Monday, 12 July 2010

REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea; Garment Workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Workers alight from a van as they arrive for work in a garment factory on the outskirts of Phnom Penh July 12, 2010. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Garment worker Lim Luck Hoeung (C), 20, looks at the photographer as she works at the W & D Cambodia Co. Limited garment factory in Phnom Penh July 12, 2010. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Garment worker Kim Koe, 24, (L) works in the W & D Cambodia Co. Limited garment factory in Phnom Penh July 12, 2010. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Women work at the W & D Cambodia Co. Limited garment factory in Phnom Penh July 12 ,2010. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Men work in the W & D Cambodia Co. Limited garment factory in Phnom Penh July 12, 2010. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Explosive Substances Found at Home of Bombing Suspect

http://www.pattayadailynews.com/

via Khmer NZ

Published : July 12, 2010

Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) on Monday revealed that an unknown quantity of explosive material has been found at the residence of one of the Bhumjaithai bombing suspects. Investigations continued following the deportation of two suspects by Cambodian authorities last week.

Bangkok, the 12th of July 2010: DSI Director General Tharit Pengdit stated that police had searched the home of Miss Varissareeya Boonsom, a suspect in the Bhumjaithai party bombing, finding traces of RDX explosives in several locations.

The searches were conducted based on the testimony of Miss Boonsom, who revealed that the explosive devices were made at her residence. She has since insisted that she had no direct involvement in the bombing and merely gave shelter to the other arrested suspects. Although, police have since found a notebook with handwritten bomb-making instructions in her baggage.

Miss Boonsom was arrested, along with Mr. Korbchai Boonplod, by Cambodian authorities and deported back to Thailand over their alleged involvement in the June 22 Bhumjaithai Party headquarters bombing. Red Shirt lawyer, Karom Ponthaklang, has reportedly withdrawn as Miss Boonsom’s legal counsel over concerns expressed by still incarcerated Red Shirt leaders and the opposition Puea Thai Party.

Meanwhile, the DSI chief revealed that the department has listed so far 231 cases: 131 as terrorism, 20 as threats to the state, 20 as threats to state officials and public and 15 arms-related cases. Investigations into nine cases have been completed and prosecutors have issued seven indictments. Among 562 suspects, 194 have been arrested, 367 are still fugitive and one has since died.

_______________

Cambodia Deports Thai Bomb Suspects

Foreign bride’s death

via Khmer NZ

07-12-2010

Shock may not be the word. It is with an extreme sense of shame and embarrassment that most Koreans face yet another report on the family violence leading to the death of a young foreign bride.

A 20-year-old woman would never have married a 47-year-old man with a long ― and very recent ― record of treatment for a mental disorder, had she known about it. It's almost as if three culprits had conspired to throw the Vietnamese wife into a tragic end by denying her that critical information; the unjustifiable selfishness of the Korean man and his family, money-blind matchmakers, and the authorities responsible for their supervision.

It was only this March that Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia asked President Lee Myung-bak to take good care of young Cambodian women married to Koreans, regarding them as Korea's own ``daughters-in-law." The Southeast Asian country once banned marriages with Korean men in protest of the 20:1 group interview-style matchmaking arrangement.

The latest incident, in which the near-deranged Korean husband beat and stabbed his Vietnamese wife to death just a week after her arrival here, indicates not much has changed on the part of not a few husbands-to-be, marriage brokers and even the government officials responsible.

This is unthinkable for a country, which has about 136,000 immigrant wives and four out of 10 farmers mostly marry other Asian nationals.

The Korea Immigration Service said Sunday it would enhance education for would-be husbands and refuse visa issuance for those with criminal and serious pathological records. These are necessary ― if belated ― steps, but fall way short of fundamentally tackling the chronic problem. What matters are not new decrees or laws but how the central and provincial governments implement them to drastically tighten their control on international matchmaking agencies.

In the longer term, the government's handling of multicultural family issues will also need to be checked from the ground up. Most urgent is the proper education of their children, as seen by the fact that the share of biracial students advancing to high schools remains at just 30 percent of the total.

In the best-case scenario, Korea can make the most of the growing multicultural population as a bilingual work force that supports its industry, especially the agricultural sector. In the worst, the nation could let them fall to a disgruntled minority suffering from the shortcomings of two cultures and factors of social unrest like the case of some European countries.

The economy aside, the time has long past for this would-be advanced country to improve the related system to fundamentally prevent the recurrence of such disgraceful incidents. Wasn't a ``nation with dignity" one of this administration's pet phrases, too?

“The King Called on All Development Partners of Cambodia to Provide Financial and Technical Support for Forestry Reform in Cambodia” – Sunday, 11.7.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

via Khmer NZ

Posted on 12 July 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 672

On Saturday, 10 July 2010, it was reported that the King had called on all development partners of Cambodia to provide financial and technical support for forestry reform in Cambodia.

At this occasion, we reprint part of the history before this call by the King, starting with an old statement by Global Witness from December 2004, continuing with texts which had all been in Cambodian newspapers in 2010 and had been translated and published in The Mirror – a historical review for further consideration.

Resign or be sacked
3.12.2004

With the advent of Cambodia’s Consultative Group (CG) donor meeting on 6 and 7 December 2004, combating corruption is once more at the top of the political agenda. In line with this renewed emphasis, Global Witness is calling on the Director of the Forest Administration to be made accountable for the rampant corruption within his own department.

“Ty Sokhun should do the honorable thing and resign. If not, the Prime Minister should sack him.” said Jon Buckrell of Global Witness.

Ty Sokhun was made Director of the Department of Forestry and Wildlife1 in 1998. Since then, corruption within the department has if anything got worse. The May 2000 Asia Development Bank [ADB] Forest Concession Review characterized the crisis situation in Cambodia’s forest as “…total system failure; resulting from greed, corruption, incompetence and illegal acts…” Since that time not one forest department official has been charged with corruption, let alone convicted…

“How can the new Forest Administration hope to address corruption if the people at the top remain the same?” said Buckrell. Ty Sokhun is hopelessly compromised by his familial links to the timber trade. His father-in-law, Khun Thong, is one of Cambodia’s most prolific illegal loggers. “Ty Sokhun’s failure to make public his familial links to the timber trade is a massive conflict of interest and is in itself reason enough to dismiss him.” …

Global Witness agrees with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s sentiments, of more than two years ago, that “while good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.” … Global Witness Press Release

And from the Khmer press in 2010:

It Is Time to Stop: Military Officials Who Do Illegal Activities
Are Not Fit to Work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces
29.1.2010

“Phnom Penh: The top Five-Star General, Samdech Akkak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, announced that from now on, military officials who are involved in illegal activities are not fit to work in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, because they destroy the reputation of the armed forces, the reputation of the soldiers. …

“… ‘All military commanders, please remember that you have no authority to order soldiers to guard your mangroves. I tell you this for the future, because previously this happened… The role of the military is to fulfill obligations for the nation, not to guard your mangroves, please check this again! Please do not use soldiers and the military’s machinery to serve individual interests. If it still continues, do not say that I have not told you. How many stars showing your military rank you wear, though I wear only five stars, I will dismiss you even if you are wearing the big moon as the sign of your rank, I will dismiss you!’” – Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6870, 29.1.2010

The Authorities Intercept Wood Every Day, but Never Arrest the Wood Traders
24.3.2010

“After the Cambodian Prime Minister, Mr. Hun Sen, ordered to crack down on forestry crimes, the logging seems to continue even stronger, and some perpetrators drove luxury cars loaded with luxury wood in a procession of cars of high ranking officials to deceive the authorities.

“The authorities, including forestry administration officials, police, military police, and committees from the agencies from military and other units charged with suppressing forestry crimes and forestry criminals, intercepted cars and trucks loaded with wood and checked wood storehouses of some powerful people. But by now, the authorities have not arrested any traders to show their accomplishment to the Khmer public on television. …” – Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #634, 24.3.2010

Samdech Hun Sen Considers Forestry Crimes to Be Acts of National Betrayal
27.3.2010

“Phnom Penh: During a cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen affirmed the position of the government regarding the campaign to strongly intercept forestry crimes, and not to give up. Although there may be barriers against it made of rock or of iron, any obstacles must be broken down.

“During the cabinet meeting yesterday, which took from morning to noon, Samdech Dekchor Hun Sen spoke to all members of the Royal Government, saying that all related institutions, whether on the national or on regional levels, have to cooperate to intercept forestry crimes, and to reach the ringleaders. All authorities have to investigate this at every place to find the offenses and to arrest the offenders, the principal leaders, and other relevant persons, to be prosecuted without any exception regardless of how powerful those persons are, and whatever their relationships, because the suppression of forestry crimes is the suppression of criminal groups – their activities have to be considered as activities of national betrayal. …” – Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2212, 27.3.2010

Considering Forestry Crimes, Ty Sokun Should Not Be Allowed to Hold a Position,
but Should Be Punished according to the Law
7.4.2010

“Prime Minister Hun Sen announced yesterday morning, in a conference at the Chamkar Doung Royal University of Agriculture, to remove the director of the forestry administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. Such a removal of the holder of the same position, of a former head of the forestry administration – Mr. Ly Kim Han – happened also some years ago, making him feel heart-broken, and he died. But in Ty Sokun’s case, according to opinions expressed among the general public, he should face the law and receive punishment. To remove Ty Sokun, but to appoint him at the same time as Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, shows the great tolerance of the Prime Minister.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly announced the decision to take out Mr. Ty Sokun from the position of Director General of the Forestry Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, because he was involved in illegal wood trading. But Mr. Hun Sen did not specify any measures to be taken against Mr. Ty Sokun, and he reassigned him to the position of Under-Secretary of State of Agriculture. Prime Minister Hun Sen said on 6 April 2010 at the Chamkar Doung Royal University of Agriculture, that the head of the forestry administration, Mr. Ty Sokun, was involved in corruption related to forestry crimes, and that the authorities had recently started investigations to intercept them. …

“… Prime Minister Hun Sen stressed that at this time, there will be no tolerance for any official who got involved in forestry crimes. ‘We take hot measures to hit the heads of the main leaders. Therefore, the Prime Minister has to decide to do things, even if they hurt, in order to create models of law enforcement in the campaign to intercept forestry crimes.’ …” – Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3852, 7.4.2010

Important Officials from Sixteen Countries Come to Cambodia
to Discuss Appropriate Control Systems for Forestry Resources,
after an Unclear Suppression Campaign
6.5.2010

“… Recently, Cambodia has started to crack down on luxury grade wood trading, and after activities for one month, the authorities confiscated 6,000 cubic meter of such wood that was to be transported to China and Yuon. Some was to be exported to the international market via Singapore. …

“The illegal wood trading in Cambodia reduced the rich forestry resource during the 1960s of about 75% of the whole country to drop to only more than 30% at present, according to some environmental organizations. Forestry expert officials and some sectors of the authorities have been blamed for their collusion, committing illegal wood trading, but most of the actors are not brought to the courts.

“According to reports from forestry administration officials, 207 forestry crimes have been reported to the courts, but some traders with a title as an Oknha, or with close relations to high government officials, have not been charged, though they colluded to commit forestry crimes in Cambodia. Some forestry administration officials enjoy their lives with the wealth they gained from the illegal cutting down of trees. …” – Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3872, 6.5.2010

Records show 17 held for forestry crimes
9.7.2010
A total of 17 people are being held in pretrial detention in Koh Kong provincial prison on forestry-related charges dating back to 2008, according to a document provided this week by a prison worker who expressed frustration with the release last month of four forestry officials charged with involvement in an illegal logging ring.

The document shows that an additional seven people in the province have been convicted of forestry crimes and are serving sentences at the prison.

The official, who asked not to be named, said that all the people on the list were “poor” Koh Kong residents who had been arrested for such crimes as “collecting wood” and “clearing farmland.”

“It doesn’t seem very fair,” the official said. “Poor people who depend on clearing forest for their livelihood are convicted for up to five years for forestry crimes, while forestry officials involved with illegal logging rings are released.”

Although their case remains under investigation, the four Koh Kong Forestry Administration Cantonment officials were released on June 24 after being arrested in a raid amid a crackdown on illegal logging called for by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The small fish is punished, but the medium and big fish never get punished.”
Chhin Long, the chief clerk for the prosecution at the provincial court, said Tuesday that he had seen a document signed by Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun and the prime minister requesting the officials’ release.

Chheng Kim Sun, director of the Forestry Administration, noted on Thursday that the officials were still being investigated and could be summoned back to court at any time. He defended the release of the prisoners, describing it as part of standard legal procedure.

“The court is independent, and the court’s decision-making process in this case would be the same for rich and poor people, powerful and powerless people. It is not biased to one side,” Chheng Kim Sun said.

But Un Than Aan, provincial coordinator for the rights group ADHOC, said that although the releases might have been legal, the poor are bearing the brunt of the government’s logging crackdown.

“The release of the four officials can be done according to court procedure, because they are able to provide the court with a permanent job and address,” Un Than Aan said. “Poor people aren’t released because they have no permanent job or address, and they are often found guilty of forestry crimes because there’s enough evidence against them.”

ADHOC President Thun Saray said the pattern was consistent with past crackdowns.

“The small fish is punished, but the medium and big fish never get punished,” he said. “That’s been my observation for the last 15 years.” – Phnom Penh Post, 9 July 2010

“The King Called on All Development Partners of Cambodia
to Provide Financial and Technical Support for Forestry Reform in Cambodia”
Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5246, Saturday, 10.7.2010

“Financial and technical support” – plus, as Global Witness had quoted a 2002 statement of the Prime Minister in 2004 – “While good policies do matter, their rigorous and consistent implementation remains vital.”

Please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

'He's running and hiding, but we are looking'

via Khmer NZ

July 12 2010

By Robert Carmichael

A manhunt is underway for a soldier who shot dead three people and injured four others, local media reported on Monday.

Sles Yeb, 50, is being sought after going on a shooting spree following an argument with his wife and son, whom he tried to stab with a knife late Thursday. The two escaped unharmed.

Commune police chief Khieu Pov said after the argument Sles Yeb walked the streets of Ty Pram Muoy village in Kampong Cham province in southeast Cambodia shooting people at random.

"The suspect shot a lot," Khieu Pov told the Phnom Penh Post newspaper, adding that police recovered more than 50 cartridges casings.

More than 100 civilian and military police then spent 48 hours staking out a cornfield where they thought the suspect had fled.

"We did not dare to go deeper into the cornfield to look for him because the suspect has an AK machine gun with 160 bullets, a pistol and bombs," said district police chief Lay Nguon. "He is running and hiding, but we are looking to arrest him."

He said the suspect might have fled to another province.

Cambodian security personnel involved in crimes often escape prosecution, but an army officer said Sles Yeb would be brought to justice.

"We do not support him even though he is a soldier," said district commander Sim Uy.

Incidents of multiple killings such as this one are highly unusual in Cambodia. - Sapa-dpa

Cambodia's peacekeeping military exercise kicks off

via Khmer NZ

July 12, 2010

First phase of large scale military exercise kicked off in Phnom Penh on Monday with more than 20 multi-nation participations.

Speaking at the opening of the "Command Post Exercise (CPX)", Gen. Moeng Samphan, secretary of state of Cambodia's National Defense Ministry said the exercise "aims at enhancing capacity for both the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and military from various countries through the process of multi-national operations exercise to fulfill the requirements of the U.N. standards in the purpose of serving the United Nations Peacekeeping Operation."

"I strongly believe that the results of this exercise not only proved the great opportunities for the RCAF and multi-national forces in performing some regional missions but also give us a chance to demonstrate our capacity, coordination, and cooperation since our military concepts are varied from one another, but to have the common ground for working as a team together if there is a need for PKO in the region and in the world," he added.

It is the first of two forms of "military exercise" or in softer terms "peacekeeping exercise" after which the second part of "field exercise" will officially take place on July 17 at the presence of Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen in Kompong Speu province, about 50 kilometers from Phnom Penh.

"This is the first time in the history of Cambodian military that we are hosting the Multi-National Exercise Training 'Angkor Sentinel 2010' with the participations from many countries in the international committees and which encompasses such a multi- national military basis," said Lieutenant General Nem Sowath, chairman of the sub-committee of the CPX.

Both of the military exercises with official name as "Angkor Sentinel 2010" --are part of the Global Peace Operations Initiatives (GPOI), a UN-US peacekeeping-training program for strengthening peace and security.

Chhum Socheat, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense said the military exercise will be conducted through July 30 with participations of 26 countries and more than 1,000 forces.

Of those forces, the largest number will be coming from Cambodia as a host country and from the United States, the co- organizer of the exercise.

The other participating countries, the majority of which are the members of the United Nations include France, Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, India, Italy, Germany, Japan, Mongolia and the United Kingdom among others.

Source: Xinhua

Spain triumphs iniesta strike secures first Cup



via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 16:08 AFP

Spanish keeper Iker Casillas hoists the FIFA World Cup trophy after defeating the Netherlands in extra time early this morning at Soccer City in Johannesburg. AFP

Duch seeks Chinese lawyer


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:04 Sebastian Strangio and Cheang Sokha

FORMER Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, plans to appoint a Chinese defence lawyer to replace dismissed French attorney Francois Roux, his Cambodian lawyer said.

In an interview on Saturday with Radio France Internationale, Kar Savuth said his client planned to bring in a Chinese attorney after the Khmer Rouge tribunal hands down its historic first verdict on July 26.

“The reason that Duch wants a Chinese lawyer is because China is a communist country and during the Pol Pot regime [Cambodia] was also a communist country,” he said. “He doesn’t want a lawyer from a free country to judge the communist people.”

Kar Savuth said the new lawyer will be chosen after the verdict, and that he will continue to represent Duch if a suitable Chinese candidate cannot be found.

“If they cannot find a [Chinese] lawyer, a Cambodian lawyer will be fine, because Duch only wants a Chinese lawyer,” he said.

Kar Savuth’s comments came a day after the tribunal announced that Duch had fired Roux due to a “loss of confidence” in his representation.

The court’s Defence Support Section noted in a statement Friday that Duch is not permitted to appoint a new international co-lawyer until after the July 26 verdict.

During the closing arguments of Duch’s trial in November, Kar Savuth split with Roux by supporting their client’s request for release and acquittal.

The surprise move reversed the defence team’s earlier strategy of emphasising Duch’s contrition and cooperation in pushing for a mitigated sentence.

Long Panhavuth, a project officer at the Cambodia Justice Initiative, called the sacking of Roux “unsurprising”, given the earlier rift. He said it was likely motivated by a desire to forge consensus about whether to launch an appeal against the upcoming verdict.

“Duch needs a person who will agree with him about the appeal,” he said.

He added that the dismissal of Roux – now serving as head of the defence office at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon – would make little difference for the July 26 verdict hearing, since Roux was not expected to attend.

Anne Heindel, a legal adviser at the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, described the dismissal as “mystifying”, especially so close to the verdict date, but agreed it suggested that Duch intends to appeal.

“The only reason to get another lawyer is if you’re set for more litigation.... This makes me think that they’re likely to appeal,” she said. She added, though, that “it could also be personal”.

Murder rampage: manhunt launched


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:04 Thet Sambath

MORE than 100 police and military police in Kampong Cham province are involved in a manhunt for a soldier accused of shooting and killing three people and seriously injuring four others in a drunken rampage, officials said yesterday.

Lay Ngoun, the police chief in Kroch Chhmar district, said the search for 50-year-old Sles Yeb had been widened after an initial 48-hour stakeout of a cornfield close to the crime scene did not result in his arrest.

“We tried to look for the suspect in the corn farm at night and in the daytime, but he is [still] at large,” Lay Ngoun said. “We did not dare to go deeper into the corn farm to look for him because the suspect has an AK gun with 160 bullets, a pistol and bombs. He is running and hiding. We are looking to arrest him.”

He added that the suspect, known as Mol Mab by his fellow soldiers in Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Battalion 203, may have fled to another province.

Khieu Pov, police chief in Kompong Treas commune, where the shooting occurred Thursday night, said it began following a dispute between Sles Yeb and his wife and son, whom he tried to slash with a knife. After they escaped unharmed, Sles Yeb went on a shooting spree through the streets of Ty Pram Muoy village, firing at victims apparently chosen at random.

A total of 56 cartridge casings have since been recovered. “The suspect shot a lot,” Khieu Pov said, and added that 43-year-old Nhor Ramo, the first victim, was hit 10 times in the stomach, armpit, waist and throat.

Lay Ngoun identified the other two dead as El Romin, 59, and a 25-year-old known only as Maley. One woman and three girls were severely injured, and the leg of one girl required amputation, he said.

Sim Uy, district RCAF commander, said military officials were committed to bringing Sles Yeb to justice. “We do not support him even though he is a soldier,” he said.

“We respect discipline and law, and we have to arrest him for the courts to punish.”

Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, urged authorities to pursue the suspect aggressively, and noted that as a general rule, soldiers who commit violent crimes are “never caught and punished”.

Okhna to petition for wife’s release on bail


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:04 Chrann Chamroeun

A PROMINENT businessman whose wife stands accused of masterminding a murder plot plans to petition government officials for her release on bail, his lawyer said yesterday.

The court last week charged Seng Chanda with attempted premeditated murder in connection with an alleged plot that targeted Suv Chantha, the daughter of Seng Chanda’s husband, Okhna Khaou Chuly. Suv Chantha is also the wife of Suv Chanthol, vice chairman of the Council for the Development of Cambodia and a former minister of public works and transport.

A complaint filed June 16 by Suv Chantha accuses two men and two women of attempting to rape and murder her and her daughter. According to the complaint, they approached the family’s house in Sen Sok district in the early morning hours of June 13 after drugging the family’s guard dogs. The complaint asserts that the plot was foiled after Suv Chantha woke up.

Lim Vanna, Khaou Chuly’s lawyer, said the request being drafted by his client would be sent to senior government officials and the municipal court.

“I know that Okhna has been writing personal letters to senior officials and the Phnom Penh Municipal Court seeking the release of his wife, because he is lonely and too old at home,” Lim Vanna said.

Judge Te Sam Ang ordered that Seng Chanda be placed in pretrial detention on Thursday morning, one day after charging her. He said yesterday that he could not comment on the prospect of her being released on bail because he had not seen any letter from Khaou Chuly.

Lim Vanna said the decision would rest solely with the investigating judge, despite the fact that government officials were also being petitioned.

“It is the judge’s right to make this decision whether or not to release her on bail,” he said, and added that the court would be kept informed of Seng Chanda’s whereabouts in the run-up to any trial.

Pol Chandara, a government lawyer representing Sun Chantha, declined to comment on the pending bail request in light of the fact that the case was still being investigated.

He said, though, that he believed it would be more appropriate to send a letter to the court than to government officials. “The government officials cannot interfere in the court’s affairs during the court’s investigation,” he said.

Okhna Khaou Phallaboth, the son of Khaou Chuly and younger brother of Suv Chantha, yesterday expressed regret that a “small internal dispute in the family” had ended up in court. He declined to describe the dispute’s origins.

“I firmly believe that my father’s wife would not do such a foolish thing as to order the rape and murder of my older sister,” he said.

Villagers discover lost statues


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:03 Khouth Sophakchakrya

VILLAGERS in Prey Veng province discovered 86 statues of the Buddha inside a cavern near Slek Krey Mountain in Ba Phnom district, local officials said yesterday.

District Governor Mau Eang said the statues were found on Wednesday by a former soldier and his wife, who earn their living selling rock quarried from the mountain.

The couple came across the pieces while prospecting on the mountainside, uncovering a cavern where the statues were concealed in a large earthenware jar.

Mau Eang said that after they found the items, the provincial authorities were notified and came to collect them.

“Currently, we are keeping them in the district hall to wait for an evalutation by officials from the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts,” he said.

Mau Eang added that although the statues might be made from copper or bronze, it was clear they were not made from gold.

An official from the provincial Department of Culture and Fine Arts conducted an initial examination of the statues on Friday and said that 78 of the 86 were intact.

Bin Sam Ol, chief of religious affairs for Ba Phnom district, said yesterday that any discovered artefacts, including statues of the Buddha, are generally sent to either the provincial museum or to the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

“However, we do not know yet what these statues are made from, but we hope they are a valuable metal,” he said.

Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Him Chhem said he would send an official to Ba Phnom district today to make a full evaluation of the items. The ministry would hold a press conference upon his return to disseminate the details of their assessment, he added.

Labour leader calls off strike


Photo by: Pha Lina
Free Trade Union leader Chea Mony addresses a meeting in Kandal province yesterday. The meeting was held in response to a ruling last week that increased the minimum wage for garment workers.

via khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:03 Mom Kunthear and Kim Yuthana

LABOUR leader Chea Mony announced yesterday that he was abandoning plans for a three-day strike against a newly approved garment sector minimum wage increase.

In a meeting of 125 worker representatives of the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Chea Mony, the union’s president, said the planned strike, which was to start tomorrow, would not go forward.

Last Thursday, he slammed the decision by the Labour Advisory Committee to institute what amounted to an $11 bump in the minimum wage – an increase that some union leaders have said was not enough to meet workers’ needs.

Yesterday, however, he said he found the increase acceptable.

“I agreed with the government’s decision to approve a minimum wage increase for workers,” Chea Mony said Sunday. “My workers can accept this wage as well.”

But Chea Mony said he would push for further concessions from employers, including pay adjustments for senior workers who will not directly benefit from the minimum wage boost, and a review of the LAC’s decision to place a moratorium on minimum wage discussions until 2014.

He also said he would ask the main industry employers’ group, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, to discuss the FTU’s concerns, and threatened to stage a strike if no meeting were granted.

Ken Loo, GMAC’s secretary general, said it was likely GMAC would hear the union’s position, but he said any decision on additional wage adjustments must be made by the government.

“Negotiations cannot be conducted with individual unions,” Loo said. “In the end, how will it apply to the whole industry?”

News of Chea Mony’s strike reversal Sunday divided other leaders in the Kingdom’s expansive labour movement, which last year included at least 237 garment-sector unions alone.

No union consensus
Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Democratic Union, said he was “ashamed” of Chea Mony, having previously thrown his support behind him.

“I regret to hear that Chea Mony has cancelled his strike plans,” Ath Thun said. “He was very forceful when he announced it, but now he is cancelling it. It shows he is not taking a firm stand.”

He said he would ask City Hall for permission to hold a large public meeting on July 25, during which he planned to push for consensus on the minimum wage increase. If the majority of workers were displeased, he said, his union would call for a strike.

Mom Nhim, president of the National Independent Federation Textile Union of Cambodia, said many of her members also were not satisfied with the increase, and vowed to support a strike if the majority deemed it unacceptable.

She said she didn’t understand Chea Mony’s decision to call off his strike plans.

“He has never cooperated with other unions,” she said. “Chea Mony makes decisions on his own.”

Chuon Mumthol, president of the Cambodian Union Federation, which is aligned with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, suggested that Chea Mony abandoned his strike plan because he was afraid it would not receive wide support.

“He knows that no one will join him if he continues the strike,” Chuon Mumthol said.

Alonzo Suson, the country programme director for the Solidarity Centre, a nonprofit that supports trade unions, said Chea Mony’s strike threats appeared to be part of an ongoing “competition” involving the Kingdom’s many unions.

Chea Mony had been vocal in his support of a minimum wage boost to $70, while other unions had demanded $93. With the LAC eventually deciding to boost the wage to $61 from $50, Chea Mony could argue that he was the most effective in his advocacy, Suson said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY IRWIN LOY

Govt denies abuses by troops


Photo by: Sovan Philong
A soldier salutes Defence Minister Tea Banh and other military officials during a military exercise in Kampong Chhnang province in March.

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:03 Vong Sokheng

AS Cambodia gears up to hold large-scale military exercises this weekend, government officials have dismissed claims that the units hosting the event have been implicated in “serious” human rights abuses.

The Angkor Sentinel exercise, part of the 2010 Global Peace Operations Initiative, will involve 1,000 military personnel from 23 countries. It was to start with a military officer training course in Phnom Penh today.

The training course will be followed by a two-week field training exercise scheduled to kick off at the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces ACO Tank Command Headquarters in Kampong Speu province on Saturday.

The exercises, jointly run by the US departments of defence and state, were designed to help train peacekeepers, Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat said yesterday.

“The military field training will use only small arms, starting from AK-47 [rifles] and focus on the skill and the strategy of maintaining security and peacekeeping,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen was expected to preside over the opening of the exercises on Saturday, according to a military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Alleged abuses
The exercises have drawn criticism from Human Rights Watch, which has slammed the involvement of RCAF units that it says have been implicated in rights violations, including evictions, arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial killings.

“For the Pentagon and state department to permit abusive Cambodian military units to host a high-profile regional peacekeeping exercise is outrageous,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at HRW, said in a statement Thursday.

HRW said the ACO Tank Unit has been involved in illegal land seizures in Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Speu provinces.

The statement says the exercises will likely involve troops from Brigade 70 and Prime Minister Hun Sen’s personal bodyguard units, both of which HRW has linked to a March 1997 grenade attack on a political rally that left at least 16 dead and hundreds injured.

“The US undermines its protests against the Cambodian government for rampant rights abuses like forced evictions when it showers international attention and funds on military units involved in grabbing land and other human rights violations,” Robertson said in the statement.

When contacted yesterday, however, government officials dismissed the HRW allegations as politically motivated.

“It is a political campaign of an individual foreigner, and I don’t know when Cambodia will be freed from the bother of their foreign policy,” said Om Yentieng, head of the government-run Cambodian Human Rights Committee.

He said all military officers involved in illegal activities are punished by their superiors.

Tith Sothea, a spokesman at the Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit, said the military exercise was consistent with the government’s policy of strengthening co-operation with the international community.

“The statements of Human Rights Watch have always shown a bad habit of interfering in the internal affairs of the government,” he said.

US embassy spokesman John Johnson said in a statement yesterday that in accordance with US law, all participants in the exercises were “thoroughly and rigorously vetted” by the embassy and the departments of state and defence.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

Court to summon 10 in lake dispute following arrest


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:03 Chhay Channyda

PREY Veng provincial court was preparing to summon for questioning a group of about 10 villagers embroiled in a dispute over four lakes in Pea Raing district, villagers and a court official said.

The questioning is to take place one week after the court arrested another villager summoned in the same dispute, Sim Ang.

The villagers have accused local officials of illegally selling off the four lakes – which range in size from 2 to 7 hectares – in 2000 to a businessman, Srun Sros, for 19 million riels (US$4,508).

Srun Sros, who could not be reached Sunday, has been selling lotus from the lakes since purchasing them.

Sieng Ly, one of the villagers who have complained about the transaction, said Sim Ang had been summoned last week, and that he had been told by court officials that 10 more would be summoned to appear on Wednesday.

“The lake belongs to the public, so why has [Srun Sros] claimed it as his own property?” Sieng Ly said.

“We have not seen any signs of this development, and 558 families from the village have been affected, as they cannot fish or use the water from the lake.”

Suon Piset, a clerk at the provincial court, confirmed that summonses would be issued for about 10 more villagers, but said the date had not been finalised.

He added that Sim Ang had been detained because police accused him of destroying lotus belonging to Srun Sros.

“His detention is in keeping with the court’s procedure,” he said.

Sieng Ly said the families had filed a complaint on Friday with Deputy Prime Minister Bin Chhin, who is also chairman of the National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution.

He said that, on a visit to the site in January, Bin Chhin assured the families that “no lake is to be sold, but rather they will be kept for public use”.

The local officials accused of selling the land to Srun Sros illegally could not be reached for comment yesterday.

PM praises progress of women in politics


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:02 Cheang Sokha

PRIME Minister Hun Sen praised what he described as the significant gains made by female politicians in a statement marking World Population Day, which was observed yesterday.

“The expression of women has steadily increased through politics,” Hun Sen said in Friday’s statement.

The premier encouraged all women to get involved in politics and social issues, and noted that he had previously called for the inclusion of women at all levels of government.

“I made the first-ever decision to order all cities and provinces to appoint a woman as deputy governor for cities, provinces, districts, villages and all state ministries and institutions,” Hun Sen said.

Lim Mony, head of the women’s section at the rights group Adhoc, acknowledged that the number of women in politics appeared to have risen in recent years. But she said many lack real power. “If women are promoted to the positions but they don’t have the right to make decisions, there is still gender inequality,” she said.

Deum Ampil ex-backer speaks


Photo by: Sovan Philong
Information Minister Khieu Kanharith (centre), businessman Kith Meng (right) and others walk through the audio recording suite at the Nokor Wat Media Centre after its inauguration on Friday.

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:02 Chhay Channyda

THE former financial backer of the Deum Ampil Media Centre has presented her version of the events that led to its abrupt scale-back earlier this month.

Speaking after the official launch of the new Nokor Wat Media Centre, Sieng Chanheng accused Deum Ampil’s former director general, Soy Sopheap, of managing the company’s finances in a reckless manner and accepting bribes from businesses in exchange for favourable coverage.

“Soy Sopheap was not faithful to my company, which was the financial supporter of DAP,” said Sieng Chanheng, also the owner of the Heng Development Company.

On July 1, Soy Sopheap announced that Deum Ampil would suspend operations for Deum Ampil newspaper, Radio FM 93.75 and Morokot magazine, citing a lack of funds. The media centre’s website is still being updated.

He said at the time that he decided to go ahead with the suspension after he was asked by Sieng Chanheng to cut the total expenses of the operations in half, in part by laying off many of his 110 staff members.

Sieng Chanheng has denied asking Soy Sopheap to cut expenses, though she has acknowledged losing tens of thousands of dollars each month on her Deum Ampil investment.

At the launch of the Nokor Wat Media Centre on Friday, she said Deum Ampil’s finances were in order until Soy Sopheap assumed control of them from her daughter, former deputy director general Dim Sopheavy.

At that point, she said, Soy Sopheap began increasing salaries for his preferred employees and entering into arrangements with companies that allowed him to pocket tens of thousands of dollars.

“I always heard rumours that there were some companies or individuals paying money to DAP every month,” she said. “I never wanted a situation where when people paid you money, you wouldn’t write bad things about them.”

Last month, she said, she came across a list of 15 “groups” that had paid Soy Sopheap US$60,000. “I tried to correct him then, but he did not listen to me,” she said.

Soy Sopheap declined to answer questions for this article.

Sieng Chanheng went on to express regret that the two had parted on bad terms. “I like Soy Sopheap, who is brave and has courage,” she said. “That is why I invested in this media organisation with him – he had the knowledge, and I had the money to open DAP.”

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said Friday that Prime Minister Hun Sen had requested that his ministry support the Nokor Wat Media Centre as it begins operations. He said this was evidence of the government’s interest in promoting “breaking news that the readers will like to read”.

Sieng Chanheng said Dim Sopheavy would assume the role of editor in chief of the new media centre, but that other top positions had yet to be filled.

Police arrest man in pagoda voyeur case


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Police gather evidence related to the video scandal at Srah Chak pagoda, including discs and a computer confiscated from a monk suspected of recording women bathing there.

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court sentenced a man to a month in jail after finding him guilty of distributing pornographic videos linked to a defrocked monk, officials said.

Keo Thea, director of the municipal bureau of anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection, said that Soeun Sophak, 24, was arrested in Tuol Kork district on Thursday after police found him downloading video clips of naked women bathing at Srah Chak pagoda.

“We are now searching for others who are watching these video clips,” he said.

“Those who do will face interrogation by police and punishment under the law.”

The video was allegedly taken by Neth Kai, a 35-year-old monk at the pagoda who was arrested on June 26 and is serving pretrial detention. He has been accused of using a cell phone to secretly record hundreds of videos of women showering in a public bathroom at the pagoda.

In the wake of the scandal, Neth Kai was quickly defrocked, and Phnom Penh Municipal Court has charged him with producing and distributing pornography. If found guilty, he faces a sentence of a month to a year in jail and a fine of between US$48 and $480.

Meas Kung, 45, the former chief abbot of Srah Chak pagoda, was forced to resign from his post after news of the monk’s voyeurism was made public.

He said yesterday that he has since worked to refute allegations that he was involved in the filming of the videos.

“I am still terribly regretful and disappointed for Neth Kai’s worthless attitude to do such a foolish thing,” Meas Kung said.

“I welcome all police efforts to delete these video clips, in order to protect the value of women and to restore Buddhism’s reputation. Anyone who is caught viewing these video clips must be held responsible by law.”

Keo Thea said Soeun Sophak was the first man besides Neth Kai to be arrested in connection with the Srah Chak videos, but that police expect to make more arrests.

“If people are caught watching these video clips, they will face a punishment of a week to a month in jail and a fine of 100,000 to 200,000 riels,” he said. “This is a move to restore the value of women.”

Health officials comb afflicted Svay Rieng


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:02 Tep Nimol

BETWEEN 30 and 40 new cases of acute watery diarrhoea have been reported in Svay Rieng province, prompting health officials to go door-to-door administering treatment, the head of the provincial Health Department said yesterday.

Seven of the newly sick have been hospitalised, Pen Sina said.

The outbreak began just two days after a 9-year-old girl died of the disease.

Pen Sina said there had been “hundreds” of cases reported since late June.

He also said the department had received cholera test results from the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh, and that two of four samples from the end of June had come back positive, as had three of four samples from early July.

He added that this information would not likely be shared with villagers in Svay Rieng so as to avoid sowing panic.

“They tell the patients that it is just a simple disease,” he said of the health officials.

As of July 6, the Health Ministry had recorded 465 cases of cholera dating back to November 2009.

The cases have been spread across 18 provinces, according to a report available on the ministry’s website.

Pursat has also experienced a recent outbreak of acute watery diarrhoea, officials there said.

Sao Daroeung, the governor of Bakan district, said 47 people had been stricken with the disease on Friday. He said the cases had likely been caused by dirty water.

Police Blotter: 12 Jul 2010


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:00 Tha Piseth

ALLEGED PHONE THIEVES TO BE CALLED TO ACCOUNT
Four teenagers, the oldest of them 18, were arrested last week on suspicion of stealing mobile phones from motorists stopped at intersections, police said. The thefts were allegedly carried out near a market in Chamkarmon district, with the suspects swiping phones out of the hands of drivers gabbing while waiting for the light to turn. Two of the suspects confessed during interrogation, and police seized two phones to be used as evidence. The other two suspects were released. The case has been sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

BUYER OR THIEF OF BIKE, ONLY COURT CAN DECIDE
A robbery case in Banteay Meanchey province last week saw police juggling one stolen motorbike and two competing claims. A 25-year-old suspect found with the motorbike said that he bought it from three men in his village in Battambang province. The bike’s previous owner, however, said the motorbike had been stolen while he was riding home from school. Police believed the second man and arrested the first last Monday. The bike has been returned to its original owner, and the case has been sent to provincial court.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

TUOL KORK POLICE NAB THREE IN ONE DAY
Police in Tuol Kork district arrested a trio of suspected thieves Friday in unrelated busts. Investigators said the suspects are between the ages of 21 and 25. The 21-year-old man, who has been in prison several times, is accused of stealing a motorbike. The 22-year-old suspect allegedly swiped a necklace from a woman while she was cruising on her motorbike. The third man, 25, is accused of stealing a mobile phone. All three cases have been referred to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

OFFENDED DRUNK DESTROYS FIELD IN A FIT OF RAGE
A 44-year-old man suspected of destroying a farmer’s valuable crops told police that he became enraged after the farmer banned him from getting drunk in his field. Kandal provincial police arrested the man Thursday, after he was blamed for the destruction of a field full of soy in the middle of the previous night. A total of 456 plants were said to be ruined. The suspect allegedly told investigating officers that he had asked several times for permission to get drunk in the field, but had been denied each time. The case has been sent to provincial court.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Police deport illegal Vietnamese miners


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya

AUTHORITIES in Ratanakkiri province have deported six Vietnamese miners who were arrested for entering Cambodia illegally.

Mar Vicheat, O’Yadav district’s police chief, said yesterday that the arrests were carried out during a Friday raid on a mining compound in Badal village. During the raid, police and military officials found nine machines that were being used to dig and pan for gold.

“After we received a call from the provincial governor, we sent all the arrested people back to provincial police headquarters,” he said.

It would have been difficult to transport the machines, so officials decided to destroy them in order to send a warning to other would-be miners in the area, he said.

Provincial Governor Pav Ham Phan declined to reveal the names of the men who were arrested, but said that all six were deported to Vietnam on Saturday.

“They are Vietnamese citizens, so we must send them back to their country and allow Vietnamese authorities to sentence them through their own institutional laws,” he said.

But Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said he doubted that the Vietnamese miners would be punished for their infractions.

“I suspect they will be released without being sentenced,” he said.

Workers need a little support


Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Garment workers attend to their jobs at a factory in Phnom Penh last year. A debate over the Kingdom’s minimum wage has provoked threats of a strike by garment workers that could further affect a sector hit hard by the global economic crisis.

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:02 Laura Emily Ismay Robson

On July 8, government officials, union leaders and workers’ representatives met on the campus of the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to decide upon the minimum wage for the garment industry.

After a discussion that lasted all morning, there was bitter disappointment about an outcome that revealed the government’s proposal of a mere US$5 per month increase had been settled upon, bringing the minimum wage up to just $61 per month, including living allowance.

For the more than 200 local union leaders that had gathered on the campus and lined the dusty streets outside the building to observe the meeting, the situation seemed hopeless. Eye-witnesses described the crowds as outraged as they spoke to the media about their dissatisfaction and as local affiliates were called in.

The unions’ demand of a minimum wage of $93 monthly was quite clearly never on the agenda for the pro-government members of the committee, who voted to keep the minimum wage unacceptably low.

According to research produced in 2009 by the Cambodian Institute of Development Study, the basic spending needs of garment factory workers cannot possibly be met on a monthly salary of less than $72. The study examines two scenarios regarding the minimum wage, based upon food expenses.

In the first, the estimated $1.06 spent daily on food, which is the National Institute of Statistics’ projected figure for a healthy calorie intake, brings the minimum wage by necessity to at least $71.99 per month. However, The NIS also acknowledge that in order to obtain quality food, it is necessary to spend $1.15 per day, which implies that the minimum wage should in fact be $74.85 per month.

The current salary unquestionably leads to considerable health deterioration and ensures most parents are incapable of paying their children’s school fees.

Moeun Tola, the head of the labour programme at the Community Legal Education Centre, in his initial reaction described the meeting as a “show”, where “everything is already prepared, already set up, allowing the union to talk without any real cause. Most of the representatives from the government, such as Vorng Sot, the labour minister, and His Excellency Mean Sophea, the minister of commerce, just defended the government proposal without trying to better the workers’ situation”.

Moeun Tola went on to comment on the unfair voting procedures. The high proportion of government officials on the Labor Advisory Committee (14 in total), coupled with the seven members from the Employers Association, means that even if all seven of the union members opposed the meeting’s outcome, they would still be overruled by the pro-government majority.

Thus, Moeun Tola argues, “The result from the voting is not viable.”

He also expressed shock after the representatives from the Ministry of Commerce declared that workers should consider the high utility and transportation expenses in Cambodia, implying that the minimum wage is hard to increase due to other government costs.

The government has a responsibility to fix this, said Moeun Tola. They should work to lower these prices by cutting down on bureaucracies and eliminating unprofessional payments and corruption to enable a higher minimum wage. The utility and transport costs should not, he emphasised, be excused to reject the workers’ wage increase.

There are already plans under way to produce and disseminate pamphlets to encourage workers to organise themselves and prepare to strike.

The major obstacle for striking will undoubtedly be the constraints of the short-term contracts that the majority of workers are tied to. This enables employers not only to blacklist those who do protest by striking, but to refuse to renew their contracts after three months, leaving the prospect of unemployment after the strike exceedingly high, and making a strike something that these workers literally cannot afford to participate in.

Now more than ever, Cambodian workers are in need of international attention and support. This post-conflict country, with its soaring numbers of illiterate children and almost half of its inhabitants malnourished, depends upon the garment trade to keep its economy stable.

More than 90 percent of its export trade is produced from the garment industry. However, the money the workers in this sector receive is simply not enough to cover their daily costs, and with the government’s meager pay rise approved, it is increasingly likely that garment workers will be forced to find jobs in other sectors, which would cause havoc in the garment industry and pose a major threat to Cambodia’s national economic growth.

This setback in the struggle for a decent, reasonable salary appears to be the last straw for distraught Cambodians suffering severe poverty and working 48-hour weeks. The anger and desperation after the decision was announced was tangible, and the Cambodian Labor Confederation immediately summoned a meeting to discuss striking.

A strike of several thousand workers is now a near possibility, and predictions are that it would continue until they attain their demands. Such disruption would create a massive problem for the industry and have devastating consequences for Cambodia’s economy, reputation and ability to compete on a global scale. With only two months to appeal the decision, the urgency of the situation is undeniable, and the response of the workers to this result is critical.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Laura Emily Ismay Robson is a Briton working with the Community Legal Education Centre in Phnom Penh.

Bid to raise trade along east border


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 12 July 2010 15:01 Chun Sophal

THE Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Laotian Assemblies have jointly announced a bid to boost trade and investment at the border between the three countries.

The announcement followed a 2004 master plan for the triangular border area, and aims to develop the regions commerce to its “fullest strength”, Cambodian National Assembly Committee of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation, Information and Propaganda chairman Chheang Vun said yesterday.

Representatives agreed to investigate joint passports for regional residents and increase border crossings, during a meeting held in Kratie province late last week.

The three countries also pledged to encourage private business associations and increase investment and trade activities among the respective border provinces, according to a written announcement signed by each country’s representatives.

“We hope the area where the three countries border will become more developed soon,” Chheang Vun said yesterday.

Thirteen provinces are considered part of the region slated for economic development. They include Cambodia’s Ratanakkiri, Mondulkkiri, Steung Treng, and Kratie provinces, along with four provinces in Laos and five in Vietnam.

Japan has previously pledged some US$20 million to develop the region, with $7.5 million each given to Cambodia and Laos, $3.5 million to Vietnam, and the remainder to regional infrastructure projects.

Cambodia Institute for Development Study President Kang Chandararoth said yesterday that the region had unrealised potential, especially in mining and ecotourism sectors.

Chheang Vun said that adjustments to the master plan would be handed to the three countries’ respective prime ministers to examine before a meeting in November.