Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Asia’s Have-Nots Push for Bigger Piece of Economic Pie

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Sept. 14 – Asia has emerged into a global economic power in the last decade. With China and India leading the way, the region has become the world’s manufacturer as factories from Dongguan to Dhaka pump out everything from shirts and shoes to televisions and computers and the growing economic clout of the region has led many to label the first hundred years of the new millennium as the “Asian Century.” But for those that are responsible for much of that growing economic gain, the payoff has not been forthcoming.

On Monday, around 60,000 garment workers began a week-long strike in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, to protest low wages. It is just the latest in a series of walkouts that have swept Asia as workers have started to stand up to meager salaries, deplorable working conditions, and long working hours in factories throughout the developing world.
Since June, China has seen a wave of protests sweep through predominantly foreign-owned factories while in Bangladesh, thousands of textile workers seeking higher pay clashed with police last month, injuring 500. In Vietnam, thousands went on strike in April at a Taiwanese-owned shoe factory.

These strikes have raised some uncomfortable questions for both the governments involved and the companies, who have need to balance corporate codes of conduct and brand image with thinning profit margins and rising costs. For corporations, the rising costs have cut into the bottom line, forcing many to reevaluate their business models and future plans in Asia. Already some are looking to shift production to lower cost centers – Foxconn recently announced it was shifting its production facilities from the Pearl River Delta to Henan Province – while others are shifting their market strategy to take advantage of a new consumer class emerging in the region. But these are both just short term gains. Before long, the costs savings of operating in Asia for export will be gone. And then, the corporations will either reap the rewards of a domestic sales policy, or see their profits dwindle away.

For governments, the situation is more critical. The first decade has seen double digit growth throughout Asia. In countries like China, the drive from third to first world status has lifted millions out of poverty. But the cost of that rise is now beginning to bite back. The private corporations, corrupt officials, state-owned companies and property speculators are the ones reaping the rewards. The migrant laborers that built the boomtown of Shenzhen are not. The result, China has seen a surge in “mass incidents” of social unrest as the have-nots have increasingly demanded their share of the economic dream.

The growing economic gap between rich and poor is having an effect throughout Asia. Labor protests in Malaysia, strikes in Macau, and political turmoil in Thailand are tied to the poor rural population’s grievances with the entrenched urban elite. Policies like China’s Contract Labor Law have helped reduce some of the simmering tension, but until the region’s poor masses begin to profit in the same manner as their governments and rich elite classes, the potential for unrest will remain high.


Protecting workers and children in Cambodia

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Sep 14, 2010 11

This week thousands of workers from textiles factories took to the streets of Cambodia as part of a week-long strike.

This week thousands of workers from textiles factories took to the streets of Cambodia as part of a week-long strike. Garment workers in Cambodia typically earn the minimum monthly wage of 56 dollars. With double-digit inflation threatening their ability to survive on this wage, some workers and union leaders are unhappy with a proposed 5 dollar increase.

The garment industry is Cambodia’s third largest revenue earner after tourism and agriculture and high-street names such as Gap, Levi and Marks and Spencer order their clothes from Cambodian factories. Since some of the garment unions have already accepted the 5 dollar increase, these international buyers will be hoping the strike does not gain wide support and most factories in Phnom Penh will operate as normal.

Certainly much work has been done in Cambodia towards fostering good working conditions in the factories. Through a policy known as labour linkage, large international buyers are assured that garments are not being made by oppressed workers or by children.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) co-ordinates factory inspections in Cambodia to make sure premises are meeting the necessary obligations. Founded in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I, the ILO (based in Geneva) aims to bring “decent work and livelihoods, job-related security and better living standards to the people of both poor and rich countries”.

The ILO also works to reduce child labour rates. Access to education has greatly improved in Cambodia; in 2005, 91% of young children were enrolled in primary school compared to 75% of children in 2005. Through the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), the ILO has removed or prevented 18,280 chidlren from being used as child labourers and ensured they were enrolled in schools. The IPEC programme has also sponsored schemes to decrease the reliance of poor families on income from children. One such scheme has involved setting up a savings group in a small village in southern Cambodia, where families can access micro finance and borrow money at a low 3 per cent interest rate.

But despite all the good work, according to the ILO 313,000 children are still trapped in the worst forms of exploitation in Cambodia, in drug trafficking or prostitution. And many children still spend long hours working to support their families, like 10-year old Leap, who offers elephant rides to tourists and has never attended school. Leap is lucky to earn 2 dollars a day, and yet if she stops work she says her mother and brothers will go hungry. In another part of Phnom Penh, the ILO’s representative found 7-year old Doung sifting through rubbish along the river bank, looking for plastic to recycle. Since his father died, Doung is the sole provider for his mother and her new baby

The Cambodian Government, along with the ILO, has vowed to identify and rehabilitate children scavenging along the river of the capital and to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by the end of 2012. These new initiatives will hopefully mean that children like Leap and Doung do not fall through the net and have the chance of a childhood.


Prez speech at Indian community reception

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India Blooms News Service

Cambodia, Sept 13 (IBNS) SPEECH BY HER EXCELLENCY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA, SHRIMATI PRATIBHA DEVISINGH PATIL AT RECEPTION FOR THE INDIAN COMMUNITY

I am delighted to be in this beautiful country, with which India has had historical connections, going back to almost 2000 years. I arrived in Phnom Penh only a few hours ago and interacting with the Indian community is my first engagement in the Kingdom of Cambodia. I convey to all of you, my personal greetings and also greetings from the people of India. You play an important role in promoting relations between India and Cambodia.

It is interesting that many legends are prevalent in this country tracing their ancient linkages with India. Most of the historical and cultural monuments spread all over Cambodia speak of the close Indian association, which was made possible as a result of continuous interaction between navigators, merchants and intellectuals of the two countries, over a period of two thousand years. One has heard so much about the grandeur of the world famous Angkor Wat and many astonishing architectural marvels such as Ta Prohm, Bayon and Banteay Srey. I and my delegation would be visiting Siem Reap where all these magnificent cultural monuments, which are glorious testimony to our common cultural heritage, are located. I am informed that there are many commonalities in the day-to-day life of the people of Cambodia with Indians, such as language, customs and rituals. This must be a product of our ancestors' willingness to learn from each other and is an indication of the everlasting bonds of friendship.

I am happy to say that the Governments of the two countries strived to regain old historical bonds. In the 1950s, India was associated with the International Control Commission on Indo-China and our role as Co-Chairman was well appreciated. There were numerous high level exchanges between our two countries. We are all aware of the close friendly ties that existed between Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk, which paved the way for not only excellent bilateral ties, but also offered opportunities to the two leaders to exchange views on the role of newly liberated countries in the development of a peaceful world.

Everyone is aware of India's unwavering support to Cambodia not only in good times but also during the difficult period of its history. After the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, India was among the first countries to recognize President Heng Samrin's government and re-open its diplomatic mission in 1981. Since then, the Governments of India and Cambodia have worked together to expand and deepen our bilateral ties, through high level bilateral exchanges, as well as through interactions at regional and international fora.

While human resource development and capacity building have been the primary focus of our bilateral relations, India is happy to cooperate with Cambodia in infrastructural projects, as well as in projects related to conservation and preservation of historical monuments. Over the years our two countries have signed numerous agreements to enhance bilateral cooperation, and have also established mechanisms to exchange views and to review the status of ongoing projects.

We appreciate the role played by the Royal Government of Cambodia in India's engagement with this region. It is worth mentioning that India attained Summit level partnership with ASEAN under Cambodia's Chairmanship of the ASEAN in 2002, and a forthcoming Commemorative Summit in India to mark India's 20-year association with ASEAN too will be organized, during Cambodia's Chairmanship in 2012. India is satisfied with its friendly and cooperative ties with Cambodia and would continue to work for strengthening of these ties.

Overseas Indians comprising People of Indian Origin and Non Resident Indians today are amongst the best educated and successful communities in the world. India has the second largest Diaspora, estimated at over 25 million, present in every major region of the world. We are proud of you, and aware of the important role the diaspora plays as a 'bridge' to access knowledge, expertise, resources and markets for the development of the country of their origin. The Pravasi Bhartiya Divas is celebrated since 2003, every year on 9th January to mark the contribution of the Overseas Indian community in the development of India. Individuals of exceptional merit are honoured with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. January 9 was chosen as the day to celebrate this occasion, since it was on this day in 1915 that Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi - the Father of our Nation, returned to India from South Africa to lead India's freedom struggle. His philosophy and his firm adherence to the principles of non-violence and truth are universally admired and emulated across the world. There is a bust of Gandhiji in Phnom Penh and I shall be visiting the site to pay homage to him.

You must carry forward the legacy of the values of our civilisation, upheld so magnificently by Gandhiji. The onus is now on all of you to ensure that a correct image of India is portrayed among your colleagues, neighbours and others with whom you interact. You must also carry forward the efforts of our ancestors in establishing extremely friendly ties thousands of years ago with Cambodia. Always remember that your deeds in this country not only reflect your individual personality but in some way make Cambodians aware of the capabilities of India and also the Indian way of life.

I am told that the Indian community in Cambodia though small is vibrant, active and is supportive of those who need assistance. Such compassion for others is a good trait and I encourage everyone to be humane. I have been informed that the Indian Association in Cambodia celebrates important Indian festivals, and has recently launched a website which is quite informative. This is a good development and I am sure you will continue with such efforts. I take this opportunity to wish you progress and success.

Thailand pressures FCCT to cancel press conference

http://cpj.org/

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Bangkok, September 13, 2010--The Thai government acted inappropriately in pressuring the Correspondents Club of Thailand (FCCT) to cancel a press conference that would have criticized Vietnam, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The Bangkok-based FCCT had intended to host a press conference today by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights and the Vietnam Committee on Human Rights (VCHR). The two independent rights groups had planned to launch a new report called "From Rhetoric to Reality: Human Rights in Vietnam, under its Chairmanship of ASEAN 2010."

The FCCT said in a statement that the ministry first contacted it by telephone on September 9 to request that the club cancel the press conference because "it might contain information detrimental to a neighboring country." The ministry also requested that the FCCT inform the event's two scheduled speakers, VCHR's Vo Van Ai and Penelope Faulkner, that the ministry would deny them visas on arrival upon landing in Thailand. The event was formally cancelled by the two groups on Sunday.

"The FCCT provides an important space for journalists to meet and exchange ideas with newsmakers and that space should remain open and free of restrictions," said Shawn Crispin, CPJ's Senior Southeast Asia Representative. "Regrettably, the pressure put on the FCCT is consistent with a wider crackdown on the free press and Internet under way in Thailand."

Thailand has recently clashed both diplomatically and militarily with neighboring Cambodia, a country where Vietnam has historically held significant sway. Thailand and Vietnam have maintained cool relations ever since the Vietnam War, when Thailand allowed the U.S. to use its territories for bases to bombard positions in northern Vietnam.

Thani Thongphakdi, head of the ministry's Department of Information, wrote in a September 10 e-mail to the FCCT that the government "attaches great importance to the principles of freedom of expression and diversity of views," but that it also has "a long-standing position of not allowing organizations and/or persons to use Thailand as a place to conduct activities detrimental to other countries."

The FCCT has long served as a regional hub for important press events. Last year, for instance, the FCCT hosted an event held by the Southeast Asian Press Alliance where Cambodian opposition politician Sam Rainsy made a speech highly critical of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, including references to his crackdown on journalists and activists. It also regularly hosts events related to neighboring Burma, where speakers and journalists are able to air critical opinions that are censored from publication in that country's military-run regime. However, there are rising concerns among Bangkok-based journalists that the Thai government will become less tolerant of such programs to guard against regional criticism of its own anti-democratic tendencies.

Senior military officers visit Cambodia

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September 14, 2010

A high-ranking delegation from the Ministry of National Defence, led by Deputy Minister, Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, paid a visit to Cambodia over September 12-13.

The officers held talks with Secretary of State of the Cambodian Ministry of National Defence General Neang Phat, who commended Vietnam for its role as Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Phat stated that Cambodia would work more closely with Vietnam to successfully organise the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+), scheduled to take place in Hanoi on October 12.

Vinh applauded Cambodia’s contributions to the ADMM+, saying that it was important to boost cooperation in security and defence between the two neighbouring countries.

He underlined the success of the fourth ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-4) in May 2010, which, he said, completed the necessary legal foundations for the bloc to expand its security and defence relationship with the region and the rest of the world through the ADMM+.

The same day, General Vinh paid courtesy visits to Prime Minister Hun Sen and Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh. (VNA)

Striking Cambodian workers reflect Asia trend

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By Tim Johnston in Bangkok
Published: September 13 2010

Thousands of Cambodian garment workers have gone on strike for higher wages, reinforcing a trend that has seen substantial pay increases among some of Asia’s lowest-paid workers.

Growing labour unrest is hitting low-wage industries across Asia, with widespread strikes in China, Vietnam and Bangladesh as well as Cambodia as economies start to recover from the global financial crisis.

Cambodian clothing and footwear workers on Monday started a five-day strike in protest at the government’s decision to lift the minimum wage from $50 to $61 a month. Some unions agreed to the deal but others want it raised to $93.

The unions said they had called out 80,000 staff, almost a quarter of Cambodia’s garment workforce. However, Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers’ Association in Cambodia, said fewer than 20,000 people were on strike on Monday and that only seven factories from a total of 470 were closed, although some of the country’s largest garment plants were among those affected.

“We have already advised our members to seek a court decision on the legality of the strikes,” he said. “If the court says they are illegal, the workers can be dismissed.”

The garment sector accounts for between 70 and 90 per cent of Cambodia’s exports. Garment manufacturers say labour is already more expensive than in neighbouring countries. According to Mr Loo, when allowances and overtime are taken into account, employers pay an average of $90 a month, which would rise to $95 when the $61 minimum wage level came into effect in October.

Low-cost manufacturers in Asia were able to keep wages down during the financial crisis – with some 30,000 Cambodian garment workers losing their jobs – but as order books have filled, workers have begun to flex their muscles.

In China earlier this year Honda raised salaries at its plants by 24 per cent after workers went on strike, and Foxconn, the Taiwanese-owned contract electronics manufacturer, lifted wages by a third after a number of suicides. Vietnamese workers have held strikes in pursuit of higher pay, while millions of textile workers in Bangladesh staged a walkout last month after the minimum wage was lifted from $25 a month to $43. They wanted at least $73.

Although garment manufacturing is easy to relocate, there are few under-industrialised Asian nations for manufacturers to move to. With upward pressure on wages in all the lowest-cost production centres, many manufacturers see little option but to accede to at least some union demands.

The garment sector has been at the cutting edge of Cambodia’s industrialisation, although productivity is lower than in many of its neighbours. Most of the factories are foreign owned, with research last year by Japan’s Ritsumeikan Center for Asia Pacific Studies showing that more than 60 per cent of the garment plants were owned by interests in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China.

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Dubai Women’s College raises donations for children in Cambodia

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14/09/2010

Around 20 students from Dubai Women's College (DWC) recently organized at the college campus a fundraising event entitled "Dirham a Day" for the disabled children in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The funds raised during the event amounted to 4000dhs.

DWC Students ran "Dirham a Day" collection, asking all students and staff to donate just one dirham each. The funds were used to pay for a number of activities including an outing, which the children look forward to once a year.

Dr. Howard Reed, Director of DWC said the habit of sharing and giving is well established at DWC. Students learn that even small amounts of money can make a big difference in the lives of many people.

Donna Behl, DWC Chair of Bachelor Year 1 Department, who presented the cheque at the Center, said "As we toured the Damnok Toek Center, the smiles on the faces of the children were very heartwarming. The charitable gesture from our DWC students made a huge difference to this very poor Center. I was impressed with the cleanliness of the Center and the caring staff." Donna added that the Center was very basic with no frills or extras and they are looking for another place which would have a bigger outdoor area. "However, the children are happy and well fed, they have a bed to sleep in and we know the money we have donated will be put to great use. The children who have such severe disabilities and loss of limbs really appreciate support from us. We hope to continue with further fundraising for these lovely kids in the new academic year which starts on 13th September 2010," she pointed out.

DWC Students heard the stories of the Damnok Toek Center for disabled children in Cambodia, learnt about their hardships and realized how fortunate they have been growing up in a protected and safe environment in the UAE. The Damnok Center is a residential care home for around 20 children with intellectual or physical disabilities and who have been rescued from dreadful circumstances. Some of the children have been victims of human trafficking, sold by their families out of desperation, and rescued by the Goutte d'eau organization. Others have been rescued from the rubbish dumps in Phnom Penh and brought to this wonderful centre which provides a caring family environment for the children. The children are taken by bus each day for schooling according to their special learning need, then return to the centre in the afternoon for play, meals and sleeping.

New count gives critically endangered waterbird a fighting chance

http://www.monstersandcritics.com/

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Sep 14, 2010

Phnom Penh - Wildlife organizations on Tuesday hailed the result of a new survey showing that South-East Asia's most endangered waterbird, the white-shouldered ibis, is more numerous than previously thought.

Government officials and staff from several conservation agencies counted 429 birds at three dozen sites across Cambodia. The total was one-third higher than had been previously estimated.

Tom Evans, deputy country head of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said the species is one of the world's most threatened.

'Given that the numbers are so low, the discovery that there are actually quite a few more than we initially thought is exciting,' he said. 'It means we have a bit more breathing room before they go extinct.'

Evans said conservation efforts in recent years were a combined effort involving the government and ecological organizations.

'No one knows why (the population) declined so dramatically, but a few years ago the best estimate was that there were 250 adult birds left in the world,' Evans said.

A century ago, explorers reported that the bird, the size of a small chicken which feeds on small frogs and insects in wetland areas, was very common.

Today just a few are left in Laos, Vietnam and possibly in Indonesia's Kalimantan province. The bulk are in Cambodia.

Conservationist Sum Phearun from the People, Resources, and Conservation Foundation warned that the outlook for the species was still uncertain.

'It's unlikely that the population has actually grown or started recovering,' he said. 'The species is still very close to extinction so we are continuing our efforts to understand and protect the ibis.'

President Patil receives traditional welcome in Cambodian capital

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Phnom Penh, Sep 14 (ANI): Visiting Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil was today accorded a traditional welcome by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni at the Silver Pagoda Royal Palace here.

School children lined up on either side of the street leading to the palace to welcome President Patil.


After the ceremonial welcome, President Patil had a one-to-one meeting with the Cambodian King in which ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship were discussed.

President Patil then visited the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh and paid tribute.

In the evening, President Patil will meet Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The Indian President arrived on Monday on a six-day state visit to Cambodia from September 13 to 18 with the objective of strengthening enduring partnerships with countries of the ASEAN region as part of India's Look-East policy.

She is visiting Cambodia at the invitation of the King Norodom Sihamoni.

A delegation of senior officials and Minister of Tribal Affairs Kantilal Bhuria is accompanying President Patil on her visit.

India has "warm and cordial relations" with Cambodia, one of the important countries in the ASEAN region, which has supported New Delhi's bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

Apart from visiting Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, President Patil would be travelling with the delegation to Siem Reap where the world famous temples of Angkor Vat are located.

India and Cambodia enjoy a long standing and shared historical affinity and close cultural ties. Cambodia is an important partner of India among the ASEAN countries.

President Patil's visit to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap will provide an opportunity for reaffirming and strengthening multifaceted bilateral ties, including commercial and investment relations.

Cambodia is also currently the coordinator on the ASEAN side for India-ASEAN relations.

Earlier during her Lao visit, President Patil said relations with Lao and Cambodia are of strategic importance to India. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

TOBACCO ADVERTISING BAN 'WILL SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVE CAMBODIAN HEALTH OUTCOMES'

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14/09/2010

Moves to ban tobacco advertising in Cambodia would be a major step forward in improving the health of the country's residents.

So claims Mom Kong, executive director of non-government organisation the Cambodia Movement for Health, who states that plans by the government to introduce regulations against all tobacco-related advertising and promotions next year will play a crucial role in stopping would-be smokers from developing the habit.

"Tobacco advertising helps to attract children to smoking and makes it difficult for smokers to quit. Banning advertising would be an effective measure to prevent youth and children from smoking," he tells Inter Press Service.

Doing so would see the Cambodian government meet a key element of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which requires all governments signing up to the treaty to "undertake a comprehensive ban on all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship" within five years.

The news provider points to World Health Organization figures showing 49 per cent of Cambodian males over the age of 15 smoke, compared to 44 per cent in Thailand.

Earlier this month, Ou Kevanna, manager of the National Nutrition Programme at the Health Ministry’s National Maternal and Child Health Centre, claimed that there will always be a difference in the health of rich and poor people in the country, as the latter are unable to make it to hospitals with modern medical equipment.

Cambodia intends to host the 36th World Heritage Committee meeting in 2012

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PHNOM PENH, Sep 14, 2010 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- Cambodia intends to host the 36th World Heritage Committee (WHC) 2012 meeting in the country's northern province of Siem Reap, a government official said Tuesday.

Phay Siphan, spokesman for the Office of the Council of Ministers, said Cambodia has already expressed its readiness and intention to UNESCO to host the 36th WHC meeting.

He said, Cambodia is now vice chairman of the WHC and this country's richness in cultural sites along with nearly 1,000 temples and preservation experiences is fit to the event.

For the purpose itself, Phay Siphan said Cambodia wants to share its experiences in the conservation and preservation works that have been worked with many development partners for many ruin temples across the country.

He said, if approved as planned, the meeting will be held in Siem Reap, the country's tourism hub where is rich of cultural sites along with world famous temple of Angkor Wat.

The 35th meeting of WHC will be held in July next year in Bahrain.

Phay Siphan said that Cambodia has sufficient experience to share with other WHC members in the preservation of ancient temples.

Currently, there are 187 members of the WHC.

On the location, Phay Siphan said, Siem Reap is known as the world's tourist destination where has been used as a place for accommodating many world's leaders and international events.

He said everything is there such as good infrastructure, safety, cultural sites and preservation work is being carried on.

Cambodia is located in tropical region and in Southeast Asia-- is known as a country where is rich in cultural heritage such as Angko Wat Temple, Preah Vihear Temple, both were registered as Word Heritage Sites and it records as having more than 800 temples across the country as well as the old and rich in arts, culture and tradition.

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


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Senate President Receives Honorary Doctorate from American University

Phnom Penh, September 14, 2010 AKP -- The California-based Open Seminary University has awarded honorary doctorate to Cambodian Senate President Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim.

The award ceremony was held here on Sept. 13 at the Senate in the presence of Rector of the Open Seminary University Mr. Alfonso Cleto.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Alfonso Cleto said that the conferment is in recognition of the achievements made by Samdech Chea Sim in leading Cambodia towards peace as well as the country’s legislative body.

In reply, Samdech Chea Sim thanked the assessment committee of this American university for deciding to award him the honorary doctorate, which will further encourage him to continue to lead the legislative body towards more progress.

The Open Seminary University has always selected high dignitaries over the world to award honorary doctorates in recognition of their efforts in developing their countries, according to Mrs. Pheng Kunthea Borey, head of protocol of Samdech Chea Sim. --AKP

(By CHEA Vannak)

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PM Receives Vietnamese Defense Vice Minister

Phnom Penh, September 14, 2010 AKP -- Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, received here on Monday a visiting delegation of the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense led by its Vice Minister H.E. Nguyen Chi Vinh.

In the meeting, the Vietnamese Defense vice minister conveyed best wishes from senior Vietnamese leaders to the Cambodian premier, Ieng Sophalet, assistant to Samdech Techo Hun Sen told reporters upon the talks.

H.E. Nguyen Chi Vinh further told the Cambodian prime minister of the results of his talks with Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and National Defense Minister H.E. Tea Banh, which focused on military cooperation, particularly information exchange and military strategies.

In reply, Samdech Techo Hun Sen welcomed the results of the meeting between the Defense Ministries of the two countries. He encouraged both sides to further increase their cooperation.

The Cambodian premier also asked the Vietnamese side to continue to help develop Cambodia’s human resource. --AKP

(By OU Sokha)

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DPM Sok An Meets South African Ambassador

Phnom Penh, September 14, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian Prime Minister and Minister in charge of the Office of the Council of Ministers H.E. Sok An met here yesterday with South African Ambassador to Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos H.E. Duglas Harvy Monro Gibson.

The meeting mainly focused on the preservation and development of cultural heritages.

On the occasion, the Cambodian deputy prime minister recalled the success in preserving and developing the Angkor area by the creation of the International Coordination Committee (ICC) in 1992 with the participation of 15 different countries.

Cambodia wished that South Africa would participate in the preservation and development of world heritage sites in Cambodia, H.E. Sok An said.

Regarding the Preah Vihear Temple area, the Cambodian deputy prime minister said the Royal Government of Cambodia has spent some US$100 million in building infrastructure, preserving and developing the area since the inscription of the Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008.

He further explained that the current Cambodia-Thailand tension was not due to the listing of this Khmer sacred temple, but to the encroachment of Thai troops on Cambodian territory at the Preah Vihear Temple area.

For his part, H.E. Duglas Harvy Monro Gibson, also permanent observer at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), recognized that Cambodia has well respected the international rules and he expressed his satisfaction with H.E. Sok An’s explanation.

South Africa would like to see Cambodia and Thailand resolve their border dispute by peaceful mean, he stressed. --AKP

(KHAN Sophirom)

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Information Minister Meets UNDP Official

Phnom Penh, September 14, 2010 AKP -- Information Minister H.E. Khieu Kanharith met here on Sept. 13 with Mr. Lars Heiberg Bestle, a policy specialist of the Asia-Pacific Region in charge of Information for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The purpose is to understand the cooperation between UNDP, the Ministry of Information and Cambodian National Television (TVK) in the Equity Programme, the ministry’s assessment of the programme, and to set objectives for the future.

H.E. Khieu Kanharith expressed pleasure with the Equity Programme supported by the public, saying that it had professional characteristic for the people to be aware of because it made each of the issues deeper.

He asked UNDP to cooperate with TVK in re-examining and rectifying some issues raised for an objective of the good governance.

The minister also elaborated on some issues in relation with the edition of the books on environment, health care, human rights, and domestic violence and even the law.

On the occasion, H.E. Kim Kunwath, general director of TVK gave additional outlines of the development of the Equity Program such as a sub-title in English to enable those living overseas to read. --AKP

(By THOU Peou)

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Forum on “Human Trafficking and Migration” Opened

Phnom Penh, September 14, 2010 AKP -- The Cambodia National Mekong Youth Forum III on Human Trafficking and Migration was opened here on Sept. 13 under the presidency of H.E. Mrs. Chuo Bun Eng, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Interior.

Some 80 vulnerable youths and children from 17 of the 24 provinces around the country are attending the three-day forum held at the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation.

Addressing the event, Mrs. Chuo Bun Eng said the forum is aimed to learn more about youths and children’s concerns and hopes for their future so that the government and related partner organizations could draw up plans or projects, especially include them in the national and international policies.

She also briefed the participants about the attention of the government, international community, organizations and civil society on the migration and human trafficking issues, through cooperation, law and plan making to fight human trafficking.

The forum will choose youths to attend the Mekong Youth Forum, to take place from Oct. 26 to 30 in Bangkok, Thailand, she said.

The forum was organized by Cambodia Mekong Youth Forum Management Committee under the support from ILO, UNIAP, UNICEF, The Asia Foundation, World Vision Cambodia, Save the Children and Child Fund Cambodia. --AKP

(By LIM Nary)

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Banteay Meanchey Wins First Women Football Cup

Phnom Penh, September 14, 2010 AKP -- The women soccer’s team from Banteay Meanchey province won the first ever Women Football Cup after beating 4-1 the Siem Reap team in the final.

Ten women’s football teams from Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap, Battambang, Stung Treng, Kandal, Pursat, Pailin, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng provinces and Pkay Samoth (Sea Star) Organization participated in the competition held from Sept. 4 to 13 in Banteay Meanchey.

The champion won the cup, 24 gold medals and US$500, and the two runners-up, Siem Reap and Battambang teams, got 24 silver medals with US$300, and 24 bronze medals with US$200 respectively.

Banteay Meanchey Governor Ung Oeun, who presided over the closing ceremony of the tournament, offered cash prize of US$400 for the winners, US$300 for the runners up and US$200 for the third.

The Women Football Cup Tournament was jointly organized by the Football Federation of Cambodia and Banteay Meanchey provincial authority. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)

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Cambodia To Dispatch Two Tennis Players to Asian Games in China

Phnom Penh, September 14, 2010 AKP -- The Cambodian Tennis Federation has decided to send two tennis players to join the Asian Games to be held in November in Guangzhou city, China.

Bun Teny and An Sambath will compete with other professional tennis players from over 40 countries.

H.E. Cham Prasidh, President of the Cambodian Tennis Federation praised the Cambodian tennis players’ capacities, recalling that Cambodia had won two bronze medals during the past two SEA Games. --AKP

(By Théng)

Vietnam defence visit


Photo by: Uy Nousereimony

via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:00 Uy Nousereimony

Vietnamese defence officials address a press conference at the Hotel Intercontinental in the capital yesterday. The delegation was on a two-day visit in advance of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, to be held in Hanoi from October 11 to 13.

Delhi delegation


Photo by: AFP

via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:00 Cheang Sokha

Indian President Pratibha Patil arrives yesterday at Phnom Penh International Airport, where her delegation was received by Royal Palace Minister Kong Som Ol. According to a statement issued last week by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Patil is set to sign two agreements during her six-day visit – a memorandum of understanding between the two nations’ audit authorities and an agreement relating to the Stung Tasal Water Resources Development Project.

Gold tower 42 stops at 31


Photo by: Will Baxter
Gold tower 42 stands unfinished with 31 floors completed after developers confirmed Monday construction had temporarily halted on Phnom Penh's largest skyscraper.

via CAAI

Monday, 13 September 2010 20:46 Soeun Say

CONSTRUCTION at Phnom Penh’s Gold Tower 42 has been temporarily suspended, with developers unable to say when work will restart on the much-anticipated US$240-
million skyscraper.

When finished, Gold Tower was set to become the tallest building in the capital at 192 metres, dwarfing the 32-storey Canadia Tower at 118.1 metres. But so far, just 31 storeys of structure, being built on the corner of Sihanouk and Monivong boulevards, stand complete.

“It is true that we have, since the beginning of this month, temporarily put it on hold,” Kim-KW, a South Korean project director at developer Yon Woo Cambodia Co, said yesterday.

“We will continue progress again, but at the moment we don’t know when.”

Kim-KW refused to reveal the reason for the decision. But an administrator, who asked not to be named, said: “It is just a temporary suspension. We see that the economic situation is not getting better.”

A reporter visited the site yesterday and found it deserted, save for a handful of security guards.
Tower construction started in 2008 and was scheduled for completion in 2011.

Developers, dogged by unsubstantiated rumours last year that construction had halted and left buyers in limbo, previously said that up to 60 percent of the building had been sold.

Analysts yesterday expressed mixed reactions to the latest news to hit the sector, following the announcement of a 555-metre tall tower for the capital and a report that the Posco-backed Star River complex was on hold.

The president of the National Valuers’ Association of Cambodia, Sung Bonna, said large construction projects could face difficulties because demand for office and residential space was limited. He said that developers could have problems if they used funding from pre-sold units to finance building.

But Daniel Parkes, Cambodia country manager of real estate giant CB Richard Ellis, emphasised that “we have invested in our business here, and we are confident that Cambodia’s economy will improve. We look forward to construction resuming”.

Nun Pheany, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Land Management Urban Planning and Construction, said they would visit the Gold Tower site.

KRT plans rule changes for victims


Photo by: Uy Nousereimony
The eighth plenary session of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia opens at the Cambodiana Hotel yesterday.

via CAAI

Monday, 13 September 2010 21:23 James O'Toole

THE Khmer Rouge tribunal, the first international war crimes court to allow direct participation by victims, convened a plenary session yesterday in which rule changes for victim participation and reparations will likely be adopted.

Acting plenary vice president Motoo Noguchi said the court was “eager to learn from our past experience and keep improving so that we can remain confident that our procedures are fair and meaningful”.

“The majority of this week will be devoted to discussions to amend internal rules concerning victims’ participation and reparation, in particular with a view to making the existing reparation system more meaningful and effective for real and sustainable benefit for victims,” Noguchi said.

Under the current rules, the court is empowered to grant “collective and moral” reparations to accepted civil parties. As part of July’s judgment against former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, the court’s Trial Chamber granted a pair of reparations requests from civil parties: It printed the names of accepted civil parties in the verdict and pledged to collect and publish all statements of apology made by Duch during the proceedings.

Civil party lawyers and court monitors criticised these reparations as unimaginative and insufficient, though the judges said in the decision that they did not have the power to fund projects or make recommendations to the government.

At a press conference on reparations and victim participation yesterday, Thun Saray, president of local rights group Adhoc, said rule changes adopted this week should allow the court to implement reparations in collaboration with civil society organisations and make recommendations to the government.

Although the Duch decision has been appealed to the tribunal’s Supreme Court Chamber, where a decision is expected next year, UN court spokesman Lars Olsen said any rule changes on reparations adopted by the plenary this week will not be applicable to Case 001.

‘Virgin’ victim complicates rape case


Photo by: Pha Lina
Sous Virak, who has been charged with raping a 14-year-old girl, is led into Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.

via CAAI

Monday, 13 September 2010 22:09 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court yesterday ordered the reinvestigation of the case against a 20-year-old Cambodian man who has been charged with raping a 14-year-old girl, citing a doctor’s report indicating that the alleged victim’s hymen was undamaged.

Sous Virak was arrested on November 22 of last year at a guesthouse near Central Market in Daun Penh district following a complaint submitted to municipal anti-human trafficking police by the girl’s parents, who accused him of luring her to the capital from her home in Takeo province and raping her four times.

At a hearing last month, a court clerk read out a report completed by a doctor from a referral hospital in the capital that claimed that the victim could not have been raped because her hymen was intact.

The report prompted verbal sparring between lawyers for the alleged victim and the accused. Afterwards, deputy prosecutor Plang Sophal said he intended to have judges lift the charges against Sous Virak.

Instead, Judge Ke Sakhan announced yesterday that the case would be reinvestigated.

“We need to summon the doctor from the Phnom Penh referral hospital who was involved with this case to clarify the examination report about the girl’s virginity,” he said.

Lawyers from both sides expressed disappointment with the outcome.

“We are not so happy with the court’s decision to reinvestigate, but it is done according to judicial procedure in order to make both sides happy,” said Nuon Phanith, a lawyer provided for the girl by the child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants.

He suggested that the doctor had not been thorough in preparing his report, and pointed to the fact that Sous Virak at one point confessed to police.

During the August hearing, Sous Virak said that confession had been made under duress.

Defence lawyer Kim Socheat, meanwhile, said he was frustrated that the charges against Sous Virak had not been lifted, saying he had been held in jail for nine months unfairly.

The next hearing in the case has not yet been scheduled.

Police Blotter: 14 Sep 2010


via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:00 Sen David

Would-be crook fails to steal woman’s moto
A 20-year-old man was arrested in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district on Friday after allegedly attempting to steal a woman’s motorbike. The victim said she entered a market and left her wheels outside, and when she returned she discovered a nefarious-looking character attempting to steal them. She shouted for help, and police immediately swooped in and arrested the would-be thief.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Disappointed thieves unimpressed by loot
Two men were arrested in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district on Saturday after police caught them throwing away a snatched bag that, to their dismay, contained only a book and a pen. Police said that while a foreigner was sitting in a tuk-tuk, the men drove past and stole the bag from her. However, they were shocked to find that no money was inside, and they seemingly weren’t impressed with the quality of the book or the pen. While they were throwing the bag away, police spotted and arrested them. The victim was unhurt, and police returned her worthless bag.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Tree kills speeding military officer
A military police officer died and two more were seriously injured after the car they were travelling in crashed into a tree in Ratanakkiri’s Banlung town on Friday. Police said the three were partying during the day, and that their car spun out of control while on the way home. The driver died immediately, while the two survivors were sent to hospital in serious condition. Police concluded that the crash was caused by excessive speed, and the tree.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

City woman raped in drunken slumber
A 30-year-old widow filed a complaint to police after she was allegedly raped on Saturday in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district. She told police that she had been drunk during the day, and that while she was sleeping it off a man came into her home and assaulted her. She said she attacked and wounded the man’s neck, and pointed to his injuries as proof of the rape attempt. However, the suspect has denied the charges against him.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Husband blamed for wife’s deadly stabbing
A woman was chopped to death by her drunken husband in Battambang province’s Samlot district on Friday. Police said the husband chopped his wife seven times with an axe during a heated argument. Neighbours said the couple had been quarrelling on the day of the incident, something they apparently did constantly. When the neighbours went to investigate, they discovered the wife dead in a pool of blood. Police are still on the hunt for the suspect.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Sokimex plans spur petition to PM


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Tang Muyleang, 48, points yesterday to part of her land in Meanchey district that was once a rice field but is now flooded. She has accused the Sokimex Company of pumping sand for a development project.

via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:01 Chhay Channyda

A GROUP of 14 families in Meanchey district’s Prek Pra commune have petitioned Prime Minister Hun Sen to intervene in an ongoing land dispute with Sok Kong, president of the Sokimex Company.

A government directive signed on August 6 by Council of Ministers secretary of state Seng Lim Nov, a copy of which was obtained yesterday, states that Sokimex owns 21.83 hectares of disputed land in Prek Pra commune’s O’Andong village.

According to the document, Sok Kong bought more than 200 hectares of land, including the disputed area, for US$6.54 million in 2004.

The directive states that any documents that identify other parties as owners of land that “overlapped” with the area owned by Sok Kong would be considered invalid if signed later than 1992.

A total of 14 families claim to possess legal documents dating back to 1999 – and authorised by a commune official – that say they are the rightful owners of the Prek Pra commune land.

Representatives of the 14 families – who one resident said included the wife of Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana and relatives of Hun Sen – thumb-printed a letter dated September 1 and addressed to the premier. The letter says that the land owned by Sok Kong is actually located in Nirodh commune, which borders Prek Pra commune, and is known as the Boeung Chhuok development area.

Included as an appendix to the letter is a document signed by Hun Sen in 2005 that gives Sok Kong permission to develop 200 hectares of land in Nirodh commune but makes no mention of land inside Prek Pra.

The September 1 letter clarifies that the 14 families are only opposed to the developments in Prek Pra.

“We fully support Samdech [Hun Sen’s] allowing Sok Kong to develop the Boeung Chhouk area as part of a contribution to economics, environment and society,” the letter says.

“But what is wrong is that the development affects our residents’ land.”

One resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, citing fears for her safety, said the 14 families had not yet been given eviction notices, but that they were concerned that the company could order them to move “any day”.

“We hope that our letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen is heard, because in 2006 he ordered Sok Kong not to interfere with the residents’ land,” she said, referring to a newspaper article, also included as an appendix, that says that the premier instructed Sok Kong not to develop land belonging to the 14 families.

Sok Kong and Sokimex director Heu Heng could not be reached for comment yesterday, nor could Prek Pra commune chief Chuop Sitha, whose signature appears on the letter in support of the 14 families.

Bi Nay, district deputy governor, said yesterday that she was not aware that Sok Kong’s development plans would affect the 14 families.

“I just know that Sok Kong wants to create a satellite city following the master plan of the municipality,” she said. “What I know is that he bought the land from another [person]. I do not know if his land will affect other people’s land.”

Prison opens clinic, but questions remain


via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol

THE Ratanakkiri Health Department has opened a health clinic at the provincial prison, officials said yesterday, about three weeks after local rights group Adhoc reported that one inmate had died and four others had fallen ill with various diseases.

Tha Bunthak, the department’s deputy director, said the facility opened on Friday.

“Previously, prisoners or detainees have been sent to hospital with chains or handcuffs attached to them, which surprises and terrifies other patients who are being hospitalised in the same room,” he said. “If their illness is not serious, we will treat them at the prison clinic, and only when they are in serious condition will we send them to hospital for treatment with prison guards watching over them.”

Prison chief Ngin Nael could not be reached for comment yesterday. But provincial deputy governor Sor Neak said the clinic, stationed in a previously vacant room in the prison compound, lacked equipment.

“The clinic does not have medical equipment,” Neak said. “It is just a room reserved for prisoners and detainees to stay and get treatment of minor illnesses only.”

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, yesterday questioned that the facility would lead to tangible improvements in the prisoners’ health.

Information minister rebuts interference allegations


via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha

MINISTER of Information Khieu Kanharith yesterday rejected assertions from two international judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal that he and other government officials may have interfered with the work of the court.

In a decision released by the tribunal on Friday, international Pre-Trial Chamber judges Rowan Downing and Catherine Marchi-Uhel said comments made by Khieu Kanharith last year “may amount to an interference or reflect other efforts to prevent the testimony” of six government officials summoned to appear at the court.

They recommended an internal investigation to determine if any interference had in fact occurred, though the three Cambodian judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber sided against them, preventing such an inquest from taking place.

Khieu Kanharith rejected the notion that any interference had taken place at the court.

“If there was interference from the government, would those foreign judges agree to stay on? Would they be under the control of the government?” he said. “I think people talking about this have their own political agenda. They are not working for the court, but have only come here to provoke for some other purpose.”

Khieu Kanharaith said last year that foreign officials at the tribunal could “pack their clothes and return home” if they disagreed with the government’s stated opposition to the summonses for the officials. Prime Minister Hun Sen said at the time that he too opposed the summonses, citing concerns about unfairness for the defendants.

Tribunal appeal: Duch team calls for extension


via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha and James O'toole

Tribunal appeal

LAWYERS for former Tuol Sleng prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, have requested an extension of the deadline to file an appeal on behalf of their client, the first to be convicted at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Lawyers Kar Savuth and Kang Ritheary said in a request released yesterday that the “size and complexity of this case necessitate an extended time for preparation of an appeal”.

While he could not comment directly on the request, United Nations court spokesman Lars Olsen said that generally, “if a legally binding deadline is not respected, it means that the filing would normally be null and void”. Court rules give the parties 90 days from the verdict to file appeals.

Kar Savuth said Kang Ritheary’s recent appointment – he joined the defence team last month after Duch dismissed international co-lawyer Francois Roux – had made it difficult to complete the appeal in a timely manner.

“We do not know if the court will agree with our proposal or not, but if another month passes and we are still not finished, we will ask for further time,” Kar Savuth said.

Cambodian worker shot in Thailand


via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:01 Cheang Sokha and Cameron Wells

THE remains of a Cambodian migrant worker believed to have been shot dead in Thailand by his employer were repatriated yesterday, a border official said.

Chim Chamnan, chief of the Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations office in Pailin province, said the victim, 24-year-old Vath Vanna, was shot in the head by his manager on Saturday following a scuffle at a drinking party.

He said the body had then been burned beyond recognition in a bid to destroy the evidence of the killing.

“The corpse has been returned [yesterday] evening, and his relatives picked his body up,” he said. “We have written a complaint and sent it to our superiors to log a lawsuit.”

He said Thai authorities had arrested the suspect, who was being held in a prison in Chanburi province.

Dy Phen, deputy chief of the border office of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, said only a liver and some bones remained following the burning.

“It is a cruel act from a human being,” he said. “We have sent a report to the consular officials in [Thailand’s] Sa Kaeo province, to file a complaint and find justice for the victim.”

Regional migration rights
The report out of Pailin province came as civil society groups gathered in Phnom Penh to discuss the importance of ensuring the safety of migrant workers as regional economies continue to integrate.

Sinapan Samydorai, who convened yesterday’s meeting of the Taskforce on ASEAN Migrant Workers, said there was “an urgent need for an agreement to protect” the rights of migrants.

“The ASEAN economy will be integrated in 2015, and promoting safe migration is crucial,” he said. “Many Cambodians are sent to work overseas, but we must ensure that their basic rights should be respected.”

Thun Saray, president of the rights group Adhoc, noted that some prospective migrant workers had allegedly been abused even before leaving Cambodia, citing the cases of women training to become domestic servants in Malaysia.

Smugglers burst through blockade


via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:01 Rann Reuy

Siem Reap province

OFFICIALS in Siem Reap province fired on the vehicles of suspected wood smugglers who drove through a blockade set up along National Road 67 in Banteay Srei district on Sunday night.

The anti-smuggling operation was being carried out in concert with members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s bodyguard unit, the unit’s commander said.

Hing Bunheang, who is also deputy commander in chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, said he had ordered his officials to stop a member of the bodyguard unit suspected of taking advantage of his position to transport stolen luxury wood.

“I ordered to shoot last night, but they fled into the forest after we blew out their tyres,” he said yesterday.

Tea Kimsoth, the provincial director of the Forestry Administration, said the officials shot out the tyres of six of eight cars after they sped through the blockade, and that no one was injured.

After the cars stopped, most of the suspected smugglers fled the scene on foot, he said.

Hing Bunheang said two people in the cars were arrested, but declined to provide further details.

Tea Kimsoth said officials confiscated the cars and 4 cubic metres of valuable wood. “I will send the case to court tomorrow, along with the evidence,” he said.

On Sunday, police in Siem Reap province’s Varin district said they were on the hunt for a gunman who shot at a Forestry Administration official during a separate operation on Friday.

Police block supporters of three activists


via CAAI

Tuesday, 14 September 2010 15:00 Chhay Channyda

POLICE were deployed in Kampong Speu province’s Thpong district yesterday to prevent villagers from accompanying three community representatives to Phnom Penh, where they are to be questioned today over a complaint related to a dispute with a sugar company, one of the representatives said.

You Tho, Phal Vannak and Ieng Chiva have been summoned to appear at the Ministry of Interior by In Bora, director of the Interior Ministry’s Penal Police Department, prompting concerns that they could be arrested.

The three men hail from Thpong district’s Omlaing commune. Since February, they have been advocating on behalf of more than 2,000 families affected by a 9,000-hectare land concession awarded to the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, which is owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat.

“I told the villagers that they do not have to come support me. If the ministry wants to arrest me, they can arrest me,” You Tho said after arriving in Phnom Penh yesterday.

In March, he and fellow representative Khem Vuthy were held for about one week over their alleged involvement in the torching of a makeshift shelter owned by the company.

You Tho said he doubted that many villagers would make it to Phnom Penh because of the police presence.

“I could not count how many police I saw, but I noticed them standing along the road, from the village until we reached the district town,” he said, and added that some checkpoints were manned by as many as 10 officers.

The questioning scheduled for today stems from allegations that the three men illegally detained Phnom Penh Sugar representative Chheang Kimsruon during a demonstration last month, when about 300 Omlaing villagers blocked a section of National Road 52 in Kampong Speu.

Hab Dam, Omlaing commune chief, confirmed that district authorities had deployed police yesterday to prevent villagers from travelling to Phnom Penh.