Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Lakeside plea to UN

Photo by: Uy Nousereimony
A young resident of the Boeung Kak lakeside stands among banners pleading for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss their evictions and the development of the lake with Prime Minister Hun Sen ahead of Ban’s visit to the Kingdom beginning this evening

via CAAI

Monday, 25 October 2010 21:40 Khouth Sophakchakrya

Representatives of five Phnom Penh communities set to be displaced by real estate developments have gathered in front of the office of the United Nations Development Programme in an effort to convince its secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, to intervene on their behalf.

“About 100 people from Boeung Kak lake and other communities at risk of eviction joined together to demand to meet Ban Ki-moon on his visit to Cambodia,” said Sia Phearum, secretariat director of the Housing Rights Task Force.

Ban arrives in Phnom Penh tonight for a two-day visit.

Sia Phearum said the protesters had passed a petition outlining their concerns to a UNDP spokesperson.

“We hope that when [Ban Ki-moon] gets the message from the communities he will pass on their concerns to Prime Minister Hun Sen during their dialogue,” he said.

Rights groups estimate that more than 4,000 families will be evicted to make way for a 133-hectare real estate project, which is being developed by Shukaku Inc, a local firm headed by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin.

Oeung Navy, a representative of several communities facing eviction from the lakeside area, described Ban as their “last chance”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY WILL BAXTER...read the full story in tomorrow’s Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Star-Cell value sees $100m-plus writedown

via CAAI

Monday, 25 October 2010 21:45 Jeremy Mullins

The owner of Cambodian mobile provider Star-Cell has written down the firm’s value by more than US$100 million and had “no goodwill” related to its operations in the Kingdom.

In a mobile market it claimed was characterised by fierce competition and high churn rates, Star-Cell’s Sweden-based owner, TeliaSonera AB, said it was made clear in the first quarter of 2010 that its “ambition related to the Cambodian market had to be reviewed”.

After reassessing its worth in the most recent quarter, the company announced it had reduced the book value of Star-Cell by 678 million kronor (US$103.4 million).

“After the writedown there is no goodwill related to the Cambodian operations as per September 30, 2010,” it said in a third-quarter statement.

Goodwill is generally defined as the value of a firm beyond its tangible assets....

read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hour

More child-sex charges ‘ imminent’

via CAAI

Monday, 25 October 2010 21:58 Cameron Wells

The British founder of the Siem Reap-based Cambodia Orphan Fund, who on Friday was charged with sexually abusing a child, may face further counts as more children come forward with complaints, the director of a child-protection NGO involved in the investigation has said.

Nicholas Patrick Griffin, 53, was arrested on Wednesday following a raid on the Siem Reap orphanage by local police and the British-based Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, a division of the United Kingdom police.

On Friday, the provincial court charged Griffin with committing an indecent act against a minor, which carries a sentence of between one and three years in prison.

He was also charged, along with orphanage manager Chan Rasmey, with the unlawful removal of a minor, which carries a two-to-five-year sentence.

Samleang Seila, director of child protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, said he believed more charges were imminent.

“ So far there has only been one child, [but] some of the children are not ready to discuss the sexual abuse, because they were still being supported by the accused,” he said.

He said that cooperative investigations between APLE and the CEOP into Griffin had begun in November 2008, when Griffin was accused of molesting a minor.

No charges resulted from those accusations.


read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Another sequel for porn-films monk

Photo by: Pha Lina
Defrocked monk Neth Kai is led out of Phnom Penh Municipal Court after a hearing on a fourth pornography-related complaint.

via CAAI

Monday, 25 October 2010 21:30 Cameron Wells

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has heard the case stemming from the fourth complaint against a monk accused of surreptitiously filming hundreds of naked women as they bathed at a pagoda in Daun Penh district.

Neth Kai, 35, was arrested on June 26 on suspicion of using a mobile phone to film the women, and the clips were then widely distributed.

Last Thursday, the municipal court found him guilty of distributing pornography and producing child pornography in connection with complaints filed by two underage girls, sentencing him to 17 years in prison.

In September, the court found him guilty of distributing pornography in connection with a complaint filed by one woman, who was of age, and sentenced him to one year in prison.

The latest case involved a 33-year-old alleged victim, who told the court that she saw images of her distributed on mobile phones.

“I recognised my photos very well. I had really been photographed by Neth Kai. Therefore, I would like the court to punish him in accordance with the law,” she said.

In court Neth Kai denied having filmed the woman.

“I did not commit any pornographic pictures on this woman. Therefore, I would like to ask the court to drop this charge against me,” he said.ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY RANN REUY ...

read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Drug-law alarm bells

via CAAI

Monday, 25 October 2010 22:02 Brooke Lewis and Chhay Channyda

Articles of a draft drug-control law expected to be finalised by the end of this month are consistent with procedures used in Vietnam and China, and could result in drug users being compelled to perform forced labour, Human Rights Watch has warned.

Joe Amon, director of HRW’ s health and human rights division, said both Vietnam and China “ have reportedly offered assistance to Cambodia on drug policy” .

“ There is a real danger that Cambodian centres will follow the Chinese or Vietnamese model – longer periods of detention and detainees forced to labour for private
companies,” he said.

A recent version of the draft law includes an article stipulating that treatment periods at government-run centres can last for up to two years.

Amon said on Sunday that the present law did not specify minimum or maximum periods for rehabilitation, but that “ the current practice is to detain people for three to six months,sometimes a year” .

Rights groups have reported that detention periods for drug users are longer in China and Vietnam, though Amon said this approach had not worked.

Neak Yuthea, director of the department of legislation, education and rehabilitation at the National Authority for Combating Drugs, confirmed that Cambodia had looked to Vietnam while drafting drug-control and rehabilitation policies.

“ We learnt from Vietnam about how they proceed in their centres and how they care for their addicted people so that we will apply it to Cambodia,” he said....

read the full story in Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

Arisman 'seeks Cambodian visa'

Published: 26/10/2010
via CAAI

Fugitive red shirt leader Arisman Pongruengrong has reportedly recently filed an application for a Cambodian visa from the country's consulate in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district.

Mr Arisman, who allegedly entered Cambodia earlier, reportedly wants to obtain a Cambodian visa so he can extend his stay in the country.

Sa Kaeo governor Sanit Intharasuksri said he had contacted the Cambodian consulate to tell its staff that Mr Arisman might have used a fake exit stamp from Thai immigration when applying to enter Cambodia.

Thai immigration officials have no record of Mr Arisman leaving or re-entering the country, so it was not possible for him to obtain the stamp legally for the visa application.

Mr Sanit said he had been told by Cambodian officials that they may not have realised the Thai immigration stamp on Mr Arisman's passport could be a fake and processed the application without question.

Informed sources say Mr Arisman has been in hiding Siem Reap with his bodyguard. He allegedly hired someone to file the visa application in Aranyaprathet on his behalf.

The Department of Special Investigation has indicted 25 red shirt protesters and pro-Thaksin Shinawatra politicians, including Mr Arisman, on terrorism charges, which carry a maximum penalty of death.

Mr Arisman led hundreds of protesters in storming the parliament during the red shirt demonstration on April 7.

A week later, scores of police raided a Bangkok hotel, where Mr Arisman and other red shirt leaders were staying, but police failed to arrest him after he was lowered from the third floor to supporters waiting below.

Journalists getting together


via CAAI

By Rina Jimenez-David
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:47:00 10/25/2010

Filed Under: Newspaper & Magazines, News Agencies, Benigno Aquino III, Elections, Barangay Elections, Manila Hostage Drama, Police

A NEWS item published in the Thai newspaper “The Nation” caught my eye as I was on my way to Bangkok last week. The article carried the head: “Cambodian, Thai journalists make pact.”

It appeared that during a visit to Bangkok of 12 Cambodian journalists, they met with their Thai counterparts at the Thai Journalists Association and agreed “not to allow themselves to be used by politicians who make nationalistic claims for political gain.” Among the points they agreed on was that “the media should be careful with coverage that could cause conflict between the two countries and resentment between their peoples” and that “media workers from both sides should meet regularly to correct misunderstandings.”

The journalists’ concern apparently stems from confrontations that have taken place between Thai and Cambodian forces in the border area between the two countries, with politicians on both sides using the reported incidents to fan nationalistic sentiments. One contentious issue have been reports that the Thai “red shirts,” as supporters of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra are known, have been undergoing weapons training in Cambodia. These reports have since been dismissed by the Cambodian government, with officials arguing that they could not afford to conduct such arms training since Cambodia “is a tourist area.”

Thailand is also facing difficulties in the area in which it shares a border with Burma, where thousands of displaced persons fleeing the junta, economic refugees and even victims of trafficking have been caught between Burmese troops giving chase and Thai troops trying to keep order in the area and keep down the number of undocumented migrants entering their country. Indeed, it is a volatile situation in an unstable area where, in addition, drug traffickers wreak havoc.

* * *

THAT journalists from both Thailand and Cambodia have felt the need to ink a pact to be less incendiary in their coverage speaks much of the instability of the situation. And I take it as a good sign that reporters and editors recognize the need for them to be more circumspect in their coverage and commentary.

Philippine media have of late come under fire for perceived lapses in reportage, especially during the Luneta hostage crisis where blanket coverage embarrassed the government, exposing the inadequate training and preparation of a SWAT team attempting to rescue the hostages.

In one instance, a radio team apparently even attempted to take over the work of negotiators, preoccupying the hostage-taker at a particularly sensitive phase of the incident.

Despite the sharp criticism and recommendation for the filing of criminal charges against the broadcasters by the investigation body, President Aquino chose instead to let the KBP, the broadcasting self-regulation body, lower sanctions, if any, against the radio people. But so far, nothing has been heard from the KBP about the institution of an investigation or a hearing.

This is dangerous because unless the media show a willingness to seriously investigate lapses in both the ethical and legal aspects of the profession, they invite interference from government. Like our Thai and Cambodian brethren, we would do well to sit down and talk and agree on certain guidelines of coverage. More important, we should find the will and gumption to enforce these guidelines and hold each other accountable.

* * *

WE made our way to our local polling place to cast our votes for barangay officials, but due to some circumstance, we failed to cast our ballots. Which may be a good thing, in retrospect, because neither my husband nor I knew any of the people running for barangay chair, barangay kagawads or even the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council).

Our subdivision happens to lie on the fringes of Barangay Mayamot and as far as we know, none of the candidates had bothered to campaign in our area or even distribute flyers.

The hubby was at first determined to participate in the barangay elections, arguing that we should at least have a say in choosing the people who were going to run things in our small corner of the country. Last year, he had visited the barangay office to get a senior citizen ID for himself and he came home with a very positive impression of the way barangay matters were handled. As the elections approached, I asked him for the barangay chairman’s name so we could re-elect him. Only then did I find out that the chairman had already won as a city councilor in last May’s election.

Maybe that’s the problem with politics: the most competent and efficient tend to rise through the ranks and their legacy of good performance doesn’t get carried on by their successors.

* * *

ANYWAY, my congratulations to all who won in Monday’s elections and may they keep the spirit of service that, I hope, energized their candidacies.

I was also quite shocked at reports that ballots and other election forms didn’t make it by the deadline and so elections had to be postponed in some areas, including the province of Albay.

True, there was some confusion early in the Aquino term when the President seemed inclined to postpone the voting, but one would think the Comelec, which conducts elections regularly, would have been familiar with the logistical challenges by now.

I would also like to add that it isn’t enough for citizens to simply elect the candidates they favor. Good governance also relies on the active involvement of citizens, who must remain vigilant and outspoken if they care about good, honest, transparent local governance.

Cambodia offers much more than just the Angkor Wat


via CAAI

Posted 25 Oct 2010

Gap year travellers will find much more to pique their interest in Cambodia than just the famous Angkor Wat temple complex.

According to travel writer David O'Dwyer, the country has a lot more to offer, from floating villages to bustling towns and numerous other historical sites.

In an article for the Irish Times, he acknowledged that the Angkor Wat is indeed spectacular and insisted that no trip to Cambodia would be complete without a visit.

But he advised travellers not to forget about the country's other temples and monuments, many of which are breathtaking to behold.

Mr O'Dwyer also recommended heading to the colonial town of Siem Reap and the villages that surround it on the Tonle Sap freshwater lake.

"This is a bustling water-borne community where children learn to swim before they learn to walk," he explained.

Another attraction that may be of interest to travellers is the Landmine Museum, which is run by a former Khmer child solider who has dedicated his life to removing unexploded mines left from the country's civil war.

San Miguel Corp to build beer plant in Cambodia

via CAAI

(philstar.com) Updated October 25, 2010

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) - San Miguel Corporation plans to invest in beverage factory and various projects in Cambodia.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday, Ramon S. Ang, president and chief operating officer of San Miguel Corporation, told the premier that the company plans to invest in beers and whisky factory, energy, gas, chemical and agricultural sections, the Prime Minister's spokesman Eang Sophalleth told reporters after the meeting. The company is also planning to build chicken farm in Cambodia.

Eang Sophalleth said that the San Miguel Corp would invest in a joint-venture with the Royal Group of Companies owned by the local tycoon Kith Meng for these investment projects.

The details of the investment plan are not disclosed on Monday.

San Miguel Corporation is one of the Philippines' most diversified conglomerates, generating close to 3 percent of the country's gross national product through its highly integrated operation in beverages, food, energy, power, mining, telecommunications and infrastructure.

Lake Residents Seek Audience With Ban Ki-moon

Chun Sakada, VOA Khmer

Phnom Penh Monday, 25 October 2010

via CAAI
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to arrive Wednesday for two days of official talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen and others.

“We want to meet Ban Ki-moon to help us be free of forced eviction. We need government development projects for a modern city, but we want to live in the Boeung Kak area.”

More than 100 residents from Phnom Penh's Boeung Kak lake area gathered in front of the UNDP offices on Monday to request a meeting with the UN secretary-general on his upcoming visit.

Ban Ki-moon is expected to arrive Wednesday for two days of official talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen and others, and lake residents said Monday they hoped he could help resolve an ongoing dispute with development company Shukaku.

Residents said in a letter they wanted “to stop the forced eviction from their homes and lands.” UNDP officials accepted the request and said they would forward it to Ban's office.

“We want to meet Ban Ki-moon to help us be free of forced eviction,” lake resident Sam Vanna said Monday. “We need government development projects for a modern city, but we want to live in the Boeung Kak area.”

On his visit, Ban is expected to address ongoing issues with the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal, and he is scheduled to visit the Tuol Sleng genocide Museum.

Cambodia Takes First Step in Connecting Regional Railways

Robert Carmichael

Phnom Penh 25 October 2010

via CAAI
Photo: VOA - RobertCarmichael
Riding the rails in western Cambodia: The driver of a flying carpet and her passenger head west towards the town of Pursat in central Cambodia along the buckled line in late October, closely followed by another flying carpet. This line will be upgraded next year, and the flying carpets will be forced off the rails.

Trains have started running on a stretch of Cambodia's once-defunct railway. The news marks the first time in years that trains have run commercially in the country, and moves the dream of a pan-Asian railway much closer.

Decades of conflict shattered Cambodia's infrastructure - its roads, ports and railways.

In recent years some of those assets have been rebuilt, and last Friday at Phnom Penh's railway station, the finance minister presided over a ceremony to mark the resumption of the rail service.

Rebuilding Cambodia's infrastructure

Cambodia's rail network has long been the missing link in the dream to connect Singapore by rail to Vietnam and China, and ultimately to Europe.

War and neglect meant that what remained of Cambodia's 600 kilometers of rail system was in such poor condition that the last rackety trains were reduced to crawling along buckled tracks at 5 kilometers an hour.

Rebuilding the network will cost $142 million, the bulk of that financed with a loan from the Asian Development Bank. Much of the rest is funded by the Australian government and Phnom Penh.

Putu Kamayana is the ADB's country head in Cambodia.

He predicts that Cambodia's decision to award a 30-year railway concession to an Australian company, Toll Holdings, will pay long-term dividends in more areas than just rail services.

"That's a very big step and a very bold step by the government, but certainly by also improving the transport infrastructure it will improve ultimately Cambodia's competitiveness in the global economy and promote foreign direct investment into Cambodia," Putu Kamayana said.

Last Wednesday, Toll's local subsidiary, Toll Royal Railway, took journalists on a refurbished passenger train from Phnom Penh to the town of Takeo, some 50 kilometers south of the capital.

Toll Royal Railway Chief Executive David Kerr was on the trip.

Currently most of Cambodia's freight moves by road. Kerr makes it clear the new rail service will aim to take freight off the roads and put it on the less polluting rail network.

"There's certainly a train a day in cement alone, so there's a significant amount of cement in Cambodia. And then linking in with the ship calls - the feeder services to China, America and via Singapore. And so we'll develop our strategies in cooperation with the shipping lines to develop that service," Kerr says, "There's large volumes of salt that move through Cambodia, as well as domestic and export rice, as well as sugar cane.

One benefit will be that the country's roads will likely become safer and last longer. And Kerr says the rail service has already cut road freight rates by one-fifth.

But since freight is where the money is, regular passenger services might not ever resume.

Upgrade to a passenger service

Toll's first step was to improve a 110-kilometer stretch of track that runs south of the capital to the town of Touk Meas. That is the stretch that opened last week. The next piece of track, running 140 kilometers from Touk Meas to Sihanoukville port, is slated for completion in May.

VOA - Robert Carmichael

A train moves out of Phnom Penh along the refurbished line running south to the town of Touk Meas in late October. The homes of people living alongside the track will be demolished in due course.

Once that is done, Toll will start to upgrade the 390 kilometers of line that runs west out of Phnom Penh via Battambang before entering Thailand. That is to be done in 2012.

After that the only gap on the pan-Asian railway will be the section between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam. The two governments have agreed to construct the link, but work has not yet started.

Any large infrastructure project generates winners and losers. Here the losers include the local entrepreneurs who run informal railway services on short stretches of the buckled line in western Cambodia.

Their machines are known as norries, or flying carpets, and are easily visualized - think of a large bamboo bed laid on top of two sets of steel wheels.

Passengers sit on this bamboo bed with their luggage. There are no seats and no sides, and the flying carpet, powered by a small engine, can scurry along the line at 40 kilometers an hour.

It takes only one minute to disassemble a flying carpet. That is just as well since when two of them meet on this single track, etiquette demands that the driver carrying the lighter load dismantle his flying carpet to let the heavier vehicle pass.

Prak Phea has worked this stretch outside Pursat town, about 200 kilometers northwest of Phnom Penh, for 16 years, and earns up to $50 a week. He knows about the rail upgrade, but has not yet decided what he will do next year for work.

The rules of the infrastructure upgrade mean that anyone affected must be compensated. An annoyed Prak Phea says most of the norrie drivers in other towns were paid $250 each, but just four of the 15 on his stretch of line got anything since they were not told when or how to register.

He says that when people came to register them, he was in Pursat. So he missed the chance and did not register, and that means he will not get compensated.

The ADB's Putu Kamayana promises the bank will take that up with the government.

For the next 12 months, however, Prak Phea can carry on earning a living on this battered stretch of line.

But as surely as the whistles of the freight trains leaving Phnom Penh signal the rebirth of a proper rail service for Cambodia, they also sound the death knell for two decades of flying carpets.

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton to visit Cambodia next week

via CAAI

October 25, 2010

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Cambodia next week, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said in a statement Monday.

The statement said that Hillary Clinton will lead a delegation to pay an official visit to Cambodia on Nov. 1, and she will be received in Royal Audience by Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni, and will pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Hun Sen and to hold a bilateral meeting with Hor Namhong, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Cambodia.

Prior to her schedule in Phnom Penh, Hillary Clinton will visit Angkor temples in Siem Reap province for two days.

Clinton is planned to visit a series of Asian countries before coming to Cambodia including New Zealand and Malaysia.

The last U.S. secretary of state who had paid official visit to Cambodia was Warren Christopher in 1996 and followed by a working visit of Colin Power to ASEAN related meetings in Cambodia in 2003.


Public Bank Establishes Cambodian Securities Subsidiary

via CAAI

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 (Bernama) -- Public Bank Bhd announced on Monday that its wholly-owned subsidiary Cambodian Public Bank Plc has established a wholly-owned subsidiary, CampuBank Securities Plc, in Cambodia.

The new subsidiary will carry out securities underwriting business, securities dealing business, securities brokerage business and investment advisory business in Cambodia, Public Bank said in a statement on Monday.

"CampuBank Securities was established to support and participate in the Cambodian government's initiative to develop a capital market, and enhance the the group's role in the financial services industry in Cambodia," it said.

With its licence, CampuBank Securities can provide share broking and corporate finance related services, and this will increase the suite of products available to customers of Cambodian Public Bank, it added.

The issued and paid-up capital of CampuBank Securities is 40 billion Khmer Riels (RM31.3 million).

Opening of Cambodia Railroad Puts Pan-Asian Railway Firmly on Track - VIDEO ENHANCED


via CAAI

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA - October 24, 2010: The first segment of a new international standard railroad officially opened in Cambodia today, a major step towards the creation of a long-awaited Pan-Asian railroad.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing $84 million in support of the reconstruction and repair of 650 kilometers (404 miles) of rail stretching from Cambodia’s border with Thailand, through the capital city of Phnom Penh, and southward to Sihanoukville, the country’s main seaport.

The Government of Australia is providing an additional $21.5 million in support of the $141 million project.

Freight rail service has commenced along a 120 kilometer (75 mile) stretch of rail between Phnom Penh and Touk Meas, near the Vietnamese border. The entire rail line is scheduled to be operational by 2013.

“We are on the cusp of a contiguous Iron Silk Road stretching from Singapore to Scotland,” said Kunio Senga, Director General of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “This possibility has been talked about for decades, but today the dream has finally taken a big step toward becoming reality.”

Decades of conflict have left Cambodia’s railroad in serious disrepair, with rail traffic slowly declining to a trickle.

In some parts of the country homemade lorries – simple, makeshift bamboo platforms powered by water-pump motors – are the main form of rail transport along the antiquated tracks.

Cambodia’s less developed transportation network and the country’s higher transportation costs result in higher prices for imported and locally made goods compared to neighboring countries.

The new railway will help lower the cost of staple commodities that poor Cambodian families rely on for sustenance.

“This new railroad represents another important step for Cambodia in overcoming its legacy of conflict,” said Mr. Senga. “With better infrastructure and closer economic ties with its neighbors, Cambodia’s people are enjoying a peace dividend more than ever before.”

Once Cambodia’s new railroad is finished, only one remaining link, between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, will remain before a pan-Asian railway is complete.

Cambodia and Viet Nam have already signed an agreement to link their railways, and the People’s Republic of China is supporting a design study on a rail link from Phnom Penh to Loc Ninh, Viet Nam.

The railway rehabilitation project is a vital component of the Greater Mekong Subregion’s southern economic corridor – linking Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam – and is a key component of ASEAN’s Singapore-Kunming Rail Link Project.

Other co-financiers of the rail project include the OPEC Fund for International Development ($13 million) and Government of Malaysia ($2.8 million grant in kind).

The Government of Cambodia is providing $20.3 million towards the rail project.

Toll Holdings, an Australian company, has been awarded a 30-year contract to operate and maintain the rehabilitated railway system.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2009, it approved a total of $16.1 billion in financing operations through loans, grants, guarantees, a trade finance facilitation program, equity investments, and technical assistance projects. ADB also mobilized cofinancing amounting to $3.2 billion.

All aboard the Pan-Asian railway

via CAAI

October, 25 2010

by Kunio Senga*

Two thousand years ago the world's most famous trade route was being forged between the heart of Asia and the doorstep of Europe. At its peak, southern strands of the grand Silk Road extended into Southeast Asia, forming a transcontinental trade route from the Mekong River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Asia is once again emerging as a global economic force, but infrastructure bottlenecks are choking the region's development. Asia desperately needs new silk roads – road, rail, air and water transport networks – to fully unleash its economic capacity.

Railways are the weak link in Asia's connectivity puzzle. The region's rail networks actually contracted between 1996 and 2005, with many rail lines falling into disrepair.

In Cambodia, homemade bamboo lorries still zip along parts of the country's war-ravaged rail line, which ceased ferrying passengers and cargo between Bangkok and Phnom Penh half a century ago. But the situation is rapidly changing.

Today in Cambodia, the first leg of a modern railway system has become operational. The country's new railway should be complete by 2013, and Cambodia has already entered into an agreement with Viet Nam to construct a rail network between the two Mekong nations.

Once this final rail link is finished – possibly as soon as 2015 – a contiguous Iron Silk Road will stretch from Singapore to Scotland, bringing with it the potential for new levels of prosperity for those living along the route.

All over Asia, railways are making a comeback. Nowhere is this more evident than in the People's Republic of China, which recently approved the equivalent of US$292 billion in new railway investments.

Rail is a more cost-effective way of transporting heavy cargo than roads, particularly in an age of high fuel prices, and railways are less carbon-intensive and more environmentally friendly than other overland alternatives. Modern railways also bolster countries' economies by stimulating foreign direct investment inflows.

Railways are particularly a boon for inland areas and landlocked countries, where transport costs can run 50 per cent higher than coastal areas. As land and labour costs push production centres in Asia further inland, railways present an ever-growing value, and a pathway out of isolation for many remote communities.

There are still many impediments that may prevent the Pan-Asian railway from realising its full promise. One challenge is rooted in hardware. The People's Republic of China utilises standard gauge rail, while other Southeast Asian nations utilize one-metre gauge. These gauge breaks cause transport delays, though this situation is mitigated by the fact that the breaks mostly occur at border points, where trains must stop for customs inspections.

The greatest challenges extend far beyond nuts and bolts. Renowned industrialist Warren Buffet has noted that, "there's nothing... better than a long, long train", and there is certainly good money to be made by investing in rail freight and passenger services operations, rolling stock facilities, and infrastructure maintenance in Asia. For these investment opportunities to provide good value for the private sector, however, more robust, reliable and transparent rules, regulations, and procedures must be put in place. To make rail networks truly cost-effective, border procedures also need to be streamlined, tariff and freight rates need to be lowered, and transport and logistics networks need to be better integrated.

Regrettably, this ‘soft' sector development in Asia is not keeping pace with the rapid growth of the region's infrastructure.

Forging agreements on these measures is no easy undertaking, particularly in a world still smarting from the sting of the global financial crisis. The magnitude of the challenge should not dissuade Asian nations from action, however, as there is much to be gained from closer integration and better cooperation for each and every country along the Pan-Asian railway. For ASEAN nations, better connectivity means better access, and therefore a greater ability to compete in leading markets from the People's Republic China to the Eurozone. Conversely, stronger transport and economic linkages provide other nations with greater access to ASEAN's growing market – 500 million people strong and with a combined GDP of some $1.5 trillion, placing it amongst the world's ten largest economies if viewed as a region.

Much like the Silk Road of yesteryear, closer connectivity also provides new conduits for better understanding amongst people and nations. If these Asian neighbours have already found a way to move beyond their conflicts of the past, these current challenges should be imminently surmountable.

Still, it will take dedication and good will on the part of all to help the Iron Silk Road make good on its potential. To paraphrase the illustrious Robert Frost, there are many promises to keep, and miles to go before we sleep. So let us begin – full steam ahead. — VNS

*Kunio Senga is the Director General of the Asian Development Bank's Southeast Asia Department

DAP News. Breaking News by Soy Sopheap

via CAAI

Cambodia, US troops Join Military Exercise Training at Sea Space

Monday, 25 October 2010 07:06 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Oct 25, 2010- About 600 Cambodia and The US troops will conduct the military exercise training at sea space, the sources said on Monday.

The exercise will last for 6 days to strengthen the cooperation against terrorism acts and security, crimes on sea space, piracy.

12 reporters from different media system in the country were allowed to cover the event.

Malaysia Company Invests 20 million US dollar for Rice Mill in Cambodia

Monday, 25 October 2010 07:01 DAP NEWS / VIBOL

CAMBODIA, PHNOM PENH, Oct 25, 2010- Malaysian company on Monday invested $20 million to build rice mill to produce rice for exporting to Malaysian Markets.

The rice mill with 10 hectares of land will be opened in Suong district of Kampong Cham province,” Nor Azlan Abdul Gaffoor, a representative of company said, adding that we plan to export rice product from Cambodia to Malaysia for 500,000 tons per year. The company will also provide fertilizer and technique and strengthen rice quality,” Azalan added.

The company was fully supported from both governments and the investment from Malaysian company is from the commitment from Malaysian PM Najib’s visit in May.

Malaysian ambassador said recently in Malaysian solo fair that about 2-3 unofficial middle dealers who exported rice from Cambodia into Malaysian markets.

PM Hun Sen Send Letter to Heng Samrin President of the National Assembly

Saturday, 23 October 2010 13:02 DAP-NEWS

AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press

via CAAI

PM Hun Sen to Attend ASEAN Summit in Hanoi

Phnom Penh, October 25, 2010 AKP ---  Cambodia’s Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen will attend the 17th ASEAN Summit and related Summits that due to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam from October 28 to 30, 2010, according to a recent press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen will lead a Cambodian delegation to Vietnam to attend the ASEAN Summit at the invitation of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, said the press release.

The delegation will include Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation H.E. Hor Namhong; Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce H.E. Cham Prasidh, and several officials of the Royal Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The 17th ASEAN Summit will host some related summits that include the 13th ASEAN Summit plus Three-China, Japan and South Korea; the 8th ASEAN- India Summit; The 2nd ASEAN- Russia Summit; the 3rd ASEAN- United Nations Summit; the ASEAN-New Zealand Commemorative Summit, said the press release.

In the 17th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, the State and Government leaders of the ASEAN member countries are expected to ink some important agreements such as the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, said the press release, adding that the State and Government leaders will also give speeches focusing on human resources development and skill.--AKP

(By Neou)


Samdech Hun Sen Welcomes Golf Course Investment in Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, October 25, 2010 AKP -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen met here recently with Mr. Nick Faldo, a Golf Course Architect.

During the meeting, H.E Nick Faldo, who is an international golfer, informed Cambodian Premier of his project on the construction of an international golf course under the cooperation with a local private construction company in Phnom Penh, according to an assistant of Samdech Hun Sen.

In reply, Prime Minister Techo Hun Sen welcomed the project and asked Mr. Nick Faldo and the local company to closely working together and hoped the golf course will attract international golfers.--AKP

(By Ou Sokha)

110-km Railway Section from Phnom Penh to Touk Meas Reopened

Phnom Penh, October 25, 2010 AKP -- A 110-km railway section from Phnom Penh to Touk Meas, Kampot province, was reopened last Friday after several months of restoration.

Speaking at the reopening ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance H.E. Keat Chhon said the restoration of the railroad in Cambodia contributed to the national economic development and the consolidation of regional and global integration, promoting the competition and cost-effectiveness and facilitating railway transportation within Cambodia, the region and the world.

He noted that the railway reopening was the evidence showing the implementation of State-and-private sector mechanism through which the private sector contributes to infrastructure development.

The reopened railway section from Phnom Penh to Touk Meas marks the first-phase in the overall restoration of railroads in Cambodia at an estimated cost of US$141.6 millions, in grant and loan, with US$84 millions financed by the Asia Development Bank (ADB); US$21.5 millions as grant by the Government of Australia through AusAID; US$13 millions by OFID; US$2.8 millions in rails donated by the Government of Malaysia; and US$20.3 millions as financial contribution by the Royal Government of Cambodia.

The concession agreement on the first-phase of railroad restoration project was signed between the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Toll Royal Railway in June 2009, under which the Royal Government of Cambodia maintains the ownership of railway infrastructure and the Toll Royal Railway is responsible for railway business operation and maintenance.

The next stages of project are the restoration of 142-km section from Touk Meas to the seaport of Sihanoukville and 338 km railway line in the north from Phnom Penh to Serey Sophoin, and the rebuilding of lost section of 48 km linking Poi Pet to the border with Thailand, and the construction of a new station at Samrong, said Public Works and Transport Minister H.E. Tram Iv Tek.

ADB Southeast Asia Department Director-General Kunio Senga said the railways have played important role in Cambodia for more than 75 years, and many Cambodians regard the railroad as a symbol of development and means to allow Cambodia to integrate into the neighboring countries in Great Mekong Sub-Region and the world.

He was convinced that two years later, Cambodia’s railway will return to its full, original state and reconnect Cambodia with Thailand.

In the past, the railway played important role in the development of Cambodia, he said, adding that in the future it would be of the same importance to bring about economic development and prosperity to the Cambodians.--AKP

(By Ravuth M.)



Statement of ASEAN Agriculture Ministers

Phnom Penh, October 25, 2010 AKP -- The ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry have issued here on October 23 a joint statement on “ASEAN Cooperation on Animal Health and Zoonoses: Avian Influenza and Beyond”.

Following is the full text of the statement:

1- We, the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, during the 32nd AMAF Meeting on 24 October 2010, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, under the Chairmanship of H.E. Mr. Chan Sarun, agreed to declare our support and commitment in advancing the ASEAN Cooperation on Animal Health and Zoonoses;

2- Recognising the significant importance of the ASEAN Cooperation on Animal Health and Zoonoses in the sustainable economic development of the region and in the realisation of the shared vision of an ASEAN Community, where its peoples are outward-looking and living in peace, stability and prosperity;

3- Recognising the expansive and devastating impact brought about by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) since the first outbreaks in 2003 on the livelihoods of farmers, food security and safety, and public health, as well as the significant progress and achievements made in its prevention, control and eradication through the collective efforts by all stakeholders;

4- Concerned however that HPAI being persistent in some countries, it remains a major threat to ASEAN and requires continued political support and commitment for its effective control and eradication. We therefore fully support the adoption and implementation of the “Roadmap Towards an HPAI-Free ASEAN Community by 2020” to serve as our long-term strategic framework in addressing avian influenza and other transboundary and zoonotic diseases of signification priority to the region;

5- In particular, we recognize the achievements and continuing efforts in addressing the threats and challenges in the effective control and eradication of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) through the expended South-East Asia China Foot and Mouth Disease (SEACFMD) Programme, and fully support the implementation of its Roadmap for FMD Freedom with Vaccination by 2020 in South-East Asia”;

6- We also recognise the significant socio-economic impacts of Classical Swine Fever (CSF), Newcastle Disease (ND), Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), and other emerging/re-emerging diseases, and in full support for the development and implementation of strategic frameworks and mechanisms at national and regional levels;

7- Recognising further that the backbone of an effective and sustainable disease prevention and control strategy is a strong animal health system particularly veterinary services, we support the need for the ASEAN Member States (AMS) to allocate appropriate resources to build-up our respective veterinary services and infrastructure to the level required by international standard setting bodies. We are therefore in full support of the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) Performance of Veterinary Services (PVS) pathway to help AMSs evaluate the quality and effectiveness of their national veterinary services and identify weaknesses and could form the basis for improving deficiencies and building effective veterinary infrastructures and in enhancing private sector engagement;

8- We also take note and support the ongoing initiative of the Programme for Strengthening Veterinary Services (PSVS), in South-East Asia by OIE and Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and particularly recognize the need for a comprehensive animal health legislation and governance as a key element for veterinary authorities to enforce disease control programmes;

9- Considering the complex nature of transboundary and zoonotic diseases as well as the need for a comprehensive, integrated and concerted approach in effectively addressing them, we affirm our support on the ongoing initiative to establish a “Regional Coordination Mechanism on Animal Health and Zoonoses” that will provide a unified and broader mechanism for regional coordination to address current priority diseases as well as provide for effective response to new, emerging or re-emerging transboundary and zoonotic disease threats in ASEAN. We further re-affirm our support to the strengthening of existing regional initiatives supporting animal health such as the ASEAN Animal Health Trust Fund (AAHTF) and the ASEAN Regional Animal Health Information System (ARAHIS);

10- Recognising that 75% of recent emerging human diseases originated from animals, we declare our commitment to advance the One Heath Approach and support existing collaborative frameworks on animal and public health governance at global, regional and national levels to address vulnerabilities associated with zoonotic diseases. In particular, we encourage the operationalisation of the “ASEAN Plus Three Joint Recommendations and Work Plan on Animal and Human Health Collaboration”, and the “Call for Action towards the Elimination of Rabies in the AMSs and Plus Three Countries”, endorsed by the SOM-AMAF;

11- We further recognize the increasing challenges posed by animal and public health-related issue due to closer integration and globalization, necessitates strategic partnerships and cooperation with relevant development partners and donor agencies such as the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organisation (WHO), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australian Agency for International Development (AusAid), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), European Commission (EC), Plus Three Countries, etc. This is for us maximise our synergies and complementarities in facing squarely the challenges posed by transboundary and zoonotic diseases and laying the foundations for sustainable animal health systems in the region; and

12- Finally, we, the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry, hereby pledge our commitment to fully support these initiatives and now task the SOM-AMAF and ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Livestock (ASWGL) to implement necessary actions and report progress in the advancement of the ASEAN Cooperation on Animal Health and Zoonoses that contribute to a prosperous, stable, peaceful and safe ASEAN Community.

List of Ministers

-H.E. Pehin Dato Yahya, Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam

-H.E. Dr. Chan Sarun, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia

-H.E. Dr. Suswono, Minister of Agriculture, Indones

-H.E. Dr. Ty Phommasack Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR

-H.E. Datuk Seri Noh Bin Omar, Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry, Malaysia

-H.E. Mr. Ohn Myint, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar

-H.E. Mr. Segfredo R. Serrano, Undersecretary of Department of Agriculture, Philippines

-H.E. Dr. Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Parliamentary Secretary for National Development, Singapore

-H.E. Mr. Theera Wongsamut, Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand

-H.E. Mr. Ho Xuan Hung, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam

-H.E. Mr. S. Pushpanathan, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community.--AKP


Cambodia and China Sign Agreement on Rice Export to China

Phnom Penh, October 25, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia and China have signed on agreement on rice export from Cambodia to China.

The agreement was inked here on Oct. 22 by Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries H.E. Chan Sarun and H.E. Zhi Shuping, Chinese minister of Quality Control, Inspection and Administration General Department, under the presidency of Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Yim Chhay Ly.

Besides, both sides also signed a MOU on "Hygienic Plant and Cooperation" and an agreement on the Cooperation Action Plan for Export Cambodian Cassava to China--AKP

(By LIM Nary)


Cambodia Attracts Chinese Investors in CAEXPO

Phnom Penh, October 25, 2010 AKP -- A private investment opportunities in Cambodia has been presented during October 21 annual China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning City which impressed hundreds of Chinese investors.

On the occasion, key investment areas including agriculture, finance, fixed asset industry, electricity, tourism, mineral, technology service and telecommunication were brought for discussion.

The event also enabled a signing of 51-million-US-dollar worth investment agreements between Cambodia and China.

The expo the 7th of its kind, was held under the theme the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area and New Opportunities.--AKP

(By MOM Chan Dara Soleil)

Clinton to pay first visit to Cambodia this weekend

via CAAI

Monday, 25 October 2010 15:03 Sebastian Strangio

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Cambodia for a two-day state visit this weekend as part of a wider tour of the region, US officials have confirmed.

In a statement issued on Friday, the US state department said Clinton would arrive in Cambodia on October 30, and would meet with government and civil society leaders in Phnom Penh. She is also expected to visit the Angkor Wat temple complex before jetting off to Malaysia.

The statement did not give more details of Clinton’s visit, and US embassy spokesman Mark Wenig said Clinton’s schedule in Cambodia was still being finalised.

The visit comes amid a renewed rift between the US and Cambodia over the repayment of millions of dollars of debt incurred under the Lon Nol regime in the early 1970s, a dispute that threatens to sour bilateral relations. Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen denounced the debt as “dirty”, linking it with the country’s civil war, and called for its cancellation.

In congressional testimony on September 30, Joe Yun, deputy assistant secretary for the US state department’s bureau of East Asian and Pacific affairs, said the US would not cancel the debt because to do so would set a “poor precedent” for other counties in similar circumstances.

Yun put Cambodia’s total debt to the US at about US$445 million, $405 million of which was in arrears and “would be due immediately upon the implementation of any agreement to pay the debt”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong and senior Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap could not be reached yesterday.

Clinton’s visit to Cambodia is part of a wider tour aimed at bolstering US ties to Pacific allies, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.

President Barack Obama’s administration has described Southeast Asia as a key diplomatic priority, saying that the region was neglected by former president George W Bush due to his focus on Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Malaysia, Clinton will seek discussion on “our enhanced ties”, the state department statement said. The Obama administration has stepped up diplomacy with Malaysia, seeing it as a potential force for moderation within the Islamic world. Political relations were rocky when Malaysia was led by Mahathir Mohamad, who was known for his strident criticism of the West. The US sometimes riled Malaysia with past calls to expand democratic freedoms.

Prior to arriving in Cambodia, Clinton will also visit Hanoi for the annual East Asia Summit, less than four months from her last visit to the Vietnamese capital.


PM rebuffs queries on 1991 peace treaty

via CAAI

Monday, 25 October 2010 15:03 Sebastian Strangio and Vong Sokheng

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has declined to answer parliamentary queries relating to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, accusing the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, which filed the request for information, of “serving the interests” of foreign powers.

In a letter to National Assembly President Heng Samrin dated Saturday, Hun Sen said the SRP’s questions, sent to Heng Samrin earlier in the month, were simply veiled accusations that the government had violated the landmark treaty.

As a result, Hun Sen declined to address the issue in the National Assembly, saying it was “not a forum to judge an allegation made by a Member of the National Assembly”.

“If those posing the questions are already alleging the Royal Government of ‘violating the Paris Agreement’, it would be constitutionally sound for them to use their legal rights to bring the case to the courts to decide,” he said.

The Paris Peace Agreements, signed 19 years ago Saturday, brought to an end the country’s decade-long civil war, smoothed the way for the return of thousands of refugees and ushered in democratic elections under United Nations auspices.

Hun Sen said the SRP’s criticisms, contained in a letter signed by four SRP lawmakers on October 15, mirrored those of nationalist elements in

“Such allegations clearly show that the members of the National Assembly from the SRP have been serving the interests of another country rather than their own nation’s,” Hun Sen added.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that territorial incursions by Thailand and Vietnam both represented violations of the agreement, and accused the government of failing to protect Cambodia’s sovereignty. He rejected Hun Sen’s claim that the party was influenced by foreign interests.

The SRP has recently paid particular attention to alleged Vietnamese encroachments.

The party’s president, Sam Rainsy, is living in self-imposed exile abroad after being sentenced to a total of 12 years in jail over his campaign to expose incursions.

In a statement Friday, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said the Paris Agreements offered a solid framework for a democratic Cambodia, and acknowledged that the government had done much to improve the situation. It added, however, that Cambodia “remains far” from realising its objectives.

“The rights and freedoms which the agreements so specifically required are now routinely breached with few, if any, consequences,” CCHR said, listing evictions, indigenous rights and political interference in the courts as main areas of concern.

Son Soubert, who helped negotiate the agreement in Paris as a member of the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front, said the close relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam, including the influx of thousands of illegal Vietnamese immigrants, was a longstanding violation of the agreement.

He added that the government had also failed to demobilise its armed forces by “at least 70 percent”, as stipulated in the agreement’s second annex.

Ultimately, Son Soubert said, the onus for enforcing the agreement lies with foreign donor nations, which have been selective in their support of it.

“The international community is giving assistance to the government within the framework of the agreement,” he said, “but not on the other stipulations ... such as human rights [and] democracy.”

Kem Sokha defended by donor group

via CAAI

Monday, 25 October 2010 15:03 Thomas Miller and Meas Sokchea

A DONOR to the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights has come out in defence of Human Rights Party President Kem Sokha, who has been accused of embezzling funds the donor gave the NGO.

Kem Sokha appeared at Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday for questioning in connection with a 2006 complaint accusing him of breach of trust and the use of false documents. The complaint, filed by 16 former staff members, says he embezzled thousands of dollars in funds.

After Thursday’s questioning session, Kem Sokha told reporters that the International Republican Institute, which is funded by the United States government and linked to the US Republican Party, had conducted an investigation and concluded that CCHR had spent the funds properly, though IRI could not be reached for confirmation.

In a statement issued over the weekend, however, the group said its funds had been “well-administered” by Kem Sokha.

“As an organisation supported by US taxpayer funds CCHR was held to the highest standards of financial management and accounting practices, and over the course of IRI’s affiliation with CCHR, and its leader Kem Sokha, the institute was satisfied that grant funds were well administered and that the work being carried out was critical to strengthening democracy in Cambodia,” the statement said.

It noted that the IRI had supported CCHR from 2002 to 2007, when it was under the helm of Kem Sokha, and highlighted efforts including hosting public forums, supporting advocacy campaigns and investigating rights abuses.

Chhim Phalvorn – one of two plaintiffs who re-filed the complaint against Kem Sokha in August – yesterday dismissed IRI’s statement, and called on Kem Sokha and IRI to produce the relevant documents in court.

“IRI, normally, they must defend their honour because IRI in the past did not make the investigation they have audited,” he said. “If IRI supports Mr Kem Sokha, IRI has to take the documents of the budget payments to the court.”