Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Cambodia villagers save elephants


By Guy DeLauney
BBC News, Phnom Penh
(Post by CAAI News Media)


Elephants are losing their natural habitats, becoming a tourist attraction

Conservationists in Cambodia have brokered an agreement which should see elephants living more peacefully alongside their human neighbours.


Villagers living near elephant habitats have promised not to harm the animals - or disturb their environment.

In return the local farmers are receiving help to keep the elephants away from their crops.

Human-elephant conflict can develop wherever the animals live close to people.

As villagers develop and expand their land, elephants lose their habitat.

At the same time, they become more likely to wander into fields - destroying crops and occasionally attacking humans and livestock.

Wild alternatives

This situation has put wild elephant populations in danger in a number of countries.

Conservationists are keen to prevent the same thing happening in Cambodia.

Elephant numbers are finally on the rise here - after decades of war and deforestation.

The organisation Fauna and Flora International is helping to keep the peace between people and pachyderms.

It is giving villagers funding to develop small businesses like chicken-farming - as an alternative to clearing the forests the elephants call home.

They are also giving advice on how to keep the elephants away from crops.

"Growing different types of crops is one line of defence, such as chilli fences around the boundaries of their fields," said Matt Maltby, who is in charge of FFI's elephant protection scheme.

"Elephants don't like chillies, so they will naturally turn the other way. If that doesn't work, or if chillies aren't available, then we can deploy solar-powered electric fences," Mr Maltby explained.

That might be a bit of a shock for the elephants - but not enough to harm them.

They may not like the chillies and electric fences - but the villagers' promise to protect the elephants' habitat should be rather more palatable.


(Post by CAAI News Media)

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL REDRESS TRUST
INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS

12 October 2009

JOINT PUBLIC STATEMENT

CAMBODIA TRIBUNAL MUST NOT USE TORTURE "CONFESSIONS" AS A LEGITIMATE SOURCE OF INFORMATION

What prisoners say or "confess" to under torture should never be admissible in any court proceedings, said Amnesty International, The International Commission of Jurists and the Redress Trust, after submitting a brief to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

The brief was submitted on 25 September 2009, as part of an application to intervene as "friends of the court" (amicus curiae) in the case of Ieng Thirith, where a dispute has arisen in respect of the potential admissibility of certain statements. In it, the organizations explain that the prohibition on the use of the content of statements obtained by torture by courts is absolute. It both reflects and supports the absolute prohibition on torture and is essential for preserving the integrity of the judicial process and the right to a fair trial. It is also impelled by the moral repugnance at the prospect of using the torturer's creation -- the "confession" -- to seek justice.

Admitting the content of a torture "confession" as evidence, bearing in mind that it was extracted out of a helpless detainee through the intentional infliction of pain and suffering, would irreparably taint any court proceedings.

Article 15 of the UN Convention against Torture, which binds the ECCC, excludes all statements obtained by torture from any court proceedings, with one exception only: torture statements may be used against the suspected torturers themselves, but then only "as evidence that the statement was made." In other words, such statements may be used as part of the proof that the act of torture took place, and not in any way for the truth of its contents or any other purpose. This limitation is clear from the language of the article, which uses the word "only" to prevent any misinterpretations. It is also clear from the history of its drafting in the UN, which the brief describes. During the drafting, proposals to allow the wider use of statements obtained by torture were considered but rejected.

The brief also explains that under international law, the use of statements obtained by torture to prove that they were made, is not limited to proceedings against the actual torturer, but also against commanders and political superiors accused of bearing responsibility for the torture.

The prohibition on the use of "confessions" does not extend automatically to all related material. For instance, other documents in the same file, including registration forms, need not be excluded automatically. However, the admissibility of any such material can nevertheless be challenged, on grounds that it did form part of the statement obtained by torture, that it was obtained by torture independently of the statement, or on other grounds set out in international and Cambodian law.

The organizations urge the ECCC to ensure that its proceedings adhere to international law and standards, which would contribute to the Court's credibility and ability to leave behind a positive and long-lasting legacy. A failure to do so would run counter to the international community's fundamental rejection of torture and refusal to provide it any legitimacy, and potentially undermine the integrity of the ECCC itself.

Regrettably, procedures in the Pre-Trial Chamber involving this brief have been rendered confidential.

The text of the brief is available here:

POST BAG From Cambodia with clarity


Published: 13/10/2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Re: "Hun Sen, Cambodia's agent provocateur?" (Bangkok Post, Oct 7) written by "pseudo scholar" Pavin Chachavalpong-pun. His article, which was written with ill will and malicious intent, contains many manipulative and baseless arguments against Samdech Techo Hun Sen, prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, as follows:

First, when the Thai soldiers entered Keo Sikha Kiri Svara Pagoda near Preah Vihear temple, Cambodia exercised maximum restraint and great tolerance because the country was about to hold elections. At the same time, Prime Minister Hun Sen wanted to avoid armed clashes between the two countries.

Second, undoubtedly Prime Minister Hun Sen is far from being an ''agent provocateur''. He is a statesman and a respected leader of Asean. He did not stir up nationalism, as the writer has wrongly accused. In fact, it was Thailand that initiated the problem and tried to exploit extreme nationalist sentiment in order to make political gains.

Third, if you know Prime Minister Hun Sen, he has never wanted to provoke an armed conflict with Thailand. There is, and has been, no reason whatsoever for him to engage in this act of provocation. The true reality is that Thailand was the one that started it all. No peace-loving nation on earth like Cambodia wants to make political gains by provoking armed conflict with its neighbours. Therefore, the recent tensions between the two countries began with the yellow-shirt protesters from Thailand who wanted to enter our Preah Vihear temple.

The Cambodian government simply wanted to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. With regard to the point of warning the Thais to stop ''trespassing on Cambodian land'', what Prime Minister Hun Sen really wanted was to protect Cambodia's sovereignty and territorial integrity and to avoid any armed clash between the two sides.

Fourth, Prime Minister Hun Sen never said that he wanted Thailand to give up its Asean chairmanship. Again, this is another factual error. What he really said at the time was whether Thailand would be able to host the Asean Summit and other related meetings, given its domestic situation then. Of course, later the Asean Summit and other meetings in Pattaya were cancelled, in April of this year. What Prime Minister Hun Sen said was proved absolutely right and no one can deny this fact.

Fifth, there was no need for Prime Minister Hun Sen to use the Preah Vihear temple issue to increase his popularity because he is already popular, and his Cambodian People's Party won the election with more than a two-thirds majority.

Sixth, after Thailand had destroyed the Cambodian market inside our territory, the Royal Government of Cambodia had to demand that the former pay compensation to the Cambodian people who were affected by the destruction of the market on Cambodian soil. This is a normal process, and Thailand should comply.

Seventh, we all know very well that the opposition party in any country in the world usually does not have any good things to say about the government in power. So, do you really want to join the opposition party in Cambodia against the Royal Government of Cambodia?

Finally, the issue of ''love-hate relations'' could only take place in Thailand, certainly not in Cambodia. Everyone in the world knows that the Preah Vihear temple belongs to Cambodia. Cambodia has no ''love-hate relations'' whatsoever.

H E MRS YOU AY

Ambassador, Kingdom of Cambodia

-----

CONTACT: BANGKOK POST BUILDING, 136 NA RANONG ROAD, KLONG TOEY, BANGKOK 10110

Fax: 02 2403666, email: postbag@bangkokpost.co.th

All letter writers must provide full name and address.

All published correspondence is subject to editing at our discretion.

Cambodia seeks arbitration in land dispute


AP - Tuesday, October 13
(Post by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Cambodia said Monday it will ask Southeast Asian leaders at an upcoming summit to help resolve a heated border dispute with Thailand that has sparked gunbattles, protests and fears of a cross-border war.

However, Thailand said the proposal for the talks was based on remarks last week by its foreign minister that had been misunderstood and misreported.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said he backed a proposal by his Thai counterpart that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations set up an arbitration body to help resolve dueling claims to land near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

Thailand's Foreign Ministry responded that Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya had not made such a suggestion, and that remarks he made on the issue were misquoted and taken out of context.

The ministry said in a statement that Thailand "will continue to seek a peaceful resolution of the problem through bilateral negotiations."

"As such, this issue should not be internationalized or raised within the ASEAN framework," it said.

ASEAN leaders meet Oct. 23-25 in Thailand for the 10-nation bloc's annual summit.

Preah Vihear temple sits on a cliff in a disputed border zone between Thailand and Cambodia. It has been a source of tension and fueled nationalist sentiment on both sides of the border for decades.

Last year, UNESCO backed Cambodia's bid to list the temple as a World Heritage Site. Thailand initially supported the bid but then reneged after the move sparked domestic outrage and protests. Some Thais worried that the distinction would undermine their claims to surrounding land.

Both sides rushed troops to the border, which resulted in several small gunbattles and briefly sparked concerns of war.

In 1962, the World Court awarded the temple to Cambodia, but sovereignty over adjacent areas has never been clearly resolved.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen warned last month that anyone who illegally enters Cambodian territory near the temple will be shot.

Hor Namhong, saying the issue is one of regional concern, responded Monday to Thai news reports that Kasit had said last week that he would seek approval at the ASEAN summit for the establishment of a neutral organization to settle disputes among members.

"I would like to propose that the dispute between Cambodia and Thailand in the area of the temple of Preah Vihear be included in the agenda of the ASEAN summit," he said in a statement sent to Kasit.

But the Thai Foreign Ministry then issued its statement saying that Kasit had been misunderstood.

It said that while Kasit had suggested that ASEAN should promote the peaceful resolution of disputes, and the issue of a dispute settlement mechanism would be discussed at the ASEAN summit, that Thailand would continue to seek to resolve its border dispute with Cambodia through bilateral talks.

The two countries share a 500-mile (800-kilometer) land border, much of which has never been clearly demarcated because the countries refer to different maps.

Brigade 70 Vows to Fight Ahead of 15th Anniversary


Brigade 70 soldiers on patrol at their headquarters. Cambodia’s Brigade 70 ahead of the celebration of its 15th anniversary on Oct 13 vowed to fight any enemies who dare to encroach upon Cambodia’s sovereign territory.

Written by Administrator -- Tuesday, 13 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia’s Brigade 70 ahead of the celebration of its 15th anniversary on Oct 13 vowed to fight any enemies who dare to encroach upon Cambodia’s sovereign territory, according a High-Ranking Cambodia Royal Armed Forces (RCAF) Official on Monday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen will be over the celebrations of Brigade 70.

“Brigade 70 has the responsibility of guarding the Senate president, the National Assembly President, the Ministry of Defense top leaders, Phnom Penh Municipal officials, prevent flooding and to defend sovereignty,” Mao Sophan, Brigade 70 chief, told DAP News Cambodia.

“Separate Brigade 70 sections guard the premier and international visitors to Cambodia,” he added. Pol Sareoun, RCAF chief, said that Brigade 70 is a small part of Cambodia’s army.

Over the past 15 years, Brigade 70 spent US$2,722,531 on headquarters, supported by the premier and his wife who built 59 buildings.

Cambodia to Educate About A/H1N1 Ahead of Water Festival


Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 13 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Cambodia is embarking upon a large scale education campaign about A/H1N1 ahead of this year’s Water Festival, to be held November 1-3 in Phnom Penh. A/H1N1 flu infected 133 people and three people have died of the virus, health officials said on Monday.

“We will distribute 500,000 leaflets to local people who come to see this event, and other hospitals in the country,” Health Minister Mam Bun Heng told reporters at a news conference. The leaflets give simple information to help Cambodians understand the flu virus and how to prevent it, and how to treat at home, he said. Suspected cases must relax at home, take pills and drink much water for treatment. “We are concerned about the flu during the forthcoming Water Festival but we need to educate at this time and people need to protect themselves from this flu,” he said.

The flu virus has been spreading in local communities but its process is slow because we have measures to prevent, he said. He said that Cambo- dia currently has 330,000 pills of Tamiflu in stock to treat serious cases.

“We are also concerned about the upcoming seasonal flu late this year in the country because most people easily catch seasonal colds,” he added. “Our doctors regularly go to the field to take sample from the suspected people across the country to seek the positive infected people.”

He also appealed for Cambodians to wear masks if they are ill, and ensure good hygiene and sanitation.

Around 470 Garment Factory Workers Faint


Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 13 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Around 470 Cambodian garment factory workers fainted on Monday at the WILLBES Garment Company in Dangkor district of Phnom Penh, a local authority reported.

A local authority source said that all the workers were sent to hospitals.

The source, from the Chaum Chao commune of Dangkor, told DAP News Cambodia that “all the Cambodian garment workers were sewing and then they started to vomit.”

At first, only “two or three” women workers fainted, but soon the sickness spread to hundreds more. The official said that many ambulances were needed to ferry the women to hospital.

After around 470 fainted, officials from institutions such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Labor arrived to investigate the case and report to their superiors.

There were three possible causes of the fainting identified: chemicals in the cloth; garment process pollution; or the fact that “all workers ate fast food outside the factory,” accor- ding to a team of observers evaluations. When DAP News Cambodia tried to call the WILLBES Garment Company’ manager for comment, the phone was disconnected.

One worker complained of the factory conditions. “It was so hot, not enough fresh air, and managers were also very strict; sometimes they did not allow taking time to relax.”

PM Urges Youths Project Participants to Promote Cambodian Culture, Civilization


Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 13 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday urged 29 Cambodian youths to promote and contribute to awareness of Cambodia’s culture and civilization to other youth members chosen for the 36th 2009 Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP), according to an assistant of the premier.

The Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programe (SSEAYP) is an annual program sponsored by the Japanese Government and supported by the member-countries of ASEAN. The program brings together about 300 youths from ASEAN countries and Japan, providing them with the unique opportunity to interact on board the ship Fuji Maru and at different ports-of-call for 53 days.

Hun Sen on Monday at Foreign Affair and International Cooperation Ministry allowed 14 men and 14 women accompanied by one leader to join the SSEAYP program. He invited them to have a talk and ask for any recommendations.

“The premier welcomes and focuses on the youths, a path of one mechanism, who the government not allows them to walk followed pervious youths, being lack of support and schools,” Eang Sophalleth told reporters following the meeting. “The Government is at present focusing on building schools for the youths to become the society’s human resources,” Eang Sophalleth added.

The premier stressed that the SSEAYP youths would be representing the whole of Cambodian society.

Nith Bunlay, Cambodian SSEAYP Group Leader, told the premier that the SSEAYP will visit Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei.

Eang Sophalleth said the premier will donate US$500 to every participant.

[OPTIONAL END]
SSEAYP started in January 1974 based on Joint Statements issued between Japan and the five ASEAN countries, namely, Indonesia, Malay- sia, Philippines, Singapore and Thai- land. Brunei Darussalam joined in 1985. Vietnam participated in the programme in 1996 while Laos and Myanmar participated in 1998. Cam- bodia joined the programme in 2000.

The aim of SSEAYP is to foster friendship and greater understanding among youths from Japan and ASEAN. It also seeks to broaden their international outlook.

A series of activities are lined up for the selected participants. The programme during voyages includes discussions on social and youth matters, cultural introductions, sports, recreation and club activities. Activ-ities at each port-of-call include inter- action with the local youths, courtesy calls on dignitaries and institutional visits, as well as community service and homestay experience.

The 36th SSEAYP is scheduled to be held from 27 October to 18 December 2009. During this period, the participants will visit Japan and five of the ten ASEAN countries namely Philippines (Manila), Malay- sia (Port Klang), Singapore, Thail-and (Bangkok) and Brunei Darus-salam (Muara). Singapore will be sending a contingent of 28 youths and a National Leader to participate in this year’s programme.

In Singapore, SSEAYP is co-ordinated by the National Youth Council (NYC) - the national co-ordinating body for youth and youth sector development in Singapore, together with the SSEAYP Intern-ational Singapore (SIS), the Alumni body of ex-SSEAYP Singapore participants.

Banteay Meanchey’s Cambodia-Thailand Border Closed for Business


Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 13 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

All businesses at Boeung Trakourn Cambodia-Thailand borders was closed after powerful Thai businesses interests conflicted with more humble vendors. Thailand’s area border chief decided to close the gate, not the exports or the import of Cambodian goods into Thailand, the Cambodian border chief at Boeung Trakourn in Banteay Meanchey province reported on Monday.

Banteay Meanchey Vice Governor Sar Chamrong told DAP News Cambodia that “Some Thai powerful companies were jealous of the small companies exporting and importing goods between Cambodia and Thailand.” “We met local authorities at the Cambodia-Thailand border, but the Thailand side did not reply. We sent a letter to the Thai governor to cancel the closing, but there was no result yet,” Chamrong added. Nau Yort, Beoung Trakourn Cambodian border chief, told DAP News Cambodia that the conflict is complicated, with vested Thai interests on both sides. “Since October 8, 2009 until now, all powerful and weak Thai vendors have demonstrated to demand to open the gate, and opposed on the other side to close it.”

“Because they tried to demonstrate at this region, most of the powerful vendors, especially Thai officers, did not allow the export of goods from Cambodia to their country. But some of the Thai small businessmen tried to protest the closing of the gate.”

After the gate was closed, Cambo- dian vendors were very upset, because their goods quickly spoiled, especially cassava, yams and sweet potatoes.

Cambodia Prepares to Welcome World Figures for Bridges Program


Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 13 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

The Cambodian Government is preparing a welcome for Nobel Prize winners and world leaders who will give speeches in Cambodia and meet students as part of the Bridges for Peace program, an official said on Monday.

The speakers will visit Cambodia from November 24 to April27, 2010, Kao Kim Hourn, secretary of state for the Foreign Ministry, told reporters after talks between Cambodian FM Hor Namhong and Uwe Morawetz, chairman of the International Peace Foundation and an organizer of the event.

“We also will show the international stage about the development of country and future goals of the country, and the program will streng- then the cooperation for peace in the future,” Kao added.

Speakers will get the chance to meet students and engage in other activities during their stays in Cambodia, he said.

10 Nobel Prize winners, film stars, movie producers and other world figures will visit. According to a press release from the International Peace Foundation, speakers include Aaron Ciechanover, 2004 Nobel laureate for Chemistry; Jackie Chan, film actor; Oliver Stone, film director; David Gross, 2004 Nobel laureate for physics; Eric Maskin, 2007 Nobel Laureate for economics; Torsten Wiesel, 1981 Nobel laureate for medicine; Vladimir Ashkenazy, classical pianist; Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, 2008 Nobel laureate for medicine; and Jose Ramos-Horta, 1996 Nobel laureate for Peace and president of East Timor.

Nobel laureate Ciechanover Aaron will be the first to visit on November 4.

This is the first time in recent years such world famous icons have officially visited Cambodia, Morawetz said in the press release. He believes it is a good opportunity for both Cambodia and guests to learn from each other for the cause of peace.

The Bridges program is initiated by International Peace Foundation based in Vienna, Austria. In Southeast Asia, the International Peace Foun-dation has organized programs in Thailand, the Philippines and Malay- sia. In Cambodia, King Norodom Sihamoni is honorable president and Prime Minister Hun Sen is chairman of program, Kao added

Beeline Offers US Calls for 5 Cents


Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 13 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

Beeline, a leading international provider of telecommunication services in Cambodia, will continue to offer a special promotion which allows subscribers to communicate with their relatives and friends living abroad.

In order to respond to subscriber’s requests about calls to the US, Beeline has prolonged the USA (1) promotion until November 5, according to a Beeline press release on Monday.

“Since we proposed the USA call promotion with 5 cents per minute, we received outstanding feedback from our customers. They are happy with our special offer and now we have decided to prolong this offer. Hence, our subscribers will be available to communicate more with their family and friends living in USA.” said Benoit Janin, commercial director of Beeline in Cambodia. Beeline is ranked among the top 10 international telecom brands and brings the best international quality standards to the Cambodian telecom industry. Beeline network currently covers 18 cities and provinces and along main roads (National Highways 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6A).

As for the cost of the other most popular international call destinations around the world from Beeline network – it’s only 15c/min. ?(1) by VoIP: To make a call, just dial 179 + USA code (01)+ area code + phone number.

Car Robbery, Kidnap at Kandal Market


Written by DAP NEWS -- Tuesday, 13 October 2009
(Post by CAAI News Media)

The robbery of a Lexus RX-300 and the kidnap of the car owner’s nephew took place at Phnom Penh’s Kandal market on Monday, according to Daun Penh’s Police Chief. The kidnap victim escaped in Rokakong commune, in the Mok Kampol district of Kandal province, near National Highway 6A

Police said that at 10.15 pm in front of a house on Street 136, a team of three robbers stole the Lexus belonging to Lim Heng Khoeun, 56, a Kandal market vendor. “Unfortun-ately, a motorist took a gun and drove quickly away,” the police source added. The gang took the young man Rokakong, driving very quickly. The young man broke his bonds and went to local villagers to send information to his uncle and family, the police officer recounted.

Local police have not yet arrested any of the robbers despite an ongoing search.

Evictees fear arrest warrants



Photo by: Sovan Philong
Villagers from Oddar Meanchey arrive at a Phnom Penh pagoda on Monday after fleeing their homes following a violent eviction from their village Friday.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:05 Tep Nimol and Khuon Leakhana

VILLAGERS whose homes were bulldozed and then burned to the ground by armed officials in an ongoing land dispute in Oddar Meanchey province last week have fled to the capital for fear of being arrested on incitement charges, they said Monday, as Siem Reap officials confirmed that arrest warrants have been issued for three former residents.

Huy Chuy, the 45-year-old former chief of Kaun Kriel commune’s Bos village, said he was threatened with arrest at gunpoint by local officials a few days before Friday’s eviction.

“After successfully escaping from the authorities, I and other villagers decided to escape overnight to Phnom Penh, believing that the authorities would retaliate or attempt to arrest us again,” he said.

Siem Reap provincial prosecutor Ty Sovinpal confirmed Monday that the court issued warrants for the arrest of three villagers on charges, filed by Forestry Administration officials, of inciting unrest and disrupting the country’s development. “In fact, all villagers should be detained, but I issued an arrest warrant for only three masterminds,” he said.

A total of 214 families are battling Angkor Sugar Company, owned by Lee Yongphat, a senator with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, for rights to the disputed 1,500 hectares. Nearly 100 homes were dismantled and torched by armed police officers during the eviction Friday.

Witness Roeung Hav, 34, said 100 armed officials arrived at the village at around 9am with three tractors and several bulldozers ready to destroy homes. “I begged them to take my property out of my home first, but they ignored me,” she said, weeping.

“They started their bulldozing immediately, making me almost unable to take my children out. After bulldozing my home, they set fire to it, which is very cruel.”

The villagers were then transported to temporary shelter at Kork Khlork pagoda, about 3 kilometres away. There, the officials offered the families food, but only if they agreed to thumbprint documents accepting a piece of land measuring 30 metres by 50 metres and a 1-hectare rice paddy as compensation.

Another witness, 41-year-old Chrin Narin, said: “We were very hungry. The authorities brought sacks of rice, but they would not give it to us. They asked whether we were hungry. Then they told us that we could have rice only if each family gave their thumbprints.”

The number of villagers seeking refuge in the capital swelled to 15 on Monday, as representatives prepared to ask Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene.

Am Sam Ath, an investigator with local rights group Licadho, condemned the eviction. “If the government provides thousands of hectares of commercial land concession to the company, it should also provide social land concessions to residents who need it for their livelihood.”

Pich Sokheurn, governor of Oddar Meanchey, denied any wrongdoing. “We only make villagers who built movable cottages or grabbed state land return to their legal lands,” he said. Lee Yongphat, chairman of Angkor Sugar, could not be reached for comment.

Assembly OKs final articles of crime law


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:05 Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Sebastian Strangio

THE National Assembly has approved the final articles of the new draft Penal Code by an overwhelming majority, bringing an end to the formal deliberations on the specifics of the law.

The last 46 of the Code’s 672 articles – mostly laws relating to fraud, the forgery of official documents and currency counterfeiting – were passed during the session on Monday, but opposition members again aired concerns the code could endanger the right to freedom of expression.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua said the articles relating to forgery crimes, which carry jail terms of 10 years or more, would help punish powerful people who use fake documents to confiscate land from others for development projects or economic land concessions.

“These laws will scare corrupt people and force them to cease their wrongdoing,” she said.

The issue of implementation, however, continues to be a concern for the opposition. Nhek Bun Chhay, a Funcinpec lawmaker, requested that government representatives clarify the laws relating to forged documents, stating that land conflicts were “a very serious problem” in Cambodia and questioning that the new laws will be enforced on the ground.

“After this law is approved by the King, how will government staff enforce [it] to resolve land conflicts, and how will we punish the crimes?” he asked.

Government officials, however, said the new Penal Code will pave the way for more effective law enforcement than under the UNTAC Law, which has provided the basis for criminal law since 1992.

Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana pledged that judicial authorities would make an effort to ensure its enforcement, stating that “a good law demands good implementation”.

As the debates on the final articles of the code drew to a close, freedom of expression again took centre stage, with Mu Sochua airing concerns that the new law’s articles on defamation and disinformation will have a parlous effect on the state of free speech.

“This law is opposed to the freedom of the press because people can be jailed on charges of incitement against any government official,” she said.

Ou Virak, president of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said that although defamation and disinformation – criminal charges under the new law – did not carry jail terms, a new article criminalising the defamation of government institutions could potentially curtail the work of civil society.

Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha said the law could be successful in reducing crime but agreed it would be a muzzle on freedom of expression.

“This new law is demanding the people not criticise government institutions,” he said.

Ou Virak also faulted the draft code’s review process – including the rejection of officials from the UN’s human rights office during the debate on the code’s defamation articles last week – saying civil society and relevant experts should have been allowed to give input on the code.

“The National Assembly Commission should have ordered an open hearing,” he said. “Why try to show you are trying to hide something?”

US resolution criticises govt


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:05 James O’toole and Chrann Chamroeun

FOUR American lawmakers have submitted a resolution in the United States Congress condemning the “pervasive corruption” of the Cambodian government following a hearing in Washington last month that assessed the Kingdom’s human rights situation.

On September 10, three Cambodians – Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Mu Sochua, Licadho rights group president Kek Galabru and Community Legal Education Centre labour programme head Moeun Tola – testified in front of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a US congressional body that monitors international human rights norms. All three offered pointed criticisms of the Cambodian government, with Mu Sochua testifying that democracy in Cambodia is currently experiencing “an alarming free fall”.

On Thursday, California congressman Ed Royce submitted a three-page resolution on behalf of himself, Tom Lantos Commission co-chairman Frank Wolf and congressmen Jim Moran and Joseph Cao, accusing the Cambodian government of a litany of human rights abuses.

The resolution registered particular concern over the July 2008 murder of opposition journalist Khim Sambo and the August defamation conviction of Mu Sochua, and cited the Global Witness rights group’s description of Cambodia as a state “run by a kleptocratic elite that generates much of its wealth via the seizure of public assets”.

Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) lawmaker Cheam Yeap called the resolution “slander”, and reiterated the CPP complaint that the American hearing was biased because representatives of the Cambodian government were not invited to testify.

“The US House of Representatives should focus on its own work rather than interfering with Cambodia’s Assembly,” Cheam Yeap said, adding that the resolution had “damaged [Cambodia’s] reputation”.

Witnesses voice approval
Moeun Tola said he welcomed the resolution and hoped that its focus on corruption would spur speedy passage of the long-promised anticorruption law.

“One of the biggest problems for business in Cambodia is corruption,” he said, adding: “If we have full respect of investment laws and [other] existing laws, we can have full trust from foreign investors.”

Though the Congressional motion lacks legal force, Mu Sochua noted, it is a sign of the success of last month’s hearing in raising awareness of the challenges facing Cambodia.

“Although the resolution is not binding, it is an acknowledgement by the signatories that the situation of human rights, corruption, rule of law and human trafficking is of grave concern,” she said.

Capsized ferry’s owner still missing



Photo by: Photo Supplied.
Local villagers assist in the hunt for bodies in the aftermath of Saturday night’s ferry disaster, which claimed 17 lives – including that of a 4-year-old boy.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:05 Rann Reuy

THE OWNER of a ferry that capsized in Kratie province Saturday, killing at least 17 people, remained missing Monday amid conflicting reports that he had either drowned in the accident or had escaped and gone into hiding, police said.

Police officials had spoken with the ferry pilot’s wife and daughter, and it was unclear whether he would face criminal charges if he was found alive, said Kratie provincial police Chief Chuong Seang Hak. He said that he believed the man survived the accident.

An employee said Sunday that he saw the owner swim to shore and hide. The man’s daughter, however, told the Post she thought he had drowned.

A dozen other survivors were accounted for by Monday, Chuong Seang Hak said.

Roughly 30 passengers were thought to be on the ferry, which officials said was made to carry 20 people, when it sank in heavy rain Saturday night after those on board panicked.

“Passengers didn’t stay calm when the rain hit,” Chuong Seang Hak said, describing a scene of terrified victims frantically grabbing at one another through the darkness in a struggle to stay afloat.

Meanwhile, distraught relatives mourned their dead Monday. Eang Te, 54, lost four members of his family, including two young grandsons, ages 4 and 5.

“I feel really hopeless,” Eang Te said as family members gathered for a mass funeral for 15 of the dead.

Chhlong commune Chief Lao Bunnim said he was shocked at the news of the drowning. “The boat owner has been doing this job for a long time, and such a terrible thing has never happened before,” he said.

Govt plans awareness campaign for A(H1N1)


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:04 Mom Kunthear

THE Ministry of Health has produced half a million brochures to inform people about how to protect themselves from swine flu during Phnom Penh’s Water Festival in November, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng said Monday.

“The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation will distribute 500,000 brochures during the Water Festival to inform people about the ... virus, its symptoms and how they can seek medical assistance,” he said, adding that the brochure will make it easy for people to know how to protect themselves and others.

“I want to urge all members of the public to stay at home or stay away from the Festival if they have influenza. All people with symptoms should avoid large crowds,” he said.

Dr Nima Asgari, a World Health Organisation public health specialist, said Monday that the Water Festival – an annual celebration of the Tonle Sap river reversing its course – is a good opportunity to spread information about the prevention and treatment of swine flu.

“One million people will come to the city for the festival, so it is a good opportunity for us to broadcast information about A(H1N1),” he said, referring to the swine flu virus that has already claimed three lives in Cambodia and infected 133 people.

Following the three deaths – a 41 year-old woman, a 47-year-old man and a 25 year-old pregnant woman – Cambodians must increase their vigilance, the health minister said, adding that those most vulnerable are pregnant mothers and people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, tuberculosis, kidney disease, liver disease, HIV/AIDS and obesity.

FMs propose ASEAN help with border row



Photo by: AFP
Members of People’s Alliance for Democracy fight with Thai villagers during a protest at Preah Vihear temple last month. Cambodia and Thailand have expressed interest in taking the border dispute to ASEAN.

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[Neutral Asean] may provide an avenue for Thailand and Cambodia to settle the dispute.
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(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:04 Vong Sokheng

Hor Namhong to raise issue at coming summit.

MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong wrote to his Thai counterpart on Monday to propose that the ongoing border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia be placed on the agenda for this month’s ASEAN summit.

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya was quoted last week by the Bangkok Post newspaper as saying that at the ASEAN summit to be held from October 23 to 25 in the Thai resort town of Hua Hin, he would seek ASEAN’s approval in establishing a “neutral organisation” that “may provide an avenue for Thailand and Cambodia to settle the dispute” over their shared border near the Preah Vihear temple complex.

In a letter to Kasit dated Monday, Hor Namhong cited the Bangkok Post article in echoing his support for raising the border issue in Hua Hin.

Copies of the letter were also sent to the bloc’s secretary general, Surin Pitsuwan, and to the other foreign ministers of ASEAN nations.

Cambodia and Thailand have been working bilaterally to demarcate their border under the auspices of the Joint Border Commission.

Tensions rose at the border last month when 5,000 yellow-shirted protesters from the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) converged on Thailand’s Sisaket province to protest their government’s inaction regarding the border issue, saying that Cambodia had infringed on a 4.6-square-kilometre disputed area surrounding Preah Vihear temple.

Cambodian troops stationed at the border said Monday, however, that the situation there remains calm.

Spray leaves hundreds of garment workers ill


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:04 Chhay Channyda and Kim Yuthana

MORE than 500 workers at a Phnom Penh garment factory fainted Monday after they were exposed to a chemical spray, according to the president of the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Staff at the Willbes Cambodia Ltd factory in Choam Chao commune, Dangkor district, fainted because the air was filled with “an unbearable chemical smell”, Chea Mony said. The factory had been closed on Saturday to allow garments to be sprayed with a chemical to make them more durable. “We want the garment factory to take responsibility for this”, he said.

Hem Darith, deputy governor of Dangkor district, said ambulances transported the affected people to various clinics and state hospitals. “There were many ambulances”, he said. “I could not count the number of victims.”

Environment and labour officials launched an immediate investigation and found that the factory, which employs about 2,500 people, wasn’t properly ventilated.

“Not enough air gets into the room,” he said. “There is no fresh air. The workers become weak.” Drinking water from the factory was also tested, but ruled out as a possible cause.

Pok Vanthat, director of the Labour Health Department at the Ministry of Labour, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Union, ministry meet


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:04 Kim Yuthana

A UNION representative from the Tack Fat garment factory said that Monday’s meeting with officials from the Ministry of Social Affairs had concluded with a proposal to pay workers 50 percent of their monthly salary during the factory’s two-month suspension of production.

Union representative Kim Dech said that the next step for the union was putting the plan before the workers.

“We will talk with the workers [today] to tell them the result of the meeting. We will propose a three-day cooling-down period, after which we will start negotiations with the owner of the factory. During this time, the workers will postpone their demonstrations,” he said.

Kert Choeun, chairman of the ministry’s Committee for Dealing with Demonstrations and Strikes, said Monday that he would attempt to get the factory owner to compromise on the 50 percent salary proposal.

“We want the workers to remain patient during this period of negotiations”, Kert Choeun said.

More than 1,800 workers from the Tack Fat garment factory in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district began protests on Thursday when the factory closed its doors without telling them in advance.

Factory owners said that declining garment orders forced them to close for two months. Tack Fat owners initially proposed US$10 as monthly compensation for employees during the suspension in production, precipitating further negotiations.

Ketsana’s cost estimated at $29m




Photo by: World Vision and Oxfam
People in Sandan district, Siem Reap province, use boats to navigate floodwaters. At right, villagers in Kampong Thom province survey damaged homes in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

TYPHOON Ketsana cost Cambodia at least US$29.3 million when it tore through the country with wind speeds of up to 185km/h earlier this month, the National Committee for Disaster Management estimated Monday.

Keo Vy, communication officer at NCDM, said the “primary figure” of $29.3 million may yet increase, as provincial authorities from across the Kingdom will gather Friday in a bid to calculate the exact national cost, he said.

“The figures we have are not exactly right – the cost could be higher when each province files its report because the individual reports will include property damage, too,” Keo Vy said. “We lost most in the agriculture sector,” he said, explaining that 35,681 hectares of paddy fields and 2,071 hectares of other crops were damaged, “but we also lost 229 houses, and we have 641 that need repairing”, he said.

Some villagers in the Stung district of Kampong Thom province have already begun the arduous task of reconstructing their homes, according to World Vision Cambodia communications manager, Haidy Ear-Dupuy.

“Some people have started repairing their houses with metal sheets,” she said Monday, “but some houses still have water underneath them, so those people have not returned from the safe areas yet.”

The initial impact of the typhoon left 24 dead, but as many as 30 more died when severe floods swamped the country in the storm’s aftermath. Further downpours have made recovery efforts painfully slow, relief workers have said.

Kampong Thom province is the most-affected in the Kingdom – about 30,000 hectares of paddy fields and crops were destroyed, according to provincial Governor Chhun Chhorn.

He said the province has not yet calculated the total cost of damage because further rainfall has flooded rural areas and made them hard to reach. “In our province, 17 people died because of the typhoon and flooding,” he said.

More than 20,000 families have received emergency relief from the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC), and on Tuesday, 500 more families will receive food. “We prioritise the most-affected areas,” added Chhun Chhorn.

Uy Sam Ath, director for disaster management at CRC, said Monday that thousands of families have been given immediate assistance. “CRC has already donated food to 2,500 families in Ratanakkiri province and plans to go to Banteay Meanchey province to give food to 800 families on Wednesday,” he said.

On Friday, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered government officials to respond to the needs of people affected. “It must be guaranteed that no one dies of hunger,” he told the Council of Ministers.

Police Blotter: 13 Oct 2009


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:02 Mom Kunthear

MAN SUSPECTED OF RAPING ROOMATE
Police are accusing a man of raping his roommate – a woman who happened to be the wife of the suspect’s friend. Officials say that the rape reportedly happened October 3 in Kandal province’s Setabo district, when the victim’s husband had left to go to his job in a factory. The victim told the police the suspect, herself and her husband were all friends. They rented a room together when they left their home village to work in a factory.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

MAN ACCUSED OF SWINDING MONKS
A man has been arrested in Battambang province on suspicion of having cheated several monks out of US$600. Police say he cheated “many monks” in three Battambang pagodas, and that the suspect confessed to having called monks and offered US$900 to help build a new pagoda. The catch, however, was that the monks had to buy a credit card from him first. The suspect was arrested last Thursday.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

WOMAN FOUND DEAD IN GUESTHOUSE
A woman was found dead in a Central Market guesthouse just a day after she checked in, police said. The woman was found dead Sunday in her room in the Lyhor Guesthouse. On Saturday, guesthouse staff noticed nothing suspicious when she checked in with a male guest, police said. Investigators said they believe the victim was likely strangled to death because of a “black spot” found around her neck.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

FAKE CASH LEADS TO GENUINE ARRESTS
Three people suspected of trafficking counterfeit US dollars were arrested Thursday at a Russey Keo guesthouse, police said. Police say the trio collected US$200 in counterfeit cash. The trio admitted to trafficking the fake money four months ago because they had no jobs, police said, adding that they are still searching for a person believed to be the group’s ringleader.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Lawyers move for judge’s removal


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:04 Sebastian Strangio and Neth Pheaktra

LAWYERS for former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan have not yet filed a motion to remove the international co-investigating judge at the Khmer Rouge tribunal, but saidthey will do so today, following a similar motion filed by defendant Ieng Sary’s lawyers on Friday.

So Sovann, Khieu Samphan’s defence lawyer, said the motion against Judge Marcel Lemonde was to be filed on Monday but was delayed by the necessity of translating the document from French into Khmer.

“The complaint … describes the lack of neutrality and impartiality of Judge Lemonde,” he said. “I am filing this motion to show our cooperation [with Ieng Sary’s lawyers].”

The motion filed by Ieng Sary’s team on Friday was based on an account provided by Wayne Bastin, a former chief of the Intelligence and Analysis Unit of the Office of the Co-Investigating Judges.

In an affidavit signed on Thursday, Bastin said that during an August meeting, Lemonde stated his preference that investigators “find more inculpatory evidence than exculpatory evidence” in the case against four former regime leaders.

In the motion, Ieng Sary’s lawyers say Lemonde’s comments constituted “veiled instruction for the investigators to act in a complicit manner” in their client’s case.

Andrew Ianuzzi, a legal consultant for “Brother No 2” Nuon Chea’s defence team, said Lemonde’s comments were “irresponsible”, describing them as “another blow” to the tribunal’s reputation.

“If true, it could mean that he integrity of over two years of investigative work is now suspect,” he said by email.

When asked whether Nuon Chea’s team would also file a motion against Lemonde, Ianuzzi said it was “considering all of its options”.

Any motions filed will be forwarded to the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber for investigation.

Court spokesman Lars Olsen said Sunday that Judge Lemonde “does not wish to comment on the allegations” but would “provide the Pre-Trial Chamber with all necessary information”.

PM gives send-off to youth leaders


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:03 Meas Sokchea

TWENTY-NINE Cambodian youngsters met Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday to receive his advice before leaving the Kingdom to participate in the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Programme 2009.

The Cambodian delegates, 14 of whom are girls, are to spend 52 days on the youth ship as it docks in six countries – Japan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s assistant, Ieng Sophalleth, said the premier advised delegates to “maintain their dignity” while participating in the programme, since they will be “representing Cambodia and its people” for the duration of the voyage.

“The aim of this programme is to strengthen relationships between Cambodia, Japan, Philippines and other countries in ASEAN,” said the chief of the programme’s Cambodian delegation, Nith Bunlay.

“It is also an opportunity for Cambodia to show its culture to other ASEAN countries,” he added.

The programme was organised by the Japanese government in 1974 to strengthen cooperation and understanding among neighbouring countries and to promote their visions to the international community.

This year’s programme is the 36th of its kind and will take place from October 27 to December 17.

Justice Ministry to probe judge’s actions


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:03 Meas Sokchea

CAMBODIA’S Justice Ministry has ordered an investigation into the actions of a controversial provincial judge accused of various improprieties – including using a pickup truck that the courts had seized as evidence in a murder case.

Under questioning from opposition lawmaker Mu Sochua Monday, Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana told parliamentarians he had ordered inspectors to probe whether Ratanakkiri provincial court Judge Thor Saron had used confiscated property for his own personal use.

“I think it could be illegal if [Thor Saron] used it for his personal use,” Ang Vong Vathana said.

Thor Saron was accused of using the truck after a trial over a 2007 robbery that resulted in the deaths of two people.

Contacted by the Post Monday, Thor Saron said he “borrowed” the vehicle for both personal and professional purposes.

Thor Saron said that he and a court prosecutor used the truck, but often to conduct legal business.

“If I ride by myself alone, it is for individual use,” he said. “But we also used it for transporting criminals to the courts and to prison.”

The judge said that for now he has stopped driving the truck, which is now gathering dust in a warehouse.

“Since there is a problem, I stopped using it, and now I will leave it as evidence,” he said.

Mu Sochua said she was pleased the minister had addressed her issue.

However, she wondered if the judge would face the full power of the law.

One legal observer said it’s likely the judge was technically not breaking the law, if only because there isn’t a specific rule on the books banning such behaviour.

“It is not illegal because the law does not state it, but it is not fair,” said Sok Sam Oeun of the Cambodian Defenders Project. “Property should be left as evidence.”

Thor Saron has sparred frequently with human rights advocates who say he has harassed rights workers in the province, including threatening Adhoc activist Pen Bonnar with charges of defamation, incitement and terrorism if he remained in Ratanakkiri.

Officials allege Thai blockade


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:03 Rann Reuy

ABOUT 60 Thai trucks blocked the road connecting Thailand with Cambodia in Banteay Meanchey province Sunday, preventing Cambodian farmers from exporting cassava roots, officials and local villagers said.

Nou Yorth, chief of the monitoring office at the Boeung Trakoun border checkpoint in Banteay Meanchey province, said Sunday that Thai farmers blocked the road to prevent vans carrying the wet cassava root over the border.

He said it followed a week-long blockade in September, which forced Cambodian farmers to suspend exports, after which the road was reopened.

“There seem to be spies to watch the road,” he said. “When we send two or three trucks, they come together to block [it].”

Sex-trade crackdown ensnares 13 in capital


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

POLICE have arrested 13 prostitutes in what officials are calling a sex-trade crackdown in one Phnom Penh district.

The women, who were arrested Friday night, have been forced to go through an “education programme” run by local NGOs, authorities in the municipality’s social affairs department said. The women were arrested while walking along Monireth Boulevard in Tuol Kork district.

“They were wearing sexy clothes, standing on the main street and waving to passing travellers,” district Deputy Governor Sang Sophak Vichet said.

The women were negotiating prices of between US$15 and $20 a night, he said.

“They caused disorder and affected social morality and Khmer traditions,” he said.

The official claimed the women caused a ruckus in the community, using drugs and fighting with one another over customers.

“It is illegal for those girls to sell sex on the streets at night time,” Sang Sophak Vichet said. “They are hired by several pimps, who give them salaries of up to US$150.”

Sorn Sophal, director of the Social Affairs Department, said the women have been sent to vocational training programmes run by several NGOs.

The department lacks the resources to retrain sex trade workers itself, Sorn Sophal said, adding that instead it often partners with local groups.

Gender parity report due


(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:03 Ian Paynton

A NEW report on gender equality and female empowerment is due to be launched by the UN Development Fund for Women in Phnom Penh on Thursday as part of the United Nations’ bid to halt poverty by 2015, said a statement issued Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An is to be at the Phnom Penh Hotel to open the launch ceremony of UNIFEM’s flagship publication “Progress of the World’s Women 2008/2009: Who Answers to Women? Gender and Accountability”. The document will present new data showing gender equality and women’s empowerment are the key to reducing poverty, strengthening justice, reducing maternal mortality and enhancing the effectiveness of donor aid.

“This report is a global, highly influential report, with many high-ranking politicians contributing to the publication,” said Laura Portaro, a UNIFEM project officer in Cambodia.

“NGOs, the UN and government officials will all have the chance to ask a panel of development representatives what ‘accountability to gender’ means to their organisations.”

At the same time, UNIFEM will also launch “Making the MDGs Work for All; Gender-Responsive Rights-Based Approaches to the Millennium Development Goals”.

The reports will be used by policy planners to achieve the gender targets of the Millennium Development Goals, a series of measurable targets forming the UN’s blueprint that aims to halt poverty by 2015.

Garment exports continue slide in August with 19pc fall



Photo by: GEORGE MCLEOD
Workers sew garments for export at an Injae Garment Co Ltd factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Preliminary government figures showed exports worsened again in August.

(Post by CAAI News Media)

Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:01 Chun Sophal and Nathan Green

After annualised figures show improvement in July, August’s official data reveal a slight drop in exports as slump persists

CAMBODIA’S garment exports continued to drop on an annualised basis in August according to provisional figures release Monday by the Ministry of Commerce.

The 19.17 percent year-on-year fall in the value of garment exports during the month to US$263.39 million follows an 18.84 percent fall in July and a 33.06 percent fall in June.

Total garment exports for the first eight months of the year were worth $1.59 billion, 22.56 percent lower than over the eight months to the end of August 2008, figures from the ministry’s Trade Preferences System Department show.

Department Director Mean Sophea said the figures for August were not final, as not all factories had yet submitted their export data. However, he said that any future adjustments to the numbers were likely to be minor.

The figures also show that textile exports fell 15.18 percent in August to $3.06 million, while exports of footwear gained 1.93 percent to $8.10 million. Textile exports were worth $19.41 million for the year to the end of August, 21.31 percent less than a year earlier, while footwear exports grew 26.66 percent to $72.44 million, including $44.09 million in exports to the European Union, up 10.92 percent year-on-year.

US demand remains low
The decline of exports to the United States was the main reason for the fall in export volumes, said Aok Bung, secretary of state at the commerce ministry in charge of garment exports.

“This year, because of the effect of the world economic crisis, American people have spent less money on clothes than they did last year,” he said.

Ministry figures show garment exports to the key US market were down 27.87 percent to $165.48 million in August, representing around 70 percent of total garment exports. US buyers took just over $1 billion worth of output from Cambodia’s garment manufacturers over the first eight months of 2009, down 29.9 percent from $1.42 billion a year earlier.

Garment exports to the EU shrank a more modest 7.20 percent over the period to $383.68 million, boosted by an 8.87 percent jump in August to $64.27 million.

TNT Express Worldwide (Cambodia) Country General Manager Sjaak de Klein told the Post last week that he had witnessed a pickup in garment factories in the last couple of months, with many factories receiving new orders and “showing a lot more interest in terms of bringing in fabrics and accessories”.

Vietnam performs better
The poor performance of the Cambodian sector comes in stark contrast to that of neighbouring Vietnam, where shipments fell just 1 percent to $6.73 billion over the first nine months of the year, Bloomberg reported Monday.

Vietnam’s low-cost manufacturing base has allowed exports of items such as garments to be more resilient than elsewhere in Asia, Ho Chi Minh City-based fund managers Dragon Capital said last month.

“April and May were very tough months, but in June a lot of orders started coming in, mainly from Europe and Latin America,” John Marron, managing director of Midas Clothing Ltd in Ho Chi Minh City, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying. “People have been moving garment export production out of China, which is becoming more expensive, while Vietnamese prices are stable.”