Tuesday, 31 August 2010
A visitor poses for photographs in the Bayon Temple in the northern province of Siem Reap, about 320 km (199 miles) from Phnom Penh, August 31, 2010. Tourist arrivals to Cambodia increased by 14 percent to 1.42 million people during the first seven months this year as compared to the same period in 2009, said Kong Sophearak, Director of Statistics at the Tourism Ministry. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
A tourist poses for photographs in the Bayon Temple in the northern province of Siem Reap, about 320 km (199 miles) from Phnom Penh August 31, 2010. Tourist arrivals to Cambodia increased by 14 percent to 1.42 million people, during the first seven months this year as compared to the same period in 2009, said Kong Sophearak, Director of Statistics at the Tourism Ministry. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
Visitors pose for photographs near the Angkor Wat temple in the northern province of Siem Reap, about 320 km (199 miles) from Phnom Penh, August 31, 2010. Tourist arrivals to Cambodia increased by 14 percent to 1.42 million people during the first seven months this year as compared to the same period in 2009, said Kong Sophearak, Director of Statistics at the Tourism Ministry. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
Tourists visit the Bayon Temple in the northern province of Siem Reap, about 320 km (199 miles) from Phnom Penh August 31, 2010. Tourist arrivals to Cambodia increased by 14 percent to 1.42 million people, during the first seven months this year as compared to the same period in 2009, said Kong Sophearak, Director of Statistics at the Tourism Ministry. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
An official checks the ticket of a tourist at the entrance of the Angkor Wat temple in the northern province of Siem Reap, about 320 km (199 miles) from Phnom Penh August 31, 2010. Tourist arrivals to Cambodia increased by 14 percent to 1.42 million people, during the first seven months this year as compared to the same period in 2009, said Kong Sophearak, Director of Statistics at the Tourism Ministry. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
Boys try to sell a rain coat to a tourist in the rain at the Angkor Wat temple in the northern province of Siem Reap, about 320 km (199 miles) from Phnom Penh August 31, 2010. Tourist arrivals to Cambodia increased by 14 percent to 1.42 million people, during the first seven months this year as compared to the same period in 2009, said Kong Sophearak, Director of Statistics at the Tourism Ministry. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea
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via Khmer NZ
Tue, Aug 31, 2010
The Nation/Asia News Network
Thailand and Cambodia can restore ties knowing they are Asean members and can share economic benefits
One would not think that fence mending between Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen was possible considering the viciousness behind the Cambodian leader's attack on Abhisit last October.
Nevertheless, here we are at a possible reconciliation, and it should be welcomed. It's kiss and make up time for both sides. One may end up wondering what all the fuss was about in the first place.
Perhaps bygones don't matter anymore, now that the two countries have decided to move on from microphone diplomacy and restore bilateral ties at the highest level. The respective ambassadors have been reinstated. Essentially, this means that diplomacy is back on track.
Another positive development has been the release of three Thai villagers who were detained by Cambodian soldiers when they strayed across the border. They were simply foraging for forest products to make ends meet. Nevertheless, one wonders if the three would be released if the political atmosphere were not on the upswing.
The move towards diplomatic normalisation comes with the announcement that fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra is no longer working as an "economic adviser" to Cambodia. It was generally realised on both sides of the border that the position was a way of antagonising Thailand rather than assisting Cambodia and its economy in any meaningful way.
The ousted Thai leader, wanted on charges of corruption, likes to represent himself as a champion of the poor, and his appointment in Cambodia was supposed to be a testimony to that status. But the nature of his entry into this cross-border quarrel, as well as his departure, suggests that Thaksin was just a political pawn. But still, he was willing to play a part in the hypocrisy as it showed Thailand that he maintains powerful friendships.
The advisory appointment of Thaksin was simply Hun Sen's way of getting back at Abhisit for obstructing Cambodia's bid to put the 12th century Preah Vihear temple on the Unesco's World Heritage list, and holding the Hindu-Khmer ruins hostage to border demarcation. While in opposition, Abhisit had charged that the then government of Samak Sundaravej had violated the Constitution by endorsing Cambodia's bid to propose the temple for World Heritage status. The border map submitted to Unesco by Cambodia could help strengthen Cambodia's claim to disputed, overlapping territories, he argued. Since then, bilateral ties have been frosty to say the least.
Fortunately, it didn't take long for Hun Sen to realise that Thaksin had outlived his usefulness and that the only way forward was to accept the fugitive's resignation and get bilateral ties back on track. Thaksin should now realise that his departure from the Thai-Cambodia equation benefits the two countries.
A number of issues had to be placed on the backburner as the two sides carried on a lengthy spitting contest that essentially served no purpose. But beside the border demarcation, the two countries still have overlapping territorial claims in the Gulf of Thailand that need to be addressed. Potential investment benefits from natural gas and oil deposits await the two countries in the Gulf, but neither side will be able to move on this until the land issue is resolved.
We hope that the economic incentives will be enough to motivate the two sides to get back to the negotiating table. But we shouldn't hold our breath. Although the political situation in Thailand is improving, there exists a group of ultra-nationalists who are prepared to cause more violence if they detect one move from the government they don't like.
Moving bilateral relations forward should now be somewhat easier, at least with Thaksin out of the immediate equation. However, both sides will have to display maturity and courage to ensure that pending issues can be resolved with any degree of normalcy. Importantly, Thailand and Cambodia are both active members of Asean, and this fact should be paramount in their attitudes.
The two leaders are scheduled to meet face to face in early October. Both have learned the hard way that politicising foreign relations for domestic consumption serves no one's interest. Now let's hope they have the courage to do the right thing.
Dengue is endemic in Cambodia (pop. estimates 14.4 million), a country with poor health and economic indicators.
Disease burden estimates help decision makers in setting priorities. Using recent estimates of dengue incidence in Cambodia, we estimated the cost of dengue and its burden using disability adjusted life years (DALYs).
Methods: Recent population-based cohort data were used to calculate direct and productive costs, and DALYs.
Health seeking behaviors were taken into account in cost estimates. Specific age group incidence estimates were used in DALYs calculation.
Results: The mean cost per dengue case varied from US$36 - $75 over 2006-2008 respectively, resulting in an overall annual cost from US$3,327,284 in 2008 to US$14,429,513 during a large epidemic in 2007.
Patients sustain the highest share of costs by paying an average of 78%of total costs and 63% of direct medical costs. DALY rates per 100,000 individuals ranged from 24.3 to 100.6 in 2007-2008 with 80% on average due to premature mortality.
Conclusion: Our analysis confirmed the high societal and individual family burden of dengue.
Total costs represented between 0.03 and 0.17% of Gross Domestic Product. Health seeking behavior has a major impact on costs.
The more accurate estimate used in this study will better allow decision makers to account for dengue costs particularly among the poor when balancing the benefits of introducing a potentially effective dengue vaccine.
Author: Julien BeauteSirenda Vong
Credits/Source: BMC Public Health 2010
Posted : Tue, 31 Aug 2010
By : Robert Carmichael
Phnom Penh - Problem: How to improve rural sanitation in a poor country where just one in seven people has access to a latrine? Solution: Sell unsubsidized toilets.
It sounds like the wrong answer to an important question, but for one non-governmental organization it is working.
The group is IDE Cambodia, whose slogan - "Fighting Rural Poverty with Profit" - sums up its approach. Since December, IDE has trained more than a dozen entrepreneurs who have gone door-to-door selling 6,000 latrines to villagers in a handful of districts.
Cordell Jacks, a Canadian with a background in finance, runs the project. It began two years ago with a redesign of the standard rural toilet: Three concrete rings dropped in a 2-metre deep pit, with a concrete slab on top, a pan and a few other items.
The EZ Latrine, which recently won an international design award, costs just 35 dollars and is simple to install.
Jacks says IDE's approach is unique: No subsidies. Instead villagers calculate how much time and money they will save by spending 35 dollars on an EZ Latrine.
"In the last nine months it's gone really well," he says of sales. "Every single one of those latrines has been completely financed by the household. There's been absolutely no subsidy - not one dollar."
Most Cambodian villagers use the "open defecation" method. That simply involves walking out of your home after dark - to preserve your modesty - and finding a suitable patch of ground.
The result is untreated human waste near homes. Illness and death are often not far behind. The lack of rural sanitation is one reason Cambodia's under-five mortality rate is among the highest in Asia.
Dr Chea Samnang heads the department of rural healthcare at the Ministry of Rural Development. It is his job to ensure 30 per cent - or 720,000 rural households - have access to sanitation by 2015.
Five years ago just 16 per cent of rural households were covered. That has reached 23 per cent, and he is confident the 30-per-cent goal will be met. After that the aim is 100-per-cent coverage by 2025.
Chea Samnang says the government's strategy to improve rural hygiene and sanitation involves educating villagers on three key messages using television spots and teams on the ground.
The first is to encourage villagers to build toilets using their own resources. He says every household in a village must have access to a toilet, otherwise the risk of transmittable disease remains.
"The second one is hand-washing with soap after defecation and before eating," he says. "And the third message is about safe drinking water at home."
He says the health of villagers living in 500 villages now classed as free of open defecation has improved since they gained access to toilets.
Two years ago the World Bank said poor hygiene and sanitation cost Cambodia 450 million dollars a year - around 150 dollars per family - in medical costs and days off sick.
The message is simple: Let villagers know how much open defecation costs them, and give them a cheaper alternative. Then use the profit motive to push sales by training local entrepreneurs to make and sell the latrines.
Before the EZ Latrine was launched, the only way to get a similar toilet was to visit the village mason. He provided a list of parts, and the villager headed to the nearest town to buy everything.
It was time-consuming and at up to 200 dollars, expensive. As a result many stuck with open defecation.
Jacks says IDE turned the process on its head. It trained local entrepreneurs - typically small businessmen who manufacture cement products - to make EZ Latrines and take them to the villages.
"Producers will load up their trucks with these latrines, go into villages, market and educate about proper sanitation and hygiene, and sell latrines door to door or at village meetings," he says.
"It's completely revolutionized sanitation as an industry here," he adds, explaining that a household can install one in a day.
IDE's self-reliance approach chimes with the government, and the group now works with the ministry. Chea Samnang says once the 2015 target is attained, the government will need to reach two million more households.
Those deemed too poor to afford anything will be helped to build a dry-pit latrine, which costs perhaps three dollars.
"And starting from that, if they understand that it is useful for their family, then we can work with them further to improve their sanitation," he says.
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By Clifford McCoy
SINGAPORE - As the United States strengthens its military-to-military ties in Southeast Asia, the risk is rising that the "soft power" competitive dynamic for regional influence with China could soon return to the "hard power" confrontation of the Cold War.
Stepped up US military links through a series of joint exercises and new defense agreements with countries in the region, in tandem with renewed political engagements, are becoming more apparently aimed at containing China's growing influence. With China already on edge over large-scale US-South Korean naval exercises held in the East Sea/Sea of Japan in July and directed at North Korea, state media in Beijing announced that China simultaneously carried out military exercises in the South China Sea, claiming them as the largest of their kind.
Despite that competitive show of force, Washington appears undeterred in reasserting its strategic interests in the region. United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates has committed to attending the inaugural meeting of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hanoi in October - and the South China Sea is expected to be a hot topic of discussion. The US commander of the Pacific Command, Admiral Robert Willard, told reporters in Manila on August 18 that Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea was causing concern in the region, but the US would work to ensure security and protect important trade lanes.
In the latest move to strengthen military ties, the United States courted its old adversary Vietnam with a week-long series of bilateral exercises focused mainly on damage control and search and rescue, held aboard the USS John S McCain after it docked in the central Vietnam port of Danang on August 10. At the same time, a delegation of Vietnamese military and political officials were hosted aboard the carrier USS George Washington as it steamed through the South China Sea. The exercises and visit were billed as part of wider celebrations to mark the 15th anniversary of US-Vietnamese relations. Military-to-military ties have improved steadily since being restored by a 2003 port call to Ho Chi Minh City by an American naval vessel, and earlier this year Vietnamese shipyards repaired two ships of the US Military Sealift Command.
Enemy cum ally
The exercises were followed on August 17 by the first high-level defense dialogue between Washington and Hanoi. US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Robert Scher met Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh in Hanoi for talks that reportedly focused on military exchanges, training and collaboration in search and rescue, and humanitarian and disaster-relief operations. The sale of US defense equipment was reportedly not discussed, and Vietnam still remains banned under US legislation from receiving so-called ''lethal-end'' military equipment such as small arms, fighter aircraft or combat vessels. Previous talks in 2008 were on the State Department-Foreign Ministry level.
While none of these military-to-military moves are particularly provocative to China, they are steps towards building trust between US and Vietnamese armed forces. Vietnam has recently shown signs of being receptive to a US military presence in the region to counterbalance China and provide more muscle behind its claims in the South China Sea. With the high-level dialogue now complete, Washington and Hanoi can now move on to more substantive arrangements.
In June, US President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced in Jakarta that the two countries would form a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The agreement, signed by Scher and Indonesian Director for Strategy and Planning Major General Syarifudin Tippe, is intended to further integrate existing defense collaboration.
A new defense cooperation agreement covers training, defense industry collaboration, procurement of military equipment, security dialogue and maritime security. This was followed on July 22 by a US announcement that it would resume cooperation with Kopassus, Indonesia's elite special forces unit. The announcement followed a meeting between Gates and President Yudhoyono.
United States assistance to Kopassus was cut by the so-called Leahy law, which bans training and other assistance to foreign military units where there is credible evidence they have committed gross human rights violations. Since the 1970s, domestic and international human rights organizations have accused Kopassus of human rights abuses in Aceh, East Timor, Papua and during riots in Jakarta in 1998.
The ban can be waived, however, if the US secretary of state certifies that "effective measures" have been taken by a foreign government to bring members of the relevant unit to justice. Washington has said training will not be offered to Kopassus immediately and it has reserved the right to vet individual Kopassus members before participation in any US-led training. The agreement, however, removes the last obstacle to resuming full military relations between the two countries.
Additionally, it provides the US potentially greater influence with Indonesia's politically powerful military given Kopassus's traditional role as a stepping stone for future military leaders. The US supported Indonesia's military throughout the Cold War, but relations soured in 1991 when the US Congress cut Indonesia's eligibility for international military education and training (IMET) and to purchase certain types of "lethal" military equipment after soldiers massacred more than 100 peaceful demonstrators in East Timor. Then-president Bill Clinton cut all remaining military ties when Indonesian troops and local militias rampaged through East Timor in the wake of a vote to secede from Indonesia in 1999, although they were quietly restored the following year.
The events of 9/11 and the Bali bombings in 2002 gave new impetus to improving relations with the world's most populous Muslim nation, and military relations have since steadily improved. In 2003, despite strong opposition from Congress, funds were released for training Indonesian officers. This was followed in 2005 by the repeal of an arms embargo. Between 2006 and 2009, the US Global Train and Equipment Program provided Indonesia with over $47 million to fight smuggling, piracy and trafficking. The installation of radar systems, particularly in the Makassar and Malacca straits, has been sponsored by the Department of Defense.
In 2009, the US and Indonesia co-hosted the Garuda Shield multilateral military exercises in Bandung. More than 1,000 soldiers from nine countries participated in drills focused on peace support operations. In June this year, another multilateral exercise was held in West Java to boost cooperation and professionalism in UN peacekeeping operations. Jointly organized by the Indonesian and American militaries, soldiers from Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal and Brunei Darussalam also took part. Indonesian troops also take part in the annual Cobra Gold exercises in Thailand.
Cambodia is yet another ASEAN country in which the US has taken military interest. In July, the US and Cambodia co-hosted the Angkor Sentinel '10 multilateral military exercises involving 1,200 soldiers from 23 countries. Although aimed at providing training in peacekeeping operations, many observers saw these first exercises between the two countries as a way for the US to get closer to Cambodia's military.
The US has provided Cambodia with over $4.5 million in military equipment and training since 2006 and Cambodia joined the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) regional naval exercises for the first time this year. The warming trend has not come without controversy as human-rights activists protest against the inclusion of Cambodian military units linked to human rights violations in US military training programs.
Stepped up US interest in improving defense ties with Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia is seen by observers as a component of Washington's new strategy to re-engage with Southeast Asia and to re-assert its commitment to the region's security. This re-engagement has often been viewed as aimed at countering China's growing assertiveness in territorial disputes and naval presence in the region, concerns shared by several ASEAN members. Both Vietnam and Indonesia occupy strategically important geographical positions in the South China Sea and the straits of Malacca and Makassar. They share a historical wariness of Chinese ambitions that may make them more willing to partner with the US.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton irked Beijing in July when she declared the US has a "national interest" in seeing disputes over territorial claims in the South China Sea settled through multilateral talks, which she said the US was prepared to facilitate. China sees the area as in its own strategic sphere of interest and is particularly sensitive about the issue. Clinton's remarks were seen as siding with Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia over territorial disputes that involve sovereignty over potentially large oil reserves.
In an August 16 annual report to Congress prepared by the Department of Defense, predictions were made about increased Chinese patrols in the South China Sea. It also raised concerns about increased investments in weapons, such as long-range missiles, submarines, and aircraft carriers, that would allow Beijing to project power into the area.
The rising rivalry between Washington and Beijing for influence in Southeast Asia has until now focused mainly on soft power initiatives involving diplomatic exchanges, official aid and economic incentives. But expanding US military ties, provocative statements about sensitive issues such as the South China Sea and overwrought reactions could jeopardize the peaceful competition. A return to the hard-power politics of the Cold War is something most ASEAN nations would prefer to avoid. But as US-China competition shifts toward security issues, countries may increasingly be pressured to choose sides.
Clifford McCoy is a freelance journalist.
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31 August 2010
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31 August 2010
Cambodia is one of the world's most heavily mined countries and is littered with unexploded ordnance from nearly three decades of civil war (Getty)
A drunk Cambodian man accidentally detonated an old grenade that he was using as a pretend microphone, killing himself and three other men and wounding three women, police say.
The rocket-propelled grenade, a remnant of the country's decades of war, exploded on Sunday near a small gathering in Pursat province in western Cambodia, local police chief Pich Sopheap told AFP by telephone.
"The explosion occurred after a drunken man used an unexploded B-40 grenade as a microphone while he was singing and later hit it against a wooden stick," said Pich Sopheap.
The blast killed the 30-year-old man and three male farmers instantly, and critically injured three women who were chatting nearby underneath a raised house, he said.
Cambodia, one of the world's most heavily mined countries, is littered with unexploded ordnance from nearly three decades of civil war and the secret US bombing of the nation in the Vietnam War.
In May, five plantation workers were killed after their vehicle hit an old anti-tank mine in a former stronghold of the communist Khmer Rouge rebels.
Around 670 square kilometres still needs to be cleared of explosives, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in February.
via Khmer NZ
Posted on Tue, Aug. 31, 2010
By Michael Matza
Inquirer Staff Writer
DAVID M WARREN / Staff PhotographerHov Ly Kol's friends and family rally against his deportation to Cambodia. His years in prison turned him around, they say.
Hov Ly Kol survived the "killing fields" of 1970s Cambodia and the crowded refugee camps of Thailand and the Philippines. In 1985, with his mother and a younger brother, he legally entered the United States as a refugee.
Barring a last-minute stay of removal, Kol, 35, will be headed back to Cambodia on Tuesday - deported for taking part in a robbery that ended in murder.
He is among about 50 Cambodian Americans across the nation awaiting imminent expulsion for crimes for which they have already served prison time, according to his supporters. Deportation, they say, is a second round of punishment that creates a "climate of fear and paranoia" in Cambodian American communities.
Authorities, however, say Kol and the others scheduled for imminent removal are precisely the "criminal aliens" that Congress targeted when it passed two laws in 1996 tightening immigration rules.
Kol served 12 years in Pennsylvania prisons for two house robberies in January 1995. In one, he acted as a lookout for another gang member who shot and killed a man. Kol pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and faced a maximum of 26 years behind bars. By law, he should have been deported immediately when he was paroled in 2007.
Although Cambodia has had an agreement since 2002 to accept deportees from the United States, it would not issue travel documents for Kol at the time of his release from prison, for reasons never fully explained. So federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities released him back to his South Philadelphia neighborhood under intensive monitoring and supervision.
The delay in his removal while he remained free opened the door for community sympathy and support. There, his supporters say, he demonstrated that he had turned his life around by cleaning up playgrounds in his South Sixth Street neighborhood, volunteering with children, and providing for his mother and siblings, including his sister, Jeannette, 20, a Temple University student.
He was "young and dumb" when he committed his crime, his sister said. "I understand he committed a felony. But he did his time. And he came out changed."
At a rally Monday on Independence Mall, Kol's supporters portrayed him as a model for penal rehabilitation. They want the federal courts to review his case rather than impose a mandatory penalty.
Kol attended Taggert School and dropped out of Furness High School when he was arrested. For a quarter-century, he has lived in America. He speaks some Khmer, the language of Cambodia, but he will find daily life there extremely hard, said family friend Sopha Nguy, 28.
"I speak a lot of Cambodian," she said, "but if you sent me to live over there, I couldn't survive."
Nguy sat with Kol's mother, Sokhoeurn Kol, 55, at the demonstration, billed as "A Day of Action Against Deportation." It included a performance by AZI, a Cambodian American hip-hop group, and drew about 80 supporters.
This month, Cambodia issued the necessary travel documents. Kol was arrested and was transferred last week from a prison in York, Pa., to one on the West Coast to await deportation.
Instead of mandatory deportation, "there should be a process for individualized consideration of these cases," said Mia-lia Kiernan of Deported Diaspora, one of the organizers of the rally. "They're not terrorists. They've served their time. They've learned."
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Posted on 30 August 2010
A Christian missionary said recently that 90 percent of prostitutes in Cambodia are sold into this industry by their parents.
Ruth Elliott, a British missionary and head of Daughters of Cambodia, said the young girls feel a need to stay in the sex trade to support their families. Elliott first arrived in Cambodia in 2004, and formed Daughters of Cambodia, which has helped sex trafficking victims for six years, CBN News said.
Elliott says, “They live in the pit of hell. It’s the truth. And they experience horrendous trauma when they come out.” Elliott said God called her to this work when she was only 14 years old, saying, “[God] wanted me to go into the places that were worst and to facilitate healing the broken-hearted and setting the captives free,” CBN News said.
Elliott does her work by entering Cambodia’s brothels and asking the sex victims if they want to change their lives. If they are amenable, she invites them to her day-center which is located within the area, CBN News said.
She said change is possible when the girls learn new ways to earn a living. “We had to start small businesses, which are fair trade businesses, in order for the girls to exit the sex industry. For without another job, it is just impossible for them to leave,” CBN News said.
The girls are also taught important lessons for a healthy domestic life, noting, “Things like domestic violence prevention, conflict resolution skills, budgeting skills, this kind of thing. [Also] drug prevention,” CBN News said.
Daughters of Cambodia can have up to 60 girls at a time per program, who learn new skills to pay for food, rent and other necessities by selling products they make such as fashion accessories, clothes and furnishings locally and for export, CBN News said.
The emotional trauma from having been in the sex industry is also addressed. As a psychologist, Elliott counsels victims and trains counselors for this growing work. She also engages in evangelization, CBN News said.
Her ministry includes brothel owners and pimps noting, “We want everyone in the sex industry to come to our church because we believe in the power of Jesus to change everyone’s life,” CBN News said.
But the girls easily accept Jesus she says, noting, “They have never in their lives experienced love — unconditional love and acceptance. And many of them become Christians as a result of this,” CBN News said.
While the work can be dangerous, Elliott sees God’s protection and faithfulness in that they have never had any problems noting, “I believe the grace of God is on us,” CBN said.
On their website, Daughters of Cambodia posted one girl’s story. She was left by her parents to work as a maid in a wealthy Cambodian family home at the age of 14, but was not paid her salary and was fed twice daily. The husband made sexual advances, forcing her to run away, the website said.
Her parents were working in Thailand so she was left in the streets. A girl she met got her a job in a Karaoke bar, which turned out to be a brothel. In this way, she was coerced into prostitution, the website said.
The girl said, “I had little choice about who I had to have sex with because they were wealthy or threatened me… Customers often made derogatory comments to me; they did not care if I was crying… There was nobody willing to help me and I cried alone every night…I started to think I was crazy. I was often so depressed; I felt I had no worth or value and my life was cheap. I cannot describe the pain,” the website said.
At Daughters she said, “I find comfort and strength, the staff value me, I have close friends and I know many people here love me and care about me. And I can talk to people here if I feel bad. I feel loved,” the website said.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung received visiting Cambodian Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana in Hanoi on August 30.
At the reception, PM Dung said he was pleased with the fine judiciary cooperation between the two countries’ Ministries of Justice and affirmed that Vietnam wants to strengthen bilateral cooperation in all aspects, especially in politics-diplomacy, economics, socio-culture and justice.
The Government leader suggested both sides make greater efforts to sign an agreement on judicial assistance which helps boost the economic-commercial cooperation between the two countries.
The signing of the agreement would create a legal foundation for Vietnamese and Cambodian people and businesses to exchange cooperative programmes and projects and strengthen mutual understanding and trust between the two nations, he noted.
For his part, Minister Ang Vong Vathana emphasised that Vietnam-Cambodia relations have constantly been consolidated over the years.
He added that during their talks, his ministry and the Vietnamese counterpart agreed on necessary contents for the signing of the judicial assistance agreement between the two countries. VOVNews/Vietnamplus
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August, 31 2010
HA NOI — Viet Nam and Cambodia should speed up negotiations for a civilian and trade judiciary assistance agreement to create the necessary legal framework for enterprises of the two countries to co-operate more efficiently.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the statement while receiving Cambodia's Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana who has been on a six-day working visit to Viet Nam since August 27 at the invitation of Vietnamese counterpart Ha Hung Cuong.
Applauding the Cambodian Justice Ministry delegation's visit to attend the 65th anniversary of Viet Nam's justice sector, Dung expressed his pleasure at the co-operation in the judicial sector between the two sides.
He highly appreciated the outcome of the dialogue between the two ministries, saying that the signing of the agreement would lay the foundation for people and enterprises of the two countries to conduct trade co-operation projects and improve the understanding and mutual trust between the two nations.
Dung affirmed that Viet Nam was always willing to join hands with Cambodia in all sectors from politics, economics and culture to social affairs and justice.
Minister Ang Vong Vathana said that he and his Vietnamese counterpart had exchanged a lot of experience in the judicial sector such as building laws and training lawyers as well as discussing the contents of the assistance agreement and measures to boost co-operation in the future. — VNS
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Cambodia Will Invite Hollywood Stars to Promote Tourism Industry
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 06:37 DAP NEWS / VIBOL
CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 31, 2010-Cambodian Tourism Ministry announced on Tuesday that it will invite the Hollywood stars to be here to help promote the tourism industry in the country while Cambodia host the ASEAN Tourism Forum on January 2010.
We will invite Jackie Chan, and other Hollywood stars to be here during that event, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said in the opening ceremony of launching tourism website and ATF 2010.
the 30th ATF 2011 will convene ASEAN’s National Tourism Institutions, ASEAN Tourism Ministers, ASEAN Tourism Ministers and ASEAN plus 3, India, Australia, Russia, and GMS’s Tourism MInisters Meeting and ASEAN Tourism conference (ATC) attended by prominent speakers and various meetings, he added.
The ministry of tourism has two website, one is http://www.mot.gov.kh/ and www.tourismcambodia.org to promote tourism industry and ASEAN plans to turn the region into one big destination for tourists. He said that the ATF will be held under the theme of ASEAN- a world of wonders and diversity which conforms to existing tourism potentials in ASEAN and Cambodia tourism has been in a significant progress after global economic recovery. For first semester of 2010, international tourists to Cambodia reach 1,222, 156, an increase of 12.3 per cent comapred to the same period in 2009. Cambodia will receive around 2.4 million tourist arrivals in 2010, an increase of approximately 12 per cent. Cambodia outbound tourism surged 61 per cent to 276,607.
Cambodia also started to count down the ATF, and now it remains 137 days. Cambodia prepared 1300 rooms of hotels to welcome ATF.
14 Senior Officials of Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit Swear for Duties
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 06:34 DAP NEWS / VIBOL
CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 31, 2010 -14 senior officials from Cambodia’s anti-corruption unit on Tuesday swore at the appeal court for implementing their duties.
They need to swear before sacred objects to practice their work effectively and efficiently,” OM Yentieng , head of anti-corruption unit told reporters after the swearing -in-ceremony.
The swearing words included death from lightning strike, traffic accidents, and death of the whole families if those officials did not implement their work not by law.
Over 100,000 governmental officials will declare their asset according to the law of combating corruption which was passed in March.
The unit will create the website to get complaint and help investigate, Om added. He added: we need to clean our staffs before we go to clean their officials. We also will investigate our members first and people that they involved avoiding corruption cases. Cambodia also has the national council of fighting against corruption. The unit has role to face with the national council and has role to report annually.
Indian and Slovakian Presidents Will Visit Cambodia Late Year
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 06:30 DAP NEWS / Sopheak
CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 31, 2010-Indian and Slovakian presidents will visit Cambodia in mid-September respectively to strengthen the bilateral cooperation, Cambodia’s senior officials said on Tuesday.
The announcement made by chairman of the commission of international cooperation and information of the national assembly, Cheang Vun after he visited India. Vun continued that the Indian and Slovakian presidents visit here according to invitation from Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni.
India and Slovakia is the long and old friend of Cambodia. India is only democratic country that had supported Cambodia in 1980s. At that time, Cambodia got the economic embargo from the outside world.
Last week, Vietnamese president paid a state visit to Cambodia according to the invitation from respected King Norodom Sihamoni. “The visits of world leaders are here .it showed Cambodia created good cooperation with outside world, and it is a good image of the country at the international stages, Koy Khuong, spokesman for foreign ministry told by phone.
Cambodian Court Summons Opposition Leader Kem Sokha over Breach of Trust’s Complaint
Monday, 30 August 2010 13:33 DAP NEWS / VIBOL
CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 30, 2010-Cambodia’s Phnom Penh court on Monday summoned opposition leader Kem Sokha , president of human right party to appear the court on September 6, 2010 over relating to the beach of trust’s complaint which filed by his former colleagues.
“I just got the summons’s letter for Mr. President to appear at the court for questioning over the complaint,” Ngem Putharith, a lawmaker and senior member of the Human right party told by phone.
My president left Cambodia for a visit in the United States and he will be back at mi-October, Ngem added. Sok Roeun, deputy head of prosecutors of court issued that summons.
His former colleagues lodged the lawsuit against Kem over breach of trust through cheating money while Kem had worked as head of human right center in 2006.
Kem told media many times previously that those colleagues hated him after their project ended. The donors cleaned that project. I did not involve in that case. Those former colleagues have intentions to destroy the human right center. The donor audited the project and investigated. I did nothing, Kem said at that time.
Chim Phalvirun, a former of Kem’s colleague still insisted that we all filed lawsuit against Sokha because he was cheated us and kept our money even the phone card and some money of our salary.
Khem Sokha, a former chairman of committee of human right of the national assembly in 1990s, and in 2000s, he was a senator in charge of human right committee of the senate. Now, outspoken lawmaker and head of human right party, he lead his party joining general election in 2008. Human right party holds three of 123 seats in July 2008.
An Open Letter from Dr. Sorn Samnang, Cambodian Historian In response to Mr. Thepmontri’s Open Letter dated 24 August 2010
Monday, 30 August 2010 12:33 DAP NEWS
CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, AUGUST 30, 2010-Recently, Mr. Thepmontri Limpaphayom, claiming to be an “independent historian”, has sent an Open Letter to Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thai Prime Minister. To our knowledge, Mr. Thepmontri is also a political activist. So, the credibility of this historian is in question. Can he interpret the past following rigorous standards of critical inquiry? Can he vigorously assert before the public the integrity of the discipline? The following remarks may give the answers to these questions.
1. Mr. Thepmontri, a Thai political activist
Mr. Thepmontri Limpaphayom has actively participated in Thai political activities at least since 2009. In September 2009, Mr. Thepmontri and eight other Thai “scholars” lodged a suit to Thai Civil Court accusing Prime Minister Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Ministers Sok An and Foreign Minister Hor Nam Hong of “violating the Thai people's rights and liberties under the Thai constitution by encroaching on the Preah Vihear temple and the disputed area around the temple ruins”. The Civil Court rejected the suit, saying that “the issue was a dispute between two countries over the sovereignty of the area. It was not a civil matter” (cf. Court rejects Preah Vihear suit - Border dispute 'is not a civil matter' Writer: POST REPORTERS 15/09/2009).
The above rejection by the Thai Civil Court clearly showed that Mr. Thepmontri and his team were completely wrong.
Afterwards, in early August 2010, Mr. Thepmontri was one of the leaders of the demonstration participating in “a televised discussion with the Government on land dispute”. According to Thai Asean News Network, “the representatives of the Thai citizens consisting of the People's Alliance for Democracy Spokesperson Panthep Puapongphan, Thepmontri Limpaphayom, a prominent historian, Sompong Sucharitkul, a former member of Thailand's legal team on Preah Vihear Temple case at the International Court of Justice and Veera Somkwarmkid, a well-known social activist, held a discussion with the government represented by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit Khunkitti, Secretary to the Foreign Minister Chawanont Indhrakomarnsut and the prime minister's aide Sirichoke Sopa on the issue of the disputed land surrounding Preah Vihear Temple claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia. The three-hour session was broadcast live on national television. (cf. Citizens Hold Televised Discussion with Govt on Land Dispute, Thai Asean News Network UPDATE: 9 August 2010).
2. Mr. Thepmontri, a “prominent” historian?
Mr. Thepmontri Limpaphayom has been considered by some people as a “prominent” historian, as mentioned above. Recently, he has sent an Open Letter to Thai Prime Minister, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva. His Open Letter, dated 24 August 2010 and appeared on the Facebook page in Thai language, is entitled “Thepmontri offended as Khmers look down on Preah Naresuan, Abhisit remains indifferent”.
According to this letter, Mr. Thepmontri felt offended at the indifference of Thai Prime Minister vis-à-vis Prime Minister Hun Sen and his entourage who have disseminated an article concerning Thai King Naresuan by considering him as a crocodile or an ungrateful king. Being impatient for this, Mr. Thepmontri stated that “Cambodia has distorted history”, and he urged Thai Prime Minister to immediately respond to the above public statement, and also requested Cambodia especially Samdech Hun Sen and his entourage to offer their apologies.
Mr. Thepmontri, a historian with no rigorous standards, has accused Cambodia of distorting history. In reality, history has been distorted by some Thai ultra-nationalist politicians and political activists including Mr. Thepmontri.
3. What kind of King was Naresuan (or Naren-Sô or Phra Naret)?
As we know, a fictitious story about Thai King Naresuan has been told in Thailand, and has been highly appreciated by some Thai ultra-nationalist politicians. The Straits Times (18 August 2008) reported that “[...] generations of Thai students have been told that the Khmer King Satha attacked Ayutthaya while Siam was busy fighting the Burmese. But Siam's King Naresuan defeated and personally executed him, washing his own feet in King Satha's blood. King Naresuan today figures prominently on the banners and T-shirts of the nationalist-royalist People's Alliance for Democracy, which raised the Preah Vihear issue in its months of ongoing anti-government street protests in Bangkok. But the story is fictitious; King Satha was able to escape to Laos”.
(cf. Border talks burdened by ancient rivalry, in Straits Times, 18 August 2008).
Beside this, basing on credible sources, especially a history book written in French by a French historian, Mr. Adhémard Leclère, entiled “History of Cambodia” published in 1914, King Naresuan was indeed an ungrateful king. The following paragraph translated from French can provide enough evidence about this:
Preah Sotha (1567-1575). [...] Some months after the elevation to the throne of the new king, they learnt in Cambodia that the king of Hângsavadi or Pégouans [Burmese] had invaded the kingdom of Siam and walked on Ayuthyea with a powerful army. The king of the Siamese, leaning on the peace treaty which he had signed the previous year with the late king of Cambodia, sent an ambassador to ask for an army of assistance to the young king. This one, although the peace treaty signed by his father should not oblige him to take side of the king of Siam, sent an army of 20.000 men commended by the Cambodian obaréach [viceroy] to the aid of Ayuthyea. The pégouane [Burmese] army was defeated and expelled out of the border.
And, as the Siamese and Cambodian armies returned victorious, and that they camped near each other in Doeumpou-choeung-bey (the tree of Bodhi with three feet), the king of Siam, Naren-Sô (phra Naret), saw that the Khmer obaréach was sitting in his presence and did not prostrate himself as other mandarins. He addressed him some public and strict observations. The Cambodian prince answered him: “I am the representative of the king of Cambodia here and I am general-in-chief of a Cambodian army and the command of which he entrusted me; besides, I am of royal origin and obaréach; I have the right to the consideration of the king of Siam and I intend to be treated here, at the head of my army as the king”.
The king of Siam answered nothing but, to assert his right of unique leader, he gave order to take a man among the captives of the obaréach, to cut his head, and to put it at the end of a bamboo in front of the boat of the prince. The outraged obaréach took the road back to Cambodia (cf. Adhémard Leclère, Histoire du Cambodge, Paris 1914, p. 299).
As we can see above, instead of expressing his gratitude to Cambodian Viceroy and Cambodian army who had assisted him, King Naresuan committed an act of atrocity against a captive of Cambodian Viceroy. Due to this ironic and atrocious act, King Naresuan has been considered as an “ungrateful king” in Cambodian history.
Therefore, basing on these above-mentioned documents, King Naresuan is notorious for committing atrocious acts, both in Thai fictitious story (King Naresuan defeated and personally executed King Satha, washing his own feet in King Satha's blood) and in Cambodian history (King Naresuan gave order to kill a captive of Cambodian Viceroy). It is horrible! Peace-loving people cannot appreciate this “act of heroism”.
This is our response to Mr. Thepmontri’s Open Letter dated 24 August 2010 for the purpose of bringing new thinking on history, especially in our Era of Culture of Peace in the world we live in. It is not an opportune moment for giving high appreciation to any “bloodthirsty hero” in history.
Moreover, facts and interpretations of historical evidences should be conducted with respect to the truth, and not to serve partisan political interests. Only a correct perception can contribute to the alleviation of friction, to the normalization and enhancement of relations between our two countries, Cambodia and Thailand.
via Khmer NZ
Slovak President To Visit Cambodia in Early September
Phnom Penh, August 31, 2010 AKP -- President of the Slovak Republic H.E. Ivan Gasparovic will lead a high delegation to pay a State Visit to the Kingdom of Cambodia from Sept. 7 to 10, at the invitation of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.
The Slovak president will be received in Royal Audience by His Majesty the King at the Royal Palace, said a press release of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
Besides, H.E. Ivan Gasparovic will receive courtesy calls by Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim, President of the Senate, Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, and Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister.
During the visit, the Slovak president will also visit Angkor temples in Siem Reap province, the press release added.
The visit is aimed at strengthening and expanding the existing friendly ties and the bilateral cooperation between the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Slovak Republic, it said. --AKP
Cambodia To Examine Opening of Orthodox Office
Phnom Penh, August 31, 2010 AKP -- Visiting Orthodox Representative Mr. Eric Duval has sought a permission to open an Orthodox representative office in Cambodia to help the country in humanitarian works.
During a meeting here on Aug. 31 with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Mr. Eric Duval briefed the Cambodian premier on the Orthodoxy’s humanitarian activities in Cambodia, Ieng Sophalet, assistant to Samdech Techo Hun Sen, told reporters upon the meeting.
In reply, the Cambodian prime minister recommended Mr. Duval to address an official letter to the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, seeking its permission to open an Orthodox office in the Kingdom.
He further expressed his warm welcome and thanked Mr. Duval for his assistance to Cambodia, especially in building a health center in Pailin.
M. Eric Duval said he is planning to help Cambodia in the fields of education, health and agriculture. --AKP
(By LIM Nary)
Vietnamese PM Suggests Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement between Cambodia, Vietnam
Phnom Penh, August 31, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia and Vietnam should make joint efforts to sign an agreement on mutual legal assistance to boost the cooperation between the two nations, Chinese News Agency Xinhua quoted Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as saying in Hanoi on Monday.
Dung made the proposal at a meeting with Cambodian Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana during his working visit to Vietnam.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said at the meeting that Vietnam wants to increase cooperation with Cambodia in all fields including politics, diplomatics, economics, justice, culture and social affairs.
As Vietnam has had a long-lasting relationship with Cambodia, the two sides should further promote the friendship cooperation, said Dung.
Dung proposed the ministries of Justice of the two countries to work closely together to reach a mutual legal assistance agreement in order to boost the two countries’ economic and trade cooperation.
The signing of the mutual legal assistance agreement will lay the legal foundation for people and companies of the two countries to increase understanding, build confidence and bolster friendship between the two nations.
At the meeting, Cambodian Minister of Justice Ang Vong Vathana said in the previous negotiations, Cambodian Ministry of Justice and Vietnamese Ministry of Justice have made a lot of efforts to sign a mutual legal assistance agreement between the two countries in the coming time. --AKP
Tourism Minister Meets Delegation of Japanese Tourism
Phnom Penh, August 31, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian Tourism minister said that Japanese tourist arrivals in Cambodia increased by 8 percent in the first seven months of 2010, a fifth place of tourism market, if compared to the same period last year.
H.E. Thong Khon, minister of Tourism told this to a 30-member delegation of Japanese tourism in Preah Sihanouk province on Aug. 28, who visited the province to understand the potentials for tourism investment and transport service.
If there is a direct flight from Japan, he thought the number of tourists will increase much more than this, he said.
The minister elaborated on the potentials for the provincial tourism.
The province has beaches, resorts, waterfall, deep seaport, international airport.
He said the Tourism Ministry applied for the coastlines, stretching from Koh Kong, plus Preah Sihanouk, to Kep, to be recognized by an international organization as a member of the World’s Most Beautiful Beaches Club.
He said the provincial authorities worked hard to prevent the costal areas from being polluted to become a member of the club in the near future.
He said tourism sector in the Kingdom is one the country’s backbone after agriculture and garments to contribute to the national revenue, mainly poverty reduction.
Mr. Masahiko Inada, Japanese tourism delegation leader, thanked the minister for his recommendations, pledging to encourage Japanese tourists to visit the Kingdom.
Next time, he said he will bring Japanese tourists to take direct flight to land at Keng Kang International Airport of Preah Sihanouk province. --AKP
(By THOU Peou)
S. Korea’s Energy Firms Seek Local Business Partners in Cambodia
Phnom Penh, August 31, 2010 AKP -- Twenty electricity ad energy firms from South Korea are looking for local business partners in Cambodia on Monday, Chinese News Agency Xinhua reported.
Kim Yoon Kyong, assistant to the manager of Korea East-West Power Co., headed South Korean firms for the meeting with some 67 Cambodian companies doing business in energy sector on Monday in Phnom Penh.
Kim said that the 20 South Koran firms are specialized in power plant construction, manufacturing power plant machinery, chemical and petrochemical refinery plant equipment, heavy electronic equipment, wind and solar energy and mining plant.
“We are here to seek local business partners in the sector of power and energy,” he said, adding that the electricity and energy sectors in Cambodia are still poor and there is large opportunity to develop it.
“Products for power and energy plants are not quite good in quality in Cambodia and prices are also high,” he said. “But our products will be with competitive prices – about 30 percent cheaper than those of other countries and the quality is good.”
Korea East-West Power Co. operates six power plants in South Korea accounting for 12.9 percent of South Korea’s power generation facilities.
“We hope that power and energy sector in Cambodia will be as developed as that in Korea in the future,” said Iv Visal, the deputy chief of the Power Distribution Department at the Electricité du Cambodge in the meeting on Monday. --AKP
Photo by: AFP
via Khmer NZ
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 15:03 AFP
Members of a Hong Kong police forensic team yesterday examine the tourist bus used in the Manila hijack bloodbath. On August 23 eight Hong Kong tourists died when an armed ex-policeman took over the bus. The Philippines allowed Hong Kong police to do tests on the vehicle but said they could not interfere in the inquiry.
via Khmer NZ
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 15:03 Vong Sokheng and Brooke Lewis
Former permanent residents sent home after prison terms
AT least 10 Cambodians who have been legally living in the United States are expected to arrive in the Kingdom today after being deported. Officials said yesterday that this was in accordance with a controversial bilateral repatriation agreement reached in 2002.
All the deportees are former legal permanent US residents – but not full citizens – who have served prison sentences for aggravated felonies, a group of crimes that was expanded in 1996 to include some that were previously misdemeanours.
Rights workers have criticised the repatriation policy as needlessly strict, while voicing concern that those affected by it face challenges in adapting to Cambodian society.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that he had received a letter from the Cambodian embassy in Washington last month informing him that 10 deportees would arrive in the Kingdom today, but noted that the number might have since increased.
Kloeung Aun, executive director of the Returnee Integration Support Centre, an NGO based in the capital, said local officials had informed him to expect 10 new arrivals sometime in September, but that he had not been given a specific date or details about their individual cases.
He said that the 10 expected arrivals were part of a group of almost 50 people waiting to be deported from the US.
“There are approximately 49 people currently being detained in America pending removal,” he said. Prospective deportees were detained while their travel documents were organised, a process that could take anywhere from a month to more than a year, he said.
The US embassy in Phnom Penh said by email that such deportations targeted not only Cambodians.
“Non-citizens who have been convicted of aggravated felonies are subject to deportation under US immigration law,” the embassy said.
“We also remain committed to helping the returnees successfully reintegrate into Cambodian society.”
But Kloeung Aun said yesterday that many deportees faced a struggle to reintegrate.
“It is difficult for a lot of people to come back,” he said. “Many people left as refugees at 5 or 6 years old, and some were born in Thai refugee camps, so they have never been to Cambodia before.”
He said that a total of 229 Cambodian-Americans, only two of whom were female, had been deported since the signing of the repatriation agreement in 2002, and that there were at least 14,000 more people at risk of deportation.
Sara Colm, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said yesterday that American immigration laws were “very strict in that many of the people being deported have committed very minor and nonviolent crimes”.
“Our overall concern is that the Cambodians who are being deported are in the US legally as refugees and permanent residents,” she said.
“And they’ve already been punished; they’ve already served a prison sentence.”
via Khmer NZ
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 15:03 May Titthara
Kampong Speu province
PRIME Minister Hun Sen has weighed in on a controversial land row pitting more than 2,000 families in Kampong Speu province against a prominent ruling-party senator.
In a letter addressed to National Assembly President Heng Samrin, Hun Sen said land had been set aside to accommodate those threatened by a sugar plantation under development by one of the senator’s companies.
After receiving copies of the letter yesterday, residents accused the company of failing to comply with recommendations outlined by the premier.
The dispute pits 11 villages in Thpong district’s Omlaing commune against the Phnom Penh Sugar Co, owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat, which has been granted a 9,000-hectare sugar concession in the area. Tension erupted into violence in March when a mob of villagers torched a makeshift office owned by the sugar company.
Hun Sen’s letter, issued in response to questions submitted by opposition parliamentarians in March, said the concession agreement with Phnom Penh Sugar was made with the understanding that no development would take place on 1,050 hectares of land “occupied by the people or forests important to the environment”, leaving 8,343 hectares for development as a sugar plantation.
Of the 1,050-hectare area, it promised that 204 hectares would be set aside for landless farmers.
“The company, in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and local authorities, has organised 204 hectares of land for people who lack land, and plans to build schools, medical centres, markets and a pagoda for people in this area,” the letter said.
Villagers said they had not seen the letter, dated June 29, before yesterday, and that none of the promises mentioned by Hun Sen had been kept.
“I think that the company received this letter before us, but they did not respect the government.... They regard the prime minister’s words as having no meaning,” said Phal Vannak, a village representative.
A group of 500 residents gathered outside the firm’s office in Omlaing commune yesterday morning in the hope of raising the letter directly with the company, but dispersed just after noon when they received no response.
Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Thach Le, Licadho’s Leang Sokchouen and Thach Vannak are led to Takeo provincial court before their hearing yesterday.
Thach Le, Licadho’s Leang Sokchouen and Thach Vannak are led to Takeo provincial court before their hearing yesterday.
via Khmer NZ
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 15:03 Meas Sokchea
TAKEO provincial court has convicted four people of disinformation for their alleged roles in spreading leaflets critical of the government – a verdict rights groups have slammed as unjust.
Following roughly four hours of questioning yesterday, Judge Cheng Bunly convicted all four suspects, including an employee of a human rights NGO, of disinformation, sentencing three of them to two years each in prison and fining them 2 million riels (US$476).
A fourth person – Tach Khong Phoung, who was accused of leading the plot to distribute leaflets – was tried in absentia and sentenced to three years in prison and fined 6 million riels (US$1,430).
The court ruled that the three men who were present – Leang Sokchouen, a staff member of rights group Licadho; Thach Vannak, a former Khmer Krom monk; and Thach Le, a motorbike-taxi driver – scattered anti-government leaflets in three districts in Takeo earlier this year. The leaflets, which were distributed before the January 7 anniversary of the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, asserted that the day should be remembered as the day Cambodia became “abused and occupied” by Vietnam, rather than celebrated as a day of liberation.
In explaining his verdict yesterday, Cheng Bunly said he did not believe claims from the three accused that they played no role in the scheme.
“The leaflets were meant to criticise the government,” Cheng Bunly said.
Leang Sokchouen had testified that he was an acquaintance of Tach Khong Phoung, but that he had nothing to do with distributing any leaflets and was not even in the province at the time.
Thach Vannak testified that Tach Khong Phoung had given him a black plastic bag, which he later discovered contained 500 antigovernment leaflets. He said he threw the leaflets away and did not distribute them.
Thaach Le testified that he did not know Tach Khong Phoung personally, but had given him a ride and agreed to throw away a plastic bag for 15,000 riels.
Cheng Bunly, however, said the explanations of the three were not credible. “The court cannot accept” these answers, the judge said. “These actions affect the national leaders and create unrest in society.”
The rights group Licadho has already criticised authorities’ decision to arrest and charge Leang Sokchoeun in the first place, accusing police of conducting a rushed investigation that produced little evidence implicating him.
In a statement on Sunday, Licadho said the case was an example of the improper use of the courts in politically sensitive cases.
“The accusation of the court and the report from police cannot be enough evidence,” Am Sam Ath, Licadho’s technical supervisor, said on Monday.
He said that the court’s decision appeared to be influenced by a high-ranking official, though he did not speculate who that could be.
“This is an unjust decision of the court. We will appeal,” Am Sam Ath said.
Thach Vannak and Thach Le were not represented by lawyers in court yesterday.
Leang Sokchouen appeared to faint after the verdict was announced. Outside the court, his aunt, Hong Kimheang, begged Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene.
“Only Samdech Hun Sen … can help. Anywhere there is suffering, there will be Samdech to help,” she said.