Monday, 7 June 2010

World Economic Forum

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (L) chats with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen as they attend the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Economic Forum on East Asia in Vietnam's commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City June 6, 2010. Ho Chi Minh City will host the two-day forum on June 6 and 7. REUTERS/Kham

 
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen attends the opening ceremony of the 2010 World Economic Forum on East Asia in Vietnam's commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City June 6, 2010. Ho Chi Minh City will host the two-day forum on June 6 and 7. REUTERS/Kham


Leaders from Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the World Economic Forum attend a working lunch during the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Ho Chi Minh City June 6, 2010. From left, the leaders are Laos's Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, World Economic Forum founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen. Ho Chi Minh City will host the two-day forum on June 6 and 7.  REUTERS/Kham

Mekong countries vow to strengthen cooperation


via CAAI News Media

06/07/2010

Countries in the Mekong sub-region need to undertake new initiatives and enhance their leadership for the sake of regional development, leaders of five Mekong River countries agreed at the 19th World Economic Forum on East Asia in HCM City on June 6.

The Prime Ministers from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand affirmed strong commitment of the Mekong River Commission members to continuing cooperation and pushing up sustainable development, using, protecting and managing Mekong River water and other resources in the river’s lower basin.


Vietnamese PM Nguyen Tan Dung said that strengthening and raising the efficiency of bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms in the region and with non-regional partners is one of the four priorities for quick and sustainable development in the Mekong sub-region.

He stressed the need to protect natural resources, particularly water resources in the Mekong basin, and eco-environment toward building a green development Mekong.

Apart from taking advantages of capital and assistance from international organisations as well as developed partners in East Asia and the world, sub-regional countries also need to create a favourable legal corridor and offer financial incentives in order accelerate cooperation projects under the public-private partnership format, especially for development of infrastructure, transport, urban areas, investment and trade, Mr Dung said.

The countries also need to join hands to draw out priorities in each country’s economic development strategy which focuses on hard and soft infrastructure development, transport, human resource development, services, telecommunications, and new and renewable energy sources, according to PM Dung.

The Mekong sub-region is an important area in Southeast Asia, a potential destination with investment opportunities in agricultural, aquatic and forestry production, hydro-power and mining.

The region is emerging as an attractive centre for developed partners, including major economies in East Asia like Japan and other important partners like the US and Europe.

VOVNews/VNA

Man ages 12 years after Swedish court decision

http://www.thelocal.se/27078/20100607/

via CAAI News Media

Published: 7 Jun 10

A Swedish court has ruled that a Cambodian man should be allowed to change his Tax Agency (Skatteverket) birth date records, thereby adding 12 years to his age.

The man told the court that after 10 years in Sweden he felt sufficiently secure to register his correct date of birth and establish his true identity.

The court was told that the UN refugee organ the UNHCR had helped him to secure his release from the military prison in Cambodia where he had been interred as a political prisoner, formally on suspicion of involvement in a plot to murder the prime minister Hun Sen.

On release from prison the man feared for his life and he fled to Thailand where the UNHCR deemed him to be in acute need of leaving south-east Asia and arrangements were made for him to come to Sweden as a so-called quota refugee in 2000.

The Resettlement Registration Form submitted by the man to the UNHCR formed the basis of the information that was handed over to the Swedish authorities on his arrival in July 2000, establishing his date of birth as January 1st 1960.

After settling in Sweden the man sought to have his information amended to reflect his correct birth date of August 12th 1947 but the tax agency, which is responsible for personal identification registration in Sweden, refused on the grounds that the proof submitted was not sufficiently reliable.

The man explained to the court that he had decided to submit deliberately erroneous information to the UNHCR in order to make it harder for the Cambodian authorities to track him and hinder the perceived threat of arrest by Thai police.

The administrative court of appeal (Kammarrätten) has now ruled that the wealth of evidence supporting the man's case - including a release form from Cambodian military prison, copies of an identification card, human rights card and press card, a 1991 certificate from the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia, several newspaper articles and a Cambodian family book - is at least as comparable with the original UNHCR forms.

The court thus overturned a county administrative court (Länsrätten) ruling to uphold the tax agency's decision.

"The court considers that it should be sufficient if on assessment the new details appear to be correct when compared to the older information and taking into account the wider circumstances," the court stated.

"Existing erroneous information is just as false as new erroneous information," the court added.

The court found that the man had plausible grounds for wanting to hide his real identity details in the "Resettlement Registration Form" submitted to the UNHCR in June 2000.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson

news@thelocal.se
+46 8 656 6518

Improving Communication by Communicating – Sunday, 6.6.2010


via CAAI News Media

Posted on 7 June 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 667

The major event during the week was the meeting of the Cambodia Development Cooperation Forum, which brought more than 100 representatives from donor countries and from international financial organizations to Cambodia, to meet with representatives of the Cambodian government. One newspaper quoted a Cambodian official as saying, before the meeting: “Cambodia Hopes to Get US$1 Billion Aid as Expected.” As expected! On the other hand, just days before this meeting, a group of local NGOs released a study with a critical call to the donor community, suggesting that donors should press the government to fulfill agreed requirements carrying out major reforms in the country and to apply Joint Monitoring Indicators defined in the past. Global Witness, the UK based monitoring agency supported by 17 trusts and foundations, 4 development organizations from different countries, and 7 governments, suggested that the donors should take “a coordinated stand against the horribly subverted dynamic of aid in Cambodia in which their country’s money props up the basic functions of the state, leaving an elite free to exploit the state’s assets for personal profit.”

There are voices saying that the pledge of about US$1 billion is a sign that the donors don’t care about critical statements – either deploring the fact of the pledges realize “as expected,” or taking the pledges as a sign of a flat endorsement of the Cambodian government’s policies. Both these opinions are wrong.

To publish critical evaluations of aid effectiveness some days before such a meeting helps to get broad attention. But to expect that it would greatly affect the meeting, assumes that the international donor delegates arrive to sit around the table and then decide on the spot how much to pledge. They all come with the results of a year’s deliberations at home, considering information and opinion gathered and discussed with others, and decisions prepared towards the meeting.

Both sides then, in the formal meeting, share their well considered long range statements:

“Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen: The aid provided by development partners is a very important contribution for the development of Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will use the aid effectively, adding that the government will continue to solve major problems such as corruption, land ownership, and judicial reform.”

“The World Bank country director, Ms. Annette Dixon, said, representing the donors, that she lauded the development of Cambodia since the Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum held in December 2008, but the progress of the government is still limited in terms of its work to improve strategic planing and to manage aid. She said, ‘It is important for the government to take the lead in aligning resources to development priorities.’”

That is more than a hint that the donors think that available resources are not aligned to development priorities.

What went on during the closed-door meetings may have been more mutually engaging – but the most important things will happen – or not happen – during the course of the year which starts now towards the next meeting. And it will depend on the monitoring of ongoing events and the related discussions – including the regular follow-up in the press and by government and non-government agencies’ observations.

This is a field of hard work: to observe, to analyze, to compare, to speak up, to share – regularly and consistently.

There will be questions requiring answers, and if the questions do not get answers easily, they have to be repeated and made more precise and receive follow-up, maybe again and again. This is the role of the public, and especially of the media. That is why the press is also called “the fourth power” in a state – independent also, like the three others: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, mutually separate, as Article 51 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia requires.

The Mirror tries to contribute to this important process.

One element of regular surprise is information like the following, which we carried during this week:

- Oknha Ly Say Kheang, a Big Trader Destroying the Forest, Appeared in Sihanoukville after Having Escaped from Arrest for a While [he was spotted driving a luxury car and relaxing in Sihanoukville]

A fugitive from prison. Was he arrested?

- More Than 60 Persons [police, military police, soldiers, as well as a prosecutor, a commune chief and a village chief] Surrounded a Site where a Military Captain is Storing Luxury Grade Wood [seizing 922 pieces of wood, but the owner of the wood has not been arrested]
Why 60 persons for one suspect? And he was not arrested?

- The Authorities Seek to Arrest Citizens over a Land Dispute [with the Heng Development Company; two persons were arrested for inciting villagers to go to protest in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen's residence]

“Every Khmer citizens shall be equal before the law” says Article 31 of the Constitution. But some get arrested and others not! So many cries for help trust in the highest authority of the government, carrying pictures of the Prime Minister and the First Lady. When will this confidence wear out if there are too many disappointments?

- The Government Declared to Fight Corruption [Prime Minister Hun Sen said that there are only a handful of corrupt officials, and the government will encourage other officials to fight corruption together]

We will read it in the press.

And here is a variety of related observations:

An interesting source of income for the state reported:

- Within Three Weeks, Nearly Riel 2 Million [approx. US$470] Has Been Charged from Those Throwing Away Rubbish in Public Places

Not much, less than US$500. There is no report how much was collected from new, big cars driving around town without neither temporary nor permanent license plates. Almost every day when I am driven around town on a motorcycle-taxi, I see some. Probably there was nothing to report because nothing is being collected from them.

The President of the National Assembly Heng Samrin Does Not Allow Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians to Visit and Monitor the Putting of Border Marker Number 270 in Takeo [at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border; the Sam Rainsy Party claims that the marker is planted on Khmer territory, while the government denies it]

Members of the National Assembly, elected by the people (The Cambodian people are the masters of their own country. All power belongs to the people – says Article 51 of the Constitution), need a permission before they can travel inside of the country? Article 40 of the Constitution sound different: Citizens’ freedom to travel, far and near, and legal settlement shall be respected. We did not reed that the parliamentarians claimed this Constitutional right.

The result:

- Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians Were Prevented from Visiting and Checking a Border Marker [in Takeo, as their visit was blocked by more than 30 armed forces and more than 50 local citizens]

And finally a dilemma:

- The Opposition Party President Sam Rainsy Plans to Go to the Philippines to Meet with Parliamentarians and Democrats in Asia [at the end of this month, to welcome the newly elected president of the Philippines when he takes office]

Probably there will be many international guests there, especially from the ASEAN region. Among them politicians from Cambodia. But Mr. Sam Rainsy is facing the court in Cambodia, though he is abroad to avoid arrest – but he is free in France, and he is free to travel.

Could another politician from the ASEAN region, the former Thai Prime Minster Thaksin Shinawatra, also go to the Philippines? Maybe not. There is a search warrant for him from Interpol, and the Thai government is now in the process to send arrest warrants for Mr. Thaksin through Interpol to 187 countries, which makes it more and more difficult to travel anywhere. Except to Cambodia:

- Cambodia Expressed [through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs] the Position Not to Extradite Thaksin to Thailand

He was convicted by a Thai court for corruption – for arranging the sale of valuable Bangkok land without bidding and at a low price, to his wife. But he left the country – “temporarily for about a week,” after paying bail – and did never return.

Everybody is equal before the law? Not quite.


Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

Thai PM offers promise of early election

via CAAI News Media

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has told participants and media at the World Economic Forum on East Asia here that if Thailand pursues its reconciliation plans, elections could be held in the country sooner than later.

"If we pursue the reconciliation plan, if we get good cooperation, especially from people in the opposition, I think we could look at elections sooner rather than later," the Bangkok Post quoted Vejjajiva, as saying on the sidelines of the meeting.

The demand for early elections is one of the focal points of months of anti-government protests, which ended last month.

The government's tenure is due to end at the end of next year.

His Majesty the King yesterday endorsed the appointment of eight new ministers and deputy ministers proposed by Vejjajiva.

They will take an oath before His Majesty at Siriraj Hospital today.

The new cabinet line-up, which includes members of the Matubhum Party, gives Vejjajiva a comfortable majority in parliament as the coalition parties will now have about 265 votes in the 475-seat lower house.

Vejjajiva said during his weekly address yesterday the government needed a strong majority in the House to move its policies forward. (ANI)

Cambodia school built in memory of Cobham teen


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Thoeun Sergeant


By Rebecca Connop Price
June 07, 2010

A SCHOOL in Cambodia being built in memory of a Cobham teenager will welcome its first pupils in 2010.

Just over two years ago, Thoeun Sergeant, a 17-year-old A-level student at Esher College, died in a fire at his house in Byfleet Road.

Since the tragic accident, his mother Ingrid Morris has set up Thoeun’s Trust in an effort to do something positive following his death.

Thoeun spent the first six years of his life in a poor area of Cambodia where many children still have little or no access to regular education.

Thoeun’s Trust aims to help the children in this area get access to education.

Helped by family and Thoeun’s friends from the Thames Ditton college, Ms Morris has worked with a local charity to establish the plans for the school.

Once completed, it will be a six-classroom school in the Cambodian village of Leap.

Ms Morris said: “The villagers were so keen to give their children an education that they donated the land and built a road to the site themselves.

“The provincial governor approved the project and the Cambodian government has agreed to supply teachers and text books.”

Building started in February and the school is expected to be completed this autumn, ready to serve more than 500 children from Leap and the surrounding villages.

Ms Morris said: “As an additional bonus, the construction project is bringing work to a desperately poor area and a sense of optimism to the community as a whole.”

Fundraising dinner

There are plans to take students from Esher College to the Cambodian village during the next academic year.

Thoeun’s Trust, now a registered UK charity, was set up following the teenager’s death in April 2008.

He had lived in an orphanage in Cambodia before he was adopted by Ingrid and her husband Karl Sergeant.

Ingrid said Thoeun - who died from smoke inhalation at the family home - was a bright child who wanted a career where he could help people.

She said he would have liked the idea of the school.

“He was a very kind and generous person, he really was.

“We took him back to Cambodia and I think he wanted to help out.

“But it’s very hard to know what to do when something that awful happens. I’m doing it for him and for me and for the community.”

The trust is holding a fundraising dinner and auction with entertainment at the Inn on the Lake, Silvermere Golf Club, Cobham, on September 17 .

For more information, visit http://www.thoeunstrust.com/.

Cambodia's aid donors slammed for silence

ASIA TIMES ONLINE

via CAAI News Media

By Irwin Loy

PHNOM PENH - P Yuen Mach sat on the floor of her wooden home, her hands nervously twisting a stalk of lemongrass into fibrous strands. Her days have been filled with worry ever since authorities told her that the plot of land that her family occupies and which overlooks Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak lake no longer belonged to her, but to a local company that plans to flip the site into a real estate development.

"The government took the land from the poor and gave it to the rich people," she said. "We are the poor people. Now they say we're living on state property illegally."

Yuen and her relatives are among an estimated 4,000 families that will likely be relocated as part of the 133-hectare development - the largest real estate project in Cambodia's rapidly changing capital.

With numerous other land disputes simmering across the country, housing-rights advocates here say Boeung Kak lake is just one potent symbol of the worsening problems affecting the landless poor. But with international donors having pledged a record US$1.1 billion this year in aid to the government, some advocates say that those who hold the most influence have failed to use it to urge the government to pursue faster reforms.

"There are donors who give money and then keep quiet. We are sorry for that," said Chhith Sam Ath, executive director of the coalition NGO Forum on Cambodia, which is composed of local and international non-governmental organizations working in the South-east Asian country. "People are crying and they just stay quiet."

The majority of the population in Cambodia lacks legal land titles, a result of the tumultuous Khmer Rouge regime that emptied Phnom Penh of its inhabitants and stripped away private ownership. When the regime fell in 1979, refugees flooded back to the cities from the countryside, many settling in abandoned buildings and squatting on vacant land.

"When we moved here, everybody just emerged from death, from the Khmer Rouge," Yuen said. "We just grabbed it and lived on the land. If the government had told us that living here was illegal, I would never have moved here."

An ambitious donor-funded land titling project begun in 2002 was supposed to have helped people like Yuen. The $28.8 million Land Management and Administration Project, or LMAP, was designed to create a government-run land management program and distribute official land titles. Nearly one million land titles were issued as part of LMAP across the country.

But when the Boeung Kak lake residents demanded titles as part of the program, authorities rejected the requests, claiming the residents were living illegally on state property. The residents soon learned the land had been leased to a private developer, whose plans for new office towers and villas did not include them.

After the project's proponents raised concerns about evictions with the government, authorities responded by abruptly canceling the program in September 2009.

The issue of land rights is just one of many on which critics are urging donors to take a tougher stand. The international watchdog organization, Global Witness, slammed international donors last week for continuing to hand over huge sums of aid money, "despite evidence of widespread corruption and mismanagement of public funds."

"The Cambodian government has been promising to reform for years, but nothing has changed," Gavin Hayman, the group's campaigns director, said in a statement.

The government, however, called the accusations part of a "hugely damaging smear campaign" to discredit authorities. "The request from NGOs to put pressure on the government and donors is a bad approach. They insult the government and they insult the donors," said government spokesman Phay Siphan.

"We are all partners here. We respect each other and we respect the partnership. And the country donors respect this nation's right to be a nation."

In the end, the government said the donors had cumulatively pledged roughly $1.1 billion toward the national budget.

Rafael Dochao Moreno, the charge d'affaires for the Delegation of the European Union to Cambodia, said he believes the country is making strides toward development.

"It would be impossible for NGOs and development partners to agree 100%," he said. "At the end of the day, nothing is black or white. I think there is a consensus that this country is moving in the right direction."

Still, now that the money has been pledged, some critics believe donors should be acting more aggressively to ensure the funds are well spent.

"The donors should make it clear that if the government is not willing to use the aid effectively, they can find alternative ways to do so," said Ou Virak, president of the non-governmental Cambodian Center for Human Rights. "The problem is that message has never been clear."

Though donors insist they are urging Cambodian authorities to increase transparency, Ou said their efforts have done little to ensure Cambodians themselves can hold their government to account. Despite the promises, it remains unclear just where all the aid money will go, he said.

"It's easy to call on the donors to bring about change," he said. "But the fundamental challenge here is how the donors can put conditions in place that will allow the Cambodian population to be able to hold its own government accountable.

"When you ask, has the money been used effectively? I just don't know. There's no transparency in this money and what kinds of projects they help to support."

Cambodia's colonial architecture faces modern threat


Hotel Le Royal, a landmark French colonial building in central Phnom Penh that was beautifully restored by the Raffles hotel group. [Robert Carmichael]

The remains of the Ecole Professionale in Phnom Penh, a former warehouse and then training school built in 1908. It is rumoured to be replaced with a shopping centre and a hotel. [Robert Carmichael]

via CAAI News Media

Robert Carmichael, Phnom Penh

Experts are warning not enough is being done to protect what remains of Cambodia's French architectural heritage.

Much of the French colonial architecture in Phnom Penh and some provincial capitals has been destroyed, with some experts reckoning that 40 per cent of perhaps three hundred colonial era buildings have been demolished in the past 20 years.

Michel Verrot, the head of the French-funded Mission du Patrimonie, which works to assess and sometimes helps to restore the capital's shrinking pool of colonial buildings, says the government is keen to preserve buildings in the tourist town of Siem Reap.

But he says interest does not extend to Phnom Penh, which is seen as the business and economic hub of the country, and not a tourist zone.

"Phnom Penh must be a very modern town, an economical town," he said.

"And the heritage is in Siem Reap, and the tourism must be on the sea and in Siem Reap. But not in Phnom Penh. It's wrong. It's clearly wrong, but it is [how it is]."

Samraing Kimsan, a deputy minister at the Cambodian Ministry of Culture, says a lack of funding is one of the major problems in protecting the country's older buildings.

"This is the problem - I do believe this is the problem," he said.

"It depends on the plan - how to preserve the building, how to get money to preserve. But if we have no money to preserve, so we cannot stop the development of the modern building."

But Michel Verrot says demolishing an existing building and putting up something new actually costs more, because modern buildings use more imported materials and make less use of Cambodia's cheap labour.

He also says the demolition of colonial buildings is costing Cambodia tourism dollars.

But Samraing Kimsan says there is also the attitude of many Cambodians towards old buildings - in a land where modern and new are desired, old has limited appeal.

"They do not understand or do not love the traditional and old style of building," he said.

"They do not understand."

Cambodia's missing 'jungle woman' found in toilet

Rochom P'ngieng, the Cambodian woman who apparently spent 18 years living in the jungle, has been found again

via CAAI News Media

PHNOM PENH — A Cambodian woman whose story gripped the nation after she apparently spent 18 years living in the jungle has been found in a dugout toilet 11 days after she disappeared again, her father said Monday.

Rochom P'ngieng, 29, was reported missing late last month by her family, who at the time said they believed she had fled back into the forest.

She was found in an outdoor toilet about 100 metres (300 feet) from her home after a neighbour heard her crying, Sal Lou, the man who says he is her father, told AFP by telephone.

"She was discovered in a 10-metre deep toilet. It's an unbelievable story. She spent 11 days there," he said, adding that her body was soaked with excrement up to her chest.

"We are still wondering how she could get into the toilet" which has a small entrance hole covered in wood, he said, adding that she had been admitted to hospital following the incident.

Rochom P'ngieng went missing as a little girl in 1989 while herding water buffalo in Ratanakkiri province, around 600 kilometres (400 miles) northeast of Phnom Penh and home to some of the most isolated and wild jungle in Cambodia.

In early 2007 she was brought from the jungle, naked and dirty, after being caught trying to steal food from a farmer. She was hunched over like a monkey, scavenging on the ground for pieces of dried rice.

Cambodians described her as "jungle woman" and "half-animal girl" and since rejoining society she has battled bouts of illness after refusing food.

Cambodia's post to go public for increasing transparency

via CAAI News Media

June 07, 2010

Some 20 local and foreign companies are licenced to do business in postal services, but only half are presently in operation, he said.

Cambodia's postal system presently includes 700 employees working at 80 post offices in 24 cities. Employees working for both the postal system and government ministries will have to choose one employer when the move to a public enterprise takes place, Sarak Khann said.

The Cambodian Securities Exchange is scheduled to launch by the end of the year, and any qualified private firm or public enterprise is eligible to list, Cambodia Securities and Exchange Commission (SECC) director general Ming Bankosal said.

Source: Xinhua

Recovering drug addicts claim abuse in Cambodia

THE NATIONAL

via CAAI News Media

Jared Ferrie, Foreign Correspondent

Last Updated: June 06. 2010 10:41PM UAE / June 6. 2010 6:41PM GMT PHNOM PENH // They are abducted and held against their will in centres where many – some of them children – are beaten, whipped, and shocked with electric batons. These are allegations made in two recent reports about conditions in drug treatment centres in Cambodia, including one that receives funding from the United Nations’ child protection agency, Unicef.

The claims, which government officials denied, have UN agencies scrambling to come up with a cohesive response. Both UNAids and the World Health Organisation have called for all the facilities to be closed immediately, while Unicef has denied that there is abuse in Choam Chao, a youth centre to which it provided US$28,440 (Dh104,000) last year.

In late March, Unicef’s representative in Cambodia, Richard Bridle, told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper that Human Rights Watch (HRW) had made a mistake when it alleged abuse of children at Choam Chao. Mr Bridle suggested that researchers had confused Choam Chao for another centre.

HRW said it made no such mistake.

The National interviewed two street youths who said they were taken by police to Choam Chao in early April, after the HRW report was released and the allegations were reported by local media. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

“They beat me twice. I used my hands to block the blows,” said one. “They beat me with a baton.”

The other boy said he was not abused, but he witnessed guards at the centre beating two boys who had scuffled during a game of football.

Other youth and adults told similar stories and worse to HRW and to researchers who contributed to a joint report made public April 27 by the Open Society Institute and the University of Melbourne. Both reports detailed systematic abuse in 11 drug treatment centres across Cambodia, including severe beatings and rape perpetrated by guards.

In light of such reports, the UNAids executive director, Michel Sidibé, wrote to HRW expressing concern that conditions in the centres would “discourage people who use drugs from accessing health services, including for drug dependence and for HIV prevention, treatment and care”.

“I believe that the centres in Cambodia should be closed,” Mr Sidibé wrote in the letter.

HRW said it received similar correspondence from the World Health Organisation, which called for the closing of all 11 centres, including the one funded in part by Unicef.

The chief of communications for Unicef’s Cambodia office, Marc Vergara, declined to comment. At the time, he said Unicef was meeting with other “partners” to discuss the response to allegations of abuse at Choam Chao and other facilities.

“We know about that, but we have decided not to comment until we have come to the end of this discussion,” he said in a telephone interview last month, adding that he did not know when the talks would conclude.

Joe Amon, HRW’s director of health and human rights, said his organisation met with Unicef staff in Cambodia, Bangkok and New York to inform them of conditions at Choam Chao long before the report was released.

“Quite honestly, I’m shocked,” Mr Amon said. “Unicef’s mandate is to protect children and they’ve had nine months to investigate the evidence we’ve provided them of the torture, arbitrary detention and forced labour of children.”

The UN’s Cambodia Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) were contacted by telephone and were submitted questions by e-mail. Both agencies declined to comment.

UNODC is leading the UN’s efforts, in co-ordination with the Cambodian government, to overhaul the country’s drug treatment system. Some details of the plan were highlighted in a recent presentation given by Juana Tomas-Rossello of UNODC’s East Asia and Pacific regional office.

The $9.7-million programme plans to extend health services for drug users to communities throughout the country. Community health workers would then refer them to one or possibly two national rehabilitation centres where they would voluntarily submit to treatment. The plan has a timeframe of five to eight years, according to Dr Tomas-Rossello.

“At the same time, the UN recommends that while the new model drug dependence treatment system is being developed and the current drug detention centres remain open, compliance with Cambodia’s international human rights obligations is guaranteed,” Margaret Lamb, a spokeswoman for the office of the UN resident co-ordinator in Cambodia, said in an interview.

But human rights groups remain sceptical that conditions in drug detention centres will change without international pressure on the Cambodian government.

“When thousands of people have been abused, subject to torture and forced labour in these centres, the UN should really find the courage to plainly say that the centers should be immediately closed and those responsible for the torture held to account,” Mr Amon said.

Licadho, a local human rights group, said it provided evidence including photos of abuse at two drug detention centres to the ministry of social affairs in 2008.

“Nearly two years after, the ministry has yet to conduct a credible investigation,” said Naly Pilorge, the director of Licadho. “Quite the opposite, the ministry went on publicly rejecting undeniable evidence of unlawful detentions in the two centres and took actions to cover up the abuses.”

Kong Chhan, the deputy director general of the ministry, declined to comment on alleged abuse at detention centres, including Choam Chao, and he directed questions to the National Authority on Combating Drugs.

“In terms of my position as a government officer I say that everything’s OK in the centres,” said Neak Yuthea, the authority’s director of prevention and education. But, he added: “You can ask someone who is independent.”

DAP News ; Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

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Funcinpec Party and Nationalist Party Signed a Coalition Agreement

Monday, 07 June 2010 10:13 DAP-NEWS

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, June 7, 2010 - Funcinpec Party and the Nationalist Party would sign an official coalition agreement on Monday at the Funcinpic's central headquarters.
"There would be an official coalition agreement which was signed by both representatives of Funcinpec Party and the Nationalist Party at about 3 o'clock on Monday at the Funcinpic Party's headquarters," President of Funcinpec Party Keo Puth Raksmey said.

"Both Funcinpec Party and the Nationalist Party would merge at about 3 o'clock today in order to participate in the general election in 2013 and in the upcoming senate election," a senior official said on Monday.

"The separation of the two parties does not provide any benefits to our supporters, and our supporters will more increase after the two parties merge into one larger party today," President of Funcinpec Party Keo Puth Raksmey said.

After spending nearly a month discussing the common points which are acceptable to both parties, what Funcinpect Party and the Nationalist party expected was the formation of Funcinpect-Nationalist Party coalition which would help to collect the supporters in the future general election in 2013.

In principle, the two parties had been willing to merge into one party before the communal election of the council's members in 2012 and before the general election in 2013 were held in near the future.

The two political parties hope they will gain the voters more than the previous general election.

Edited by Mr. Rasmey (Mr. Go for It)

PM Hun Sen Calls For Greater Investment, Warns Pull out Fiscal Stimulus

Monday, 07 June 2010 10:49 Ek Madra

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, June 7, 2010 - Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday called for a greater investment to the region and “warned against the untimely withdrawal of fiscal stimulus measures in Asia”.

“Private investment has yet to return as the engine of economic growth and the poor are still suffering,” he told more than 400 of Asia’s leading decision-makers at the 19th World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam from June 6- 7.

Hun Sen said on that the fiscal stimulus measures in Asia should be continued.

The Premier echoed the sentiments of other leaders who reaffirmed “the key role of the private sector in economic recovery and growth, including public-private partnerships in building infrastructure”.

Hun Sen also said that the ascendant countries such as China and India should not be seen as serious challenges to the competitiveness of other nations in Asia.

“Countries that remain alert and respond to opportunities will benefit. Countries bogged down in structural issues and domestic problems will not,” he said.

Border administration and infrastructure are still major barriers to trade in ASEAN countries, according to the World Economic Forum report.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is to return home on Monday (June 7) after the meeting focused on setting up a regional and global mechanism for cooperation and management. This is due to the fact that the international community is currently faced with many challenges that threaten the revival of the global economy, such as climate change, ineffective management of global issues and trade barriers.

Asian leaders, however, shared view that the region has recovered swiftly from the global economic crisis, but it must work to turn recovery into economic growth that is sustainable, equitable and helps to solve the problem of climate change.

The WEF said that Asian economies have been leading the recovery given the fact that the global crisis has accelerated the historic shift in economic leadership from West to East.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Brazil, Russia, India and China to take centre stage.

“East Asia should play a more significant role in global affairs,” said Schwab.

The economic recovery in the ten-Asian nation bloc will be able to influence global affairs at the G20 leaders’ summit in Korea this year, said the WEF.

The World Bank said that East Asia has recovered from economic and financial crisis thanks largely to China. Real GDP growth in the developing East Asia is poised rise to 8.7 percent for 2010 after slowing from 7 percent in 2009.

Cambodian growth projects at 4.4 pct for 2010, expects 6 pct for next year, according to the Bank.

South Korean Movies and Songs Break Hearts of Cambodians

Monday, 07 June 2010 08:03 DAP-NEWS/ Tep Piseth

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, June 7, 2010- South Korean Movies are so attractive for Cambodians and Cambodian people are watching South Korean Movies and songs every day at nights or day times on TVs in the country. Sometimes during break times and local Khmer sellers at the markets always expressed their impression of loving the South Korean movie stars especially female movie starts from behaviors to clothes styles and every TV Channels in Cambodia played South Korean films in a series in every evening. But all these are not enough for Cambodians. Now Cambodians youth, university and high schools students are starting be crazy and cut their hair styles like South Korean singers. “I Know Mr Rain (South Korean singer) very well but I do not know about his real name,” Kim Leng, a nursery student in Phnom Penh said. Mr Rain is very famous for me, and his styles of dancing break my heart, he added. I do not know about political and economic relationships but I know the South Korean singers and Movie starts only, he noted. Kim Chi of South Korean, a pickled cabbage is also famous for Cambodian people.

Vo Rana, a student of National Institute of Commerce said South Korean films are talking about social life, business with mixing with love, historic films that are like Khmer too. They are easy to follow and are not difficult like western movies, she said.

In the past few years, Cambodia and South Korea have strengthened the bilateral cooperation with exchange of visits from top leaders.

The South Korea invested to build highest construction in Phnom Penh like CAMKO city and Golden tower 42. The bilateral trade volume was worth about 300 million US dollars.

Cambodian People Countdowns for Three Things

Monday, 07 June 2010 07:59 DAP-NEWS/ Tep Piseth

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, June 7, 2010- First, they countdown for verdict of Duch, head of S-21 prison which tortured to death and killed about 17,000 people in Khmer Rouge at prison. Duch detained by the Khmer Rouge and UN tribunal and Duch was charged of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Khmer Rouge regime accused of killing about 2 million people during 1975-1979. And now the survivors and relatives of the victims are waiting for the verdict from the court which will release on July 26. How many year will Duch serve his jail term? Survivor from Khmer Rouge like Bou Meng wants the court to sentence Duch a life imprisonment.

Second, Cambodians like other people around the world are waiting to watch FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa., which will be held from June 11 to July 11, this year.

Third, they want to see when the country will pump oil and gas from offshore. Prime Minister Hun Sen urged Chevron Oil Company to pump oil and gas before 2012. If not so, the government will terminate the agreement for investment. The local people hope their country will be a economic tiger in ASEAN.

Two Royalist Parties in Cambodia Will Merge Soon

Monday, 07 June 2010 06:59 DAP-NEWS/ Tep Piseth

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, June 7, 2010- The two Royalist parties in Cambodia, FUNCINPEC Party and the Nationalist party will merge as one party at 3:00 Pm today for joining the general election 2013 and the upcoming senate election, an senor official said on Monday.

The separation of the two parties did not provide the benefits for supporters and the supporters will increase more after the merging today,” Keo Puth raksmey, president of Funcinpec party said.

Hundreds of supporters from the two royalist parties will join as witnesses for the event of signing ceremony for merging today.

Funcinpec Party and Nationalist party received two seats respectively from the general election in 2008 after the two sisters parties separated. FUNCINPEC party led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, and now he retired from political life and works the supreme advisor to King Norodom Sihamoni.

Cambodia Bans Gambling During FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa

Monday, 07 June 2010 05:40 DAP-NEWS / Yu Vibol

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, June 7, 2010-Cambodia n Monday announced the country will not allow any gambling during the FIFA World Cup in 210 in South Africa, citing that the gambling has been affecting the social order and insecurity.

“We want to have cooperation with all sides from local people, media, and local authorities to crack down on all kinds of gambling during this world football competition,” Touch Naroth, Police Chief of Phnom Penh said.

Samdech Techo Prime Minister Hun Sen also already ordered to ban all forms from betting money during the FIFA world cup this year because it affected to social order and create the robbery,” He added. He also appealed to local people to watch football matches for the entertainment sport and should not bet for money. And he said,” we are investigating the crime from other cases during this time and investigating the places that bet the money during this world cup competition,”. We will punish the gamblers by law, “he said.

Cambodia has banned gambling during the world cup since 2006 and the government in 2008 also closed down the country’s largest gambling football industry Cambosix after that kind of competition created robbery, insecurity, family violence, and family divorce from the gambling.

According to website of FIFA world Cup, the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be the 19th FIFA World Cup, the premier international football tournament. It is scheduled to take place between 11 June and 11 July 2010 in South Africa. The 2010 FIFA World Cup will be the culmination of a qualification process that began in August 2007 and involved 204 of the 208 FIFA national teams. As such, it matches the 2008 Summer Olympics as the sports event with the most competing nations.

It added that this will be the first time that the tournament has been hosted by an African nation, after South Africa beat Morocco and Egypt in an all-African bidding process. This decision left the Oceania Football Confederation as the only confederation yet to host the FIFA World Cup.

It said that the List of qualified teams for this year as The following 32 teams qualified for the final tournament.

AFC (4)

Australia
Japan
Korea DPR
Korea Republic

CAF (6)

Algeria
Cameroon
Côte d'Ivoire
Ghana
Nigeria
South Africa (hosts)
CONCACAF (3)
Honduras
Mexico
United States

CONMEBOL (5)

Argentina
Brazil
Chile
Paraguay
Uruguay

OFC (1)

New Zealand

UEFA (13)

Denmark
England
France
Germany
Greece
Italy
Netherlands
Portugal
Serbia
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Switzerland

On your marks, get set....


Photo by: Rann Reuy

via CAAI News Media

Monday, 07 June 2010 15:00 Rann Reuy

Children wait at the starting line of a half-marathon in Siem Reap on Saturday. Nearly 2,000 people, including 280 runners, attended the event, which was part of a 12-day awareness-raising campaign organised by the International Labour Organisation in the run-up to World Day Against Child Labour on June 12.

Fighting the flames

Photo by: Uy Nousereimony

via CAAI News Media

Monday, 07 June 2010 15:03 Uy Nousereimony

A man attempts to extinguish a fire at a petrol vendor’s shop in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district on Sunday. Phnom Penh Municipal Fire Department Deputy Director Oum Bunthoeun said local residents had assisted firefighters in combating the blaze after narrow roads prevented trucks from accessing the site.

Acid: a weapon close to hand

Photo by: Brooke Lewis
Acid attack victim Orb Rath in the office of Kampong Cham’s Da commune on Friday.

via CAAI News Media

Monday, 07 June 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Brooke Lewis

Its use in the rubber trade makes it accessible, and some vendors sell to anyone

Kampong Cham Province

NEARLY three dec-ades after he suffered burns to his face and upper body in an acid attack, Orb Rath, 49, comes into contact with the corrosive liquid on an almost daily basis. Seven years ago, he took a job at the Chrab Rubber Plantation in Da commune, located in Kampong Cham province’s Memot district, where he mixes acid with rubber sap.

“I mix it on-site at the rubber plantation, and then bring the hard rubber to sell to a factory,” he said, and added that 100 litres of sap can be hardened with just 1 litre of diluted acid.

Accidents on the job, he said, are infrequent. “The rubber plantation director usually tells all workers to be careful when using acid, so rubber workers rarely get burned on the rubber plantation,” he said.

The problem, he said, is the easy availability of acid near the plantations, and the fact that it is sometimes used to resolve personal disputes. His own injuries, for instance, came at the hands of an aunt who had an argument with his mother, the subject of which has never been made clear to him.

“The attacks happen at people’s homes when they have violence or argue with each other, for instance like what happened to me,” he said.

The Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC) has also expressed concern that the concentration of rubber plantations in Kampong Cham – the province has more than any other – has led to an inordinate number of acid accidents and attacks there.

A CASC report released last month shows that 41 percent – by far the highest proportion – of 236 acid cases recorded by the group between 1985 and 2009 took place in Kampong Cham, and makes a link to the rubber plantations.

“There seems to be a prima facie correlation between incidence of attack, and availability of acid,” the report says. “In Kampong Cham province, where acid is widely available due to its use in the process of making rubber, there is a relatively high rate of acid related crimes compared to other provinces.”

Yin Song, director of the Rubber Research Institute of Cambodia, said Sunday that Kampong Cham was home to “hundreds of thousands of hectares of rubber plantations”, though he could not provide exactly statistics.

Prom Sopha, the chief of Da commune, said Friday that acid sellers do not make an effort to screen customers. “It is easy for people to buy acid to do a crime because the sellers don’t think about whether these people are rubber workers or not; they sell to all who want to buy acid,” he said.

But although they expressed surprise at the number of attacks occurring in Kampong Cham, vendors at the Memot district market said they were already aware of the dangers posed by acid, largely because they had heard about attacks in Phnom Penh, where CASC recorded 16 percent of its cases.

Chan Nara, 40, said he sells diluted acid to customers who want to refill automobile batteries, and that he only sells pure acid to rubber plantation workers.

“I don’t sell to everyone who comes to ask for acid. I have to see whether I know the buyers or not, and I have to see if their containers have spots from the rubber or not,” he said. “If the buyers are not rubber workers I don’t sell to them because I don’t know what they will use the acid for.”

Sok Vouch, 51, said she refills batteries with diluted acid, but refuses to sell acid in any other form because she is concerned about the possibility of attacks.

“There are many people from the villages asking to buy acid, but I don’t sell to them,” she said.

“I don’t want money from making other people hurt.”

This level of caution, however, is not exhibited by all vendors.

Ngem Eoun, the sole acid seller in Da commune, and the source of acid for Orb Rath and many of his colleagues, said he was not concerned about what customers did with their acid so long as they didn’t harm his own family.

“I do business for earning money,” he said. “I care only around my house, but I don’t care when they buy it already and go way from my house.”

Prom Sopha said that around 20 to 25 percent of the 3,963 families living in Da commune currently have members employed by rubber plantations, a figure that he expects to increase rapidly in the coming years.

“I think acid use is increasing, and attacks will also increase, because most people now are interested in planting rubber. It is more lucrative than other work,” he said.

Tuol Kork residents rebuff officials


via CAAI News Media

Monday, 07 June 2010 15:03 Khouth Sophak Chakrya and Will Baxter

RESIDENTS of a Tuol Kork district community devastated by a March 8 fire have prevented district authorities from tearing down newly constructed wooden homes, prompting officials to warn that those who are rebuilding homes on the site are breaking the law and could face arrest, villagers and rights groups said.

Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF), said several dozen police arrived in the community, located in Boeung Kak 2 commune, on Saturday with the intent of removing the new structures, and that they were rebuffed by villagers.

“The local authorities told residents they would not be allowed to rebuild their houses; if they try to rebuild, the local authorities will use force to take down the houses,” he said.

A joint statement released the same day by the HRTF and rights groups Licadho and Adhoc said residents had been warned that they would “be arrested and construction equipment and lumber would be confiscated” if they continued building new houses.

Following the blaze, which destroyed 178 houses and 31 dormitory rooms at Neak Von pagoda, local officials told residents that they could rebuild in the commune, provided that they accept 3.92-by-5.5-metre plots of land – a downgrade for many of the families – and leave sufficient space for new access roads.

But in a May 27 letter distributed to the families, officials said anyone caught rebuilding at the fire site without official permission risked being subjected to “administrative measures”.

Sia Phearum said Sunday that local officials had used the blaze as an opportunity to grab land.

“In many cases we find that fire is used as the main reason for eviction,” and local authorities are now trying to force the residents to sign “contracts” promising that they will stop rebuilding at the fire site, he said.

Sok Chea, a 43-year-old resident, said that her husband, Korng Savan, and her two sons were physically forced to thumbprint a document agreeing to cease reconstruction of their house.

“On Saturday, Deputy District Governor Thim Sam An and Boeung Kak 2 commune chief Van Sareth grabbed hold of my husband’s and sons’ hands and forced them to put their thumbprints on a contract which promised they would stop rebuilding our house, and they threatened to arrest my family if they resisted,” she said.

The trio were then photographed by the district authorities, she added.

Nov Phalla, 48, said she refused to thumbprint the contract despite intimidation from the authorities.

“The authorities threatened to arrest us and confiscate our construction equipment if we continue to build a temporary shelter without their permission,” she said. “But we are not frightened by their threats. What we are scared of is not having a house to live in.”

‘False’ allegations
Government officials denied the residents’ claims on Sunday. Thim Sam An, Tuol Kork deputy district governor, said no arrest threats had been issued, though he confirmed he had asked residents to sign a contract stating that they would cease building homes.

He added that any reports of intimidation were false.

“We did not threaten anyone with arrest, but we have certainly banned them from making houses because this land is state property,” he said.

He said that he will meet today with the 170 families that have agreed to move to 5-by-12-metre plots of land in Dangkor district’s Choam Chao commune, in order to set a date for the relocation.

“After we relocate these 170 families, we will seek some kind of reconciliation with the ... holdout families and urge them to also relocate,” he said.

But residents and housing rights advocates have criticised the relocation site, saying it lacks infrastructure and is prone to flooding.

Duong Sothea, a representative of the 68 families who have refused to move there, said they would continue to resist relocation and planned to protest this morning in front of City Hall.

“Since the fire we have been living with the fear of being forcibly evicted from our own land,” he said.

“We need intervention. The Phnom Penh governor must urge that a resolution be found for us soon.... We cannot live under tarpaulin roofs in temporary shelters when there are heavy rains almost every day.”

‘Jungle girl’ is located


via CAAI News Media

Monday, 07 June 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear

THE saga of Cambodia’s “jungle girl” took another dramatic turn Friday when the Ratanakkiri runaway was reportedly discovered at the bottom of a 10-metre-deep dugout toilet.

Sal Lou, who says he is the father of “jungle girl” Rochom P’nhieng, said his daughter had been discovered on Friday evening by a young neighbour who went to use the outdoor toilet and heard a cry for help from within. Sal Lou and other villagers were summoned to the scene, where they shone torches into the hole and discovered Rochom P’nhieng at the bottom.

“The villagers pulled my daughter out of the toilet, and we cleaned her up, but now she looks pale and weak,” Sal Lou said.

Rochom P’nhieng, believed to be 29 years old, was discovered in the wilds of Ratanakkiri province in January 2007 and taken in by a family who say she is a daughter who went missing in 1989 while herding buffalo.

Family members said she had since lived peacefully with them until last month, when she took off her clothes and fled back into the jungle.

Since being rescued from the toilet, Sal Lou said his daughter appeared to be in poor health.

“She looks pale and has no strength. She has been sleeping all the time in a hammock under the house,” Sal Lou said. A local doctor, he added, had attempted to give Rochom P’nhieng an IV drip to help replenish her strength, but she tore it out and refused other medicine and injections.

Hing Phan Sakunthea, director of the Ratanakkiri provincial referral hospital, said that although Rochom P’nhieng’s time in the toilet could result in minor skin irritation, it is unlikely to affect her health in the long term.

“She looked pale at first, but she will be fine in a few days,” he said. “She was stuck in that deep toilet without enough oxygen, so that’s why she looked so pale.”

Sal Lou said Sunday that he plans to stay home with Rochom P’Nhieng from now on in order to prevent her from escaping again.

“I don’t know what I can do to stop her from leaving,” he said.

But Chhay Thy, a provincial investigator for the local rights group Adhoc, said Rochom P’nhieng’s family may be incapable of caring for someone with her mental and emotional problems.

“She has fled the house three times already since she came back from the forest,” he said.