Friday, 4 March 2011

Two arrested for assaulting a ‘journalist’


via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:02 Thet Sambath

Two villagers were arrested for allegedly attacking a “journalist” on Sunday in the Sotr Nikum district of Siem Reap, according to provincial police chief Suot Nady.

“They were arrested because they beat a journalist’s head with a wooden stick and injured him,” Suot Nady said yesterday.

Tum Morng, a 37-year-old reputed journalist for the Krong Kampuchea newspaper, was attacked by the two suspects for allegedly extorting money from villagers who transport wood in the area.

The victim watched for wood traffickers and allegedly accepted bribes not to publish articles about them in the infrequently distributed Krong Kampuchea, Suot Nady said.

“He always sleeps on a hammock to watch for any truck or oxcarts carrying wood into the village, and he takes money from villagers for transporting wood.”

Tum Morng denied the extortion accusations and believes someone is trying to kill him because they are angry that he is investigating wood trafficking in the village.

“I don’t force people to pay me money. They just accuse me because I am fulfilling my duty to investigate wood trafficking. I think someone is behind these two suspects trying to kill me because I have stayed in this village to investigate wood traffic here,” he said yesterday.

Ping Chinreth, provincial police chief of the minor crimes office, said he was writing a report to send the suspects to court but the victim instead asked to negotiate with suspects for compensation.

“They are talking and compromising about compensation. If they do not reach agreement, I will send them to court soon,” he said yesterday.

Tum Morng said yesterday that he had come to a compromise with the suspects’ relatives, who have agreed on a sum.

“They agreed to compensate me $5,000, but so far I have not received any money,” he said.

Send border observers now: PM


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during the closing ceremony of an art festival in Phnom Penh yesterday.

via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:02 Cheang Sokha

Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on Indonesia to “immediately” dispatch a promised team of military observers to the Thai-Cambodian border regardless of whether Thailand delays its approval of the arrangement.

Speaking yesterday at Chaktomuk Conference Hall in Phnom Penh, the premier said Cambodia had already approved the terms of reference for the observers that were sent by Indonesia in its capacity as chair of ASEAN.

Thanks to an agreement brokered between Cambodia and Thailand last month in Jakarta, 15 unarmed Indonesian observers will be dispatched on either side of the contentious border near Preah Vihear temple, where four days of clashes in February left 10 people dead, dozens injured and thousands of civilians displaced.

Koy Kuong, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, told The Post on Wednesday that Cambodia had “clearly stated” to Indonesia that it would accept observers regardless of Thailand’s response.

Hun Sen said yesterday that Bangkok had yet to grant final approval for the observers despite agreeing to the arrangement in principle.

“The UN and ASEAN aren’t coming to resolve the border dispute – they are coming to see who shoots first and who invades,” the premier said.

“If you are not a thief, don’t be afraid of the police.”

The Bangkok Post reported earlier this week that Thai Army commander-in-chief Prayuth Chan-ocha had said Thailand would need to restrict the Indonesian observers’ activities at the border.

“I want [the border conflict] to remain a bilateral issue and do not want any third country to step in, therefore imposing limits on access is needed,’’ Prayuth was quoted as saying.

Also yesterday, Cambodian officials led a group of military attachés from 13 countries on a tour of the temple to allow them to see the damage it sustained during last month’s fighting, said Chan Chhorn, information officer for the Preah Vihear National Authority.

“We brought them to see the holes from where mortar shells landed near the temple and to see the damage to the temple and the pagoda,” he said.

According to an unnamed military source quoted in the Bangkok Post, the United States, France, Russia, China, Japan, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Burma, Vietnam and Laos sent attachés on today’s visit.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An said UNESCO would send a team of experts to inspect the temple once military observers have arrived, following meetings with special envoy Koichiro Matsuura this week.

Preah Vihear sustained surface-level damage from bullet and artillery fire during last month’s clashes, though little apparent structural harm. An adjacent pagoda, Wat Keo Sekha Kirisvara, was also damaged.

The visit yesterday came despite the protest of Thai troops, according to the unnamed military source quoted by the Bangkok Post, who said Thailand was afraid the attachés would be taken to a patch of land near the temple that is claimed by both sides.

“Cambodia violated an agreement by taking a group of people to the disputed area without Thailand’s consent,” the source was quoted as saying.

Thailand organised its own expedition to the border last month for military attachés posted in Bangkok.

Three charged in Meanchey narcotics raid


via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:02 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged three men with drug trafficking and drug production following a police raid earlier this week.

Hong Endy, 51, the owner of the Nam Trea Guesthouse and Restaurant, and two alleged accomplices, Nay Srey Ny, 19, and Nay Vanneth, 16, are suspected of running a drug manufacturing site in Meanchey district.

“They were charged with drug trafficking and drug production activities in Cambodia,” said Sok Roeun, Phnom Penh Municipal Court deputy prosecutor.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police deputy chief Ben Rath said the three suspects were arrested on Monday night during a police raid of a suspected drug manufacturing site in Veal Sboy commune.

Police confiscated about six kilograms of drugs. The haul included amphetamines and ketamine.

Also seized in the raid were precursor chemicals including sulphuric acid, sodium acid and five bags of sodium hydroxide.

“Hong Endy is a well-known drug trafficker in Cambodia, and he was arrested and put in prison for four months in early 2010 in connection with drug trafficking in Cambodia,” Ben Rath said yesterday.

He added that police also confiscated two vehicles and one pistol from Hong Endy.

All the evidence is being kept at Phnom Penh Municipal Police headquarters, he said.

“In order to prevent him from committing this crime again, as well as to reduce and combat drug trafficking activities in Cambodia, I would like to ask the court to strongly punish and fine him,” Bun Rath said.

He added that police had spent a week investigating the facility before the raid.

Pen Rath said following the raid that the police had been assisted in their efforts by a tip from local residents.

Residents demand sacking of village chief


via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:02 Tep Nimol

Villagers in Stung Treng’s Nhean village in Sesan district say they are awaiting a response from the provincial governor over demands that he discharge the current village chief from his position, after villagers filed a complaint to provincial hall yesterday.

Kim Heng, village representative of Nhean village, said that 33 villagers travelled to the provincial hall to file a complaint letter containing 101 thumbprints and seeking the removal of Nhean village chief Se Darakham in Sdao commune.

“The village chief committed corruption, threatened to withdraw land documents and looked down on villagers many times since he was appointed as the chief, so the villagers want to have a new chief,” Kim Heng said.

She added that provincial authorities prevented 33 villagers from protesting in front of the provincial hall yesterday and deployed armed police to break up the protest.

They did, she added, allow four village representatives to meet with provincial officials to discuss the complaint.

“We met for two hours with them, but they did not decide a thing because the governor was absent, so we were asked to go back to the village and wait for the results,” Kim Heng said.

Se Darakham could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Loy Sophat, provincial governor, said he had asked his officials to investigate the allegations.

However, he said it would be “difficult to remove him from village chief” as Nhean village is not an official village recognised by the Ministry of Interior.

He added that the area was designated for the use of military families to plant rice and that his officials would investigate the matter further and report back to him.

Police Blotter: 4 Mar 2011


via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:02 Phak Seangly

Farmer hacked to death in cassava theft
Sambor district police are searching for a suspect accused of killing a 52-year-old farmer, who was found dead on Monday in Kratie province. Police said the victim left home for his plantation on Sunday but was found dead there next to an axe and some cassava crops, with gashes on his head and face. The victim’s family claimed that he did not have problems with anyone, yet police suspect that the victim stole the cassava and the owner of the crops could be related to the murder.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Drive-by shooting suspects arrested
PURSAT town police apprehended two men aged 16 and 19 on Tuesday after one of them fired a K-54 pistol at two men while on a motorcycle on Monday. Police said the suspects fired once but missed their intended targets, then managed to escape from the scene but were arrested a day later. Police said that the shooting was the result of an argument and the suspects were sent to provincial court.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Teenage cat burglar caught red-handed
RESIDENTS of Daun Penh district chased down an 18-year-old Vietnamese teenager and turned him over to local police on Tuesday, after he was accused of robbing homes in Phnom Penh. Police said the suspect broke into the home of a 61-year-old boat driver and attempted to escape with about 400 kilograms of copper, when the homeowner arrived and shouted for help. The suspect was detained at Daun Penh district hall and police are preparing to send him to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Unknown woman found dead in Mekong
VILLAGERS in Kampong Cham town found the body of a woman floating down the Mekong River in front of a local pagoda on Wednesday in Kampong Cham province. Police examined the body and no wounds were found and they are not sure whether she was killed or committed suicide. Police could not identify the deceased and are publicly calling for families with missing female relatives to come forward.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Four guilty in teen rape case


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 15:03 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Phnom Penh Municipal Court found four suspects guilty of the attempted rape of a 15-year-old girl last year in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district.

Yong Thy, 22, Yoeun Thy, 21, Than No, 19, and Math Channa, 19, were arrested in July last year at a guesthouse in Choam Chao commune after a complaint from the victim’s parents.

They have pleaded innocent to the charges.

The four men had allegedly led the victim to a guesthouse in Phnom Penh with plans to rape her, Presiding Judge Din Sivuthy said.

He added that the attempted rape was thwarted because the victim had shouted to neighbours who intervened.

“According to the witnesses and hearings, these four people had attempted to rape her but their plan was not successful,” he said.

“We think that their activities are very bad for Cambodian society. We will hand down a sentence against them on 28 March,” he said.

Defendant Yong Thy said the charges should be dropped.

“I decided to bring her to stay at the guesthouse because she was my girlfriend and I did not commit any bad acts against her while we were there.”

New firms consider listing on exchange


via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:01 May Kunmakara

MORE than 10 private firms and two more state-owned companies have expressed intentions to list on the Cambodia Securities Exchange after it launches, according to Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Hang Chuon Naron.

Speaking on the sidelines of a currency conference yesterday, he declined to reveal the names of the companies involved.

“There are two state-owned companies and more than ten private companies – they will decide [whether to list] when we launch the exchange,” he said.

Officials have already tapped three state-owned enterprises – Phnom Penh Water Supply, Telecom Cambodia, and Sihanoukville Port – to list on the bourse on or after it launches.

The CSX is set to begin in July this year after being twice-delayed. Private sector officials have also said a number of companies are interested in listing.

Meanwhile, Hang Chuon Naron said government ministers had submitted a recommendation to Prime Minister Hun Sen on which currency ought to be used for listings on the bourse.

He declined to reveal the currency involved, but cautioned it had to reflect the reality of the Cambodian economy, which is highly dollarised.

Derivatives a step too far for Cambodian markets


via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:01 Steve Finch

GIVEN Cambodia has not even launched its long-awaited stock exchange, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia made a sensible decision to crack down on five companies trading in derivatives in the Kingdom this week.

To allow companies including Gold Financial First and Forex Investment Consultant Group the opportunity to start trading in derivatives in commodities including gold, metals and oil would have been the financial equivalent of sprinting before learning to walk in Cambodia’s case.

“I’m not surprised the SECC shut them down,” ANZ Royal CEO Stephen Higgins told The Post yesterday.

One of the main challenges Cambodia faces with the forthcoming stock exchange is educating the general public to avoid stock trading turning into a sophisticated version of gambling.

This has been the case in a number of countries in the region at times, particularly Bangladesh.

In the case of GFF, for example, the general public is unlikely to have been exposed to its derivatives trading given that its internet-based system required a minimum deposit of US$500 for new account holders, or the amount the average Cambodian earns in about nine months.

But Cambodia is simply not ready to deal in these complex financial instruments yet, both in terms of the level of expertise in the country and existing legislation.

The government has barely completed a legal code to regulate the stock exchange.

Furthermore, there is no tax structure in place as yet to regulate a derivatives market.

The problem with derivatives trading is that it is infinitely more complex than stock trading. By its very nature, you trade in a value derived from an asset and not in an asset itself.

As instruments that allow hedging and speculation, derivatives offer security for companies against foreign exchange volatility and fluctuating commodity prices as well as a lucrative source of revenue for investment banks.

Indeed, big banks were considered the driving force behind deregulation of derivatives markets dating back to the late 1990s in the United States, a move many financial experts consider to be the root cause of the financial crisis.

Financial products that led to the high leverage that sparked the crisis in the US, including subprime mortgage-backed securities and credit default swaps, are all derivatives.

No-one is suggesting these five Cambodian companies could cause a similar financial meltdown but recent lessons the world has learned from derivatives trading should be clear.

If regulated appropriately, companies in Cambodia will in the future be able to hedge on insurance, oil prices and foreign exchange, all of which represent considerable and often unpredictable costs here.

However, that future is still some years away.

Expats, firms asked to use riel


Foreign currencies and Cambodian riel are displayed at a money changing stall at Central Market in Phnom Penh. Photo by: Wesley Monts

via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:00 Jeremy Mullins

DOMESTIC businesses and expatriates ought to make increased use of the riel according to National Bank of Cambodia Deputy Governor Neav Chanthana, who joined economists and students at a currency conference in Phnom Penh yesterday.

While Cambodians predominantly use the riel in daily transactions, according to the NBC, statistics show that over 90 percent of the value of domestic transactions is conducted in dollars.

“What we need from the private sector is to move to the local currency,” said Neav Chanthana at the Royal University of Law and Economics yesterday, reiterating the call to the expat community.

“People are confident in the local currency,”

She stated that the high level of dollarisation in the Kingdom restricted some of the policy options open to the NBC. “The economy is dollarised, so our role as lender of last resort is limited,” she said.

ACLEDA Bank Vice Chairman John Brinsden said that increased use of the riel would allow the central bank to have greater control over its monetary policy, such as the ability to control money supply and set interest rates.

According to officials, NBC has implemented measures – often behind the scenes – aimed at boosting confidence in the riel.

Government wages and taxes must be paid in local currency, said Neav Chanthana, while highlighting the role the NBC plays exchanging money for microfinance institutions who receive funding in dollars and make loans in riel.

John Brinsden said the NBC appeared to be pursuing a gradual change to the riel, which he said he supported.

“Over the long term, dedollarise and use our own currency – but let’s not rush into it,” he said, adding that support of businesses for using the local currency varied on a case by case basis.

The riel was prevalent in rural areas, meaning it made sense for businesses operating in such areas to use the local currency. However, he said business with overseas, dollar-denominated contracts would likely support continued use of the greenback, as it removed any exchange risk that came with using multiple currencies.

“Dollars remain dominant for income of private employees and bank account savings,” added Jean-Jacques Paul, project manager of French Cooperation to the Royal University of Law and Economics.

NBC Deputy Director of Research Khou Vouty said a survey conducted late last year indicated 37 percent of Cambodians receive income in riel, 27.5 percent in dollars, and 33 percent in multiple currencies.

Some 2.2 percent of Cambodians received baht, while 0.3 percent received the Vietnamese dong.

“Cambodia has had monetary plurality for a long time, but we’re not a unique country in this case,” he said.

Malaysia eyes investment


Soong Siew Hoong, executive adviser at the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia, speaks at the Malaysian embassy in Phnom Penh this week. Photo by: Sovan Philong

via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:00 May Kunmakara

MALAYSIAN businesses are searching for opportunities in Cambodia following a high-profile visit of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak last year, the Malaysian ambassador in Phnom Penh has said.

Following the premier’s May visit, during which deals worth a reported US$1 billion were signed, he has observed that many business trips have been made to Cambodia.

“We had five companies which were investing in garments, agricultures, and other industries, make deals worth US$163 million last year,” said ambassador Datuk pengiran Hj.Mohd Hussein bin Datuk Pg Hj.Mohd Tahir Nasruddin.

According to the Council for the Development of Cambodia, approved investment from Malaysia in 2010 was $167 million, making it the third biggest foreign investor in Cambodia.

Speaking at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh, executive advisor of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia, Soong Siew Hoong, said that 29 entrepreneurs and investors were currently taking part in the four-day business trip to Cambodia.

One trip member, Datuk Eddy Chen Lok Loi, group managing director of Metro Kajang Holdings Berhad, said: “Cambodia has developed a lot in housing and real-estate development. “

He added: “We want to find 1,6000 hectares of land for palm oil plantation and processing. We have a big plantation in Malaysia and also have plantations in Indonesia with capital investment of about $200 million.” ACCCIM signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of the Association for Small & Medium Enterprise in Cambodia yesterday morning “recognising the immense possibilities of promoting trade and investment for their respective business communities”.

Specialised bank shuts due to requirements


via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:00 May Kunmakara

CAMBODIA Development Specialized Bank, a joint-venture between Cambodian and South Korean investors, has shut down after being unable to comply with a new minimum capital requirement, officials said. Spokeswoman of National Bank of Cambodia, Ngoun Sokha, said the bank went into liquidation. “We did not force it,” she said. Last year, Angkor Capital Bank downgraded from a commercial bank into specialised bank before requirements demanded minimum capital of US$37.5 million for banks and $7.5 million for specialised banks. MAY KUNMAKARA

Exhibition floats the boat


Naze, a painting by artist Svay Sareth, is among works on show until May 5

via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:00 Michael Sloan

BATTAMBANG artist Svay Sareth’s unusual new exhibition was launched last night at the Arts Lounge of Siem Reap’s Hôtel de la Paix.

The exhibition, entitled Tuesday, features paintings, sculptures, and installations exploring ideas of survival and perseverance against the odds inspired by the 1719 Daniel Defoe novel Robinson Crusoe.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is a 200-kilogram boat constructed in 2009 while Svay Sareth was studying at the d’Études des Arts Plastiques in France.

Svay Sareth, who had no experience in boat-building, single-handedly handcrafted a traditional curved-frame boat of wood and resin for four months.

He named his boat Tuesday after the day he finished building it, emulating Robinson Crusoe who named his companion “Friday” after the day he found him.

Unsure if his boat would sink or float, Svay Sareth put the boat on a cart that he’d also built and pushed it 27 kilometres for 11 consecutive hours through rural and urban Normandy in France, until he reached the sea.

A video, Adieu/ Goodbye, that documents this trek, accompanies the exhibition.

Svay Sareth told 7Days that he originally read Robinson Crusoe when he was 17, and later returned to the book when contemplating his return to Cambodia after studying in Paris.

“I was still interested with his story, it was still in my mind when I was thinking how I could return to my own country.”

Svay Sareth’s voluntary agent, Bassac Arts founder Erin Gleeson in Phnom Penh, sees parallels between the plot of the Robinson Crusoe novel and Svay Sareth’s experience as a refugee on the Thai border during the Khmer Rouge period and the emotions he felt following his return to Cambodia after studying abroad.

Gleeson said: “Many of the pieces are a reflection on the idea of perseverance and endurance, and what does it mean to wait.”

She said many of the other themes explored in Robinson Crusoe, including adventure, despair and survival, are all present in Svay Sareth’s work. She added that she sees the idea of the boat both as a metaphor for the artist’s experience as a refugee, and as a celebration of “taking risk with great hope”.

Svay Sareth was born in 1972 in Battambang province, and was a member of the small and historic group of children who studied art in the Site 2 refugee camps with Véronique Decrop.

Later, he co-founded Phare Ponleu Selpak, a private art school in Battambang. In 2002, he continued his studies in France, and earned the Diplôme National Supérieur d’Études des Arts Plastiques in 2009.

His exhibition at the Arts Lounge at Hôtel de la Paix will run from March 3 to May 5.

Quiet achiever builds a Reap restaurant empire


Serge Billot has established a group of successful restaurants in Siem Reap. Photo by: CRAIG MILES

via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:00 Craig Miles

SERGE Billot is one of Siem Reap’s most successful restaurateurs, a Pub Street mover and shaker who owns a string of high-profile businesses and keeps a low profile as a devout and hard-working family man.

French-born, 58-year-old Billot now owns seven thriving restaurants in Siem Reap, no mean feat for a man who came into the game with no restaurant experience.

The first of Billot’s establishments, Amok Restaurant, opened in 2002 in a lonely, dark alley adjacent to Pub Street.

“The first year was very hard because no one came into the alley,” Billot said. “The hotels told guests not to go into the city centre because it was dangerous. They were trying to keep their guests safe, and people were scared back then.

“The rent in that area was cheap, but the smell in the area was very bad, and it was very dirty.”

Despite the problems, Billot opened his Banana Leaf Restaurant in Pub Street one year later.

“I opened a second restaurant because I am a little crazy,” he said. “But step by step we had help. Lonely Planet invited customers to not just our restaurants, but all of the restaurants in the area. It all grew very fast.”

His Cambodian BBQ eatery opened by 2004, followed by Le Grand Café, Champey Restaurant, and BBQ Suki.

Billot’s most recent restaurant, K Noodle, opened in 2009, and he also started Angkor Pic Nic, a service allowing tourists to buy a picnic box to take to the temples.

Most of Billot’s restaurants are in prime locations in and around Pub Street, and his closest rival is the Blue Pumpkin chain.

But Billot is not looking to expand into Phnom Penh like the Blue Pumpkin, and is content to remain a Siem Reap institution. He says he’s now set to stabilise his gastro empire, but of course he leaves the option open for further expansion. He said that at present he is concentrating on upgrading the quality and hygiene of his restaurants.

But he quickly added that he would certainly consider new opportunities if they arose.

Billot’s background is interior design. Before moving to Cambodia, he lived in Hanoi where he started an interior design company. He came to Cambodia in 2000, opening an interior design company in Phnom Penh and another in Siem Reap.

But he became fascinated by the food in Cambodia, prompting him to open his first restaurant in 2002.

“I fell in love with Khmer food,” he said. “I love amok and the spices that Cambodian food has. It’s not too spicy and it’s not too oily.”

Billot designed the interiors of all of his restaurants himself, and they each feature a distinctive theme rather than being a carbon copy of each other.

The group of restaurants also has a free communal restaurant for its staff above the Banana Leaf Restaurant.

Billot now works closely with his general manager Chan Sreyroth, whom he has worked with for the past five years.

Not one to normally be at the forefront of Siem Reap social circles, Billot says he works 12 hours a day, six days a week, and is a devout family man.

Man about town


via CAAI

Friday, 04 March 2011 15:00 Peter Olszewski

Trout helps dogs
SIEM Reap’s dogged defender of all things doggie, Zoe Trout, is leaving town to continue her studies in the UK for at least two years. But with her impending departure she’s taken measures to ensure that Temple Town’s pooches won’t be left without a dog-rights champion, or a vet.

Siem Reap has for quite some time been without the services of a western-qualified vet, and late last month Trout helped bring a vet from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap for the weekend to administer vaccines, and deliver de-worming, flea and tick treatments.

The number of animals the vet could treat was limited due to time constraints.

But the vet, who works for the Wildlife Conservation Centre, will return at the beginning of April and will be able to treat many more dogs. Trout has handed over the coordination duties for this project to 7Days contributor Nicky McGavin. For more details email nickymcgavin@yahoo.co. .

Trout’s indomitable presence will sorely be missed in Siem Reap. Man About fondly recalls being bailed up by Ms Trout one evening in busy Pub Street and given a severe tongue-lashing about an article in The Post that she felt encouraged the eating of dog meat in Korean restaurants in Phnom Penh.

Family fun day
SIEM Reap’s Women’s Resource Center will be hosting a Family Fun Day festival in celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day on Tuesday, March 8.

Proceedings kick off at 1pm at Wat Damnak, and there will be information booths representing services provided by Cambodian Community Mental Health Service, Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, Cambodian Women’s Peace and Development, Dragonfly House, Getset-Go Women’s Learning Center, Grace House Community Center, Legal Aid of Cambodia , Lichadho, Life and Hope Association, Marie Stopes International, Men’s Health Center, Reproductive And Child Health Alliance, Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia, Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, and This Life Cambodia.

Festival highlights include the usual fun and games, plus a photo slideshow featuring women from around the world, in addition to music, dancing, and food vendors.

A highlight will be at 6.30pm when Anjali House stages two contemporary shadow plays directed by Brigitta Gillesan, who has been holding workshops at Anjali. The two plays, The Hungry Liar and The Beautiful Ghost, are based on traditional Cambodian folk tales.

Funky Munky sunk
SIEM Reap’s long running and once-popular Funky Munky restaurant is no more.

The business has been bought by Siem Reap’s meal mogul Alex Sutherland who has already gutted the interior of the place and plans to turn it into an American- style BBQ grill. Chalk up one more restaurant to Sutherland, who told Man About that he will not retain the name.

Funky opened for business four years ago along the riverside café strip, and later moved to its Pub Street locale. Throughout its history it had a bewildering revolving-door array of partners who came and went.

Its main claim to fame was Thursday night charity trivia quizzes, and this local tradition now lives on at the Warehouse on Thursday nights.

Jailed publisher seeks bail


Photo by: Reuters
Ross Dunkley, CEO and editor of the Myanmar Times and publisher of  The Phnom Penh Post, sips a drink as he waits in a detention centre before hearing charges against him at the Kamaryut township court in central Yangon torday.

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 22:07 Philip Bader

Ross Dunkley, publisher of The Phnom Penh Post, appeared for a second time in Kamaryut Township court in Yangon today on charges of violating Myanmar’s immigration and criminal codes.

Authorities have charged Dunkley, 53, also a stakeholder in the weekly Myanmar Times, with violating the country’s immigration law, said David Armstrong, chairman of Post Media Ltd, in a statement.

The charges stem from a criminal complaint filed by a Burmese woman.

The court heard testimony from six prosecution witnesses, but Armstrong said evidence given contradicted the woman’s previous statements.

He added that she had sought unsuccessfully to have her complaint withdrawn.

Dunkley was arrested on February 10 and has been detained in Yangon’s Insein prison.

Under Myanmar immigration law, any criminal offense also constitutes a visa violation.

“Dunkley’s lawyers have applied for bail on the basis of the weakness of the criminal case and on the grounds that police filed the charge under the immigration law even though no court had found him guilty of an offence,” Armstrong said.

He said the defence and prosecution will file requests on the question of bail, which will be considered when the court reconvenes on March 8.

At the time of Dunkley’s arrest, Armstrong linked his detention to what he called a struggle between Dunkley and Tin Htun Oo, the Burmese majority stakeholder in Myanmar Consolidated Media, which publishes the Times, over the paper’s ownership.

Dunkley has been replaced as CEO and editor in chief of the Times by MCM investor Bill Clough, also a financial shareholder in Post Media Ltd.

Armstrong said today, however, that Tin Htun Oo had agreed to provide bail for Dunkley if the court allows.

Tin Htun Oo confirmed this in an interview with Radio Australia outside the courthouse today. “If they give a chance to get the bail, I will pay.”

Tin Htun Oo further downplayed rumours of internecine strife within the Myanmar Times, telling Radio Australia that the trial was not motivated by business.

“There’s no ... problem, no business problem because he is my comrade, he is my colleague,” he said.

Min Sein, a lawyer for the defence, told the exile media group The Irrawaddy earlier this week that Dunkley faced two charges under two sections of Myanmar law.

“One is Immigration Act 13/1 and the other is Criminal Act 328. The first entails a violation of Burma’s immigration laws; the other involves hurting someone, feeding a drug-mixed drink to someone, and harassing a woman’s dignity,” he said.

Coca-Cola enters water fray


Photo by: Sovan Philong
Bottles of Dasani water are manufactured at the Cambodia Beverage Company Ltd factory, in Russey Keo district, Phnom Penh, today. Coca-Cola aims to make it the market leader in Cambodia.

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 19:27 Ellie Dyer and Soeun Say

Coca-Cola has waded into Cambodia’s bottled water market with international brand Dasani, aiming to become market leader in the crowded sector.

The global giant has launched a production line capable of making 10,000 bottles of water every hour at Cambodia Beverage Company’s factory in Russey Keo district in Phnom Penh, officials said today.

Country Commercial Manager Adrian Wenhlowskyj said the company was targeting the mid- to high-level consumer market, with an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 cases being distributed nationwide each month after a soft launch at the end of 2010.

“We are confident it will be [the market leader]. We will work very hard to achieve that,” he said.

That view was reiterated by General Manager of Coca-Cola Indochina Martin Gil, who said the retail price for a 500 millilitre bottle would be 1,000 riel.
Speaking over the din of bottles being pressed and filled, following the treatment of municipal water with ozone, reverse osmosis and UV, he said: “Our vision is to be market leader in every category.”

The move to launch a water brand in Cambodia, which Coca-Cola entered in 1993, comes amid rising demand for products which include Fanta and Sprite.

Serving sales increased by 25 percent in 2010 over 2009, with revenues hitting about $40 million to $50 million and income rising about 30 percent last year, according to the firm’s Country Manager Paul Popelier.

The company paid about $4 million in tax last year, he added.

Popelier believes the company has room to grow nationally after benefiting from $27 million in company investment over the last few years, hinting that more de-carbonated products stand in the pipeline for Cambodia.

“In Cambodia, the firm provides around 15 serving per capita per year, compared to 80 and 90 servings in Thailand and Indonesia,” he said.

Today, Dasani’s potential competitors shrugged off concerns over the entrant to the water market.

Chea Mean, marketing manager of EUROTECH Import Export Company Limited, which sells 500ml bottles at the same price as Dasani, welcomed the launch.

“The more companies that come the better. I think that if we have a lot of popular brand names from foreign countries come in our country it will build confidence for foreign investors that Cambodia has stabilised,” Mean said.

Sang Sotheavy, vice director of Oral Quality Drinking Water, said that it hoped the new brand would be produced at a high quality, adding that its products were selling “very well” despite increased competition.

It has not always been smooth sailing for the Dasani brand, which also recently launched in Vietnam.

In 2004, it was embroiled in controversy when all Dasani bottles were pulled from UK shelves because they had been contaminated with bromate, a cancer-causing chemical.

Lakeside eviction deadline set


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 21:48 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea and Khouth Sophak Chakrya

Some 10,000 people living at the Boeung Kak lakeside have been given a deadline of next week to leave their homes or be forcibly removed, raising the prospect of what could be the largest single forced eviction in the Kingdom’s recent history.

In a letter dated March 2, Daun Penh district governor Sok Sambath said the villagers would be forcibly evicted if they do not leave their homes voluntarily by next Tuesday.

“In case you fail to heed this announcement, the authorities will take strict measures and actions to push the villagers to leave the Boeung Kak area,” the letter states.

“The authorities will not be responsible for the loss of your property in case your homes are removed.”

Local developer Shukaku Inc, owned by ruling party senator Lao Meng Khin, received a 99-year lease in 2007 to develop the lake and has since partnered with China’s Inner Mongolia Erdos Hung Jun Investment Co on the project in a joint venture.

Rights groups estimate that the 133-hectare development has affected more than 4,000 families, roughly 2,000 of whom have already accepted meagre compensation offers and left the site.

Protests by Boeung Kak villagers have become a weekly occurrence in Phnom Penh, as villagers have denounced as insufficient the proposed compensation options: US$8,500 cash, housing in Dangkor district and two million riel ($495), or on-site relocation, the plans for which have yet to materialise.

Individual villages and families in the area have been evicted in piecemeal fashion over the past few years, with some having their homes swallowed entirely as Shukaku pumps in sand to fill the lake.

Srah Chak deputy commune chief In Sophorn said today that the remaining families had little choice but to accept the proposed compensation.

“It is not important whether their homes are big or small because the government has set the payments at $8,500 or two million riels,” she said.

The lakeside residents, she added, “can receive more than this if they come to discuss the issue directly with our committee and Shukaku’s representative”.

Tep Vanny, a community representative, said about 500 villagers planned to protest tomorrow in front of Shukaku headquarters in Phnom Penh to agitate for appropriate on-site housing.

Villagers have requested that 15 hectares at the lakeside be set aside for this purpose.

“If they do not accept this, we will not stop our protests and we will continue until there is an appropriate solution for us, although we are facing danger,” she said.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of local NGO Housing Rights Task Force, said that in previous evictions at the lakeside, local authorities had usually pushed back the relocation deadlines "at least three or four times" before finally following through with the process. As such, he said he did not believe that the roughly 2,000 remaining families would all be evicted next week.

Jailed protesters sentences extended


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 21:52 May Titthara

The Appeal Court handed down three-year sentences today to nine people from Siem Reap province’s Chi Kraeng commune for stealing property, while other charges and separate cases remain in connection with an ongoing land dispute.

Taking into account time served since their arrest on March 22, 2009, the court ordered eight villagers to serve an additional eight months and the ninth, Chheng Saroeun, to serve one more year, according to Sam Chetra, a lawyer provided to the villagers by the rights group Licadho.

The Siem Reap provincial court convicted two villagers in October 2009 and sentenced them to one year in jail and fined the other seven.

All remained in prison however while the prosecutor appealed.

A total of 12 villagers remain in prison on various charges in connection with the dispute, which sparked in 2005 and involves 92 hectares of land, 175 families from four villages in Chi Kraeng commune and 44 families in Anlong Samnor commune.

Both communes are in Chi Kraeng district.

Local authorities decided in favour of Anlong Samnor commune and filed assault and incitement charges against several Chi Kraeng villagers, sparking protests.

On March 22, 2009, police fired on about 80 protesting Chi Kraeng villagers, who demanded that they be allowed to harvest rice in the disputed area, injuring four.

More than 40 locals – including the nine in this case – were detained for questioning and required to sign agreements to abandon the dispute.

No charges were brought against the officers.

Luon Savath, a Buddhist monk and village representative, said the villagers were innocent.

“They are not guilty. I never hear those who harvest rice fields on their land face charges of robbery,” Luon Savath said.

Rights groups denounced the ruling.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for Licadho, called on the court to drop the charges.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the court’s decision was “clearly an attempt to offer some degree of legitimacy to the ongoing detention of these men”.

“A day after the release of Thach Saveth was ordered by the Supreme Court, it looks like it is back to the business of repression under the guise of the legitimacy of judicial order in the courts of Cambodia,” Ou Virak said.

Officials see immunisation progress


via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 20:13 Thik Kaliyann

Siem Reap

A national measles immunisation campaign organised by the Ministry of Health is on track to achieve its goal of eliminating the virus by 2012, according to information presented at a launch of the second phase of the project Siem Reap on Wednesday.

At the launch Eng Huot, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Health, said he was satisfied with the results of the first phase of the campaign, which ran from February 2-14.

“Phase one has already achieved excellent results in nine provinces, with over 547,000 children between 9 and 59 months of age receiving measles vaccinations,” he said.

“We learned many important lessons, including the need for vaccination teams and supervisors to go house to house to ensure no children are missed, and the benefits of greater community participation through village health support.”

He said the Ministry of Health aims to vaccinate more than 1,500,000 children during 2011 to meet the government’s goal of eliminating the illness.

“The Ministry of Health, along with 35 other countries, has committed to achieving the elimination of measles by 2012. Measles continues to cause significant death and disability worldwide, especially in young infants and children, despite an effective and safe vaccine that prevents the infection which has been available for many years now.”

Between now and the end of March, the Ministry of Health will dispatch vaccine teams throughout the country to establish 18,000 clinics to provide vaccination against measles and also dispense oral polio vaccines, worming tablets and Vitamin A supplements to children.

Sann Chan Soeung, deputy director general at the Ministry of Health, said the campaign staged on March 2 in Siem Reap and will continue until March 13, before moving to Prey Veng and Kampong Cham later in the month.

Additional funding for the immunisation programme has been provided to the Ministry of Health by the government of Japan, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, Latter-day Saint Charities and the World Bank’s Second Health Sector Support Program.

Blaze guts Daun Penh house


Photo by: Pha Lina
Firefighters, silhouetted against a backdrop of smoke, work to extinguish a blaze that damaged a two-storey house near Kandal market in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district this morning.

via CAAI

Thursday, 03 March 2011 19:43 Vong Sokheng

A fire this morning at a house next to the Ministry of Commerce on Street 136 destroyed two floors of a home and left one woman injured.

Neth Vantha, director of the Phnom Penh Municipal Fire Department, said the fire was started by construction workers doing electrical work in the house, and that 10 fire trucks had been dispatched to battle the blaze.

“We took about two hours to put out the fire in order to prevent the blaze from spreading to other houses, but we could not rescue the house from burning,” he said.

Neth Vantha said there were no fatalities but that a woman was injured when debris from the fire fell on her head.

Local authorities sent her to hospital for treatment.

Phorn Chenda, a resident who rented a room in the house, said about 10 people occupied the property and lost all their belongings to the flames.

“Ten other people rented rooms in the home, but they could not rescue their property, including money,” she said.

A second fire broke out at a property in Chraing Chamreh II commune in Russey Keo district today, but was extinguished quickly and caused only minimal damage, Neth Vantha said.

Neth Vantha said fire fighters in Phnom Penh had responded to at least 14 fires since January, adding that their frequency increases during the dry season.

He added that there had been no reports of serious injuries or casualties from the fires.

Hun Sothy, Daun Penh district police chief, could not be reached for comment today.

Could Asean Drift Apart?


Peoples Liberation Army soldiers wave a Chinese national flag. (Photo: http://www.armybase.us)

via CAAI

By GEOFF WADE / ASIA SENTINEL
Thursday, March 3, 2011

Last year the Association of Southeast Asian Nations celebrated its 43rd anniversary with fanfare, but cracks were visible in the organization.

Thanks to the lopsided development of the Greater Mekong Sub-region, propelled by China with the help of the Asian Development Bank, the area along China's border has been transformed into a region of its own—a trend that could permanently divide Asean.

The Greater Mekong Subregion, or GMS, nominally comprises Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Vietnam as well as Thailand and two Chinese provinces, Yunnan and Guangxi.

However, in reality, China in toto is a member with national-level technocrats engaging in GMS initiatives, and through this massive membership imbalance, the country of 1.3 billion overwhelms the polities and economies of mainland Southeast Asia.

About US$11 billion has been injected into infrastructure investment in the GMS region over the last decade with one-third coming from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). This aid has been channeled into three so-called economic corridors—multi-country transport arteries now being built across mainland Southeast Asia.

The North-South Economic Corridor connects Kunming to Bangkok, while the East-West Corridor ties the Indian Ocean coast of Burma with the South China Sea ports of Vietnam. The Southern Economic Corridor connects Bangkok with Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau. China openly declares that GMS is the most effective economic mechanism in the region.

The Mekong River—after which the grouping is named—is itself a bone of contention. China already has four dams on the upper part of the river, currently invests in three hydropower dam projects in Laos and another in Cambodia, and plans 12 more on the lower part.

Under a new initiative launched by Chinese President Hu Jintao in July 2009 Yunnan province has been designated as the bridgehead to the mainland of Southeast Asia, through transportation routes, mines, energy infrastructure and foreign trade production bases in mainland Southeast Asia.

The China- Asean Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA, initiated on 1 January 2010, has greatly increased Chinese trade and investment in the mainland Southeast Asia states. In these increasing interactions, among China's aims is the promotion of renminbi settlement in trade exchanges with GMS partners.

In the first half of 2010, the Agricultural Bank of China started a renminbi-settlement program for cross-border trade with Yunnan, part of China's push to internationalize its currency. Up to 50 percent of cross-border trade is now settled in renminbi.

The funding for economic development of mainland Southeast Asia derives from both ADB coffers and Chinese loans and investment, often difficult to distinguish. China is establishing a US$10 billion China-Asean Fund on Investment Cooperation to support regional infrastructural development. Integration measures include communications and transport infrastructure.

An integrated railway system will connect all GMS countries by 2020, with China as key in providing skills and funding. China-funded high-speed railways and roads will connect Kunming with Yangon, Bangkok, Vientiane and Phnom Penh, while a network of hydro-dams, power-transmission grids and energy pipelines also tie the mainland states to China.

The Kyaukphyu-Kunming oil and gas pipeline, connecting the Burmese coast with Yunnan, when completed in 2013, will reduce China's reliance on the Straits of Malacca for its vital energy supply.

Investment funds have also flowed into these countries from China in much greater volumes.

More than US$8 billion of Chinese funds has been invested in Burma since March 2010 in hydropower, oil and gas, and mining.

By July 2010, Cambodia had 360 Chinese investment projects, the value of agreements totaling US$80 billion.

In November, Wu Bangguo, chairman of China's National People's Congress, visited Cambodia and signed 16 more deals totaling US$6.4 billion.

The degree to which Chinese interests are gaining control over most of the upstream industrial sectors in Vietnam is evident from the official estimate that about 90 percent of engineering, procurement and construction contracts are won by Chinese firms.

Numbers of Chinese people moving into these countries are burgeoning.

Laos, a country of 7 million, estimates 400,000 illegal immigrants from China are in the country.

In the cultural sphere, the countries report increased education in the Chinese language, with Cambodia now claiming the best Chinese language curricula in Southeast Asia and schools staffed with hundreds of teachers from China.

This flurry of developments along its border and the growing Chinese engagement with the countries of mainland Southeast Asia—in effect dividing Asean—have not gone unnoticed by regional powers.


Japan has met with the Mekong nations of Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam, without including China, assuring them of assistance.

Japan's official development assistance committed to the Mekong region over the coming three years is US$ 5.9 billion and more private investment in the GMS is encouraged.

Korea has also declared intentions to participate in GMS development, particularly in terms of transforming transport corridors into full-fledged economic corridors and addressing environmental issues.

In a July 2010 speech in Hanoi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke of US interests in the South China Sea and noted that the US saw its relationship with Vietnam "not only as important on its own merits, but as part of a strategy aimed at enhancing American engagement in the Asia-Pacific and in particular Southeast Asia."

Recent US inclusion in the East Asian Summit partially aims at countering perceived Chinese hegemony in mainland Southeast Asia.

The idea of "Asean centrality" in regional architecture, being widely promoted by western interests, is premised on two conditions: that Asean will develop sufficient weight to constitute a bloc, and that members will adopt a common stand on key issues.

Neither condition is likely to be realized, much less maintained, in the near future.

Asean states show an unwillingness to surrender any sovereignty to a central administration and the inability of the body to take unified positions on international issues.

In turn, new physical infrastructure connections, economic interactions, and intimate political and military engagements with China increasingly divide mainland Southeast Asian states from the maritime Asean countries.

Burma, Cambodia and Laos are already virtual client states of China, while Vietnam and Thailand are economically beholden to the economic behemoth.

Asean's most recent response to threat of division is a call for more "connectivity" among its members.

A master plan—announced at the 17th Asean Summit in Hanoi in October 2010, for physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity—openly recognized emerging division: "This is not likely to be smooth sailing, especially since the two programs [Asean and GMS] have been pursuing parallel efforts and have sunk substantial investments in certain areas of cooperation."

With growing distance between the mainland and maritime states, the likelihood of an Asean Community coming into being by 2015 is increasingly slim. Together with China, the mainland states are now forming a Greater Mekong Region, and the links being developed will override those existing and planned among Asean states. Asean is indeed dividing.

These changes may simply reflect the mainland states' geographic proximity to China or could be a manifestation of a long Chinese tradition to either divide neighboring polities or incorporate them within the Chinese polity.

In either case, revival of a hierarchy is underway in mainland Asia, a phenomenon that some perceive as an indication of the Westphalian system's irrelevance to Asia.

Geoff Wade is a historian with interests in Sino-Southeast Asian relations over time and comparative historiography.

Cambodia Calls for National Solidarity against Cultural Wars

http://english.cri.cn/

via CAAI

2011-03-03
Xinhua
Web Editor: haodi

Cambodia on Thursday celebrated the 13th national cultural day by calling for a national solidarity to protect and uplift national cultures against any cultural wars.

The celebration was held at the capital's Chaktomuk Hall with some 1,000 participants, who are mostly artists from across the country.

It was under the theme: "Cambodia, the kingdom of cultures, everything for the safety of cultures".

Speaking at the event, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that the event is vital to encourage a national unity to maintain, protect and develop the country's cultural heritages.

"This year's theme aimed mainly at eliminating every campaign causing cultural war against Cambodia," said the premier, adding " at this point, I referred to Thai's attacks on our Preah Vihear temple."

"Take this opportunity, I'd like to call on our compatriots and all line ministries and institutions to join forces and closely cooperate to achieve the theme,"he said.

The premier said, "during the war on Feb. 4-7 between Cambodian and Thai troops, 414 shells of mortar and artillery fired by Thai troops had fallen on Preah Vihear temple, the World Heritage site. "

Jailed Thais won't appeal verdict


via CAAI

The Nation/Asia News Network
Thu, Mar 03, 2011

"They decided days ago not to file an appeal against the verdict," an official at the office of Ros Aun, the attorney, told The Nation via telephone. "The case is final."

Activists Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipatanapaiboon were sentenced by the Phnom Penh Capital Court of First Instance on February 1 to eight and six years imprisonment respectively.

They had 30 days to file an appeal.

They were arrested along with five other Thais, including Democrat lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth, on December 29 while inspecting a disputed border area near Sa Kaew's Ban Nong Chan village.

Veera had initially vowed to keep on fighting for justice on grounds that Cambodia had no authority to try him and he had been arrested on Thai territory.

Panich said relatives of his clients have submitted a request for a royal pardon.

"The royal pardon is the only channel now to free them," he said.

Veera should be released as soon as possible as he was not in good health, he said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had said earlier that the activists could not seek a royal pardon until they had served two-thirds of their terms.

However the case was still mired in confusion yesterday as the colleagues of the two from the Thai Patriot Network (TPN) said they would file an appeal.

TPN's Karun Saingam said he just returned from Cambodia and learned that Veera and Ratree would lodge an appeal to carry on their struggle in court. The pair would never ask for a pardon from the Cambodian king, he said, but noted that he did not actually meet the two detainees during his visit to Phnom Penh.

The TPN has been camping out near Government House for more than two months to protest the government's stance in the conflict with Cambodia. They want the government to put pressure on the other side to free the activists, rather than allow the Cambodian court to judge them.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said Karun was not authorised to make an appeal for the two activists.

"If any party really cared about Veera and Ratree's fate, we should respect their decision," he said.

Thailand and Cambodia have been at loggerheads over their boundary for a long time. Border skirmishes near Preah Vihear Temple erupted early February claiming some 10 lives, including those of three civilians on both sides.

-The Nation/Asia News Network