Friday, 9 April 2010

Area artists head to Cambodia to combat child trafficking


http://www.news10.net/
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Suzanne Phan

ROSEVILLE, CA - A team of local artists will be leaving Sunday for Cambodia on a two-week mission of mercy, painting murals to help children recovering from sex trafficking.

Roseville artist and father of two Shane Grammar is leading a group called "Heart for the Kids."

Grammar said his six person team will be travelling to Svay Pak just outside of the capital of Cambodia. The area is known worldwide as a notorious red light district for child prostitution.

The team plans on painting murals for a new building used to help educate rescued and recovering victims.

"To bring hope and joy to these girls who've been rescued from human trafficking through the arts," Grammar said. "We believe these girls are pure. They've been born pure. But they've been taken advantage of."

According to UNICEF, 55,000 girls and young women are involved in sex trafficking. 35 percent of those girls are under the age of 16.

The local team will be working closely with a larger effort by Agape International, which is based in Rocklin. Agape has spent the past two years working to help rescue children from sex trafficking in Svay Pak.

"We're really focused on prevention efforts there in returning hope to these people," said Renne Burkhalter of Agape International. "They've had no hope for alternatives. Every family in that village is expected to traffic their girls by the time they are 9 or 10 years old."

Grammar said hope is a powerful thing for child sex trafficking victims.

"We really believe that what we're doing will show the girls something they can fight for," Grammar said.

Grammar said he plans on blogging daily, offering updates and photos for supporters at his Heart for the Kids web site.

News10/KXTV

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Cambodia Refuses Hun Sen’s Help PTV Rebroadcast

Friday, 09 April 2010 03:35 DAP-NEWS

Phnom Penh-Cambodian spokesperson Khieu Kanharith, also minister of Information on Friday refuses Thailand as saying that Cambodian Prime Minister had not given a help to PVT in Thailand.

Khieu Kanharith added that Prime Minister was not aware of it, adding that what Wipoj said it was not true.

PTV can resume its satellite broadcast by Friday's morning although its programme is frequently interrupted due to the jamming of signal, Pheu Thai MP Waipoj Apornrat said on Friday, according to The Nation online.

ADB to Launch Asia Development Outlook 2010

Friday, 09 April 2010 04:00 DAP-NEWS/ Soy Sophea

Asian Development Bank (ADB) on Friday annouced that it will launch it outlook 2010 report in April 20.

The ADB’s Country Director for Cambodia, Mr. Putu Kamayana, and the Senior CountryEconomist, Mr. Eric Sidgwick will be hosting a press conference on 20 April 2010 on recent developments and prospects for Cambodian economy following the launch of the latest Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2010, ADB’s flagship economic publication on April 13 2010, it said in a release on Thursday.

The ADO includes comprehensive analysis of economic developments and prospects for more than 40 developing member countries in Asia and the Pacific, including Cambodia.

This year's ADO special theme, "Macroeconomic Management Beyond The Crisis," explores how the Royal Government of Cambodia can conduct macroeconomic and structural policies for high sustained growth and lasting poverty reduction in the aftermath of the global financial crisis and economic downturn in 2009.

Cylinder explodes at Dangkor district gas vendor’s shop

Photo by: Heng Chivoan

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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:04 Kim Yuthana

A cylinderr at a gas vendor’s shop in Dangkor district’s Choam Chao commune exploded on Thursday, damaging three motorbikes and a car, said Prum Yorn, chief of the Interior Ministry’s training and fire unit.

MaD tuk tuk challenge


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:00 Post Staff
Rob Bailey, a Fred Flintstone-impersonating UK volunteer for the NGO MaD gets ready on April Fools’ Day to partake in the Mad Tuk Tuk Challenge – riding a tuk tuk from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville via Phnom Penh. Four pimped-out tuk tuks left Siem Reap on the big day but, at the time of 7Days’ publication, only three remained in the race hoping to cross the finishing line today. Or maybe tomorrow.

J’adore discord

Photo by: AFP

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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:06 AFP

An antigovernment protester blows a horn as he stands beside a closed upscale shopping mall at the site of ongoing rallies in central Bangkok on Thursday. Thailand’s economy is preparing for further battering after authorities, besieged by thousands of Red Shirt protesters, declared a state of emergency in the capital on Wednesday.

ASEAN to focus on successes


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:06 James O'Toole

Political dilemmas, however, undermine ‘unity in diversity’.

Hanoi

REGIONAL leaders gathered for the 16th ASEAN summit in Hanoi on Thursday, focusing on areas of agreement rather than the pressing political challenges that threaten to thwart the bloc’s ambitions.

According to draft documents, ASEAN leaders are set to adopt declarations today concerning climate change and economic recovery. The climate change document calls on ASEAN members “to advance a comprehensive legally binding global agreement on climate change” and advocate increased climate adaptability funding from the developed world.

The economic document, meanwhile, states that ASEAN countries will “maintain monetary and fiscal support while preparing for orderly unwinding of expansionary policies” as they work to address the development gap among member states in the long term.

Delegates also established a protocol for “dispute settlement mechanisms” whereby ASEAN states in conflict with one another could turn to a third party for arbitration. It is not clear whether such a mechanism could be used to resolve the ongoing border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, as Thailand has consistently rejected international intervention in the conflict and the settlement may require the consent of both parties to a dispute.

But on a day when Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung spoke of ASEAN’s “unity in diversity”, the varied political dilemmas facing its members came into sharp focus.

With a state of emergency declared in Bangkok, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was forced to cancel his trip to Hanoi, as members of the antigovernment Red Shirt movement flooded Bangkok’s main shopping district and stepped up their calls for new elections.

Nagging concerns about the repressive military junta in Myanmar were given new urgency by last month’s announcement that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will not be allowed to take part in elections scheduled for late 2010, the country’s first in two decades.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit on Thursday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong said the protests in Thailand were a matter best handled by the Thai government, and denied that Cambodia had any stake in the outcome.

“The problem between the Red Shirts and the Yellow is the internal affair of Thailand. We have nothing to do [with it], but we wish just the good things for Thailand,” Hor Namhong said, denying that there was any disjunction between Cambodia’s stated neutrality in Thailand’s political crisis and its appointment of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser.

“We’re dealing only with economic affairs in Cambodia. You have observed that during his stay in Cambodia twice, [Thaksin] has never said a word concerning the Thai situation.”

Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya answered testily when asked whether the unrest in Bangkok had been addressed during a meeting of ASEAN heads of state. “You keep on asking the same question – no,” he said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said the matter had not been addressed during a Wednesday meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers either, though he added that “obviously all of ASEAN ... is following closely developments in Thailand”.

“We fully respect that these are all obviously internal developments. At the same time, we all wish very much to see the situation stabilise in Thailand,” Natalegawa said, adding that “all regional integration efforts ... must be anchored by national stability”.

Along with the Philippines, Indonesia has been publicly critical of the election restrictions in Myanmar, a stance Natalegawa reiterated on Thursday.

“Indonesia has been consistent in raising the issue, not because of any ill will, but ... as a family member in ASEAN,” Natalegawa said, calling for elections to take place “in a democratic way, in a transparent way, in a participatory way”.

It was not clear on Thursday, however, whether ASEAN would address the issue collectively. Hor Namhong said Myanmar was not discussed in meetings, though he added Cambodia’s voice to the chorus calling for transparency in Myanmar.

“Cambodia – as with most of the ASEAN community – we wish to see the election in Myanmar and pursue transparency for all parties in Myanmar,” he said.

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan acknowledged the political uncertainty facing the bloc, but said it was a typical problem that would not prevent ASEAN countries from achieving their stated goal of European Union-style political and economic cooperation by 2015.

“It’s a yo-yo – when one member state is stable and secure, others are in a state of instability, but that has been the experience of ASEAN for the last 42 years,” he said. “I think we will survive.”

A balancing act in the Cardamoms


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:06 Irwin Loy

Conservationists sometimes find their efforts in protected areas at odds with indigenous rights.

KOH KONG PROVINCE

NEAK Samon waved her hand angrily over the soot-covered pit in front of her home. A few charred sticks and ashes were all that remained of a makeshift charcoal kiln.

In late February, forest rangers pulled up on motorbikes in her village and demanded that she destroy the kiln, she said. They told her it was located in a protected area in which no one was allowed to cut down trees.

“I was so angry,” she recalled. “I told them, ‘If you stop me from making charcoal, how can I cook for my family?’”

She said the rangers used hoes to break the kiln apart, and that flames from the burning wood leapt into the air as the hoes struck the mound. Neak Samon walked away fuming.

“I’m still angry today,” she said. “I didn’t cut this wood down in the forest. It was from dead trees. We do this and then the rangers call it illegal.”

Four other families in her village complained of the same treatment, for which they blamed rangers affiliated with the respected international NGO Wildlife Alliance.

The incident underlines a difficult question conservationists face in protecting threatened areas: How can they engage the people who already live there?

Neak Samon’s home sits along an old dirt logging road leading into the Areng Valley in the ecologically sensitive Cardamom Mountains.

It also happens to rest along the boundaries of the Central Cardamom Protected Forest (CCPF), a 400,000-hectare zone that the government created in 2002.

Conservationists see the Cardamoms as an ecological jewel. It is home to dozens of threatened species, including some that have become extinct elsewhere, as well as a vital watershed that supports hundreds of thousands of people downstream of its rivers.

But the CCPF is also home to more than 3,000 isolated villagers, many of them indigenous Khmer Daeum whose ancestors have lived in the forest for centuries.

In dealing with them, authorities have two choices: Offer a stick, or offer a carrot. Officials can tell the communities to stop using their ancestral forests outright, or work with them to end destructive commercial poaching and logging.

In the Areng Valley, authorities have chosen the latter.

As part of an agreement with the district, commune, Forestry Administration and the NGO Conservation International, which operates in the CCPF, villagers have agreed to stop clearing new forests as well as poaching wildlife. In return, they receive compensation roughly equivalent to the earnings they would have made from poaching.

Villagers can also earn money by taking part in patrols, which brings income to a community short on paying jobs.

“Enforcement alone is not enough to keep the mountain safe for future generations,” said David Emmett, Conservation International’s regional director. He also said that recent tensions have complicated the relationship with villagers.

Referring to the reported destruction of villagers’ kilns, he said: “Incidents such as this one will only ever make communities less willing to listen or engage in conversation, which sets back our entire agenda.”

Various officials from Wildlife Alliance were unavailable for comment this week. The NGO is one of several conservation groups working in the protected areas of Koh Kong. In the Cardamoms, such work has included partnering with authorities to patrol the area with the aim of stamping out the illegal logging of valuable timber.

The group has been lauded for helping to preserve sensitive areas and put a dent in destructive logging practices.

In Koh Kong’s Chi Phat commune for example, the NGO has launched a major reforestation drive and started up a sustainable ecotourism project that brings tourist dollars into the community.

Yet villagers in Thma Doun Pov say they have had arguments with rangers for several years.

“When the rangers come to us, it’s like they don’t care,” said Chet Tay, a member of the local commune council. “When they see someone cut down a tree, they stop us automatically. They don’t bother to talk to us to see whether what we are doing is allowed.”

In 2008, tensions flared when rangers burned down several newly built homes and cultivated rice fields, Chet Tay said.

“People were very angry. Some had knives and axes,” he said. “They wanted to kill the rangers, but they were afraid of the law. They wanted to kill the people who destroyed their homes.”

Cambodia’s Law on Forestry recognises the right of indigenous communities to use forest resources for their centuries-old customs, including collecting wood and using timber from designated areas to build homes.

The recent dispute with Wildlife Alliance made its way up to the governor of Koh Kong province, who said he believes the villagers have abided by the law.

“They have never destroyed forests for selling or doing big business,” said Governor Bun Leut, who characterised the tensions between villagers and the NGO-backed rangers as a misunderstanding.

“The rangers just want to preserve the forest to make sure villagers do not destroy it,” he said. “We have told them that the villagers are making charcoal kilns for their communities only.”

Villagers say they believe conservation efforts are vital, but recent tensions have also produced lingering suspicions in Thma Doun Pov.

Chet Tay said his constituents want the rangers to stay away.

“We don’t want the rangers to come here again,” he said.

“If this happens again, people may fall into violence. If the rangers return, they should come here for good purposes.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

Takeo villagers forced to sign land over to NGO: witnesses

Photo by: Pha Lina
Takeo province villagers involved in a land fight with an NGO protest in front of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:05 May Titthara

POLICE in Takeo province’s Kirivong district surrounded the homes of 50 villagers on Thursday, ordering them to go to the district police office, where they were told to sign an agreement turning over their land to a local conservation NGO, villagers said.

The villagers, who had participated in a land dispute-related protest broken up by police in the capital a day earlier, have accused the NGO Chamreun Chiet Khmer of planting acacia trees on land they claim to have inhabited for more than 20 years.

Chan Sophal, a member of the premier’s bodyguard unit who lives on the disputed land in Takeo, said six police officers arrived at his village early on Thursday morning to arrest the leaders of Wednesday’s rally.

After those officers were unable to find the leaders, about 100 police officers returned and escorted the 50 villagers to district police headquarters, he said.

“Police came to find the representatives who went to Phnom Penh, but when they could not, they spread throughout the commune and forced 50 to go to their office to give the land to the NGO,” Chan Sophal said.

He added that all 50 had received summonses last month to appear in Takeo provincial court on April 23, but that they feared they would be arrested if they went.

“If we appear at the court on the scheduled date they will arrest us. And if we do not they will still arrest us. So now there are more than 500 families who really don’t know what to do,” he said.

Three villagers – Kov Pisey, 49, Chhoun Sarith, 49, and Hem Moeun, 48 – were arrested in connection with the case when the summonses issued on March 25.

One more villager, 31-year-old Em Tha, was arrested on Wednesday, Chan Sophal said.

The NGO began planting trees on the land in December 2008, he said. Hem Sakhorn, its director, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Provincial Governor Srey Ben said Thursday that he believed the village would benefit from the work of the NGO, which he said was “providing free trees for villagers who want to plant them”.

However, Ouch Leng, a land programme officer for the rights group Adhoc, said Thursday that the fresh round of summonses amounted to an act of intimidation on the part of the court and local officials.

“The authorities should not release summonses for villagers,” he said.

“Villagers have lived there for 20 years already. It’s a violation of their rights.”

Water access an issue in dam debate


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:05 Steve Hirsch

Washington

CAMBODIA will become increasingly dependent on water controlled by China if proposed dams along the upper Mekong River are allowed to go forward, a researcher warned at a press conference Wednesday marking the release of a report on the projects.

The proposed dams – including several in China and Laos, as well as one each in Kratie and Stung Treng provinces – have the potential to generate much-needed revenue from electricity sales, according to the report from the Henry L Stimson Centre, titled Mekong Tipping Point: Hydropower Dams, Human Security and Regional Stability.

However, Richard Cronin, the report’s lead author and a senior associate and director of the Stimson Centre’s Southeast Asia programme, said the Chinese dams in particular could pose two significant problems for Cambodia due to their ability to regulate the release of water during the dry season.

First, Cambodia would become dependent on China to release enough water upstream to keep the Kingdom’s power-generation projects online during the dry season, particularly the proposed US$5 billion Sambor Rapids dam in Kratie, Cronin said.

In addition, he said, the altered hydrology of the river could threaten domestic fish production.

By green-lighting the dams in Kratie and Stung Treng, Cronin said, Cambodia is in danger of “incurring a dependency that it may not want”.

This argument is also emphasised in the report. “Several if not most of the lower Mekong projects,” it states, “will not be commercially viable without the release of water from the [China] dams at the right times and in the right amounts to allow them to operate uninterrupted throughout the dry season, when the normal flow is a tiny fraction of that during the flood stage.”

Police Blotter: 9 Apr 2010


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:03 Sen David

COW-TENDING BOY FINDS BODY IN FIELD
Ten people have been in arrested in Kandal province after a boy discovered the body of a 45-year-old man in a field Tuesday. Police said the boy, who tends cows, became suspicious when he became aware of a bad smell. A subsequent police investigation turned up 10 people who a neighbour saw drinking wine together with the dead man days before the discovery. However, all 10 say they have no idea about the man’s death. Police have sent the case to court “to find justice”.
DEUM AMPIL

PARENTS PLEASED BY CHILDREN'S ARREST
Police in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district have raided a local gaming shop and detained 15 students after neighbours and their own parents urged officers to crack down. The parents reported being overjoyed their offspring had been arrested. One parent said that her son never studied and seemed to be addicted to playing games. What he wasn’t addicted to, the parent said, was studying. The raid saw the police confiscating 10 gaming consoles, which will be kept at the police station until further notice. The students were to be returned to their parents after receiving a day of “education” at the police station.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

SIGN OF BAD DRIVING IN SIHANOUKVILLE
Police in Sihanoukville say a “rich man” ploughed his car into a sign in front of the Department of Tourism Wednesday. Neighbours reported hearing a loud crashing sound. When they looked, they saw the sign in front of the building was completely damaged. Police said the driver was known as the child of a rich and powerful man. He was also extremely rude, they added. The driver refused to answer questions at the police station; instead, his father showed up. The department is planning to demand money to fix the damaged sign.
DEUM AMPIL

BOY DEAD AFTER LIGHTNING STRIKE
A 17-year-old boy has died after he was struck with lightning in Banteay Meanchey province Wednesday. Police said the boy was employed to look after cows. The boy’s family said it was raining on the day he was killed. The boy’s employer has returned the body to the family and offered them US$100 to hold a funeral. The family is very poor, police said; some of them have disabilities and lots of children.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

NGOs call for broader anti-crime campaign


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:05 Tep Nimol and Chhay Channyda

RIGHTS groups said Thursday that they planned to ask the government to widen its ongoing crackdown on illegal logging to encompass other crimes occurring in Cambodia, as officials in Dangkor district touted the inspection of a logging warehouse that they say is owned by a prominent Phnom Penh tycoon.

Hang Chhaya, chairman of the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee, said that during a press conference today, groups will voice concerns about the selective focus of law enforcement.

“We want authorities to focus on cracking down on all crimes, not just illegal logging,” he said, and added that eradicating crime must be “a long term and sustainable” objective.

The crackdown was initiated following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s January directive to target unauthorised logging and other illegal businesses operated by senior officials.

Meanwhile, authorities in Dangkor district said they had inspected a timber warehouse in Choam Chao commune owned by tycoon Hong Piv on Tuesday. Deputy district Governor Hem Darith said police did not confiscate any of the wood, and called the inspection a “checking operation”.

Military police spokesman Kheng Tito said authorities had arrested 14 suspected illegal loggers as of the end of March, some of whom were government officials. “Now we have the power to crack down on all crimes,” he said. “We are not afraid of big crimes, and we will continue to crack down like drizzling rain.”

Siem Reap reporter testifies


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:05 Rann Reuy

Siem Reap Province

A JOURNALIST who appeared in Siem Reap provincial court for questioning on Thursday said a court official urged him to drop his complaint against two Forestry Administration officials, who he has accused of deleting pictures from his camera during a scuffle in early March.

Keng Phon, a journalist with the Sthabna Cheat Khmer newspaper, was ordered to appear for questioning after one of the two officials filed a complaint against him.

“The prosecutor was absent, but the prosecutor’s clerk questioned me, and she wants me to drop the complaint against the forestry officials,” he said, though he added that he had refused.

“I want to see my complaint go to court,” he said.

Keng Phon has said that he tried to take pictures of the officials during a crackdown on illegal logging in early March, after he saw them carrying timber out of a forest in Kampong Kleng commune.

Chheang Tola, the director of the Forestry Administration in Siem Reap, said he was not familiar with the case, but that it was the policy of his staff to “cooperate” with journalists.

Siem Reap Provincial Court prosecutor Ty Soveinthal said he had not yet investigated Keng Phon’s complaint or the complaint filed by the two Forestry Administration officials.

“I will look into the case, and I will send it to the investigating judge if it is a big problem,” he said.

RCAF general extolls army’s role at border


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:05 Thet Sambath

ROYAL Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) Deputy Commander in Chief Chea Dara has again extolled the military’s prowess in its border standoff with Thai forces, and said that tensions nearly boiled over in February when Prime Minister Hun Sen paid a visit to disputed Preah Vihear temple.

“Thai soldiers always harassed us a lot, especially during Samdech [Hun Sen]’s visit to Preah Vihear,” Chea Dara told an audience of municipal officials at City Hall on Thursday. “They tried to harass us at every place Samdech [Hun Sen] was visiting.”

Chea Dara said he told Thai commanders to keep their distance and at certain points threatened to attack them.

“Samdech [Hun Sen] can go anywhere in Cambodian territory. You have no right to complain and to put conditions on his trip,” he said.

“I warned Thai military commanders [that] if they disagreed, I was ready to attack. If I could not solve this, my rank would disappear from my shoulder, but before I lose it I would attack you first.”

In recent speeches, Chea Dara has declared “victory” for Cambodia in its dispute with Thailand. He has also said that Cambodian troops have killed 88 Thai troops since tensions erupted after the listing of Preah Vihear temple as a UNESCO World Heritage site in July 2008.

On Thursday, Chea Dara struck a more conciliatory note, saying that Thai government officials had been friendly in welcoming Prime Minister Hun Sen to the country during last week’s Mekong River Commission summit in Hua Hin.

Ket Siviny, a City Hall official who attended the speech, said it was good to receive news about the situation at the border.

“All attendants were very keen to listen to Chea Dara’s comments about the border. It is good to know the weak and strong points at the border,” he said.

Yim Phim, commander of RCAF Brigade 8, which is stationed near Preah Vihear temple, said the situation at the border was normal and that soldiers were in good spirits with the approach of the Khmer New Year holiday.

Prisoner move eases overcrowding


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:05 Mom Kunthear

MORE than 50 inmates from an overcrowded Phnom Penh prison have been relocated to Pursat province’s Correctional Centre 4, a facility that last month introduced an agricultural training programme aimed at reducing recidivism, officials said Thursday.

Heng Hak, director general of the Department of Prisons at the Interior Ministry, said there are more than 700 inmates in Prey Sar Correctional Centre 1, and that prisoners are being relocated to less-crowded jails.

“The Prey Sar Correctional Centre 1 is now overcrowded; that’s why I am taking measures to move some of them to another prison,” he said.

Hin Sophal, chief of Correctional Centre 4, said that the 54 prisoners had arrived from Prey Sar on Wednesday.

“There are now 148 prisoners in CC4, and we are building a new centre in order to receive more prisoners,” he said, adding that he expects around 150 inmates to be relocated from other prisons once the new building is finished after Khmer New Year.

He said the prison, which was opened late last year as part of a broader effort to combat overcrowding, would eventually house about 2,500 prisoners on 846 hectares of land.

Heng Hak last month said that the prison’s agricultural training programme was designed to reduce recidivism by providing prisoners with skills that can be used after release.

He said Thursday that the government is also in the process of building new prisons in Phnom Penh and other areas where prisons have become overcrowded, including Battambang, Kampong Thom and Pursat provinces.

He said relocation could make it difficult for relatives to visit prisoners, but that deteriorating conditions in Correctional Centre 1 had made the move necessary. “We had to move them because we think prisoner health is a greater priority,” he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said in February that Cambodia’s detention facilities were capable of housing just 8,000 prisoners, far below the 13,325 they held during 2009.

Rights groups ask VN to free Khmer Krom


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:04 Khouth Sophakchakrya

KHMER Krom advocacy groups have called on authorities in Vietnam to release ethnic Khmers being held in Vietnamese jails and to relax cultural and religious restrictions ahead of next week’s Khmer New Year holiday.

Thach Setha, president of the Khmer Krom Association, said that on the occasion of the annual holiday, which begins April 14, Vietnam should loosen government controls and respect the rights of the country’s ethnic Khmer minority.

“I asked for the Vietnamese government to provide freedom and release Khmer Kampuchea Krom who have been arrested and jailed due to land disputes and attempts to preserve their religion and culture,” he said.

Thach Setha said that “hundreds” of Khmer Krom are languishing in prison on political charges after advocating for the use of the Khmer language and the right to practise Theravada Buddhism, which differs from the Mahayana Buddhism practised by the ethnic Vietnamese majority.

A Human Rights Watch report released in January 2009 documented the “severe and often shrouded methods used by the Vietnamese authorities to stifle dissent” among the country’s ethnic Khmer minority, particularly “ethnic-based grievances” and demands for religious freedom.

“Wary about the possible nationalist aspirations of the Khmer Krom, the Vietnamese government is quick to suppress peaceful expressions of dissent,” the report stated, noting that the government prohibits most peaceful protests and bans the formation of independent human rights groups.

In a meeting in the Mekong Delta on Tuesday, President Nguyen Minh Triet said the Khmer minority was an inseparable part of the Vietnamese nation, and had contributed to Vietnam’s economic development despite the great difficulties stemming from previous wars, according to a state-run media report.

The report also quoted the president as saying that the Communist Party of Vietnam always “made efforts to stabilise the economy and consolidate national solidarity in order to support and improve the lives of ethnic groups including theKhmer ethnic minority”.

However, Thach Sung, a representative of a group 22 Khmer Krom asylum seekers deported from Thailand in December, said that he did not believe that the Vietnamese authorities had done anything to improve the lives of ethnic minorities in the country, especially the Khmer.

“The Vietnamese government always tells the international community that they always pay attention to improving the lives of ethnic groups in their country, but it is not true,” he said.

“They consider Khmer Krom as animals and then tortured us when we demand freedom.”

Ny Chakrya, a senior investigator for local rights group Adhoc, said that the Khmer Krom should be able to live “with the same peace and freedom” as ethnic Vietnamese living inside Cambodia.

Reporter charged in bribery case

Photo by: Rann Reuy
Koh Santepheap reporter Sim Samnang appears at Siem Reap provincial court, which on Thursday charged him with attempting to extort money from the owner of a timber warehouse.

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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:04 Rann Reuy

Siem Reap Province

A JOURNALIST at a Khmer-language daily newspaper was arrested and placed in pretrial detention in Siem Reap province on Thursday after being charged with attempting to extort money from the owner of an illegal timber warehouse, and local officials are currently looking for others believed to have been involved in the scheme, a court prosecutor said.

Siem Reap provincial court prosecutor Ty Soveinthal said Sim Samnang, a reporter for Koh Santepheap, went to the warehouse in late March and threatened to expose it to the authorities unless its owner paid him and other journalists a bribe. He added that Sim Samnang had been charged with fraud.

Investigating judge Ith Samphos said he had decided to keep Sim Samnang in jail while the case is being investigated.

“We will release him if we can’t find enough evidence,” he said.

At the police station, Sim Samnang proclaimed his innocence, saying two other journalists had convinced him to go to the warehouse, and that he had merely asked its owner for money for gasoline. “I just told the owner of the shop to give some money for gasoline expenses to the other journalists,” he said.

Court officials said Thursday that no trial date had been set for the case.

Scholars to trace the origins of ethnic Tais


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:04 Kim Yuthana

A GROUP of researchers at the Royal Academy of Cambodia plans to trace the origins of the Tai ethnic group, which is said to have arrived from the north before populating areas as far afield as eastern India, southern China and Thailand.

The project will be led by the academy’s secretary general, Sum Chhum Bun, who said that the five-member group will begin its research next week in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Yunnan province, as well as some parts of Thailand.

He said the purpose of the research was to track the migrations of ethnic Tais from Xishuangbanna south into present-day Thailand, where they established the Sukothai empire in parts of the Angkorean empire in the 13th century, a move that he said “disturbed, threatened and weakened” the declining Khmer empire.

He said the research was not intended to denigrate the Tai ethnic group – including the people of present-day Thailand – but rather to “dig up the truth” for new generations.

“Whenever we are clearly aware of their origin, we have measures to protect the origin of the Khmers, our territory at present and into the future,” he said.

He added that the research would take between six months and a year to complete and would be compiled into a book and a documentary film.

Cambodian troops in Sudan make progress

Photo by: Photo Supplied
Royal Cambodian Armed Forces deminers survey land as part of peacekeeping work in Sudan.

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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:04 Sam Rith

A TEAM of Cambodian deminers participating in a peacekeeping mission in Sudan has prepared a new report detailing its contributions thus far, which include clearing nearly 1,500 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in the conflict-ridden country.

The 52 deminers from Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Platoon 405 arrived in Sudan last June but did not complete their training and begin demining operations until November, said Taing Bunkry, the team’s commander.

The new report, which covers work completed between November 5 of last year and March 17, states that the team has cleared 14 antitank mines, 116 antipersonnel mines and 1,478 pieces of UXO, said Taing Bunkry, who shared the contents of the report in an interview by phone from Sudan.

He said the team was currently “on standby” during the run-up to presidential and parliamentary elections, which are scheduled to begin on April 11.

“We are all fine in Sudan,” he said. “We are now on standby in the military camp due to the fact that Sudan is preparing its national election,” he said. “If the situation after the election is all right, we will continue de-mining in May.”

The military camp, he added, is located in Malakal, some 316 kilometres from Maban county, where much of the de-mining activity has taken place.

Cambodia has sent some 468 peacekeepers to Sudan on four missions since 2006. During the first three missions, Cambodian deminers cleared 2,449 antipersonnel mines, 172 antitank mines and 35,785 explosive remnants of war (ERW), according to a June 2009 report published by the government’s Institute for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and ERW Clearance.

The report states that Cambodian teams have cleared more than 57 million square metres of land in the country.

Taing Bunkry said the most difficult challenge facing the team was the temperature, which he said reached as high as 52 degrees Celsius this week. He said the team is often forced to take 10-minute breaks after 30 minutes of demining as a result of the heat.

He added that although the area that the team is demining is heavily populated, many residents know where mines have been laid and thus are able to successfully avoid them.

“I see only animals suffer from the mines,” he said.

The group is set to return to Cambodia from its one-year tour on June 10.

Cambodia has previously participated in peacekeeping missions in Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic, a fact Prime Minister Hun Sen touted in a statement dated April 4 and released Tuesday, citing the Kingdom’s participation as “evidence of the solidarity and peace of Cambodia with other nations all over the world”.

Villagers feuding over Dangkor district land


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:04 May Titthara

MORE than 80 families from Dangkor district’s Choeung Ek commune protested in front of Wat Botum in central Phnom Penh on Thursday, requesting Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in a land dispute with recent arrivals in the area, villagers said Thursday.

Protestor Theb Korn, 47, who represents 84 families in Choeung Ek village, said a 60-metre by 265-metre plot of empty land has been illegally occupied by 26 families since 2007, and that it has been under the joint control of the villagers since 1980.

“In 2007, [three businessmen] come to ask our villagers to construct temporary houses to live [on the land], and promised to give it back to the 84 families when we needed it,” she said.

Villager La Luot said residents agreed for the three men to construct a 5-by-10-metre temporary house on the vacant land, but that the land was then illegally sold to the 26 families, who were previously landless.

“We would like to ask the prime minister to help us order the 26 families who settled on that land to tear down their houses and give the right back to us to control and share it among us,” he said.

Choeung Ek commune chief Cheng Soeun said the authorities had divided the remaining land into 5-by-10-metre plots to give to the 84 families, but that they wanted the newcomers to leave so they could get larger plots.

Hem Hen, one of the three men alleged to have illegally sold the land, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Plea for Kraya families


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:03 Meas Sokchea

SAM Rainsy Party lawmaker Men Sothavarin has asked Prime Minister Hun Sen to provide farmland for poor residents and disabled military veterans in Kampong Thom province.

In a letter dated Thursday, the lawmaker said that 600 families evicted last December from the province’s Kraya commune to make way for a Vietnamese rubber company are facing serious food shortages because they have not been granted replacement land promised by the government.

The letter accuses the authorities of reneging on promises made in both January and April that the families would be given farmland. “The authority does not have any clear policy to resolve this case, just promised with a lie,” the letter said.

Kampong Thom provincial Governor Chhun Chhorn dismissed Men Sothavarin’s allegations, saying that authorities planned to give each family a 1-hectare plot of replacement farmland. “We are trying to provide land to them before the rainy season,” he said.

Cambodia, VN to step up fight against drugs


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:03 Cheang Sokha

CAMBODIA and Vietnam have agreed to increase efforts against drug trafficking along the border between the two countries, officials said Thursday, adding that Vietnam could also advise local officials on the rehabilitation of drug addicts.

Lieutenant General Moek Dara, secretary general of the National Committee for Combating Drugs and chief of the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Drug Trafficking Department, said officials from the two countries attended a conference on cross-border drug trafficking in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday to exchange information and techniques to combat smuggling.

“We have a good cooperation with Vietnam,” Moek Dara told the Post Thursday.

“We also have cooperation in the same field with neighbouring countries Laos and Thailand.”

At the meeting, the two parties pledged to increase information exchanges and establish more checkpoints along the border, he added.

Moek Dara said Cambodia and Vietnam have signed a number of memorandums of understanding (MoU) related to drug smuggling since 1998, and that the efforts of officials from both countries had significantly reduced drug production, trading and use.

According to Vietnam News, Lieutenant Colonel Hoang Anh Tuyen, deputy director of the standing office on drug control, said Vietnam was ready to offer training to Cambodian officials in investigation techniques and the setting up of rehab centres for drug addicts, as agreed in a MoU signed by the two countries in November.

Major General Phorn Boramy, head of the executive department of Cambodia’s National Authority for Combating Drugs, was quoted as saying that the raw materials for drugs were often purchased within the so-called Golden Triangle, which encompasses parts of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

Cambodian labourers flock to Malaysian jobs

Photo by: Heng Chivoan
People receive employment training at Philimore Cambodia Co Ltd in April 2008 before getting job placements in Malaysia.

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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

Number of workers migrating to Malaysia rise by 80 percent

THE number of Cambodian workers migrating to Malaysia rose more than 80 percent in the first quarter of the year, compared to the same period of 2009, driven by demand for labour in the garment and other manufacturing sectors.

Cambodian government figures also showed a quarter-on-quarter rise in migration to Thailand of 26 percent, indicating the political tension between the countries was not deterring the movement of workers.

More than 3,000 Cambodians travelled to Malaysia for work in the first three months of the year, 2,350 of them women, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training reported Thursday.

The total was nearly double the 1,664 workers who migrated to Malaysia for the first quarter of 2009.

“This year, the Malaysian government was wide open for our labourers to work in factories and some other industries, rather that working as housekeepers,” Nhem Kimhouy, an official at the Ministry of Labour, told the Post on Thursday.

“Our government also did not limit the number of companies recruiting workers.”

Malaysian employers favoured Cambodian workers for their patience and obedience of work discipline, as well as a Buddhist faith that did not require frequent prayers, he said.

“We have time to work extra hours, rather than religions that need time to do some worship,” he said, referring to Islam, the official religion of Malaysia.

The number of Cambodians working in Malaysia nearly tripled over the last two years, from 3,432 registered migrants in 2008 to 9,682 in 2009, according to government figures.

Cambodians work in homes, factories and construction sites, earning more than $200 per month.

Cambodia has had legal channels in place since 1997 to help workers reach Malaysia, and the two countries signed an agreement on migrant workers in 2003.

Rithy Sack, chief of administration at CST Human Resources Pte Ltd, said the number of workers sent by his company rose 15 percent quarter on quarter, due to Malaysia’s openness to workers and Cambodia’s efforts to ease unemployment.

Meanwhile, Cambodia sent 701 registered workers, 315 of them women, to Thailand in the first quarter, up from 553 the previous quarter.

“I think that the political deadlock in Bangkok and the border confrontation did not impact the requirements of the work force,” Nhem Kimkouy said. That illustrated a change from last year, when the number of workers travelling to Thailand dipped, he said.

The government allows 22 recruitment agencies and two NGOs to recruit migrant workers for Malaysia and Thailand, twice as many as it had in 2009.

Star-Cell sales tripled in past year


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:00 Ellie Dyer

TELIASONERA, the managing company of mobile-phone provider Star-Cell, declared dividends to shareholders Wednesday, following a boom year with its Cambodian business.

Following an annual general meeting Wednesday, Stockholm-based TeliaSonera said it would issue dividends of 2.25 kroner (US$0.31) per share, after a rise in Star-Cell net sales of $4.26 million, up from $1.37 million in 2008.

The strong performance in the Cambodian market was not enough to bolster overall earnings, which fell from $2.94 billion in 2008 to $2.59 billion in 2009.

A report, issued by TeliaSonera in March, said Star-Cell recorded 195,000 subscribers , with 4 percent market share in 2009. This is up from an estimated 144,000 subscriptions for 2008.

The company was positioned fourth in the Kingdom’s crowded marketplace, according to the report. But statistics, released by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications last November, estimated Star-Cell to have the seventh-biggest share of domestic suscriber penetration.

The TeliaSonera report said the company may engage in “substantial investment and expenditure” in companies such as Star-Cell, which is also known as Applifone, to build up businesses.

“The success of these investments will depend on a variety of factors beyond TeliaSonera’s control,” the report warned, pointing to licencing concerns, market demand and competition as potential influences.

TeliaSonera has a strong presence in emerging markets, with companies operating in Nepal, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Georgia. It holds a 51 percent stake in TeliaSonera Asia Holding BV, which has a 100 percent stake in Applifone.

In 2009, around 40 percent of TeliaSonera’s net income was derived from emerging markets. Lars Nyberg, the company’s president and CEO, identified the Eurasia region, which includes Cambodia, as a “growth engine” for the business.

Three firms sign deal on cassava purchases


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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:00 Chun Sophal

THE Southern Food Corporation, Cambodian Investment and Development, and the Green Trade Company announced Thursday that they planned to jointly invest $US30 million to buy cassava in Cambodia.

Thun Vireak, director general of Green Trade Company, one of the shareholders in the plan, told the Post on Thursday that the three companies would buy about 100,000 tonnes, more than 3 percent of the Cambodia’s annual cassava production, to export to Vietnam.

“We hope that under this cooperation, the three companies will be able to buy enough cassava as is planned,” Thun Vireak said.

According Thun Vireak’s report, the companies will start buying cassava in the up-coming December season in the Battambang and Kampong Cham provinces, the country’s two leading cassava producing areas.

Thun Vireak did not on mention on Thursday the price that the companies would set to buy the product from farmers.

The three companies have a history of working with one another. Representatives signed an agreement together on October 5, 2009, to buy rice and other products in Cambodia for export using total capital of $200 million.

Kit Seng, under secretary of state of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said Thursday that he had not yet been informed about the cassava plan by the three companies.

But he said that he supported the scheme, because it helped increase markets for Cambodian farmers.

“We have plenty of cassava to support their plan because our farmers have grown a considerably large amount of cassava in Cambodia,” Kit Seng said.

According a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in the farming year 2009 to 2010, Cambodia harvested a total amount of 3,497,306 tonnes of cassava.

Of this amount, 3,476,684 tonnes were harvested in the rainy season. The other 24,622 tonnes were harvested in the dry season.

Thun Vireak said that the companies planned to buy not only cassava but also other agricultural products such as paddy and rice.

“We will buy about 200,000 tonnes of [rice products] in Cambodia to export this year and over the next few years,” Kit Seng said.

Film star's café


Tep Rindaro

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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:00 Post Staff

Reports of swooning caused by sightings of movie actor and homegrown matinee idol Tep Rindaro sipping coffee at the Barista Café called for action.

7Days’ Siem Reap bureau’s What’s On editor Thika Chariya donned her reporter’s hat and undertook the mission to ferret out facts.

Lo and behold, it transpired that Tep Rindaro was not just a mere coffee sipper at the café – he owned the joint. And had done so since March 20 last year.

Furthermore, in the spirit of the legendary mid-1980s Gillette TV commercial by Viktor Kiam who loved the company so much he bought it, Tep Rindaro loved Barista Café so much that he bought the business.

Tep’s offsider at Barista, Touch Chan, said Tep often comes to Siem Reap and loves walking. During one of his walks he chanced upon Barista and, when in town, had coffee there daily.

Touch Chan said, “He wished that one day he could run the cafe shop by himself. When he heard that the owner, a Korean, wanted to sell, he decided to buy it.”

Now, whenever he is in town, Tep Rindaro sits at the sidewalk tables in front of Barista sipping coffee and sending his female fans into a frenzy.

The plan now is to open a second Barista Café in Phnom Penh.

After a dud debut in the movies, Tep Rindaro’s big break came with his second movie appearance in the 1990 film, Ark Kambang Kech Sanyar (The Secret Promise), produced by Ses Vong Setha and co-starring actress Apor Tevy.

In the romantic drama, Tep played the role of a Cambodian doctor who returns to his homeland after living abroad to search for the family he lost during the Pol Pot regime, while simultaneously falling in love with a young woman.

Tep’s gone on record joking that his fame was all down to a good hairdresser: “I became a famous film star at that time because of my hair. All the film stars of those days had long hair, but mine was cut short.”

Meanwhile, back to serious matters – the coffee at Barista. According to cub reporter Thika Chariya, “Ice blended is a nice taste of the coffee in there.”

Naga edge out BBU in burned-up conflict

Photo by: NICK SELLS (http://www.nicksellphotography.com/ )
Naga Corp’s Om Thavarak (right) makes a tackle on Build Bright United’s Tuy Sam during their Metfone C-League match Wednesday.

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Friday, 09 April 2010 15:00 Andy Brouwer

THE solitary midweek Metfone C-League game kicked off Wednesday in 38-degree heat, and the temperature and humidity soon took its toll on the two teams. It was simply too hot to play decent football.

In an eminently forgettable first half, Naga Corp twice went close through Chin Chom and Kim Chanbunrith. Build Bright United, meanwhile, failed to register a shot on target.

On the hour, Naga broke the sweat-induced stupor when Joseph Oyewole outjumped the BBU defence to steer Chin Chom’s corner over the line with a well-directed header. A minute later BBU’s Augustine Ogbni should have levelled but failed to pull the trigger quick enough from a yard out as goalkeeper Mak Theara came to the rescue.

That was about the sum of the action, with Naga just deserving their 1-0 win, but looking a shadow of the team that won the league championship last season.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


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New draft prakas for stock exchange

Friday, 09 April 2010 15:00 Nguon Sovan

THE Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) issued a draft prakas Thursday regarding requirements for the special financial agents required to run a securities exchange. Under the regulation, securities registrars, transfer agents and paying agents would be required to have commercial companies registered in Cambodia, and deposit minimum capital in Cambodian banks, including 10 percent in the National Bank. A registrar or transfer agent would deposit 200 million riel (US$47,846),and a paying agent would deposit 500 million riel to operate. A securities registrar provides management of securities registries, including the issuing of certificates. A transfer agent is hired by companies with publicly traded securities to keep track of the owners of its stocks and bonds. A paying agent is responsible for calculating dividends and other payments and providing them to securities holders. Officials hope the stock exchange will be up and running by the end of 2010. nguon sovan

June opening for mekong building

Friday, 09 April 2010 15:00 Soeun Say

Mekong Condominium, a US$15 million residential development in the capital’s Russey Keo District, will be completed in June, a company official said Wednesday. “We have already completed the whole 18 stories and 146 units, but only the interior design [remains],” said Chhim Chanvirak, the condominium’s project manager. Construction began on the Mekong Condo project, located about one kilometre from the Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge, in 2008, and it is set to open in June. Sale price will be around $1,000 per square metre, with units for rent at an undetermined price. Once the company sells out of condos, it will develop another project later this year, Chhim Chanvirak said. Recent figures from the National Valuers Association indicate that Cambodia’s property market is still on a downward slide, but market analysts say it could improve later in 2010.

ASEAN Summit in Hanoi April 8, 2010

Foreign Ministers of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states join hands after signing ceremony of the protocol to the ASEAN charter on dispute settlement mechanisms during the 16th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi April 8, 2010. Southeast Asian leaders will talk about building a strong economic and political community on Thursday at an annual summit clouded by unrest in Thailand and Myanmar's widely derided election plans. From L-R are Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Vietnam's Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, Brunei's Foreign Minister Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Myanmar's Foreign Minister Nyan Win and Cambodia's Foreign Minister Hor Namhong. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Southeast Asian leaders hold hands during the opening ceremony for the 16th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi April 8, 2010. (From L-R) Laos Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavan, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroy, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand's Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Myanmar's Prime Minister General Thein Sein, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen and Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Southeast Asian leaders will talk about building a strong economic and political community on Thursday at an annual summit clouded by unrest in Thailand and Myanmar's widely derided election plans. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Asian Development Bank Deputy Managing Director Naoyuki Shinohara (L), Cambodia's National Bank Deputy Governor Neav Chanthana (C) and Brunei's State Bank Governor Roselan Daud (R) chat before the 6th ASEAN State Bank Governors meeting in Nha Trang on April 7, 2010. REUTERS/Kham

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) is greeted by Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung before the 16th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi April 8, 2010. Southeast Asian leaders will talk about building a strong economic and political community on Thursday at an annual summit clouded by unrest in Thailand and Myanmar's widely derided election plans. REUTERS/Kham

Vietnam's State Bank Governor Nguyen Van Giau (R) hugs Cambodia's National Bank Deputy Governor Chanthana Neav after the 6th ASEAN State Bank Governors meeting in Nha Trang April 7, 2010. REUTERS/Kham