Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Indian navy destroyed Thai fishing boat

File photo of the Indian naval warship INS Tabar. A maritime watchdog said Wednesday that the Indian navy had attacked and sunk a Thai fishing trawler after mistaking it for a Somali pirate "mother vessel" in the Gulf of Aden.(AFP/Indian Navy/Ho/File)

An Indian Navy picture shows an alleged pirate vessel burning after being hit during anti-piracy operations at sea in the Gulf of Aden on November 18. A maritime watchdog said Wednesday that the Indian navy had attacked and sunk a Thai fishing trawler after mistaking it for a Somali pirate "mother vessel" in the Gulf of Aden.(AFP/Indian Navy/Ho/File)

The French frigate Le Nivose leaves Djibouti harbour on its way to escort a convoy of commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden, November 25. A maritime watchdog said Wednesday that the vessel sunk by the Indian navy in the Gulf of Aden was a Thai fishing trawler and not a Somali pirate vessel as was first announced.(AFP/Eric Cabanis)

Opposition says aid, foreign investment to drop more than 30pc

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Chun Sophal
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A slower global economy and an expected decline in development aid will hit Cambodia more than the government admits, critics say

CAMBODIA'S foreign direct investment is set to drop more than the 30 percent claimed by the government, an opposition lawmaker warned Tuesday, adding that donor aid will also fall further than expected.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said the economic slowdown is more serious than the government admits and that lower foreign aid payments will add to the Kingdom's economic woes.

"I think the prime minister will not be able to get more than US$400 million from donor countries because those countries are suffering from the economic crisis," he said.

Son Chhay added that the government has recently increased expenses on public administration by 38 percent and called for new policies to encourage farmers to grow crops on public land and to increase productivity and job creation.

Prime Minister Hun Sen last week predicted a drop of nearly 30 percent in foreign investment in response to a widening financial crisis that has engulfed the Kingdom's principal investor countries.

In his address to the Government-Private Sector Forum on Friday, Hun Sen also said Cambodia could expect $500 million in foreign investment in 2009, down from $700 million this year.

"We think the decrease will not affect economic growth or our poverty-reduction strategies as long as we receive between $500 million and $600 million from official development aid," Hun Sen said.

The government plans to call for aid of at least $600 million from development partners and other countries at the donor meeting set for early December, Hun Sen said.

"How can we avoid the effects [of the crisis] on our economy if investment is decreasing?" he said.

Hang Chuon Naron, secretary general at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said Cambodia's continued economic growth depends on the Kingdom receiving $600 million in donor aid and more than $850 million in foreign direct investment.

SEA View

CSR Asia, Hong Kong
by Vijay Ramani vramani@csr-asia.com

Poverty-reduction goals to be hit by global crisis
Global financial turmoil and rising domestic inflation will likely keep Cambodia from reaching its poverty-reduction target this year, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh has said, adding that a worsening economy has pushed more Cambodians below the poverty line with one percent of Cambodians - around 140,000 people - having fallen below the poverty line this year. Sok Sina, an independent economist, said fluctuations in global markets, along with inflation of around 25 percent, have had one definite impact on poverty in Cambodia. However, the Asian Development Bank, in an update of its 2008 economic outlook assessment released in September, presented a dramatically higher figure, saying, "preliminary evidence suggests that as many as two million people may have slipped below the poverty line, in addition to 4.5 million already in poverty". (The Phnom Penh Post, October 30)

Vigilant farmers keep eye on polluters
Farmers in the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau have joined hands to fight firms causing “unacceptable” long term pollution. Residents say that the shrimp shell processing plant Duc Tai - renamed Quoc Thanh-Viet Trung Company - has dumped untreated waste containing high acid volumes into rivers and canals for about 13 years. Other firms including Hong Cam A, Kim Hong, SitoZang, Quoc Binh and Hung Nguyen in the province have done the same. For years, Nguyen and others have taken losses in aquaculture, suffered from nausea and vomiting, and woken up to the offensive smell of rotten shrimp shells from nearby processing plants. Local farmers have had to confront this kind of pollution by not using rain water, wrapping themselves from head to toe under blankets while sleeping, and moving dining tables all the time to evade the wind. (Thanhnien News, November 5)

ADB disappointed by use of aid
Officials at the Asian Development Bank have expressed disappointment at the conclusion of the distribution phase of its US$38 million emergency food aid project, saying widespread complaints about village officials indicate that the rice was not distributed fairly. Piseth Long, ADB's project implementation officer, told the Post Wednesday that the first phase of the project, which ended Wednesday in Siem Reap, did not fulfill its aims because of mismanagement on the ground. According to NGO groups, more than 1,000 poor families have complained to monitoring organisations, accusing village chiefs of registering only their relatives and political supporters. (The Phnom Penh Post, November 6)

Blame it on public apathy
It does not cost much more to build green buildings, just 2 to 6 per cent extra, but developers in South-east Asia are not inclined to construct them unless consumer demand catches on, said energy experts at a forum on environmental sustainability in Singapore. While some felt that fiscal incentives would motivate developers, Mr Parasu Raman, vice-chair of the World Green Building Council, was of the view that the demand for eco-friendly buildings should be market-driven. “It’s more effective if it’s market-driven by multiple stakeholders — tenants, businesses, consumers,” he said. “The role of government should be to set minimum energy benchmarks that will compel developers to build green.” (Todayonline, November 7)

‘Sickening’ film on plight of burmese migrant fishermen
A documentary film showing how Burmese seamen aboard Thai fishing boats are abused, beaten and even murdered is now available for viewing on the Internet. The 10-minute film, titled “Abandoned, not Forgotten,” was released on the official Web site of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITWF). General Secretary, David Cockcroft said: “This is a 21st century scandal, and everyone involved—including those who wittingly or not buy or sell fish products tainted by this horrible exploitation—must examine their consciences and act.” (The Irrawady, November 7)

Farmers get rich breeding wild animals
According to a report from the Forest Protection Department of Viet Nam (FDP), there are some 4,000 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) – approved establishments raising 2 billion non-traditional livestock animals. Farmers are now raising 93 species of mammals, 78 species of birds, 54 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 105 species of invertebrates in danger of extinction, said Prof Dang Huy Huynh, former director of the Institute of Ecological and Biological Resources. Though many of these farms have participated in breeding endangered animals, their primary objective is to make money, not preserve wildlife. The national action programme on managing the trade of wild species plans to boost the planting and breeding of rare flora and fauna to combat poverty and protect the environment simultaneously. (VietnamNet Bridge, November 13)

Who’s responsible?
It was meant to be a refuge for rescued animals when it opened two months ago. But more than half the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres) Wildlife Rescue Centre site in Singapore at Chua Chu Kang remains closed because of contamination. Tonnes of woodchips and petrochemical were allegedly dumped into a backfill by the main contractor. The backfill used to level a slope at the site had decayed, mixed into the soil and polluted the groundwater. Under the Environment Protection and Management Act, the penalty for discharging toxic substances into inland waters is a fine not exceeding $20,000. But the Subordinate Court yesterday gave ANA Contractors Pte Ltd a discharge not amounting to an acquittal after its lawyer argued that his client was not responsible for the dumping. (Todayonline, November 13)

Dead river
One of Long An Province’s rivers that originates in nearby Ho Chi Minh City has become an open sewer system for industries, threatening locals’ health and damaging farming. The district’s People’s Committee Chairman Pham Hong Kim said only 11 out of the 200 firms in the district had wastewater processing. Long An’s low-lying Can Giuoc and Can Duoc Districts are well-known black tiger prawn farming areas but the pollution from Can Giuoc river has wiped out many of the farmer’s prawn stocks. Some firms in Can Giuoc District said it was cheaper to pay environmental fines than build wastewater treatment plants - but only 11 fines totaling a paltry VND28 million (US$1,650), have been issued so far in 2008. (Thanhnien News, November 14)

Global HIV effort kicks off in Phnom Penh
Taking the opportunity to reach the millions of Cambodians visiting Phnom Penh for the Water Festival, the Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) launched the first phase of a global effort to test one million people for HIV/Aids this week. Dr Chhim Sarath, the country program manager for AHF Cambodia, said the group, which operates 11 free Aids clinics around the country, has donated 20,000 testing kits to the government. The goal, however, is not just to test people, but also to raise awareness and teach people about the virus. In about a week, the testing push will expand into eight provinces. (The Phnom Penh Post, November 14)

Illegal forest clearings threatening hundreds of species with extinction
Forest clearing is threatening 236 plant species and 51 animal species in Kalimantan, Indonesia with extinction. Orangutans, owa monkeys and tarsius are the most endangered animals, increasingly losing their sources of food and water as forests are cleared for palm oil plantations. The number of animals, especially orangutans, is declining as fast as 9 – 10 percent a year. According to the Center of Orangutan Protection, if nothing is done to prevent this, around 8,400 orangutans outside the protected forest will disappear within three years. (Tempo Interactive, November 18)

Prohibitionists stop Thai Beverage listing
The Stock Exchange of Thailand decided to shelve its decision on whether to list Thai Beverage Plc indefinitely as thousands of monks, students and social activists celebrated the victory. Vichate Tantiwanich, a SET executive vice-president, told the protesters outside the exchange headquarters on Thursday that financial advisers for ThaiBev were unable to set an appropriate price for the local offering by the filing deadline. "As a result, the plan to list ThaiBev will be delayed," Mr Vichate said, adding the advisers had said market conditions were not conducive at this time. (Bangkok Post, November 21)

Creating position of strength for Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia in international and region integration

Nhan Dan
November 25, 2008

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has arrived in Vientianne to attend the 5th Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia Development Triangle Summit. This is an important event aimed at strengthening solidarity, co-operation and close-knit relations between the three countries, creating the position of strength for each country and for all the three countries in the process of international and regional integration.

Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia lying in the Southeast Asian region share a lot of cultural and historical similarities. The relations of Vietnam with Laos and Cambodia have seen continuous consolidation and fine developments in the spirit of solidarity, friendship and comprehensive co-operation which has been ever more expanded and gone in depth, particularly in the economic, trade and investment co-operation. The People’s Democratic Republic of Laos has been deploying its implementation of the Agreement on 2008 scientific, technical, cultural and economic co-operation. The two countries has enhanced the mechanism of constant contacts and exchanges between the senior leaders, between the officials, sectors and localities. Vietnam and Cambodia have also enhanced their high-ranking visits to each other with the current visit to Vietnam by Samdec Chea Sim, Chairman of the Cambodian People’s Party and President of the Senate, making a contribution to raising the two countries’ relations and comprehensive co-operation to a new height. Vietnam and Cambodia have agreed to accelerate further the exchange of visits by delegations at all levels in order to strengthen mutual understanding; unanimously agreed to reserve priority for co-operation in areas the two countries have potentials of such as trade, investment, energy, mineral mining, oil and gas, industrial plants, communication and transport; and agreed to create opportunities for trade and service activities to bring the two countries’ trade to reach over US$ 2 billion in 2010.

We are glad to see that as far as the Development Triangle is concerned, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia have taken active steps to deploy the Vientianne Declaration (November 2004), the Siam Reap Agreement between the three prime ministers in July 2004 and a lot of other important plans for the Development Triangle.

The 5th conference between the prime ministers of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia is aimed at enhancing solidarity, co-operation and close-knit relations between the three countries, creating favourable conditions for the social and economic development and guaranteeing political security in each country; establishing a special preferential policy and mechanism for the Development Triangle; making clear the Master Plan for the Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia Development Triangle already approved at the 4th Conference and working out the direction for the implementation of its content as pointed out in the Vientianne Declaration of building the Development Triangle, intensifying the relations with Japan, creating the position of strength in each country and the common position of strength of the three countries in the process of international and regional integration, particularly within the framework of ASEAN, WEC, ACMECS and the co-operation between Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Good success to the Conference, thus making a contribution to consolidating and tightening the friendly relations and comprehensive co-operation between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, making a contribution to peace, stability, co-operation and development in the Southeast Asian region and the whole world.

NHAN DAN

PM attends regional trio development meeting

Prime Ministers Nguyen Tan Dung of Viet Nam and Bouasone Bouphavanh of Laos look on at the signing of a mining agreement yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam

26-11-2008

VIENTIANE — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh in the Lao capital of Vientiane yesterday.

Dung is in Laos to attend the fifth summit of the Cambodia-Laos-Viet Nam (CLV) Development Triangle, which starts today.

The two PMs informed each other of the developments in their countries and said they were satisfied to see the special relations had expanded, especially in the economy, trade and investment.

Viet Nam now has 141 investment projects in Laos worth a total of more than US$750 million. This makes it the second largest investor in Laos. Bilateral trade this year is expected to reach US$450 million.

The two leaders said they were determined to raise this to $1 billion by 2010, $2 billion by 2015 and $5 billion by 2020.

They agreed the potential for co-operation between the two countries was large, especially in hydro-electricity, mining, transport, growing and processing cash crops.

The two PMs have told relevant ministries to prepare for the coming 31st meeting of the Inter-Governmental Committee between the two countries.

Dung said he was pleased to see co-operation in building residential areas along the joint border and said Viet Nam would continue to work with Laos on implementing agreements between them.

He asked the Lao Government to accelerate the co-operation on economic development projects along the border, and create favourable conditions for Vietnamese enterprises to invest in the area.

The Lao PM confirmed his support for Vietnamese enterprises investing and developing businesses in Laos.

The two PMs also witnessed the signing of several co-operation agreements, including a contract to explore for bronze ore in Houm Village, Phouvong District in Attapeu Province; and a project to explore for barite ores in Savannakhet Province.

The Song Da Corporation has also invested $399 million in two hydro-electricity plants, Sebanghien No 1 and No 2. — VNS

Cambodian gov't imposes flight ban on Siem Reap Airways

www.chinaview.cn
2008-11-26 12:35:42

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian government has slapped a temporary flight ban on domestic carrier Siem Reap Airways amid concerns over its safety standard, national media reported Wednesday.

"The government has decided to stop flights temporarily and replace them with (flights from) its parent company, Bangkok Airways," Chea Aun, director general of the State Secretariat for Civil Aviation, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.

He added that air service was needed to cater for foreigners, diplomats and tourists, and that the length of the ban would depend on the company's response to questions about its safety record.

Siem Reap Airways issued a statement to travel agents on Nov. 20 announcing the airline's suspension of service and assuring all travelers that their reservations would be honored.

It added that all previously scheduled Siem Reap Airways flights would be picked up by Bangkok Airways, which would accept all tickets issued for the banned carrier.

The statement said Bangkok Airways would operate four daily flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap according to normal flight schedules and beginning on Nov. 22, effectively the start date of the temporary ban.

Editor: An

Cambodia's Siem Reap Airways suspending operations

Flightglobal

26/11/08

SOURCE:Air Transport Intelligence
By Nicholas Ionides

Cambodia's Siem Reap Airways is temporarily suspending operations, two weeks after it was put on a European Union blacklist of banned carriers over safety concerns.

A spokesman for Thai parent company Bangkok Airways says from Bangkok that Siem Reap Airways has halted all domestic operations between the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and the tourist city of Siem Reap.

He says flights have since 22 November been operated by Bangkok Airways with ATR turboprops.

The spokesman says Siem Reap Airways' international flights to nearby destinations will meanwhile be suspended on 1 December.

He says the grounding is a voluntary one and it comes around two weeks after the European Commission added the airline to its list of banned operators. Siem Reap Airways does not serve Europe but the European Commission said the airline "does not operate in compliance" with Cambodian safety regulations and does not meet ICAO standards.

"Significant concerns have also been expressed by ICAO with regard to the ability of the Cambodian civil aviation authorities to implement and enforce the international safety standards," the European Commission said in a statement on 14 November.

The Bangkok Airways spokesman says Cambodian authorities are seeking to resolve the issues that led to the ban and Siem Reap Airways hopes to resume services in the near future.

Specific reasons for the ban have not been disclosed but Cambodian media have reported that it was due in part to aircraft registration issues. Siem Reap Airways' ATR, Airbus A319 and Boeing 717 aircraft are wet-leased from Bangkok Airways and are registered in Thailand.

Viet Nam, Cambodia party leaders reaffirm relations

Party leader Nong Duc Manh and Chairman of the Cambodian People’s Party and President of the Senate, Samdec Chea Sim, review the honour guard yesterday in Ha Noi. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Xuan Tuan

26-11-2008

HA NOI — Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh affirmed that the consistent policy of the Party, State and people of Viet Nam was to attach importance to preserving and developing the "fine neighbourliness, traditional friendship, comprehensive co-operation, and long-term sustainability" between Viet Nam and Cambodia.

He said the motto was not only for relations between the two Parties and countries today, but also for future generations.

Manh made the statement yesterday while meeting with Samdec Chea Sim, Chairman of the Cambodian People’s Party and President of the Senate, who is on an official friendship visit to Viet Nam.

Manh said that close ties between the two Parties and States were priceless to the two nations.
He appreciated the visit’s significance as an important political event, which helped develop solidarity and friendship between the two sides.

The Party leader congratulated the great achievements of the Cambodian people in the past and wished them successes in building a peaceful, independent, democratic and prosperous Cambodia.

He also extended his thanks for the support of the Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodian people.

Samdec Chea Sim affirmed that strengthening relations with Viet Nam was one of Cambodia’s top priorities.

He said he admired the historical achievements of the Vietnamese people and hoped they would continue to be high achievers in modernisation and industrialisation.

He said the Party, Parliament, Senate, Government and people of Cambodia were grateful for the great sacrifice of the Vietnamese mothers and volunteer soldiers who saved the Cambodian people from the threat of genocide and helped them revive their country.

The two leaders affirmed they would continue to hold high-ranking meetings to create favourable conditions for expanding multifaceted co-operation between the two Parties and countries and boost the exchange between their peoples, especially those living in border provinces.

Samdec Chea Sim invited Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh to pay an official friendship visit to Cambodia. Manh thanked and accepted. — VNS

In Brief: THAI DELEGATION ARRIVES FOR TALKS

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by THET SAMBATH
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A delegation from Thailand's parliament met with a group of Cambodian lawmakers in a bid to de-escalate the ongoing standoff between soldiers on the border. "The meeting is to ease tension between the two sides' armed forces stationed in the border area and to strengthen friendship between the countries," said Koam Kosal, Cabinet chief to National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

Cambodia braces for land mine complaints

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Sebastian Strangio and Sam Rith
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Delegates at Geneva meeting to refute Thai claims that new mines laid

CAMBODIAN officials say they are ready to counter Thai accusations that the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces has mined the border with Thailand amid an ongoing dispute over contested territory.

The allegations were made Monday in Geneva as signatories to the Ottawa Treaty gathered for a five-day meeting, Cambodian media reports said.

The meeting follows a spate of mine-related incidents involving Thai border troops, which have claimed at least one soldier's life and severely wounded two others.

Khem Sophoan, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, said that Cambodian delegates were preparing to defend the country against any allegations that the border was being mined.

"We have prepared a PowerPoint presentation, based on legalities and maps ... in order to inform the member countries at the meeting, in case the Thais address the issue," he said.

Following an explosion that wounded two Thai soldiers on October 6, Thai Foreign Ministry officials said Cambodian troops were laying anti-personnel mines on Thai territory.

"What we find of grave concern is the discovery [that] these land mines were newly-planted ... this is a grave threat for the international community as a whole because ... we have banned them," said Virachai Plasai, Thailand's director general of treaties and legal affairs, in an October 16 statement.

Cambodian officials maintain that the land mines were likely left over from the civil war of the 1980s and 1990s, and that the Thai military is well aware of the dangers of patrolling along the border.

"The Thais moved their troops into the old minefields that have existed since the civil war, for the purpose of staging operations against Cambodia," said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan. "The Cambodian government does not have a policy of laying mines."

In turn, Phay Siphan blamed border tensions for delays to Cambodia's demining efforts. "If the Thais mass their troops and put a lot of pressure on the border, how can we do it?" he asked.

Rupert Leighton, country program director of the Mines Advisory Group, agreed that tensions were delaying mine removal.

"The military doesn't want indiscriminate explosions on the border, [with] people in a state of military readiness," he said. "We have to be very careful."

A latte and the news, please

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Regulars at one of Phnom Penh's many coffee establishments discuss the conflict surrounding Preah Vihear temple.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Eleanor Ainge Roy and Khoun Leakhana
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Coffee shops are abuzz with talk about the border conflict, as observers say the Kingdom's standoff with Thailand has sparked a wider interest in the headlines

DESPITE a relative peace falling over the front lines around Preah Vihear temple in recent weeks, the border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand continues to be played out verbally, in coffee shops and street corners throughout Phnom Penh, sparking a sustained rise in people's interest in the news, observers say.

Regardless of age gaps, diverse locations and differing levels of education, people are heading to the public spaces, crowding around TVs and radios, and engaging in news gathering and opinion exchange.

"Mostly, my customers talk in the morning while they are having their breakfast, meeting friends, reading the newspapers and listening to the radio at the same time," said Pich Vantha, who owns a popular coffee shop in central Phnom Penh. He says that since Preah Vihear temple was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site in early July, talk of border tensions in his shop has been ceaseless.

"Discussion about the temple is definitely the most popular topic in the shop. I think it is good that such topics are being discussed as some customers do not know what is happening and can come and get new information. It seems that my coffee shop is a news-collecting place."

Ros Kanitha, an 18-year-old university student, frequents Pich Vantha's cafe with her friends and said that talk of Preah Vihear usually comes down to politics.

"What we talk about most is exactly how the government will solve the border problem because it is very complex," she said.

" What we talk about most is exactly how the government will solve [the problem]. "

"Thailand is a difficult country to communicate with, and it will be interesting to see what decisions the Cambodian government makes and what methods they use in solving this problem and avoiding war."

Touch Sok Lang, Ros Kanitha's friend, said she has observed an improvement in the situation in recent times.

"I think the situation has improved now that the prime minister's son has raised funds to support the soldiers stationed at the temple," she said.

Their friend, Than Rina, 19, expressed her pride in her government, saying it's shown restraint in the conflict.

"I really support what the government has done. First, it keeps the peace and avoids death and, second, it avoids damage to our cultural heritage," she said. But she also said that she believed people only have a certain amount of patience.

"Our patience is limited. It will not last much longer because our patience with Thailand's aggressiveness is becoming exhausted, and strong action will eventually be needed."

At another coffee shop in a different part of town, two men also discussed the political conflict, but saw the problem more linked to economics than politics.

"I think Thai people know that the temple belongs to Cambodians, but they continue the conflict to save face internationally because they will look bad if they withdraw," Sos Sovanny said. "I also think Thailand is trying to prolong the conflict to disrupt Cambodia's growing economy, as many other countries are interested in our natural resources."

Hungry for news

Pen Samithy, editor-in-chief at the Khmer-language Rasmey Kampuchea newspaper, says that increased sales figures seem to indicate a boost in people's interest in news since the conflict.

"Before the conflict erupted we were printing about 15,000-20,000 copies per day, but immediately after it happened, this increased to between 25,000-28,000 per day. Now, the number printed per day is steady at around 20,000," he said.

Ton Yan, general director of Cambodia National Radio, said the numbers of listeners to his station has also increased.

"We know that people are interested in Preah Vihear because they call into our programs to ask and talk about the issue. Moreover, some people call to request songs for the soldiers that are stationed at the border."

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said he is pleased that Cambodian citizens are discussing the situation.

"I admire the high attention Cambodian people are giving to protecting their land.... The government has put a lot of effort into solving this problem, and it is good to hear our work is being evaluated by our citizens," he said.

Buy a helmet, save your life

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
Students at Bac Touk High School in Phnom Penh admire their new helmets on Tuesday.
The Phnom Penh Post

Written by CHHAY CHANNYDA
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The government and NGOs hope to reduce traffic deaths by selling students across Phnom Penh cheap skid lids ahead of the implementation of a helmet law

AHEAD of the implementation of a new helmet law in 2009, the government has kicked off a campaign in Phnom Penh high schools to encourage young people to wear crash helmets in a bid to reduce the number of head injuries suffered in road accidents.

The campaign, which began Tuesday, is run by the National Road Safety Committee at the Ministry of Public Works and sponsored by international NGOs, including Handicap International. It will provide subsidised helmets to students at four high schools across the capital.

According to Meas Chandy, a road safety program officer at Handicap International, Bac Touk High School was the first school targeted, with 500 helmets being sold to students in grades 10 through 12.

Each class monitor will be given a helmet for free, and regular students will be able to buy them for US$5, half of the market price, he said.

Low safety awareness

Mao Vichhika, a member of the government committee told the Post Tuesday that despite recent government campaigns, people's road safety awareness was still frighteningly low.

"Throughout the country, 97 percent of population do not wear helmets when driving motorbikes," he said.

He added that the program that hopes to wake up more drivers to the reality of road danger. "Eighty percent of fatalities in traffic accidents relate to injuries to the head. So we want to reduce this number," he said.

From Bac Touk High School, the campaign will travel to Yuk Kunthor, Santhor Mok and Wat Koh high schools.

Kheng Sovann Sak, a student at Bac Touk, said that she had been driving a motorcycle for three years but only began wearing a helmet in the last year when she found out road traffic casualties were increasing.

"It's good to keep our heads safe. I do not want to lose my memories," she said.

According to figures from the Cambodia Road Traffic Accident and Victim Information System (RTAVIS), from 2001 to 2007 the number of traffic accidents increased by 120 percent and the number of fatalities tripled. Most motorcycle casualties in Cambodia are a direct result of not wearing a helmet, the group said.

Trofimov trial starts

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Cheang Sokha
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The second trial of convicted Russian sex offender Alexander Trofimov began Tuesday at the Sihanoukville Municipal Court, but judgement has been delayed until the completion of another case
CRIME

The second trial of convicted Russian sex offender Alexander Trofimov began Tuesday at the Sihanoukville Municipal Court, but judgement has been delayed until the completion of another case against the former chairman of Koh Puos Investment Group who stands accused of sexually abusing 18 Cambodian girls, said Chan Chamroeun, a monitor with the Cambodian rights group Adhoc. Saing Vannak, Trofimov's lawyer, said, "Based on the evidence and witnesses, my client is innocent". If found guilty, Trofimov, who is serving seven years in prison for his first conviction, could face another 15 years behind bars if found guilty. His case is the largest-ever paedophila investigation in Cambodia.

Contents of draft NGO law being withheld by government: groups

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Civil society organisations express concern over what they say are efforts to deflect scrutiny of the proposed legislation that will regulate NGOs

CIVIL society groups have expressed fresh concerns over controversial legislation to regulate NGOs that is expected to be promulgated in early 2009, saying the government has shown little willingness to accept public input on the draft ahead of its submission to the National Assembly.

Ngy Chakrya, head of the monitoring section of the Cambodian rights group Adhoc, said that despite the planned parliamentary debate on the law, civil society groups that asked for a copy of the draft were told it was not yet finished.

"If the government does not allow us to see the draft before it is submitted to parliament, the government's decision is not transparent," he said.

"I can't say whether this hiding away is good or bad, but it is not the transparency one expects in a democratic country," Ngy Chakrya added.

"If they created this law without civil societies' attendance, it means that they want to shut out the voice of civil society."

Yang Kim Eng, president of the People's Centre for Development and Peace, said that the passing of the Local Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations Law, first drafted by the Ministry of Interior in 2006, could force some NGOs to fold.

"If this law is issued, I think it will impose restrictions on NGOs wanting to work freely," he said. "Some NGOs will not be able to help people because they will be trailed by the government."

If passed, the law will require the Kingdom's 2,000 or so NGOs and charities to undergo a complex registration process and report the sources of their funding to the government.

Misplaced priorities

But some civil society groups said the government's greatest priority should be the country's endemic corruption - not cracking down on NGOs.

"I don't have an opinion as to whether civil society should be involved with this law or not, but it is important to discourage this law from being created," said Koul Panha, executive director of Cambodian election monitor Comfrel.

"The government must not think of controlling NGOs, since NGOs have obligations to serve and help people," he added.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann also criticised the draft law, saying that in its rush to organise a law impeding civil society, the government was leaving large legislative gaps in other areas.

"The government should use its time better because there is no problem with NGOs - they have helped us a lot," he said.

"We should use the time to create anti-corruption laws and laws on judicial appointments," he added.

Nouth Sa An, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, did not comment on the proposed law in depth, but said that it had passed the drafting stage and was awaiting further reviews within the ministry.

"We have already drafted it, but it has not been rechecked," he said.

"Normally if we have already reviewed [a law] we will permit civil society to check it as well," he added.

Contents of draft NGO law being withheld by government: groups

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Meas Sokchea
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Civil society organisations express concern over what they say are efforts to deflect scrutiny of the proposed legislation that will regulate NGOs

CIVIL society groups have expressed fresh concerns over controversial legislation to regulate NGOs that is expected to be promulgated in early 2009, saying the government has shown little willingness to accept public input on the draft ahead of its submission to the National Assembly.

Ngy Chakrya, head of the monitoring section of the Cambodian rights group Adhoc, said that despite the planned parliamentary debate on the law, civil society groups that asked for a copy of the draft were told it was not yet finished.

"If the government does not allow us to see the draft before it is submitted to parliament, the government's decision is not transparent," he said.

"I can't say whether this hiding away is good or bad, but it is not the transparency one expects in a democratic country," Ngy Chakrya added.

"If they created this law without civil societies' attendance, it means that they want to shut out the voice of civil society."

Yang Kim Eng, president of the People's Centre for Development and Peace, said that the passing of the Local Associations and Non-Governmental Organisations Law, first drafted by the Ministry of Interior in 2006, could force some NGOs to fold.

"If this law is issued, I think it will impose restrictions on NGOs wanting to work freely," he said. "Some NGOs will not be able to help people because they will be trailed by the government."

If passed, the law will require the Kingdom's 2,000 or so NGOs and charities to undergo a complex registration process and report the sources of their funding to the government.

Misplaced priorities

But some civil society groups said the government's greatest priority should be the country's endemic corruption - not cracking down on NGOs.

"I don't have an opinion as to whether civil society should be involved with this law or not, but it is important to discourage this law from being created," said Koul Panha, executive director of Cambodian election monitor Comfrel.

"The government must not think of controlling NGOs, since NGOs have obligations to serve and help people," he added.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann also criticised the draft law, saying that in its rush to organise a law impeding civil society, the government was leaving large legislative gaps in other areas.

"The government should use its time better because there is no problem with NGOs - they have helped us a lot," he said.

"We should use the time to create anti-corruption laws and laws on judicial appointments," he added.

Nouth Sa An, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior, did not comment on the proposed law in depth, but said that it had passed the drafting stage and was awaiting further reviews within the ministry.

"We have already drafted it, but it has not been rechecked," he said.

"Normally if we have already reviewed [a law] we will permit civil society to check it as well," he added.

Local demining goes to the dogs

Photo by: CAMILLA BJERREKAERA
CMAC demining dog trains at the agency's centre in Kampong Chhnang province last week.

CMAC Dog deminers
-Funding US$800,000 to $1 million per year.
-Introduced In 1996
-Supported by Technical experts from the Swedish Armed Forces
-Began training With Cambodian handlers and dogs brought in from Sweden in 1998.
-Became operational The first two dog teams were operational by 2000
-Handover In 2002, the Swedish administration handed over the program to Cambodia but it is still supported by foreign dogs.
-Dogs 87 foreign dogs; 56 of them are already working in the provinces while the rest are in training.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Camilla Bjerrekaer and Sam Rith
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Kampong Chhnang

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre has begun breeding its own dogs, which deminers say is crucial in their efforts to remove the millions of mines that still litter the countryside

Six-year-old Gaja moves methodically along a white rope, her handler close by and her nose pinned to the ground. If she catches the scent of TNT, Gaja will sit down to mark the target.

The reward - a Kong, the red rubber toy that is her most cherished toy.

The young Malinois is training on this day, but soon her work will be deadly serious.

Gaja and handler Chan Saveth have cleared mines in Pailin and Battambang provinces since 2005.

"I have never had difficulties working with Gaja," said Chan Saveth, a senior dog handler with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC).

"My dog can clear mines and other objects [containing] TNT. Since she started working in 2005, she has found 23 mines and pieces of unexploded ordnance," he added.

Gaja and Chan Saveth have completed their training but return to the centre every six months for health examinations and additional training sessions.

The most capable dogs recruited by the centre are trained as mine detection dogs, while others are groomed to sniff out explosives and are used to locate more stable unexploded ordnance, or UXOs, in the provinces.

Why use mine dogs?

Dogs have proven much more efficient at establishing the boundaries of a minefield than manual methods using metal detectors.

"The metal detectors will detect all kinds of metal, and then the demining team will spend a lot of time to dig them out. But the dog only smells TNT," said Nguon Thy, a senior instructor at CMAC.

He added that the centre's dogs can cover a half-hectare of land in half a day, a mission that takes three days using mine-clearing machines.

The dogs - German shepherds and Belgian shepherds, called Malinois - are brought to Cambodia mostly from Sweden, Germany or Bosnia.

Some have had previous training and cost as much as US$4,000 each.

The centre recently acquired a new class of trainees: 10 one-year-old dogs with previous training, and 11 puppies from Bosnia.

New generation
Three lively Malinois puppies - Atrap, Ametta and Atar - represent the future of the training centre. The only survivors of a litter of 10 puppies born eight months ago, the trio are the first to be bred in Cambodia, and centre officials say they mark an important step towards self-sufficiency.

"In the future, we will breed our own dogs. [Now], it is very good for us because we have much experience and can ... train dogs ourselves," said Nguon Thy, who trained as a dog instructor in Sweden.

The centre will start breeding new dogs next year, and plans have been drawn up to expand operations and personnel.

"The dog and handler have to have a good social connection ... when working in the real minefields."

"This centre now is a bit cramped with 270 human trainees. We plan to upgrade in January next year with funding already supplied from Sweden and the United States," said Penh Savath, deputy director of the centre.

Staffers hope that breeding dogs in Cambodia will eliminate a major problem facing the program - the weather.

"The major obstacle with dogs imported from other countries is the hot weather. They are not used to the hot weather because they used to live in countries where temperatures are below zero," said Rin Vuth, team leader of the Short-leash Dog Team No 6.

"When the weather is hot, the dogs cannot work. We emphasise physical training so they do not get fat," he added.

Training includes an hour-long swim in a special pool to cool the dogs down and help them build muscle.

After basic training, dogs are matched with handlers recruited from the group of deminers already working at the centre and in the field.

It takes one to two years of training to become a handler.

Once paired up, the dog and handler train together and sleep together in the same room, with the dog's cage placed at the foot of the handler's bed.

"The dog and handler have to have a good social connection because it is important when working in the real minefields," Nguon Thy said.

"They have to trust each other completely."

For now, young Atrap, Ametta and Atar know little of the expectations and dangers they will face in the field.

They are learning to sniff out TNT hidden in hollow bricks, bonding with their trainers and waiting for their reward - play time with the cherished rubber toy.

Making hay while the sun shines

Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
A hay seller in Phnom Penh's Tuol Kork district shows off her product in Phnom Penh.

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Khouth Sophak Chakrya
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

As construction work swallows up vast swaths of Phnom Penh's green belt, an informal hay trade is taking off on the outskirts of the capital as farmers find it harder to feed their livestock

AS grassy areas across the capital are swallowed up by construction sites, the price of cut grass or hay for livestock is rising and the informal hay trade is becoming more lucrative.

"Grass for cows is very difficult to find because what used to be the main grass zone in Phnom Penh is now a construction site for new buildings and factories," said Soun Samol,46, a small-scale farmer from Russey Keo district.

According to Soun Samol, reduced availability of hay has forced many small-scale farmers, who would normally gather their own food for the animals, to rely on hay dealers.

Accordingly, the price of hay per bunch from a dealer - who line street corners on the outskirts of the city - has risen by around 100 riels per bunch since June.

For Soun Samol, this means his daily expenditure on hay to feed his six cows has gone up from 15,000 riels to 25,000 riels (US$3.75 to $6.25) per day.

More hay dealers

Ou Eth, 43, a hay seller, has been selling hay for more than 10 years. Her stall is set up near the corner of Road 271 and National Route 4. In the last year, the number of people selling hay on her corner has doubled to around 10 similar stalls plying their trade.

Hay dealers operate in a grey area. While not technically allowed to set up stalls on the roadside, by paying a series of fines - 5,000 riels a month for the Tuol Kok district police, 500 riels a day to the traffic police, and another 1,000 riels per day to the Trolok Bek village police - the dealers are able to continue.

"I can now make profits between US$20 and $25 per day, as compared to $10 and $15 last year. I can save the money for my daughters' school fees, which total about $1,000 per year," said Ou Eth.

"I will not change this business, even if some people laugh at me," she added.

Chhim Yan, 53, has been selling hay for six months. She said she decided to sell hay after realising that it would not be a difficult business to get into.

With only a small amount of money invested, she was able to set up her business and start making money right away.

"I can make a good profit with this business," Chhim Yan said.

The recent rise in hay prices has kept Chouk Phun, 36, a hay harvester, happy too.

"Five years ago when I was a porter and a construction worker, I earned between 8,000 riels and 15,000 riels per day," Chouk Phun said.

"But now I earn between 20,000 riels and 30,000 riels by cutting grass."

Violence against women on the rise, says government

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Mom Kunthear
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A majority of women say domestic abuse is acceptable in certain cases, even as incidents of gender-based violence rises, govt reports

ABUSE against women and girls is on the rise in Cambodia, according to a government report released Tuesday.

Nearly a quarter of all females in Cambodia have suffered from domestic violence, and, increasingly, young girls have become targets of sexual assault, according to the "Cambodian Gender Assessment Survey 2008".

The report, released by the Ministry of Women's Affairs, said the growing use of drugs and alcohol by men was leading malicious behaviour against female Cambodians - including gang rape as a "sport" - and called on law enforcement agencies to step up efforts to stop it.

" [WE HAVE] taken significant steps to reduce violence against women. "

The report also said that more than half of all women felt domestic violence was justified in some cases in what it called a mentality of passive acceptance that challenged efforts to end the problem.

It said education may be the biggest hurdle to changing the attitudes that allow attacks on women to go unreported.

Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi said in a press release that the problem should be seen alongside achievements made to curb it.

The government "has taken significant steps to reduce violence against women", she said, referring to laws on the prevention of domestic abuse as well as government benchmarks to reduce violence against women and human trafficking.

But, she added that "there is still much work to be done to ensure that these achievements result in meaningful and widespread improvements to the lives of women and children affected by violence".

Thun Saray, president of the Cambodian human rights group Adhoc, cautioned against simply looking at passed legislation as a barometer of progress, calling the domestic violence law poorly implemented and short of meeting its goals.

Speaking out

The government released its findings to coincide with the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, for which a local UN agency had collected 5,000 signatures of support from across the country.

The United Nation Women's Fund (Unifem) campaign said the Cambodian signatures, along with similar lists from around the world, would be presented yesterday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

While cases are rarely reported, violence against women is one of the most prevalent types of human rights abuse in Cambodia, according to Fleur Lanham, a communications officer for Unifem Cambodia.

"Each signature makes it clear that ending violence is a top priority and people around the world care enough to send this message," she told the Post.

Cleaning up

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Tracey Shelton
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

A monk from Phnom Penh's Wat Botum temple peers into the ruins of house number 12 within the temple complex that burned down on Monday morning. The fire, caused by an untended candle, was the second blaze to rip through the pagoda in the last three years. No one was hurt in the fire, but property - including several motorbikes - was destroyed.

Hybrid rice no panacea for Kingdom's food woes

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Rick Dubbeldam
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Dear Editor,

"Hybrid rice expected to triple crop yields" is the headline above a report highlighting a Malaysian-Cambodian joint venture (PPP, November 20, 2008). The jubilant tone of the report, however, seems out of sync with the reality.

The hope that hybrid rice breeds can triple yields is exactly that - a hope. Between what farmers really yield and the potential yield quoted in the article lies a huge yield gap (difference between what scientists can achieve and what farmers achieve).

Even though there may be some merit in testing potential techniques with unknown outcomes, using hybrid rice seeds has hardly proven to be a panacea for the Cambodian rural sector, as quoted by the partners in the joint venture.

In general, hybrid rice varieties have failed to attain high yields in climatically warmer tropical countries. In particular, the Malaysian company (RB Biotech) developing the hybrid variety in this project has been unable to present significantly higher yields in tests in Malaysia.

Also lost is the potential economic rewards to the farmers involved. Thai agro-biz giant Charoen Pokprand, promoting its hybrid rice in Central Thailand, quotes yield gains of 20-50 percent.

However, a counter-study actually revealed that farmers' income from hybrid rice was 60 percent lower. To attain the yields quoted, besides the use of hybrid seeds, a high amount of fertilizers and pesticides is required as well as having optimal control over water supply and drainage, the former of which is seriously lacking throughout Cambodia.

The article did not report details on the backers of this venture, "investors from Singapore and the Middle East." This should have rung alarm bells regarding the fact that the benefits (if attained) are much wider than only to farmers.

Hybrid rice production is a mechanism to introduce and benefit agro-business: Seeds are to be purchased each year, often from the same companies promoting the pesticides, while the trade of the produce is often controlled by the companies that provide the seeds because the rice varieties fail to be marketed in normal markets in Cambodia.

When publishing such jubilant reports, it would help if the Post could place them within the correct context. Development in the rural areas of Cambodia is not served by experimenting with untested and unfit technologies, which offer little real potential.

Rick Dubbeldam
Phnom Penh

In Brief: NEW CENTRE AT THE AHC IN SIEM REAP

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by SAM RITH
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Friends Without a Border announced the opening of their new centre at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, the goal of which is to increase awareness of the many programs sponsored by Friends while helping to promote green architecture and renewable energy in Cambodia, according to a press release. The centre was funded by Sterling Stamos Capital Management, a private investment firm. The CEO of the firm said in the press release, "We are proud to have helped fund such a remarkable facility.... [T]his project allows us to express our sincere gratitude for all that both Friends and Angkor Hospital have done."

In Brief: BAR ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT SWORN IN

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by CHRANN CHAMROEUN
Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The new president of the Cambodian Bar Association sworn into office Tuesday in a ceremony presided over by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An. Former president of two terms Ky Tech welcomed the appointment of Chiv Songhak, wishing him "success in bringing justice to all people".Chiv Songhak ran to victory largely unopposed on October 16 amid warnings that the bar's new leader would have to struggle against corruption. Judicial critics say lawyers are little more than middlemen between clients and graft-prone judges.

Thai riot policemen patrol inside Suvarnabhumi airpor, Bangkok in the early hours of Wednesday Nov. 26, 2008 after anti government protesters besieged

Anti-government protesters gather as they listen to speech of a leader during a protest outside Suvarnabhumi international airport Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. About 5,000 protesters block the entrance to the airport and seized the compound outside terminal building in an attempt to disrupt the arrival on Wednesday of Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat who was in Peru for the Apec summit.(AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong)

Thai riot policemen patrol inside Suvarnabhumi airpor, Bangkok in the early hours of Wednesday Nov. 26, 2008 after anti government protesters besieged the airport. Outbound flights at Suvarnabhumi International Airport were temporarily suspended at 9 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said, shortly before hundreds of demonstrators — some masked and armed with metal rods — broke through police lines and spilled into the passenger terminal. Airport manager Serirat Prasutanon said airport authorities had tried to negotiate with the protesters 'but to no avail.' 'For the safety for passengers, we have to stop flights out of the airport temporarily until the situation returns to normal,' he said in a statement, adding that incoming flights were still operating. The anti government protesters are demanding the resignation of Thailand's Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat.(AP Photo/Wason Wanichakorn)

A European tourist sleeps at Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok in the early hours of Wednesday Nov. 26, 2008 after anti government protesters besieged the airport. Outbound flights at Suvarnabhumi International Airport were temporarily suspended at 9 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said, shortly before hundreds of demonstrators — some masked and armed with metal rods — broke through police lines and spilled into the passenger terminal. Airport manager Serirat Prasutanon said airport authorities had tried to negotiate with the protesters 'but to no avail.' 'For the safety for passengers, we have to stop flights out of the airport temporarily until the situation returns to normal,' he said in a statement, adding that incoming flights were still operating. The anti government protesters are demanding the resignation of Thailand's Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat.(Wason Wanichakorn)

A tourist waits with his luggage due to flight cancellations at Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok in the early hours of Wednesday Nov. 26, 2008 after anti government protesters besieged the airport. Outbound flights at Suvarnabhumi International Airport were temporarily suspended at 9 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said, shortly before hundreds of demonstrators — some masked and armed with metal rods — broke through police lines and spilled into the passenger terminal. Airport manager Serirat Prasutanon said airport authorities had tried to negotiate with the protesters 'but to no avail.' 'For the safety for passengers, we have to stop flights out of the airport temporarily until the situation returns to normal,' he said in a statement, adding that incoming flights were still operating. The anti government protesters are demanding the resignation of Thailand's Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

An anti government protester sleeps inside Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok in the early hours of Wednesday Nov. 26, 2008 after anti government protesters besieged the airport. Outbound flights at Suvarnabhumi International Airport were temporarily suspended at 9 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said, shortly before hundreds of demonstrators — some masked and armed with metal rods — broke through police lines and spilled into the passenger terminal. Airport manager Serirat Prasutanon said airport authorities had tried to negotiate with the protesters 'but to no avail.' 'For the safety for passengers, we have to stop flights out of the airport temporarily until the situation returns to normal,' he said in a statement, adding that incoming flights were still operating. The anti government protesters are demanding the resignation of Thailand's Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat.(AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Lao, Cambodian leaders discuss bilateral issues

english.eastday.com

25/11/2008

Border demarcation, transport and electricity purchase agreements were on the agenda of a meeting between Lao Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Vientiane yesterday, the Lao newspaper Vientiane Times reported today.

The meeting took place when the Cambodian leader is in Laos for five days to attend the 5th Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam Development Triangle Summit, scheduled on Nov. 25-26.

The two prime ministers committed to continue demarcating their shared border and the possibility of opening more border checkpoints to facilitate cross-border trade between the two countries.

Bouasone suggested officials from both countries to talk about Laos using a seaport in Sihanoukville in Cambodia's Khampong Saom province. This was agreed to in 1995, but no action has been taken since then.

He also informed Hun Sen about a power grid which has been established in Khong district in Champassak province and reaches the Cambodian border. He said the two countries should discuss the possibility of Cambodia purchasing electricity from Laos.

Both prime ministers also witnessed the signing of an agreement on investment protection between Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Thongloun Sisoulith, and his Cambodian counterpart Hor Namhong.

Skyscraper complex project scales down in Phnom Penh

www.chinaview.cn
2008-11-26

Special Report: Global Financial Crisis

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- Blaming the global financial crisis, a major South Korean developer will dramatically reduce the scale of its proposed one billion U.S. dollars 7-skyscraper complex along the Tonle Bassac River to just three buildings at half the original price, national media said on Wednesday.

Ground was broken in June for the International Finance Complex(IFC) but construction on the site will be postponed more than one year, said Woo Mu-hion, chief of the business division in Cambodia for the project's developer and sole financer, the Seoul-based GS Construction and Engineering.

Construction was halted earlier this month, he was quoted by English-Khmer language newspaper the Cambodia Daily as saying.

"The market has changed. Due to such uncertainty, we think it is not clever to continue construction right now. We want to change our design, but we will maintain 52 storeys," he said.

The project will only include two 51-storey condominiums and a mixed-use 52-storey building, which will be the tallest in Cambodia, he said.

Construction on the complex could restart in early 2010, but first the company needs to redesign it and get government approval for the new plan, he added.

Editor: An

Amnesty International Condemns Eviction of Citizens by Military Force - Tuesday, 25.11.2008

Posted on 26 November 2008
The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 588

“Amnesty International, based in London, England, issued a statement late last week condemning the Cambodian authorities who use soldiers to violently evicted around 300 families in Chhuk, Kampot.

“According to the statement of Amnesty International, issued late last week, the use of armed forces to violently evict citizens from their houses is a measure that is not compatible with Cambodia as a democracy, implementing the rule of law. The eviction of citizens in Anlong Krom village, Ta Kaen commune, Chhuk district, Kampot, by the military Brigade 31, by police, and by forestry administrators, which severely injured three citizens and destroyed nearly 300 houses, shows to Amnesty International that the activities of the Cambodian authorities are not respecting human rights and a policy of law as the basis, which upholds the protection of human rights and the provision of a safe habitat.

“Amnesty International also encourages all relevant authorities to provide an appropriate habitat, food, clean water, and medicines to those loosing their habitats, and to provide compensation to evicted citizens without any condition.

“A researcher of Amnesty International in Cambodia, Ms. Brittis Edman, pointed out that the policy used by the Kampot authorities to evict citizens from their houses, where they had been living for a long time, was not based on documents, as required by law, as a basis depending on the decision by a court. Again, Amnesty International called on the Cambodian authorities to stop evicting citizens, and the authorities must announce that citizens to be relocated will be temporarily assigned a place, until there are alternative solutions according to the law.

“Although there was severe criticism and condemnation by human rights organizations inside and outside of Cambodia, armed forces, police, and environmental officials continued to cruelly use force and gun without mercy in Anlong Krom. Relevant officials explained that they evict citizens to remove their houses from their land where they have lived since several years ago, because they live on forest land of the state which is prohibited by law.

“In the meantime, the Khmer Census League and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights – LICADHO – asked the relevant authorities to stop the violent eviction on citizens by the Brigade 31 in Kampot, where houses were burnt and three people suffered serious injuries, when they were hit. Officials of LICADHO said that this was not the first time that soldiers of the Brigade 31 were ordered against citizens in that region. Since early of the year, more soldiers of Brigade 31 are assigned to control the land around the villages of Anlong Krom and Chey Sena. Previously, there were clashes between soldiers and villagers, where a shot was fired close to the head of a woman, and another woman was bitten; both of them hold a plot of land.

“The director of LICADHO, Ms. Pong Chiv Kek, also known as Dr. Kek Galabru, said that the situation there becomes worse and worse, and it must be brought under control before more citizens are wounded or loose their lives. Soldiers armed with AK 47 rifles are used against civilians in many circumstance.

“LICADHO asks for an immediate halt of the evictions, while the checking land complaints of the families living there still continue.

“It should be noted that the grab of land of weak citizens by some rich and powerful people, and by dishonest oknhas, happens almost in all provinces and cities around the country, while the government led by strongman Hun Sen has not taken any action against these wicked groups that grab citizens’ land.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3622, 25.11.2008
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Forest to be proposed for heritage listing

Bangkok Post
Wednesday November 26, 2008

Thailand's World Heritage Committee plans to nominate the listing of a border forest complex in the Northeast which includes an area in Si Sa Ket province near Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple. Committee chairman Pongpol Adireksan said the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, and the Fine Arts Department were studying the plan.

The forest complex includes seven areas in national parks and sanctuary sites, covering 3,000 square kilometres in Surin and Ubon Ratchathani provinces, in addition to Si Sa Ket.

Thailand is already nominated two other sites _ Phuphrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani, Pimai temple complex in Nakhon Ratchasima and Phanom Rung and Muang Tam in Buri Ram.

Warning to defer travel to Thailand

TV1 New Zealand

Nov 26, 2008

New Zealanders are being advised to defer their travel to Thailand if possible.

Large scale political demonstrations have descended into violence, resulting in a number of injuries and fatalities.
Suvarnabhumi International Airport has been closed to outbound flights following the protest action.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is advising travellers stranded at the airport to avoid any protest activity, stay in the company of fellow tourists, remain close to relevant information counters and follow any instru
ctions issued by local authorities.

They are also being urged to avoid all political rallies, protests and demonstrations due to the risk of violence.

At least four New Zealanders are reported to be stuck at Bangkok Airport.
Those in New Zealand who are due to go to Thailand, are being urged to put their trip back if possible.

Deputy PM lauds links with Cambodian news agency

Nhan Dan
November 25, 2008

Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung has praised the close co-operation between the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) and its Cambodian counterpart, the AKP, as an effective tool in boosting relations between the two countries.

He made this statement during a meeting with Deputy General Director Chhin Yuon of AKP in Hanoi on November 24 in the presence of the VNA’s Executive Deputy General Director Tran Mai Huong.

Hung said that the exchange of information and images between the two news agencies had contributed to an increase in mutual understanding between the two peoples and had successfully promoted the traditional friendship and comprehensive co-operation between the two countries.

He emphasised the need to further develop links in personnel training through the exchange of visits, jointly-organised training courses and the provision of technical assistance whenever Cambodia requires help in such matters.

Vietnam will do its utmost to help Cambodia, while the VNA will assist the AKP in its development in order to ensure reporting of a high standard covering all issues of national and regional importance, Hung pledged.

AKP’s Deputy General Director Yuon expressed thanks to Deputy PM Hung and the VNA for their co-operation in personnel training and assistance with technical transfer procedures.

Earlier that day, Executive Deputy General Director Huong led a senior VNA delegation to hold talks with an AKP delegation led by Deputy General Director Yuon.

Both host and guest discussed a range of measures to boost the mutual exchange and use of news and pictures as well as steps to deploy a VNA-funded technical project to assist the AKP and to develop co-operation in personnel training and the exchange of experiences between the two news organisations. (VNA)

City Hall set to relocate to Camko mega-project site outside PPenh

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by NGUON SOVAN
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Critics of the move say they are concerned over the fate of the historic building that currently houses the municipal government

IN a bid to alleviate chronic overcrowding at its current offices, City Hall will be relocated outside the capital to the Camko City mega-project site, Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong told the Post.

"Camko City has provided us with a free gift of the premises for City Hall in Camko City," Pa Socheatvong said, adding that he did not know when the move would be made.

"The current location of City Hall is small and cannot meet the expanded administrative needs of the city," Pa Socheatvong said. "We prefer the location we have been offered but we are asking for the approval of the government first."

City Hall is currently located in an orderly complex on Monivong Boulevard dominated by a historic colonial building.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said he was concerned that the city would sell the complex once the move had been made, adding that the Camko location lacked infrastructure and was plagued by flooding and bad traffic.

"We thank Camko City for offering the City Hall building free of charge, but we appeal to City Hall not to sell the current location because the building is a heritage site," Son Chhay said.

Sung Bonna, president of Bonna Realty Group, said that the land of the current City Hall is worth about US$3,000 to $4,000 per square metre.

Kheng Ser, assistant to DK Kim, vice president of the Camko City project, said that the company will also build an administrative building for the municipal government.

"The construction of City Hall in the Camko site will start some time next year. We are now negotiating with the city to make sure what type of building style they want," Kheng Ser said.

Camko City is a $2 billion development that includes residential areas, shopping malls, hospitals, business facilities, sports facilities and schools.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHUN SOPHAL

Passport fees for workers to drop: PM

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Hor Hab
Tuesday, 25 November 2008

THE Cambodian government will spend around US$500,000 subsidising passport taxes for legal workers and trainees seeking employment overseas for a year.

"[The] government will provide $100 for each worker or trainee's passport, out of total expenses of $124, while the remaining $20 for the electronic chip and $4 for the photograph is the company and the applicant's responsibility," said Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday.

The prime minister said the government had issued a sub-decree dated Thursday to provide cheaper passports to Cambodians wishing to legally work or train abroad.

"Applicants must get the passport in 20 working days from the application date," he added.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon told the Post that the program is part of the government's job-creation efforts.

"It is part of social security aid, so we are providing more funds to this sector," Keat Chhon said.

He added: "If we only spend $200,000 on these passports, it is comparable to [the money spent] building a small dam.

"When workers have the opportunity to work overseas, it will benefit their families, country and the workers themselves," said Keat Chhon.

Oum Mean, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Labour, said Sunday overseas workers benefit the country through remittances.

"We send around 5,000 workers a year to Korea, Malaysia, Thailand," he said. More than 70,000 Cambodians work abroad, according to Ministry of Labour figures.

Vietnam, Cambodia looking to the future


The Cambodian leader is making an official visit to Vietnam from Nov. 25-27.

26/11/2008

VietNamNet Bridge – Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh and his Cambodian guest Samdech Chea Sim, President of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the Senate President, held talks in Hanoi on Nov. 25 to discuss measures to strengthen and develop the comprehensive cooperation between the two Parties and States.

During the talks, Party leader Manh appreciated the visit by his Cambodian counterpart, calling it a political event of great significance, contributing to strengthening and developing the traditional friendship and neighbourly cooperation that exists between the two countries.

He congratulated the Cambodian people on their outstanding achievements in a number of fields during recent years, particularly the successful organisation of the fourth national assembly elections.

He wished the Cambodian people further successes in building Cambodia into a peaceful, independent, democratic, progressive and prosperous nation, contributing to the peace, stability, cooperation and development of the Southeast Asian region and the world.

The Party leader expressed his deep gratitude for the sentiments, support and assistance the Cambodian Party and people have granted to Vietnam.

He referred to the close amity between the two Parties and States as an invaluable quality, built on a firm foundation and fostered throughout a series of challenges during their long-term struggle for national liberation and construction.

Party General Secretary Manh stressed the Vietnamese Party and State’s consistent policy to respect and do their utmost to maintain and enhance the traditional friendship and long-term comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia , adding that it serves as an orientation for relations between the two Parties and States, not just for current times, but also for future generations.

CPP President Chea Sim expressed his admiration at and congratulations on the important achievements the Vietnamese people have recorded during their process of national renewal.

He hoped his neighbours would go on to record further achievements in the cause of industrialisation and modernisation to help transform Vietnam into a country of prosperity, with a democratic and civilised society, contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

He also expressed his thanks to the Vietnamese Party, State and people for their support and assistance to the Cambodian people in the latter’s struggle for national liberation, helping them to put an end to the genocide and re-construct their country.

Samdech Chea Sim said that developing the relationship with Vietnam is one of the top priorities for his country’s foreign policy and pledged to contribute to developing the traditional rapport between the two peoples.

General Secretary Manh and President Chea Sim briefed each other on the situation within their own Parties and countries, exchanged their views on enhancing bilateral relations, and discussed a number of international and regional issues of common concern.

The two leaders expressed their satisfaction over the fine development of bilateral relations, and affirmed their determination to deepen and raise this relationship to new heights.

Continuing in this spirit, the two sides stated their common wishes to further high-level contacts in order to encourage and facilitate the expansion of multi-faceted cooperation between the two Parties and States, and to increase exchanges between the two peoples, particularly between the younger generations and localities situated along their common border.

The leaders valued the results achieved at the 10th session of the Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Committee for Economic, Scientific-Technical Cooperation, and the signing of a number of agreements during the recent visit to Vietnam by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

They then expressed their wishes that the two countries would further coordinate in the implementation of the signed agreements in order to give impetus to their bilateral relations.

(Source: VNA)

Thai protests turn violent, five hurt

Thai anti-government demonstrators wave flags as they arrive to join a protest in Bangkok. Rampaging anti-government protesters have forced the closure of Thailand's main international airport as a second day of demonstrations in Bangkok descended into violence with 11 injured in clashes.(AFP/Christophe Archambault)

TV grab from TPBS shows a Thai protestor firing a gun on pro-government activists outside a disused air terminal in Bangkok. Rampaging anti-government protesters forced the closure of Thailand's main international airport Tuesday as a second day of demonstrations in Bangkok descended into violence with 11 injured in clashes.(AFP/TPBS)

Police officers stand guard as anti-government protesters blocked the main road at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport November 25, 2008.REUTERS/Kerek Wongsa

Anti-government protesters block the entrance to Suvarnabhumi international airport Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. The protesters block the airport in an attempt to disrupt Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat who supposed to return on Wednesday from an APEC summit in Peru.(AP Photo)

Officials in Banteay Meanchey Province raising money to help soldiers stationed in Preah Vihear

Cambodian troops based in Preah Vihear.

By Sophal Mony
Radio Free Asia
24th November, 2008

Translated from Khmer by Khmerization

Cambodian officials said that provincial authority of Banteay Meanchey province are collecting money to help buy food for the soldiers stationing in the Preah Vihear areas.

Mr. Ouk Ratanak, director of cabinet of Banteay Meanchey province, said that on the morning of Monday 24th November, village, commune and district officials were collecting money, material and food supplies from donors to give to the soldiers stationing in Preah Vihear. The collections started from last week.

Mr. Ouk Ratanak said: “We don’t bring the money to them. We will only bring material and food supplies to them. Our soldiers need more material and food supplies such as blankets to protect them from cold weather. We try to avoid giving them large sum of money because we are afraid that those money will not reach the ordinary soldiers.”

Governor of Puok District, Mr. Phan Saroeun, said that people in his district are enthusiastic about helping the soldiers who are protecting our territories. He said: “After we issued our (fundraising) plan, they support our plan 100%, they are very happy to help and they did help in the (fundraising) activities, they are happy to implement our plan and they are willing to contribute whatever they can.”

One Puok District councillor, Mr. Da Chhean, said that he has collected the money from some people, but some other people are still busy harvesting their rice. He said: “I am a councillor for Puok District and I have collected some money from some people. Some other people we have not collected from them yet because we cannot see them as they are busy harvesting their crops.”

Officials from Banteay Meanchey province said that all the material and food supplies donated by the people will be transported to the soldiers in Preah Vihear on 26th-27th of November.

Material and food supplies collected were: noodles, canned fish, dried fish, fish paste (prahok), fish sauce, soya sauce, clothes, blankets, flu medicines and medicines for malaria.

However, provincial officials cannot confirm the total amounts they have collected from the people, as the collection activities are still continuing.

Gen. Srey Doek, commander of Intervention Force of Division 12 based in Preah Vihear, said that the soldiers welcome all donations. He said: “We welcome and we accept all sorts of donations. These are voluntary contributions from the people which the soldiers appreciate very much.”

Please note that, this is the second time that the officials of Banteay Meanchey has organised the fundraising to help the soldiers in Preah Vihear. The first time they raised more than 100 million riels ($US25,000) for the soldiers based at Preah Vihear temple and Ta Moan temple in Oddor Meanchey province.

Cambodia, VN organisation leaders discuss co-operation

25-11-2008

HA NOI — Min Khin, deputy president of Cambodia’s largest social organisation, met his Vietnamese counterpart Vu Trong Kim, leader of the Viet Nam Fatherland Front (VFF), in Ha Noi on Sunday.

At the meeting Khin, who doubles as secretary general of the National Council of the Kampuchean United Front for National Construction and Defence (KUFNCD), told Kim of his interest in VFF’s experience in promoting national unity and broadening international co-operation.

Kim said communication between the two organisations had contributed to the positive relationship between the two countries.

Khin, in return, said he was keen on learning from the VFF’s knowledge about campaigning for positive public response to VFF-launched movements, such as "Days for the Poor", as well as promoting international exchange. — VNS