Wednesday, 21 April 2010

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Another Cambodian is killed by bird flu virus still a threat to Cambodians

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 05:28 DAP

Correspondent .PHNOM PENH, April 21 (DAP) – Another Cambodian man was killed by bird flu virus still a threat to this impoverished Southeast Asian nation, the World Health Organization and Cambodian health minister warned on Wednesday.

A 27-year-old Cambodian, from the eastern province of Prey Veng, died on April 17 as a result of respiratory complications after contracting bird flu virus H5N1, said a joint statement was seen by DAP.

The government urged the locals to report the suspicious deaths poultry to the assigned contact persons so that the experts could take an initial preventative action before escalating.

“Avian influenza H5N1 is still a threat to the health of Cambodians. I urge communities to be on the look-out for sick poultry and to report poultry die-offs to the ministry of health and agriculture hotlines so that they can be investigated before people start to get sick,” said health minister Mam Bun Heng in a joint statement with World Health Organization.

The latest death brought the country’s death toll from the deadly virus rose to 8 out of the 10 confirmed cases of H5N1, said the release.

The ministry of health’s officials are now sending experts to the affected area to conduct filed investigation to the identify man’s close contacts and to initiate preventative treatment as required, it said.

“Health officials are also coordinating with the ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries teams who are investigating possible poultry deaths in the area,” said the press release.

Globally since 2003, there have been 494 laboratory confirmed cases of avian influenza with 293 related deaths, it said.

The virus does not spread easily between humans, although the virus H5N1 spreads between sick poultry and sometimes spread from poultry to humans.

But experts fear in the past that the constantly mutating H5N1 virus could change into a form easily transmitted from person to person and potentially kill millions worldwide.
 
Cambodian Tourism Disturbed by Icelandic Volcano’s Eruption: Official Said

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 04:24 DAP-NEWS/ Tep Piseth

PHNOM PENH, April 21-Cambodian Tourist Travel agency announced on Wednesday that Cambodian tourism sector really was disturbed from Eyjafjallajokull volcano’s eruption in Iceland last Thursday but it could not estimate about the impact from this flight delay and tourist travelers.

The volcano eruption in Iceland disturbed our tourist travelers and those tourists lost the money and time after their flight was cancelled due to volcano eruprion,” Ang Kimeang, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agency (CATA) said by phone.

So far we have not had real figure about cost of losing airline and tourism industry in the country, he added. Most tourists lost their money because they booked the hotels and flights to Cambodia and their flight can not travel from volcano’s eruption, he said. But now the flights resumed their work, he added.

When the tourists could not travel, it lost money from buyers in some parts, and it also impacted to local people and travel agency, and income of the government, he said. All flights from European countries could not travel to here, he added.

Keo Savorn, director of the flight services of air civil authority could not reach comment about impact of numbers of flight delay. Tourism Minister Thong Khon could not reach for immediate comment.

Pum, a Cambodian student learning in Norway said that he could not go on his class in Norway after his flight delayed since Thursday last week. I am trying to check my flight with Air Company. But they told me it could not process yet. I decided to delay next week to wait every thing to process smoothly from the flight.

Volcano ashes could damage plane engines, therefore Air Company decided to delay their flights.

According to the data from the international air association, altogether, the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano has cost the airline industry more than $1 billion in lost revenue since it spewed ash into the atmosphere last Thursday. In Europe, it lost about 200 million US from flight delay, and Qatar said it lost about 1 million US dollar for one day.

Terrorist Shelters Not Allowed in Cambodia- PM

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 04:45 DAP-NEWS/ Ek Madra

PHNOM PENH, April 21 – Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen promised on Wednesday that Cambodia will never allow any terrorist who could consider this impoverished Southeast Asian nation as their terrorist bases.

Speaking at the opening of the newly built secretariat for the National Committee of Anti-terrorism, Hun Sen said the kingdom must take a preventive measure although Cambodia is not a goal of destructions by terrorists.

“Cambodia is not a target for terrorist attacks, but if we are careless there could be a group of terrorist to use this land as shelters to operate their activities,” Hun Sen warned.

“We have to take preventative measures,” said Hun Sen.

“The best way is to prevent it (terrorism acts) from taking place,” he told the crowd.

He said the harmonization of different ethnicity and race live together in society is also a key factor contributes to social security.

“I call on the all levels of forces and peoples to join hands to prevent any attempts (from assembling the terrorism activities),” he said.

A $USD 1.6 million worth construction of building complex were contributed by numerous donors, said Hun Sen who is also the head of the National Committee of Anti-terrorism.

He also called donors especially China, the Cambodian best friend country and also the biggest donor, to provide some trucks to support the anti-terrorist committee.

“China please donates us some vehicles for transportation of our forces.”
Cambodia, which emerged from 30 years of civil war, never received any terrorist threats, but has been concerned by international community that it could be a breeding ground for terrorists for which Cambodian Prime Minister denied.

Indonesian born Hambali, who was held in U.S. custody since his capture in
Thailand in 2003, spent his time hiding in Cambodia, the officials has said.

Others foreigners were arrested in Phnom Penh including Thais and charged with the international terrorism activities which linked to the network of Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

The United States and some Asian countries said the JI group has ties with the Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network who was blamed for the attack in the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

Cambodia, East Timor Strengthen Economic and Political Affairs

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 12:15 DAP NEWS / Tep Piseth

PHNOM PENH, April 21-Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday discussed with East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta about strengthening bilateral bonds between the two Southeast Asia countries.

Both sides have discussed on expanding the cooperation on the economic, agricultural, political issues for mutual benefits of the two countries,” Mr Eang Sophalet, assistant to Prime Minister Hun Sen told reporters after the two leaders’ talk at the Cambodian National Assembly.

Cambodia side will send a delegation of trade unit to East Timor to study potential issues for exporting Cambodian agricultural products to there, Mr. Eang noted. Mr. Horta also invited Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen to visit East Timor and Samdech will visit there in an appropriate time, Eang said.

Mr. Horta also asked Samdech to support East Timor as a new member of ASEAN in 2012 and Cambodian side will support the membership and urged East Timor to lobby other countries in ASEAN, Mr. Eang said.

ASEAN composed Brunei, Cambodian, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Philippines, and Laos.

Mr. Horta said today with Cambodian students in Phnom Penh downtown that his country will join ASEAN in 2012 if the political stability and economic growth of his country performed well in next few years.

We hope that Cambodia and other ASEAN countries will support us as a new and youngest membership of ASEAN.

Mr Horta arrived here to deliver his speech about building culture of peace under the organizing of international peace foundation.

East Timor Will Join ASEAN in 2012 Need Support from Cambodia: President Jose Ramos-Horta

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 12:38 DAP NEWS / Tep Piseth

PHNOM PENH, April 21-East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta announced on Wednesday that his country will join ASEAN in 2012 if the political stability and economic growth performed well in next few years.

We hope that Cambodia and other ASEAN countries will support us as a new and youngest membership of ASEAN in 2012, he told hundreds of Cambodian students in Phnom Penh downtown.

He told the audience that to build peace, we need to build at home first, our children are not afraid of their home. After they leave school for home, they feel that their home are safe for them.

He visited here this morning under the bridge program for building culture of peace which organized by the international Peace Foundation. He met with Cambodian students in few hours ago and this afternoon also met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen for bilateral talks and the result of the meeting is not announced yet. His term will end in 2012 too.

Watch your step

Photo by: Sovan Philong

 CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:03 Kim Yuthana

Young students wade through water on Street 488 in Chamkarmon district on Tuesday afternoon. Nauv Savoeun, director of the drainage unit at the Phnom Penh Municipal Public Works and Transport Department, said rainfall on Tuesday flooded streets throughout the city, but that in many places the water had subsided 30 minutes after the rain stopped. The worst flooding, he said, occurred near Kandal Market and along Kampuchea Krom Boulevard.

Heng Pov pens book lauding PM

Photo by: Pha Lina
Former municipal police chief Heng Pov’s new book is displayed for sale Tuesday along Street 51 near Sihanouk Boulevard.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:04 Cheang Sokha and James O'toole

FORMER Phnom Penh municipal police chief Heng Pov has written a book from prison that offers effusive praise for Prime Minister Hun Sen, in what observers say is a marked turn from previous public comments and may be an attempt to secure a pardon.

The book was first distributed to stores in central Phnom Penh on Tuesday, with Heng Pov’s preface dated January 2010. In the 227-page volume, titled Strategy to Extinguish War in Cambodia, Heng Pov offers an analysis of recent Cambodian history and politics that describes Hun Sen as the Kingdom’s most skillful leader and refers to him by his full honorific.

“The special condition of the diplomatic strategy of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen is not to consider any philosophy, country or religion as an enemy of Cambodia with whom we cannot compromise or reconcile,” Heng Pov writes, offering similar praise for the premier’s role in domestic politics.

“Samdech Techo never considered other Cambodian politicians as life-or-death enemies with whom he cannot compromise or reconcile,” he says.

Kao Soupha, Heng Pov’s lawyer, said he had proofread the book prior to publication. He said Heng Pov’s aim in writing it had been to demonstrate his patriotism and to describe Hun Sen’s political career.

“This book is not written simply to praise Hun Sen, but to show the facts of his leadership of the country,” Kao Soupha said.

Heng Pov, a widely feared leader during his time as police chief, was arrested in 2006 and sentenced last year to over 90 years in prison on a raft of charges including extortion, kidnapping and murder. He is scheduled to appear at the Appeal Court on April 30 to contest three of the cases against him, though Kao Soupha said that at this point, Heng Pov’s only hope is for the prime minister to come to his aid.

“For Heng Pov’s case, the court will never find justice for him, and only Hun Sen can save him,” Kao Soupha said.

Heng Pov’s praise for Hun Sen stands in stark contrast to previous public statements, including a 2006 interview with the French weekly L’Express in which he accused Hun Sen and former national police chief Hok Lundy of being behind the 1997 grenade attack on a Sam Rainsy Party rally and numerous other assassinations of opposition or political figures.

He also alleged that actress Piseth Pilika, who was shot and killed in 1999, was gunned down on orders from first lady Bun Rany, who he said had learned of an affair between the starlet and her husband, and accused local tycoon Mong Reththy of involvement in drug trafficking. These allegations have been denied.

Heng Pov has claimed innocence of the charges against him, alleging that they were engineered by Hok Lundy, his former rival.

Hok Lundy was killed in a helicopter crash in 2008, a fact that Cambodian Defenders Project director Sok Sam Oeun said may have played into Heng Pov’s decision to write the book.

“The enemy of Heng Pov, Hok Lundy, is dead, so maybe Heng Pov thinks he has a chance to be pardoned by the prime minister,” Sok Sam Oeun said. He added that for a case involving a high-profile political figure – Heng Pov is also a former adviser to Hun Sen – a pardon could indeed be possible.

Hang Chhaya, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy, said the book might have been conceived as an attempt to “appease” Hun Sen. Though he said a pardon could be possible, he argued that given the severity of Heng Pov’s past statements, the premier may be unlikely to offer leniency.

“The fallout was so deep,” he said. “I know that sometimes the prime minister does have a change of heart over political-related court cases, but this one is a difficult one.”

Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said that Heng Pov may indeed be angling for clemency, but declined to offer a response without first reviewing the book.

“He has the free time to write – that might be the intention – but because I didn’t see the book, it would be difficult for me to make any comment,” Khieu Kanharith said, adding that government staffers could “make excerpts” for Hun Sen if they were deemed of interest.

Nearly US$1 million in Heng Pov’s personal bank accounts has frozen following his arrest, and he wrote to Hun Sen last year in a bid to secure funding for family and legal expenses, asking the prime minister to “intervene to allow me to withdraw some money from the bank, with forgiveness”. This request, however, went unheeded.

Prey Sar prison director Mong Kim Heng said Tuesday that despite his former stature, Heng Pov has received no special treatment in jail.

“He has nothing to do each day besides exercise,” Mong Kim Heng said, “and I have observed that he likes reading and writing in his free time.”

Maternal death stat questioned


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:04 Irwin Loy

HOW do you measure maternal deaths? That is the question health experts in Cambodia are facing in light of new research indicating that the rate of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth may be far lower than previously thought.

A study published in the medical journal The Lancet last week suggests that the maternal mortality rate (MMR) has dropped significantly, both globally and in Cambodia. It pegged Cambodia’s MMR at 266 deaths for every 100,000 live births in 2008, far lower than the government’s figure of 461, which is based on 2008 census data.

This number appears to contradict the widely held belief that little statistical progress has been made in curbing the preventable deaths. And domestic health experts, though buoyed by what appears to be positive news about a problem that has long proved intractable, are debating whether it reflects the true nature of the challenge on the ground.

The issue of how to estimate maternal deaths – particularly in developing countries where accurate data may not consistently be recorded – has long been the subject of debate. In this case, the study’s researchers appear to have differed from the government in their view of what should be included in maternal death totals, which provides at least a partial explanation for the lower MMR, experts say.

The study’s researchers examined data on women who died during pregnancy, childbirth or in the 42 days following delivery. They excluded “late maternal deaths”, or women who died between 42 days and one year after delivery.

The government’s figures, on the other hand, include maternal deaths that occurred within two months, or 60 days, after birth. They also differ from the Lancet figures in that they include all women who died during this timeframe, even if their deaths weren’t directly related to their pregnancies.

“The methodology is completely different,” said Chan Theary, executive director of the Reproductive and Child Health Alliance. “They only include specific categories. In Cambodia, we include them all.”

However, she acknowledged it was unclear how these definitions alone would have affected the differing results.

An explanation accompanying Cambodia’s 2005 national health survey – the last major collection of health data in the Kingdom – asserts that the decision to include deaths not directly related to pregnancy was unlikely to inflate maternal death statistics “because most deaths to women in the specified period are due to maternal causes and maternal deaths in general are more likely to be under-reported than over-reported”.

Beyond these differences, researchers who worked on the Lancet study said new statistical modelling allowed them to produce more accurate data. While vital statistics records are seen as the most useful resource for measuring maternal deaths, many developing countries lack complete records. Cambodia’s MMR figure, for example, is based on survey data for which women are asked to give a history of deceased siblings and to identify sisters who died during pregnancy or after childbirth.

That method produces errors that need to be compensated for, the Lancet study’s co-author, Dr Christopher Murray, told Time magazine.

“You can only ask living women about their sisters, which creates survivor bias,” said Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

“Statisticians figured out a way of solving the problem, and we figured out a way to apply that to these surveys, which also enables us to get measurements going back in time.”

The researchers then extrapolated Cambodia’s data along with that of 180 other countries to produce MMR estimates going back to 1980.

Even if the lower rate recorded in the study could be attributed to methodological differences, the estimates still suggest an overall drop in Cambodia’s MMR, from 511 in 2000 to 266 in 2008 – a downward trend that isn’t found in previous estimates.

Chan Theary said authorities producing the next major health survey, scheduled this year, should take into account the Lancet methodology.

However, she also wants officials to temper expectations that may be raised by the study’s findings.

“I hope people will not be so happy with the figure that they do not pay any more attention to the causes of maternal deaths,” she said. “Whatever the result is [of the pending health survey] in 2010, we have to work hard to make it improve to the level of developed countries. These countries have [MMRs] of only 50 or 20 or even less. We would like to reach that figure.”

Summons for PVihear district governor


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:03 Chrann Chamroeun

THE governor of Preah Vihear province’s Sangkum Thmey district will be summoned to provincial court next week to answer to charges that he attempted to rape a primary school teacher in February, a provincial prosecutor said Tuesday.

The 20-year-old woman has previously told officials that Ung Vuthy attempted to rape her when he stayed overnight at her family’s home while investigating a suspected illegal logging ring.

“We are still proceeding on this case and will summon district governor Ung Vuthy next week for interrogation over the attempted rape accusations, since we have already questioned the victim,” said chief provincial prosecutor Keo Sim.

He added that the victim had, at one point during her questioning session at the court, backtracked from her initial allegations, saying that she had welcomed the district governor’s sexual advances and had only filed a complaint against him after being pressured by rights groups. But Keo Sim said he suspected the victim had in fact been pressured by Ung Vuthy to alter her story.

Ung Vuthy could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Praing Thida, the chief of the provincial police Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau, said the suspect had said during  questioning with police that he never intended to rape the victim, and that he had only wanted to hug and kiss her in front of her parents to demonstrate his love for her and prove to them that he planned to marry her one day.

Police Blotter: 21 Apr 2010


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:02 Sen David

RIVERSIDE THIEF GETS NABBED BY POLICE
Police in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district have arrested a 27-year-old woman after she was accused of pickpocketing a German tourist while he sat along the capital’s picturesque riverside area. Police said the man was sitting in the park in front of the Royal Palace when two women came up to him and picked his pocket. Police arrested one woman, but another escaped. The victim said there was US$150 in his wallet, and that the suspects took the money before ditching the wallet.
DEUM AMPIL

GOOD SAMARITAN BEATEN TO DEATH
A 45-year-old man in Battambang province was beaten to death after he tried to break up a drunken brawl in his village Saturday, police said. The victim tried to stop an argument that had broken out among several wine-drinking “gangsters”. Instead, the group started beating the man with a wooden bat. Neighbours of the deceased said they felt very sorry to hear of the man’s death because he had merely tried to stop an argument.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

INVESTIGATION OF HUSBAND FAIR: WIFE
A 68-year-old man was arrested after he allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl in Kandal province Saturday. Police said that the man admitted to following the girl to a rice field where he allegedly assaulted her, and that he then demanded she “shut up” and not tell anyone what happened. The victim told the police, however, and officers arrested the suspect. The man’s wife told police that her husband is “so old” but nevertheless likes to have sex. This was not the first time he was accused of sexual assault, she said, adding that he deserved to go to court.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

LOVELORN EX-MONK TAKES HIS OWN LIFE
A 20-year-old laundry man hanged himself Sunday after the conclusion of Khmer New Year, police in Phnom Penh reported. Officers said the man’s death was likely not a crime because no one was a witness to anything untoward. The man’s mother said her son had been acting very strange on Sunday. He didn’t eat rice or drink water for the entire day. Then, when everybody went to sleep at night, the man hanged himself. The mother said her son stopped being a monk one year ago. Since then, he had toiled as a laundry man and fallen in love with a girl who spurned his advances.
DEUM AMPIL

Talks address Kampong Speu dispute

Photo Supplied by ADHOC
Villagers on Tuesday block a section of a road in Kampong Speu province’s Omlaing commune as part of a protest related to an ongoing dispute over a land concession.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:03 May Titthara

Rights groups say not all affected villagers were invited to boundary discussion

ABOUT 500 villagers from Omlaing commune in Kampong Speu province’s Thpong district met with authorities on Tuesday to discuss setting boundaries between their farmland and land granted to the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, though many who attended said afterwards that they still had concerns about how the dispute would be resolved.

Meanwhile, some 600 villagers continued to block National Road 52 until early in the afternoon to protest what they described as insufficient efforts on the part of the company, owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat, to work towards a resolution to the ongoing land row.

Representatives from the company were not present for Tuesday’s negotiations, which were held at the Omlaing commune office and attended by Deputy Provincial Governor Pen Sambou, Thpong District Governor Tuon Song and Commune Chief Hab Dam.

Well-known media personality Soy Sopheap, who serves as a commentator on Bayon TV, took charge of the talks, villagers said.

“Soy Sopheap ordered the villagers to write down details on a document about how many hectares of land we have and where our land is, and then put our thumbprints” on the document, said San Tho, a representative of the villagers.

He said villagers were hesitant to give their thumbprints, and that many were concerned that the government would try to use the document against them.

Hi Hoeun, a villager who also attended the negotiations, said, “We are afraid the authorities will cheat us.... If we agree to put our thumbprints [on the document] we are afraid they will change the document and make it look like we agreed that the company could grab our land.”

He added that he was also concerned by statements from officials at the meeting indicating that the rights of villagers who did not attend would not be honoured.

“The authorities said they will not be responsible for villagers who did not attend the meeting and did not put their thumbprints on the document,” he said. “It’s an injustice, because the authorities did not invite all the villagers.”

Ouch Leng, land programme officer for the rights group Adhoc, also said that not all villagers who stand to be affected by the concession had been invited to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, expressed concern that villagers not present at the meeting would not be given the opportunity to provide the details of their land claims.

“We are worried the authorities ... will not settle the problem,” he explained. “If they want to get the real statistics, they should go to the farmland and let the villagers show them where their land is.”

After the meeting, however, Soy Sopheap said villagers would be given another chance to sign the document today. He added that over the next month officials would work with villagers to finalise accurate measurements of their land.

“We will let them show us where their land is, but if they show us forest land we will not provide them with compensation because that is state-owned land,” Soy Sopheap said.

He said the information gathered from villagers would be passed on to Prime Minister Hun Sen, and that the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had set aside about 1,050 hectares for the villagers in case the company encroached on their land.

Eleven villages in Omlaing commune – home to more than 2,000 families – have been affected by the 9,000-hectare concession granted to the Phnom Penh Sugar Company.

Pen Sambou and Ly Yong Phat both declined to comment on Tuesday’s meeting.

Documentary film co-producer defends dealings with tribunal


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:03 James O'Toole

THE co-producer of an award-winning documentary on former Khmer Rouge cadres has accused judges at Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal of presenting a “selective” view of his dealings with the court, after tribunal officials tried unsuccessfully to get a copy of the film prior to its release.

Rob Lemkin is the co-producer of Enemies of the People, a film that follows fellow producer and director Thet Sambath’s efforts to track down and interview cadres including Nuon Chea, the regime’s Brother No 2, who is currently being held by the court pending indictments in its second case.

In an order published last week, the court’s co-investigating judges (CIJs), You Bunleng and Marcel Lemonde, said it was “deeply regrettable” that the filmmakers had declined to hand over the film for use in the Case 002 investigation despite promising to do so in media reports.

In an emailed statement on Tuesday, however, Lemkin said he had been consistent in his dealings with the judges, explaining that he had made it clear to Lemonde since December of last year that passing the film to the court before its public release would constitute a breach of promises made to interviewees.

“What the ECCC has repeatedly asked us to do is breach our agreement with our sources, something no self-respecting journalist or filmmaker will ever do,” Lemkin said. “We have been entirely consistent in our position throughout our dealings with officers of the court and are disappointed that the CIJs have chosen to present a selective picture of the exchange.”

Lemkin added that he and Thet Sambath, who also works as a senior reporter for the Post, are currently at work on a second film, and hope that both their films “may be of some use to the trial chamber when it finally comes to determine what happened in Democratic Kampuchea”.

UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said Tuesday that tribunal officials had no comment beyond the CIJs’ order.

KKrom plead for extension of UN aid


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:03 Kim Yuthana and David Boyle

A GROUP of 22 Khmer Krom asylum seekers, many of whom crossed into Cambodia from Thailand in December, have pleaded with the local UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for an extension of a financial assistance package that was set to expire on Tuesday.

The group’s unofficial leader, Thach Soong, said Tuesday that he would also travel to the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to “push the government” to give the asylum-seekers identity cards, though that agency has repeatedly said that it cannot involve itself in the case.

The group has consistently been denied identity cards – which members say are essential for landing jobs and securing housing, among other things – for reasons such as the fact that they lack a permanent address.

James Heenan, deputy representative of the human rights commission, said in an email that the organisation was committed to “push for an acceptable and durable solution”, but did not say whether the financial assistance would be extended.

Journalist reports death threat


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:03 Vong Sokheng

A JOURNALIST for the Sam Rainsy Party-aligned Khmer Machas Srok newspaper alleged on Tuesday that bodyguards working for Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) officials had threatened to kill him.

Boay Roeuy, 40, who has worked for the paper since 1994, said he was at his home in Dangkor district’s Krang Thnong commune on Tuesday when a bodyguard whom he could identify only as “Sna” and several other men turned up at his door with a handgun and began shouting for him to come outside.

Boay Roeuy said that neighbours later told him that the men work as bodyguards for CPP officials.

He added that he fears for his safety because the bodyguard known as “Sna” lives in a house across the street from his own.

“If I would have gone outside my house they would have shot at me,” he said.

Boay Roeuy said he had informed the rights group Licadho of the incident and submitted a complaint to Mak Mi, the Krang Thnong commune police chief.

Mak Mi said on Tuesday that he had received Boay Roeuy’s complaint on April 20, but that no action had yet been taken.

“It doesn’t look like a case of intimidation or a death threat against the journalist,” he said, adding that during Khmer New Year it is normal for villagers to play loud music, shout in the streets and drink beer.

Govt drafts new waterway law

Photo by: Sovan Philong
A fishing boat and a ferry on the Mekong River on Tuesday. Officials are currently reviewing a draft law that would regulate traffic on inland waterways.

via CAAI News Media

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:02 Chhay Channyda and Bejan Siavoshy

A PROPOSED law regulating traffic on inland waterways would require all ship owners to display registration documents and key crewmembers to receive official certification, and would impose a range of fines and prison terms for those who fail to comply.

Chan Dara, deputy director of the Transport Department at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said ministry officials were reviewing a draft of the law, a copy of which was obtained Tuesday.

“With this new law, we hope to ensure the efficiency of businesses and safety of passengers who use the waterways,” Chan Dara said. “Before, we have had sub-decrees to enforce laws on the waterways, but this new law will ensure that the government can effectively regulate waterway traffic.”

The law would require crewmembers “engaged in waterway transport operations” to obtain an individual operational licence, which would be valid for five years. Those working as skippers, navigators, engineers or shipmasters would need to pass a certification exam.

All vessels, meanwhile, would need to have a ship-operation licence, which would be valid for one year.

Ships would also be required to carry a technical inspection book, which would lay out the technical requirements a vessel must meet before it can legally operate on Cambodian waterways.

To ensure that these requirements are met, officials would inspect ships every 12 months.

According to Chapter 15 of the law, which covers punishments, uncertified personnel navigating water vessels could face fines of between 25,000 riels (US$6) and 200,000 riels (US$48) and prison terms ranging from six days to one month.

Those operating an unlicenced ship would face identical penalties.

The forging of certification and registration documents would yield harsher punishments – fines in the draft law range from 4 million riels (US$962) to 10 million riels (US$2,403), and prison terms range from two to five years.

Article 21 of the draft law states that the Ministry of Public Works and Transport would be tasked with “the administration, organisation, utilisation and development of inland waterways”. The ministry would also oversee the vessel-registration process.

Hei Bavy, director general of the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port, said Tuesday that he believed certification requirements for crew members would ensure safety on Cambodian waterways.

Mao Vannarith, deputy chief of the municipal water traffic safety police, said he was optimistic that the law could be implemented effectively.

“The law will help police be more effective in doing our job, and it will educate people working on the waterways to be more compliant with safety and ship-traffic regulations,” he said.

Sam Rainsy’s lawyer asks for border post committee


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

THE lawyer for opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Tuesday asked Phnom Penh Municipal Court to form a committee to investigate the placement of border markings in Svay Rieng province’s Chantrea district that are at the centre of two separate cases concerning allegations of Vietnamese encroachment.

Investigating judge Oeung Sieng said Tuesday the court would consider forming the committee, which Choung Choungy, Sam Rainsy’s lawyer, said should include himself, Oeung Sieng, government lawyer Ky Tech and government officials involved in border-demarcation efforts.

The committee would be tasked with visiting the site of the border markings in Chantrea district to determine their precise location, information the court could then take into account when deciding on charges facing Sam Rainsy, Choung Choungy said.

The court last month charged the president of the Sam Rainsy Party with falsifying public documents and spreading disinformation after he staged several press conferences during which he accused government officials of turning a blind eye to demarcation work that he said was robbing farmers of their land.

The charges could fetch him up to 18 years behind bars. In January, Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced him to two years in prison for charges stemming from an October action in which he helped Chantrea villagers uproot the border posts.

Oeung Sieng on Tuesday did not give a timeline for when the court would decide on whether to grant Choung Choungy’s request. “I have not decided yet. He just delivered [his request] this morning. I am reading it,” he said.

Ky Tech said he would accept the court’s decision on the matter. “This does not mean that I support the request, but however the court decides, I will respect it,” he said.

Tuesday’s questioning session, which lasted about an hour, marked the second time that Sam Rainsy, who is currently abroad in self-imposed exile, failed to appear when summoned by the court.

When issuing its latest summons, the court said an arrest warrant would be filed for Sam Rainsy if he refused to show, but Oeung Sieng on Tuesday again declined to comment on the likelihood that a warrant would be issued.

Also Tuesday, Choung Choungy asked that government lawyers alter the coordinates they have provided for the border posts in court documents, describing them as incorrect.

Police detain four suspects in gang rape; five others at large


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear

FOUR men suspected of involvement in unrelated gang rapes that took place in Kratie and Banteay Meanchey provinces last week have been detained, but a further five remain on the run, officials said Tuesday.

Kratie provincial police chief Chhoung Seng Hak said one man connected with the gang rape of a 21-year-old woman last Wednesday had been sent to provincial court.

“Police in Kratie province are searching to arrest another three men who escaped, but we know their identities already,” he said.

Provincial Adhoc coordinator Thim Narin said the incident last week was the third gang rape of the year in Kratie, and that most of the suspects in all three cases remain at large.

“Early in 2010, there were two cases of gang rape in Kratie province, but only two people were arrested while the other four escaped,” she said.

She added that Adhoc had recorded seven rape cases in Kratie province so far this year, compared with only three cases for the same period last year.

“I think the government and local authorities have to eliminate sex videos and obscene pictures, and they have to strongly punish the perpetrators – then the rape cases will decrease,” she said.

In an unrelated case, which took place in Banteay Meanchey province on the same day last week, five men allegedly raped a 26-year-old woman in Poipet town, deputy provincial military police commander Ork Borin said.

“We arrested three men, and the other two escaped,” he said. The three apprehended men had been sent to the provincial court on Sunday, he said.

“I am waiting for an arrest warrant from the court office to arrest the other two men, but I don’t know when the court will send it to me,” he said.

“Police already know their identities.”

Provincial Adhoc coordinator Soum Chankea said he did not have statistics on hand, but that he thought rape cases were increasing in that province as well.

“What the government has to do in order to reduce the rape cases in our country, is educate the students in the schools, broadcast the law and how to protect themselves, and eliminate sex videos,” he said.

According to a media analysis conducted by the Cambodian branch of End Child Prostitution, Abuse and Trafficking that was released in January, there were 322 rape cases reported in selected newspapers nationwide last year, up from 268 in 2008.

Defamation: Mu Sochua returns to Kingdom


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

Defamation

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua, who arrived in Cambodia last week not long after missing a Supreme Court hearing for the defamation case filed against her by Prime Minister Hun Sen, said Tuesday that she would be willing to show if she were summoned again, though court officials said they had no immediate plans to schedule a new hearing.

Mu Sochua was in the US for the April 7 hearing at which the Supreme Court was expected to read out a verdict in the case. The verdict was postponed in line with her request that it be delayed until she returned. In August, Phnom Penh Municipal Court found Mu Sochua guilty of defaming Prime Minister Hun Sen by alleging that he had defamed her in a speech in April 2009. She was ordered to pay a fine of 16.5 million riels (around US$3,975), and that judgment was upheld by the Appeal Court in October. On Tuesday, she reiterated that she would not pay the fine.

Remembering the conflict

Photo by: Rick Valenzuela
Author Elizabeth Becker speaks to the Post at Raffles Hotel Le Royal on Tuesday. She is in town for a reunion of war correspondents.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:02 Brooke Lewis, David Boyle and Rick Valenzuela

Elizabeth Becker speaks about covering the war in Cambodia and meeting Pol Pot

Elizabeth Becker, an American journalist who began her career as a war correspondent in Cambodia, was one of only two foreign journalists to visit Cambodia and interview Pol Pot while he was in power. She is in town this week for a reunion of war correspondents, as well as for the local launch of her latest book, Bophana, a tragic love story based on Khmer Rouge-era letters between the eponymous heroine and her partner. The launch will take place at Tuol Sleng prison at 10am on Thursday. Becker is also the author of When the War Was Over, a history of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge.

What was Cambodia like when you arrived?
I came at a very, for a journalist, a very opportune moment – but this was in spite of myself; it wasn’t because I knew what I was doing. The United States had just in January of ’73 signed the Paris Peace Accords, which means that the American direct involvement in Vietnam and Laos was essentially over. And for Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge Cambodians refused to be part of that negotiation. That meant the war moved here....

The war had been going on since ’70, but the war really moved here [then], and within weeks we had the huge amount of bombing. And during that first period in ’73, more bombs were dropped in Cambodia than, I think, in Japan in World War II.... The atrocities were miserable.

I think I hadn’t been here a month – and this is on the government side – I was walking to the headquarters of a Khmer Krom general in the south, and as I was walking to the headquarters, the road was lined with sticks with heads of dead Khmer Rouge that they had killed. Unfortunately, this was not the only time that you saw the desecration of bodies. And both sides did it, of course. So it was extremes. Extreme, extreme story to cover. War anyhow is extreme, and this one was extraordinary.

How long were you based in Cambodia?
I left at the end of ’74 because my reporting had – and I wrote all of this – had convinced me that the Khmer Rouge were going to win and it was going to be awful. I can’t say that I predicted anything, but I knew it was going to be awful....

It was very, very hard to cover this thing because you loved it so much that it made it that much harder. So I left.

And then when the Khmer Rouge won in April, the stories were so bad, that no matter how awful I thought it was going to be, I couldn’t believe it; the evacuation on the first day, and then the refusal to take any aid when you knew the people were starving....

I immediately started applying for a visa to come back and cover Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge. And it took three years, and I was one of only two journalists who were allowed to come back, and that turned out to be among the last two weeks that the Khmer Rouge were in power.

And that’s when we went and I actually got to see Cambodia while the Khmer Rouge were in power and, on our last day, interview Pol Pot.... Our last night we were attacked by a dissident group within the Khmer Rouge and a third person with us, a British professor, was murdered. We left the next day, and that’s the day that the Vietnamese invaded.

Why do you think Malcolm Caldwell, the member of your group most sympathetic to Pol Pot, was murdered?
First of all, when people want to know why Malcolm Caldwell was killed rather than me or [journalist] Richard Dudmen, my first response is there’s no reason to believe there was a rational reason for his murder versus any of the Cambodians who were killed.

We are dealing with a regime that is irrational and would choose victims nearly at random.... All of the people executed/murdered by the Khmer Rouge were done so for irrational reasons....

What makes the most sense is that there was a serious group of people in the top strata of the Khmer Rouge that did not want us to be there.

There’s a reason they never invited people. And if you were going to make sure no one ever comes again, maybe you kill the friend rather than these two journalists, because we’d go back and write the story. So if you’re looking for the most rational answer, that’s the most rational I can come up with; you kill the friend and you have the two journalists go and write how dangerous it is. That’s the closest I can get.

What was it like meeting Pol Pot?
Of course he had to be a charismatic man, how else would he become the leader of the Khmer Rouge?...

You keep forgetting that people don’t always wear white and black hats and it’s not always easy to see who’s good and bad. But he clearly had stature. You could see how he became the head of it, and insane in what he said....

When Pol Pot saw us, instead of answering the list of questions we’d given him about the whole way he was running the country, he decided he wanted to spend – I can’t remember – one to two hours [on] a monologue about how Vietnam was going to attack, that they would require Soviet tanks and war planes crossing across the Mekong into Cambodia, but that he knew that NATO would come, and American planes would come and help him, and so on and so forth – and this went on and on.

He had this vision of the final Cold War being fought on the rice paddies of Cambodia – of the Soviets versus the Americans.

How important was covering the war in Cambodia for you personally?
This was an extraordinary story ... and it became your life. And I don’t think there’s a war correspondent who won’t say that the more you cover, no matter how awful it is, the more engaged you are, and you care about the outcome; you want to know why it was happening.

And this is an incredibly attractive culture and people. And, as I said, as an American, there’s a special sense of responsibility – this is your country that’s involved in this.

Interview conducted by Brooke Lewis, David Boyle and Rick Valenzuela

Cambodia falling behind in both tourism and garments

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
A garment factory worker produces goods in a Phnom Penh factory. The Asian Development Bank has warned Cambodia that it must become more competitive in the future if it wants to be economically successful.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:02 Ellie Dyer

Asian Development Bank calls on Kingdom to increase its competitiveness to ensure the future of key sectors, after predicting a 4.5 percent GDP rise for ’10

CAMBODIA is falling behind its competitors in the key garment and tourism sectors, an economist from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warned Tuesday.

ADB analysts gathered at group headquarters in Phnom Penh to discuss their Asian Development Outlook Report 2010, which was released during Khmer New Year and predicted 4.5 percent GDP growth for the Kingdom this year.

During the press conference, Senior Country Economist Eric Sidgwick said Cambodia must increase competitiveness in the region as it begins to recover from the global economic crisis in order to move to the “next [economic] level”.

ADB estimated the Kingdom’s GDP shrank by 2 percent in 2009.

“Cambodia has had a good start relative to its past performance, but it is still lagging behind its competitors in terms of garments and tourism,” he said, noting that the volume of Cambodia’s garment exports to the US increased by 12 percent in February, compared with the same month last year.

“There are still issues in trade facilitation,” he warned, and declared that both sectors have shown signs of reaching maturity.

Sidgwick advised that the garment industry, which evolved in an environment of international protectionism, needs to become quick, reliable and efficient in order to compete with producers such as Vietnam, and that tourism needs to diversify away from the hub of the Angkor temples.

Cambodia also needs “to get going” on reforms that are already on the table, he said: “If Asia is going to pick up, Cambodia needs to be part of that. It needs to diversify its economic business.”

Sidgwick pointed to agri-business as a key area of development. He recommended the implementation of better product standards, increased irrigation and greater coordination between government departments.

Prudence was also a watchword for the ADB.

“It has become boring to state, but the maintenance of macro-economic stability is key,” said Sidgwick.

He advised the government to cut back on injecting its deposits to bolster fiscal policy, advising draw downs to reach zero by 2011.

He estimated 25 percent of funds were utilized during the crisis last year.

The ADB report warned of the risks associated with such measures, stating: “The government drew down its deposits in the banking system to help fund the budget deficit.

But this large injection of riel liquidity (equivalent to 1.4 percent of GDP) risked undermining macro-economic stability.”

Nevertheless, ADB analysts praised the government’s “appropriate response” to the global economic crisis.

Agencies meet up to boost trade potential


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:01 Bejan Siavoshy

SENIOR officials from the Ministry of Commerce, leading representatives from the private sector, and development agencies met Tuesday in a multi-lateral effort to boost Cambodia’s trade potential.

The meeting was called as part of the United Nations Development Programme’s Trade Sector Wide Approach (Trade SWAp) initiative. In the first day of the three-day-long retreat, 11 aid projects were adopted that will provide Cambodia with investments of roughly US$2 million.

According to a Ministry of Commerce press release, they will help the ministry “effectively administer rules of origin, custom valuation, product information for trade promotion and draft sanitary standards”.

Funding for the projects is being provided by the Trade Development Support Programme (TDSP), a trust fund managed by the World Bank, which will finance trade strategies for an initial three-year-period under the scheme.

The Ministry of Commerce’s website stated Tuesday that Trade SWAp is an effort to focus national policy and international support on a “single comprehensive programme endorsed by all sector stakeholders”.

“Remarkable challenges related to regulation, finance, management capacity and staff incentive schemes have emerged,” said Senior Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh Tuesday, according to extracts from his opening speech.

Three garment factory shutdowns this year


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol

THREE more garment factories closed in 2010 after their owners filed for bankruptcy, the president of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia said Tuesday.

More than 3,000 workers lost their jobs after the factories, which were all located in Phnom Penh and owned by Korean and Taiwanese investors, shut their doors in mid-February, Free Trade Union (FTU) president Chea Mony told the Post.

He said that since 2006, more than 70,000 workers had lost their jobs, adding: “Most of the former workers have taken up new jobs at night clubs or karaoke parlors or have gone to work abroad.”

Cheat Khemara, coordinator of a garment manufacturer association, said that the sector is at a standstill after having been shaken by the economic crisis.

He believes that the recent closures resulted from bankruptcy.

“They [the owners] signed a six-month contract. During this period, they faced a lot of difficulties because there were no orders, they had to spend too much on productivity and workers were de-motivated by their low salaries,” he said.

Most owners whose factories closed have gone to invest in Vietnam and Bangladesh instead, he added.

Despite some signs of a limited recovery in the sector, which according the Asian Development Bank saw US garment imports contract by 16.3 percent last year as consumption cooled, factories continue to close and some believe problems are still evident within the industry.

Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Unions, said: “Many are working in the garment sector illegally. Investors employ them because they are willing to accept low payment, which is good for their short-term contracts.

“This results in poor work quality and consequently poor production quality, which leads to the loss of buyers.”

Um Mean, secretary of state of the Ministry of Labor Affairs and Vocational Training, said Tuesday he had not yet received reports about the situation of garment factories in Cambodia.

He stated that 122 factories had closed down and 53,057 workers have lost jobs since the beginning of 2009 to March 2010. A total of 67 factories had been re-opened and absorbed 19,772 workers back into work, he added.

The official said that as the global crisis cooled, the sector was likely to recover.

Cancer 'cure' juice unveiled

Photo by: Pha Lina
The Ministry of Health is to contact importers of new health drink Intra, which is touted as helping to cure cancer. The drink was launched in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:01 Chun Sophal and Sam Rith

THE Ministry of Health intends to contact two import companies after a juice drink touted as an aid to curing cancer was launched in Phnom Penh Tuesday at $45 per 950ml bottle.

Intra Herb Cambodia Co Ltd and Lifestyle Thailand Company jointly launched the herbal juice, which is called Intra. The drink is imported from Canada to Thailand by a business called Lifestyles Global Network, then on to Cambodia by the joint partners.

It boasts 23 herbal ingredients, some of which include aloe vera, ginger root and thyme.

Veun Maly, vice president of Intra Herb, said Monday that this year the two companies plan to import 1,000 cases of the juice, valued at about $400,000.

“We hope that we will be able to increase our imports of this delicious fruit juice more and more in the coming years,” she added.

In addition to relieving consumers of their hard-earned money, Veun Maly said that regular consumption of the drink could help to ease connoisseurs of pain and numbness in their arm and leg muscles, improve their skin and – believe it or not – help cure diabetes and cancer.

Literature handed out at the launch event held at the Phnom Penh Hotel supported her claims, noting that the brew could also relieve high blood pressure and help sexual weakness.

Intra Herb hopes to convert about 2 million people to the brew in the future.

Mam Bunheng, Health Minister, said Tuesday that he has not yet received any information about the new drink, and that he would ask Ministry of Health officials to contact the two companies.

“If [the juice] is taken to cure sicknesses, that means it is a medicine, so it has to be checked thoroughly by the Ministry of Health,” he said.

Chan Nora, secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, said Monday that Cambodia is open to all imports, but cautioned that it is important to ensure food and drink safety by passing such products through inspection by the CamControl Department.

“We do not object to the distribution of this juice as long as it is of good quality and is properly examined by our authorities,” he said.

Diamond Island build rescheduled


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

DEVELOPERS of a US$100 million housing development in Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island are trying to complete the build ahead of schedule, a company project manager told the Post Tuesday.

Touch Samnang, project manager and architect for developers Overseas Cambodia Investment Corp (OCIC), said the first stage of the Elite Town build, comprised of 168 homes, would be completed at the end this year.

“After we finish the first project we are jumping ahead [of schedule] to have the second and third phase ready in three to four years,” he said.

The Diamond Island project, which lies on 75 hectares of the isle in the Tonle Bassac River, Chamkarmon district, was originally slated for completion by 2016 when it was granted approval in 2006.

Touch Samnang added that 50 percent of homes set to be built in the first phase have been sold, at price tags between US$200,000 and $1 million per unit.

Director of Visal Real Estate Co, Sear Chailin, said there is active demand from buyers for homes, but that the business property market is still stagnant.

“I hope that that [Elite Town] will get enough of clients to buy,” he said.

The Koh Pich, or Diamond Island, development project is one of five satellite cities planned for Phnom Penh.

The others are the $2 billion Camko City project, the $600 million Grand Phnom Penh International City, the $2 billion Malaysian-backed Sunway City and the $300 million Boeung Snor Satellite City.

Tech giant EMC seeks to take advantage of emerging opportunity


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:01 Ellie Dyer

MULTI-NATIONAL technology infrastructure firm EMC hopes to invest in Cambodia in order to make the most of emerging market opportunities, the company’s Asia Pacific president said Tuesday.

Steven Leonard told the Post, via phone from Singapore, that the US-based business has put US$2 billion aside to invest in the Asia-Pacific region by 2014.

He said the company, which competes with brands such as IBM and HP, is now looking to Cambodia for potential opportunities.

A group representative added via email that the Kingdom “has been identified as one of EMC’s fast-emerging growth markets across the Southeast Asian region”.

“We need to be in Cambodia and we want to do that in a more meaningful and substantial way,” said Leonard on Tuesday.

He added that EMC is working with a number of Cambodian telcos, which he declined to name.

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We need to be in cambodia and want to do that in a more meaningful way."
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EMC provides businesses with both hardware and software to secure or encrypt data such as billing records, bank systems and archives. It has 43,000 employees across the world and earned $14 billion in revenue in 2009. Around 12 percent of revenue is currently derived from the Asia-Pacific region.

On Sunday, 400 representatives of the company completed a two-day event detailing their achievements in Siem Reap. Leonard, who returned from the Kingdom to Singapore days ago, has carried out several fact-finding missions to see where potential opportunities may lie and has met with government officials.

He added that EMC as yet has no permanent presence in the Kingdom, an issue they are currently considering.

“Cambodia is at a real transition intersection. There are so many opportunities. The country is rising up from a difficult past.

“A lot of companies have been here since the 1990s, but in terms of multi-nationals there is still an opportunity to get in early. I hope we can be a part of Cambodian growth,” said Leonard, before adding that software provision is “at the ground floor” of development in Cambodia.

The president added that, to his knowledge, no similar firms yet have a presence in the Kingdom. He said he believes that multinational entry into Cambodia has “an important part to play” in creating a diverse business community.

“It’s a foundation for Cambodia, or any other country, to continue to develop IT to help give opportunities to citizens,” he said, citing the benefits for education and knowledge expansion that technology can bring.

He was unable to say how much money EMC is set to invest in the Kingdom.

EMC has already announced investment in India, where it is expanding infrastructure at the India Center of Excellence, and Singapore, where it is opening its first technology development lab outside of North America. It has also sought out investment opportunities in China.

TFC serves up three plans

Photo by: Robert Davis
Three young local tennis players pose with their plastic rackets during the TFC-organised Kids Day at the Cambodian Country Club July 23 last year, which was attended by ITF Development Officer Suresh Menom.

Photo by: Robert Davis
TFC Technical Director Braen Aneiros (right) conducts a mini-tennis session at Preah Norodom School in Phnom Penh February 1.

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Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:00 Robert Davis

The Tennis Federation of Cambodia announces a trio of new initiatives that aim at developing new talent among players and coaches in the Kingdom

A new chapter in Cambodian tennis history is set to begin. With the Tennis Federation of Cambodia (TFC) nearing the April 25 completion date of construction on its first-ever tennis centre, three new programmes are set to begin.

Cham Prasidh, the Minister of Commerce and President of the TFC, had asked the federation to prioritise its grassroots programme and help encourage youths to use tennis as a vehicle for improving their lives.

Following this directive, and through sponsorship from local internet provider Ezecom, the TFC will introduce mini-tennis and junior training programmes as well as a long-term course study for university students preparing for a physical education degree.

Grassroots development
The TFC recently began a mini-tennis (age 10 and under) programme at Preah Norodom School in Phnom Penh. There are also plans to begin a new pilot programme at the Lycee Renee Descartes in May. TFC Technical Director Braen Aneiros and his staff visit the schools and show children the basics of tennis through specific eye-hand coordination exercises.

“Our objective is to introduce kids to tennis and get them excited to play,” says Aneiros. “We want them to have fun while getting exercise, and if they would like to further develop their tennis then we have options for them at the TFC centre. Also, we will be identifying those children who show a special talent for tennis and enroll them in the ITF Junior Tennis Initiative Programme.”

Junior training programme
Beginning May 3 and running until June 11, the TFC will hold its first-ever junior training programme for beginners, intermediate and advanced levels at the TFC Centre. Training will be conducted by coach Aneiros and his staff, which will also include national team players.

“It is our philosophy that each [senior] player gives back to the game by helping the younger players,” said TFC secretary general Tep Rithivit. “Our national team players are good people, and they can help the new generation by sharing their skills and experiences.”

Student-coaching course
On May 17, the TFC will commence a tennis course designed specifically for university students of physical education that will teach them to play, and eventually teach, tennis. This programme has met with great success in countries such as Peru, El Salvador, the United States and the Ukraine.

“As tennis begins to grow and develop in Cambodia, obviously we will need more tennis teachers,” notes Tep Rithivit. “We have two objectives with this programme. First, to create a professional tennis teachers association of Cambodia that is recognised by the Ministry of Education with accreditation. Second, to create employment and income for graduates of the programme. This programme will be a three-year programme that will match the rising demand of new tennis players.”

Praise for the federation
Propelled by its president, the federation has started to tackle the obstacles that often cause development in Southeast Asia to move at a crawl. Suresh Menon, International Tennis Fedration Development Officer for Asia, has visited Cambodia several times and is impressed with what the TFC is doing.

“National associations must realise that they are in the business of selling tennis and take a professional approach in order to increase participation,” asserted Menom. “Creating greater awareness on the importance of improving coaches’ education in Asia, the TFC has shown great improvement and dedication in these areas.”

Aneiros goes to Europe
Coach Aneiros, who began working with the TFC in September last year, has been granted leave for one month to join legendary tennis coach Bob Brett in San Remo, Italy. Brett is recognized as one of the greatest tennis coaches of all time, having tutored greats such as Ivan Lendl, Goran Ivanisevic and current star Marin Cilic. Brett has accepted Coach Aneiros to help train Cilic and young talents from Japan and Taiwan.

“Coach Braen [Aneiros] is doing a great job here for us,” says Bob Brett. “He has the talent to become a very good coach. Cambodia will surely prosper under his direction.”

An appeal to the public
The TFC is calling on all tennis enthusiasts who reside in the Kingdom to help share their knowledge of the sport with local children. All levels of ability are accepted.

“We are trying to create a synergy in tennis here that will promote the sport,” says Tep Rithivit. “All that is required from any interested players is enthusiasm and a desire to be a part of the tennis family.”

Anyone interested in the projects can visit the TFC website at Tennisfederationcambodia.com or send an email to tfc@online.com.kh This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .