Monday, 10 January 2011

AKP, Phnom Penh, January 10, 2011

via CAAI

Monday,10 January 2011

Japan and Cambodia jointly holds a Symposium on Information Systems and Communication Technology at the Royal University of Phnom Penh from Jan. 6 to 8.
Photo: Pal Song.


Football Tournament for Hun Sen Cup Kicks Off

Phnom Penh, January 10, 2011 AKP – The Football Tournament for Samdech Hun Sen Cup kicked off on Jan. 7 in Battambang, Kompong Thom, Prey Veng and Takeo provinces. < !more-->

More than 30 teams from across the country are participating in the competition, which is scheduled to finish on Feb. 26, 2011.

The champion will receive 80 million Riel (about US$20,000) and the two runners-up will get 40 million Riel (about US$10,000) and 20 million (about US$5,000), respectively, while the Fair Play team will get US$1,250, the best goalkeeper and top scorer will also receive US$250 each. –AKP

By Théng

AKP, Phnom Penh, January 10, 2011

Monday,10 January 2011

FUHAI Investment Company Director General Ms. Lim Sina hands over in Phnom Penh recently USD 20,000 as donation from Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and his wife to the military units that are stationing at Koh Kong province’s Mondul Seima district.
Photo: Chey Phum Pul


AKP, Phnom Penh, January 10, 2011

Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith receives here on January 7 Mr. Duong Dang Cao, representative of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.On the occasion, the Vietnamese official told Cambodian minister that he wishes to organize a study visit program between 3,000 to 5,000 Vietnamese students to Cambodia annually. Photo: Hun Yuth Kun


AKP, Phnom Penh, January 10, 2011

Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith receives here on January 7 Mr. Duong Dang Cao, representative of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.On the occasion, the Vietnamese official told Cambodian minister that he wishes to organize a study visit program between 3,000 to 5,000 Vietnamese students to Cambodia annually. Photo: Hun Yuth Kun


First Ever Dairy Production Factory to Establish in January

Phnom Penh, January 10, 2011 AKP – Cambodia will establish its first ever dairy farm and production factory in Kampong Speu province.

The joint-venture project was signed here recently by Mr. Srey Chanthou, director of 7NG Group Co., Ltd. and Mr. Tun Thoninarin, representative of HPT Dairy Co., Ltd. of Sweden under the presidency of H.E. Em Sam An, secretary of state of the Ministry of Interior.

Kampong Speu provincial governor as well as representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, banks and private companies also attended the event.

According to Srey Chanthou, the dairy farm is located on an area of 100 hectares in Phnom Sruoch district of Kampong Speu province, near Kirirom tourism site, while the construction of the factory will begin in January 2011 for one year. –AKP

By LIM Nary

Cambodia’s Drug police Officials Arrested over Corruption

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 07:23 DAP-NEWS/VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, JAN 10, 2011-Senior official for the anti-corruption unit of Cambodia on January announced Monday that it has arrested four police officials of anti-drug trafficking department over taking bribery as corruption to release the drug perpetrators.

“Those drug police officials release four drug dealers with taking $20,000 to 160,000 US dollars respectively,” Om Yentieng, head of ACU said in his remark of disseminating law of anti-corruption at the culture ministry. “Those drug police officials need to get the legal punishment by the law,” he said.

At the same time, security officials said police authorities arrested Hun Hean, police chief of Banteay Mean Chey province after terminating the position, and deputy police chief of Banteay Mean Chey, Chean Son also arrested by central police department of home ministry. The two senior officials also involved with releasing the drug trafficking dealers,” police said without releasing names.

Last month, Pursat Provincial prosecutor Top Chaserei Vuth arrested by the ACU and he faced with several charging cases by local people’s complaints. After implementing the law of anti-corruption, the ACU also arrested over 20 custom and excise officials arrested and punished by the law.

Cambodia’ law on anti-corruption just came into force on December last year.

Two jailed for theft of ‘guardian stone’

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:02 Mom Kunthear

POLICE in Svay Rieng province’s Romeas Hek district on Friday arrested two people, including a monk, for stealing a stone which villagers say symbolises the commune’s “guardian spirit”.

Chhum Ry, the police chief of Romeas Hek district, said yesterday that the arrests were made after villagers in Andong Por commune complained to the police that a monk and a moto-taxi driver removed the “ancient” stone from its spirit guardian house.

Villagers in Andong Por and neighbouring communes believe the stone holds special protective powers. They often hold ceremonies for the stone, asking the stone’s spirit to bring rain.

Chhum Ry said that the object weighs 41 kilogrammes, is oval-shaped like a crocodile egg, and is clear of engravings or other markings.

“The villagers say this stone is about one hundred years old, because they know the stone was in their village when their parents were young,” he said.

“I informed all local police authorities in the district about the theft, and we were able to arrest [the suspects],” he said, adding that the suspects had taken the stone under the bridge to hide while waiting to sell it.

Both perpetrators have been detained at Svay Rieng provincial prison after appearing at the provincial court on Friday, where they were charged with “stealing the stone of the villages.”

Before his arrest, the accused monk was also taken to the Romeas Hek district monk chief to be defrocked, Chhum Ry added.

The stone was returned to the villagers and has been placed back in the guardian house.

Week-long lake protest ends

Photo by: Wesley Monts
People affected by the Boeung Kak lake development participate in a mock tug-of-war yesterday with other residents representing Shukaku Inc and a Chinese firm involved in the development.

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:02 Khouth Sophak Chakrya

ROUGHLY 300 Boeung Kak lakeside residents facing eviction due to the controversial development of the site ended a week of protests at “Freedom Park” yesterday by releasing 99 swallows and 99 balloons representing freedom, peace and the 99-year City Hall lease that initiated the project.

Activists role-played company representatives as well as residents of the seven villages facing eviction, rehearsing the claims of both sides in a traditional Khmer game, teanh proat.

In this version, at least, the Boeung Kak lake residents emerged triumphant.

Activists called on local firm Shukaku to stop pumping sand into the lake, and warned the Chinese firm Erdos Hong Jun Property Development Co, which is developing the lake in a joint venture with Shukaku, that they would continue to boycott Chinese products if they fail to offer a proper settlement. Residents also burned two pictures representing the companies.

Tol Srey Pov, a community representative, called on people across the country to support their protest against evictions.

“Today, Shukaku Inc and the Chinese company abused my home and that of others right in our community,” she said.

“Tomorrow, other companies will encroach on your homes in your community.”

In 2007, the municipality granted Shukaku a 99-year lease to develop the area. In November last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a letter approving the involvement of the Chinese firm. Rights groups say more than 4,000 families will be displaced.

Meanchey home reprieve

Photo by: Pha Lina
Workers labour yesterday near threatened homes in Meanchey district’s Prek Pra commune.

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:02 Tep Nimol

MEANCHEY district authorities have relented on a demand that 200 lakeside families in the district’s Prek Pra commune dismantle their homes, but have warned residents not to build any further housing at the location.

The villagers had been ordered to dismantle their homes by last Thursday, because local authorities claim they are living on state land and are disrupting the flow of water drainage into Prek Pra lake.

“The order to dismantle the homes came down too quickly, but we have called for the villagers to cooperate with the authorities to restore Prek Pra lake … and avoid flooding in the area,” said Heak Chanleang, Meanchey district’s deputy governor.

“In the future, if the government needs this land for strategic drainage, we will take measures to obtain it,” he added. “For now, we will just prevent villagers from building new homes in the area because they are living on state land.”

Chen Thida, a village representative in Prek Pra commune, said the villagers remained worried that their homes could flood as city officials pump more water into the canal that runs into the lake.

“The authorities haven’t removed our homes, but we are concerned that the homes will collapse as they continue restoring the canal,” she said.

Villagers claim they have lived in the area for the past 20 years.

Road rage: Drivers in traffic cop death threat

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:01 Thet Sambath

Road rage

TWO truck drivers were arrested and later released by police on Saturday for threatening to kill traffic police after their vehicle was stopped in Preah Sihanouk province.

Prum Davuth, 28, and Plong Sokhen, 26, were arrested after they were accused of threatening to run over a number of traffic officers with their truck in Sihanoukville town’s commune 3, said Prum Pov, chief of the provincial traffic police.

“We released both of them after they made apologies for their mistake,” he said.

He added that the pair confessed they become upset with traffic police when an officer used an electric baton to strike their truck for driving aggressively and causing a traffic jam.

“We don’t want this issue to widen. Everything is finished after a compromise by both sides,” he told The Post.

Sihanoukville police chief Man Sour said yesterday that traffic police were deployed every Friday and Saturday to help coordinate the flow of traffic, which is swollen by the number of trucks carrying goods up from the Sihanoukville port.

Prum Pov said police will hold a meeting with a number of transport companies on Tuesday, at which they will discuss how best to tackle the traffic problem in the town.

Group to report on land loss

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:01 Meas Sokchea

A PROMINENT civil society activist claims that the planting of border demarcation posts on the Vietnamese border has resulted in the loss of swathes of Cambodian territory in Prey Veng and Kampong Cham provinces.

Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Watchdog Council, made the claim following a trip by a CWC delegation to border areas yesterday, following local complaints about the loss of land.

“I have confirmed what the people have claimed,” he said yesterday. “I am not scared of someone suing me, because the posts were implanted on Khmer land.”

Rong Chhun said the CWC delegation visited border post 131 in Prey Veng’s Krabao commune, which he alleged was planted about 500-600 metres inside Cambodia’s legal territory.

The delegation also visited border post 125 in Kampong Cham’s Ponhea Krek district, which he claimed lay as much as four kilometres inside Cambodia, ceding a Khmer pagoda, Wat Thnort, to Vietnam. He added that the position of posts 125 and 126 indicated that two Khmer villages had also been lost.

Rong Chhun said he will send the results of CWC’s findings to the government next week. He added that people often refrain from speaking about the land issue out of fear of a backlash from the authorities.

Ros Kin, 52, a villager living in Anlong Chrey village who claims to have lived in Ponhea Krek since the 1960s, said Wat Thnort used to lie inside Cambodia. In 1995, however, he said the area was occupied by the Vietnamese.

“The government says [land] has not been lost, but in fact, it is lost 100 percents,” he said. “I don’t know what to do, I am speaking the reality.”

The claims follow a year-long campaign by the opposition Sam Rainsy Party to expose alleged Vietnamese encroachments into Svay Rieng and Kampong Cham provinces. SRP president Sam Rainsy, currently living in self-exile, has been sentenced to 12 years jail on a series of charges stemming from the border campaign.

When contacted yesterday, Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, declined to comment in detail, saying that he will wait to see Rong Chhun’s report.

“Let him issue [his report] first … and I will speak after. I do not give importance to Rong Chhun,” he said.

State keeps unions waiting

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Garment workers protest during a strike in September.

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:01 Mom Kunthear

NEARLY 400 workers fired or suspended in the aftermath of September’s garment strikes remain out of work, and union representatives say a request for government intervention has so far gone unanswered.

On December 31, the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union and the Cambodian National Labour Federation sent a letter to the Ministry of Labour asking that officials urge the owners of 18 factories to drop complaints against 379 garment workers and allow them to return to work.

The unions also requested that the Ministry push ahead with negotiations over worker benefits through the Labour Advisory Committee.

But Um Visal, a labour dispute resolution officer at CCAWDU, said yesterday the ministry had not responded.

Huon Soeur, deputy director of the ministry’s Department of Labour Disputes, said yesterday he had not yet seen an order from Minister Vong Soth to address the complaint.

However, CCAWDU president Ath Thorn said employers had responded, requesting that unions sign a contract prior to any negotiations, which would force them to abide by the LAC’s decision.

But Ath Thorn said it was not in the interests of the unions to make a binding agreement to the outcome of negotiations before they were completed.

When the benefits negotiations were announced at the end of November, Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, told The Post that GMAC wanted a signed agreement from unions that they would not strike against an agreement made through the LAC.

Som Aun, president of the National Union Alliance Chamber of Cambodia, said LAC hopes to complete negotiations on the issue this month and implement any agreements reached in February.

Ex-monk arrested in Banteay Meanchey

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Monday, 10 January 2011 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

A FORMER Buddhist monk was arrested and charged on Friday with the destruction of property and creating a public disturbance in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, police said.

Acting Provincial Police Chief Chan Kosal said Khieu Sok Hoeun, 24, was charged after he was arrested for disturbing residents in O’Neang village. Following an appearance at Banteay Meanchey provincial court, he has been remanded in custody pending trial.

“He is crazy. He entered into villagers’ houses and destroyed their property, such as mirrors and other objects. He also disturbed villagers while walking or driving across the road in the village,” Poipet Police Chief Um Sophal said.

He added that Khieu Sok Hoeun had been a Buddhist monk for several years at the Kampong Sambo pagoda in the Kandal province’s Koh Thom district. He went on to further his studies in Thailand in 2010, returning to Cambodia on January 2.

However, police said Khieu Sok Hoeun’s rampage coincided with a decision to shed the saffron robes and return to lay society.

“When he arrived in Poipet, he contacted a 35-year-old widow by mobile phone and went to stay at her house. Because of his deep love for the woman, he decided to quit being a monk and live with her,” Um Sophal said.

Chheng Savun, 35, a widow and mother of five children, said that she met Khieu Sok Hoeun while she was working in Thailand, and kept in touch via mobile phone after returning to Cambodia.

“I asked him to stay at my house and he quit being a monk to stay with me. But just over the period of five days after he was living with me, he entered into other villagers’ houses and destroyed material and disturbed people in the village,” she said.

Officials to visit jailed workers in Malaysia

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Monday, 10 January 2011 15:01 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

CAMBODIAN officials will today pay a visit to 74 Cambodian migrant workers who were arrested and detained in Malaysia for working there illegally, Foreign Ministry officials said yesterday.

“Our embassy officials will be visiting them [today] in order to see about their living conditions and health,” said ministry spokesman Koy Kuong.

The Cambodian nationals were arrested on January 1 by immigration police in Malaysia’s Johor province without proper travel or work documents. The group – including 43 men, 16 women, nine boys and six girls – is being detained until Malaysian authorities conclude their investigations and decide whether or not to prosecute the workers.

“Right now, Malaysian authorities have not yet made their decision on these Cambodians’ fate,” Koy Kuong said.

Meas Saneth, program director for the NGO Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility, said his organisation would provide legal support to the workers if they are convicted in Malaysia.

“I am afraid that [the workers] will continue to be detained in Malaysia if they really were working and staying illegally in Malaysia,” he said.

According to figures provided by the Malaysian embassy in October, a total of 20,909 Cambodians – among them 18,038 domestic workers – were given visas between January and August 2010.

Police Blotter: 10 Jan 2011

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:01 Phak Seangly

Daring thief shot in leg after second attempt
A 38-year-old Vietnamese man was arrested on Wednesday at a provincial hospital in Prey Veng province’s Peamro district on suspicion of robbery. The man allegedly broke into a home on Monday night, covered a woman’s mouth with his hand and grabbed her necklace, but she managed to scream and grab the jewellery back before the man fled the scene. The next night he returned for a second attempt where he was met by her son, a soldier, who shot him in the thigh. The man escaped to a nearby field and took a moto- taxi to the hospital, where he was apprehended by police and sent to the provincial court. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Man arrested with drugs in Daun Penh
A 21-year-old man was arrested on Thursday for drug trafficking in the city’s Daun Penh district. Police said they decided to search the man after he was sitting on his motorbike acting suspicious, and turned up three packages of methamphetamines. The suspect was then taken to the district police station, where he confessed that he was waiting for a customer to buy the drugs. Police sent the suspect and the confiscated drugs to Phnom Penh municipal court. KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Barber shop break-in nets 1 million rielA barber shop was robbed of more than 1 million riel (US$250) and other property in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Thursday. The 42-year-old owner of the shop said that he was trying to secretly save his income to buy a new motorbike. He discovered the break in on Friday, and called the police, but his wife had little sympathy, blaming him for concealing his income from her. RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Muslim woman killed in Kratie hit-and-run
Kratie provincial traffic police are seeking the identity of a truck driver suspected of killing a 50-year-old Muslim woman on Thursday night in Chhlong district. The body of the woman was found dead after the truck crashed into her from behind while she was riding her bicycle alone along a road. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Two held over drunken assault
Police in Takeo province’s Samrong district arrested two men aged 50 and 65 on Tuesday, on accusations they assaulted a 51-year-old man during an argument that erupted while they were drinking alcohol together. Police said the victim shone a torch in the face of the suspects, who then drunkenly punched and attacked him with a wooden stick. The victim was sent to Phnom Penh for treatment, while the suspects confessed and were sent to the provincial court on Thursday. KOH SANTEPHEAP

Equity fund extends deadline

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:00 Catherine James

PRIVATE equity fund Emerging Markets Investments has extended the fundraising period for its flagship Cambodia-Laos fund in a bid to reach its US$20 million target, according to managing director Joshua Morris.

The EMI fund, now at $10.1 million, was meant to have closed to new investors at the end of December but will remain open another six months to give some time to complete their due diligence, Morris said.

“We’ve been engaged with a number of potential investors in the last three to four months and we want to give them the chance to conclude their evaluation of the fund,” he said.


The fund is still targeted at $20m ... hopefully with the extended fundraising period we will get those investors on board


“The fund is still targeted at $20 million … and hopefully with the extended fundraising period we will be able to get those investors on board.”

The fund opened a year ago to institutional investors with the aim of putting money into the Cambodian and Laotian small to medium enterprise market. Morris said the prospective investors had not voiced any particular reasons for not yet investing.

“From our perspective they haven’t raised any specific concerns. They have questions around things like the judiciary, market opportunities and the business environment – the usual concerns when it comes to evaluating a country like Cambodia,” he said. “I think it just takes time to go through their own internal evaluation process.”

Morris declined to comment on whether the fund has invested in any enterprises to date, saying it was bound by European and United States rules – the markets where it was fundraising – that prevented it from marketing during the fundraising period.Discussing such activities may be construed as marketing, he said.

A number of funds have begun to operate in the Kingdom in recent years, though some have also seen plans revised.

Leopard Capital announced in August it is raising capital for a second fund, aiming for $50 million. The second fund will consider investments in Laos, and aims to have a stronger development mandate, Leopard’s chief investment officer Scott Lewis has said.

Rice request: Association aims for $15m credit

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Monday, 10 January 2011 15:00 Chun Sophal

CAMBODIA’S Rice Millers Association has requested US$15 million in credit from the government to purchasing paddy for milling for 2011, its president Phou Puy said yesterday. The capital will allow the association’s 280 millers to purchase additional paddy, in turn producing up to 60,000 tonnes of processed rice for export, he said.

“We hope the government will approve our request so that the association will be able to collect more rice,” he said.

The capital would be extended to rice millers in the major rice producing provinces, aiming for individual loan sizes to millers of $300,000 to $500,000.

Last year, the association was granted $11 million from the government via state-owned Rural Development Bank.

Sun Kunthor, general director of the Rural Development Bank said the association’s request was now undergoing a review process by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

“We will arrange the requested loan this month... if the review shows that the requested loan is appropriate and reliable,” he said. Kampong Cham Rice Miller Association president Sur Kheang said he welcomed more lending to millers. “We need more loans," he said.

Financial sector still offering low property impetus

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:00 Steve Finch

IN most economies, increased lending of around 30 to 40 percent among major banks would usually point to a positive knock-on effect in the property sector.

But despite a huge rise in loans in 2010 reported last week by major lenders including ACLEDA Bank and Canadia Bank, little of this extra financing appears to have been channeled into Cambodia’s still struggling property sector which saw land values slide a further 15 percent last year, representatives from the National Valuers Association of Cambodia said last week.

Although the likes of ANZ Royal Bank began to “start pushing” mortgages again around the end of the first quarter last year, following a freeze during the worst of the economic crisis, still the extent of financing available for property remains limited. This means the sector has not benefitted from the strong rebound by the financial sector last year.


Much of the property sector in the Kingdom remains under-reliant on lenders


Lenders such as ACLEDA still only offer up to 70 percent of financing on a home in Cambodia, less than in more developed economies, and often the maximum term is only up to 10 years.

Canadia Bank, for example, still only advertises mortgages for up to eight years.

Therefore much of the property sector in the Kingdom remains under-reliant on lenders, a factor that has delayed prospects of a recovery for what is the last major segment of the economy to rebound from the slump in 2009.

Given the problems many banks experienced as a direct result of property, which in many cases led to spiraling rates of bad debt, it is unsurprising the financial industry in Cambodia has looked at the sector with trepidation.

The likes of Canadia Bank quickly found themselves overexposed to the slumping property market in the first quarter of 2009 and will be careful not to suffer the same fate again.

This is no bad thing. The Cambodian property market was badly overheated by the end of 2008 so financial sector caution in the future can help prevent a repeat of over speculation.

In the short-term though that means the property sector looks set to continue to miss out on much of the returning optimism witnessed in many other parts of the economy which remain far more attractive to lenders.

With property prices apparently hitting a trough, now is a perfect time to enter the market in Cambodia, particularly with the added recent incentive of legal foreign ownership.

The key test this year will be the extent to which the financial sector is willing to back returning buyers.

Running the river for water cause

Jeff Dean and Nathalie Samson run during the first day of their 500-kilometre Mekong Discovery Trail yesterday in Stung Treng province. The pair completed 50 kilometres yesterday and said they were looking forward to “running on something other than asphalt” over the next days. Photo Supplied

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:00 H S Manjunath

American Jeff Dean and his Canadian wife Nathalie Samson are taking responsible tourism in the Kingdom to a spectacular new level by running an incredible 500 kilometres along the entire length of the Cambodian portion of the Mekong river over the next ten days. Their sponsored run is aimed at helping the cause of the lack of pure drinking water in rural areas.

The couple set out on this adventure from the sleepy town of O’Svay in Steung Treng province yesterday morning. Their proposed route will take them through the provinces of Kratie, Kampong Cham, and Kandal, before briefly visiting Phnom Penh for the home stretch towards the hamlet of Kaoh Kok in Prey Veng province bordering Vietnam.

Scores of friends, admirers and curious onlookers gathered at the starting point to see Jeff and Nathalie off, on a course that is, to them, virtually unchartered.

“We hope to cover around 50 kilometres a day,” said Dean. “We don’t know what the terrain is like and what the conditions are. In a way not knowing the route is helpful. We can tackle the challenges as they come.”

The 38-year-old Ottawa resident and his partner, who have barely three years of running experience behind them, were inspired by a 111km run through the Sahara Desert by family friend Ray Zahab for his organisation Impossible to Possible.

They completed a 250km charity run from Angkor Wat to Preah Vihear in January of last year. “Our first run was a real endurance test, and it went well beyond our own belief,” recalled Dean.

“We came here as tourists [in 2008] and we were well aware of the drinking water issues in rural areas. We were driven to this [idea] by a flash thought one day when we were visiting the temples on our bikes during our first visit to the Kingdom. I just thought, why not run?

“We are running once again to raise awareness about water issues in rural Cambodia. We hope that our run this time will allow us to raise even more funds than the previous run.”

The couple managed to collect enough donations last year for non-profit organisation One Filter One Family to provide one deep-water well in Phum Pyam village of Siem Reap’s Svay Leu district. Four additional wells were also installed in Kbal Kropeu village of Puok district while five bio-sand water filters were sent to the village of Pong Ro in Bakong District.

“Our aim this time is to cover an entire village,” said Dean.

World Watchers have already raised red flags that the next World War would be over water. Both Jeff and Nathalie concur with this ominous prediction, and feel that every small step that the community takes to set the imbalances right will help the world become a better place.

When the couple’s grueling Mekong Discovery Trail ends in late January, their mission to bring out positive changes in rural life, one filter at a time, will have been sufficiently boosted.

2011 Samdech Hun Sen Cup scores flood in

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Monday, 10 January 2011 15:00 Ung Chamroeun

Weekend action from the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup saw five Metfone C-League sides already qualify for the knockout phase with two victories in their first two group games. Prek Pra Keila was the only top tier side to drop points after drawing 1-1 with Mekong Kampuchea University on Saturday. National Defence Ministry saw striker Chhin Chhoeurn knock a brace twice past Life University in their opening game on Friday to kick start their title defence. Following a complaint made by the reigning champions, the Football Federation of Cambodia decided to ban former Army players Khim Borey, Soung Vireak, Nov Soseila and Sin Dalin from representing their new teams in the competition. The players had apparently not asked permission from their club to transfer to other teams during the off-season. Two-time golden boot winner Kouch Sokumpheak made another strong start to the Cup campaign netting all four goals for Phnom Penh Crown against newly created outfit Neak Khiev on Friday. Other frontrunners for the top scorer award included Teab Vathanak, who scored a sensational six goals when Naga Corp blasted Preah Sihanouk Autonomous Port 8-0 on Saturday, while Chhlam Samuth (previously known as Phouchung Neak) forward Pov Ratha fired four against Preah Vihear during their 8-2 win. In Vichheka, Chhun Sothearath, Sok Yang scored hat-tricks for Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, Build Bright United and Takeo respectively. Provincial side Kampot surprised everyone with their 14-1 trouncing of Kampong Speu on Friday, with Keat You bagging four. The Kampong Speu keeper was their busiest man again yesterday, when they were steamrolled 16-0 by premier club Kirivong Sok Sen Chey. Chan Rithy, former Phnom Penh Crown left winger and iconic national team player, made a guest appearance for his hometown team Banteay Meanchey. Rithy, who plays for Thai third division club Surin FC, scored his side’s only goal in their 2-1 loss to Rithy Sen.

Traditional music revival crosses language barrier

Khmer teacher Chey Mongkol, far left, with members of his kantrum band

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:00 Roth Meas

CAMBODIAN singers of the traditional Khmer music known as kantrum are losing out in popularity to Thai singers. Kantrum has an up-tempo musical style which tends to feature female singers.

A recent online poll on the Angkor Thom website voted Thailand’s Jane Saijai, 30, as a better singer in the kantrum form than Cambodia’s own Oeun Sreymom, despite her incorrect pronunciation of the Khmer lyrics.

Jane Saijai was born in Thailand’s Surin province, growing up after the Thai government enforced a ban on residents speaking and using Khmer language in the 1960s. This hasn’t stopped her becoming a popular performer of the traditional Khmer musical genre, having released up to 15 albums since she began learning music at the age of 11.

Her enthralling songs have reached out to admirers the world over through the Cambodian diaspora, with admirers not only in Thailand but also Australia, the United States, Germany and France.

Her music and lyrics are written in Thai script, which can lead to problems since most kantrum lyrics are sung in Khmer. However, this hybrid variety of kantrum known as Surin style has actually become popular in Cambodia.

Jane Saijai’s dialect is understandable to people from provinces such as Siem Reap, Battambang, Otdor Meanchey or Banteay Meanchey, though her accent makes it difficult for residents in the south of Cambodia to understand her songs.

“Composers here write the lyrics in Thai script, but because we’re singing in the Khmer language, sometimes we don’t pronounce words correctly because we don’t have the same vowel sounds,” she said.

She has released albums with both traditional musicians and modern electric instruments. Kantrum, a female song form thought to date back to the Angkor empire in the 7th century AD, is now being reinvented as music that can be performed by both men and women.

One man who is working to promote the style and culture in Surin province is Chey Mongkol, president of the Thai area’s Language and Culture Association.

Fearing that his beloved kantrum music would be lost if the Khmer language disappeared, he has established Khmer lessons to teach Thai singers the correct pronunciation.

Since 2006, he has taught more than 100 students in Thailand the basics of Khmer, which was traditionally spoken among the people in the Issan region of Thailand until the language was banned officially due to border disputes.

“Sometimes singers just sound out the Thai script even though they don’t understand the meaning and correct pronunciation of the lyrics,” he said. “Now more and more people have given up their mother tongue in favour of Thai, I was afraid that kantrum music would disappear at the same time.”

Chey Mongkol recently brought a troupe of Surin kantrum players to perform in Phnom Penh, and said he hoped to increase cultural exchanges by asking Cambodian kantrum musicians to share their skills with Khmer people in Thailand.

A fine setting

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:01 Will Baxter

A man smokes a cigarette as the sun sets over Boeung Kak lake in Phnom Penh on Saturday.

The shadow knows

Photo by: Will Baxter

via CAAI

Monday, 10 January 2011 15:01 Will Baxter

The shadow of a performer falls on a screen during the Children of Bassac’s weekly performance of The Monkey King in front of the entrance to the National Museum on Thursday. The troupe will be performing every Thursday, at 7pm, through February.

Yellow Shirts come to prisoners’ aid

Photo by: Pha Lina
Yellow Shirt activist Natapom Toprayoon speaks to reporters in Phnom Penh on Sunday

via CAAI

Sunday, 09 January 2011 20:32 Cheang Sokha

A delegation of Yellow Shirt activists from Thailand arrived in Phnom Penh on Sunday to assist in the defence of seven Thai nationals, including a parliamentarian, arrested for trespassing in Banteay Meanchey province last month.

The group includes former senator Karoon Sai-ngam, lawyer Natapom Toprayoon and university professor Walwipha Charoonroj, as well as several Thai journalists. The group are scheduled to meet with the defendants today at Prey Sar prison.

“We want to talk to the seven prisoners so they can plan more what they are going to do,” Karoon told reporters in Phnom Penh yesterday. “We hope the Cambodian government and prison will cooperate … resolving in a fair way that can be better off for both countries.”

The group said they planned to meet with the prisoners’ defence lawyers and officials from the Thai Embassy during their visit. A trial date has not yet been set in the case.

Panich Vikitsreth, a lawmaker from Thailand’s ruling Democrat Party, was questioned in Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week along with his co-defendants, including former Yellow Shirt leader Veera Somkwamkid. The group has been charged with illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military base, charges that carry a combined maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the government had granted permission for a group of 11 Thais to visit Prey Sar prison on Monday.

“I don’t know what colour they are, red or yellow, but we allowed them to visit at 10am on Monday,” Koy Kuong said.

Suchart Lainamngern, an MP from Thailand’s Red Shirt-aligned Puea Thai party, said on Saturday that former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was willing to assist in the case if necessary, the Bangkok Post reported.

Thaksin, who lives in self-exile to avoid a prison term for corrruption, made headlines in Thailand and Cambodia in 2009 when he accepted a controversial appointment as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government.

Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva, a rival of Thaksin, condemned the appointment, and the countries downgraded their diplomatic relations before restoring them in August following Thaksin’s resignation from the position.

But despite the offer, Koy Kuong said there was no scope for intervention of any sort at this point in the proceedings.

“Since this case is under the court’s jurisdiction, we will let the court do its work,” he said.

Police chief removed pending graft probe

via CAAI

Sunday, 09 January 2011 20:55 Kim Yuthana and Chrann Chamroeun

Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Hun Hean has been removed from his post pending a corruption investigation, officials said Sunday, the latest in a series of graft probes targeting government officials.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said officials were in the process of investigating Hun Hean – no relation to Prime Minister Hun Sen – to determine whether he will face internal disciplinary measures or criminal charges.

“Our team is now investigating the allegations to determine whether or not he was involved with corruption,” Khieu Sopheak said. “We are not certain yet because we are still working on the case.”

Soam Sokheng, general director of the Banteay Meanchey provincial hall, said Sunday that Interior Minister Sar Kheng had signed an order on Friday removing Hun Hean and naming his deputy, Chan Kosal, as acting provincial police chief.

“I can’t say anything more about whether he was involved in corruption or not, but he has been transferred temporarily to work at the staff department of the Ministry of Interior pending further investigation,” he said.

Hun Hean denied Sunday that he had been involved in corruption, suggesting that his removal was engineered by a rival in the government.

“I’m not involved with corruption or administrative mistakes like the allegations say, but my removal may have been the result of trickery or jealousy in relation to my position, where I have worked for three years,” Hun Hean said.

The police chief added that he had willingly accepted his reassignment and was confident he would be cleared of all wrongdoing.

“I don’t feel disappointed about my removal because this is normal for public officials, but it did come very quickly and it surprised me, because what I wanted was to stay in my post forever,” Hun Hean said.

He added: “In my life, I have never been greedy and have always donated money to poor people to help them improve their lives.”

Man kills four in Ratanakkiri

via CAAI

Sunday, 09 January 2011 20:45 Tep Nimol

Three children and one man were brutally murdered in two separate incidents in in Ratanakkiri province early Sunday, after a man went on a murderous rampage that ended with his killing at the hands of the police.

Sak Srun, governor of O’Chum district, said the ordeal started in Prak village, an ethnic Tumpuon community, at about 3am Sunday, when 32-year-old Kheng Kry of Kampong Cham province allegedly stabbed and killed his 61-year-old brother.

Authorities had not yet concluded the reasoning behind the initial homicide, but Sak Srun said the offender had failed in an attempt to rape the victim’s wife.

After learning of the murder, police sent officers to intercept Kheng Kry, but he managed to escape and fled, taking refuge in the house of a Tumpuon family about five kilometres from the scene.

Kheng Kry is then alleged to have raped a 5-year-old girl in the house and killed her and her two brothers, aged three and eight, by slitting their throats with a knife, said Pen Bonnar, the provincial monitor for rights group Adhoc.

He also stabbed three other family members when they tried to intervene.

Sak Srun said police had requested the higher authorities for permission to use more force against the suspect.

“They didn’t allow [police] to shoot the offender. They tried to arrest the murderer but they couldn’t because it was too dark, which allowed him to run away and kill three more people,” he said.

Sak Srun said the decision was eventually made to use lethal force against the accused, who would otherwise have “killed more people”.

The motive for the rampage remains a mystery, but Pen Bonnar said police were discussing a theory that the murderous behaviour stemmed from a reaction to malaria medication, which caused the man to “become insane”.

He added that Adhoc planned to investigate the validity of the “theory”, as well as the shooting of the offender by police.

Thach Sipha, deputy police chief of O’Chum district, said a motive for the homicide had not been established Sunday, but admitted that police had shot Kheng Kry because he had “cruelly continued his actions”.

“The case will be further investigated, and the results will be released later,” he said.

Logger alleged killed by Thai border patrol

via CAAI

Sunday, 09 January 2011 20:58 Cheang Sokha

One Cambodian man was killed and another wounded after they were caught logging illegally across the border in Thailand, officials said Sunday, the latest in a spate of such shootings by Thai security forces.

Dy Phen, director of the border relations office in Banteay Meanchey province, said the pair were part of a group of seven loggers from Thma Puok district who came under fire from troops in Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province on Friday.

The group then bore the injured back to Cambodia without being apprehended or informing the Cambodian authorities, he added.

“The body was returned to the man’s family members on the same day as the shooting,” Dy Phen said. “They didn’t report to local authorities because they were afraid we would investigate their case and ask them who encouraged them to go to Thailand.”

Last month, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong met with his Thai counterpart Kasit Piromya, reportedly discussing the shootings of Cambodian loggers by Thai troops. Hor Namhong said following the meeting that Kasit had agreed that Thai authorities would be more lenient with trespassers.

On the same day as the talks, however, two Cambodians were killed by troops in Thailand’s Sisaket province. Cambodian officials claimed the loggers were attacked by the troops, though Thai Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said the soldiers were acting in self-defence.

“They were fired upon by [the loggers’] guards, who were armed, so the patrol had fired back in defence,” Thani said at the time.

Following the incident, the government sent a diplomatic note to Thailand inquiring about the shooting.

“I will use serious words to emphasise that the shooting is a cruel act and is unbecoming of a civilised country,” Hor Namhong said at the time.

Chan Soveth, head of monitoring for local rights group Adhoc, said Sunday that his organisation had recorded 16 Cambodians killed by Thai soliders near the border in 2010, with 29 killed since tensions between the two countries broke out in 2008.

“They should use the law in these situations, not violence,” Chan Soveth said.

Thai officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Taxis take on tuk tuks in capital

Photo by: Daniel Goodman
Global Taxi launched in 2008 and is operating in the black, despite expanding at a slower rate than planned.

via CAAI

Sunday, 09 January 2011 20:40 Daniel Goodman

Tuk tuks, motos and unmarked taxis remain the dominant mode of transportation around Phnom Penh, but metered taxis are slowly gaining ground on the capital’s roads, according to Global Taxi’s Chief Executive Officer Andre Lim.

Global Taxi was started in July 2008 with a US$1 million investment from Chinese businessman Hu Guangxi, through his company Global Cambodia Trade Development Co Ltd, according to a report from Xinhua news agency.

“In the beginning there was some difficulty because customers had no habit of taking taxis.

“But now, almost three years later, I think the business is growing strongly,” Andre Lim told The Post.

Entering a “highly competitive” market has been a challenge.

Originally, the company predicted that within three or four months of its launch it would expand its fleet from 12 to 60 taxis, but growth has been slower than hoped.

Three years after opening the company now boasts a fleet of 40 cars, conducting about 800 to 1,000 journeys per day – a number the company hopes to double over the next two years. Of its customers, about 25 percent are foreigners.

While revenues and profits remain smaller than originally expected, the company has been in the black since its second year of operation and Andre Lim remains confident about the potential of metered cabs.

“I think in the long-term, there is a lot of potential for the taxis here,” he said.

Since its launch the sector has developed, with a second metered taxi company, backed by Korean investment, entering the market last year.

Some tuk tuk drivers are concerned about the new competition from taxis.

Ros Socheth, a 24-year-old moto and tuk tuk driver, originally from Prey Veng province, said he thinks taxis are the future for Phnom Penh.

“The government wants to make Phnom Penh grow as a city and build more roads.

“As the city expands I think the taxis will become more popular and have more power,” he explained.

Operating in a developing market with high fuel prices has also led Global Taxi to carefully evaluate its business strategy.

Its taxis will generally stay parked in one spot to wait for calls, as opposed to driving around looking for customers as is common in other more developed markets.

Australian shot dead at guesthouse

via CAAI

Sunday, 09 January 2011 20:26 Thet Sambath

An Australian man was shot and killed by two unknown assailants at a guesthouse in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Saturday night, police officials said.

A district police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Sunday that the victim was 44-year-old Australian Eric Liu, who arrived in Cambodia on Saturday.

He added that the victim was welcomed by his girlfriend and her relatives at the airport and was then taken to Reaksmey Thansuo guesthouse in Stung Meanchey commune.

The officer said the victim was gunned down in the guesthouse’s reception area at around 9.30pm.

Liu was shot twice, in the chest and right hand, by two unknown men on a motorbike and later died at Calmette hospital, where his body is being kept under instructions from Australian consular officials.

“He had no disputes with anyone in Cambodia and his girlfriend claims she has no husband, but that she was loved by a Chinese man who works at a shoe factory in Kandal province,” the officer said. “We are investigating this case because we suspect it resulted from a dispute over the girl.”

Phnom Penh municipal police chief Touch Naruth agreed that the killing was likely the result of “vindictiveness”, since the Australian man was “coming to Cambodia to meet his Cambodian girlfriend”, but declined to comment further.

Chuon Narin, chief of the municipal police department’s serious crime bureau, added Sunday that police were hunting for the suspects and gathering evidence in the case.

Chhouy Meng, head of the emergency care unit at Calmette Hospital, said he was not aware of Liu’s case and that his name did not appear on the hospital’s patient registry.

Australian embassy officials could not be reached for comment Sunday, but Radio Australia reported yesterday that consular officials from the Australian Embassy were working closely with local authorities on the case.