Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Duch sentencing debated


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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:02James O'Toole and Cheang Sokha

Prosecutors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal demanded in appeal hearings yesterday that Kaing Guek Eav receive an increased prison term to properly account for the “massive” and “grave” crimes he committed as head of S-21 prison.

The accused, better known as Duch, received a 30-year jail term last July in the first verdict handed down by the court, reduced from 35 years because of his excessive pre-trial detention following his arrest in 1999.

In explaining the decision not to impose a life sentence, judges said at the time that a number of mitigating factors had been considered, including Duch’s “cooperation with the chamber, admission of responsibility, limited expressions of remorse, the coercive environment in Democratic Kampuchea and the potential for rehabilitation”.

Yesterday, however, prosecutors argued that any such mitigating factors “reach a vanishing point” in view of the gravity of the crimes at S-21 and Duch’s audacious bid for acquittal.

“The accused’s continued request for release underscores, in a case like this, involving massive criminality, the fact that the accused to this day lacks real, sincere remorse for what happened,” International Co-Prosecutor Andrew Cayley said.

Over six months of trial hearings in 2009, Duch accepted qualified responsibility for his crimes and said he would willingly receive punishment, even offering at one point to submit himself to public stoning. During closing arguments in November that year, however, he and defence attorney Kar Savuth shocked the court by breaking from their previous strategy and asking for an acquittal.

The defence has since carried this forward in their appeal, arguing that Duch falls outside the court’s mandate to try “senior leaders” and those “most responsible” for crimes committed under Democratic
Kampuchea.

“The accused’s assertion that he does not constitute one of those most responsible for serious crimes that occurred during the DK period is inconsistent with the notion that he admits responsibility for the grave crimes for which he is charged,” Cayley said, adding that Duch’s “belated challenge to the legal basis for his prosecution and his request for release highlights … the insincere, selective and opportunistic nature of his cooperation with this court.”

Prosecutors have called on the Supreme Court judges to hand Duch a 45-year sentence, commuted from a life term in recognition of his unlawful pre-trial detention.

“We call for the imposition of a life term, reduced to 45 years simply to take account of that period of illegal detention, but for the purposes of history, a life term must be imposed in this case,” Cayley said.

Defence lawyer Kang Ritheary said his team had not made a written submission on the sentencing issue in response to the prosecutors’ appeal because they maintained that Duch never should have been tried in the first place. Under questioning from judges, however, Kang Ritheary said a 15-year term would be adequate given Duch’s “good gestures” in cooperating with the court as well as the mitigating factors in the case.

“Duch did his best to free himself from involvement with the crimes, but he had no choice other than implementing the orders, otherwise he would have been killed,” Kang Ritheary said. “The accused acted against his will, the accused expressed his remorse and showed signs that he can be changed and reintegrated into the society.”

A point of contention as judges interrogated the respective sides was whether the tribunal is bound in sentencing by provisions of the Kingdom’s 2009 penal code. The penal code stipulates that in crimes against humanity cases in which mitigating factors negate a life sentence, reduced sentences should fall between 15 and 30 years.

While Kang Ritheary said Duch should receive no more than a 15-year term, the prosecutors argued that the United N-backed court “can depart from ordinary Cambodian law on sentencing” and should not be bound by the 30-year limit. They also called for Duch’s single conviction for crimes against humanity to be broken down into specific offences in order to create “a proper historical record of convictions to fully describe what the respondent did”.

Regardless of how long a sentence Duch ultimately receives, he will get credit for the nearly 12 years he has already spent in detention. Under his current, 30-year sentence, he could thus walk free in roughly 18 years time.

Chum Mey, 80, one of the few living survivors of S-21, said outside the hearing yesterday that the tribunal’s credibility will be lost if Duch’s sentence is reduced.

“I want the Supreme Court to sentence him to life imprisonment, but if not that, then 45 years would be acceptable,” Chum Mey said. “If they uphold the previous decision, I will not be happy.”

Forestry administration’s senior official in Cambodia jailed for three months

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 09:24 DAP-NEWS/CHAN VIRAK

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA, MARCH 30, 2011-Former deputy director of forestry administration office for Memot district of Kompong Cham province, Teang Tray, has been jailed for three months in the charge of making bribery and corruption related to illegal logging and illegal timber export.

The sources to Kampong Cham provincial court said that on March 24, the court opened the trail process of illegal logging in Kompong Cham province and the court announced verdict for Teang Tray, former deputy director for Memot district for one year but practiced for three months only in jail and rest was cancelled. Tray is a strong man for timber business in his location and he is also senior officials that had never been afraid of senior officials in Phnom Penh.

And Thon Van Viravuthy, head of Memot district forestry administration office and Tray were fired from position in 2010. But Van escaped from arrest and he is still at large at that time.

But the sources stresses now Van plans to pay money for new position at the forestry administration in Phnom Penh and he planned to get new role as office head for forestry administration authority. The officials at the forestry administration could not comment on that.

In 2010, Prime Minister Hun Sen took serious action against illegal logging and timber smuggling to foreign countries. Samdech Hun Sen at that time ordered to arrest Tray and his officials.

Since2005, The Government has banned the export of forest and hardwood product and is replanting to 60 per cent of land coverage in 2015 as stated in millennium development goals. Moreover, the Forestry Administration previously said that totally, about 100 officials charged of involvement in illegal logging. And the confiscated timber products sold for over millions US dollars..

Doubts linger on NGO law

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:02Thomas Miller

Representatives from NGOs again requested that officials at the ministries of interior and foreign affairs accept changes to a second draft of the government’s contentious draft NGO law during a closed-door meeting yesterday, but found limited success.

Officials said it would be “the last consultation” with them on the law, following a large public meeting in January and several smaller private meetings since, said Chith Sam Ath, executive director of NGO Forum.

Lun Borithy, executive director of the Cooperation Committee for Cambodia, said relations between the government and NGOs were “very tense”.

“We’re not hopeful,” he said.

“It was a very tense meeting, and it did not really live up to our expectations as being a truthful and meaningful dialogue.”

Lun Borithy said several “sticking points” were raised. “But there was no real concrete promise that they will be taken fully on board.”

NGOs have raised numerous concerns with the law, arguing that it would violate freedom of association and expose the vast sector to arbitrary governmental authority.

Seng Soheng, a representative for Community Peace-building Network, said the second draft was unacceptable and included few changes from the first.

“We cannot accept this law, because they put much pressure on local and international NGOs operating in Cambodia,” said Seng Soheng.

NGOs have said mandatory registration would violate the freedom to associate and impose requirements too burdensome for small organisations. That provision has been retained, and officials rejected appeals to remove it, participants said.

Chith Sam Ath said it was “difficult to say” whether the law was acceptable.

The legislation is expected to be submitted to the Council of Ministers soon, perhaps as early as the end of the week.

Nouth Sa An, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, and Ouch Borith, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said NGOs could still work with the law but would face limitations.

“Even if this does not change, we can work under this law,” he said. “But we [will] not have much freedom.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MAY TITTHARA

AKP - The Agence Kampuchea Press


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Cambodia Fully Supports Timor-Leste to Become ASEAN Member

Phnom Penh, March 30, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has expressed Cambodia’s full support to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to become the 11th member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Cambodian premier hoped that Timor-Leste will become the ASEAN 11th member this year or next year, H.E. Koy Kuong, undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told reporters upon the meeting between Samdech Techo Hun Sen and visiting President of Timor-Leste, H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta held here on Tuesday at the Peace Palace.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen also explained that Cambodia’s support to Timor-Leste is regardless the country is poor or rich, small or big, but to reflect the equal rights of the countries in the region.

He further said that Cambodia is delighted to see Timor-Leste is in peace, stability and economic growth and he accepted the invitation to pay a visit to the country in an appropriate time this year, said Ieng Sophalet, assistant to the Cambodian prime minister.

For his part, President of Timor-Leste, H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, told Samdech Techo Hun Sen of his country’s situation, indicating that Timor-Leste’s economic growth has reached ten percent since 2007 and the country now has no external debt, but money surplus deposited in the bank.

“Therefore, the Timor-Leste’s request to join ASEAN will not be a burden for any country,” he stressed, adding that Timor-Leste’s objective is to integrate into the region and to strengthen and expand the regional cooperation.

H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta arrived here yesterday morning for a three-day state visit. On the same day, he was received in a royal audience by His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

According to the schedule, the president of Timor-Leste will pay courtesy calls on Senate President Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim, and National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin on Mar. 30. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul

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Cambodia Launches Latest Report on Progress of Millennium Development Goals

Phnom Penh, March 30, 2011 AKP – Cambodia’s latest report on the progress of the Millennium Development Goals was officially launched today, drawing attention to the needs for greater interventions to address three goals in particular: tackling extreme poverty, reducing maternal death and protecting natural resources.

The Cambodia Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs) Update 2010 said the country’s progress towards its Millennium Development Goals has been substantial but varied. The greatest progress has been made in CMDG4 (Reduce child mortality) and CMDG6 (Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases). There has been slow progress made in trying to achieve universal primary education (CMDG2), promote gender equality and empower women (CMDG3), and clear land mines and explosive remnants of war (CMDG9).

In remaining years leading up the 2015 target date, more attentions will be needed on CMDG1 (eradicating extreme poverty and hunger), CMDG5 (improve maternal health), and CMDG7 (ensuring environmental sustainability). Some aspects of the three goals are “worryingly off-track”, according to the report which was launched during a workshop in Siem Reap today.

“The new CMDG report shows us clearly what we can achieve by 2015 and what we might not achieve,” H.E. Chhay Than, Senior Minister and Minister of Planning, said at the launching ceremony.

“We need to put emphasis on the economic development aspect as it is the first and foremost means to achieve social development. For instance, we say we want to reduce poverty but how can we do so if we still have no food in the plate and no hospital for the sick,” he added.

The 2010 report was prepared by the Ministry of Planning with the technical assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It is the fifth report on the achievements of CMDGs.

The new report pointed to rural-urban income gap, high maternal deaths and lack of access for women to emergency obstetric care, and high dependency on wood for fuel and issues surrounding land titling as among the factors behind the lack of progress in the CMDG1, 5 and 7.

“With less than five years left to the MDG 2015 target date, this report represents an important milestone for UNDP’s work in Cambodia,” Mr. Natharoun Ngo, assistant country director and team leader of the Poverty Reduction unit at UNDP Cambodia. –AKP

By KHAN Sophirom

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Cambodia, UNDP Hold Talks on “Action Plan for 2011-2015”

Phnom Penh, March 30, 2011 AKP – Cambodia and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) opened here on Mar. 29 the annual meeting on “Development Cooperation Financing Framework” under the presidency of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Keat Chhon.

The meeting was chaired by Mr. Chheang Yanara, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary General of Cambodian Development and Rehabilitation Committee, and Mrs. Elena Tischenko, UNDP Director to Cambodia as well as technical officials and experts.

According to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the meeting focused on “UNDP’s Country Programme Action Plan 2011-2015” and aimed to support UNDP’s key fields including poverty reduction, democratic governance, environmental and climate change management, etc. –AKP

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International Co-prosecutor Appeals for Increasing Sentence Against Duch

Phnom Penh, March 30, 2011 AKP – International co-prosecutor appealed the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia to increase the sentence for Khmer Rouge War Crime Kaing Guek Eav, known as Duch from 35 to 45 years term in jail.

In a hearing process at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) held on Mar. 29, Mr. Andrew Cayley, international prosecutor, asked the court to stiffen the sentence against Duch from 35 to 45 years or to life in prison and not to be released in exchange for any conditions.

In the court hearing held a day before yesterday, Dutch’s defense lawyer Mr. Kar Savuth asked the court to release his client, arguing that the tribunal does not have jurisdiction to convict his client, it means that Duch is not the one who is responsible for the guilty that the court found.

He insisted that Duch was obliged to carry out orders as other prison chiefs did in the regime.

All the suggestions made by Duch’s defense lawyer were opposed by national prosecutor.

As planned, the hearing lasts for three days and is expected to finish today.

Last year, the tribunal found the chief of infamous S-21 torture center during the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979) Duch guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 35 years of imprisonment. –AKP

By THOU Peou

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Cambodia Fully Supports Timor-Leste to Become ASEAN Member

Phnom Penh, March 30, 2011 AKP – Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has expressed Cambodia’s full support to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste to become the 11th member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Cambodian premier hoped that Timor-Leste will become the ASEAN 11th member this year or next year, H.E. Koy Kuong, undersecretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation told reporters upon the meeting between Samdech Techo Hun Sen and visiting President of Timor-Leste, H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta held here on Tuesday at the Peace Palace.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen also explained that Cambodia’s support to Timor-Leste is regardless the country is poor or rich, small or big, but to reflect the equal rights of the countries in the region.

He further said that Cambodia is delighted to see Timor-Leste is in peace, stability and economic growth and he accepted the invitation to pay a visit to the country in an appropriate time this year, said Ieng Sophalet, assistant to the Cambodian prime minister.

For his part, President of Timor-Leste, H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta, told Samdech Techo Hun Sen of his country’s situation, indicating that Timor-Leste’s economic growth has reached ten percent since 2007 and the country now has no external debt, but money surplus deposited in the bank.

“Therefore, the Timor-Leste’s request to join ASEAN will not be a burden for any country,” he stressed, adding that Timor-Leste’s objective is to integrate into the region and to strengthen and expand the regional cooperation.

H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta arrived here yesterday morning for a three-day state visit. On the same day, he was received in a royal audience by His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

According to the schedule, the president of Timor-Leste will pay courtesy calls on Senate President Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim, and National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin on Mar. 30. –AKP

Article in Khmer by CHEY Phum Pul
Article in English by SOKMOM Nimul

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Senior Officials of China, ASEAN To Consult in East China

Phnom Penh, March 30, 2011 AKP – Senior officials of China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will hold their 17th annual consultations in east China city of Hangzhou on Mar. 30-31.

Chinese News Agency Xinhua quoted a press release from the Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying that Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue and senior officials of the ASEAN countries will attend the meeting to discuss China-ASEAN relations as well as regional and international issues of common concern.

The meeting, hosted by China and the ASEAN countries alternatively every year, is considered an important mechanism for the two sides, said the press release.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. –AKP

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Cambodia-VN Friendship To Develop Firmly

Phnom Penh, March 30, 2011 AKP – Vietnamese Vice State President Nguyen Thi Doan has expressed her belief that with efforts by states and people, the friendship between Vietnam and Cambodia would develop firmly.

The Vietnamese vice state president expressed her aspiration while receiving a visiting Cambodian delegation headed by Khun Chhy, former Cambodian Transport Minister, in Hanoi on Mar. 29, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

Stressing the traditional friendship and mutual assistance during the past struggle for national liberation and the current national construction, Doan confirmed that the fine relations between the two countries resulted from the efforts and devotion of generations of Vietnamese and Cambodians and there was a responsibility in educating young people to continue these precious traditions.

Khun Chhy appreciated assistance from the Vietnamese people to help the Cambodian people escape from genocide and said Cambodia would never forget the help and devotion of the Vietnamese volunteer soldiers in the past.

He informed the hosts that during the visit the delegation met Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts, who stood side by side with the Cambodian people during their past difficulties.

The same day, the Cambodian delegation was received by Vu Xuan Hong, President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations, who expressed his hope that the visit would contribute to boosting the traditional friendship between the two peoples.

The Cambodian delegation also paid a tribute to President Ho Chi Minh at his mausoleum. –AKP

Distressed maid set to return

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:02Mom Kunthear and David Boyle

A woman who reportedly said she was being tortured and forcibly detained by her employer in Kuala Lumpur during a phone call has been located and will be sent back to Cambodia next week, officials from the Malaysian embassy said yesterday.

Kampuchea Thmey newspaper reported on March 18 that the woman had made a random call to a university student in Phnom Penh pleading her to ask the Cambodian government to help her escape from her employer.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Malaysian embassy said they had taken swift action to locate the woman and had sent officials in Malaysia to her residence to provide essential assistance.

“The embassy contacted the woman through the phone number posted in the paper and talked to a woman who expressed that [she was] abused and suffered,” the statement said.

The statement also promised the Malaysian embassy would work closely with the Cambodian government and the other relevant partners to protect the Cambodian workers both in Cambodia and Malaysia.


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I try to talk to her, but I cannot because her boss does not allow her to leave home.

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Raja Saiful Ridzuwan, deputy chief of mission at the Malaysian embassy, yesterday declined to identify the woman or the company allegedly detaining her, but said these details would be available when she returned next week.

Yet another complaint alleging a Cambodian domestic worker in Malaysia was being tortured and illegally detained was filed with the rights group Adhoc yesterday.

Men Thorn, 36, said yesterday she filed a complaint against the AP Sentosa Training Centre with local rights group Adhoc after receiving a distressing phone call from her sister Men Syna’s neighbour in Malaysia, who said her sibling was being abused.

“I got the call from my sister’s neighbour, who my sister needed help from to reach me so that I could help intervene from Cambodia to release her from Malaysia because the employer tortures and detains her and doesn’t allow her to talk with anyone nearby,” she said.

The neighbour, an 18-year-old Cambodian woman who also works at a factory in Malaysia and asked only to be identified as Vy said she was afraid that if Men Syna’s boss caught her seeking help from outsiders that he would further punish her.

“I try to talk to her, but I cannot because her boss does not allow her to leave home or talk to anyone,” she said.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that the government would not be careless with this case.

“We will take measures immediately in cases [where] we get information or a letter from the family member, but until now I haven’t got any information about this case yet,” he said.

Additional reporting by Khuon Leakhana

Former Tack Fat workers continue protests

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:02Tep Nimol

Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday handed down an injunction prohibiting bankrupt garment factory Tack Fat from selling, renting or transferring property or equipment, as over 1,000 former employees staged a protest demanding that Tack Fat expand compensation after they lost their jobs when the factory closed this month.

The former employees demanded that Tack Fat meet five requirements of

Cambodia’s labour law relating to severance of workers due to bankruptcy.

Sri Kim You, a lawyer for Tack Fat owner Kuk Voeng, said yesterday that Tack Fat was trying to negotiate a resolution to the dispute for both parties through the Social Affairs Ministry’s committee for solving disputes between employers and workers.

“The company has the capacity to pay three points of the compensation but a resolution was passed by the committee to find the possibility of better solution,” said Sri Kim You. Tack Fat have agreed to pay seniority bonuses, one month of wages and a lump sum payment of US$150 to each worker.

Chhean Thida, a representative of former Tack Fat employees, said that workers would protest if a suitable outcome was not reached during the meeting.

Soy Siphun, director of the committee for solving disputes between employers and workers, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Soy Sopheap begs for forgiveness

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Media personality Soy Sopheap adjusts a poster at the re-opening of Deum Ampil Newspaper in December 2010. Soy Sopheap attended court yesterday to clarify defamation allegations.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:02Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

Prominent television personality Soy Sopheap was summoned to Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday to clarify defamation accusations alleged by Son Soubert, a political analyst and former member of the Constitutional Council.

Ek Chheng Huot, deputy prosecutor at the Municipal Court, said yesterday that Soy Sopheap, director of Deum Ampil News and a presenter for Bayon TV, faced a complaint by Son Soubert on February 4 over accusations of defamation stemming from comments suggesting that Son Sann – Son Soubert’s father and former prime minister – sold land located near Preah Vihear temple to Thailand in the 1980s.

“Soy Sopheap was accused with defamation of Samdech Son Sann who is the father of His Excellency Son Soubert. He has already appeared in court and clarified about his accusations yesterday and I have not decided whether he will be charged or not yet,” Ek Chheng Hout said yesterday.

Soy Sopheap said in court that he was confused and had made a mistake in his political commentary regarding Son Sann and had pleaded for a pardon from Son Soubert with regard to the comments. He said he had also made a correction publicly on Bayon TV shortly after the incident.

“I am responsible about what I had said related to Samdech Son Sann, and I have also recognised that I had been confused about this. I hope that the court will not take any legal action against me because I have begged for a pardon from Son Soubert already,” he said, adding that he plans to publicly beg for a pardon and reiterate his corrections on Bayon Television tonight.

“There is a culture of responsibility for journalists when they have made mistakes [in publications] and it is also in the press law,” he said.

Son Soubert claimed in court yesterday that Soy Sopheap had not yet pleaded with him for a pardon regarding his political commentary against his father, except for praising his father’s courage.

“I think that Soy Sopheap’s accusation was very bad for my father’s reputation ... so I could not accept his words that just praised my father’s heroism but did not withdraw his wrongful commentary against him.”

He added that he will consider withdrawing his complaint against Soy Sopheap if he accepts that he had made a mistake, makes a correction and condemns his previous characterisations of Son Sann.

Emaxx defends licence claim

Photo by: Marisa Reichert
Frank May, COO of Digital Star, speaks to The Post in Phnom Penh yesterday.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:01Jeremy Mullins

Telecommunications firm Digital Star Media plans to have 75 WiMAX towers in operation by the end of the year using a frequency range that has been claimed by other internet service providers.
Chief Operations Officer Frank May said that the firm was granted a licence for the 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz frequency range in 2007.

Among other uses, the licence enables Digital Star to provide internet access to computers as well as calls and data service for mobile phones using WiMAX – a form of “last mile” internet delivery, whereby the internet can be accessed wirelessly at long range.

However, the permit has been controversial.

Sok Channda, Chief Executive Officer of the parent company of MekongNet and AngkorNet Internet Service Providers, claimed on Monday that her firm had been granted a licence for a slice of that frequency range, but then it had then been given to another company.

Her firms had already invested substantially in WiMAX, but its plans had been stymied by overlapping licences. “We hope that the government can help us solve this problem,” she said this week.

It is not the first time ISPs looked to the government for clarification.

Last year, seven companies affected by licensing of the 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz range penned a joint letter to the Prime Minister over the issue.

May maintained yesterday that Digital Star had received the licence for the frequency first, following a successful application.

Other companies had been erroneously granted overlapping licences, but “were told in late 2009 to 2010 to get off our frequency,” he said.

He has high hopes for his company and believes that the launch of its WiMAX service under its Emaxx brand name next month will benefit Cambodia.

“What we’re bringing to Cambodia is something that is being done around the world. Cambodian people deserve good telecommunications,” he said.

The firm’s rollout of 75 WiMAX towers by year-end was expected to costs between US$65 to $75 million, aiming to attract some 150,000 subscribers by year end, he said.

“The first move is a big capital investment,” he said, adding the firm planned on further expansion.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to be number one. We’ll be a very strong, very powerful tier-two provider,” he added.

Highlighting the potential to provide mobile phone service, he said the firm aimed to introduce Long Term Evolution technology – so-called 4G – in 2012.

“LTE is moving forward all the time. These people who say who’s going to need it, they’re the people whose networks were installed four or five years ago. They’re in trouble. They bought in at very high cost for their base stations,” he said.

He claimed that Digital Star has one of three 4G licences awarded in Cambodia, adding the other two had gone to Viettel and Russian firm Altech.

Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun did not comment when contacted yesterday.

Frank May also highlighted the firm’s intent to provide internet access to rural areas, free of charge in some cases. It planned to expand partly through a tower sharing agreement with Mfone to reduce unnecessary expenses, he said.

Mfone chief executive officer Yap Wai Khee declined to comment on the agreement yesterday.

Inflation accelerates but rate remains 'acceptable'

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:01May Kunmakara

Consumer price inflation accelerated in February, according to the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics, as prices for food and fuel keep rising.

In its monthly Consumer Price Index report, the NIS said prices last month rose 3.8

percent year-over-year, a bump up from the 3.3-percent year-over-year inflation seen in January.

Prices climbed 0.7 percent from January to February, the report said.

An NIS official said the limited inflation rate change was predictable given the current stability in the exchange rate between the Cambodian riel and the United States dollar. That stability has helped to keep inflation in the Kingdom in check.

“[The] recent exchange rate stability contributes to keeping the inflation rate from rising. That’s very good for our macro economy,” said Khin Song, deputy director general at the NIS.

“The rate is acceptable, as we predicted. Below 5 percent means that we are not too concerned,” he said.

Food prices rose 11.1 percent in February, compared to a year earlier, while the cost for cooking oil and fats jumped 7.7 percent. At the same time, gas for cooking soared 16.2 percent. Household water, electricity, gas and other fuels increased by 3.3 percent Gas for vehicles, advanced 15.9 percent. Transport prices went up 5.5 percent.

The NIS’s Khin Song recognised the increase in food costs, but said that energy inflation would not have a serious impact.

“I think the small increase in the price of these products was the effect of Chinese New Year,” he said. “Although we see fuel prices increased, they did not completely impact the entire price index.”

However, Olaf Unterroberdoerster, senior economist at the IMF's Asia and Pacific department, said last week that higher fuel costs tend to spill over to other prices, notably food and transportation.

Action for safer noodles

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Villagers make noodles in Takeo province in January. In a government effort to ensure customer safety noodle producers may now face fines for using preservatives such as Borax and formalin.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:00Sieam Bunthy

Noodle-makers are being warned against using illegal preservatives such as Borax and formalin in their products by the Government, which has said that producers may face fines as it aims to improve consumer safety.

Yesterday, 38 string noodle producers from Phnom Penh and eight other provinces attended a training course on noodle producing methods held at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

At the first seminar of its kind, Suy Sem, Minister for the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said that the Government wanted noodle-makers to reach set standards and ensure customer safety.

He warned against using risky chemicals such as Borax in production.

The minister added that the body is set to warn and issue fines to string noodle makers which harm customers’ health.

Earlier this month, research from a specialist at the Royal Academy of Cambodia found between 41 and 80 percent of food products in Cambodia contained dangerous substances.

Borax and formalin, a substance made of formaldehyde and water, were found in a range of products including sausage, dry fish, seafood, noodles and meat balls produced from beef and pork.

You Kea, a household noodle maker from Battambang province, said he supported the ministry’s program and had been educated about safety.

“The [new] method is good,” said You Kea.

Singapore firm backs cassava

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Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:00Chun Sophal

Khov Choly Group has partnered with a Singaporean company on a US$22 million joint venture to grow cassava in the Kingdom and build a processing factory to allow for exports to Japan and China.

Khov Phallabut, director for Khov Choly Group, would not reveal the name of the Singaporean partner, or the name of the new company, but he did offer a time frame for the company’s launch. He said that preparations for growing would start midyear and he expected the processing factory to be completed by 2012.

The business would operate in Siem Reap, Preah Vihear, Oddar Meancheay and Mondulkiri provinces, he said.

Khov Choly Group will control 60 percent of the new company, or a $13.2 million stake, while the Singaporean investor would own a 40-percent share worth $8.8 million, said Khov Phallabut. He also said he plans to export dry cassava to China and the processed powder to Japan.

New start for Sofitel

Photo by: Pha Lina
Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh lights a candle during the ceremony for the grand opening of the five-star Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeetra hotel yesterday.

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/

via CAAI

Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:00Soeun Say

Phnom Penh’s US$50 million five-star Sofitel hotel held its grand opening ceremony yesterday.

Attended by 1,000 people, the event was presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh, Tourism Minister Thong Khon and Sofitel’s Vice President for South East Asia, Christophe Caron.

“We’re confident to invest in the hotel industry here because Cambodia has a lot of potential for tourism. We call it Sovann Phoum [Golden Land],” said Supachai Virapuchong, Managing Director of Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeetra Hotel, in the capital's Chamkarmorn District.

“A new Sofitel hotel is a help for cooperation and development in the tourism sector in Cambodia, in order to attract international tourists come to visit the Kingdom of Wonder,” Thong Khon said at the grand opening ceremony Sofitel yesterday.

The development is backed by a mixed consortium of Cambodian, Thai and French investors.

Government and embassy offiicals along with members of the tourism industry, private sector, and non-governmental sector were present at the opening.

101 East - Cambodia's orphan tourism

The Tack Fat's Factory Workers Protest









Pictures by RFA/Leng Maly

ការ​បួងសួង​និង​វិភាគទាន​ដល់​ជប៉ុន

Cambodia: where fear, magic and murder intertwine

 via CAAI

An average of three Khmer are accused of sorcery and killed every year.

Terry McCoy
March 29, 2011
 
Pah Eang, 22 (left), and Nith Pov, 29 (right), sit underneath their new house, which has become a gathering place for the remaining family members of two accused “sorcerers” who were killed in this remote village six months ago. (Terry McCoy/GlobalPost)

BOMNOK, Cambodia — In the midday swelter of early hot season, Pah Eang shivered and walked into a mountainous forest she’d once visited every day. She said she was scared. She hadn’t been to this place, open and silent, in five months. Not since the killings and whispers of magic.

Pulling at her red sweatshirt, Pah dissolved into the Cardamom Mountains that ripple through western Cambodia, and began her search for a place that keeps this 22-year-old awake at night and plagues what’s left of her family. Her path wound deeper until everything was quiet and the only mark of humanity was a bamboo-thatched hut in a clearing so idyllic the savagery of what had occurred there was difficult to imagine.

Last September, Pah’s father and younger brother were killed around 1 a.m. in this hut. The father, Pheng Pah, 46, was stabbed to death while his son, Pah Broh, 15, had his throat slit. When the bodies were discovered the next morning, some villagers in this deeply rural community 25 miles from a paved road rejoiced. They said the father and son were “sorcerers” and had deserved to die.

The killings reflect a disturbing trend in rural Cambodia, where magic is a very real thing and the only way to silence it is through violence, and sometimes, death. An average of three Khmer are accused of sorcery and killed every year, and such witch hunts illustrate the growing chasm between increasingly urban cities and countryside mired in poverty, while showing how deep belief in the occult runs in this culture.

Since 2006, 17 accused sorcerers have been killed in provincial Cambodia, usually following a sickness in the community that villagers found suspicious, according to local non-governmental organizations. This is a far lower rate, however, than in the past. In 2001 alone, eight people were killed for suspected sorcery, a 2002 United Nations human rights report shows.

“They think the sorcerers are without morality. That they are evil.”
~Ek Sothea, a researcher for rights group Licahdo

And always behind these killings, there’s the victim’s family, left to struggle against discrimination and question why such a thing had happened — and whether they may be killed too.

“We don’t have any way to make money now,” said Pheng Pah’s wife, Nith Oun who moved her family to a relative’s house following her husband’s death. “I don’t have my husband. I don’t have my son. Because of [my neighbors’] superstitions. Because of magic. I’ll never forgive them for this.”

What’s more, roughly two-thirds of homicides involving sorcery don’t make it to criminal court. Of the 15 different cases involving sorcery accusations and homicide since 2006, only six have led to prosecution, Licahdo, a human rights group in Cambodia, recently reported. It’s as though such cases fall somewhere between the tangible world where laws and evidence are trusted — and the metaphysical, where vigilante justice warrants more faith.

After all, how can you prove magic?

The farther out you go into Cambodia’s countryside, however, down cracked dirt roads and into under-policed areas, the less proof matters. Belief does. Nearly everyone wraps talismans around their waists to protect against sorcery and evil spirits, and soldiers flex Sanskrit tattoos that they believe will fend off bullets in battle. Such practices and beliefs create an alternate geography that most rural Khmer inhabit where culture, fear, and magic coalesce.

“Most Cambodians live in a magical worldview,” said Jan Ovesen, a professor of anthropology at Uppsala University in Sweden who is researching magic in Cambodia’s countryside. “And accusations of sorcery are a function of this magical world view. You have to attribute misfortune to someone or something. Misfortune is not by chance. They think, ‘Someone must be wishing us evil.’ ”

According to NGO reports and more than a dozen additional interviews with villagers and local officials, a chilling story of revenge and delusion has emerged that describes what happened to Pheng Pah and his family. By all accounts, the accusations of witchcraft began as murmurs.

It was last August, one month before Pheng’s death, as planting season swept through this agrarian village called Bomnok at the base of the Cardamoms. A 23-year-old neighbor, recently-engaged Mao Chanly, had become devastatingly ill following an attack by a family dog her parents swore wasn’t rabid. No one in the village knew what was happening. People were panicked and confused. The murmurs grew louder and louder.

Mao’s family gave her an IV and mountain herbs, but nothing worked. Weeks passed. The sickness came at night; Mao described it to her parents as invisible hands grabbing and ripping her. Growths surfaced. Her parents grew desperate and they took her to the community pagoda.

What the monks said there confirmed the rumors: There was a sorcerer in the community. And Mao would die because of it.

The scene seems surreal, but it closely echoes what can often happen in rural Cambodia, according to Licadho and Adhoc, another human rights group in Cambodia. In places far removed from substantive education, superstition can quickly supplant rational explanation.

“After the sicknesses, the villagers create a plan to kill the [accused] sorcerer — by secret,” said Ek Sothea, a Licadho researcher, describing a typical homicide of an accused sorcerer. “They don’t tell the police. They think the police won’t believe them; the law protects sorcerers. They don’t have any evidence, but they believe that there are sorcerers. So everyone plans to kill by secret.

“They think the sorcerers are without morality. That they are evil.”

Soon, Mao was dead. And for a week afterward, the threats against Pheng and his family intensified, finally hitting a crescendo on a late September night when an unknown number of assailants descended on his forested hut where Pheng and his son slept guarding their rice fields.

No arrests were made after the killings. Commune police say all related suspects have fled, and there’s no way of knowing where to.

“The monks were certain — very certain — that there was someone who performed magic on my daughter,” Mao’s mother, Sian Sok Van said. “But I’m not mad at anyone. I’m not mad at anyone. We don’t know anything about the killings. I only have feelings of sadness and regret for the death of my daughter.”

In rural Cambodia, such occurrences, especially when there aren’t any arrests, usually end like this, without firm closure. The effects linger. And no one forgets.

Cambodia is a potential market for Vietnamese businesses

http://english.vovnews.vn/

via CAAI

29/03/2011

(VOV) - Cambodia is a potential market for Vietnamese businesses, however, to conquer this market they must have specific production and trade promotion strategies.

This assessment was made at the seminar “Cambodia- open market for Vietnamese businesses” held in Ho Chi Minh City on March 29.

Vietnamese products are favoured in Cambodia thanks to their reasonable prices and high quality. Two-way trade between the two countries reached US$382 million in the first two months of this year, up 65 percent compared to the same period last year. Vietnam exported goods to Cambodia worth US$306 million, up 44 percent and the main products included plastics, garments, steel and seafood.

Experts said that Vietnamese businesses have not fully exploited this export market as Cambodian infrastructure is poor and lacks a banking payment system, commercial centres, stocks and telecommunications. They have also not paid due attention to long-term investment in the market.

At the seminar, businesses were updated with the latest information about preferential commercial and investment policies in Cambodia and the developing retail distribution network.

Vietnamese trade counselor in Cambodia, Vu Thinh Cuong, said businesses seeking investment opportunities in Cambodia should research partners and projects at Vietnamese representative offices there. He also said that businesses should focus investment on agriculture and industry.

Tea Banh: GBC must meet only in Indonesia


via CAAI

Published: 29/03/2011
Online news: Local News

The Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee (GBC) meeting must be held only in Indonesia, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Tea Banh said on Tuesday.

Gen Tea Banh, in saying this, turned down Thai Defence Minister Prawit Songsuwon's proposal that the 8th GBC, which was supposed to be hosted by Cambodia this year, remain strictly bilateral and be held in either Cambodia or Thailand.

Defence Minister Prawit Songsuwon (left) and Cambodia's Deputy PM Tea Banh

The Cambodian general said that at this stage talks between Thailand and Cambodia cannot be bilateral because both the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) passed resolutions that Indonesia should act as mediator.

"Therefore, I will talk to Thailand only in the presence of Indonesian mediators and in Indonesia only," he said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also does not want bilateral talks with Thailand, be it the GBC or the Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) meeting, Gen Tea Banh said in an interview with the Bangkok Post in Phnom Penh.

"Whether or not the GBC meeting will be held depends on the Thai side. So I cannot say whether the GBC will be held at all if Thailand insists in not going to Indonesia. Cambodia's stand on this matter is clear," he said.

On the border situation, Gen Tea Banh said Cambodian soldiers would remain at their present positions, and so would Thai soldiers, as long as there were no talks between the two sides.

He said Cambodia will continue to work on the development plan for the disputed area around Preah Vihear temple.

"In fact, I don't want the situation between Thailand and Cambodia to remain unresolved like this, because we are neighbours.

"We can't move away from each other nor be separated. No matter what, we have to hold talks, but I don't know when," Gen Tea Banh said.

He said Thai and Cambodian soldiers had frequently clashed because some political groups in Thailand wanted the situation to be this way, despite the fact that the conflict between the two countries was negotiable.

On Gen Prawit's proposal that Thai and Cambodian soldiers set up joint checkpoints in the disputed area, without involvement by Indonesian observers, Gen Tea Banh said Asean had resolved that Indonesia should be involved because Thailand and Cambodia had never been able to reach a settlement between them.

"I would like the Thai media to help promote relations between the two countries. Don't let a group of people destroy our long relationship.

"Somdej Hun Sen said the two countries are inseparable. So we need to talk and cooperate," he said.

An informed source in Cambodia said Maj-Gen Hun Manet, deputy commander of Hun Sen's Body Guards Unit, had travelled to Indonesia to prepare for the JBC and GBC meetings, even though the Thai Defence Ministry had not made a commitment to take part in them.

Indonesia has proposed the GBC and JBC be held at Bogor on April 7-8.

The source said Hun Sen and the Indonesian government are very close, as Indonesia has provided military assistance to Cambodia.

According to the source, Thailand had tried to persuade Cambodia to allow Thai Buddhist monks to stay with Cambodian monks at Wat Kaeo Sikha Khiri Savara in the 4.6 square kilometre disputed area, so that Thai soldiers would not have to be sent there.

Yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid

On the issue of detained yellow-shirt activisit Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, Gen Tea Banh said he has no idea when the pair will be granted a royal padon.

Gen Tea Banh said in response to questions that procedural steps must be taken in seeking a royal pardon for the convicts, adding that he did not know if Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had forwarded the petition for a royal pardon filed by Veera and Ratree to the king.

Nobody could say what the outcome would be, or if or when they would be released, he said.

"It's not that anybody can just ask to be released. The Cambodian justice process cannot be interfered with," he said.

Gen Wichit Yathip, a former deputy army chief and a close aide to former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, said the Democrat-led government should seek help from people who could talk to Cambodia, in order to help the two jailed yellow-shirt activists.

"But the government and the Foreign Ministry have never asked Gen Chavalit or me for help," Gen Wichit said.

Gen Wichit was in Phnom Penh today to take part in the opening of the new Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra hotel of Thai businessman Supachai Veeranarong. The opening ceremony was chaired by Gen Tea Banh.

Gen Chavalit did not attend the event, but sent his wife Khunying Phankrue to represent him.

Veera and Ratree were sentenced to eight and six years in jail respectively after being found guilty of illegal entry and espionage.

They and five other Thais were arrested on Dec 29, initially for illegal entry.

The five other Thais were found guilty of illegal entry and then freed after the remaining eight months of their nine-month jail sentences were suspended.

Students help children in Cambodia



via CAAI

Tuesday 29 March 2011

YOUNGSTERS who spent a year raising £12,000 so they could help children in Cambodia have had their dreams come true.


Eight teenagers from across West Norfolk travelled 6,200 miles to help build a children’s play area in the town of Takeo last month, as part of the New Futures Volunteer Project.

The youngsters, aged 17 to 19, travelled with three youth workers from Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services and returned from their once-in-a-lifetime trip two weeks ago.

Working in partnership with the New Futures Orphanage, the group spent three weeks designing and building a play area complete with a swing, roundabout, see-saws and a giant pirate ship.

They also helped build a huge climbing frame for the orphanage.

It is hoped the play area will become a focal point and safe space for children living in the town and the orphanage.

The youngsters also hope future volunteers will add a football and volleyball pitch.

Trip organiser and youth worker Claire Boothby said it was a huge success.

She said: “The whole experience has been hugely rewarding for the young people involved, not only because of their interaction with the local community, but also due to the independence, confidence and skills they have gained – such as woodwork, sewing and hand-washing clothes and English teaching.”

The group is due to hold a presentation evening at Holt Hall next Friday, when they will give a talk about their experiences and learning from the project.

They also plan to take the presentation out to schools across Norfolk to encourage others to volunteer.

One of the youngsters who travelled to Cambodia was Sophie Willis, 17, of Swaffham.

Here is an extract from one of her blogs about the trip:

“We are a week-and-a-half into our stay in Cambodia and have already had the experience of a lifetime.

“The wave of heat that hit us as we left the airport was a sign of weather to come, something we have enjoyed at moments, tolerated at others, and moaned about most of the time!

“The play area framework was put together by a local welder who was extremely talented and efficient.

“We also had lots of eager helpers from the orphanage as well as other volunteers. It’s hard work in the sun, but it’s coming together nicely.

“Aside from work at the orphanage, we have experienced a number of other things: Cambodian food, Cambodian countryside and landscapes, and perhaps most memorably, Cambodian roads. None of us knew how many things could be carried on a moped! We have adjusted to it now, but the first minibus ride from the airport to our accommodation in Phnom Penh was an eye-opener!

“Cambodia itself has become a favourite in many of our eyes. Despite having not left yet, a few people are planning their return visit!”

Cambodia, DPRK defense officials meet to share experience

via CAAI

March 29, 2011 

Cambodian and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) defense officials met here on Monday aiming to strengthen cooperation and share experience on national defense, said a Cambodian spokesman.

A nine defense officials delegation from the DPRK, headed by Pak Jae-gyong, vice minister of the People's Armed Forces of the DPRK, held a meeting with Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh on Monday afternoon, Chhum Socheat, the spokesman for the Cambodian Defense Ministry, said after the meeting.

"The delegation's visit in Cambodia is to re-strengthen cooperation between Cambodia and the DPRK in all sectors," he said. "Also, both sides have shared experience on national defense."

Later in the day, the delegation met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Pak Jae-gyong conveyed greetings from President Kim Jong-il to Hun Sen and thanked Cambodia for the warm welcome to his delegation during the visit, the premier's spokesman Eng Sophalleth told reporters after a 30-minute meeting.

Pak said the relation between the DPRK and Cambodia has been built by Marshall Kim Il Sung and former King Norodom Sihanouk and it has lasted for more than 40 years since.

Pak Jae-gyong also invited Hun Sen to visit the DPRK.

In response, Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia is pleased to expand cooperation with the DPRK in all sectors, especially in trades and commerce, according to Eang Sophalleth.

Hun Sen accepted the invitation to visit the DPRK at a proper time in the future.

The delegation arrived in Cambodia on Sunday for a three day visit. They will also visit engineering schools for Cambodian armed forces.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia's Disabled Fight Poverty, Inequality


A former Khmer Rouge soldier who lost both arms to an anti-personnel landmine. (Photo: http://npac.ca/)

via CAAI

By CATHERINE WILSON / ASIA SENTINEL
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cambodia remains littered with millions of unexploded devices left over from 30 years of civil war, the brutality of the Khmer Rouge and conflict with Vietnam.

The government itself believes that as many as 2 percent of the country's 14.7 million people are disabled with landmine casualties a significant proportion.

Poung Mai, who lost both legs when he stepped on a landmine, is one of those victims. He and Chhum Sopheap, who has suffered from polio, are seated on the ground in the midday sun next to the ticket kiosk inside the entrance gates to the National Museum in Phnom Penh with a basket of books to sell, each one carefully wrapped in plastic to lessen the inevitable damage from perpetual sun and dust.

They are among more than 60,000 physically disabled in Cambodia who struggle against poverty, discrimination, unequal access to education and employment and an under-funded and under-resourced state support system.

Cambodia is one of the poorest and most landmine contaminated countries in the world and the challenge of achieving economic inclusion, education and rehabilitation of the disabled is considerable. Numerous demining organisations, such as the Cambodian Mine Action Center, are steadily working to clear the country of millions of unexploded bombs and ordnances in rural regions, especially in the northwest close to the border with Thailand.

With 80 percent of the population residing in rural provinces, the prevalence of landmines has significantly reduced access to agricultural land, forests and water resources, and led to one of the highest rates of disability in the world as people in farming communities are maimed and killed as they go about their daily lives.

According to the Cambodia Mine Victim Information System (CMVIS), there were 286 landmine casualties in 2010, an increase on the 244 reported in 2009 and 271 in 2008, with 15 new casualties in January this year. It estimates that since 1979 there have been 63,821 mine casualties, which corresponds to 39 landmine deaths and injuries every week for 31 years, with about 44,000 survivors.

Poung Mai is from Prey Khmoa village in Prey Veng province where his family were rice farmers.

"During the civil war in Cambodia, the government [Khmer Rouge] arrested me and I was made to work in forestry, woodcutting," he said, "and then I stepped on a landmine." He was 28 years of age when both legs were amputated.

"After I stepped on the landmine, it was difficult," he continued, "I went around begging everywhere, at the market, to feed my family."

Poung has seven children. In 1990 he was removed by authorities to a center that provided food and shelter, but no prospect of livelihood. He subsequently left and found his way to Phnom Penh, where he continued to beg until he joined the Angkor Association for the Disabled in 2009, an organization of people with disabilities founded by Sem Sovantha, who suffered double amputation by a landmine, to provide shelter and training to members and campaign against discrimination.

Chhum Sopheap, also from Prey Veng province, came to Phnom Penh in 1997, sleeping on the streets until he started selling books at the National Museum in 2007.

Both say that the very small income they earn from selling books, on average $4.00 per day, enables them to rent a room and leave behind homelessness, which is often accompanied by alcoholism, mental ill-health, hunger and disease. Belonging to a disabled organization has also marginally improved their experience with the public, they say.

"When they are not with an association," Sem Sovantha explained, "there is a problem with the authorities. When they have an association, people will accept them and talk to them."
However, negative social attitudes and discrimination toward the disabled, such as physical harassment, social ostracism and economic exclusion, remain widespread.

Chhum claims that he mostly receives a positive response from visitors and tourists at the National Museum, "but the official in the area is not so happy about us, because he thinks it is not appropriate for us to be selling to tourists."

Local tour guides also attempt to dissuade visitors from being patrons.

"The customer would like to buy," Chhum explains, "but the customer believes the tour guide when he says ‘no, no', because at another shop the tour guide will get a commission."

According to a 2009 ILO report, "People with disabilities are among the most vulnerable groups in Cambodian society. They lack equal access to education, training and employment.

While many workers with disabilities have considerable skills, many have not had the opportunity to develop their potential."

The Cambodian government introduced a Law on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2009 to support the right to employment without discrimination, and in the same year adopted a National Plan of Action for Persons with Disabilities, including landmine survivors, in order to better address needs and provide services. The stated priorities of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation include strengthening and expanding welfare and rehabilitation services for the disabled, but, according to the Cambodian Disabled Peoples Organization, lack of human and financial resources has hindered real progress toward these goals, although the work of NGOs has resulted in the provision of more vocational training courses.

"Social acceptance and social attitudes toward disabled people and landmine amputees can be improved step by step through the Royal Government having a Disability Law and National Plan for persons with disability," a CDPO spokesperson said, "The problem in Cambodia is that we have the laws, but no budget to implement them."

In the meantime, Chhum Sopheap and Poung Mai strive to sell their books, many of which are biographies and stories of Cambodians, like themselves, who have struggled through the tragedy of the Khmer Rouge era and are determined to not only survive, but live to see a better future.