Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Police Blotter: 6 Oct 2010


via CAAI

Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:02 Phak Seangly

Diners fire on Chinese restaurant, flee scene
THE wall of a Chinese restaurant in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district was fired on by a man who had recently finished a meal there, police said this week. Witnesses said the man and his friend, both of whom are Chinese, shot up the restaurant on Sunday after finishing dinner. In response, the owner of the restaurant ran outside and demanded an explanation for the “anarchic bullets”, but the two men had already fled the scene. No one was wounded. Police speculated that the men may have had a dispute with the owner.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Dance party devolves into stick brutality
A 21-year-old partygoer saw his night take a turn for the worse when 30 men ganged up on him while he was dancing. Police in Pailin town, where the incident occurred, said they did not know the reason for the assault. The victim, a plantation worker, was beaten unconscious with sticks, and his assailants continued to pursue him even as his family was trying to ferry him to a local hospital for treatment. Relatives of the victim have filed a complaint with local authorities.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Nightclub combatants caught with cleaver
Military police in Daun Penh district have arrested two men they said were on their way to take revenge against their “nightclub rivals”. The arrest occurred in the wee hours of Monday morning, and the two suspects – a 25-year-old and a 28-year-old – were found carrying a knife and a cleaver, respectively. Police said the men were carrying the weapons back to the nightclub where they had earlier engaged in a loud and heated shoving match.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Man who bailed on accomplice nabbed
Municipal police have arrested one of two men suspected of carrying out a string of robberies in Sen Sok district. Officers stumbled upon the men mid-robbery in Sen Sok and chased them to Russey Keo district, where one of them jumped off a motorbike while being chased and ran into a nearby house. Police then surrounded the house, and the 27-year-old was arrested. The suspect who stayed on the motorbike managed to escape and remains at large. Both men were armed at the time of the chase.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Alleged lorry thief held in Kampong Speu
Kampong Speu provincial police have arrested a 29-year-old man suspected of stealing a lorry that was parked outside a coffee shop in Samrong Tong district. Police said the owner of the vehicle, which was stolen on Saturday morning, later spotted it in front of a market with its licence plate removed.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Hun Sen talks with Abhisit


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:02 Cheang Sokha

PRIME Minister Hun Sen met with Thai premier Abhisit Vejjajiva at a summit in Belgium, where the two leaders affirmed their commitment to a demobilisation of troops stationed along their contentious border.

According to state television channel TVK, Hun Sen and Abhisit met for about 15 minutes on the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Meeting on Monday. The two-day summit was set to conclude yesterday.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said Cambodian officials welcomed further talks aimed at resolving the border dispute. Hun Sen and Abhisit are slated to meet again later this month at an ASEAN meeting in Hanoi.

“Cambodia’s position remains that we can use bilateral or multilateral mechanisms,” Koy Kuong said yesterday. “We are prepared to resolve the dispute by any means necessary.”

Abhisit said he and Hun Sen had “exchanged views over the dispute in an effort to press ahead for progress in tackling the issue apart from current efforts being made through parliamentary procedures”, Thai state media reported yesterday.

The countries are working to demarcate their border through a bilateral committee, though the process has been stalled since last year pending approval of the latest round of talks in the Thai parliament.

Chea Dara, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces stationed at Preah Vihear temple, said yesterday that commanders from the two sides were slated to meet next week to discuss a redeployment of troops stationed at the Cambodian border.

“This is a great sign, and the purpose of the meeting will be to prevent military confrontations,” Chea Dara said.

“The two militaries from both sides have good cooperation, and we shared lunch and ate cakes together recently.”

Teachers’ rally thwarted


Photo by: Sovan Philong

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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:02 Tep Nimol

Teachers gather behind a blockade set up by police yesterday morning outside the headquarters of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association in Chamkarmon district. To mark World Teachers’ Day, CITA had planned a rally and march to advocate for higher wages. Uch Sokhon, the police chief in Chamkarmon district, said he had deployed about 30 officers to pre-empt the rally. CITA President Rong Chhun said yesterday that “Cambodia’s education has fallen down because the government does not take care of teachers’ living standards”. Mu Sochua, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said she would present a petition prepared for the rally – which calls for the monthly salary for teachers to be raised to 1 million riels (US$237) – to the National Assembly.

‘Charming city’: City Hall launches new site


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:02 Khouth Sophakchakrya
‘Charming city'

CITY Hall launched the redesign of its official website, www.phnompenh.gov.kh, yesterday, rebranding the capital “the Charming City”.

Kim Savuth, deputy municipal cabinet chief and the website’s director, said City Hall hoped to use it to share information that would attract domestic and international tourists and investors.

“Currently, we published information in the Khmer and English languages, and we plan to publish in French soon,” he said.

He added that the website would offer information on development projects, local businesses and tourism.

A description of ‘‘Phnom Penh today’’ describes the capital as ‘‘charming, relaxing and harmonious’’.

Relations with US snagged over debt issue


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:02 Thomas Miller

DESPITE signs of progress in areas ranging from military cooperation to development aid, comments in recent weeks from Cambodian and American officials underscore the fact that bilateral relations remain snagged on an issue some three decades old: Cambodia’s wartime debt.

Before the US-ASEAN summit two weeks ago, Prime Minister Hun Sen called upon the United States to cancel the debt, calling it “dirty”. But a US State Department official said last week the US would not do so for fear of setting a “bad precedent” for countries in similar positions.

The principal sum of the debt, according to the US State Department and the International Monetary Fund, is US$162 million for shipments of cotton, rice, wheat flour and other agricultural commodities in the 1970s. Interest has ballooned the total debt to $445 million.

The Kingdom had an overall debt burden of $3.2 billion in 2009, according to the IMF, which noted in an assessment that year that Cambodia is at “moderate risk of debt distress”.

In congressional testimony Friday, Joe Yun, deputy assistant secretary for the US state department’s bureau of East Asian and Pacific affairs,
said the US would not forgive Cambodia’s debt because it considers Cambodia both able to pay and obligated to do so under international law.

Officials at the Ministry of Economy and Finance did not respond this week to requests for comment about the debt.

Beyond the debt issue, Yun observed a “generally positive trend” in bilateral relations in his remarks last week, noting that the US has been Cambodia’s top trading partner since 1998. Moreover, under President Barack Obama, he said, the US would provide US$72 million to Cambodia this year, making it the fourth-largest recipient of foreign aid in the East Asia-Pacific region. But the debt could be a “spoiler” in the countries’ relationship, said Carlyle Thayer, a professor at the Australian Defense Force Academy who called on the US to forgive it.

Cambodia incurred the debt under Lon Nol, who came to power in a 1970 coup d’etat. The US subsequently supported Lon Nol with economic, food and military aid, including an infamous bombing campaign.

Historians have long said that the bombs, believed to have killed tens of thousands of civilians while devastating the Cambodian countryside, may have slowed the Khmer Rouge in the short term, but also likely strengthened them as well.

Kenton Clymer, a professor at Northern Illinois University and an expert on US-Cambodia relations, said in an email yesterday that a reduction of the debt would be appropriate in view of the countries’ tumultuous history. “I suspect that the American legal position is correct, that a change of government does not relieve a country of previous debts. On the other hand, US bombing of Cambodia and American policy during the Khmer Republic did help create conditions that made a Khmer Rouge victory more likely,” Clymer said.

The US dropped 2,756,941 tons of ordnance in Cambodia, according to historians Ben Kiernan and Owen Taylor. William Shawcross put the cost of the bombing at $7 billion.

But an argument based on the historical injustice of the debt in view of the American legacy in the region was “not going to work politically” in negotiations with the US, Thayer said.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, indicated yesterday that the government viewed debt forgiveness as a potential way to move beyond their contentious past.

“We don’t want to put the blame and point a figure at each other,” he said. “Right now we have a new chapter.”

Carnivorous plant found


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:02 Will Baxter

A 7-METRE-TALL carnivorous plant native to Kampot province was among 145 new plant and animal species officially documented last year in the Greater Mekong region, according to a report to be released today by the World Wildlife Fund.

On average, three new species are recorded by scientists each week in the region, which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China’s southern Yunnan province, the report states.

“This rate of discovery is simply staggering in modern times,” Stuart Chapman, conservation director of WWF Greater Mekong, said in a press release that accompanied the report.

“Each year, the new species count keeps going up, and with it, so too does the responsibility to ensure this region’s unique biodiversity is conserved,” he said.

Speaking by phone yesterday, he said knowledge about biodiversity in the Greater Mekong region was “on par with the rate of discovery in the Amazon”.

He said that “a greater allocation of funds is needed to ensure these valuable ecosystems are conserved”, and that the acceleration of “unsustainable development” was a major threat to species in the region.

Although the report – titled New Blood: Greater Mekong New Species Discoveries 2009 – provides details on 2009 findings, its release was delayed to coincide with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, a three-day affair in Japan that is set to start today. The convention will be attended by potential donors from the Global Environment Facility, the financing arm of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

A total of three new plant species were discovered in Cambodia in 2009, the most impressive of which was found on Bokor mountain in Kampot and was described by Chapman as a “giant carnivorous pitcher plant”.

The report states that the plant “produces pitchers that…alone can be up to 25 centimetres in length, and are used to trap ants and other insects, which are then broken down to provide nourishment to the plant”.

Ministry of Environment and Forestry Administration officials declined to comment yesterday.

A garment solution


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:02 Nhem Cheabunly

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the recent strike by several thousand garment workers seeking a decent wage to make ends meet.

I highly appreciate the prime minister’s decision, mentioned at a graduation ceremony on September 29, to ask the courts to cease legal action against workers by factory owners.

I also welcome his decision to request factories to allow union representatives and factory stewards to return to work as normal.

These are fruitful and positive solutions for workers and factory owners. Even though factory profits were moderately affected by the strike, there is no better option than the one the prime minister has offered.

Otherwise, the dispute between workers and factory owners will be prolonged.

Cambodian workers have not worked simply in order to become rich.

They want only a decent wage to support their families. I expect that the dispute between the two sides can be solved in an amicable and peaceful manner.

Nhem Cheabunly
Phnom Penh

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

Why can’t war debt be resolved?


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:02 Vannarith Chheang

Dear Editor,

Cambodian-United States bilateral relations have been growing remarkably in recent years, but the issue of outstanding debt remains an obstacle.

Cambodians have always been interested to know how and when the US might forgive this debt. During the academic symposiums celebrating the 60th anniversary of Cambodia-US bilateral relations, many questions were raised with regard to the debt issue.

Recently, the Cambodian government has expressed clearly that it would never pay back the debt by calling it “dirty debt”. For Cambodians, it is clear that the US was partly responsible for igniting the civil war in Cambodia and responsible for the damages caused by the US aerial bombings. Based on these facts, the US should forgive Cambodia’s debt.

This issue attracted the attention of the members of Congress in Washington, DC, on September 30, 2010, when the chairman of the subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the global environment, Eni FH Faleomavaega, expressed his position to recycle Cambodia’s dept by swapping or converting it into development assistance; for instance it can be transformed into funding sources to preserve the cultural and natural heritage sites of Preah Vihear temple.

Since the US has forgiven the debt of other countries under special circumstances, why can they not do the same for Cambodia?

What are the criteria set by the US to provide special status?

Vannarith Chheang
Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace

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

Options for easing prison overcrowding


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:02 Monika Mang

Dear Editor,

The Phnom Penh Post recently reported that overcrowding resulting from Cambodia’s overburdened prison system is exacerbating health risks and likely has contributed to the 64 inmate deaths in the first eight months of 2010 (“State targets crowded prisons”, September 29).

According to the Ministry of Interior, the prison system is running at 174 percent of its official 8,000 inmate capacity, with a total of 13,957 persons currently detained in prisons throughout the country. The Ministry of Interior plans to build new prisons to reduce overcrowding and to work with the Ministry of Health to improve health services for prisoners, both of which are required.

While I welcome these initiatives, I take this opportunity to observe that by applying the law in relation to provisional detention and by pursuing non-custodial sentencing options, the judiciary in Cambodia can significantly reduce the prison population and problems endemic in existing facilities.

There are reportedly close to 4,000 individuals currently held in pretrial detention. Article 38 of the Cambodian Constitution states that accused persons shall be considered innocent until the court has finally judged on the case. This principle is reflected in a presumption against pretrial detention in both Cambodia’s Code of Criminal Procedure and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

However, despite these provisions, which imply that pretrial detention should only be used in exceptional cases, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights’ Trial Monitoring Project recently found that in 532 monitored trials, 84 percent of accused persons had been held in pretrial detention. This notwithstanding the provision for judicial supervision in the Code of Criminal Procedure, an alternative to pretrial detention whereby a court may impose restrictions on the movements of accused persons while allowing them to remain at liberty pending their trial.

The 2009 Penal Code created a range of new non-custodial sentencing options for judges. Where an offender is sentenced to, or would have been sentenced to, less than or equal to three years imprisonment for an offence, judges can substitute the sentence for community work of between 30 and 200 hours (Article 72) or a public reprimand (Article 76). Article 104 allows the court to suspend a sentence – meaning the sentence will not be imposed unless the offender re-engages in criminal behaviour – and Article 117 provides for probationary suspended sentences.

Under a probationary suspended sentence the judge can impose a probationary period of between one and three years, during which time the offender must comply with one or more court-ordered obligations such as enrolling in schooling or professional training; residing in a designated area; providing proof that they have contributed to taking care of their family; or submitting themselves for regular medical checkups or treatment (Article 120). If the court-ordered obligations are not fulfilled, the full sentence can be imposed.

According to Cambodia’s 2009 report to the Committee against Torture, as of August 2009 there were a total of 718 juveniles accused in prisons throughout the country. Article 39 of the Penal Code creates a statutory presumption against conviction and imprisonment of juveniles, stating that minors who commit offences are “subject to measures of surveillance, education, protection and assistance”. The court may pronounce a criminal conviction against a minor “if the circumstance of the offence or the personality of the minor justify in doing so”, however, the default option is that criminal prosecution will not be pursued, and other non-custodial responses should be utilised.

Clearly, there remain many instances in which it is necessary to sentence criminal offenders to imprisonment to protect the community, punish the offender and to discourage other potential offenders.

However, for many nonviolent first-time offenders there are sentencing options providing more constructive solutions to offending than imprisonment. The new sentencing provisions in the Penal Code represent a commendable effort to shift the culture of Cambodia’s justice system from a myopic focus on punishment, characterised by the indiscriminate and often disproportionate use of imprisonment, towards acknowledgement of the other valuable goals of rehabilitation and reintegration.

To ensure such measures are viable and effective, however, the government must provide adequate resources to courts, police and social service providers, and those institutions must establish clear processes and procedures for monitoring adherence to non-custodial sentences.

Non-custodial sentences provide a win-win solution to Cambodia’s prison overcrowding: more effective responses to petty criminal offences and a lower prison population.

Monika Mang
Cambodian Centre for Human Rights

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

Taxi drivers ready for festival fee bonanza


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:01 Rann Reuy

SOME bus companies and taxi drivers are set to increase their fees by 25 to 100 percent during the five days of Pchum Ben, a festival in which Cambodian people commemorate and honour dead ancestors.

But firms said yesterday that extra fees would go towards bonuses for drivers working over the holiday period, and supplements for empty buses returning from popular destinations.

May Wethat, sales manager at Neak Krorhorm transport company, confirmed yesterday that the price of a Phnom Penh-to-Siem Reap bus return would be raised from 20,000 riels to 25,000 riels to offset bonuses and supplements – and that departures would triple to 15 per day.

The pattern has been repeated across the country. A taxi driver based in Kampong Trach district of Kampot province, who asked not to be named, said yesterday that he planned to increase his fees by 100 percent because of festival parking fees at local markets.

“This fee increase becomes traditional,” he said, and added that even though passengers complained, the charges were “unavoidable” as drivers had to return to the capital with empty cars after transporting provincial festival-goers.

A 41-year-old Svay Rieng province driver, who gave his name as Tola, said: “People think they have one time per year to celebrate Pchum Ben, we also think we have one time to make good earnings.”

But many passengers remain disgruntled over doling out extra cash. Svay Rieng University student, Phok Marady, 22, who recently came to Phnom Penh to visit his uncle, said he had been charged more than usual. “It is difficult because my mother gives me only a little money,” he said.

Nhem Saran, director of Phnom Penh’s public works and transportation department, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Tourists soar as revenue concerns raised


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:01 May Kunmakara

FOREIGN tourist arrivals to Cambodia grew 15 percent in the first eight months of the year, compared to the same period of last year.

Tourism Ministry Director General Tith Chan Tha said the industry was returning to heights experienced before the financial crisis, as ministry statistics showed 1,630,068 tourists visited Cambodia from January to August 2010, from 1,422,003 for the same period of last year.

“Political stability and a record of keeping tourists safe contributed to the growth,” he said.The increase was not due to improvements in the domestic economy, but rather through efforts of government ministries to promote Cambodia to global travellers, he said.

But Bretton Sciaroni, senior partner at law firm Sciaroni and Associates, said last week that although tourist numbers were recovering, many were spending less money than in previous years.

“The amount of money Cambodia is receiving from tourists is less than before [the global financial crisis],” he during a speech made at a IT and finance conference in Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich. Tourists from Asia-Pacific constituted 60 percent of arrivals, while about 20 percent were from the EU, and another 20 percent came from the rest of the world, according to the ministry’s latest data.

Vietnam was the largest source for Cambodia’s tourists during the period. It was followed by South Korea, China, Japan, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Australia and Thailand.

However, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said yesterday that tourists were still spending significant amounts of money in Cambodia, regardless as to their nation of origin.

Tith Chan Tha also pointed to eased border restrictions and further visa exemptions as a factor in boosting intra-ASEAN tourism – especially for tourists arriving to Cambodia from Vietnam.

Biofuel plant delayed


MH Bio-Energy plant in Kandal province will not reopen until December, as the market price of cassava has remained high, cutting potential profits. Photo by: Sam Rith

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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:00 Sam Rith

CAMBODIA’S only biofuel production plant has pushed back its reopening by two months, as the price of cassava remains high.

MH Bio-Energy plant, a Kandal province factory owned by South Korea that uses cassava to produce ethanol for sale on EU markets, first opened in November 2008 with an initial investment of US$30 million. However, its doors have been closed since May because of rising crop prices.

Boeun Thy, chief of MH’s administration office, said: “We will continue to be closed until December because the price of cassava remains high.”

He said dry-chip cassava was fetching US$230 per tonne, compared US$178 to $181 per tonne early this year.

“We cannot make any profit if we buy the cassava at such a price,” he said.

The situation, he said, was about to change. By November, the firm would be able harvest its own cassava from Kampong Speu province, where it had planted on 8,000 hectares of land, enabling it to bypass market prices, he said.

Chov Tav, 57, a cassava farmer in Banteay Meanchey province’s Thmar Pouk district, said: “I hope that I could sell fresh cassava for at least 2,500 baht [about US$82.70] per tonne early next year.”

The current price is about 2,250 baht [about US$74.40] per tonne.

He also said Thailand banned imports of Cambodia cassava in 2009, which meant that few farmers planted the crop, but that this year more than 1,000 local families had backed it as their crop of choice. Middlemen were already in place to aid exports, he said.

Car sales rise as users demand safety, quality


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

PHNOM Penh car dealers saw new car sales increase up to 15 percent quarter-on-quarter for the three months to September 30, with buyers increasingly preferring brand-new cars over secondhand ones.

Long Narith, managing director of Naritat Motorcare Cambodia Co Ltd, which imports Nissan, said sales from July to September increased between 10 and 15 percent quarter on quarter and about 10 percent compared to the same period last year.

“People are becoming more fond of new cars because they’re thinking about the quality and safety,” he said.

Horn Seam, assistant to the director at the capital’s SsangYong Motor, said sales grew about 10 percent over the last quarter which he attributed to the improving incomes.

Chanchal Singh, Auto Sales (Cambodia) facility manager, said competition was tight.

“These days the market is booming. There is more competition day by day – but that’s good for the end user,” he said.

Kookmin's motto: 'close, kind and friendly'


Jang Ki-Sung, chief executive officer of Kookmin Bank Cambodia, believes the bank could make a profit this year, which is earlier than expected. Photo by: Sovan Philong

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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:00 Nguon Sovan

Jang Ki-sung, CEO and President of Kookmin Bank-Cambodia, spoke to reporter Nguon Sovan about banking development in Cambodia.

Kookmin Bank launched in Cambodia during the global financial crisis. More than one year later, how is business faring?
Even thought we launched during the global financial crisis, Kookmin Bank came to Cambodia as it has great potential. Cambodia is an important member of ASEAN and of the Great Mekong Sub-region, and Korea is seeking to play a role in the development of the region.

Within only a year and half, our assets have tripled and customers have simultaneously increased. Our portfolio of loans is around US$16 million and deposits reached $20 million. We could successfully make profit this year, which is earlier than our expectations.

Cambodia has 28 banks and numbers will reach 30 by the end of this year. What do you think about the environment?
I think it’s time to strengthen the conditions for new entries in the industry – such as licensing only one new bank to enter the Cambodian market a year, considering the huge number of banks here.

The National Bank of Cambodia has asked commercial banks to triple their registered capital to US$37.5 million by the end of 2010. Is your bank going to meet this requirement?
Kookmin Bank in Korea is the major shareholder of Kookmin Bank Cambodia and has an A2 rating from Moody’s, an A by S&P, and A+ by Fitch. Therefore we are not required by the new regulations to increase capital to $37.5 million at all. On the other hand, since our business keeps growing, we need to inject more capital to expand our operations in Cambodia by the end of this year. We plan to open branches from 2012.

In the context of tough competition, what is the bank’s strategy to attract custom?
Our motto is to be very close, kind and friendly to our customers. Our processes are very fast and transparent, due to our advanced IT system. In terms of interest rates, we just follow the market trends, but it varies according to the customer’s credit.

Recently, Campu Bank set its interest rates for loans at 6 percent per annum. Could Kookmin Bank lend to customers at this rate?
If Campu Bank made the right decision, other banks should follow its footsteps.

In reverse, if it doesn’t work out well, the interest rate of Campu Bank will go back to what it was before.

With my long experience in banking industry, customers do not decide to choose a bank by looking into interest rates alone but other items as well. Trust, loyalty, transparency and service quality could be the important factors in choosing a bank.

What is the perception of Cambodian people towards borrowing and depositing money in banks, when compared to those in Korea?
In past history, there has been a bad image of the banking sector – Cambodian people did not trust in the banks and were reluctant to use services and products.

But in Korea, every single and eligible Korean person commonly uses a bank. All payments and business can be made through banks and banking instruments. I hope banks recover trust from Cambodian people soon and become a part of their lives in the near future.

What are the opportunities and challenges that the bank sees in Cambodia?
The financial industry in Cambodia is still young, and there are opportunities that Kookmin Bank Cambodia can squeeze into. The average annual growth rate for banking assets is around 40 percent for last five years, but its proportion of GDP is still small.

When Cambodia becomes an advanced country in the industry, Kookmin Bank Cambodia will be at the centre as one of the leading banks in Cambodia.

However, at the midpoint of development, we are challenged by a lack of infrastructure – such as inter-bank and banking networking.

In other words, the financial market is yet to be established, money clearing system between the banks and credit report systems are just at the beginning stage of development. I think if such infrastructure is in place, the number of people using banking services will increase sharply.

What have you observed regarding demand for loans and deposits this year?
Demand for loans has increased as the global economy recovers. I think that deposits will increase faster than loan demand this year and also next, so the banks should be careful handling money because we should pay a lot of interest.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


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Maruhan capital swells

Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:00 Ellie Dyer

MARUHAN Japan Bank Plc’s paid-up capital has grown to US$44 million in Cambodia, from $25 million in May 2008, a press release stated. This would enable the bank to meet the National Bank of Cambodia’s minimum capital requirements of around $37.5 million, to be put in place at the end of this year.

Drunken-driving posts to expand after holiday

Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:01 Mom Kunthear

THE Interior Ministry has distributed breath analysers to police in Kandal and Kampong Speu provinces, paving the way for drunken-driving checkpoints to be established there shortly after the Pchum Ben holiday, officials said yesterday. Him Yan, director of the ministry’s Department of Public Order, said seven breath analysers had been sent to Kandal province, and that five had been sent to Kampong Speu. “The traffic police in Kampong Speu and Kandal will start using the drunken-driving checkpoints after the Pchum Ben festival,” he said. Municipal traffic police established checkpoints in all eight districts of the capital beginning last Friday. Chev Hak, deputy chief of the municipal traffic police, said yesterday that police had collected 180,000 riels (about US$43) in fines. He added, though, that the checkpoints would not be operational for three days during the Pchum Ben festival.

Station owner released

Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

PHNOM Penh Municipal Court has released the owner of a petrol station in Prampi Makara district’s Veal Vong commune that was the site of a fire last month. Nuth Samoeun, 49, the owner of the Socheat garage, has been charged with arson in connection with the case. Investigating Judge Te Sam Ang said yesterday that he had decided to release her so that she could work to settle the 19 compensation requests filed in the aftermath of the blaze. “I have recently decided to release the accused, Mrs Nuth Samoeun, on bail, because it is clear that she would be able to serve the interest of the case by paying compensation to the complainants and reaching compromises,” Te Sam Ang said. Though she did not make a bail payment, she did leave her land title for the property on which the gas station sits with the court, he said.

Health: Get the booze balance right for your liver


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Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:00 Dr Nick Walsh

HOW much is too much? We’ll leave that question for now and dive into the excesses of alcohol consumption. The medical profession has long been captive to the delusion that once an individual is aware of the harm or health benefit of a behaviour (e.g. smoking) they will change. Unfortunately, study after study demonstrates that knowledge and behaviour don’t always correlate.

“I’m afraid your liver function is not good.” I say euphemistically to my patient.

The impact of these words is unpredictable. It depends for how long alcohol has been a part of life, how much is consumed each time, and what the other drives in life are.

“How bad is it?” the reply comes.

This is often a good sign, and indicates some level of concern. Concern for one’s health may indicate the priority health has in an individual’s life, and potential for change should this be required. This is not always the case. Indeed in alcoholism, as in any addiction, many people have insight into the problems of alcohol use. The issue is the inability to stop despite the pain being inflicted.

“Well your liver function is high – GGT is several hundred, but your albumin and blood clotting appear normal, so in my opinion, you have inflammation of the liver, but no scarring – yet.”

The liver is like any other organ. Take skin for example. It cops a beating. Sun exposure, cuts and scratches, the odd scar or mole, a burn to boot. Sunburn causes redness. A scratch, laden with soil and bacteria during a fall, often becomes infected resulting in pus and lots of pain. If large enough, the skin will scar. Similarly with the liver. A big night on the booze, and liver inflammation will occur. It’s swollen and somewhat tender, a consequence of the direct toxicity of alcohol to the liver cells, and you feel vaguely nauseous, ‘off’, which can drag on for a day or two. Do this time and again and you’ll end up with chronic inflammation in the liver – so-called ‘fatty liver’. Both conditions give abnormal liver function results.

The key for our patient is to make the connection between alcohol consumption and health. There are many cultural barriers to this. Perhaps it’s the fun of debauchery in Phnom Penh, or the necessity of socialising with colleagues, the pressure of not being left out. Not uncommonly other more sinister drivers may be the cause – a recent divorce, the loss of a job or depression.

My ears often prick up when patients report these latter, worrying issues. These are ‘high risk’ situations.

Alcohol addiction is another story altogether. Others may be the first to notice. Perhaps not showing up to work after a big night, a hand tremor (shaking) in the morning, craving for a drink earlier in the day, or being unable to have an alcohol-free day.

Addiction to any substance results in brain changes. A rewiring of sorts so that the emotional centres of the brain (those responsible for desires, pleasure, euphoria, depression) drive the decision-making frontal lobes of the brain – instead of the other way around. The brain becomes ‘hijacked’, controlled by emotions as rationality flies out the window and a cycle of self-destruction and loss of potential eventuate.

More commonly, regular binge drinking – so-called ‘problematic use’ – is the issue. Blackouts, memory loss, massive hangovers, fighting (verbal or physical), or relationship issues indicate that perhaps alcohol is winning, and consumption needs to be curbed. In some cases this means no alcohol.

So back to our concerned candidate. He’s going to be OK. The abnormal liver function made him realise he was drinking too much. In fact, much more than he would have back home. The alcohol is too cheap, the booze flows too freely and the culture requires a certain adherence to this celebratory goddess.

But it took some doing – and telling friends – before he was able to cut back. He started drinking later, made sure he ate before he drank and alternated with juice or water as the night wore on. And he had several alcohol-free days a week. In the process he lost 4kg. In fact, he saw through the sobering light of a non-alcoholic night that his friends were also drinking too much. Confronting, but validating.

So how much is too much? It’s hard to say. Medically, two alcohol-free days a week and no more than 20g–40g of ethanol (that’s 1.5 – 3 cans of beer or 2 – 4 small glasses of wine) is recommended, depending on your gender. And be careful. Drink more than four to six drinks on the occasional night and your liver function is sure to be abnormal.

Classic FC weather the storm to win Street final


ASPECA’s Panida (left) scores her team’s third goal with a stinging volley against Rapha in their women’s final.

via CAAI

Wednesday, 06 October 2010 15:00 H S Manjunath

Captain Seyha’s rapid-fire double helped Classic FC prevail 2-1 over a battling Baitong FC in the rain-soaked final of the inaugural Men’s Street Soccer tournament in Battambang.

Spells of rain cut into the final day’s schedule and it poured heavily when the teams lined up for the final. Despite the adverse conditions, Classic took early control, scoring twice before defending their lead stoutly as Baitong FC pulled one back through nippy forward Thai.

Earlier in the semifinals, Classic shut out hot favourites Dana Shop 4-3 in a game of quickly changing patterns. In the other semifinal, Baitong FC scraped past Jerusalem via a penalty shootout after the sides finished regulation time level at 1-1.

In the third place playoff, Dana Shop got the better of Jerusalem 2-1.

Jerusalem’s Den (left) signifies the beginning of the end for his side during their semifinal penalty shootout against Baitong FC on the street soccer court in Battambang Sunday.
Photos by: Sam Schweingruber

Sunday also marked the end of the long Junior League season for both boys and girls in Battambang.

In the boys U16 final, Black Eagle edged out KRG FC 1-0. In a high scoring fixture, Catholics downed Jerusalem 8-6 to take third spot.

Catholics dominated the U13 final against ASPECA 4-1, with KLD beating Jerusalem for a third place finish by the same margin.

Speedy Phanida, who was the top scorer at the recent Women’s National Football Championship at Banteay Meanchey, found the target twice for ASPECA to steer her side to a 3-1 win over Rapha in the girls final. The most valuable player, Pheakdey, scored Rapha’s consolation goal. In the contest for the third, Tschrey were too good for Corner Crown in a runaway 8-1 victory.

The closing ceremony and the prize distribution was a total washout, and the trophies were handed out to the teams in the marquees under which they had taken shelter.

ASEM 8 - Brussels 2010

(LtR) EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Laos' Prime Minister Bouasone Buphavanh hold a joint news conference after an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels October 5, 2010. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

(L to R) EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hold a joint news conference after an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels October 5, 2010. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (R) hold a joint news conference after an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels October 5, 2010. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

(L to R) EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen and Laos' Prime Minister Bouasone Buphavanh pose after an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels October 5, 2010. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

(L to R) Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Laos' Prime Minister Bouasone Buphavanh hold a joint news conference after an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels October 5, 2010. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

How Will Post-election Burma Look?


via CAAI

By SIMON ROUGHNEEN
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

BANGKOK—The run-up to Burma's Nov. 7 election has left observers and policy wonks wondering whether the vote will facilitate some opening-up inside the military-ruled country, despite the seemingly overwhelming bias in favor of the army and its allies.

Some clues, it could be argued, might be found in the experiences of other countries in the Southeast Asia region.

Indonesia left a long era of military dictatorship behind it in 1998, when the Asian financial crisis precipitated the collapse of the Suharto regime. Since then, the vast, multi-ethnic archipelago has undergone a largely successful—if hardly flawless—transition to being southeast Asia's best-functioning democracy.

In 1986, soldiers refused to fire on protestors on the streets of Manila, as mass protests backed by the Catholic Church helped bring about the end of the Marcos dictatorship. During the 2007 Saffron Revolution in Burma, some views held that a similar dynamic might prevail once Buddhist monks took to the streets. Just as the armed forces of the Philippines backed down when confronted by priests and nuns, then surely the Tatmadaw would not harm the Sangha?

Events proved otherwise, and Dr Maung Zarni, a scholar at the London School of Economics and an exiled Burmese dissident, says that the military rulers of Burma are operating from a different template than other Asian leaders, no matter how despotic.

“Even absolute monarchs and rulers elsewhere were constrained by the Buddhist or Confucian norms that required them to rule in a paternalistic manner,” he said. His remarks were part of a seminar titled “Transitions to Democracy in Southeast Asia: Similarities and Differences with the Upcoming Elections in Burma/Myanmar,” at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University on Tuesday.

In contrast, “Burma is ruled by a form of military feudalism that involves junking or misusing the country's own religious and cultural traditions,” he said, pointing to images of Burmese consular staff in China prostrating themselves, in a display of faux Buddhist devotion, before senior junta figures such as Shwe Mann and Than Shwe.

While Burma remains something of an embarrassment for Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders, many of whom are in Brussels now for a summit with European Union counterparts, other Asean members cannot point to a linear or seamless transition from authoritarian rule to democracy.

Youk Chhang, a survivor of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia and now executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, reminded the gathering that the 1993 United Nations-backed elections in his country were won by the Royalist Party, from its exile in Thailand.

“However the UN allowed the losers to form a government, after they resisted the result, and after the international community spent US $2 billion on the elections,” he said.

That result reversal came three years after the Burmese military ignored the landslide win for Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy in Burma's last election.

“Cambodia is not a democracy,” said Youk Chhang, “as there is no opposition.”

Sam Rainsy, the main opposition leader, now lives in exile and on Sept. 22 was handed a 10-year jail sentence by a Cambodian court for a comment he made about a border dispute with Vietnam. The sentence was only eight years less than the real term handed down to “Comrade Duch” in July, the first conviction at Cambodia's war crimes tribunal which is looking into abuses perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge. Like Maung Zarni, Youk Chhang spent time as a refugee in Thailand after fleeing persecution at home.

Thailand, alongside the Philippines, was for a time held up as a beacon of democracy in the region and has long offered a support base and refuge for oppressed people from neighboring countries. The Thai military has occupied a largely background role since a failed attempt at governing after the September 2006 coup, but remains hugely influential, part of what scholar Dr. Thitinan Pongsudhirak calls it a long-established “holy trinity” of bureaucrats and royalists, who are now “afraid to make any concessions” to opposition groups such as the Redshirts, “for fear that one may lead to losing all.”

Coupled with the use of emergency laws and a system whereby citizens can randomly sue one another on lese majeste charges, the result is declining freedom of speech and deteriorating democratic standards, he warned.

The Thai Army reserves a right for itself to intervene politically, as outlined by new army head Gen. Prayuth recently, who commented “the army would like to stay out of politics, but is willing to come in, if necessary.”

Ethnic conflicts inside Burma remain unresolved, with calls for reconciliation before elections going unheeded by the ruling military.

More fighting would see more refugees flow into Thailand, on top of the 140,000 already in camps along the border.

“I don't see much happening in the way of contingency planning by the Thai authorities or the military for this,” said Thitinan.

For Indonesia, resolving ethnic conflict has been a key aspect of its democratic transition, according to Ambassador Mohammed Hatta, the country's representative in Thailand.

“We have 465 ethnic groups, with different languages and religions,” he said, and claimed that “once we found out the core issues of ethnic conflict,” the country tried to resolve them, pointing to the example of Aceh. However, human rights abuses continue in West Papua, according to activists.

The ambassador pointed out that Indonesia has elections at all levels of government, and that associated institutions, such as an anti-corruption commission, the judiciary, parliament, are working to entrench democracy in the country.

Such an over-emphasis on institutions is flawed, according to Zarni, who pointed out that the proliferation of councils and commissions under Burma's Ne Win regime remained under strict junta control. He said he anticipates the same under the post-election system, where Burma will have regional parliaments, as well as a central upper and lower house, all dominated by the military and allied parties.

China's Large Role in Cambodian Economy Expected to Continue

Ron Corben

Bangkok 05 October 2010

via CAAI
 
Photo: AFP
A customer (R) wears 3D glasses as he views a 3D movie on a Toshiba computer during an exhibition in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on September 11, 2010

Cambodia's economy, after contracting in 2009, due to the global slowdown, has revived as a government rescue package, stronger exports and rising tourism arrivals again fuel growth.

Cambodia's economy is expected to expand by close to 5 percent this year, buoyed by the recovery in tourism and garment exports. Last year the economy shrank by more than 1 percent because of the worldwide slowdown.

The rebound in the garment sector has been particularly important. Garment exports account for 70 percent of Cambodia's export income. At the recession's depth about 50 factories closed and over 60,000 - mostly female - workers lost their jobs. Exports fell more than 20 percent in value.

Sharp turnaround

Asian Development Bank country representative Peter Brimble says the turnaround has been sharp this year.

"Garment exports to the states appear to have increased by more than 10 percent in value terms," said Brimble who calls the outlook positive. "Tourism has gone up by similar numbers - at least in terms of arrivals - a bit less in terms of spending but still a significant recovery. From a purely macroeconomic perspective, the economy looks to be returning to a growth trend [of] five, six, seven percent, and this is even in light of continuing sluggishness in Western economies and Europe and in the states. Possibly Cambodia came out relatively well given everything."

Laurent Notin, a director of Indochina Research in Phnom Penh, says the mood in the business community has improved, although the property sector remains in the doldrums because of credit shortages.

"People are more confident. Business is more confident than last year," said Notin. "Everybody is far happier than last year, except maybe if you're working in real estate sector in which nothing is happening."

Boosting investment

The government wants to boost foreign investment by improving infrastructure, expanding energy production, and upgrading the agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and mining sectors.

The recession hit foreign investment hard, and in 2009, it fell by nearly half, to $5.86 billion.

China remains the biggest source of foreign investment by far. Chinese funds have gone into hydropower projects, river port facilities, irrigation systems, and transmission lines. Other major foreign investment sources include South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.

The Cambodian government says it is open to even more investment from China, which officials say will help Cambodia develop its economy.

In February this year Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced plans to invest $310 million to improve irrigation systems. China is lending $240 million for the project.

Douglas Clayton, managing partner for venture capital firm Leopard Group, says most people welcome Chinese investment, especially in infrastructure and in ensuring employment.

"We're seeing Chinese investment in large infrastructure projects like hydropower dams," noted Clayton. "And generally anything that brings cheaper power is pretty much welcomed to most people."

Transparency concerns

But China's growing investment raises some concerns. Hang Chayya, director for the Khmer Institute for Democracy, says rights groups' worry about the lack of transparency in loans and financial deals.

"It's a huge concern for us because the Chinese tend to have this principle, there's no strings attached where other investments they tend to be multinational, or World Bank, or some other development agency. So there's no proper checks and balances in terms of how they conduct and manage these projects," explained Chayya.

Chayya says a lack of transparency may lead to allegations of corruption.

There also are concerns that China may influence Cambodian decisions in other areas. A year ago, China and Cambodia signed deals worth over $1.2 billion, but only after Phnom Penh expelled 20 Chinese Uighurs who had fled China claiming persecution.

The expulsion came despite pleas by the United States, United Nations and human rights groups.

The ADB's Brimble says for Cambodia, China will remain an important source of development assistance.

"Obviously Cambodians have had a long-time relationship with the Chinese government and the Chinese government is becoming more active in becoming a donor country," added Brimble.

Business analysts say despite the recovery, Cambodia confronts the challenge of alleviating poverty and ensuring sustained growth. It also must adapt to a rapidly changing regional economy and the growing economic reach of China.

News in Pics

U.S. national Alan Arthur Perry, 57, gets into a vehicle after his trial at the Provincial Court in Preah Sihanouk, some 230 km (143 miles) west of Phnom Penh, October 5, 2010. The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court tried Perry on Tuesday of sexually abusing four underaged boys and the verdict is to be announced on October 13, presiding judge Plang Samnang said. The judge said he was tried under two charges, purchasing child prostitutes and distributing child pornography of the alleged victims, aged between 16 and 17 and added that each charge carries a prison sentence of between 2 to 5 years. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

U.S. national Alan Arthur Perry (R), 57, is escorted by prison officers as he attends his trial at the Provincial Court in Preah Sihanouk, some 230 km (143 miles) west of Phnom Penh, October 5, 2010. The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court tried Perry on Tuesday of sexually abusing four underaged boys and the verdict is to be announced on October 13, presiding judge Plang Samnang said. The judge said he was tried under two charges, purchasing child prostitutes and distributing child pornography of the alleged victims, aged between 16 and 17 and added that each charge carries a prison sentence of between 2 to 5 years. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

 
Teachers prevented from marching on World Teachers' Day




(All photos: Cambodia Express News)

A Cambodian girl looks at other children playing near a pipe pumping out sand to fill Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh. Thousands of families living near the lake, which is currently half-filled with sand, are facing eviction after the government in 2007 awarded the land to a local real estate developer Shukaku Inc for private developments. Residents are demanding between $15,000 to $20,000 in compensation to move out but the government would only agree to around $8500 per family. The firm has been filling in the lake with sand causing frequent floods at the residents' homes, which prompted many protests over the years. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Cambodian children play near a pipe pumping out sand to fill Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh . Thousands of families living near the lake, which is currently half-filled with sand, are facing eviction after the government in 2007 awarded the land to a local real estate developer Shukaku Inc for private developments. Residents are demanding between $15,000 to $20,000 in compensation to move out but the government would only agree to around $8500 per family. The firm has been filling in the lake with sand causing frequent floods at the residents' homes, which prompted many protests over the years. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea


Cambodians play near a pipe pumping out sand to fill Boeung Kak Lake in Phnom Penh. Thousands of families living near the lake, which is currently half-filled with sand, are facing eviction after the government in 2007 awarded the land to a local real estate developer Shukaku Inc for private developments. Residents are demanding between $15,000 to $20,000 in compensation to move out but the government would only agree to around $8500 per family. The firm has been filling in the lake with sand causing frequent floods at the residents' homes, which prompted many protests over the years. REUTERS/Chor Sokunthea

Last Chance to Secure Rare Piece of Tropical Paradise



via CAAI

5 October 2010 – Cambodia’s first luxury private island resort has released its last remaining over-water villas to potential buyers looking to secure a rare piece of paradise.

Song Saa Private Island will be the first resort to be built in Cambodia’s pristine Koh Rong Archipelago, and sets a new standard for responsible high-end accommodation in this emerging tourism destination.

Developers Rory and Melita Hunter are now offering the final six villas to like-minded investors following the success of their first phase of villa sales which was launched late last year in Phuket through sole agent, CB Richard Ellis.

“Our private island is discreet and we only have a very small number of villas on offer. There is nowhere else a buyer could get this standard of investment at such a low price,” said Mr. Rory Hunter, CEO of Brocon, the Australian-owned company behind the development.

The exclusive nature of Song Saa Private Island and the increasing awareness of Cambodia as a tourism market means investors can expect substantial capital growth.

“The launch of Song Saa has put Cambodia on the global map and has proven there is a market of international investors keen to invest in quality projects in an emerging location which offers a significant upside in capital appreciation. Once regular airlift begins at the recently upgraded Sihanoukville International Airport, one can expect exponential growth in Cambodia’s coastal tourism,” said Mr. David Simister, Chairman of CB Richard Ellis Indochina.

Brocon guarantees investors a yield of 8% for 5 years – a superior rate in the region.

When the resort opens in late 2011, it will feature 25 rainforest, beach and over-water villas, all with private pools.

At its heart will be an over-water world-class restaurant and lounge, spectacularly positioned just off the island’s shoreline and surrounded by ocean. Guests will stroll out a short boardwalk to this breath-taking vantage point where, they can take in dramatic sunsets, seascapes and starry nights.

The resort will span the two islands of Koh Ouen and Koh Bong, connected by a footbridge over a marine reserve established to safeguard the islands’ reefs and marine life including dugongs, seahorses and exotic species of tropical fish.

The two islands are known locally as Song Saa, which is Khmer for the sweethearts, and the resort will be as romantic and intimate as the name implies.

“Think Thailand 30 years ago, before Koh Samui or Phuket became the international hubs they are today. We have the pristine rainforests and white sand beaches but without the over-development or crowds,” Rory said.

“We have tried to create something unique, something that reflects our love for Cambodia and for the environment. Central to our vision is respect for the environment and the people, and we believe private operators such as ourselves have an important role to play in the preservation of this rare corner of the world.”

The Hunters have established a marine reserve that covers one million square meters and extends 200 meters from the outer edge of the reefs around both islands. They are working closely with the regional Environment Committee, a forum of local people with the knowledge and desire to protect their own livelihoods through marine conservation.

“While protection of the marine environment is central to our vision, we also realise that a healthy environment depends on healthy communities, so we have made a commitment to donate a portion of all revenue to the local community, to donate resources such as schoolbooks and help fund local health initiatives.”

With construction of the resort well underway, the Hunters have already assembled a highly experienced team to oversee the management of the resort.

The resort’s general manager, Jean-Paul Riby, is a specialist in small, remote luxury resorts, with more than 15 years of experience in Asia. Most recently he was the general manager of Como Resort’s Bhutan property Uma Paro – a 33-room ultra luxury resort high in the Himalayan mountains. Prior to that he was in charge of Vietnam’s Six Senses Hideaway Ninh Van Bay, the country’s most luxurious resort.

Song Saa Private Island’s project manager, Philippe Riant, has nearly two decades of experience in every phase of a resort’s lifecycle, from conception and design to construction and management.

Like Jean-Paul, Philippe is a specialist in small ultra-luxury island resort development and operations. Most recently, he was Director of Technical Services at Per Aquum Resorts, overseeing their iconic private island developments in the Maldives and Seychelles. He also spent 17 years with the prestigious Starwood group.

“It is important to us that guests receive the exclusive luxury island experience they are promised, and so we have sought a highly experienced management team to ensure that they do,” said Rory.

The sole agent representing the sale of the villas is CB Richard Ellis – rated by Euromoney magazine as the top global advisor in their 2010 real estate survey.