Saturday, 13 June 2009

Danish founded report: Traditional attitudes and alcohol lead to abuse in Cambodia


By Charlotte Lund Dideriksen

A new Danish-founded report states that the lack of will on the part of authorities to address the problem. In addition to alcohol abuse, cultural norms, traditional attitudes and widespread gender-based discrimination are hindering efforts to prevent domestic violence, the report, which is part of an EU-backed project to reduce violence against women, claims. It also suggests that these factors contribute to repeat attacks by discouraging victims from leaving abusive relationships.

"As we carried out research, we found that a large majority of all target groups ... believe that alcohol is the main contributing factor to domestic violence," said Jo-Ann Lim, a research consultant who worked on the report.

The findings suggest that many Cambodians recognise that domestic violence can take several forms - such as verbal, physical or sexual abuse. However, skills or knowledge within communities about how to resolve violent situations and prevent further violence was found to be lacking.

"The survivors of domestic violence lack understanding about their rights," Lim said.

The report, titled "Out of court resolutions of violence against women: practices and issues in Cambodia", is based on data from more than 300 interviews conducted in five different communities in Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham province. The project is co-funded by the European Union and the Danish International Development Agency, with help from local rights groups, including Adhoc and the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre.

Alcatel-Lucent Cambodia marks International Days of Caring

TT Bureau

13 Jun 2009

Alcatel-Lucent has earmarked a day to observe Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as a part of its ‘International Days of Caring’ (IDOC) project, starting from May 4 - June 30, 2009.

Total of 150 employees, including senior leaders in Asia Pacific, joined hands with Tabitha Cambodia, a non-profit organization, working for poor Cambodians, to help build 45 houses for poor Cambodian families.

“We chose Tabitha because they gave us an opportunity to get involved and make a difference through the work of our own hands,” said Sean Dolan, President, Alcatel-Lucent Asia Pacific.

Commenting on the initiative, Mr. Dolan added, “At Alcatel-Lucent Corporate Social Responsibility means more than acting ethically, it also means providing opportunities for our employees to become involved and demonstrate day after day, the company’s concern for society.”

Plane hitch delays Thai PM's return from Cambodia

AP - Saturday, June 13

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The return of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from a one-day official trip to Cambodia was delayed Friday by problems with his plane.

The chief of police at Phnom Penh's international airport, Chay Bunna, said late Friday night that that a new plane was being sent from Thailand to pick up the prime minister and his delegation, after their 9:20 p.m. departure was delayed.

"The technicians at the airport said that his plane has a very minor technical problem, so we insisted that he delay his flight schedule," said Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong.

Chay Bunna identified the aircraft, on which repairs were being made, as an Embraer 145. He said that Abhisit's party first waited at the airport for the aircraft to be fixed, but drove back to the city to wait further after it was decided to fly in a replacement plane.

It was not immediately known when the new flight would depart.

Abhisit met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Norodom Sihamoni during his visit, his first to the neighboring country since he became prime minister in December. He also held talks with Thai businessmen and visited a hospital.

Thailand, Cambodia vow no more border clashes

Two heads are better than one: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (L) listening during the handover ceremony of seven Cambodian artefacts which were stolen by smugglers over the past decades, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh yesterday. Abhisit is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit to discuss border issues. Picture: Reuters
The Brunei times

PHNOM PENH

Saturday, June 13, 2009

THAI leaders handed over smuggled ancient artefacts to Cambodia yesterday in an effort to soothe relations between the two neighbours who are locked in a military standoff at their disputed border.

The Thai delegation which included Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva returned seven heads from 12th and 13th century Angkorian statues looted from the kingdom over the past decade.

"I think that the handover of artefacts today shows the successful cooperation and good relationship of our two countries," Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said in a ceremony at Cambodia's ministry of foreign affairs.

Relations between the two countries have been strained since July last year when they became mired in a border standoff over disputed land near an ancient Khmer temple in which seven Thai and Cambodian troops have been killed.

Sporadic fighting began when Thailand was angered after the 11th-century Preah Vihear cliff-top ruins were granted United Nations World Heritage status.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen held talks with Abhisit yesterday in which he asked for help preserving his country's heritage, said a government spokesman.

"During the meeting Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked Abhisit and urged him to cooperate to fight against the smuggling of artefacts and return remaining artefacts to Cambodia," spokesman Eang Sophalleth said.

Ownership of the temple was awarded to Cambodia in 1962 but the two countries are in dispute over five square kilometres of land around it that has yet to be officially demarcated.

Both Cambodia and Thailand yesterday pledged to stop any further armed clash at the border area near the Preah Vihear temple, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

The agreement was reached at the meeting of Hun Sen and Abhisit.

"Both Prime Ministers agreed to prevent any armed clash at the areas near the Preah Vihear temple and will prevent the expansion of disputes to any places along the border," Ieng Sophalet, assistant to Premier Hun Sen told reporters after the talks between the two leaders.

Both sides also agreed to solve the border disputes with the existing mechanisms and the border deal has depended on the MOU ( memorandum of understanding) 2000, he said, adding that "the situation of the areas near Preah Vihear now is calm".

"Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed to Thai and Cambodian military commanders and provincial governors along the border between the countries to meet regularly to strengthen the close ties in contribution to border deal and security matters," Ieng Sophalet said.

He added the Cambodian side wanted to see the situation at areas near the Preah Vihear temple and other places return to prior to July 2008. Agencies

PM Abhisit stresses stronger ties with Cambodia

http://enews.mcot.net/

MCOT English News

PHNOM PENH, June 13 (TNA) - Thailand will improve its strained relations with neighbouring Cambodia, troubled by an ongoing border problem, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva affirmed Saturday .

Mr. Abhisit left Phnom Penh and returned home Saturday morning after being delayed by aircraft problems.

On Friday the prime minister told about 100 persons from the Thai community, meeting at the embassy, that his government had tried to resolve long-standing border issues which resulted in armed clashes.

Originally, Mr. Abhisit was to leave the Cambodian capital Friday night but his plane had technical difficulties, and another plane was sent to bring the Thai delegation to Bangkok early Saturday.

Mr. Abhisit told his Thai audience that he and his Cambodian counterpart Prime Minister Hun Sen had agreed that despite having several cooperation agreements between the two countries, their actual implementation had been obstructed by clashes at the border.

“Armed clashes must be avoided,” Mr. Abhisit asserted. “No one would benefit from such conflict.”

Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya said the ministry would coordinate a Thai television station in producing television dramas with Thai and Cambodian actors and actresses together.

The TV dramas could “strengthen bilateral relations and create a better understanding between peoples of the two countries,” said Mr. Kasit.

During the visit Mr. Abhisit said he had called on Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin and all agreed that visits to each other’s country by members of parliament must be made frequently to strengthen relations between lawmakers.

Invited by Mr. Hun Sen, it was Mr. Abhisit’s first official visit to Cambodia since becoming prime minister in December. (TNA)

Thailand PM leaves Cambodia after plane problems


Saturday, June 13, 2009

PHNOM PENH (AP): Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva left Cambodia early Saturday after being delayed by problems with his aircraft, Cambodian police said.

A replacement plane was flown from Bangkok to collect Abhisit and his delegation, said Chay Bunna, chief of police at Phnom Penh's international airport.

The Embraer 145 jet that was supposed to have flown the Thai leader home late Friday had a minor problem with one of its wings, Chay Bunna said.

The Thai delegation had waited at the airport for the aircraft to be fixed, but eventually decided to return to the Cambodian capital for the night and left on a replacement aircraft early Saturday, he said.

Abhisit met Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Norodom Sihamoni, held talks with Thai businessmen and visited a hospital during his one day visit.

It was Abhisit's first visit to the neighboring country since becoming prime minister in December.

Luxury resort to ensure Cambodia remains unspoiled

Two bedroom villa for sale in Song Saa Resort

Friday, 12 June 2009

The luxury Song Saa Island Resort in Cambodia launched this week by Australian company Brocon Group will not only be luxurious, but also a protector to marine life.

The resort, scheduled to be completed in 2010, is located on the Koh Rong Archipelago on the twin islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong and is dedicated to protecting marine life.

The 1,000,000 square metres surrounding the resort is Cambodia’s first fully policed and privately funded marine protected area around the islands’ reefs.

It protects critically endangered sea horses, turtles, stingrays, anemones, giant clams, countless reef fish and an array of other marine species.

A full-time marine biologist has also been employed by the resort to monitor the health of the reefs and help teach local communities sustainable fishing methods.

Currently, Brocon Group has five luxury two-bedroom villas for sale to investors.

“Song Saa will really be at the top end of the market for luxury resorts in Cambodia and will offer the unique experience of an exclusive private island hideaway” said Rory Hunter, Song Saa founder and chairman.

Villas are built with environmentally sustainable materials with a focus on low emissions and waste management systems. They also each contain a water recycling system.

“The knowledge that the waters around the island are protected from fishing adds to the magic of this unique location”

“Guests and villa owners have their own thriving reef to explore literally right on their doorstep,”

He added that the new resort could learn from Thailand’s mistakes and ensure that Cambodia’s relatively untouched island never lose its appeal through irresponsible development.

“Song Saa is a tremendous opportunity to secure a piece of this unspoiled paradise on a 99- year lease while contributing meaningfully to its protection
.”

Cambodia reborn as tourist destination


In Cambodia, where a decade-long tourism boom has been driven almost entirely by safe and easy access to the ancient Angkor Wat temples, the rebirth of a seaside resort town is helping lure visitors to the country’s long-neglected coastline.

The sleepy town of Kep on the southeast coast has been earmarked as Cambodia’s first boutique tourism destination, but for now it bears few of the characteristics of the countless backpacker Meccas and resorts scattered throughout Southeast Asia.

Tourist numbers have surged in recent years, but this town of just a few thousand people has maintained its unhurried, pastoral character. Unlike Sihanoukville, a lively huddle of guesthouses, bars and nightclubs on the central coast, Kep seems to be taking a relaxed path towards developing its tourism sector.

But with its lush rainforests, crystalline waters and bountiful seafood, Kep is finding that the tourists don’t need much encouragement. A three-hour drive from the capital Phnom Penh, Kep has become a favorite weekend retreat for expatriates and Cambodia’s burgeoning middle class.

The town is only 20 minutes from a recently opened Vietnamese border crossing, making it a perfect place to say hello or goodbye to Cambodia.

"They told us to expect fewer tourists in Cambodia this year," a local taxi driver says. "But more and more come here every week, to see the mountains and the caves, and of course, to eat."

Kep’s famous crabs were among the many treasures that helped the town become a playground for Cambodia’s French rulers in the early 20th century. Along with former king and independence leader Norodom Sihanouk, the French elite built dozens of mansions in the hills along the coastline and sailed their yachts in the protected waters in the Gulf of Thailand.

But like many regions in Cambodia, Kep was ravaged by the United States’ secret bombing campaign during the Indochinese War, and was forcibly evacuated during the Khmer Rouge’s 1975-1979 rule. The ultra-communist group considered the town a symbol of bourgeois hedonism and colonial oppression, and destroyed most of its infrastructure.

Kep lay dormant for more than a decade, and the scars of its troubled past are still visible among the poor local population and neglected amenities. The seaside villas left standing have become overgrown with vines and tree trunks, and now only the smallest of fishing boats dock in the once-bustling port.

But Kep’s striking beauty has not paled despite years of conflict, neglect and civil war. Guesthouses and hotels catering to all budgets have been built along the coast, including the exclusive Knai Banh Chatt hotel, which boasts views of the imposing Bokor Mountain from its infinity pool.

While the town has no beach and is separated from the sea by a strip of coarse red stones, a cheap 30 minute boat ride to Koh Thonsay — known as Rabbit Island — reveals one of Cambodia’s pristine beaches. Budget accommodation is compulsory, as the island’s only available beds are housed in palm-wood bungalows, which can be rented for between $7 and $10 per night.

The bungalows’ power generators are switched off at 10 p.m., and as the fluorescent lights along the beach fade, a spectacular night sky is revealed.

But Kep’s greatest attraction may well be the variety of seafood on offer in the restaurants and stalls downtown. Crabs cooked with local pepper sell for between $3 and $10, and grilled fish on skewers cost less than $5. For the more adventurous, or less eco-conscious, grilled seahorse is also available.

Driving past the various building sites, road workers and bulldozers on the road out of town, one gets the impression that the place is on the verge of a tourism storm. So as travellers look for cheaper tropical escapes in South-East Asia, now might be the time to experience Kep and beat the rush.

A/H1N1 flu situation closely monitored in Asia as WHO raises alert level

www.chinaview.cn

2009-06-13

HONG KONG, June 12 (Xinhua) -- As the World Health Organization (WHO) upgraded its A/H1N1 flu alert level, Asian countries and regions continued to monitor their own flu situations closely Friday.

Australia decided not to upgrade its A/H1N1 flu alert despite the WHO declared the virus as a "pandemic", the highest of its six levels.

Australian Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said on Friday that health officials decided to remain on the "contain" level except for Victoria, which is at "modified sustain".

"We believe we can continue with our targeted effort to treat those most at risk in Victoria and to continue to try and delay the community spread in those jurisdictions where there are not large numbers of cases," Roxon said.

That will continue to be reassessed on a daily basis, she said.

There were 1,336 cases of A/H1N1 flu in Australia as of Friday afternoon.

Seven new confirmed cases of influenza A/H1N1 were recorded in New Zealand on Friday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 34.

There were also 25 probable cases of influenza A/H1N1 in New Zealand, up from 10 on Thursday, the Health Ministry said. But New Zealand would not change its response to WHO's move either.

"We are running a very tight containment strategy and it's working well," the ministry said.

Thailand on Friday reported another 43 case of Influenza A/H1N1,bringing the total number to 89, official said.

Of the 43, 37 received treatment from private hospitals in Bangkok, one from southern provinces of Songkhla and Phuket each and three from Pattaya, the Nation news website on Friday night quoted Dr Prat Bunyawongwirote, Public Health Ministry Permanent Secretary as saying.

On May 12, the Public Health Ministry announced the country's first two confirmed A/H1N1 flu cases and by June 11, the country has totally 46 confirmed A/H1N1 flu patients.

But the Thai education minister said it is still not necessary to order all schools in the capital Bangkok to suspend classes.

In a related development, Public Health Minister Witthaya Kaewparadai said the number of the A/H1N1 flu patients is expected to rise further, while currently Thailand is also on the normal human flu season.

However, Thai people should not be panic and should follow preventive steps suggested by the Ministry, said Witthaya.

Indonesia has made full preparations to face the A/H1N1 flu pandemic, an Indonesian senior official said here on Friday.

"WHO officials have made contacts with the health minister regarding this issue. We have prepared three million Tamiflu tablets and set body heat detectors in airports to face A/H1N1 pandemic situation. The detailed steps will be drafted by the related institutions in the country," Indonesian Foreign Affairs spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah told a press conference in the foreign affairs ministry.

With 80 people dead from avian flu, Indonesia was regarded to have the highest fatality number in the world.

Vietnam's Ministry of Health said that the country confirmed two more influenza A/H1N1 cases, bringing the total number of flu patients to 25.

Cambodia is still safe from the epidemic of A/H1N1 flu disease. But with the virus continuing to spread internationally, the Cambodian government are still vigilant and that precaution measures have been and being taken at all points of entries into Cambodia, especially, at the international airports such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Singapore said on Friday night that the A/H1N1 flu alert level in the city state will remain at yellow, but the shift to mitigation measures may be inevitable.

In a statement issued on Friday night, Singapore's health ministry said that in calibrating its Disease Outbreak Response System Alert (DORSCON) level to Yellow on May 11, this year, Singapore has already taken into account the above development.

Pointing out that with a level 6 pandemic, the shift to mitigation measures may be inevitable, the ministry said that it may be a matter of time that Singapore has community spread.

Singapore reported 6 new flu cases Friday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 27.

In China's Hong Kong, eight people were tested positive for theA/H1N1 influenza virus in Hong Kong on Friday, bringing the number of confirmed cases of the disease in the city to 71.

On the WHO's move to escalating the pandemic alert, health officials said Hong Kong has already prepared for the development, adding the city's strategy is moving from containment to mitigation phase.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by University of Hong Kong (HKU) Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine showed that the initial transmission of A/H1N1 flu virus to humans may take place in early2009, months before the outbreak was detected.

The flu virus has already affected 74 countries worldwide and the number of reported A/H1N1 infection has reached to 28,774,including 144 deaths, according to WHO.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Cambodia and Thailand agree to avoid armed clash


June 13, 2009

PHNOM PENH - Cambodian and Thai Prime Ministers Friday agreed to prevent armed clash from reoccurring along the border between the two South East Asian countries, said Cambodian government officials.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen asked Abhisit to order Thai army to not provoke any armed clash and to solve the border issues through peaceful mean,” Ieng Sophalet, assistant of Prime Minister Hun Sen told journalists after a meeting between Hun Sen and Abhisit Vajjejiva at the Cambodian ministry of foreign affairs during his visit in Cambodia.

He added that Abhisit agreed with Prime Minister Hun Sen to prevent any armed clash from taking place again at the border and to solve the remaining border issues, based on the existing mechanism.

This was the first time that Abhisit visited Cambodia since he came into office in December last year. His visit was also welcome by opposition from the civil society, which accused Thailand for invasion into Cambodian territory. Cambodian Confederation of Union, which is the largest organisation in Cambodia, attempted to organise a rally against his visit but failed as the Cambodian authority stationed police force to block his office, making it impossible to gather the supporters to rally.

Rong Chhun, the president of the CCU held a press conference in its office instead of marching along the street, appealing to Thailand to stop invading into Cambodian territory.

The border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand flared after UNISCO listed Preah Vihear temples a world heritage site, igniting anger among the Thai nationalists. The dispute erupted into several armed clashes since last year, bringing deaths and damage to both sides.

During Abhisit’s visit, Thailand gave back the Cambodian government seven antiques, which were stolen from Cambodia by illegal smugglers.

In Phnom Penh Cambodia, A Walk Through A Khmer Rouge Holocaust Museum


As Washington D.C. and the rest of the country was trying to make sense of the horrible shooting at the National Holocaust Museum, I was thousands of miles away, walking through an abandoned French school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

It now houses the “Toul Sleng Genocide Museum.”

From 1975 to 1979, it was the center for torture and death in the capital city.

Those who survived the torture from the Khmer Rouge were then sent out to the killing fields, where they died. Many didn’t survive the torture, and more than 2,000 bodies were discovered at the “school” when the Khmer Rouge were overthrown by the Vietnamese army in 1979.

For anyone visiting Cambodia, this is a must stop. It is sobering. It is emotional.

But it is essential.

The school compound represents a number of buildings — each was used for various forms of torture. In the courtyard, a wooden pole once used by students for chin ups and pull ups was turned into a torture machine and a makeshift gallows. And yes, waterboarding was used frequently.

In each room there are still instruments of torture and death left as they were found in 1979 — iron chains, shackles, electric wires. In almost every room, a glance towards the ceiling reveals large splatters of blood — not touched for more than 30 years.

And in two of the buildings are displayed the last known photos of those who died. I remember visiting Dachau, the German concentration camp located outside of Munich.

I was struck immediately by the stacks of shoes and clothing worn by those who were ultimately killed. A similar stack of shirts and pants remains in the Cambodian genocide museum. Right next to those photos.

No one knows the exact number of people killed there, but a low estimate is more than 20,000.

“We must keep the memory of the atrocities committed on Cambodian soil alive,” said my guide, “so that we can continue to build a new, strong and compassionate country.”

I couldn’t agree more.

A word of warning: the Cambodians have kept the building much as they found it when the Khmer Rouge left.

It is a difficult visit even for those of us — myself included — who have covered wars and revolutions.

What I found most surprising is that so many in my group of volunteers from airline ambassadors — here to work with orphanages — had never seen the movie The Killing Fields.

Something tells me that Netflix is about to get more requests for that film than usual.

In a few hours, I fly to Bangkok to do my radio show, and more updates then.

By Peter Greenberg for Peter Greenberg.com.
For more from Peter, check out his Travel Detective Blog.

US removes Laos, Cambodia from trade blacklist

A street fruit vendor in Hanoi

By Shaun Tandon

WASHINGTON (AFP) — US President Barack Obama removed Laos and Cambodia from a trade blacklist, opening the way for US loans to companies doing business in the former US adversaries.

The United States has been boosting ties with both Southeast Asian nations. But the decision on Laos was sharply criticized by campaigners for the country's Hmong minority, which says it faces persecution.

In brief declarations, Obama said Cambodia and Laos had each "ceased to be a Marxist-Leninist country," a designation that prevented financial support by the US Export-Import Bank for businesses operating in the two nations.

The move, which still must go through formalities, means that US businesses would be eligible for US government-backed loans and credit guarantees as they can receive when operating in most countries.

"Given the commitment of Cambodia and Laos to open markets, the president has determined that this designation is no longer applicable," an Obama administration official said.

With the decision, the United States forbids US-backed loans for businesses to operate in only six countries -- Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

US ties with Cambodia and Laos were long clouded by concerns about the fate of US service members missing since the Vietnam War. In Cambodia, the United States worried about corruption and accountability for Khmer Rouge war crimes.

But the United States has been moving closer to both nations, where China is also stepping up influence. Washington established normal trade ties with Laos in 2004 and three years later lifted all restrictions on aid to Cambodia.

Obama's decision to boost trade ties with Laos came under fire from supporters of the Hmong, a hill people who supported US forces during the Vietnam War and say they face retaliatory abuse decades later.

A recent report by Paris-based Medicins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders, said Hmong who fled since 2005 to Thailand have said they suffered killings, gang-rape and malnutrition at the hands of Laotian forces.

Obama's declaration "is completely shocking and outrageous," said Philip Smith, executive director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis, which promotes Hmong rights.

"This is a one-party regime which is closely allied with Burma (Myanmar) and North Korea," he said. "This will embolden the Laos government to continue to slaughter and massacre civilians."

Many Hmong are still in hiding in Laos. Another 250,000 Hmong have resettled in the United States.

Last month, Medicins Sans Frontieres pulled out of the sole Hmong refugee camp in Thailand, complaining that the kingdom was forcing some 4,700 people in the camp back to Laos where they fear persecution.

US lawmakers plan to send a letter next week to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, asking her to press Thailand to halt the repatriation of the Hmong to Laos.

"The US has been a champion of the Hmong since the Vietnam War," said the letter, so far signed by 17 members of Congress.

"We continue to have a vital national security interest in and moral obligation to assist our former allies, especially those with bona fide persecution claims," it said.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva visiting Kingdom of Cambodia

The Royal Thai army plane is seen at Phnom Penh International airport June 12, 20009. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva delayed his return back to Thailand after an official visit in Cambodia due to an airplane malfunction, according to airport officials.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

The Royal Thai army plane is seen at Phnom Penh International airport June 12, 20009. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva delayed his return back to Thailand after an official visit in Cambodia due to an airplane malfunction, according to airport officials.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

The Royal Thai army plane is seen at Phnom Penh International airport June 12, 20009. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva delayed his return back to Thailand after an official visit in Cambodia due to an airplane malfunction, according to airport officials.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (L), accompanied by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, arrives at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh June 12, 2009. Abhisit is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit to discuss border issues.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (L), accompanied by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, arrives at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh June 12, 2009. Abhisit is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit to discuss border issues.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea (CAMBODIA) POLITICS)

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (L), accompanied by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (2nd L), arrives at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh June 12, 2009. Abhisit is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit to discuss border issues.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (2nd R), accompanied by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (2nd L) greet the honour guard upon his arrival at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh June 12, 2009. Abhisit is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit to discuss border issues.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thailand returns 7 stolen artifacts to Cambodia

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, second right, and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, left, stand by a piece from Cambodian artifacts of the Angkorian era during a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, June 12, 2009. Thailand Friday returned seven treasures from the 12th century Angkorian era -- Cambodia's Golden Age -- which had been illegally smuggled from the country years ago.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, second right, and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, left, clap while standing by a piece from Cambodian artifacts of the Angkorian era during a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, June 12, 2009. Thailand Friday returned seven treasures from the 12th century Angkorian era -- Cambodia's Golden Age -- which had been illegally smuggled from the country years ago.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian artifacts of the 12th century Angkorian period are displayed during a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, June 12, 2009. Thailand Friday returned seven treasures from the 12th century Angkorian era -- Cambodia's Golden Age -- which had been illegally smuggled from the country years ago.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, right, looks on by a Cambodian artifact of the Angkorian period during a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, June 12, 2009. Thailand Friday returned seven treasures from the 12th century Angkorian era -- Cambodia's Golden Age -- which had been illegally smuggled from the country years ago.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian artifacts of the Angkorian period are displayed during a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, June 12, 2009. Thailand Friday returned seven treasures from the 12th century Angkorian era -- Cambodia's Golden Age -- which had been illegally smuggled from the country years ago.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian artifacts of the Angkorian period are displayed during a ceremony in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, June 12, 2009. Thailand Friday returned seven treasures from the 12th century Angkorian era -- Cambodia's Golden Age -- which had been illegally smuggled from the country years ago.(AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya (L) shakes hands with Cambodian Deputy Foreign Minister Hor Namhong(R) during the handover ceremony of seven Cambodian artifacts which were stolen by smugglers, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh June 12, 2009. Abhisit is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit to discuss border issues.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reacts as Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (L) listens during the handover ceremony of seven Cambodian artifacts which were stolen by smugglers, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh June 12, 2009. Abhisit is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit to discuss border issues.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen examines an artifact as Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (L) smiles during the handover ceremony of seven Cambodian artifacts which were stolen by smugglers, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh June 12, 2009. Abhisit is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit to discuss border issues.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva (L) shakes hands with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during the handover ceremony of seven Cambodian artifacts which were stolen by smugglers, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh June 12, 2009. Abhisit is in Cambodia for a one-day official visit to discuss border issues.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Photographers take pictures of three artifacts during a handover ceremony of seven Cambodian artifacts which were stolen by smugglers, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Phnom Penh June 12, 2009.REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodia: Forum Violates Freedom Of Assembly

Scoop (New Zealand)
http://www.scoop.co.nz

Friday, 12 June 2009

Press Release: Asian Human Rights Commission

Cambodia: Phnom Penh Municipality’s Impossible Requirement For Holding Forum Violates Freedom Of Assembly

Over the recent months, a human rights NGO, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), has been making arrangements to hold a public forum for concerned officials and residents of Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh to discuss the issue of the eviction of these residents without just compensation. The Municipality of Phnom Penh has leased, allegedly illegally, the natural lake called Boeung Kak and its surroundings to Shukaku Inc., a private development company owned by a Senator from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), for a period of 99 years for US$79 million. This municipality has since been pressuring the residents of the area to accept its compensation package, an offer which the residents have repeatedly rejected.

The CCHR has encountered continuous difficulties in finding a venue and getting a permit from the municipal authorities for this particular meeting due to various forms of social control. On Friday 5 June at the very end of that day’s work and the end of the working week, the Municipality of Phnom Penh served the CCHR director with a summons to appear before its officials, police officers and officials from concerned departments on Monday 8 June at 2:30PM. The director of the CCHR was out of the country, and in the morning of Monday the CCHR office submitted, by hand, a letter to the Municipality seeking the postponement of the meeting until he returned later in the week. The Municipality refused to acknowledge receipt of the letter and insisted the meeting be held as shown in the summons.

The CCHR was compelled to comply. Its officials enlisted the participation of an official from the field Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the scheduled meeting. A number of officials from other NGOs lent support but were not allowed in and had to wait outside. At the end of the discussions on the holding of the forum, the municipal officials insisted that they would not consider any application for a permit to hold any forum for the residents of the area until the CCHR submitted with that application a receipt for payment of rent for the venue with the amount clearly stated and the signature of the owner of the premises.

The CCHR had already met that requirement when, on 25 May, a guest house called Lazy Fish near the lake agreed to rent its premises to the CCHR as the venue for US$250. It booked the premises and made a deposit of US$50. The forum was then planned for 12 June. But hardly a week later, on 1 June, the head and deputy head of the village where the guest house is located threatened the owner, saying: “If you let the CCHR conduct the public forum, your quest house will close after the forum.” Several days later the owner was summoned to their office. After his meeting with the commune officials, he informed the CCHR that he no longer wanted to rent his place for its forum unless the CCHR could secure a permit from the municipal authorities. On the morning of 8 June when the CCHR went to meet with the municipal officials, a police force of about 20 men surrounded the Lazy Fish guesthouse and shut it down on the charge that its business license had expired.

Before it found the Lazy Fish guest house, the CCHR had also been denied the yard of a mosque and a Buddhist monastery in the area when officials of these religious places, afraid of falling out of favour with their ‘benefactors’, withdrew their original consent to allow the use of their property. As a result the CCHR had to postpone its forum. Upon this postponement, local officials warned a woman resident who was distributing leaflets announcing the forum of the consequences of her activity. They told her, “Why do you continue to call and incite residents to go to the meeting now that the forum has already been called off? You should quietly contact the company. Beware! You could be sent to prison.”

Such threats and intimidation, and especially the way the authorities shut down Lazy Fish guesthouse after it had rented its premises, have created a climate of fear in the locality. It is now impossible for the CCHR to find anyone who is willing to rent their premises to be used as a venue for the forum. This means that the CCHR cannot obtain either premises or a receipt for payment of rent to submit with its application for permit to the Municipality of Phnom Penh. It is now a catch 22 situation. In order to be able to rent premises they must obtain a certificate from the local officials and the local officials will not issue a permit unless they can provide documentary evidence of having rented premises.

As a result, the residents of Boeung Kak Lake cannot exercise their constitutional right to freedom of assembly and expression, and in a matter of time they, like hundreds of thousands of their fellow Cambodians in a similar situation, will be forcibly evicted from their homes and lands without just compensation.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) holds that, by instilling fear in the population and then imposing a requirement which is impossible to meet, the Municipality of Phnom Penh has denied the residents of Boeung Kak Lake the enjoyment of their constitutional right to freedom of assembly and expression. The AHRC strongly urges the Cambodian government to order the Municipality of Phnom Penh to withdraw this requirement and remove any other obstacles to the holding of the forum so that those residents can exercise their rights.

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Former gang member seeks pardon from gov

Story Updated: Jun 12, 2009
http://www.komonews.com

By Keith Eldridge
Watch the story

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Let's let bygones be bygones.

That's the proposal of a Cambodian refugee looking for a pardon from the governor. And the state Clemency and Pardons Board agrees.

Former gang member-turned-civic leader Mnny Uch needs the pardon for a past crime to avoid being deported.

On Thursday Uch appealed to the state Clemency and Pardons Board, hoping Gov. Chris Gregoire will step in on his behalf and stop the federal government from sending him back to Cambodia.

"I'm confident going into this that I've done my best for the past 10 years. So give me a chance," he said.

As a child in the early 1980s, Uch fled the killing fields of Cambodia with his family. During his years in the U.S., he drove a getaway car during a robbery and served time.

Since then, he's turned his life around. He is now a city community leader who counsels young people to stay out of trouble.

Uch's story has even been profiled in an Emmy-nominated documentary titled "Sentenced Home." He has helped write success stories like that of Johnny Cheng, whom he counseled.

"It wasn't anything in particular that he really said to me. It's more of what I saw him doing," Cheng said.

But because of his earlier crime he could be deported under the federal immigration laws. That threat has been hanging over Uch's head for years.

On Thursday, Uch's supporters gathered on the steps of the state Capitol as he appealed to the board. Among the crowd was University of Washington Drama Professor Mark Jenkins, who wants to turn Uch's story into a stage production.

"This whole immigration law seems to be an awfully heavy sledgehammer that's causing personal tragedy more than it's protecting America," Jenkins said.

The Clemency and Pardons Board voted unanimously to recommend a pardon for Uch. But their vote is simply a recommendation to the governor.

The Governor's Office said Gregoire will consider the recommendation and make a final decision.

It's not known when the governor's decision will come. And while Uch waits, immigration could send him back to Cambodia at any moment. And he is not alone. Some 1,500 Cambodians are facing the threat of deportation nationwide.

Malaria is more deadly than swine flu

Mark Honigsbaum

http://www.guardian.co.uk
guardian.co.uk

Friday 12 June 2009

Perhaps the alarm caused over swine flu will help us empathise with the victims of other diseases that are killing millions

It is no mean feat to knock Ronaldo off the front pages, especially when the self-regarding Portuguese footballer has just broken the club record for a transfer fee. But yesterday the World Health Organisation's Margaret Chan achieved just that by declaring the first influenza pandemic in 40 years.

Never mind that to date H1N1 swine flu has killed just 144 people worldwide. With 1,300 cases now being reported in Australia, and simultaneous community outbreaks in Chile, Japan and the United States, Chan said scientists had concluded that transmission was "unstoppable" – hence the decision to declare a maximum pandemic alert at level six.

The subtext of Chan's message was that this was no time for complacency: with the winter flu season in Australia now well underway, hospital admissions in Melbourne have quadrupled in recent weeks. If the virus maintains its present level of virulence then experts are predicting that a third of the British population could be infected this autumn and as many as 36,000 could die – about three times as many as in a normal flu season.

But "could" is not the same as "will", and looking round the world you will find many more mortal and, arguably, more present threats to global health. Take HIV/Aids, for instance, a disease that has been pandemic, or at least has been spreading at epidemic levels in Africa, for 30 years. In 2007, the latest year for which figures are available, Aids-related illness killed 2 million people worldwide, including 270,000 children. But because two-thirds of the 33 million people annually infected with HIV live in sub-Saharan Africa and the remainder belong, by and large, to discrete "high-risk" groups such as intravenous drug users, HIV no longer blips on our radar screens.

Or take malaria. I have just returned from western Cambodia, where scientists are now reporting the first signs of parasite resistance to the world's current frontline anti-malarial, artemisinin. Malaria, along with diarrhoeal diseases and pneumonia, is one of the leading causes of infant mortality in Cambodia. And in Uganda and other high malaria transmission countries in Africa, it is also a major killer of pregnant women (the WHO estimates that some 3,000 people a day die from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa every day, the majority of them women and children).

Unlike influenza, as yet we have no vaccine against malaria. Indeed, artemisinin is currently the best, and in some parts of the world, the only effective treatment against the deadliest strains of the parasitical disease. In other words, if resistance to artemisinin spreads worldwide – as occurred with choloroquine in the 1960s – then we have nothing else in the locker. This may not matter to you now: but it could well matter to you if you travel to Kenya and the prophylactic your GP has prescribed fails, or if your child is hospitalized with falciparum malaria during his or her gap-year travels.

Yet as with HIV, malaria strains our empathy. "When one has fought a war, one hardly knows what a dead person is," wrote Albert Camus in The Plague. "And if a dead man has no significance unless one has seen him dead, a hundred million bodies spread through history are just a mist drifting through the imagination."

Or as a taxi driver in York put it en route to York University's biology department – where scientists are currently breeding high-yielding strains of Artemisia Annua, the plant from which artemisinin is derived, to produce sufficient quantities of the drug for Cambodia – "Unless it affects someone in my family, why should I care?"

H1N1 of course could affect that taxi driver's family and the families of millions of Britons like him. Unlike seasonal strains of influenza, which are usually only dangerous to infants and the over-65s, H1N1 swine flu – like the 1918 H1N1 "Spanish" influenza virus – appears to be hitting the under-25s hardest, hence the importance of WHO's declaration yesterday and the stepping-up of vaccine production before the autumn (at present, experts predict there will only be enough vaccine to inoculate half the British population).

Yet, for all the concern about an influenza pandemic, we should keep in mind that WHO's announcement was first and foremost an exercise in risk assessment: a signal to governments who have yet to activate their pandemic plans to pull their fingers out. Its use of the term is also the reflection of changing definitions. In the past, WHO defined an influenza pandemic as causing "enormous numbers of deaths and illness". By contrast, the current definition requires only "community-level outbreaks" in two continents at the same time – a test that was actually met several weeks ago.

That WHO has delayed announcing the inevitable until now is an indication of how worried United Nations member states have become of fuelling panic at a time when the world economy is just beginning to shown faltering signs of recovery from the credit crunch. But while Chan recognised there was a danger of people overreacting, she argued that the greater danger was "complacency". She also warned that while a level six pandemic alert did not mean the virus was becoming more dangerous or that we should expect to see an increase in mortality in developed nations, there was no telling how H1N1 would behave "under conditions typically found in the developing world".

If panicking about an influenza pandemic can help us empathise with the plight of the invisible victims of infectious diseases and make those global health connections, so much the better. Like the HIV virus and drug-resistant malaria parasites, H1N1 is no respecter of borders. And whether we drive a taxi in York or live in a mud hut in Yemen, we can be bitten at any time.

Cambodian rail concession signed


12 Jun 2009

CAMBODIA: The government and a joint venture led by Toll Group signed a 30-year concession agreement covering Royal Cambodian Railways on June 12. The metre gauge rail network is to be operated by a joint venture in which the Australian group has a 55% stake, with the remaining 45% owned by Royal Group, a Cambodian conglomerate controlled by businessman Kith Meng which has finance, telecoms, property and media interests.

'The agreement is conditional upon final confirmation of investment by the international community of circa US$145m' said Paul Little, Managing Director of the Toll Group. This will be used for infrastructure upgrading and the development of a modern intermodal facility in Phnom Penh. Principal funding has been committed by the Asian Development Bank.

'As the operator of the railways, we now have a strong strategic partnership with the Government of Cambodia that will see future benefits for Toll and the Cambodian people,' said Little. 'The Cambodian government has committed in our agreement to seeing more freight transported by rail. They have acknowledged that an efficient intermodal rail and integrated logistics operation will underpin Cambodia's economic development both locally and across the Asian region.'

In the long term, Cambodian railways will form part of a planned ASEAN rail network connecting Singapore with China via Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Poipet: Where Cambodians Are Trafficked into Thailand


Posted: June 12, 2009

I had traveled to Cambodia's "wild west" border town of Poipet, in search of a story about human trafficking.

It was certainly the edgiest assignment I'd ever undertaken with World Vision. Everyone knew that trafficking was rife, yet nobody wanted to talk to us about it.

"There are no illegal crossings on our border," said an officer with the Cambodian border police. "Trafficking happens through the immigration post."

"There is no way people can pass through immigration illegally," said a Cambodian immigration officer. "That would require a high level of corruption from both Thai and Cambodian officials. They cross the border instead."

In fact, we were told in an anonymous interview, people go willingly and illegally across borders, across rivers, in casino cars straight through immigration. Hundreds of them every month. As many as half of them under-age.

Our source refused to be named because he said that would endanger his family. He said he was telling us because he was tired of it all, he wanted it to stop. He had children of his own.

The immigration officer told us that one of his duties was to bring back the bodies of Cambodians killed in Thailand. According to him, there were several each month, sometimes shot in bungled drug deals or arrests, sometimes beaten and left to die, or drowned in the river that forms the border.

Most of them had crossed illegally; without paperwork, it was difficult, upsetting, and sometimes impossible, to identify them.

"Why do people go with traffickers?" I asked everyone I met.

"Because they are poor. Because here they earn $3 a day; there they earn $8."

"Are children trafficked?" I asked.

"Yes," they answered. "But not on our watch."

Grasping at Poipet's slippery underbelly felt more like investigation than reporting. I will admit to suffering a twinge of regret that I could not push harder, break the crime rings with an exclusive "hidden camera" expose and the masked evidence of my anonymous source.

But in fact, what World Vision is already doing is probably more important than that. One major solution to the problem lies in advocacy, in working with governments across borders on their will to change, working with communities to teach them how to protect themselves and understand their rights.

World Vision has formed and joined coalitions that push governments to ratify and uphold legislation, including last year's groundbreaking Thailand law that finally recognized that boys and men could be considered victims of trafficking.

Last year World Vision also hosted a workshop for border authorities in Poipet, with both Thai and Cambodian officials in attendance to learn about the causes, effects and legalities of human trafficking.

Many of the police we met told us with pride that they had been in attendance.

"The situation is definitely improving," our source told us.

It's not time to rest just yet, though. Poipet is still a transient, dirty, lawless little town. Poverty still pushes people to take risks that will cost them dearly.

We met Phu Pean, a grandmother at home with her two grandchildren; her daughter travels across the border to Thailand each day to make shoes at 2 baht a pair.

"When should children work?" I asked her.

"Oh, once they can talk," she said. "Then they are able to look after themselves."

"Your grandchildren are talking now," I told her. "Would you ever send them to live and work in Thailand?"

She thought. "I would," she said, "but I don't know how to find the people that would take them."

At least -- unlike most of the other people I met in Poipet -- she was telling the truth.

-- Katie Chalk

The Government Sues Rasmei Kampuchea at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court – Friday, 12.6.2009

Posted on 12 June 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 616
http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

“Phnom Penh: According to a source of information, obtained in the morning of 11 June 2009 by Deum Ampil, the Royal Government of Cambodia recently had filed a complaint at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court against Rasmei Kampuchea, a well-known pro-government daily newspaper.

“According to that source, this complaint was presented to the court on Tuesday, 9 June 2009, and was filed by a lawyer of the Royal Government

“The complaint by the Royal Government is the second one in June, after the Royal Government sued [the president of the Khmer Civilization Foundation] Mr. Moeung Son, for expressing information considered to be provoking, regarding to the setting up electric bulbs to illuminate part of the Angkor Wat temple for tourists, one of the world’s seven wonders [?] and a priceless place of Khmer culture.

“To clarify this case, Deum Ampil contacted the government lawyer Mr. Pao Chandara. He said,’I am not responsible for that case (the complaint by the government against Rasmei Kampuchea), but the lawyer Doung Loeung is responsible, who is also a lawyer of the government.’

“Mr. Doung Loeung could not be reached for comment in the evening of 11 June 2009, because he switched off his phone, and even trying to contact his colleagues through other mobile phones still did not lead to a contact with him.

“Based on the same information source, it was learned that, after a lawyer of the Royal Government had lodged a complaint with the prosecutors of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Tuesday, this case was transferred by Prosecutor Yet Chakriya to Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalyan.

“Contacted on Thursday evening, Mr. Sok Kalyan said, ‘I have not yet worked on this complaint. This complaint is complicated, and therefore I would not like to make any comment.’

“Based on what Deputy Prosecutor Sok Kalyan said, it is assumed that the complaint against Rasmei Kampuchea had already reached the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but the reason why the Royal Government sued Rasmei Kampuchea through the lawyer Doung Loeung is not yet known.

“The editor-in-chief of Rasmei Kampuchea , Mr. Pen Pheng, also known as Mr. Pen Samithi, told Deum Ampil that he did not know anything about the complaint filed by government lawyers against Rasmei Kampuchea. In turn, the editor-in-chief of Rasmei Kampuchea asked the interviewers, ‘I don’t know… What do they sue me for?’

“After there was information that the government had sued Rasmei Kampuchea, a leading newspaper, some observers questioned, ‘Why Rasmei Kampuchea, a leading and highly respected well-known newspaper, is sued?’

“Another source of information said that the Royal Government did not sue the newspaper Rasmei Kampuchea, but the manager of this newspaper, or a reporter of the newspaper is the one that a government lawyer sued.

“The same source added that another leading newspaper was also sued by a government lawyer, but this information is not clear.”

Deum Ampil, Vol.1, #208, 12.6.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 12 June 2009

Plane hitch delays Thai PM's return from Cambodia

AP - Saturday, June 13

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – The return of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva from a one-day official trip to Cambodia was delayed Friday by problems with his plane.

The chief of police at Phnom Penh's international airport, Chay Bunna, said late Friday night that that a new plane was being sent from Thailand to pick up the prime minister and his delegation, after their 9:20 p.m. departure was delayed.

"The technicians at the airport said that his plane has a very minor technical problem, so we insisted that he delay his flight schedule," said Cambodian Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong.

Chay Bunna identified the aircraft, on which repairs were being made, as an Embraer 145. He said that Abhisit's party first waited at the airport for the aircraft to be fixed, but drove back to the city to wait further after it was decided to fly in a replacement plane.

It was not immediately known when the new flight would depart.

Abhisit met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and King Norodom Sihamoni during his visit, his first to the neighboring country since he became prime minister in December. He also held talks with Thai businessmen and visited a hospital.

Obama okays U.S. Exim bank loans for Cambodia, Laos

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has cleared the way for the U.S. Export-Import Bank to help finance exports of U.S. goods to Laos and Cambodia, the White House said on Friday.

Obama issued a pair of memorandums saying each of the two Southeast Asian nations has "ceased to be a Marxist-Leninist country," as defined under the 1945 Export-Import Bank Act.

"This designation will now allow U.S. companies to apply for financing thru the US Export-Import bank, which provides working capital guarantees, export credit insurance and loan guarantees," the White House spokesman said.

The policy change in is response to the commitment of both countries to open up their markets, the spokesman said.

It comes as some in Congress are pressing for renewal of U.S. trade sanctions on another Southeast Asian nation, Myanmar, which has charged pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi with violating the terms of her house arrest. She faces a maximum five-year term if found guilty of the charges.

Cambodia and Laos, with a combined population of more than 20 million, are small markets for the United States.

Last year, the United States exported $154 million worth of goods to Cambodia and just $18 million to Laos.

U.S. imports of mostly clothing and other textiles from Cambodia totaled more than $2.4 billion last year. The United States bought $42 million worth of goods from Laos in 2008.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer and Ross Colvin; editing by Todd Eastham)

Restoring Amicable Relations Tops Agenda As Abhisit Visits Cambodia

BANGKOK, June 12 (Bernama) -- Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva left Bangkok on Friday on an official visit to Cambodia to restore the normally close and cordial ties strained by renewed border clashes, especially by incidents near the ancient temple of Preah Vihear, Thailand News Agency (TNA) reported.

The visit will show Thailand's determination to find ways and means to resolve outstanding issues in a spirit of good neighbourliness and as members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Thai prime minister will hold bilateral talks with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen which are expected to cover a wide range of cooperation.

The issues to be discussed include land and maritime boundaries, cooperation on promoting peace and stability in border areas, development and use of land transport networks, energy cooperation, trade promotion, investment and tourism to collectively cope with the various challenges as a result of the global financial crisis.

This visit is not just a goodwill visit, but is also a testimony of Thailand's commitment to further strengthening of its bilateral relations and cooperation with Cambodia, according to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Abhisit said earlier he wished to create trust and improve relations between the two countries, despite the past, frequent clashes which would enable the peoples of the respective countries to cooperate with each other more.

The latest armed clash between the Thai and Cambodian militaries took place on April 3 near the Preah Vihear temple, which has long been a source of tension between the two countries.

Abhisit will be granted a royal audience with His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, Cambodia's monarch and will make courtesy visits with Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

In addition, the two prime ministers will witness a ceremony to transfer seven pieces Khmer sculpture from Thailand's minister of foreign affairs to a representative of the Government of Cambodia.

The historic works of art hold religious and cultural significance for Cambodia and were smuggled into Thailand where they were intercepted and seized by the Thai authorities.

The return represents the application of an agreement between Cambodia and Thailand to counter illicit trafficking and the cross-border smuggling of "Movable Cultural Property" and to restore such items to the country of origin, a pact which was signed nine years ago 2000.

Abhisit said he would also meet the Thai business community in Cambodia, listen to their problems and that he would ask the Cambodian government to help protect their business interests.

-- BERNAMA

Cambodia, Thailand promise no armed clash on border

People's Daily Online
http://english.people.com.cn

June 12, 2009

Cambodia and Thailand on Friday pledged to stop any further armed clash at the border area near the Preah Vihear temple where troops from both sides have confronted nearly a year.

The agreement was reached at the meeting of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and visiting Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

"Both Prime Ministers agreed to prevent any armed clash at the areas near the Preah Vihear temple and will prevent the expansion of disputes to any places along the border," Ieng Sophalet, assistant to Premier Hun Sen told reporters after the talks between the two leaders.

Both sides also agreed to solve the border disputes with the existing mechanisms and the border deal has depended on the MOU (memorandum of understanding) 2000, he said, adding that "the situation of the areas near Preah Vihear now is calm."

"Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed to Thai and Cambodian military commanders and provincial governors along the border between the countries to meet regularly to strengthen the close ties in contribution to border deal and security matters," Ieng Sophalet said.

Hun Sen also said that the Cambodian side want to see the situation at areas near the Preah Vihear temple and other places return to prior to July 2008, he added.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva arrived here Friday morning to have a one-day official visit at the invitation of his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen.

Source: Xinhua

South Korean firm invests in Cambodian corn

12 Jun 2009

The Cambodian agriculture ministry said that South Korea's KOGID plans to invest US$150 million to grow and process corn for animal feed to be sold overseas.

Chan Tong Yves, secretary of state who is in charge of investments at the ministry told newspapers that the company has long-term investment plans for the Kingdom.

KOGID plans to purchase 70,000 to 150,000 tonnes of corn this year and would buy from the four top producing provinces.

"We welcome this plan because it will help create markets for Cambodian corn, which we have had trouble finding," Chan Tong Yves said.

"Our farmers only sell corn to Thailand and Vietnam, and these markets are unpredictable. Sometimes they buy, but sometimes they don't," he added.

According to a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in 2008-09 Cambodia harvested 611,865 tonnes of corn from 163,106 hectares of land.

Oung Savuth, manager of KOGID Cambodia Co Ltd, confirmed the total investment, but added that the company would invest only $38 million from 2009 to 2012 as part of the first phase.

"We will encourage the government to give us land concessions to grow corn after 2012 by providing houses, water and electricity, and building markets and schools and hospitals for our workers," Oung Savuth said.

U.S. dogs to sniff out Cambodian tigers

© WWF/Nick Cox
Field workers set up camera traps.


© WWF
Tiger caught on camera trap in 2007.

WWF International

Posted on 12 June 2009

Mereuch, Cambodia: Researchers will monitor Cambodia’s remaining tigers using almost 200 camera traps and two specially trained dogs – capable of tracking the tigers over 150 square kilometers by following the animal’s droppings.

The camera traps and dogs ultimately will help conservationists to better protect tigers in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest in Eastern Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia’s largest remaining tropical dry forests.
WWF has set up more than 165 camera traps in the area, and in a few months two US-trained dogs, will begin scouring the undergrowth and sniffing for tiger scent.

The two dogs will be re-trained to locate the scat of tiger and other carnivores. Using dogs to sniff out the scats from large carnivores has been widely used in other parts of the world with great success, such as tiger monitoring projects in the Russian Far East.

“We know tigers are there. With more concentrated monitoring we have a better chance of spotting them – and this will enable us to put more protective measures in play,” said Nicholas Cox, WWF’s Dry Forests Ecoregion Leader.

Despite many years of poaching, there now are signs that the dry forest is recovering as a habitat for tigers. Leopards now are relatively common and other wildlife returning to the area include wild banteng, Asian jackal, Eld’s deer and primates such as silvered langur. In addition Vultures, Great Hornbills and Giant Ibis have now been frequently spotted in the forest.

The tiger population is estimated to be between 10 and 25 animals in the Eastern Plains Landscape. Camera traps have been used in some parts of the Protected Forest previously, but they will now be concentrated to a core area frequented by tigers. A tiger was last photographed in the area in 2007, and scats (droppings) have been found more recently in the area.

“It’s now or never, we must act if the trend of increasing tiger prey species is to be made permanent,” said Seng Teak, WWF Cambodia Country Director. “Stronger protection measures and a rigorous management plan are being implemented by the local government in Mondulkiri and WWF. When prey returns to the area the tiger population will have a chance to bounce back in a few years”, says.

WWF has been involved in conservation work in the Eastern Plains since early 2001. That commitment was increased a few years ago to cover an area spanning more than 20,000 square kilometers.

Strict protection measures have been enforced in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest and the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary. In core protection zones, villagers are not allowed to hunt or cut timber, and
more than 70 trained rangers patrol the protected areas.

Lean Kha, a 48-year-old ranger working for WWF, was a poacher in the 70s.

“As a 13-year-old boy I was forced by the Khmer Rouge to go into the forest and kill wild animals,” Kha said. “I quickly learned to shoot and lay snares. During a period of 5-6 years I shot 16 elephants, 14 leopards and two tigers. At the time, I was ignorant and did not think of the consequences when I shot those tigers.”

“Today I’m really proud to work for WWF, and to use my skills to combat wildlife crime so that there will still be tigers and other wildlife in the forest when my children grow up,” he said.

Thai Jesuit ordained in Cambodia

June 12 2009

BATTAMBANG, Cambodia : The Church in Cambodia has ordained the first Jesuit priest since the Church revived in the country during the early 1990s.

Father Phongphand Phokthavi, a Thai national, was ordained by Bishop Emile Destombes, apostolic vicar of Phnom Penh, on May 24, in a special ceremony in Battambang attended by 2,000 people.

The ordination of Father Phongphand, 53, brings the number of Thai priests serving in Cambodia to four.

Ham Sok, one of the many people at the ordination, said the scale of the event was a sign that the Church in Cambodia is growing.

During the ceremony, Jesuit Monsignor Enrique Figaredo, apostolic prefect of Battambang, said Father Phongphand "always gives himself to others, loves the poor and encourages people who have lost hope."

The monsignor, who has known the priest for 20 years, cited one occasion when Father Phongphand saw some people without shoes and offered them his own, saying, "I have another pair."

Cambodia has a special place in the Thai priest's heart. During the 1980s he helped Cambodian refugees in Thailand while working with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). Later in the 1990s he went to Cambodia with returning refugees and helped build a vocational center for the disabled near Phnom Penh.

Talking to UCA News, the Thai priest said his inspiration for becoming a priest in Cambodia was when he saw the smiles of refugees despite the suffering they had endured during years of civil war.

He said the challenges he would encounter as a priest in Cambodia would not be cultural or linguistic, but would be in tackling poverty and suffering, and spreading the love of God.

He added that his work from now on will be that of a parish priest in Kompong Thom in Battambang apostolic prefecture. He also said he wants to serve in Cambodia for the rest of his life.

Besides the four Thai priests, there are also five Thai nuns serving in Cambodia. The last priestly ordination in the country took place in 2001, when four Khmer priests were ordained.

Of the 50 priests or so presently in Cambodia, only about five are local Khmer.

Courtesy : UCAN

Alcatel-Lucent makes a difference in a Cambodian community

June 12th, 2009

Employee volunteer initiative is part of Alcatel-Lucent “International Days of Caring”

Phnom Penh / New Delhi, June 12, 2009 – Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE:ALU) set aside one day during a recent senior leadership conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to implement a major Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR)initiative. The 150 participants – across section of the company’s senior leaders in Asia Pacific – gave their time to build 45 houses for poor Cambodian families in Veal Thom village, outside of Phnom Penh.

The program is part of the Alcatel-Lucent “International Days of Caring” (IDOC) project, a worldwide employee volunteer initiative (May 4 – June 30, 2009) addressing key community needs and issues. IDOC provides an opportunity for staff to be directly engaged in local community work to help those in need.

The initiative was organized in conjunction with Tabitha Cambodia, a non-profit organization set up in 1994. Tabitha helps poor Cambodian families participate in a micro-banking program that helps them work their way out of poverty. When local families save USD30 toward a new home they are eligible to participate in Tabitha’s house building program. In this case, Alcatel-Lucent Asia Pacific provided all the additional funds, around USD960 per house, to purchase the building materials for 45 houses, as well as one day of senior staff time to build fully funded houses for 45 families, or some 240 individuals.

“We chose Tabitha because they gave us an opportunity to get involved and make a difference through the work of our own hands,” said Sean Dolan, President, Alcatel-Lucent Asia Pacific. “At Alcatel-Lucent Corporate Social Responsibility means more than acting ethically, it also means providing opportunities for our employees to become involved and demonstrate day after day, the company’s concern for society.”

The Cambodian project caps a range of Asia Pacific staff community activities that include:

· Australia: employees serving as guides during open days and community events at a science museum;

· China: charity sales events in Shanghai and Chengdu to support communities and families devastated by last year’s major earthquake;

· India: partnering with NGO’s to volunteer at orphanages in India; helping with life skills training for disadvantaged youth; organizing collections for clothing and money;

· North Asia: arranging for high school students to spend a day with employees at the office to give them exposure to the business world;

· South and South East Asia: donations to blood banks.

Alcatel-Lucent has been operating in Cambodia since 1992, and is a major supplier of GSM equipment and solutions to Mobitel, the country’s biggest mobile operator. The company recently signed a frame agreement with a new customer, Chuan Wei, to build a nation-wide WiMAX network.

About Tabitha Cambodia

Tabitha Cambodia was founded in 1994 by Janne Ritskes, a Canadian with 20 years experience working in the slums of the United States, Philippines, Kenya and Cambodia. Tabitha Cambodia works exclusively to improve the lives of the poorest of the poor. Tabitha Cambodia is currently working with 3,500 families in five Cambodian provinces. For more information, visit Tabitha Cambodia on the Internet: http://www.tabithafoundationaustralia.com/main.cfm?Page=2

About International Days of Caring (IDOC)

The first Alcatel-Lucent International Days of Caring Project (IDOC) was launched in 2008. Held annually in April/May/June, the multi-week event focuses on team-driven, employee-led projects. More than 9,800 employees supported more than 180 projects for a total of nearly 75,000 volunteer hours, in 15 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Kenya, Korea, Poland, Spain, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States (in 18 states).

Alcatel-Lucent’s 2008 Corporate Social Responsibility report is available at
http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/csr/csr-report/Alcatel-Lucent-CSR-Report-2008-EN.pdf.

About Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent (Euronext Paris and NYSE: ALU) is the trusted partner of service providers, enterprises and governments worldwide, providing solutions to deliver voice, data and video communication services to end-users. A leader in fixed, mobile and converged broadband networking, IP technologies, applications and services, Alcatel-Lucent leverages the unrivalled technical and scientific expertise of Bell Labs, one of the largest innovation powerhouses in the communications industry. With operations in more than 130 countries and the most experienced global services organization in the industry, Alcatel-Lucent is a local partner with a global reach. Alcatel-Lucent achieved revenues of Euro 16.98 billion in 2008 and is incorporated in France, with executive offices located in Paris. For more information, visit Alcatel-Lucent on the Internet: http://www.alcatel-lucent.com

For more information please contact:

Manpreet Singh
9810286337
manpreet.singh {at} vccpl(.)com

Krityanand Kundan
9990099562
krityanand.kundan {at} vccpl(.)com

Latika Taneja
9899010054
Latika.Taneja {at} alcatel-lucent(.)com

Hiranmay Choudhury
9871527830
hiranmay.choudhury {at} alcatel-lucent(.)com

Still no A/H1N1 flu cases confirmed in Cambodia: ministry

PHNOM PENH, Jun 12, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Cambodia is still safe from the epidemic of A/H1N1 flu disease, said a joint press release issued here on Friday.

"As of June 12, 2009, no cases of Influenza A/H1N1 have been confirmed in Cambodia," said the press release jointly issued by the Cambodian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO).

With the virus continuing to spread internationally, the Ministry of Health "continues to strengthen the implementation of the national pandemic response plan and, supported by WHO, has been actively preparing management guidelines for Ministry of Health staff, " it added.

Sok Touch, director of the communicable disease control department of Ministry of Health told Xinhua Thursday that the Cambodian government are still vigilant and that precaution measures have been and being taken at all points of entries into Cambodia, especially, at the international airports such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Moreover, the public will be kept informed of developments via the ministry's website and regular statements made to the press, it said.

While Cambodia announced that it is safe from the influenza cases, the flu virus has already affected 74 countries worldwide and the number of reported A/H1N1 infection has reached to 28,774, including 144 deaths, according to WHO.

Cambodia becomes 94th member of International Renewable Energy Agency

www.chinaview.cn
2009-06-12

PHNOM PENH, June 12 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia has become the 94th state of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) that was established early this year, according to a press statement released Friday by the German Embassy in Cambodia.

The statement said Cambodia signed for the membership of the agency on Friday in Berlin, Germany, which has become the 21st country from Asian nations, with 35 other countries from Africa, 29 from Europe and nine from Latin-America, the statement said.

IRENA was established in Bonn, Germany on Jan. 26, 2009, and Germany is a depository state for this international agreement.

The agency, originally, intends to facilitate access to all relevant information, including data on the potentials for renewable energies, best practices, effective financial mechanisms, and state-of-the-arts technological expertise.

Following the global voice for renewable energies, IRENA is mandated to become a main driving force for promoting a rapid transition towards the widespread and sustainable use of renewable energy on a global scale.

It is also envisaged to provide practical advice and support for both industrialized and developing countries; thereby helping to improve framework and built capacity.

The agency will consist of an Assembly, a council and a secretariat.

Editor: Deng Shasha