Monday, 17 January 2011

Five Thais in border-crossing case to appeal denial of bail

via CAAI

Jan 16, 2011

Phnom Penh - A lawyer representing five Thai citizens in pre-trial detention in Phnom Penh said they would again apply for bail, national media reported Monday.

Lawyer Pech Vicheka told the Cambodia Daily newspaper that a bail hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday at the Appeal Court.

Late last week the lower court granted bail to two of the seven Thais who were arrested on December 29 on suspicion of illegally crossing into Cambodia.

A statement from Cambodia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the two had been released on health grounds.

One of those freed on bail on Thursday was parliamentarian Panich Vikitsreth of Thailand's ruling Democrat Party.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said at the time that Bangkok was 'hopeful' the five would also get bail.

Earlier this month the seven Thais told the court they had crossed the border accidentally.

They face charges of illegally entering Cambodia and unlawfully entering a military area. They could be given up to 18 months in prison if convicted.

Last week, the court also concluded its investigation into spying charges against two of the five Thais still in detention, one of whom is a prominent political figure.

Veera Somkwamkit, a former leader of the nationalist People's Alliance for Democracy movement, also known as the yellow shirts, was questioned along with his secretary Ratree Taiputana.

Veera and Ratree could be jailed for 10 years if convicted of the more serious charge of spying.

The Cambodian government has said the case would not affect relations between the two nations, and insisted the judicial process needed to take its natural course.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia have been tense for more than two years with sporadic clashes between troops over disputed territory surrounding the 11th-century Hindu temple of Preah Vihear on Cambodia's northern border.

New Year gifts to Vietnamese expatriates in Cambodia

via CAAI


A delegation of the Vietnam Fund for Community Development has arrived in Cambodia to visit and present gifts to overseas Vietnamese (OVs) living in the country on the occasion of the Lunar New Year (Tet) holiday.

The delegation, led by the Fund’s chairwoman Truong My Hoa, had working sessions with the Cambodian authorities in the provinces of Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong and Siem Reap in order to establish friendly relations between the authorities and the Vietnamese community there.

During the visit, the delegation also met OVs to inquire into advantages and difficulties in their daily life.

On the occasion, the delegation gave nearly 600 presents worth US$12,000 to Vietnamese and Khmer poor families in the three provinces and presented 15 gifts to Vietnamese children, who had good results in the 2010-2011 academic year in the province of Preah Sihanouk.

The presents were donated by enterprises, organizations and sponsors in Vietnam.

Interview with Mr. Stefan Voogel, GM InterContinental Phnom Penh

via CAAI

[HD video below] On Friday (14 January 2011), ASIA Travel sat with the General Manager of the InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Mr. Stefan Voogel, to ask him about the challenges faced by managing one of the most successful hotels in the city. Mr. Voogel is also the Secretary General of the Cambodia Hotels Association.

In the HD interview shown below, we ask how he manages to keep his property relative with so many newcomers in the market, where the majority of the hotel's clients come from, what makes the property stand out from its competition, how he manages to retain quality staff, whether the country needs a tourism school and much more.

This week, the capital city of Phnom Penh once again hosts the annual ASEAN Tourism Forum, one of the region's most important travel trade events. The ATF 2011 which comprises two parts, the ministerial meetings and the mart component is taking place 15 - 21 January 2011 with the 3-day travel trade mart component on from 19 to 21 January at the Diamond Island Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Interview with Mr. Stefan Voogel, GM InterContinental Phnom Penh

See also: HD Videos from the ATF 2011

Why Phnom Penh? Interview with Mr Stefan Voogel - HD

Lebiz Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Superior Room - HD

Royal Suite @ InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh - HD

Deluxe Room @ InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia - HD

No limits for B.C. man convicted in Cambodia

via CAAI

Convicted of child sex crimes in Cambodia, wanted in Thailand

Last Updated: Sunday, January 16, 2011
The Canadian Press

A man convicted of sex crimes against children in Cambodia has unrestricted freedom in Canada, even though the Crown expressed concerns he was a danger to children.

While a judge granted a restraining order against Orville Mader meant to protect children back in 2007, that order has been allowed to lapse.

Mader — who was charged in absentia in Asia and has not been charged with offences in Canada — faces a 15-year jail term in Cambodia after he was convicted for sex crimes against children in 2004.

He was also accused of sex crimes against a 13-year-old boy in Thailand in 2007, but travelled back to Canada shortly after the charges were laid.

When he arrived in Vancouver in late 2007 carrying nothing but his laptop computer, he was arrested and held.

Order not renewed

At the time, the Crown said investigators were working on sex-tourism charges against Mader. In the meantime, a judge granted an order under the Criminal Code after prosecutor Wendy van Tongeren Harvey argued there were concerns he was a danger to children.

Among his many restrictions, Mader was ordered to stay away from children and anywhere they might congregate, to stay off the internet, to give up his passport, and to report on a regular basis to the authorities near where he was staying in Surrey, B.C.

While the order was renewed against him annually in 2008 and 2009, it wasn't renewed in November 2010.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Ed Boettcher said police did a lot of work on the Mader file both in Canada and internationally.

"There came a time in 2009 where investigators met with Crown and said this is what we've compiled, Crown looked at it and said it doesn't meet the standards of Canadian evidence."

He said satisfying the evidence threshold would have taken a massive effort.

Allegations denied

Neil MacKenzie, a spokesman for the B.C. Crown prosecutor's office, said his office wasn't involved in the decision not to reapply for the restrictions on Mader.

He said Mader fully complied and co-operated with Corrections B.C. while under the peace bond restrictions.

"In view of the circumstances of his time under supervision, Corrections did not believe there was an adequate basis to seek renewal of the peace bond. That would have been a decision made by Corrections."

None of the allegations against Mader have been proven in a Canadian court. He has denied the allegations involving the young boy and the claim that he fled Thailand.

Boettcher said officers watched Mader in B.C.'s Lower Mainland while he was under restrictions.

He said Mader last checked in with officials in Surrey as required at the end of his term in late 2010, but he's not sure if Mader still lives in the area.

He couldn't say if Mader's passport was returned and an official with Passport Canada could not give any information in connection to Mader because of privacy concerns.

Gallagher secures Cambodia win

via CAAI

Company to provide integrated security solution for Phnom Penh International Airport

By Randal Jackson | Wellington | Monday, 17 January, 2011

Gallagher Security has won the contract to provide an integrated security solution for Phnom Penh International Airport.

The Cardax solution will cover 35 doors in the airport. Gallagher will work with channel partners AES Group and Comin Khmere to install smart card readers and Sagem biometric readers in the 16,000 square metre facility. Cardax will also be integrated with Canadian company Aimetis Symphony’s video management software.

Phnom Penh’s international terminal currently has handling capacity for two million passengers annually and is extending its boarding lounge.

Gallagher business manager Ian Meadows says the Cardax solution has been installed in at least 10 airports worldwide, including Christchurch Airport.

He says a number of airports in India are up for refurbishment, business that the company will be pitching for.

The value of the Phnom Penh contact was “commercially sensitive”. The roll-out is expected to be completed by April.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

AKP, Phnom Penh, January 17, 2011

Cambodian Senate’s Second Vice President H.E. Tep Ngorn (right) was conferred a Honorary Doctorate Degree in Political Science from Woosuk University of the Republic of Korea in a ceremony held in Phnom Penh on Jan. 14.

Photo: Chim Nary.

14th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers

Phnom Penh, January 17, 2011 AKP – The 14th Meeting of ASEAN Tourism Ministers was held here today at the Peace Palace under the chairmanship of Cambodian Tourism Minister H.E. Thong Khon.

Tourism delegations from the ten ASEAN member countries as well as those from the ASEAN-Japan Centre and ASEAN-Korean Centre attended the meeting.

The theme for the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2011 “ASEAN-A World of Wonders and Diversity” is very appropriate as ASEAN endowed with great potential, the richness and diversity of tourism resources would make up unique and interesting features for tourists, said H.E. Keat Chhon in his opening remarks.

“There is certainly a need for ASEAN to be attuned to the realities of the situation that the world has started recovering from the global economic downturn; we need to sustain ASEAN’s fame as the fastest growing tourism destination in the world,” he said.

Therefore, he added, we must reaffirm our commitments for sustained ASEAN tourism cooperation; we must strive our best for the travel facilitation and connectivity for intra-ASEAN and international travels; and our important work now is the finalization and adoption of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015, and to further enhance and ensure the successful implementation of work programmes and activities so that tourism can continuously contribute not only to fast track ASEAN integration but also to elevate living standard of citizens in ASEAN countries. –AKP


PM To Pay Visit to Bangladesh Soon

Phnom Penh, January 17, 2011 AKP – Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, will pay an official visit to Bangladesh in the near future.

The spokesman for the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told reporters here last Friday upon the meeting between Foreign Secretary of State H.E. Long Visalo and newly-appointed Bangladeshi Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Kazi Imitiaz Hossain.

During the visit, both sides will sign some documents related to the development and the cooperation between Cambodia and Bangladesh, the spokesman added.

Following on the same day, the Bangkok-based ambassador of Bangladesh also held a talk with leaders of the Cambodian news agency AKP (Agence Kampuchea Presse). The talk focused on the strengthening of the relationship between the two countries. –AKP

By CHEA Vannak

Statement of Cambodian Foreign Ministry over Seven Thai Intruders

Phnom Penh, January 17, 2011 AKP – The Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has issued a statement regarding the issue of the seven Thai intruders.

The full statement dated Jan. 14 reads as follows:

“On 29 December 2010, seven Thai nationals, including a Member of Thai Parliament, illegally crossed the border and went deep inside Cambodian territory. This group of Thai nationals was arrested and handed over to the Cambodian Court for legal action in accordance with the immigration law of Cambodia.

On 13 January 2011, the Cambodian Court decided to release on bail two Thai culprits, Mr. Panich Vikitceth and Ms. Naruemol Chitwaratana on health ground. The Cambodian Court is still considering the case of the other five Thai culprits.

The Court of Cambodia is proceeding on this case in accordance with Cambodia’s immigration law in taking consideration of the current good relations between Cambodia and Thailand, without any animosity towards the Thai people.” –AKP

Cambodia Hosts 30th ASEAN Tourism Forum

Phnom Penh, January 17, 2011 AKP – Discussion on the drafted 2011-2015 strategy to make the Southeast Asian region a more welcoming place for tourists across the world is a key agenda in the 30th ASEAN Tourism Forum hosted by Cambodia.

Taking place from Jan. 15 to 21, the ASEAN Tourism Forum gives floor to more than 200 senior tourism officials from the 10 ASEAN member countries and other concerned counterparts.

“We have to work more to ensure quality human resource development and to better transportation within ASEAN to boost tourism in the region,” said Cambodian Tourism Minister H.E. Thong Khon in his opening address.

The Tourism minister also encouraged a consideration on the emerging tourists from China, Japan, Korea, India and Russia when preparing the five-year regional tourism strategy.

For 2010, ASEAN absorbed approximately 60 million tourists, 2.5 million of whom coming to Cambodia – making 16 percent increase in the country’s tourism sector compared to the previous year, according to H.E. Tith Chantha, a general director at the Ministry of Tourism.

The seven-day forum under the theme of “ASEAN-A World of Wonders and Diversity” also entails special sessions between ASEAN member countries and India, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, and GMS member countries.

Cambodia has hosted twice the forum of this kind. The first Cambodia-hosted ASEAN Tourism Forum took place in 2003. –AKP

By MOM Chan Dara Soleil

Workshop on “Life Lesson for Youth” Held

Phnom Penh, January 17, 2011 AKP – A workshop on “Life Lesson for Youth” was held here on Jan. 15 at Chaktomuk Conference Hall under the presidency of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Keat Chhon.

Over 1,000 high-ranking officials and students who were born in Kratie province attended the workshop organized by the Kratie Student Association.

According to H.E. Ngy Tayi, secretary of state for the Ministry of Economy and Finance and president of the Kratie Student Association, said the association was established in 2000 with the main purpose of being a friendship bridge for Kratie’s students, both old and new generations, on education, living and job.

It is also aimed at alleviating the difficulties the students face when they come to continue their studies in Phnom Penh, he added.

For his part, Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Keat Chhon welcomed H.E. Ngy Tayi’s initiative to create this association, which he said helps strengthen the culture of sharing.

On the occasion, H.E. Keat Chhon also shared with the participants his own and Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen’s experiences during childhood and youthhood, and encouraged the youth to join the Cambodian Red Cross Youth Movement and the Cambodian National Scouts. –AKP

By LIM Nary

Cambodia Grants Royal Award to South Korean

Phnom Penh, January 17, 2011 AKP – Dr. Ra Jong-Yil, rector of the Woosuk University of the Republic of Korea has been granted a royal award by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in recognition of his commitment and active contribution to Cambodia’s development.

Cambodian Second Vice President of the Senate, H.E. Tep Ngorn officially gave the award to Dr. Ra Jong-Yil last Friday at the Senate office.

Let alone his well-rounded academic background, Dr. Ra Jong-Yil has played remarkable role in the restoration and development of post-war South Korea – the contribution well recognized by his government and fellow South Koreans.

His development passion and experiences have inspired him to restlessly invest his time, resource and professionalism in fighting poverty in Cambodia, especially among poor people living in Prey Thmey community of Siem Reap province.

His contribution takes forms of free dental care service provision, school building and decoration, well construction and other assistance for poor students and families. –AKP

By MOM Chan Dara Soleil

Ex-drug czar charged with taking bribes

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:03 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

THE secretary general of the National Authority for Combating Drugs has been charged with receiving bribes and is in the custody of the Anticorruption Unit, national police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said yesterday.

The NACD’s Moek Dara was detained for questioning by the Anticorruption Unit last week following the arrests of Banteay Meanchey provincial Police Chief Hun Hean and his deputy, Chheang Sun, who were apprehended earlier in the week.

Kirt Chantharith said Hun Hean and Chheang Sun had implicated Moek Dara under interrogation from law enforcement officials.

“He was charged with receiving bribes from drug traffickers and he is now being detained at the Anticorruption Institution detention centre under strict control of the Anticorruption Unit and the Ministry of Interior in Phnom Penh,” Kirt Chantharith said.


He was charged with receiving bribes from drug traffickers and he is now being detained.


Hun Hean and Chheang Sun have also been charged with receiving bribes, said Chan Kosal, the acting police chief in Banteay Meanchey. Chhem Savuth, head of the Siem Reap provincial prison, said the pair were serving pre-trial detention at his facility.

“They are strictly protected and taken care of for their future hearings,” Chhem Savuth said yesterday.

A jailed former anti-drug official in Banteay Meanchey province provided the information that led to the arrests of Hun Hean and Chheang Sun, Chan Kosal said.

Lim Mab, formerly the head of the anti-drug police in Banteay Meanchey, was arrested in July on drug charges. After the arrest, however, Chan Kosal said Lim Mab’s family members had paid a bribe to senior police officials in exchange for their relative’s release.

Lim Mab was rearrested last month, Chan Kosal said, at which time he implicated Hun Hean and Chheang Sun, who were arrested last week.

“These people were arrested due to the answers and the confession of Lim Mab,” Chan Kosal said.

Chan Kosal added that By Nasy, the replacement head of the anti-drug police in Banteay Meanchey, had been arrested on Friday in connection with the case of the other officials in custody.

“By Nasy was charged with receiving bribes in the same drug case involving Hun Hean and Chheang Sun,” Chan Kosal said, adding that By Nasy was being held in Banteay Meanchey pending transfer to Siem Reap.

Sam Chankea, Banteay Meanchey provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said he had received information from law enforcement officials that Moek Dara and Chea Leang, an NACD subordinate arrested along with him, were to be transported from the ACU in Phnom Penh to Banteay Meanchey yesterday before being detained in Siem Reap.

Hearing delayed in top cop's case

Photo by: Sovan Philong
Disgraced former municipal police chief Heng Pov arrives at the Appeal Court on Friday for a hearing into his conviction for attempted murder.

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

THE Appeal Court on Friday postponed a hearing in an attempted murder case involving disgraced former Phnom Penh municipal police chief Heng Pov for the second time, after two convicted accomplices and a defence lawyer failed to appear at the courthouse.

Pheng Phai and Heng Veng, convicted with Heng Pov and Ly Rasy for the attempted murder of businessman Thong Uy Pang in 1998, were absent from court, along with Pheng Phai’s defence lawyer.
Heng Veng, Heng Pov’s cousin, is believed to be in hiding.

“We could not hear the case because it is a felony crime, which requires a lawyer representing for the accused,” said presiding Judge Seng Sivutha.

“We guarantee that we will proceed with the hearings but we must appoint a lawyer for [Pheng Phai].”

In April 2009, Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Heng Pov, Ly Rasy, Pheng Phai and Heng Veng to 18 years each in prison for the attempted murder of Thong Uy Pang.

A previous appeal hearing was postponed by the court in August, in part because Pheng Phai’s lawyer was not present.

Heng Pov told the court on Friday that he wanted the hearing to continue.

“I want [law students] to hear my story that the Municipal Court sentenced me without having enough evidence,” he said.

“I told the court that the killers were Thong Uy Pang’s bodyguards, but the judges ignored me and have never launched any investigations or summoned anyone to testify over the case,” he added.

Heng Pov’s defence lawyer Kao Soupha said that his client was angered by the postponement, which blamed on prison officials.

“It is the fault of general prison department officials for failing to transport inmates to hearings,” he said.

Heng Hak, director of the General Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior, could not be reached for comment.

Heng Pov was arrested in 2006 and has since been sentenced to nearly 100 years in prison on a raft of charges including extortion, kidnapping and murder.

Hor Namhong to meet Kasit

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:02 Cheang Sokha

FOREIGN Minister Hor Namhong is set to meet today with his Thai counterpart, Kasit Piromya, as tensions over the arrest of a Thai parliamentarian in Cambodia last month continue to loom over the two countries’ relations.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said the two were set to meet on the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat in Lombok, Indonesia. Kasit and Hor Namhong last met in December following the arrest of Panich Vikitsreth, a lawmaker from Thailand’s ruling Democrat Party.

Panish and six other Thais were arrested in Banteay Meanchey province during an expedition to “investigate” the border demarcation project and were later charged with illegal entry and unlawfully entering a military base.

Koy Kuong characterised today’s meeting as a normal talk, declining to comment on the subject of the discussion.

“There is nothing strange about this meeting. We are neighbouring countries and members of ASEAN,” Koy Kuong said.

Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva dispatched Kasit to Phnom Penh following the arrest of Panich and the other six Thais in a bid to secure their release that ultimately proved unsuccessful.

Kasit said following his meeting with Hor Namhong that Thai officials “respect” the Cambodian judiciary and “have proposed to the [Cambodian] government that they complete this case as soon as possible”.

Panich and another member of the group, Naruemol Chitwaratana, were granted bail last week on health grounds, but must remain in Cambodia in the run-up to their trial.

The other five remain at Prey Sar prison, awaiting a trial for which a date has yet to be set. Two in that group have also been charged with collecting information that may damage national defence, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the court is “proceeding on this case in accordance with Cambodia’s immigration law, taking consideration of the current good relations between Cambodia and Thailand without any animosity towards the Thai people”.

Officials in Thailand could not be reached for comment yesterday.

French man on child-sex charges

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun and Mom Kunthear

A FRENCH national was charged on Saturday with procuring child prostitution in Sihanoukville, provincial police said.

According to the police charges, a 13-year-old girl from Preah Sihanouk province said French national Juan Ordonez Camacho escorted her on a trip to Vietnam in 2010, where he sexually abused her for the first time.

The charges allege that on their return to her village, he continued to abuse the girl, bribing her with money and a cell phone to guarantee her silence.

“Ordonez Camacho, 50, was charged with purchasing child prostitution and he is detained in the province’s prison pending further investigation,” said Be Sivanna, head of the provincial anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection office.

Be Sivanna said Comacho was arrested in the town’s commune 3 on Thursday.

Bou Bun Heang, Preah Sihanoukville provincial prosecutor, confirmed the authorities had detained the French national and they had sent the documents outlining his charges to the investigating judge for further examination.

Samleang Seila, country director for child protection NGO Actions Pour Les Enfants, said the authorities had been tipped off following a lengthy investigation by the organisation.

“We have suspected the man since he was here two years ago of sexually abusing several book sellers along the riverside who were aged between 10 and 15 after he tried to lure them to have a sexual relationship with him and marry them while he was in Phnom Penh,” he said.

After Comacho came to APLE’s attention, Samleang Seila alleged he fled to Sihanoukville, where he established a sexual relationship with the 13-year-old.

He added APLE also had testimony from a 10-year-old Phnom Penh girl, stating Comacho had attempted to develop a sexual relationship with her but was thwarted by the child’s parents.

Comacho’s profile on a social networking site contains photos of him socialising with young Cambodian children and states that he visits the country every year from November to April.


Union leader’s detention criticised

Photo by: Pha Lina
Labour union leader Ath Thorn and garment workers from the United Apparel factory release birds and balloons at a rally yesterday.

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:02 Kim Yuthana

ABOUT 100 trade unionists and garment workers gathered yesterday at the entrance to Prey Sar prison to demand the release of a union leader awaiting trial on drug trafficking charges that many claim are fabricated.

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

Union leaders, civil society representatives and factory workers gathered at a pagoda near Prey Sar to pray for his release yesterday. They then held a ceremony at the entrance to the prison, where they released birds and balloons in a symbolic gesture.

Ath Thorn, head of the Cambodian Labour Confederation, said during the ceremony that Sous Chantha’s arrest was designed to prevent him from organising a protest and to stop him from encouraging workers to join the CLC.

“Suos Chantha was arrested one day after he resigned from a trade union and joined my trade union,” he said. “We suspect that there was someone who put the drugs in his motorbike.”

Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, said the union Sous Chantha had defected from was aligned with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

“To me it’s very strange,” he said. “When military police searched the motorbike ... it was clear they were looking for the drugs.”

On December 16, Phnom Penh Municipal Court ordered Sous Chantha to remain in pretrial detention after he pleaded not guilty to the drug charges.

Investigating Judge Phou Povson said yesterday that a trial date had not been set because he was waiting for the results of laboratory tests being run on the substance allegedly confiscated from Sous Chantha’s motorbike.

Illegal migrants: 49 detainees will not be prosecuted

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Illegal migrants

MALAYSIAN authorities had decided not to prosecute 49 members of a group of 74 Cambodian nationals who were arrested and detained in Malaysia for working there illegally, Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday.

The group – including 43 men, 16 women, nine boys and six girls – was arrested on January 1 by immigration police in Malaysia’s Johor province for not holding proper travel or work documents.

Koy Kuong did not explain yesterday why Malaysian immigration officials had decided not to prosecute 49 of the detainees and said he did not know when the group would be released and repatriated to Cambodia.

He said, however, that officials are still investigating the cases of the remaining 25 members of the group, who may have to face court in Malaysia.

“I am pleased Malaysian authorities have decided not to fine our 49 Cambodian people,” he said. “I would like to request the Malaysian party to fine none of these 74 people and to release them back to their homes in Cambodia.”

Ya Navuth, executive director of the NGO Coordination of Action Research on AIDS and Mobility, said the detainees could expect to face “many fines and punishments” if convicted.


Villagers disrupt developers at Pursat casino site

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:02 May Titthara

AROUND 30 villagers protested in Pursat province on Saturday, managing to halt the clearing of land for a casino project along the Thai border.

Villagers in Veal Veng district’s Thma Da commune say MDS, a local firm owned by tycoon Try Pheap, began encroaching on their farmland, triggering Saturday’s protest.

Moeung Pao, 45, said MDS employees stopped work when she fainted as an excavator escorted by police approached her home. She said she had told them to clear her body instead of the village’s land, but became nervous as the machine got closer.

Other residents also stood in front of their homes and on their land to protest against the clearing, which they claim will affect 84 families and 13 houses in their village.

Moeung Pao said yesterday that she has seen company project maps showing the village lying inside the development zone.

“If they want to take my village for development, why don’t they provide me with compensation?” she said. “I will not act against them if they provide fair compensation.”

Leng Van Doeun, another resident who ran to Moeung Pao’s aid after she fainted, described the protest as “very unjust” for the local people.

She added that if the private firm wanted to take villagers’ land, they should find a resolution rather than stealing it. She also said the silence of the authorities at the commune and district levels had allowed companies to grab their farmland with impunity.

No cause for concern
Thma Da commune chief Prum Ngorn said yesterday he was unaware of the villagers’ protest on Saturday, but that the company’s development should not affect villagers’ farmland or homes.

He claims the company wants to avoid taking over the land, urging residents “not to be worried”.

Soeung Senkaruna, Pursat provincial monitor for rights group Licadho, said the authority should find a resolution for both parties to avoid violence.

“The authority has not found a resolution for villagers, but it has allowed police to deploy to assist MDS employees,” he said. Veal Veng district governor Chhe Chhiv could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Police Blotter: 17 Jan 2011

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:01 Sen David

Man sent to court for beating father-in-law
A 25-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly beat his father-in-law unconscious with a wooden bat in Battambang province’s Battambang town on Friday. The suspect’s wife said her husband was an alcoholic and that she had been afraid to go home on Friday because she thought her husband would beat her. She said her husband had warned her that if she didn’t come home he would beat her father instead, a threat she had thought was empty. But when the suspect’s wife finally did return home, she found her father unconscious, she said. The suspect has been sent to court to face charges, police said.

‘Gangsters’ nabbed after street rumble
Police apprehended a group of “gangster” high school students after a street fight in Phnom Penh’s Prampi Makara district on Saturday. Police said no one had been injured in the brawl, but some property including a car and a motorbike were damaged. The gangsters involved “always make headaches” for law enforcement officials in the district, police said.

Two men arrested for attacking party guest
Two men have been arrested on accusations they beat a man and nearly killed him after a party in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district on Friday. The suspects allegedly told police that they “hated” the victim, but declined to say why. The victim said he had not had “any words of conflict” with the suspects. Police said the suspects, who were apprehended and handed over to police by witnesses of the attack, had been sent to the municipal court to face charges.

Three detained after snatching necklace
Police have arrested three men accused of snatching a necklace from a woman in Phnom Penh’s Chamkarmon district on Friday. The victim said four men on two motorbikes were involved in the robbery. Following the incident, police immediately closed off the street and arrested three men. The necklace was returned to the victim and the three suspects were sent to court, police said.

Burglar busted during home robbery attempt
A 19-year-old man was arrested in Preah Sihanouk province on Friday after allegedly attempting to rob a home whose owners were away on holiday. Police said the suspect was arrested after an official on patrol in the area saw him trying to break down the door of the residence. Police said the suspect was sent to court after he admitted his guilt and said it was not the first time he had robbed a house.

Bank ATM upgrade sparks queues

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:01 Jeremy Mullins

ACLEDA Bank’s automated teller machines were inoperable for much of the weekend, as the company made improvements to its network.

“This week we upgraded the ATMs. It’s the first time we upgraded [the ATMs] to Oracle software,” said the bank’s President In Channy yesterday.

Machines visited by The Post yesterday were back in operation. Customers queuing to withdraw money in Phnom Penh said they were relieved the machines were working again.

Customer So Kong said he had initially been concerned about his deposits after noticing he was unable to withdraw money on Friday.

However, he added he had banked with ACLEDA for two years without any prior incidents and was unlikely to consider moving banks.

ACLEDA had 86 ATMs – the second most in the Kingdom behind ANZ Royal – at the end of 2009, according to statistics from the National Bank of Cambodia.

ACLEDA had also issued 294,752 debit cards, nearly two thirds of Cambodia’s total of 453,471, at that time.

Electronics giant Panasonic launches Cambodian office

Attendees watch Panasonic televisions during the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month .

The Cambodian market has high potential. It is located in a very important geographical location


via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:01 Uong Ratana

JAPANESE electronic giant Panasonic launched its first representative office in Cambodia on Saturday, identifying it as a market with “high potential”.

Ikuo Miyamoto, managing executive officer of Panasonic Corporation, highlighted the Kingdom’s “young and dynamic” workforce and praised the government’s encouragement of foreign investment during at Phnom Penh’s Intercontinental Hotel.

“I strongly feel the great potential of significant growth that Cambodia will perform in the near future,” he said, according to a transcript of the speech.

“The Cambodian market has high potential. It is located in a very important geographical location between Thailand and Vietnam ... That is why Panasonic has decided to open a representative office here ahead of its competitors,” he said.

“Today is the new first step for Panasonic in Cambodia. We will strive to maximize our efforts to carry out locally-oriented management, ” he added.

The company claims to have garnered a 68-percent market share of air conditioner unit sales in the Kingdom last year.

Panasonic also aims to introduce new products and provide an “after care servcies” for its Cambodian customers in the near future.

Keo San, director of San International Co Ltd, which has imported and distributed Panasonic air conditioning units since the early 1990s said that sales had grown since its launch.

“At the beginning, sometimes we could not sell even one a month, but now, our sales are better,” he said, refusing the give specific or assumed figures because of competition concerns.

Hidehiko Kondo, who is a representative from Panasonic’s new Cambodia office, emphasised to The Post the company’s position for growth.

He said that even though there had been some success in selling to Cambodia, the market was still small due to limited numbers of households with access to electricity.

Panasonic aims to mainly target customers in Phnom Penh, he said.

The new office is located on Street 120, in Daun Penh district, Phnom Penh.

Government doubles RDB miller lending

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:01 May Kunmakara

THE government has doubled its contribution to rice milling loans offered by the Rural Development Bank, top government officials said.

“This year, the government has offered US$36 million [from $18 million] for rice millers to buy paddy from farmers,” said Mey Vann, director of financial industry and representative from the Ministry of Economy and Finance during a press conference on Friday.

“The money is a small amount compared to market demand of $350 million. However, it can keep prices stable as they often fluctuate because of buyers from neighbouring countries.”

The government, he said, was also preparing a $25 million fund to guarantee 50 percent of credit offered to the rice industry by commercial banks.

“We are preparing to set up credit-insured fund with 105,000 million riel guarantee for banks offering loans to rice millers,” he said.

However, Mey Vann said that the policy was not set to be implemented this year as it required in-depth preparation. “We are working with World Bank and IFC and we schedule to carry [it] out in 2012,” he said.

RDB President Son Koun Thor encouraged cooperation from the private sector, especially commercial banks, in offering agricultural loans.

Millers aim to meet the government’s target of exporting one million tonnes of milled rice from Cambodia by 2015.

President of Cambodia Rice Millers Association, Phou Puy, said: “Right now, rice millers are using their own capital [to buy paddy] which is made up of about $75 million and another $18 million from RDB - it is not enough with the increased numbers of orders from global markets,” he said.

Including paddy purchased with $25 million of loans from commercial banks, he said the association has bought about 230,000 tonnes of unmilled rice during the harvest season so far.

In Channy, president and CEO of Acleda, said that the bank had offered more than $100 million to the agricultural sector in 2010 - representing 50 percent of the total lent to the sector by banks.

Slow year for green husk generator sales

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:00 Chun Sophal

SME Renewable Energy Limited sold fewer electricity generators last year than it had originally targeted, according to director Rin Seyha.

Its six sales in 2010 brought in some US$500,000 in revenue to the firm, he said. The generators range in size from 100 to 700 kilowatts, which generate electricity from gasified risk husks.

“Our sales [of machinery] in 2010 was less than targeted, because some rice millers had deferred their development plans this year,” he said.

However, he declined to discuss specific reasons why anticipated sales had fallen through.

In early 2010, Rin Seyha told The Post that the firm planned to sell up to 10 units for more than $1 million over the course of the year.

Kampong Cham rice millers association Sur Kheang said it was largely financial constraints that were limiting upgrades in electricity generation for rice mills.

“We wanted to upgrade our risk husk electricity generation to a one megawatt machine in anticipation of future demand, but we couldn’t due to a lack of funding,” he said yesterday.

Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy deputy director general Victor Zona said that sales of biomass generation machines would benefit the Kingdom, as they would replace costly fuel imports.

ASEAN chief reveals bid idea for 2030 World Cup

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:00 Thomas Miller

ASEAN will bid to host the 2030 World Cup, following an agreement by member state foreign ministers, Surin Putsuwan, the bloc’s Secretary General, said yesterday. “As a part of Community building efforts, ASEAN FMs agreed to propose to enter a competition to JOINTLY host the Football World Cup in 2030,” Surin said via Twitter. Koy Kuong, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Last month, the world football governing body FIFA voted to award World Cup hosting honours to Russia for 2018 and Qatar for 2022. The competition will next be held in Brazil in 2014.

Millennia of history in a spectacular show

Apsara dancers are featured in the new Smile of Angkor show at Angkor Coex in Siem Reap.

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 15:00 Roth Meas

ONE thousand years of history are being brought to life with a daily performance of a spectacular show called Smile of Angkor in Siem Reap.

Eighty-four performers, including 10 Chinese professionals, dance and act in the 70-minute show which features high-tech special effects, says Sales Manager Sor Kundaroth.

One of the highlights of the show is an ancient story brought to life from pre-Angkor times from Hindu mythology, he says.

Churning of the Ocean of Milk tells of gods and demons who believed there was an elixir of immortality to be found inside the ocean. Because they wanted to find the ingredient for eternal life, they decided to work together to churn the ocean by using Mount Mandaranchal to stir up the waters and serpent Vasuki as the churning tool.

The gods held the serpent tail while demons held its head, said Sor Kundaroth.

“If we look on the walls of the ancient temples at Angkor Wat or the bridge lead[ing] to the ancient temple, we see the statues from the story Churning of the Ocean of Milk,” he said. “Our performance helps to raise awareness of Cambodian culture as well as the ancient Khmer Empire.”

Advanced technology and special effects have been harnessed to create spectacular scenes, including sprays of real water on the stage, said Sor Kundaroth.

Apsara and peacock dances, Khmer martial arts and other traditions are included in the performance every night at the trade showroom Angkor Coex in Siem Reap at 7pm.

Tickets are US$58-US$68 with dinner for overseas passport holders and US$6-US$8 for Cambodians, who can include dinner for US$4.

Running on ambition

Photo by: Nick Sells
Choun Anny trains at the Olympic Stadium each morning. She recently returned from China where she competed in the first Asia Para Games.

via CAAI

Monday, 17 January 2011 13:27 Ou Mom and Heidi Yeung

Landmine survivor Choun Anny plans to be back running her training circuit of Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh this month, preparing for a third international competition in Indonesia later this year.
Just returned from Guangzhou in southern China, the 28-year-old amateur athlete is proud to have represented Cambodia in the first Asian Para Games, along with four other runners and a swimmer. She was the only woman on the team and won a 200-metre race against a Burmese runner.

However, she noted that her win didn’t gain her a medal – only athletes from China were awarded those. “It seemed unfair that other competitors got medals but I didn’t,” she said, leaning back in a wicker chair outside the Rehab Craft store on Street 278 where she lives and works.

Being an international landmine athlete, Choun Anny can also look forward to a better livelihood for herself. “If I can join in an international competition every year and earn at least one medal, I will earn at least four million riel (about US$10,000) a year from the government,” she said proudly.

“I want other Cambodian disabled people to live in hope and try to develop themselves because now there are more opportunities for them in various sectors such as music, arts, design and even sports,” she said.

And as disabled people have empowered themselves here, she said she has faced less discrimination in the past decade.

As we reported in 7Days last November 7, Choun Anny lost her right leg at the age of 11 to a landmine when she was helping with farming chores at her home in Kampong Cham province.

Her sewing skills led her to start work at the Rehab Craft store, a non-profit, fair trade NGO that creates handicrafts from silk, silver, wood and recycled items. Later, a man working for the Cambodian Disabled Athletics Federation (CDAF) encouraged her to start running for her health. CDAF fitted a new prosthetic leg for her to run on in Guangzhou, but athletes from other countries had better equipment, Choun Anny noted. But the cold weather, ranging from 10 to 20˚C – and being on Chinese TV – put her at a disadvantage, she felt.

Nevertheless, Guangzhou was a “wonderful experience” and she has four albums full of photos to prove it. “It was beautiful there,” she said, “and the people, food and accommodation were all so good.”

But for now, Choun Anny is happy to be home and to be in a climate that she’s used to. She is also happy to resume training for future competitions, including the one in Indonesia, which she said she’s more comfortable with as it’s on a smaller scale than the games in China. “There will only be 11 countries competing in that one,” she said. “It’s not as intimidating.”

Hopes for future wins aside, her goals also include having a shop of her own one day. “I want to have a shop like this in the future. I think I can design, produce and sell things like these,” Choun Anny said with her perpetually optimistic smile.

Braising the roof in Battambang

via CAAI

Sunday, 16 January 2011 18:47 Roth Meas

Plunging into the steamy depths, noises and smells of a market in Battambang, 44-year-old Keo Navuth leads a small party of westerners through the maze of stalls at Phsar Beoung Chhouk.

He explains the uses of lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, fingerroot, kaffir lime leaves, shallots and garlic that are the ingredients of Cambodia’s famed kroeung paste – the basis of the beloved dish fish amok.

Keo Navuth, better known as Toot, runs cooking classes in Battambang with his wife Noun Nary, 43.

Formerly a tour guide, he set up Nary’s Kitchen in October of last year after noticing that the foreigners he brought home after a tour were constantly fascinated by his wife’s delicious cooking.

Noun Nary learned how to cook traditional Khmer dishes from her aunt, a chef who caters wedding parties.

She says that after she mastered many dishes, she was employed as a chef for the Australian Red Cross in Phnom Penh, where she honed her skills and love for food over the next seven years.

Noun Nary says she needs her husband nearby when she’s teaching a class to assist her with translation because she doesn’t speak much English.

“I usually write down all the ingredients I need for my husband when he leads foreigners on market tours. Normally they’re very curious about all the ingredients and techniques we use,” she says.

The couple says most who sign up for a class are eager to learn how to cook dishes they’ve encountered before, so the most popular requests are fish amok, spring rolls and curries. And their guests like to have a lot fun during the classes, too, which run twice a day at 9am and again at 4pm. “Some people dance while they are grinding lemongrass and they look so happy,” Noun Nary says with a smile.

One satisfied amateur chef is freelance photographer Karine Versluis, 30, from the Netherlands. She says she’s had some experience with Asian cooking before, having attended a cooking class in Thailand.

This time she says she hopes to cook fish amok, fresh spring rolls and red chicken curry.

“Ingredients are the same as those used in Thailand, but I would like to try fish amok because I’ve never eaten it before. I have to use mushroom instead of fish, though, because I’m a vegetarian,” says Versluis.

Marta Geis, a 34-year-old social worker from Spain, was another woman happily grinding away during the three-hour class, which costs $8.

“Because I live alone, I usually eat out at restaurants or fast-food places, so this is new to me,” she says.

Clients of Nary’s Kitchen get to choose four dishes from 11 to whip up themselves and afterwards get to share their creations with one another while discussing the events of the day.

“It was very nice to go to the local market like this because I can see how people here live and work in their surroundings,” says Geis as she samples some amok.

Toot says he really wants foreigners to try Cambodian foods in his country, hoping they get a good feel for the ingredients and techniques by learning how to cook them and really appreciating the subtle flavours.

To date, around 300 people have taken classes at Nary’s Kitchen – each leaving with a full belly and a free recipe book.

Wooney tunes

Photo by: Kim-Leng Hills
Woon onstage in the UK.

via CAAI

Sunday, 16 January 2011 16:33 Dene Mullen

Industry buzz. That godawful phrase which has the power to transform a career almost overnight remains alive and well in the British music scene and, at a time of year when every music journalist is clamouring to herald the arrival of “the next big thing™”, one unassuming 27-year-old has been among the foremost recipients of such dubious attention.
Jamie Woon, born and raised in the leafy London suburb of New Malden, seems far too grounded to be affected by the nostradami of a music press which, for every correct prediction à la Amy Winehouse, has tipped the likes of Kula Shaker to invade stereo systems the world over.

That Phnom Penh was treated to Woon’s talents, when he played at Paddy Rice on New Year’s Eve, was something of a glimpse into the future.

Born into a scandalously musical family, it should come as little surprise that Woon has ended up treading this path.

His mother, Gail McKenna, is a celtic folk singer who, he says, “had something of a double life because on the side she was paying the bills by doing commercials and singing on pop records by the likes of Stock Aitken Waterman” – the relentless 1980s hitmakers who spawned more than 100 UK top-40 hits for acts such as Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley.

Inspired by his musical upbringing, as well as the ’90s Britpop explosion, Woon “first picked up a guitar at the age of about 15” and such was his natural talent that just a year later he was enrolling at one of the UK’s most prestigious performing arts schools.

The Brit School has, in recent years, produced some of the most famous names in British music, from middle-of-the-road pap such as Katie Melua and indie-lite popsters The Kooks to slightly more credible artists Adele and Amy Winehouse.

“It was an interesting place,” says Woon, sitting outside a restaurant on Street 172.

“They have quite a few different strands, so there is the music course, the dance course, the drama course, the musical theatre course and so on.

It is quite funny when you’re there because everyone is such a stereotype of their course – we were the music kids, so we all sat around strumming guitars.

Then the musical theatre kids were the ‘jazz hands’ types that you expect, while the drama kids were all very thespian and spoke very loudly.”

Attending the Brit School can be seen as both a blessing and a curse in many ways. There is not a serious music fan alive who doesn’t shudder at the words “performing arts school”, yet the path forged by any artists who emerge from these emporiums of entertainment remains varied.

While Woon insists that he “hated the music most other people were making” at the school, he also doesn’t “see the point in denying that I went there” and provides a common-sense defence against any detractors.

“Some people think: ‘There are all these kids and they just go to the Brit School and then get a record deal.’ I can see why they might think that but most people apply there because they’ve been interested in music from a young age, so it makes perfect sense that they would apply to go somewhere where that interest will be encouraged.”

To lump all of the Brit School’s graduates into a conveniently labelled box would be lazy in the extreme.

Similarly, attempting to classify Woon’s output has proved to be beyond many music journalists in the UK.

What is clear is that he is deeply influenced by soul and the blues, as well as a great deal of other roots music, from traditional folk to jazz, which he describes as “the soundtrack to our household” when he was growing up.

Woon has spoken enthusiastically about the blues in the past and, as we discuss music, the disarmingly polite singer-songwriter explains why he believes the genre still holds such sway.

“I think it is a mixture of things but mainly the pentatonic scale. That has been one of the most interesting things about coming to Southeast Asia: I’ve heard a lot of local music, often being played on the buses, and it was basically twelve-bar blues, or at least it was very, very close. It pretty much used the five-note scale – I found it fascinating.”

Woon has managed to take these more conventional influences and turn them into something altogether more modern in his own output.

The release which first brought him to the attention of the music press, a cover of the American folk song “Wayfaring Stranger”, provides a good starting point. It is music of the night, certainly, like walking alone down the street at 2am to the house you grew up in.

Everything is familiar yet uneasiness still pervades.

“The songs I’ve written over the past five years, some of them are about love but I also like to write songs about nature and trying to find a space in the city. I grew up in London and have lived there all my life and I think every musician is influenced by their surroundings. London is a very tightly packed place, it can be quite moody and dark, and I think there is always a sense of melancholy in English music. There’s a tension point and that is something that I’ve always wanted to achieve.”

Musical tension is perhaps a better way to put it than Woon realises.

And the feeling of after-hours London is equally hard to escape.

“Spirits”, with its deep, bubonic chant as a base, is another song which feels like somebody has not so much knocked the stuffing from you, as slowly extracted it via osmosis.

A multitrack of Woon’s vocal talents is created using a looping device and then drops into a deep groove.

It’s the chant which drives the song, though, and what begins like a medieval funeral march soon picks up that manmade beat before eventually becoming a soulful hymn.

Woon’s is a voice which can float in the ether but also recalls soul and the blues with frightening accuracy. Make no mistake; it is nothing short of spectacular.

He has even been compared to Jeff Buckley by Mary Anne Hobbs, the host of BBC Radio One’s Experimental radio show.

If such a comparison feels a little lazy – how many “new Jeff Buckleys” have there been in the 13 years since his death? – there is a similarity in terms of immediacy, if not in style.

Here lies the rub, though. Woon’s lo-fi template has led to kind words from the likes of Hobbs and The Observer’s pop critic, Kitty Empire, who named Woon as one to watch in her musical preview of 2011.

Yet this is often done with the implication that Woon is somehow allied to the dubstep scene – the serious music press’s cause du jour over the past six months to a year.

Once again, we return to the difficulty of classifying Woon’s output.

Empire even refers to “microstep” as a new genre which encompasses the eerie beauty of the music proffered by Woon and one of his contemporaries, James Blake.

“There has been some talk of me being a dubstep-singer-songwriter and I guess I can see why someone might say that,” says Woon.

“I’m known as a vocalist who likes dubstep and … a few of my songs have had dubstep remixes but I’ve never really been involved in that community.

I’d never go so far as to say I’m part of that scene … but I’m happy for people to say what they like, really, because you can’t control that.”

This seems typical of the laid-back Londoner and Woon is also keen to emphasise his love of dubstep and admits that the sparseness of that genre is something he found incredibly seductive.

“That was certainly what attracted me. The music manages to have such weight but there is still a massive hole there for vocals. It’s moody and melancholy in a British way and it is always exciting when there is music coming from where you grew up. Dubstep is certainly a type of music which excited me because there was this amazing flurry of creativity and cross-inspiration which surrounded it and that was something I felt.”

If this only adds extra variables to an already complicated equation, at least the musical mathematician who holds the answer is present.

So, in his own words, just what type of music does Jamie Woon make?

“I like to blend things but I guess that essentially it is RnB. There’s quite a bit of electronic soundscaping but it’s very pared down and mellow. I’ve tried to take elements of what I love about Radiohead and elements of what I love about Stevie Wonder and get them into the same song. That’s probably almost impossible but I thought I’d give it a try,” he says with a laugh.

Whatever scene he is being aligned with, Jamie Woon is clearly a man in the ascendancy.

He recently came fourth on the BBC’s Sound of 2011 list, which, the corporation says, “showcases some of the most promising new artists for the next 12 months”.

Listen out for him in 2011: he might just be the next big thing.