Thursday, 12 November 2009

THAI-CAMBODIA RELATIONS : Bangkok to review loans for Cambodia's road projects


Thu, November 12, 2009
By Piyanart Srivalo
The Nation

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Thursday ordered an review of two road construction projects with Cambodia which involved loans of more than Bt1.4 bn to Phnom Penh.

The review is a further move of his government to protest Cambodia's appointment of convicted ex-Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra as economic adviser to Khmer PM Hun Sen and his government.

Deputy Finance Minister Pruetichai Damrongrat told reporters that the No 68 road will link Chong Chom checkpoint in Surin province to Cambodia.

Meanwhile Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said that the cabinet will not consider an financial assistance of Bt31 million to Cambodia in its meeting next week.

The proposal is put on hold as a measure of Thailand to protest Cambodia.

In a separate interview, Abhisit said he was considering further measures against Cambodia, but vowed that his government would not seal off checkpoints on the border and said that the rift with Phnom Pen would not lead to violence.

"I don't want the situation going out of control," he said.

Thaksin slams Thai govt in Cambodia speech


Graphic showing a timeline of events since ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday to start work as government economic adviser. (AFP/Graphic)


by Patrick Falby Patrick Falby

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

PHNOM PENH (AFP) – Fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra accused his country's rulers of "false patriotism" as he delivered a lecture in his new role as Cambodia's economic adviser Thursday.

The billionaire, ousted in a 2006 coup and living abroad to avoid jail for graft, addressed some 300 members of business and government at Cambodia's finance ministry amid tensions over Phnom Penh's refusal to extradite him.

"I see a lot of synergy between your country and mine. What is good for you will also be good for my country. Of course not all my compatriots see it that way right now," Thaksin said.

"I do not believe those who do not share our vision right now are myopic. Their domestic political compulsions force them to false patriotism. Let's pray that they too will one day appreciate this partnership for the best," he added.

Security officials ushered reporters out of the room three minutes into the Thaksin lecture, titled "Cambodia and the World after the Financial Crisis".

Cambodia outraged Thailand on Wednesday by rejecting its request to extradite Thaksin, saying the charges on which the ousted Thai leader had been sentenced in absentia to two years in prison were politically motivated.

Cambodian Finance Minister Keat Chhon praised Thaksin's reduction of rural poverty and introduction of universal healthcare in Thailand as "eye-catching policies that distinguished him from his predecessors".

Thaksin responded: "I will humbly recommend whatever I think might be appropriate for the Cambodian government and the people."

Profile: Thaksin's political life After his lecture Thaksin planned to visit the famed Angkor Wat temple and may play golf with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, his long-time ally and friend, officials said.

Thaksin arrived on Tuesday and is expected to leave Friday or Saturday.

Thai diplomats handed over papers for Thaksin's extradition on Wednesday but Cambodian officials promptly handed them back a formal refusal letter.

In Bangkok, around 120 protesters and 30 taxi drivers with their vehicles rallied outside the Cambodian embassy and delivered an open letter telling Hun Sen not to interfere in Thailand's judiciary, police said.

Dozens of police were deployed at the building.

Thailand and Cambodia recalled their ambassadors last week as the quarrel escalated. Bangkok also put all talks and cooperation programmes on hold and tore up an oil and gas exploration deal signed during Thaksin's time in power.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Thursday also ordered an review of two road construction projects with Cambodia which involved loans of more than 1.4 billion baht (42 million dollars) to Phnom Penh, the finance ministry said.

Abhisit said he was considering further measures against Cambodia, but vowed that his government would not seal off checkpoints on the border and said that the rift with Phnom Pen would not lead to violence.

"I don't want the situation going out of control," he said.

Tensions were already high between the two nations following a series of clashes over disputed territory near an ancient temple and the row threatens to mar a weekend summit of regional leaders with US President Barack Obama.

Twice-elected Thaksin fled Thailand in August 2008, a month before a court sentenced him to two years in jail in a conflict of interest case. He had returned to Thailand just months earlier for the first time since the coup.

But he has retained huge influence in Thai politics by stirring up protests against the current government, and analysts said that in Hun Sen he had found a new way of pushing his campaign for a return to power.

Thailand's government upped the pressure on Thaksin this week by accusing him of offending the revered monarchy after he was quoted in an interview as calling for reform of royal institutions.

Thaksin accusations from Cambodia


Thursday, 12 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)


Mr Thaksin remains a highly divisive figure in Thailand

Former Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra has accused the country's rulers of "false patriotism" in a speech in Cambodia.

The lecture, to about 300 business and government figures was part of his new job as economic adviser to the Cambodian government.

Cambodia has rejected a Thai extradition request for Mr Thaksin.

The Thai government is outraged at Cambodia's welcome to Mr Thaksin, who it sees as a criminal - and a powerful political opponent.

"I see a lot of synergy between your country and mine. What is good for you will also be good for my country. Of course not all my compatriots see it that way right now," Mr Thaksin said in the speech.

Hitting back

"I do not believe those who do not share our vision right now are myopic. Their domestic political compulsions force them to false patriotism," he said, without elaborating.

"Let's pray that they too will one day appreciate this partnership for the best," he added.

Reporters were evicted from the lecture, titled Cambodia and the World after the Financial Crisis.

Mr Thaksin is expected to visit the Angkor Wat temple and to play golf with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, but is believed to be staying only a few days and not setting up residence in Cambodia.

"I'll try my best to explain my experiences and share the knowledge that I gathered during my exile," he said.

Outrage

Mr Hun Sen has dismissed Thai government demands that Mr Thaksin be surrendered to serve a two-year jail term for corruption, citing his friendship with Mr Thaksin.


Mr Thaksin (r) and Cambodian PM Hun Sen play golf together

Thailand has frozen an Memorandum of Understanding regarding joint exploration of shared maritime areas, and says it is considering legal options following the extradition rebuff.

Some analysts say the Cambodian leader's belief that the Thai court that convicted Mr Thaksin was politically motivated has particularly angered the Thai government.

Mr Thaksin served as Thailand's prime minister from 2001 to 2006, when he was ousted by a military coup after being accused of corruption and showing disrespect to the country's widely-revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

He has been living in self-imposed exile ever since - mostly in Dubai - but has rarely been out of the headlines, giving a series of high-profile interviews and continuing to make contact with his supporters inside the country.

Relations between Thailand and Cambodia are already strained.

Thailand has withdrawn its ambassador from Cambodia, and there have also been series of disputes centred around the 11th-Century Preah Vihear temple complex near the two countries' border.

Thai PM: Gov't measures against Cambodia not to cause to any violence


2009-11-12

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

BANGKOK, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Thai government's measures in response to Cambodia's denial on Wednesday to extradite ousted former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra to Thailand will not cause to any violence, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva assured Thursday.

Also, the measures will not negatively affect the people of the two countries, Thai News Agency quoted the Thai prime minister as saying.

As Cambodia has denied of extraditing Thaksin to Thailand, Cambodia, hence, has not followed a bilateral agreement of the two neighboring countries, Abhisit said.

Abhisit's statement was made after an urgent meeting with the National Security Council, which was organized after Cambodia has refused the Thai request to extradite Thaksin to Thailand.

In related development, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said the Thai government plans to suspend two financial aid projects to Cambodia.

However, the ongoing conflict with Cambodia will not lead to any political change within Thailand, including dissolution of the House of Representatives, the deputy prime minister said.

Thaksin, who has stayed in Cambodia from Tuesday, gave lecture on Thursday to over 300 Cambodian economic experts at the Ministry of Economy and Finance as his first lecture focused on "Strategy to Fight Financial and Economic Crisis."

Thailand and Cambodia have downgraded their diplomatic relations due to conflict over an appointment of Thaksin as an economic advisor to Cambodia's government on Nov. 4.

A day after the appointment of Thaksin, the Cambodian government announced recall of its ambassador to Thailand in a move to respond to the Thai government's recall of its ambassador to Cambodia.

Thaksin was ousted by the military coup in September 2006, in accusation of corruption, and has been kept in exile since then.

He returned to Thailand in February 2008 to face corruption charges, but he later fled into exile again and was convicted in absentia.

Editor: Fang Yang

Thaksin accuses Abhisit government of 'false patriotism'


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:05 Cheang Sokha and James O'Toole

Urges critics to share his vision of cooperation with Cambodia

Watching VIDEO Click Here

Thailand's current leadership is guilty of “false patriotism”, fugitive ex-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra told an audience in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

Speaking in his new capacity as economics adviser to the Cambodian government, Thaksin stressed the need for cooperation between Thailand and Cambodia as he told a gathering at the Ministry of Economy and Finance that the two countries’ economic fortunes are inextricably tied, adding: “Of course, not all my compatriots see it that way right now.”

“I do not believe those who do not share our vision right now are myopic. Their domestic political compulsions force them to false patriotism. Let's pray that they, too, will one day appreciate this partnership for the best,” he said.

Thaksin was deposed in a 2006 coup and self-exiled last year to avoid a jail term for corruption charges. His remarks came just one day after Cambodia denied an extradition request for him by Thailand – the latest move a row that saw the countries withdraw their respective ambassadors last week.

In the conference’s opening address, Minister of Finance Keat Chhon said Thaksin’s tenure as prime minister “is generally agreed to have been one of the most distinctive in the country’s modern history”. The finance minister praised policies of Thaksin that were designed to appeal to his country’s “rural majority”, including micro-credit development and subsidised healthcare.

“Whatever the critics say about Thaksinomics, the achievements were astonishing,” Keat Chhon said.

Thaksin and Keat Chhon were speaking at a conference titled “Cambodia and the World After Financial Crisis”, attended by about 300 economics experts and members of the business community.

Security at the conference was heavy, with members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal body guard unit providing protection for Thaksin. Reporters were ushered out of the conference hall minutes after Thaksin began speaking.

Extradition of Thaksin shot down



Photo by: AFP
Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra embraces Prime Minister Hun Sen at his home in Kandal province on Wednesday.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:04 James O’toole and Cheang Sokha

CAMBODIA rejected a formal request by the Thai government on Wednesday for the extradition of visiting Thai ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who faces a two-year prison term in Thailand after being convicted of corruption in absentia in 2008.

In a statement reiterating a promise the government has made repeatedly over the past few weeks, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would not extradite Thaksin, who was deposed in a 2006 coup and self-exiled last year to avoid imprisonment in Thailand for the “politically motivated” corruption conviction.

“The condemnation of HE Thaksin Shinawatra is logically the consequence of the military coup d’etat in September 2006, which resulted in his removal from the post of prime minister, while he was overwhelmingly and democratically elected by the Thai people,” the statement read.

In Bangkok, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva condemned the Cambodian refusal to extradite Thaksin.

“My government wants bilateral ties to be normal, but Cambodia’s political standpoint is incorrect, inappropriate and against international principles,” Abhisit said.

Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesman Thani Thongphakdi said Thailand was weighing its options after the rejection.

“We have received a copy of the diplomatic note that the Cambodian side has sent to us, and at the moment, our legal people are examining the details and the contents of the letter,” Thani said, adding that the Thai legal team would make a policy recommendation for the government to consider.

Abhisit has threatened to terminate the extradition agreement between Thailand and Cambodia in the event that a request for Thaksin is denied, though Thani said that his government has not yet settled on a response.

“I think a review of all the agreements that we have is being examined. I don’t want to prejudge what the outcome of that review will be,” he said.
Last week, Thaksin was officially appointed economics adviser to the Cambodian government and personal adviser to Hun Sen.

In response, Thailand withdrew its ambassador to Phnom Penh, and Cambodia responded in kind.

The ‘eternal friends’ speak
In a joint interview with Thaksin broadcast on state-run TVK television on Wednesday afternoon, Hun Sen spoke of the partnership between his Cambodian People’s Party and Puea Thai, a Thai opposition party with which Thaksin is associated. Hun Sen also alluded to this partnership when he met with Puea Thai’s Chavalit Yongchaiyudh last month.

“We have a party-to-party relationship between the CPP and Puea Thai, which was originally Thai Rak Thai,” Hun Sen said, referring to Thaksin’s former party.

“Now this party has transformed itself into Puea Thai, but this party relationship continues. The leaders of the CPP and the leaders of Puea Thai can meet each other at any time, at any place, and can even hold a summit meeting together.”

Even as he threw his support behind the Thai opposition, however, Hun Sen dismissed the possibility that the recent row with Thailand could escalating into armed conflict, characterising it as a dispute between politicians rather than populations.

“It is a dispute between Abhisit and Hun Sen,” he said, adding: “If there is a dispute between people and people, how could Thaksin and I be talking together? He is also a Thai.”

In the same interview, Thaksin defended his acceptance of the advisory role and accused the Thai administration of holding a “Cold War” mindset in its antagonism towards him and the Cambodian government.

“Whatever I say, the [Thai] government will be against, so actually, in this 21st century, we should have some dialogue,” Thaksin said, adding: “If I can help, it will be beneficial to Cambodia and to Thai people as well.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

ASEAN must act in Thai-Cambodian dispute


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:04 Chheang Vannarith

The regional alliance may be the best forum for Cambodia and Thailand to work out the disagreements that have led to casualties on both sides and threatened damage long-term economic relations in a manner that harms both countries.

COMMENT
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Chheang Vannarith

THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations is trying to realise the goal of an ASEAN community, similar to the one in Europe, by 2015, with the ultimate objective of living in peace and prosperity under a shared common identity. ASEAN is regarded by many as the driving force in shaping regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, yet the alliance is currently held back by the fact that domestic politics and nationalism still dominate foreign policy and international relations in the region.

The Cambodia-Thailand border conflict is a case in point, demonstrating the alliance’s limitations. Because of ASEAN’s well-known non-interference principle, its potential for conflict resolution in the region has not been utilised.

History has often found Cambodian and Thailand in rival positions, leading the states’ respective populations to demonise one another. This legacy of nationalism and mistrust is at the root of present-day disagreements between the two countries.

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The Cambodia-Thailand border conflict is a case in point, Demonstrating the alliance’s limitations.
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Thai ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is expected to give a public lecture today to hundreds of Cambodian economists in his capacity as government economics adviser.

Because of his experience and expertise, it is possible that Thaksin’s advice could useful to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party as it formulates its economic policy. I am concerned, however, about the implications of Thaksin’s appointment and his presence here in Cambodia for Cambodian-Thai relations and, to a larger extent, regional security overall.

As a result of Thailand’s anger over Thaksin’s arrival, bilateral dialogue and negotiation between Thailand and Cambodia over the border issue will now likely come to a standstill, a possibility portended by Thailand’s decision to revoke the memorandum of understanding on overlapping maritime boundaries agreed upon and signed in 2001.

Economic relations between the two countries could be cut as well, which will significantly impact the livelihoods of poor merchants and others from both countries who live along the border. Economically, this is a lose-lose situation.

How to solve this dispute? At the 2008 ASEAN summit, Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong asked Singapore, then the chair of ASEAN, to form a regional, inter-ministerial group to help find a peaceful solution to the bilateral dispute and prevent military confrontation from occurring.

ASEAN, however, encouraged Cambodia and Thailand to utilise a bilateral mechanism to solve their disagreements. Unfortunately, bilateral dialogue has produced no result.

The mistrust between the two nations has now reached a point at which negotiations cannot move forward without intervention and mediation by a third party. It is therefore necessary for ASEAN to take more assertive action and help broker a solution for the conflict. The ASEAN principle of non-interference must be modified to meet this and other new challenges in the region.

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Chheang Vannarith is the executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace.

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun



Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Patients wait for treatment at the National Tuberculosis Hospital in Phnom Penh last month.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:04 Robbie Corey-boulet and Chhay Channyda

THE Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which has pledged more than US$200 million to the national health system, on Monday is to begin its first audit evaluating how disbursed money has been spent.

The five-week audit is to cover all 13 Cambodia grants. The fund has approved $202.5 million in grants since the first was signed in September 2003: $124.8 million to fight HIV/AIDS, $50.2 million for tuberculosis, $22.8 million for malaria and an additional $4.7 million for “strengthening” the health system. Of that money, $157.1 million has been disbursed.

A statement from the Global Fund audit team said the Cambodia audit, one of 11 to be undertaken this year, had not been “triggered by any immediate concerns or information about diversion of funds”.

Recent audits in other
ASEAN countries have turned up a range of problems.

Earlier this year, for example, an audit of the Philippines, for which $220.6 million has been approved, showed that $1 million in disbursements given to the national Tropical Disease Foundation had been spent on “activities beyond the terms of the grant agreement”. The Global Fund demanded that the money be repaid, and all five grants to the foundation were suspended.

Cambodia prepares
Tol Bunkea, chief epidemiologist at the National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said the centre had been receiving Global Fund money since 2004, and that much of it had been spent on purchasing mosquito nets and delivering them to rural villages. He said his office had been hard at work preparing for the audit, and he expressed confidence that no irregularities would be detected. “We’ve spent it on the right targets,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Global Fund board debated Cambodia’s request for $200 million in additional funding during a three-day meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that was scheduled to end Wednesday, said Nalin Mehta, a Global Fund senior communications officer. The board’s decision was to be announced soon after the meeting, though no word was available as of press time.

B’bang villagers freed


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

THE Battambang provincial court on Wednesday announced its decision to drop five-year-old trespassing charges against six villagers involved in a long-running land dispute.

But one of the men, community representative Chem Keo, remained behind bars awaiting a verdict from the Appeal Court on related charges.

“I announced a verdict to lift the illegal trespassing charges against the six men,” said Judge Duch Sok Sarin, though he declined to explain why.
Ho Chheng Ourn, a lawyer for Legal Aid Cambodia who is representing the families, said the judge had failed to give a reason when he read out the verdict.

The fight over 124 hectares of farmland in Battambang’s Thmor Kol district has dragged on since 1999, when Ieng Oeung filed a complaint against 38 families he accused of illegal trespassing. The families said they had been living on the land since the mid-1980s.

Authorities evicted the families in 2002. Since then, there have been five separate incidents of arrests after various evictees were allegedly caught trespassing on the land.

In addition to the 2004 charges that were dropped Wednesday, Chem Keo was also arrested along with four other men in 2006. The other four men were ordered to pay 10 million riels (US$2,409) each to Ieng Oeung and then released on suspended sentences. The Appeal Court said Tuesday that it would issue a ruling on the case on November 26.

Senior officials won’t be forced to retire


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:03 Tep Nimol and Chhay Channyda

SENIOR officials above the rank of undersecretary of state will be allowed to retain their posts beyond the Kingdom’s mandatory age of retirement, according to a Royal decree.

The decree, dated September 12 but released publicly last month, listed 19 officials from nine ministries who have been given permission “to remain in politics” despite being over the age of 60.

Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun, Minister of Health Mam Bunheng and Minister of Environment Mok Mareth are among those listed in the decree.

Pich Bunthin, a secretary of state at the State Secretariat of Public Affairs, said Wednesday that “for those with political status, there is no mandatory retirement age”.

Political positions are defined as those holding the position of prime minister, government adviser, government assistant, minister, secretary of state, undersecretary of state and all members of the National Assembly and Senate, he said.

“They can work until they resign from politics, get sick or die,” he said, adding that civil servants working in public affairs positions must retire at age 60.

The Royal decree also lists eight civil servants who will be forced to retire.

So Khun said Wednesday that in his old age, his leadership would be stronger. “Young people have degrees, but we have experience, so we have to guide them,” he said.

Logger Death: Thais silent on border shooting


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:03 Thet Sambath

Logger Death

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still waiting for an official reply from their Thai counterparts regarding a Cambodian man who was allegedly shot and killed by Thai border guards on October 19. Cambodia sent a diplomatic note to the Thai embassy on October 22, requesting an investigation into the death of 25-year-old Sim Bun Chhim. According to Cambodian officials, Thai forces opened fire on a group of Cambodian villagers while they were allegedly felling trees illegally in Oddar Meanchey province. “We are asking them to investigate the case and punish the perpetrators and prevent such acts against villagers in future,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong.

Govt estimate of Ketsana toll rises to $140m


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Tep Nimol

GOVERNMENT figures released this week suggest Cambodia suffered US$140 million in damages after Typhoon Ketsana swept through the country, a figure pegged well beyond previous tallies of the storm’s destruction.

The new number came as government and aid groups met in Phnom Penh to plot a rebuilding strategy, and one official warned that some Cambodians still lack the means to feed themselves.

The latest in a running tally of Ketsana’s toll – US$140 million, according to the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) – is more than three times the $41 million compiled in October.

“This year, Typhoon Ketsana gave us a lesson that natural disasters are still a problem for all countries in the world,” said NCDM First Vice President Nhim Vanda.

The NCDM is reporting that 43 people died and 67 others were severely injured after Ketsana’s lashing winds and rain – and the resulting floods – swept through the country in late September. As officials are strategising on how to tackle the task of rebuilding, many victims are still living in emergency conditions, said one aid group.

“There are families who still need food assistance now,” said Francis Perez, Oxfam’s country director in Cambodia. Many in hard-hit regions, he said, risk falling into long-term poverty by resorting to dangerous strategies to feed their families.

Some farmers, for example, have been selling their cattle at rock-bottom prices. Others who have no assets are borrowing money, promising to pay it back with cheap labour at 2,000 riels (US$0.48) a day.

“How could you possibly fill your family’s needs with 2,000 riels a day?” asked Perez.

Today, officials will conclude a two-day training course aimed at solidifying the rebuilding plan.

Aid officials will then fan out to affected regions to assess the long-term damage.

Their findings will be used in formulating official recovery budget requests for various ministries.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY IRWIN LOY

Airport families plan to protest


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:03 May Titthara

MORE than 100 families living near Phnom Penh International Airport who are involved in an ongoing land dispute will take their protest to the steps of City Hall, representatives said Wednesday.

Families living along Russian Boulevard in Choam Chao commune received their first eviction notice from authorities in April. The final eviction notice was given out last Thursday, when Dangkor district Governor Kroch Phan informed residents that they had until December 11 to voluntarily dismantle their homes.

Kroch Phan said their removal is necessary for airport expansion and the construction of a public park. The families submitted a letter to City Hall on Monday but say they have yet to receive a reply.

“Now we are preparing to protest in front of City Hall because we want to have a meeting,” said resident representative Uth Teng Sakhorn, noting that no date for the protest had been set.

Fellow representative Chea Vuth said the families have always acted according to the law and will continue to do so by consulting with their lawyer first before staging a demonstration.

“We only want to find justice because they did an injustice to us,” he said.

Hem Darith, Dangkor district’s deputy governor, said officials had acted appropriately, and that they will carry out the evictions as ordered.

Indebted owner of factory skips town


(Posted by CAAI news Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:02 Mom Kunthear and May Titthara

MORE than 500 workers from a garment factory in Choam Chao commune are seeking compensation after their Chinese employer skipped town last Friday without paying their monthly salaries.

Huy Vang, an officer from the Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said the workers did not know that Fang Miyan, the owner of Huiying Enterprises Co Ltd, had disappeared until Saturday.

“Our factory owner ran away on the day workers were suppose to receive their salaries. We don’t know where he went,” said 26-year-old employee Long Sokhar.

According to Yun Thida, 27, the factory owner owed money to the building’s owner and fled to his home country.

Huy Vang said the owner of Canadia Industrial Park building, where the factory is situated, agreed Tuesday to pay the workers 40 percent of their salaries in compensation.

Yi Mao, chief security guard at Canadia, said the compensation would come from the sale of equipment and materials belonging to Huiying, which could not be reached for comment.

Law to deal leniently with young offenders


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:02 Khuon Leakhana and May Titthara

Ministries drafting juvenile justice measures.

THE ministries of social affairs and justice are organising a draft law regulating the treatment of minors in the country’s justice system in a bid to protect the rights of children who commit minor offenses, officials said on Wednesday.

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THE PURPOSE OF THIS LAW IS TO PARDON CHILDREN WHO MAKE SMALL PROBLEMS.
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Prak Chanthoeun, director general of the Social Affairs Ministry’s Technical Department, said all ministries were being encouraged to join the effort to establish a law that would reduce punishments for petty offenders under the age of 18.

“The reason we want to establish a law on justice in the case of minors is because we don’t want to arrest underage children and send them to prison when they do something wrong,” he said, adding that the authorities recognise that hundreds of minors are already incarcerated in the prison system.

“Even if they have committed criminal offenses and are sent to prison, they need education, health services.... How can they get this?” he added.

Nget Sokun, a senior prison researcher at the rights group Licadho, said 782 minors, 24 of whom were girls, were arrested and jailed between January and September of this year.

It Rady, secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, said the proposed law would help prevent children from getting caught up in the criminal justice system after committing minor offenses.

“We don’t want a child to have a criminal record, because a criminal record could affect their future,” he said.

“The purpose of this law is to pardon children who make small problems. We don’t want them arrested.”

Filling a legal vacuum
Children’s rights groups applauded the announcement that a new law was in the works, saying the lack of legislation in the area of juvenile justice had created a legal grey area.

“In Cambodia, we do not yet have a justice law for juveniles. If this law is established it will be very good for underage offenders,” said Am Sam Ath, a researcher at Licadho.

But he added that groups such as his would fight to ensure the law fully respects the fundamental rights of children.

“If the Ministry of Social Affairs lets us provide some ideas, we will let them know if some articles impact children’s interests.”

Chea Pyden, executive director of the Vulnerable Children’s Assistance Organisation, agreed the law could help children by replacing the provisions in the Kingdom’s 1992 UNTAC Penal Code with a more humane set of laws.

He said that under the 1992 Code, a child stealing a small amount of dried fish could be accused of robbery and slapped with hefty punishments.

“Without [a new] law it’s very difficult for us. We don’t know how to help them,” he said.

Two injured in fishing face-off


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:02 Vong Sokheng

TWO Cambodian fishermen sustained minor injuries on Tuesday night in a collision at sea after trying to disperse a group of Vietnamese boats they said were trespassing in Cambodian waters.

Neak Sen, a representative of 300 fishing families in Traey Koh commune, said that about 10 Vietnamese fishing boats were spotted off Karang Island in Kampot.

When local authorities ignored the vessels, his commune’s fishermen set out to turn them away. The collision occurred while the Vietnamese boats were making their getaway, he said.

He said the local fishermen were particularly angry that the two Vietnamese boats were using a pair of trawling nets, and that the others had set up electric luring lights – devices that have been banned in Cambodia in a bid to prevent overfishing.

“These illegal Vietnamese fishing incursions are not only hurting the local fishermen’s immediate livelihood, they’re also depleting the fish stocks and destroying the area’s coral reefs,” Neak Sen said.

Chiev Samith, deputy chief of Kampot province, said skirmishes between Cambodian and Vietnamese fishermen had been going on for several years, but that it was not a serious problem.

“Sometimes we arrest Vietnamese fishermen and sometimes Cambodian fishermen are arrested by Vietnamese authorities, but they are usually released after negotiations,” he said.

Nao Thuok, director general of the government’s Fisheries Administration, said he was not aware of the incident.

Although fishermen from each nation often stray into the waters of the other, he said, pair trawling – which uses a very large net strung between two boats – is illegal under Cambodian law.

Prey Veng teacher fined for defaming


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

THE outspoken provincial director of a teachers union has been convicted of defamation after accusing a Prey Veng province school principal of selling off district-owned land.

Chin Rithy, 41, the provincial director of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA) in Prey Veng, was ordered to pay the maximum 10 million riels (US$2,396) fine but will not face prison time, said provincial court director Chea Nol.

Chin Rithy, a teacher at Neak Loeung secondary school in Peamro district, had accused the school’s principal, Yoeun Sovuthy, of selling off a 6-by-21-metre plot of land belonging to the school.

Half of the fine will go to the state, and the other half will go to the principal because Chin Rithy “did damage to the principal’s reputation and dignity”, Chea Nol said.

Chin Rithy could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but his lawyer criticised the verdict. “It is very unjust for my client to be found guilty of the defamation charge,” said lawyer Chin Lida, who works with rights group Licadho.

“In reality, he only raised his concerns on behalf of the school’s interests. He didn’t do it to damage [Yoeun Sovuthy’s] reputation.”

The principal, however, said the decision was well-founded.

“It is fair and just,” Yoeun Sovuthy said, adding that the claims “were absolutely not true, accusing me of selling school land. The allegations really damaged my reputation and shamed me”.

Chin Lida said he would need to consult with his client before deciding on an appeal.

The president of CITA, urged Chin Rithy to appeal.

“We can’t accept the court’s conviction,” said Rong Chhun. “It is an injustice and biased.”

Domestic work is for adults




Photo by: SOK MAP
An 11-year-old girl, allegedly tortured by a Phnom Penh couple who bought her as a domestic slave, shows one of the scars she received before being rescued by police last month.

(Posted by CAAI news Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:02 Bill Salter

Children should not be treated as in-house slaves

COMMENT
-------------------------------------------------------------
Bill Salter

WHICH situation is worse? Is it abusing children for the commercial sexual gratification of adults, or beating and torturing children who have been forced to work as domestic slaves?

It’s a question I had to ask myself when I read The Phnom Penh Post’s recent story about an 11-year-old girl – a domestic servant – who was reportedly trafficked into the home of a Phnom Penh couple and then allegedly tortured with pliers, whips and electrical wires, leaving as many as 200 scars across her body [October 19].

When it comes to child abuse, surely this is about as bad as it gets. Sadly, this is not the first time I’ve seen reports like this. A 17-year-old Burmese girl was nearly killed by her employer in Bangkok, and a Vietnamese girl was beaten regularly by her employers in Hanoi.

It’s been suggested that the Cambodian girl’s torture lasted for at least a year – possibly much longer – until neighbours intervened and contacted the police. The couple has been refused bail, as has the girl’s so-called “guardian”, who is accused of selling her as a domestic servant. All three are now awaiting trial on several charges, including human trafficking.

Unfortunately, child domestic workers are all too common in Phnom Penh. An ILO-supported survey in 2003 conducted by the National Institute of Statistics at the Ministry of Planning concluded that there were nearly 28,000 child domestic workers in Phnom Penh alone – 10 percent of all children aged 7 to 17.

The ILO has been working with the government of Cambodia to raise awareness about child labour and its negative impact on society. Through the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), the government and ILO have been able to demonstrate that with the right interventions, child domestic workers can be removed from work and rehabilitated into schools and the entry of fresh children into child domestic work prevented. We are confidently working together towards the goal of a child labour-free country by 2016. Considerable progress has been made, and the situation is improving.

The fact that neighbours came forward to save this girl is an indication that the messages are getting through and Cambodians will not stand for this kind of abuse directed at children.

There is, however, another troubling aspect of this story, namely the systemic abuse of domestic workers in general – occupations that by their very nature involve vulnerability because the work is conducted behind closed doors in the homes of others. While this girl was clearly too young to be working anywhere, domestic workers of all ages are often marginalised by society (and the media), ignored by laws that govern workplaces and denied the social protection and working conditions other workers have come to rightly expect.

There is, however, some cause for optimism among domestic workers. To its credit, the Royal Government of Cambodia has indicated that it is serious about ending the worst forms of child labour. It has ratified the ILO’s Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and has developed a 2008-2012 National Plan of Action on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, a plan the ILO is supporting. Domestic work has been identified as one of 12 unacceptable and hazardous forms of work from which children must be removed with urgency. Cambodia has also ratified the two ILO conventions on the abolition of forced labour, and last year a new anti-trafficking law entered into force. Furthermore, on November 27, the government will convene a national consultation on decent work for domestic workers – a first step that could lead to an eventual international labour standard on extending social protection to those who work in the homes of others.

Domestic work is hard work. It is work often performed by women and work that frees up members of the employer’s family so they can pursue and improve their own livelihoods, but far too often this hidden workforce and its labourers are underacknowledged and undervalued. Many domestic workers are physically and sexually abused, and denied even basic human rights.

On November 27, when government, worker and employer organisations sit down with civil society organisations, let’s remember that domestic work is real work. It’s work for adults that requires proper compensation, time off, the right to stay in contact with others, and is to be conducted in a safe environment.

And finally, let’s all reaffirm that it’s not work for children.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bill Salter works as director of the International Labour Organisation’s sub-regional office for East Asia.

Govt ready to enforce mobile-phone tariffs



Photo by: HENG CHIVOAN
Mobile-phone companies compete for advertising space on the Japan-Cambodia Friendship Bridge in Phnom Penh. MPTC needs to intervene on pricing because telcos are “fighting each other”, said Minister So Khun.

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:01 Nathan Green

MPTC Minister So Khun says he would ‘forget’ free market

TELECOMS Minister So Khun said the government would enforce minimum tariffs in the mobile phone sector if operators could not come to an agreement on prices.

Contradicting comments by Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Director Mao Chakrya in recent weeks that minimum tariffs would only be set with the full agreement of the private sector, the minister said Tuesday that the government would put aside its commitment to free-market principles in the sector to prevent price-dumping by new entrants from undermining existing investments.

“We will forget the free market for a while. We will fix the price,” he said. “We provide the right for them [to operate in a free market], but they don’t want to use this right; they want to fight each other, so the government needs to intervene.”

The government had called for operators to submit information regarding the costs of making calls on their networks by October 15 in order to draft a prakas, or edict, on tariffs in the sector. The deadline was extended to October 30 after only four operators complied by the initial deadline.

So Khun said the ministry was analysing the information and would set a minimum tariff if operators failed to agree among themselves.

The government will withdraw licences from any companies that refuse to comply with the tariff, he said.

A long-term watcher of the Cambodian telecoms market who declined to be named said the move was an attempt to “treat the symptoms rather than fix the problems” that had resulted from a muddled approach to regulation.

The proliferation of mobile-service providers in the past few years has undermined the business interests of firms that invested in building up telecoms infrastructure in Cambodia, he said.

Huge investments
Market leader Mobitel had invested somewhere in the vicinity of US$700 million in building a “world class” mobile-phone network, he said.

Guaranteed access through interconnect agreements meant new entrants could “cherry pick” customers in the more lucrative urban areas through discounted pricing with no need to develop infrastructure in unprofitable areas, putting Mobitel’s investment at risk.

“In Cambodia there have been many new entrants, and during my last visit many people were worried that the new entrants will undermine the businesses of companies that have served the country well and put a lot of money into infrastructure investment,” he said by email.

Mark Hanna, chief financial operator at Royal Group, which holds a minority stake in Mobitel, declined to comment. Mobitel CEO Jeff Noble and CEO Kay Lot have a long-standing policy of not commenting on regulatory issues.

Hello CEO Simon Perkins said price regulation was desirable “in the case of Cambodia's current situation” to allow operators to further invest in infrastructure to improve coverage and quality, which he said was “a particular weakness” with some of the new entrants.

“I have seen tariff regulation before, specifically in Vietnam, where the government wanted to encourage operators to improve coverage across the nation, rather than just ‘cherry-picking’ the heavily populated areas,” he said.

Operators can still compete with marketing offers and promotions, he said, “provided these fall within certain guidelines”, as well as on products and services, such as Hello’s BlackBerry offering.

Thomas Hundt, CEO at newcomer Smart Mobile, did not return a request for comment. Gael Campan, general director at Beeline, which is currently defending a lawsuit by Mobitel over alleged price-dumping, was also unavailable.

CATA head rejects Thai loss claims


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:01 May Kunmakara

A CAMBODIAN tourism sector representative rejected claims from counterparts in Thailand that Cambodia could lose between US$900 million and $1.2 billion in tourism income as the ongoing dispute over deposed Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra drives Thai and foreign tourists away.

Cambodian Association of Travel Agents President Ang Kim Eang acknowledged there would be an impact in the unlikely event the two countries closed the border, but he rejected the Thai estimates.

“It is simply not true because tourists from Thailand make up just 35 percent of our total foreign tourists, and our total income last year from tourism was only about $1.595 billion,” he said.

In comments reported on the Bangkok Post Web site Tuesday, Apichart Sangka-aree, an adviser to the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA), said Cambodia would face stronger negative impact from the dispute than Thailand.

“European tourists are now refraining from visiting Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and are instead visiting the Northeast of Thailand, which has a similar culture and tourist attractions,” he said.

Apichart estimated the potential losses to Cambodia as between 30 billion and 40 billion Thai baht.

Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) Charoen Wang-ananont also told the Bangkok Post that 95 percent of Thai tourists who had booked tour packages to Cambodia in advance have now cancelled or delayed their trips.

More than 600,000 Thais visited Cambodia last year, spending about 7,000 baht ($210) each, while only 60,000 Cambodians travelled to Thailand, TTAA figures show.

Gaming firm profits on Naga



Elixir Gaming Co said it would add 32 more gaming machines to NagaWorld casino by the end of the year. Bloomberg

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:01 Jeremy Mullins

Elixir Gaming records 6 percent rise in Cambodia revenue in Q3

OPERATING slot machines in the capital’s sole licensed casino provided profitable third-quarter returns for Las Vegas-based Elixir Gaming Co, according to results released Tuesday.

The company, which operates 384 machines in Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino, made US$1.1 million in revenues from its Cambodia machines in the July-to-September quarter, a 6 percent increase on the previous quarter.

Elixir signed two agreements in January and July of this year to operate on the gaming floor in NagaWorld. The firm purchases gaming machines from countries such as Australia and Slovenia, and operates them in Asian casinos.

Under the terms of its two Cambodia agreements, Elixir operates 384 machines at NagaWorld, and 32 more machines are slated to be in place by the end of December. The company also holds until February 28 a right of first refusal on a proposed additional 200 units for the casino floor.

Under the terms of its most recent deal, Elixir paid a “commitment fee” of $5.84 million to locate its machines on the gaming floor, said Clarence Chung, CEO of Elixir, in a teleconference Tuesday.

“However, Elixir Gaming is entitled to 100 percent of the net wins per unit per day from the additional machines, starting from the first day of operations until we have received a total accumulative amount of $7.3 million, which represents the commitment fee plus our 20 percent share of the win per unit per day,” he said.

NagaWorld officials declined to comment Wednesday, other than confirming Elixir constitutes just one of several gaming machine suppliers. The casino had 749 machines up to the end of June, according to a company report.

By the end of the year Elixir plans to have “1,300 to 1,400” operational gaming machines, of which 440 will be in NagaWorld, and the rest in the Philippines, Chung said.

In Tuesday’s teleconference the firm discussed possible expansion in Southeast Asia.

“Deployments for such projects could be as early as the first half of 2010,” said Chung. “Such projects that are in negotiation phases include two venues outside the Phnom Penh area in Cambodia, which could total over 500 machines, and one project in Vietnam.”

Russian firm seeks dam deal


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:01 Chun Sophal

THE federal assembly of Russia has asked Cambodia to grant a Russian firm permission to build a US$2 billion dam in the Kingdom, the head of the National Assembly’s finance, banking and audit committee said after returning from Moscow on Tuesday.

“Early last week the Russian assembly requested we allow the Russian company to build a hydroelectric dam capable of producing 960 megawatts in Stung Treng province,” Cheam Yeap said.

The Russians did not identify the firm they were proposing build the dam. However, Much Chhun Hourn, director of the Hydroelectricity Department, said Wednesday that the ministry in 2007 licensed Russian firm JSC Bureyagesstroy to conduct a feasibility study on a dam in Stung Treng province.

The firm had not yet submitted the study to the ministry. “We won’t be able to evaluate the project and its potential until the report is submitted,” Much Chhun Hourn said.

Cheam Yeap said his Russian counterparts told him Friday that the company had submitted the report and was awaiting approval from the Cambodian National Assembly.

Police Blotter: 12 Nov 2009


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:01 Thet Sambath

MAN ACCUSED OF KNIFING BROTHER
A 46-year-old man in Kampong Cham province’s Prek Romdenh commune who is suspected of killing his brother on Monday is on the run, police said. The suspect was drinking wine with his 41-year-old brother when an argument erupted. The suspect used a knife to stab his brother twice in the head and twice in the shoulder, police said. The victim died immediately from his injuries.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

POOR FATHER JAILED FOR STEALING MILK
A man in Phnom Penh who stole milk for his child was sentenced to eight months in prison on Tuesday. Earlier this year, Chab Phearom, 24, stole a can of milk from a shop. The suspect told Phnom Penh Municipal Court that he resorted to stealing because he lacked the money to feed his hungry child. After pleading to the court for a lighter sentence, the court gave him an eight-month sentence instead of the 18 months mandated under the law.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

NEPHEW ALLEGEDLY KNIFES UNCLE IN ROW
A teenager in Kampong Cham province’s Memot district who attacked his 36-year-old uncle with a knife on Sunday is on the run, police said. The victim sustained knife injuries inflicted by his 18-year-old nephew when the pair were having a verbal dispute. The victim sustained injuries to his ear and three of his fingers.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

POLICE INTERRUPT WOMAN’S SUICIDE BID
A 28-year-old woman who jumped off the Japanese-Cambodian Friendship Bridge in Phnom Penh on Tuesday was rescued from the water by police. Ton Makara told police she attempted suicide because her elder sister criticised her every day. Police released the women after telling her not to do it again.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

ARGUMENT ROCKS GANGSTERS’ PARADISE
Four gangsters who engaged in a dispute in Siem Reap were arrested on Monday night. Police said that the four gangsters were drunk when an argument erupted between them. People who were living in the area contacted police as the argument escalated. Arrested and detained overnight, the men were released the following morning after they thumbprinted an agreement that they would not engage in such rowdiness again.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

PHONE THIEF NABBED BY CITY BYSTANDERS
One of three men involved in stealing a mobile phone in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district was arrested on Sunday. According to police, the victim was talking to his friend on his phone when the three suspects took it and ran. Responding to his shouts, bystanders were able to apprehend one of the men.
KOH SANTHEPHEAP

Volleyball 'dream team'




(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:00 POST STAFF

Cambodia’s national team for the World Organisation Volleyball for Disabled (WOVD) World Championships, to be held December 15-20 in Phnom Penh, was named last week, with organisers calling it their strongest side yet to be entered in competition. “Our best team yet. A dream team,” Chris Minko, secretary general of the Cambodian National Volleyball League (Disabled), said in an email. “I fully believe that Cambodia has the ability to reach No 1 in the world ... this is Cambodia’s best chance to secure [its] first-ever team sports No 1 in the world,” added Minko (pictured seated on right). Cambodia will be pitted against teams from Slovakia, Poland, Germany, India and Malaysia, with Vietnam and Laos also possibly attending, organisers said. Coach Christian Zepp is expected to return next week to guide the team through preparations for the WOVD championships. Cambodia has steadily climbed up the rankings in championship play, from a 6th-place finish in 2001 to a place on the podium at 3rd in the 2007 championships.

Local football: Battambang adult league launched


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:00 Sam Schweingruber

The Battambang-based SALT Academy launched its first adult football league with a matchup last weekend between teams comprising former youth tournament championship players from the region, organisers said. Over the next seven weeks, eight clubs will battle towards a final match, to be held on December 26. The league is sponsored by the mobile provider Hello, which has donated US$1,200 in prize money. The opening match pitted the Solar FC against Crossroads, which dominated the first 20 minutes of play, but let through the first goal of the game by Solar’s Kim Komsan. Crossroads equalised with a goal by Om Tola as the match wound down to half time. The second half saw Crossroads’ defender De Mong sent off, giving Solar the advantage. But the side squandered three chances to score, and Crossroads connected twice more, bringing the final score to 3-1.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


(Posted by CAAI News Media)

In Brief: Thaksin spat won't hurt golf tourney

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:00 Rann Reuy

Organisers of the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open say rising political tensions between Cambodia and Thailand will not affect the golf tournament, set to begin November 19. “We do not see any impact on the competition, as these are two different things,” said Asian Tour Executive Chairman Kyi Hla Han. Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said no players had cancelled.

In Brief: O'donell says 'no easy games'

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:00 Andy Brouwer

Cambodian football coach Scott O’Donell acknowledged the tough road ahead for his side in next month’s SEA Games, where Cambodia will be pitted against three of the region’s top teams, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, in Group A. “I have to admit that it’s a very difficult group, but in these regional tournaments, there are no easy games. I am looking forward to the SEA Games to see how my young players cope playing against such quality opposition.” Cambodia will play four matches in the group stages.

In Brief: First India trade forum

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:00 Nguon Sovan

CAMBODIA’S exports to India were worth just US$2.87 million in 2008, while India made $53.45 million in return trade, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said at the opening of the first India-Cambodia trade and investment business forum Wednesday. “The amount is still small,” he said, adding that bilateral trade had the potential to grow tenfold. India’s main exports to Cambodia were pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals, cotton, staple fibres, rubber products, precious stones and machinery, said Manju K Prakash, assistant secretary general of Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which organised the event.

In Brief: Easing trade the key

Thursday, 12 November 2009 15:00 May Kunmakara

COMMERCE Minister Cham Prasidh told a meeting of the five least-developed World Trade Organisation (WTO) members Wednesday that easing trade flows was critical to recovering from the global economic crisis. “Cleaning our house and building the best enabling environment for our traders, manufacturers and investors will be conducive to sharpening our competitive edge,” he told officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Laos at a two-day workshop on trade facilitation that shared experiences on the Doha round.

Journalist Lauds Cambodian Media Ethics


Pen Samithy, editor-in-chief of Rasmei Kampuchea newspaper

By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer
Washington
11 November 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

Thai media has served to conflate diplomatic issues with Cambodia, with more nationalism than professionalism, a leading Cambodian journalist said Monday.

“If all the journalists respect the truth, people on both sides would understand the truth, and they would see which country is acting improperly,” said Pen Samithy, president of the Club of Cambodian Journalists, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”

“But as we have seen, in Thailand there are many media that still have a nationalist view, very much, which makes it so the Thai people can’t receive the truth,” he said.

Pen Samithy was discussing a new draft code of ethics for journalists, at a time when Cambodia’s opposition media has come under increasing pressure.

At least one opposition editor, Hang Chakra, was jailed recently, after publishing stories alleging corruption in the Council of Ministers. A second, Dam Sith, closed his newspaper rather than face similar charges.

Meanwhile, Cambodia and Thailand have become embroiled in an increasingly complicated diplomatic row over Prime Minister Hun Sen’s support of Thaksin Shinawatra, the deposed prime minister wanted on corruption charges in Thailand, even as troops on both sides are massed on the border near Preah Vihear temple.

Pen Samithy praised Cambodian journalists for their help to the nation. While a code of ethics already existed among journalists, he said, the new one was a good sign of further cooperation, especially regarding the pursuit of “truth.”