Thursday, 5 August 2010

The tribunal began Thursday to print some 22,000 copies of its landmark verdict of Kaing Guek Eav

Reach Sambath, spokesman for the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal, talks with media as his team visits a printing house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. The tribunal began Thursday to print some 22,000 copies of its landmark verdict of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, the first Khmer Rouge leader to be sentenced to 35 years in prison on July 26 on war crimes and crimes against humanity. The book will be distributed to Cambodians, a court official said. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

A Cambodian printer works with the front cover of a book by the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal on the recent verdict of Khmer Rouge leader Kaing Guek Eav, at a printing house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. The tribunal began Thursday to print some 22,000 copies of its landmark verdict of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, the first Khmer Rouge leader to be sentenced to 35 years in prison on July 26 on war crimes and crimes against humanity. The book will be distributed to Cambodians, a court official said. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Reach Sambath, chief of the public affairs section at the U.N.-backed tribunal court, shows sample of the brief and official (L) copies of the first verdictbook on former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav at a printing house in Phnom Penh August 5, 2010. 17,000 brief copies containing 36 pages, and 5,000 official copies containing 456 pages of the first verdict book will be distributed to schools and across Cambodia next week, Sambath told the media. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea  

Reach Sambath, chief of the public affairs section at the U.N.-backed tribunal court, shows the first verdict book on formerKhmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav at a printing house in Phnom Penh August 5, 2010. 17,000 brief copies containing 36 pages, and 5,000 official copies containing 456 pages of the first verdict book will be distributed to schools and across Cambodia next week, Sambath told the media. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Reach Sambath, spokesman for the U.N.-backed genocide tribunal, speaks to media about the printing of a book on the recent verdict of Khmer Rouge leaderKaing Guek Eav, as his colleague Lars Olsen, from the legal communications office, looks on, at a printing house in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. The tribunal began Thursday to print some 22,000 copies of its landmark verdict of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, the first Khmer Rouge leader to be sentenced to 35 years in prison on July 26 on war crimes and crimes against humanity. The book will be distributed to Cambodians, a court official said. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodia to issue updated rice policy soon

via Khmer NZ

Published on: August 05, 2010

PHNOM PHEN (Commodity Online) : One of the world’s leading rice exporters, Cambodia said it will update rice policy soon.

Speaking to newsmen here country’s Prime Minister Hun Sen said updated policies were due August 17, and would be aimed at maximising rice exports for the benefit of the national economy.

“We still lack things such as machines to mill rice to acceptable standards, warehouses, and money to buy paddy to export,” he said.

With little domestic capital available to buy paddy, competitors such as Thailand and Vietnam buy Cambodian paddy and then process and re-export it.

“We need a lot of money to buy the unhusked rice, exporting paddy makes us lose rice husks, work that’s why we want to attract direct capital.” he said.

The drafting of the new policy would be just the latest in a raft of initiatives undertaken this year to boost the export of milled rice, a push that has already paid off with a massive surge in the milled grain’s export in the first half of this year.

Some 107,291 tonnes of milled rice worth $13.4 million were exported by Cambodia in May this year, a 2,356 percent jump on last year.

The prime minister said that ongoing discussions with regional leaders were aimed at facilitating rice exports. Talks have taken place with Malaysia and Singapore.

“Cambodia has to increase its ability to compete to enlarge the marketplace, while keeping the existing markets such as the US, Europe, and Canada,” “We have to find other marketplaces as well” he said.

Brother Number Two's censored revelations

http://www.atimes.com/

via Khmer NZ

By Jared Ferrie

PHNOM PENH - As an award-winning documentary about the Khmer Rouge makes its way across the United States, most Cambodians have been denied the chance to hear revelations made in a series of rare interviews with the genocidal regime's former chief ideologue.

In Enemies of the People, Nuon Chea, often referred to as "Brother Number Two", admits publicly, for the first and only time, that he ordered the executions of tens of thousands of political opponents. And he promises to explain at his upcoming war crimes trial the internal struggles that consumed the Khmer Rouge, which in the film he claims accounted for much of the killing during the regime's four-year rule from 1975-79.

The story he plans to tell during testimony, which is hinted at in the film, is one that contradicts the commonly held version of the regime's history, including its responsibility for over 1.7 million deaths. It could also tarnish the reputations of members of the current government who were former Khmer Rouge, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly president Heng Samrin. All three politicians rode into power on the wave of a Vietnamese-backed invasion that ousted the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

Observers have suggested this explains the government's ambivalence to the United Nations-backed tribunal. For example, the Open Society Justice Institute in a July report cited the refusal of six high-ranking government officials to testify to investigating judges, despite being issued legally binding orders, as evidence of political interference in the judicial process. A government spokesman said publicly that foreign court officials who were displeased could "pack up their clothes and return home".

Hun Sen, a former low-level Khmer Rouge cadre who later defected to Vietnam, has said several times that he would rather see the court fail than lay charges against suspects other than the five former Khmer Rouge already in detention, including Nuon Chea. The premier has claimed that expanding the scope of the prosecution could ignite another civil war - a threat dismissed as baseless by most analysts.

The filmmaker, Thet Sambath, said he repeatedly asked the Ministry of Culture for permission to show the film in cinemas in the capital, as well as to hold screenings in rural communities. He even brought a DVD copy to the ministry and showed a handful of officials. But he received no explanation for its refusal to grant permission.

As the controversy heated up, the director of the ministry's Film and Culture Diffusion Department, which issues licenses for film screenings, finally spoke to the media. Sin Chan Saya told Voice of America's (VOA) Khmer-language service that the ministry refused permission because the film is in English.

In fact, much of the film is in Khmer with English subtitles. Managers of the capital's largest cinemas told VOA they were interested in showing the film, but were unwilling to do so until the government said they could. Instead, the film premiered in Cambodia at Metahouse, an art gallery with a 50-seat theater that caters primarily to foreigners.

Thet said Cambodians will be able to see Enemies of the People, along with a second film currently in production, next year after both documentaries air on the US Public Broadcasting System. Meanwhile, the film, which has won several awards, including Special Jury Prize at the Sundance film festival, began screening in cities across the US on July 30.

The second film will delve into more detail about the internal strife within the regime - which Nuon Chea calls "the war beneath the wave". Taken together, the documentaries provide an historical narrative that challenges the official version carefully constructed by the Cambodian government over the past three decades, according to Thet and his British co-producer, Rob Lemkin.

"I wanted to find the truth and get real confessions," said Thet, adding that the Khmer Rouge had obscured their own past by refusing to speak to journalists and researchers. "Why do they not tell the reasons for the starvation and killings? That is very unfair to the people."

Understudied tensions
In the history written by the war's victors, the Khmer Rouge were a strictly hierarchical regime run by a secretive clique that included Nuon Chea. As their Utopian vision of a pure communist society disintegrated, those leaders concocted elaborate conspiracies about the revolution's infiltration by legions of American, Soviet and Vietnamese spies. In order to rid themselves of these imagined enemies, they orchestrated mass killings. Vietnamese troops and Khmer Rouge defectors finally ended the bloodbath when they invaded in 1979.

If we are to believe Nuon Chea and other former Khmer Rouge interviewed by Thet, the truth is far more complex. They claim the Khmer Rouge was torn apart by an internal struggle that began as soon as the regime took power in 1975. The struggle was between the anti-Vietnamese clique, which included Nuon Chea, and a strong pro-Vietnamese faction. Both sides killed many people. The ruling clique - whom it may be pointed out were deluded and incompetent when it came to running a country - were fighting to preserve their regime and protect Cambodian sovereignty. In the end, they lost.

According to the filmmakers, one can trace a clear line from the pro-Vietnamese faction that emerged in 1975 and eventually took over, ruling Cambodia throughout the 1980s, straight through to the current government. Thet said he has cross-checked with surviving Khmer Rouge of various ranks, who are no longer in contact with each other, in order to corroborate stories that make up this chain of events.

True or not, it is a version of history that is unlikely to play well politically with Cambodians, many of whom are resentful of a continuing history of Vietnamese interference in their country's affairs. It is, however, extremely interesting to investigators at the tribunal who are tasked with bringing former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. At one point, the co-investigating judges (CIJs) demanded the filmmakers hand over the taped interviews. Thet and Lemkin refused, explaining that they had reassured interview subjects that they were not working with the court.

"The CIJs gave due consideration to the possibility of seizing copies of the film Enemies of the People and of the video and audio taped interviews behind the creation of such film," according to court documents. But the CIJs concluded that by the time the filmmakers were indicted, brought to trial and had their archives seized, the film would have already been released publicly.

In any regard, if Nuon Chea fulfills the promise he makes in Enemies of the People, the entire courtroom will hear his explanation of why atrocities were committed under the Khmer Rouge when his trial begins next year. In one of the film's most riveting moments, Nuon Chea is speaking to two former low-level Khmer Rouge cadres who were tasked with killing. The men are clearly haunted by their pasts, and they also worry that they may face charges at the tribunal.

"They are not after people like you, their accusations are against me," says Nuon Chea, pledging to explain what he claims led to mass killings. "I will talk about it at the court to open their eyes."

Jared Ferrie is a Phnom Penh-based journalist.

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) Loans $4m Each to Prasac and Sathapana, Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in Cambodia

http://www.microcapital.org/

via Khmer NZ

Posted by Julia Korn
Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), established in 2001, recently loaned USD 4 million each to two microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Cambodia: Prasac and Sathapana. Both MFIs have received loans from BIO in the past. According to a press release, “These new investments confirm BIO’s confidence in the ability of MFIs to provide financing to people who have the competences and skills but lack financial resources to develop a sustainable economic activity and contribute to the prosperity of their country, community and family” [1].

BIO has invested in approximately 90 projects and is present in 60 countries. In 2009, BIO had EUR 261.4 million (USD 319 million) in net commitments. Prasac was founded in 1995 and had total assets of USD 61.3 million as of 2008. Sathapana, formerly known as Cambodian Entrepreneur Building Limited (CEB), was established in 2001 and had total assets of USD 41.4 million as of 2008.

By Julia Korn, Research Associate

About The Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO):

The Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), established in 2001, works to promote the creation of a strong private sector in developing countries to enable them to gain access to sustainable development and prosperity. BIO invests directly in private sector projects. BIO has invested in over 90 projects and is present in nearly 60 countries. In 2009, BIO had EUR 261.4 million (USD 319 million) in net commitments (the volume of financing contracts signed, less cumulated repayments, plus contracts formally approved by the board). In December 2009, the Belgian government allocated EUR 97 million (USD 118.4 million) in new funds to BIO.

About Prasac:

Officially registered in 2004 with the Ministry of Commerce as a private limited liability company, Prasac was formerly a credit component of the “Prasac Project.” The project was funded by the European Union and implemented by the Royal Government of Cambodia. Prasac is now a microfinance institution (MFI) in Cambodia. As of 2008 it had a gross loan portfolio of USD 59.4 million, an average loan balance per borrower of USD 593, total assets of USD 61.3 million, 100,000 active borrowers, total deposits of USD 63,000 and 2,900 depositors.

About Sathapana:

Originally founded as an NGO called The Cambodian Entrepreneur Building Limited (CEB), Sathapana registered in 2001 with the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) as a microfinance institution (MFI). As of 2008, Sathapana had a gross loan portfolio of USD 37.6 million, 37,000 active borrowers, an average loan balance per borrower of USD 1,000, total deposits of USD 1.9 million, total assets of USD 41.4 million and 21,000 depositors.

Temple dispute a minefield for Thai PM

http://news.asiaone.com/

via Khmer NZ

Thu, Aug 05, 2010
The Nation/Asia News Network

THAILAND - Perhaps Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has finally realised that he jumped on the wrong bandwagon over the controversial Preah Vihear Temple because his yellow shirts have turned against him and his government, accusing them of losing Thai territory.

The nationalist People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) alleges that the government had already recognised Cambodia's right over the temple, and victory over the delay in the consideration of Phnom Penh's management plan means nothing.

It's strange but true that the PAD, which is supposed to back this government, is echoing Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An's claim that Natural Resource and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti had accepted and signed the World Heritage Committee's decision 34 COM 7B.66.

One of five points in the decision cited that the committee "welcomed" steps taken by the state party (Cambodia) toward the establishment of an international coordinating committee (ICC) for the sustainable conservation of Preah Vihear.

Establishing the ICC is good, because the temple has been given World Heritage status since 2008. It is a basic requirement to have such a body run a heritage property.

However, much to PAD's delight, Thailand declined Cambodia's invitation to sit on the ICC. Establishing the ICC is equivalent to implementing the management plan, and the "welcome" as well as Suwit's acceptance justifies its implementation.

Common sense tells you that being invited to participate in the management of a World Heritage property should be an honour for Thailand. However, this government thought that joining the committee would be equivalent to accepting and recognising Cambodia's sovereignty over the temple and surrounding areas.

According to an International Court of Justice ruling in 1962, the Hindu temple of Preah Vihear is situated in territory that is under the sovereignty of Cambodia.

When Abhisit was opposition leader, he and his alliance PAD used a very strange argument - the court ruling was only on the ruins of the temple, not the area, which comes under the sovereignty of Thailand. In other words, Thailand accepted that the temple belonged to Cambodia, but not the land the temple is sitting on.

If Thailand recognised any activities - be they by Cambodia or the World Heritage Committee - in the area under question, it could be seen as recognising Cambodia's sovereignty, they said.

In reality though, the 250,000 square metres that the temple is sitting on was relinquished by a 1962 Cabinet decision to Cambodia. Like it or not, that land has already been given away.

The area that should be under dispute is the 4.6 square kilometres to the west and the north of the temple, as both sides claim it is theirs. In its management plan for Preah Vihear, Cambodia does not include the disputed area in the buffer zone. So, there's not much point in Thailand opposing the plan.

Yet, the PAD has been going beyond expectations - declaring that Cambodia dared to claim the temple's surrounding area because Phnom Penh used and Thailand recognised the French-Siamese joint boundary committee's 1:200,000-scale map. According to the PAD, the best thing would be for Thailand to reject this map.

Unfortunately though, it was a Democrat-led government under Chuan Leekpai that signed the memorandum of understanding for boundary demarcation in 2000. The pact recognised the map and Siam-Franco treaties as historical documents for boundary demarcation.

The PAD is mounting pressure on the government, while Abhisit is in a difficult position of having to steer away from his own rhetoric. He cannot fiercely oppose the PAD, because his Democrat Party and the PAD's New Politics Party share the same political bas.

The only option would be to blame Cambodia, but that's not easy either because border security and lives of people could end up being at stake.

Preah Vihear protest: Phuket PAD off to Bangkok



Government House in Bangkok during the August 2008 occupation by the PAD. Craig Martell.


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, August 5, 2010

PHUKET: Phuket members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy will travel to the capital tomorrow to join a rally at Government House, where they will pressure the government to resolve the ongoing dispute over the Preah Vihear temple.

Preah Vihear temple, built on the hilly border between Thailand and Cambodia, was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in 1962. It was named a World Heritage site in 2008, but an unresolved dispute over 4.6 square kilometers of land in the area has raised nationalist passions on both sides.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Commission (WHC) last week postponed discussing Cambodia's development-management plan for the ancient temple until next year, after it became clear the two countries could not settle the land dispute.

For more background on the complex dispute and the pressure the PAD protest will put on the government of PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, click here.

PAD Phuket coordinator Aparat Chartchutikumjorn said the Phuket contingent will leave tomorrow in order to be at Government House in time for the presentation of a protest letter to the Abhisit government on Saturday.

PAD members are certainly no strangers to the protest site. After months of continuous anti-government street protests in Bangkok that began in May 2008, PAD protesters in August that year laid siege to Government House, staying there more than three months with no serious police or military effort to evict them.

When they finally did leave, it was to force the closure of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

This time they plan a much shorter stay in the area, however.

“I am not sure when we will come back, but we won’t stay for too long. We just want to present a letter that asks for clear information about the agreement that Natural Resource and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti signed with UNESCO, as we are afraid that he might have signed an agreement with Cambodia [that infringes on Thai sovereignty],” she said.

“We will also ask the government what they plan to do at the [UNESCO] meeting [in Bahrain] next year,” she said.

Phuket PAD members on Tuesday returned to the island from Bangkok after meeting with members of another group. The Phuket PAD chapter falls under a regional grouping with affiliates in 16 other provinces, she explained.

After the Government House rally, some of the Phuket PAD members plan to travel to Srisaket to assist Thais living in the disputed zone.

“The people in that zone have a lot of problems and are unable to earn a living there,” she said.

Most of the PAD members who would join in this effort would be from nearby provinces, but five or six Phuket PAD members as well as some other Phuket supporters will probably join them, she said.

Tens of thousands of people from all parts of the country would join the protest on Saturday, but it is not expected to last long, she said.

Thailand Is Waiting For Appropriate Time To Talk With Cambodia - Suthep

via Khmer NZ

BANGKOK, Aug 5 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said that Thailand is now waiting for an 'appropriate time' to hold talks with its neighbouring Cambodia over the Preah Vihear temple dispute, Thai News Agency said Thursday.

"The talks could be held later when both nations are more calm, and that is why Thailand did not reserve the right to begin talks," he said when asked to comment on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva's statement on Wednesday.

Abhisit said he was ready to assign his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban to hold talks with Cambodia on the Preah Vihear dispute if the Khmer leadership gives a positive signal for negotiation.

Tension between Thailand and Cambodia rose after the Thai government's delegation objected to Cambodia's unilateral management plan of the ancient temple as the two neighbours could find no common ground to settle the disputed 4.6 sq km of land adjacent to the temple which was granted world heritage status in 2008.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) through its World Heritage Commission (WHC) consequently last week postponed its discussion of the plan until next year when it meets in Bahrain.

On another issue, Suthep urged civil groups to refrain from rallying under a state of emergency.

Following the planned rally of activist groups at Government House led by Veera Somkwamkid against the Thai government's stance on the issue, Suthep stated that the government is now working to its best ability to protect Thailand's national interest.

He said the Cabinet has already appointed Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Suwit Khunkitti to form a committee to prepare information to argue against Cambodia's attempt to propose a temple management plan.

Suthep urged the activists to hear the correct information on the dispute, while warning those who plan demonstrations at Government House that the State of Emergency is still in force in the capital and that the gathering is considered as violating the law.

He urged the activists to send their representatives to submit their complaint letter to him or to the premier and asked them to bear in mind the law and order of the country.

"Any group who plans to gather to block Government House and stay overnight there is definitely considered violating the law. Please do not come as it will cause more problems," said Suthep.

"I'm not challenging them, but just ask for cooperation."

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Veera said his network comprised of 52 civil groups will rally in Si Sa Ket province bordering Cambodia on Saturday, assserting the move is about the protection of national sovereignty, not politically motivated colour-clad reasoning.

Veera said the government has ignored the problem, as seen from the mistake that the previous government signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Cambodia in 2000.

If negotiation between Suthep and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen were held, Veera said it will be mainly for [Suthep's] personal benefit rather than national interest.

Cambodia reports 88 lightning deathes

via Khmer NZ

August 05, 2010

PHNOM PENH, Aug 05, 2010 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Cambodian government said Thursday that 88 people, mostly in rural areas -- have died of lightning strikes.

Keo Vy, communication officer of National Committee of Disaster Management said that by the end of July, there were 88 people have died in lightning strikes.

However, he said, the figure is still less than that in the same period last year as 110 died of lightning incidents.

Keo Vy noted that Pursat province, located about 200 kilometers north of Phnom Penh was recorded with more victims than the other 23 provinces and cities throughout the country.

He said last year more than 20 victims reported from Pursat province alone.

By mid June this year, Cambodia recorded only 48 deaths by lightning.

For several occasions, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has alerted and made an appeal to public to take more precaution, saying the lightning seemed fiercer in recent years.

Lightning which occurs every year in Cambodia, normally starts in rainy season which begins from May through October.

The report file by the National Committee of Disaster Management showed that the total figure of deaths last year was recorded at 140 and 95 deaths were recorded in 2008.

Most of the victims were living in rural areas.

Counselors turn bad into good

via Khmer NZ



Jerry Large
Seattle Times staff columnist

Sokpul Chea deals everyday with people who have done bad things — assault, drunken driving, theft and more.

Some had a rare lapse in judgment, others have made a habit of doing wrong and most could use help staying clear of trouble.

Chea is a counselor in the Probation Services Division of Seattle's Municipal Court. It's a job that doesn't get noticed except when something goes wrong, but it deserves more attention because it has a lot of potential for getting people off destructive paths, helping those who want to help themselves.

Probation officers monitor compliance with court orders, assess the needs of offenders, make referrals to services from housing to substance-abuse counseling to skills training. They also prepare reports for judges before and during probation.

Chea's background for the work includes education and training, but he also benefits from his own experiences.

Chea never ran afoul of the law, but he knows how easy it would have been to do that, and he knows how much it means to have help when you need it.

He understands that we are all responsible for our choices but not always for our circumstances.

"I grew up with the helping hand of the government," he said when we met in the court building in downtown Seattle. Welfare helped his mother raise five children on her own in an Everett housing project.

Chea's father, a university professor, was executed during the madness of the Pol Pot era in Cambodia when Chea was an infant. In 1979, when he was about 4, his family came to Everett as refugees.

His neighborhood was full of young people struggling with identity issues and poverty. Gangs flourished, but Chea steered clear of them.

His mother never let her children forget what had happened in Cambodia and that they owed it to their father to succeed here.

Chea worked in strawberry and raspberry fields, backbreaking work that solidified his desire to use education as a way out. All the siblings have done well.


Sokpul Chea deals everyday with people who have done bad things — assault, drunken driving, theft and more. Some had a rare lapse...

His family pushed Chea toward business when he entered the University of Washington, but he decided, "My passion is to work with people."

He switched to sociology, worked summers in a food-distribution program and after graduation landed a job counseling gang-involved kids around White Center.

Five years ago he took on his current role as a probation officer doing similar work on a bigger scale.

Chea has a caseload of 167 people. He's actively working with most, but about 50 are on warrant status, meaning they're hiding out, waiting to be arrested again. Some people don't want help. Jail may be the only answer for them.

But when probation works, it helps people straighten out their lives. That's better than spending money housing them in jail.

It's better for an offender to keep holding down a job, going to school or contributing to his family than to have him sit in jail, then come out jobless or have his education disrupted, Chea said.

Seattle Municipal Court currently oversees 5,981 offenders, according to Betty McNeely, Probation Services Division director. Aside from supervisors and clerical workers, there are 33 probation officers like Chea.

McNeely said each offender assigned to probation brings a unique set of circumstances, and some require specialized counselors.

Chea handles general probation cases, but there are counselors dedicated to mental-health court, the community-services program (offenders assigned community service as restitution) or domestic-violence cases.

Probation officers don't get much attention, but when their job is done well we all benefit.

Keeping more people out of jail and out of trouble is cheaper, and ultimately safer, for the community.

Jerry Large's column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or jlarge@seattletimes.com .

Hwang-DBS rejects licence in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

Thursday August 5, 2010

PETALING JAYA: Hwang-DBS (M) Bhd told Bursa Malaysia that the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) had vide its letter dated Aug 2 granted an approval-in-principle to HwangDBS Securities (Cambodia) Plc, a wholly-owned unit of HwangDBS Commercial Bank Plc which in turn is wholly-owned by the company, to act as an investment advisory firm.

However, the board of HwangDBS Securities (Cambodia) Plc has decided to turn down the approval-in-principle licence due to the limited activities permitted.

“The application submitted to SECC was for a securities firm licence to undertake stockbroking, corporate finance, underwriting and investment advisory activities. With an investment advisory firm licence, HwangDBS Securities (Cambodia) is permitted to render advice to investors on investment in securities for a fee and publication of investment analysis on securities investment,” it said.

ECCC To Publish 22,000 Books of Duch’s Verdict

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 04:52 DAP-NEWS / Soy Sophea

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 5, 2010-UN-back tribunal officials on Thursday said that it will publish a series book of its first verdict of notorious S21 chief of Khmer Rouge regime.

Reach Sambath, head of ECCC public affair, told reporters during a press tour to a printing house where it will publish 22,000 books. The amount of money is not revealed but it will use ECCC budget.

The verdict against Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, also convicted him of crimes against humanity, murder and torture. It was a historic first for a U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal.

Duch, 67, was the head of the S-21 prison, where at least 14,000 people died.

The verdict against Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, also convicted him of crimes against humanity, murder and torture.

Just go with the flow



Photo by: Sovan Philong

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:00 Sovan Philong

Chen Sampaos, 12, takes a well-earned break after helping the family to gather rice paddy in Roluos village, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in Dangkor district.

PM takes firm stand on disease


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks at a graduation ceremony at Koh Pich Centre in Phnom Penh yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:02 Tep Nimol and David Boyle

PRIME Minister Hun Sen yesterday ordered provincial authorities to suspend the importation of pigs from Vietnam and Thailand in response to an outbreak of diseases that experts said was on the verge of destroying the Cambodian swine industry.

Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, the premier said an outbreak in Thailand and Vietnam of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, also known as blue-ear, had spread to Cambodia in May, and posed a threat to public health.

“I would like to appeal to provincial authorities, especially provinces near the borders of Vietnam and Thailand, to suspend pig imports,” he said.

However, Hun Sen conceded that it would be impossible to completely stop the illegal importation of pigs from neighbouring countries.

“This order is not a violation of the World Trade Organisation, but it is a measurement to protect the animals’ lives and prevent infectious disease,” he said.

He also urged pig vendors not to take advantage of any resulting supply shortfall by raising prices.

Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said at a press conference yesterday that hundreds of pigs had died recently, but that not all had been afflicted with blue-ear. He attributed the outbreak to a recent decision by the Vietnamese government to order pig farmers to slaughter animals affected by the disease.

Instead of complying with that order, Vietnamese pig farmers “evacuated their pigs to Cambodia, the nearest place”, and a lack of regulations on imports fuelled the domestic spread of blue-ear, Chan Sarun said.

He said the government would not compensate farmers affected by the outbreak. Neither he nor Hun Sen said when the import ban would be lifted.

Curtis Hundley, chief of party at USAID’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise agency, said blue-ear had the potential to bring the pig industry to its knees, costing investors and farmers tens of millions of dollars.

“We’re talking somewhere between 1 or 2 million pigs, and each pig is worth about US$100 at market, so it’s a huge industry here,” he said.

Nonetheless, he said he welcomed the ban, and urged the government to retain it long enough for the industry to recover and draw investment.

“When the industry is destroyed like it is now, it’s going to take at least five months just to get the pigs ready for the market, and it’s going to take at least a year for this industry to recover,” he said.

During a similar outbreak in 2007, the government banned the importation of pigs from Thailand and Vietnam for eight months.

According to Global Trade Atlas, Thai swine exports to Cambodia rose from 2,273 pigs in 2007 to 866,199 in 2009, and were worth $45 million that year.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

Boeung Kak land reclassified


Photo by: Sovan Philong
An aerial view of the south side of Boeung Kak lake, as seen from the Canadia Bank tower in October last year.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:02 May Titthara and Sebastian Strangio

LARGE portions of the city’s Boeung Kak lakeside have been reclassified as state private property under the joint control of City Hall and the local company behind the controversial filling of the lake, according to a recent sub-decree.

The document, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on July 20, states that 126.85 hectares of the lake and its surroundings are to be “considered as a state private property for Shukaku Inc Company to develop based on the government’s purpose”.

“The area mentioned above is legally managed and controlled by related Ministries and Phnom Penh Municipal Hall with the cooperation of Shukaku Inc Co Ltd,” the sub-decree states. Unlike state public land, which includes lakes, rivers, roads and parks, state private land can be legally leased or sold to companies or individuals.

In February 2007, Shukaku, an obscure local firm owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, signed a lease agreement with the municipality giving it the right to develop the lakeside, then a state public property. The following year, it began filling in the lake to make way for a 133-hectare housing and commercial development at the lakeside. Housing rights advocates say that more than 4,000 families will be displaced by the project.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong confirmed that the area contained in the sub-decree had been classified as state private land for some time, but did not give any reason for the reclassification.

“Before [the lake] was state public land, so government could not rent it to a private company to develop it. They have to reclassify it as state private land in order that the private company gets the legal right to develop that area,” he said.

The recent sub-decree followed a similar subdecree issued in August 2008, which also claimed to have reclassified the lake as state private land.

David Pred, executive director of Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, said yesterday that the new sub-decree – like the earlier sub-decree – was an attempt to provide “retrospective legal cover” for the 2007 lease agreement.

“The state did not have the right to lease the lake and surrounding land at that time, because the lake is state public property, which cannot be subject to long-term leases,” he said. He said that many of the lakeside families had a legal right to their land.

Pred also described the new sub-decree as “puzzling” in that it referred to 126 hectares rather than the 133 hectares that were leased in 2007.

“This may be an indication that the Council of Ministers recognises some of the land that was originally leased to Shukaku as private land,” he said, and called on the Council to disclose to residents the exact boundaries of the development area.

“Those who fall outside those boundaries should be given land titles without further delay,” he added.

Representatives of Shukaku Inc could not be reached for comment yesterday. The company’s office address, as listed in the Yellow Pages, is an empty lot on Street 114, and the phone number connects to a restaurant in another part of the city.

Duy Thov, deputy secretary general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, declined to comment.

Boeung Kak land reclassified


Photo by: Sovan Philong
An aerial view of the south side of Boeung Kak lake, as seen from the Canadia Bank tower in October last year.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:02 May Titthara and Sebastian Strangio

LARGE portions of the city’s Boeung Kak lakeside have been reclassified as state private property under the joint control of City Hall and the local company behind the controversial filling of the lake, according to a recent sub-decree.

The document, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on July 20, states that 126.85 hectares of the lake and its surroundings are to be “considered as a state private property for Shukaku Inc Company to develop based on the government’s purpose”.

“The area mentioned above is legally managed and controlled by related Ministries and Phnom Penh Municipal Hall with the cooperation of Shukaku Inc Co Ltd,” the sub-decree states. Unlike state public land, which includes lakes, rivers, roads and parks, state private land can be legally leased or sold to companies or individuals.

In February 2007, Shukaku, an obscure local firm owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, signed a lease agreement with the municipality giving it the right to develop the lakeside, then a state public property. The following year, it began filling in the lake to make way for a 133-hectare housing and commercial development at the lakeside. Housing rights advocates say that more than 4,000 families will be displaced by the project.

Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Pa Socheatvong confirmed that the area contained in the sub-decree had been classified as state private land for some time, but did not give any reason for the reclassification.

“Before [the lake] was state public land, so government could not rent it to a private company to develop it. They have to reclassify it as state private land in order that the private company gets the legal right to develop that area,” he said.

The recent sub-decree followed a similar subdecree issued in August 2008, which also claimed to have reclassified the lake as state private land.

David Pred, executive director of Bridges Across Borders Cambodia, said yesterday that the new sub-decree – like the earlier sub-decree – was an attempt to provide “retrospective legal cover” for the 2007 lease agreement.

“The state did not have the right to lease the lake and surrounding land at that time, because the lake is state public property, which cannot be subject to long-term leases,” he said. He said that many of the lakeside families had a legal right to their land.

Pred also described the new sub-decree as “puzzling” in that it referred to 126 hectares rather than the 133 hectares that were leased in 2007.

“This may be an indication that the Council of Ministers recognises some of the land that was originally leased to Shukaku as private land,” he said, and called on the Council to disclose to residents the exact boundaries of the development area.

“Those who fall outside those boundaries should be given land titles without further delay,” he added.

Representatives of Shukaku Inc could not be reached for comment yesterday. The company’s office address, as listed in the Yellow Pages, is an empty lot on Street 114, and the phone number connects to a restaurant in another part of the city.

Duy Thov, deputy secretary general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, declined to comment.

Pagoda layman, assistant go on trial for rape


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:02 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday heard the case of a Kandal province layman who has been accused of raping multiple women, some of them underage, in attacks dating back to 1994.

Ros Sarin, a 56-year-old layman at Sovan Thormareach pagoda in Ponhea Leu district, and his assistant, Hang Samoeun, were arrested by military police last year.

Both face two counts of rape and committing indecent acts against a 37-year-old woman and a 14-year-old girl in her care.

A complaint filed last year by the 37-year-old accuses the two men of raping many other women and girls in addition to her and her care.

The 37-year-old has said that she was staying with Ros Sarin at the pagoda when the attacks began in 1994, and that the accused forced her to live at the pagoda until 2005.

“In 1994, while I was sleeping after midnight, Ros Sarin came into my room and forcibly tore my shirt and raped me completely. After the rape he warned me to not tell the story to anyone,” the complaint says.

“Ros Sarin raped me repeatedly until I got pregnant in 1997. I was forced to get an abortion to cover up the story.”

The hearing, which was conducted yesterday behind closed doors, is scheduled to continue today with testimony from more than 20 witnesses on both sides.

Ros Sarin’s defence lawyer, Chan Vichet, said after yesterday’s session that the prosecution lacked enough evidence to convict his client.

He said the victim told the court yesterday that Ros Sarin raped her 20 times per month between 1994 and 2005, and claimed it did not make sense for her to have waited until 2009 to file her complaint.

“This is an unbelievable and fabricated story,” Chan Vichet said.

He said that he believed the complaint was just a ploy to get money out of Ros Sarin, who as director of construction is responsible for raising money for the pagoda from outside donors.

Hang Borey, president of the International Communities Organisation of Cambodia, echoed this claim.

“Her purpose is to own the pagoda’s real estate property and to take the aid money that is pouring in, amounting to more than US$10,000 each year from overseas,” Hang Borey said.

Prosecutors said that Ros Sarin facedbetween 10 and 15 years in prison if convicted of the crimes.

Third suit targets labour firm


Photo by: Sovan Philong
A manager addresses trainee workers at VC Manpower Co ahead of a visit from media outlets.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:02 Mom Kunthear and Kim Samath

A LICENCED labour recruitment firm in Phnom Penh is under police investigation for at least the third time in the last month, after a woman claimed her daughter was mistreated while undergoing training.

However, a representative from the firm, VC Manpower Co, insisted the allegations were baseless.

Pol Khemra, the deputy director of the Department of Police at the Interior Ministry, said officers dropped by a VC Manpower training facility in the capital’s Sen Sok district yesterday to investigate the woman’s complaint.

He said officials spoke briefly with the company’s director, but that the director later fled while they were speaking with other staff members.

“It is difficult for us to summon the director because we don’t know his identity,” Pol Khemra said. “I have to talk to the prosecutor to see whether we have to arrest him or not.”

The visit to the training centre came after a woman complained that her daughter had been mistreated during her three-month stay at the centre.

“The company banned my daughter from going out or calling her family and fought with her,” said Long Sakan.

She said her daughter called her Monday and told her she wanted to come home, which is when she launched a complaint with the Interior Ministry. But on Tuesday, the company sent the daughter to Malaysia.

A company official disputed Long Sakan’s allegations.

“We take good care of all the workers who stay with the company,” said Sen Ly, the director of a separate VC Manpower training centre. He said he spoke with the woman’s daughter yesterday.

“I spent about an hour talking to her ... to make sure she is fine, and she asked me to tell her family about her safety,” and he had recorded the conversation, he said.

“I have enough evidence to face the complainant face to face in court,” he said.

Korng Sokhorn, deputy chief of the National Police in charge of justice, confirmed yesterday that police were investigating the firm, but declined to elaborate on the case.

“If we see any abnormal cases in any company ... we will take legal action,” he said.

VC Manpower is one of at least 28 organisations licensed by the Ministry of Labour to train and send workers abroad.

In July, labour officials investigated the agency after a woman fled one of its training centres and claimed she had been held against her will. Days later, authorities announced they had found 24 underage girls being trained by VC Manpower. The Labour Ministry initially barred the company from recruiting new clients, but then absolved it of wrongdoing soon after.

Ban on pigs causes concern


Photo by: Sovan Philong
Vendors from Svay Rieng province transport pigs to the capital after disembarking from the Mekong River ferry at Neak Leung.

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol and David Boyle

via Khmer NZ

THE head of the Cambodian Pig Raisers Association said yesterday that he welcomed the ban on imports from Thailand and Vietnam, but worried about the possibility of a domestic price increase.

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the ban during a speech yesterday, citing an outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, or blue-ear.

CPRA head Srun Pov said yesterday that a recent outbreak of blue-ear and other diseases had affected as many as 70 percent of domestic pigs.

“In the past half month, local pigs were infected by diseases from pigs imported from Vietnam, causing 70 percent of local pigs to fall ill or die,” he said.

He said the outbreak had caused the price per kilogramme of pig to fall from about 9,000 riels (US$2.10) to 7,000 riels, but that it would likely go up in response to the importation ban. Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday warned pig vendors against raising prices in an attempt to profit from the ban.

“Pork prices can increase a little bit if there is ban from government,” Srun Pov said, “but we will prevent pig raisers from increasing their prices. What I am worried about is the pig dealers who always profit from farmers.”

Meanwhile, during a meeting yesterday called to address the outbreak, Kao Phal, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s Department of Animal Health and Production, conceded that it would be almost impossible to completely halt the illegal importation of pigs.

“Small pig imports still exist – one or two pigs imported [by] motorbikes every day and night,” he said.

“We have to crack down, but it’s very difficult.”

He said that crackdowns carried out since January had thwarted 102 attempts at smuggling pigs across the border from Vietnam.

Phirum Chet, team leader for USAID’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise agency who attended the meeting, said it was crucial that the government take action to prevent the future importation of diseased pigs.

“Right now, the production has been mostly destroyed, and we need to re-raise again,” he said.

“And maybe we will have a lack of pigs supplied to the market.”

Phirum Chet called for the ban to last at least eight months, but Srun Pov worried that the domestic supply might not meet demand for that long.

“I plan to request that the government allow the importation of around 9,000 specific kinds of pigs from Thailand in August,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

Cambodia, Vietnam vow to encourage investment


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:01 Meas Sokchea

THE governments of Cambodia and Vietnam issued a joint statement this week vowing to encourage investment, cooperation and development in provinces along their shared border.

In the statement, released at the close of a summit in Phnom Penh, the Vietnamese government expressed its gratitude towards Cambodia for cooperation in the rubber sector, and offered to help train Cambodian agricultural officials.

“The Vietnamese party ... hopes to receive more support from the Cambodian party for Vietnamese firms and the enforcement of plans to invest in rubber crops in Cambodia,” the declaration says.

However, opposition politicians and local rights groups said yesterday that allowing Vietnamese rubber firms to invest in Cambodia would likely cost the Kingdom jobs and result in more land disputes between Vietnamese companies and the rural poor.

Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for the local rights group Adhoc, said that such foreign investment came with a cost, and warned that the Cambodian government should stop exposing rural families to the threat of eviction.

“The idea of development for the poor would be good, but I worry that Vietnam will send many labourers to work in Cambodia and then there will be no jobs for Cambodian workers,” he said.

“This kind of development we cannot accept,” he said.

“Allow people to live on their land, and they will develop the land by planting crops.”

Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann echoed these concerns, saying he was worried in particular about the potential for an influx of Vietnamese migrants.

“[The government] does not encourage Khmers to invest, but we encourage [Vietnam] to invest. Development we can accept, but allow us to control it clearly first,” he said.

“If Vietnam sends their labourers to work in Cambodia and Khmer people become jobless, what will Cambodia’s future look like?”

The meeting, which took place at the InterContinental Hotel in Phnom Penh, was presided over by Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem.

Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun and Ly Phalla, director general of the General Directorate of Rubber Plan-tations, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Smuggling Claim: Journalists accused of extortion


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:01 Vong Sokheng

Smuggling Claim

THREE journalists have been arrested in Kampong Cham province after they were accused of blackmailing a pig vendor and trying to grab a weapon from a policeman, officials said yesterday.

Provincial Police Chief Nuon Samin said the three journalists tried to extort money from the pig vendor Sunday, a move that led to a confrontation with police. “We took measures against the journalists after we received a complaint from the pig vendor of blackmail and trying to grab a weapon from police,” Nuon Samin said.

But Chan Sorphorn, chairman of Kampong Cham’s Watch on Cambodia Association, a journalists’ group, accused police of conspiring with the pig vendor to set up the journalists.

He said the three accused were assigned to cover a story about cross-border pig smuggling in Memot district. “A pig vendor promised to give 15,000 riels (about US$3.50) for not taking photos and writing stories, but the journalists asked for 30,000 riels,” Chan Sorphorn said. The journalists were arrested on Tuesday.

Hun Sen says ‘don’t worry’ about border


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha and Thet Sambath

PRIME Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that tensions with Thailand in the aftermath of a war of words between the two countries last week would not erupt into hostilities along the border.

“Don’t worry about war happening at the border – it’s impossible,” Hun Sen said during an address at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh.

“Of course Thailand has an obligation to defend its territory and we have an obligation to defend ours, but our military commanders have met and shared lunch together to ease the tension.”

Although both sides declared victory following the annual meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage Committee in Brazil last week, the body did little to settle the long-running acrimony between Thailand and Cambodia over their undemarcated border near Preah Vihear temple.

During the meeting, Cambodia submitted a management plan for Preah Vihear temple, which the WHC declared a World Heritage site for Cambodia in 2008.

Discussion of this document, however, was deferred until the committee’s meeting next year in Bahrain.

Earlier this week, Royal Thai Army deputy spokesman Veerachon Sukondhadhpatipak denied rumours circulated by Cambodian forces at the border that Thai commanders had reinforced their positions near the temple. Thai troops, Veerachon said, had been ordered not to act “provocatively”.

Yim Phim, commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigade 8, stationed at the border in Preah Vihear province, said his forces were on alert for renewed protests near the temple by Thailand’s nationalist People’s Alliance for Democracy, also known as the Yellow Shirts.

“We are ready to stop them from entering our territory. If they dare to do so, we will welcome them with our weapons as Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered,” Yim Phim said.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn could not be reached for comment.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

Fisheries busts rise 300pc this year


Photo by: Sovan Philong
Fishermen in Kandal province retrieve their catch from traps tied to underwater fences, a method that is banned year-round.

via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:01 Khouth Sophakchakrya

THE Fisheries Administration released new figures yesterday showing that officials had quadrupled efforts to tackle illegal fishing activities in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2009.

Nao Thuok, the director of the Fisheries Administration, said 1,772 incidents of illegal fishing were uncovered from January to June, a figure he said was “around four times as much” as the same period last year.

“We filed 107 cases to the court, and 38 perpetrators were sentenced to jail,” he said. “But some of the complaints have not yet been sent to trial.”

He said more than 321,000 metres of fishing nets,140 fish and crab traps “and other fishing equipment” had been confiscated and destroyed this year, although he could not give concrete statistics for illegal fishing violations.

“We have currently deployed our officers to fight and ban illegal fishing operations, after we received reports from people that perpetrators try to catch fish around the Tonle Sap lake at night,” he said.
“They catch about a tonne of fish a night each during the banned season.”

But Um Meng, chief of Phat Sanday Fishery Community in Kampong Thom province’s Kampong Svay district, said poorer fishermen were bearing the brunt of the crackdown whereas rich fish traders were able to afford the punishments meted out by the authorities.

“We ask them to forgive the poor families who just fish so they can eat, but not to make exceptions for the rich who fish for trade,” he said.

The community sent a letter to National Assembly President Heng Samrin last month asking for intervention, he said.

Nao Thuok said he would travel to the province on Saturday with members of the National Assembly in order to inspect the situation.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SUN MESA

Three-way land dispute sparks anew


via Khmer NZ

Thursday, 05 August 2010 15:01 Chhay Channyda

A GROUP of villagers in Kampong Speu province yesterday accused members of the Cambodian Disabled Survivors’ Association of illegally clearing their land, deepening a convoluted three-party dispute involving 1,500 hectares spread out across three provinces.

Phon Phen, a 31-year-old resident of Veal Thom village in Phnom Srouch district, said that 10 members of the association had used a tractor to clear rice fields.

“I saw a tractor this morning clearing our villagers’ land, and I recognised that they were Touch Seouly’s staff,” he said, referring to the director of the CDSA.

“I was too afraid to protest because Touch Seouly’s association members are violent people.”

Since April of this year, the CDSA has clashed with villagers who claim to have lived on the land since 2004, as well as with local Royal Cambodian Armed Forces soldiers who assert a similar claim.

Touch Seouly yesterday denied the allegations and accused the military of illegally grabbing the disputed land.

“I am with my tractor at home today,” he said. “Perhaps the villagers are confusing my association’s members with the soldiers from the RCAF base.”

Touch Seouly said that in 2000, provincial authorities allowed the association to develop about 1,500 hectares of land in Kampong Speu, Kampot and Preah Sihanouk provinces. But on April 29 of this year, Preah Sihanouk authorities ruled that the concession was invalid because it had not been approved by all three provincial governors.

Sann Kan, Veal Thom village chief, said yesterday that he had “no capacity to solve the dispute”, but that violent acts carried out by the association’s members had injured more than 10 people since 2000.

Mom Chheang, commander of the RCAF unit stationed at Stung Chral Development Centre, said the base was part of Veal Thom village, and that his soldiers had in the past cleared land to plant acacia trees. “It is RCAF land, and we have to develop it for our military base,” he said.

Ouch Leng, a land programme officer for the rights group Adhoc, said the CDSA had a hidden agenda.

“The association wants to grab land from the villagers and military to give to a Korean company so the company can invest in planting corn and producing animal feed,” he said.

Tep Mean, Phnom Srouch district governor, said the dispute was “complicated” because the land was claimed by three separate groups. He said he had asked all three to provide legal documentation to prove their claims to the land.