Monday, 15 November 2010

Vann Molyvann: Cambodia's forgotten architect


In the 1960s, he redefined the look of his homeland architecturally. Now his works are being lost to redevelopment. Admirers are working to highlight his importance.


Cambodian architecture Vann Molyvann, 78, sketches a project in Phnom Penh, in 2005. Vann Molyvann was a key creative force behind many landmarks, ranging from the National Sports Complex to the Independence Monument and experimental low-cost apartments. (Tang Chhin Sothy / AFP / Getty Images)

via CAAI

By Dustin Roasa, Special to the Los Angeles Times
November 14, 2010

Reporting from Sihanoukville, Cambodia — — Architect Bill Greaves stood on a bluff outside the city and admired an elegant white and peach building perched high above the beaches and guesthouses that have made this seaside spot into a tourist boomtown. Inspired by the dong raik, a pole used by rural Cambodians to carry loads on their shoulders, the building seemed to float in the air, its concrete and brick second floor held aloft by a complex web of hidden beams.

"It's a gem, but it's not very well known," Greaves said of the SKD Brewery offices, built in 1968 by Cambodia's most gifted and visionary architect, Vann Molyvann.

In the 1960s, under the iron-fisted patronage of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Vann Molyvann helped transform Cambodia from a sleepy former French colony into one of the most architecturally arresting countries in Asia. But after surviving decades of civil war and the terror of Khmer Rouge rule, the architect's buildings are being demolished as Cambodia seeks to rebuild.

Although Vann Molyvann, 83, is back in Phnom Penh after years of living overseas, there is little he can do to prevent his work from disappearing. In 2008, two of his greatest works, the National Theater and the Council of Ministers building, were demolished. In 2001, the government sold his Olympic Stadium to a Taiwanese developer, who altered the complex's drainage system to the point that it floods frequently.

In response, admirers such as Greaves, art historian Darryl Collins, who cowrote the only book in English about 1950s and 1960s Cambodian architecture, and architect Geoff Pyle, who founded an organization that offers guided tours of Phnom Penh's notable buildings, are working to highlight Vann Molyvann's importance. He remains virtually unknown in Cambodia, where he is not taught in the country's high schools and universities, and his international profile is low.
Greaves had traveled from his base in Phnom Penh to the brewery in Sihanoukville with a team of volunteers working with the Vann Molyvann Project, an organization he established in 2009 to document the architect's buildings. Nearly all of Vann Molyvann's blueprints were lost during Cambodia's years of turmoil, so Greaves and his volunteers are re-creating them from scratch to leave a record for future generations.
As the sun burned off the morning mist and lipstick-red trucks roared by full of Angkor beer — the SKD complex remains a functioning brewery — Cambodian and American volunteers in their 20s moved methodically through the space, hand measuring doorways, columns and anything else they could get their tape measurers on. They would spend the better part of three days sizing up the building before heading back to Phnom Penh, where they were creating scale models and drawings for the first major exhibition of Vann Molyvann's work, which opened in Phnom Penh in late September.
Greaves first encountered Vann Molyvann's buildings when he was visiting as a tourist in 2004. "I was astonished. I didn't know anything about architecture in Cambodia in the 1960s," he said. He was struck by the architect's daring use of concrete to create massive, expressive forms, "the kinds of things you could never convince a structural engineer to do nowadays," he said.
The buildings ingeniously used what might now be called green technology, including ventilation, natural lighting and drainage systems, to mitigate Cambodia's harsh climate, which alternates between periods of torrential rain and extreme heat. The buildings also referenced objects from Cambodian culture, such as mystical Buddhist serpents called nagas and the straw hats worn by peasants working in the fields.

After returning to Cambodia several times, Greaves quit his job at Steven Harris Architects in New York and moved to Phnom Penh to found the Vann Molyvann Project, which has consulted extensively with the Cambodian architect in its work. "I am extremely grateful for what they are doing," Vann Molyvann said of his foreign admirers.

Vann Molyvann's life has been shaped by the twists and turns of his country's tumultuous history. Born in 1926, he attended Cambodia's only high school during World War II. However, his studies were interrupted by Japan's takeover of the country during the war, but he managed to graduate and in 1945 won one of two scholarships that year for Cambodians to study in France.
At the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he received architectural training from disciples of Le Corbusier, who taught him the influential French architect's "Le Modulor," a system of proportion that Vann Molyvann later used as the basis for his designs. He thought little about his home country and "drowned in French culture completely," he said. Meanwhile, his compatriots in Paris at the time, including a young Pol Pot, soaked up the Marxism and Stalinism that would form the ideological basis of the Khmer Rouge.
Vann Molyvann returned to Phnom Penh in 1956, and he was one of a few architects in Cambodia with formal training. Cambodia had gained independence from France in 1953, but it remained a poor, rural country with no recent history of cities or urban planning. "Architecture was a strange concept in Cambodia. They did not know what it was," he said. He opened a firm but found little private work.
His fortunes changed when Norodom Sihanouk appointed him chief architect for state buildings and director for urban planning and habitat. With access to government commissions, he could begin designing civic buildings that combined the Modernist and Brutalist sensibilities he had learned in Paris with Cambodia's traditions and way of life.

Over the next decade and a half, Vann Molyvann built dozens of buildings in Phnom Penh and elsewhere in Cambodia. His crowning achievement was the Olympic Stadium, a sprawling sports complex that was built in advance of the Southeast Asian Games of 1963, which were never held. With a water-management system inspired by the moats and channels of ancient Angkor and soaring concrete overhangs, the design helped usher in a period of architectural and cultural creativity. He was in his early 30s at the time. "Imagine having the possibility to build such a thing when you are that age," Vann Molyvann said, his eyes twinkling.

Norodom Sihanouk viewed architecture as a way of expressing the aspirations for progress and modernity of the newly independent Cambodian people. He poured significant portions of the national budget into construction projects, and he deftly exploited Cambodia's Cold War neutrality to land aid from both the Americans and the Soviets.

"Sihanouk was extremely open to the outside world," Vann Molyvann said. "Cambodians had enormous enthusiasm to build the country, and fortunately for us, Prince Sihanouk shared this feeling."
Norodom Sihanouk's showpiece was the Russian Boulevard, which connected central Phnom Penh to its international airport. Lined with many of Vann Molyvann's most significant buildings, including the Teachers' Training College and the Council of Ministers building, the road was designed to impress visiting dignitaries.

But Norodom Sihanouk could not keep his country neutral forever. With the Vietnam War spilling over into Cambodia, Vann Molyvann left with his family in 1972, and the prince's cosmopolitanism eventually gave way to the savage xenophobia of the Khmer Rouge. Vann Molyvann spent the next two decades as a consultant with the United Nations at various posts around the world.
He moved back to Cambodia in 1993, but his second return has proved more difficult than the first. Although he was appointed head of the organization that managed the site of the Angkor temples, the current government of Prime Minister Hun Sen removed him from that post after he publicly complained about government corruption. "I felt that entrance fees for Angkor should go to the people, not to civil servants in Phnom Penh. They said, 'Get out, Molyvann,'" he said.
Out of favor with the government, Vann Molyvann has watched the urban landscape in Phnom Penh transform. Norodom Sihanouk's Russian Boulevard, that bellwether of Cambodia's aspirations, now swarms with trucks and motorbikes carrying goods and migrants into the city, and it is lined with the glass-and-steel office buildings and cookie-cutter housing developments of Cambodia's recent economic boom. The new Chinese-designed and funded Council of Ministers building, which replaced Vann Molyvann's, features a pyramid framed by what resembles an enormous drawbridge. It would not look out of place in a Chinese provincial capital.
"There's a very strong notion in Cambodia that a modern city should be like Shanghai or Bangkok, where the emphasis is on verticality," said Greaves of the Vann Molyvann Project. "Late Modern architecture is a little harder for the general public to love."
While the efforts of Greaves and others have raised Vann Molyvann's profile among Cambodians, the fate of his buildings ultimately rests with the current government, which came to power in 1979 after defeating the Khmer Rouge. "The government doesn't want to leave anything from before 1979, because it wasn't their achievement. History is completely manipulated," Vann Molyvann said.

Today, he has an official government title, but it is essentially an honorific. He is working on translating his PhD dissertation, about urbanization in Southeast Asia, into Khmer, the Cambodian language.

Beng Khemro, deputy director general of the country's Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, said the government is doing everything it can to preserve Cambodia's architectural heritage. "But economic development and modernization inevitably bring about changes in every country, and Cambodia is no exception," he said.

Young Cambodians like Yin Sotheara, a 21-year-old architecture student and volunteer with the Vann Molyvann Project, hope to play a role in that development. Back at the SKD Brewery offices, he took a break from measuring a rear-facing balcony to discuss his future after graduation.

"There are not many opportunities for Cambodian architects. Most of the new buildings are being built by Chinese and Koreans," he said. But learning about Vann Molyvann had for the first time provided him with a Cambodian architectural role model. "Vann Molyvann showed that you can take foreign concepts and mix them with Cambodian traditions to make new buildings," he said. "I want to make buildings that are suited to the Cambodian way of life."
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AKP - Agent Kampuchea Press


via CAAI

PM Hun Sen Receives His Vietnamese Counterpart

 
Phnom Penh, November 15, 2010 AKP -- Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, received here this morning at the Peace Palace visiting Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung.

In the one-hour meeting, the Vietnamese premier highly valued the visit by King-Father, Queen-Mother and King Norodom Sihamoni to Vietnam in June this year, which he said helped further promote the ties of friendship and cooperation between the two neighboring countries, H.E. Khieu Kanharith, spokesman for the Royal Government of Cambodia, told reporters upon the meeting.

H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung also expressed Vietnam’s irreversible stance in strengthening the good neighborliness with Cambodia as well as in enhancing and respecting Cambodia’s sovereignty.

He asked for the visit exchanges between the institutional, provincial and local leaders to increase mutual understanding and exchange experiences. He also invited Samdech Techo Hun Sen to pay a visit in Vietnam in an appropriate time.

The Vietnamese side wished to further boost the cooperation mechanisms between both countries as well as between the bordering provinces.

Vietnam asked for more cooperation, especially in the fields of aviation, banking, rubber, customs procedure facilitation, etc. and for more encouragement for Vietnamese investors and businessmen in Cambodia.

H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung thanked the Cambodian government for having prevented any anti-Vietnamese movement in Cambodia, assisted in searching remains of the Vietnamese soldiers fallen in Cambodia and authorized a Vietnamese company to explore oil and gas in Cambodia.

In reply, Premier Techo Hun Sen warmly welcomed the visit of his Vietnamese counterpart H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung, stressing that the visit will further strengthen the cooperation between the two countries and peoples, said H.E. Khieu Kanharith, also minister of Information.

The Cambodian prime minister accepted his counterpart’s propositions and suggestions and he asked the Vietnamese side to provide at least 170 MW of electric power to Cambodia from the end of this year. Vietnam has agreed to provide 200 MW of electric power to Cambodia, but so far only 120 MW have been provided.

Regarding the 2nd Sesan hydro-power dam, Samdech Techo Hun Sen has ordered the minister of Industry, Mine and Energy to accelerate the formalities for the construction of this dam.

Vietnamese Prime Minister assured that Vietnam will do its best to provide electricity at the Cambodia’s request.

After the talk, both premiers witnessed the signing ceremony of the Payment Agreement between the National Bank of Cambodia and the State Bank of Vietnam

Vietnamese Prime Minister H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung arrived here this morning for a one-day official visit to Cambodia at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.

He is also scheduled to attend the 6th Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam (CLV) Summit, the 5th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) Summit and the 4th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit to be hosted by Cambodia from Nov. 16 to 17. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)

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Myanmar Prime Minister Arrives in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, November 15, 2010 AKP -- Prime Minister of Myanmar H.E. Then Sein arrived in Cambodia today to attend the 5th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) Summit and the 4th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit to be held here from Nov. 16 to 17.

H.E. Then Sein and his accompanied members were warmly welcomed at Phnom Penh International Airport by Cambodian Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation H.E. Ouch Borith and other senior officials. --AKP

(By KEO Chandara)

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Vietnam’s Prime Minister Arrives in Cambodia

Phnom Penh, November 15, 2010 AKP -- Vietnamese Prime Minister H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung arrived here this morning for an official visit to Cambodia at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.

H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung, who is accompanied by his spouse and other senior members, was warmly greeted on their arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport by Cambodian Tourism Minister H.E. Thong Khon and other senior officials.

Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia H.E. Ngo Anh Dung was also on hand.

The Vietnamese premier is on a one-day visit to Cambodia on Nov. 15 and is also scheduled to attend the 6th Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam (CLV) Summit, the 5th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) Summit and the 4th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit to be hosted by Cambodia from Nov. 16 to 17.

During his visit here, H.E. Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung and his accompanied members will be received in a royal audience by His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia.

Besides, Vietnamese Prime Minister H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung will pay courtesy calls on Cambodian Senate President Samdech Akka Moha Thamma Pothisal Chea Sim, National Assembly President Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin and hold an official talk with Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen.

Two documents – the Arrangement between the Vietnamese Ministry of Transport and the Cambodian Ministry of Public Works and Transport on Survey, Design and Construction of Dak Dang Bridge along road from Dak Nong province (Vietnam) to Mondulkiri province (Cambodia) and the Payment Agreement between the National Bank of Cambodia and the State Bank of Vietnam – are expected to be signed during this visit. --AKP

(By KEO Chandara)

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Cambodia To Host the 6th ICAPP

Phnom Penh, November 15, 2010 AKP -- Government leaders from different countries will join the 6th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP) in Phnom Penh next month.

The 6th ICAPP, to be held from Dec. 1 to 4, will be attended by former heads of state, former presidents and former government leaders, government leaders and about 100 MPs from 40 different countries as well as 180 international environmental expert delegates, said a press release.

The conference will mainly focus on international cooperation, regional mutual understanding, regional sustainable peace, environment, young political leaders, etc.

The 5th ICAPP was held in Kazakhstan, the 4th in the Republic of Korea, the 3rd in China, the 2nd in Thailand and the 1st in the Philippines. --AKP

(By KHAN Sophirom)

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Cambodia, S. Korea Sign MoU on Joint Mine Geological Study

Phnom Penh, November 15, 2010 AKP -- Cambodia and the Republic of Korea have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the first-phase joint geological study for mine exploration.

The MoU was inked here on Nov. 12 by Cambodian Director-General of the Mine Resource General Department H.E. Sok Leng and Mr. Chung Min Soo, Vice President of the Korea Resources Corporation (KORES).

Cambodian Minister of Industry, Mine and Energy H.E. Suy Sem and visiting S. Korean Parliament Member H.E. Lee Sang Deuk witnessed the signing ceremony.

The MoU is aimed at conducting a geological study in the northeastern provinces of Stung Treng and Kratie in order to determine the mine potential areas for the joint mine exploration in the future between the Cambodian Mine Resource Department and KORES.

The joint geological study, financially supported by KORES, will take place from March to December 2011. --AKP

(By SOKMOM Nimul)

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Cambodia Hosts CLV Sub-committee Meetings

 
Phnom Penh, November 14, 2010 AKP -- A series of CLV sub-committee meetings were held at the Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace today.

The meetings include the CLV Security and Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee Meeting, the CLV Economic Sub-Committee Meeting, the CLV Social and Environmental Sub-Committee Meeting, and the CLV Provincial Coordination Sub-Committee Meeting.

The CLMV Senior Officials’ Meeting also has been being held, prior to the CLMV Summit.

Cambodia will host the 6th CLV (Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam) Summit, the 5th CLMV (Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam) Summit and the 4th ACMECS (Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy) Summit in Phnom Penh from Nov. 16-17.

The CLV Summit is the meeting between the leaders of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam with an aim to strengthen the cooperation among the three neighboring countries and the Development Triangle Area. The 1st CLV Summit was held in Vientiane, Laos.

The CLMV Summit was first held in November 2004 in Vientiane, Laos with the adoption of the Vientiane Declaration on enhancing economic cooperation and integration among CLMV countries. According to the declaration, the seven areas of cooperation among CLMV countries include trade and investment, agriculture, industry and energy, transport, information technology, tourism and human resource development.

The ACMECS Summit is the initiative of former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. At the special ASEAN Summit on SARS, held in Bangkok on Apr. 29, 2003, he raised the idea of establishing what was then called the “Economic Cooperation Strategy, with leaders of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar.

The objectives of this new initiative are to bridge the economic gap among the four countries, and to promote prosperity in the sub-region in a sustainable manner. Such prosperity will not only benefit the four countries, but also add value to ASEAN and its solidarity. Stronger Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand will also mean stronger ASEAN. It is in this way that the new cooperation framework will act as a building block and move ASEAN forward at a more even pace, on the basis of self-reliance and shared prosperity.

Leaders of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand met for the first time on Nov. 12, 2003 in Bagan, the Union of Myanmar. At the Summit, the four Leaders adopted the Bagan Declaration, affirming their commitment to cooperate in five priority areas of cooperation, and endorsed the Economic Cooperation Strategy Plan of Action, under which 46 common projects and 224 bilateral projects were listed for implementation over the next ten years. The Leaders agreed to call this newly created economic cooperation framework the “Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy or ACMECS”.

The joining of Vietnam to the group on May 10, 2004 has made ACMECS with 5 member countries. The emphasis of ACMECS is on using self-help and partnership to achieve sustainable development, including poverty reduction, in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals.

ACMECS will act as a catalyst to build upon existing regional cooperation programs and complement bilateral frameworks with a view to transform the border areas of the five countries into zones of economic growth, social progress and prosperity, and to blend local, national and regional interests for common benefits, shared prosperity, enhanced solidarity, peace, stability and good neighborliness. --AKP

PM responds to opposition border claims


via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:02 Meas Sokchea

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has rejected opposition claims that Vietnam has encroached on Cambodian territory, saying farmers along the border have not lost any land.

In a letter dated November 8 in response to questions from Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers, Hun Sen said the process of demarcation was ongoing and depended on bilateral agreement.

“There are not any farmers who have lost their farmland, so the question raised is accusatory without basis,” Hun Sen said, adding that the motive behind the SRP allegations was “to attack the government for political benefit and to cause enmity between both countries, Cambodia and Vietnam”.

One border post in particular – number 185 – has yet to be officially placed, so both Cambodian and Vietnamese farmers can work the land, Hun Sen said.

SRP head Sam Rainsy has been sentenced to a total of 12 years in jail in connection with claims that Vietnam has encroached into parts of Svay Rieng province near post 185. He is currently living in self-exile.

Hun Sen’s comments come just ahead of a visit from Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who arrives today for several regional meetings.

Sam Rainsy said the fact that post 185 had not been officially placed vindicated his original claims. “This is a recognition that the land belongs to the Cambodian farmers”, he said by phone from Paris.

The opposition leader also demanded that the government issue land titles to two villagers who received one-year jail terms in connection with his border protest, saying he would return to face his jail term if this condition was met.

“It depends on the Cambodian government – if they want to get hold of me, give the land deeds to the farmers”, he said. “I am prepared to go back to Cambodia any time.”

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the SRP’s trivial claims made Cambodia look foolish.

Vietnam “must think we have brain problems when issues like this are raised”, he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

New law to set stage for civil code


via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:01 Kim Yuthana

THE Council of Ministers on Friday approved a draft law that paves the way for implementation of the long-awaited 2007 civil code.

The new measure attempts to clarify the relationship between the civil code and several previously adopted laws, including the 2001 Land Law, the Law of Marriage and Family and contract laws, according to a press statement from the Council of Ministers.

Drafting for the civil code, which contains eight chapters and 84 articles, began in 1999.

The statement said the delay in implementing the new code was due to “complications of explaining and implementing the law in relation to other laws”. The proposal requires approval by the National Assembly before it can become law.

Officials at the Ministry of Justice involved in drafting the new law and the civil code were unavailable for comment yesterday.

Sok Sam Oeun, director of the Cambodia Defenders Project, welcomed the approval of the proposal, but said it was probably unnecessary.

“I think that the civil code could have been implemented immediately, because when I read the law, I think it is OK, it is enough”, he said yesterday.

“But some judges think the civil code cannot be implemented if this additional law is not passed.”

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said “we wanted the code implemented as soon as possible in order to reduce the previous injustices committed by the country’s legal system, which has been abusing people’s rights”.

Additional reporting by thomas miller.

90 villagers demand relocation


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A man rides a bike yesterday down the expanded part of National Road 6, past homes where owners said police were confiscating construction materials and preventing improvements.

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:01 Khouth Sophakchakrya

VILLAGERS from Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district are demanding that authorities give them access to a relocation site after police confiscated their housing materials yesterday in preparation for a major highway expansion along National Road 6.

More than 90 families from Chruoy Changvar commune’s Kean Klaing village were ordered in July to immediately vacate their homes along a stretch of the highway north of the capital, which is set to undergo an expansion. Most rejected an offer of 6-by-12-metre land plots in Kandal province and US$477.

Villager Vat Cheng Horng said that police violently entered their homes yesterday to take away construction materials after district officials discovered that some families were rebuilding parts of their houses.

Seung Phun, a village representative, said people were still waiting for new land promised by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

“The land concession that Hun Sen granted us has not been measured and divided for us.”

But district governor Khlaing Huot said that after the majority of families declined the housing offer, the Premier said that land concessions would be made in their home districts.

“I told the villagers that they are no longer allowed to construct homes on the sidewalk,” he said.

Factory protesters must return to work


via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:01 Mom Kunthear

MORE than 700 workers returned to work at the PY garment factory in Sihanoukville on Saturday following a court injunction ordering their return, although the union leader whose firing they were protesting has not been reinstated.

Yov Khemera, director of the provincial labour department, said the court released an injunction on Thursday, ordering the employees back to work within 48 hours.

“The union leader Mao Piseth and another worker who was fired can find a resolution with the arbitration council,” he said.

Worker Phem Yeoun, 29, said staff had returned to work because they were afraid of losing their jobs.

“The company said to workers that if we did not return to work within 48 hours then we have automatically abandoned our jobs,” she said.

Workers had been protesting outside the factory since November 4, demanding better working conditions and the re-instatement of Mao Piseth.

Mao Piseth said he had allowed the protesters to return to work on Saturday, adding that he would rather return to work than receive compensation for wrongful dismissal.

Company representative Huy said Mao Piseth and the other employee were barred from returning because they had allegedly attempted to fight the factory manager, and that they were fired legally.

Police Blotter: 15 Nov 2010


via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:01 Sun Narin

Head-on collision kills mother and two kids
A mother and her two children were killed during a head-on collision between their motorbike and a car in Kandal’s Kien Svay district on Thursday. A witness reported that the vehicles were travelling in opposite directions when the car slammed into the motorbike, killing its three passengers instantly. Police arrived at the scene and arrested the driver and warned that all drivers “should drive carefully” during the forthcoming water festival.
RASMEY KAMPUCHEA

Poor man kills himself, leaves children behind
A 46-year-old man killed himself in Banteay Meanchey province on Wednesday following the death of his wife. The victim’s family told police that the victim was “poverty-stricken” and was struggling to support his three children in the wake of his wife’s death. He had asked his relatives for help, but no one came to his aid. Police concluded that the victim “was so disappointed” in the lack of help from his loved ones that he took his own life.
KOH SANTEPHEAP

Husband charged of cheating on wife
Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday charged a man with adultery after his wife filed a complaint against him for having sex with a woman at a guesthouse in Chamkarmon district two weeks ago. The wife said she was unhappy with her husband since they became married because he was always conjuring up arguments and had forced her to have an abortion when she was three months pregnant. She had suspected her husband of playing the field, so she kept a keen eye on his comings and goings.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Failure to signal leaves one dead, three injured
Four people were seriously injured when a car crashed into a motorbike in Kampot town last week. A witness reported that both vehicles were travelling “very fast” in the same direction, when the car began to turn without signalling, crashing into the bike travelling alongside it. The motorbike driver “broke his head”, while the three female passengers all suffered broken left legs. The driver of the car fled the scene.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Speeding ambulance strikes three motos
Five people were injured when an ambulance transporting a patient crashed into three motorbikes in Siem Reap town on Wednesday. A witness said the ambulance was driving very fast near Dragon Bridge, when it veered into the three motorbikes, causing them to crash on the road. Police immediately arrested the ambulance driver. The victims have reported that compensation has been hard to come by, as the owner of the clinic is also a police official.
KAMPUCHEA THMEY

Four more summoned in Omlaing


via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun

KAMPONG Speu provincial court has summoned four villagers from Thpong district in a case related to an ongoing land dispute with a sugar company owned by Cambodian People’s Party Senator Ly Yong Phat.

Yuon Nhanh, 35, Sin Peng, 35, Morn Hoeun, 38, and a fourth villager identified only as Sophan have been accused of living illegally on land belonging to the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, said Ouch Leng, land programme officer at rights group Adhoc.

The company has been granted an 8,343-hectare land concession in Omlaing commune that rights groups estimate will displace more than 2,000 families.

The four villagers are to appear in court for questioning on Wednesday, said Ouch Leng, bringing to 19 the number of people who have been summoned in connection with the dispute since March.

“We don’t know when the company will stop harassing us,” Kin Rum, one of those affected by the company, said yesterday. “They file complaints against us non-stop.”

Chheang Kimsruon, a representative of the Phnom Penh Sugar Company, said the new complaints had not been filed by her firm.

The Phnom Penh Post News in Brief


via CAAI

Road tax crackdown

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:01 Tep Nimol

CITY Hall has urged traffic police to begin a crackdown on motorists who have not paid their road taxes. In an announcement issued last week, Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema urged police to begin collecting fines from November 25. The road taxes are collected annually and range from 4,500 riels (about US$1.05) for some motorbikes to more than 1 million riels ($238) for some cars. Fines are equivalent to double the tax payment.

Police violence: Accusations of killing in Pursat


Monday, 15 November 2010 15:01 Chrann Chamroeun
Police violence

POLICE have been accused of killing one man and injuring another in Pursat province’s Bakan district on Saturday. Nget Theavy, provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said several police officials from Battambang province’s Moung Russey district had arrested a drunken local from a dance party, when about 50 people followed them. Police then fired 10 shots at the ground, which ricocheted and hit two villagers. Moung Russey district police chief Kit Heang said the shooting was in self defence.

Maybank, OSK deal reported


via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:00 May Kunmakara

MAYBANK saw its outstanding loans in Cambodia decline 11 percent quarter on quarter, the bank said, as reports surfaced that it was keen to buy fellow Kingdom operator OSK Holdings.

Maybank’s outstanding portfolio in the Kingdom stood at 240 million ringgit (US$77 million) at the end of September, down from 271 million ringgit at the end of June, according to results published late last week.

Earlier this month, Maybank

Country Head Jubely Pa told The Post that in the year to date its total assets in the Kingdom had however risen more than “8 percent” year on year to $137 million.

According to a report published by Malaysia’s The Edge Financial Daily last week, Maybank has been keen to acquire OSK Holdings – the parent company of OSK Indochina, which was approved as an underwriter for the planned Cambodian stock exchange late last month.

But on Thursday, OSK Holdings released a statement to Kuala Lumpur stock exchange saying it has not entered into any “serious” talks on a takeover.

“The company has not entered into any serious or exclusive negotiations with any party with regards to any form of equity or strategic partnerships,” it said in a statement.

It added it continued to seek opportunities “in line with our mission to serve our clients better and enhance our shareholders value”.

Maybank declined to comment on whether it was in talks with OSK, but said it “continuously seeks and assesses various propositions and opportunities” that would bolster its ambition to be a regional financial services leader.

Global profits at Maybank – Malaysia’s largest lender, which has been operating in Cambodia since 1993 – rose 17 percent for the most recent quarter, the filing on Friday showed.

“We expect our performance for the financial year ending June 30, 2011, to be better than last year,” Maybank Chief Executive Officer Abdul Wahid Omar said in a statement.

“This quarter’s results continue to bear testimony to the group-wide transformation efforts we have embarked on since 2008.”

Net income rose to 1.03 billion ringgit or 14.53 sen a share, for the quarter, from 881.8 million ringgit, or 12.46 sen, a year ago, the lender said. That was helped by higher interest rates and increased contributions from its Indonesian unit following earlier losses.

During the last two years, Maybank in Cambodia has expanded.

It now has eight branches operational in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, Battambang and Kampong Cham. Maybank plans to open two more branches in the year to come.

MAY KUNMAKARA/BLOOMBERG

With the grain


Photo by: AFP

via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:00 AFP

A farmer cuts rice in a field in Kampong Speu province yesterday. Prime Minister Hun Sen has targeted increasing rice exports to 1 million tonnes by 2015. Earlier this year he said improving the Kingdom's rice mills and increasing capital available to buy unprocessed paddy were two areas to target.

Without preemptive PR, new bourse could sink


via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:00 Steve Finch

THE uncertainty surrounding the stock listing of Sihanoukville Port reflects the dilemma facing Cambodia’s new exchange and serves as a reminder that a successful launch is as much about PR as it is preparations.

In June, port CEO Luu Kim Chhum told The Post the facility’s accounts had not yet been audited by an international firm. But more worrying is the lack of transparency and uncertainty over the issue when potential investors in Cambodia’s first IPOs will be looking for the exact opposite in a country still considered a high-risk frontier market.

Given the most successful stock exchanges are an exercise in investor confidence and overall operational transparency, Sihanoukville Port is already failing the first test, with help from the government.

Ultimately, the government decides when it comes to the new exchange – as shown by Luu Kim Chhum’s deference to the authorities on all questions of timing and preparations related to the IPO.

The best course of action now would therefore be to clarify what is going on. If Sihanoukville Port is not absolutely ready to list by mid-2011 then it should not do so. Question marks around the IPO would simply undermine what will likely be jittery confidence surrounding the exchange.

The port has faced a number of uncertainties recently including the debate over whether the new rail network would connect to the facility. Ultimately it will, but the ambiguity afflicting such a key element in the port’s future success was certainly not helpful as part of overall preparations.

This all points to Cambodia’s inexperience in thinking of how uncertainty is viewed from outside a company, the key to good public relations when the investor is all-important. There is little doubt that Sihanoukville Port is making a successful rebound following a difficult 2009. Plans are to develop the nearby special economic zone and Luu Kim Chhum said previously he had already sought potential Japanese investors for the zone and the port. Also, the port is scheduled to add a facility for the delivery of oil by 2014. There are plans to deepen the draft, which would allow bigger ships to enter.

These are all huge positives for growth that potential investors will view as a guarantee that Cambodia’s largest port means business. However, a rushed IPO could undermine investor appetite from the outset.

The best way to make sure the IPO launch is steady is to think about preemptive PR. Anything less and the port’s buoyant plans for the future could sink not only itself but the whole of the exchange.

Cambodia fail to lift off


Photo by: AFP
The Cambodia delegation arrives on stage during the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou on Friday. The Kingdom’s athletes failed to record any successes in their opening matches over the weekend.

via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:00 Dan Riley

Cambodia suffered a disappointing start to their Asian Games campaign in Guangzhou, failing to capture any victories in all of their opening disciplines.

The tennis team of Bun Kenny and Orn Sambath were whitewashed 3-0 by Chinese Taipei in their men’s team event at the Aoti Tennis Centre on Saturday. In the first rubber singles match, Orn Sambath was outclassed by Chen Ti to go down 6-1, 6-0. Bun Kenny provided stiffer resistance against Yang Tshung Hua in the second rubber, succumbing 6-1, 6-4.

The Kingdom’s top pairing were simply no match for their opponents in the doubles rubber, losing 6-0, 6-0 to confirm their exit from the competition. They will now concentrate on preparations for the men’s singles and doubles events scheduled to start on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in the pool at the Aoti Aquatics Centre on Saturday, swimmer Hem Thon Vitiny finished dead last in her women’s 50m breaststroke heat despite bettering her personal best by 1.82 seconds. The Cambodian teenager came in 8.20 seconds behind Satomi Suzuki of Japan, who won the heat with a time of 32.12 seconds. Vitiny will compete in her remaining event, the women’s 50m freestyle, tomorrow.

Yesterday, Vitiny’s teammate and uncle Hem Thon Ponleu fared slightly better in his men’s 50m breaststroke heat, coming home second behind Ahmed Atari of Qatar and ahead of Byambasuren Erdenebileg of Mongolia. However, Ponleu’s time of 33.16 seconds had him placed 32nd out of 34 qualifiers, with the finals threshold set at 28.77 seconds. Ponleu will be back in action this morning in the men’s 50m freestyle.

Over at the Guangzhou Chess Institute, Cambodia’s two Chinese Chess players lost both of their opening rounds. Hopes of medals in the game also known as Xiangqi took a knock when local master Heng Chamnan fell to Vietnam rival Nguyen Than Bao and Lay Chhay was defeated by Lei Kam Fun of Macau in first round matches on Saturday. In the second round yesterday, Ma Chung Wei of Chinese Taipei beat Heng Chamnan, while Lay Chhay was dispatched by Hong Kong’s Chiu Yu Kuen.

The Cambodian duo face an uphill task now over the five remaining rounds played every day until Friday.

Dolphins sighted on Mekong trip


Photo by: Photo Supplied
One of the group paddles a board along a quiet stretch of water before embarking on their trip along the Mekong River.

via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:00 Laura Hodges

EIGHT intrepid travellers are halfway through their journey paddling down the Mekong River from the Laos border to Phnom Penh, hoping to reach the capital before next weekend’s water festival.

Arriving in Kratie last week, the group of American journalists and photographers stopped to update their blog at www.standupforrivers.org and catch up with the marvels of their journey.

Leaving Stung Treng, the group of paddle boarders (who stand on their craft to propel themselves downriver) had its first sighting of the critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins.

“We stopped for lunch in Kang Di Sor and before long, as we relaxed on one of a series of beautiful beaches, we heard the now-familiar song of our cretacean [sic] friends and saw their distinctive dorsal fins rise and fall, over and over,” they said.

The speed of the currents has enabled them to travel about 20 kilometres a day. One of the highlights was staying with families on an island called Koh Pdao, an ecotourism project managed by the Cambodian Rural Development Team.

“The evening included a lesson in traditional Khmer dancing and the opportunity to watch their community theatre’s rehearsal. We had to both pay attention to the performance and help the youngest kids catch crickets, which we had discovered were delicious stuffed with peanuts,” said the group’s blog.

“We spent the whole following day making traditional foods. The process started in the morning, grinding soaked rice to a paste and we helped prepare many ingredients, including a delicious mix of coconut, sesame seeds and sugar. In the afternoon, we helped to create the finished products, frying savoury rice cakes and folding palm leaves filled with sweet treats.”

Their paddle-board tour was arranged by CRDT and Tola, the CRDT guide accompanying the tour, explained local customs, translated and even gave comical voice-overs when watching the Koh Pdao theatre troupe rehearse their environmental educational show.

The paddle-board team are also accompanied by four Cambodian crew members, travelling on the safety boat which follows close behind. These include two cooks providing three meals a day – waking up at 4am to start breakfast – and a local guide to help navigate the more perilous sections of the river.

Youngest group member Fiona Thompson, 23, said travelling by paddle board helped them “become part of the landscape”, flowing at the same pace as the river. “The individual paddler can get up close and personal with the landscape and its inhabitants, rather than simply passing by.”

Annie Pizey, a journalist and radio presenter from Colorado, said she woke up to the singing of dolphins, the sound of children playing and the clanging of pots as the cooks prepared breakfast. “It is truly a magical experience.” So far the group has helped harvest rice on Koh Preah and spent time interacting with their homestay families and local community members.

“There is a real exchange with people,” said Pizey. “They want to share something special with us.” She felt that this simplicity and way of life needed to be protected and “would hate to see them change too quickly”.

With the proposed construction of the Sambor dam on the Mekong River, a torrent of concern and interest has arisen from regional and international voices. The incentive for these hydro-power dams is cheaper and more widely available electricity in Cambodia’s countryside.

Among Southeast Asian nations, Cambodia pays the highest prices for electricity. Because it has no national grid, provincial towns and cities have their own individual power generation plants and distribution networks. These power plants are small and the price is high due to the fact that they are fuelled by diesel.

It has been estimated that the average price of electricity in Cambodia is US$0.16 per kilowatt/hour and climbs to as high as $0.90 per kilowatt-hour in remote rural areas.

The proposed dam at Sambor would inundate much of the river between Sambor and Stung Treng, a critical area for fish spawning and the last remaining habitat for Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong, according to the Mekong River Commission. The dam would also displace more than 20,000 people and cause countless others to lose their livelihoods.

Traveller Emily Koren, with a background in international administration and human rights, said that food security was the biggest concern she had seen so far on the trip. Koh Pdao’s village chief told them: “The land is not increasing but the population is.” He added that many people were too scared to build homes and improve farmland, because of the threat of the new dam at Sambor.

The group hoped that their tour would raise awareness of pressing issues by giving a voice and image to communities which struggle daily to survive. Tour members concluded that their contribution is but “one step in a long journey”.

As the adventure continues downstream towards the next major town of Kampong Cham, the paddle board team await the second stage in their journey to Phnom Penh.

Search for inspirational women


Photo by: BHANTE ANANDAJOTI
A carving of legendary Angkor queen Indradevi.

via CAAI

Monday, 15 November 2010 15:00 Sarah Macklin

A NATIONWIDE search is being launched today to find inspirational women who have contributed selflessly to community and economic development.

Three women will be chosen to receive Cambodia’s first Indradevi Hope Awards, named after the legendary Angkor-era queen who worked to help ordinary people.

The awards, to be honoured in three categories – leadership, dedication, and young achievers between 18 and 25 – are organised by the Women’s International Group of Cambodia. Winners will get US$1,500 to support their projects, a plaque designed by Artisan d’Angkor and a certificate.

Their stories will be highlighted at an award ceremony and gala dinner next March in Phnom Penh.

“We want to honour exceptional Cambodian women working hard to bring about positive change,” said WIG president Dorte Kieler. Her group, a multinational group of more than 100 women in Phnom Penh, supports community-based projects.

“In Cambodia, women who work alone to create business and social organisations addressing important needs in this country sometimes don’t get the recognition they deserve,” said Bretton Sciaroni, president of the International Business Chamber of Cambodia, which is supporting the awards. “It’s our hope that this pioneering award will help inspire a new generation of women leaders to set their sights high.”

Television network CTN and The Asia Foundation are also backing the awards, and hope to reach out to potential recipients in far-flung rural areas. CTN has launched a TV programme called Knhom Nung Groursa (Me and Family) which deals exclusively with matters concerning Cambodian women.

Posters and nomination forms for the awards will be distributed through universities, embassies and ACLEDA Bank offices. The deadline for entry is December 31. Further information is available at the website www.wigcambodia.com.

Cambodia sees Suu Kyi release as positive step


Photo by: AFP
A Myanmar activist holds a portrait of detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during protest outside Myanmar's embassy in Bangkok last year.

via CAAI

Sunday, 14 November 2010 12:37 Sebastian Strangio

The Cambodian government has hailed the release of Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi after years of house arrest, describing it as an important step on the road towards democracy for the troubled country.

“The government of Cambodia welcomes the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar,” said Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Suu Kyi’s landmark release was a sign the military government is implementing its seven-step “roadmap to democracy”, he said, the fifth of which came into force with controversial elections on November 7.

“The government of Myanmar have implemented their roadmap. They have now taken [the fifth] step towards democracy and the development of the country,” Koy Kuong said.

The 65-year-old dissident and Nobel laureate walked free Saturday after seven years of house arrest in Yangon, calling on a sea of jubilant supporters to unite in the face of repression by the country’s military rulers.

Yesterday, she addressed thousands more at the headquarters of her party, the National League for Democracy, reaffirming her commitment to human rights and pledging to “work with all democratic forces” in the country.

“Please keep your energy for us. If we work together we will reach our goal,” she said.

Other local reactions have been mixed, with some observers hailing Suu Kyi’s release as a step forward for human rights in the region and others warning against giving the regime too much credit for what has been widely criticised as a public-relations ploy.

“We applaud the release of Suu Kyi and think that it not only reflects well on Myanmar, but reflects well on all ASEAN countries,” said Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Center for Development and Peace.

Koul Panha, executive director of local election monitor Comfrel, said Suu Kyi’s liberation could set a precedent for the negotiated return of Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, currently living in self-exile abroad.

Sam Rainsy has been sentenced to a total of 12 years’ prison on a series of charges stemming from his campaign to expose alleged Vietnamese border encroachments.

“More problems will probably still happen with Suu Kyi, but her release shows that the ruling political party in Myanmar has expressed its political will to have a fair competition with the opposition leader,” he said.

“I hope that Cambodian politicians will learn from Myanmar and pave the way for the opposition leader Sam Rainsy to return.”

But Pung Chhiv Kek, president of local rights group Licadho, warned against Myanmar – “probably the worst” country in the region in terms of democracy and political freedoms – being seen as an example to the rest of ASEAN.

“It is deeply disturbing that questions may arise on the possible example set by this country for other ASEAN nations, including Cambodia,” she said yesterday, pointing to the fact that 2,200-odd political prisoners still remain behind bars in Myanmar.

“I strongly hope that what happened in Myanmar does not and will not happen in Cambodia.”

Speaking by phone yesterday from Paris, Sam Rainsy welcomed the release of Suu Kyi, but downplayed the comparison between his situation and that of the persecuted NLD leader.
“I admire Aung San Suu Kyi – I’m very happy to see her being released. I’m sure this is a step to push for more freedom towards real democracy in Burma,” he said, using the country’s former name.

The Sam Rainsy Party president agreed with local observers that the release could also set an example for Cambodia in respecting the rights of political opposition figures.

“There is a trend in the world and in Southeast Asia towards more democracy and Cambodia is too small and weak a country to go against this trend,” he said.

Koy Kuong also rejected a comparison between the two leaders, saying Suu Kyi was released after serving her sentence, while Sam Rainsy was yet to serve his own prison term.

“Everything is according to the law,” he said.

A long time coming

Meanwhile, members of the Myanmar community in Phnom Penh rejoiced at the developments inside their country, amid uncertainty as to the junta’s motivation for releasing Suu Kyi.
Local resident Soe Thi Ha, 25, said he was “very happy” that she had been set free after spending 15 of the last 21 years under house arrest.

“She is the only one who can unite the different types of people [in Myanmar]. We have lost literally one generation and the next generation – my generation – needs very good leadership in our journey towards real democracy,” he said.

“I can see signs of an exciting change in mood now that she’s been released.”

But Soe Thi Ha said he feared for Suu Kyi’s safety, recalling the so-called Depayin Massacre, in which junta-sponsored thugs attacked the leader’s convoy in May 2003, killing around 70 NLD supporters.

Suu Kyi’s current term of house arrest began in May last year, following a strange incident in which an American man swam to her lakeside residence in Yangon.

In August, a court at the city’s notorious Insein Prison found Suu Kyi guilty of breaching the terms of her house arrest and sentenced her to three years’ jail and hard labour, a punishment that junta supremo Than Shwe commuted to 18 months’ house arrest.

Cambodian government officials said at the time that Than Shwe’s reduction of the sentence was a sign the military government was “on the way to democratisation”.

Cambodia joined a long list of Western and Asian countries that welcomed Suu Kyi’s release yesterday.

International rights groups, however, have been sceptical of the release, describing it as a means of deflecting attention from last week’s election, widely criticised as a sham to entrench military rule under a veneer of civilian government.

Human Rights Watch described the release as a “cynical ploy by the military government to distract the international community from its illegitimate election”, and called for the country’s remaining political prisoners to be freed.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

Trading places


via CAAI

Sunday, 14 November 2010 18:19 Chun Sophal

A free trade agreement with India has been passed by Cambodia’s Council of Ministers and now awaits final approval from the National Assembly.

Ratification talks for the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement are set to take place later this month, according to Cheam Yeap, chairman of the National Assembly’s Banking and Finance Committee, after ministerial approval was granted on Friday.

“Cambodia will gain several advantages under the agreement. We will be able to export more agricultural products into India – one of the world’s largest markets – and receive investment flows in return,” he said.

The ASEAN-India FTA will see tariffs on more than 4,000 product lines be eliminated by 2016 at the earliest, according to the ASEAN Secretariat.

Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Kong Vibol said Cambodia had recently ratified several free trade pacts to open up markets.

India’s investment to date had largely targeted the Kingdom’s agricultural sector, including paddy harvests, rubber plantations and sugar projects.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay claimed it would be difficult to benefit from the pact, given strong regional competition.

The Indian Embassy declined to comment.

Munitions meet wraps up


Photo by: AFP
Artificial limbs, homemade by victims, hang at the COPE Visitor Centre in Vientiane.

via CAAI

Sunday, 14 November 2010 20:10 Buth Reaksmey Kongkea

A landmark conference on cluster munitions attended by delegates from Cambodia and dozens of other countries finished in Laos yesterday, a meeting observers hailed as an important first step in the fight against weapons that continue to plague the Kingdom.

Despite having been ravaged for decades by cluster munitions, Cambodia joined only as an observer at what was the inaugural meeting of state parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a treaty banning the weapons that came into effect in August. Cambodia has yet to ratify the treaty, citing military and logistical concerns.

“The reason why Cambodia did not sign the cluster bomb treaty ... is because we want to take our time to clearly consider and study it in detail before signing,” said Prum Sopheak Mongkol, the deputy secretary general of the Cambodian Mine Action Authority, who served as the Cambodian representative at the meeting.

The government has also cited security concerns in explaining its reluctance to endorse the treaty, noting that regional rival Thailand has yet to sign.

More than 1,000 government and military officials, NGO workers and bomb victims convened in Vientiane for the first meeting of the 46 states that are party to the convention.

Song Kosal, a youth ambassador for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs, said she was glad the government had joined the meeting but disappointed that it had yet to ratify the treaty.

“I would like to appeal to the Royal Government of Cambodia to sign and ratify the treaty as soon as possible in order to prevent the suffering of those who could be injured or killed by cluster bombs in the future,” said Song Kosal, a contestant in last year’s controversial Miss Landmine beauty pageant.

Jeroen Stol, the Cambodia country director for Handicap International Belgium, said yesterday that it was still unclear whether Cambodia would sign on to the treaty following the government’s statements at the conference. Ratification, he said, could generate renewed international interest in munitions clearance and help combat “donor fatigue”.

Prum Sopheak Mongkol said that while Cambodia was still mulling signing the treaty, it had made significant progress in munition clearance, clearing about 2 million cluster bombs and unexploded ordnances since 1992.

“Although we have not signed the treaty, we have already been working hard on this issue,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP AND JAMES O’TOOLE

Authorities demolish 78 homes


via CAAI

Sunday, 14 November 2010 20:07 May Titthara

Nearly 80 homes in Preah Sihanouk province’s Stung Hav district were demolished by authorities over the weekend following a Supreme Court verdict announced on Friday awarding the land to a development company.

Lou Vannaret, a resident of Lek Muoy commune, said residents have been banned from returning to their dwellings since Friday, when the verdict was announced declaring the land the property of the Ly Hong Sin Company.

“Residents dared not come out and complain against them because they have military forces guarding them,” he said.

Village representative Mon Sina said that 149 families had been living in the area since 1999.

Kim Eng, deputy chief of the provincial court, said yesterday the demolitions were in accordance with the Supreme Court verdict.

“They are not homes,” he said. “They just built them up in the wild, and no one lives there. We have dismantled 78 cottages so far and we will leave the villagers to dismantle the remaining 43 huts by themselves.”

Representatives of the Ly Hong Sin Company could not be reached for comment yesterday.

New landmine project to start


Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A CMAC deminer scoops away dirt during a mission in Battambang last year.

via CAAI

Sunday, 14 November 2010 18:46 Phak Seangly and Will Baxter

Phak Seangly and Will Baxter

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre announced it has commenced a one-year project to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance from areas in Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey and Preah Vihear provinces.

“With this project we will clear the land, and then provide it back to the local authorities who will distribute it to the people,” CMAC spokeswoman Nem Sowathey said yesterday.

CMAC’s demining efforts were linked closely with development, she said, making mined land available for agriculture use and the construction of wells, roads and canals.

The US$1.5 million project, which is being funded by the Japanese government, officially got under way on November 2, she said.

In a statement on Friday, CMAC said the project was aiming to clear 10..5 million square metres of contaminated land, and would benefit about 5,500 families.

“We are partnering with the commune councils to ensure all activities implemented are based on the demand of the local villagers,” Heng Ratana, director general of CMAC, said in the statement.

He added that the project’s coordinators had specifically chosen “contaminated villages and land officially allocated to poor people for resettlement and agriculture use”.

Preah Vihear deputy governor Suy Serith said yesterday that CMAC’s demining efforts were “very good” for the local people, adding that CMAC would be clearing land in Choam Ksan district on the Thai border, the most heavily mined area of his province.

About 223 people in Cambodia were reported killed or injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war in the first nine months of this year, according to the Cambodian Mine Action Authority.

Tiger brewer roars ahead on earnings


Photo by: Bloomberg
A Tiger beer brewery stands in Singapore. Indochina sales have soared over the last year.

via CAAI

Sunday, 14 November 2010 17:14 Jeremy Mullins

ASIA Pacific Brewery – the brewer of Tiger, Anchor, and ABC stout – saw its share price rise by one percent to S$18.20 (US$14.02) over the last week of Singapore trading, while releasing its 12 month results on Friday.

The firm claimed results from Indochina, including Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, constituted over half of its overall profits. The brewery generated S$242 million operating in Indochina over the last year, up 47 percent on the year previous.

Although it did not separate results for the three countries, it pointed to Vietnam as being particularly strong.

Competitor Carlsberg A/B, the 50 percent owner of Cambrew Ltd, closed out the week at 559 krone (US$107.29), some 6.5 percent lower than its Monday open in Copenhagen trading.

The firm had claimed strong sales in Cambodia in its third quarter update released on Tuesday, but overall results came in below some analysts predictions. Cambrew is the Sihanoukville-based brewery behind Angkor, Bayon, and Klang beers.

Meanwhile, Malayan Banking Bhd – which aims to have eight branches in Cambodia at the end of the year – finished up 1.7 percent to close at 9.20 ringgit (US$2.96) on the Bursa Malaysia last week.

The firm had traded as high as 9.38 ringgit on Wednesday, as it issued a release in response to Malaysian media reports that it was looking to purchase firm OSK Holdings.

OSK Holdings Bhd had a strong week on the Bursa Malaysia, finishing at 1.92 ringgit on Friday, a 23 percent increase on the week’s open of 1.56 ringgit.

OSK – which owns approved Cambodian underwriter OSK Indochina – also issued a release last week in response to the article, claiming it was not in “serious” negotiations on a takeover.

Another Malaysia-listed bank, Public Bank Bhd, saw its share price remain steady last week at 12.78 ringgit. Public Bank is the owner of Cambodian Public Bank, which was the largest domestic lender in 2009, according to data.