Thursday, 22 October 2009

South Korean President Calls For 'Rectangular' Cooperation With Cambodia


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct 22 (Bernama) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday promised full support for "rectangular cooperation" with Cambodia to provide new business opportunities in four major areas.

He proposed the countries work to launch new cooperation projects in four areas -- the agricultural, forestry, services and infrastructure sectors -- in what he called a "rectangular cooperation" programme, according to the Yonhap news agency.

"South Korea will share its development experience with all countries that strive to leap forward. We will especially share our experience with Cambodia and support its establishment of social infrastructure," Lee said in a luncheon with some 100 business representatives of the two countries that was also attended by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The South Korean head of state is here on a two-day state visit that will end Friday, as he will be attending a a regional forum hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Thailand.

Lee said the complementary economies of South Korea and Cambodia will provide vast and unexplored areas of cooperation as long as the countries are willing to work together, Yonhap said.

"The basis for that is already there as South Korea and ASEAN enacted a free trade agreement (FTA) in the service sector this year following the enactment of their FTA in 2007," Lee said.

The "rectangular cooperation" term comes from the Cambodian prime minister's famous reform policy, which seeks to develop Cambodia based on growth, employment, equity and efficiency.

"I believe there are more than enough conditions for an expansion of cooperation between our two nations with the enactment of the (Korea-ASEAN) FTA and the strong will of their governments for economic cooperation," the South Korean leader said.

The two nations will sign an agreement during Lee's visit on Seoul's provision of US$200 million in development loans to Cambodia from 2009-2012, according to the South Korean presidential office.

The countries are also set to launch a joint development program next year, through which Seoul will help set up "master plans" for the development of Cambodia while sharing its development experience with the country, the office said.

Lee is currently on a three-nation Southeast Asian tour that earlier took him to Vietnam.

-- BERNAMA

Thai PM rebukes Hun Sen



Thailand rebuked neighbouring Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday for his offer to let fugitive former Thai prime Thaksin Shinawatra stay 'anytime.' -- PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP

Oct 22, 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK - THAILAND rebuked neighbouring Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday for his offer to let fugitive former Thai prime Thaksin Shinawatra stay 'anytime.'

Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, in charge of national security, told reporters that Mr Hun Sen should not be meddling in Thailand's affairs after he reportedly said that Thaksin had not received justice at home.

'We have an extradition treaty with Cambodia, so if Thaksin goes there we will officially notify the Cambodian government and seek his extradition,' said Mr Suthep. 'This is Thailand's own internal affair and we can solve this issue by ourselves. No foreigner can solve an internal matter. Thai people can think for themselves.'

Cambodia's state-run TVK said Wednesday that Hun Sen made the invitation during a private meeting Wednesday with Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, a key member of Thailand's main opposition party Puea Thai.

Thaksin, on his online Twitter feed, thanked Hun Sen for his controversial invitation but stopped short of accepting it. 'I thank Prime Minister Hun Sen for telling the public that I am still his friend and that he would welcome me at any time and arrange a house for me in Phnom Penh,' Thaksin wrote.

He said that he was currently staying in Dubai. -- AFP

Govt would seek Thaksin's extradition from Cambodia


Published: 22/10/2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva rebuked neighbouring Cambodia's premier Hun Sen on Thursday for his offer to let fugitive former Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra stay there "anytime".

Mr Abhisit told reporters that his Cambodian counterpart should keep friendship and politics separate.

"I have talked with Hun Sen several times and he's told me that he's Thaksin's friend, but that he will separate friendship from duty and international affairs," said Mr Abhisit.

"I have told Hun Sen that anyone appointed to an important position must separate out their personal relations," he said.

Thaksin was ousted in a 2006 coup and continues to live in exile after fleeing in August last year to avoid a two-year jail term for abuse of power while in office office, handed down by the Supreme Court

Mr Abhisit reiterated Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban's announcement that the government would seek Thaksin's extradition if he ever set foot in Cambodia.

"Once Thaksin enters Cambodia the extradition process will begin.

''If Cambodia fails to comply with the treaty, that would be another story," he said, adding that he hoped to meet Hun Sen at the weekend.

Regional leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are to gather at the coastal town Hua Hin on Friday to attend the 15th Asean Summit and other regional meetings.

Mr Abhisit said that he would not raise the issue of providing refuge for Thaksin when he meets Hun Sen this weekend.

The prime minister said there was nothing out of the ordinary in Hun Sen's not being available to attend the official opening of the summit. Several other leaders would also not be able to attend the ceremony.

This would not affect relations and cooperation between the two countries, he said.

Asean secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said later that Hun Sen was required to welcome the South Korean president, who was arriving on a visit to Phnom Penh.

Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, in charge of national security, told reporters that Hun Sen should not meddle in Thailand's affairs.

Cambodia's state-run TVK said on Wednesday that Hun Sen made the overture to Thaksin during a private meeting on Wednesday with Gen Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, a key member of the main opposition Puea Thai Party.

"Thaksin was a political victim. I respect and like him more now than when he was a prime minister," Hun Sen said in Phnom Penh.

Gen Chavalit also told reporters after the meeting that Hun Sen feels Thaksin is not being fairly treated politically, so he wanted to make it publicly known that he and Thaksin had always been friends.

Mr Suthep said he was not surprised by the remark by Gen Chavalit that Hun Sen had offered Thaksin a home.

"Thailand will make an extradition request if Thaksin is given shelter in Cambodia," Mr Suthep said.

"If Hun Sen is a friend of someone we have a problem with, there is no reason for us to be angry with the entire country," he continued. "I am sure he would differentiate between friendship and legal proceedings."

Thaksin, on his online Twitter feed, thanked Hun Sen for the invitation but stopped short of accepting it.

He said that he was currently staying in Dubai.

Relations between Cambodia and Thailand have been difficult for months amid an ongoing border conflict.

The two governments have been at loggerheads over the land around the Preah Vihear temple for decades. Tensions spilled over into violence in July last year, when the temple was granted Unesco World Heritage status.

The Thai government has repeatedly attempted to arrest Thaksin abroad, but the former premier travels on various passports.

Cambodia protests to Thailand over logger's shooting


2009-10-22 17:47
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct 22 (AFP) - Cambodia on Thursday filed a protest with neighbouring Thailand saying that Thai soldiers shot dead a man while he was cutting down trees on their border, according a diplomatic letter.

In a letter to the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's foreign ministry said Thai troops on Monday "fired at a group of Cambodian villagers while they were allegedly cutting down trees in the border area."

"One man from the group, named Sim Bun Chhim, was seriously wounded and died during transport to hospital," said the letter posted on the foreign ministry's website, calling the alleged incident an "inhuman act."

The letter urged Thai authorities to investigate the "unfortunate incident and bring to justice those who committed the above acts of cruelty."

The Cambodian government said the incident was "another serious breach of internationally accepted humanitarian principles" and asked Thailand to prevent similar acts in the future.

The incident is alleged to have taken place in northern Cambodia's Oddar Meanchey province, where another attack allegedly took place last month.

Cambodia in September filed a similar letter of protest to Thailand. alleging Thai soldiers shot and burned alive a teenager for illegally cutting down trees on their border.

The border between the two countries has never been fully demarcated, in part because it is littered with landmines left over from decades of war in Cambodia. (AFP)

Q+A - What's behind Cambodia's offer to give Thaksin a home?


Thu Oct 22, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By Martin Petty

BANGKOK, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has offered to give asylum to fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, his "eternal friend", a move likely to further strain ties between the two countries.

Hun Sen's offer will rile Thailand's shaky government as it hosts a summit this week of 16 Asia-Pacific leaders twice delayed due to political unrest that has plagued Southeast Asia's second-biggest economy for four years.


WHY HAS HUN SEN MADE THE OFFER TO THAKSIN?

The outspoken Cambodian premier has always got on well with Thaksin, an investor in his country's telecoms sector in the past and reported to be looking at new investments, including casinos.

He considers Thaksin to be a victim of a political vendetta and has made it clear he is not fond of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's government.

Hun Sen is a wily politician who has often used the historical rivalry between the two countries to stoke nationalist fervour for his own gain. His offer to Thaksin will anger many Thais and thus score a few points for him at home.

A long dispute over the 11th century Preah Vihear temple has gained momentum under Abhisit's government and Hun Sen was not impressed when Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya reportedly called him a "gangster". Kasit denies saying that.

HOW HAS THAILAND RESPONDED?

Keen to save face among his peers, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban, who has called Hun Sen a friend, played down the asylum offer and said the Cambodian premier had misunderstood Thailand's political situation.

But the government and Thaksin's opponents in the Thai establishment and military will be seething at the prospect of the billionaire running a political campaign from a neighbouring country.

Should Thaksin move to Cambodia, Thailand would probably seek his extradition to serve a two-year prison sentence he was given for graft. However, Cambodia and Thailand have no extradition treaty.

HOW WILL A MOVE TO CAMBODIA HELP THAKSIN?

Thaksin's strategy to wrestle back power after being ousted in a 2006 coup centres on the ballot box. His latest political party, Puea Thai, would probably win most votes when another election takes place.

Thaksin has mobilised his supporters in Puea Thai, which has mass rural support, and in an extra-parliamentary movement that is stepping up street protests to bring down Abhisit's government.

A base in Cambodia would let him use his vast wealth and mass support to coordinate his political campaign, making meetings with his henchmen easier and allowing him to stage public relations stunts in the vote-rich northeast bordering Cambodia.


HOW WOULD THIS AFFECT THAILAND'S POLITICAL CRISIS?

It could intensify the standoff, and the prospect of a pro-Thaksin party returning to power would prompt outrage among his opponents who have fought hard to keep him at bay.

Mass street protests and legal challenges against Thaksin and his allies would resume, further polarising the country, spooking investors and tourists and plunging Thailand into deeper uncertainty. Credit ratings could be downgraded.
WILL HUN SEN'S OFFER OVERSHADOW THE SUMMIT?

Hun Sen previously threatened boycotts over the temple dispute and has said he would arrive late in Hua Hin for the gathering of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

It is likely to take centre stage and further embarrass Thailand, whose presidency of the grouping has been fraught with problems. Diplomatic spats are common in ASEAN and the move could derail attempts to seek consensus on a number of issues.

(Editing by Alan Raybould and Sanjeev Miglani)

Korea to increase loans to Cambodia



(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH -- Korea yesterday agreed to increase its development assistance to Cambodia and promote a range of cooperation projects in industrialization, agriculture, resources and forest plantation.

The agreements were made during a summit between President Lee Myung-bak and Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh.

Lee arrived here early yesterday for a two-day visit as part of a weeklong Southeast Asia tour.

"President Lee promised to expand Korea's support for Cambodia's development as part of his New Asia Initiative," Kim Eun-hye, presidential spokeswoman said.

The two leaders celebrated the remarkable progress in bilateral ties since the two countries normalized diplomatic ties in 1997 and agreed to further cooperation, she added.

Korea, one of biggest donors and investors in the kingdom, agreed to offer $200 million in development loans from 2009-12, revising a 2008 plan to provide $120 million from 2008-11, the presidential office said.

The revised Economic Development Cooperation Fund agreement was signed by foreign ministers at the close of the summit.

Seoul will also launch a comprehensive consultation for Phnom Penh's national development next year, as part of efforts to share its industrialization experience with developing countries.

"Korea will take part in formulating Cambodia's master plan for development," the spokeswoman said.

Seoul plans to establish an agricultural technology development center next year. It also supports the establishment of a bourse for equities and bonds which will open at the end of next year, she added.

After the summit, they observed the signing of memorandums of understanding for cooperation in mineral resources, forestation, climate change and broadcasting. The two nations also signed an extradition treaty.

Korea agreed to develop 200,000 hectares of forest in Cambodia for the production of bio-energy.

Before the summit, Lee paid a visit to King Norodom Sihamoni and attended a forum of business executives from the two countries.

In his speech to the forum, Lee praised the fast development of Cambodia, which recorded 10 percent annual growth in recent years.

He also called for business cooperation between the two countries in agriculture, forestry, service industry and infrastructure.

Korea is Cambodia's closest partner in investment, tourism, cultural exchanges, job training, information technology, construction, finance and aviation industries.

Two-way trade was $308 million in 2008, six times as much as $50 million recorded in 1997.

Korea is the second largest investor in Cambodia after China. Its investment in the nation increased 75-fold from $33 million to $2.48 billion.

Hun Sen visited Seoul in June to attend a summit between Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The leaders have a close relationship. Lee once served as an economic adviser to Hun Sen and the Cambodian leader attended Lee's inauguration in February 2008.

Hun Sen also deeply impressed citizens here when he personally headed rescue efforts after a passenger flight carrying many Koreans crashed in his country in 2007.


By Hwang Jang-jin/Korea Herald correspondent

Thailand shrugs off Cambodia exile offer for Thaksin


Demonstrators gather next to a portrait of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra during a rally outside the Government House in Bangkok October 17, 2009. Thailand's embattled government on Thursday played down Cambodia's offer of asylum for fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.  REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom/Files



Thu Oct 22, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By Pracha Hariraksapitak

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's embattled government on Thursday played down Cambodia's offer of asylum for fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, as an anti-government campaign again cast a shadow over a Thai-hosted regional summit.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday described Thaksin, ousted in a 2006 coup, as an "eternal friend" and said he had a residence in neighbouring Cambodia waiting for him, state television reported.

Thailand is seeking to extradite billionaire Thaksin, who is currently living in Dubai, to serve a jail term for corruption.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban told reporters on Thursday he was not surprised by Hun Sen's offer, which was conveyed to Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, a Thai political heavyweight and close Thaksin aide, during a visit to Phnom Penh.

"It is a liberty of a prime minister of a country to have as many friends as he wishes. If he is a friend of someone whom we have a problem with, there is no reason for us to be mad at the entire country," Suthep said.

Thailand and Cambodia have a history of fraught relations. Earlier this month Hun Sen caused a stir when he ordered troops to shoot any Thai crossing illegally into Cambodia, as nationalist tensions mounted over an 11th century temple the two countries have fought over for decades.

Cambodia's offer coincides with a summit of Asian leaders in Hua Hin, Thailand, where Hun Sen is due to meet his Thai counterpart Abhisit Vejjajiva, whose fragile government is battling to survive amid mass protests by Thaksin's supporters.

Hun Sen previously threatened to boycott the Hua Hin meeting over the temple row, but has confirmed he will attend, though he will miss Friday's opening ceremony.

The ASEAN and East Asia Summits have been postponed on two occasions in Thailand over the past year due to political unrest, causing the government deep embarrassment.


STRAINED TIES

Abhisit has been anxious to minimise Thaksin's influence from exile, and Cambodia's offer to Thaksin is sure to further strain relations.

However, Suthep said it was unnecessary for Thailand to issue a protest letter, adding Hun Sen would not have said Thaksin has been unfairly treated if he had been properly informed.

"What he (Hun Sen) said and felt may be different from what many of us here do ... If we feel that he has been misinformed, we should provide him the correct information," he said.

"Even Thais have different ideas (over Thaksin). While a group of Thais come out on the street and say Thaksin is mistreated, a large number of us feel Thaksin has put the country in damage."

Hun Sen also pledged his support for Puea Thai, Thailand's main opposition and the latest incarnation of Thaksin's disbanded mass Thai Rak Thai party.

Thaksin, who scored an unprecedented two landslide election victories, has been living mostly in Dubai since skipping bail in August 2008 to avoid a two-year prison sentence for graft.

He owns a private jet and has travelled the world on various passports, including one from Nicaragua, and continues to rally his supporters in telephone and video addresses from exile.

Analysts say with Thaksin's vast war chest and huge support among the rural masses, Puea Thai would likely win the next election, a scenario that would lead to more instability in a country dogged by four years of intractable political strife.

(Additional reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Writing by Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

Economic pacts to be signed on Korean leader's visit to Cambodia


Thu, 22 Oct 2009 05:40:47 GMT
By : dpa

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh - South Korean President Lee Myung Bak arrived in Phnom Penh Thursday on an official two-day visit focused on economic matters. "His visit will strengthen relations and cooperation between the countries," Cambodia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said Thursday. "[A number of] documents will be signed today, especially on economics and investment."

Lee was first due to meet King Norodom Sihamoni and later Thursday was to hold talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen, during which the two nations plan to sign several agreements.

Among those deals is one mapping out further loans to Cambodia from South Korea's Economic Development Cooperation Fund over the next three years.

The leaders were also scheduled to sign memoranda on mineral exploration in Cambodia as well as an extradition agreement.

South Korea is a key investor in Cambodia. In recent years, its firms have been involved in a number of infrastructure development projects, including power transmission lines, a sewerage system and a hydroelectric plant.

South Korean companies have also invested in the property sector, particularly in the capital, Phnom Penh, although a number of those projects have been put on ice since the global economic crisis hit last year.

Figures released to local media by the South Korean embassy in Phnom Penh showed bilateral trade between the two nations over the four years to 2008 totalled 750 million US dollars with the bulk of that comprising South Korean exports to Cambodia.

South Korea is also important as a source of tourists to the kingdom although the number of its nationals visiting dropped one-third in the first eight months of the year from the same period last year to 123,000.

Cambodia is hoping that arrivals from South Korea would pick up as it heads into its peak tourism period in the coming weeks.

On Friday, Lee was due to visit Siem Reap to see the Angkor Wat temple complex before flying to Thailand for the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Hua Hin. The regional body has scheduled talks with a number of non-ASEAN nations, including South Korea.

Thailand-Cambodia spar over hospitality to Thaksin


AP - Thursday, October 22

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Thailand's government threatened Thursday to seek the extradition of Thaksin Shinawatra if the fugitive former prime minister accepts an invitation for refuge in neighboring Cambodia.

The reaction came a day after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen pronounced Thaksin a "political victim" and said he was welcome in Cambodia _ even adding that there's a house ready for him.

Hun Sen's comments were bound to increase tensions between the often-bickering neighbors and clearly timed to rattle Thailand's current leadership. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is hosting an annual summit of Asian leaders this weekend under tight security to prevent protests by Thaksin supporters. At a previous summit in April, Thaksin supporters stormed the venue and leaders were evacuated by helicopter.

"I would like to assure Thaksin and his supporters that Hun Sen will be his friend forever," Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told reporters in Phnom Penh on Wednesday after a meeting with influential former Thai prime minister, Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who recently allied with Thaksin as a member of the opposition Puea Thai Party.

Thaksin has been living mostly in self-imposed exile since he was ousted in a 2006 coup after six years as prime minister. He was convicted last year of conflict of interest and sentenced to two years in prison, and Thai officials have revoked his personal and diplomatic passports.

"Thaksin was a political victim. I respect and like him more now than when he was a prime minister," Hun Sen said, adding that he has prepared a house where Thaksin can stay at any time.

Relations between Cambodia and Thailand have already been sour due to a border dispute over a parcel of land around an 11th century temple.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban called Chavalit's visit to Cambodia an attempt to "create legitimacy for Thaksin."

"If we find out that he is living in Cambodia, we will start a legal proceeding to ask for his extradition," Suthep told reporters in Bangkok, dismissing questions about potential damage to Thai-Cambodia relations.

"It's a normal because they are friends," Suthep said, referring to Hun Sen and Thaksin. "But I am sure (Hun Sen) will differentiate between friendship and legal proceedings."

Past extradition attempts to other countries have failed due partly to bureaucracy and an inability to locate Thaksin, the government has said.

Since the coup, Thaksin has surfaced in Dubai, Hong Kong, Nicaragua, Liberia, and Montenegro in pursuit of investment opportunities.

Thaksin, a former telecommunications tycoon, remains popular among the Thai poor who benefited from his populist policies, but he is reviled by many of the elite in Bangkok, where his administration was seen as deeply corrupt. Thaksin has repeatedly denied allegations of wrongdoing.

Much of his fortune remains frozen in Thai banks, and he has been barred from several countries following diplomatic pressure from Thailand.

Britain revoked Thaksin's visa in November last year, and Germany later revoked his residency permit.

Thaksin warned about extradition if entering Cambodia


Thu, October 22, 2009
By The Nation

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra will face extradition if he enters Cambodia, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuagsuban said on Thursday.

Suthep said Cambodia and Thailand has an extradition agreement which will be enforced to apprehend Thaksin in order to bring him back to serve his two-year jail term.

He was reacting to reports that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has offered to build a house to welcom Thaksin who he sees as a old friend.

Pheu Thai adviser Chavalit Yongchaiyudh broke the news about Hun Sen's offer following his visit to Phnom Phen on Wednesday.

"I am not surprised about friendship between Hun Sen and Thaksin but Thailand will make the extradition request if Thaksin is provided with a permanent shelter in Cambodia," Suthep said.

S Korean president visits Cambodia to strengthen bilateral ties


http://www.chinaview.cn/
2009-10-22
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak arrived here on Thursday to start his two-day visit to Cambodia at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The official welcoming ceremony will be held at the Royal Palace by King Norodom Sihamoni.

During his stay, Lee Myung-bak will receive a royal audience by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, hold the bilateral summit meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen, and both of them will also witness the signing of a host of bilateral agreements. At the same time, Lee will also visit a South Korea's company here and the world famous tourism site Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.

It is Lee's first visit to the Kingdom since he became president in February last year.

The relationship between Cambodia and South Korea has developed steadily. South Korea now becomes the second largest foreign investor in Cambodia. According to local media reports, South Korea's investment in Cambodia increased more than 70 fold from 33million U.S. dollars in 1997 to 2,480 million U.S. dollars in 2008, and the bilateral trade volume rose to 310 million U.S. dollars in2008 from 50 million U.S. dollars in 1997. Moreover, South Korean tourists were on top of foreign arrivals to Cambodia from 2004 through 2008.

After Cambodia, Lee will also attend the annual East Asia Summit to be held in Hua Hin, Thailand, back-to-back sessions of the 15th ASEAN Summit set on October 23-25, that involves the ASEAN Plus Three and India, Australia and New Zealand.

Editor: Lin Liyu

S. Korean president calls for 'rectangular' cooperation with Cambodia


2009/10/22
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

By Byun Duk-kun

PHNOM PENH, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday promised full support for "rectangular cooperation" with Cambodia to provide new business opportunities in four major areas, including agriculture and mining.

"South Korea will share its development experience with all countries that strive to leap forward. We will especially share our experience with Cambodia and support its establishment of social infrastructure," Lee said in a luncheon with some 100 business representatives of the two countries that was also attended by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The South Korean head of state is here on a two-day state visit that will end Friday when he travels to Thailand for a regional forum hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Lee said the complementary economies of South Korea and Cambodia will provide vast and unexplored areas of cooperation as long as the countries are willing to work together.

"The basis for that is already there as South Korea and ASEAN enacted a free trade agreement (FTA) in the service sector this year following the enactment of their FTA in 2007," Lee said.

He proposed the countries work to launch new cooperation projects in four areas -- the agricultural, forestry, services and infrastructure sectors -- in what he called a "rectangular cooperation" program.

The term comes from the Cambodian prime minister's famous reform policy, which seeks to develop Cambodia based on growth, employment, equity and efficiency.

"I believe there are more than enough conditions for an expansion of cooperation between our two nations with the enactment of the (Korea-ASEAN) FTA and the strong will of their governments for economic cooperation," the South Korean leader said.

The two nations will sign an agreement during Lee's visit on Seoul's provision of US$200 million in development loans to Cambodia from 2009-2012, according to the South Korean presidential office.

The countries are also set to launch a joint development program next year, through which Seoul will help set up "master plans" for the development of Cambodia while sharing its development experience with the country, the office said.

Lee is currently on a three-nation Southeast Asian tour that earlier took him to Vietnam.

Cross-border bus service planned between Laos and Cambodia

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

Asia-Pacific News
Oct 22, 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Vientiane - Laos and Cambodia are planning to allow cross-border bus services to operate in a bid to boost tourism and trade between the two neighbouring countries, state media reports said Thursday.

Deputy Director of the Transport Department Bouaphet Xayasan said the agreement was reached last month and the department is now in the process of granting permits to Lao public bus companies to run the service to Cambodian towns, the Vientiane Times reported.

The Lao government has granted permission to the Pakxe Public Bus Association to provide a bus service between Champasak, southern Laos, to Siem Reap, home to Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat temple complex, and Phnom Penh.

Cambodian bus operators have agreed to provide services on the same route.

Bus travel between Pakxe and Phnom Penh will take a whole day, said the state-owned newspaper.

'The bus service between Laos and Cambodia would boost tourism in the two countries because tourists would have more options and cheaper ways of travel,' the Vientiane Times said.

Hun Sen Offers House in Cambodia for Thaksin


Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 22 October 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media) 

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen will offer a new house to the self-exiled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Sinawatra if he wants to pay a visit to Cambodia, according to a high-ranking Cambodian Government official.

The premier’s remarks follow a visit from former Thai Prime Minister Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, who is very close to Thaksin and visited Cambodia.

Gen. Chavalit Yongchaiyuth, leader-in-waiting of Thailand’s opposition Puea Thai Party, is visiting Phnom Penh at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, a high ranking official of the government official told DAP News Cambodia on Wednesday.

“The two parties discuss bilaterally to promote and strengthen between Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) and Puea Thai Party leaders,” the official added.

Meanwhile, the premier requested to establish a working group to cooperate with Cambodian Minister of Defense Tea Banh, also a deputy prime minister, will be assigned as a leader of the above working group. A high-ranking military official from the Puea Thai Party will be another leader of the group.

“Premier Hun Sen also urged red shirts to support the party,” the official confirmed.

Some analysts asked if cooperation between the premier Hun Sen and Chavalit Yongchaiyuth could be a bid the add further pressure to the Thai Government led by Abhisit, which was elected by a coup back by factions of the Thai army. The Government is unworried by Puea Thai core member Chavalit Yongchaiyudh’s plan to meet Cambo- dian Prime Minister Hun Sen during his visit to Phnom Penh, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban was quoted as Wednesday’s Bangkok Post as saying. Suthep said the former prime minister, who joined the opposition Puea Thai Party earlier this month, would not do anything to harm the country.

“Gen Chavalit’s visit to Cambodia is not considered disrespectful to the government. To the contrary, if his visit proves to be in the country’s best interests we would have to thank him,” Suthep was quoted as saying by the Bangkok Post.

The deputy prime minister, who is in charge of security affairs, said he had met Prime Minister Hun Sen several times and received “positive cooperation” from the Cambodian Government.

Asked if Gen Chavalit could travel to Cambodia to meet fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Suthep said the Thai Government was not keeping tabs on Gen Chavalit.

Lawmaker Castigates Thailand for UNESCO Opposition, Duplicity


Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 22 October 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A Cambodian National Assembly member and Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) lawmaker on Wednesday lambasted Thai leaders who he said will oppose Cambodia becoming a member of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.

In a scathing rebuke delivered at an NA debate on Wednesday, Cheam Yeab, Economic, Financial, Banking and Audit Commission director, alleged Thai leaders “always supported and agreed to all PM Hun Sen’s suggestions,” but then duplicitously reneged on the deals.

He also accused Thai leaders of using Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Temple as a political instrument.

“I would like to let the president and the whole meeting know that I react to Thai leaders, as I am a member of Cambodia senator, but I dare to face and be responsible for my country,” he said.

“I am responsible all if any one files complaint me,” he added, referring to Cambodia’s increasingly authoritarian defamation laws. According to Cheam Yeab, Thai senators on Tuesday held a forum to oppose Cambodia to become a member of World Heritage Commit- tee, a decision to be decided by a vote to be held in Paris.

“We have prepared already to agree Cambodia become a member of the World Heritage Committee, as more 150 countries support Cambodia, but I heard on Tuesday that they [the Thais] held a forum to oppose Cambodia candidacy,” Cheam Yeab said at the NA meeting.

He said that opposing Cambodia as a World Heritage Committee Member to was the latest addition to Bangkok Government leaders’ catalogue of infamy, and was unsurprising after their opposition of Preah Vihear’s inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cambodia Collects Drug Data for More Effective Policy


Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 22 October 2009
(POsted by CAAI News Media)

Cambodian commune councilors will play a key role in contributing data on drug usage in the kingdom, officials said on Wednesday. It is hoped collection of clear information will further the battle against narcotics.

“We will have clear and detailed data of drug issues in the country because we will collect data and then fight against drug trafficking,” Moek Dara, secretary general of the National Authority of Combating Drugs (NACD), told a seminar held in Phnom Penh to explain the data collection scheme. The evaluation stage will be followed by an action plan for combating narcotics between 2010 and 2012, he said.

Douglas Broderick, resident coordinator UN Country team, said that international partners will stand with Government to fight drug related crimes and drug trafficking. “We will continue to support Cambodia on this issue,” he said, adding that Cambodia is still one of several regional drug producers. “Local people have suffered from this drug and Cambodian government spent a lot of money for this issue.”

Promising a high level of commitment to address human and public security issues, the Government initiated the Seila program in 1996 to institute decentralized systems and strategies for poverty alleviation and good governance at the provincial and commune levels. “This is a good step setting out in the right direction using the step by step process of an expanded data gathering system on drug control issues and will over time enhance local capacity for better national and provincial level planning,” Broderic said.

“I am sure that the NACD is well aware that there must be continuous engagement of provincial authorities and relevant line ministries as are participating in the present workshop, and that going capacity building will effectively enhance use of the commune competitive plan in ensuring drug control,” he added, noting that the workshop objective is also in line with the ASEAN goal of a drug free ASEAN by 2015. “It is important to note that these efforts require a long time and the UN system and donors need to support the process through its pilots learning and refinement steps to get the full benefits of commune based data gathering systems,” he added.

Broderick said that for the first time treatment data from Cambodia found mention in the UNODC 2009. UNODC provided technical assistance to NACD for its report on illicit drugs and routine surveillance system in Cambodia 2007.

Masafumi Kuroki, Japanese ambassador to Cambodia, said that the fight against drugs would need cooperation. “We have to join in hands to fight against drug issues and Japan will continue to support [this].”

“We consider drug users as victims and we have to help build good society and free of drug and save families of victims,” Ang Vong Vathana, also vice president of NACD, said. “We need to enhance our work effectively for this issue. Data will help us.”

According to an NACD report, in first semester of 2009, law enforcement officers dealt with 140 cases, arresting 287 suspects and confiscating 73,561 methamphetamine pills and about 304 tons of safrole rich oil. In 2008 and 2009, drug related crime still increased. The law enforcement “need to enhance and capacity building and experience,” the report noted. Over the last two years, 2008 and 2009, the official figures of drug users are lower than previous years.

Court Considers Ex- Vice Judge Case


Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 22 October 2009
(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Phnom Penh Municipal Court (PPMC) has retired to consider a case in which an ex-vice judge of the PPMC allegedly pocketed US$135,000 since 2004, according to Chaing Sinat, a prosecutor, on Wednesday.

The accused, Sam Sokaun was previously punished with a fine of US$13,000, the non-payment of which will result in a jail term, a source said.

The ex-judge allegedly cheated US$135,000 from Interior Ministry Official Haing Kong, 57. Haing Kong and Grand Power were both involved in the contract but Sam Sokaun was convicted of embezzling funds.

Sam Sokaun was ejected from the Ministry of Justice for his wrong doings but he transferred to the Vocational Training Lawyer Center.

Exporters Plan Small Rice Shipment: GRA


Written by DAP NEWS -- Thursday, 22 October 2009
(POsted by CAAI News Media)

A group of exporters are rushing to register with the Cambodian authorities to be legally allowed to export rice. The Golden Rice Association (GRA) will soon export 1-2 tons, hopefully to Europe.
A meeting participated in by Director of Loran Import-Export Co. Ltd. Lim Bun Heng, a manager of Eng Depo Development Company, Soy Sopheap DMC’s general director, as well as a member of the Golden Rice Association (GRA), on Wednesday agreed to apply to the Cambodian Interior Ministry (MI).

During a previous meeting, all members discussed plans to export abroad but agreed they need to legally register, according to the minutes of the October 2 at the Rolan Rice Factory in the Thmor Kaul district of Battambong. On October 21, they decided to clear all projects to summit to the MI to be fully legal in exporting Cambodian rice.

For the latest meeting, Director of Import-Export Co. Ltd. Lim Bun Heng said that “Now, we have four companies who involve with us, but we still another as our cooperation.”

The GRA’s stated main goal is to “improve and support the agricultural sector under allowance by the Cam-bodian Government, so we must try to achieve this task by exporting to Europe,” Bun Hengt added. Those with experience in the rice factory and investors stumping up at least US$10,000 can be part of the GRA. “We will collect the rice from various sources such as: Battambong, Banteay Meanchey, Takeo, Prey Veng, and Kampong Cham province,” Lim Bun Heng said. “In early 2010, we will export to France and Australia as well as another Europeans.”
“We hope that the Cambodian Government will support us.”

Soy Sopheap said the GRA will include members and farmers to offer transport from the farm gate to the cargo ships. He said the GRA project should strengthen exports of rice abroad. “In the past, Cambodia was weak, but now everything is improving because we have many investors,” Bun Heng said. “Although, our material and tools in the rice factory are still old, in the future everything will improve.”

Mapping Cambodia’s drug use



Photo by: PHOTO SUPPLIED

Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:03 Post Staff

Cambodia’s National Authority for Combating Drugs announced Wednesday a plan to map drug use on a commune-by-commune basis in an effort to meet ASEAN’s goal of eliminating drug use in its 10 member nations by 2015. Moek Dara, secretary general of the NACD, said the programme would involve villagers alerting local officials if they witnessed the use, trafficking, sale or manufacture of drugs by their neighbours, in order for officials to help victims of drugs get the care and treatment they need.

Ketsana to dampen festival


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:03 Chhay Channyda and Mom Kunthear

Organisers of this year’s Water Festival celebration have predicted lower-than-usual attendance in the aftermath of Typhoon Ketsana, which has hobbled transport, drained incomes and shifted priorities for thousands of Cambodians.

Ngem Chhorn, chief of Svay village in Sandan commune, Kampong Thom province, said this year’s festival would not be as important for him and his people because they are busy replanting farms devastated by last month’s typhoon.

“Half of the people in my village travel to the Water Festival every year, but this year they may just not have the feeling to join in,” adding that in addition to worries about rice fields, his fellow villagers don’t have the money to travel.

The National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) announced its first official assessment of Typhoon Ketsana’s impact on Cambodia.

Some 36 people were killed by Ketsana, which also caused an estimated US$41 million in damages, according to NCDM data.

Kampong Thom took the heaviest toll, with 20 dead and nearly 20,000 hectares of rice fields damaged or destroyed.

Sao Heouy, 35, a villager in Krasang village, Sandan commune, Kampong Thom province, said the promise she made to bring her children to the capital this year would have to be broken.

“I am very upset and pity my children because they were very happy when I told them about the Water Festival, but now they are disappointed,” Sao Heouy said.

The Water Festival, which this year takes place from November 1 to 3, regularly draws more than 2 million visitors to the capital.

Chea Sokhom, permanent vice president and secretary general of the National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals, said he could not predict the exact scale of this year’s shortfall, but he said it could be substantial.

He said last year’s attendence was bolstered by the fact that the festival coincided with the 575th anniversary of the founding of Phnom Penh, as well as the 55th anniversary of Cambodian independence.

Chea Sokhom said that one indicator of a less-than-bumper attendance was a drop in the number of teams entering the dragon boat races. He said registration had fallen from 424 teams last year to 384 this year, as of the October 19 registration deadline, but that officials have decided to extend the deadline to Sunday.

Chea Sokhom added that the final number might be closer to 390.

He suggested that Ketsana could impact more than just the number of rowers this year.

With water levels much higher in rivers across the Kingdom, racers could face greater danger than in years past, which have seen their share of tragedy.

In 2007, five Singaporean racers drowned when their 22-crew member dragon boat capsized during that year’s all-ASEAN festival races.

Police managed to pull the remaining crew members from the river. An unidentified Cambodian racer also drowned the same day.

Chea Sokhom said he had advised racers to be particularly cautious during this year’s competition.

“We do not want to turn a happy time into a tragedy,” he said.

Draft climate position issued



Photo by: Sovan Philong
Activists link hands around the Wat Phnom clock Wednesday to raise awareness of global warming.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:03 Irwin Loy

CAMBODIA will invest in measures that counter greenhouse gas emissions, but it needs the financial backing of the developed world to succeed, according to its draft position on climate change announced Wednesday.

The position, made public on the final day of the National Forum on Climate Change, represents the country’s move to cement its bargaining stance ahead of key global climate change talks this December in Copenhagen – discussions that could determine how prepared Cambodia will be in confronting environmental threats.

“Developing countries should make their utmost efforts to participate in greenhouse gas emission reductions, including appropriate mitigation actions,” said Sat Samy, vice chairman of the National Committee on Climate Change, who unveiled the position on behalf of the Cambodian government.

“However, the effort should be conditional on financial support and required technology from developed countries.”

Cambodia will also look for a significant percentage of funds to come from no-strings grants to so-called least developed countries (LDC) as part of a climate deal.

“Assistance for LDCs should be unconditional and should not lead to the increase of debts for these countries,” said Sat Samy, who is also a secretary of state with the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy. In effect, the position revolves around one central point: The polluter pays.

“We are the victims because of the problem created by other people,” Environment Minister Mok Mareth told delegates. “Cambodia is part of the solution to this problem.”

In Copenhagen, world leaders will be under pressure to reach an agreement taking global climate change policy beyond 2012.

As part of any potential agreement, Cambodia plans to support the adoption of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), a carbon-finance mechanism that would see developed countries paying developing ones to conserve forest land, according to Wednesday’s draft position.

It will also ask for aid in the form of technology and knowledge transfers from companies in developed countries.

NGO officials praised Cambodia’s position Wednesday, saying the developing nation was sending a message to richer countries ahead of Copenhagen.

“What Cambodia has done is position itself as a leader in some of that messaging,” said Brian Lund, regional drirector for Oxfam America.

“The weather is not bound by the borders of the country, nor is climate change bound by the borders of any one country.”

Although previous climate-change treaties have historically placed much of the financial burden with developed countries, Cambodia must hold up its end of the bargain as well, said Jo Scheuer, country director for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Cambodia.

“Cambodia itself did not contribute to the situation we have today,” he said. “It’s also true that Cambodia is now a net emitter and does not have the luxury to follow the path which many countries have taken already.”

The draft position will now be submitted to the government, which must finalise its stance before Copenhagen.

Cambodia lies near the epicentre of what climate scientists say could be one of the regions in the world most impacted by climate change.

The Kingdom is seen as particularly vulnerable because of its limited resources to cope with climate change, according to the conservation
group WWF.

Govt hydro plans to proceed, minister says


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:03 Irwin Loy

MINISTER of Water Resources and Meteorology Lim Kean Hor used the country’s inaugural National Forum on Climate Change to defend the government’s support of hydropower development, saying Wednesday that Cambodia will continue its pursuit of hydroelectric power despite criticism of a spate of large-scale dam projects planned for the country.

“We have the potential of hydropower, so why don’t we use it?” he said. “If we can’t use hydropower, we can’t develop anything.”

Electricity rates in Cambodia are among the most expensive in the region, as the country creates much of its power with costly diesel generators.

However, attempts to expand supply through hydroelectric projects – 14 of which are planned across the country – have drawn criticism for their likely social and economic impacts, which could included flooding and the destruction of fisheries.

“There will be negative consequences of dam-building,” Edward Allison, climate change director at the WorldFish Center, told the forum Tuesday, adding that Cambodia must balance two competing priorities – electricity generation and food supply.

“It may be that you accept that there’s going to be a decline in capture fisheries and start looking at how people are going to make a living … and plan for a change in [the] main protein source associated with a future decline in fish supply,” he said.

“That sort of planning hasn’t been factored in yet.”

Compared to alternatives such as burning coal and diesel, hydroelectricity is a better option, said Lay Khim, head of the Environment and Energy Unit at the UN Development Programme.

He said, however, that planners should “consider the potential impacts of the poor who are living downstream from such development[s]”.

Filing to urge genocide charge



Photo by: Sovan Philong
Chapei singer Kong Nai sings​ for Khmer Krom civil party applicants at a conference Wednesday.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:02 Robbie Corey-Boulet and May Titthara

ATEAM of lawyers representing Khmer Krom civil parties at the Khmer Rouge tribunal is preparing a submission calling for investigating judges to bring genocide charges against the four regime leaders set to be tried in the court’s second case.

The submission, to be filed next week, is an attempt to prompt the court to directly acknowledge the sufferings of the Khmer Krom, a group historians have argued was singled out for abuses by the regime, said Mahdev Mohan, a member of the team and director of the Singapore-based nonprofit Access to Justice Asia.

In addition to 25 Khmer Krom clients, the team is representing 11 Vietnamese clients, and the submission will also call for genocide charges to be brought in connection to crimes committed against Vietnamese in Kampong Chhnang, Mohan said.

As part of preparations for the filing, the team held a conference in Phnom Penh this week, during which the clients, some of whom have already been accepted as civil parties, spoke of what happened to them during the regime.

Ven Nat, a 60-year-old Khmer Krom rice farmer from Takeo province, described how he was detained and tortured.

“I did not answer their questions because they accused me of trying to persuade people to go to Vietnam,” he said. “Then they put the plastic around my head and my eyes, and I fell unconscious during that time.”

Hearing on judges urged
On Wednesday, the defence team for Ieng Sary called on the tribunal to hold a public hearing concerning comments made by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who on September 9 said in a speech in Takeo province that “some foreign judges and prosecutors” had “received orders from their governments to create problems here”.

In a filing dated October 20, lawyers Ang Udom and Michael Karnavas said that neither the UN nor international Pre-Trial Chamber judges Katinka Lahuis and Rowan Downing had addressed the remarks.

UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said this was “not true”, adding that during a September 16 press conference Deputy Director of Administration Knut Rosandhaug responded to a question about the comments.

“I expect international judges to act independently of any executive branch, and I have no reason to believe that they don’t,” Rosandhaug said at the time.

Assembly passes demonstration law


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:02 Meas Sokchea

THE National Assembly approved the final articles of the draft Law on Nonviolent Demonstrations on Wednesday, but three days of debate on the controversial legislation have done little to dampen concerns it will restrict the right to freedom of expression.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy said after the session that the law would allow the government to use national security and public security as a “pretext” for shutting down demonstrations. “We do not support this law because it is just a pretext to close down the people’s freedom of expression,” he told reporters after the session.

Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said the law showed just how frightened the ruling Cambodian People’s Party was of “people power”.

“In a democracy, they allow people to protest when the elected government leads the country in an unfair way,” he said. “If protests cannot be resolved, people power will occur.”

Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap rejected the accusations, saying the same critics who criticised the government for not passing the law were now slamming the new legislation.

“All laws are important for the nation, not just for the ruling party,” he said, adding that the law could be used by any party that wins an election. “What we are doing is conforming to the situation in Cambodia.”

Under the new law, gatherings of more than 200 people will require organisers to apply for a permit from the government at least 12 hours ahead of time.

Other observers said the law was necessary, but expressed concerns that striking workers and other aggrieved Cambodians could lose a vital outlet for expression.

“There should be a law, but the law should protect people,” said Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre.

“If the workers or the people want to express their opinion, the law should be developed to protect them, not to limit their freedom of expression.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE

Thaksin is welcome in Cambodia: Hun Sen


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:02 Cheang Sokha

PRIME Minister Hun Sen said Wednesday that he welcomed Thai ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to visit Cambodia, adding that he could provide accommodations for the exiled former leader, according to TVK state television.

“[Thaksin] can come to visit Cambodia anytime,” Hun Sen reportedly said. “I am ready to arrange a house for him to use during his stay in Cambodia.”

Hun Sen’s remarks came during a private meeting with another former Thai prime minister, Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, who ruled from 1996 to ’97.

Chavalit recently joined the opposition Puea Thai party with which Thaksin, who was ousted from the premiership in a 2006 coup, is associated.

Hun Sen called Thaksin, who faces corruption charges in his own country, his “eternal friend” and also announced that the Cambodian government will establish a permanent mechanism to communicate with the Puea Thai party. Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh, Hun Sen said, will chair this group and set up meetings between the two parties.

In February, opposition lawmakers requested that Hun Sen investigate media reports that Thaksin had sought refuge in Cambodia.

At the time, Thitinan Pongsudhirak, a political analyst at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University, warned of the potential diplomatic consequences of Thaksin’s residing in the Kingdom.

“If he is in Cambodia, using it as a political staging ground, it would have adverse ramifications – not only for Thai-Cambodia relations, but also within the ASEAN framework – because Thaksin is at the centre of the Thai political quagmire,” he said.

Thai monk arrested by police near border


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:02 Thet Sambath

A THAI monk was arrested by Cambodian military police officers on Wednesday on suspicion of entering the country illegally after he was found living in a forest in Oddar Meanchey province.

So Phary, 38, was discovered about 50 metres from Thmar Don pagoda on the border in Kok Mon commune, Banteay Ampil district. The monk, who hails from Thailand’s Surin province, was being detained last night pending further investigation.

Pich Ratana, deputy chief of Oddar Meanchey province’s cabinet, said: “Our armed forces arrested a Thai monk on Wednesday for illegal entry into Cambodian territory. Now he is detained in a pagoda along the border with Thailand.”

The monk told local officials he had travelled to the area almost three weeks ago in order to conduct research for a forthcoming service. “He said he came here to research a sermon in the forest,” Pich Ratana said. “We do not know his real purpose, and our armed forces are asking him.”

The monk was apprehended not far from Samrong town, close to the spot where villagers believe Thai soldiers burned 16-year-old Yon Rith alive when he was caught logging illegally on Thai territory last month.

On Monday, another Cambodian man – Sim Bun Chhim, 25 – was allegedly shot dead by Thai troops when he was caught crossing the border illegally. An investigation is under way.

Thon Nol, governor of Samrong town, said: “Our armed forces ... never shoot Thais when they illegally cross the border, but the Thai military has shot Cambodians.”