Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Toxic crabs prove fatal

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:02Mom Kunthear

A 21-year-old man died and two others became severely ill after eating horseshoe crabs in Kampot province’s Kampong Bay commune last week.

“They were sent to the provincial hospital.... but one man could not be helped because he ate a lot [of crabs], but the other two were saved and are still alive,” said commune chief Nuth Nhem, adding that the men had fished the crabs out of the sea.

A police officer in Kampot town who declined to be named identified the deceased as Phatt Sith, and the two recovering in hospital as Phatt Lann, 16, and Sim Soklich, 14.

According to a study published in the Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health in 1995, horseshoe crabs can be toxic to humans during certain times of the year because of the presence of tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin, present in the crabs’ eggs.

The report noted that 71 people in Thailand’s coastal Chon Buri province were poisoned by consuming horseshoe crab eggs. Two deaths were reported.

Symptoms of poisoning include nausea, vomiting and respiratory paralysis, the report also stated.

Lakeside residents rebuffed

Photo by: Hong Menea
A Boeung Kak lake resident speaks into a bullhorn during a protest outside City Hall yesterday in Phnom Penh.

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We will wait ... [but] we will continue to protest at other institutions if a response is not given.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:02 Khouth Sophak Chakrya

More than 200 Boeung Kak residents gathered outside City Hall yesterday to await the municipality’s ruling to their alternative development plan, but were rebuffed by local authorities they claim had promised a ruling this week.

Village representatives released an alternative development plan to the controversial development project nearly one month ago, in which 15 hectares were asked to be set aside for families threatened with eviction. The proposal was submitted two weeks ago to Keut Che, deputy chief of City Hall cabinet, who forwarded the request to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema.

Seven Boeung Kak representatives were allowed to enter City Hall yesterday, hoping to get a resolution to the development conflict. They said Ly Saveth, City Hall’s administration chief, told them that Kep Chuktema had not made a decision on their request and was busy in Battambang province.

“This is just the same excuse made by City Hall authorities,” said Tep Vanny, one of the representatives for lakeside residents.

Another representative, Ly Mom, said Ly Saveth “repeatedly told us” that an official response would be given by the municipality later this week.

“We will wait … [but] we will continue to protest at other institutions if a response is not given,” said Ly Mom.

Daun Penh district Deputy Governor Sok Penhvuth called on villagers to stop gathering en masse, and further told them to not be concerned about their pending evictions.

Photo by: Hong Menea
A Boeung Kak lake resident speaks into a bullhorn during a protest outside City Hall yesterday in Phnom Penh.

“We will not force the villagers to leave their homes,” he said. “The solution cannot be done in one day … so please believe in the authority’s solution”.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with rights group Licadho, said yesterday that he believed municipal officials were making excuses in lieu of finding a timely solution.

“I think the excuse that they are busy on their duties is not proper and it is not a solution,” he said.

Nearly two weeks ago, the World Bank said that a land titling programme it funded in Cambodia had failed thousands of people facing evictions, including those living in the vicinity of Boeung Kak lake. Rights groups estimate that roughly 4,000 families will be affected by the pending commercial and housing development.

Opposition paper back in print

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Publisher of Khmer Machas Srok Hang Chakra speaks to reporters in Phnom Penh in April last year.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:03Meas Sokchea

The opposition leaning Khmer Machas Srok newspaper yesterday resumed publishing after a nearly two-year hiatus stemming from the imprisonment of its publisher for defamation and disinformation in June 2009.

Although the paper will continue its support for the Sam Rainsy Party and criticism of the government, it is independent and not under the control of any political party or powerful clique, Hang Chakra, publisher of Khmer Machas Srok, said yesterday.

“We still keep the same stance of constructive criticism. Previously, they always said my newspaper is an ‘opposition newspaper’. Thank you for saying this,” Hang Chakra said.

“In fact, my newspaper is independent. There is no budget from anyone supporting me, it is my family’s budget.”

The top stories in yesterday’s paper, he said, covered comments by Sam Rainsy on his convictions, former Khmer Civilisation Foundation head Moeung Sonn calling for the Appeal Court to open Sam Rainsy’s case soon and allow him to return to Cambodia and protests against Boeung Kak lake evictions in Phnom Penh.

“I criticise the government but I have never regarded the government as my enemy. I criticise the government in order to build,” Hang Chakra said. “I am not scared of anything, I have been in jail.”

Hang Chakra was convicted in June 2009 of defamation and disinformation for articles published in Khmer Machas Srok and sentenced to one year prison and fined 9 million riel (US$2,229).

The decision was upheld by the Appeal Court that August.

Hang Chakra had published articles alleging that officials working for Deputy Prime Minister Sok An had been involved in corruption.

The Government filed a complaint alleging that the articles could affect political stability.

King Norodom Sihamoni granted Hang Chakra a royal pardon in April 2010.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Council of Ministers, said yesterday he welcomed the return of Khmer Machas Srok.

He said the government wanted newspapers to report responsibly, provide honest information and respect leaders. He warned however that newspapers will be prosecuted if they violate the press law.

“We welcome every criticism, but attacking, lying, duping, insulting we do not accept,” Phay Siphan said.

Senior Investigator for the local rights group Adhoc Chan Soveth said although there are plenty of newspapers in Cambodia, true freedom of expression is not practiced widely. He urged the media to write freely and without fear.

He added that Phay Siphan’s warning about the press law would encourage journalists to avoid writing that is not grounded in reality.

Surya Subedi, the United Nations special rapporteur for human rights, has urged the Cambodian Government to decriminalise defamation.

Police bust robbery ring

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:03Kim Yuthana

Police in Daun Penh district have arrested two men suspected of being involved in a series of high-profile robberies in the capital over the past few months, Phnom Penh deputy police chief Pol Pithey said yesterday.

The men are suspected to have been members of a gang that robbed two Savimex Oil employees of US$60,000 near the Council for the Development of Cambodia on February 7, Pol Pithey said.

The gang is also believed to be responsible for a jewellery heist perpetrated on a soldier at a hair salon in Daun Penh district in October.

The gang may also be responsible for the robbery of well-known Cambodian comedian Neay Koy, also known as Chuong Chi, who was stripped of roughly $40,000 worth of jewellery in Phnom Penh’s Tuol Kork district on January 14.

“We have not yet concluded that the gang robbed Neay Koy, but we will continue the investigation in order to apprehend them,” Pol Pithey said, adding that authorities had seized three guns from the suspects that were believed to have been used in the robberies.

Pol Pithey declined to identify the suspects in light of the ongoing investigation, though he said police had apprehended the men in two separate locations in the capital on Friday and are preparing to send them to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.

Neay Koy, 57, said he welcomed the attention to his case, even months after he filed the original complaint.

“On TV, I have played a comedian who gives lessons about robberies, but I never thought it would happen to me,” he said with a laugh, adding that he no longer shows off his jewellery in public.

PM pushes home jobs

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:03Cheang Sokha and David Boyle

Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called for a crackdown on labour trafficking to Thailand, amid a new round of concerns over training centres for Cambodians seeking work abroad.

Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for construction on National Road 57B in Battambang province, Hun Sen urged Cambodians to work in the Kingdom rather than migrate to Thailand.

He said many people cross the border for jobs to harvest rice, sugar or corn, but there were equally valuable work opportunities at home.

“We’ve had a lack of labourers recently, so I would like to appeal to our people that there are many job opportunities in Cambodia,” he said.

“The wage is not different [in Thailand, and] we are not the employers, we are labourers in the agriculture sector, the same as in Cambodia.”

Hun Sen said people who chose to work in Cambodia could avoid abuse and mistreatment from Thai employers and would not risk arrest when crossing the border illegally.

Hun Sen also ordered a crackdown on labour traffickers who smuggle Cambodians to work illegally in Thailand.

Soum Chankea, a coordinator for the local rights group Adhoc based in Banteay Meanchey province, said locals travel to Thailand seeking day labour, seasonal work and long-term employment because of the opportunities next door in contrast to low levels of local employment.

“It’s a culture of the local Cambodians to work in Thailand – we cannot stop them,” Soum Chankea said. “Despite our border dispute, villagers continue to enter Thailand without concern for their safety.”

Soum Chankea said labourers on local farms could earn more than 10,000 riels per day (US$2.48) and would expect a similar price in Thailand.

Cambodians, however, could avoid being shamed by their neighbours for being labourers if they worked in Thailand, he said, adding that some villagers take their entire families across the border after the rice harvest in order to supplement their income.

Nilim Baruah, chief technical advisor at the International Labour Organisation, said wage differences between the two countries provided a “push factor” for Cambodians.

Nearly 125,000 Cambodians were legally registered to work in Thailand as of last year, in addition to untold thousands more undocumented migrants.

Dy Phen, director of the Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations Office in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, has told The Post previously that Cambodian authorities received between 150 and 200 workers daily from Thai authorities after they had been caught crossing illegally.

Dy Phen said at the time that authorities routinely informed local villagers about the dangers of crossing the border illegally, including the risk of being shot by Thai border officials.

Winai Wittayanugool, vice governor of Thailand’s Sa Kaeo province, which borders Banteay Meanchey province, said earlier this month that more than 10,000 Cambodians cross into the Thai side daily to do business and find work at the Rung Cleur market.

Hun Sen’s comments on migrant labour come amid a growing controversy surrounding a training centre in Phnom Penh accused of illegally detaining trainees headed to Malaysia to work as maids.

The International Labour Organisation on Sunday issued a statement condemning the detention of female trainees at the T&P Co Ltd training centre.

“There is a pressing need for legislation in Cambodia for better regulation of recruitment agencies,” the statement said.

One woman died at the firm this month, while another broke both her legs while trying to escape by jumping from T&P.

Maeve Galvin, a communications officer at the ILO, said the government was aware of the issue and open to assistance.

“They know themselves that they need to get a grip on this and they’re quite open and willing to hear our advice,” Galvin said.

Matthieu Pellerin, a consultant for the rights group Licadho, said, however, the government was too slow to act on the issue.

“I think words do very little. I think what matters is action and up to now what we’ve seen is the Ministry of Labour [is] very reluctant to overview the actions of these companies, they’ve very much closed their eyes to these centres,” Pellerin said.

Baruah from the ILO said proper oversight could ensure work abroad was safe and profitable.

“In general and in the short to medium term, however, because of proximity and wage differentials, Cambodians can benefit from job opportunities in Thailand provided these are safe, legal and do not increase debt (due to high recruitment costs),” he said.

Taiwanese national accused of drug trafficking sentenced to seven years

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:03May Titthara

A Taiwanese man was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined 15 million riel (about US$3,725) in Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, on charges of international drug trafficking in Cambodia, according to Presiding Judge Duch Kimsorn.

Kuo “Jeffrey” Dayu, 43, a Taiwanese national and former manager of the RCI Garment Factory in Phnom Penh, was arrested on August 29, 2010, at Phnom Penh International Airport after customs officers found three packages of heroin weighing 99.5 grams hidden inside of his luggage while he prepared to leave the country for Taiwan.

“He violated the new Article 32 on illegal drug trafficking,” Duch Kimsorn said yesterday.

Kuo Daya was detained in Prey Sar prison on September 3 last year, after being charged with international drug trafficking, yet denied all charges against him in his hearing on March 10.

“I am not involved with these drugs, I think somebody put them into my bag to drop the accusation on me,” he said.

He added that the drugs were put in his luggage after a dispute with some of his employees at the factory.

“These Chinese [garment workers] put the drugs into my bag ... in order to make police arrest me,” he told the court.

“They got in an argument with me over their work at the factory.”

Film exposes land dispute

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A film about land grabbing, produced by ethnic Jarai people from Kong Yu village in Ratanakkiri province, plays on a laptop yesterday at a press conference in Phnom Penh. The villagers hope that the film will educate and protect other communities from this problem.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:02Chhay Channyda

Ethnic Jarai villagers from Ratanakkiri province yesterday asked the provincial court to set a hearing in an ongoing land dispute case, at the screening of a film they produced about the dispute at the Community Legal Education Centre.

The 31-minute film, produced by Kong Yu villagers and facilitated by independent foreign filmmaker Daniel Lanctot, showed the traditional lives of the villagers and their dependence on the land.

Kong Yu villagers lost 450 hectares of their land in O’Yadav district’s Pate commune in August 2004, when they say they were tricked by commune authorities into selling the land to businesswoman Keat Kolney, the sister of Finance Minister Keat Chhon.

Kong Yu residents say they signed documents approving the sale of 50 hectares of land after commune authorities told them it was needed for disabled army veterans.

Villager Roman Nann, also the filmmaker, said at the screening that the main purpose of the film was to “allow a younger generation to know about their plight of losing land and to ask for immediate intervention”.

Kong Yu villagers filed complaints to the provincial court in 2007, requesting the termination of the sale and a halt to the clearing of the land.

Sev Twel, a representative of the villagers, said that the court had taken no action and 280 hectares of land had been cleared to plant rubber trees.

He added that the film was there to teach children and communities not to be cheated by land dealers or authorities.

Filmmaker Daniel Lanctot said that 500 copies of the film had been distributed to other communities and NGO partners.

“[The villagers] wanted to show how they were tricked into losing their land, how they were cheated and they don’t want other communities to be cheated or have problems,” said Daniel Lanctot.Yin Savath, a lawyer defending the villagers, said that the judge assigned to the case had changed several times since the complaint was filed in 2007, and warned Provincial Court Director Lou Sou Sambath that he would file a complaint against him to the Supreme Council of Magistracy.

“Later this month, we will go to Ratanakkiri to ask [Lou Sou Sambath] to hasten the court procedure or we will file a complaint against him,” said Yin Savath. “He did not fulfill his duty as the judge, so he delayed the procedure.”

Lou Sou Sambath could not be reached for comment, but has previously told CLEC lawyers that none of the judges wanted the case because it was “complicated”.

World Bank raises forecasts

Neak Samsen, poverty specialist at the World Bank, attends the 2011 East Asia & Pacific economic update yesterday in Phnom Penh. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:01Tom Brennan

THE World Bank yesterday made a major revision to its estimate of Cambodia’s gross domestic product growth for last year to 6.7 percent from the 4.9-percent figure offered just six months ago.

The institution also boosted its GDP outlook for the year ahead, taking it to 6.5 percent from 6 percent.

“Driven by exports, the Cambodian economy achieved a stronger than expected recovery in 2010,” the World Bank said in its East Asia and Pacific Economic Update report released yesterday.

The continued strength of those exports, partly a result of preferential tariffs from the European Union, should drive growth in 2011 as well, the report said.

In addition to a good harvest that helped to send agriculture growth up 5.3 percent last year, the World Bank attributed the good performance to quicker than anticipated rebounds in Cambodian garment and footwear exports.

Garment shipments jumped 24 percent in 2010 after the global economic crisis had pushed them 20 percent lower the year before. At the same time, footwear exports skyrocketed 60 percent last year.

“As a result, some 55,300 new jobs have been created by both industries in 2010,” the World Bank said, “recovering most of the jobs lost during the 2009 economic downturn.”

The 187-nation institution also pointed to tourism as a major economic driver during the period. The number of tourists visiting the Kingdom rose to 2.5 million, a 16-percent increase over 2009, while tourism receipts climbed 14 percent to $1.8 billion.

Strong growth in Asia overall was the main catalyst for the growth in tourism, as the region accounted for 72 percent of all visitors to Cambodia.

The Kingdom also “initiated some diversification of its production and export base,” the World Bank said, with milled rice exports almost tripling in 2010 and foreign registered investment capital rising 16 percent.

As for 2011, growth for Cambodia is expected to be strong for the coming year, according to the report. But the World Bank did say that exports “may be constrained by the profile of the global recovery”.

“Consumption would pick up as the recovery takes hold, while investment would benefit from a continued rebound in [foreign direct investment] and credit to the private sector,” the report said.

Inflation, meanwhile, remains on the radar of the World Bank, though it said consumer price inflation within Cambodia was at an estimated 3.1 percent in 2010.

Core inflation, excluding food and energy costs, fell from 4.5 percent in 2009 to just 1 percent last year, the World Bank said.

The estimate for CPI inflation in 2010 derived from Ministry of Commerce’s data was slightly higher at around 4 percent.

Cambodia has managed to sidestep the sharp rise in food prices seen across the rest of the globe thanks to a large supply of rice following the strong harvest season and what the World Bank called “moderate demand” from its neighbours, Vietnam and Thailand.

The only potential near-term inflationary threat might be imported inflation, said World Bank economist Huot Chea, given the amount of consumer goods brought into the country through Thailand and Vietnam. But while that is a concern, nothing has materialised yet to indicate the threat is imminent.

Huot Chea also said that the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan would not negatively affect business in the Kingdom.

“Japan is not a [major] trading partner of Cambodia. So the disaster … would not have any impact on the Cambodian economy,” he said.

While Japan would suffer short-term economic damage from the disaster earlier this month, the bank said its impact on the broader region should be limited to a quarter or two.

“As reconstruction efforts get under way, there should be a pick-up in economic activity that would boost growth,” said Ivailo Izvorski, lead economist for the World Bank in East Asia.

Not everyone has agreed with the World Bank’s relatively sanguine outlook on Japan’s ability to recover.

Speaking at a forum in Singapore, the country's Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Japan's nuclear crisis could hurt both consumer and business confidence.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY REUTERS

'Angkor' electric vehicle to hit road

Women look at a domestically-produced electric car at NagaWorld in Phnom Penh yesterday. Photo by: Sovan Philong

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:01 Sieam Bunthy

DOMESTICALLY-produced electric cars may be brought to market early next year thanks to a new factory.

Cambodia’s Heng Development Co has signed an agreement with Hong Kong-based Chau Leong to build an eco-friendly vehicle called the “Angkor.”

The vehicle was developed by local inventor Nhean Phaloek – who once reportedly claimed that the doors to one of his prototype vehicles opened telepathically.

Nhean Phaloek said that construction on the plant started on March 14 on 20 hectares in the Kandal Stoeng district of Kandal province.

Sien Chanheng, director general for Heng Development, said plant will aim to make between 500 and 1,000 cars a year, with the first appearing soon after the beginning of next year.

She also said the US$20 million deal will be split 80 percent/20 percent between her company and Nhean Phaloek, and Chau Leong, respectively. Nhean Phaloek will import machines and spare parts from China, as well as other technology from Germany, to make the Angkor.

He said the goal is to start with two- and four-chair cars sold for $5,000 and then move on to six- and 12-chaired vehicles.

He also expects high demand from visitors to the Kingdom.

“My guess is that 20 cars can be sold in one day because foreign tourists are already booked to buy,” he said.

Nhean Phaloek plans to expand to overseas markets as well, he said.

Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines, Industry and Energy, who attended the signing ceremony yesterday morning at NagaWorld Phnom Penh, praised the car for its small carbon footprint.

Japanese firms explore Cambodia after quake

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:01May Kunmakara

A DELEGATION of Japanese companies are in Phnom Penh exploring opportunities in agriculture and tourism, though this month’s earthquake has impacted potential investment to the Kingdom.

Some 85 representatives from 49 Japanese Small and Medium Enterprises are touring the Kingdom, but more had been slated to come before the recent disaster struck, according to Shusaku Nakamura, Chairman of the International Investment Institute of Japan.

“Actually, there could have been a total of 120 businesspeople here if we didn’t have the earthquake – some have delayed their trips,” he said on the sidelines of a conference yesterday. “It is their first time seeking opportunities here [in Cambodia].

“They are from different sectors – food processing, agriculture, restaurants, and the construction industry.”

Speaking at yesterday’s conference, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said he encouraged Japanese firms to invest in the Kingdom, highlighting the duty-free status many Cambodian exports enjoyed abroad. Larger Japanese firms often take years looking at markets before making investment decisions, while investors from countries such as China were already coming to Cambodia, he said. He said smaller Japanese firms – such as the conference attendees - may have more flexibility to make decisions.

Tourism surge: South Korea heads list of visitors

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:00SIEAM BUNTHY

SIEM Reap province saw a 36 percent increase in foreign tourists over the first two months of 2011, according to figures obtained from the Siem Reap Provincial Tourism Department.

Some 312,947 visitors came to the province in January and February, from 229,654 for the same months in 2010, it showed.

The government and private sector have strongly promoted the ancient temples to potential tourists abroad, who have responded by arriving in increasing numbers to Cambodia as the global economy improves, according to Department Director Ngov Seng Kak.

“We predict the number of visitors will rise to 1.7 million during this year, and 2 million by 2015,” he said on Sunday.

Some 65,751 visitors arrived from South Korea in the first two months of 2011, making it the largest source of visitors to the province. Japan was the home country for 25,780 visitors, while China sent 24,370 visitors, the statistics show. However, Ngov Seng Kak said the number of Japanese tourists have been decreasing following the Japanese earthquake on March 11.

Siem Reap had regularly been seeing up 500 Japanese visitors arrive daily before the disaster, but the figure has dropped to between 300 and 400 following the earthquake, he said. Despite the drop industry observers agree the sector has generally seen a rebound this year.

NTT Communications licensed in Cambodia

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:00Jeremy Mullins

JAPANESE company NTT Communications has received a licence to offer internet services in Cambodia.

The firm aims to offer its services particularly to Japanese companies as well as multi-national corporations, NTT Communications Country Manager Miyazaki Hajime wrote yesterday.

The Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone – which is home to a number of Japanese-owned businesses – was one area it was targeting in particular.

“More Japanese [corporations] are coming into PPSEZ to establish new factories,” he said, adding it aimed to provide internet to multinationals entering the Kingdom.

“We are seeing demand for high-quality service not only from Japanese companies but from other countries’ companies.”

The NTT Communications Cambodia office opened in the Phnom Penh Center in July 2010, and the firm announced it had obtained the required licence from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications on Friday.

“[It] took about a half year because the process of licensing in MPTC was changing,” Miyazaki Hajime said.

Rates start at US$340 per month for its 512 kbps service, along with a $150 setup fee, according to a press release. NTT claims to provide the service on a leased line rather than shared ADSL. In Asia, it also offers its services in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand.

River event highlights dam fears

Sunset near the dolphin pools and fishing villages of Kampi on the Mekong river, upstream from Kratie. Photo by: LAURA HODGES

Fishing families’ livelihoods are threatened by the Laos dam plans. Photo by: LAURA HODGES

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011 15:00Laura Hodges

A FLOTILLA of inner tubes is preparing to journey 20 kilometres down the Mekong on Thursday from the dolphin pool in Kampi to the riverside of Kratie town.

Organised by Walker Stephens, a determined and passionate volunteer based in Kratie, the event is a “celebration of the free flowing water of the Mekong River”. The aim is to “have fun and celebrate the life which this river both produces and sustains, and raise awareness that the future of the Mekong river currently hangs in the balance”, he says.

The future of the Mekong is awaiting the impending decision concerning the construction of a 1,260-megawatt dam proposed for Xayaburi province in Laos. The Xayaburi dam poses serious threats, not only to the communities directly impacted in Laos, but particularly the populations of Vietnam and Cambodia, who will see little benefit from the sacrifices made, as 95 percent of the energy generated by the dam will be exported to Thailand.

The Mekong is the lifeblood for more than 60 million people and home to an exceptional range of biodiversity, including the critically endangered Irrawaddy river dolphin.

In Cambodia, the Xayaburi dam threatens the nation’s US$300 million a year freshwater fishery and the successful rice production, reliant upon the unimpeded Mekong floodplain and fertilising silt flows. It threatens 41 species with extinction and risks depleting current fish stocks which provide 80 percent of the protein in Cambodia’s diet, according to International Rivers.

Local and international NGOs support the recommendation to delay construction of any dam on the lower mainstream. This recommendation is based on the Mekong River Commission’s independent Strategic Environment Assessment. This concluded that construction of a Mekong mainstream dam would irreversibly undermine the economic productivity and ecology of the river, putting livelihoods and food security at risk. The SEA recommended a 10-year delay to research and fully assess environmental and social consequences.

The construction of the Xayaburi is the most advanced of the 11 proposed mainstream dams and has been widely condemned by the international community; being called “an environmental disaster” by critics in Vietnam, with fears that the 10 other dams will soon follow if Xayaburi is approved. Many petitions have been sent to regional prime ministers – one of the first in October 2009 from Save the Mekong included 23,110 signatures.

On March 25-26, delegates from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand will decide whether to build the Xayaburi Dam. With Vietnam opposing construction activities and Thailand supporting mainstream developments, the Cambodian people are anxiously waiting to see what their country’s delegate will decide.

“The Cambodian Joint Committee member has the chance to be a strong leader who stands up for Cambodia and we trust that they act in the best interests of our country, and we look forward to a bright future,” says Sun Mao, executive director of the Cambodian Rural Development Team, a local NGO working to bridge the divide between development and conservation along the Mekong.

Uniting local NGOs, communities and tourists, this event in Kratie is entitled Mekong For Life and encourages all to participate, to celebrate the importance of the Mekong.

Khoun Tola, one of the event’s organisers, says: “The Mekong is everything to Cambodia – that’s why we call it ‘mother water’. We just want to celebrate and play in our river and keep it flowing free.”

Mekong for Life will begin at 8am on the riverside in Kratie town, where there will be a short introduction on threats to the river. Following this, participants will travel to Kampi to begin their journey down the Mekong, floating freely past local communities, in rubber inner tubes. Those wishing to take part on Thursday can pay US$10 on the day, for tube rental, transportation to Kampi, a safety boat and lunch.

Participants are recommended to wear long-sleeve shirts, hats and sun screen. The group hopes to return to Kratie by 4pm. For more information, please contact Walker Stephens at MekongforLife@asia.com .

Vietnam, Cambodia joint agricultural agreement


The joint-projects cover the areas of agricultural science and technology, quarantine, forestry and seafood. [Reuters]

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Vietnam and Cambodia are planning to collaborate on more than 20 projects worth more than US$17 million.

Vietnamese officials say the joint projects, which will run until 2020, cover the areas of agricultural science and technology, quarantine, forestry and seafood.

There will be strengthened collaboration on controlling disease outbreaks along the countries' shared border as well as forest management and timber trading.

Vietnam has agreed to help fund an aquating breeding development project and to help build a seafood research institute in Kampot province.

Cambodia has agreed to a deal to grow rubber and industrial trees on its land.

Fort Greene’s Cambodian Cuisine, Now on Wheels

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By ZACHARY KUSSIN, CUNY J-School
March 21, 2011


Locals who recall the iconic Cambodian Cuisine sign in Fort Greene will be happy to find those words prominently written in green paint on the side of a new West Village food truck.

But around the exterior of the Cambodian Cuisine Torsu truck, the signs are less upbeat: “On the street looking to survive” is painted in red, and the mounted poster board explains why this is the case.

It all began in 2005, when a rent increase displaced Cambodian Cuisine’s owner, Jerry Ley, 56, from his much-beloved restaurant on South Elliot Place (in the space now occupied by the Smoke Joint) after 13 years of business, much to the distress of the restaurant’s devoted customers. That year, Mr. Ley relocated to a building on East 93rd Street in Manhattan.

But more problems accompanied him. A complicated three-year legal dispute between Mr. Ley, his contractors, and the new building’s landlord delayed the opening of his new restaurant until June 2008, and led to its premature closing that December.

“I worked so hard,” said Mr. Ley. “I don’t know what I did wrong, I don’t know what crime I committed.”

Mr. Ley came to America from Cambodia in July 1979 to escape the Khmer Rouge, he said. After three decades of working to create a better life for himself and for his family, Mr. Ley said, he is now struggling to get by. When he explained why, he began to cry.

“It’s too much to bear,” he said. “I cannot stand still — I need to feed my family.”

From Bridge and Tunnel Club
The big green Cambodian Cuisine sign was a fixture in Fort Greene for 13 years.

Mr. Ley said he recently suffered yet another financial setback. His wife has been in and out of the hospital recently, and the bills have piled up. Mr. Ley said he had no other choice but to open his food truck last month. He enlisted the help of his son, Banney, 18, who helps take orders and package meals. Mr. Ley said he feels guilty that the truck takes his son away from his schoolwork. But Banney said he likes helping out.

Still, Mr. Ley has a following of loyal customers. Ian Head, a 10-year Fort Greene resident who ordered dinner from the truck on Tuesday, said he was delighted to hear of Mr. Ley’s mobile operation. He has missed stopping by Mr. Ley’s Fort Greene restaurant to pick up his favorite tofu and vegetable dishes.

“I was bummed…because I have my places I go to eat, and that was one of my places,” he said. “As soon as I heard about this, I was, like, ‘yes.’”

Mr. Ley’s Twitter feed makes it easy for Cambodian food lovers to track his location. But generally, Mr. Ley said, he tends to stay on the corner of West 4th Street and Laguardia Place.

Mr. Ley’s new menu is reduced from the one in his restaurant — there are only so many items he can make in his truck. But it still includes an impressive spread of 17 noodle, fish, chicken, and tofu platters. Appetizers cost $3.95 and main courses are $5.95. Standouts include his Num Pain Saach — a spicy hero sandwich dressed with lettuce, ham, pork, turkey, carrots and cucumber — and Chhar Kuey Teo Koke — a hearty noodle dish made with egg, chicken and vegetables, topped with garlic.

Mary Kidd, a five-year resident of Clinton Hill who had not heard of Cambodian Cuisine in Fort Greene, said she was happy to discover Mr. Ley’s truck after walking out of NYU’s library recently.

“Who doesn’t like a good food truck?” she said.

Financial struggles aside, Mr. Ley, said he opened up again for another reason — to reconnect with his customers.

“The public likes my performance,” he said. “This helps keep me going.”

For now, Mr. Ley has no plans to bring his truck to Fort Greene. It’s too soon, he said, to go back.

British Paedophile To Be Extradited

http://www.pattayadailynews.com/

via CAAI

March 21, 2011


A Bangkok court has granted Cambodia’s request for the extradition of the so-called “dump-site paedo”, David Fletcher, British citizen, who has been remanded in Bangkok since July last year.

20th March 2011 [PDN]: Mr. Fletcher has been accused of performing deviant sexual acts with children, recruited from a Phnom Penh dump-site and of operating a scam non-profit charity during his sojourn in the neighbouring kingdom. Mr. Fletcher fled to Thailand from Phnom Penh in July/August last year.

The case was filed by prosecutors of the International Affairs Department in response to a request made by Cambodia through the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Royal Thai Police Office.

The court found that David John Fletcher, aged 65, was initially arrested and charged with rape in Cambodia. Then he fled to Thailand, saying that he was afraid that a group of influential Phnom Penh people would harm his life if he stayed in Cambodia, since he did not cooperate with them in a money-laundering scam. When arrived in Thailand in August last year, Fletcher was arrested for immigration offences.

Fletcher was a leader of a children’s charity in Phnom Penh. Fletcher had denied all rape charges with these children.

Fletcher’s defense of being framed by powerful Cambodian businessmen, who wanted him out of the way was rejected by Thailand’s Justice Department, who decided to return him to Phnom Penh to present his case to Cambodia’s judges.

The court detained him until his extradition to Cambodia under the Thai-Cambodian extradition treaty and the Thai-Cambodian Extradition Act of 2000.

Cambodia struggles to stem domestic worker abuse

http://www.budapestreport.com/

via CAAI

by Gabor Szabo
Sunday, March 20th, 2011

PHNOM PENH.-Cambodia’s fledgling domestic worker export industry continues to come under scrutiny amid allegations that women have been forcibly detained in privately run training centres.

Local media in this Southeast Asian country reported that one woman died this month at a labour recruitment firm in Phnom Penh, while another trainee broke her legs attempting to escape. The firm has denied any wrongdoing in the woman’s death. But the controversy is a sign that the government’s belated efforts to regulate the rapidly expanding industry have fallen short.

“It’s so sad that the problems are still happening,” Moeun Tola, the head of the labour programme at the advocacy group Community Legal Education Centre,

The country’s main opposition party is also weighing in on the issue. Parliamentarians with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party visited the training centre in question this month. Member of Parliament Son Chhay said he was alarmed by the tall gates and barbed wire at the facility, which he said gave “the impression of imprisonment”.

“Local authorities and police ignored the law that forbids detention against one’s will,” Chhay wrote in a letter to Malaysia’s ambassador and provided to IPS and other media this week. “There was no sign that the local authorities even attempted to defend the rights of trainees who are detained against their will. There are tremendous pressures on the young women to comply with the rules of the company.”

Abuse claims made by domestic workers began to make waves last July, when stories of women who said they fled training centres hit the local newspapers. In multiple cases, the women reported they had signed up to be trained as domestic workers, but were not permitted to leave the training centres unless they paid large sums of money. Others claimed they escaped from cramped or squalid living conditions.

The headlines shone an uncomfortable spotlight on the industry. The Cambodian Labour Ministry warned recruitment firms to clean up their act and announced new guidelines in August. The guidelines, released ahead of a promise to update the law governing the industry, advised firms not to allow their trainees to fall into debt. The guidelines also contained general statements prohibiting “detention” and “child labour”.

The problem, Tola explains, is enforcing the rules. Multiple agencies have been found to be training girls younger than 18 – the minimum age for such work is 21. But inspections of the training centres are rare and there are few consequences for operators found to be flouting the rules, Tola says.

“I think the authorities know these things are happening, but they just close their eyes,” he added.

Roughly 30 firms are licensed by the country’s Ministry of Labour to train and send domestic workers abroad. The majority of the women are bound for Malaysia, which is struggling to meet voracious demand for live-in maids after Indonesia put a moratorium on its citizens taking such jobs in Malaysia following publicised cases of abuse.

Malaysia has set its sights on countries like Cambodia to fill demand. Malaysia last year issued almost 25,000 work visas to Cambodian domestic workers, according to the Malaysian Embassy here. That’s well above the roughly 5,300 visas granted across all sectors in 2008.

Cambodia has been just as eager to send its citizens abroad. Job options for many low-income women here are in the country’s chief economic driver – its garment-manufacturing sector. But the minimum wage in garment factories is 61 dollars per month, much less than the 200 to 300 dollars per month women are often promised as domestic workers.

As a result, recruitment firms operating in Cambodia have jumped to take advantage of the market.

Several agencies have been known to recruit women in poor rural areas. They offer cash lump-sum payments and bags of rice to families in order to convince them to sign up their daughters – but the money must be repaid.

Tensions between the trainees and their employers surface when women ask to leave their gated facilities – often the companies will refuse or demand money to allow women to leave, afraid they will run away without paying their debts, according to rights advocates and industry representatives.

The government is expected to issue a new law governing recruitment firms this year – replacing the vague existing regulations, which are more than 15 years old.

An Bunhak, director of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said he has advised the government to prohibit companies from offering large loans to its trainees.

Bunhak says stricter rules will help smooth out problems in the industry.

“We think everyone must follow the regulations. Once everybody understands, it will be okay,” Bunhak. “We want the rules to protect our migrant workers.”

While authorities implement the new regulations, however, this month’s case shows that potential domestic workers continue to face problems even before they leave the country.

Heang Sophara signed up to be trained as a domestic worker last year. “I wasn’t earning much money farming. I hoped that I could make more money in Malaysia to support my family, even if I had to be away from them for two years.

But when she started hearing stories of mistreatment, she decided to withdraw her application. She claims the agency demanded that she pay 900 dollars to get out of her contract, even though she never received any loans or underwent training. The case remains unresolved.

Online gaming spreads to Asia's poorer nations

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/

via CAAI

AFP, Mar 20, 2011

PHNOM PENH: With his eyes fixed on the screen and his fingers flying over the keyboard, Cambodian teenager An Sopheak is lost in a world of ancient Chinese fighter heroes.

All around him, dozens of other, mostly male, faces are equally engrossed in their online fantasy game in this dark Internet cafe in the Cambodian capital.

The scene is a familiar one across Asia, but it's a relatively new sight in Cambodia, one of the region's poorest nations with one of the lowest rates of Internet usage.

"I feel so cool when my hero gets stronger," said 16-year-old An Sopheak, taking a short break from Justice X Wars II, known as JXII, the country's most popular game.

Cambodia, with a population of some 14 million people, had just 78,000 Internet users in 2009, according to the most recent United Nations data, but web access is improving rapidly.

As more Internet cafes have opened up, online gaming has taken off among Cambodia's urban teens, most of whom have no Internet at home.

Multi-player online games allow people to compete against each other in an ongoing virtual adventure.

It is no surprise that the trend is gradually spreading to countries with relatively low connectivity rates, said industry analyst Michael Inouye at US-based ABI Research.

"The limiting factor in the less affluent countries is often infrastructure and hardware-related and not for a lack of desire," he said.

It is a similar story in Nepal, another impoverished country with extremely low Internet penetration.

Only an estimated one percent of its 28 million people has web access, but teenagers are now flocking to Internet cafes in the capital Kathmandu to play games with combative names like World of Warcraft, Counter-Strike, Street Fighter and Call of Duty.

"I love it, it feels like you are playing a physical game," said Ronit Shrestha, 16, who spends 30 rupees (50 cents) an hour on his hobby.

Sudeep Shrestha, who runs a centre for electronic gaming in the city, said the popularity of online games was fuelled by a lack of things for young people to do.

"We have very few open spaces where people can go to play physical games," he said. "Like all new technology, online games arrived here very late, only a few years ago, but they have become popular with young people who want to have fun in the virtual world."

But some poor Asian countries such as Bangladesh -- which like Cambodia has an Internet penetration rate of just 0.5 percent -- have yet to embrace online gaming.

Teenagers in the capital Dhaka love to spend time on social networking sites like Facebook, but there appears to be little appetite for long-running, multi-player games and the city has no dedicated gaming centres.

This could have something to do with Dhaka's daily rolling blackouts which would prevent players from being online for hours on end, as seems to be the norm among gamers.

Richard Heeks, professor of development informatics at Britain's University of Manchester, says the appeal of online gaming is "universal" and it is only a matter of time before the phenomenon spreads as the world gets more connected.

"In five years' time no doubt the gaming bandwagon will be rolling through Africa," he predicts.

Cambodia's Internet cafes are trying to cash in on the trend by offering discounts to gamers, who overwhelmingly favour JXII -- a multi-player adventure based on Chinese legends that involves fighting opponents from rival kingdoms.

"I play the game in secret," said 14-year-old Chheng Roth Donior, who admits to spending three to five hours a day in Internet cafes if he can.

"Sometimes my mum beats me because I come here. I am afraid of her finding out but I want to play," the art school student said.

His virtual warfare costs him between 2,000 (50 cents) and 5,000 riel a day, money he takes out of his daily food allowance of 5,000 riel. "Sometimes I don't eat," he said.

While that might sound extreme, Cambodian gamers so far appear to be less hardcore than some of their peers in countries where online gaming is more entrenched.

China and South Korea have opened treatment facilities to help gamers overcome their Internet addictions.

In South Korea, online gaming has even been linked to deaths. Last year, a 32-year-old man died after reportedly playing for five days with few breaks, and a teenage boy committed suicide after killing his mother for scolding him over playing computer games too much.

Cambodia has ordered gaming centres not to set up shop near schools to discourage pupils from skipping class to play computer games.

Nonetheless, So Sothy, a Phnom Penh high school teacher, estimates that 10 percent of his 50 students regularly play truant so they can indulge in online gaming.

"I worry that they spend more time on games than on lessons, and forget to do their homework," the 27-year-old said.

But time spent on the computer can also be beneficial for people in developing countries, according to Heeks.

"There may be economic advantages -- helping build ICT (information and communication technology) skills, helping build the foundation for a gaming sector -- though it's all rather new for us to pronounce with any certainty," he said.

Cambodian Writers in Spotlight for US Literary Festival

Im Sothearith, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Monday, 21 March 2011

via CAAI

Photo: by Im Sothearith
A group of Cambodian writers were the focus of a four-day literary festival at a US university last week, at Brown University, in Providence.

"I’m just a writer. I write about the social problems I see.”

A group of Cambodian writers were the focus of a four-day literary festival at a US university last week, with some saying that despite what they see as threats to their safety and economic woes, they’ll continue their work.

Poets, playwrights, musicians and novelists all had a chance to participate in a number of discussions at Brown University, in Providence, R.I., providing a rare glimpse into Cambodia’s oft-ignored literary world.

“If we are born a lotus, we cannot become something else,” said Tararith Kho, a 38-year-old Cambodian who is a fellow at Brown’s International Writers Project this year. “It is our nature. I think I am not the one who must face the dangers of this profession, for I don’t have weapons. I don’t commit robberies. I’m just a writer. I write about the social problems I see.”

Tararith Kho and other writers spoke as part of the International Freedom-to-Write Literary Festival March 14 through March 17.

Catherine Filloux, a French-American playwright who was written about Cambodia, told a forum that Cambodia’s artistic traditions can be seen in its temples, architecture and other expressions.

Modern Cambodian artists continue their traditions, she said, because many believe it is “their mission to carry on the legacy of their teachers.”

“I think that fuels them to continue doing their work, despite the extremely difficult situation and despite the economic difficulties,” she said.

The Freedom-to-Write program began 20 years ago, after the Chinese government crushed a student revolt at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, and has continued since.

The idea of the program is to take writers out of potentially dangerous environments in their home countries, said Robert Coover, a literature professor at Brown and an organizer of the festival.

Coover said the presence of Tararith Kho on campus led to the idea of this year’s literary festival, “Khmer Voices Rising,” which allowed a look at different Khmer-speaking writers from Cambodia, the US and Vietnam.

The festival approached world issues, the historical connection of the US, Vietnam and Cambodia, and, by the last day, focused solely on Cambodia.

Tararith Kho, who was selected from several hundred international nominees, brought to Brown a better understanding of Cambodia’s next generation of writers and artists, Coover said. And not only contribute to a better understanding of Cambodia on campus, but helped bring Cambodian-Americans in to create a better sense of community.

Among the Cambodian-Americans drawn to the festival—he by invitation—was hip hop performer Prach Ly.

“I love it,” he said, “because I get to network and see these people as ambitious as I am and trying to make a change and making a statement.”

Writing and music can contribute to addressing social issues, he said, often subtly.

“I am not directly, you know, leading them,” he said. “I’m not saying we need to do this, we need to do that. I’m saying this is the problem. We need a solution for this problem. I’m not a politician. I’m a musician. I am an artist.”

Judith Katan, a psychotherapist who drive in for the festival from Connecticut, said she liked to learn from other people’s stories, “including the struggles that are going on in Cambodia for people who are trying to be informed and to produce anything.”

“I knew about that from the news, but hearing people who tell about that was really moving and sad,” she said.

Observers See Few Options But Concession for Opposition

Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Monday, 21 March 2011

via CAAI

Photo: Courtesy of SRP
Sam Rainsy meet with Dr. Norbert Lambert, president of Parliament of Germany.

“I believe that in 2013, there will be a change, and the Sam Rainsy Party will be stronger and stronger.”

Cambodian political observers say that opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who was removed from the National Assembly last week, will need to look for concessions with the ruling party if he is to return to politics.

Sam Rainsy is facing several criminal sentences related to the uprooting of markers on the Vietnamese borders and the publication of a map on his website alleging Vietnamese encroachment into Cambodian territory.

Kem Sokha, the president of the minority opposition Human Rights Party, said Sam Rainsy must now “apologize” or make other overtures beneficial to the ruling party if he is to return ahead of 2012 and 2013 elections.

“That’s what we see so far as political compromises,” he said.

Similar concessions were made by Prince Norodom Ranariddh ahead of his return from exile on graft charges ahead of the 2008 national elections, he said.

Such concessions can include a written apology or clarification to Prime Minister Hun Sen, he said.

The National Assembly ousted Sam Rainsy from his seat as representative of Kampong Cham province last week, after the Supreme Court upheld a criminal conviction against him. He still faces a court battle for disinformation after publishing a map on his website lower courts have found were fabricated.

Sam Rainsy has said the maps accurately show Vietnamese encroachment, a politically volatile accusation. Vietnamese officials have denied any encroachment has taken place.

Independent analyst Chea Vannath said political reconciliation is still possible, although she did not specify what that might mean.

Nhiek Bun Chhay, secretary general for the royalist Funcinpec party, said an apology would allow Sam Rainsy to return.

Sam Rainsy told VOA Khmer recently he will not apologize and that he feels justified in his claims that Cambodia is losing land to Vietnam. However, he said he is still looking for national or international solutions.

“I took the lead to defend the national interest, so the national interest is political,” he said.

Hun Sen has said Sam Rainsy’s case is a legal matter for the courts, not a political matter for the executive branch.

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yiep echoed that position in an interview, saying the charges against Sam Rainsy are legal, not political. And his removal from the Assembly was done on legal grounds, Cheam Yiep said.

He reiterated claims that Sam Rainsy would have to write Hun Sen, who has the power to request a royal pardon for crimes.

Sam Rainsy said in an interview his removal from the National Assembly was a breach of the law, because he was voted in by his constituency. The move will likely bring international condemnation, he said, and ultimately strengthen his party.

Ruling party officials have “openly exposed themselves as people who don’t understand the law, who don’t understand democratic principles and who are suppressing the constitution,” he said.

He said he was similarly removed from the Assembly in 1995, but his party garnered even more support in subsequent elections.

“I believe that in 2013, there will be a change, and the Sam Rainsy Party will be stronger and stronger,” he said.

The Sam Rainsy Party currently holds 26 of 123 seats in the National Assembly. His removal from the National Assembly has prompted little international reaction so far.

Cambodia starts work on Chinese-funded road in northwest

http://www.investors.com/

via CAAI

Mar 21, 2011 (BBC Monitoring via COMTEX) -- [Xinhua: "Cambodia Starts To Build Chinese-Funded Road in Northwest"]

Battambang, Cambodia, March 21 (Xinhua) - Cambodia on Monday broke ground for the construction of a China-funded 176-kilometre-road in the Northwestern part in order to facilitate travelling and trucking agricultural products to markets.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the road No 57B was held Monday in Battambang province about 350 kilometres northwest of capital Phnom Penh.

The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Pan Guangxue, and top government officials, diplomatic corps, locals and students.

The road will facilitate travelling among former-battlefield provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pailin, the premier said during the ceremony.

"The construction of the road today was resulted from good close cooperation between Cambodia and China," Hun Sen said. " Through the ambassador Pan Guangxue, I'd like to express my sincere thanks to the government and people of China for financial support for this road."

"The road will provide huge economic benefits to our people to truck their agricultural products to markets and facilitate them in travelling easier and faster," he said. "We have been turning the former fighting zones to be a development area."

The premier also asked the ambassador to help attract Chinese investors to the country's agricultural sector through investing in high technology rice mills and warehouses in order to boost Cambodia's economy and to export to China as the two countries has signed the rice and cassava export agreements already.

Meanwhile, the ambassador said that the road will be vital for rural farmers in trucking their products for markets.

"Through the construction of the road, I believe that farmers will increase their farming as it will be easier to truck their products to markets," he said.

"The road is also reflected the attention of Chinese government on Cambodian development and always ready to provide assistance to Cambodia in social and economic development," he added.

According to the master-plan, the construction of the road will cost 89.9 million US dollars, which is the soft loan from the government of China. It will take 48 months to complete.

Source: Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in English 0946 gmt 21 Mar 11

Iron Supplements Beneficial to Many Patients: Doctor

Nuch Sarita, VOA Khmer
Washington, DC Monday, 21 March 2011

via CAAI

Photo: Courtesy of Google Images

"A simple supplement of ferrous sulfate, or iron, can help those who suffer a deficiency due to diet and other causes."

A simple supplement of ferrous sulfate, or iron, can help those who suffer a deficiency due to diet and other causes, a US-based doctor said Thursday.

Iron supplements can held women with lengthy menstruation, or who have just delivered a baby, said Taing Tek Hong, a Florida physician, as a guest on “Hello VOA” Thursday.

The supplements can help young children and adolescents with rapid growth, or people with colitis or Chron’s disease, he said.

They can also help chronic users of pain relievers like aspirin, Advil, Motrin, and Aleve, as well as endurance sport athletes, frequent blood donors, or those with parasitic infections like hookworm or malaria.

Iron deficiencies in these and other groups can be treated with ferrous sulfate, 324 milligrams once or twice per day. Common side effects include constipation; although they can also cause diarrhea. Supplements can be taken with stool softeners, he said.

Cambodia sets marriage age limit for foreign husbands

 via CAAI

By Guy Delauney
BBC News, Jakarta
21 March 2011


There has been a mixed reaction to the ruling in Cambodia

Cambodia has imposed a partial ban on foreign men marrying local women - would-be bridegrooms will now have to be less than 50 years old.

The government says it is trying to prevent exploitation - and promote true love and what it calls "honest marriages".

But there has been a mixed reaction to the ruling. The ban does not affect foreign women - or Cambodian men.

Some participants in mixed marriages have said the ban is discriminatory.

A traditional Cambodian wedding is hard to miss - there's usually a red and white marquee blocking off half the road in front of the bride's house, and loudspeakers blasting out anything from Khmer wedding music to the chants of Buddhist monks.

At the entrance to the marquee there will be a photo of the bride and groom. Occasionally one or other of them will be non-Cambodian - a situation that has become a little problematic.

"We've been married 10 years, we have children, we're doing very well," said Jim Gollogly, a British doctor who married his wife when he was in his 50s and she was in her 30s.

"I don't think she wants to get rid of me right at the moment. I think she's done well out of it and I've done well out of it. And I don't see why that should be banned."

Dr Gollogly's wife holds a passport from Thailand - so they would not have been affected by the new rules. But others will not be so fortunate.

"They probably think there are too many older guys coming along and picking up young Khmer girls," said Dr Gollogly.

"And they feel that it's a bit immoral or something. But the girls should be of legal, consenting age - and if they are of consenting age, 18 or above, they should be able to make their own decisions."

Discriminatory?

The authorities seem to have been motivated by aesthetic considerations as much as anything else.

A government spokesman said it did not look "fitting" to see a young Cambodian woman with a much older foreign man.

They have also ruled that younger foreign men must have an income of at least $2,500 (£1,539) a month to marry a local bride.

That is many times more than what the average Cambodian earns.

"It seems to me that if there's any law about anything it should be applied to everyone - not just foreigners," said Dr Gollogly.

"It seems there's a good Asian tradition that older guys marry younger girls - and I don't see why that should be a problem just for foreign men," he said.

But perhaps true love need not be thwarted.

There is no law against couples of any age or nationality getting married outside Cambodia.

They may just have to do without the traditional Khmer wedding they had been planning.