Friday, 27 August 2010

Neighbourly wave


Photo by: Pha Lina

via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:00 Pha Lina

Vietnam’s president Nguyen Minh Triet arrives at Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday for a three-day state visit. During his visit, Triet is set to meet with King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior officials. Today, the president is scheduled preside over the inauguration of a new Phnom Penh office of the state-owned Voice of Vietnam radio station.

No rest for the weary


Photo by: Heng Chivoan

via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:00 Heng Chivoan

Children pass by replacement shelters in Dangkor district’s Andoung village on Wednesday. About 400 former evictees in Andoung say they fear becoming homeless again after local officials ordered them to dismantle their shelters to make way for permanent brick homes.

Looking for a net gain


Photo by: Pha Lina

via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:03 Pha Lina

Pov Samnang, 23, casts his fishing net yesterday off Koh Dach in Kandal province. About 6 million Cambodians, or 45 percent of the population, depend on fishing in the Mekong and Tonle Sap basins, according to the government’s Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute.

Child-sex offender’s term cut


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:03 Chhay Channyda

RUSSIAN paedophile Alexander Trofimov’s jail sentence has been slashed to eight years after Appeal Court judges decided yesterday to consolidate three child-sex counts into a single charge.

Trofimov, 42, was arrested in Sihanoukville in October 2007 and was sentenced to a total of 17 years in prison on multiple charges of abusing as many as 17 children since the previous year.

Last week he confessed to two of the crimes, apologised to his victims and their families and asked for a third to be dropped during the appeal process.

His defence lawyer, Saing Vannak, asked that the court merge the two remaining charges.

In handing down the reduced sentence yesterday, Appeal Court Judge Seng Sivutha said that all three charges would be consolidated into a single charge of purchasing child prostitution.

“Alexander Trofimov did confess and apologised to his victims for what he did wrong, because he lacked knowledge of Cambodian tradition and laws,” he said.

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For me it is hard to accept ... there are many victims he abused, including a deaf girl.
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He said Trofimov paid between US$5 and $2,000 to have sex with underage girls in Preah Sihanouk province from 2006 up until his arrest.

Trofimov is also wanted by Russia in connection with child-sex allegations in his native country.

Cambodia’s Court of Appeal in June rejected a request by the Russian government to extradite him.

Saing Vannak largely supported the court’s decision.

“Eight years is the largest sentence for him, because my client had confessed his guilt to Cambodian people and their victims,” he said.

“I agree with the verdict 80 percent and the court’s sentence. But the court did not lift the charge of the case my client wanted dropped.”

He said it was “unlikely” that Trofimov would appeal against the verdict.

However, Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided to the victims by child-protection organisation Action Pour Les Enfants, described the decision as “surprising”.

He said this was the first time APLE had heard of a verdict so lenient for someone who had abused more than a dozen children.

“We have laws that the court can [consolidate] these cases, so it is the court’s authority to decide,” he said.

“We feel sorry over the decision. For me, it is hard to accept the decision because there are many victims he abused, including a deaf girl.”

APLE Director Samleang Seila said yesterday that the organisation would challenge yesterday’s decision.

Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, said apologies “should not warrant a reduction of prison sentences for sex offenders”.

She posed the question: “Is the judiciary helping to protect children, or is it assisting sex offenders?”

Cambodian economy earns ‘mini-tiger’ recognition


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:03 Jeremy Mullins and Catherine James

CAMBODIA’S economy has emerged as a “mini-tiger” in terms of textile processing, despite a lack of attention from international investors, according to a report drawn up by Swiss banking giant UBS.

The Kingdom was one of the largest beneficiaries of the decade’s “globalisation boom”, said the report compiled by the Securities Asia division.

“The country has quietly established itself as a mini-tiger in textile processing and assembly, a fact generally overlooked by most investors including ourselves,” the emerging- market report said.

Of 80 emerging countries surveyed by the bank, only six – Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovak Republic, Thailand and Vietnam – recorded more than a 25 percent increase in manufacturing exports as a share of GDP from 1997 to 2008.

The report, which described Cambodia’s performance as a “shock”, has drawn support in the Kingdom.

Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia Secretary General Ken Loo said yesterday the Kingdom was generally an attractive location for foreign investors. With wages for garment workers rising in the China and Vietnam, Cambodia stood to attract additional interest, he said.

“There’s a huge potential here,” he said, although a number of challenges – such as frequent strikes, high electricity costs, and poor infrastructure – needed to be addressed.

Cambodia’s garment exports increased 13.4 percent to US$1.628 billion during the first seven months of the year, according to Ministry of Commerce statistics.

University of Cambodia economics lecturer Chheng Kimlong said yesterday that although the domestic economy was doing well, it was stronger before the financial crisis.

SRP visits detainees’ families


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:02 May Titthara and Will Baxter

NINE members of the opposition Sam Rainsy Party met yesterday with the families of 12 Siem Reap villagers jailed last week in relation to a local land dispute.

Ke Sovannaroth, an SRP parliamentarian representing Siem Reap, said that the party organised the visit in order to offer its moral support to the families of those jailed.

“The court did not provide justice for these people,” she said. “These villagers are the victims in this land dispute.”

Last Friday, Siem Reap provincial court sentenced nine of the villagers, from Chi Kraeng district’s Chi Kraeng commune, to three years in prison each after convicting them of forming an illegal armed force.

Three other villagers were sentenced to three years in prison on charges of illegal confinement. The nine, originally charged with attempted intentional manslaughter, were arrested after a March 2009 altercation in which police allegedly fired on a crowd in Chi Kraeng commune, injuring four.

Sok Kimseng, a provincial councilor for the SRP, said the families should continue to seek justice in the case.

“Villagers have suffered, lost their land, they have been shot at and detained in prison, he said. “Meanwhile, the people who committed violence against these villagers are still free.... It shows that there is a lack of justice in our court system.”

The Chi Kraeng dispute dates back to 1986, when land was divided equally between Chi Kraeng and Anlong Samnor communes, leaving an unspecified area of farmland in dispute. In January 2009, the provincial court ruled that the land belonged to Anlong Samnor, sparking conflict.

Although judges at Siem Reap provincial court suspended the sentences of all 12 villagers, they will remain in custody for at least a month, pending the possibility of an appeal by the prosecution.

Naly Pilorge, director of the rights group Licadho, said that “there is no indication that...detainees will be allowed to go free as many face additional charges/convictions, and the Siem Reap prosecutor can appeal all or some of the verdicts.”

She said the charges and convictions handed down last Friday were “baseless”.

“Siem Reap court has not proven to have any evidence to convict the Chi Kraeng detainees,” she said, and pointed to the fact that the complainant, lawyer and witnesses for the prosecution were absent during the trial.

Chi Kraeng resident Chea Sam Ol said yesterday that it was an injustice that his father Klin Ieng had been held in prison since March 2009.

“My father did nothing wrong, nothing that the court has accused him of ... they should release him immediately,” he said.

Ty Soveinthal, a Siem Reap prosecutor, said that the villagers had the right to disagree with the court’s decision.

“It they say the verdict was an injustice, they should file a complaint to the Appeal Court,” he said.

Thai detainees receive visit from relatives


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:02 Cheang Sokha

THE relatives of three Thai men arrested last week for entering Cambodia illegally visited the detainees at Siem Reap provincial prison yesterday, Cambodian officials said.

Provincial prison Director Chheam Savuth said yesterday that the three men – Sanong Wongcharoen, 36, Lim Puangpet, 39, and Lan Sapsri, 53 – had been visited by four relatives from Thailand.

“They asked for permission for a meeting, and we allowed it,” he said.

Oddar Meanchey provincial authorities arrested the trio on Wednesday last week and confiscated homemade guns, lights and batteries. Siem Reap provincial court charged the three with entering Cambodia illegally and the illegal use of weapons.

Heng Hak, director general of the Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday that Thai Embassy officials in Phnom Penh had also requested a meeting with the detainees yesterday, which he approved on Wednesday.

The Bangkok Post reported on Wednesday that Prime Minister Hun Sen had ordered the release of the three prisoners yesterday, although both Heng Hak and Chheam Savuth confirmed that the prisoners were still in their cells.

“I heard the media reports, but so far I have not received any instructions at all,” he said. “Until now, there is no principle to release these men.

Thai Embassy officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Also yesterday, the Bangkok Post reported that Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva as saying that fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra’s resignation as Cambodia’s economic adviser would pave the way for Thailand and Cambodia to resolve outstanding border conflicts.

“Without Thaksin in the way, the problems should be easier to solve,” Abhisit reportedly said.

Activists decry court ruling


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A guard leads convicted Russian paedophile Alexander Trofimov, 42, out of the Appeal Court following an extradition hearing in June.

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In many ways they are taking two steps forward, but reducing the sentence is setting them back.
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via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:02 Cameron Wells



IN DATES: Trofimov’s catalogue of crimes

October 17, 2007
Alexander Trofimov is arrested in Sihanouk-ville on suspicion of sexually abusing up to 19 Cambodian girls.

March 11, 2008
Preah Sihanouk provincial court sentences him to 13 years in jail after convicting him of having sexual intercourse with a minor.

October 3, 2008
Trofimov’s sentence is reduced to six years on appeal.

November 26, 2008
Preah Sihanouk court sentences Trofimov to eight more years in a separate case involving three underage girls.

January 19, 2009
The court sentences him to an extra three years in a third case involving 17 more girls.

August 18, 2010
In a letter to the Appeal Court, Trofimov admits to a raft of child sex charges and offers apologies to his victims. His lawyers ask for a reduced sentence.

August 26, 2010
The Appeal Court slashes Trofimov’s sentence to eight years after combining his three charges. He will be eligible for parole in 2013.
RIGHTS groups have slammed yesterday’s decision by the Appeal Court to slash the sentence of convicted paedophile Alexander Trofimov, saying the decision could harm Cambodia’s international image as a country committed to fighting child sex crimes.

Trofimov – the 42-year-old former director of the US$1 billion Koh Puos development in Preah Sihanouk province – saw his 17-year sentence reduced to eight years after three separate charges were merged. Under Cambodian law, prisoners are eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence, so Trofimov could be free as early as February 2013.

Samleang Seila, director of child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said he was concerned about the precedent of the court’s decision to consolidate Trofimov’s three charges.

“This is why we are worried: Paedophiles will have their sentences reduced,” he said.

“We try to advocate for severe punishment for paedophiles. This is the biggest case ever with the consolidation of charges.”
“We don’t wish the court [to] make these decisions.”

Patchareeboon Sakulpitakphon, a Thailand-based programme officer for Combating Child Trafficking and Child Sex Crimes at ECPAT International, said Cambodia is “weakening its own image” by consolidating the charges.

“It’s weakening the message of the judicial system,” she said. “Offenders know this, and it is not enough of a deterrent. If they hurt a child they should spend [many] years in prison.”

She said the court’s decision had undermined Cambodia’s hard work cracking down on child sex offenders.

“In Cambodia there is good progress in going after paedophiles. They are arresting more than normal,” she said. “In many ways they have taken two steps forward, but reducing the sentence is setting them back.”

The sentence reduction caps an eventful history in Cambodia’s highest-profile paedophile case, one that includes allegations of bribery and fraud.

In June last year, Prum Piseth, a Justice Ministry official, was arrested for allegedly forging documents, including one that approved the extradition of Trofimov to Russia, where he is also wanted for child sex crimes. The official was sentenced to eight years in prison and fined 10 million riels ($2,380).

A concurrent civil case was held against the official, in which Trofimov’s assistant sued Prum Piseth for $253,500 Trofimov allegedly paid to have the documents forged.

Ou Virak, executive director of the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights, said the decision to reduce the sentence proved that “with the right amount of money, you can buy anything” in Cambodia.

“It was expected that the court could be corrupted,” he said.

“It’s difficult to believe this decision arrived based on the law, through the proper implementation of the law.

“What message this sends is that you can probably buy freedom with the right amount of money. The message sent out is that Cambodia remains a haven for paedophiles.”

However, Thou Mony, one of the judges that handed down the verdict, defended the decision, saying that the Kingdom’s new Penal Code allowed charges to be consolidated.

“Eight years is enough because we followed the new Penal Code in merging the sentences, which means we implement the largest sentence,” he said.

“What we decided has followed the law.”

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHAY CHANNYDA

Villagers snub $10,000 offer for pagoda


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:02 May Titthara

KANDAL province villagers involved in a land dispute with a prominent development company say they cannot accept an offer of US$10,000 in exchange for tearing down a cherished pagoda.

In an article published yesterday in the Nokor Wat Daily newspaper, the head of the Heng Development Company is quoted as offering the villagers $10,000 in compensation for destroying the pagoda. Company director Sieng Chanheng owns Nokor Wat Daily.

“All people who know they have done wrong have to move from that land,” Sieng Chanheng was quoted as saying in the newspaper. “The company will provide $10,000 after they have torn down the pagoda.”

Sieng Chanheng could not be reached for comment yesterday.

But villagers and members of the local pagoda committee say the offer is unacceptable.

Kong San, a member of the Tuol Tamork pagoda committee, said villagers would never agree to tear down the pagoda. They want to keep the temple for devout Buddhists, Kong San said.

“Even if they offer us a million dollars, we will not agree,” he said.

The dispute involves 2,676 families in seven communes of Kandal Stung district who say they have lived and farmed on more than 1,000 hectares of the land since 1986. Company representatives, on the other hand, say they bought the land in 1996 for commercial rice cultivation. The villagers say they have been given until

August 30 – Monday – to clear off the land.

“We are ready if the company comes to tear down the pagoda,” said Chea Hy, a representative of the villagers.

Rights advocates say the villagers have been treated unfairly in this case.

Men Makara, a coordinator with local rights group Adhoc, said the company needs to find a resolution for all the villagers and not just the pagoda.

“Villagers need the company to find a resolution for them in all communes that are affected, not only the pagoda,” Men Makara said. “It is an injustice for them when the company talks only about the pagoda.”

Police Blotter: 27 Aug 2010


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:00 Sun Mesa and Phak Seangly

Trio of robbers strike in Ratanakkiri province
Police in Ratanakkiri province are on the lookout for three people accused of stealing valuables worth US$10,000 from a local vendor, officers said. Witnesses reported seeing the suspects running out of the victim’s house with a great deal of valuable jewellery on Tuesday night. The next morning, police found a motorbike at a nearby lake popular with tourists. It is believed the thieves stole the motorbike in to use it as a getaway vehicle.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Alleged addicts’ arrest leads to meth bust
Anti-drug police in Kampong Cham province have raided a home and seized 54 packages of what is believed to be some kind of methamphetamine drug. Though police touted what appeared to be a successful drug bust, they also noted that the homeowner had managed to escape before the police arrived. The Monday raid came as a result of a previous drug bust, when officers discovered two men using drugs. A tip from the two men led the cops to the house on Monday.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Suspicion clouds release of suspects
Phnom Penh Municipal Court has decided to release two men who were accused of badly injuring a 19-year-old student who was struck in the head with a brick-like object last week. The student was injured while he was checking his exam scores when a brawl broke out nearby. It was reported that the two accused had a relative who happened to fill a high-ranking role in the court system. The release has been criticised by some observers. Meanwhile, the victim was treated in hospital after the attack. A reason for the attack has not been given.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Man accused of raping elderly mum-in-law
Police in Banteay Meanchey province have arrested a 46-year-old man accused of raping his elderly mother-in-law earlier this month. Police intervened after the suspect’s wife complained to the local cops after her mother told her what had happened. The man’s wife had been in Thailand for a lengthy period of time. The man allegedly confessed that he did indeed rape his mother-in-law while he was giving her a massage.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Two held over sex attack on woman
Police have arrested two men who were accused of raping a 23-year-old woman on Tuesday in Kandal province. It is alleged that a suspect called the woman and drove her to a darkened area, where his friend was waiting. The suspects, 19 and 23, also drove the woman home after the alleged rape, district police said. The suspects have been sent to court.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Phanimex owner summoned


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Suy Sophan, owner of the Phanimex development company, appears at an event last month for evicted families receiving new homes in Dangkor district’s Tuol Sambo village.

via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:02 May Titthara and Veng Rachana

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court has summoned the owner of a controversial local development company to appear next week over a land dispute pitting two of Cambodia’s elite against each other.

Court deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun said Suy Sophan, owner of the Phanimex company, had been directed to appear in court on Monday over a land dispute in Meanchey district, after a complaint was filed against her by Yim Chhay Lin. Yim Chhay Lin is the daughter-in-law of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the daughter of Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly.

Suy Sophan said yesterday that she hadn’t received the summons.

“I will not go to the court,” Suy Sophan said. “I will have my lawyer clarify on my behalf.”

Phanimex was also involved in the eviction of several dozen families from Prampi Makara district’s Borei Keila community last year. The case drew international attention in part because of the eviction of roughly 40 families with HIV-positive members who were forced to move to Tuol Sambo village in Dangkor district, prompting critics to accuse the government of creating an “AIDS colony”.

The evictees were initially required to live in 3.5-by-4.5-metre metal sheds smaller than those required by the UN for emergency refugee camps, though many have since received permanent housing with the support of the NGO Caritas Cambodia.

Chub Sitha, chief of Meanchey district’s Prek Pra commune, said he did not know the details of the dispute between Suy Sophan and Yim Chhay Lin.

“We always see poor people lose in court against powerful people,” said Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for local rights group Licadho.

“It’s rare to see powerful people file complaints against other powerful people.”

Freight train imports planned


A boy walks along the rail line in Teuk Thla commune in Sen Sok disrtict, which is in the midst of renovations. Photo by: Sovan Philong

via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 May Kunmakara and Catherine James

TOLL Royal Railway is planning to spend up to US$81 million to import new trains as part of the multi-million-dollar railway upgrade of the Kingdom’s major freight routes, according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation.

“The company has already set a plan to buy 11 engine carriages, 500 freight carriages and some other train materials for their operation by the end of this year or next,” the ministry’s Secretary of State Touch Chankosal said yesterday.

He said that Toll Royal Railway was preparing the paperwork to apply to the Council for Development of Cambodia requesting permission to import the locomotives; however, he said he could not confirm where the trains would be purchased from.

He said that refurbishment of Cambodia’s existing trains would continue, but that the expectation was that they would not suffice.

“In fact, we still have many carriage heads and carriages which can be mended, but they do not completely run well, so we need to import the new ones,” he said.

Peter Brimble, Asian Development Bank senior country economist for Cambodia, said the main rationale for the railway upgrade, partly funded by the ADB, was to develop a more cost-effective freight system.

“The logistics cost of carrying agricultural produce is critical and if you don’t have an effective way of doing it then it’s difficult to get the product out. I think the idea behind this is that it’s one option that’s relatively cost-effective,” he said.

Touch Chankosal said it was also the first step to ease the amount of heavy transportation damaging roads.

The ADB and AusAID are providing $141 million in funding for Toll to upgrade the 254-kilometre line from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville town, a 388-kilometre line from Phnom Penh to Poipet and a 48-kilometre line from Poipet to Sisophon.

Brimble said there were no plans for the ADB to fund future railroad projects in the Kingdom, but that he understood a “spur” would be added to the rail line in Sihanoukville to link it to the nearby port.

Toll Chief Executive David Kerr declined to comment, and ADB senior transport economist Peter Broch said he could not confirm the figures provided by the ministry.

Toll is jointly owned 55 percent by Australia’s largest trucking and freight company, Toll Holdings, and 45 percent by Kit Meng’s Royal Group. The duo teamed up last year to secure a 30-year concession to operate the network.

Toll Holdings reported a full-year net profit yesterday of A$278.9 million (US$247 million) for the 12 months ending June.

Its shares rose 2.7 percent to A$5.99 at close of trading in Sydney yesterday.

Labour dispute: KC workers’ return to jobs halted


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 Kim Yuthana and Sun Narin

Labour dispute

STRIKING workers from construction firm KC Gecin Enterprises have been prevented from returning to work, and company officials yesterday said that there was no longer anything for them to do.

Workers have protested in front of the company’s office in Meanchey district since August 13, when 27 workers were allegedly fired for attempting to unionise.

Both sides met at the Ministry of Labour’s Arbitration Council yesterday, where striking workers asked for a decision from the council allowing workers to shelter at the factory. “They have no home to stay in besides the factory,” said Sok Sovandeth, president of the Cambodian National Federation of Building and Wood Workers.

But Ngeth Samol, head of administration at KC Gecin Enterprises, said workers could not stay because there was nothing for them to do. “They are not full-rights workers, so we decided to halt them from working because our company does not have enough work for them,” he said. The Arbitration Council has 15 days from yesterday to make a decision about the workers’ fate.

Yamaha plant put on hold


Yamaha motorbikes wrapped in plastic are displayed for sale on Mao Tse-tung Boulevard. Photo by: Pha Lina

via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 Soeun Say

CONSTRUCTION of a US$11.5 million Yamaha motorcycle- assembly plant in Phnom Penh’s Special Economic Zone will not begin until next year at the earliest, according to the project’s Cambodian investor.

The plant had been deferred because of slumping demand for motorbikes following the global financial crisis, project chairman and minority owner Kong Nuon said yesterday.

“If the economic situation improves this year, we will restart our construction on the factory early next year,” he said.

The firm already operates a plant in Phnom Penh, but first announced plans to build the new $11.5 million motorbike factory in September 2008 – before the full effect of the financial crisis was known.

Japan’s Yamaha Motor Company owns 70 percent of the venture. The remainder is controlled by Toyoto’s trading company Toyota Tsusho Corporation, with a 20 percent stake, and Kong Nuon Import-Export, with 10 percent.

In March this year, Yamaha Motor Co Managing Director Matoba Michifumi said the firm was considering whether to restart work during the second half of 2010.

Prior to the crisis, the firm forecast domestic motorcycle demand stood at 140,000 per year. Since the crisis, the figure has been re-estimated at 100,000.

Many dealers echoed claims that sales remained low.

Sang Heng, a Chamkarmon district motorcycle dealer, said his motorcycles sales had dropped about 30 percent for the first seven months of this year.

“In the first seven months of last year, I sold around 350 motorcycles, but during the first six month of this year, only 250 motorcycles have been sold,” he said.

Blaming the impact of the financial crisis, he said no recovery was yet in evidence.

“Incomes for Cambodian farmers dropped, so my customers are no longer as willing to purchase the newest models,” he said.

Kim Chhay, one of many dealers operating on Phnom Penh’s Sihanouk Boulevard, said his sales dropped by 10 percent for the first seven months compared with the same period last year.

Rights body calls for action on Koh Kong land clashes


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 Chhay Channyda

HUMAN rights advocates are urging officials to arrest a man accused of beating two women involved in a heated land dispute with a private developer in Koh Kong province.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee criticised Koh Kong businessman Heng Huy after villagers in Sre Ambel district said two women were sent to hospital after being beaten by one of the businessman’s workers.

“Heng Huy’s action, which led his workers to clear disputed land and beat villagers, is a serious violation of human rights,” the statement said.

On Wednesday, villagers say, two women were beaten as they tried to stop workers from clearing their farmland. Heng Huy has rejected the allegation, and villagers say they have been unable to identify the assailant after he fled in a car. The CHRAC statement urged authorities to find the perpetrator.

The husband of one of the women yesterday said she was recovering in a Phnom Penh hospital.

“She still hurts inside her stomach,” said Hy Leang, who said his wife, 25-year-old Yi Kunthear, and her sister, 19-year-old Yi Kunthy were beaten. “The worker kicked her seriously.”

The villagers say they are on the verge of losing their land. The Supreme Court ruled last year that the roughly 100 hectares of land in Sre Ambel district belonged to Heng Huy and not to the 34 families, who say they have lived there since 1980.

“No one helps us, so I want the petition to reach Prime Minister Hun Sen and other authorities so they will look into our plights,” said villager Teng Kao, who yesterday distributed petitions to motorists along National Road 48, in the hope of drawing public attention to the issue.

Koh Kong Governor Bun Leut urged villagers to reach a compromise with Heng Huy, noting that the court had ruled in the businessman’s favour.

“Heng Huy has already won the court case,” he said. “What we can do is ask Heng Huy and the villagers to talk about compensation.”

Heng Huy said yesterday that he would provide cash or a plot of land as compensation to the villagers affected.

Mekong action plan wins official approval


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 Nguon Sovan

Da Nang, Vietnam

ESSENTIAL Cambodian road projects could be kick-started by the signing of a US$5.9 billion action plan for countries in the Mekong Delta.

The path to construction was cleared after Mekong and Japanese economic ministers approved the Mekong-Japan Economic and Industrial Cooperation Initiative Action Plan yesterday.

The talks were attended by Masayuki Naoshima, Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry, and ministers from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

According to a press release issued yesterday after the Mekong-Japan Economic Ministers’ meeting in Da Nang, the plan covers the development of physical infrastructure, trade facilitation, help for small and medium-sized enterprises, and moves to stimulate service and industrial sectors in five Mekong countries: Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

It will be submitted for adoption by Mekong-Japan leaders at a forthcoming summit to be held in Hanoi this October.

Cambodia’s Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said yesterday that Cambodia and Laos may get the most financing for infrastructure development.

“When the Mekong-Japan leaders adopt it in October, each country will begin to implement [the plan],” he said.

“It may be Cambodia and Laos will be able to get the most funds from the assistance if we have prepared and implemented good plans.”

Cham Prasidh said that Cambodia needs to accelerate the construction of the Neak Leung Bridge, further expand National Road 1 from Phnom Penh to Vietnam and National Road 5 from Phnom Penh to Thailand, and explore the development of a ring road around the capital city.

The MJ-CI action plan will be implemented under the official development aid assistance of $5.9 billion pledged by Japan last November.

Workers end nine-day strike


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol

AROUND 160 garment factory workers ended a strike yesterday following an order from Phnom Penh Municipal Court, but they have threatened to stop work again if the company does not reinstate three who were fired.

The workers set up camp outside the Sun Ly Fong garment factory in Meanchey district on August 17 to agitate for improved working conditions.

They were informed on Wednesday that the court deemed the strike illegal, and that they would lose their jobs automatically if they did not go back to work by 5pm yesterday. The court also gave the company permission to fire three employee representatives accused of inciting the strike.

Ien Pov, a union leader at Sun Ly Fong factory and one of the three fired representatives, said almost all of the strikers had gone back to work at 1pm yesterday.

“The 160 workers, except for their three representatives, have decided to resume work because they complied with the legal procedures of the court,” he said.

However, he said that further action will be taken if he and the other two representatives are not reinstated.

“The workers have thumb-printed [a petition] to request that the factory owner appoint the three representatives back to their positions,” he said.

“If the factory does not agree within one week, all workers will resume their strike again.”

Ien Pov said he had also sought legal advice from the Community Legal Education Center regarding whether it had been legal for the company to fire the three representatives by the court’s authority.

Moeun Tola, head of the labour programme at CLEC, said it was possible that the three representatives had been dismissed illegally.

“According to the Labour Law, employers have to send a report to the Labour Inspection Office to examine and authorise them to suspend workers’ jobs, but the court here suspended the jobs of the workers by itself,” he said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court officials with knowledge of the order could not be reached yesterday. Representatives of Sun Ly Fong declined to comment on the issue.

Agriculture: PM calls for ADB aid on irrigation


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha

Agriculture

PRIME Minister Hun Sen yesterday requested that the Asian Development Bank help Cambodia build more irrigation systems in order to boost the country’s rice exports, a spokesman for the premier said.

Eang Sophalleth said that during a meeting with ADB vice president Lawrence Greenwood at the Council of Ministers yesterday, Hun Sen highlighted the role improved irrigation could play in increasing Cambodia’s rice yield.

“Samdech [Hun Sen] thanks the ADB for their concentration on the agriculture sector,” Eang Sophalleth said. “And the ADB will seek the possibility of finding out what other ways they can assist in this sector.”

According to figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia produced 7.58 million tonnes of unhusked paddy rice during the 2009-10 rice growing season on 2.33 million hectares of farmland. The ministry said that around 3.5 million tonnes of the 2009-10 harvest was expected to be left over for export. The Kingdom’s main rice export destinations are Vietnam and Thailand.

RDB funds to receive $7 billion expansion


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 Chun Sophal

THE Cambodian government plans to increase funding to the Rural Development Bank by US$7 million at the end of 2010, according to bank general director Sun Kunthor.

The RDB received funding of $13 million during 2009, capital which is lent to domestic rice miller associations to purchase paddy for rice production.

“We will work hard providing loans – with this capital, we hope more paddy will be bought,” he said yesterday.

Although the government-owned RDB will have a total capacity of $20 million at the end of the year, Sun Kunthor said the capital could not be used to purchase all of the Kingdom’s surplus paddy, but would still provide economic benefit.

“We will use the additional capital to provide loans to support the policy of boosting rice exports,” he said.

The government targets increasing funding up to $37 million for the RDB in the coming years, according to Sun Kunthor.

Suor Kheang, president of Kampong Cham province’s rice millers association, said most members use personal capital to buy paddy, as the bank’s lending was still relatively small.

“We do not depend on this loan too much because we also have our own capital to buy some paddy,” he said. The Kampong Cham millers’ association was lent approximately $500,000 last year.

Cambodia harvested approximately 7.58 million tonnes of paddy last year, about 3.5 million tonnes more than local demand.

Prime Minister Hun Sen introduced new policies on August 17 aimed at boosting economic growth through increased rice harvests and exports.

“If rice exports can reach 3 million tonnes, the value will be as much as $2.1 billion or about 20 percent of the country’s gross domestic product,” he said earlier this month.

Thaksin's advisory role caused economic woes


via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 Steve Finch

ANALYSTS this week have rightly focused on the political damage that followed Thaksin Shinawatra’s controversial appointment as economic advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen in October. Ironically though, the resulting economic fallout was in many ways equally severe.

Council for the Development of Cambodia data showed that approved investments from Thailand shrank from US$178 million in the first half of 2009, to just $2 million in the first six months of this year.

During the same period Cambodia’s exports to Thailand plummeted 50 percent, according to media reports, a decline far worse than recorded with any of the Kingdom’s other main trading partners, a fact that Cambodian officials themselves have acknowledged.

Perhaps even worse was the climate of fear that Thaksin’s appointment and the subsequent deterioration in relations between Phnom Penh and Bangkok created among existing and prospective Thai investors in Cambodia. How many Thai firms have delayed entry into the Kingdom as a result?

Cambodian Air Traffic Services, a local subsidiary of Thai company Samart Corp Plc, bore the brunt when employee Sivarak Chutipong was briefly jailed for supplying details of Thaksin’s itinerary to the Thai Embassy, but other major Thai investors privately bemoaned the effect this piece of political theatre was having on business in the Kingdom. Thai Airways even suggested it may have been the subject of a deliberate boycott by Cambodian government officials at the start of the year.

Meanwhile, Thaksin was offering senior trade and finance officials in Phnom Penh the kind of economic instruction they had no doubt already heard years ago as undergraduates. The Cambodian government was not paying formally for the former Thai prime minister’s expertise, but indirectly the economic price was climbing.

Following Thaksin’s resignation, Cambodian government officials have stated that Thaksin offered advice on how to deal with the global financial crisis, agriculture, tourism and foreign investment, but none could provide evidence of tangible economic benefits.

The lack of communication between the two governments prompted by Thaksin’s appointment also prevented resolution of key bilateral issues. Cambodia and Thailand have for years failed to resolve overlapping claims to an offshore area in the Gulf of Thailand. These talks have moved nowhere, and, indeed, a resolution during the past nine months seemed as remote as ever.

If relations now improve, as seems likely, the much more possible resumption of discussions on this issue could result in economic gains in the longer term – the aim is to share profits from energy production in the area.

Although Cambodian officials say that Thaksin’s resignation was voluntary due to other overseas business commitments, this seems highly unlikely.

However, if Thaksin did indeed suggest that he resign it would have ranked as the single best piece of advice of his destructive tenure.

South Korean tech standard adopted



via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:01 Jeremy Muillins

CAMBODIA has adopted South Korean technology as the domestic standard for broadcasting, covering the spectrum from television to mobile phones, according to Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith.

Terrestrial-Digital Multimedia Broadcasting was agreed on as Cambodia’s standard in an agreement signed by the Khieu Kanharith and Korea Communications Commission vice chairwoman Lee Kyung-ja in Phnom Penh this week.

“We adopted T-DMB as a platform for mobile television,” the minister wrote on Wednesday. “The Ministry of Information will be monitoring this technology.”

Cambodia plans to commercially offer T-DMB service by the end of the year, after trialling the service for much of 2010 at the National Television of Cambodia station, according to a translated KCC press release.

During the October 2009 visit of Korean President Lee Myung-bak to Cambodia, Khieu Kanharith and Korean officials signed a deal to test T-DMB at the Ministry of Information-run National Television of Cambodia.

Lee Myung-bak was formerly an economic advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen. Khieu Kanharith did not return a request for comment yesterday on whether rival mobile digital television technologies – such as the European Union’s “preferred technology” DVB-H – would be permitted to operate in Cambodia.

South Korea-based phone manufacturer LG electronics launched the first-ever DMB-compliant mobile handset in 2004, according to a Cambodian representative of the firm. However, the firm did not return request for comment yesterday on whether it had DMB compliant handsets available for purchase.

It’s the boy who ran away from the circus


Magic Man Johnny smiles on the streets of Siem Reap where he is famous for his dangerous (and noisy) acrobatics. Photo by: ZOE TROUT

via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 15:00 Nicky Hosford

MENTIONED to one Pub Street area bar manager that I was going to talk to the “noisy boy”, the guy who jumps through the knife-filled hoop of fire onto a dark, decrepit mattress to the blare of loud, uncomfortable music. “Oh, is that what you call him?” she asked. “We call him Magic Man. Sometimes we call him something else. Maybe you can’t print it though.”

“Mr X” is another name given to him, but he calls himself Johnny.

Johnny has been in Siem Reap for four years now and has become a definitive feature of the town, part of the Siem Reap experience. Most days you’ll see him doggedly hauling his cart from one tourist hotspot to another. Once there, he’ll set up his main event, which requires a rickety looking stand, topped with three rusted hoops to which have been attached a few dozen knives at disparate angles. Through this he leaps and rolls onto a dog-eared mattress, also doing some fire eating tricks. All this is done to the sound of some ghastly techno caterwaul segueing at times into the dreaded “Macarena”, and to the cheers of tourists who find him endlessly fascinating.

For those who live here the novelty has worn off – the show, or rather the music, can tend to wear a little thin after a while.

When I ran him to ground for this interview, his portable music machine was exuding a gentle, wafting, Khmer ballad. He’s aware of the complaints about his noisiness, and has toned down the music.

But, as he says, he just wants to earn a living, and is proud of his entrepreneurialism. “Other people just beg,” he says, “I use my skills.”

Originally from Battambang, Johnny started to learn his craft from the Phare Ponle Selpak’s circus school. Stranger still, this is the boy who actually ran away from the circus. He felt he could do better on his own and, although leaping through a hoop came from his early acrobatic training, the knives were his very own embellishment.

And he’s got the scars to show for it. Great unnatural protuberances are scattered across his arms, interspersed with long, thin, flat scars and what look like cigarette burns. Among them are tattoos dotted across his body. He has protective Sanskrit script on his hands, arms and back. On his chest, there is a representation of himself, eating a fire stick.

“I made them myself, for fun. They aren’t from the military or anything like that,” he says.

Although he hasn’t seen his parents for years and doesn’t know where they are now, he lives with his wife and two children on the road to Chong Kneas.

The muscles on his too-thin arms bulge as he pulls on the wisp of a beard on his chin and says, “I don’t want my children to do what I do. It’s too dangerous. I want them to read and learn.”

New rules published for labour agencies


Photo by: Photo Supplied
Villagers from Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district hand out leaflets and display signs publicising their ongoing land dispute against local developer Heng Huy.

via Khmer NZ

Friday, 27 August 2010 12:01 Khuon Leakhana and Kim Samath

THE Labour Ministry published parts of an unfinished draft sub-decree in a local newspaper yesterday, outlining strict regulations that would prohibit recruitment centres from detaining trainees or loaning them money.

Hou Vuthy, deputy director of Work Department at the Ministry of Labour, said that the directive published yesterday reflected many of the regulations that officials hope to include in a new sub-decree that is currently at the draft stage.

He said that although it is not yet law, the directive signed by Seng Sakada, director general at the Labour Ministry, on Tuesday and published as an open letter in Khmer-language newspaper Rasmey Kampuchea yesterday would be strictly enforced.

“If I find out that any company doesn’t obey the [rules], I will warn them the first time to make sure that they respect [them]. However, if they break the rules a second time, I will shut the companies down,” he said yesterday.

Under the new regulations, labour recruitment firms must also submit any advertising material and agreements made between companies and trainees to the Labour Ministry for “examination and approval”.

The new regulations, which came out of a ministry meeting held on Friday last week, follow a spate of complaints against government-sanctioned training centres, accusing them of mistreating and abusing recruits.

Industry concerns
Last month, officials investigated three recruitment firms after trainees claimed they had been illegally detained. Representatives of at least two of the firms said that some trainees had been barred from leaving because company owners were afraid they would break their contracts, or because the company had loaned money to their families.

The new regulations prohibit “forced labour and the act of hiring people to work in order to offset debt”. It also states that causing labourers to “fall into debt with the labour recruitment agency before departing for their job abroad” is prohibited.

Cheng Sithichey, director of AP TSE&C Cambodia Resource Co, a recruitment company that this month agreed to an out-of-court settlement with a woman who claims she was detained by the firm, said yesterday that the new regulations barring loans would benefit both recruitment firms and recruits.

“The companies no longer need to spend money on loans,” he said. “Now the trainees will register with any firm giving them good service, and not those offering a good loan.”

However, he added that the new regulations might prevent very poor people from access the training programmes.

“It makes it more difficult for those poor trainees who can’t afford transportation to the city,” he said.

The Declaration of Assets Should Start with High Ranking Officials – Thursday, 26.8.2010

http://cambodiamirror.wordpress.com/

via Khmer NZ

Posted on 27 August 2010
The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 679

“An anti-corruption law was already adopted by the National Assembly, but so far, the government has not implemented the law to eliminate corruption. In addition, the Anti-Corruption Unit and the National Anti-Corruption Committee have not carried out significant measures to fight corruption. The anti-corruption law requires some high ranking officials to declare their assets, but the declarations will be confidential. This invites criticism that the anti-corruption law in Cambodia is not conform to international standards and it is poor, compared with those of neighboring countries.

“Recently, the head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng, said publicly that investigating officials of the unit do not commit corruption, and the Anti-Corruption Unit will form a confidential group to observe the investigating officials of the unit. Those officials will have to pass a lie test through a polygraph every year, in order to guarantee that the officials of the unit are not corrupt. Mr. Om Yentieng said so on 23 August 2010 during a Cambodian-Korean international conference on corruption. A polygraph test is done by using an instrument to detect whether a person being tested is speaking honestly or lying. A small confidential group will be created to observe the investigating officials of the unit in case they take the opportunity to commit corruption while fulfilling their duties.

“Regarding the above case, some observers criticized that the strategy of the Anti-Corruption Unit is ridiculous, because if it creates a small group to observe each other, they have no time to investigate the corruption of high ranking officials in the government. Also, there seem to be many irregularities in the Anti-Corruption Unit because as soon as a case of corruption had been found, it is kept confidential and quiet, and there is no public result at all. More than that, some state institutions are notorious for corruption, but the Anti-Corruption Unit administered by Mr. Om Yentieng has never taken any action to investigate them. This made the general public to lose faith toward the unit, as most corrupt people are high ranking officials and their partisans.

“A Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian, Ms. Mu Sochua, said that the Anti-Corruption Unit must accept reports of citizens on suspected corruption, and it must guarantee their safety in order to show that investigations over corruption will be enforced widely. She added that the first round of investigations should be conducted on high ranking officials such as the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, and Senior Ministers. If their assets do not correspond to their income, it would certainly mean that they committed corruption. In addition to Ms. Mu Sochua’s comments, officials of some non-government organizations said that just to look at the residences of some high ranking officials, it can already be concluded that they are corrupt.

“On 14 July 2010, the Anti-Corruption Unit announced to set November 2010 as the date to start the procedures on the declaration of assets and debts of high ranking officials, and of leaders of civil society organizations. The Anti-Corruption Unit will keep those documents; the number of persons obliged to declare their assets is more than 10,000 in Cambodia, including civil servants, military, and police, who have been appointed by royal decrees and sub-decrees, all members of the National Assembly, all members of the Senate, leaders of civil society organizations, high ranking officials, the head of the government, and officials and members of the anti-corruption institutions. The declarations will be updated every two years in writing, and it is required before and after taking or leaving office – but it will be made confidentially.

“Officials of some government organizations said that they dare to declare their assets publicly, because the property and money they have are not from corruption as in the case of corrupt officials who have colossal wealth. Therefore, if a declaration is required, it should start from the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers, and Senior Ministers down, as suggested by Sam Rainsy parliamentarians, in order to ensure transparency, because some high ranking officials own luxury residences and lots of wealth not compatible at all with their salaries. The head of the Anti-Corruption Unit, Mr. Om Yentieng, knows those high ranking officials well, because they are mostly senior officials of the Cambodian People’s Party in the government. Thus, the declaration of assets should begin from top officials down, and it should be carried out openly and transparently, while normal officials are not afraid to declare their assets.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3968, 26.8.2010
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 26 August 2010

Abhisit: Thaksin's nearby


via Khmer NZ

Published: 26/08/2010

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Thursday fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's resignation as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government would pave way for Thailand and Cambodia to resolve their dispute easier, and hinted that the ousted premier might not be far away.

"Thaksin has not gone anywhere. He's around here in this region," Mr Abhisit told reporters who asked him about Thaksin, who has been quiet for about a month.

Asked if Thaksin might be in Brunei, the prime minister said that he did not have the details.

Mr Abhisit said Thaksin's resignation as Cambodia's economic adviser did not mean that he would stop conducting activities in Thailand.

"The government is now trying to restore Thai-Cambodian ties and to work out the issues between the two countries, such as the border row around Preah Vihear temple.

"Without Thaksin in the way, the problems should be easier to solve," he said.

President to help reduce poverty among Vietnamese in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

August, 27 2010


President Nguyen Minh Triet meets with former Lao President Khamtay Siphandon during his two-day State visit to Laos. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Khang

PHNOM PENH — The Party and State recognised their responsibility to reduce poverty and improve job security for the Vietnamese community in Cambodia, said President Nguyen Minh Triet yesterday.
"It is not only a matter for the Vietnamese community there alone," he said during a call at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, where he began a State visit at the invitation of Cambodian King Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni.

Triet also asked the embassy and other relevant organisations to take the lead in addressing the problem of legal status for Vietnamese people living in Cambodia.

He said he hoped that the community would always stand together, preserve Vietnamese traditional values and look towards their homeland.

The embassy had done a good job promoting bilateral ties between Viet Nam and Cambodia and providing support to Vietnamese enterprises operating in this neighbouring country, said the President.

Before leaving Laos earlier yesterday, Triet paid a visit to former Lao President Khamtay Siphandon in Champasak Province.

He expressed his pleasure at finding the former Lao President in good health and continuing to contribute to the development of relations between the two countries.

Triet affirmed that the Party, State and people of Viet Nam were delighted at the development achievements of Laos, which now averaged an economic growth rate of nearly 8 per cent, which was made possible thanks to the contribution of the former Lao President.

Viet Nam wished to continue fostering co-operation with Laos for the development of both countries, he said.

In reply, the former Lao President said the visit by President Triet would serve as a great encouragement as the people of Laos were preparing for their upcoming ninth Lao People's Revolutionary Party Congress.

He said he believed that the deep-rooted special Laos-Viet Nam relationship would be strengthened through exchange visits by leaders, ministries, agencies and local representatives from the two countries.

On the same day, Triet met diplomatic officials at the Vietnamese Consulate General in Champasak Province's Pakse District and representatives of the Vietnamese community in southern Laos.

He praised the contribution made by the consulate's diplomatic officials in fostering co-operation and friendship between the two countries.

Champasak was one of key economic hubs of Laos and had close relations with many Vietnamese localities, he stressed.

He urged the consulate to promote activities to select and support key Vietnamese businesses investing in Laos to help quicken the country's development.

Meeting with the Vietnamese community in Laos, Triet applauded their solidarity and contribution to the development of the country and hoped they would continue upholding Vietnamese traditions; opening more schools for Lao children, and promoting the friendship between the two countries.

— VNS

President to help reduce poverty among Vietnamese in Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

August, 27 2010


President Nguyen Minh Triet meets with former Lao President Khamtay Siphandon during his two-day State visit to Laos. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Khang

PHNOM PENH — The Party and State recognised their responsibility to reduce poverty and improve job security for the Vietnamese community in Cambodia, said President Nguyen Minh Triet yesterday.
"It is not only a matter for the Vietnamese community there alone," he said during a call at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, where he began a State visit at the invitation of Cambodian King Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni.

Triet also asked the embassy and other relevant organisations to take the lead in addressing the problem of legal status for Vietnamese people living in Cambodia.

He said he hoped that the community would always stand together, preserve Vietnamese traditional values and look towards their homeland.

The embassy had done a good job promoting bilateral ties between Viet Nam and Cambodia and providing support to Vietnamese enterprises operating in this neighbouring country, said the President.

Before leaving Laos earlier yesterday, Triet paid a visit to former Lao President Khamtay Siphandon in Champasak Province.

He expressed his pleasure at finding the former Lao President in good health and continuing to contribute to the development of relations between the two countries.

Triet affirmed that the Party, State and people of Viet Nam were delighted at the development achievements of Laos, which now averaged an economic growth rate of nearly 8 per cent, which was made possible thanks to the contribution of the former Lao President.

Viet Nam wished to continue fostering co-operation with Laos for the development of both countries, he said.

In reply, the former Lao President said the visit by President Triet would serve as a great encouragement as the people of Laos were preparing for their upcoming ninth Lao People's Revolutionary Party Congress.

He said he believed that the deep-rooted special Laos-Viet Nam relationship would be strengthened through exchange visits by leaders, ministries, agencies and local representatives from the two countries.

On the same day, Triet met diplomatic officials at the Vietnamese Consulate General in Champasak Province's Pakse District and representatives of the Vietnamese community in southern Laos.

He praised the contribution made by the consulate's diplomatic officials in fostering co-operation and friendship between the two countries.

Champasak was one of key economic hubs of Laos and had close relations with many Vietnamese localities, he stressed.

He urged the consulate to promote activities to select and support key Vietnamese businesses investing in Laos to help quicken the country's development.

Meeting with the Vietnamese community in Laos, Triet applauded their solidarity and contribution to the development of the country and hoped they would continue upholding Vietnamese traditions; opening more schools for Lao children, and promoting the friendship between the two countries.

— VNS