacker tourists.”

But downtown, near Street 258, it appears a new area to these travelers is beginning to develop. OK Guesthouse opened its doors almost nine years ago, but until about six months ago there were few other guesthouses in the area.

Now the street is home to six hostels and more are being built. Some of these new hostels come from the lakeside. There is a No 11 Happy Guesthouse on Street 258 and the No 9 Guesthouse is in the process of building a hostel here, both used to be based at the lakeside.

Paorn, 25, a receptionist at No 11 Happy Guesthouse, which opened here about two months ago, said the hostel is fully booked.

“I used to be at lakeside but now the business here is better,” Paorn said. “The tuk-tuk drivers at the airport now tell the tourists to come here instead of the lakeside.”

Nevertheless, many smaller lakeside businesses have not been as fortunate as the larger hostels. Joe tried to organise businesses from the lakeside to move together to a new area, hoping they could secure cheaper rents if they moved collectively. He said that he was unable to generate enough interest and many businesses were simply planning to close up and leave Phnom Penh for their home provinces or other tourist destinations like Siem Reap.

For Joe the future is uncertain. Unable to afford a new location in the more popular and expensive part of town, he expresses the sentiment of many local business owners: “I just don’t know what I will do yet.”

Analysis: Unpopular stocks can become valuable friends


A Western Digital hard drive on display at a New York Office Depot. The company is one of John Dorfman’s favourite stocks for 2011. Bloomberg

via CAAI

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 15:00 John Dorfman

Analysis
FOR about seven decades, academic studies have shown that unpopular stocks – those whose price is low relative to the company’s earnings – outperform stocks with higher price-to-earnings (P-E) ratios.

I was curious about what would happen if one were to take low P-E investing to an extreme. So, beginning in 1999, I have tracked the one-year performance of the 10 stocks that begin the year with the lowest P-E ratios.

These P-E outliers have performed very well. Here is the record, which should not be confused with that of any actual investment portfolio that I manage.

The compound annual return on the outlier stocks for the years 1999 through 2010 was 16 percent, compared with 1.5 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index. In those 12 years, these out-of-favor stocks have outperformed the S&P nine times. The exceptions were 2006, 2007 and 2008.

These performance figures are hypothetical, in the sense that no fund actually carries out this trading strategy. The figures include dividends but disregard taxes, commissions and other trading costs. Bear in mind that the sample size is small, and that past performance doesn’t guarantee future results.

In 2010, the low P-E outliers notched a 25 percent return, compared with a 15 percent return for the S&P 500. The best performer was BreitBurn Energy Partners LP, up 104 percent. The worst was Mirant Corp - which now, after a merger, is known as GenOn Energy Inc - down 33 percent. Eight of the 10 stocks rose.

Exceeding expectations
The rationale behind low P-E investing is that stocks advance by exceeding investors’ prevailing expectations. Low expectations are easier to exceed. Thus, paradoxically, unglamorous stocks with well-known problems often outperform glamorous issues that are popular with investors.

Buying extremely out-of-favor stocks comes with a large dose of risk. The low P-E outliers declined 61 percent in 2008, when the bottom fell out of the market and the economy. The S&P 500 was down 37 percent that year, even taking dividends into account.

The out-of-favour stocks roared back in 2009, notching a 97 percent return, against 26 percent for the index.

To be included in the study, a stock had to have a market value exceeding $500 million, and debt less than stockholders’ equity. Those two requirements may mitigate the risk to some degree.

The outliers were identified as each year began, except for 2008 and 2009, when they were identified on January 29 and February 27, respectively. In every case, performance was measured for the calendar year.

Out of favour
Most of the stocks emerging from this screen are out of favour for some obvious reason, and are high risk. Also, the screen frequently produces a cluster of stocks in a single industry, defying the tenet of diversification.

And now, let’s look at the 10 stocks with the lowest P-E multiples as we enter 2011.

The lowest of the low, selling for three times earnings, is Earthlink Inc, an internet service provider that focuses largely on dial-up connections. Earthlink, based in Atlanta, has been losing customers to carriers that concentrate on broadband. The company’s revenue peaked at $1.4 billion in 2003 and was about half that in 2009.

Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc, of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, designs and makes semiconductor assembly equipment. Analysts expect earnings to fall about 60 percent in the fiscal year that ends in September 2011. That’s why the stock sells for four times earnings.

Cutting Debt
Oshkosh Corp, based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, makes military transport vehicles, cement mixers, fire engines and ambulances. I owned it a few years ago but its debt load scared me away in the past few years. Now the company has pulled debt down to less than stockholders’ equity, so I will take another look. The P-E is four.

Back in 1995, Novell Corp of Waltham, Massachusetts, had $2 billion in revenue and was considered a rival to Cisco Systems Inc in computer networking. Cisco then was only 10 percent larger than Novell by revenue. Today, with revenue below $1 billion, Novell is less than 3 percent of Cisco’s size. In November it agreed to be purchased by Attachmate Corp for $2.2 billion.

Micron Technology Inc, a semiconductor manufacturer with headquarters in Boise, Idaho, has seen an upturn in revenue lately, to more than $2 billion in each of the past three quarters from less than $1 billion in the depths of the recession. It has been profitable five quarters in a row and sells for six times earnings.

Earnings drop
Impax Laboratories Inc of Haywood, California, makes generic and proprietary drugs, specialising in neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, attention deficit disorder and depression. Analysts expect it to earn a record $2.95 a share for 2010, then suffer a sharp earnings drop in 2011. The stock fetches six times earnings.

Also sporting a multiple of six is Western Digital Corp of Lake Forest, California, the world’s second-largest disc-drive maker by revenue. It is one of my 10 favorite stocks for 2011.

Skechers USA Inc, the number-two US sneaker maker after Nike Inc, seems due for a comeback in 2011 after a rough 2010. The California-based company declined 32 percent. The stock carries a P-E of six.

Apollo Investment Corp, based in New York City, is a business-development company that lends money to medium-sized companies. It has an erratic profit history but turned one last fiscal year and is expected to stay profitable this year and next. The P-E is six.

Cancer drugs
The final spot on the outliers list goes to Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc, a Massachusetts company working on small-molecule drugs to treat aggressive cancers. In May, Merck & Co signed a licensing agreement to sell one of its drugs. Ariad sells for six times earnings.

John Dorfman, chairman of Thunderstorm Capital in Boston, is a columnist for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.

Disclosure: John Dorfman, personally and for clients, owns shares in GenOn and Western Digital. He also owns Impax Laboratories for many clients. He has no long or short positions in the other stocks discussed in this column.

Rubber plantation families denied access to PM


Photo by: Sebastian Strangio
Former rubber workers speak with reporters at the Memot Rubber Plantation in Kampong Cham province in September.

via CAAI

Monday, 03 January 2011 19:30 May Titthara

About 400 villagers from Kampong Cham province’s Memot district have been refused access to a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen tomorrow, out of fear they will disrupt the event with protests relating to a land dispute, residents and officials said.

The people, who come from three villages inside the Memot Rubber Plantation in Tramoung commune, are engaged in a dispute with TTY Corporation Co Ltd, the private firm that has recently taken control of the plantation.

The premier is scheduled to speak with villagers at Memot Bun Rany Hun Sen High School tomorrow to mark the 32nd anniversary of the January 7, 1979 overthrow of the Khmer Rouge.

Local resident Oun Suo Chen said authorities selected about 3,000 villagers to attend Hun Sen’s speech, but that they had barred access to residents from the three villages.

“I asked the commune chief and he said that villagers in these three villages are not allowed to attend the meeting because they have a land dispute, and they are afraid we will bring documents to pass to Hun Sen,” she said.

Another villager, Preab Keo, said that as a Cambodian citizen and supporter of the Cambodian People’s Party, he was disappointed with the lack of action by the authorities in relation to the dispute.

He said he had already prepared documents related to the land dispute to present to the premier.

“The local authorities said that they will take strict measures to not allow villagers from these three villages to meet with the prime minister,” he said. “I wonder if they are afraid we will tell our story.”

He said the Memot Rubber Plantation, in Tramoung commune, contains 950 families who have lived in and worked in rubber plantations in that area for more than 30 years.

Under a recent scheme to privatise the formerly state-run plantations, he said, residents have been pressured to relocate to a new location since 2008.

In total, seven plantations are set to be privatised, including six in Kampong Cham and one in Kratie province. The Asian Development Bank recommended the privatisation of the rubber plantations as part of a general plan to increase the efficiency of the old state-owned enterprises.

Tramoung commune chief Vinh Ny confirmed that authorities would not allow residents from the three villages to attend the meeting with the premier because of their dispute with the rubber firm.

He added and that the government had tried to relocate them to a new location, but that they had refused.

“We are afraid that they will protest if they meet with Hun Sen, because I saw them prepare a lot of documents,” he said.

Vinh Ny added that the authorities had to prepare for the safety of the premier in advance, and that he could not allow the villagers to cause problems during the meeting.

Patrick Pierrat, a consultant with French firm Sofreco, which is implementing the government’s plantation resettlement plan, told The Post in August that few of the people within the boundaries of the plantations had legitimate claims to the land.

“After the [Khmer Rouge period], these plantations were in fact state-run plantations, and the land was government land. After that, the plantations were organised and privately run, but the land belongs to the government,” he said.

Boeng Kak Lake Residents Demonstrate In The Freedom Park

Family visits Thai lawmaker in jail


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Relatives of Panich Vikitsreth, a member of parliament from Thailand’s ruling Democrat Party, arrive at Prey Sar prison for a scheduled visit on Monday.

via CAAI

Monday, 03 January 2011 20:30 Cheang Sokha

Family members of a Thai parliamentarian arrested for trespassing in Banteay Meanchey province visited him in prison on Monday ahead of what is sure to be a high-profile trial that will test the newly-improved relations between Thailand and Cambodia.

Panich Vikitsreth, an MP from Thailand’s ruling Democrat Party, was part of a group of seven Thai nationals arrested in Banteay Meanchey last week, across the border from Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province.

Heng Hak, director of the general department of prisons at the Ministry of Interior, said relatives of Panich and the other Thais had travelled to Prey Sar prison on Monday to see them.

“The detainees made a request for the meeting via the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh,” Heng Hak said, adding that he was unsure of exactly how many visitors were in the group.

The seven Thais were charged in Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week with illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military base, charges that carry a combined maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

Thai officials said Panich, a member of the two countries’ Joint Border Committee, had travelled along with the rest of the group to “investigate” the border demarcation effort.

Also among those arrested was Veera Somkwamkid, a former leader of the Yellow Shirts or People’s Alliance for Democracy, who also leads the Thailand Patriot Network, a PAD splinter group.

Investigating judge Chang Sinath said Monday that no date had been set for a trial.

“The investigation will take more time,” she said. “I just received this case over the weekend, so I cannot say when the investigation will be done.”

Dy Phen, director of the border relations office in Banteay Meanchey province, said roughly 300 Yellow Shirt activists protested just across the border on Monday, close to the site of the arrests. Thai security forces, he added, had kept watch over the group and had ensured that they did not cross into Cambodia.

“If they enter Cambodia, we will use our law,” Dy Phen said. “Our armed forces have been deployed to defend against any encroachment.”

The protesters later moved their rally to the Cambodian consular office in Sa Kaeo province, Dy Phen added.

Over the weekend, Yellow Shirt activists rallied outside the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok, claiming the seven prisoners were arrested on Thai soil and demanding their release. Thai officials have acknowledged, however, that the arrests took place inside Cambodian territory.

Pythons tie the knot


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Snake handler Roum Phanith, 18, keeps an eye on whopping python ‘bride’ Chamroeun, who dwarfs the ‘groom’ selected for her during an unusual ceremony in Kandal province’s Sa’ang district on Monday.

via CAAI

Monday, 03 January 2011 20:53 Roth Meas

Hundreds of villagers in Kandal province on Monday celebrated an unusual and somewhat mismatched “marriage” between two snakes.

The newlywed pythons are four-metre-long female Chamroeun, who tips the scales at 90 kilogrammes, and Ar Krong Pich, who weighs 20 kilogrammes and is a quarter as long as his new “wife”.

The ceremony, held in Sa’ang district’s Svay Ralum commune, was conducted to ward off what villagers believe is impending bad luck.

Neth Vy, 41, owner of Chamroeun, said many villagers believed the marriage would bring prosperity.

Neth Vy said that a “possessed person” made the initial wedding suggestion, which was dismissed as superstition. However, the idea quickly spread and gained credence among the local populace.

Hin Mao, the owner of Ar Krong Pich, said she caught her snake just 13 days ago. When Neth Vy contacted her regarding the betrothal of the two pythons, she agreed.

The snakes will not cohabit and were taken back to their homes after the ceremony.

Republicans gear up for 2012


Photo by: Pha Lina
Lon Rith, the son of Lon Nol and president of the Khmer Republican Party, announces his party’s intention to run in next year’s commune council elections.

via CAAI

Monday, 03 January 2011 20:20 Meas Sokchea

Lon Rith, the son of former Cambodian president Lon Nol, has announced his intention to contest next year’s commune elections at the head of the Khmer Republican Party, claiming a support base of more than 100,000 members.

Speaking to reporters at the party’s headquarters Monday, Lon Rith, who lives in California, said his party is restructuring itself in advance of the 2012 poll.

Lon Rith said the KRP, which undertook a largely unsuccessful national election campaign in 2008, would aim to support the work of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, and would run on a platform of preserving natural resources safeguarding Cambodia’s territorial integrity.

The KRP’s overriding objective, he said, was to encourage development.

“I have a principle to arrange the country to be as progressive as other countries,” he said, adding that he would aim to empower grassroots organisations at the commune level.

In March 1970, Lon Rith’s father Lon Nol overthrew then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk in a coup, ushering in a five-year experiment with republican government.

Lon Nol’s regime, which was overthrown by the communist Khmer Rouge in April 1975, was marked by its close alignment with the United States, which provided backing for the civil war effort.

It also broke with centuries of tradition by abolishing the Cambodian monarchy, which was not restored until 1993.

Speaking on Monday, Lon Rith played down his party’s link to the Khmer Republic, saying he had no intention of reproducing its anti-monarchist stance.

“The Khmer Republican Party respects our constitution. We will not do anything contrary to the constitution,” he said.

Lon Rith previously returned to Cambodia prior to the 2008 national election. At the time, he told The Post that he wanted “to elevate the people, give them a voice, and give them not just hope, but the basic needs and necessities: food, education, jobs and a higher standard of living”.

In the end, the party won only 11,693 votes in nine provinces – about 0.19 percent of the popular vote.

Lon Rith noted on Monday that his 2008 campaign had been poorly funded in comparison with other parties and said he was prepared to spend up to US$1 million in the lead-up to next year’s election.

Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, welcomed Lon Rith’s return.

“It has been a long time for him. If he tries from now on he could attract votes from the grassroots for this commune election,” Koul Panha said.

He noted, however, that current election procedures favour larger parties and called for a change to the current election formula.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, also welcomed Lon Rith’s return, but said the ruling CPP did not feel threatened by it.

“We are not scared of competing with any party. We encourage other parties to take part in the competition,” he said.

Mobile lottery for Cambodia


via CAAI

Monday, 03 January 2011 20:39 Jeremy Mullins

Philweb Cambodia Ltd aims to have a lottery available through mobiles and kiosks by the end of the year, according to a filing by its parent company on the Philippines Stock Exchange.

The Cambodian lottery – which received a licence in August – was expected to prove profitable, it said.

“It is expected that the operation will contribute a significant amount of revenue and bottom line to the company’s already growing business,” the statement said.

Established in July, PhilWeb Cambodia is a joint venture split 80:20 between Philippines-based PhilWeb Corporation and 5P Corporation, which is owned by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sister Hun Sen Ny, the firm said previously.

PhilWeb intends to operate internet-based and mobile-based games of chance, such as lottery, internet casino cafes and other games of chance as they become legally available in the Kingdom, according to the most recent filing.

Although gambling in the Kingdom is restricted to foreign nationals in designated areas, lotteries are legal for Cambodian citizens, provided proper approval is granted, PhilWeb’s Asia Pacific president Mike Grandinetti has told The Post.

PhilWeb operates internet cafe-style gaming sites in the Philippines in conjunction with the country’s government-owned Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation.

The firm intends to hold a shareholders meeting on January 7 to approve a capital raising via the issue of new shares.

Mike Grandinetti deferred questions Monday on how this plan would impact its Cambodia operations until later this week.

In November, a PhilWeb subsidiary signed a memorandum of understanding with Laos’ Simuong Group to develop and operate in Laos.

PhilWeb’s Chairman is Roberto Ongpin, who Forbes says is a prominent Philippine businessman with interests in San Miguel.