Monday, 30 August 2010

Pictures of the day

A Cambodian passenger, right, negotiates the price of fish rolls in Battambang town, northwestern of Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh, Monday, Aug. 30, 2010. Battambang town is the well-known place for selling fish rolls and fresh fruits to travelers, who stop by on their way to and from the country's northwest provinces. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Cambodian vendors selling fresh oranges wait for their customers on the roadside in Battambang town, northwestern of Cambodia's capital of Phnom Penh, Monday, Aug. 30, 2010. Battambang town is the well-known place for selling fish rolls and fresh fruits to travelers, who stop by on their way to and from the country's northwest provinces. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Bangladeshi climate campaigner M. Abul Hossain Asad rides a bicycle past the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh August 29, 2010. Abul Hossain is now in Cambodia and will head for Loas on August 31, 2010, to continue his four month journey through Southeast Asia to promote climate protection. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Phnom Penh skyscrapers arise

http://www.property-report.com/

via Khmer NZ

OJFall

Aug 30, 2010
 
Phnom Penh Tower, a US$60 million 22 storey ‘skyscraper’ billed as Cambodia’s first intelligent office building is set to top-off September 2, this week.

One of several towers that are simultaneously under construction across the capital, developers are hailing these as a sign of Cambodia’s strong and resurgent property market.

Host to commercial office space, officials at Hyundai Amco Company, the firm that is building the tower, say that they have already contacted the 250 potential clients and expect 50 per cent of these to sign contracts soon.

“ I can see that foreign direct investment, tourism, import-export is increasing together with the number of companies registered to do business here,” Sung Soo Kim, Hyundai Amco Company Director, was reported as saying by the Phnom Penh Post.

“Cambodia’s real estate sector is not in a downturn anymore.”

With Cambodia’s new towers offering a mix of commercial, office and residential space, the targeted rent for the Phnom Penh Tower runs from about $20 to $40 per square metre. Its topping off also comes at a time when a larger 27 storey Canadia Tower looks to welcome businesses into its lower floors in September, with some speculating that it will be host to the Cambodia Stock Exchange, which is awaiting the completions of its own building next year.

Holiday turned into a mission

via Khmer NZ



A three-week visit to Cambodia was an eye-opener for Shaun

"The children survive on so little and live in such harsh conditions"

Shaun Prest
Published Date: 30 August 2010

IT was meant to be a relaxing holiday, visiting a friend in Cambodia. But it was three weeks that changed the life of Brighouse electrician Shaun Prest.

Shaun is now planning to give up his job and his home and spend six months in Cambodia helping to build an orphanage for the beach children of Sihanoukville.

Since his first, eye-opening visit to the country in 2006, Shaun has returned several times to distribute colouring books and pens to children in rural villages but now he wants to do more to help the youngsters who have been forced from their homes and onto the streets to beg. With the help of a friend from London he wants to raise £10,000 to open an orphanage to provide a safe refuge for some of the youngsters at risk.

To put it bluntly, Shaun says it was the sight of babies and young children dying on the streets that opened his eyes and changed his life. "The people of Cambodia are the friendliest, warmest people you could hope to meet but they live in a country where there is so much corruption and the authorities do so little to help. The children survive on so little and live in such harsh conditions.

"One little girl in particular caught my eye on my first visit. She earned a living acting as a pair of eyes for her blind uncle who in turn scratched a living singing for tourists and begging on the street. I gave away as much money as I could on that first visit and came back to the UK determined to try and help in a more practical way."

Shaun, aged 39, went to Carr Green Infants and Junior School and the former Reins Wood School, now Rastrick High. He is the son of Graham and Pamela Prest of Rastrick and grandson of Herbert Prest, former Mayor of Brighouse. Having a child of his own - nine-year-old Abigail - has, he says, made him acutely aware of the plight of the beach children of Cambodia.

Last year he raised funds with a sponsored motorcycle ride across Cambodia. With the backing of £250 from bakers Hovis, where he was working at the time, and using his own savings, he bought 300 colouring books and felt tip pens and gave them to children he met on his journey round the country from Phnom Penh to the beaches of Ocheateal.

"I just wanted to bring a smile to the children's faces, " he said.

In April he was back with more colouring books for the orphanges of Sihanoukville but the visit made him realise that more needed to be done on a practical level to make a difference to people's lives.

"It is incredible that 30 years after the Khmer Rouge was ousted, the effects of that regime are still being felt. People are being forcibly removed from their homes and land to make way for developers.

"One family I have been visiting every year was first evicted in 2006, resulting in two family members dying and several children being taken into rehabilitation - which in reality is prison. I spent a lot of time helping the family in May and June. They now live in tents and survive by sending the children out to collect empty cans which they return in exchange for rice to eat.

"Since I got back to the UK, I have heard that they have been forced out again and now live on the side of the road. My colouring books don't seem to be enough now so I am aiming higher and hope to get an orphanage built. I just want to do more to help. I didn't know how to go about it alone but I have now met a woman, Clare Shave from London, who has the same interest in helping the beach children of Otres so together I feel we can make a difference."

Shaun will travel to Cambodia in January and has been taking a first aid course so that he can help the children when he gets there. "The nearest hospital can involve a journey of one to two hours and often they won't treat people unless they can pay."

Shaun is now trying to raise as much money as possible towards the orphanage appeal.

"That first visit to Cambodia changed my life. It made me realise what's life all about. I really want to make a difference if I can."

Anyone who can help Shaun can do so through http://tinyurl.com/orphanage-appeal or by contacting him on 07983 076740.

All employers should respect human rights


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:00 Ben Winslade and Chak Sophy

Dear Editor,

In a letter to The Phnom Penh Post published on August 20, 2010 (“Manufacturing a future for Cambodian youth”), Mona Tep from the Garment Industry Productivity Centre argued that more Cambodian youths should seek employment in middle management in the Kingdom’s garment factories, and that tertiary education should be restructured towards these jobs.

We agree that it would be good for all concerned if more middle management positions in garment factories could be filled by talented young Cambodians rather than foreign workers. However, one important way to encourage educated youth to choose employment in the garment sector would be for these businesses to improve their record of respecting human rights.

While labour conditions in garment factories have improved markedly in the last few years, partly as a result of the Better Factories Cambodia initiative, it is clear that problems remain. With the slew of recent stories in this newspaper regarding workers fainting on the job (“Fainting hits another factory”, August 23) and strikes by employees over insufficient pay (“Garment pay strike continues”, August 23) it should be no surprise that (as alleged by Mona Tep) Cambodian youths prefer to seek work in banking, government or international organisations. Can you blame them?

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights has over the last year implemented a successful project working with businesses, civil society actors and the Royal Government of Cambodia to encourage and promote greater respect for human rights among businesses. Overall, the series of meetings, workshops and seminars has been very well received by the business community, many of whom now recognise that not only is respecting fundamental rights the morally and legally correct thing to do, but it is also good for business. Unfortunately, so far there has been a notable lack of engagement from businesses in the garment sector. This further contributes to the perception that these businesses do not take their responsibility to respect human rights seriously.

CCHR encourages all apparel businesses to take positive, practical steps to ensure their operations respect human rights. When they do, they are likely to find that like other leading Cambodian businesses, not only are they better able to attract talented young employees, but the productivity of their existing workforce may increase. We would welcome the opportunity to work with Mona Tep to jointly make this case to businesses in the garment sector.

Ben Winslade and Chak Sophy
Cambodian Centre for Human Rights


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Send letters to: newsroom@phnompenhpost.com or PO Box 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length. The views expressed above are solely the authors’ and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post

CLMV economic ministers meet for increased ties

via Khmer NZ

August 30, 2010

The economic ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) met for the first time in Vietnam’s coastal city of Da Nang on August 28 to seek ways to boost economic and trade ties between their countries.

They also sought to work more closely in sub-regional, regional and global forums, maximise their countries’ potential, narrow the development gaps between the four and other countries in the region and the world, and speed up implementation of the agreements reached at previous CMLV summits.

The ministers acknowledged that the four countries have attained considerable development in economic and trade ties in recent years and there is still a lot of potential for increasing these gains by developing border markets and cross-border trade.

On trade, they agreed to focus on facilitating trade exchange, enhancing trade promotion activities, and boosting investment flows among the four countries in line with the joint declaration of the fourth CLMV Summit in Hanoi on November 6, 2008.

The ministers agreed to encourage investment in special economic zones (SEZs) and export processing zones (EPZs) lying along their borders with preferential treatment regarding infrastructure and administrative procedures targeting CLMV investors.

Debating human resources development, they underscored the important role of programmes to provide vocational training and enhance the capacity of public administrative officials.

They shared the view that their countries need to boost their policy co-ordination at sub-regional, regional and international co-operation forums to attract resources from developed partners to narrow the development gap between the CLMV and other ASEAN countries.

The ministers proposed reinforcing their co-operation in making and implementing projects within the framework of the second IAI Working Plan, cooperating closely in tailoring prioritised projects within the sub-regional co-operation frameworks, and stepping up co-operation with regional and international organisations and dialogue countries.

The ministers also discussed conducting research and assessments to figure out challenges and shared potentials as well as measures to boost trade and investment among their countries, and enhance co-operation in FTA negotiations and other negotiations for benefit of each country and the entire group.

They agreed to continue to study the establishment of a CLMV Development Fund as suggested by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, which aims at gaining financial assistance from other countries to improve the development gaps.

The ministers decided that they will meet twice a year along with the ASEAN Economic Ministerial Meeting and that their countries will rotate the coordinating role.

They highly valued the ASEAN Secretariat’s assistance in preparing and organising their first-ever meeting and expressed hopes to that the ASEAN Secretary General or Deputy Secretary General will attend their future meetings. (VNA)

China succumbs to Mekong nations

http://www.vancouversun.com/

via Khmer NZ

Jonathan Manthorpe, Vancouver Sun
August 30, 2010

China has started to share information about its Mekong River dams with Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. The countries have complained that the dams have afiected water flows, and are disturbing fish migrations and populations.
Photograph by: Chor Sokunthea, Reuters, Vancouver Sun


China has made a significant policy about-turn in response to a sharp contest with the United States for friends and influence in Southeast Asia.

After years of rebuffing increasingly anxious requests for information about its dams on the upper reaches of the Mekong River from countries lower down the river's course, Beijing has relented.

China's change of tack comes as Washington is moving to broaden its non-military engagement with Indochina.

Dozens of U.S. officials have been shuttling back and forth to the region promoting cooperative agreements since July last year when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched what is known as the Lower Mekong Initiative.

The aim is to take advantage of China's less than stellar reputation in Southeast Asia by offering development aid and assistance to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos for whom the lower reaches of the Mekong River are a vital economic resource.

At the same time, the U.S. has signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with the 10-nation club of regional countries, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This treaty affirms U.S. commitment to regional peace, stability and involvement in ASEAN processes and institutions.

China is very much aware it has a public relations problem in Southeast Asia, in part because of its belligerent military activities and outlandish territorial claims in the South China Sea.

But for the countries through which the Mekong River flows much suspicion of China stems from its secrecy over its dam-building projects on its stretches of the 4,880 kilometre-long river, which it calls the Lancang.

In recent months there has been a crescendo in the always intense public criticism in the region claiming China's four dams on the upper Mekong are affecting water flows, disturbing fish migrations and populations, and are threatening the livelihoods of up to 70 million people.

But in June, China shifted policy and officials from the Mekong River Commission (MRC), created by a 1995 agreement between Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Thailand, were invited to China's Yunnan province to look at two of the four dams. They are reported to have received detailed information about the operation of the dams and their effects on river flows.

The dams were the Jing Hong, already in operation, and the massive Xiaowan, one of the world's tallest dams whose reservoir will take up to 10 years to fill and which will hold 15 billion cubic metres of water, more than five times the capacity of the other three Yunnan dams put together.

China also invited the MRC to send officials to Beijing to discuss how China might play a fuller role in the commission's activities.

China and Burma, which its ruling military regime calls Myanmar, have always kept at arms length from the MRC.

Like all autocratic regimes, they try to avoid exposing their internal affairs to any outside scrutiny or influence, and have therefore only taken "dialogue partner" status with the commission.

China has, until now, been equally unforthcoming about sharing information with the MRC.

MRC officials have usually only learned when decisions have been made and ground broken about Beijing's dam-building plans on the 44 per cent of the Mekong than runs through Chinese territory after rising in the mountains of Tibet. And China has plans for at least another four dams on the Mekong to generate electricity and control floods.

Information about management of the completed dams has been equally hard to come by with China only recently giving detailed information about the wet season flows of water.

Now, apparently, China has indicated it will give information about the dry season flows too.

If China continues to openly share information about its dams and the life of the Mekong in its territory, it will do much to clear up a lot of disagreements and conflicting analysis about what is happening to the Mekong, which does not seem to be functioning as it has in past decades.

Most concerning are low water levels and their effects on such natural wonders as the Tonle Sap, the great lake in central Cambodia usually filled to overflowing every year by waters from the Mekong during the rainy season.

Fish from the Tonle Sap not only provide an incredible 80 per cent of the protein in the diet of Cambodia's 15 million people, the lake also acts as reservoir that feeds water back into the Mekong during the dry season and allows year-round cultivation and cropping in the delta region of Vietnam.

But the low volumes of water in recent years have frequently been blamed on China stemming the flow of the Mekong to fill the dam reservoirs feeding its hydroelectric schemes.

But MRC experts such as chief executive Jeremy Bird doubt this is so. He says he thinks prolonged drought in Southeast Asia is the most likely cause.

Australian author, historian and consultant on southeast Asian affairs, Milton Osborne, says the way the Chinese have tried to defend themselves against the charges by using misleading statements and information has damaged Beijing's cause.

Osborne points to China's regular response that it can't be held responsible for what happens on the lower Mekong, because only about 13 per cent of the water in the river at that point comes from China.

This, Osborne says, is nonsense because during the dry season, when the effects on features such as the Tonle Sap are most profound, at least 40 per cent of the water in the Mekong comes from China.

President concludes visits to Laos and Cambodia

via Khmer NZ

August, 30 2010

HA NOI — President Nguyen Minh Triet returned home on Saturday after noon after wrapping up an official visit to Laos and a State-level visit to Cambodia.

Before his departure, the President attended and delivered a speech at the "Experience, potential and opportunities for Vietnamese investors in Cambodia " event in the country's capital city of Phnom Penh.

The function was attended by Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Economic and Financial Minister Keat Chhon, and more than 200 representatives from the two countries' business communities.

Representatives from Vietnamese businesses currently operating and investing in Cambodia presented the results of their investment projects in agriculture, mining, finance, health care, energy, light industry and hydroelectricity.

The representatives recommended that the two countries boost their economic, trade and investment ties on par with their current growing political ties.

The Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister told President Triet and the participants that Cambodia's economy was expected to boom this year with an estimated GDP growth rate of at least 5 per cent.

He said the young and dynamic population was one of his country's economic advantages. The Deputy Prime Minister also said the country had untapped potential, which provides Vietnamese investors with an ample amount of opportunities.

Noting the participants' recommendations and specific initiatives, President Triet said the two countries' economic, trade and investment ties had attained encouraging developments, but they had yet to match their potential.

Opportunities still lay ahead, President Triet said, as he expressed his hope that Vietnamese investors would go to Cambodia filled with a spirit of solidarity and friendship.

He urged Vietnamese investors to be responsible and cautious in order to avoid sparking problems that could potentially affect their partners' trust. The President also said the Vietnamese business community should participate actively in poverty reduction, cultural, health care and educational activities in Cambodia.

Later in the morning, President Triet visited the construction site of the Technology and Senior High School in Kampong Chnang, which is being built with VND10 billion (US$530,000) that Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh presented to the Cambodian Royal Fund during his visit to Cambodia in 2005. Once competed, the school will be named "the Viet Nam-Cambodia Friendship School ".

In an interview granted to the press, Deputy Foreign Minister Dao Viet Trung said the successful outcomes from the two visits would contribute greatly to strengthening and lifting Viet Nam's ties with Laos and Cambodia to a new height.

He said the leaders had affirmed the importance of their growing traditional friendship as a invaluable asset that should be preserved and handed down to future generations.

Trung reiterated that Viet Nam had placed importance on strengthening and enhancing its special solidarity, friendship and comprehensive co-operation with Laos and good neighbourliness, traditional friendship and all-sided co-operation with Cambodia.

In the future, Viet Nam would increase the exchange of visits with Laos and Cambodia at all levels to deepen their political ties to create a foundation for their co-operation in the investment and trade sectors.

Regarding co-operation with Laos, Trung said the two countries should quickly carry out their agreements in the fields of hydroelectricity and implement the construction of industrial plants and mining sites.

Viet Nam planned to increase its training of human resources for Laos to help the country industrialise, Trung noted.

In the short term, Trung said the two countries needed to work on their plan on enhancing the quality and effectiveness of Viet Nam-Laos co-operation in education and human resource development and carry out the projects to establish the Vietnamese language programme at the Lao National University and co-operative projects in education and training.

With respect to Cambodian relations, the two countries would strive to increase their two-way trade to $2 billion in 2010 and encourage the Vietnamese business community to invest in Cambodia, with emphasis on banking, rubber production, fertiliser production, agriculture, mining, oil and gas, telecommunications and hydroelectricity.

Viet Nam would boost its co-operation with and help Cambodia in other fields, such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, transport and communications, education, health care and tourism, Trung said. — VNS

Attacking Poverty in Cambodia and India With Education And Bicycles

VOA , via Khmer NZ

Les Carpenter

Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Two young girls carry trays on their heads laden with snacks to sell at a Phnom Penh's railway station.

At a time when many school systems begin classes around the world, many poor children in some parts of the world may be staying home for any number of reasons. One, it seems, is a lack of transportation to get the children to a school that may not be near their homes. That's where a project called "Lotus Pedals" steps in in Cambodia. It is a program administered by Lotus Outreach International that, among other things, provides sturdy bicycles to a group of poor children so they can travel to their school.

Public secondary schools are few and some are a considerable distance from the students in Cambodia and India and Lotus Outreach says that is usually the greatest hurdle for children to continue their education. Spokesman for the program, Glenn Fawcett, Executive Director of Field Operations says there are usually more primary schools than secondary schools in some of these poor regions. So, he says, "when a student finishes sixth grade, they may find themselves faced with a trip of 2, 6, 8, 10, 30, 40 kilometers away from the nearest secondary school."

Mr. Fawcett adds that most parents don't have the resources to send their children those distances to school. The San Diego, California based Lotus Outreach International has scholarship programs "in a number of provinces right across Cambodia with 761 girls already in these programs." Those girls get bicycles to help them get to and stay in school, among other benefits of the scholarship programs. Mr. Fawcett says his organization concentrates on girls because girls are "far and away getting less educational opportunities than boys" in these regions.

Fawcett says the situation in India is very similar to that in Cambodia, but has additional problems, including a dropout rate of about 50 percent. He says the key to poverty reduction is just getting a basic education. That's why, he says, that in the most rural areas of India Lotus Outreach is working on "mobilizing communities and pushing the education authorities to provide the basic amenities for schools, such as toilets."

Secondary schools in India are, as in Cambodia, sometimes a long way from communities forcing families to keep their children at home. "In India," he says, "it's worse than in Cambodia because of the very traditional families will not send their girls out of their sight." In a Muslim district in India, Lotus Outreach has begun "the Blossom Bus", in which a parent chaperone rides the bus to deliver village girls to school each day, one way around the reluctance of parents to allow their girls to attend schools.

Why concentrate on educating girls? Mr. Fawcett says there are several studies that show that girls who continue their education will not only have an enhanced salary capacity, but are more likely to invest that income back into their own community. So, educating girls is a greater community resource and becomes a very powerful and strong thing. That, says Glenn Fawcett, is what educators call the "girl effect".

India to implement FTA with Indonesia, Cambodia soon


via Khmer NZ

Monday, August 30, 2010

NEW DELHI: India will soon implement the free trade agreement (FTA) in goods with two more Asean countries — Indonesia, Cambodia — by slashing duties on hundreds of products including seafood, chemicals, apparel and tyres.

In turn the two countries will also slash import duties on hundreds of Indian goods.

The agreement, operationalised with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on January 1, is already functional with four members — Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

“Indonesia and Cambodia have completed the internal approval process of the pact. They have formally informed the Commerce Minister, Mr Anand Sharma in Vietnam. Both will issue a notification in this effect with in a week,” a senior Commerce ministry off icial said.

Mr Sharma had on August 27 attended the India—ASEAN Economic Minister Meet in Da Nang in Vietnam.

The remaining four — Laos, Philippines, Brunei and Myanmar — members would take some more time to implement the pact, the official said.

Though Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia account for more than 90 per cent of India’s trade with ASEAN countries, the remaining seven are also important markets, he added.

India—ASEAN trade in goods was $45 billion in 2008—09.

The two sides aim to increase their trade to $50 billion by the end of 2010.

They are also engaged in advanced negotiations to widen the base of the trade pact by including services and investments.

The services sector has emerged as an important area for export earnings and India is looking at expanding trade with the ASEAN in areas like banking, insurance, health, accountancy, architecture and engineering.

The ASEAN countries are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. - PTI

No date set for border talks with Thailand: Cambodian official

via Khmer NZ

August 30, 2010

The Cambodian government said on Monday that there is no date has been set for the next border talks with Thailand.

Nem Sowath, chief of cabinet of Tea Banh, deputy prime minister and minister of national defense said that, as of Monday, no date yet has been set for the General Border Committee meeting.

Thai media has carried out reports citing the Thai government's statement as saying that the 7th General Border Committee meeting between Cambodia and Thailand would start on Sept. 8 in Bangkok, Thailand.

But Nem Sowath said Thailand has not sent any letter or intend for the meeting as it was reported.

However, he said, Cambodia is ready to hold talks at any technical level to help solve any remaining issues between the two countries.

The GBC is co-chaired by defense ministers from the two countries and the forum is designed to help solve any problems arising along the border of the two nations including transnational crimes, drug smuggling, security, terrorism among others.

Cambodia and Thailand has had border conflict just one week after Cambodia's Preah Vihear Temple was registered as World Heritage Site in July 2008.

Since the conflict started, military standoff has been on and off along the two countries' border and several military clashes have already been happened with recorded small causalities from both sides.

The International Court of Justice on June 15, 1962 ruled in favor to Cambodia, saying Preah Vihear Temple is belonging to Cambodia, but after July 2008, Thailand has claimed the surrounding land covering over 4.6 square km near the temple.

This border conflict has not been resolved yet.

Source: Xinhua

Cambodia Denies Media's Report on Nuclear Power Plant

via Khmer NZ

2010-08-30
Xinhua
Web Editor: Han Yueling

Cambodia Monday denied media's report that suggested the country might have deal with Iran to build a nuclear power plant.

Koy Kuong, spokesman of Foreign Ministry said Monday that Cambodia has not made any deal with Iran on anything related to nuclear power plant.

Koy Kuong made the statement following media's report that suggested during the recent visit to Iran. Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs might have discussed any issue on nuclear power plant.

Koy Kuong said, during the visit, there were only three documents were signed: cooperation in petroleum, economic cooperation and visa exemption.

Hor Namhong made an official visit to Iran early this month.

Cambodia has earlier expressed its interest, for the future, to access a nuclear power plant in order to secure sufficient power supply, but stressed it would not be any time soon.

Since June, Iran has been imposed with new sanctions by the United States, European Union and the United Nations in a way to stop its sensitive uranium-enrichment program which they fear of nuclear weapons production.

But the Irani government had denied the charge, saying the program was only for a peaceful purpose.

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via Khmer NZ

Cambodia Plans to Export 200,000 Tons of Milled Rice Product Next Year

Monday, 30 August 2010 10:01 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 30, 2010-Cambodian rice mil’s association announced on Monday that it will help boost export milled rice product to top 200,000 tons next year.

“We will boost milled rice product to help farmers and promote the product to international markets,” Phu Pouy, head of rice mill’s association said by phone.

We will have first meeting of rice product in Siem Reap province next week, and we will collect ability to export rice product. And we need to show our ability to export rice, he noted.

Cambodia lacked processing for exporting rice. It means it has rice but it does not have pack to put it. In the past few weeks, the government launched policy to export rice product to the global market and turn the country into a regional rice basket.

Cambodia plans to export one ton of milled rice 2015. The experts said that one ton of milled product could cost 700- 1500 US dollar referring to the quality of rice product.

Cambodia met with matters of processing of rice product. It needs high quality of technology to compete with rice exporting country. In 2008, PM Hun Sen urged to create Rice exporting organization styling with OPEC.

PM Hun Sen last week stresses, “This year, food security will be a core thing for region and the world. Cambodia has own ambition to product more rice and promote product for helping farmers,.

Last year, Cambodia earned about 7 million tons of rice products with surplus of 3 million tons of rice.

Victims Support Section Convenes Civil Party Forum Battambang

Monday, 30 August 2010 08:35 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 30, 2010-The Victims Support Section of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on Monday convened a two-day forum in Battambang for 250 Civil Parties in the ECCC’s Case 002. These Civil Parties come from across the northwest of the country, including Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pursat provinces.

The Forum provides an opportunity for Civil Parties to learn about recent developments at the Court and about progress in their individual cases. It also allows them the opportunity to meet their own lawyers individually, and to discuss their participation in Case 002 and expectations, Lars Olsen, legal official for ECCC said.

At the opening forum, the ECCC’s Acting Director of Administration H.E. Tony Kranh stressed the novelty of Civil Party participation. “This is the first time in a Court supported by the international community that victims have full rights of participation as parties to the case”, he said. He pointed out that the main aim of the Administration is to support the full and effective exercise of the parties’ rights before the Court.

Mr. Kranh took the opportunity to hand to the President of the Battambang Provincial Court, Mr. Neou Yarath, copies of the Court’s recent judgment in Case 001 against Kaing Guek Eav for the reference of his Court’s judges. President Neou declared himself “very satisfied” with the judgment.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


via Khmer NZ

Vietnamese President Concludes Visit in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, August 30, 2010 AKP -- President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, H.E. Nguyen Minh Triet concluded on Aug. 28 his three-day state visit in Cambodia.

On Aug. 27 at the Royal Palace, the visiting Vietnamese president was received in royal audience by His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia. Both sides agreed to continue to further consolidate and expand the traditional ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and peoples.

Following on the same day, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet held talks with First Vice President of the Senate H.R.H. Sisowath Chivoan Monirak and Acting President of the National Assembly H.E. Nguon Nhel. The Cambodian leaders highly evaluated the visit of the Vietnamese president to Cambodia, which, they said, helped prove the good relationship and solidarity between the senior leaders of the two nations and further foster the cooperation in all domains between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Also on the same day, during their meeting, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen and visiting Vietnamese H.E. President Nguyen Minh Triet underlined that the development of Cambodia and Vietnam are inseparable from both countries’ mutual support and contribution, Ieng Sophalet, assistant to the Cambodian premier told reporters upon the bilateral talks.

The two leaders were committed to push the border landmark planting and demarcation so that the work could be completed as agreed by both sides in order to build a border with peace, friendship, and cooperation, he added.

During his visit in Cambodia from Aug. 26 to 28, the Vietnamese president also paid respects to Great Supreme Patriarchs Tep Vong and Bour Kry. He joined in with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister H.E. Keat Chhon in the talks on “Experience, potential and opportunities for Vietnamese investors in Cambodia.”

He attended the opening ceremony of representative office of the Voice of Vietnam based in Phnom Penh and visited the Cambodian-Vietnamese Friendship School in Kampong Chhnang province before returning home.

The visit of President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, H.E. Nguyen Minh Triet in Cambodia was made following the visit to Hanoi, Vietnam on June 22-25, 2010 by King Norodom Sihamoni, King-Father Norodom Sihanouk and Queen-Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)

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Finance Minister Shows Cambodia’s Potentials in Cambodia-Vietnam Business Forum

Phnom Penh, August 30, 2010 AKP -- Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Keat Chhon, minister of Economy and Finance said that Cambodia has a considerable potential for agriculture, agro-industry, infrastructure, export industry, tourism and natural resources.

H.E. Keat Chhon said this in a Cambodia-Vietnam business forum held here on Aug. 28 with the participation of Vietnam’s President H.E. Nguyen Minh Triet, who is on a three-day state visit to Cambodia.

He said Cambodia’s economic growth is expected to reach around 5 percent in 2010.

“The inflation goes down dramatically due to the decrease of the food price and the exchange rate in Cambodian currency against US dollars remained stable.”

“The gross international reserved fund increased to over US$2.5 billion in the first six months of 2010 from US$2.3 billion in early 2010, a figure ensuring the importation for more than 4 months.”

He said the royal government under the clear-sighted leadership of Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Cambodia could maintain the macro-economic stability, financial sector and social stability, mainly promoting the livelihood of Cambodian people.

A series of agreements between Cambodia and Vietnam was signed to promote the investment in the countries, according to the minister.

Vietnam has invested in agriculture, mining, finance-banking, healthcare, energy, light industry and hydro-electricity in Cambodia. --AKP

(By THOU Peou)

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China Pledges to Continue Its Support and Assistance to RCAF

Phnom Penh, August 30, 2010 AKP -- China has reiterated its position to strengthen the cooperation with Cambodia’s Ministry of National Defense.

The comment was made by Sr Colonel Wu Xiao Yi, head of the office of Asian Affairs under the Department of International Relations of the Ministry of National Defense of the People’s Republic of China, during his meeting last Wednesday in Phnom Penh with Secretary of State at the Ministry of National Defense of Cambodia General Moeung Samphan.

In any events and circumstances, the people and the armed forces of China keep continuing their support and assistance to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), said Sr Colonel Wu Xiao Yi, who led a military delegation to visit Cambodia, adding that though the support is in a small scale, it is genuine.

He also told General Moeung Samphan of his visit here, the purpose of which he said is to supervise some construction buildings funded by China’s Ministry of National Defense, including the infantry institute and the Preah Ketomealea military hospital, he said.

In reply, Gen. Moeung Samphan expressed his profound thanks to the military aids provided subsequently by the government of China, especially to the RCAF’s reform program. --AKP

(By Noeu)

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UN-ESCAP, ABU Support Roadshow on Emergency Warning Broadcasting Systems

Phnom Penh, August 30, 2010 AKP -- A workshop on Emergency Warning Broadcasting Systems (EWBS) Implementation was opened here today in the presence of Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith.

Jointly organized by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) and the Cambodian Ministry of Information, with the support from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP), the two-day Roadshow aims to train on how concerned government agencies and broadcasters can work together to disseminate early warning messages.

It will also attempt to create awareness on coordination process and procedures for disaster warning.

As many as 110 trainees from relevant ministries and media organizations are participating in this workshop, which will showcase how broadcasters can make use of the technology to implement early warning systems on their existing national broadcast networks. Experts in the field of EWBS will carry out focused sessions and system demonstrations to emulate how the system works and how best to coordinate the process within the involved agencies, both national and regional.

Mr. Ahmed Nadeem, representative of ABU, said EWBS are very important in providing warnings to the public about impending natural disasters.

Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith attached much importance to the EWBS, praising ABU and UN-ESCAP for running the workshop to raise journalists’ skills in disseminating early natural disaster warning messages.

Such workshop has already taken place this month in Malaysia and Thailand. It is also scheduled to be held in September in Vietnam, the Philippines and China. --AKP

(By Théng)

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Five-year HARVEST Program in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, August 30, 2010 AKP -- Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister H.E. Chan Sarun on Aug. 27 met with USAID Mission Director Mr. Flynn Fuller to discuss the implementation of HARVEST (Helping Address Rural Vulnerabilities and Ecosystem Stability) program in Cambodia.

With the life span of five years, the USAID-funded program will begin in November this year. It will cover all provinces around the Tonle Sap Great Lake, and Prey Veng and Svay Rieng provinces.

The program entails thematic areas such as improvement of agricultural productivity, post-harvest technology, the enforcement of the legal procedure concerning agricultural sector, and the management, preservation and development of natural resources and of climate change.

Mr. Flynn Fuller emphasized in the meeting that USAID will make sure the implementation of HARVEST program is inline with existing government’s policies and strategy. The program unpacking demands close cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as well as with concerned development agencies. --AKP

(By MOM Chan Dara Soleil)

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EU Parliamentarians Pledge to Assist Cambodia’s Health

Phnom Penh, August 30, 2010 AKP -- A group of EU parliamentarians have pledged to boost long-term assistance to Cambodia’s public health sector to achieve the 5th Cambodian Millennium Development Goal (CMDG) by 2015.

The commitment was made known at a press conference here on Aug. 27.

On the occasion, the EU parliamentarians expressed their interests in the Cambodian people’s welfare development in rural area.

The EU parliamentarians are from Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Spain and France, arrived here on Aug. 22 for a week-long visit to Cambodia.

During their stay in Cambodia, the EU parliamentarians have met with Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Mrs. Men Sam An, Health Minister Dr. Mam Bun Heng, Anti-HIV/AIDS Cambodian Alliance Organization (KHANA) director, representatives of concerned ministries, NGOs and local authorities as well. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)

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Green Trade Company To Provide Loans to Farmers

Phnom Penh, August 30, 2010 AKP -- A local company known as Green Company initiated credit provision to farmer community late last week to ensure farmers’ affordability to produce rice for export.

This is a lasting endeavor of the company in producing rice with quantity, quality and standard for export to the international market, which is a right track toward the long-term commitment of the Royal Government of Cambodia.

The company has formed its farmer community in Battambang province. However, not all farmer community members can afford the start-up capital to realize the above-said purpose. The consultative meeting on the initiative was attended by some 150 farmer community representatives.

According to Green Company representative Mr. Ny Lyheng, from March to April 2010, the company exported rice to Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Singapore.

In addition to credit provision, the company guarantees to buy the rice from all farmer community members and to provide the community with necessary facilities in the course of rice production process. --AKP

(By MOM Chan Dara Soleil)

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Cambodia Wins Bronze Medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore

Phnom Penh, August 30, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia has won a bronze medal at the First Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

The country has sent four athletes to take part in the swimming, wrestling, judo and running events, but only Som Sopha, 15, won the bronze medal in judo.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC), said the Kingdom ranked 79th out of 205 countries that participated the games.

Thong Khon, minister of Tourism and NOCC chairman, who welcomed the return of the Cambodian athletes on Aug. 27, provided US$1,000 to the bronze medallists, and US$500 to her coach. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)

Betting bust-up


Photo by: Rann Reuy

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:00 Rann Reuy

Siem Reap provincial police question men nabbed during a raid on an internet cafe suspected of operating as an illegal sports betting centre. Eight people were arrested during yesterday’s raid on the Lucky Chhaya internet shop, from which police also confiscated US$982 in cash, four motorbikes and four security cameras. The eight are set to appear in Siem Reap provincial court today.

Thousands flee homes as Indonesian volcano erupts


Photo by: AFP
A man and his son watch as the Sinabung volcano spews thick smoke in the Karo district of Indonesia’s North Sumatra yesterday.

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:03 Arlina Arshad

A VOLCANO on the Indonesian island of Sumatra erupted for the first time in more than 400 years yesterday, spewing a vast cloud of smoke and ash into the air and sending thousands of people fleeing from their homes.

Thais resume support for $41mn road project


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:02 Cheang Sokha and Thet Sambath

THAILAND has reportedly pledged to resume US$41.2 million in funding for a road-construction project in Cambodia as the countries move to normalise diplomatic relations.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaungsuban said that the aid, originally promised last August to extend National Road 68 to the border with Thailand in Oddar Meanchey province, would be resumed as part of an overall effort to warm relations, the Bangkok Post reported.

The Kingdom and Thailand reinstalled their respective ambassadors last week and re-established full diplomatic ties after the resignation of fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as economics adviser to Cambodia.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that although Cambodia had not requested the assistance, it appreciated the initiative announced on Friday. “Cambodia welcomes all forms of donations without conditions attached, and this is what the Thai side has promised,” Koy Kuong said.

Last November, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the cancellation of all Thai grants and loans as tension escalated following Thaksin’s appointment.

“Anyone who dares to ask for assistance from Thailand without my permission should resign. We may be poor, but we would rather shed our blood than let you look down on us,” Hun Sen said, apparently addressing Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The diplomatic spat between Thailand and Cambodia has had significant economic consequences. Data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia showed that approved investments from Thailand shrank from $178 million in the first half of 2009 to just $2 million in the first six months of this year.

During the same period, the value of Cambodia’s exports to Thailand dropped roughly 50 percent.

Today, officials in Oddar Meanchey are scheduled to attend an inauguration ceremony for a road project that terminates at Ta Moan Thom temple, a site claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia.

The road, funded by a charitable donation from CTN television, stretches roughly 9 kilometres in Oddar Meanchey’s Ampil district. CTN is one of the participants in a programme in which private companies provide funding to military units, according to a document signed by Hun Sen in February that outlined the initiative.

Neak Vong, deputy commander of Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigade 42 in Oddar Meanchey, said the road had made it much easier for the military to keep troops at the border properly supplied.

“When we were constructing the road, Thai soldiers always disturbed us and demanded that we halt construction, but we did not listen to their protests, and now everything is fine,” Neak Vong said.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn declined to comment on the road project.

“We look to improve our relations with Cambodia,” Panitan said. “We continue to work on [our] different opinions on the border issue.”

Lawmaker employs 71 advisers: SRP


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

THE opposition Sam Rainsy Party has accused Nguon Nhel, the first deputy president of the National Assembly, of employing 71 advisers, and urged National Assembly President Heng Samrin to investigate this “irregularity”.

In a letter dated Friday, 13 SRP lawmakers alleged that Nguon Nhel’s army of advisers was costing the government 112 million riels (US$26,730) per month, roughly $320,760 annually.

“The Royal Government always discusses the lack of budget for the salaries of civil servants and the armed forces, so we would like Samdech Assembly President to explain the large expenses of His Excellency the deputy president,” the letter said.

Nguon Nhel could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, Cheam Yeap, chief of the National Assembly’s Finance and Banking Committee, defended Nguon Nhel’s need for an armada of aides.

“This serves the interest of the nation and helps [Nguon Nhel] lead the legislature,” Cheam Yeap said. “It allows our leaders to get intelligent and expert advice.”

The allegations come as the government pushes forward with a campaign of self-described public administration reform. According to a September circular from the Council of Ministers, government promotions and salary raises have been suspended for this year on orders from Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The premier also called for the number of contracted and temporary staffers in the government to be halved, though he granted exceptions for the health and education sectors.

In September of last year, an International Monetary Fund mission to Cambodia warned that increased spending and “very large increases in the civil service and military wage bill” were running up the Kingdom’s deficit to unsustainable levels.

“The mission cautioned against allowing significant increases in the wage bill to become entrenched, as this could risk crowding out spending on priority sectors such as health, education, and operations and maintenance,” the IMF said at the time.

Koh Kong villagers attempt to block road


Photo by: Photo Supplied
Villagers involved in a land dispute plead with police in Koh Kong province’s Sre Ambel district during a protest on Friday.

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:02 May Titthara

VILLAGERS involved in a long-simmering land dispute in Koh Kong province say they will send a new petition to authorities, after four protesters suffered injuries this past weekend while attempting to block a national road.

Ouch Leng, a programme officer for rights group Adhoc, said villagers blocked National Road 48 in Sre Ambel district Friday as part of a demonstration aimed at drawing attention to a dispute that could see 34 families evicted.

But a motorist who was angry with the traffic jam caused by the protest clashed with villagers, resulting in injuries to four of them, Ouch Leng said.

“The car owner tried to crash into the bed that villagers used to block the road,” said Ouch Leng, who described the injuries as “not serious”.

The villagers say they could be on the verge of eviction after a company owned by Koh Kong businessman Heng Huy set today as a deadline for the clearance of roughly 100 hectares of disputed land. The Supreme Court last year ruled that the land belonged to Heng Huy and another businessman.

Pher Nherng, a representative of the villagers, called the protest a “last choice” after Heng Huy began clearing parts of the disputed farmland last week. He said villagers yesterday began preparing a complaint to send to provincial, district and commune officials urging them to stop allowing military police to support Heng Huy. Last week, military police stood by as workers hired by Heng Huy cleared parts of the farmland. Pher Nherng said villagers also want authorities to issue land titles.

Heng Huy yesterday questioned how villagers could be issued land titles.

“How can they issue another land title to villagers if the land is already owned?”

Sre Ambel district governor Tuon Seila said that he would forward the complaint to provincial officials.

Labour agency investigated


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Kin Ya, 27, speaks to police at a training centre run by APMN, a local labour recruitment firm, in order to secure her release yesterday. The centre was raided after her husband claimed the company was holding her against her will.

via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:02 Kim Yuthana and Mom Kunthear

POLICE in Phnom Penh raided a labour recruitment training centre yesterday after a man complained that its director had refused to release his wife.

Chamkarmon district police officers dropped in on the training centre run by the firm APMN in the morning, said deputy district police chief Heang Tharet.

“We talked with the company staff about the complaint,” he said. “We told them that we cannot allow the woman to stay in this centre any longer because a man asked us to help his wife get out.”

The complainant, Prom Nai, said his wife, Kin Ya, had started training with the firm in July in the hope of becoming a domestic worker in
Malaysia.

But he said she wanted to quit because she was not permitted to leave the facility. The company, however, refused.

“The centre asked for US$975 from me if I wanted my wife to leave, but I don’t have that much money,” Prom Nai said.

Company officials agreed to a compromise fee of $300 following negotiations yesterday, he said.

Ben Sokpich, the chief of administration at the centre, yesterday confirmed that the company had agreed to accept a fee from the man in exchange for allowing his wife to leave.

“We asked for $975, but we accepted only $300 because we don’t want to have more problems for our centre,” she said.

Ben Sokpich rejected Prom Nai’s claims that workers were barred from leaving the training centre; they are only required to ask permission to leave, she said.

Sunday’s complaint comes as Labour Ministry officials deliberate ways of regulating the rapidly expanding labour recruitment industry, which has seen multiple new firms pop up in the last year in a bid to supply other countries with Cambodian labour.

Authorities have promised stricter rules in response to reports that women have been detained and forced to live in cramped quarters during training programmes.

Meanwhile, the father of a woman who died after falling ill at a centre run by a separate firm said yesterday that he planned to demand $20,000 in compensation, even though he had already agreed to a lesser payment of 1.2 million riels ($235).

Yun Mab died in hospital after she fell ill at a centre run by the firm VC Manpower.

Her father, Ream Vy, said that his daughter had bruises on her neck and face when she died.

However, the company said she died from a previously undiagnosed case of leukemia.

Sen Ly, VC Manpower’s director, could not be reached for comment.

An employee who answered the phone at the training centre yesterday, who declined to provide a name, said the company believed the case had been settled.

Police Blotter: 30 Aug 2010


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:00 Sun Narin

Last-minute doubts halt girl’s cremation
Relatives of a supposedly dead teenage girl in Kandal province suddenly aborted a cremation ceremony after they began to suspect that she was still alive. The girl’s body was to have been cremated last week. But when a relative opened the coffin at the last minute, it was discovered that the girl’s hand had fallen from her chest. Then the relatives touched the girl’s body and determined that she was not dead, citing the fact that her skin was still soft and pale and did not smell bad. A doctor examined the body and could not decide whether the girl was dead or alive.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Booze, mystery Lexus blamed for taxi’s flip
A spectacular crash near Phnom Penh’s Mohamontrey pagoda on Friday caused a taxi to flip over, but no one was killed, police reported. The driver of the taxi told police that a Lexus sedan zigzagging across the road slammed into his vehicle, causing it to crash into a divider and flip over. He denied charges from police that he was driving while under the influence of alcohol. The taxi was sent to municipal officials, and the taxi company vowed to pay for any damage caused to public property.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Drinking, car smash make drivers sleepy
Police in Battambang province had little trouble finding three men accused of drunkenly crashing a car into a statue, after the suspects apparently stumbled out of their car after the accident to curl up and take naps beside the sculpture. Witnesses reported seeing three drunken men in the car. The collision apparently made the trio very sleepy. Police reported that the victims appeared to be quite intoxicated. One of the men told police the group had just left a “wine house”. Both the car and decorations around the statue sustained damage, though none of the three men was injured.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Cops find kidnapping victim, but not suspect
Police in Pursat province have launched an investigation into a man accused of kidnapping a 19-year-old woman. The woman’s family lodged a complaint against the man when she was taken to the capital. After receiving the complaint, Phnom Penh police found the woman in a guesthouse, but she was not with the suspect at the time. The woman told police that the man, who posed as a security guard when they first met, promised to arrange for her to live in the United States. She said he invited her to eat with him, and that he must have placed something in her drink that caused her to pass out. When she awoke, she said, she found herself in the guesthouse.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Khmer Krom: Group calls for monk’s release


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:02 Sebastian Strangio

Khmer Krom

THE Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation has condemned the reported arrest of an ethnic Khmer abbot in southern Vietnam last month, while decrying the treatment of the country’s Khmer minority. According to a statement issued by the organisation on Wednesday, Thach Sophon was arrested by Vietnamese police on July 29, and his current location is unknown.

“This is only one instance of the many human rights violations carried out by the Vietnamese government,” UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin was quoted as saying. The statement called on the Vietnamese government to release Thach Sophon and “allow members of the Khmer Krom minority and other ethnic minorities and religious communities to voice their opinions freely”.

In an August 23 statement, the local Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community also slammed the arrest of Thach Sophon, calling for the Cambodian government to intervene on his behalf.

“We would like to appeal to the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and both national and international organisations to legally intervene,” it said.

ERW casualties cause alarm


via Khmer NZ

Monday, 30 August 2010 15:02 Sam Rith

LAND mine and explosive remnants of war accidents claimed five lives and caused 13 injuries last month, bringing the casualty total for the first seven months of this year to 184, according to new statistics.

That total marks a 7 percent increase over 2009, according to a Cambodian Mine/Explosive Remnants of War Victim Information System report released last week.

After about five years of minor fluctuation, Cambodia recorded a 50 percent decrease in casualties in 2006, and the total has declined every year since. Last year, there were 244 casualties.

Chhiv Lim, the CMVIS project manager, yesterday said he was alarmed by the increase in casualties this year, which he described as unexpected.

Some 50 casualties were recorded in May, which was the worst month nationwide in nearly three years.

“We are very surprised because this year we have seen the number of land-mine casualties increase a lot, “ Chhiv Lim said. “We do not yet know the reason why there have been many land-mine casualties this year.”

He said that he intended to form a “working group” next week that would be instructed to “study the issue”.

Of the 18 casualties recorded last month, 16 were male and two were female, according to the CMVIS report.

Five, including one girl, were reportedly children.

There were nine separate incidents, and in each case the relevant area was not marked as contaminated.